Indi, the older of the two Labradors I look after, is still pretty impressive for his nine or so years on this earth. He can still haul his body over the odd fence on this big estate we live on and he keeps himself very trim with a number of sports he takes part in.
He is one of the best gun dogs around who also has a great love of tennis which heis not supposed to play! He’s a great swimmer and especially loves to swim in the river and streams down in the woods and water meadows. You will often see him taking a dip in the large swimmingpool during the summer months on the estate and always leaves the pool in a gentlemanly manner! unlike his mate Jester who bounds out of the water as quick as he can, shaking himself off carelessly.
Indi also is a great wrestler and usually wins his daily bouts with the young Jester. Jester occassionally squeels like a baby when things get too rough but loves the game all the same.
The two dogs have a great life here in Hampshire and are lucky to have each other’s company. Steve and I are just back from taking them for a walk in the woods this morning and as I peeked through the door to the dogs room just a while ago, the two of them were sleeping like babies. We’ll take them out for a run this afternoon through the fields while we check on the sheep, so they’ll have another lovely day of exercise. Happy, healthy dogs!
Another daily walk with Indi and Jester the two Labradors through the woods and down to the water meadows. All the heavy rain we’ve had has made the ground extremely wet, muddy and boggy……really horrible but the dogs have to be walked and so we must put up with these conditions. Indi absolutely loves these conditions and the deeper the mud, the happier he seems!! He had four swims in the large, full stream running through the water meadows. Throwing a stick in the water works wonderfully well and he loves plunging in at any spot then climbs up the bank saturated and covered in mud. The trick is to stay well away from Indi as he leaves the water….his shaking off the water business isn’t too pleasant when your too close! Jester is scared of water still but surprisingly enters the water once. The look of panic on his little face as he paddles through the deep water is concerning but he always manages to get to the bank and spring up to ground level effortlessly. I guess in time Jester will learn to love the water just as Indi does….if not his master won’t be too happy to have a new gun dog who’s afraid of water!
When Steve and I finally get back to the cottage we give Indi a little hosing down but Jester isn’t at all up for any water to be sprayed anywhere near his body. “Come on Jester, just a tiny little wash down that’s all little boy” I said trying to coax him over to the hose/tap. He wasn’t having any of it and seemed like we were trying to punish him for something. So he had a towel rub instead which I think he loved….he became a lot dryer now which made him happy. “What a woos you are,” said Indi as they settled back in their room. “You’ll make a rubbish gun dog Jester if you keep this up.” he concluded. “I’m alright Indi, leave me alone….best not to get into criticizing our faults as we could be awake all night with the list I have made for you!” Jester replied. “Shoo-sh! now you two,” I said. “No fighting tonight okay? You both be good boys please and think about tomorrow’s walk alright?” I finished with. “Okay Jenny,” they replied together and as I closed the glass door to their room after patting them goodbye, I could see them settling without any problems. Lovely happy fit dogs gives me such great peace of mind.
Jester has spent this entire week ribbing Indi about how slow he is and how he is too old to do anything anymore. Indi has taken it all in his stride, just like the great old Labrador gun dog that he is.
” I could teach you a thing or two, no doubt about that!” Indi replied to Jester yesterday. “In your dreams old boy! Your teeth are even failing you these days.” Jester said disrespectfully. “You take so long to eat your food of an evening……. I’m already tucked up in my bed after my meal while your still licking your bowl clean. You have trouble chewing sticks now too…..” Jester continued. That last comment was not taken well by Indi and much to Jester’s surprise, he grabbed the stick from under the young upstarts paw and played and chewed on it to his hearts content. There’s nothing wrong with my teeth, thought Indi. Before long, Jester was muscling in on Indi again, pulling and tugging in all directions. Poor old Indi.
I haven’t seen the dogs all weekend so I was looking forward to taking them for a walk today.
Jester looked like he had grown bigger and more muscular just over the weekend! and Indi was so happy to see us….he was waiting at the door for me, looking through the glass door dancing with his two front feet as much to say, “About time you showed up…haven’t seen you for a while Jenny……..come on get my lead…..we’ve been waiting ages.”
Jester bounded outside the door in such a hurry he headbutted Indi. “Heeeeheeee….I’m free at last….and there’s Steve….my new best friend with all the treats! He’s great! As long as I behave well, I’ll be given a reward. This games great, a piece of cake!” he said as he ran up to Steve and sat at heal beautifully.
Indi was dancing about in such excitement that he didn’t really notice Jesters childlike behavior, headbutting him above his right eye. He was more interested in the tennis ball he thought Jenny had in her hand! “Indi boy, you know I’m not allowed to give you a tennis ball because you are a gun dog and a very good gun dog by all accounts…..and gun dogs are not allowed tennis balls. Your master has said so. But if you find a tennis ball in the garden it’s yours……I won’t tell if you won’t.”
Indi’s look was in happy agreement and as I began to put him on the lead to walk down the lane there it was……a dirty looking tennis ball he found somewhere. He was on cloud nine.
Indi and tennis ball!
We could hear a shoot in the distance somewhere. The pheasant population was diminishing very fast….just as well, as Jester still had a huge interest chasing these birds whenever the opportunity was there. Another “not allowed” form of behavior I was told…..but he still continued to do this. I gathered this will stop soon as all the pheasants will have disappeared until next year. Hopefully then he will be on his way to becoming a well trained gun dog? Hope so.
The two dogs were very well behaved today, although Jester bristled up a lot when tiny Ida, the friendly scruffy terrier he sometimes sees came running to say hello. Indi totally ignored her attempts to make friends again because he was on a mission again to find the perfect spot to do his business. “Get out of my way you ridiculous tiny little waste of space,” I heard him say. Ida got the hint and after a little growl from Jester she was off like a rocket, in the safety of her master.
By the time we arrived back home Jester was walking superbly at Steve’s side. “Any more treats Steve? I can walk this way for a lot longer if you like……..?” “Good boy Jester,” Steve said stroking his lovely head. “What a good boy you have been today,” and gave him one more treat.
I tucked them back into their beds and made sure their water bowls were full. I gave Indi the pig’s knuckle bone to work on and Jester had the remnants of the bone filled with chicken to keep him happy. “See you tomorrow boys.” and I gave them a big pat each and made my way back to the cottage.
Set out for our afternoon walk with Indi (so excited and pleased to get out into the cold! of -2 celsius) and Jester just pleased to be out ……..
Jester is very well behaved today and walks to heal down the long pebble driveway, then sits to wait to be put on a lead to enter the lane. Very good puppy! I talk to them constantly which I think Indi quite likes but Jester, I think gets very board with my voice and constant “Jester, heal! Jester, Heal!” Indi responds to heal very well until he enters the woods and then just basically responds to direction when he wants…..he’s seen it all and won’t be bossed about by some Australian girl who has no idea what elite level of gun dog he is!!! Okay Indi, that’s okay with me as long as you have a lovely walk and don’t wander off!!!!
The scene is like walking into the set of the “Adventures of Nania…” I find this so breathtakingly beautiful and enjoy every step of the way. My co-walker with the dogs (and husband who by the way is an Englishman) typically says, “it’s alright seeing this at Christmas time, but day after day is too much….” So….. anyway, dogs and I are loving the conditions and we finish the walk with the sometimes naughty boy Jester behaving very well. I fill up their water bowls and make sure their bedding is sorted out for another bitterly cold night ahead. See you tomorrow boys! No taking them out before bed tonight as the owners will be home and will do this later on.
It is SO cold now and I have to keep reminding myself that Indi and Jester are just dogs……Let them out before bed tonight into their vast garden then came back in 10-15 minutes to find them waiting at the gate saying “where the hell have you been Jenny? We are freezing!'” Well, maybe an Australian dog would say this but I think these two Labradors are pretty hardy, not so much Jester (yet) the 18mth old; but Indi the grand 8yr old gun dog is extremely accustomed to the cold and wet. He’s a legend. What a great dog he is.
As I opened the door to the dog room to settle them down for the night, Jester, the monkey went straight to Indi’s comfy bed, hoovered around for any bones or balls he could steal…couldn’t find any so decided to wait there for the old boy…… to share his bed! Indi prefers to sleep alone, so Jester was gently coaxed back into his own warm bed for a long sleepy night.