Maggie's blog

My name is Maggie Dalmatian and, unlike Fenris, I wasn’t lucky enough to be born into a carriage dog family. I live with my owners, Roz and John, and my best friend, Dexter, who is a cross breed (he thinks that he is spotty though). I chose him from the RSPCA and we love each other. Here is my carriage dog blog (latest news at the top).

Enough about him, let’s talk about me! My owner says that I was a “semi rescue” as I was for sale on the internet (!) and she decided that any animal that was for sale on a general selling website must need to be rescued. Roz found me at 5 months old living in a small flat in South London with four cats and five children. She said that my paws were pink as I’d never really been out and I wasn’t lead trained (I’m still not, but that’s another story and not Roz’s fault, apparently it’s a Dalmatian thing...).

One day in 2010, Roz read that there was going to be a Carriage Dog display at a local show and she took me to see them. We saw other Dalmatians working and running with a thing called a carriage pulled by really big dogs that I now know are horses. It was amazing, I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I just wanted to join in the fun!

Anyway, one day about a year later, Roz and John were out in the countryside and decided to stop off at a pub they knew. As they walked into the pub garden, there were two people with two Dalmatians, Fenris and Munin and their owners Anne Dickens and Crosbie. Roz obviously had to talk to the dogs and after a short conversation with my mate Fenris’s owner, it turned out that it was them that we had seen do the display! Anne said to Roz to email her (whatever that is) and to take me over to see her and to see if I would enjoy being a Carriage Dog. So, one warm day in May we went there. I met Fenris; was put in my place by his mum, Munin who thought I was a real upstart; met the ponies, Polo and the other upstart, Parker and tried to take on the (very large) Nobel!

Roz had to be trained to be something called a Groom Handler (I’ll explain more about that in my blog as we go along). I didn’t need training, I was so good from the start, I was hoping I would be.

After going out a few times, Anne thought that I was good enough to be entered for the South East Trials for my Bronze Award, so from June to August we practised like mad. Every week in the summer we went out with the ponies and the carriage, it was great. Sometimes, Fenris would come out with us which was even better. We all got carrots when we got back as well.

We did the Trials, I was a bit naughty because, well, because I can be sometimes, but I was good when I needed to be and got my Bronze Award and Roz said that she was so proud of me. I felt like the best dog in the world!

Here I am after qualifying as a Bronze Carriage Dog at the 2011 SE Trials. I was so pleased with myself I thought I'd show you all my rosette!

Then, the worst thing happened in my life, Fenris and Munin moved to a place called France and, apparently, it was too far for me to go and visit them every week. I was sad for a little while, but then I found out that we could go out with Isobel and Shadow. I knew them because we did the Trials with them. I love Shadow; we kept egging each other on to go faster around the course. So, now we go out every week with them and I’m training for my Silver and I hope to go to the Nationals in July, paws crossed for that.

My life with Roz and John has been great. I have learnt that walks are fun and chasing after a tennis ball is good but going out with the Carriage is the best thing in the world!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Hey Dally fans!

Well, I know that I haven’t updated the blog for a while, and, to be honest our trips out have been fairy uneventful. We drive around the country lanes or through the sleepy housing estates of Sevenoaks but apart from the odd bit of bad driving of frustrated car drivers who want to overtake us and children waving at me, it is all an easy drive out.

That was until last week… Roz had been away (again!!!) and while she was on holiday, she contacted Isobel to see if she wanted to go out for a drive before Isobel went on holiday too. Isobel thought that it would be nice to take Shadow out before she went. It was a lovely day so we thought that we would make it a nice long drive somewhere we haven’t been before to get in some stamina practise before the Trials.

Here I am after at the backstep of Shadow's carriage.

Shadow was really excited, he loves going to new places, so he was at a good, spritely trot and I was cantering along behind, when the carriage went all wobbly. We looked at the right hand wheel and the rubber was coming off, so Isobel tried to fix it with cable ties that she keeps in the spares kit on the carriage along with my paw boots, but that didn’t work and it kept going wobbly. We were about half way around the drive but we were near a friend’s farm so she asked them if they could store the carriage until she could pick it up in the horse box. We had to unhitch Shadow to get to the farm which was a few hundred metres up the road. We must have looked really strange, Roz leading Shadow and me and Isobel being the horse and pulling the carriage! Of course, we kept meeting traffic on what was a really quiet road up until then.

It was really funny because Isobel kept saying to Roz that we were going to go up the steepest hill in Kent before we broke down. Roz said that she was glad that Shadow was doing the work and not her! Guess where we broke down? You’re right! At the bottom of the hill and everyone had to walk up. I was on my lead and Isobel was leading Shadow with the emergency rope we always keep on the carriage.

I have been having adventures all over the place. I have been on my first train ride! We went on a walk with my two spotty friends, Eddie and Lizzie and their owner Mary Kinsley and, of course, our honorary spotty, Dexter. We went for miles and it was so much fun, I love my spotty best friends. Then we went on a train back to Mary’s house. Wow! I would have been REALLY excited if I wasn’t so tired… there was a British Transport Police Woman on there and she made so much fuss of us. It was brilliant. By the way, I have been told by Lizzie to tell you that she got a Blue Rosette for coming 2nd in the Utility Dog Class in a local dog show. So big congratulations to her. She was a bit big headed about it though, wouldn’t stop bragging!

MAry Kinsey waiting for a train with Eddie, Lizzy, Maggie and honorary Dalmatian Dexter.

The next train I will go on will be the Eurotunnel to France and then, another first, I’m going to be staying in a hotel with Roz, John and Dexter as we are travelling down to Spain together for the first time. And… I have my own passport; it doesn’t get more exciting than that. I wonder if I can find any carriages out there…? How far will we be from Anne and Polo? I think that it will be too far, unfortunately. Now, I am practising my “Are we there yet?” whine for the car journey through France… now, that won’t be too annoying, will it?!

Anyway, Dally Fans, until next time, licks and wags from your friend, Maggie x

Monday, 20 January 2014

Happy New Year!!! Dally Fans!!!

Sorry I have been a bit tardy in writing my blog but Roz has been too busy to help me – apparently there’s a lot going on at the moment… her and John keep disappearing to a place called Spain (without me, I must add) where they are building a new house. They have promised to take us soon, though and there has been a new baby been coming to visit with Roz’s daughter and my favourite little boy who-gives-me-treats-behind-his-grandma’s-back, Edward. I love babies and I licked the bottom of his feet. I was originally brought up by 5 children before Roz had me so I know that they are a source of sweets!

Anyway, enough of the boring stuff; let me tell you how good I am getting behind the carriage. Isobel and Shadow think that I am really growing up! I don’t try and stop all the time and pick up litter from the road (in case it might have been food, Isobel calls it “Wombling”) and I don’t even break my stride when I see other dogs when we’re out. I take my work very seriously.

We have been going out regularly and the big news is that Isobel lost her favourite Shire cross last year and had bought two new Cobs – Willow and Ash – apparently 2 Cobs = 1 Shire. Willow is about 3 years old and Ash is a foal who looks like Shadow so we think that they are related. They were so thin when Isobel brought them home, Roz nearly cried. They don’t look like that now though; they are very fat and happy and I think that they will are carriage horses in the making! Ash chases me around though, she thinks it’s really funny. Ha! Upstart! I can’t remember ever being like that… maybe I was…!

So, how was your Christmas? Around 23rd December, I was doing my usual thing of pulling at Dexter’s ears, dropping my tennis ball in clean laundry or just generally being the world’s most annoying dog then suddenly I remembered that I was probably high up on Santa’s Naughty List so I got on Roz’s lap and snuggled like the innocent Dally that I am for the rest of the evening. She said that I was on the Naughty List – twice - but I think I was forgiven because Santa came with two stockings of treats for me, sorry one for me and one for Dexter.

I’m also getting a bit excited about July!!! The last few times we have been out in the carriage, we have been doing a “Stay” exercise when Roz has to open the gates and this can only mean one thing. Shadow is certain that he heard Isobel and Roz talking about us all going up in the horse lorry together for the TRIALS!!!!! I am so looking forward to getting my Silver.

Isobel has also mentioned that she has been made a special member of the BCDS and she feels very honoured. I think that she rather likes having me with the carriage. We certainly get lots of people waving to us and the children love to see me trotting behind. Shadow says that it’s a bit boring when we’re not there as no one else has a Dalmatian.

Anyway, Dally Fans, until next time, licks and wags from your friend, Maggie x

Monday, 8 April 2013

Hey Dally fans! The sun is shining and I’ve just got in from a brilliant game of fling the tennis ball with Dexter in the back paddock. We love it! Sometimes he steals the ball and runs off with it and wants me to chase him. It’s great exercise for an over active Dalmatian like me.

We have had a bit of a bad winter though; my carriage driving has been cancelled a few times because of the rain or snow. I get so muddy when it’s wet, covered in road splash, I have black and brown spots! So we haven’t been out as much lately as we would have liked. We did a really long drive the other day, though. I was in Dally Heaven. We went out for about 10 – 12 miles, I decided that fat bum Shadow need the exercise and he said that as I had just had to borrow the larger florescent harness from Isobel’s Paddy because mine didn’t fit me anymore, that it was me who needed the exercise. Well, I suppose that I am carrying a little extra holiday weight from Christmas – no excuse though, I’m just a greedy little Dally. When we got back to Isobel’s field I then had a good play with Dexter and Paddy and we had some polos too, yum! I had a lovely nap at home, and then Roz said that it was time to go for another 4 mile walk with my friends from next door. It was the best day ever.

I decided I'd better follow Mutty the shetland and his cart, even though my Mum wasn't on it, as Jane was clearly new to it all, so I thought she and his owner Isobel might need some help.

I am a bit sad and a bit excited at the moment. Roz has told me that we won’t be able to go to the National Trials this Summer as she is already busy on 6th July, apparently it was booked up in March last year so she has always known that she wouldn’t be free, I guess she was hoping that the Trials would be the week after. I think Shadow is a bit sad too because he wouldn’t be going and he said that he would miss all his new spotty friends that he has made over the last few times he has been. But… the good news is that Roz has said that she would be interested in organising the SE Trials in September. We met up with my mate, Lottie, the other day for a fab walk in the woods and Lottie said that she would love to come if her owner, Anna, would let her.

Do you like the picture of me following the Shetland carriage? Roz has a friend, Jane, who has two Shetlands and she was interested in learning to drive them so my driver Isobel said that Roz could bring her to see what it was all about. First of all, we harnessed up Shadow and took him out on the road as normal – Roz can’t saddle a horse but do everything for the carriage! I put on my fluorescents and Jane sat on the carriage while Roz stood on the step and I followed. When we got back, we got Mutty, one of Isobel's Shetlands, out of his paddock and harnessed him up. Roz was laughing at the size of the tack, it was so tiny it would have fitted Dexter. There’s a thought… no, he wouldn’t want to pull a carriage, that would involve him doing some exercise! Anyway, they got the little two wheel carriage out and off they went. There wasn’t enough room for Roz, so she watched. Jane loved it and even had a chance to take the reins. I don’t know what happened, but I just saw a moving carriage and just had to follow it around Isobel’s field. The other dogs were just playing but I ignored them for the carriage. I think that I’m becoming a grown up little Carriage Dally now.

Anyway, Dally fans, wags and licks until next time.

Love from Maggie xx

Saturday 29th December 2012

Hey Dally fans

Maggie Christmas!
I’m bored. I am taking a break to write this from dropping my tennis ball in all the places I’m not meant to so that I make a big fuss and mess trying to get it back (like in the waste bin). Roz read out the Winter Newsletter out to me and we were laughing at how many things I can tick off the Dally Bucket List!

Sorry I haven’t been in touch lately but it has been quite quiet here. But, big news!! Dexter is now a Carriage Dog. With all the wet weather we’ve been having, we have been parking at the top of Shadow’s field and walking down as it is so muddy where we get the carriage ready. Dexter always comes with us to see Shadow and all the other horses and then he waits in the car and has a nap (he likes napping, he is a strange dog) while I go out to work. Because we have been parking at the top, we go with the carriage to drop him off and he has been running beside us! He looks like he’s enjoying it, but he has to run at axle because I won’t let him by the backstep because that’s MY place.

Let’s hope it stops raining soon, I think Roz is fed up of getting mud off me, at least I have short fur but I seem to be a mud-magnet. Dexter can be really clean and I can be black, white and brown with so much mud that you can’t see my lovely spots any more.

The other day, we went to see Shadow and Norman and I was put in the car because they went out riding, I was very upset with the humans, but mostly with Shadow for letting them leave me at home. Roz said that it’s ok, that when she gets horses next year she will teach me how to be a road dog. Now that sounds fun. We were over at the stables the other day, and Roz and John said that they would wait until the weather improves and we will be getting horses in April or May so that we have the nice summer with them. I can’t wait. I love playing with horses even though about five of them chased me across a field the other day… I only wanted to be friends with them like I am with Shadow.

Roz tried to lunge me the other day… it was very funny. She has been going to a Horse Management Course at the stables where she rides because she doesn’t want to get a horse without not knowing how to look after it properly (very sensible). Anyway, she had learnt how to lunge a horse and she was joking with her instructor about exercising me and they wondered if they could lunge me too. She couldn’t! I just ran around in small circles. Well, I felt like I was in a circus! Very undignified…

It was very cold a couple of weeks ago and I went to see Shadow and Isobel, we decided to go out but some of the country roads were quite icy. Shadow was being very sensible and Roz and Isobel said that he was getting very grown up now he’s getting older. He did slip once, it was very funny, he looked like Bambi from the back. I said it was like Shadow On Ice. He does wear extra special studded shoes because he is so heavy on his feet anyway so it wasn’t too bad for him on the whole. He was getting very good at picking his way around the icy puddles. I was OK though, not that anyone was worried about me.

I must say a BIG congratulation to Shadow. He came Third in the Merrist Wood South Area Indoor Horse Driving Trials. He is so clever!

Anyway, Dally Fans, I hope you had a lovely Christmas, here is a picture of me all dressed up on Christmas Day. Have a very Spotty New Year to you from moi. Until next time, love, wags and licks until next time. X

Tuesday, 17 October 2012

Hey Dally fans. I’ve just come back from a lovely (but wet) carriage trip so I thought I would do a catch up of all the news from your mate, Maggie.

Well… we have had a funny month. Like us, I have found out that horse friends can be a bit unpredictable as well. As regular readers will know, we usually go out with our driver, Isobel and one of her horses, my good mate and fellow polo lover, Shadow. Isobel has six horses (yes, SIX!!) so I am getting used to being with the herd, it’s good experience for me. Anyway, the other day we went out as usual, had a good trot around the lanes near Sevenoaks and then we headed back. The field from the entrance of Isobel’s field to the stables is quite long so we often canter down there.

Roz was being a bit naughty because she was sitting down (I don’t know why, she is actually the only one not doing any work). So, Isobel gave Shadow the command to canter and off he went. We weren’t sure what happened next but he started going really fast. I had to really run to keep up. I thought we were heading for the gate but Isobel steered him away from there and from the parked cars and headed him towards the fence thinking that it would stop him but he broke that, reared up so the carriage tipped up and threw Roz out and then he bolted for the stables dragging the carriage and Isobel with him. I was a bit frightened, as you know, Dally fans, it takes a lot to spook me, but it all happened so fast.

Roz got up and went to see how Isobel was; she didn’t know what she would find. Luckily, Isobel escaped with just some bruises but the new shafts of the carriage were bent and it was firmly wedged in the stable. We managed to get them off with a big hammer and Shadow out and we all decided that to build up our confidence we would go straight out with Norman, a retired carriage horse who is very quiet and placid. So we put the old shafts on and went straight out again.

I heard Roz and Isobel talking about what had happened and they decided that now it was a bit cooler, they had taken Shadow’s ear protectors off – he gets very bad sweet itch, he says there is nothing sweet about it – so maybe everything is a bit noisier and the rattle of the carriage on the rough ground probably frightened him and off he went. So, now we always go out with his ears firmly protected and he has been good as gold. But a car with a noisy empty trailer went past us today and he shied a little, so I think that they were right.

I am a silly little Dalmatian sometimes… I managed to get my paw run over by the carriage whilst I was trying to talk to a handsome Spaniel on the other side of the road. I had to get on the carriage (again!) because my paw was bleeding. It is ok now though, and I did think twice when I saw a dog today and stayed with the carriage. Have I learnt my lesson? Maybe…

The other day, there were giggles coming from Roz’s study. She was on that computer thing she’s always on and was looking at a website called People send pictures of their dogs in to the website with notices, usually tied around their necks, telling everyone what naughty things we do. It’s usually about things that we have eaten, for example, fairy lights off Christmas trees, or bad places we poo. Roz keeps saying that she is going to shame me for being a Womble (Isobel’s says that because I try to pick up rubbish off the street that might be edible while I’m supposed to be working behind the carriage).

Oh, by the way, Dally fans, I am famous!! My blog was mentioned in the last edition of the In-Harness Magazine. I’m going viral – yay!

Anyway, until next time, licks and wags from your mate Maggie xx

Friday 7th September 2012 Hey all you Dally Fans, how are you? I am loving this late summer sunshine, I don’t mind going out in any weather but I do love running through the fields of wheat near us in the when it’s like this. Dexter gets too hot but I’m fine.

We went out the other day with the carriage and my paw started to hurt a little bit afterwards and I was limping for a couple of days. This meant that I was ‘rested’ for a couple of day… not fun for an adventurous little Dally like me. We didn’t go out for good walks and just went and played in the field at the back of the house. This got me thinking about giving us enough exercise when our owners are on holiday or ill and how we can stay in the peak of fitness that we need for our endurance.

Roz and John went on holiday a couple of weeks ago. Roz told me that she proudly wore her BCDS baseball cap everywhere, not sure what the Spanish made of that, but she did meet a lovely man walking his Dalmatian, guess what this lovely Dally was called – Pongo! Roz doesn’t speak much of the language but she does know the Spanish for Dalmatian – Dálmata – no surprise there. Anyway, the man kept repeating a command to Pongo and he was being ignored, eventually he went in to the lie position, I guess Dallies are the same the world over!

Dexter and I were put in kennels while they were away so we didn’t get as much exercise as we normally do. Roz road walks me if we haven’t been out with the carriage for a little while to keep my paws conditioned. We keep paw boots on the carriage just in case, but it is always best to prevent starting in the first place. We are aware that the hot road in the summer can give me blisters as well, but we try to go first thing in the morning, so it is normally OK.

I’m a little bit excited, Dally Fans, I must say, I won’t lie to you. I heard Roz talking to this lovely lady from In-Harness magazine the other day. She has subscribed to their publication through a link on the BCDS website. Does this mean what I think it does????? I heard Roz and John talking about fixing up the stables and I saw them looking at horses for sale websites. Yay!! I think we might be getting our own carriage although Roz said that it won’t be just yet as she can’t drive one. I think she will miss Isobel and Shadow too much though, I know I will.

Until next month, Dally fans, licks and wags from your friend, Maggie x

Tuesday 24th July 2012

Here is my Silver Carriage Dog Certificate, which is what you get if you pass your obedience but not the endurance. Hopefully I'll get a change at the full Silver qualification another time.

Well, Dally Fans, I am officially a Semi Silver! It was really good fun but the weather meant that we had to cancel the Endurance so Shadow and I will have to wait until the next trials to do that. Here’s what happened…

My most favourite person in the whole world turned up on the Friday morning – Anne (Dickens), she trained me and I love her so much. When she arrived I recognised her immediately even though I hadn’t seen her since September last year. I was so excited, I wouldn’t leave her alone. I looked for my mate, Fenris, but Anne said that she had had to leave him at home. Roz said that Anne’s a Dalmatian Magnet because every time she saw her over the weekend, Anne had a Dally stuck to her!

Then we went and picked up the motorhome that was going to be our home for the next few days. We went in Anne’s car and I slept in Fenris’s bed, it smelt of him and made me miss him even more. We picked up the van from this place and it was AMAZING, I was so keen to get to the trials, all I could do is sit in the back and made it very known by whining all the way to Stourport on Seven. It did seem a long way, Anne and Roz talked and ate nibbles all the way. I wasn’t allowed any.

Half way there we had a phone call to say that it was cancelled because it was too dangerous to do the Endurance but after a few chats, I heard that we were going to be able to do our Obedience so we were ON! Plus, Roz heard that Isobel and Shadow had arrived OK so that made me want to get there even more.

When we got there I went to see Shadow to see how his trip had been. He said that it was OK and he slept most of the way. It was very strange to see him in a stable, but he seemed to be enjoying his hay net and was talking to the other horses.

The next morning we went for a little drive down the lanes to exercise our legs and then we were on. I was a little naughty because I decided to go for a run halfway through the Halt Exercise but I got back under quite quickly. I think Roz was a bit upset with me, but I was really excited and I had seen somewhere that I hadn’t explored yet. Anyway, Mr Tim said that we had passed but that I should stay with the carriage more. I heard Roz and Anne talking about that later on, apparently if Roz is on the carriage, then I should be there too. Oh, no! I have to do as I’m told…

Everyone said what a star Isobel was, taking lots of people round on their Obedience. I told Shadow he was a two-timer and he said that he was only doing as he was told and he liked helping out. They did get wet though because it rained so much in the afternoon.

So, that’s why I’m a Semi Silver. We did have fun and we went for some walks but it was so wet and muddy, I don’t think the humans thought it was as much fun as I did. We went out with Isobel and Norman (Shadow’s friend) the other day and I heard them talking about the Trials. They said that they thought it was very well organised and everyone enjoyed it despite the weather being atrocious and the food was really good (I can testify to that as I was under the table sneaking titbits).

Anyway, Roz said to apologise for being a bit late with the blog, but we have just moved house and we didn’t have internet or a good computer to work on. But it’s all good now and I love my new home. We have lots of room to run around and there are stables where Roz and John want to get some horses. I think she would like me to be a Road Dog as well, now that would be fun!

Anyway, Dally fans, until next time! Wags and licks from your Semi Silver friend! x

Sunday, 10th June 2012

Isobel with Shadow and Maggie on a very wet Jubilee drive! But as usual Isobel keeps smiling!

Well, I think that I am going to look like a carrot! Apparently, I’m on something called a “diet”, and I swear on all things spotty that I will turn orange!!! Roz wants me to be trim and fighting fit for the Trials in LESS THAN A MONTH’S TIME!!!!

Roz has started to put vegetables in with my food to bulk it out. I think, although I’m not sure, that she is cutting down on the good stuff. I don’t care, I eat anything except tomatoes, lettuce and, as I found out to my cost, very hot curry (now, that was a bad idea). Luckily, Roz realised what I’d done and I was sitting in my bed rubbing my tongue along my front teeth trying to get the hotness out of it. She quickly gave me some natural yoghurt which took the heat out of my mouth. Roz was a bit hesitant about giving me too many veggies at first as they used to bring me out in Dally Rash when I was younger, but I seem to have grown out of it and now I can eat anything, and usually do!

We’ve been practising like mad for the Trials; we did dressage again with Norman in charge. This is great practise as we now have to do a figure of eight. I’ve been doing my sit and stay as well, gosh, a minute and a half is a long time. Shadow and I both get really bored. He was very good last time though but that was at the end of a long drive out. We do like going fast, Shadow just wants to get places and so do I, none of this mucking around. We approach everywhere at a fast trot. I heard Isobel and Roz laughing that we would have to stop and have a picnic half way round the course in July as we would get in so early that it would be embarrassing.

I hope you all had a great Jubilee weekend. We did, we went for a Jubilee Carriage Ride for the British Driving Society! Shadow had been at Camp doing competitions which was only a few miles from where he lives. We went there and Shadow was being kept at the bottom of the field. Isobel went to get him and when he saw me he let out a huge whiney to say hello. He seemed very pleased to see us. As it was someone else’s field, Roz tied me to the horse lorry while she decorated the carriage with Union flags. It was pouring with rain and cold and miserable, but that didn’t bother Shadow and me. I got bored being tied up to the lorry so I ate though my lead and went off to play. Roz got me back by bribing me with polos and put me on my carriage lead and asked Isobel to hold me. So while they were distracted decorating the carriage, I chewed through that lead as well. Luckily, apparently I left enough lead to get back to Shadow’s home behind the carriage. I think that Roz was annoyed with me and Isobel couldn’t believe that I had done it. Well, us Dallies are clever creatures and can do anything when we put our mind to it.

I have just realised that next time I write this will be after the Trials, so will this be my last blog as a Bronze qualifier? Will I be posting pics of my Silver Rosette??? Who knows…! I’ve practised long and hard so please wish me luck!

Until next time, paws crossed Dally fans. Wags and licks until next time x

Saturday 12th May 2012

I am SOOOOO excited. Roz has sent in her entry form for the National Trials in July. Cheque sent, motorhome booked, my food and collar packed (well maybe not yet, but it better had not be forgotten). It is all booked!! AND... my bestest, most favourite person in the whole wide world, the lady who taught me to be a Carriage Dog is coming with us. Roz said that whilst she was on holiday, Anne (Dickens) rang her and asked if we were going to the Nationals, if so, could she join us as she is over from France. Anne is going to help out. When Roz told me, I couldn’t contain myself, it was be best news ever. I told Dexter all about it, but he said his only memory of Anne was being told off by Munin and being locked in the car whilst we went out and enjoyed ourselves. He also said that he didn’t think that running behind a carriage looked very much fun and was far too energetic. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? He’s not a Dalmatian and doesn’t do any work. He did say that he had good plays with Fenris, though, and he enjoyed the after drive carrot. The bad news is that my mate, Fenris, isn’t going to be with her, which made me a bit sad.

So roll on July, we are ready! National Trials here we come!

The other exciting thing that happened to me this week was that we were invited to do an extra day with Isobel (I think this might be a regular thing) and we did Carriage Dressage Training with me behind! It was so much fun. I didn’t know where the carriage was going to go next. We had Shadow’s friend Norman (one of Isobel’s other horses; she has 5 including 2 Shetlands who are about the same size as Dexter). We went through cones; round in circles, serpentines and figures of eight; fast and slow. It was brilliant. I didn’t have my lead on as we were in Isobel’s field but I stayed ‘under’ the carriage as much as I could without getting too far behind. I was running around a little bit to begin with, but as soon as the Norman went into trot, I got into position.

I’d never worked with Norman before, so it was fun. We also did some stay practice next to the carriage as Norman stands still better than Shadow who is a bit like me and doesn’t like to be in one place for any longer than necessary. Isobel and Roz said that it was all good practice for me at the trials as we will be doing similar (but not as complicated) work for our Silver. I have been told that I have to sit still for a minute and a half. Now, that will be difficult. We then changed horses and Shadow took us out on the road. Isobel enters them in lots of competitions and they are doing very well.

We are a bit fed up with the weather being so wet. It is really funny because I end up with more spots on my tummy from the dirty road splash when we’re out with the Carriage. Roz and Isobel end up looking like me with mud that gets thrown up from Shadow. When we go down the byway-that-you-can-take-carriages-down we always canter. Last time we went, this grand lady said: “You’re not going to canter down here, are you?” “No” we all replied, “as if we would...” then off we trotted, as soon as we were round the corner, Isobel gave Shadow a nudge and off we went. I have to gallop behind to keep up. Roz said that it must be great to ride Shadow because he has such a beautiful canter. We will be going out on Tuesday and Thursday again this week, so even more practice. I love my work!

Anyway, Dally fans. Wags and licks until next time! x

Saturday 21st April 2012

Here I am with my friend Lottie and her owner Anna behind Shadow's carriage with Isobel driving. Roz, Isoble and Anna talked ALL THE WAY ROUND - Lottie and my ears were hurting!

I think that I have upset Shadow because I said that he had a big bum! He said that I wasn’t so slim myself; I guess I do love my food and would eat all day if I could. This morning Roz found me with my head stuck in the food bin and my bottom in the air because she had accidently left it open.

Anyway, Dally fans, what have I been up to lately? It was so exciting the other week, we went to see Shadow and then there was a big surprise because my friend Lottie (who also trained with Anne Dickens) and her owner, Anna Day came with us for our carriage ride. I was very pleased to see them at first, then I realised that I would be working with Lottie and I wasn’t so sure about that. I like to run in the middle of the step and Lottie was in the way so I gave her a little nudge every so often just to let her know that this was my carriage and she was in the way. I got bored with that after a while so we just worked next to each other. I should have been better behaved with Lottie I suppose because I used to work with Anne’s Fenris (I do miss him). Anna came with us on the carriage and all I could hear was the three women talking the WHOLE WAY ROUND!! Anna and Lottie were very pleased to have been asked to join us, she put Lottie in paw boots as Lottie hadn’t been out for a long time. I thought that she might have forgotten how to do it, but she proved me wrong. I guess it comes naturally to us Dallies...

We were supposed to have gone on one of our Spotty Walks the other week, but with illness and other commitments, it got cancelled. It was a shame, because we all love meeting up and sniffing each other to see what’s been going on, they are all such lovely dogs, Dexter and I do love them. Roz enjoys it because the humans get to swap carriage dog stories and tips. When we all met up last time, Roz’s foot was still a bit sore because Shadow had (accidently) stepped backwards trod on her foot. She was wearing good walking boots but he still managed to crack a small bone. She was telling Freya’s owner, Anna Gambles, about what had happened and Anna recommended some steel toe capped walking boots that she used. Roz had never heard of them before but went straight on eBay ordered a pair. They weren’t very expensive, and she said that they are excellent as they protect her feet and they also have good grip for the carriage. So that was a useful tip.

Talking about Spotty Walks, Roz and I were thinking of doing a Spotty Walk as a sponsored walk for Dalmatian Welfare. She has asked around a bit and we have had some positive reactions, we have also invited Shadow’s owner, Isobel and my mate Paddy (who is a Collie) as honourary Spotty as he is a carriage dog too. Now all she has to do is organise it!!!

This weather is beginning to get me down, one minute it’s sunny the next it’s pouring down with rain. We met up with some friends the other day and I thought that they were being a bit optimistic as they didn’t have their jackets on. Well, it started lovely and warm and then these big dark clouds came over and it started to rain! Then, these hard icy lumps fell on us, apparently they were hail stones. I didn’t like them at all, neither did Dexter, we kept shaking to get them off us. Snow is so much more fun.

Anyway, Dally fans. Wags and licks until next time x

17th March 2012

Sorry it has been a while – you can blame Roz for that! She has been unwell, she’s better now, but it meant that we haven’t done much for a few weeks, I did get the sense that something was wrong and instead of bothering her Dexter and I curled up around her to keep her warm. She then went on holiday with John for a few days which had already been booked. Dexter and I went to our kennels. We do like it there, we always get excited when we know where we are, Roz tries to say goodbye to us, but we just want to go and have fun!

I have to tell you, I feel really naughty. A few weeks ago I actually got on the carriage! Well, I didn’t want to get up obviously because during my training I was always told off if I even got a paw near the back step, but this was an emergency. A couple of days before we went out I had hurt my paw on some cut straw. Roz had a look at it and she said it was a bit red and to see how it went. Well, I didn’t think anything else of it as we normally go for our walks in the woods or in fields. A few days later we went out with the carriage on the road, we had gone about 8 miles and were only about ½ a mile from Shadow’s home when Roz noticed I wasn’t keeping up with the carriage and I was limping. Not like me at all and my paw was really hurting. I heard her talking to Isobel and they were discussing what to do as we were too far from home to carry me, (apparently I am a bit of a “lump”), I’m only 26 kilos, not like that big Dexter who is about 43 kilos.

Roz was worried that I would be a nuisance if I got on the carriage because I can be a bit excitable, but I knew that it was special circumstances so I stood very still looking round the side of Isobel at Shadow’s big bum bouncing up and he trotted down the road. Roz has now bought some paw boots just in case it happens again. I’ve worn them before, but that was when we went out with Anne Dickens and they belonged to her Munin. Roz hadn’t bothered getting any as we really only used them when the tarmac was hot. We now have them stowed away in the carriage for “just in cases...” so we always have them with us.

Yesterday, we went out with the carriage; we are starting to build up our stamina. Shadow and I don’t really think we need to, but you know these humans, always too cautious. Anyway, we did 12 miles and then I had a good run around the field with Dexter afterwards. The humans undid all the paraphernalia that Shadow needs to wear to pull the carriage. (Dexter waits in the car for us while we’re out). Shadow was a bit hot and sweaty so he had a good wash down and then he rolled in the mud; he is a horse after my own heart. We went home for a little while and I had a short nap then we got back in the car to go to a friend of Roz’s. She had to smallest dogs I had ever seen! They were call micro dachshunds and they were tiny, Roz had to keep telling Dexter to be careful he didn’t tread on one by mistake. We then went for another 4 miles, gosh, those little dogs’ legs can go the distance. I thought we would be leaving them behind but I think that they are high energy dogs like me so they kept up. We all had lots of fun and I was very tired (that doesn’t happen very often!) when we got back. I had my supper and then went straight to sleep on my favourite spotty cushion on the sofa.

Anyway, licks and wags until next time, Dally fans x

12th February 2012

There’s SNOW in the garden!!! I love the stuff, it gets me even more excited in the morning than normal. I had to wake everyone in the house up at 5.30 to tell them about it. I felt it was my duty. Dexter was so funny. Roz had to literally shove him out of the door this morning, he was not keen. I went on ahead and was playing around in it, so he soon got the hang of it. We then had a lovely game of tug with a ball on a rope; he’s fine now I’ve shown him how much fun it is. He also likes eating it, he saw me eating snowballs that were being thrown for me and thought that was fun too. In the summer when I get hot, Roz gives me ice to crunch and rubs it around my ears to cool me down, so I love eating snow as well.

We went out with the carriage on Friday before the snow, we drove up to the gate and I went behind the carriage without being asked! Roz had got off to open the gate and I stayed in position. We didn’t go for a long drive, only about 5 miles as Shadow had a competition the next day and we just wanted to warm him up, not wear him out. (That would take some doing!!). It was bitterly cold and I was glad I was wearing my new coat, I did look so smart. I take my work very seriously and I like it when I look the part too. Roz thinks that she might put my other light weight vest on for the trials so that I know that I’m working.

I heard Roz and Isobel talking about the National Trials, I am SOOOO excited about that. I’m going to go for my Silver (I wonder if that tastes as good as the Bronze Rosette?). Roz was talking over the details of getting there with the carriage, Shadow, me and two humans and somewhere for us all to sleep. I loved the Regional Trials, while the humans drank wine we ran around and played tag in the dark. It didn’t wear any of us out though... I saw her on the computer thing looking at the new rules that have come in, we must study them in detail before 7th July, I need to keep practising. Apparently it’s quite a hilly course, hope that’s ok for Shadow.

On Wednesday this lady came to the house and I wanted to talk to her but she ignored me every time I jumped up her. Roz said that she was a dog behaviourist and she was there to help me understand what good doggie manners are and what was expected of me. She told Roz that I was spoilt (I think Roz knew that) but agreed that I was a very bright, confident dog and that the work I did with the carriage was good for me but I needed to be stretched a bit further when I wasn’t working. Today I had my dinner in a wobbly Kong toy! Apparently, it was supposed make me work for my food. Roz loaded up with loads of lovely bits – cooked chicken, my dried food and some (low fat) cheese. Then she put it on the floor knocked a couple of times with her foot and I got the idea straight away that if I knocked it with my paw, food fell out. This is a great game, I chased it all round the kitchen and it really kept me occupied. Dexter just had his food in a bowl, I think he would think it was too much work to get his food from a toy, he sometimes doesn’t even finish his dinner, I want to help him, but the bowl is put out of my reach. It’s just not fair!

We have been doing some other exercises, like my sit and stay that we do for the carriage (the nice lady was impressed with that when I showed that I could do it). Dexter wasn’t very good at it. I knew that I was working, but he got bored because he started pulling at my collar and was putting me off. The nice lady is going to write a report for Roz so we’ll see what that says.

I’m going off the snow a bit now, my work was cancelled this week because of it, not happy at all, but Roz did say that she thought it would be as her riding lesson was cancelled as well. I miss Shadow, hopefully we will go out next week but it will depend on the weather. We’ve just had some more snow here, so it is looking doubtful already, I’m not pleased...

I did something really silly the other day, John had some pork chops for his dinner and when no-one was looking I took the small bone from the plate on the counter whilst Roz’s back was turned and then choked on it. Roz rang the vets (it stays open quite late) and said we were coming down, but as she lifted me into the car, I think she helped dislodge it as it came out. It was a bit scary, I haven’t learnt my lesson though and I still try and get food from up there.

I nearly forgot to tell you, Roz eventually sent off for the Dalimiles and it has come back – she did take her time with that. She wears a pedometer now when we go for a walk so we can clock up the miles. I wonder how long it will take us to reach Level 1? Don’t worry, Dally fans, I will keep you all informed of our progress and how the training is going.

Until next time, wags and licks from yours truly x

24 January 2012

We have had such a busy week; my paws have not touched the ground!

We met up with Eddie and Lizzie and their owners (my special friend) Mary and Tony. It is so funny because they have to be kept one on and one off the lead. Apparently they run off together if they are both off the lead. Lizzie does like to go further than I do, I don’t like being very far away from Roz, I always have her where I can see her just in case I miss out on a treat. The only reluctant walker in the family (John) came too and the owners walked about 4.5 miles, we ran about double that! It was a lovely clear, crisp winter’s day and we could see right across the Downs. While the humans were admiring the views, I found an especially good smell and was having a good sniff – rabbit, I think.

In the evening, some more of my favourite people came round. They are John’s daughters and their boyfriends and I love them so much. I always get soooooo excited. When I see them I have to jump all over them. I’m sure that they don’t mind... really... Emma used to live with us and helped bring me home, so I get extra love and cuddles from her. They ate lots of food and Dexter and I had some leftovers, not that there was much!

On Tuesday, we went for a walk with my favourite little boy, Edward. He is Roz’s grandson and he’s only 20 months old. I love to try and steal his food – well, he’s the right height for me! I do get told off though but he sneaks me biscuits when no-one is looking. Dexter made him cry because he knocked him over, he doesn’t realise how big he is!

On Thursday we went out with the carriage, we had a couple of incidents, but then we always do! Firstly, we had a Distraction Dog. He was a Jack Russell and belonged to a friend of Isobel’s. I was working really hard behind the carriage, when he put his nose up my bottom! Well! I was working so I told him to leave me alone but he wouldn’t. Anyway, his owner came up and took him away, I was pleased because I was too busy for that sort of thing.

Then a bit later on, a car came round the corner really fast, luckily Roz and I were wearing our florescent jackets so he saw us just in time. He had to swerve round us and nearly hit a car coming down the other way. Roz said that was a bit scary to watch but she reassured me that most people were really good, even police cars turn off their sirens when they see us out and about. It was raining and we all got very wet, Roz said that she has ordered me a new waterproof florescent coat; I will look so smart now when I’m working. We also took a picture of the horse and carriage sign (without a Dalmatian, I must do something about that). Roz said, sorry it’s a bit blurred but Shadow isn’t very good at standing still, especially as he knows he can go really fast down there.

Isn't this a great sign? It actually has a horse and carriage on it. Shadow and I think there should be a Dalmatian behind the carriage too, but they haven't left enough room for us to draw one.

That evening, I laid on the sofa with my head on Roz’s lap, and looked up at her. I do enjoy my work and it makes me love Roz even more for taking me there. I think that I might behave for the next few days just to show that I do appreciate all she does for me.

I’ve had to nudge Roz about doing the DaliMiles, she said something about running out of ink in the printer. Honestly, some people are so disorganised!

Anyway, wags and licks until next time!

12th January 2012

I AM SO EXCITED!!!! Roz woke Dexter and me up while it was still dark, this meant only one thing... we were going out with the carriage today!!!! We got in the car and I was so impatient to get there I whined for the whole journey and I got told off, but I just couldn’t help myself. When we got there Shadow was all harnessed up and ready to go. I went and said hello to him and then Roz got me ready. Roz and I always wear florescent coats and I have a bright yellow reflective harness too. She has a spotty riding hat to match me for a bit of fun as well. Shadow and I were really looking forward to going out, we both had so much energy we both wanted to go straight into trot, but Isobel wouldn’t let us, she is so mean, always slowing Shadow down when he wants to go fast.

We did have a really good run though, we went down this path with a sign with a picture of a horse and carriage on it. There was no Dalmatian at the back so Isobel said that she was going to go back with some tipex and a black marker and add me. Then Isobel gave Shadow a nudge and we were off in canter! It was so exciting, Roz and I loved it, it seemed so fast. When we got to the proper road again, Isobel had to stop us from going fast again. Shadow and I weren’t pleased about that. I was quite tired when we got home and I slept all afternoon.

Roz has been looking at that screen in the corner of the room, and I noticed that she was on the BDCS website again. This time, she was looking at the Dalimiles form, we do about 6 or 7 miles with the carriage and we do a lot of walking. Talking about walking, Roz says that we’re meeting up with my special friend Mary Kinsey who gives me treats, and their Dallies, Eddie and Lizzie at the weekend which sounds like fun.Tony (Fincham) was telling me that they had signed up for Dalimiles and he was wearing something called a pedometer so that he could track how far we’d walked.

Anyway, I’ve got to go and do some ‘counter-cruising’ to see if anyone has left any food up there for me. I think the best thing I ever got was a 1lb of cheese, I was very sick after I’d eaten it; Roz had no sympathy for me and just said that it served me right.

Saturday, 7th January 2012

Dexter and I met up with some of my other Carriage Dog friends. I have noticed that not only has being a carriage dog changed my life, but it has changed Roz’s too. She has new friends and new hobbies. She has started learning to ride a horse and wants to eventually own a horse and learn to drive a carriage as well, which is good news for me.

We arranged to meet up at a local park with some other BCDS members from the South East region. We all met at the Training Day and Trials, although some of us knew each other already, and we have decided to meet up every few months. The owners take it in turns to organise a good walk, Roz and I were in charge last time and we went to my favourite park. The owners probably only walk about 4 or 5 miles, but we run about 10, because we’re Dalmatians and, well, we can!

L-R Anna Day with Lottie and her friend Molly; Roz with me and my best pal Dexter; Celia Gilbert with Harley; Anna Gambles with my friend Fenris' sister Freya and on the right Mary Kinsey with brother and sister Eddie and Lizzie.

There were SEVEN Dalmatians and Dexter, of course. We certainly turned some heads. Roz said it was good to swap stories and tips about carriage dogs and owning a Dalmatian and everyone was very jealous of me going out every week with the carriage. I had a good catch up with my special friend, Lottie, who is owned by Anna Day; Freya, who is Fenris’s sister, owned by Anna Binney and Lizzie, owned by my friend Mary Kinsey (she gives me treats). We were all trained by Anne and we all said that we missed Fenris and Munin and how much they would have enjoyed the walk. I will have to start practising my French for when I see them again... Bonjour, je suis un dalmatien!

We had a new kid on the block, a very handsome rescue dog called Harley (I think I flirted with him a little bit) who is owned by Celia Gilbert. Dexter kept putting him in his place, but I think that was because I wasn’t playing with him. We all walked for miles and ran and chased each other. It was FANTASTIC and I loved every minute of it. When we got home, Roz gave us a big bonio each and we both fell fast asleep. I wasn’t tired at all before that.

If you live in the South East and would like to join us on our Spotty Walks, you can get in touch with my owner, Roz, through the BCDS website. Your owner doesn’t have to be a member, let them know they can come along and find out more about the wonderful world of being a carriage dog! They will definitely want to join once they’ve met all of us.

Thursday, 5th January 2012

I am so annoyed; I stamped my paws in protest. Roz said last night that we all needed an early night as we were out with the Carriage tomorrow morning. I didn’t sleep very well, the wind was so loud it kept me awake, I even scratched at the kitchen door to tell everyone I couldn’t sleep, but I was ignored. The next morning, Roz got us up and we had breakfast. Then she looked at this small square thing that lights up – she is always using it – and then she said it was a text message and that we weren’t going out. A tree had been blown down in front of the gate we use to get in and out of Shadow’s field so it was cancelled.

Dexter and I decided to have a duvet day; we curled up on the comfiest cushions on the sofa while Roz used the machine in the corner of the room which has a screen and a keyboard. As I was lying there, I thought about sunnier, warmer days and how I trained to be a carriage dog. I was showing off a bit earlier, I did have training. I remember Roz sitting on the step of the carriage facing me with titbits in her hand (I love food!!) telling me to do a “good under”, I very quickly realised that this meant that I had to put my chin by the step of the carriage. We went out like that for a couple of times, then one day, Roz stood up and turned around leaving me to follow the carriage. I thought “I like it here and it just seems like this is what I was born to do!”

After I’ve been out with the Carriage, I feel so grown up and important and I am really good for a few days afterwards. It is the best thing in the world (and Roz loves it too). She says there’s nothing better than being out on the carriage and I agree with her.