introducing Tilly our flat-coated retriever

This is Tilly, she is just over five months old and for the past three months she has lived with us, terrorised us, licked us to death, made us laugh and generally forced us, through her sheer puppy will, to fall head over heels in love with her.

She is a pedigree flat-coated retriever and we got her from a wonderful lady called Hilary in Cirencester who has been breeding flatcoats (or flatties) on her working farm for a very long time so she knows a thing or two. Hilary was recommended to us, which made things a bit easier as it wasn't proving very easy finding a breeder online. We called her and she told us that she was due a litter at the beginning of March 2011.  In a state of excited trepidation we went to visit the puppies when they were four weeks old, and this is what we found.

Well we were pretty  much sold there and then so we ordered ourselves a little Tilly puppy and were told to go away and prepare ourselves and not come back until she was eight weeks old.  She was quite an expensive puppy, surely not helped by the fact that a flattie won Best in Show at Crufts just a few weeks earlier, timing is everything huh!

We went home and proceeded to PANIC.

We went out and bought/borrowed every single puppy book we could, most of which just increased the sense of PANIC!  We discovered the joys of Cesar Millan although I have to admit that his book How to Raise the Perfect Dog actually made me PANIC!! even more and on more than one occasion I threw the book down in a huffty.

We found solace and sensibility in the words of Gwen Bailey, The Perfect Puppy and this helped a lot in the early weeks.  Although it does annoy me that the word 'perfect' is bandied about so much, I don't think it is ever possible to have a 'perfect' puppy and nor should you want one; they poo and wee and chew (oh my they CHEW), and lick and are naughty and silly and funny and cute.  I can think of lots of words to describe Tilly but perfect isn't one of them, more like perfectly imperfect.

We also went for our first visit to Pets at Home (big UK pet superstore) and you would never believe how much money you can spend on a small furry canine. We purchased, in a daze, the following:

  • small travel case - for trips in the car to vets etc prior to immunisation
  • stainless steel food and water bowls
  • puppy shampoo
  • puppy treats - we got coachies for puppies
  • brush - she doesn't like it
  • collar - little, tiny collar
  • short lead
  • various toys - mainly chewy things plus two small cute teddy bears
  • fleecy blanket and vetbed

We also got her a crate (more on crate training to come) from Croft online, they have a tool where you put your dog breed in and they tell you the right size cage to get (for complete novices this is essential).  She seems right at home in it anyway.

For food, we were recommended some dry food by Hilary called Symply and Tilly seems to love it, scoffs the whole lot up without fail and we are on our third 12kg bag so it was a good recommendation (again, brilliant for novices), because apparently puppies can go off food midway through a 12kg bag. You wouldn't be impressed!

So, there we were, all prepared, drove to Cirencester and picked up our little puppyi.  We filled out all the paperwork with Hilary and she plonked Tilly on my lap and off we drove.  We couldn't believe it, someone had let us drive off with a puppy, she was ours and life would never be the same again.