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The wind buffets against us as we trudge across the Malvern Hills. Heads down, fighting to stay upright against the driving wind and rain. The dog darts from tree to tree, searching for squirrels. She barely notices the inclement weather as there are so many exciting sights, sounds and smells.
The reality of dog ownership
I never had a dog as a child. So, perhaps I was a little naive when I headed to the Dog’s Trust one day and chose a beautifully soft looking hound. He was big. And the rescue centre had no idea how he’d cope in a home environment. He’d been a working foxhound that had wandered off from the pack. After a period of time living on the streets and scavenging for food, he was taken to the Dog’s Trust.
Snoopy was my first ever canine companion. When we brought him home, he was a bit of a maniac. He had no idea what he should and shouldn’t do, so he ran across furniture, went where he wanted and ate EVERYTHING. There’s no better weight loss diet than bringing a four year old foxhound into your home.
But despite it all, he didn’t need much exercise. Don’t get me wrong, he loved his daily walks. He’d even do a bit of running with me. But he wasn’t the exercise machine I expected him to be. It was always a concern when he was off the lead that he might get a scent of a fox and leg it. As it happened, he came face to face with foxes numerous times and didn’t bat an eyelid. But if he got a waft of somebody cooking a bacon sandwich four miles away, there was no catching up with him.
A more active dog
Since Snoopy, there have been a few other dogs in my life. Soxa was a hilarious, loving staffy cross who would chase a ball for days on end if you’d let her. Pluto came next, a speed machine who could beat anyone over 100 metres but that’d be him done for days when it came to exercise. These days, we think he’s around 15 years old. Now, he’s happy with two slow plods around the field each day.
And then, there was Bubbles. She came into our life as a four month old rescue puppy. She’s a staffy cross with boundless energy. When she ran the 50 mile Gower ultra marathon with me last year, I thought she’d want a few days off exercise when we finished. The following day, I could barely move. But Bubbles was fresh as a daisy. She posed for a photo with her medal and she was off again as if nothing had ever happened.
Our daily routine
With Pluto plodding around as he does, I tend to stick to walking with the dogs now. Every morning and evening, we’re out in all weathers. There’s nothing more valuable to me than a decent coat, and when it’s really wet the dogs wear their coats too.
This Winter, I’m loving my new coat from Millets. It is the Technicals Women’s Polar Parka, currently on sale at £80. I am not a fan of spending large amounts of money on clothing, but when it comes to coats, it’s a necessity.
This coat is incredibly warm. For once, I’m looking forward to the freezing weather arriving this Winter. I’ll be doing up the coat and hood and staying toasty. In the meantime, I’ve been putting it through its paces in horrendous rain and can confirm it’s totally waterproof.
At the moment, my husband doesn’t get involved in dog walks as he’s on crutches. But when he’s back to normal, we’ll be walking on the hills as a family. It’s one of my favourite things to do in cold weather, especially when there’s a warm pub with a log fire at the end of the walk.
My husband is gearing up for walking days with one of the Millet’s men’s coats. He also went for a warm, waterproof coat – the Peter Storm Parka. If I’m honest I was a bit cross with him because it’s rather too similar to mine, but at least it’s a different colour. He’s happy with it too. It’s warm, waterproof and looks great. Pretty much all you can ask for in a coat.
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