Eight months old, 18kg, trials and tribulations!

Clamour over! Here he is. At eight months (picture taken 9 June - so he's now nearly nine months!) and weighing in at an adult size 18kg.

Here he's just been for a dip in Beville's Leam, one of the large fenland drains out here. He can't go for a walk without going for a swim - well, more of a paddle-cum-drink - he doesn't do proper swimming yet, but he does like water!

So, what have these last few months been like? Hell? Purgatory? Heaven? Well, definitely not the latter!

As they reach adult-size and the teenage period you start discovering all the things they don't tell you about your dog. How much time he's going to take up. How much he's going to cost. Whose going to walk him when you're not there. Do you use kennels, house sitter, dog sitter, dog walker? And in Jax's case, grass seeds!

Not once did I read about grass seeds in all my research before we got him. Oh, but once we got him and those in the know saw him, one of the first things they tell you is 'he's going to be a bugger with grass seeds'. We didn't know what that meant until this week. Well, until today actually when we got a £76 vet bill for lancing an abscess caused by a grass seed. I pulled a load of seeds form his paw last night, including a couple of well imbedded and bloody ones. I checked him this morning and the two holes had healed OK and he wasn't limping no where near as much. At lunchtime no limp but I noticed him licking one of the paws I pulled a blooded seed from last night. On checking I found a large abscess at the top of one of his toes. Straight round to the vet where I left him for the afternoon for them to do their stuff. Collected him at 5pm, coughed up 76 quid and was told that something had gone through the underside of the paw and through to the top but they couldn't find anything when they opened it up and washed it out. So the bloody thing could still be in him - somewhere!

He doesn't seem any worse for his ordeal (just our bank account does) and everyone keeps telling us how gold as gold he is and what a lovely temperament he has. Well, its all in the upbringing you know!

Jax the day before we took him for a summer haircut.

Jax the day of his summer haircut playing tug with Liz in the back garden.

The last few months have all been sweetness and light as Jax goes through teenage-hood. We have had some problems, which thankfully seem be on the mend at last.

When I went away for three weeks in mid-April he didn't like it. And he vented his anger on Liz who was left looking after him alone. And then when Liz came to join me on Lesvos for a week, her brother Martin came over from Holland to look after their Mum, Elsie (who lives with us) and Jax. He too had problems cos now Jax was doubly angry at losing both of us! Playing up was one thing, but he got snappy and bitey and bit Liz a couple of times and Martin once - proper bites drawing blood. So, serious.

Amazingly, I thought he would be fractious on our return home but he wasn't. He calmed down considerably within minutes of my arrival home. He continued to give Liz problems though and we also had the ongoing issue of his reaction to other dogs. This had reached a point where he wouldn't even walk past a couple of statue dogs in the village! Having missed doggy classes for 6+ weeks at this point we felt he would simply freak if we threw him back in to a room with 10 other mutts.

So we called in Aunty Pam - Pam McKinnon from Talking Dogs. Pam ran the puppy classes we took him too in Feb-Mar, so she knew him and hopefully he would remember her. Even in the week or so for our appointment to come round he was getting calmer. We'd viewed some Dog Whisperer programmes and gleaned some things we felt appropriate to us, but I think he was simply growing up. At seven months a week is a long time for a dog. When Pam got to us he wasn't half as bad as he had been, and Pam was actually very pleased with his general obedience and behaviour for a 7-month old hound. He clearly remembered her. Pam is one of those genuine dog people that as soon as she opens her mouth your ill-behaved hound obeys! Sick isn't it!

Pam showed us what to do in certain circumstances and how to reinforce certain messages with him. We followed this up with a phone call a week later for Liz and then went along to one of her classes for older more advanced dogs to observe and let Jax be around other dogs. The class went so well that we'll be joining it this week. The dogs are much older and some of the stuff way ahead of him, but Pam feels that its a calm group for him to gain confidence around. We'll see how it goes.

And in the last week or so he's been making more progress with other dogs. He's nearly made a friend in Phoebe, a Jack Russell-type he occasionally sees on his walks. I think she just fancies the fur off him to be honest (and who wouldn't!). And interactions with most dogs he meets, like today in the vets, are much more positive and don't see him cowering under a chair, nit even when the other dog gets nasty and growly and bares teeth - he just jumps back, but darting for cover!

We still feed him Orijen food - now mixed with James Wellbeloved. We're moving up to adult food at the end of this bag of puppy mix! Getting a big boy now.

He still loves his natures:menu training treats. Liz also makes him some home made liver treats which he loves too! He goes through all manner of other treats which are wolfed down. He enjoys rawhide retrievers which usually take him a week to get through so probably count as one of the best value things we get him!

He's been great on chewing - with very few incidents of chewing anything he shouldn't. No furniture been chewed through etc. We've only had one real disaster when I left a liquid ink pen out and he got, chewed it, squirted it, dripped it etc all over our 2 yr-old carpet. Thats ruined. I was furious to start with, not that I let him see it. I was more furious with myself for leaving the pen within reach. More furious that having never had to get anything like ink out of a carpet before I did all the wrong things and made it worse rather than better. Furious at the cost of replacing the carpet! Well, that'll wait. Now its knackered it can get more soiled before it gets replaced - and with a darker one!

And one other thing. If your thinking of getting an SWD, and maybe this goes for other woolly breeds, no-shed coat does not mean a low maintenance mutt. Oh aye, you might not have to put up with hair all over the shop, but every time you leave the house you have to understand you're taking a large ball of mobile velcro in to the countryside with you. If it can stick to him, it will. We spend hours grooming and picking all manor of seeds, grass stems, twigs from him. A twig can go undetected for most of the day - so you can understand our problem with grass seeds in vulnerable places!

But we love him! He's part of the Dudley clan all right. He's so intelligent - we were warned. He knows that three humans he lives with all have different temperaments. He's great with Elsie. At 91 she can't do much with him. but he knows this and is happy to take a toy to her and play to the best of her ability, and very gently, then turn round and with the same toy go hell for leather with Liz or me.

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