Monday, 30 June 2008


(photo by Miles)

Finally we can take Zebedee out for walks! I have been ill (more about it later) so Miles has been taking Zeb out for walks on his own until this weekend. On Saturday we went to Devil's Dyke. This is the first time we let Z off the leash - Miles ran down the hill just to make sure that Z follows him...

...and sure enough he did, all the way back, too.

It was brilliant to be able to let Zebedee run around free. And he thoroughly enjoyed it. We practised 'recall' many times with the aid of kibble pieces as a treat when he came back to me. He was doing it perfectly when there was no one else around, but had to be collected from a dog that he wanted to continue to play with.

The day was so hot that a travel water bottle / bowl gadget thingy became very handy indeed between bouts of running around.

(photo by Miles)

On Sunday we went to Ditchling Beacon for quite a long walk. Zebedee didn't show any sings of getting tired even after an hour and a half. My, oh my, I will get a lot of exercise walking this dog!

So anyway, I was ill from Sunday morning (last week) and my stomach pain became gradually worse, until on Tuesday evening it suddenly got so bad that I had to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance. I was a little disappointed that they didn't use the sirens during the drive to A&E, but then again... given a choice between a) life-threatening illness and sirens and b) non-life-threatening illness and no sirens, I have to grudgingly admit my choice is b. We got to the A&E (=Accidents & Emergency, ER in the US) around midnight, and after a long wait in a lot of pain, feeling extremely faint and actually fainting once when attempting a trip to the loo (luckily Miles was holding me at the time, so I didn't hit my head on the concrete floor on my way down) I got moved to a ward at about 4 AM and was put on a drip. Next day was pretty awful. Normal painkillers weren't enough so I was given morphine, which was an interesting experience: it didn't really get rid of the pain, but it completely zonked me out so that I was drifting in and out of consciousness.

Well, long story short, I'm still on strong painkillers but at least I don't have to worry about throwing up or passing out any more. And the pain has started to be bearable at times so that I have been able to go out and walk the dog with Miles. It's been great to be able to let Zebedee run around free and watch him enjoy it. He's met quite a few people and a few dogs during our walks, which has also been brilliant for that all-important socialisation. I wanted to start training 'recall' straight away so that I can let him run free off the leash (in safe places where there are no cars or other serious dangers around). And Zebedee has made us feel very proud: on Sunday we heard comments like "What a well-trained puppy!" when Z did a perfect recall, even sat down in front of me to get the treat after he'd run back to me from another dog. Wow, even I was impressed! :-)

Here's another look at Zebedee's mid-air matador style ears.

Monday, 16 June 2008


So the puppy is vaccinated and microchipped. Microchipping is a prerequisite for rabies vaccination (as you need to record the microchip number with the rabies vaccination certificate), which in turn is a prerequisite for getting a pet passport. I want to be able to take Zebedee abroad AND come back in England (without the need for a quarantine), so a passport is a must.

We got a little trinket to go with the microchip; it says: "I am identified by a BackHome microchip. Scan me."

As you can see from the main photo, Zeb has learned to 'stay' on command. :-) (He wouldn't be sitting still like that otherwise! After all, he is a "high energy breed" puppy.) He learns everything so quickly that I need to think of more things to teach him. I bought a couple of training books that should be delivered tomorrow. He is also learning not to bite me now that I started using the 'cold shoulder' treatment, i.e. every time he uses any pressure when mouthing my hands, I yelp and stop playing with him for a little while. A couple of times I've left the room and not paid any attention to him for about five minutes. It really seems to work wonders. Today is also the first ever night that he didn't say a word when I put him into his crate and went upstairs. Up until now he has always whined for a while - less and less every day, though. During the day he has started occupying himself for a little while with a Kong in his crate, too, which is great as it means that he is happy to spend time on his own for a while, rather than getting upset when away from me.

Oh, almost forgot - he is 10 weeks old today. And is getting bigger and heavier every day! Even I notice that, although I see him all the time. He is gaining about a kilo a week at the moment! He was about 3.5 kilos when I got him, and now he is 5.5 kilograms.

On a completely non-related issue, I had a look at the Brighton And Hove Camera Club forums today and noticed a useful thing: A registry hack for adding DNG thumbnails (in Windows). Finally I can see .dng thumbnails in Explorer.

Soon I will be able to take the puppy out for short walks in the neighbourhood... can't wait!

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Devil's Dyke

To avoid scenes like this:

...we put the puppy in a bag...

...and drove to Devil's Dyke just north of Brighton.

Devil's Dyke has a mystery to it, but even if it didn't, it's a lovely site for a walk on the downs.

Can't wait for the day that we can let Zeb on the ground and go for proper walks with him. The south downs is a beautiful area to go for walks and mountain bike rides. Zeb's second vaccination is on Monday, and two weeks after that he is allowed anywhere on the ground, and by six months of age he is big enough to get as much exercise as he has energy for. (Until then, too much exercise can be bad for a puppy's growing bones and joints.)

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Visit to Denton

Ah, I'd been so looking forward to giving Zebedee a chance to play with another dog. This morning we went to Karen's to take photos of her three dogs: two Irish setters and a rescue dog gypsy lurcher.

Lilly the lurcher.

The gorgeous one-year-old Max.

Zebedee wasn't sure whether it was normal to play with someone whose head is as big as him!

Better have a closer look. And a sniff.

But in no time at all, they were playing together like best mates.

Wrestling champion Zebedee pins the setter to the ground.

Max was just the best. Very patient and easygoing dog... the perfect dog to socialise Zeb with.

And here's grand old Robbie, who preferred to keep his cool and not even look at the ridiculous little puppy in his garden.

What a great morning. Zebedee had quite a lot of sleep after we got home... and the rest of the day, to be honest. Who would have thought playing is so tiring.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Zebedee nine weeks old

Today Zebedee is nine weeks old. We started the day by going out for a drive. We stopped first at Birling Gap, and as it was low tide, we went down the staircase onto the beach.

Next we drove to Beachy Head to have a look at the view over the sea, and while Zeb was looking into the distance, I got a chance to take a photo of those long eyelashes I mentioned before.

View from Beachy Head towards Seven Sisters.

On the way back we stopped in Cuckmere Haven to go and see a couple of horses I spotted from the road. Zeb was in my lap and was a little scared of the horses, so I didn't force him to go too close to them. I told him that horses are not scary; you just have to run very fast if one charges at you. (Apparently it's good to let a puppy see lots of different kinds of animals, but only on his own terms, i.e. not to force him to be braver than he is comfortable with.)

Yesterday the three of us went to see Classic Car Run on Madeira Drive in Brighton. Zeb seemed to enjoy being in the middle of all that action, people and other dogs, even though he is not allowed on the ground yet. We went to sit on the pebble beach for a while, too, and it was all very new and exciting for Zeb.

(What a delicious moment for a prankster with access to the hood of this car...)

This is easily the best looking Rover I have ever seen.

Before that, though, remember my question about eating slugs and worming? I asked the vet and was advised to give the wormer.... well, later the same day, Zeb vomited once, and the next day he had a bad diarrhoea and vomited a couple of times... the last thing that came out of the rear end was blood... The vets that have examined Zebedee don't know what caused it, but they suspect it might be something he's eaten in the garden, or the wormer, or most likely the combination of the two. Anyway, he was given an anti-vomiting/diarrhoea shot and high energy delicious liver pâté-smelling tin food so that he would eat at least something (he hadn't eaten nor drunk anything since the morning). The vet said that if he keeps vomiting in spite of the shot he was given, he must be put on a drip as he wouldn't be able to pull through on his own. Luckily, he didn't vomit again, and was much better the next day. He was very tired for quite a while, but I think he's fully recovered now. The real bummer is that as we don't know what caused it, I'm reluctant to let him stay in the garden as it's impossible not to let him eat anything there. But I guess I will have to risk the garden and see if it happens again. Rather that than being cooped up indoors all day where life is rather boring in the long run for a little puppy, regardless of playing and training sessions. I won't worm him for another two weeks, so if it happens again before that, at least we know that it isn't the wormer that causes the upset. What we won't know is exactly what else it is, though!

So anyway, after the cars, we went to a nice pub in Kemptown where Zeb fell asleep on Miles's lap. And was mercilessly taken advantage of for a silly photo. He met quite a few kids there, too, which is great for socialising.

One more thing to report from this week: paws. How they grow. You know how puppies have huge paws and ears at one stage of their puppyhood? Well, I never realised that it's the front paws that grow first. And Zebedee's front paws have been getting bigger so quickly one can almost hear them grow.

Now I'm just waiting for the ears and back paws to catch up!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Sussex Summer Photographic Safari

Worried sick about Zebedee, but leaving him with Miles who was to look after him and take him to the vet's, I went out on a Sussex Summer Photographic Safari "course" of Sussex Wildlife Trust. We were a group of 12 people and were taken by photographer David Plummer to four different locations in Sussex to shoot butterflies and very small orchids. Well, that's what it turned out to be. I have to admit that as it was a Wildlife Trust outing, I was expecting to see more wildlife! Especially as the course description advertised: "Travel via minibus to various superb wildlife sites across Sussex". It also said: "photographic tuition given throughout", which kind of made me feel like we would be given lots of wildlife photography tips, but basically it meant that David was there available for questions. And I've always been really crap at asking questions. I did ask him what kind of lens he would recommend for butterfly photography, and he said "macro lens". And I also received another tip during the day: when you shoot butterflies, get close slowly and carefully, approaching the butterfly straight-on rather than moving from side to side, as butterflies will notice the side to side movement, but not the straight-on movement that easily, as it means that the "predator" gets gradually bigger in its field of view, rather than moves from one position to another.

The course also made me check the definition of the words 'safari' and 'wildlife'. 'Wildlife' does mean what I thought it meant, i.e. only wild animals; not plants. So when they advertise that we'd be taken to "superb wildlife sites", I feel that the wording should have been 'superb butterfly sites', as butterflies were really the only wildlife we saw (well, apart from a couple of kestrels up in the air and one skylark-like bird that I forgot the name of as I wasn't familiar with it). Then into the word 'safari' - I found this definition in Wikipedia:
"Touristic usage - Although the word safari came to popular usage in reference to hunting and touring expeditions in East Africa, it is now used generally to mean any long or adventurous journey or expedition, e.g. whale watching safaris, photography safaris, eco-safari etc."
OK, so maybe I shouldn't have expected to see rhinoceros, giraffe or the red panda (huh?). Or maybe I shouldn't even have expected to be shown were badgers live or learn anything about any animal species that I hadn't been aware of living in Sussex...

In any case, it was a very enjoyable day, and I did get quite a few photos of butterflies. And learned where to find them should I fancy getting back to take more some day. AND learned from someone in the group that Malling Down is a great place to take your dog out for a walk.

So this was the first site, Mill Hill, where we saw the common blue. (This one's a little tattered.)

Next we went to Anchor Bottom, and saw adonis blues mating.

Adonis blue. (Distinguished from the common blue most reliably by black lines which extend across the outer white fringe. It is also more vibrant in colour than the common blue.)

Brown argus.

And the small blue, which doesn't actually have much blue in it.

A couple of bee orchids.

They are supposed to look like bees, but I think, straight-on, they look more like a laughing Pikachu.

Greater Knapweed.

Overview of the site.

Next we went to Devil's Dyke to shoot common spotted orchids. They are quite varied in shape and colouring, but all have spotted leaves.

Onto Malling Down. There weren't any orchids there (well, in truth, David spotted three, apparently - common spotted ones), nor did I see any butterflies. According to David this site has been the most reliable for orchids, but he hadn't checked the site prior to the day of the course and thus wasn't aware that there was nothing there this year. Well, the view from the hill was very pretty anyway.

...and I decided to take the fisheye lens out and see what the site looked like through it.

Can't wait to get a Canon EOS 5D soon, so that I can record the full sphere of the view through a fisheye lens! I've paid someone for a 5D about two weeks ago, but still haven't received the camera! He claims that he has sent it, but how do I know he's not lying? He's asked me to wait until Monday and then he'll either get me another 5D or give me a full refund. So tomorrow I will see whether I need to contact eBay about him or whether I will get my money back, and can go ahead and buy a 5D from someone else and actually get it this time! Don't think I'm going to do it through eBay this time. Or use eBay ever again for that matter!