After renovating our house (well so we could as least live in it), we both knew a dog had to join us.
Like many couples/families, there was a lot of discussion on what breed would join our family.
Oly desperately wanted a gun dog breed after spending so much time with them at the kennels he worked at as a teenager, so this helped narrow the search down. We did lots of research on line and came across the Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla. This breed ticked lots of boxes for us both, so we then went about trying to meet some, this included a trip to Discover Dogs.
We soon fell in love with this breed and knew it was the one for us. More research on breeders, a few visits to different breeders and we were then on the waiting list.
On 15th May 2008, a litter of 6 Wirehaired Vizlsa’s were born. One of these destined to join our family and change our lives forever.
Briar was named after Oly’s favourite flat coat retriever from the kennels he worked at. Briar was a super puppy, pretty much came house trained, loved everybody and everything but most especially cuddles. He lulled us into a complete sense of security, this puppy stuff was easy and then….
Adolescents!!!! Oh what a hooligan this boy became but how much we learned from him. From about 8 months of age our sweet boy disappeared and in his place a hormonal, teenage monster appeared. Briar taught us both so much during this time, patience, understanding and empathy to name a few. Patience when training, understanding of the changes he was going through and why he was behaving this way and empathy for other owners of adolescent hooligans and how difficult it can be.
Briar has continued to be a clown his whole life and there are many things we have learned since he was a puppy, that if we had this time again we would have done things slightly differently. However, that said we would not change this boy for the world. Every day he has made us smile and laugh. He has dabbled with obedience training and received his Silver Kennel Club Good Citizen Award. He was also Becs first agility dog, getting her hooked on this crazy sport and winning into Grade 2. Briar has been used as a stooge dog on many occasions with worried/reactive dogs, a blood donor and puppy socialiser for numerous puppy classes.
There doesn’t look like any chance of our clown growing up anytime soon and we are grateful for this comic genius every day. Oh and if you wondered why the logo is in orange, well it all started with an orange dog!!!!
Sam came into our lives in October 2009. Briar was 18 months old and we felt the time was right to add to our family. We wanted to give a home to a rescue dog and came across Many Tears Animal Rescue in Wales. The rescue organisation is based in Wales and rescues and re-homes dogs around the country and also from Ireland. It has a network of fosterers and its main site is based in Wales.
While looking through their website we came across Sam, he was a young adult dog who had been found as a stray in Ireland. There was something about his face that drew both of us to him. He was being fostered in Surrey and after much discussion we sent an application form to adopt him. We were successful and on Saturday 10th October 2009, we met Sam for the first time and he joined our family.
Sam was a black and white Springer Spaniel and a real wild child. He settled into our home very quickly but it soon became apparent he had a few issues to say the least. Sam became extremely over aroused on walks. He was exceptionally vocal, had no concept of recall, pulled like a steam train and unfortunately was not fond of other dogs. There was many a time, in those first few months we thought we had bitten off more than we could chew but we were not going to give up on this boy.
We learned to manage lots of Sam behaviours and worked hard on many others. We both agree we were completely unprepared for a dog like Sam but it’s not the easy dogs that you learn from and make you a good dog handler but those that test you and make you think out of the box. Sam certainly did this.
As the years went by and we learned more and more about dogs, training and behaviour so did our understanding of Sam and his behaviour. We both believe Sam joined our family because he was the right dog for us and we were the right family for him, not that it always felt that way.
Sam had a wonderful gentle side, was absolutely amazing with children and became our nephew’s best friend. He loved to retrieve and was an absolute water baby. His favourite trick was bobbing beers from a large bucket at BBQ’s and kept our friends entertained for hours. He was also full of surprises and when we fostered a mother and her puppies, we were amazed at how wonderful and gentle he was with all the pups, especially Percy whom he adored.
Sam was a big part of our family and in July 2017, after a short illness with cancer, we made the very difficult decision to say goodbye. As many know, this is the hardest part of owning a dog and the heart break was great. Sam had not been easy but with love, time and understanding he had a wonderful 7 and half years with us. We loved this boy dearly and are so very grateful for all the lessons we taught us and feel privileged to have had him as part of our family.
Willow our black Working Cocker Spaniel came into our lives at the end of 2012. Sam had given us the spaniel bug and Becs had always loved the Working Cockers as a breed. It was decided that a puppy would be the best fit for our family especially with Sam and his issues with some dogs. Again much research was done and we came across a lovely home bred litter in Essex. What drew us to this breeder was her insistence on providing two references. To us this said an awful lot about how much they cared about the homes their puppies went to.
Willow (also known as Miss Winks) was a super puppy, she fitted right in with the boys. She quickly bonded with Becs and is never far from her side. She is a very biddable little girl, who has been easy to train. She is a sensitive little soul whom at times lacks confidence in certain environments and situations. Very different to work with than the boys, teaching us even more and having to adapt how we train.
She is a typical spaniel in many ways and adores her walks. She never stops on a walk and we joke she does triple what anyone else does when we are out. Becs also trained agility with Willow and successfully moved from grade 2 to 5 with her. She also qualified for the Agility Novice Cup at Crufts in 2017 and got 2nd overall in the competition. Helping Becs achieve a childhood dream of qualifying and competing at Crufts with her own dog. However, her sensitive side and confidence has always held her back and after an injury in the summer of 2017 Becs made the decision to retire from agility with Willow. Everything we do with our dogs we choose to do to enrich their lives and offer them the best life possible. Willow finding the environment more and more overwhelming was not providing the fun and pleasure it should for her.
Willow will continue to trick train and has started canicross with Becs. She will always be an extremely special little dog to Becs with a mutual understanding of each other that comes once in a lifetime.
Percy (or Perseverance as he is also known) was a surprise for us in so many ways. We were asked by our good friend Leah, to foster a little black working cocker who had been handed in by a commercial breeder from Ireland into Many Tears Animal Rescue. The catch, she was pregnant!
Figgy came to us 2 days before Christmas 2016, a very scared and shut down little soul. She soon settled into the family and started to come out of her shell. On the 7th January 2017, Figgy gave birth to 5 healthy puppies (or puddings as we called them). Pepper, Pearl and Pippa were all born within an hour of each other and then Figgy seemed to stop. She ate, drank, toileted and nursed her puddings. Three hours later, when we were all settled for the evening, happy that she had delivered three beautiful girls, Percy appeared! Then 20 minutes later Petey followed. Yep the boys made a very surprising and late appearance.
Over the next 8 weeks we fostered Figgy and her puddings and fell in love with them all. We very much wanted to keep Figgy but unfortunately she had taken a disliking to Sam. A few weeks after she went to her new home we found out he had cancer. Whether or not Figgy knew he was ill and didn’t want him near her pups we will never know. We adored all the puddings but Percy captured our hearts. This funny looking, daft puppy chose us and there was no going back.
Having a puppy from birth is very different from bringing one home. Percy had never lived anywhere else, he was happy and content in his environment and knew the rest of the family well. He has become the perfect fit to our family and brought a lot of joy to us during Sam’s illness.
He loves to train and is very smart. He has started agility training and has also been used during Becs lectures to Veterinary Professionals on dog behaviour.
We always believed that Figgy wasn’t a full Working Cocker Spanial. All the puppies looked like they had some Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in them, so we did a DNA test on Percy. His results came back as 67.5% CKCS, 25% Cocker Spaniel and…… 12.5% PUG!!! Yep we weren’t expecting the pug part. Percy’s sister Pepper also had hers sent off and came back exactly the same so it’s pretty accurate.
Percy is one of the happiest and easiest dog we have ever met or owned. He is perfect in so many ways and even though he was very much a surprise, for so many reasons, we couldn’t imagine life without our Perfect Percy.