* Things at home are still quite stressy & difficult for my humans at the moment, but they are trying to stay positive. Things are improving a bit but VERY slowly and it can be very disheartening sometimes…but we are trying our best to keep our hopes & spirits up.
Hsin-Yi still has a lot of “stuff” to deal with, so I’m afraid she’s still not feeling very sociable (I don’t think we’ve looked at Google Reader for over a month now!! ) but hopefully, if things settle down a bit more next week, we might be able to start slowly catching up with all my blog friends again. I hope you are all well and I haven’t missed any big news.
So thank you to all those who still keep coming to visit me, even though I haven’t been able to return the gesture – and I’m sorry I’m being such a lousy blog friend at the moment!
Back in September, before all the Horrible, Stressy “stuff” happened to my humans and I got my Glaucoma Sickie again, we went away for another mini doggie holiday.
You see, we had such a wonderful time on my Blue Mountains holiday and although my humans usually only take me away on one doggie holiday each year, Paul said he really wanted to take the chance to have more holidays with me, while I’m still fit & healthy…
Well, Paul really wanted to go back to the Blue Mountains but that is an awful long drive away – so Hsin-Yi did some research online and found a nice place we could go that was just about 1.5 hrs drive from our home.
It is an area just north-east of Sydney, called the Hawkesbury region – which has lots of lovely green fields and orchards and horses – Hsin-Yi happened to drive through it a few weeks before and she thought it was really pretty, with rivers and rolling hills and so much more green – much more like the landscapes she missed from England and NZ. Part of it is higher up too, so it is cooler – which, of course, is always best for me!
Hsin-Yi found a dogfriendly place to stay, near a little village called Kurrajong.- it was called Sunset Cottages and it was also on its own land, so that guest doggies could roam around off-leash and explore…(because, of course, doggies are not allowed in any of the National Parks – grrrr! – and so we wouldn’t have anywhere we could go hiking!)
It was quite different from the beautiful place we stayed in the Blue Mountains…this cottage was much bigger (with 3 rooms for a big family!) and more “rough” – and my humans thought the inside was a bit strange – all a hotch-potch of things, with the old, green leather sofa and lace doilies and 60′s movie posters and dark wood…but it was sort of quaint too, in its own way!
We arrived late on the Friday so we didn’t do much – but first thing Saturday morning, straight after breakfast, we set out on a hike! The cottage was right in the middle of 10 acres of bushland forest, so I had lots of space to run & explore to my heart’s content!
After we’d been walking a while, we came to a really strange but beautiful part of the forest…where the trees were black with golden leaves and had all sorts of strange things growing on them…Yes, Hsin-Yi said it was almost like an “enchanted forest” in a fairytale!
It looked almost as if the trees had been “burnt” – but if that was what had happened, how come everything wasn’t just grey ashes and charred stumps? Wouldn’t the trees have crumbled and fallen, the branches snapped and leaves disintegrated?
Why would the trees still be standing, blackened yet strong and tall, and the leaves turn this amazing shade of gold, some with blackened tips?
(By the way, in case you’re wondering, it isn’t just “autumn colours” coz it’s not Autumn here in the Southern Hemisphere – it’s actually Spring! Besides, it was only the trees in this little section of the forest – just next to them, the trees were brown with green leaves…it was just so strange!)
It was if a great, magical fire had blazed through so fast that it hadn’t had time to really burn anything - just touched with flaming fingers – and then was gone. (Maybe my Australian readers would know more about this – is this what happens after a bush fire?)
Some of the trees were only half black – and the other half golden – and they had things oozing out that looked almost like tears…if this was a fairytale, Hsin-Yi said, then the trees would be weeping because of a curse that had swept through the forest and turned them into statues of charcoal and gold… frozen in silent glory, waiting for a hero to come and break the spell…(OK, Hsin-Yi was starting to do her “weird writer thing” here, making up crazy stories…me and Paul decided to walk faster and leave her behind…! Hmm…although I did quite like the idea of the fairytale story though…maybe they were just waiting for a Hero Doggie to come and break the spell! Hee! Hee! )
Anyway, whatever the reason was, it was a really beautiful place. And we found some really strange things growing – small mounds that had pushed their way out from the blackened ground beneath the trees….some kind of…well, we had no idea what it was but the closest my humans could think of was that they looked like black pineapples!
Well, by now we had been walking for quite a while and strayed quite far from the cottage…and it was nearly lunchtime and getting very hot – so my humans were worried about me “over-doing it” – and decided it was time for us to head back.
I was all ready to settle down for a nice nap but my humans said – no, they were taking me out again! Usually, they have to leave me behind when they go out to eat because most places are not suitable for giant doggies and it’s too hot to leave me in the car machine.
But when she had been driving through this area previously, Hsin-Yi had noticed a place that looked like it would be a dogfriendly cafe and had enough space for giant doggies – so my humans decided to take me there for lunch.
It was a great place, called Lochiel House, with a beautiful little courtyard out the back where you could sit outside to eat, a gorgeous menu of yummies and a beautiful little vegetable garden beyond as well.
And the Staff Humans there were SO nice! They said of course doggies were welcome and when they saw that there were no tables free in the courtyard – even though my humans said it was OK, we could just wait at the side until somebody else finished – they wouldn’t let us wait – they brought furniture from inside and set up a whole new table just for us!
Oh, and I had to advise Hsin-Yi on the menu, of course…
While we were waiting for our yummies to arrive, a lot of the other people in the cafe wanted to come up to say hello to me. One of the reasons my humans don’t often take me out to cafes (especially in busy places) is because people just keep coming up to us to ask questions about me and pat me and we never get any peace…but also because often people don’t understand doggie etiquette and do really stupid things to me – and Hsin-Yi gets very stressy because she has to supervise closely all the time and make sure that I’m OK.
Because even though I’m a very calm, well-socialised doggie – I am still just a doggie after all and all doggies have limits - and humans do the STUPIDEST things sometimes -
(like once a human pup ran up to me while I was lying down and just climbed on my back and started jiggling up & down, like he was riding a horse! And his parents just laughed and thought it was cute! You should NEVER let your human pup just run up to strange doggies and do stupid things like that!
And why is it that when joggers run past me, they must always smack me on the rump?? )
- but of course, if I reacted badly because of something stupid some human did, it would still be my fault!! The doggie always gets the blame – especially if you’re a big doggie!
Taking me out in public is always a risk – my humans have to protect me from people doing stupid things and blaming me. Us giant doggies have to cope with much more stupid behaviour because people seem to forget everything when they see us – they do all the things they’re told not to do with dogs (like stare at us or run straight up to us) and we also attract much more attention than the average Lab or terrier doggie, so we can never slink by unnoticed. This is one of the challenges of owning a giant doggie that most people don’t realise – they think it’s just all about big food bills and lots of space to live in (actually, that’s not really necessary) – just as important is that you have to do much more socialisation & training with us, to help us cope with “human society”, especially if you live in inner city/suburbia like we do.
Hsin-Yi tries to “bomb-proof” me as much as possible by socialising me lots & lots (continuously, all through my life -not just when I was a puppy) and always praising me & rewarding me whenever I put up with stupid behaviour.
Because I’ve been around crowds and human pups and parades and inner city streets and many, many kinds of humans, I’m pretty used to all sorts of humans doing all sorts of weird things – so I’m a very tolerant doggie.
But of course, even the most tolerant doggie has limits and shouldn’t have to put up with stupid, rude behaviour from humans. And especially as us doggies get older, we can sometimes get more gumpy and less tolerant…just like senior humans do too!
But anyway, thank goodness, this time the other people in the cafe were all very nice and respectful of doggies. One lady brought her human pup up and politely asked if it was OK to say hello…
…of course, I enjoyed saying hello…I even offered my paws to shake without being asked!
Another man at the next table wanted to say hello too. He was just trying to reach over and pat the back of my head – but Hsin-Yi told him that he shouldn’t just poke doggies from behind without being introduced properly first! Rather than let him lean over me, she took me over to his table to say hello.
Remember, it’s a good idea always to let us doggies do the approaching if possible. Especially if you are a nervous or shy doggie – it can be very threatening to have strange humans come up to you. So if people want to say hello to you or pat you, your humans should always tell them to wait there and they will let YOU approach them, rather than the other way around. Then they can release you from your Bed or Down Stay or whatever and encourage you to “go say hello”.
This way you will feel like you are in control of how close you want to get and the pace you want to approach strangers at…rather than feeling like they’re being forced on you. That’s when doggies can freak out and lash out. Even if humans think they’re smiling and being friendly – to a nervous, timid doggie, having them come up and loom over can be really scary! So always tell them to wait there and YOU will go up to them.
Well, by this time, the yummies were starting to arrive at our table…and the first one was for me!
Unfortunately, Lochiel House didn’t do any muffins at all so the closest thing my humans could find on the menu was an English scone for me (Paul’s favourite! ) – but of course, scones are full of raisins which are poisonous to us doggies…so Hsin-Yi had to pick all the raisins out one by one before I could eat it…
…hurry up, Hsin-Yi!
Finally! Mm-mm…well, it might not have been a muffin but it was still pretty good!
Nooooo! Don’t wipe my mouth in public! How embarrassing!!!
Then the rest of the yummies arrived! When my humans first started taking me out to cafés, Hsin-Yi did a lot of training to make sure that I had very good café manners – such as lying quietly on my mat by the table, not fussing around or wandering off and not hassling the humans when they are eating…
If I am very good, then I get rewarded by yummies from the table from time to time (my humans are naughty and don’t follow the rule about “never feeding doggies from the table” – they DO feed me from the table when we’re out and on special occasions but only as long as I remain polite and wait quietly…I never get anything if I hassle or beg).
So of course, even though I could smell all these exciting, delicious yummies, I had to stay lying on my mat…but it didn’t mean that I couldn’t get a sneaky peek, though! Hee! Hee!
Oooh! I couldn’t believe what Hsin-Yi had got for herself, when all she had got me was a measly scone!! The most gorgeous “smoked pulled pork” sandwich with puffed, crispy pork skin and a spicy apple sauce!
Still, she did share some of it with me so I was a bit mollified. It was super yummy!!
After lunch, we went for a little wander in the veggie garden at the back…
…it was really interesting checking out all the vegetables and herbs that were growing there, which were all used in the dishes on the menu…
It was awfully, awfully hot & sunny now – very bright and glare-y – even with sunglasses!
…and Hsin-Yi was starting to feel a bit sickie, so we decided to head back to the cottage. We were supposed to rest a little and then go for another hike in the afternoon but the bright, hot sunshine had given Hsin-Yi a terrible head ouchie called a ‘migraine’ and she felt pukey and awful and had to go sleep in the dark bedroom all afternoon. (Hsin-Yi doesn’t do very well in bright sunshine – she gets sunstroke very easily).
So me & Paul just lazed around in the cottage all afternoon by ourselves. I didn’t mind – my humans had put my bed in a lovely, sunny spot…perfect for an afternoon snooze!
We ended up having a very quiet evening in the cottage, which was fine with me…it had been an action-packed day! Whew! I needed my beauty sleep!
The next morning, Hsin-Yi was feeling back to normal again, so we set off bright & early for another walk!
This time we went in a different direction and soon came to a little pond, surrounded by tall, golden rushes… (Hsin-Yi started wondering if this place was really King Midas’s backyard ‘coz everything seemed to be golden! )
It was a really lovely morning light, with beautiful gold colours all around me, so Hsin-Yi got me to pose for a nice “portrait” photo…what do you think?
We were doing the walk before breakfast that morning so it was much cooler – and of course, you know when the temperature drops, I become a different doggie!
I was full of beans!!
I was running around so fast, Hsin-Yi could barely get a few, blurry shots of me with her camera machine…she said I was like a wild creature, crashing through the forest!
Back at the cottage, after a little rest, it was finally time for breakfast – yay!
You know that at home, we have an “Out of the Kitchen” rule, which my humans taught me from Day 1 as a baby puppy. But when we go away to stay in other places (or visit friends), my humans don’t make me follow that rule because they think it is unfair – since I haven’t had a chance to learn it in the new place yet.
But you know what? I often surprise my humans by just respecting the rule all by myself! Without my humans telling me, I will stand just out of the kitchen area when I’m waiting for my food – and I never wander in by myself, even if there is food left on the counters. This is because my humans have been so consistent with this rule at home that it has just become “normal” for me.
People also often think that I desperately miss not being able to get on the couch, because my own humans don’t allow me on any furniture at home. When we visit friends sometimes, they’re always trying to get me up onto their sofas & couches because they think I’m secretly upset and missing out and jealous of their doggies…when actually, I never even think about it. What you don’t know, you don’t miss!
A lot of people don’t understand us doggies – they are always putting human thoughts & emotions on us – so they think that we are always trying to get things that we don’t have and comparing and getting jealous, like humans do (“Oh, it’s so unfair that Buddy the Lab gets to go on the couch, when I don’t. His humans must love him more than me…” ).
Actually, as long as you are consistent with us, we doggies are very happy to live by whatever rules you set for us, in our own homes. We might get different rules somewhere else – but that doesn’t mean that we compare things when we get home. I never go to a friend’s house where I’m allowed up on the sofa – and then come home and try to get on my own sofa! Even though people say that to Hsin-Yi all the time: “Ooh, be careful, now that Honey’s had a taste of it, she’ll be trying to get on your couch at home!” – well, that never, ever happens. To me, what happens at other people’s places is a weird blip or special treat…what happens at home is what’s “normal”!
After breakfast, I had a nice little snooze on my bed while my humans had their own breakfast and then packed up, ‘coz we had to head back to Sydney that day…
…but first on the way, we were going to stop for an early lunch! My humans had noticed a really cool cafe while driving around the day before and they had thought that this was another dogfriendly place that would be suitable for giant doggies…
…and they were right! It had a huge garden with lots of picnic tables, nicely spaced out. We found a big one, right under the shade of a tree, in the corner…
There are a lot of orchards in that part of the Hawkesbury and one of the most famous things is the local, home-made fresh apple pie…so of course, we had to order some!
I also got some home-made banana bread which was de-li-cious!! It was almost worth the humiliation of having my mouth wiped in public again!
Well, after that, it really was time to head back home. Sigh. We had a fantastic time on our 2nd doggie holiday and I hope you enjoyed coming along on my adventures!
PS. For those people who have been complaining that they haven’t seen much of Muesli on my blog lately, here is a recent picture of the little minx…still trying to fit into her eggbox! Hsin-Yi says Muesli is almost 2yrs old now and starting to get Grey Tabby Bum (Hsin-Yi read somewhere that all grey tabby kitties turn into “fat, lazy homebodies”! ) – but that doesn’t stop Muesli still trying to fit into the eggbox!