Waggy Walk in Brighton

Today, we headed down to Stanmer Park to join in the Dogs Trust fundraising event, the Waggy Walk.

Waggy Walks, Stanmer Park

We did 2 laps of an approximately 5k walk, very approximate as it turned out as there were short cuts being taken left, right and centre – and the marshalls seemed a bit too cold, wet and grateful to force people to do the full route. We’d parked in one of the car parks in the woods themselves, so between our journey to and from the car park, and the 2 laps of the route, we clocked up 6.83 miles, or around 11km. I tracked the route on my Garmin watch, and it is here for all to check and verify.

Waggy Walks, Stanmer Park

By the time we’d finished we were rather wet, but Skitters was pretty forgiving as the lovely ladies in the registration tent admired her cute ears and gave her some treats to munch on. A nice nap (for all) when we got home was just what the doctor ordered, and certainly the 4 legged one seems as full of energy as ever and ready to head outside for more adventures.

You can still sponsor us. Oh, and there are a few more photos too.

A year of dog ownership

One year ago today we brought Skitters home from Shoreham Dogs Trust. Over this time we’ve enjoyed getting to know our 4 legged friend, and building up a relationship with her, and both Richard and I were surprised at just how quickly she became one of the family and how attached we became.

Skitters in Abbots Wood

We’ve had 2 holidays together, one in Filey, East Yorkshire and one in Gower, Wales, both in self-catering dog friendly places. We’ve seen more of Sussex than in the previous 7 years discovering places like Abbots Wood, Friston Forest, the Downs Link, Lancing beach at low tide etc clocking up in excess of 1000 miles of walking each (and much more than that for Skitters).

Skitters at Seven Sisters

I’ve uploaded 314 photos of her to flickr, there are currently 400 photos of her and she even has her own camera (thanks to the Goulbourn family who bought it as a Christmas present) which she wears on some of her walks and uploads photos from to her blog.

She has generally shown herself to be a smart, affectionate dog who loves running around, playing fetch and trying to chase after rabbits. She has a problem with people coming to the house, turning into a bit of a guard dog, and never fails to bark at the postman. She also doesn’t really like bearded chaps (as Danny found out one day). We have spent quite a bit of time training her, but we still have a long way to go – her recall is good in safe areas, but once she gets a sniff of rabbit, squirrel or small bird there’s no way she’s coming back. We also have to work on her door manners and stopping her barking at every new visitor.

Skitters at sunrise on a low tide Brighton beach

As a result of discovering the fun to be had on Brighton beach at a low tide, Richard wrote a twitter feed to show the low tides every day, which is published at 6.30am, just as we’re thinking of getting up to take Skitters out for her morning walk.

It has been a great year.

Skitters in action

On Saturday afternoon Skitters and I headed down to the walled garden (more properly known as the Rest Garden) to meet up with Alex and Dave. Dave had an idea for a short film for which he needed a dog. After a long discussion about her rider, Skitters agreed.

The finished film can be seen here and is described as

Unfortunate sausage-based arm condition siezed upon by an opportunistic dog

He sent us through a version when he had just cut Skitters out but hadn’t removed her blue rubber ball, which I have to say I love 🙂

Skitters Runs
Skitters Runs

111 miles walked in June

As I mentioned earlier my running has pretty much stopped other than the occasional sudden burst when taking Skitters out for a walk. And you know what, that’s fine. My motivation for running was down to two things:

  1. get regular exercise
  2. spend time out doors

Both of these are fulfilled just by giving Skitters the exercise she needs.

When I was still running I bought a Garmin Forerunner 205 to replace the Nokia SportsTracker application I was running on my phone. I take this watch out with me on almost every walk I do with Skitters, and record the majority of the route (sometimes, especially here in the built up part of Brighton, it takes a while to lock on to the location). I’m using the excellent application Ascent to read the tracks from the phone and create them into a usable format, and export them to kml format for use on our maps page. I’ve found this combination to work brilliantly, and have found Ascent to be a great tool allowing me to record what we’ve been up to.

It also provides a summary page, allowing me to summarise the month of june as

We’ve got ourselves into a bit of a routine. Generally, I do the morning walk, Richard does the evening walk and we both do weekend walks. In reality though, we often both go out with her. June started with Richard being away at Java One in San Francisco, so I was the only dog-walker, which obviously bumps up my numbers this month somewhat. On top of the daily walks along Brighton/Hove seafront, June has included walks in Stanmer Park [1][2][3], Lancing for low tides [1][2][3], Ashdown Forest [1], Devil’s Dyke [1][2][3], Nymans woods [1], Firle [1] ending up at the excelent Ram Inn at Firle (a dog-friendly pub selling lovely food), Barcombe [1] (involving a beer at the Anchor Inn) and a weekend in Margate with Richard’s folks [1][2][3]

A couple of my favourite Skitters related photos from June are:

Richard and Skitters at Lancing

Most of Skitters and the sea

Skitters – 8 weeks on


It is 8 weeks since we brought Skitters home and she has settled in well. In that time, we’ve become really interested in low tide times (because sand appears near the West Pier and Skitters can have a great run), we’ve tried out lots of treats and come up with a short list (dried liver, sausages and schmackos), Richard has taught her to fetch, and a combination of me and Richard’s Dad have taught her to shake hands.

Richard throws the ball for Skitters

Skitters has visited Hull, and met my Dad, and she’s been to Margate and met Richard’s family. She travels well, and settles down and sleeps in the back of the car.

Car travel by Richard Dallaway, on Flickr

We have both increased our exerise, I’ve decided not to run the 10K I was planning to in July because I just don’t have the spare energy at the moment. I’ve tracked a lot of walks on my Garmin Forerunner watch and know that I’m averaging about 20 miles per week. Some of the favourite spots are Stanmer Park and the woods beyond (1, 2, 3, 4), the River Adur (1, 2), and any beach (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Moonlit dog

We’re on to leads number 3 and 4 after she chewed her way through 2 retracting leads. She now has a shortish lead, that matches her collar, for when she’s the dog-around-town, and a 10m long line for when we’re out and about and there are too many interesting smells around to let her off the lead. Yesterday we lost her for a while as she’d gone sniffing in amongst some brambles, she seemed to have got stuck and we were trying to work out how to get her out, when Richard spotted her running off. Somehow she’d managed to get out of her harness, without undoing it (the straps have been tightened up now!). She ran off and ended up in a field of horses before trying to find her way back to us – which she did, covered in mud and looking absolutely exhausted. But this goes to show that she’s not ready to be off the lead all the time yet – she still prioritises rabbits, squirrels and birds above us.

So, in 8 weeks I’ve spent less time at the keyboard, spent a lot of time learning how to take photos of a small dog, and have had a lot more exercise and seen the beach in a morning a lot more. It has been great fun.

Introducing Skitters

Standing pretty

Richard and I have long talked about getting a dog, but it never felt like the time was right due to work commitments, the size of our garden, our work patterns etc. This year we decided to give it some proper thought and in January decided to go to our nearest Dogs Trust centre in Shoreham to find out more. When we talked to one of the staff they told us that there are dogs which can suit all manner of house sizes and that we should fill in the form and take it from there. We decided to do this, but to wait till after our snowboarding holiday in Morzine (on which probably more in another blog post).

Jane and

Last Sunday we headed off with our completed form in our hands and handed it in. The next stage was to go and look at the dogs in the centre and see if we there any we liked the sound and look of (each dog has an information sheet telling you whether it can live with children, and if so what age, whether it gets on well with other dogs etc). Although we didn’t need a dog that can live with children, we have family and friends with children ranging from 2 to 13 and so the children rating was important to us. We spotted a couple of dogs we liked the look of, one beagle cross and another one, and then headed back to the front desk where Emma, one of the assistants, was waiting for us. She told us more about the dogs, and neither of them were suitable, but she did have “one in the back” that we could find out more about. This dog, Skitters, had been brought back that day as the chief exerciser in her new family had been taken ill and they couldn’t look after her any more. She had been handed in to Shoreham as a stray in February, had then been adopted by her new family and handed back 3 or so weeks later. We took her out for a walk, and got on well with her. She matched our questionnaire well and we decided to adopt her. She is a Jack Russell Terrier crossed with something a bit larger judging by her size. Having made our decision the next stages for us were to take her out for a second walk, have a house visit from animal welfare who provided all sorts of helpful information including a helpful map of Brighton places which are and are not dog friendly, and attend a rehoming talk.

Having done everything necessary we went yesterday and collected her and brought her home to Brighton. We had a lovely long walk along the beach (does anyone know if sea sponges are toxic for small dogs? because she loves them…) and no sooner had we got home than she fell asleep on my lap. After lots more exploring and sniffing around the house she seems to have settled down well and is currently snuggled up on Richard’s knees looking completely at home.

Richard and Skitters