My Family and Other Animals - Ellie

This week we are hearing from Adam, and his new acquisition, Ellie...So Adam, tell us who Ellie is and why she arrived in your home, and of course, how that is working out...

When we got a puppy this year, people thought we were mad. Three boys (one a toddler), 3 jobs, a busy household and illness; all the signs were there that we shouldn’t be doing this. We ourselves had agreed that we wouldn’t get a dog until our youngest was five years old and a taller. But we did it anyway.
tiny spaniel puppy behind a stairgate


Well a couple of things. Firstly was the aforementioned illness. Every few years, I suffer from re-occurring bouts of depression and 2016 was a particularly bad year for me. I think my wife and I thought some kind of therapy dog would be good for me. Even though I struggled to get out of bed and doing ANYTHING was a challenge, was I really up to looking after a dog, training her, feeding her,  walking her etc? It would certainly give me something to concentrate on other than how I was feeling (but then again shouldn’t the kids already do that)?

I’d always wanted an English Springer Spaniel after spending time with an ex’s 15 yrs earlier and when a puppy became available from a breeder living in the road behind us, it seemed like fate. Duly collected, my kids of course fell in love immediately before the novelty wore off after a few days and it all fell back to me.

So how has it gone in the five months since?

Honestly, we didn’t realise how hard it would be raising a puppy. And expensive (between 1-2k a year). They’re like toddlers but with added teeth (used for exploring everything) and have boundless energy. She’s stripped all the wallpaper off in the back room, chewed through the skirting boards and chomped through a live wire amongst other things. Training is nowhere as easy as the books make it out to be, my middle child won’t have anything to do with her (although he’s mellowing - and you often catch him stroking and talking to Ellie when he thinks nobody is looking), my smallest loves her but you have to be careful, and my wife slightly resents her taking up so much of my time (although she’s mellowing and you often catch her stroking and talking to Ellie when she thinks nobody is looking).

spaniel nose

Oh and did I mention the lakes of wee?  Every time she sees you, or you stroke her or something really exciting happens, she does an excited wee. She can’t help it, just pray she’s not sitting on you when she does it. I’m reliably told she’ll grow out of it.

In short, if we knew all this before hand we probably wouldn’t have got a dog right now. All our reasons for waiting were well founded.

But is it all hardship and bad news? Certainly not. She’s a part of the family now and it wouldn’t be the same without her.

She’s certainly helped both my mental and physical health. My depression is virtually gone (for now), all that dog walking has increased my stamina, forced me to get out into the fresh air every day and basically re-examine my priorities.  For the first time in a long time I’m beginning to see my weight drop. And the dog training? Well it’s actually training me to be more patient with both the dog AND my children. And this is a big secret. I’M USING THE PUPPY TRAINING TECHNIQUES ON MY KIDS...AND IT’S WORKING. Sorry guys.

spaniel puppy on the beach

Lastly, Ellie’s a big cuddler and there’s nothing better than an oversize dog jumping on your lap for a cuddle and an affirmation each day. She needs it as much as I do.  She brightens my day, every day and a happier me is making for a happier family. That can only be a good thing.

You can follow Ellie on instagram here

Big thanks to sharing your story - and I'm glad that despite the teeth (oh God, the teeth!) you have stuck with it - it does indeed get easier - no really....well OK a bit. Fizz is nearly one year old now! I can look back and barely recall the horror of wet puddles in the hall, and she no longer bites everything in sight!


My Family and other animals with Amy from Arty Apple

Today's guest post about animals in the family is from Amy at Arty Apple.

In 2014 we were on a family weekend away on the Northumberland coast surrounded by dog walkers and beautiful beaches so I randomly decided it would be a great idea for us to get a dog! The kids were aged 4 and 2 and I'm sure where some Mums experience a bit of broodiness for a third child, I was experiencing broodiness for a dog. So, I embarked on my usual journey of Googling everything and badgering my husband to agree with me until he can no longer put up with it and just lets me do what I want. Sound a familiar approach to anyone? Ha! A Hungarian Vizsla was our breed of choice. I'd always wanted a big dog, not sure why but if anyone had asked me previously what I would have had I'd have said a German Shepherd, a Pointer or a Bloodhound, I just love big dogs. Hungarian Vizslas scored really well on the family dog front being described as gentle, loyal and obedient. We have a winner!

OK. Now let me just stop here to say the idea of getting a puppy to raise with the kids was very romanticised at this point. My husband works from home so doggy day care was never going to be an issue but my oh my did I not realise how much hard work was involved in getting through the puppy stage and especially with one who is massive compared to lots of other dogs but is still just a badly behaved puppy.

Talk about tear your hair out. Going out and about with a big disobedient puppy is NOT for the faint of heart. In fact by day 4 of being the proud owner of a Hungarian Vizsla puppy I was filled with deep regret. What on earth had I done? I'd ruined our perfect family. The kids were camped out on the sofa, afraid to climb down in case the crazy puppy scratched, jumped or put their entire hand in his mouth. The idillic view I had of the kids embracing a new puppy could not have been further from the truth. They were petrified, especially our 2 year old daughter. The words the breeder should never have uttered was that if it didn't work out, we could take him back. It was like a green light for giving up and by day 4 I was telling the hubby to take him back and we genuinely were about to load the car when the door bell rang. Our friend from the next street and fellow dog owner was stood there asking how it was going. Terrible, was of course the answer and he's going back! Thankfully a pep talk and a 'you've made your bed you need to lie in it' speech later and we were determined to get on with it and power through the puppy stage. We always think back to that Sunday morning when we were so close to taking him back and had our friend not turned up, we really would have.

Fast forward 2 years and he is firmly part of our family. The kids adore him and none of us could imagine life without him or in fact, family life without a dog. In fact when my son was born I started a personalised baby gift business called Arty apple. My shop only stocked children's gifts until Yogi came along and made me realise they're part of the family too so I introduced Pets Corner with Personalised Vizsla Blankets. I’m sure you'll agree, Yogi makes a very handsome model. I'm hoping to add more breed specific blankets soon!

The main benefit to having a dog is how much it gets you all out and about. We love walks in the countryside and on the beach and even when I hated him (I feel bad saying that as I love him to bits now but this was all true at the time!) Yogi was an energetic puppy who needed a good walk every day and that was the start of my own personal fitness and weight loss journey. I have walked miles with Yogi in every type of weather there possibly is. The good thing is our two kids are now excellent walkers. They've got great calves!

Family dog walks are great and keep everyone fit and healthy. I do however enjoy the walks when the kids are at school and me and the hubby can pick up the pace, these are definitely the more fat burning walks and living at the top of a hill from the city (Starbucks cup of tea stop) reached via farmers fields does make for a tough uphill walk back. The combination of fresh air, beautiful views, muddy puddles, actual uninterrupted conversations and a brisk walk make for a great combo of healthy body and mind. If you'd like to read more about my fitness journey please take a look at my new blog called Mutha Fitness.

Thanks very much to Naomi for allowing me to share our story and thanks to everyone for reading my story.

Amy's website is Arty apple
She is also on the following social media channels…

Gorgeous photos Amy - they put mine to shame! and a lovely story, I'm so glad your neighbour saved the day, I'm well aware of those early awful days, Fizz even managed to break a tooth biting into my jeans she was such a monster! Thank you for sharing your story.


What is the cost of a dog in the first year?

I've seen a lot of websites showing the average costs of getting a dog, but they are all a bit vague "You could spend this, you might spend that, you could buy this, you might buy that" so I thought I'd look at what Fizz has cost us in her first year.

First things first, Fizz is a border terrier. She was bought from a Kennel Club breeder, she has a good pedigree, we met her in her house with her mum where she was born and grew up, and she was microchipped (according to law) when we collected her. She was 9 weeks old.

Like most puppies she had been regularly wormed by the breeder before we got her, but she had not yet started her vaccinations against common puppy diseases.

Price of pedigree pup = £700

Our first few costs were the preparations for a pup in the house.

2 x stairgates = £23 each

1 x dog cage = £55

1 x dog bed £10

Multiple dog toys = £15

Collar, leads, harness, dog coat = £40

Dog insurance = £132 per year

Fizz arrived with food from the breeder but she rapidly taught us that she didn't like kibble, so we switched her to Butchers puppy food cans. (She's a tripe hound)

Canned dog food = 60p per day (£219 per year)

Dog Treats = £3 per month (£36 per year)

Poop Bags = £1 month (£12 per year)

Dog bowls, cleaning products, puppy wee pads, dog blanket = £50

She had a check up with our vet when she arrived and was started on her puppy vaccinations.

Vet visit and vaccination course = £79

During her first few months she managed to break a tooth while leaping and biting! We did not take her to the vet, but took the 'wait and see' approach. The milk tooth eventually fell out and was replaced. Win! Cost? £0

Unfortunately she also decided to rip out a claw while playing....much blood and whimpering ensured a trip to the vet at the cost of....

Claw removal and pain relief = £50

Time passed and nothing untoward happened until....Fizz escaped from an open door while she was in season! Although she was found unharmed very quickly, she had been out and about for over an hour, so we decided she should have the dog version of the 'morning after' pill. This is an injection to prevent pregnancy and is almost 100% effective. Sadly it is not cheap.

Anti-pregnancy injection = £130

Oh how could I forget, Fizz also got a urine infection (initially we thought her housetraining had failed big time!) and an eye infection.

Urine test, vet appointment, Antibiotics = £90

And of course she continues to need worm and parasite prevention each month

parasite treatments = £10 per month (£120 per year)

At 10 months we had Fizz spayed, cheaper than more escapes! Fizz was sold to us on a non breeding contract (which means none of her offspring, pedigree or not could be registered with the Kennel Club) and we are not breeders (have you any idea of the costs of that!) so we were happy to have her 'done'

Spaying = £216

And so here we are, Fizz is almost a year old, and we have managed to spend the amazing total of


and they say kids are expensive...

You may be wondering why we didn't claim on the dog insurance, well the truth is that there is a minimum we have to pay before we can claim and to keep the cost down we set that fairly high, and some things, spaying, routine vaccinations etc are not covered anyway.

You may also be wondering why we bother at all! Well she's worth it, making us laugh every day, snuggling with us every evening and generally being a loved member of the family.

Do you have a dog? Have you ever dared look at how much it's costing you??