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In which I take Brith for a walk on my own - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
In which I take Brith for a walk on my own
As regular readers of this LJ will know, I have been seeking ways to ensure that I get enough exercise. I never used to be slothful when it came to physical activity, but advancing age and a job that is now totally computer based -- not to mention the studying -- has turned me into a sedentary person. It's so easy to get sidetracked into spending hours on the computer, which means that nothing much moves apart from my fingers. :(

So, I volunteered to be a dog walker for the Cinnamon Trust. This was over a year ago now and apart from nearly having a cat to look after over Christmas, they hadn't got in touch. Basically it was a chicken and egg situation. No one knew about the charity in my area and so there were no requests for help and as there were no other volunteers for miles around, I was reluctant to start publicising the charity because there would only be me available to do all the walking!

Anyway, I have finally got a dog to walk. Here is Brith. His name means "speckled" in Welsh and even though these are not very good photos taken with my phone, you can see why he got his name. :)

Brith's first walk with me

I have been to help with Brith before. Brith's owners are three delightful elderly ladies who live on the other side of our little town. (I don't think they would object to the word "elderly", seeing as they are 94, 88 and early 80s.) Brith was a rescue and when they first got him, he had lots of Issues. (He still has a couple, but he's ever so much better than he was.) They paid for a trainer to work with him and they did some simple agility and also taught him some tricks like bringing the correct toy when requested. He is very bright, being part collie. Due to his Issues, he didn't go out for walks, but they have a large garden and he got plenty of exercise running around there, chasing balls, jumping over jumps, running through tunnels etc.

Sadly, the youngest of the three owners has Alzheimers and recently she has deteriorated a lot. Officially Brith is her dog, but she can no longer throw the ball or play with him. So this is where I come in. The dog trainer (a lovely woman) now takes him out a couple of times a week and he has come on really well with her, so he is now walkable. He no longer reacts to cars, though he still reacts badly to other dogs, hence the harness plus collar and two leads. However, there are plenty of places round here that are not frequented by dog walkers and --unlike his rather frail owners -- I am strong enough to march him firmly past the occasional dog in a garden.

Anyway, last week I went out with the dog trainer as she walked Brith and this week I took him out all on my own. :)


If this works out well, it should ensure that I get two long brisk walks very week at least. Plus it's more fun walking with a dog than on my own.

[Cross-posted from Dreamwidth by way of a backup http://heleninwales.dreamwidth.org/35098.html. If you want to leave a comment, please use whichever site you find most convenient. Comments so far: comment count unavailable.]

Current Mood: pleased pleased

22 comments or Leave a comment
From: cmcmck Date: March 16th, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
He looks a real sweetie :o)

So THAT'S why it's called bara brith?
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 17th, 2012 12:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
For all his issues with other dogs, Brith loves people.

And yes, bara brith is simply "speckled bread", the adjective (almost) always follows the noun in Welsh. Not far from here we also have a Bryn Brith, ie speckled hill. Welsh is wonderfully prosaic with its naming systems. :)
cariadwen From: cariadwen Date: March 16th, 2012 07:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well done Helen, first for your kindness for both the lovely ladies and Brith, and second for finding a fun way to exercise.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 17th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a win-win situation. The three ladies get to keep Brith for company, without having to worry about his exercise or pay the dog trainer for more days and I get the incentive to do more walking. :)
birdsedge From: birdsedge Date: March 16th, 2012 08:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
We used to have a headcollar to walk Diezel in. It has a looped rein under the dog's chin which runs loose through two rings. If the dog's walking beside you, no problem. If he lunges forward, the rein tightens and it automatically pulls his head round to you. It's a serious training implement for a dog that plls all the time, but if it's only to stop occasional lunges it's perfect. It gives you better control and more confidence about going into new situations. It buckles on with a throat-lash like a horse's headcollar and is loose enough not to cause discomfort. Diezel's was leather, but you can get them in softer webbing.They are also sized and shaped for specific types of dog:
They look a bit like a muzzle, but they aren't. The dog can eat, breathe, carry a stick (and, yes, bite) while wearing one, but it can't easily get away from you.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 17th, 2012 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've seen those dog head-collars in use. Are they called "haltis"? I don't think they would work for Brith because he has been known to get pretty frenzied and I would worry about the danger of him seriously damaging his neck, even breaking it. He is, however, considerably smaller than a German Shepherd, so the dog trainer just advocates ignoring any struggles and marching him firmly past. The training seems to be working because whereas he used to go completely berserk he now just does a couple of leaps and barks.
birdsedge From: birdsedge Date: March 17th, 2012 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad the training's working. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Re headcollars: Haltis might be a trade name. I guess there are several different companies making them. I would have thought that the danger of doing serious neck damage with a headcollar is very slight. They're not particularly fierce because the dog has hardly begun to pull ahead before they close and take effect. It's not like the dog gets a good run and a lunge before the headcollar starts to work. Also, just having the light strap across the top of the nose apparently has a psychological effect because if a bitch wants to stop a puppy in its tracks she'll mouth it right there, so the puppy learns that pressure on the nose means that Mum says no.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 17th, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's interesting about the pressure on the nose. Before Brith went to his current home, he was actually adopted from the rescue by another friend of mine. Sadly it didn't work out because one of her dogs bullied him badly -- hence why he moved to live with his three lovely ladies.

However, when my friend later adopted another dog, Dyfi tried his previous tactics, but after a while the much smaller bitch turned the tables. My friend said she caught Silver with Dyfi's nose clamped in her jaws. It seems she knew instinctively how to subdue him, even though he's substantially bigger and heavier.
birdsedge From: birdsedge Date: March 17th, 2012 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, apparently it works in most cases. BB's much better at dog psychology than I am. That's one of his gems.
khiemtran From: khiemtran Date: March 16th, 2012 08:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like fun. Hope he behaves for you!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 17th, 2012 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
He's absolutely fine with me and doesn't even pull. I just have to beware of meeting other dogs and be firm with him if we do.
sartorias From: sartorias Date: March 16th, 2012 11:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dogs are such fun to walk.
rymrytr From: rymrytr Date: March 17th, 2012 02:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Basically it was a chicken and egg situation.

Are you sure it wasn't an egg and chicken, situation?


heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 17th, 2012 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
You could be right. Which did come first? :)
paragraphs From: paragraphs Date: March 17th, 2012 03:32 am (UTC) (Link)
That is exactly how I walk my two! Two leashes. I think this is a brilliant solution for you to have a walking companion and help some good people at the same time. :(
intertext From: intertext Date: March 17th, 2012 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I miss dog-walking so much. Brith is lucky, but so are you.
fjm From: fjm Date: March 17th, 2012 09:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Lovely. My mother walks for the Cinnamon Trust. Like you she had to wait a while but once she'd done it for a while others found out and now she has I think two dogs to walk, a jack russell and a labrador, who she takes out with her basset.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 17th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm hoping it will work out OK with Brith. The dog trainer is still on hand, which is reassuring because I am a total novice with dogs. The only slight regret is that because of his Issues with other dogs and travelling in cars I can't take him up to walk in the forest with the friend who has the two collies who occasionally feature in my photos.

However, I'm really glad of the extra motivation to exercise.
la_marquise_de_ From: la_marquise_de_ Date: March 17th, 2012 09:19 am (UTC) (Link)
He's very handsome. And walking with dogs is always a goodness.
feodora From: feodora Date: March 17th, 2012 11:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Its the same with me and the dog Rudi.Although I take out other dogs from the animal shelter as well, Rudi is my favourite...and I am his

20120311 Rudi

So on weekends or when I dont have to commute to Bonn, I try to cycle to the animal shelter to take one or two dogs out. So I get a walk on 30 min to one hour on these days plus the ride with the bike of about 5 km (with bad weather I take the car ;D)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: March 17th, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
He is a very handsome dog. :) I still sort of wish I could have a dog of my own, but it would make going away for weekends so much more complicated. Walking dogs for other people is the next best thing.
endlessrarities From: endlessrarities Date: March 24th, 2012 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely dog!

Pardon my welsh ignorance, but is the 'brith' the same as in 'bara (spelling will be wrong, I'm doing it phonetically...) brith', as in the cake/bread of that name...
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