Phantom 3 Standard Quad-copter (or drone if you prefer)

Well, after losing my first drone last weekend (Matt’s father’s day present to me had a mind of its own and flew into a lake on its first flight) I decided to upgrade to DJI Phantom 3 Standard and give flying another go.

After watching lots of YouTube videos and practicing on the DJI app, Rio and I got up early this morning and headed for the Northants countryside to test out my new toy.

Within minutes I had the quad-copter flying and filming some of the surrounding landscape; controlling the drone was simple and easy to get some great shots.

Unfortunately the battery didn’t last long and my fun ended prematurely but I had gotten the bug and was eager to get it recharged and get out flying again. Unfortunately the weather for the rest of the day was not so good, with high winds and showers so no more flying but I did manage to cobble together this video…

Fingers crossed for some good weather in the morning!

About turn

This time last year when renewing my phone, I defected from Apple to Samsung after the disappointing release of the iPhone 5S, which although having the cool fingerprint reader, just didn’t appeal due to the model retaining a smallish screen. My replacement was the Samsung S4, which at the time, was one of the larger screened mobiles available. I was also keen to try out the Android operating system, which I’d heard positive things about and soon found it to my liking, especially with the vast choice of apps that were available.

I will admit there were times when I felt I’d made a mistake in switching, especially when I started getting latency issues (I’d press a button or icon and the screen wouldn’t react immediately which was really annoying). Thankfully the updated OS (Kit Kat) resolved this and I was quite satisfied with my lot; the camera was particularly pleasing, with photos on my blog evidence of the quality.

Then it all changed last month.

There had been leaked reports of new iPhone’s being launched in the Autumn with two new models with larger screens and better cameras, but with a year to go on my existing contract, the new models would have to be something special to make me switch.

Then I visited the Apple store at Milton Keynes!

And I had a Sharesave windfall!

At the same time 🙂

I took one look at the iPhone 6 Plus and had a ‘I want one’ moment, to the dismay but inevitable acceptance of Tina. Disappointingly though they didn’t have the size I wanted in stock and the online delivery time was 3-4 weeks, too long to get it before our holiday so instead I embarked in an online vigil of shop stock on the Apple website. Finally I managed to reserve a Gold 128GB iPhone 6 Plus at 4am in the morning and duly picked it up from the Leicester Apple Store later that day.

And wow, what a phone. It is so impressive and the larger screen is bloody lovely. The finger print reader is really accurate and the camera is superb, with the ability to record video at 240fps, just sublime. I’ve not really used the camera in anger yet but did shoot a small video which really is impressive (It’s worth watching full screen). See what you think…


Early Riser

Today, Rio decided that a quarter to six was late enough for the household to lie and started to whine and bark. Now on a normal week day that’s not normally a problem as I get up before that and take him out for his morning jaunt around the streets but on a Saturday morning, with a houseful of family (Abby, Loz, Matt and Chloe stayed over after yesterday’s funeral) it would be nice to get a bit of a lay in. Tina says it’s my own fault for getting him up so early each day, but it would be nice to get a lay in occasionally.

Anyhow, I decided to pamper to his needs, got dressed and we were soon leaving the house. I then found out why he was so alert; three poo’s and a long wee in the space of five minutes, clearly he was a bit desperate.

Once I am out with Rio I really do enjoy the walking; this morning was especially lovely, with the sun just starting to rise, there was not a soul around. We headed for the old railway viaduct which leads to the various dog walking routes I take and I decided to head south parallel to the river walking the Nene Way towards Stanwick Lakes.

This path is a popular trail for walkers, cyclists and joggers but early morning it’s normally clear and safe for me to let Rio off his lead. Along the way are a couple of points where Rio can play in the river, a pastime he does enjoy although he normally only paddles. And so we made our way along the track, passing Woodford Grange and crossing the river a couple of times, by now the sun was visible and the morning was warming up.

The path is lined with trees and hedges so as you walk along looking ahead you can see rabbits which Rio loves to chase; too big and slow to get anywhere near, but he tries anyway. A few weeks ago he did manage to get a rabbit, a baby one I think, but not through Rio’s speed but through chance. He was walking on his long lead when he stopped and put his head in some long grass. Next thing he brings out a rabbit in his mouth! I immediately got him to release it but the shocked bunny froze on the ground and I wasn’t quick enough to pull Rio away from his prize and the rabbit was back in his mouth again. Eventually I got Rio to let go and left a rather stunned bunny on the side of the path. I suspect it was a baby rabbit, not aware of the dangers of hiding so close to the path.

smelly rioToday, though Rio wasn’t getting any joy with chasing rabbits so instead he decided to take up his other favourite past time, namely to roll in fox and horse shit. Given the chance, Rio loves to roll around in anything smelly, with dead things being the worst, but today it was just horse crap. And unfortunately one of the disadvantages of the Nene Way trail, being quite flat, is that it’s popular with horse riders and where there are horse riders there is horse shit. And lots of it!

So in no time at all, Rio was rolling in poo to a point where he was covered. And when he’s not rolling in it he’s eating it, why do dogs do that? We reached a point of the trail at a good place to turn around and headed back home; making a detour to the river to try to get Rio in to wash off some of his newly plastered coat but he wasn’t having any of it and so I had to bring him home looking rather messy.

IMG_2866When I got home I did a bit of as Google to see why dogs roll in poo and one suggestion is that it stems back to when they were pack animals. A dog would return to the pack covered in the scent of animals such as deer so the rest of the group would be able to be led to the place where there is food. Another suggestion is that, like humans do when putting on perfume, dogs like to smell differently and so the roll in the smelly poo to mask their own smell.

Irrespective of the reasons Rio did roll today, I do know that later he will be smelling very much like a wet dog when he comes out of the shower!

Postscript: I had to laugh after seeing this cartoon drawn by Off the Leash artist Rupert Fawcett, which is quite apt really.

See what you think…


Letter to breeder – Spring update

Hi Lexi,

Time for another update.

rio up closeWith the extended winter just about done; today has been a heady twenty degrees hopefully we will able to make use of the longer days and warmer weather and get out and about more. Despite being a large dog, we have noticed that Rio needs lots of walking; I normally take him out twice a day but due to the inclement weather the walks have been shorter, especially during week. This results in having uncontrollable bouts of excitement which has often meant he’s had to be excluded from the living room as his ‘play’ is just too rough for everyone. We have worked out that any sort of play with him indoors normally gets out of hand after ten minutes or so resulting in him being dragged out to calm down. He is also still biting during play, which is unacceptable, especially as when he catches you it tends to lead to bruises and skin breaks. Still, we now know the signs he’s going to start playing up and soon take action.

Anyhow, now that Spring has arrived I have started to take him out for longer walks, even letting off to play with other dogs and go chasing rabbits which he seems to love. Unfortunately, yesterday morning we had our first incident of him running off; I let him off in a place I’ve released him many times but on this occasion he decided to go off chasing bunnies into an area not easily accessible. Three quarters of an hour later and I was starting to get worried when I couldn’t find him, only to locate him back at the spot he’d gone from in the first place. For the rest of the walk he stayed quite close to me, clearly shaken by his experience of ‘being lost’ for a while.

The garden is still out of bounds to him; his small patch of grass is now a mud bath and currently ‘electric fenced’ off. We will soon be creating a terraced area there so he will have a little more space to roam. He still continues to dig when he gets a chance on the main lawn so we have had to restrict his access to short periods only. He is quite difficult to get back off though; with even treats not tempting him away from the freedom of the lawn. He did help me with some gardening last weekend though, pulling up dead shrubs and digging the border where I was about to plant some new ones. We definitely have a dog who’s a digger!

laptopBack in March Tina decided that Rio was getting uncontrollable when visitors called; to a point where he was knocking people over in his eagerness to say hello. We have tried different things such as putting him on a lead when people arrive but it only seems to have a temporary effect and as soon as he’s free he’s jumping and biting feet. Normally he’s then excluded until he calms down or our visitors leave. Anyhow, Tina rang a local dog behaviourist and explained the problems we were having with Rio and she said it sound Rio was a ‘reluctant leader’ and she would visit to offer advice and try to help with walking, something Tina is now unable to do since he bit her arm. A week later and ‘Trish’ arrived and within five minutes he had ripped the sleeve of her top, demonstrating the challenge she faced. She offered some suggestions to counter his bad behaviour; being much firmer with him and making him know that the humans are leaders in the family. Also she suggested we make our visitors ignore Rio which will make him lose interest in him. Unfortunately this advise has been difficult to follow as Rio is difficult to ignore when he’s jumping all over you!

Follow-on sessions were arranged, including Trish saying she would bring along her dogs to help with the training but unsurprisingly Trish has failed to turn up to subsequent sessions. I think that may be her way of saying ‘ Rio is a lost cause!’. I would say that some of the stuff she said has been useful although he is still just as uncontrollable at times. Looks like we’re on our own from now on though!

So all in all, it’s not been a great time with Rio recently. He’s a lovely dog when he wants to be, but he is also still very hard work. Hopefully as the Spring turns to Summer and he moves from puppy to adult he will calm down. yeah right 🙂

Until the next update, best regards Graham (& Tina)


Street walking

glovesOne of the joys of owning a dog is the requirement to take them out for a walk every day. I will admit that one of the reasons that I wanted to get another dog was a selfish one; namely to ensure I got off my backside and did a couple of miles of gentle exercise each day.

At weekends and the summer months, the ability to wander across fields away from the cars and other people and enjoy the fresh air is great but of course during the winter evenings movement is restricted to street walking only, which isn’t so satisfying (hence my listening to podcasts).

The other problem with walking the streets is other people and in particular other people who have dogs; other people who jog; other people walking in the opposite direction and generally anyone using the public highway. Whilst I’m not particularly bothered by pedestrians, our eighteen month puppy is and thinks everyone wants to say hello to him. And at nearly 45kg in weight when Rio wants to go in one direction you have no choice but to follow.

As I walk along, I have to be alert to all around me, anticipating Rio’s keenness to be friendly with others by shortening his lead, crossing the road or slowing right down until he loses interest. Most of the time I can keep him in check but sometimes he suddenly surprises me with a pull across toward the oncoming person or dog. When I do see someone walking a dog I tend to steer clear or at least hold him firmly so that if the other canine owner is happy for Rio to say hello it is in a controlled manner.

Occasionally Rio would decide that he wants a rest and just sits down, with a ‘I’ve had enough for the moment’ look on his face and I have to coax him to get going again. He also enjoys the usual doggy habit of having to smell every lamp post and patch of grass where other dogs have been; those smalls must be heaven for a pooch.

But the favourite pastime by far for Rio is the detection and acquiring of single pairs of gloves. Somehow he manages to locate and recover so many individual, discarded gloves it’s untrue. And once he does find one, it’s normally then in his mouth until we get home. I believe we could open up our own one-armed glove shop judging by the number of gloves Rio has recovered during his walk.

So if you are even in need of a single glove you know where to come!

Letter to breeder…winter update

Hi Lexi,

RioIt’s been a while since my last update, where does the time go? I thought I’d let you know how Rio is getting on since my last letter as its been a few months now.

In September Rio stayed at the kennels (or pet hotel as they like to call it) when Tina and I went to Turkey for a week. We were a bit apprehensive about taking him as he was still quite young and wasn’t sure how he would get on but once I led him towards his pen he was fine although he was a bit concerned when I walked off leaving him with a pile of toys and an old top to cuddle. Still he would make lots of new friends and we would be only going for a week.

Rio and Tina on a calmer dayOn our return I duly went to collect him and when I enquired on how he had got on I was told that he had managed to get a small cut on the end of his nose. The kennels lady said he had managed to scrape his nose on some wire whilst digging in the grass area. And he had dug quite a few holes! And although she didn’t actually say it I think she wasn’t too impressed. As you can imagine Rio was extremely excited to see me and it didn’t take much to get him back into the car and home.

One thing we can say though is that staying at the kennels did upset him, with him being quite aggressive and difficult to settle back into our routine for the first week or so. We will need to put him back there again in the summer when Abby gets married so hopefully he will be better that time (maybe?).

Rio in the floodsRio’s had a couple of trips to the vets over the months for ear infections; the vet doesn’t believe its triggered by a food allergy but is not ruling it out if he gets another. I think it probably due to the times he has been paddling in the river after the floods. A dose of antibiotic ear drops seems to do the trick and so far its been clear since.

Rio’s not really calmed down when it comes to other people; we’ve had a lot of trouble with him jumping up and biting family members;. All play of course, but he is now quite a big dog and can be a handful at times. I do seem to be able to control him myself but others don’t seem to have the same control. Matt (who is six foot five inches) still cannot seem to stop Rio from attacking his feet. The family have learned to control Rio’s mad moments by getting him out of the room, although unfortunately sometime he has to be dragged! We all believe he’s one highly strung, bi-polar dog.

rio relaxingRio has shown us the sort of dog he can be though, especially later in the evenings, when he’ll sneak onto the sofa for a cuddle, but these are still on his terms and it doesn’t take much to fall back into play-mode. We have noted a pattern in behaviour. Early evening after his dinner he’s very keen to go for his walk and gets quite restless if he doesn’t go out by 7pm. On his walk he’s fine but when he gets home he thinks it’s still play time and won’t settle down then until 9pm at the earliest. And he insists that you have to play with him. Toys are put at your feet, or in your lap or he’ll bark until you have to give in and play with him. The problem is that once you start playing with him he gets quite rough and he ends up being dragged out of the room.

We had a bit of an incident in October when Tina took him to the vets for his annual jabs. On the way back Rio decided that he didn’t want to walk nicely and ended up biting Tina’s arm and drawing blood, resulting in her being put on course of antibiotics. Tina is a bit wary now of taking him out now, especially as he’s now a big, strong, powerful dog.

Rio with a prizeOne weakness we have discovered in Rio and that is with loud bangs, and in particular the fireworks that were prevalent in November and New Years Day. He was absolutely petrified of them, to the point where any bang that startles him now sends him into wild panic especially on walks where he speeds up to running pace, in the opposite direction. Hopefully, he will get used to them over time and they won’t make him freak out.

Christmas was a quiet affair, with many of the family ill so our plans to have a houseful of guests was cancelled. In some ways I wasn’t too disappointed as it would have been a challenging day, Rio wise.  We are starting to see some improvements in his behaviour, but as we keep saying he is still a puppy. How long does the puppy stage go on for again? 🙂

rio and the snowRio’s digging has re-started so I had to wire up the electric fence again; the space in the garden he has to roam around now is quite restricted but he gets plenty of walks to compensate. Rio loved the recent cold snap and found the snow a great source of fun. He particularly liked chasing snow balls and couldn’t work out where they’d gone when they landed. When the snow finally melted he was mystified as to where all the white stuff had gone.

Thats about it for now, I’ll update you again in the summer.

Regards Graham & Tina

Kitchen update – phase 2 – day 5

“So what does this button do?” Tina asked touching the newly installed dishwasher. Then she jerked back saying she’d got an electric shock off the metal part of the appliance.

“Oh no” I said but before I could check things out Rio had touched the machine and yelped when he got a similar belt.

“That’s not good” I exclaimed and immediately switched off the mains at the wall.

Out came my trusty voltmeter which confirmed that Tina and Rio’s electric shocks were genuine; a 90v ac potential between the machine chassis and earth.

I straight away isolated the mains again and called the fitter who apologised and said he would check it out he he came over later in the day. I suspected that the wiring for the new socket feeding the washing machine and dishwasher was faulty, probably a missing earth as I’d seen a similar issue with Nick’s dishwasher last year.

Today I had to wait in for the replacement cupboard and larder door and so I thought I’d wire up the ceiling lighting, something I was confident I could do without causing anyone to get electrocuted! Rio on the other hand was very restless, not helping Abby who was trying to sleep after working last night at the hospital.

Mid-morning saw the delivery of the missing bits so I rang Pete and he confirmed he would be there at lunchtime, at which point he would fit the cupboards and check the electrics feeding the appliances.

Pete and Adam duly arrived around 1pm and got to work straight away. Pete checked out the wiring and discovered, as I suspected, that the earth feeding the appliance socket had come loose, a basic faulty that shouldn’t really have happened if the electrician had checked the wires before putting the socket back. The blame seemed to be aimed at the apprentice electrician, although I believe it was actually Pete (the electrician) who did that socket. Anyhow, the mystery of the live dishwasher was solved.

Once Adam had fitted the cupboard he then started finishing off the larder door buy fitting the handles, which I thought was odd as he hadn’t changed the faulty door. I mentioned this fact and he then swapped it over.

Hmm things hadn’t been so smooth over the last day or so and things were about to get worse!

I popped out to get some masking tape. leaving Rio with just the hall way as a run as I was only going to be gone ten minutes. When I returned I discovered he’s pulled a shelf down, ripping out the brackets and leaving large holes in the plaster.

Could the day get any worse I thought?

Oh yes it could!

After the fitters had left for the day I started filling the remaining cupboards and larder before taking Rio to the vets after we’d noticed he had a mucky ear, suspecting an ear infection. When I returned £51 lighter and some ear drops to apply, I went into the kitchen and noticed a pool of water under the sink. I checked the new pipework and saw the there was a constant dripping coming from one of the fittings. Bugger. I rang Pete and explained what I’d discovered and then turned the water off, which stemmed the leak. I mopped  up the water and soon could see that the water was actually dripping from one of the solders fittings Pete had done on Wednesday.

I rang Pete back and agreed that the problem could wait until tomorrow and in the meantime I would only put the water on when required (filling toilet cisterns and showering/washing).

Tina came home from work and I suggested we go out for dinner once we’d been to see Tina’s dad who was in Kettering General Hospital. We ended up at the local curry house for a well-deserved meal after a very long week.

When we got back I finished off sheeting up the kitchen units ready for the plasterer who is turning up early to finish off the walls that were damaged by the removal of the old tiles last month. I also added some polyfiller to the two holes from the shelf in the hallway.

So all in all, not a great day in the kitchen when all should be nearly finished. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, assuming Pete can sort out the pipework easily.

If someone has said it was Friday the 13th today I could have quite easily believed them!

Rio in sunny Hunny

Another of the ‘holiday list’ things on our staycation was to go to the seaside.

We wanted to do so for a couple of reasons. a) we are on holiday and that’s what you do when your on holiday and b) we wanted to take Rio to the beach to let him experience the sand and sea.

We decided that a trip to Hunstanton, on the North Norfolk coast would be ideal distance to travel with the dog as apart from when he was brought home as a puppy, it would be the longest car journey he’d undertaken.

We checked the weather forecast and although not too promising, we set off yesterday morning after packing a picnic and bits for Rio (dog chews, water, food bowl, a bone, dog leads). The clouds were gathering, suggesting we were in for a wet day, but at least it would be a day trip away from home.

At first Rio got a bit restless but soon settled down for the journey ahead. Within twenty minutes we were halting at Peterborough for a wee stop, but not for the dog but for Tina, who breakfast cuppa had gone through her system. I walked Rio for five minutes then we set off again once Tina had returned, bladder empty again.

We then headed towards Wisbech, before stopping again on the hour mark for some fuel and another wee stop (both Tina and I this time), whereas Rio refused to go. We set off towards Kings Lynn before spotting signs for Hunstanton and by midday we were arriving. Fortunately as we approached the seaside resort the clouds cleared to reveal a beautiful blue sky, with temperatures at a pleasant low twenties Celsius.

I had checked out the dog friendly beaches around and noted that we were OK to go to Old Hunstanton beach to the north of the main town. We parked on the cliff top car park and headed towards the beach. It was this point Rio became very excited, he seems to sense that this was place he was going to enjoy and it was hard to hold him back from getting to the expanse of sand.

The beach was not too crowded and so we found a spot near to the sea and I immediately took him down to the waters edge. As he’s not great off-lead I kept him secured for a short while only letting him off when the coast was clear, so to speak. He took his first tentative steps in the water and was soon splashing around chasing the waves. As there were other dogs on the beach I decided that his freedom off-lead had to be short lived and managed to get him back to stop him from running off. We walked back to Tina, where Rio immediately started digging.

It is clear that Rio has digging tendencies and for the next ten minutes that’s all he wanted to do, dig holes. We then took him back to the sea for more frolicking in the water before deciding that eating a picnic with a dog spraying sand around was not a good idea so walked back to the car and ate our lunch there whilst Rio could shelter in the shadow cast by the car.

After lunch we strolled towards the main town, stopping for an ice cream along the way. It was good to see the place was ‘dog friendly’ with most cafe’s leaving a bowl of water for canine refreshment. There was also lots of dog poo bins strategically placed along the way, clearly the council were determined to make it as easy as possible for dog owners to be responsible and pick up their pooches waste products. And they were definitely needed for Rio as soon the salty water went through him, giving him the runs, which is not the easiest of things to gather up using the poo bags we use.

Once Rio had done his business, we had a bit of a wander along the promenade (which didn’t take long if you have ever been to Hunstanton), had a sit down in the shade for a while and then turned around and headed back towards the car. By this time the clouds were drawing in and we could see that it wouldn’t be long before the rain arrived.

We agreed to drive home, this time not needing to stop. As we arrived back at Thrapston, the rain arrived with a heavy downpour.

It was clear that the day had worn Rio out so we agreed we would skip his ‘Disobedience’ class and as it happened he slept for most of the evening, probably dreaming about this wonderful place where he could did and dig and dig. Let’s hope he doesn’t try re-enacting it back in the garden again.

Letter to Breeder (nearly nine months old)…

Hi Lexi,

Thought I’d update you on progress after our rather fraught mail sent to you last month.

Things seem to have calmed down a little recently and although Rio still has his mad times, we seem to be better equipped to handle his boisterousness and bad behaviour. We have used some of the techniques suggested and they seem to work; he definitely does not like to be ignored and occasionally has had to be dragged out of the room and told to calm down, which seems to do the trick. He also had the op a couple of weeks ago and whilst it hasn’t calmed him down much, he does seem more responsive to some commands.

We have had to restrict his off-lead activities as he seems to have forgotten how to recall and any opportunity to chase other dogs, cyclists and walkers and he will. At puppy classes he either refuses to move or completely ignores me and runs off to play with the other dogs in the class. Last weeks lesson was particularly bad and he just did not want to listen to anything. I have now changed the name to ‘disobedience’ classes instead. I tried the chopped sausage trick but all he was interested in was getting the treat from my hand and not doing what he was supposed to do. We will continue to take him to the classes though as one day it might all sink in.

In other news, the electric fence is now down and has been replaced with a picket fence instead. Rio has got up to his old ways whilst I’ve been erecting it and given the chance would be digging new holes in the lawn and destroying the shrubs, a forceful ‘leave it’ or ‘no’ doing the trick. The new fence will give Rio a small patch of lawn to use plus some earth to dig but we’re hopeful he will grow out of that phase soon so he can enjoy all the garden. Yeah right!

As you may have read, we have also relaid the patio, which gave Rio the perfect excuse to play in a big pile of sand, digging holes and generally having a good time. Perhaps I should have built him a sand pit?

Whilst he was being neutered, his weight was taken and he was a whopping 37kg and whilst the vets said he was a heavy dog they didn’t seem too concerned, although have asked us to take him back next month to check he hasn’t put on too much weight since his op. I have tried to cut down his food a bit, with only a small amount in the morning, but he does get a few treats during the day, which I guess doesn’t help. We have stuck to the BARF diet, now in a routine with sorting out the next days’ food, although I still have an alarm on my phone reminding me just in case I forget.

Rio is still getting things that he shouldn’t; the kitchen drawers have now had to be emptied of all contents as every time we left him alone he thought it was great fun to get them out and play. Last week Tina to him to find paint on the hallway carpet where he’d managed to get a match pot from the back of a drawer and chew it. He also loves to get bin bag liners, unravel them and drag them around the house.

Back to dog walking and one thing we have decided is that Rio must have been a litter operative in a former life; on almost every walk Rio insists on picking up a wrapper or paper bag that he finds in the street. He carries his prize for a short while then drops it, bored from having it in his mouth. I do wonder whether I would be liable for a dog littering the street? The other thing is that he yearns to go back to the vets whenever we walk him past the entrance. You would have thought after what they did to him last month he would not want to go near the place again, but as soon as you get anywhere near he pulls as much as he can.

Right must go now; I have a fence to paint and judging by Rio’s help yesterday I think he will want to do some more too (proof being the green paint on his head and back).

Best wishes for now,

Graham (and Tina)

Letter to Breeder – almost 7 months old…

Our puppy is certainly growing!

Our puppy is sneaky!

Our puppy is destructive!

Our puppy certainly has character!

It’s time for another update on how Rio is getting on. At nearly seven months old he is now really filling out and starting to get his adult coat. His tail is really feathery and has that distinctive wave of fur going down his back that retrievers tend to have. He still hasn’t developed the ruff around his collar but I don’t think it’ll be long before that grows. We have been a bit lazy in brushing him recently. One of the reasons is that Tina bought a defurminator, which Rio detests; he much prefers the normal brush but now tends to fight any sort of brushing.

He was weighed a couple of weeks ago and came in at a whopping 30kg (although I suspect he is heavier now) and Tina now finds him difficult to control when walking him and has resorted to using a halti, which Rio is not too keen on. Generally for me he is OK on the lead and the obedience classes he attends each week are helping. More of that later.

As I said earlier, Rio certainly has character. We are starting to understand his ways; he is quiet happy being left alone when you go out but only if he is given a treat such as a pig ear or a handful of dried biscuits. He has finally accepted that going upstairs is a no no, although there is the odd occasion you will hear him sniffing at the bedroom door early in the morning, but is less and less these days. He does get a bit upset when he’s left downstairs on his own during the day knowing everyone else is upstairs talking and tries to come up, but a quick reprimand and he’s on his way back down.

As you know we had a bit of an issue with him destroying the garden and it came to a head when he brought a fence panel down from the top of the garden which he’s managed to dislodge, creating a gap between our garden and the one at the back of the house. It was therefore time to extend the electric fence to include the whole of the lawn, something we didn’t really want to do, but it was getting silly and there were more holes than grass! He still has the patio and side of the house to roam around and a small patch of earth to do his business.

Rio’s walks have been getting farther and farther as he is growing up. I took him for probably his longest walk yet last weekend around the lake near where we live. He loved the freedom of exploring the woods and playing with other dogs, but he did tire towards the end so I need to restrict that walk to the odd occasion until he’s bigger. He had his first taste of the river the other day, leaning a bit too far over the river bank and went straight under. He then needed help getting out of the steep sides so I think that may stop him from trying that again. We have a couple of set routes we use which allows him to roam freely and he is getting better with recall, although I still have to be wary, especially when there are other dogs around and he thinks they want to play (even when some don’t).

Now Rio has grown his full set of teeth he is showing what he can do with them. Not only can he completely dispatch a carcass of chicken in no time at all, he can also rip a soft toy to shreds in minutes. Most days we find bits of his stuffed toys around; he doesn’t eat the stuffing but finds great enjoyment in ripping the insides out and leaving the bits all over the carpet.

Rio has also learned a new trick which is becoming a pain; he has worked out how to open the kitchen drawer where his lead is kept. Abby watched him delicately pull the drawer open with his teeth and then proceed to grab his lead and bring it to her. Subtle or what! The only problem that in the drawer is also kept his pooh bags and kitchen bin bags and on many occasions we have arrived home to find the contents of the drawer spread across the hall. I just hope he doesn’t suss out how to open the fridge door and then there will be trouble!

We are now regulars at obedience classes with Rio making up the class of ten or so dogs. It is slow progress with him, with some of the other breeds of the same age showing him up, but he is getting better each week. I am always given ‘homework’ to try to practice some of the basics such as recall, which oddly he seems to do fine when we’re at home. It’s just far too exciting to play with the other dogs during class time  but I guess that’s part of the training to learn to ignore others. He was told last week that he had done really well when we did the lesson outside, although for me it was hard work and I had a blister on my hand to prove it. I am trying to progress without the halt lead but there are occasions when he is stubborn and hard work to pull in the direction you want him to go. Still, as I said, he is getting better.

As Rio is now old enough to visit the vets for ‘the chop’ we need to try to get him booked in, although Tina is still a bit hesitant. I think it will do him good and the vets do recommend it be done too so I think it won’t be long before that is sorted.

Right, time to clear up the mess Rio has made whilst I’ve been typing this up.

Bye for now.

Graham (and Tina)