Toby: Week 1

Well, we have a new addition to the family!

toby

Despite the fact that my husband has angling for another dog for some time, and I’ve resisted strongly, this was the Unintended Dog. A friend of mine got Toby about a month ago, and I instantly worried about how she would be able to cope with him.  He’d had a tough enough start in life, having swallowed a baby’s dummy and had to have an operation.  So the first time I actually met him he had a wee buster cone on, to protect the stitches on his tummy.

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As he got bigger and stronger, he was proving too much of a handful for my friend, not helped by the fact that she couldn’t let him outside.  So all his toilet training was being done indoors  with puppy pads. Fast forward to the Thursday before  Good Friday. I got a phone call, saying that she realised he was going to be too boisterous for her, and would I be prepared to take him on. A quick discussion with husband (whose reaction was clappy hands and Oh yes! Oh yes!) and we agreed to have him for a trial run over the Easter weekend.  An important factor was, how would Minnie react?

tobyzoomies

So on Easter Saturday lunchtime, we picked him up with his bed and crate and toys, and took him home.  My husband was instantly besotted, and created a special facebook photo album for the name he gave him: Tobias Albus Regis von Thunder.  The naming of dogs is an important thing, don’t you know!

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Full credit to Minnie, she was brilliant with him, particularly in putting him in his place when his puppy boisterousness gets a little too exuberant.

tobymingrass

We were blessed with fantastic weather over the holidays, and I was off work for a few days too, so we were able to spend loads of time out in the garden. This was obviously Toby’s first experience of grass, and after a few tentative sniffs, he was soon enjoying playing zoomies with Minnie all round the place.

tobygrass

For his first night, we left him in his crate, but this proved rather messy in the morning.  So we then tried leaving him an his familiar bed but in the utility room, with some puppy pads about.  On the next morning, he seemed a bit shivery, so he’s now trying a cute purple fleecy coat to wear as pyjamas.  He settles quickly, and sleeps without too much noise until we get up at around 6.

tobyfleece

Puppy teeth are like needles, and we both have hands that bear the scars.  We are working on getting him to chew appropriate things, ie not human flesh.  Minnie is teaching him not to chew on her ears, either!

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Toilet training has been pretty good – we are looking out for the sniffing around signs, and what I call the “John Wayne” walk, which preceeds a poo.  He’s been finding his favourite spot in the garden to perform, and get lots of praise when he does.  Accidents have been few.

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Other training has been exceptional!  He is one smart cookie.  He learned “sit” on the first day, comes when he’s called, and is chasing and fetching toys.

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So, Week One verdict – better than expected.  No destroyed shoes or scarves, no dashes to the vet, and no regrets.

tobynight

 

 

 

 

parkrun tourism: Bois du Boulogne, Paris

parkrun #249 event #60
Reason for visit: supporting a friend running the Paris marathon.

Access:
The parkrun website acknowledges that it can be hard to find the start of this one, and helpfully gives a guide for English speaking visitors. Having chosen my hotel based on its proximity to the parkrun, I was only a few metro stops away from Porte d’Auteuil, on line number 9. Be aware, this stop is on a little one way loop section, so you may find yourself going back one stop to change direction. Taking the “hippodrome” exit, I was getting my bearings when another runner came and joined us.

He had the co-ordinates on google maps, and so we continued together, comparing parkrun histories, and crossing the big dual carriageway into the main parc. At this point we should have hovered near the car park until more likely suspects arrived, but we continued into the woods, were unsure where we were, tried asking a few others for directions (my French is OK but rusty), were sent to a different running route, found a really helpful chap in blue with a dog, who made sure we found our way back to the start point. By which stage there were lots more runners assembling, familiar parkrun signs were visible, and marathon man Simon found us.

Top tip – stick near the car park, there’s bound to be runners arriving there.  Oh, and monsieur en bleu, merci mille fois.

Facilities:

There are no loos in the parc, but there is one just as you exit the Metro, which is free to use.  Post run coffee and chat takes place at the little kiosk.

A volunteer led those of us who wanted to deposit coats and bags at the finish, reassuring us that there would always be someone there.

Crowd:

Surprisingly parkrun is not that big in France, there are only 2 events in Paris.  This one usually attracts 40-50 runners, but every year during marathon weekend those numbers are quadrupled.  The pre run brief starting by asking if there was actually anyone French here – one hand went up.

And how many were here for the marathon? Lots of hands raised!  Couple of dogs and prams.

Course:

One big loop and then 2 smaller ones. The paths are packed soil and gravel or tarmac, and wide enough to avoid any bottlenecks.  It’s a popular spot for dog walkers, so look out for dog poo……

Strangely appropriate song on shuffle:

Since were were in la belle France, and had spent some time looking for the start, I did smile when the French Eurovision entry “J’ai cherche” came on.

Time:

My running times aren’t great at the moment, but I was happy achieving my target of 35 mins.  Interestingly, French parkruns take very seriously the “it’s a run, not a race” concept, and the results are listed alphabetically, rather than by position.  And the result email doesn’t say “you came second in your age category” or anything like that.

 

And the rest:

It certainly was a memorable weekend!  We went along to the start of the marathon on the Sunday, a straight run on the metro from our hotel, and at each stop more runners got on, filling the carriages with the rustle of plastic bags and the smell of Tiger balm.

We’d agreed to meet Simon and his friends at the Disney Store, and volunteered to take their bags to the drop off zone.  While we were waiting, a girl came up and explained that she was supposed to be meeting Paul here, but she was late, and if we saw him, he had brown hair and maybe a beard, could we tell him that Helen had gone on……After watching the various time groups set off, we struggled to find the place to deposit the bags, and things got a little fraught as time was ticking by.  But, mission accomplished, we made our way to Porte d’Auteuil again, which was Mile 21, where we’d arranged to supply Simon with a bottle of flat coke to get him past “the wall”.  The sun was shining, a samba band was playing, we found a brasserie to enjoy a glass of wine in, and followed Simon’s progress on the brilliant marathon tracker app.  Flat coke duly handed over, we were delighted that he beat his target time of 4 hours.  Other Simon who I’d met at the parkrun did it in an impressive 3hr 15!

On the Monday, we checked out of our hotel and decided to pass a few hours on an open top bus, to save our legs and lugging bags around.  As I went through the metro turnstile, the flappy door which stops tailgaters came back and whacked me on the eyebrow.  You know how in cartoons there are little birds and stars flying round a whacked person’s head? That.  And my brain was going “Oh, someone’s going to come and ask me what happened, and I’m not sure how to say that in French, is it le truc m’a frappe?”  Meanwhile my husband was trying to stop me sobbing, and offering me a tissue for the blood that was dripping.  And no, no staff members came over to see if I was OK.  Once on the metro, the dirty looks my poor husband was getting….

Open top bus was a sensible use of time, and the bright sunny morning showed Paris in all its glory.  We passed Notre Dame, remarking on what a beautiful old building it was was, and then made our way out to the airport.  It was only when the plane landed back in Belfast, and everyone turned their phones back on, that a collective gasp spread amongst the passengers, seeing the news of the terrible fire that had taken place in the cathedral, everyone saying “but we were only there a few hours ago!”

All my parkruns:

 

All my parkruns