I was asked by Mae's owner to take Mae swimming earlier this week as I now offer a 'Wet Dog' day session which is a 2 hour one to one activity of walking and swimming which allows the dog 45 minutes to an hour in the sea. I do a bit of outdoor swimming myself so with the knowledge I have and some good advice from more experienced sea swimmers I took Mae onto Longsands beach for a dip on Tuesday this week.
I was happy that I had done my research on the best place to get into the sea, the conditions were good and I felt fully prepared for the session. After donning my wetsuit and trooping down to a spot about 20 yards from the waters edge I made a neat little pile of things I didn't want to take into the water such as a couple of towels, some fresh drinking water, my flip flops etc. For reasons I am still unsure of I then decided to bury my keys in the sand. I bagged them up and concealed them in the sand beneath my flip flops...
It turned out that Mae really didn't like getting in the water. I did get her swimming a couple of times but all the signals were that she just wasn't enjoying it so after about half an hour of coaxing and trying to tempt her in just a little bit deeper I made a decision to use the rest of the session playing in and near the surf to give her an enjoyable experience of the water, albeit not quite what I had originally planned but I felt it was for the best.
We had a great time and come 5.30pm it was time to end the session and head back home so we both got dried off, had a quick drink and grabbing my stuff we headed off up the beach. We had gone no further than 30 seconds up the beach when I realised, with some horror that my keys were still buried in the sand! I beleive I may have exclaimed 'flip' at the point it dawned on me just what I'd done. We retraced our steps as best we could to where we had been but other than many paw prints there was nothing. Nothing at all to give us a clue as to where we had placed our belongings over my keys.
We'd been on the beach for about an hour and a half and in that time the light had changed, the sea was coming in and other than a rough idea as to where we'd been I really couldn't be certain with any degree of accuracy. I knew they were 'somewhere' in the vicinity of where I was now standing, gormlessly looking around, but really they could have been anywhere in a 10 metre radius of where I was. And the tide was coming in.
I had to get Mae home as I said we'd be back for 6pm so I spent the next 15 minutes randomly digging at the sand. Mae cottoned on and also got stuck in but after 15 minutes of randomly scattering sand about we had to go. Fortunately my wife had turned up by this point and she had spare keys on her so we temporarily decamped, offloaded Mae and I went home as I had what I thought was a brilliant idea: I would search for the keys with a garden rake. The keys were only about 1 inch below the surface of the sand and i had wrapped them in a plastic bag so i figured the rake would have a good chance of finding them and I could cover a lot of ground very quickly. Wrong. See Pic below.
With the tide edging ever closer to the area where I thought the keys might be I desperately needed another plan. Digging randomly was just relying on blind luck, the rake was an immediate and epic fail and I was fast running out of time...
Earlier my wife had rescued me with the spare keys and now she came to my rescue again as she's put a shout out on facebook for a metal detector. I left the beach for the 3rd time and returned again about 20 minutes later with a metal detector which I had picked up from a gentleman in Cullercoats.
Much to my horror the sea had now consumed much of the area I had previously been digging at so by the time i started to sweep the area with the metal detector my heart really wasn't in it but I figured I'd come this far so I might as well crack on. I worked quickly over the sand, starting as close to the water as I could and sweeping back and forth along the shore I worked my way back up the beach.
The machine kept bleeping at me almost constantly but there was just nothing beneath the surface so I had to ignore what I thought might be false positives and after a bit, much to my amazement the thing bleeped in a slightly different way and when I scratched the sand away my keys were there waiting where i'd buried them!
The people on the beach must of thought I was a bit of a mentalist because I very very jubilant at the point I found them. The family who were enjoying a nice time at the beach near to where I was had seen me in the water with the dog, seen me leave the beach and return with the worlds worst garden rake, seen me leave again only to return yet again with a metal detector and finally seen me whooping and hopping around with delight as I found my keys. As I walked past them for the final time to exit the beach they pretty much all looked at me like I was a lunatic.
It's been a little while since I wrote a blog about any of my dogs so I thought i'd focus a little on Mae. She is a Border Collie and has been with me for a couple of months now, She is almost 1 year old and is incredibly loving and just a pleasure to be with...she's always really happy to see me when I collect he and she loves to give me a cuddle when I first go in to pick her up. She's pretty good on the lead for such a young dog but does sometimes try to 'herd' me and the other dogs by going into sheepdog mode and running round the back of us but overall her lead work is good.
Maes favourite thing in the whole wide world is watching old episodes of The Love Boat.....not really i'm just in a silly mood. Maes favourite thing is a tennis ball. She's reluctant to give it up though and if i'm overly keen to get it from her she wanders off with it. The trick is to show no interest and after a little while she drops it near your feet so you can throw it again.
I have noticed that there are a number of dog walking businesses around who have very visible branding on their vehicles. After giving some though to this I have decided against putting any advertising on my vehicle...the simple reason is this:
If i were using a regular Dog Walker then I wouldn't want to advertise the fact that I'm not at home by virtue of the fact that a very visible Dog Walking Van keeps pitching up at my front door at regular times of the week.
I am sure that this extra visibility is great for business but I have taken the view that i'd rather get a few less enquiries than alert 'perps' to the fact you aren't home.
Paul Daniels....he'd be nothing with Debbie McGee. Much like Paul I have reached a stage where i require an assistant so if you or anyone you know fancies a job as a dog walker then i'm hiring!
The role is a self employed one so you'll be responsible for declaring your own earnings and you will need to be a car owner too. It's great fun and I love all the dogs that are in my charge. Here's a quick snap of me dog walking earlier today after collecting Barney, Wendy, Lewis & Islay before heading down onto North Shields Fish Quay, along to Tynemouth and then dropping all the dogs safely back at home.
If you want to know more about the job then details can be found by clicking on the vacancies page on the Coastal Dog Walkers website.
Coastal Dog Walkers
Welcome to the occasional ramblings of a North Shields dog walker.