This is a paid partnership with James Wellbeloved.
August may be nearly over and with it the end of summer fast approaching. Even though we’ve had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend, taking Maddie for a walk early in the morning on Saturday, we found more squirrels scurrying about than normal and the air had an autumnal chill that wasn’t there with the heatwave back in July. Soon my flipflops will be swapped for chunky knit socks but you know what? Part of me at least is always excited for this time of year because it marks one of my favourite holidays that we take.
Since we got Maddie back in August 2014, we decided that each year we’d go on a “holiday at home”, packing up the car, renting a self-catered cottage for a week and taking her on her very own doggy break. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure most dogs think that life is one great big holiday (if they’re with the right owners that is!) but for her, an active Springer Spaniel, we’ve always known that she’d be happiest of all with a life filled with permanently racing through fields or on a beach and that’s not readily available in London.
The first two years we drove down to Cornwall and had an amazing time especially the first year when the weather was incredible. I’d packed for autumnal misery and we got a proper Indian Summer but to be honest, when you have the equivalent of a working breed of dog, being out in all weathers come rain or shine is part of the bargain. We always go away some time in September or October though because there’s nothing she loves more than blustery wind and rain (I call it “Wuthering Heights Weather” because it’s so moody) so that she can race around without feeling too hot.
This year, as we have done for the last two years too, we’re heading back to the Cotswolds, exactly a month today in fact. It’s a part of the country we really love and unlike Cornwall isn’t a huge distance to drive. I do miss the beautiful coastline but the pretty villages of the Cotswolds are so beautiful and you can be guaranteed a pub and a fire at pretty much the end of every walk. We spend more or less the entire day outdoors exploring unless the weather is really miserable and it’s genuinely the only time we see Maddie truly worn out from so much walking that we just can’t give her during a normal week at home.
As you can probably tell, we’re those dog-owners, the ones who really believe in the importance of good health and wellbeing for our pooch. The amount of times I’ve been told we only love her (and Boo of course) so much because we don’t have children but I’ve grown up with animals my entire life and Pete had a dog so no, even if we did have children I’d just have to find capacity for extra love – not a problem.
Although we don’t work her, she is by definition a gun dog breed and would be typically used to “spring” game during a hunt and in theory retrieving it. Maddie is pretty good at going after balls but getting her to bring them back? That’s a different matter. It’s such a joy to see her getting the scent of a pheasant and springing through the grass in the hope she may get lucky and disturb one. In London and especially where we live it’s mainly squirrels and foxes that she gets obsessed with so seeing her experience different sounds and smells is such a joy.
Similarly, our packing list for her is almost as comprehensive as one for a child. Ok, I exaggerate slightly (a lot) but the car is mainly full of towels. So. Many. Towels. Plus a comb and brush, tick removers (lush), her bowls and of course her food. Since she was little and had a really upset tummy from her original food, we now keep her on grain free dog food and my goodness it’s made all the difference.
I know first-hand what people feed their dogs is quite a contentious issue, people tend to swear by very specific diets from raw only to kibble and everything in between. But really, owners know their pets better than anyone and what keeps them happy and healthy and for us, that really has been keeping her on a set food diet, obviously with a few treats here and there. Like a cheeky bit of sausage if we take her to the special sausage shop in Greenwich (and yes, I know I’m plant-based but obviously Maddie isn’t). She’s 5 years old now we never have any issues with her health at all, despite her bouncy and energetic nature.
So whilst I’m not willing the end of summer away by any means – largely because I have a bit of a garden project to finish beforehand – I’m also really excited for crisp autumn days, watching the sun come up with a little chill in the air, lacing up our walking boots and seeing where a public footpath takes us and our girl in a month’s time. Preferably to a bowl of soup, some crusty bread and a pint of cider.
Disclaimer: This is a paid partnership with James Wellbeloved. All words, opinions and images are my own unless otherwise stated.