Leon had planned a day trip to meet a friend to go climbing for the day. At the last minute we decided to make a weekend of it as we needed cheering up and I didn’t wan’t to be left home alone. I am still finding the house too quiet and empty since we lost Hendrix & Otis. We also thought it would be a good opportunity to see how well Tuchena coped at my in-laws without another dog for company before we leave her for a week when we go on holiday later this month.
We recently joined Britstops so took a look to see where we might be able to stay on the Friday night. We found a pub halfway between home and Portland, called them up and booked in. The Thimble Inn was lovely, very dog friendly (there was a spaniel puppy, a terrier, an English Mastif x Dogue De Bordeaux, a fox red Labrador and a German Vizsla in the bar and then we arrived with Zephyr!) and had a great menu. They could offer 90% of the menu as gluten free so I had me a great big burger and chips 🙂 The car park was flat, quiet and away from the road so we had a good nights sleep and set off early in the morning.
We met Justin in Portland and after a quick cup of coffee headed off for the mornings climb. My knee is recovered enough for me to be able to walk fairly well on most surfaces whilst holding on to Zephyr, but not good enough to climb yet. So, Zephyr and I found a shady spot to sit and watch the action whilst Justin introduced Leon to sport climbing.
I sat with Zephyr and we watched everything – climbers, ropes, walkers, dogs, kids – Zephyr likes to observe from a distance. It is a positive change, he used to not want to leave the house or garden and would shut down or be tense and on high alert when out. Now he is interested in what is going on around him if he has the space to watch from a distance and I just love to watch him processing all of this information and then choosing when to go forward and investigate more. I think people worry that I am missing out as I am always on the edges looking in, the loner with the dog. I don’t feel like that at all, I feel so privileged to be the one that Zephyr wants to be with and the one that can help him. He is not that different to me, I am happier observing from a distance and taking my time too.
After a quick lunch break we moved a bit further along the coast for an afternoon of climbing. This was a trickier spot to get to and was quieter so Zephyr was more relaxed and went to sleep on the beach. Justin was really putting Leon through his paces now….which made it much more interesting to watch 🙂 When they had finished climbing for the day they went for a run around the island – approx 13k. They were having a great time….I was getting annoyed that my knee injury is stopping me having as much fun!
Sunday morning we headed to Lyme Regis, Leon went for a short run and managed to find his phone that he lost about three weeks ago when he took part in the JC100 and I took Zephyr for a walk along the harbour. Lyme Regis is always busy and Zephyr coped really well. I sometimes think that the hardest part about taking Zephyr out and building up his confidence is the way he looks. We get stopped constantly by passers by to ask what breed he is, what his temperament is like, can they meet him, can they take a photo etc. Zephyr would much rather be invisible, however he does cope increasingly well with his fans. I do make sure that I manage the interactions and people have to be willing to wait until he is comfortable to approach them, rather than them approaching him. I am also always ready to say ‘no’, ‘not now’, ‘sorry’ if Zephyr has had enough, is showing me that he is too uncomfortable or I have a gut feeling that it is best not to engage. While I am happy for Zephyr to be an ambassador for the breed and think that questions and education are a good thing, the most important thing is Zephyr, his comfort, well being and personal growth. It took a longtime for me to feel able to say no to other people, but now it happens often and those that have a true interest in the breed or Zephyr’s well being are understanding.
To counter the bustle of Lyme Regis, we headed to Budleigh Salterton for the afternoon. Here it is quiet and beautiful and Zephyr, Leon and I could spend time on the beach and at the coffee shop without the crowds so Zephyr was more relaxed. After lunch we met up with Justin and his family for a dog walk. They have a springer spaniel that does everything at 100 miles an hour in true ‘springer-style’. Zephyr was nervous initially, but Sam showed no interest at all in Zephyr (which is amazing as far as Zephyr is concerned) and Zephyr settled quickly and enjoyed his walk with his new friends.
Tuchena was fine by the way – taking over the in-laws sofa and bed! 🙂