It takes two to Tango

The hardest decision you’ll ever make: Part I

As a child, I had several pet hamsters and a pet rat. My father is fond of cats, and we always had a cat. But never a dog. As soon as Michael and I got married, we started talking about getting a one. I fancied a German Shepherd. Michael said they had bad press, and he wanted something smaller.

As soon as the couple and their dog left, I asked Mike, ‘What kind of dog is that?’ ‘A German Shepherd,’ he said. Really? I wanted one so badly I didn’t know what it looked like.

One day, as we walked by the St Albans Cathedral, we met our perfect dog. I fussed him, and he licked my face. Now I wanted a dog just like him: large, black, and long-haired.

Our perfect dog

Michael liked that dog. He said if we were to get a German Shepherd, it would have to be a long-haired black one. Of course we were getting one! How silly we must look walking around by ourselves—like a pair of loiters. If we walked with a dog, however, we would be walking a dog. And what a dog it would be! Everyone would see us, and say, ‘Wow! What a dog!’ And he would be our dog.

Immediately on return, I began searching. I should have been researching, but I had no time for that: we were already on our way to see puppies I found advertised in a local paper.

‘Remember, we are only going to look,’ Michael said, and I ‘completely agreed’.

The perfect dog

With the mother of the puppies
With the mother of the puppies

The breeder didn’t do it for living: she just wanted to let her bitch have a litter before spaying her (a common misconception). She explained the bitch was tall for the breed, as was the stud, and so the puppies would likely grow large. We liked the bitch. She was cautious but friendly and without apparent temperament flaws. Both parents had been screened for inherited diseases, and the puppies KC-registered.

The litter played and tumbled. They were fuzzy and fat and black, and they had chunky paws. One came to Michael, lay on his feet, and fell asleep on his shoes. Eventually, Michael needed to move his feet; so, he picked up the puppy and put him with the rest of the litter. The puppy promptly returned, lay across Michael’s feet again, and resumed the sleeping.

That’s how we picked our dog, or rather, our dog picked us. We put down the deposit, and I’ve never been more clueless or excited in my life.

An imperfect owner

I had no idea what to do with a dog or how to train one. Instead of reading up, however, I went to a pet store and bought a fabulous food dish, a tonne of toys, and the loveliest lead, then phoned work to book two weeks off so I would be at home when the puppy arrives and help him settle in. I was now ready for my dog. (That two-week holiday gave Tango nothing but separation anxiety, which he never got over.)

At first, it was easy, because Tango mostly slept. On my slippers. Soon, he grew into an impressive, even scary-looking hound, but he harmed no-one. Michael’s little nephew once slapped Tango on the face, and hard, but Tango just squealed and walked away.

Continue reading “It takes two to Tango”

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Waffles bottom wash

Hi, I’m Waffle, I had a very embarrassing problem… My bottom was dirty, that’s right a dirty bottom. It happens every time I moult. The hay and dirt gets caught up in the loose fur and before long, a messy bottom. This is not something a beautiful bunny should have to own up to. Help was on hand, Anastasia and Mike offered to discreetly clean me up in our new sink. It was so big and spacious, it even had a special place for me to rest my upper body so only my hind legs and bottom got wet. Anastasia did a wonderful job looking after me, she kept me calm and dried me so well. Before I knew it I was back outside showing off my new look to Marmalade. 🥰❤

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Rabbit-Proofing Your House

Hi from Mike, everybunny. By popular demand, here is my rabbit-proofing feature. I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to hearing from you with your tips and photos.


Rabbit-proofing … This task is almost impossible, but I urge you to give it a go—don’t give up at the first bitten cable, because the joys of having a house rabbit outweigh the troubles. You get to see their little quirks and the way they wait for you to notice them, the way they run around your feet and get excited at the sound of opening the fridge door. Illness can also be spotted earlier as can be overgrown claws and teeth. You and your bunnies will be better off for it.

Now for the job at hand.

Litter trays

A suitably sized litter tray must be placed in the area the bunny needs to go—it is not your choice, unfortunately. Alternatively, you can stretch a large sheet of tarpaulin over the whole floor. For the litter trays, we use garden potting trays, as they have a high back and a low front to allow the less agile bunny to get in, and even somebun as big as Paddington cannot pee over the tall edge. It’s also important to use the litter they like: if they don’t like it, they won’t use it, remember.

We use compressed straw pellets—the horse kind—for the litter and place plenty of hay on top to entice them in:

This is how litter trays are set up at Helicopter Ears. Bunnies love them!

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Rabbits as children’s pets

If you’re looking for a quick answer, here it is:

Rabbits do NOT make good pets for children. Full stop.

If you’re looking for a detailed one, I’ll describe an experience I once had with an Amazon delivery driver.

After I signed for the delivery, the man asked if I happened to keep rabbits: he saw a rabbit run out in the front (well, it was a chicken coop really, with a run attached). We use the front run to let them have a play somewhere new during the day sometimes. The run was empty on the day. But the answer was Yes—just a few! I don’t usually invite strangers into the house, but on this occasion, I did, keen to put him off.

“Wow! You keep them indoors?” he asked.

“Yep, and outdoors, too,” I said, and proceeded to ask a few questions.

Continue reading “Rabbits as children’s pets”

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Victor is back

Hi, I’m Victor and I used to live here years ago. I’m back as I’m not well, the usual things that creep up on you in your old age. It is so nice to be inside, I can hear how windy it is and even heard that one of the ducks had the misfortune of being picked up by the wind and bashed into the window. Both are OK!
I’ve been getting my medication, which is helping and we received a big box of wonderful treats from an adoring fan of Roys. He is so kind and loving. He is letting Mike share them out between all of us rabbits. Victor 💖

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I’m Annabelle, not Snoopy

Yes, my name is Annabelle, I may look like the bunderful Snoopy who lived here a while ago. That is where the similarities end. Mike still expects to be bitten when feeding me, but I’m the gentle loving kind and will lick his hand instead. My thing is hay, oh boy do I love it. I gather it up and make buntastic nests out of it. Some of it may get eaten on the way. Must go just had a hay delivery. Annabelle 😘

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Windy ducks

Hello, friends! Dukcs here. This week has been so windy we stayed in our run and couldn’t tease Barry—our favourite thing to do. We don’t like the wind. Thankfully, our run is very weatherproof, and Mike has brought us a pan to use as a mini-pond, and dukc food, too. Still, we can’t wait for the wind to stop so we can use our ducketful pond again, especially as the filter has just got upgraded, and the water is so clear we can see right to the bottom and fish out all the food we dropped in there. Who knows, there may even be some frogs waiting!

Deborah 🦆, Marcella 🦆 , Harriet 🦆, Kiki 🦆

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Dumpling’s update

Hello. Dumpling here. I moved outside so that my sick friend Victor could move into my room. He was living outside with his friend Alice, but he was being so naughty his fosterer Fiona was struggling to give his medicine to him. He knows not to play about with Kim behind the syringe! Now back to me. I’m not all that keen being outside because I’ve got used to my luxuries: soft rugs, log fire and head rubs on demand. Don’t take me wrong it has been good to be next door to Annabelle, Hermoine and see the ducks, but I just can’t wait for the warm weather to arrive. Dumpy ❤

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Barry’s Update

Barry duck-watching
Barry duck-watching

Hi to all my loving fans. Barry is the name and duck watching is my game. I can spend hours looking out at them. If only I could chase them! I can make it look as if I’m rounding them up, but nooooo … Mike reckons I’m not ready for ducks or rabbits, so I’ll have to keep practising on the magpies out in the fields. Just when I think I’ve got them they take off, flying low so I can chase them. I love running and all of you. Barry 🐾

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Coming soon

Helicopter Ears blog is on its way. Please check again soon!

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