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Fetch & Follow Stories | Hannah and Grenson

We first came across Hannah through her amazing instagram account En Brogue, where you can find inspiration on stylish flat shoes and how to work them into your wardrobe essentials, along with cameo appearances from her much loved (and very handsome!) schnauzer Grenson.

We spoke to Hannah about how this cheeky schnauzer has brought laughter to her working day life

Tell us about Grenson and how he came into your life

Grenson came to us as a puppy three and a half years ago. We’d actually been trying for about six years to have a baby, and when that didn’t work out for us we decided to get a dog. A dog had always been part of our plan - actually, my husband Mark and I have wanted a dog for as long as we can remember, we first bonded at university over 20 years ago because we both missed our family dogs so much! - so it was a no brainer as a way to expand our family at that point. We did a lot of research into the right breed for our lifestyle in London, as well as finding reputable breeders, and Grenson just happened to be in the right place at the right time. He was such a comfort to us at a difficult time, but I hadn’t anticipated that he would also make us laugh so much!

How does Grenson fit into your general day working?

The reason we hadn’t got a dog earlier in our lives was because we really wanted to give a dog a loving home and a full life, not just leave it in the house all day while we went out to work. Mark’s working situation changed so he would be at home full-time, so we felt it was the ideal timing to raise a puppy. I’ve since also gone freelance, so we’re in the fortunate position of always having at least one of us at home with him. One of us will do the morning walk and the other the afternoon walk, plus I try and schedule in tea breaks to give him a cuddle. He has a good life!

When you’re not working where do you and your dog like to hang out?

We spend a lot of time on the Isle of Wight where I grew up. Grenson absolutely loves the beach and we struggle to keep him out of the sea, which is unusual for a miniature schnauzer since they usually hate water. We take him out with us to pubs and restaurants, so we spend a lot of time in dog friendly establishments. We also love holidaying in the UK - Grenson has been to the Scottish Highlands with us twice, on a road trip through Devon and to the Peak District.

What essentials do you always have on you when heading out for a dog walk and what do you carry them in?

We always have a collapsible water bowl, a Chilly’s bottle with cold water in for all of us, a bag of treats to keep him quiet in a cafe or pub, and a little sheepskin blanket for him to lie on if we’re somewhere with a cold floor. I carry everything in a Herschel children’s rucksack (I’m only 5ft3 so this size works for me!).

What adventures do you and Grenson have planned for the rest of the year?

We’ve just booked a weekend in Yorkshire with our friends, who also happen to own Grenson’s best friend Alf, a white miniature schnauzer. We’re going to the Cotswolds later in the year to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary; my mum is planning the whole thing around it being dog friendly because she loves Grenson so much! And we’re thinking about a trip to Ireland, but we’ll have to see what happens with Brexit and doggie passports.

You can check out Hannah's blog En Brogue HERE

and follow her and Grenson's adventures on Instagram

Fetch and Follow Stories | Nina and Goldie

Nina May is a journalist, editor, writer and co-founder of Wunderdog magazine. The online journal, which is dedicated to the ‘good life with rescue dogs’ will be publishing their first printed issue this coming spring. Nina also welcomed Goldie into her life last year, a rescue street dog from Romania.

We spoke to Nina about the up and coming launch of the printed Wunderdog magazine and how her cheeky little sidekick can be found regularly making new friends in and around Hackney

Tell us about Goldie and how she came into your life

Goldie is a rescue dog from Romania. At around eight months old, she was found wandering the streets with a chain around her neck so tight it had grown into her skin because she was still growing. Romanian Rescue Appeal, a UK-based charity that operates three shelters in Romania, took her in and cared for her. I saw her on the charity’s website, around five months after my previous rescue dog had passed away. I was getting very dog-broody and it turned out to be very hard to adopt a dog from the UK. Of more than a dozen charities I contacted (either to volunteer or for a specific dog), RRA was one of only two that even replied. At the time, Goldie was going to be adopted by someone, but that lady changed her mind, so Goldie became available. It was fate.

 How does your Goldie fit into your general working day?

As a freelance writer and editor, I don’t have a routine. When I work in client's offices, I tend to leave Goldie with my lovely neighbour, who is a dog-sitter. Goldie just walks in there like it’s her second home and claims her spot on the couch. When I work from home, Goldie sleeps on an armchair next to my desk, and when it’s time to go out, she sulks like a proper teenager until I give in. In one of the offices where I freelance, dogs are allowed in, so Goldie comes occasionally. To be honest, though, she gets bored and is not a great fan of the hour-long commute. 

When you’re not working where do you and Goldie like to hang out?

Our normal park is Shoreditch, which has a great dog crowd. We also love London Fields. For outings slightly further afield, Victoria Park or Hampstead Heath are wonderful – the latter is my favourite park. As a street dog, Goldie is extremely good with other dogs and clearly craves the company of other pooches, so I try to get her as much playtime as possible. When we aren’t walking, I love taking Goldie to a tiny café near where we live, which has a big leather sofa. We go on a dog-date, and I sit with her on the sofa and we share a croissant. 

What essentials do you always have on you when heading out for a dog walk and what do you carry them in?

Goldie is quite hairy, so to protect seats, I take a little dog blanket or a linen baby swaddle (don’t judge…). I try to be organised with a travel bowl and poo bags, which I stuff into my Fetch & Follow tote bag (the Drawn in Light edition). When we are out for longer, I take one of her Fetch & Follow coats, which she loves putting on, possibly because it’s not tight around the neck like a sweater. For the rain jacket with the zip underneath, Goldie actually lies on her back and waits until I zip her up.

What adventures do you and Goldie have planned for the rest of the year?

I am working on the first edition of my rescue-dog magazine Wunderdog, so I can’t think any further than the publication of that – hopefully in March. Last year, we went to Saunton in Devon, which was heavenly. The beach is completely dog-friendly, and the people there are so nice. I would love to go back there. 
I am still working out what Goldie’s favourite holiday would be: because she so loves playing with other dogs, I can’t imagine she would like a long road trip or countryside walks, where she has to be on a leash all the time. We went to the Isle of Skye last year, and she was not happy being on the leash, because of sheep, and few other dogs around. She was sulking for a week until we reached our last hotel, which had a resident collie for her to play with.

Slightly less adventurous, but I want to try agility and flyball with her – for fun, not for Crufts. She is smart and agile, so I think she would enjoy the challenge.

You can read more about Nina and Goldie's adventure together here
Along with following them on Instagram and Facebook
Picture Credits to George Baxter

 

Fetch and Follow Stories | Christmas Special | Jess, Toby and Amos

We first came across Jess and her Wonder Dogs Toby and Amos through our friends at Wunderdog Magazine. We instantly wanted to find out more about their adventures together and the great charity work they have been doing.

Tell us about Toby and how he came into your life

Toby was (and still is) my childhood dream come true!
I had wanted a dog for as long as I could remember, my mum has said I started to become dog obsessed at about 3. We were a very busy family so I wasn’t able to have a dog growing up, thinking back that was the best thing for us as a family.
My Dad retired just before I turned 18 and he and my mum were set for moving to Spain to enjoy retired life – I jokingly said to them if they were set on moving to Spain and leaving me behind that I wanted to get a dog! My parents said if I could show that I could afford to look after and take on a dog they would get me a pup for my 18th birthday.
I then did some further research on which breed would be best for me – as this was my first dog I wanted to make sure I knew all about the traits of the breed I was getting and wanted to make sure the breed I picked would be a perfect match for me.
Border Terriers were it! From everything I read about them I knew that was the dog for me, happy to walk and adventure all day, happy to work and train, but equally happy to snuggle on the sofa.

We collected Toby a couple of months before my birthday and he is hands down the best present I have ever received – he is the best little guy in the world who never fails to brighten up my days.

Toby gets to go on some amazing adventures including a lot of hiking - Was there any training involved in this?

Toby has been an adventure pup for as long as I can remember! I have always loved walking and climbing and getting Toby gave me the confidence and purpose to travel further to keep him on his toes and exploring new places and environments! We love going to new places to explore, if there is a climb or a scramble involved we love it even more, I’m sure he is part mountain goat.

We hit a stumbling block with the big adventures when Toby was 3, as he slipped a disc and was off his legs for a little while, we then had to build his strength up from basics again and he was limited to very short walks for a fair period. After his back injury, when he was back to full fitness we started climbing again and he climbed Snowdon with me for the first time, that certainly got us both back into the adventure spirit!

His biggest challenge which took some training and getting used to (for both of us!) was last year – following on from my eldest brother passing away I had wanted to do something to raise money for two charities that meant a lot to us as family, of course I wanted to pair this with my love of adventures and walking.  

I decided that we would walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks – this is a 24.5 mile walk that has to be completed in less that 12 hours. Such a big undertaking meant we upped the training and slowly increased to regular 18 mile walks to ensure that we were all fit enough to complete the challenge. Toby was 8 when we did the challenge he walked and climbed with us for 11 hours, he absolutely loved it! He especially loved the giant Pork Pie he got after we completed it!  

Toby is 9 now and still loves nothing more than a hike in the hills or mountains he has been our mascot for this year’s charity challenge which has been climbing a mountain a month for the past 10 months, each mountain getting more difficult as the months go on.

Toby carries a little backpack when you are on your adventures, could you explain what he carries in this and the reason behind it?

Toby carries First Aid Kits in his backpack, it is his little hiking job and he carries one for humans and one for dogs. Sometimes we swap the first aid kits for toys – it all depends on where our adventures are taking us!

Part of the reason he has the back pack is following on from him completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks – Toby was checked over before the challenge by his vets to ensure that he was fit and healthy enough to walk for such a distance – the vets were amazed at his condition and how fit and healthy he was.

That got me thinking and I didn’t want him to lose the level of fitness he had gained through a year of hard training, unfortunately walking 18 miles every Saturday isn’t something we can commit to in the long term – for the challenge it was needed but once the challenge was completed we were happy to go back to more moderate adventures.

The idea of the back pack is to make him work harder – albeit only a little harder, I researched backpacks for dogs and looked into the guidance surrounding weight and style.

Toby needed a front loaded back pack – although he is fit and healthy I am always conscious of anything further injuring his back, so Toby will never carry a lot of weight in his pack, his first aid kits weigh about 500g (for both) guidance says dogs can carry 15-25% of their body weight.

The pack that he wears also has a handle so I can help him down any very steep sections as due to his old injury we have to be careful with big drops. The added bonus to his back pack is that he looks utterly adorable and for charity walks it is a great conversation starter!

Tell us about Amos and how came into yours and Toby’s life

Amos was born at the Dogs Home where I work one day a week. His mum came in to the home as a pregnant stray, she was only a pup herself and was aged at about 8 months old (far too young to be having babies) she had a litter of 8 pups and sadly only three of them survived, one boy and two girls.  

Amos and one of his sisters were born blind, they were taken to see an eye specialist whilst they were at the home and unfortunately for Amos both of his retinas were detached and his eyes were not fully formed – this meant that his eyes caused him pain and discomfort, the specialist advised that they best thing for him in the long run would be to have his eyes removed.

Amos crashed into my life when I was working on the pup section, Amos was just a little ginger splodge – he was a fairly chilled out puppy and was really good with the other pups he met over on the pup unit. At the time Amos was at the home there was a tummy bug so each section was on lock down, which meant that none of the pups could be walked as they didn’t want to risk them getting poorly. I was worried about the life that Amos would have, he’d missed a lot of socialization whilst at the Home as they were restricted by the lock down and I knew this would mean he would be hard work, lets face it life is scary if you are blind, its even more scary if you have had next to no experience of the outside world for four months. I worried he would have an overly sheltered life and if he would get to go adventuring and exploring when he was older.  

My partner is a sucker for puppies so he was easy to convince, the difficulty was going to be convincing Toby to share his house and family with an unruly pup!  

They had a couple of meets at the Dogs Home and then Amos came home with us for an initial 2 week foster period to see how they got on in the house.  

That was in February and we have never looked back since!

We officially adopted him in August, he is a complete monster at times but we wouldn’t change him for the world.

 How has Toby helped in training Amos?

Toby has been great in helping Amos adapt to life in the great wide world!

Toby has given Amos confidence and re-assurance when he has struggled to cope with things, when we first got Amos he had never been on a lead, or for a walk so there were many situations that he was just not comfortable or confident in.

Walking him is where Toby really helped – Amos would walk a few steps and then just sit down, he wouldn’t move and we weren’t intending to force him, he needed to learn that he could trust us to help him not to make him feel pressured or more scared than he already felt. Toby would just sit next to / touching him, as though to say don’t worry, you take your time little one.  

Gradually Amos got better and more confident and would happily walk alongside Toby, there were days where he just couldn’t cope with something, be it a different smell, texture etc. many of our walks with Amos would take an hour to do a 15 minute walk, the longest he sat contemplating for was over half an hour, he just needed to think things through and then when he was ready he got up ready to carry on with his walk.

That is obviously a stark difference from where he is at now – he comes climbing with me and Toby and is a confident walker, he can be reactive to noises when we are out and about but I don’t really blame him for that.

Toby is also chief guide when we go somewhere new – he shows Amos where things are and guides him to the Water Bowl as this is something Amos had struggled with when we initially brought him home – as he had been in a kennel for 4 months where the water bowl was always in the same place bringing him into a home environment he struggled to locate the water bowl for a little while so Toby stepped up to help him.

What advice would you give any one whose dog may be going blind dog or was thinking of rescuing a partially sighted dog?

If you have a dog who was born blind, has gone blind or is partially sighted it is so rewarding to see them adapt and manage. They don’t let it stop them so neither should we, if you want to take them on an adventure take them, just make allowances and adapt plans as needed.

It must be scary for a dog who has always been able to see to no longer be able to see, so being patient and calm will no doubt help them to relax and learn how to adapt.

For a dog who has never been able to see everything is new and scary until you show them otherwise.

We’ve found with Amos simple things help, for example:

  • Announcing yourself, before you pet him say “Hi Buddy” so he knows to expect you
  • Use the names of objects to help, so before we put Amos’ Harness on we say “Harness”, he has learnt that this means that something will be put over his head, or “watch the door” before we open a door so he steps back out of the way.
  • Narrate everything! Our walks our me and my partner chattering away to both of the boys, I let Amos know if there are curbs he needs to step up or down, if there are people approaching or objects in his way. If there is nothing about that he needs to worry about I’m talking to the both to tell them what good boys they are and how handsome they are!
  • Don’t move furniture too often! Once your dog has mapped the space it can be really confusing when something is there that they aren’t expecting

Amos amazes us constantly with the stuff he can do and works out, we train him as we would train any dog – the only difference being we rely more heavily on verbal cues as opposed to hand signals/body language. We often have to think more outside of the box as to how we may teach him a behavior as most of the training I have done with Toby has been from Signals, we rely less on Verbal commands.

Much like with training any dog you need to be kind, patient and understanding to get the best out of them.

Could you tell us a little more about your 10 mountains in 10 month challenge?

Our #10mountains10months challenge has been this year’s charity challenge for myself, Toby and my friend Sophie.

Last year as mentioned previously I decided to do the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in memory of my Brother Phil – this was to raise money for PAPYRUS – Prevention of young Suicide.

Sophie also did a charity walk in aid of CALM – Campaign against Living Miserably in memory of her close friend Rob.

We had decided that we wanted to make an effort to do something to support these charities that are trying to break the stigma surrounding Mental Health and Suicide each year, but didn’t want all the focus to be on raising money especially after people had been so generous for both of our 2017 challenges.

We planned this challenge in order to raise much needed awareness for both of these charities and what they are trying to achieve.

We decided to walk a mountain a month for 10 months in order to do this – each month the mountain got taller and we finished by climbing Snowdon in early October.

Each climb we have made an effort to chat to people along the way to tell them about the challenge and why we are doing it – Toby as chief mascot has donned special charity badges on his back pack, which have promoted what we are doing and encouraged more people to stop and talk to us about the challenge.

We are currently in the planning stages of next years challenge so keep your eyes peeled for next year’s hashtag!

Both I and my friend Sophie have lost someone close to us through suicide and we are trying to do our bit in dispelling the stigma surrounding suicide.

You can read more about Jess, Toby and Amos's adventures through her blog

Along with following them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter