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"That photo" of the chicken, tennis balls and Tino

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So how do you get an Italian Greyhound to sit still in a basket with 204 squeaky tennis balls and three roast chickens?

That's the question lots of people have asked since we launched our 'guess the weight of the basket' competition.

We were also asking ourselves the same question when we planned the competition and had no idea whether or not we'd get a photo we could use or whether it would be chaos with chicken, tennis balls and dogs flying everywhere!

We had taken the precaution of feeding all of our dogs (Charley, Anna, Tino & Theo) just before we tried to take the photos thinking that if they had full bellies they would be less inclined to try to run off with the chicken.

We started with Charley - who tried to run off with the chicken so our big strategy of making sure they had full bellies didn't look like it had been hugely successful! We managed to take just one photo of Charley (see left) before he lunged.

Luckily we managed to avert disaster because Jenny was super quick off the mark and rescued the chicken from his jaws although we had close to 300 squeaky tennis balls flying everywhere and had to collect them all up again!

One slightly mauled chicken later we decided to change tack. Enter Tino.

Now Tino, also known as the Little Ninja Dog, is quite a wilfull little dog but Lady Luck was smiling on us after our somewhat tense start with Charley, Tino was a dream! The full belly strategy had worked!

We got some lovely shots despite the fact that it's not easy to balance three roast chickens on top of a pile of tennis balls and having to deal with tennis balls flying everywhere when Tino moved, sending the chickens flying at the same time! 

A quarter of an hour later and we thought we were done but but then we realised we hadn’t tied the red ribbon around the basket - argghggghhhhh! 

So we started all over again but Tino was getting bored so we tried with Theo who was also remarkably well behaved - although possibly not as well behaved as Tino as you can see from the photo in the middle below! 

Tino then wandered over again and was determined to get back into the basket so he did which was when we got the shot we decided to use for the competition - sitting up and licking his lips!

Their reward for being so very well behaved – a lot of delicious roast chicken dinners!

The tennis balls by the way lived to see another day (although they were somewhat ‘aromatic’) and they have been donated to the Greyhound Rescue West of England (www.grwe.com) – almost 300 of them!