• By Amanda Blackburn.

Woody The Real Life Teddy Bear.

Another month has flown by with Woody, he is almost 6 months. He is still tiny, I don’t think he’s going to grow much more now, he weighs 4kg. Woody has been just perfect and we are really lucky to have such a well behaved pup. He is almost fully trained to go for all his businesses outside, but if it’s windy and raining hard he’s reluctant to go out and sometimes does it by the door.

Walking him is a pleasure, it really makes me get out of the house when I probably normally wouldn’t. Woody is still reluctant to go out for a walk though depending on his mood he usually hides when I get his lead, which makes no sense because he loves walking once we are out. We go to a field away from cars and I let him off his lead. He runs around so fast fetching his ball and rolling in the grass trying to rough himself up to look less like a cute little teddy bear. Of course, he’s just too cute to look tough and Woody does love the fuss everyone makes of him when we are out. In fact, he sometimes barks at people when they ignore him.

Barking is something Woody has started doing over the last few weeks. He’s not sure on men and often barks at them, he’s not keen on ladies with long hair either. I’m trying to snap him out of this as its embarrassing when he does it, it’s quite loud and he makes people jump as they don’t expect it from such a cute little puppy. He often barks at other dogs if he’s not allowed to go over and say hello. I’m trying to stop him from having to say hello to every dog he meets. Not all dogs are approachable and Woody needs to learn this.

During the Easter break, we took Woody on his first little holiday. We went to Southampton for the bank holiday weekend. Southampton is a port Located on the south coast in the county of Hampshire. It’s home to the SeaCity Museum, with an interactive model of the Titanic, which departed from Southampton in 1912.

We chose to visit Southampton because it’s in Hampshire where Woody was born. We had promised to meet up with Woody's dog mum and dad. When driving to pick Woody up many months ago my husband and daughter had thought how nice it looked so we chose to visit soon as a weekend off work came up.

We booked a travel lodge right in the heart of Southampton city. It was reasonably priced for a bank holiday weekend. We were worried about taking a puppy to a hotel, it seemed really strange. I had never noticed dogs at travel lodges before, I wasn’t sure how it would work. However it was absolutely fine, Woody behaved and we all slept comfortably.

Staying in Southampton made us central to the places we planned to visit. We arrived on Friday around 2 pm, it took us two and a half hours from Coventry which was really good for a very busy bank holiday weekend.

I couldn’t believe our luck the weather was absolutely fabulous, sun all weekend with record high temperatures. Soon as we dumped all our belongings in our room we set off for a walk around the local area. Using google maps we walked to Ocean Village, a bustling modern development surrounding a yacht-filled marina on the River Itchen. We had only had a light breakfast so we planned to eat in a nice restaurant we had heard the marina was a nice place to dine.

It was a good twenty-minute walk to the marina from our hotel but it was easy to find. When we arrived we were impressed by the large boat-shaped Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa. The atmosphere around the Marina was fabulous, the hot sun had brought people out and happiness filled the air. We like the look of a restaurant called Banana Wharf Ocean, the menu had a good selection and we were allowed to take Woody inside. We sat in the sun and drank beer until our meals came people watching and listening to a busker playing Spanish music on a guitar. It was like being abroad, our meals were great when they eventually came. It was busy but we didn’t mind sitting in the sun and chatting. The beer had gone to my head I felt great.

The next day was absolutely glorious again, the sun was out and it was hot. We had a nice breakfast in Costa around the corner and headed off to the coast. We wanted to take Woody to see the sea, we needed a dog-friendly beach. We searched online and found one called Lepe Country Park.

Lepe Country Park was a half an hour drive from Southampton. The mile of beach with pine fringed cliffs and stunning views across the Solent sounded just perfect for Woody's first beach experience. The park also had a restaurant called The Lookout. It was built on stilts and had fantastic panoramic views over the Solent. We had a long walk before relaxing on the beach. Woody paddled in the sea with Zac it was so cold. Early afternoon we had a light lunch in the restaurant and some refreshments. Then we headed to the large adventure playground that was perfect for children of all ages. Zac loved it here, there were trees to climb, we spent a good hour playing together before we headed for a drive through the New Forest.

Seven miles from Southampton is the New Forest National Park, an ancient landscape with wide open spaces, woodland, pretty villages and historic houses. I had wanted to visit the New Forest for many years and Lepe Park was so close. We were all really warm so the drive in the air-conditioned car was welcomed. We didn’t want to risk walking around the New Forest with Woody because of the ticks that he could possibly pick up.

We were not disappointed driving through, the cars were all going slow and we had plenty of opportunities to look around. It was fun to have a horse come up to the car window and see the animals roaming free. Woody didn’t seem to mind looking at the animals from the car window. He hadn’t started with the barking thing, that came after his trip. We spent a good hour driving around slowly stopping and looking around at the natural beauty. That evening we were all absolutely shattered. We ordered a Dominos and had it in our room. Poor Woody was exhausted from his day out too. We had to shower him as he had been covered in sun cream during the day and it had made his coat all greasy.

Did you know that dogs can also get skin cancer? A dog’s skin can be damaged by the sun just like our own, so they require the same protection against the development of sunburn and skin cancer, especially those with light skin and white fur or hair. During the day and especially at peak sun exposure hours (10 am to 4 pm), sunscreen should be applied to sun-sensitive areas of the body—the nose, around the lips, tips of the ears, the groin, and the belly. The safest and most effective sunscreen to put on your dogs is one that is specifically designed for canine use. Pet parents should avoid any sunscreen that has zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid (also known as PABA) as an ingredient. This is because it is toxic for your pooch if ingested.

The following day we were meeting up with Woody's mum and dad at Lymington. Lymington is a port town on the west bank of the Lymington River on the Solent, in the New Forest district of Hampshire. It faces Yarmouth and the Isle of Wight. It took us about forty minutes to drive there. We had a lovely walk around before meeting up. The place was absolutely gorgeous, we thoroughly enjoyed our day.

We had a wonderful weekend away together as a family. I would definitely stay at a Travelodge with Woody again. We stayed at the Travelodge Southampton Central. Southampton was a great place to visit with a dog. We didn’t struggle to eat in any restaurants with Woody. We were told it was fine as long as he behaved. Luckily he did behave, he just slept on the floor under the table while we ate. We have never fed Woody any of our food so he doesn’t beg while we are eating. I made the mistake with my previous dog Spot, we could never have taken him to a restaurant, he would have been begging and would never have behaved.

I’ve been trying to find a holiday in the U.K. for the summer holidays. We usually go abroad but don’t want to leave Woody this year. I’ve not found anywhere suitable yet. Most of the places I’ve found don’t allow dogs on the beaches from May to September. I’m trying to find a nice caravan or lodge that has a dog beach within walking distance, so far I can’t find anything. If you know of any please let me know in the comments bar below.


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