A is For: Always Show Kindness

Rusty with Rolo at a bird hide, Newtown Isle of Wight

We’re nearing the half-year point of living with Rolo, the rescue mutt. When I flippantly chose this ‘kindness’ phrase back in January, I had no idea of its pertinence. When Dog came along, inevitably acting like a lost abandoned pup, he was a bloody nightmare. And so many people suggested we be mean to him to fix it quick.

Whether bike, passerby, plastic bag or (God forbid) another dog, everything would send him in to apoplectic rage. I abandoned all previous pretensions of being a sweet, polite neighbour, as I wrestled my hell hound round the block. No wonder we retreated to the wild places.

Rolo the dog photo collage

I couldn’t believe one canine was causing such disruption. So I was happy to take advice, anything that might help us figure out our daily life together. I was surprised by the number of people who recommended choke chains, shock collars, or compressed air canisters. I can’t understand why any animal stressed enough to act inconveniently should be answered with fury.

Tom and Rolo playing at the beach

There seems a portion of everyday dog talk that still suggests cruelty as par for the course. It’s unnecessary, but god, the human patience required to get there without being mean feels like a far greater challenge.

Over the months we’ve seen our persistence pay off. I’m glad we were able to find a kinder way, particularly for such a crazy mutt, with plenty of thanks to Ian Dunbar, John Bradshaw and Zak George. Apparently there really is no magic recipe or quick fix. If you volunteer to take in a dog that has been abandoned somewhere down the line, you’re volunteering to take on a mystery challenge.

Rolo on the beach at sundown

It’s funny to welcome into your home someone whose history is completely unknowable. Likely not from a town and, judging by the scar on his head, hanging with a few tough canine associates. I’m sure he hadn’t experienced a lot of the things that he is now slowly, and sweetly, learning about. He’s become more puppyish as he settles in, letting down his guard and starting to trust that here with us is where he stays.

Now he’s sitting by my feet, only glancing as the school-run sound of scooter wheels and shouts drift up to our window. We’ve figured out how to celebrate our awesome ‘working-from-home’ days together. He’s a bad yoga buddy, but the best excuse for a midday run through the forest. I have appreciation for the effort he puts in. Now every time a van drives past without him lunging I silently whoop. He adds extra hilarity to every day and is never anything other than delighted to see us. The kindness is paying off. I think he’s a keeper.

Looking down at Rolo the dog

Yoga Every Day

Rusty performing Tree Pose, yoga in the forest

Yes, every single goddamn day. Because I was foolish enough to write it on my alphabet year list and because any day is improved by a good stretch.

I thought August would be a good month to start a daily habit, with long days, plenty of sunshine and a quiet work schedule. My August has started off a little more hectic than planned, but that only further warrants the moment of calm that yoga brings.

I’m not following any particular course (though if you’re looking for one, I recommend Erin’s). Just turning up to the mat every day would be a triumph for me. And if the sun gets a few salutes along the way, or I manage that double pigeon without looking like a crumpled chicken, then all the better.

Meet Rolo the Rescue Mutt

Rolo the dog's paws

We have been With Mutt in this house for a week now. I’ve been failing to write this post for seven days due to the endlessly delightful distraction that is watching Rolo find his feet in his new home. We’ve revelled in sunny spring days with maximum outdoor time, plenty of snoozes, and more running around in the garden than I’ve done in ten years.

Rolo the dog

I have longed to have a dog for as long as I can remember. The beginning of my new work, based at home, finally made it possible. There’s no way that starting a new business and getting a new dog at the same time is a bad idea, right?! (I like a challenge;) Both work and mutt have been plans long in the making (you’ll spot it in my Alphabet Year list) and I’m so excited they’re both finally happening!

Rusty running with Rolo

I knew we would love having a dog, so have been wilfully ignorant of all the many inconveniences attached. It turns out I don’t mind that sunrise walk round the block and have accepted the hair with the graceful purchase of a lint roller. The need to sweep often is counterbalanced by the fact I never need clear up dropped crumbs again.

Not much is known about his early days before he arrived at the collie rescue centre. We are all having to be gentle and patient with each other. His ears are starting to perk up and he’s trailing us around the house a little less than before. We’re enjoying figuring each other out in these early days. Huge thanks go to Jen from Inky Collective for all the advice and reassurance.

Tom and Rolo in the woods

I think D is my favourite letter of the alphabet year so far.)

Meanwhile, I’m reading these lovely blogs for some dog day delights: Michelle, Freya, and Jenny.

S is for Skating

Penny boarding past beach huts

You might have spotted in my alphabet list for 2015 a potentially foolhardy S: skateboarding.  I spent my childhood way out in the countryside, at the top of a steep gravelly drive.  Not ideal for learning to skate, though I did have a classic 80s board, with neon deck and hot pink wheels.  I got as far as sitting and rolling hesitantly.

Rusty holding her penny board and slipway photo collage

So here I am twenty years later with renewed resolve to learn a useful and generally pretty awesome skill.  Walking is slow, bikes are bulky, and buses are just painful.  The obvious addition to my epic commute is a nifty penny board.

It’ll be a while before I’m whizzing round anywhere on these four little wheels.  For now, I am having great fun throwing myself in to something that is deceptively difficult.  I spent the first few days in the house, pushing myself from staircase to countertop, and balancing on the carpet, figuring out where my feet should go.

Gurnard Secret Beach

I’m enjoying being terrible at something, knowing I can only get better.  I would have been way too self-conscious to try boarding in my teen years.  Now I couldn’t care less.  I’m looking forward to the day I can breeze by, without my trailing, shuffling foot.  Even at my slow faltering pace, this S in my alphabet is seriously good fun.

Stones and skateboarding photo collage

Skating at sunset through fisheye lens