Our dogs are very special to us. Perhaps even more so as we don’t have children. We’ve loved spending so much time with them in 2018. We spent so many years working full-time and commuting into London, with dog walkers helping to care for them while we were out all day. One of our main goals of our trip has been to have a break from work in order to spend time with our dogs, and so now we are making it up to them, particularly Bodger who is getting on in years. We want to give both of them the best life we can, with lots of swimming opportunities, walks, cuddles and above all, lots and lots of company.
Bodger is a water-crazy Labrador. We’ve had him since he was just seven weeks old and a plump little black puppy. His idea of the best thing in the whole world is swimming. When we are near water, he transforms – he forgets his arthritis and the years fall off him. His eyes light up, he breaks into a canter, his head and tail go into in pointer position, and he does a special trot – like an Icelandic pony – towards the water’s edge, glancing back every now and again to see if we have a stick or a ball to throw for him. At the water’s edge he becomes more like a bouncy, cavorting 5-year old again. So on our trip we’ve made it our goal to give him as much swimming as possible. Our vet also said it’s the best possible thing to help keep him fit and in good condition.
Bodger’s passion for swimming has led us to numerous bodies of water around Europe. We think he may now hold an unnofficial Guinness World Record for the most lakes, seas or rivers ever swum by a dog! So far he’s swum in:
Oceans and seas: the Channel, Atlantic, Mediterranean, North Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, Baltic Sea, Norwegian Sea
Rivers and lakes: Seine, Loire, Elbe, Cher, Dronne, Dordogne, Garonne, Douro, Tagus, Nabao, Mondego, Soca, Isar, Gota Canal, Lake Garda, Lake Vattern, Lake Takern
And the best bit of all ? When he’s happy, so are we. No matter how stressful our journey has been, as soon as Bodger is in the water and happy in his element, Tim and I can’t help but break out into smiles and any tension drains away. I have realised that I unconsciously make a little sound of delight– a bit like a chuckle – when I watch him enjoying a swim . I had no idea I did this until I re-watched a video I took.
Likes: Food, treats, swimming, tennis balls, his brother Dexter, ear rubs, teddies
Dislikes: Hoses, mushrooms, celery heads, people arguing, fireworks
Charlie is our little ray of sunshine with a bit of clown thrown in. He is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who we got when he was one year old. I had been looking for an older Cavi, possibly a rescue but I couldn’t find one. Then a friend sent me a link to a page with him on Preloved.co.uk. Unlike some very dubious ads for puppies on the site, he seemed to genuinely come from a family who had to move house and couldn’t take him with them. We went to ‘have a look’ (yes I know, famous last words!). We met him, introduced him to Bodger who was three at the time, and came home with him that day. We were his third owners at the tender age of 13 months old. (Apparently his first owners said they didn’t realise what hard work puppies are.)
He was underweight and flea-ridden when we got him. He also smelled bad and although house-trained, he would have accidents overnight. But we got him neutered and the accidents stopped and the smell stopped. At first, he took about 20 minutes to eat each meal and I’d have to encourage him – kibble by kibble. I had to sit with him otherwise he’d follow me away from his bowl. But soon he was copying Bodger’s example and wolfing his food down in 30 seconds flat.
He and Bodger were friends from day one, I had no doubt that Bodger would be a gentle big brother to him and I was not wrong. A big brother also comes in handy if there are any other strange dogs on a walk that he is scared of, and Bodger has always been very protective. Charlie copies everything Bodger does, so now Charlie loves to chase sticks and he loves water too. They are often to be seen trotting side by side, Bodger with a large stick in his mouth, and Charlie with a small twig in his mouth!
Like all small dogs, Charlie has a big personality and knows his own mind. But he is extremely biddable, loves to please and his recall is excellent. The only flaw in his character is aggression towards dogs he doesn’t know and his general barkiness. We believe this might be because he was not socialised with other dogs as a puppy.
He makes me laugh every day and is totally lovable. He is the perfect wing-dog to our dear Bodger – he is Scrappy Doo to Bodger’s Scooby Doo.
Likes: Food, treats, laps, walks, playing, barking at the television
Dislikes: Having his teeth brushed, going to the vets, dogs he doesn’t know