Right, so this puppy thing is almost exactly like having a baby... bar the giving birth obviously.. and the choosing her from a litter in a garden shed... and putting her out in the kennel for an hour or so when we all need a rest (her as much as us)
But the mess around the house, the bag of toys, the teething, the house-training, the disappearing 'spare time' and the 'having to think about something else' have all taken some getting used to given it is thirty five years since we have had a house puppy etc.
There is nothing better than Dartmoor with a dog.
Well, no actually Dartmoor with children is fun too, and ours were raised on it. Snowsuits and boots on at 6am if they were all awake and raring to start the day and Bookhound would take them up there with their breakfast for an 'adventure' .. while I turned over and went back to sleep.
And a wonderful place to meet up with friends and children years ago and let them all run off steam. One memorable day up on Pewtor with a friend and her children who lived in a cottage just below. Their water supply came from the tor and we happily picnicked and let the chidren romp about in the leat while we chatted our way through a glorious summer's afternoon. When her water ran dry that night, and she walked back up to the top to investigate, there was a beautifully constructed but child-like dam.
For a start the views from Dartmoor are predictably stunning... this is a camera zoom towards Brentor from the top of White Tor (if you click on the picture it should also display as a larger size)
...and you generally have the place to yourself, vast acres of it, especially in November, this the view across to Roos and Staple Tor from White Tor on Remembrance Day last Sunday.
But Dartmoor with a dog can actually be very stressful.
All that wide open space and of course our first-born dog Ben, a handsome and very intelligent Border Collie, who we bought at six weeks old from a farm up on the moors, would spot a sheep ten miles away and be off across the horizon to round them up with us in mad pursuit. He had a wall-eye (one blue, one brown) which apparently makes for excellent sheep fixing, and frankly we should never have let him watch One Man and His Dog, because then you have to do all the 'getting cross' when you finally catch them for doing something that is instinctive, and seemed alright for Meg and Shep on the TV. You feel a bit bad trying to reverse their genes and hope no farmer has your precious puppy in his gun sights...well within his rights. Ben learned it all eventually but it took time.
Nell, a Sprocker (Cocker/Springer blend) has entirely different instincts and just likes to run with her nose along the ground and sniff things, and best of all to stay close. This all makes her a dream to take up on the moors and so we have started some serious Dartmoor walking again. Boots, rucksacks, waterproofs, map, compass, the lot. Nell is bagging Tors right left and centre (and we do have to go to one called Baggator) including Great Mis Tor which at 1765 feet is our highest so far.
It was windy up top but seemed to display her ears to best effect..
Bookhound's years of experience in the Dartmoor Rescue Group are useful as well as comforting. He generally knows where we are, in which direction we are walking and what that Tor 'over there' is called, where the nearest pub lunch can be found, as well as what to do in an emergency.
So we are reacquainting ourselves with all our 'old ways' as well as discovering some new paths, and of course we will be taking you all along too.
Looking at that picture of Ben again I feel and remember all those seventeen years of faithful hound that we shared with him, but Nell is shaping up that way in our affections too, and I think you can see the ears are coming along very nicely.