(But we can’t do any of them because both our dog and child are anti-social)
It’s that time of the school year again, Half Term. Only in England though, Wales has theirs next week. Why? Who knows? That time of year where parents are forced to take a weeks holiday that could have been put to better use in one of the warmer months. Maybe in April or May when you can be busy in the garden getting it ready for the summer, maybe even a cheeky extra week in August? But no, we are forced use up this precious week in February. It’s barely even a month! What is can you do in February beside catch up on box sets and start drinking at lunchtime.
What are you expected to do with a dog that is climbing the walls and a child that would be quite content to sit in front of the X Box all day. Something you would gladly let him do but you are compelled to go out and seek out wholesome activities spurred on by all the parents on Facebook taking their children walking up mountains, going to rock climbing centres and creating fabulous arts and craft projects at home.
Luckily I am on hand with 5 realistic activities that you could do with both child and dog if you are of a brave disposition and have nerves of steel. Of which I have little of either.
1. Go for a walk – The most obvious activity to get both kid and canine out in the open air. One hates going outside, the other loves it too much. If only James would run and grab his coat in his mouth when I mentioned the words ‘walkies’. Instead we have to bribe him with the promise that we won’t step foot outside the door for at least 24 hours if he comes for a walk with the dog. And he can wear his pyjamas if he likes.
I like the beach, a nice big dog friendly beach. The best beach I have visited in the local area to take Tommy walking is Thurstaston beach. Half sand, half pebbles running alongside a dirty great clay cliff face it is perfect for dog owners to let their dogs run wild. Be warned though you must descend quite a few steep steps to get to the beach itself. This suits me and Tommy as it limits the elderly and infirm that visit the beach as this means less people for Tommy to knock over when he jumps up at them excitedly.
For your children, make the prospect of visiting the beach on a cold February morning more exciting by introducing some sort of treasure hunt activity. Tell them to collect as many shells, unusual pebbles, bits of dead wood and crab carcasses as they can. Then put them in a carrier bag, put them in the boot of your car, forget about them and then throw in the bin a week later when you open the boot and nearly vomit from the rotting crab smell.
2. Go on a dog friendly holiday – We all like a bit of a holiday, even dogs and children (as long as there is wifi). But it is February and the weather is terrible, we have no money as we are still broke after Christmas or we are saving for a ‘proper’ holiday in the summer. So where do we go? These were exactly my thoughts until I started looking in to it. There are loads of fantastic places to stay where dogs are welcomed, even catered for.
Centre Parcs is great for the kids but costs a fortune and there is not an awful lot of areas that your dog is allowed to enter. On the other end of the scale you can just pitch a tent up somewhere. Possibly my idea of hell. I picture Tommy chewing through the tent and making a run for it going ‘Littlest Hobo’ on us, James in a permanent sulk with no wifi, electricity or KFC nearby, Emma staring at the board game of The Chase wishing it were the real thing on TV and let’s face it I’m no Bear Grylls.
Somewhere in between these two scenarios would be perfect. We recently stayed at the Dragonfly Lodge in Conwy. It was excellent. A Nice big lodge with all the comforts of home (half decent wifi), hot tub, in the middle of nowhere with our very own secured field with its own pond that Tommy could run around in to his hearts content. It was only a 15 minutes drive away from Conwy or Llandudno so you can use it as base to do a bit of sight seeing. It was very reasonably priced too as it was out out of season. I’d really recommend it but depending on your location in the UK there are lots of similar sites all over, it just takes a bit of research. I used holidaycottages.co.uk as they have a lot of dog friendly lodgings. Feel safe to click on any of the links I include, I don’t benefit from you looking at these sites at all, I’m just being helpful. My blog is nowhere near established enough to demand any recommendation fees – yet.
3. Go to Pets At Home – Even if you have no intention of buying a pet or any pet products. If your kids are moaning that they are bored and your dog is driving you mad chewing the fake coals in your in your fancy fake fireplace then this pet haven will give you some much needed peace for a good hour.
It ticks all the boxes. It’s free to go in. You can take dogs in. You can spend as long as you like cooing over the rabbits, guinea pigs and fish with your child. You may even want to use your visit to teach a life lesson to your children by promising them a Chinchilla but only when they are responsible enough to look after a pet of their own. This is of course an empty promise, nobody actually buys the Chinchilla from Pets At Home, it has been the same Chinchilla on sale for 15 years. You can turn this promise of an ‘exotic’ pet to your advantage by making your child prove his or hers worth by having them pick up your dogs poo for a week to show they are indeed worthy of owning their own pet.
If you get thrown out because your dog has weed on the puppy who is choosing his first dog bed and your child is feeding Haribo to the rabbits then simply apologise, leave and take a handful of the complimentary dog biscuits next to the till on your way out.
4. Play Hide and Seek or Tag with your dog – Who doesn’t like a game of hide and seek. Tag? Where do I sign up. Why not get your dog involved and give all of the little monsters in your life a bit of fun and exercise.
Hide and seek. Simply get a third party to keep hold of your dog whilst the remaining people hide but hold a dog treat in their hand. After a count of 20, or 10 if you are living dangerously, release the dog and see how long it takes for him to find you. If you or your child would like to be the seeker and find your dog then you just have to time it right so that you catch your dog in middle of chewing something he shouldn’t (a shoe, the mop, your toilet seat etc), once you have berated your dog for his actions he will immediately make a bolt for it and hide in shame. The first one to find him and remove the half chewed item from his mouth is the winner.
Tag. Or tig. Or tick. Or ‘stuck in the mud’ if you are old. Whatever you call it, a game of this can keep you occupied for a good while and will have all participants red faced and panting running around manically trying to avoid being labelled that most lowly kind of outcast -‘IT’. We like to get Tommy in the game by giving him one of Emmas shoes and chasing him around the garden until we can ‘tag’ him and make him ‘it.’ The shoe is a mere casualty of the game. In order to switch roles and make him tag you, each player must place a Schmacko in their sock and speed off in different directions. If your dog is lively like Tommy it won’t take long for him to catch up with you in order to get the meat strip out of your sock. For older dogs, maybe just do all of this whilst on your hands and knees. This game will go on until you a) run out of Schmackos or b) have to get the first aid box out because your dog got overexcited and nipped the fleshy bit at the back of your knee. Ouch.
5. Go to the park – No matter where you live there will always be a park somewhere nearby you can visit. It might be a posh park with beautifully manicured flowerbeds, a skate park with flood lighting and an all-weather football pitch. Or it might be a regular park with a set of rusty monkey bars, a bottle bank in the corner and a bare patch of concrete where the roundabout used to be until it was taken away because a kid cracked his head open on it. Either way a park is a park. It’s a great big expanse that was put there for the enjoyment of children and dogs of all ages.
There are a multitude of things your children can do at the park with your dog. Play fetch, play football, park Tag is good (see above for the rules of Dog Tag), you can even ride a bike with a dog. If it is a big dog it can follow obediently on a lead tied to the handlebars, if it is small dog you could put it in some kind of basket on the front a la E.T and Elliot (Please be warned this may or may not give you the ability to outrun the police or fly). Unfortunately I cannot claim to have experienced this because firstly Tommy would pull the bike over and drag it around with him until he got caught up in the climbing frame. Secondly our child has no interest in riding a bike because when he is making his fortune as a professional X Box player/YouTuber he will have no need to ride a bike, plus he will be driving a car soon anyway (he is 9).
If all of this sounds too exhausting you can always just always wrap up warm, sit down somewhere sheltered from the wind, get yourself a coffee, some coke for your kids and some water for the dog and watch the world go by. After all it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are all together.
Maybe you will look into walking up a mountain or visiting that climbing wall place later on in the week.. Then again maybe you won’t. Maybe you will spend your time off watching Game of Thrones with your dog by your side whilst your child happily plays on his X Box for the 10th hour straight. Whatever you decide to do I hope you all get through this week with some enjoyment and not too many arguments. And remember the Easter Holidays are only a few weeks away!
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Rich and Tommy