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Vikki is an amazing author and dog owner. She is a relatively new customer of Skipper’s and regularly buys Skipper’s Fish Skin Twists. Her 2 adorable Golden Retrievers are called Ivy and Vixen.
After speaking with Vikki, we wanted to hear her story and it was just too good not to share with you all! I feel a lot of you could relate to her!
Lockdown puppies have a bit of a bad reputation, and it’s true that as the world opens up and many things go ‘back to normal’, some dogs will have some adjusting to do, but for us, 2020 was the perfect year to finally welcome a dog into our lives. Although my wife grew up with dogs, I was always a cat person, but a grandparent had some lovely golden retrievers when I was growing up and we knew it was the right breed for us.
Ivy, our now-18-month-old English cream golden retriever, arrived just before midnight on the day of the first lockdown in England. It was slightly earlier than we’d anticipated but with all of the uncertainty at that time, it seemed to be the best course of action. We were as ready as we could be, but nothing could truly prepare us for Ivy’s early months. To say she was hard work would be an understatement! We learned very quickly that crating her wasn’t right for us, so we had to buy baby gates and a large pen to keep Ivy safe and happy at night, and one of us slept downstairs with her for the first few weeks. Getting a puppy during lockdown meant training classes were closed, and sometimes we felt there was a lack of support available at the time, but Facebook groups and online training were a big help once we found them. The biggest challenge with Ivy was undoubtedly her biting. Though we didn’t know it at the time, golden retriever puppies can be known as ‘land sharks’, which is the best description for Ivy when she was very young. Her biting was almost constant and only leaving the room for a few minutes seemed to work. We spent a lot of time huddled on the stairs, wondering what on earth we were doing! She was also a nightmare when she was overtired, which happened quite often as she didn’t seem to understand that she should go to sleep when she was tired, so we felt a bit like parents of a new-born whenever she slept during the day, tiptoeing around the house and cursing anyone for ringing the doorbell!
With suddenly working from home in a small 2-bed terrace and the general stress of living through a pandemic, the first 6 or so months of Ivy’s life were difficult. I’m also an author alongside my day job, and at first it was a struggle to get into the creative mindset with a puppy biting my feet! But things got easier as we got into a routine and we could juggle everything a bit more successfully. Fish chews became an absolute lifesaver whenever we needed Ivy to be calm for a period of time, and since discovering them we always make sure we have some on hand. And then, when Ivy was around 8 months old, something just clicked. Suddenly it didn’t feel like she was fighting us every step of the way, and her lovely personality started to come through. Now she is a sweet, sensitive, energetic dog with so much love to give. I’ve even put her in The House at Helygen, my historical fiction novel which will be published in April 2022 under the name Victoria Hawthorne, so readers can get to know Ivy too.
Ivy absolutely adores children, but while the fictional Ivy has a human sister, the real Ivy has to make do with her human cousin. But she is always happiest when in the company of other dogs. Loving other dogs seems to be another common golden retriever trait, and we always knew we would want two dogs, despite the stress of those early months, and that Ivy would benefit from having a sibling close to her age. So, we decided to do it all again! Vixen, our now-8-month-old working golden retriever, was born to Ivy’s friend Chloe, who lives locally in Hertfordshire, and, thankfully, she was nothing like Ivy as a puppy! She and Ivy were best friends from the moment we brought her home, and after his careful introduction to Ivy, our 12-year-old cat accepted Vixen without fuss. He even lets her clean him!
It might seem like having two dogs would mean double the work, but actually it has been far less stressful than we feared. Although we ensure both Ivy and Vixen get the attention and training they need, they also keep each other occupied in a way we can’t, and their sisterly bond is incredible. Being so close in age means they have a similar amount of energy, and they are happiest when playing tug or chasing each other around the garden. The amount of fur has definitely doubled though!
The Fish Skin Twists from Skippers are suitable for pups over 16 weeks and the perfect size to keep our dogs occupied. Now they’re a regular treat – so regular that both pups know the words ‘fish chew’ and exactly where they’re kept! Poor Vixen suffers from wet dermatitis (or ‘hot spots’), so we’re going to try some of the Scottish Salmon Oil next to help with her skin and coat, and Ivy has a sensitive tummy and can’t eat chicken, so fishy treats are the best choice for her.
Having dogs has changed our lives, and although it was tough to begin with, we wouldn’t have it any other way now. We’re looking to make more lifestyle changes too, in the form of relocating to Scotland with more outside space for the pups and a dedicated writing space for me. And yes, Vixen will also be making an appearance in one of my books!
To read more about Vikki and discover the books she has written, visit https://vikkipatiswrites.wordpress.com/