Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Snow / Bad weather procedures - 11 Jan 2017

Today I was asked what I would be doing if it snowed tomorrow.

So, time for a reminder / update on our Winter procedures in case of snow / bad weather.

1) 1st of all, if I can get my car out of the street, I will set out to work

2) Roads around the Consett area are known to be bad in one place but 500ms away totally clear.

3) Because of this, some roads will be slow going, so walks could / would be reduced in time to ensure all dogs are walked for dinnertime.

4)  On days with snow or bad ice, I text all customers in the morning, asking who is home. If roads are very slow going this enables me to concentrate on dogs home alone. If I do this, I really appreciate all customers replying as soon as possible to plan accordingly. Just because I ask, doesn't mean I will cancel any walks. Its purely fact finding.

5)  Occasionally roads start off clear but as the day progresses they become covered in snow very quickly. So quickly that ploughs don't have time to clear the roads. For safety reasons, on these days, all walks could / would be cut to just wee breaks only, whenever I can.

6) On rare occasions, I have had to admit defeat and cancel a day and return home. This is purely for the walkers safety. In the past I ignored this, and crashed. Something I will not be wanting to do again unnecessarily.

7) We always try to walk your dogs in whatever weather is thrown at us. But we have a plan, and use it as and when necessary. However on occasion, the plan goes wrong. Bad weather can be immediately followed by warm sun which melts the snow very quickly. But at the time the roads would look treacherous. Hindsight is a great tool after the event.

So, in a nutshell. If I can drive safely, I will walk your dog.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Been a while

Hello still here.

In case I haven't told you. I'm writing a murder book. Not a murder mystery. As the murderer is known from virtually beginning. But more of a journey why the dog walker snaps and kills people.
Hopefully I can be inventive enough for some cool deaths and body disposals.

Sunday, 4 September 2016


For the last 6 days, we have been staying at a customers house. Its NOT a service we offer, and we are ONLY doing it for this customer. We are only half way through their holiday, and we have been busy living between 2 houses.

Most of the dogs are on some form of medication or another, multiple times a day. Luckily its mostly tablets or powders to add to food. But you know what, its very time consuming. Especially since we also have to live here at home with our pets.

Yes, we are taking turns sleeping out. Bit bizarre bed hoping, and sleeping alone after all theses years. Nothing feels right.

Did I say we were busy last week?

That's nothing to whats coming next week, I stupidly forgot during the planning of their days away, schools are back tomorrow after their summer holidays. That means, a lot more dogs to walk. Oooppps. This dog walker is going to be knackered, feeding, walking, driving, feeding, medicating, driving, walking and repeat for next 6 days.

One of our regulars, has just had a leg operation, so he needs walked alone. I haven't seem him yet since his operation, but I know that he is attached to some sort of wooden framework. Luckily our business model allows for this one on one walking.

We also have an old lady who had an accident wanting her blind dog walked too while she recovers.

Did I say I was busy?

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Hey, Hay Hay

First Impressions count

Learning when to keep my mouth shut is tricky. Sometimes I open it when I shouIdn’t, sometimes keep it closed when I really should speak out loudly. Very rarely get it correct.
This week I  met two lovely rabbits which I will be caring for while the owners go away for a break.

During being shown the rabbits bedroom and where to find everything I will need. (Yeah once over, I would have laughed at that myself, but our Sugar Gliders have their purpose built cage in the spare room, and our rabbits have the entire area under the stairs) I noticed they used Meadow Hay as bedding and food. From memory, I recalled this having a too higher protein content for a rabbit to handle. I use Timothy Hay for that reason. I soooo wanted to tell her. While I knew deep down  my motives were genuine and wanting to be helpful , I do realise I come across often as preachy.

So here I sit double checking Hay facts. Timothy Hay is from a single species, Meadow is from multi species grass, but it seems I remembered incorrectly. Alfalfa Hay is the one containing  too many calories for adult rabbits, although it’s fine for kittens. (name for baby/young rabbits). In fact Alfalfa isn’t technically a hay at all, as it’s the leaves of a plant not a grass. I’m guessing the higher levels of protein/calories come from the fact the plant is related to the pea plant species.

I am so glad my head automatically said, SHUT UP, you have just met this lady, and for once I listened.

Extra Info:

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

A day in the life of Uncle Eric

Thought I would throw a day in the life of Uncle Eric into the blog. (Update -  Few weeks back, and edited accordingly) Just trying to big myself up since no one else does. (Cue background sound of a small violin playing a really sad song, very slowly)

Most days I'm the one who gets up first. With that early morning toilet urge comes the price of feeding the clan. Once the dog and cat hear me at the loo, that's it, no escape. Whining by the dog, door scratching by the cat.

  • 1st of all, back door is opened to let the dog out for his bladder break.
  • I grab the bowls, fill with their relevant food. Currently its tinned but that's because our new fridge freezer is purely working on a top and bottom fridge temperature. I much prefer to feed them raw meat, but the logistics of making it every two days is too time consuming for this lazy man.
  • Once stood up straight, I turn grab the milk and rabbit food from the fridge.
  • 180 turn, I place a coffee pod into the coffee machine and walk to the rabbits. I say my hellos, quick tickle, and give them their fresh breakfast.
  • I walk back to kitchen and insert next pod into the machine. I pour a bit milk into a cup and microwave it for 60secs. I do this for my coffee milk, as I really hate the taste of UHT milk which comes in pods. (Bored reading this yet, I am, but it's my morning routine, so shhhhh and skip read ahead)
  • Her cappuccino latte or whatever is ready  and I swap cups with my heated milk, ready for the Americano pod. I'd much prefer plunger coffee but I keep breaking cafetieres.
  • As mine is topping up my milk. I get a bottle of soaking chicken feed and tip it into a sieve. That bit usual stays there for half hour to drain thoroughly. My hens are picky, they don't enjoy runny food.
  • Usually, I quickly grab a bowl, cereal, milk, pour and mix.

There you have it folks, breakfast for the animals first and humans second.

Hens are fed the drained food once I'm dressed. Luckily we now have a timer for the coop pophole, and they get up at 5.30 in summer to their dry feed. Hell no. Did that stupid time, when I first got them last year, it nearly drove me insane.

The pack job

My first job of the day isn't walking or indeed feeding any pets. It's gentle exercise in a large garden for 6 dogs, a mixture of elderly / infirm / young. Always starts with a quick check for dog poo before they get let out as some of them love it as a delicacy.

Then the pack are released. I usually have to contend with the 2 elderly biddies of the household too. Nuttier than a field of peanut bushes. Don't worry, this isn't me covertly insulting my customers, they will probably stalk me as usual and read this, and i will be one less chocolate hobnob as punishment.

I always give dogs treats after walks or playful exercise, and while I was still counting my fingers afterwards. I started into a conversation with one homeowner and her sister who was visiting. They were sitting in the dog room watching TV. Yes, far easier to give the dogs their own room and live with them. I grab the Bichon, rub and stroke him playfully rough. He loves it, start barking, running back and forth between dog room and kitchen. So when fully excited and he jumps around on his owner, I do the obvious thing. I close the door locking them in together and say “See you tomorrow”. I won't repeat the actual swear words coming from them over the dogs barking. Snigger

The reunited job

I usually walk certain dogs together repeatedly. This way, I know exactly how they get on together, and can see instantly if one started getting grumpy with the other. Except in school holidays times. A lot of my customers have the misfortune to work in schools, so in holiday time, my work load drops a bit. Inconsiderate of them or what. I keep telling them I will never retire unless they change jobs. But do they listen? Well do they? No, they don't otherwise I wouldn't be twisting about it here.

This walk reunited 2 dogs who hadn't walked together since Winter. A black labrador and a bearded collie. I genuinely forgot the collie had a fascination with the labs goolies, he wouldn't stop trying to lick them for more than 30 secs at a time. The lab really couldn't be bothered in the heat, so my shoulders got a huge workout trying to keep them apart for 40mins.

The concrete job

Sometimes my job, coincides with workmen at customers houses. Today was no exception.
As I picked up the 2 dogs for their walk, I couldn't help but notice the 2 workmen, sitting around the outside garden table soaking up the sun having their lunch. This lunch consisting of around 8 cans of Red Stripe between them. As I made polite conversation, I felt they had more than 4 each that the empties suggested. I didn't  hold out much hope for the accuracy of the leveling of the new concrete floor.

The stinging job

I often walk dogs on set distance routes, and swap these routes depending on my mood and the weather conditions. These routes are created when I first walk dogs in a new area and are created for the length of time needed. This way once made, I don't have to clock watch a lot, and walks fit perfectly. However, for this route, summer had made the nettles overgrow a fair bit for my exposed shorts wearing legs. So I chose a different return route which was at the very bottom of the street. Which I thought was a well used footpath. How wrong was I? It was much worse than the outward bound one. The dogs weren't bothered as they walked directly under the brambles and bent over nettles. Unfortunately my extended leads which I love to use, got snagged in the thorns of the brambles and I couldn't retract the dogs. So yes, this stupid dog walker had to force himself through the wilderness, and legs became nettled to bits. I wasn't far off crying out loud.

The cat feeding jobs

Being a family run business, we do split the jobs up, so in this case my wife, did the cat feeding clients today. Especially since she knew what horrible jobs were lined up for me when I got home.

The mite control jobs

Last night (in terms of events, not in terms of writing them up, EDIT, 2 weeks ago), I picked up one of the hens, and my wife noticed that something looked wrong with her legs. The hens legs, not my wife's. Even though we had never came across this before, with only having hens for a year, we had a good guess what it was straight away, so off to google we went to confirm. Yes, she had scaly leg mites. And it was my job to nuke them.

After work, I headed to my friendly neighbourhood pet shop. The one up the bank from me, has a good selection of chicken care products. So an ideal starting point. I came away with scaly leg mites spray and total mite control, the latter looking like the pink colour of pepto bismol, and some rabbit pellets with mint. Can't have Rupert and Apple rabbits going hungry now can we.

I stupidly let my hens out of their coop to forage just before I decided to spray their legs, so had to chase 5 hens, who just gained their afternoon freedom around the garden, in turn to pick them up. My wife decided to spray while I held on to hens. Lets just say, it went so well that I won't be suffering from scaly leg mite personally.
Once sprayed they were back to foraging, leaving me free in their coop. Next to use was Total mite control, not for the hens, but their house. As per instructions all food and drinking containers were removed well out of the way.

I totally hose piped the coop from the inside, blasting as much of the debris and hidden bugs as possible from all the nooks and crannies. (I have since read this isn't the wisest of moves as it spreads them about before you treat them. Oooops. Of course it does, all the water ran out of the coop onto to floor of the run before I sprayed. Makes sense I made it worse doesn't it)

The coop didn't take long to become semi dry from the hosing, as it was luckily warm. I then sprayed the pink total mite liquid. Well, let's say due to the design of the coop and the angle of the nooks and crannies, like before, I won't be contracting any type of mite personally.
Next time safety glasses and face mask, while I haven't looked up what the ingredients do, they sounded scary, (to me, sounded like the head lice stuff)

All hens had to be locked out of their coop for at least 2 hrs until the spray dried.
This didn't go down well with our Rhode Island Red, Ruby, as she is going through her 2nd broody stint in 3 months. She tries to sit on her nest as much as possible. Hopefully this will help at least break this cycle quicker. (nah, 2 week later, still broody)

Instructions say repeat this every 5-6 days twice… Joy. Hazmat suit on order

The removal job

Our integrated fridge/freezer developed a fault, so I removed it from the cabinet for the repair man. I get home to find it didn't need removed after all, he just opened  a flap at the front and fixed it.. (EDIT,  nah he didn't, the repair failed, waiting for a replacement fridge/freezer) I spend nearly 30mins trying to squeeze my fat arse in the gap between the cabinet and the opposite washing machine, putting it back. Lifting it 5 inches off the floor purely by squeezing it from the sides, is nigh on impossible. But I got the bugger in. My left bicep is still totally tensed now the next day. Been awhile since i went to the gym and lifted weights. I'm sticking to 3 pound chickens from now on, less painful.

Fed my hens greek yogurt as an afternoon snack, white flicking everywhere

The inspection of the rabbits bums job

Checked both my rabbits bum for cleanliness. We are paranoid about this now, since a couple of years ago, Flopsie contracted flystrike, and was so poorly, vet had no option but to put her to sleep. If you don't know what this is and have rabbits, please please please, Google it straight away. That was the last outdoor rabbit we had. Now they live indoors with lots of outside play, weather permitting. Happy to report both fluffy bums squeaky clean.

The film job

Then I watched Warcraft, it wasn't good.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Peculiar Day with an Insulting Flavour

I went to pick some keys up to walk a dog this week while the owners sister in law is on holiday. This is the 3rd stint I have walked for them.
With me, so far? Good.

Knock knock.
The lady answers and says “Four Paws? “

I look in shock and horror.

She repeats “Four Paws? “

I reply  “I really hope not”

She sees the horror in my eyes. Tries to get out of it, by saying her other half never told her my business name. Fair enough but wait.

I look at my left boob at my work logo on my tshirt, and read I'm Uncle Eric's Pet Care Services.

Now for legal reasons, I will leave it there. But for my local pet business friends they will see an extra level of irony here. And some will be pissing themselves laughing.

Don't worry, I put the lady straight immediately.


Tuesday, 19 July 2016


Its days like this, (as I type, the hottest one of the year so far) I am pleased I walk only 2 dogs max at a time. Its the small things to notice in dogs, if there is a problem. Especially if a dog is suffering in the heat.
Today, a black lab, wasn't walking like his usual self, and I quickly realised he wanted to turn around and go home. If we walked 6 dogs on or off the leash. I might have missed the signs and carried on. And tragedy could have easily happened.
We kept to as many shadows on the way back as possible to keep the sun off him and I made sure he had a drink before I left.
Tomorrow, I'm putting a hat and shades on him. Water spray guns at the ready.