dog walker

How to entertain your gundog during Lockdown

It does feel like the world has gone mad, people fighting over toilet rolls, cancelled sport events, no Soaps and not knowing what day of the week it is.

World has we know it, has completely changed.

I will admit it I do feel a bit lost.

I miss walking my client’s dogs, which was normal for me.

It does feel like normal life is on pause for a while. Other people are going through hell right now, so I am determined to find a silver lining from this.

On Monday 23rd March 2020, Boris Johnson announced that we should only go out for very limited purposes. We can go out for basic necessities, travel to work and one form of exercise.

What only one walk per day?

How the hell can I give him the extra exercise without going for a second walk?

I am sure, you thought the same.

Instead of the walk, I replaced it with brain games.

15 minute mental exercise is the same as 1 hour of physical exercise.

It has made a huge difference, Finn  my dog, is a lot calmer and our bond has got even stronger.

Here are my tips;

Ditch the bowl –  I know that this may sound weird, when all you have ever known is to use a feeding bowl.

 Instead scatter feed his breakfast or dinner in the garden. Use kongs, puzzles, treat dispensers and lick mats. Since Finn was a puppy, I have put his food in a kong. It has always kept him entertained and stopped him rushing his food.

You could split his meals in  a tupperware containers and place them around your house and garden.

Sniffing uses mental energy and will tire him out quicker and gives me something to do.

Teach him something new–  You probably have a lot of free time on your hands so it’s a perfect time to teach him something new like trick training such a spin, rollover, through the legs and touch.

Currently, I have been working on Finn’s self control. I place a gravy bone (he loves them) on the floor. I ask him to wait and look at me then I release him by saying ‘ok’. You can see him using all his mental energy not to nick the gravy bone. This is great for those Labradors who think with their stomach.

At the park, if your dog does not come to you when called first time.  This is the perfect time to work on this, as you will need to avoid the park anyway.

The recall needs to be learnt in the house first, so every time you say ‘insert dog’s name’ then say come when he does, give him a treat and keep doing this.

 If he gets a yummy treat each time, he will learn something good happens every time he comes.

Give him a job to do –  Gundogs  are great  at finding and retrieving things, so get him to do more of this. Dogs are a lot happier when they are doing things that they were bred for.

You could hide his toys in a room and let him find them. Teach him to retrieve items for you. A member of your family could go and hide. Ask your dog to go and find them. This is a great game for the kids and rest of the family to get involved.

It’s hard at the moment to find a routine. Things are changing all the time. Like us, dog love routine so try to keep to the same routine.

My dog has been a great comfort to me, while all this has been happening. Finn always puts a smile on my face, no matter how crap I feel.

I’m sure your dog does the same.

If you would like to tire, train and transform your dog’s mental exercise, while having a better bond with your dog.

Come and join my Free Facebook group ‘Coronavirus Canine Challenge’, daily tips and tricks to help you with your bored dog.

Stay home, protect the NHS and play with your dog.

Harriet x

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dog walker

5 ways a walk can help dogs and their owners

It’s National Walk Your Dog Day on Saturday 22nd February 2020. The Kennel Club recommends dogs are walked for at least 30 minutes per day.
Worryingly, only half of dog owners walk their dogs every day and 51 per cent of dogs are overweight according to the Pet Food Manufacturing Association.

Some of the reasons that owners gave for not going out include; 28 per cent said they don’t have enough time. 15 per cent of owners said they were tired after work, 20 per cent of owners said they don’t want to get wet and 4 per cent didn’t want to get dirty or muddy.

Judging by the crap weather that we have been having lately. I don’t blame them, but if dogs are not getting walked enough, this could lead to dogs getting bored. Unfortunately, that favourite pair of slippers you like, may need to go to slipper heaven.

If dog are not getting enough exercise, they are full of energy, which leads to unwanted behaviour like jumping up, biting, pulling on a lead, chewing and barking.

Some owners even rehome their dogs because of these unwanted behaviours. Most of the time, a bit more exercise could improve the problem.

If owners can’t be bothered to go out in the rain, then they probably shouldn’t owe a dog.

There is another reason why people don’t walk their dogs. It is the fear of other dogs attacking their dog, unfortunately this happened to my dog Finn during the week.

I was throwing a ball for Finn in the park, when a Staffie shaped Piranha, come out of nowhere and started snapping at his feet.

Surprise, surprise there was no owner. He didnt arrive until later.

My first thought was to get away and put Finn on a lead.

Thankfully, no harm was done but dog bites can show up later so be aware.

I felt powerless, I couldn’t stop the dog and I couldnt get away from it.

When the owner did turn up, I wanted to knock his block off to be honest because the thought of Finn being hurt made me so angry.

It could change Finn’s behaviour for the worse and it has certainly made me on edge at the park and not enjoying our normal walks.

Why should a fellow dog owner make me feel like that because he can’t be bothered to control his dog. This is unfair for me and for Finn. He is well behaved and shouldn’t lose out because of a selfish dickhead.

I am sure you have had a similar experience. Be safe and don’t let them stop enjoying your dog.

Get out there, spring will be here soon.
 
Here are five ways a walk can help dogs and their owners.

  1. Help you have the feel good factor – being bored with make your dog miserable and more likely have unwanted behaviour.
  2. Reduces stress – if you’ve had a bad day going out with your dog helps you unwind.
  3. Ditch the phone and spend time with your dog, this strengthens your bond.
  4. Get your daily exercise – the NHS recommends 150 minutes of activity per week – so a 30 minute walk a day.
  5. Avoid obesity for pets and humans. 

If you are struggling to walk your dog for whatever reason.

Are you a busy pet gundog owner who is struggling to find the time to train your dog?

Is your dog pulling on lead like a train or is he not coming back when called first time?

If so, I can help why not request an information pack by filling out contact form below

I’m off to put a lead on it

Harriet x

dog walker

How to stop your dog chasing squirrels?

It’s National Squirrel Appreciation day on the 21st January 2020.

Nope, I haven’t gone crackers well maybe just a bit.

Here’s some interesting  squirrels facts; they are amazing creatures, that can leap 10 times their body length and turn their ankles 180 degrees to face any direction when climbing.

A squirrel’s front teeth never stop growing and they zigzag to escape predators.

I bet you didn’t know all that dear reader.

As a child, I used to love watching them run around at Kelsey Park in Beckenham and hand feeding them nuts (cheeky).

Dog do love chasing Squirrels.

Our first German Shepherd, Ben chased a squirrel in the woods. I think I was about 10 or 11 years old.

My mum found the little squirrel. It looked injured so my mum put the squirrel in her coat pocket and took it home. It didn’t bite her. After waiting for 3 hours, the RSPCA came and collected it.

I have walked many dogs who would enjoy barking at the tree where a cute squirrel swinging from branch to branch.

Clever squirrel would know full well, there’s no way they would be able to catch them. They would tease them even more.

There’s other dogs who would run off in the woods like Ben did, trying to catch these speedy creatures. The dog might get lost and the poor owners running around the woods, like headless chickens searching for their beloved dog.

Sound familiar?

What if you could get your dog’s attention instead of the Speedy squirrel?

It really isn’t a myth.

Here’s a few tips;

  • Find something he loves. He could be a toy, treat or even fuss. It must be something he would go through fire for.
  • Take it with you next time you are at the park or woods. Make sure you show him what you have.
  • A few times during the walk, call his name to get attention or wave something he loves in front of him. Don’t call his name more than twice. He will learn to ignore you.
  • And then say ‘Come, then reward him.
  • If you do this a couple of times, he will realise every time he comes, he will get a treat and learn something good happens.
  • If you have a dog that takes the treat and pisses off. Continue giving him a few more treats one after the another, He will get the idea if he hangs about he will continue getting something good.

Try it for yourself.

Does your dog listen at home but seems to go deaf in the park?

Are you nervous that your dog will get attacked by another dog or hit by a car when off lead?

Would you love your dog to come back first when called?

 Then sign up below for my 6 tips to a reliable recall.

Appreciate your squirrels by teaching your dog a reliable recall.

I’m off to put a lead on it

Harriet x

dog walker

New year, New me

Well it’s almost time for all that, New Year New me crap.

People always say that, but the only thing that actually changes is the year.

At this time, people often look for a career change.

I have done this many times before I started the business.

Former legal eagle, Former veterinary nurse, you get the idea.

I wasn’t happy so I changed it.

I thought I would share with you, the reason why I started Pawtastic.

Now you may be thinking it’s because I love animals.

Well, yes I do very much but there’s more…..

It’s actually because after I had my daughter, Scarlett in November 2013. At the time, I fell pregnant and I was training to be a veterinary nurse and I realised I didn’t want to go back.

I didn’t want to work 45-50 hours then study at college one day a week and bring up a baby.

As you may know, when you have children your priorities change. It wasn’t all about me anymore.

 I wanted to be a hands on mum so when Scarlett was 6 months old. I bravely started the business.

I have always wanted to be a business owner, be independent and make my own money while doing something that I loved.

Everything I do is for my daughter. I hope one day, she will be proud of me.

My mission is to take the stress and worry away from pet owners while they are on holiday or at work. Not every dog is suitable for a group walk, some gundogs get intimidated by other dogs and these dogs would not cope well in a group walk. They would lose their confidence. The aim of my solo adventures is to put the confidence back into nervous and anxious dogs.

You would be surprised to know that I was once a paralegal, it was my first proper job offer finishing my law degree. I got to dress smart which is very different to the dog hair and mud I seem to wear everyday but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am firm believer, if you are not happy with something, then only you can change it.

If there is something that you would like your dog not to do like stop ignoring you at the park and come when called first time.

Then message or email me on info@pawtasticgundogadventures.co.uk and I will send you my Reliable Recall Roadmap tip sheet.

Happy New Year!

I’m off to put a lead on it in 2020.

Harriet x

dog walker

How to help your dog cope with Christmas

Christmas may be a fun and exciting time for us, but not so much for our dogs.

Let’s look at it, from their point of view.

Weird outdoor green trees appearing in the living room, that would make an ideal place to pee up against. Instead humans are decorating it with bells and balls.

Everyone rushing around having no time for me.

Everything smells different, not sure if I should pee on it or chew it?

What the hell is happening?

Dogs are much more affected around the Christmas period than we think.

Here are a few tips to help your dog cope with Christmas.

Try to keep to the same routine as possible, which is easier said than done. I struggle to know what day of the week it is between xmas day and New Year. It is a good idea to feed your dog at the normal times.

Allow them to have their own space. You can create their own Christmas den maybe even have own room. Somewhere they can feel safe and can go when things get too much. Noisy children can really stress out dogs and don’t let visitors overcrowd your dog.

If you have visitors coming around then make sure your dog is well exercised.  He will be tired and hopefully you will have a sleep. Leaving you time to entertain your guests.

Encourage visitors to pop around before the big day, this will give them a chance to get to know them and feel more comfortable in their company. They could play with your dog or give them a treat.

Be very strict with visitors. Don’t let them fed your dog at the table. Your dog will learn this,  is how I get food now and will continue to beg for food. No – one can ignore a Labrador’s begging eye, but you must. He sees when you’re eating. He knows when you’re got snacks. I bet you are singing that in your head now!

Be careful that you don’t give your dog mince pies and Christmas pudding, as this contains raisins, sultanas and currants that can be harmful to dogs.

Turkey can be very rich and may cause an upset stomach to a dog with a sensitive stomach. Small amounts should be given and check for bones.

As people come and go a lot at Christmas, it might be a good idea to put up a sign on the door that says ‘keep the door closed’ so your dog doesn’t run out and get lost.

If you have an over excitable dog, that may jump up. When a visitor approaches your dog, if he starts to jump up, say ‘no’ in a calm voice ask him to sit instead and give a reward. He needs to be taught to do something else than jump up. You may need to do this a couple of times for him to get the idea. We don’t want granny falling over especially at xmas.

Get your dog involved at Christmas, it’s their day as well.

If you would like to receive more helpful tips then click on the link below.

Have a cracking christmas!

I’m off to put a lead on it

Harriet x

dog walker

How to protect your dog against theft

Every day five dogs are taken in the UK and this number has risen each year for the last four years according to the data from Direct Line.

Recently, there have been many vulnerable puppies being stolen.

 Nine week old westie puppy ‘Haggis’ was stolen in the owner’s home. He didn’t even have his second vaccination yet.

Also, litter of 6 American Bulldogs, only 3 weeks old stolen from a house in Kent. As a former veterinary nurse, I know these puppies will not survive without their mother.

Thankfully, Haggis and American Bulldogs were found and are now safe and well.

It’s not always a happy ending, as only 17 per cent of stolen pups are returned to their owners

Last year, 1959 dogs were reported as stolen with Staffies being the most vulnerable – 71 were taken last year compared to 53 in 2017.

Dog nappers will target designer breeds such as labradoodle or cockapoo as it’s a growing trend to own these dogs.

Dog thefts know these designer dogs will sell quickly and for thousands of pounds.

I can’t imagine my life without my dog. I’m sure you feel the same

Owners of these breeds should be particularly vigilant especially at this time of year.

Don’t give dog thieves an opportunity, such as leaving your dog in locked cars. Definitely, don’t tie them up outside a shop. I know a few owners that have popped in a shop, to come out and find their dog has vanished.

Don’t think ‘I won’t be long’, because you will be. There will be that ‘someone taking forever’ in the queue. We have all been there. Please don’t do it, not worth the risk.

Make sure your dog has up-to-date microchip details and also never have your pet’s name on the I.D tag as thefts can just call your dog and bingo without a thought they will take your dog.

At Christmas time, everyone has friends and relatives coming and going. They may not listen when you say ‘keep the door shut’ so as a reminder put a sign up on the front of the door or gate.

Don’t walk your dogs at the same time each day, vary the times you go. Someone is always watching, this could be a dog napper.

If you hire a pet professional like a dog walker make sure they take reasonable steps to keep your dog safe. Safety is always top of my priority list when walking other people’s dogs. I always make sure they have a reliable recall when letting them off lead.

Steps to follow if your dog is stolen:

  • Firstly, check the local area and your dog’s favourite spots as your dog may have wandered off as they may have followed a scent of another dog or something that they like
  • Sharing lot on social media, putting up posters in the local area and informing local media – include photos and any distinctive marks in any appeals, and ask everyone to spread the word
  • There are some specific sites set up to help find lost and stolen dogs, like http://www.doglost.co.uk
  • Report your dog as stolen to the police and provide them with as much detail as possible
  • Report your dog as stolen to local pet related services like vets, animal rescues, pet shops, dog wardens and the council.
  • Report your dog to the microchip database

Hope that information is useful.

If you are looking for a dog walker, who will make it their priority to keep your dog safe then why not book a FREE 15 minute discovery call. Click on the button below.

Stay safe this Christmas

I’m off to put a lead on it

Harriet x

dog walker

How to calm your dog during fireworks

Fireworks may be an exciting time for some people but it is a very different story for our pets and their owners.

It is horrible feeling, watching our pets be so scared of something that we have no control over.

I am happy to admit that I am a scrooge when it comes to fireworks.

Basically, you know where you can stick your bonfire invitation.

Bloody things!

Finn is 9 months old, he has never heard fireworks before. I have been very worried about how he will react to it.

For the past few weeks, while he has been sleeping. I have been playing him firework sounds from Sound Proof Puppy training app.

I only become aware of this Puppy app after reading Dominic Hodgson’s Perfect Puppy Project book.

Day one of using it, he did lift his head up and that’s about it. He hasn’t been bothered.

Every week, I have increased the volume and playing it while we play together.

It hasn’t reacted to it.

I won’t know if this preparation has worked.

The problem is not only does fireworks create a loud banging sound but also they produce a smell that dogs may be sensitive to. They have up to 300 million scent receptors in their noses compared to our 5 million.

Sadly, this is something I can’t prepare him for.

But I can do a few things to calm him, if he does react.

 I decided to get some help from an expert dog trainer Holly Toad who runs Paws up dogs in Bromley.

Paws up dogs teaches positive dog training techniques to build a strong and dynamic relationship between dogs and their owners.

I asked Holly about how to calm dogs during fireworks.

1) How can tell if your dog is scared of fireworks?

Fear of fireworks is usually similar to how fear looks in other situations too. Although every dog will act a little differently, behavioural signs include things like a change in body language (tail tucked under, ears back against the head, licking lips, yawning, in more serious cases even shaking) Change in behaviour (vocalising, seeking comfort or hiding, not wanting to eat), skittish behaviour.

2) What is the best way to prepare your dog?

For a dog with an established fear of fireworks seek professional help from a force free trainer. If that is not an option or you have a younger dog think about not walking in the evening or doing an earlier walk. It is very possible to de-sensitise dogs to unexpected noises but this would require guidance and a few weeks of prep

3) how do you calm your dog during fireworks?

Long lasting chews, stuffed  frozen kongs, lickimatts are all great for reducing the stress hormone in the blood. Save up some of your dog’s daily food allowance to use in these. TV or radio up loud, curtains drawn, training games as a distraction. Avoid high arousal play as this jacks up the stress levels. Doggie massage is good too and some dogs get on well with a thunder shirt (or other tight body wrap) and adaptil sprayed on a bandana. Valerian extract is also a natural and good way to promote calmness. If you know your dog is very frightened pop to the vet and see if they recommend a sedative

4) Is there anything that owners should never do during fireworks?

Never take your dog for a walk when lots of fireworks are going off (and certainly not off lead as a loud bang could cause a dog to bolt). Don’t ignore fear – dogs need to feel safe with us and protected. Fear is an emotion, ignoring it will not reinforce the fear but comforting them may help.

5) Are there any remedies that you would recommend?

See above re valerian extract (amazon), adaptil sprays on bandanas, vet for something stronger

6) Any top tips that would help?

Some scent work and other mental stimulation games will keep your dog’s mind engaged and may help dogs without an existing fear ignore what is going on outside. If you have a dog with an extreme fear consider a weekend in the country – there are far fewer fireworks outside of towns.

Great advice here from Holly.

I hope this has been helpful.

I hope all your pets have a non-stressful November.

If you would like to follow Finn’s progress then get on my email list

If you want to know more about  Holly at Paws up dogs then go to http://www.pawsupdogs.com/

You can want to purchase Sound proof Puppy training app you can find it on itunes. If you would like to purchase Dominic Hodgson’s Perfect Puppy Project book link below.

I will receive a small fee if you purchase this product, but it won’t affect the price.

I’m off to put a lead on it

Harriet x

dog walker

Should you stop training your puppy at 6 months old?

Finn, my handsome dog has reached 6 months old, no longer a puppy. He has lost some of his puppy cuteness. He will now start his teenage stage, but don’t worry I won’t expect him to start slamming his bedroom door in my face and tell me he hates me. Well, I hope not anyway.

What I will expect him to do , is to become a little bit more naughty, pushing boundaries and unwanted behaviour such as jumping up and pulling on the lead. As the owner, this is up to me to sort out. I want to have a well behaved dog so I am going to have to put the time in.

The number of dogs who are put up for rescue because owners can not cope with their teenage tearaway. I believe that if puppy owners were given the right guidance from the start then there would be less difficult dogs waiting to get rehomed.

At this stage, some dogs go through a fear period, he may be reactive or scared of things that haven’t bothered him in the past such as unfamiliar objects or strange people. This is on my mind when I am out with Finn, the other day he was very interested in a mobility scooter he was clearly wondering ‘mum what’s that’, before he had time to react (i.e bark) I gave him a gravy bone, his fav, so he could recognise the positive nice thing of a yummy treat with the scooter and he wasn’t bothered. This could have gone so differently if I hadn’t reacted so quickly.

I have trained and played with Finn since he was 8 weeks old and we have a great relationship and I want that to continue especially as I going to do agility and gundog training with him.

It does piss me off when I hear owners say ‘I don’t have time to train my dog’ well sorry buttercup you are letting your dog down. If you have time to go to the gym, watch a football match or go down the pub. You have time to train and play with your dog. You could even do it while watching Coronation street. Just 10-15 mins a day playing with your dog will improve your relationship with him and hey it might just listen to you,

Dogs are selfish and very clever, they always ask ‘what is in it for me?’ and I don’t blame them but we can use this to our advantage by using treats to get them to do what we want them to do. If you want to keep his attention in a busy park then use high value treats and this doesn’t mean running out to get the most expensive treat you can find. Just some chicken, sausage hot dogs that kind of thing. Carry them around with you and your dog will not leave your side. This is your secret weapon.

To answer the question, you should train your dog the whole of their life. Dogs love to learn and I can guarantee you will have a better relationship with your dog, so get off your arse and spend time with your dog.

If you want your dog to enjoy an adventure while you are back at work then book a free 15 minute discovery call with me to find out how I can help.

I’m off to put a lead on it

Harriet x

dog walker

‘Train your baby like a dog’- yay or nay

Wow it all kicked off this week. Thousands of sensitive snowflakes signed a petition calling for channel 4 to cancel ‘ Train your baby like a dog’ programme before it aired on Tuesday night.

Jo Rosie Haffenden, a animal Behaviourist believes we should apply dog training reward techniques to our kids. To be honest, I have never heard of her until the programme, I was like ‘who’s she’ but I did like her straight talking direct approach. I was googling her and stalking her on social media and Youtube throughout the show, like you do. I found out she has written many books on Dog yoga and ‘Teach my dog to do that’, in my eyes definitely someone to listen to.

Jo had to firstly deal with 3 year old, Greydon , prone to having tantrums, being aggressive and attention seeking. Her thoughts were rewarding good behaviour instead of punishing bad and gave him something to focus on.

I have a 5 year old, Scarlett that is showing signs of autism, if her doctor and her school got their fingers out I could have a diagnosis by now, but anyway full disclosure here. I am guilty of constantly telling her off I sometimes forget to praise her when she does something right. As a dog walker, I find it very easy, almost second nature to praise my dog Finn and client’s dogs I say ‘yes’ ‘good’ because I know I need to do that in order to show them good behaviour I want. If Finn does a spin or doesn’t bark at that mobility scooter that has gone by I want to reward that behaviour because he will more likely do it again. For me, this shows that positive reinforcement can be used for all species.

The second problem was 14 months old, Dulcie from Croydon woo woo! Sorry had to do that I spent some time figuring out where in croydon. Dulcie hates bath time and finds it hard to settle. Jo’s solution was give her more of a choice at dinner instead of chips. At bath time, she’s uses clicker and white chocolate buttons which I think had everyone’s knickers in a twist. Some described it as ‘unethical’ and ‘dehumanising for children’. Just rewards for good behaviour, confidence building and hugs instead of leaving the baby to cry it out. Is that really so awful?

Jo- Rosie wasn’t acting as a child psychologist or even claiming to be. These methods were common sense and showed how dog training methods could be used to solve the problems. It certainty didnt deserve the petition before the show aired. Channel 4 spokesman defended the documentary ‘ explores a new approach to childcare, grounded in positive science- based motivational techniques that are used widely by parenting coaches and animal behaviour experts’.

Jo-Rosie said ‘if everyone parented their child the same way we’re training our dogs, we’d end up with more confident, compassionate and curious human beings’. I couldn’t agree more.

If you haven’t seen it yet, where have you been? I i imagine you can catch it on 4 on demand.

If you want your dog to join Pawtastic’s very own positive enforcer then visit https://pawtasticgundogadventures.co.uk/guntastic-adventures/

I’m off to put a lead on it

Harriet x

dog walker

Website has landed!

Last Saturday, I celebrated Pawtastic 5th birthday.  

To mark the occasion, I thought I would share with you, the reason why I started the business.

Now you may be thinking it’s because I love animals.

Well, yes I do very much but there’s more…..

It’s actually because after I had my daughter.

I realised I didn’t want to go back to training to be veterinary nurse.

I didn’t want to work 45-50 hours then study at college one day a week and bringing up a baby.

As you may know, when you have children your priorities change. It wasn’t all about me anymore. I wanted to be a hands on mum so when Scarlett was 6 months old. With some help from my mum. I bravely started the business.

I have always wanted to be a business owner, be independent and make my own money while doing something that I loved.

Everything I do is for my daughter. I hope one day, she will be proud of me.

5 years on, the business has gone from strength to strength.

From first time mum to gundog walker.

I received a great testimonial from one of my cat clients Harriet looked after our cat, Hecate, for 5 days in August.  Hec was poorly a few days before we left and needed medication, and because we had been impressed with Harriet’s knowledge and thoroughness when we met for the initial consultation, we were very comfortable leaving Hec in her care and were far less anxious than we might have been under the circumstances.  I really recommend her service as you know you are leaving your home and pet in safe, competent hands.’

I think it’s a great time to introduce the new logo and website.

Welcome a new chapter to the business, Pawtastic Gundog Adventures.

But setting up my new website was no easy task, alot of swearing and wanting to throw the laptop out of the window. I am sure you have been there before.

I share why in the video below.

I am off to put a lead on it.

Catchya Later

Harriet x