Jo Foster attempts to house train her Patterdale pups

If two words could describe certain parts of my life at the moment it would be '˜dog poo'. If it's not changing the bin in Baffle's secure dog field, picking it up off the driveway where customers have accidently left a pile, then it is cleaning up after my Patterdale's three pups, which remain from the original seven.

Jo Foster finds she has her hands full with her Patterdale pups. Picture by Tony Johnson.

I have started house training them this week although it seems they have other ideas. The prospect of shredding sheets of newspaper they find on the floor holds far more pleasure than weeing upon it.

I have tried puppy training pads; the young terriers find these a doubly rewarding challenge. All three jump around in glee to see bits of decimated padding scattered everywhere.

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On Monday morning I came in from the yard to find the breakfast cupboard door was open, obviously my son had left in a rush to catch his school bus. A big bag of Porridge Oats had been dragged out and were sprinkled like confetti across the stone floor, covering the dog beds and the kitchen furniture.

Gluey, oaty clumps stuck to the kitchen cupboard fronts. It was like a puppies’ food fight had occurred. It is worse than having a group of toddlers to look after. If I left some pens out I dare say they would be drawing on the walls next.

At that moment my father walked in on his way round checking the cattle and looked around at the mess with slight surprise. “Do you think Tris might have left because he’d had enough of the puppies?” he laughed.

“Hhmm.” I replied. “He couldn’t cope with being ‘Jo Foster’s Boyfriend’ apparently.” A truth my ex had admitted the previous day. He couldn’t be himself which was making him unhappy. Hardly surprising after four months of coming home to find me near suicidal in a wheelchair. Things used to be so much fun. Teamwork got us through anything. My accident cost so much more than a few months’ pain.

One of the pups, Archie, is leaving us this week. He will be heading to Sherbet’s part owner Jack Berry for a few months. Jack has generously bought Archie as a gift for his friend, the Grand National winning owner, Trevor Hemmings.

Trevor lives in the Isle of Man and has two other dogs which he adopted following the death of trainer Owen Brennan ten years ago. Both dogs are now 13 years old and he had been debating getting a younger model which could learn from his older animals.

“So, have you inadvertently volunteered to do all Archie’s training yourself then, if you are keeping him a few months?” I asked my owner.

Jack thought for a moment. “Eye. Well… Yes, I suppose I have done really.”