We have been lucky enough to have two working sheepdogs in our life.
Daisy Dog was my first dog. She wasn’t an easy first dog as she was strong willed, independent and mardi. However she was also funny, loving, clever and my friend. She got me through many of my cancer operations. I competed with her in working dog trials and she qualified CDx and UDx. She would probably have done much better if she had had a competent handler who had more time for training! Daisy Dog had her very own fan club on the campsite and convinced a lot of children who were scared of dogs that dogs can be really quite nice especially if you can give them commands and boss them about! Unfortunately in June 2015, when she was only just 5 years old I had to have her killed as she had advanced bone cancer. The vet had anaesthetised her to do an X-ray and when he told me I knew the kindest thing was not to wake her up. I found it devastating and still do. For more on Daisy Dog see here and here. For Daisy Dog climbing trees see here. For the wonderful, crazy Daisy Dog celebration we had with our campsite friends see here here, here and here.
I got Kainaat in August 2013. I went on a road-trip with Daisy Dog to Scotland to collect him. One of his grandads was an International Sheepdog Champion and the other was a Working Trials champion. He is a lovely boy, more of a team player than Daisy Dog. I am currently training him for Working Trials. He managed to get his CDx at his first trial – see here – but then we got a bit stuck with the tracking. See here for my experience training for Working Trials and here for Kainaat’s first birthday
I am also in the process of teaching him to work sheep. Daisy Dog started working sheep when she was 3. Before this I had tried to teach her the basics with some evil Indian Runner drakes but they kept trying to peck her so when we got the sheep we ate the ducks. Despite Kai running away from the sheep when he was first introduced at 10 weeks old he is now fearless, but loses his head very very quickly and often completely forgets the ‘down’ command. He has learnt to gather them to me so I can check them over and can put them in a corral. We both have a lot to learn. It is his most favourite thing in the whole world – I quite like it too.
He is though, first and foremost, a campsite dog. Daisy Dog was brilliant at entertaining all the children on the campsite – see here. I hope that Kainaat will be able to step into her shoes. Given from day one his training was overseen by lots of the children I am sure he will live up to Daisy Dog’s reputation.
Most of these photos were taken by our friend Pete – he is a brilliant photographer – see here for more of his work.
How could I forget our cats – we currently have 7 cats (yes I know – I blame James).
We have Joe, rescued from the streets of Tottenham just before we moved here. He was dirty, very thin and nervous when we adopted him. He now spends his life lying between the food bowl and the radiator. He finally learnt to purr when we got two kittens (Che and Iblis Frog) a few years ago. He is a lovely boy
James got Twinkletoes Snowpea (or Twinkle) for my birthday a few days after my Dad died in 2008 – we only had two cats at the time as we were sensible people back then and had an element of self control. Unfortunately Twinkletoes died just a few weeks after Daisy Dog – see here. They both had a complicated relationship with each other. Daisy Dog used to spend quite a lot of time standing at the bottom of the stairs trying to out stare Twinkletoes which is, of course, an impossibility. I think Twinkle had a slightly mean streak and deliberately sat on the stairs in order to torment Daisy – knowing full well that the dogs are not allowed on the stairs. I can imagine her whispering to Daisy that upstairs there is an all-you can eat buffet and the most lovely fluffy bed that she shares with the humans!
We then acquired Che (tabby) and Iblis Frog (black with golden eyes). Iblis is a little bit skittish and rather elusive – she shuns the limelight hence it is very difficult to take a photograph of her. She loves eating banana cake in bed with us.
When our older cat Gizmo died we then got Mao and Fidel from some friends with a small holding. The tabbys are all revolutionaries – it makes sense to us! Fidel was a lovely boy who, we think, died from eating a poisoned mouse. We have an organic site so don’t use poisons, but we can’t control what other people do. We have buried him under a damson tree. Mao went to live with our lovely friends in 2014 as he and the scientists didn’t get on – see here. Unfortunately he died in 2015 – see here.
Then we rescued the ginger scientists, Darwin and Fermat-Newton (Fermie). Darwin is generally out and about on the site exploring (as befits his name) whereas Fermat-Newton being more of a mathematician is often to be found on the bed thinking through theorems and the such like.
Lastly, we got Luther and Lilavati from some lovely friends of ours. Luther adores James and rather despises me – which is a shame.
The dogs and cats generally get on OK. The cats live upstairs and the dogs live downstairs. Daisy Dog learnt at a very young age not to mess with the cats. Kainaat is more gung ho, but he and Darwin are good friends. Kainaat tries to teach Darwin how to play doggy style but Darwin isn’t sure about it.