The dogs in my life part one

Buster the very first dog in my life. He was my paternal grandparents dog who I adored.

I know I promised when I first started blogging again earlier in the year that I would feature the dogs more in my posts and I realised this morning that I have been a little remiss in my duties. People enjoy my posts but secretly I think they feel a little cheated when I don’t include the mutts latest adventures!

So for those of you who are new to my blog or for those of you who are longtime readers I thought I would devote a couple of posts to them over the next few weeks so that I can fully explain about how the dogs came into our lives and what havoc they wreak – in a good way!

As a child our family dog was an orange and white cocker spaniel named Chas. I wanted him to be called snoopy but was overruled, I think Chas suited him better than snoopy ever would. Chas came from a farm and as we didn’t own a car at the time my mum and sister were driven by a neighbour to pick him up. Dad and I walked the two miles to the local shops to pick up dog paraphernalia including his collar and lead. I remember being very jealous that my sister would get to see Chas first and felt cheated. I must have driven my dad mad with my whining during the walk to the shops and back, although I don’t remember him telling me off but patiently explaining how important my job was today choosing the items for our puppy.

My Grandad and me with Chas at Aberdeen Beach

I remember when Chas came home he was riddled with fleas, my mum placed him on some newspaper in the kitchen, spending ages getting them off him. I can’t have been much more than 5 or 6 years old but that memory is pretty vivid. I also remember he was fed the brand “Chunky”, a tinned food that smelt almost as bad as Chas’ farts after eating it. Back in the early 1980’s we did not seem to be as focused on dog nutrition as we are now. My dogs have mainly eaten a premium dry food, only receiving a premium wet food when Mollie was pregnant as a way to get her to eat more.

Chas was an absolute bugger of a dog, he was an angel for my dad and I but led my mum a merry dance. As an uncastrated male dog his favourite trick was to run away from my mum for hours at a time, only to return home after he had satisfied his male urges. I remember sitting in class at school one day and looking out the window only to see my mum running up the hill towards the playground in pursuit of Chas who had decided to pay my sister and I a visit at primary school. As I am writing this I have realised stubborn dogs are going to be a bit of a feature in these future posts.

Unfortunately Chas had a nasty temper, he only liked to be petted by one person at a time and he preferred my dad or me over my sister and mother. This would have been fine but my dad worked away from home for weeks at a time. Chas would have been put down these days as he bit both my sister and I. Eventually my parents re-homed him with my mother’s father. Chas was much happier there, going for massive walks three times a day and having no kids around to annoy him. Sadly Chas died unexpectedly from cirrhosis of the liver at the young age of 7 and from the time that until I was 16 there were no dogs in our family home.

When my sister was around 14 she contracted a case of the flu from which she never recovered. She couldn’t go to school and was bed bound for many years. My parents decided to get her a dog, so Sophie the Yorkshire Terrier came into our lives. She was gorgeous and tiny but unfortunately she left us all too soon. Sophie passed away from an allergic reaction to anaesthetic when she was being spayed. It was a one in a million tragic event, it hit us all very hard, my sister most of all. The next day my mum tracked down a lady who was selling Yorkshire Terrier pups and so Josh and Connie came into our lives. Josh was a stubborn old bastard to be honest. He hated having a bath and you only had to say the word and he’d dive under the nearest available bed  trying to take chunks out of anyone who attempted to remove him from his hiding place. 
Sophie, me and my sister
Connie and Josh

When I got my first home, it was a pretty solitary existence. From the August to the November I lived in a bed and breakfast paid for by the company, whilst I waited for the mortgage to go through on my flat. I was living alone in a new town, holding down a new job. When my front door shut at night I had no human company until I went back to work the following day. I had been joking with my parents that I needed a cat or a boyfriend. Against the odds I ended up with a boyfriend (I’ve never really been a cat person), having been single for the three years prior to that.

OK so I found a picture of me with a cat!

The flat was leasehold, the terms of the lease expressly forbade pets of any kind. My then boyfriend (now husband) and I liked to live dangerously so we bought a hamster and named her Tubbillina or Tubby for short. Tubby was tame within a day loving nothing more than running around our flat in her ball. She was an ideal pet for us being nocturnal, as I was out all day at work. Hubby worked twilight shifts, getting home around 3am each morning when Tubbys activity levels were at their peak. A more worshipped Hamster you will never find.

Hubby had never grown up with dogs, Josh and Connie terrified him, even though they were tiny. Over time though his confidence grew, when we visited my family we would pack the dogs up in the car and take them for walks on Dartmoor. He really began to like having dogs around and vowed whenever we moved into a house we would get a dog.

We always said we would would have a small dog, we didn’t want a big dog as hubby was still nervous around anything larger than a west highland terrier. All that was to change when through work we met a couple who bred Weimaraner’s. Neither of us had ever heard of the breed before and were intrigued. We went around to meet the dogs and were terrified by the size of them. Our friends owned five of them 3 bitches and two dogs and they were enormous!

One of the bitches was pregnant and our friends said that we could have one of the puppies. I then spent every waking hour reading up about looking after dogs and Weimaraners. Travis was born on October 26th 2003 two days before we moved into our new home. We got to see the litter when it was a few weeks old and later we were the first people to choose which pup was going to be ours.

Travis chose me and from the minute he came home on the 13th December he was my dog. Travis had us over a barrel, Weimaraner’s I now know are not a dog for the fainthearted or inexperienced dog owner. They have a unique stubborn streak and are too intelligent for their own good (or their owners).


Travis was a beautiful dog if a little badly behaved. He never caused any of the destruction our other Weimaraner’s have caused, the most he ever destroyed was a copy of the Yellow Pages. He was a terrible thief though, I will talk about that in another post. If it wasn’t nailed down Travis would steal it, food including other people’s picnics, other dogs toys, Marine Corps radio packs just to name a few. Travis was well-known to the Marines who trained on Woodbury Common where we walked him and not for good reasons.

In 2005 Mollie (Travis’ sister) joined us. I had my heart on changing her name to Pixie when she joined us aged 11 weeks however she had been answering to the name Mollie for a few weeks it seemed cruel to change it. Travis was not impressed at this new pup joining us. He stared at her all the way home in the car as by then our friends had moved to Cornwall.

Mollie had not been a planned purchase. Up until two weeks before we got her we had never even discussed getting another dog let alone another Weimaraner. It was all just chance again, hubby and our friend had been to watch a football match when “K” mentioned that from the last litter they had one bitch left and they were thinking about keeping her. The person who had been due to buy her house sale had fallen through and a houseboat was not a safe environment to bring a puppy to live. Later that day hubby met Mollie and it was love at first sight. When he arrived home later that day all he could talk about was Mollie this and Mollie that.

A week later we drove down to Cornwall to meet her taking Travis with us. Travis played with Mollie but didn’t take a massive interest with her preferring to play with the other adult dogs. Travis and then later Mollie were always immediately taken back into the pack with no problems whenever we visited our friends and it was nice to be able to go out somewhere we could take both the dogs and not be scared if they made a mess or were naughty. Our minds were made up on meeting Mollie that we would take her home.

For four days after Mollie’s arrival Travis ignored her and sulked with me. Hubby took a week off work to ensure she settled in with me taking the following week off work. However Mollie has only had eyes for hubby in the same way Travis only ever had eyes for me. It was really nice for him to finally have his own dog, Travis loved him but it was me he worshipped and it was the same with hubby and Mollie.

Mollie and Travis a few days after we brought her home.
Next time how Frankie and Willow joined us.

Things I now can’t live without

Since getting sick my world has changed in ways that had I not been ill it never would had. Gone has my desire to fill my home with the latest material whim – just as well because I had expensive tastes and did not have the budget to indulge it.

My home is now filled with things that make life easier or more comfortable for me. Design is very important, labels no longer are. This principle extends to clothes, shoes, household appliances  all manner of things. Comfort and ease of use are paramount when your manual dexterity goes. So I thought I would compile a list of things that I can’t live without should the zombie apocalypse come or should I be sent away to a desert island. I would be screwed on both counts anyway due to their being no electricity to power some of these items.

Disclaimer: I am not being paid by any company to endorse their products. These are simply the ones I use and will receive no financial reward for mentioning them on my blog.

Eye mask collection.

Since getting sick I have found eye masks brilliant for when I want to sleep during the day. My favourite one is the F Off one as this usually lets people know how I am feeling should they wish to try to disturb me. Both of these eye masks were bought for me by my sister. It’s very important when buying an eye mask that you try it on as it does need to be comfortable. If I have ptosis or sinus pain I can’t wear the F Off one as it feels too tight. The lion mask is ideal in these situations as it is quite loose. It’s not as good as the other eye mask for keeping the light out but it works well enough. They are great for when I have a migraine that makes me light-sensitive. So if you have never tried an eye mask they are well worth a try. The F Off one can be bought from Amazon in the UK – I am sure other retailers will sell it also!



Wrist splints and arthritis gloves.


I have had problems with my wrists / fingers causing me pain on and off for years, even before my health took a turn for the worse back in 2007. I find if I have done a lot of writing or anything where the movement is repetitive I end up with wrist / finger pain. I pop these splints on and find they are very effective in holding my wrists in a neutral position and thus resting my whole hand. I did own a black pair of splints a few years ago and that was a massive mistake. I was constantly having to clean the dog hair off them! With having three dogs the amount of hair they shed can be quite impressive. My black pair ended up being re homed with my parents. Do shop around for splints as prices vary wildly, also make sure you order the correct side as in a left brace for the left wrist. Make sure you get someone to measure your wrist for you so you can buy the correct size. A splint really needs to be comfortable and not rub around the base of your thumb as you will end up not using it. 

The gloves also featured in the photo are of my arthritis gloves. Due to Dysautonomia my hands get very cold, my fingernails turn blue with alarming regularity. When my hands get cold I suffer from joint pain in my fingers. During the winter these gloves are an absolute boon. They are thin enough that you don’t lose whatever manual dexterity you have, however they do keep your hands warm. When my husbands psoriasis had a bad flare up earlier this year I got him a pair of these gloves to wear whilst he was at work to protect his hands. They really are very good, they were bought from a famous online retailer named after a large rain forest! 


Sunglasses collection

I have developed light sensitivity since becoming ill. I was always light-sensitive even as a child any sunlight at all would leave me squinting and going for my sunglasses. It’s not just the light sensitivity though with suffering ptosis I feel very self-conscious when I am out and about so the sunglasses hide that. I have different levels of tints for different times of the year. Normal sunglasses on a cloudy winters day are far too dark so I wear normal glasses with tinted lenses that have no prescription – the green ones. My red / pink-tinted glasses are for when I have to spend a lot of time using the computer. I find the wave length of the light can leaving me feeling like my optic nerve is being burned! So the red lenses just drop the light levels down. My Gucci sunglasses were purchased before I became ill and they have the darkest lenses of all my glasses. I have another pair which I forgot to photograph, they have a much bigger lens so that if my eyebrow is drooping through ptosis the size of the lens covers it up nicely.



Wedge Pillow

The photograph above is of my wedge-shaped pillow. On days when I am stuck in bed feeling faint this is brilliant, it has one thin end that you can sit just under your bum and then the thicker end you can put your legs on and it raises you legs up for you. I was very lucky that my mum happened to spot it when she was shopping in a German based supermarket that is popular in the UK and got it at a bargain price. It is quite large to store away when it’s not in use but hubby always manages to get it in the airing cupboard……somehow!


In the photograph below is a little smorgasbord of items that I use pretty regularly. The lap tray that everything is balanced on is a brilliant item. When I first got ill my friend Ellie suggested I got one so that I would be able to use my laptop whilst in bed. Its not only great for using my laptop but when I am too sick to go downstairs for meals it also serves as a dining table. It is easy to wipe clean and the legs fold away so that it can be stored next to my bedside cabinet. It’s also nice and light which means I am usually able to set it up without help.

The large red item on the right of the picture is my heat wrap. I have a tendency to burn myself when I use hot water bottles. If I am unwell and hubby is out or at work I can just flick a switch and I have instant heat on my back or stomach or whatever else is hurting me that day. I did have a blue one but unfortunately it died this year. It was one of my most used items and I went a few months before I found something I felt would replace it. I like heat wraps and hot water bottles to be very hot, luckily my heat wrap comes with three settings and it automatically cuts out after a set period of time. This new one can also be washed which is an added bonus.

I have spoken about my shower cap before on my blog many years ago and this is the same one. I love my shower cap and although many people may feel it is rather old-fashioned, it saves me so much energy by not having to wash my hair. I can’t go in the shower without it if I am not going to wash my hair as a drop of moisture and my hair is a mass of curls. I like my hair straight so avoiding frizz is good. I don’t like having a wash at a sink, if I am not well enough for a shower I will simply wait until I am, unless I am having visitors. What I haven’t taken a photograph of simply because I forgot was my shower stool. I love my shower stool as it means I can have a shower without standing. Much safer for me!

I also use dry shampoo when I have been able to wash my hair for a while. I am sure there are many brands of dry shampoo this is just the one I use. You do have to be careful that you don’t spray it too close to the roots of your hair otherwise you end up looking like you have gone prematurely grey. It freshens your hair up whilst getting rid of the grease so you don’t feel so grotty when you aren’t well enough to wash your hair.

The last item on my lap tray is a shower gel by Burts Bee’s. My skin has become incredibly dry and sensitive since becoming ill. I have to be very careful what products I apply to my skin as I will have an allergic reaction, even to things I have used for months. This shower gel doesn’t foam up but leaves your skin feeling clean and it smells heavenly. As it is only me that uses it a bottle of this (although expensive) will last me several months. I really couldn’t live without this.


Lap tray, shower cap, heat wrap, dry shampoo and shower gel.


V-shaped pillow, boudoir cushion, Russian Doll hot water bottle, Babushka hot water bottle.


The last photograph contains two of my most treasured possessions my hot water bottles. The red one was a Christmas present from Ellie who must have searched high and low to find me a Russian doll hot water bottle cover and the pink one is a Babushka hot water bottle cover I received as a present from my sister. I don’t think a day has gone by in the last 6 months that I haven’t used them, it’s actually probably longer. Heat is the only thing that my chronic pain responds to. At least if there was a zombie apocalypse I should in theory be able to get my hands on some hot water!

At the front of the picture on the left hand side is one (of two) boudoir cushions – they match my bedroom curtains. They were initially bought purely as decoration but they are just the right size to pop under a sore knee or to prop my head up when I want to watch tv in bed. I am amazed at how much I use them. Just as well because they weren’t cheap.

At the back of the photograph is my V-shaped pillow and this is also used daily when I am resting in bed. I have rest periods every day and the v shaped pillow helps keep me propped up comfortably. Its also great for when I want to read a book. If you put it around your middle whilst lying in bed you can rest your book against it saving your wrist joints. I find holding a book is very hard as my wrists are quite weak. I found this out by accident one day and its been an enormous help to me, it has enabled me to continue reading when I had almost given up.

There were literally too many things to choose from when considering writing this post. I had to think very long and hard about what things I used on a daily basis and what was nice to feature but didn’t get used an awful lot. Everything featured in this post gets used heavily. I haven’t included any modern technology but of course I couldn’t live without my mobile (cell) phone, my Nexus 10 (tablet computer) and my chromebook. I am very lucky that I am able to afford to buy these things. Without them I would be very isolated as social media, text messages and phone calls keep me connected to the outside world.

I haven’t included the adaptations that have been made to my home such as grab rails or an extra banister going up my stairs. Nor have I photographed my chemical toilet or numerous walking aids simply because they aren’t very glamorous despite the fact they too are used daily.

I just wanted to give you a little peek into my world and find out if there was anything that you would also find useful. As always thank you for reading xx