Unleashing Schlappohr: A Tale of Puppyhood, Sand-Loving Adventures, and Reactive Challenges.
I’ve previously introduced you to myself, Emma Slade, and how I went from Geology, to Finance, to London Dog Photographer. I think it’s about time I introduced you to my dog Schlappohr – the one who inspired me to quit my City job and start my dog photography business.
The Early Years
On December 6, 2018, an F1 Cockapoo was born. He was one of six siblings born to a Cocker Spaniel mum and Miniature Poodle dad.
Eight weeks later, I picked up the 2.3kg ball of fluff from Chichester and took him back to his new home in London. I named the little ball of fluff, who alternated between sleeping and crying in his car seat on the passenger seat, Schlappohr. His name is German in origin, and the idea to use that name came from a very good German friend of mine. I’d known for many years that when I finally got my first dog, he would be called Schlappohr. Schlappohr means floppy ear.
The first few weeks of being a new dog mummy were hard work! I looked a wreck! Between working from home, my dad (Schlappohr’s grandad) dog-sitting, and then doggy daycare, we managed. After just three weeks he was sleeping through the night – for someone who loves their sleep I was very glad of that!
Living in a flat, toilet training wasn’t so easy. We used puppy pads. But it took him a while to “get it”. Everyone kept telling me it would just click, and one day I was very relieved that it did indeed click, and he “got it”. Although there was a blip when we visited my dad when he was still a puppy. He disappeared behind the sofa and I heard what I thought was running water….
He learned basic commands quite easily; sit, down, stay. He’s always been eager to please! I swear though that as he’s got older, teaching him new commands has got harder. But maybe that’s similar to humans – I find it harder learning a new language now than I did when I was a child.
He’s always been a cheeky so and so and will steal whatever he can get his paws on (or rather his mouth!) – TV remote, kindle, socks, trainers, you name it!
When Schlappohr was seven months old, we went on our first holiday together. We rented a lovely cottage in North Walsham, Norfolk.
Before the holiday I’d taken Schlappohr to the dog pond at Hampstead Heath so he could practice swimming. I stupidly assumed all dogs just immediately knew how to swim, and enjoyed it. But it took several patient hours before he finally took a dip in the pond! Although Schlappohr is now a complete water baby (he gets super excited whenever he sees water) he was still a little weary in Norfolk and only had a little dip.
What he did however love, and still does, was the sand. Digging the sand. Rolling in the sand. Digging the sand. Digging the sand. You get the picture…. We were at the beach one day and he did not stop for hours. For a little puppy who normally slept quite a bit, I’m not sure where he got the energy from!
One of the other things he discovered a love for was ice-cream. I don’t know how he doesn’t get brain-freeze given the speed with which he eats it! He still gets ice-cream as a treat at home and on holiday.
Schlappohr’s Favourite Things
I know that most dog’s like food, although some are more food motivated than others. But I swear that if I let him, Schlappohr would eat all day, every day! He’s one of those dogs that can be fast asleep, but the moment he hears the rustling of a food packet, he’s there in a flash.
Aside from his own food, and dog treats, I’d say his favourite food would be cheese. Cheese is definitely the one that makes him drool the most!
He’d happily eat most things to be fair. Obviously I’m careful not to feed him things that would cause him harm (I’ll be writing another blog about foods that are harmful to dogs). But aside from that, put pretty much anything in front of him and he’ll eat it. When I open the dishwasher he quite often sticks his head in to see what he can lick (I don’t encourage that behaviour I’d like to add, and do stop him). And he loves a tissue. He can always sniff out when I’ve got a tissue in my pocket and will stick his nose in and try and eat it. And used tissues he finds out on a walk. He’s truly disgusting!
He’s ball obsessed. He will happily play for hours with a ball, which of course he expects me to keep throwing for him! Or sometimes he will amuse himself. Digging a hole at the park (which then means bath time after), putting the ball in, digging it out, and repeat. He’s easily entertained!
I normally get him hard, rubber balls. Give him a tennis ball and he’ll rip the felt off it within minutes. Give him a ball with a squeak in it and he’ll be driving me mad!
He loves balls so much that he has been known to have two or three in his mouth at once.
Like with food, I think most dogs like a tickle. Schlappohr most likes having his tummy tickled. And he’ll let you know that he wants to be tickled by pawing you. So you tickle. But that’s not enough. So he paws you again. You tickle. He paws you. Sigh! Schlappohr can be very demanding when he wants something. And if that means stopping what you’re doing in order to fulfil his wants, then that’s what you’re going to have to do!
Schlappohr’s Favourite People
Schlappohr doesn’t have a huge number of people that he trusts and loves, and I’ll explain more about that in the next section. But when he does trust someone, you’ll know about it! He’s super affectionate – loves to give kisses, and lots of them. He loves to cuddle. He’ll give you a bum wiggle when he sees you.
So who are the lucky people to get a bum wiggle from Schlappohr?
As I mentioned above, there aren’t many people that Schlappohr likes. And the same goes with dogs. His fear and reactivity started when he was about six months old.
Having a reactive dog is hard work. It’s stressful, embarrassing, and lonely. You feel ashamed for wishing you had a “normal” dog. No one really knows or understands what it’s like unless you have, or have had, a reactive dog.
I’m going to be writing another blog about reactive dogs because there’s not enough awareness of it, and there needs to be more. But I at least wanted to mention it here because it’s part of what makes Schlappohr Schlappohr.
I have found great support from Reactive Dogs UK and all the members, who make you realise you’re not alone and are on-hand with advice and love.
So there we are. That is Schlappohr in a nutshell. I’m sure there is more that I could tell you about him (scrap that, there is definitely a lot more I could tell you!), but I’ll save some things for other posts….