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Introducing Toby

Only a week after the Assistance Dog day, we collected Toby, our labrador puppy. He isn't a trainee assistance dog, nor has he been rescued: I tried visiting the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home and went home heart-broken. I wanted to rescue them all, but realise it just isn't practical.

So on the summer solstice, we went for Toby, our dog for life, then aged 9 weeks. It's taken a while to blog about him simply because his arrival in Duddingston has created so much puppy mayhem both inside and out. Fortunately it has coincided with a period of brilliant weather, so house-training is going really well.

But I hadn't realised how long the 3 weeks of confinement (from first jab to a week after second jab) would seem with a lively puppy who can't be taken out for walks. People say it's just like having a new baby: well in some ways it's harder, because babies stay where you put them, at least at first, whereas puppies gallop about under your feet, get caught in doorways and would escape from the garden if it weren't for my emergency fencing project. Also babies don't have needle-sharp teeth and claws!

Anyway, the grandchildren were delighted at his arrival, especially Amy:

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I'm not sure that the garden will benefit from his attentions. Dogs' colour vision works differently from ours (they have two kinds of cones to our three), but Toby still targets colourful flowers.

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He loves to pretend he's stalking something and probably once we can take him outside the garden he will remind us of our former dog Bramble, whose field skills were formidable.

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He seems to flit between two states - fast asleep and wreaking havoc - with nothing much between. This makes it very difficult to photograph him (and means that any serious work is confined to his sleeps). But I've caught him at rest, unawares, a couple of times:

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Can you see his blond eyelashes?

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