Olly Bear

This is Olly, affectionately known as Olly Bear, and today the 10th of November 2014 is his first birthday.

Olly Watching Cricket
Olly Watching Cricket

Cuteness in Canine FormOlly with his dummy

He has given us laughs and tears and sometimes tears of laughter. He is perfect in pretty much every way but he does have one flaw which does not relate to the end of his body containing a head.  So when I said he has given us tears they are the kind you associate with tear gas, but more about his bottom later.

Olly First Cuddle

Olly loves to chew things just like any puppy I guess. Nothing is safe; toys, rugs, carpet, chair and table legs, cushions, shoes, boots, cables, wires, remote controls, bushes and even laces while the shoe is still being worn, here’s the proof:


…and here is an example of what happens AFTER the chewing, all I can say is that it’s a good job we love him.

New carpet in the conservatory



It’s a fact that Labradors are greedy. Olly will eat anything and keeps coming back for more no matter how full his belly is. Given the opportunity he can eat until he’s sick and then clean up the mess as a second course. He needs to have controlled food portions but we must be very careful about what he has access to or he will change from his sleek athletic physique to something significantly more circular in shape. Having said all that, he is ultra-active by nature, I know a butcher and Olly is fitter than his dog. He can run for miles with Angela, he has even perfected the art of skimming the top off cowpats with his long tongue whilst jogging along. His running ability is unlike our other dog Becky (who we now call “Grandma”). I recall that as a young dog Becky once went out for a first run with our daughter Loren and the following day Loren went for a repeat performance only to find Becky hiding behind the settee when she saw the running shoes make an appearance.


Let’s return to Olly’s bottom, not because I particularly want to, but there are so many stories relating to his natural emissions. Last January after some worming tablets he had a poo in the garden, nice and solid(ish) but topped with some frothy foam, I called it a “crappachino”. Some of his excretions as a young puppy were borderline artistic, we used to refer to them as “Mr Whippies”. As he has grown into a much bigger dog, the sizes of his poos are definitely in proportion and equally artistic. Now he can create the type of thing you see in a gourmet restaurant where bits of food are assembled in a well-constructed pile in the centre of a plate with bits of veg balancing across the top and drizzled with some kind of ‘jus’, I hope you get the idea. A normal scooper no longer does the trick unless you chop it up a bit first, I am thinking of getting some all-year-round use out of the snow shovel.

Another time whilst working at home I went downstairs from my office to make some tea and was greeted with an odour that can only be described as “hazardous”. This is the text from a mail I sent to Angela to explain the situation:

<sentence one>

 …… on the plus side that will be one less huge dollop of puppy poo to pick up from the garden.

 Complete <sentence one> in your own words.



This is the right time to introduce Loren’s dog ‘Nero’ to the story. Nero is an Australian Sheepdog, slightly younger than Olly. After getting to know him I likened him to an American cheerleader, great to look at but you wouldn’t want to spend the rest of your life together. Here he is:

Nero PortraitExif_JPEG_PICTURE

Butter wouldn’t melt, right? …… Wrong! I could write a whole novel on the mischief and carnage this often loveable creature has created in his first year but I’ll keep it to the way Olly and Nero became partners in crime, a canine Bonnie and Clyde. Nero likes to dig holes, we are not talking about a putting green golf-hole size here, more like Colditz escape tunnel quality. Last July, Olly and Nero had the run of the back garden while I was working upstairs. Earlier in the morning Nero was absolutely filthy when I first came downstairs and he needed a wash in the back garden with a bucket of warm water and a towel then I left him for a short while to dry off in the sunshine. About 45 minutes later my next door neighbour knocked on the door and told me Nero is in her back garden, he had broken into a bag of compost and then run around in their paddling pool, he was in such a state. He had dug a proper breakout tunnel under the fence, fortunately too small for Olly. I offered to help clean the mess in next door’s garden but Mick said it was OK and he’d get his daughter to do it because she had been told to bring the paddling pool in the previous day and “couldn’t be arsed”.

A week later the sunshine had turned to rain and Olly and Nero had been for a scamper around the garden. I returned to check on them and saw that our living room carpet resembled Derby County’s football pitch back in 1971….

Derby County 1971

Nero has form for eating chocolate, LOTS of chocolate. With Olly’s help he has developed unique abilities to destroy marker and ballpoint pens, straps on bags and coats, ornaments, toys, garments, cutlery, boots, mail, anything left on a worktop, jellies, the telephone and even Savlon. One time I noticed Olly and Nero sat next to each other looking at me as I walked into the room and noticed that a bag of Cadbury’s Giant Buttons had been devoured. It was easy to see who was guilty when I noticed the empty bag lodged over Nero’s snout. On another occasion he managed to purloin an iPad cable. The plug was dragged around too but that survived. The end of the cable that connects to the iPad went missing but the rest of it had been chewed to bits. Now I didn’t look very hard for the missing attachment but there is an outside chance it might have been consumed and decided that if it starts peeping out of Nero’s bottom then we might be able to connect him up directly to Facebook. One day in September they actually ate my lunch including the plastic sandwich wrapper. I was livid and told Angela in an e-mail, she replied with “On a positive note I had a very nice egg sandwich”. It was not much in the way of consolation.


Finally for now (although would you believe there is much more to tell?), I return to the story of the escape committee. I had placed an old rather large puppy crate in the gap leading into the kitchen to prevent access. Nero turned up in the garage (accessible from the kitchen) when Loren was in there and she asked me if I had moved the crate. I hadn’t, so Loren plonked him on the other side again and said “show me how you get through”. Nero looked at her, walked to the side near the wall, gripped the cage with his right front paw and gently slid it away about 4 inches – enough for him to slink through. Olly just sat back and watched open-mouthed and I swear if he could he would have been laughing his big head off. The crate was dismantled on the grounds that it was as much use as a chocolate teapot.

Thirty minutes later on the same day, another adjoining neighbour Glenn called my mobile and asked if I had lost two dogs. I said, “No, they are playing in the back gar….. oh, hang on”. They had escaped again, went through Glenn’s back garden and he said they were “bombing it up the main road”. I thanked him and went tanking up our street. I saw a lady just pulling into her driveway and mentioned it, she said, “Oh yes I’ve seen them, they’re having a whale of a time going into all the gardens at the top of the street”. I called them and they came running to me but Nero wouldn’t let me get within grabbing distance and he went into as many back gardens as he could. Olly looked very proud but just stayed by my side all the time. I eventually got my hands on Nero and carried him home kicking and screaming.

I know Olly is not completely guilt-free in these outbursts of mayhem, I imagined him being the mastermind that sent the soldier into war, or perhaps like Pinky and the Brain.




In September, Olly and I were watching a game of football on TV. He said to me, “Dad, is there any team sport I can play?”. For a short while I wondered who had taught him to speak English but replied anyway saying he should get his Mum on the case. Angela discovered Flyball, a highly-organised nationwide agility team sport for dogs involved running, hurdling jumps, bouncing off walls, hitting targets and catching and carrying tennis balls. She booked him on to introductory Saturday morning training sessions in a Sports Hall in Huddersfield. Apart from the occasional travel sickness on the 40 minute journey he not only loves going but he is taking to it like a duck to water. We think the instructors have spotted some natural ability are already lining him up to replace an ageing Labrador in their team. Here are a couple of photos.

Olly at Flyball Training 8th Nov 2014 (3)      Olly at Flyball Training 8th Nov 2014 (1)


Lately Olly has perfected a new way to wake me up in a morning. He rushes upstairs after an early walk, jumps on the bed and let’s just say that I don’t have any use for cotton buds for the foreseeable future! To add injury to insult, he waits until you open an eyelid for the first time in the day and then takes the chance to continue the greeting with a good old-fashioned eyeball licking.


He’s a gentle giant, a lover not a fighter, a proper pal to everyone he meets and we’re all just a little bit in love with him. I know every dog owner believes they have the best dog in the world, all I can say is that every other dog owner is wrong.

Happy birthday big ‘fella.


Ten-to-Two Feet

A few years ago my son said to me, “Dad, why are all my mates faster than me when we play 5-a-side football at the Sports Centre?” I told him it’s because he runs with ‘ten-to-two’ feet and it’s all to do with trigonometry.

“Oh well that explains it, so it’s not because my legs don’t go fast enough then?” he replied somewhat sarcastically.

I felt I ought to explain so I found a pen and a blank sheet of paper.

Suppose your foot is 30cm long. When you run perfectly straight with your feet pointing in exactly the same direction you are running you are propelling your stride to its maximum 30cm per step.

30cm Foot

Think about your feet and your running style, they point to 10 o’ clock (left foot) and 2 o’ clock (right foot).

10 to 2 feet

So when you spring forward you are not travelling in the same direction as your foot is pointing, therefore instead of maximising your 30cm foot length you are only pushing forward around 27cm per step and thereby losing 3cm in comparison to the perpendicular line of motion.

27cm Foot

Now suppose you are sprinting over 100m and for the sake of argument you take 70 strides in total. It means that as a direct consequence of your running style you are 70 x 3cm further behind where you could be, that’s over 2 whole metres that could be gained just by training your feet to point in a slightly different direction.

He looked at me and said, “Wow, that’s amazing, how do you know this stuff?”. I gently placed my pen on the paper, stretched my legs forward under the desk and leaned back in my chair, fingers interlocked around the back of my head with a feeling of smugness that a man can only experience a handful of times in his life. I thought about the ‘A’ level I achieved in further mathematics over 30 years ago and was grateful at last that all that hard work learning those trigonometric rules had reaped dividends.

After a minute or so, my son said, “Wait a minute, if I were to race my mates over 100m, I guarantee I’d lose by a lot more than 2m”. I replied, “Ah well, that’s because your legs don’t go fast enough!”.