Fenris' blog

Fenris' blog - Tails from a Carriage Dog

Hi everyone I'm Fenris. I belong to Anne Dickens. I thought I'd give you the inside track on this carriage dog lark. I'm going to share my exploits on this page, so drop by from time to time. Any comments to the owner mail@annedickens.co.uk

Paul Tester took this photo of me - he's a great photographer and has taken some lovely pictures at carriage dog trials and displays. You can see more of his pictures here http://www.flickr.com/photos/dotty_dalmations/

April 2011 Soooo....I was born into a carriage dog home. My Mum (Munin) had achieved Silver Road Dog status by the time I was born. Me and my brothers and sisters used to take a walk every day down to the stables to meet the horses who lived there, Franky and Clyde, and play in the straw. My owner had decided to learn to drive so she and I (and Mum) could compete as carriage dogs. Then Parker arrived. The rest is history.....

By the way, I'm going to put my latest scribblings at the top of this page. If you want to start at the beginning, then scroll to the bottom and work your way up.

I took a break from blogging in 2012, but have decided to start again fro time to time to let you know what's happening here in La France (my accent is getting pretty good!).'

31st May 2014 Bonjour everyone. I thought I'd start telling you some of my tales again - from here in La France. Not back by popular demand. No demand at all really! Just because I fancy it and we have had some adventures recently that I feel like sharing. The winter has been another wet one. (My owner is very grumpy about this and says she thinks she brought the weather with her!) This means we've not been out that regularly. With very hot summers, and my owner's lifelong inability to get out of bed in the morning, which is the only time you can miss the heat, and the lack of a trials to train for, all in all over a year, we probably do less driving than we used to.

Here we are waiting for the off. It's not as if anyone can miss us really is it. How embarrassing. I think the French think the Tour de France as started as no-one else wears fluorescent yellow!

Now this is a bit of a shame, as I really enjoy trotting out along the lanes showing off to the local farm dogs. They often come towards me for a sniff, or bark at us madly from the top of a wall. But I stick my nose in the air and ignore them, as I'm sure carriage dogs are higher on the social scale than farm dogs. Though come to think of it, being a farm dog looks quite attractive. You get to loll about in a courtyard all day and bark at the carriage dogs as they trot by with their noses in the air.

Last week we went out with Polo on his own. When my owner doesn't have a groom to help out, she always just takes one pony. Luckily, we have got into enough scrapes with just the one, to remind her that to try it with two would be plain silly. Especially on narrow lanes with very deep drainage ditches either side (More on those later!) Those of you who know my owner will back me up when I say she can be a bit foolhardy. I sometimes wonder how she's still alive with some of the scrapes she's been in, but perhaps she's just lucky as well as stupid.

On this particular afternoon my Mum decided she wanted to come too. Now Mum is 12 and a half years old now and pretty past it when it comes to being a carriage dog. In fact she's pretty past it full stop. (Oooops - don't tell her I said that will you, as she's not past telling me off..) Don't get me wrong, she's been a pretty good carriage dog in her day. She's just more into endurance snoozing nowadays than endurance trotting. And she's getting a bit too stiff to keep up the pace. The most she does is the last lane home.

Anyway, Mum wanted to come, so my owner put her pad on the cart and hoisted her up for a ride with us. This miffs me a bit as everyone is together except me, who has to trot along behind. So I usually sneak up alongside the wheel now to be part of the gang. My owner doesn't seem to mind and, in fact, I've heard her tell people that she's happier being able to see me alongside, and she feels I'm protected by the cart when we're on the road. Although there are not many cars here, some of these French people drive very fast and don't seem to slow down when they see a horse, so it can get a bit hairy on the narrow lanes.

There is a route nearby which includes a chemin (that's French you know for a track). This chemin is used by the farmers, so because of the wet winters, it has become quite rutted by the tractors. So when my owner wants to find out what state it's in, she always uses Polo, as he is strong and doesn't seem to mind the shafts tipping and twisting against him if we go down the ruts. Whereas those of you who know the upstart Parker will know he's just a bit spookier and not so reliable on difficult terrain (sensitive my owner calls him - huh - he doesn't seem very sensitive when he's charging across a field at me trying to kill me with his front hooves!).

The last time we attempted this chemin, we survived the tiptoeing along and managed to avoid tipping over, only for my owner to decide to try an adjoining chemin - which she'd never been up before. Mmmm, now I could have told her this was a daft thing to try in a carriage on your own. But off we went. My Mum had already got off he carriage, as she'd had enough of being jerked about it didn't seem very dignified sitting there bouncing. It was only worth her doing it to stick her nose in the air going past the farm dogs. So my owner told my Mum she could get off the carriage. I went on ahead to check out the terrain, and I could see that the ruts were very deep, so things didn't look good. But my owner is a 'go forward' to get out of trouble kind of person. Whereas sometimes she'd do better to be a 'turn around' kind of person.

So as I could have told her, we got to a state where we couldn't go forward anymore as the ruts were deeper than Polo's legs AND the axle. We couldn't turn around - for the same reason - and carriages can't reverse, at least not for half a mile! So our options were limited. Well, I mean I was OK of course, but not so Polo and the carriage. My owner spotted that we were quite near a crossing over the ditch than ran alongside the track. This went into a maize field where there was a bit of a margin between said ditch and the 3 metre high maize. "That's doable Polo", I heard her say "I'm sure there'll be another crossing at the other end of the field". What she hadn't banked on - and it's at times like these when I wish I could talk human - was the absolutely enormous irrigation hose reel parked on this verge at the other end of the field. The farmers here use these hoses in the summer. They spurt great jets of water huge distances with a click and a whooshing noise. On the whole, horses don't seem to like them! I'll tell you a story about this another day...

So we set off down the edge of the field with my owner feeling pleased with herself and me awaiting the bad news. "Oh bl..dy h..l" I heard. There it was! I jumped onto the track to survey the situation. Polo and his carriage were on a narrow strip of land between thick, tall maize and a four foot deep ditch with a blooming great irrigation wheel barring their way. And to top it all, Polo was scared stiff of the wheel. So Mum and I stood on the track expectantly wondering what she would do next.

It was all my owner could do to stop Polo trying to turn round to run. That would have been disastrous. The was only one thing for it. Somehow my owner had to get Polo out of the carriage without him, the carriage or my owner falling in the ditch or getting tangled in the maize. This was going to be interesting!

Sometimes the fact that all Polo ever wants to do is eat is a saving grace. Eating for Polo is more important even than running away from giant hose reels. So when he realised that my owner had got out and was going to take the carriage off, he put his head down. The grass was long so he didn't have to move to eat. So my owner muttered something about hoping he'd stay put and let him go. I've never seen her do that before, but I reckoned she had to, as there was nowhere to tie him and no way of manouvering him and the cart in the small space. So Polo ate while she backed the cart off him and then did a 28 point turn to face the other way. Polo was then led into the maize and out again in front of the cart to be put back in again. we then reversed our route to set off home.

The next time we did this route, it was cows that were the problem. Mum was with us again and we were trotting along a road bit. Suddenly a tractor and a big cow lorry came round the bend towards us. Not usually too much of a problem with Polo, provided they slowed down. But today there were cows in the adjoining field, with a bull and lots of calves. They'd obviously seen the cow lorry too and got very frightened or excited or both. Now if there's one thing Polo doesn't like, it's cows! So the tractor gets past and the kind lorry driver stops, as meanwhile the cows start to charge about their field. Polo doesn't like this one little bit, especially as he has his blinkers on so can't keep tabs on them. Well, we ended up backing down a ditch. I was up to my hocks in mud and it wasn't very pleasant I can tell you. Mum was riding on the cart hanging on with her claws as we tipped backwards and my owner was shouting at Polo to go forward. In the end, I think Polo realised that he might end up in the mud too, so he hauled us back up the bank and out onto the road again.

Do you know, my owner always moans about Polo not pulling his weight in the pairs carriage. And I know it was his fault we ended up in the ditch. But I've got to hand it to him, when it really matters, he knows how to pull!

Will tell you about recent escapades with Parker next time. A bientot!

This is Holly and I waiting to go out yesterday with Polo. Holly is owned by Shona Collins who lives nearby. When we set off, my owner decided it was too soon for Holly to be with me, after all and I was just another distraction for her, so I got left behind! Outrageous eh folks?!

8th August 2013 Well it's a long time since I spoke to you all. Another trials has been and gone and this time even my owner didn't make it. She told us all about it and was a bit sad, as she's never missed a Fenix Trials before. Life here is jogging along as normal. I've not been doing much work recently as it's been too hot for me and the horses. My owner says I'm a bit porky and we'll have to start getting out a bit more. I don't think I'm porky - but I do like those new rabbits ears she's feeding us! Last week I was watching a huge new cart being built in the garden by Crosbie and Brian from the UK (Brian was Father Xmas once when the ponies were dressed as reindeers and I wore a red cape). I went and stood behind it expectantly and my owner told me it was for Nobel and I could go out with it sometimes., But it's designed to pull things like harrows and rollers, so when he's working in the field, there won't be room behind it for me as well!

Anyway, I have a new girlfriend called Holly. She is a very pretty little liver girl and her owner Shona has started to bring her here for time to time to try out carriage dog work. She's doing alright for a youngster and I hope we'll see more of each other!

This is Holly and I waiting to go out yesterday with Polo. Holly is owned by Shona Collins who lives nearby. When we set off, my owner decided it was too soon for Holly to be with me, after all and I was just another distraction for her, so I got left behind! Outrageous eh folks?!

1st July 2012 I am outraged and just had to blog about it! My owner has just told me that tomorrow she's travelling to the UK to the Carriage Dog Trials - WITHOUT A CARRIAGE DOG! What sort of ridiculous situation is that? And not only that, she's going with my friend Maggie. I helped train Maggie, and now Maggie's off to enjoy herself at Lincomb Farm with all the other Dalmatians, and I'm not going to be there to encourage her. And why am I not going round the course myself - I know if off by heart now and it's great. Specially the bit in the middle with the water jump where everyone goes to cool off. I'm off to chat to Mum Munin and the the upstart Parker about it. He's in the field and there's no harness being cleaned or trailer being got ready, so I'm assuming he's not going either. We might have to stow away or something. I cannot believe it....

If we don't make it despite my best efforts, good luck to all my old friends and all the newbies. Have a fabulous weekend. I'll be thinking of you.

3rd January First of all I must clear something up. My owner has told me that I've given you all the impression that she's getting another Dalmatian! I think because I said she was going to find some new friends to come out with us. But I meant to say new friends - with their owners! She's heard about a man who cycles around the local lake with his Dalmatian and that dog sticks to his wheels like glue, even if it meets other dogs. Sounds like a carriage dog to me and to my owner. But we don't know where he lives. We'll keep asking.

Meanwhile, we went out for a lovely drive on Christmas Day. Polo was a bit lazy but I think he's put on a bit of weight again because my owner is feeling sorry for them and giving them hay. I don't think they need it! I like Christmas because fussy old Crosbie only likes white chicken meat so we get chicken for dinner for days afterwards. I just wish it was more times a year.

Today we had great fun. It's been raining for a while, but we had wonderful sunshine today and took both the ponies out on their own. I went with my owner and upstart Parker first, and then Mum came along too when we went out afterwards with Polo. Mum often rides most of the way when we take the pair out, but today she wanted to run. We passed loads of barking dogs & we just put our noses in the air and trotted past. When I was on my own, we met the local farmer with his hunt dog Fiona and she was very excited to see me. She was also excited to see Parker (I don't think she's seen a horse before - at least not one with a carriage) and she jumped up at his nose loads of times. Parker doesn't like dogs much. He and I only just rub along (and not even that if he's loose when he chases me). My owner was worried he would strike out at Fiona, but he was a good boy and just ignored her. I went to say hello to her as we're good friends, but I went straight back to the carriage once we set off again. My owner said she was very proud of me (especially as Etienne couldn't control Fiona).

My owner has started to let me run off the lead if we're just with our little exercise cart when we're on the lanes, as there's hardly any traffic and I've taken to running alongside the wheel. I like it there as I can see where we're going and I can keep an eye on upstart Parker. My owner doesn't mind as long as I don't go too far forward, but I'm happy next to the wheel. I keep looking at my owner to make sure everything is OK and I feel safe alongside her. My Mum has always preferred to run there - now I know why.

Anyway, I've decided to take a break from my blog for a while. All this writing is making my paws hurt! And I need them in good nick to tackle the stony tracks out here. I've heard we're going to be moving house again, so my owner is going to be pretty busy for a while and I need to give her a hand. Hopefully, by the time I'm back boring you all with my show off antics, Nobel will be back in the country of his birth and little Filou, the new upstart baby spotty pony, will have joined the family. What fun we're all going to have :-)

Meanwhile, happy new year to you all and happy riding and driving.

15th December The other day we all went out together with Crosbie on the back and we kept bumping into other horses - literally. First of all, as we were going along the main road, a family was out in their garden and a young lady was holding a smart looking horse on a headcollar. Then this very pushy black pony - a bit like Parker and Polo but black - came dashing out onto the road to say hello to Parker. Well we'd already stopped as our ponies were a bit taken aback to see all this activity and had pulled up with their eyes on stalks. I just stayed behind tapping my toes, while Crosbie went and held their headcollars. Then some cars came along and had to stop as this pony was loose on the road. It was all a bit chaotic. It started to sniff Parker and Parker wanted to turn around. Luckily, although he's an upstart, Parker is a very sociable guy, and he just wanted to say hello back. But then a dog came out too. Well that was a bit much and I thought I ought to go and sort things out. But my owner told me to stay behind the carriage so I did. She said I was a very good boy and I was quite proud. My owner was a bit worried about her carriage getting kicked! But luckily the lady came and go the pony, put him back in the garden and the cars were able to go. Phew. Then on the next road, four enormous chestnut draft horses, all different kinds of chestnut, who charged across about five fields to see me. Polo was a bit scared and I think he thought he had to run too, but he calmed down. Actually, I think they wanted to see the ponies not me, but I liked them anyway. It's finally started to rain this week. My owner's not very happy, nor are the ponies and I'm certainly not as all we've seemed to do is sweep leaves in the garden....

28th November Today some friends who've not come out with the ponies before came round. They were chatting with my owner for ages, but I had a sixth sense they were going to take the ponies out, so I stuck to them like glue so that I made sure I went with them. My owner wasn't sure the ponies could take three people, but my goodness when that Polo works he can't half work. Why doesn't he do that all the time?! They flew along today and I was quite proud of them (and I never thought I'd say that about the upstart Parker!) My Mum stayed at home (she's still glued to the mousehole!) so I had the whole carriage to myself and worked like a trooper my owner said. We passed the lovely little Comtois filly and her Mum who trotted around the field as we went past and loads of dogs kept barking at us but I just stuck my nose in the air and ignored them all - I think they're just jealous they're not carriage dogs.

25th November

Here is my Mum staking out the mousehole!

We've been driving around again today. In fact we've been doing it all week again. Another friend came to stay this week. The one my owner used to go riding with when my Mum was young. So although she's not really into horses any more, we all went out with the carriage yesterday afternoon in the glorious sunshine. Upstart Parker and Polo went round the block with my Mum riding on with my owner and me behind. I was so excited I couldn't help but keep yodling at the back of the carriage. Crosbie was cycling his bike up front and I think we made quite a sight (or a roadblock depending on your point of view!).

The last time we all went out we went along the main road and some French people stopped to say how "jolie" we all were. Isn't that nice.

My owner has found a carriage driving magazine in French and I've caught her looking at all the adverts for new carriages. I think she wants one for Nobel when he comes over. A nice lady up the road who's just started driving her little spotted mare is going to come out with us on Monday. I've heard my owner say that once we're living somewhere permanently, she's going to see if she can find some other Dalmatians to come out with us. New friends - that'll be fun!

PS Just come back on this evening to tell you my Mum spotted a mouse in the house earlier (about 4pm). It's now 8pm and she's been lying with her nose under the bench waiting for it to come out for four hours. I wonder if she's going to stay there all night?! Last night Crosbie left his Reblochon (cheese) on the work surface and there were teeth marks in it this morning. I quite like the mouse as Crosbie cut a big chunk out of his cheese where it had been chewed and gave it to Mum and me :-)

11th November Armistice day - and another public holiday in France! But we don't mind, as my owner took us to see the little pony that lives near a house we might buy. He looks a bit like the upstart Parker, but he has black and white spots. By coincidence, at 11 minutes past 11 o' clock on 11.11.11 (how amazing is that?!) my owner agreed with his owner that he might join our family. I can't believe it - not another blooming upstart (though he did look quite cute). He is just young, so my owner is going to go there regularly over the winter to get to know him and train him. We don't have enough stables for him to live here anyway and, as usual, Polo commandeers all the space if there is any food around. The ponies will have the ferrant-maréchal (farrier) tomorrow for the first time. My owner is worried as most French people let their ponies go barefoot, so shoeing is not common. She realises now how important her farrier in England was to her, and of course how precious the ponies' feet are! Actually, I'm a bit worried too, as if they don't keep their feet in good condition, I won't be able to go out with them. I'm sure they'll be fine.

Meanwhile, after she'd messed about with the pony, and chatted to its nice owners in her bad French (tee hee) we went for another look at a house she and Crosbie like nearby. It looks quite good. There's a nice looking bretagne spaniel next door - and just fields and woods the other way with a river at the bottom. And tons of lanes and tracks with zero traffic for us to go out on. And it's got a little house in the garden that people can come and stay in - so you guys could all come to stay and have your own place. I could live there. And my Mum liked it too. I'll keep you posted.

My owners friends came to stay last week and it poured with rain for the whole three days. We went to the mountains anyway - but we sat in a restaurant instead of walking. Not sure which I like best! Since they've gone, the sun has been shining again and the days are lovely. The mountains now have snow on and look amazing in the distance. I expect that's too far for the ponies, but it'd be fun to go there.

The exciting news of the week is that yesterday my owner and Crosbie stopped the car on the way home and said there was a bear in the field. Well I'm not sure what a bear is, but they were very agitated. It was very close, but bounded off across the field towards the woods. My owner said it must have been a sanglier (a wild boar) but boars trot and bears lope - and this was definitely loping. The local French farmer is a bit dubious, but said a friend of his saw a bear a couple of years ago, so I guess it's possible. My owner is also excited because she found a big black and yellow fire salamander in the piscine (the swimming pool) which is now green! But another farmer told her today that they are poisonous and if you get bitten you have to have an injection or you'll be rushed to hospital - and you might die. But of course my owner had picked it up and studied it, so it seems to me she's lucky she's still here. And my owner's friend's Dalmatian, who lives a little way from here who I haven't met yet, has been bitten on the nose by a ragondin (a coypu). He had to be rushed to hospital too. The only thing that's happened to me is that my Mum and I got covered in ticks the other day in some fields. Luckily my owner had put horrible oil on our necks a while ago, so they didn't bite us. Ugh! And the last thing, there was a cirque (circus) in town last week. They had camels and ponies and donkeys and alpacas all in the market square. And guess what, they also had four lionesses in a big cage. Yikes. All things considered, seems life here might be a bit dangerous after all.

A bientot.

25th October

Can you see me peeping through from the back of the carriage trying to catch the photographer's eye? We're just about to set off on the French lanes with my favourite children, my owner's nephew and niece on the carriage.

We have my owner's sister and the family to stay. I love William and Isabella. They're my favourite children. It's really nice to have some friends round. And we get extra food! The other evening I went out with my owner and Polo on his own. We went on a new route and up quite a big hill which Polo did really well on his own. On the way back it was all off road on a track and Polo was very good. Some mornings when we go out now Fiona the local 'chasse' dog comes rushing out of her farm to come with us. She is a real sweetie. Even my Mum tolerates her coming too. I thought my carriage dog collar had loud bells - but you should hear hers. It's like a cow bell. This morning we went out with the upstart Parker and Polo and the kids on the back and Crosbie and Toby on their bicycles. I think the local French people think we're all mad. But Parker was very naughty and kept trying to run so poor Polo wasn't pulling at all. That always happens when Parker first goes out - he's such an upstart. And then silly Polo got scared of the cows - they are quite big and they were up high in a field. Anyway, I stayed between the children the whole time and guarded them.

20th October This evening I went out with the pair of ponies. Polo was a bit back to his lazy self again (even though the route seemed to be mostly downhill!) but my owner thought they went OK. My Mum stayed at home as we were doing a long route - and the boys around might be after her at the moment! - but I went along and reminded my Mum what a good carriage dog I am. I didn't budge the whole time - and we passed LOADS of dogs barking at us from behind their fences. It's got a bit cooler here, so we can go out without all getting too hot, so that helps. My owner said she's going a different way next time to start to get the ponies training up the hills. My Mum and I were very happy today, as when we got back from our lunchtime walk, we had beef bones. What a treat. One of the neighbours had left them on the door handle. WE like it in France

18th October By the way, I forgot to say that my owner has asked me to ask all of you who used to come to my house to go out with the carriage to ask your owners if they have our little brown leather coupling lead in a pocket or bag somewhere. That's the thing that used to be attached to our harnesses and then to the lead my owner sat on if two of us went out together. My owner can't find it anywhere and is hoping that maybe someone has accidentally taken it home with them. It doesn't really matter, but it's sentimental to her as it used to belong to Murphy and Jacob and my owner has just bought a long thin leather lead to match it! (Also she says she can't buy the same things in France and everything like that is very expensive!) She probably left it on the carriage she sold!

16th October I'm knackered! My Mum and I spent all day at a horse show yesterday. Yawn. Apparently it was an International event - Etoiles des Pau - and it was cross country day and one of my owner's heroes Mary King was riding. There was also a carriage driving display in the evening. Mum and I could only watch. There was a very nice Comtois type that cantered a whole cones course four times. That put Nobel to shame. Someone should tell him that draft horses can canter! Anyway, the ponies went out together for the first time tonight. My owner was worried (as usual - she's always worrying about something) that they wouldn't be able to manage the hills as they've been out of regular work - especially not with Crosbie on the back! But of course they were as good as gold and did a five mile circuit up and down the hills absolutely fine. And Polo even did some work to help out the upstart Parker. Yes, they were sweating a bit by the time they got home, but they did grow their winter coats before they moved here (little did they know!) and my owner hasn't clipped them again as she's not sure what the winter will be like. Apparently we might get a lot of snow. Yippeee.

9th October Hurray!! Today I went out twice. First with Parker and then with Polo. Mum came with us the first time, and she rode back on the carriage as Parker goes too fast for her, but I was on my own the second time, and without Mum to worry about I could just tuck in and enjoy myself. It was great fun, as we went partly on the lanes and partly on some tracks around the fields. The upstart Parker was his usual excited self and kept trying to run, and Polo was a good boy, though he got a bit frightened a few times when other dogs barked at us through their gates, but he'll get used to them. But we might not be staying here anyway. We've been driving all over the place this week going to different houses and sometimes Mum and I are allowed out to play in the gardens. We've been back to the same place three times - we went with my owner and Crosbie and their bikes last time to try out the tracks. It's lovely and I wonder if we'll go to live there. My owner and Crosbie have now started to speak a strange language which I presume is French. They don't sound like they know what they're saying! Anyway, Mum and I respond to anything so it doesn't matter to us.

Meanwhile, my clever Mum has learned how to climb in and out of the swimming pool - up and down a vertical metal ladder! It's very funny when she swims, as she's like a little otter next to Crosbie and matches every turn he makes. She loves it, but I don't go in as I have to keep guard (actually I don't like going out of my depth.)

Meanwhile my friend Pip, who belongs to Tim Burgess, has told me to stay in on hunt days as it's safer. Mind you, she is the colour of a fox!

30th September I've discovered we're in a place called France and that we're going to live here from now on. The other day we met the neighbouring farmer with his dog called Fiona and she told us where we were. She's a chienne a chasse - she goes hunting every weekend with her owner. He had a gun and she had a big cow bell around her neck, She told me that's to stop other farmers shooting her! Yikes. I think we need to wear our carriage dog collars when we go out from now on. Talking of which, we may as well wear them for that as we still haven't been out with the carriage yet. But I've heard my owner tell Crosbie that the ponies are going out today and that means Mum and I will be going out again soon. Every time my owner moves one of the carriages around, I rush behind it to remind her what I enjoy doing, but we never seem to go anywhere. She's been painting the wheels of her pairs carriage every day and I've been lying beside it in hope. Mum and I go for a walk every morning before breakfast now. We didn't used to do this and it's great. We're surrounded by fields and the lane has no cars, so we just walk down the road and round one of the fields and home again. We still go out every lunchtime too, though Crosbie told my owner yesterday we'd have to stop going out at this time because it's too hot. Mum and I don't mind, as nearly every walk we've done has been next to a big lake, there are so many around here, and so we paddle to keep cool (or at least I paddle and my Mum swims). A bientot!

When my owner and Crosbie were packing, my Mum and I were a bit worried they might leave without us. So when my owner was cleaning Nobel's harness, we got in the suitcase so we could make sure they took us along too!

21st September Bonjour mes amis!. Well, I have so much to tell you all. I am currently lounging in a huge warm sun room watching my Mum watching the French wasps eat the figs. (These wasps are three times the size of English ones that my Mum eats, so my owner keeps telling her off when she chases them. Goodness knows what will happen if she gets stung!) Anyway, we were in the Bongo for two days a couple of days ago and all the sights and smells were very strange. But it's OK now as we're in a house and we have beds by the fire and all the boxes seem to be coming into the house not out of it, so I think we're staying. We have a lovely big garden with mice and hedgehogs to chase and lots of trees and flowers. We went to get Parker and Polo the other day from a very nice farm with a big black dog called Spook. They seem to be a bit thinner but have settled into their paddock next to the swimming pool OK. They have the best view from the property across the hills too.

Not sure when we'll be out driving yet. The lanes are very quiet - but they're also very narrow with very deep ditches, so we need to get the ponies used to them before we all venture out together, as we don't want a carriage ending up in one!

My owner says to tell you all that the house is lovely and all our friends are welcome to visit :-)

12th September It's all a bit weird at the moment. The house is full of boxes and our beds are the only things left. My mum was looking for the box of toys the other morning (she always takes a toy to my owner in the mornings) and she couldn't find it anywhere. She got quite confused. I'm just sticking by my owner soi whatever's happening I'll be par to of it. Today the ponies were brought in and tied up as if we were off for a drive. My owner was brushing them, so I went and sat at the top of the drive waiting for one of my friends to arrive. Usually if both the ponies come in, we're going out in a big gang and it's great fun. I thought maybe my sister Freya or one of my friends Lottie, or Maggie, or Eddie, or Lizzie would arrive. But no-one came. So I went back indoors. I was very sad not to see one of my friends. I was really looking forward to a play in the garden and then a trot out round the lanes with the ponies...

5th September Well what a weekend! We were at something called the SE Trials. I was pretty unimpressed actually, as all my friends went off for lovely drives around the hills of Surrey and I was left in the car most of the day :-( My owner kept rushing about organising stuff, so every time I was let out of the car, I barked with joy at everyone I saw. My favourite human Mike Cleland was there, and he was nice to me, but everyone else was very busy. I would have loved it up there, as there were pheasants to chase (even though the game keeper said we weren't allowed to. It seems everyone enjoyed the course, even though there was quite a lot of rain in the afternoon. My Mum spent most of the weekend dipping into everyone's bins. All the caravanners have waste bins in their awnings - my Mum was in her element!

1st September Sorry. I know it's ages since I blogged about what we've been up to. Life has been spinning past fast - and now my owner is getting all stressed and shouting a lot because we're all moving to somewhere called France and we have to sort things out quickly. I really don't know why she's fussing so much. All she needs to do is pack the pigs ears and my and my Mum's beds and all will be fine. Meanwhile Lottie and Maggie have been going out without me - more practice for the trials this weekend. But Lottie's actually stopped coming round which is very sad, as she's going to play with Pippa's little girl called Lily, as her owner Anna and Lily's owner are going to make a team at the carriage dog trials. Lily is too young to enter yet, but she's still practising a bit.

Max came to stay a couple of weekends ago for the training day. He lives in Cambridgeshire and came down specially. We played a bit and my Mum kept telling him off. She gets a bit cheesed off with all the other Dals coming to stay at our place. She thinks they're going to eat her food! I guess you're entitled to get grumpy when your old like she is (don't tell her I said that!). Anyway, Max and his owner Jan and my owner all went off to the training day (left me behind again) and my owner came back and said all the dogs had been a very high standard. Seems like they had quite a lot of fun.

This weekend we did another display. This time it was at Edenbridge and Oxted show. It was fun. I had to go behind Prince's carriage and I've never done that before. My owner dressed up in a tight jacket and a silly hat and her own sister didn't recognise her! It was only when I left the carriage to go to say hello to her and William and Isabella (who I love) and she realised it was me, that she sussed out it was my owner on that carriage. Anyway, it was hilarious at the end, because Anna asked Freya to run with that new carriage, Anna was even on it, but freya saw me and her Mum and ran right across the ring to be under her usual carriage with Parker pulling it. The crowds thought that was very funny.

Not many people realise that not very many Dalmatians can run behind carriages with their owners facing forwards. All of the Dalmatians that work with carriage drivers (like me) are used to it, but all of the ones that are used to their grooms being on a backstep, don't necessarily like working behind a carriage with their owner high up on a seat facing forwards. Also, for the first time for a very long time, Skittle had to be on a lead. That's because his driver Sue had a beautiful new historic carriage (called a Windover Dog Cart built in 1870!) and he could get so far under he was between both axles. His owner Gail thought that was dangerous, so he will have to be re-trained to go with that vehicle. When I was younger, and when we got Nobel's big carriage, my owner had me on a lead behind the carriages to stop me going forward. I understood what she wanted and now I always run behind - or sometimes just a bit under the axle. We like to see the horses' hooves though and we get tempted forward. All these different carriages make training quite tricky for our humans!

This weekend we're off to the SE Carriage Dog Trials. Don't think my Mum and I are doing anything as Parker and Polo aren't coming, but we'll have fun anyway as we'll meet all our friends. See you there everyone.

16th August Things seem to be hotting up around here. Lottie, Maggie, Eddie and Lizzie are ALL coming to go out with ponies, but I'm not allowed. Something about they have to practice properly on their own as they're all entering the trials. Well I used to go out with Freya all the time when we were going to do the trials. I really don't know what all the fuss is about. I was very cross yesterday. Mum and I welcomed Maggie and we were all playing on the yard as the ponies got harnessed up and then we got put away. I just knew they were all going out without me. And when they got back Maggie was all smug. I think they went quite a long way. Anyway, just to show my owner, today when she and Crosbie were messing about with Nobel's big wagonnette putting it in and out of the trailer umpteen times (I think they thought it would fit but it doesn't - ouch) I kept going behind the backstep just to remind my owner how good I am. But she still won't take me out and has told me Eddie is coming later but I'm still not allowed. I think Polo is going on his own to remind him what work is like. He keeps letting Parker do it all and my owner is quite cross with him. Anyway, we're off to see Nobel again tomorrow. Mum and I love it there. There are lots of cats to chase and the spaniels are quite fun and the walks we do are lovely. Nobel's OK too.

This is a postscript to today's scribblings. As I suspected, I was shut in the house when Eddie arrived. I could see him in our garden and I did howl at the door to try to get my owner to realise I wanted to come too, but she ignored me :-( Anyway, when they got back (Polo did do on his own as he looked all sweaty for a change) I was having a charge about with Eddie, when my owner and his owner were going on about how good he was. They went five miles and on a very quiet cul de sac Eddie went off the lead and never left the carriage! Even when they all did a u-turn at the end. That is blooming good. There are rabbits all the way down there and some gardens with cats in later on. What a swat he is.

10th August Lottie and Maggie both came over today. I was allowed to have a play with them, but then they both went out with the carriage and left me behind. Their owners hadn't met each other before so my owner thought it would be nice if they got together. I heard my owner telling Crosbie that they both went off their leads in the paddocks and were quite good. Today I saw my friends Demi and Domino as my owner met Ali to talk about yet another carriage dog trials. It doesn't sound as though we'll be taking part this time, so not sure what the point of it is in that case! We're off to see Nobel at the end of the week with Lottie. We're going to take him out in the park and Lottie can have a go behind his carriage. That should be fun.

4th August Lottie came over yesterday and we took out the new carriage. Our owners were thrilled because it was so smooth and didn't make any noise. Lottie and I just trotted along like normal. We liked it too. Even the upstart Parker and fatty Polo seemed to go better with it.

1st August Had a great weekend. Mum and I went to the Working Horse Trust, but this time we camped over and it was great hunting territory. Mum ran off into the woods because there were loads of people in tents there and she kept finding food hidden away. My owner said she'd never been so naughty before and had to go and get her because she wouldn't come back. I'd rather hunt rabbits and there were loads of them too. Crosbie and the big spotty thing's owner came on Sunday morning and my owner got stressed as usual trying to get Nobel ready in time for a display. It's pretty ordinary really as we just trot round in circles watched by loads of people. It was nice to be working with Nobel again though. He was good this year and didn't get frightened of the sound gantry and the microphone (you wouldn't have thought such a big horse would be such a scardy cat!). Skittle came again and he always works well. Then my Mum went in the ring with my owner riding the big spotty thing. Mum showed off as usual and did loads of tricks in the ring picking things up and what not. He was very good considering he'd never done a display before. I went and joined them and checked him out. He's gone home now. His name was Mo and he is owned by John Fisher. My owner is sad and I actually quite miss him. Crosbie picked up a new carriage on the way home. Made by the Trials sponsors Fenix. We're going to try it out tomorrow. It looks very smart.

27th July Crosbie has been cycling in France (wherever that is) - without me! - so my Mum, my owner and I have been on our own. There's been no time even to go out with one of the ponies, let alone two. We did visit another farm and my owner went out on someone else's carriage with a brown horse, but we had to stay in the car which was a bit off. But this week Lottie came round again and we had a lovely drive out. Lottie's owner was going to be away for a while and I thought I wasn't going to see her, so me and my owner were really happy she'll be here after all. WE had a lovely long drive. I got my sixth bunny this week (admittedly this one was dead already and presented itself on the road as we were trotting along) but Lottie's Mum took it out of my mouth and threw it over the hedge. What a waste - I ask you. My owner stopped to alter the ponies' reins - again, it's so boooring - but this time she said she was just jolly well going to break all the rules and do what looked as thought it needed to be done, rather than what the books say. She was very pleased with herself and I must say even the lazy lummox Polo looked pretty good.

We are going to see the magnificant Nobel at the weekend apparently and we're taking the big spotty thing with us. I think there's going to be a show. Let's hope there's lots of bunnies :-)

20th July Well things have looked up this week. I've been out with the carriage twice with two of my girlfriends. First Lottie came round and it was fab to see her. And I love her Mum as she keeps treats in the back of her van and always gives me and Mum some. In fact, we like jumping in the back and having a quick nose about in case any have been dropped. We did a long drive into the village and the ponies were really good - especially as they haven't been out for a while. The upstart Parker isn't pulling so much, but that might be because his coat has grown and he's getting too hot. My owner said she's going to clip it off him again. Tee hee. The big spotty thing gets all worried when we leave him in the paddock and charges around making the girlie noise, but after we've gone he just starts eating again, so I think he's pretending to be upset we're going. Today Maggie and Dexter came round. Dexter stayed in the car and Mum stayed at home and me and Maggie did another long drive. My owner kept making the ponies stop and messing about with the reins. She kept saying they weren't right because she'd adjusted other bits of the harness. She said the whole set up's gone to pot and she's going to have to reorganise it all. Maggie's very good. Her owner Roz has entered her for the next carriage dog trials. I think she's going to do well - though she'll have to practice her stay, as she keeps pulling me into the verge when we stop. Mind you, I did pick up a nice juicy dead rabbit which got taken away from me and thrown into the hedge - so it was a bit tempting not to follow it...

We've been to the Working Horse Trust quite a lot to see Nobel. He's been driving around some cones in a field. Last time my owner drove a very wide brown horse called Ellie May. I think I heard someone say she is an Ardennes. She really goes fast! We're going to do a display with Nobel on 31st July and my brother Milo and friend Skittle are coming too.

14th July Life is a bit boring this week so far. The horses have been in the paddocks and not seen hide nor hair of a carriage - or any of my girlfriends. My owner is off in her funny clothes every day without us and it's all a bit of an anti-climax. Last weekend had a brilliant time and I wish we were back in the tent at Lincomb Farm. Lots of my friends were there, including my favourite human friend Mike Cleland who I love. He thribbled my throat when I was little and now I'm addicted. Anyway, we were up early every morning running in the fields and often we would play with everyone else. Then we did the usual weird thing of going around some cones next to the big spotty thing. We had to do that twice. The first time we were waiting for ages and got a bit bored and the big spotty thing got a bit stressed out (and I think my owner did too) so I thought I'd rather be in our tent and tried to go there but my owner kept calling me back. But then we had to do it all over again the next day and we were all calm and happy. Then we went on a great ride. It was quite a long way and it was hot but there were some water jumps on the way so we paddled in those each time and it was good fun. I met a naughty whippet who kept trying to chase us but we showed off and stayed with my owner and went into the next field to shake it off. It got bored and went away eventually. The big spotty thing didn't like being on his own and kept making a stupid girlie noise, but he was OK apart from that. My owner dropped her fly switch (the flies were horrid) and the next time round my Mum did more showing off and picked it up for my owner and gave it to her on the course. My owner was very pleased with Mum.

The next day we had great fun with Splash and Tally as we took it in turns to smell out the cheese in the hedge. Goodness knows what the humans were up to - doing some sort of puzzle or something - but we enjoyed finding the cheese. I don't know why the humans couldn't find it themselves as it smells so obvious but we weren't going to argue as we got to eat the cheese that we found! I hope we get to do that again soon.

6th July We're packing today. Off to the Nationals. Have discovered that's the thing where my owner wants me to work alongside the big spotty thing and be judged. Then we go off for a fun ride. She's told me I only get the fun ride if I do the judging bit. Mmmmm - I guess I'd better have a think about that.

Meanwhile, Jasper and Amber, who belong to Stuart Greenland, are the first Dalmatians to become Galloping Dallies in the DaliMiles programme. They said "After being chased round the garden with our rosettes on - our owner gave up and grabbed a quick photo." Good for them! Check it out on the DaliMiles page. Their owner says they're on their way to 4,000 miles. It made me wonder how many miles I've done since I started this carriage dog lark. So I've done a quick calculation! I go out with the carriage on average three times a week around an average 6.5 mile route. That makes 1014 miles a year. Then I go out with my Mum every day for I suppose an average three mile walk (sometimes my Mum comes on the shorter carriage runs, but not that often any more). That makes 1095 miles. Sometimes we go cycling to the pub or riding in the woods too, but I'll leave those in the averages or it gets too complicated. So that makes over 2,000 miles a year if my maths is right (and I was taught by my owner so that's debatable!) So that makes a grand total of over 7,000 miles since I started this carriage dog lark at 18 months old. So I think I'm up with you guys :-)

4th July We've had a fun few days. My sister Freya came again at the weekend. I feel so safe and happy behind the carriage working with her and her owner Anna I never move a millimetre from the back of the carriage. When I'm working with the newbies, I sometimes feel like I have to go up front and make sure all is OK - but not with my sister. Even though the upstart Parker tried to bolt twice. He's such a naughty pony I don't know why my owner loves him so much. The first thing was just a fence with a couple of dogs behind it barking; the second time was a pile of grass cuttings. Honestly what is the matter with him. It was very hot though and we were all worn out when we got back. Except Mum. For some reason she gets away with riding on the carriage in between my owners legs. She graced us with her presence for a few miles in the middle of the drive, then hopped back up., She looks like a right queen bee. Anyway, we've been going out in the paddocks with the big spotty thing every day. My owner takes him out for a ride and then comes back and we go round the grass with her. It's good fun as she always gives us treats. I still worry if he shakes his head or stamps his feet, but my Mum doesn't mind so I suppose he must be OK. In fact the last few times we've run alongside him together. I let my Mum be close to him and trot along behind. My owner is going on about the "Nationals" coming up - whatever that is. Mmmm - must try to find out.

29th June The farrier came today. My Mum and I love the farrier. He lets us eat the bits of horses' hooves that he cuts off. We wait nearby and he throws them to us. The big spotty thing got some shows today. He hasn't had them before and was very good. Because my owner is doing quite a lot of miles on him, he was getting sore feet. (What about my feet then?!) My sister Freya has come to stay again today. Did I tell you I love Freya? She didn't come until quite late, and she an Mum got locked in the house while I went out with my owner and the big spotty thing. Crosbie came with us but my owner took me up the main road on a lead and then Crosbie let me off when we got to the lane. We were going quite fast - too fast to pee - so I decided I'd trot with my owner tonight all the way up and back.

28th June We went to see Nobel today, but we didn't bring him in. Instead, my owner spent the morning walking behind a little Ardennes called Kitty pulling tree trunks out of the woods. My Mum and I walked behind the horse all morning waiting for something to happen. Seemed a bit pointless to me. Kitty was walked by my owner to the bottom of the woods. She got a chain attached to her at one end and a tree trunk attached to that. Then she walked (or sometimes trotted) to the top of the woods where my owner took the log off the chain and the chain off Kitty. And then they all did it over and over again. So a load of logs got moved from one end of the woods to the other. What's the point of that?!

Afterwards there was a terrible storm and my Mum and I were a bit scared and all the big horses were running around because the thunder was really loud. The lightening was hitting the ground and my owner was scared as Nobel is the tallest horse in the field and she was worried he was going to be hit by lightening. But the storm went away and everyone was OK. So it was too wet for Nobel to learn how to pull the logs, so we'll be going back to do that another time.

Tonight we went out with the big spotty thing. But I'm bored with following him, so when Crosbie let me off the bike, I did my own thing. Next thing I know, I'm put on a lead and made to run with the big spotty thing. I ask you! What kind of behaviour is that? Forcing a free thinking Dalmatian like myself to subject myself to the whims of a pony. Mind you, it was quite fun charging along the road - perhaps I'll do what I'm told next time?

27th June What a busy week it's been. Yesterday we had a fabulous day. My owner's friend Miranda and her Dalmatian Splash allowed us all to go to her farm (which has some lovely spotted cows) and we all had a lovely charge around the fields and then went out for a long walk. My owner went out with the big Spotty thing and Mum went with her, but as there was a bit of a gang of riders, and my brother Milo was on a lead with his owner and her horse, I thought I ought to take charge and go out front. But then my Sister's owner called me and I got put on a lead while the horses went off without us. I was a bit confused for a while, but then got into my stride as we did a lovely walk around the farm with lots of new friends as well as some old ones. Meanwhile, it turned out my Mum was enjoying her run out with the horses, when they disturbed a wild bee nest in the woods and she got stung all over - so did the big spotty thing. But my Mum eats bees in the garden, so we think she's immune to the stings! But the big spotty thing caught her with his hoof and she went lame. So she was left in the pub while the riders carried on. Luckily she was OK by the time she got back. We all had a lovely time.

The day before that, Crosbie took me out on the bike and we met my owner riding the big spotty thing home after a ride. I got let off on the lane and my owner told me to follow the horse. I wasn't sure at first but I actually quite enjoyed running alongside them. Besides, every now and then a piece of dried lung fell off the horse, so I quite like him really! Before that my owner was riding him around some cones in the paddocks asking us to go with her. My Mum is really good so I try to copy her.

I also went out with Maggie behind the carriage earlier on. But it was very hot and we all got a bit worn out. But it was a lovely drive and the ponies were very good the whole time. Makes a change...

20th June My owner went out on the big spotty thing this evening, but we didn't have to do anything. She's very precious about her paddocks and said they were too wet to ride around. But she did give him a good grooming beforehand and some big bits of dried lung fell off him. So me and my Mum quite like being around him now. Meanwhile my owner has got quite upset because a horse at a show in Suffolk got scared and ran off with its carriage without a driver and crashed into lots of people and one lady has died. She is a very sad and says it is a reminder to us all what dangerous things horses can be. I keep telling her that!! Why does she think I try to keep out of their way. My Mum told me about Franky at the Essex Trials many years ago. He was a very fit hunter and got excited and naughty on the obedience field. He kept dancing around and reared up on his hind legs. My Mum is very good and she passed her obedience test even despite all this horse's antics, but then when my owner asked my Mum to go out for a long ride with her on that horse, she refused to go. She's never refused to do anything before or since then, but she decided the horse was mad and my owner must be mad to want to go out on it. When Anne-Marie, a very kind friend, offered my owner her lovely mare called Dolly, my Mum was quite happy and off she went on the course with my owner straight away. Anyway, it just shows you, we know better than you humans about horses. I don't know why my owner doesn't listen to me more often. Mind you, in Essex, my owner then got lost on the course as she's a bit useless like that, so she didn't get back in time. She also got lost on the magnificent Nobel in the woods near us a few months ago. We were going round in circles for three hours! She left the upstart Parker in the garden today and said there was more grass in it than in the paddocks. This is apparently good for the other two fat ponies but not good for upstart Parker. But she left the house door open too, so Crosbie told her she was lucky not to find Parker in bed!

19th June My owner has been away. She's been teaching PHD students in Bournemouth - whatever they are and wherever that is! So we've been going to the woods with Crosbie, but we haven't been doing any carriage work. But Freya came round again today and we had another lovely run with Parker and Polo. I love Freya. Afterwards we all went to meet Eddie and Lizzie for the 1st birthday walk. We were late so we met them on their way back, but it was still nice to catch up with them again. My owner found a tick on me today (well actually Freya's owner found it). It was in my shoulder and was making a big hard lump. So it got smothered in vaseline (to stop it breathing she said) and my Mum and I both got a horrid treatment on our shoulders, but hopefully that means I won't get another one. So watch out everyone.

10th June My sister Freya came out today. It's so long since she's been for a drive - it was lovely. I feel at home with her behind the carriage as we make a proper pair and she and I learned together - and her owner understands me. We went on one of our old drives into the village and Freya and I and the ponies had to wait while my owner did some chores at the village post office. Happy days.....

9th June My girlfriend Maggie came round tonight and my owner made me stay behind while she went out with the ponies - even though my shoulder is better I'm sure. In fact, she wouldn't even let me play with her which is outrageous. My owner has told me she went for about five miles tonight and never took her eyes off the ponies' hooves. She sounds like a natural - but it's because I showed her what to do of course..... My owner has just shouted at me that she was like that before I went out with her. OK, perhaps she really is a natural then.

Meanwhile my owner has asked me to tell you all about the Noriker horse. That's what the new big spotty thing is that is owned by John Fisher and who has been lent to my owner to ride with me. I can't think why you'd want to know, but as she's asked I suppose I'd better. My owner wanted a Noriker and looked for one for ages before she bought the magnificent Nobel. But they are quite rare in the country as they are bred in Austria which is a long way away. They are a very ancient and pure bred mountain draft horse - sure footed, strong, calm temperament cold bloods. The Austrian state control the breeding of them, so only the very best mares and stallions are graded to be bred from, so you always get good quality in all respects with a Noriker. They come in a variety of beautiful colours, including spotted. My owner likes the sorrels. She fell in love with a sorrel Percheron many years ago called George (though that colour is not allowed in Percherons in this country) and that's why she bought the magnificent Nobel. He is on holiday at the Working Horse Trust at the moment and we are off to see him tomorrow.

8th June Am feeling a better everyone. My shoulder still hurts a bit, but my owner went out on the big spotty thing tonight and when she got back she made us walk after her in the paddocks. My Mum did it after me and I howled at the gate as I was being left out. I wish we could go somewhere more exciting than the paddocks. Maybe next time when my shoulder is completely better. Meanwhile, Eddie and Lizzie cancelled today too, as their owner's grandchild got born early. How inconsiderate is that!

7th June My owner says I'm a disaster. I've hurt my shoulder. Don't know how I did it but I can't lift my head off the floor. I can't even lift it high enough to my food dish on the kitchen step. And I can't walk up the step into the kitchen. It really hurts. The only other time I've hurt myself is when I ripped my nail out and cut my pad before last year's Irish Trials. The Nationals (what ever they are) are only five weeks away. That's why my owner says I'm a disaster. And all my friends are coming round this week to run behind the carriage. At this rate I won't be able to go with them :-(


4th June Well the big spotty thing has arrived. Don't think much of him. He seems like any other horse. They always look like they're going to tread on me. If my owner is leading or driving them, or sitting on their backs, then it's not too bad as maybe they're under more control. But when they're loose in the paddocks, they are too unpredictable for my liking. And that upstart Parker is always chasing me. Anyway, today my owner asked me to walk alongside the big spotty thing. I think his name is Mo. She runs around the garden asking me to follow her and it's great fun. I'm not so sure when she's up on his back. But she did have some sausages today, so I thought I'd have a go as sausages are pretty nice. And my Mum did it and didn't seem to mind. It wasn't too bad after all.

30th May A quick one. We spent the day today at the Working Horse Trust as my owner was visiting Nobel where he's gone for a holiday. Anyway, they had an Open Day and my owner had promised that Nobel would be able to take part. My Mum and I were checking out all the nooks and crannies on the yard while my owner was grooming Nobel. He seemed very happy with is new friends. We found a cat in a corner in the tack room, but it seemed to be threatening to do karate and my owner told us both we weren't allowed to chase it, so we left it in its bed. Nobel worked really hard all morning giving carriage rides - and then my owner let me come too and I followed him all around the big field. In the afternoon he did 'pony' rides with his saddle on and everyone loved him (though he wouldn't go near the mounting block so everyone had to have a leg up). When all the peopl ehad gone home, my owner let us roam around again. It was a fun day - but more stable dog than carriage dog!

25th May We had a fab run today with my sister Freya. We found a very smelly pond and my owner's face was a picture when we came out. I think we were black instead of white. We paid for it when we got back though, as she made us stand under the hose and washed us. I didn't see why I had to have a wash, as I didn't swim like my Mum and sister, I just paddled in the mud on the edge. I fell in a reservoir when I was only quite young and it made me a bit scared. The sides were like ice and me and my friend Jake and my Mum were all stuck. My Mum wasn't panicking as she's a good swimmer, but I was scrabbling for the sides and trying to paddle at the same time. It was horrible. In the end my owner put a lifebelt round Jake's owner and lowered him down on a rope and he pulled us all out one at a time. Since then, I've only ever paddled in water. Can you blame me?! Tonight Eddie came round. Lizzie was left at home with a bad paw, so Eddie and I went out together for the first time. He's only young but he's already taller than me and has a good long stride, although he hasn't got my muscles yet! Because I'm serious about my work, Eddie stopped mucking about and got down to some proper trotting. We went a bit further than usual too, but he was fine and kept up the whole way. He and I made a good pair and our owners were very proud.

Tomorrow we're off with the tent to a place called Devon. We're picking up this spotty horse my owner expects me to work with. We'll see abut that ...

24th May My owner has told me lots of her friends who don't even have dogs (weird friends) or horses, have rung her to say they found my blog and it's very amusing. Well sorry - I thought I was being deadly serious. Anyway, I will carry on as I'm determined to keep you informed about life on the carriage dog road and will try to forget some of you are tittering behind my back. Although today I stayed behind again which I wasn't very amused about. My girlfriend Lottie came today. What a blinking show off. Her owner asks her to lie down and roll over - and she does it three times in a row. I could do that if only my owner would ask me (though it does look like it might be a bit tricky and I'd get my legs in a twist!). Anyway, I had to stay behind again tonight, because I'd just had my dinner and earlier today Mum and I were at the Working Horse Trust (where they have lots of horses nearly as big as the magnificent Nobel) and we spotted a cheeky fox which we chased and I hurt my toe. My owner looked at it and she said I was being a wimp because I squeaked, but it did hurt a bit. So Lottie went off on her own and my owner said that she needed to work by herself sometimes anyway. I overheard that she's doing really well. She did a good stay by the carriage tonight as well. I hope we get to go out together next week.

22nd May We were really getting into our stride last week, as I got to go out with Eddie and Lizzie's owner on Wednesday and with Maggie's owner on Thursday. It really works when the ponies are taken out first to stop the upstart Parker pulling which he does the second time round (I think my owner has really cottoned on to that idea as she's always saying that all the problems with the pair are actually down to Parker but Polo always gets the blame!). That way I go out first too while the ponies are going a bit fast and I can show my friends' owners how it should be done. I really get to show off. We went for a walk with Maggie after her drive out today. She's a cutie and my Mum showed her how to swim at the stream we go to. Next time she's bringing her friend called Dexter (who's not a Dalmatian). All my friends seem to be doing really well. I expect they'll be competing soon.

Competing is really good fun. The first bit is a bit of a bore. You have to do these silly exercises and stay with the carriage when the horse is walking, trotting and cantering and when it's stopped. It's not difficult, but it just depends if there are better things to do and how pretty the distraction dog is. Oh, and the vet checks are horrible. At least I hate them. Some of my friends don't seem to mind, but a strange person who smells of lots of other dogs is feeling all over you and looking at your precious paws and sticking something up your bottom (which is really undignified). But - once you've got over these bits, you just get to run and run and run. And your owner is really pleased with you at the end which is nice as that usually means you get a treat.

Anyway, yesterday my owner got Crosbie to put me on the springer on the bike and go out with her while she was riding the magnificent Nobel. Well everyone says he's magnificent. He's very naughty though and my owner shouts at him and then I think she's shouting at me and I worry about being there. My owner keeps saying she must stop shouting at Nobel as it's upsetting me. I could have told her that!! So this time I felt I was sandwiched between Crosbie's bike and Nobel, so I didn't feel very safe. My owner mentioned getting some sausages next time to make me feel better. That might work!

16th May Today my owner went off without us. Somewhere called London. I know when we're not going out to play, as she's dressed weirdly and has a posh bag in her hand. Me and Mum don't even bother to ask to go out of the door with her on those days, as we know we won't be allowed to go with her. But today she came back quite early. So even though we'd just got back from our walk with Crosbie, I got to go out again with the carriage. This afternoon Crosbie came too. That's quite rare. My owner usually has to bargain with him to come and we take a pair of ponies. But today he wanted to post an urgent parcel to France, so we had a proper errand to run. We don't use up any diesel! You should have seen Polo's face though when he came out of the stable. ("Oh no, I've got to pull him as well today"!) He was working on his own as Parker had a busy day yesterday. When we got to the Post Office, my owner went to post the letter and Crosbie held Polo's head or he'd have been off to eat the roses in someone's garden. I had to wait behind the carriage for the whole time. We were on the road so I thought I'd better do my job properly, even though a very nice Labrador was walking past. Lottie has cancelled tomorrow's outing as her owner has too much work to do. That's a shame because I love Lottie. But I think my owner will take us to the woods instead with her bike, which will be fun. Mum is supposed to be getting fitter too, but she thinks she's having puppies at the moment so is behaving oddly. Hopefully she'll perk up soon.

9th May 2011 I have a new girlfriend!!

Her name name is Maggie and her owner's name is Roz. My owner met her in the pub (we're always walking to the pub!). Roz came over to talk to us and her and my owner got chatting. Maggie is a rescue Dalmatian. she's two years old and lives with a rescue Staffy cross called Dexter (who I haven't met yet). Maggie came over to try out being with a carriage. She's a pretty confident cookie and strutted around the garden and into our house like she owned it. My Mum Munin was a bit put out, but she'll get over it. Yesterday we had two other Dalmatians playing in our paddocks - and we weren't allowed to join in! Something about seeing if Clarence would like Lady as Lady might go to live with Clarence. Anyway, I met Lady the other day and I know she'd get on with anyone. Clarence is a bit grumpier though (he's another rescue) so his owner had to be sure. Anyway, they got on fine so then Mum and me were let out to play with them too. My Mum always has to tell all visitors she's in charge - and then she plays with them OK.

So, back to Maggie, I went out with upstart Parker and Polo first of all with Roz on the back of the carriage to show her what it was all about. She's never even been on a carriage before. We saw a million tractors with slurry tankers attached to them. Luckily they slowed down and the ponies were good for Roz. My owner said she did very well. I was good for her too. When we got back, Maggie went out. I wasn't allowed to go, as my owner said she needed to have special training on her own. I watched through the gate. Roz was sitting on the back of the carriage looking at Maggie giving her treats. How come that doesn't happen when I run behind. Life's not fair....

6th May 2011 I know I'm talking a lot at the moment, but that's because I'm quite enjoying telling you all about what I'm up to. I'm sure I'll quieten down soon!

Anyway, today we went out for our walk with my owner's man Crosbie. Well actually he's my owner too. He had dropped my owner and the awesome Nobel somewhere miles away. Something about Nobel not having to leave home so goes better - whatever that means. But because the trailer Nobel was in had a flat tyre, everything took longer than expected. I heard my owner bargaining with Crosbie about who would take us out, and who would cut the hedge, and who would cook dinner. We were just tapping our toes waiting to go! When we got back, my friend Lottie arrived. Did I tell you I love Lottie? She's cheeky and loves to play. My Mum always tells her off, but that's because she's in charge of us all. Once she knows Lottie has listened, she will let Lottie play with me. Also, Lottie's owner Anna always brings treats for the ponies and treats for us. Her van is the best place - it's full of biscuits. Anyway, we had a lovely trot out. We went for miles and upstart Parker and Polo were actually quite good. But guess what. My owner only went and put boots on my front paws! Lottie had them too. We matched! Yikes. It was horrid. Have you tried to walk in boots? My owner said the tarmac was hot and she couldn't risk me getting hurt paws. To be honest, once we got going I didn't notice them, but I felt a right pranny all the same.

4th May 2011 Well was pretty cheesed off tonight! My friends Eddie and Lizzie came over. The upstart Parker and Polo went out first with NO-ONE behind the carriage, even though I was at the gate asking to come. My owner did seem apologetic. She said I'd just had my dinner and it wouldn't be good for me. Puppy cock! What about those dead rabbits I pick up along the road from time to time? Although I guess I usually just run along with them in my mouth and don't actually eat them. (It's a bit hard to get the purchase to chew when you're running along. In fact, it's a bit hard to breathe with bunny fluff up your nose!!) Anyway, those pups got to go out one at a time. Their owner was sitting on the back of the carriage giving them treats lucky things. At least my owner's carriage has a space from front to back, you can see where you're going.....Tee hee. The upstart Parker and Polo kept arriving home and thinking they'd finished, and my owner turned them round again. They had to go out three times. They'd certainly stopped pulling the third time round. At least Mum and I got a chance for a run around with our mates afterwards.

3rd May 2011 We went for a run in the orchards this lunchtime. One of my favourite places as there are lots of rabbits. My owner decided to take upstart Parker the pony out for a little run at tea time. Its my job to go with her and make sure she's OK. She's not really supposed to drive out on her own, but since Freya's (my sister) owner had a baby, my owner has no regular groom to go out with. But I make sure that upstart Parker behaves himself. I generally follow behind, but I must admit I'd rather be up front, so if I get any whiff of trouble - like upstart Parker stops to check out something he doesn't like the look of - I go to the side and eyeball Parker to make sure everything's OK. My owner keeps me on a long lead when we're out which she sits on. She doesn't trust me not to run under the wheels of a lorry. I think she thinks I'm daft - but I go along with it. Mind you, an enormous lorry decided to pass us right on the top of the railway bridge today. That's a pretty dangerous spot anyway, and poor upstart Parker, who's only a bit bigger than me, was a bit frightened as it got so close. There's too many lorries on the lanes these days. Blasted Sat Navs! Anyway, she's told me we have to stay fit as we're entering the Nationals again in a few months. She was a bit cheesed off with me last month, as I didn't stay with her in one of the tests at the Irish Trials, so we failed it. I usually do follow, but that morning there were too many fresh rabbit smells in the grass and a load of strange cone things which we had to trot close to and which also had good smells on them. Irresistible I'm afraid :-) Oh, and that stallion she was riding was a bit full of himself. Apparently she's getting a big spotty horse for us to practice with for next time. I'll have to check him out...

31st April 2011 So I thought I'd tell you about another friend Lottie. We went out together yesterday. She's owned by Anna Day and has been training with me for nearly a year. She's going to enter the SE Trials. I love her too. I show her the ropes. When she started she had to wear boots on her front paws. What a sissy! Apparently it was because she wasn't used to the tarmac and we didn't want her to get blisters on her pads. She's fine now though as she comes out regularly and doesn't have to wear boots anymore.

We usually go out together with my owners' pair of ponies - the upstart Parker and Polo. That means we're running behind a four wheeled vehicle with a backstep. I'm not sure about these backsteps. In the olden days, Dalmatians used to run with big carriages that took lots of people. They used to run under the axle or alongside the horse or carriage. These days, owners like to train their Dalmatians to run behind. But the backsteps get in the way. We can't see where we're going and it gets a bit uncomfortable because our knees keep hitting the backsteps. So we can't stride out - unless we keep our distance. But then our owners like us to be close and we like to keep up with the action. And I've seen friends trying to get their noses under the backsteps too. They never had backsteps in the old days. I think it was more fun then.

here's my owner and my Mum with the TV vet Joe Inglis while my owner is being interviewed.

30 April 2011 I'll try to do some catch up of my carriage dog career as we go, but meanwhile I just must tell you all about yesterday Darlings. The BBC were here. At our house. Everyone was so excited (except my owner who was very grumpy to be what she called "wasting a day"). They did a day's filming for the 'One Show'. It won't be out until 2012 though - shame. But it was great fun. My new friends Eddie and Lizzie came with their owner Mary. My old friends Izzy, Fonzi and Gunner came with their owners Mike and Chris. Oh, and they had quite a cute little pup with them called Ozzy. We had a play but I got told off for being too rough. And of course my sister Freya came with Anna. I love Freya.

So there were lots of us and the BBC crew liked that. In the morning, everything seemed to be about the pup as he sat on a cushion with a camera pointing at him. Then we all got put on leads and pulled the vet bloke down the drive arguing with each other about who was going to reach the end first. We tried to pull him over and nearly managed it.

In the afternoon that upstart Parker the pony was harnessed up. Freya and I ran in circles in the paddock for ages with a camera pointing at us. It was very boring but my owner asked us to stay with the carriage so we did. The man carrying the camera then got on the carriage and laid on the floor and pointed the camera at our noses. Seemed very silly.

After everyone had gone, the cameraman spent ages with my Mum pointing the camera very close at her - specially her nose! What was all that about? (My Mum is the cleverest Dalmatian in the world, so she must have known something I didn't.)

I was pretty tired by that time. But the crew wouldn't go home. They were all playing pinball in the kitchen. I went off for a lie down in the office with Mum.

Anyway, I let you all know when it's due out.