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Apparently, Mum says, sleepovers with Uncle Bracken are going to become a more regular occurrence round here. We’ve had two in October, which is, frankly, amazing. What’s this about, I hear you ask? Well, if you’re a Dog Parent you’ll understand this: winters can be tough. Cold days, long dark nights. Make that long dark nights as you’re standing outside, in pouring rain and a howling gale, waiting on your canine doing his or her business. If it’s tough for you, think how we feel. It’s difficult to balance on three legs with winds at 50mph. And while it’s hard to better wet paws paddling in the sea on a summer’s day, wet paws on soaking pavements in November is another thing entirely.

“There are two of us so your Dad and I can juggle a little when it comes to taking you out for ‘business’,” Mum says. “But there’s only one of Grannie, and it’s tough being the only person when you need to go outside in all weathers.”

I process this. “So my Uncle is coming to stay more?” I ask.

“Yes, probably every couple of weekends.”

“And we get to hang out, and go places, and sniff things together, and careen around wrestling and grouching at each other, and drive you two crazy with our near-constant demands?”

“Yes,” Mum sighed, clearly also processing this. “And it’s also about me getting closer to your Uncle Bracken again, like we used to be before you arrived, where he learns not to resent me all the time. That’s the idea.”

So here we are, last weekend. We headed to St Andrews on Saturday, and stopped off at a village called Falkland, which I’d never been to before. Uncle Bracken and I are pretty chilled about these trips – give us some good sniffs and a wide open beach/park/wood to run along/through at some point, and we’re happy. Falkland was not one of those places. Mum took photos of buildings. “Look at that stonework,” she said, snapping away merrily, apparently oblivious to the gale force gusts of wind. “Squirt, has she noticed it’s cold?” my Uncle asked.

But there was a plan, and that plan was to have a walk through the grounds at Falkland Palace.

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Dad was quite excited about this prospect as the grounds include the ruins of the 12th century Castle of Falkland (lots of photo opportunities there for Mum…) and an ancient Orchard with a wild flower meadow (okay, make that a wild flower meadow in summer). Mum, Uncle Bracken and I waited for Dad to emerge and usher us in through this gate, but, alas, it it turned out that canine visitors weren’t welcome. Even those sporting rather cool ear flips, as above.

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This is one of the challenges of life with a dog, the Parents say. All the things you once took for granted, like being able to visit places, go into cafés and eat indoors, in the warmth… these quickly become things you dream about doing. As we were to discover again later that day, when we reached St Andrews. To say it was windy would be an understatement. Uncle Bracken is a ‘sturdy’ dude. He strode along the beach, strong and steady, grounded to the sand. Do you ever have that feeling that you’re about to become airborne? Well, that was me… “Don’t turn side on to the wind, son,” Dad hollered.

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Beach walks, eh? Hard to beat. Especially when the sand is rushing across the beach at dachshund height, having been blown off the sand dunes. By this stage, we were all frozen. Frozen paws, and sand-filled frozen ears (and I mean this literally), so we walked into town, looking for a place to warm up. If you know of any café or restaurant in St Andrews that welcomes canines, please let me know for our next trip. We didn’t find it. Instead, we sheltered from the rain here, in a courtyard within the grounds of the university. I won’t lie, Dad looks cold…

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And then, armed with carry out hot chocolates (for the Parents clearly – what did we have? WATER!), we headed back to the car, and home. Let’s be clear, our weekend adventures aren’t always a barrel of barks, but they are adventures. And now I know that I’ll be getting to share more of them with my Uncle… well, it doesn’t get better than that.

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5 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with Archie this winter…he has been out on 2 walks in the rain (not that heavy but enough that I put his waterproof coat on) and a) I think he hates the coat and b) we get half way round the block and he just stops. And whines. And won’t move so I have to carry him home. Usually he runs round full of beans on his walk so not sure what to do! I’m glad you’ll get to spend more time with your uncle…sounds great Harris! 🙂

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    • Okay, here’s the thing, when I say, ‘I don’t do rain’ I really do mean, I don’t do rain. If we’re already out and it starts raining, I put up with it as I know we’ll be heading back to the car/home. But going out in the rain isn’t an option. It took the Parents but they understood this eventually. “We just have to be persistent,” Dad said. “I don’t think that’s going to work,” Mum said, wisely.

      So now, we all have it sussed, and I’m sharing this in case it’s helpful. a/ Archie might hate coats, or he might hate that coat. They’re not all comfortable. But he might feel very different on a cold, dry day. b/ We have a little shared garden at the back of the flat and that’s when I go when it rains. No walks. I get carried there, day or night, do my business, and that’s it. So I’d say, if Archie is anything like me, trying to encourage him to walk in the rain is a no-go. Our tummies get soaked, and cold. Find a place that’s a bit sheltered, and carry him there, and let him know this this is where he does business in the rain. Trust me, Archie will understand this quickly. (My ‘rainy business’ place is under a massive tree in the garden.) So, find a tree… or a sheltered corner that is Archie’s rainy business place, and he will be so grateful. You might have to hang around there for a bit at first until Archie’s ready, but he’ll get the purpose very quickly. 🙂

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      • Thanks for your words of wisdom, Harris. 🙂 I think I’ll try another coat with him for when it’s cold, maybe try to find something a bit more comfy for him. But maybe rainy walks are not his thing either. A shame as I find walks are a great way to get rid of some of his pent up energy and make him nap for a bit (a great help when I work from home, as I’m sure your mum would think too!) I used to have a Dandie Dinmont Terrier years ago before Archie and they’re also sausage shaped and low to the ground but he never used to worry about getting wet. I think Archie is a bit more concerned though, as I hear a lot of dachshunds are! 😉

        We have a shared garden outside the front door of our flat (which is strangely round the back!) although we’re not on the top floor thank goodness! We have our own front door and it’s ground floor. But that’s where Archie goes throughout the day/night when he’s not on walks. He had a pen when he was very small but now he’s growing up he’s happier going out on his lead for a little wander there. He does seem happy to do his business quickly under a large umbrella when we go out when it’s raining! No shelter anywhere where we are so the umbrella does the job for us…although I haven’t yet had to encounter gusty winds as well which might change things, haha! 😉

        Thanks Harris! And a little grouch from Archie who is having a snooze after lying outside in the sunshine basking (at the end of October!) and watching all the birds in our bushes for the last half hour. 🙂


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      • My Uncle won’t go out in the rain either, and we met a lady in St Andrews at the weekend, when it was very windy and blowing through light rain, and she had three dachshunds, none of whom ‘did’ rain. So maybe those Dandie Dinmonts are made of tougher stuff! They are more terrier after all… Us dachshunds can get very precious when we put our minds to it!

        The Equafleece coats are super comfy because the fleece is soft and warm and they mould to your body. I just got my two new ones that were ‘made to measure’ (made 2 1/2 inches longer, that is) for this winter. And rain does run off them. Sometimes coats that are sold as being waterproof can be a bit hard and unyielding…

        Please give Archie a little grouch from me too. I can’t believe that he’s still able to sunbathe…. I’m cozied up to a radiator here… WHUUF!

        H X

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  2. Pingback: My October | The World According To Harris

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