Clare Teal: Lively new addition Alan proves wonderful stress-buster

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Alan the dog is a brilliant addition to the family. The fact that even smallest of tasks now takes three times as long to achieve is no matter, a wondrous little stress-buster he is.

Last Tuesday we took him for an ‘epic’ walk – to the post office and back, a 10 minute skip for us took nearly 45 minutes with Alan. At three months he can only walk for 10 minutes at a time but this is difficult to monitor with all the sniffing and stopping.

By the time we carried him home he was pooped, in fact we had to wake him up for his first puppy socialisation class at the local vets. Although Alan has doubled in size since he first arrived, he was still minuscule compared to the other pups who were all eager springy spaniels.

He took in the scene and with a withering Dorothy Parker-esque: “What fresh hell is this?” backward glance in our general direction, stomped into the fray. Utterly grumpy throughout, especially when a particular boisterous springer named Livvie (after Olivia Newton John) pounced on him from a great height (all of two feet), his reaction smacked of “You’re Not the One That I Want”, and I will categorically never be “Hopelessly Devoted To You” – we left shortly after.

Muddy and I were both worried about Alan’s attitude to other dogs. All the books say how important it is to socialise your puppy with other canines. Thankfully the very next day he met two adorably placid retrievers, Benji and Sweep, who allowed him to say hello in a more civilised manner.

On Friday Alan learned how to bark. I don’t know why we were so surprised, but we were, even more so when he pretty much didn’t stop till Saturday – actually that’s a slight exaggeration and the main contributing factor was Lani the Collie cross who came to stay the night.

After a lengthy and worrying display of, “get off my land” type behaviour from his nibs, Alan finally chilled out and even allowed Lani to play with his space hopper, and by the time she left they were firm friends.

We’re meeting lots of dogs on our walks and Alan’s manners are improving plus Biscuit the Jackie Bichon has booked in for Monday night so, with this in mind, I think we’re going to skive tonight’s puppy socialisation class.