Saturday, 29 December 2007

Another baby dies

It's almost exactly a year on from the last child/dog fatality and did society learn anything in that year? Obviously not, as we've got yet another tragedy. And who knows what Rottweiler Rescue are going to do as they've not had time to get over the last lot of knee jerk reaction - the abandonment and cruelty.
In case you've missed the news, on Friday, a one year old boy was killed by his grandparent's 'pet Rottweiler'.
Dig a bit deeper and the 'pet'
Rottie actually lived in the small yard. It had been acquired only six month's earlier as a two-year-old. Who knows what sort of life it had before.
And when we say 'Grandparents' - don't imagine the chap off the
Werther's Originals advert and his Mrs. We're talking about the parents of a teenage mother. So these grandparents are probably only in their thirties.
The baby was in the arms of a seven year old who had taken her little nephew outside to 'stroke the dog'. The only higher level of supervision was a sixteen year old
Aunty who was upstairs at the time. This sixteen year old girl was looking after a seven year old, a six year old and a one year old. Sounds a lot to put on a kid's shoulders to me.
The dog in the yard was experiencing it's first Christmas and all the routine changes that brings, the baby was another extra dimension.
I can't say I'm surprised that disaster of some kind struck. I'm just amazed more of the kids weren't hurt or killed.
If people are going to keep macho yard dogs how do they expect them to be discerning?
If any of you are parents - would you have ever left your one-year-old baby with a bunch of other kids and a caged wild dog?
Just the idea of a seven year old carrying a baby around unsupervised would be enough to give me nightmares.
I quote from the BBC version of this story...
"Without any warning, the dog snatched the baby from the youngster's arms and carried him into the yard."
So the baby killed by pub guard dogs last year and little Ellie dying at New Year at her grandmother's house weren't enough of a warning not to leave your children with relatives that have unsocialised, untrained dogs in the yard.
How can we stop people acquiring guard dogs that go on to kill their relatives?
Even if we banned every dog on the planet or had all their teeth extracted would these children ever really be safe from harm? Of course not!
I wonder how many other children died this Christmas from other less media-interesting causes - how many other kids were left in charge of babies?
There are already calls to change the Dangerous Dogs Act. It does need reform, but not as a knee jerk reaction. No amount of legislation is going to stop some people putting their kids in danger - be it letting them on the road to drive quad bikes at night, leaving them alone while the go out for a meal or leaving them pretty much unsupervised with wild dogs.
That poor little kid, what chance did he have? I am sure he was much loved and will be greatly missed, but how many lives have to be lost before people stop making the same mistake?
I missed my phone going off as I was out with the family shopping. It was The Independent on Sunday and they wanted 200 words on this issue. It was too late by the time I phoned them back. Perhaps it was just as well, as I expect my stance would upset the family.
What's your view? How can we stop this happening again?


Sunday, 23 December 2007

Merry Christmas - with two new PS's

I'm sorry I've been so slow to blog this month. Magazine deadlines go a bit crazy at this time of year and we had to finish the February edition before we broke up - and plan the March. Plus we had to fit in taking the kids to Disneyland Paris and all the usual present buying etc.
We only got around to putting the tree up last night and that fell down as quickly as it went up. We were very late buying and I think we got an unergonomic one as a result!
Oscar has had his Xmas groom and has come back wearing a Christmas bow in his hair and a very fetching Xmas scarf. He's already looking a bit dirty around the edges and you could never see the scarf thanks to his enormous coat. If I get around to taking a photo I may give Tess the scarf as I suspect she's much more in need of it! (The bow fell off last night - before we could get the photo!)
Oscar with a replacement bow which lasted 20 seconds after the photo was taken!
My Xmas card sending was late and limited to the fact I didn't have enough! So if I missed you out please take this as your card and feel virtuous for the negative carbon footprint we've created!
I'm in touch with Jill and the Poodle martyrs, the case rumbles on and there are many twists and turns - but this near to trial it's probably as well not to report them too closely. Let's all wish Jill and Peter and their family a peaceful New Year and look forward to them putting it all behind them and enjoying their normal doggie life without fear. (Click here for the full story)
Let's all wish Caroline and Harry (the homeless lady with the cute Tibetan Terrier we featured on the blog) a great 2008 - be lovely to hear how they are getting on. I'm sure they had a few more Xmas presents than they expected! (Click here for the full story)
The old little Yorkie that was looking for somewhere to spend Xmas is probably already having fun at Karen, our Assistant Editor's house. I'm hoping to see photos of Max the office dog pulling a cracker with the little scamp! (Click here for the full story)
If you are ready for a new year and a new challenge please do read my blog about Anne, she is still looking for someone to help her carry on her amazing work with lovely dogs on death row. Click here if you missed the original post.

Claire Horton-Bussey - our writer and sub - has at last got a dog after many, many years of planning. Here is Madi with her 'Great Uncle' Jet. Madi comes from Many Tears Rescue - who only take dogs off death row - so Madi is a really lucky pup this Xmas!
I hope you and your dogs have a lovely Xmas, and that no one has their turkey eaten by the dog - it's so tempting for them, so don't take any risks! Chocolate tree decorations are another hazard.
My New Year's resolution will be to blog as often as I can and I hope you'll keep reading!
Best wishes to you all - and I may blog again before Xmas day as I suspect there'll still be stories that need telling! Thank you for reading.

Here's a PS from Claire and Madi:

"Madi is VERY excited about being blogged. Technically, she wasn't a seventh-day dog - she was a litter handed in - but Many Tears usually have seventh-day death row dogs, or those that other rescues wouldn't bother with - the old, the black lab crosses, the staffie crosses or those who are disabled. Tamba is a Golden pup who couldn't walk; Many Tears spent thousands getting him through physio etc and now he can and is ready to be rehomed. Bless. Anyway, you asked about Xmas stories... After years of cat ownership, the wrecking of the Xmas tree is a much-loved annual ritual in my house. Now Madi has decided to embrace it too - well, she does think she's a cat (using the cat flap and sleeping on the back of the sofa, curled up like a mog). She's taken a shine to a couple of home-made wooden decorations that Katie decorated. No matter where they are hidden on the tree, Madi will find them and, delicately, stretch up and remove them gently before racing off to treasure them."

PPS - Just had an update from Karen.
Here's Max and the ultra-speedy 16 year old Yorkie - too fast for the auto-focus! Karen tells me that sadly poor old Max isn't at all well. Regular readers will know he was recently diagnosed with CDRM. He's off to the vet again on Thursday, but he's not his usual self. Karen's giving him loads of TLC and making him chicken and rice and porridge, but he's not wanting to go even to the end of the road on his walks. Poor old Max. Let's hope he rallies.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

from my mobile in France!

This is a first for me, blogging in a moving car! We're looking for an owner of a diabetic dog to feature in our article on the subject. Apologies for the brief blog but we're about to enter the eurotunnel! Email if you know anyone we can interview please.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Another one of those days...

A while ago I blogged about a mysterious substance found on the kitchen floor.
Well, this morning my toes met with something cold and irregular. I put the light on to discover the remnants of a large pair of scissors, my best scissors in fact. Or at least they used to be!
The hard yellow plastic handles and been completely chewed off!
Now obviously Mr Kong has missed a gap in the market, dogs seemingly cannot resist scissors. There were various expensive and safe dog toys left scattered around the floor untouched - but the yellow scissors from the worktop were completely irresistible. They'd been there for years
Which dog did it? Who knows. The scissors lay in neutral territory. Which makes me think it was Tess.
When recently Kieran's virtually new school shoe was chewed, Oscar had casually left it in his bed. He isn't capable of subterfuge, bless him.
Another peculiarity of the morning. We'd left the de-icer outside yesterday and the frost was thick on the cars today. I went to spray - nothing! The de-icer had iced up. How can that happen?
I had to run it under the hot tap!
And I get to work - Internet is working fine, but not the email. How odd - it's normally both out or both working!
And another thing. Someone changed the ink in the communal printer and inadvertently threw away a vital bit of the machine that makes it work! £60 and several days wait to get another one.
So we're in a paperless, email free office at the moment - which is why I've got time to blog!
Who knows what more surprises the day will bring!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Tyson's story

I've been searching for the full story on how Ross got Tyson back and have drawn a blank until I found this posted elsewhere, would seem there is a story but not one that will be revealed at the moment. I know most of us would go to any lengths to get our dog back...

"Everybody,

Tyson is now back, safe and well. The story and events that have led to his return is a long one and I will at a future date provide full details. At the moment I cannot say and i would ask that no one speculates. The fact is he is back and well and that is what counts.

This last few days has been a harrowing experience but one i will never forget. I would like to thank each and every one of you individually for your support. To say it was appreciated is very much an understatement.
The lady who runs the wonderful dog lost service said to me just last night that she has never ever experienced a response to a missing dog like that of Tyson. I echo that sentiment entirely, I have never ever experienced anything quite like the support you have given.

Ross and Tyson"

Monday, 10 December 2007

Happy ending!

If you read the last blog you'll be delighted to hear that Tyson has been found safe and well! No more details yet, but bet his owner is very happy!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Urgent appeal

Urgent, please, please help if you can.
Yesterday evening, returning home from the Championship Show at the NEC, Ross Green stopped at a service station, just off the M1 at J13. Whist paying, he saw a white youth jump into their car, a DARK BLUE VAUXHALL VECTRA ESTATE, Reg No. KJ55 XFZ. Ross ran out, tried to smash driver window and then managed to open rear passenger door but as he did so the youth started the car and sped away towards the M1. In the back of the car was his and Judith Gregory's Black & White Border Collie, Tyson, (ShCh Tonkory Guinness)

Police are searching but the service station was just a mile from the M1 and the driver could have gone in either direction. There was approx 150 miles worth of fuel in car. Please keep an eye out in case you see either the car or Tyson. If so, please contact Ross Green, tel no: (01234) 838380 and/or the police. And pray for Tyson's safe return. This is a tragedy for both Ross and Judith.

Forgive me if you receive this more than once - this is URGENT - please cross post to as many as possible .... Ross left his mobile in the car - it was still working at 11.30 this morning - the police will not put a trace on it as it is too expensive to do 'just for a dog' ..... Tyson is a wonderful Border Collie who may well be lying injured somewhere, frightened and alone..... PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN - even if it is only by cross posting the following to as many as you can.....thank you

Monday, 3 December 2007

Competition time again!

I've just spent a jolly weekend sorting out the sacks of entries for the Christmas giveaways in the December edition - there were 27 different offers this month - in addition to our normal competitions!).
I finally found all the cross question entries- and no one so far has guessed it 100% right.

So it's your go again.

Entries close for both comps on Wednesday - so please get guessing. Which reminds me - I don't think I sent the blog caption winners out last time, did I - will get onto it ASAP!

Ferdy owned by Phillipa Robinson

Guess which two breeds combined to make the gorgeous Ferdy. The first correct winner gets the choice of either a breed-specific book or a general book about dogs from the Interpet Publishing range.

To date we've not received any correct answers. Therefore I'm going to start giving clues as we want someone to win! Either post your entry here as a comment - or email me direct (beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk) and put cross question in the subject.

Photo of Endal submitted by Allen Parton


Study the above and come up with your funniest captions - no limit! And again either post as a comment or email me (beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk) and put Caption comp in the subject so I don't miss it! Entries close this Wednesday at 1pm

There's a Wubba - the great new toy from Company of Animals for the best caption via the blog - plus...

One lucky winner gets a complete set of grooming products, including shampoos conditioner, wipes and brush courtesy of John Paul Pet - worth nearly £100! (for more details see their website). Five runners up get a shampoo, pot of wipes and a brush from the John Paul Pet Products range.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Kitchen sink dramas

I like my mornings simple. It's always an early start - 6.30am, but every second is crucial to get everyone ready for the day ahead. Kids, dogs, grown-ups - and normally it runs like clockwork.
However, some days you open the kitchen door and there's a mystery to solve before you start.
The worst one in my memory was the day of the rat.
Finding a dead rat in the kitchen didn't inspire me to write a hit record, sadly. Tess looked guilty, so she got the blame. But the rat looked serene, not a mark on it. And no rat-shaped holes anywhere - or footprints in the butter dish.
Oscar has since had a dead frog concealed in his coat - so perhaps he might have smuggled it in the night before?
Tess had taken to her bed very early the night before - could she have had Mr Rat in for a sleepover?
Yesterday, I spotted nothing out of the ordinary as I walked into the kitchen bare foot. Well not until my foot felt something warm and squidgy. One of the dogs had been sick - and there was a totally undigested roast dinner abandoned on the floor. Odd.
Normally the dogs are keen to re-eat things that look much less savoury. And we had all enjoyed our roast Sunday dinners, don't know what was not to the dog's taste in the left overs!
This morning I still obviously hadn't learnt my lesson by investing in slippers. The toes quickly detected wetness.
At first I blamed the dogs. We hadn't had a puddle in the kitchen for years, so it was totally out of character. But the dogs were the obvious suspects.
When I found it was a two kitchen roll (the expensive ultra-absorbant ones) sort of lake I became more puzzled.
I did the sniff test - nothing.
The dishwasher, fridge freezer and sink all looked totally blameless, too. Looking above there was no damp patch in the ceiling, either.
I still remain perplexed.
The water was in the middle of the kitchen, it hadn't come under a door.
Perhaps I'd disturbed the dogs in the middle of their first attempt at washing the floor? They've watched us enough - perhaps it's natural evolution?
Or was it a puddle of tears from the widowed Mrs Rat?
When I get home will there be more water? And what will be on the kitchen floor next?

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Two Poodles in a hole

Just got this desperate email from Jill.... For those unfamiliar with this story - Jill is an air stewardess, should you puzzle at the chicken or beef reference. If you've not heard about this case before click here.

In brief - Jill and Peter are totally normal law-abiding people, living a simple life with their four pet Standard Poodles. One evening cows in the next field knocked their fence down and two of the Poodles escaped. A night of searching and fretting ended with the two dogs finding their way home tired and hungry and soaking wet - it had been a very stormy night. All was well until the police knocked at the door and arrested Peter and took the dogs away to secure kennels. Three months later they had not seen their dogs and were frightened they would be killed. The dogs were released on bail - but the couple now face ruin. Despite a lack of tangible evidence to link the two dogs to an incident of sheep worrying the case is due to go to court and if the criminal court find them guilty the civil case that follows will bankrupt them. The police did a flawed doggie ID parade and the local papers printed a rumour that the Poodles were involved as fact.

They live on the breadline in rented accommodation. They have already used their life savings (£500) on the solicitor they call 'the bulldog'.

Can we start a fighting fund so these poor people don't go into court without a defence? Could one of the existing charities open up a special "Two poodle Martyr fighting fund" appeal so we can all pay into it? We can't stand by and watch them go into court unrepresented - with just a duty solicitor who wouldn't have a clue what to do in such a very odd and I would think a precedent case.

I'm sure if they win (and with a decent barrister this case would surely crumble) they should be awarded costs (although I'm no expert - but I did used to watch Crown Court when I was a kid - but that was a long, long time ago!). Any money we raise could go to help anyone else caught in a similar mess.

There has to be justice done here. Jill and Peter's lives will potentially be ruined by the actions of some frisky cows that meant their dogs were at large that night without an alibi. The police found no forensic evidence to link the dogs with the sheep - how can the case go to court on purely circumstantial evidence and a ID parade potentially skewed by biased newspaper reporting - plus the police using a line up of miscellaneous single dogs of breeds that look nothing like Poodles - and then two Poodles they wanted picking together in the one kennel... Hell, if we don't raise the money I'll go down and stand up for them, you could drive a bus through the prosecution's case. But I'm sure we could get someone a lot better qualified!!

Here's Jill's latest email, I just wish I could win the lottery and pay for the best brief possible - do we have any lovely readers of this blog that still believe in British justice and standing up for the little guy? Oh I do hope so!!

"Hello - and I am sorry not to have emailed before, but we have been waiting to hear if we have got Legal Aid, and we really don't seem to be lucky. Someone out there really doesn't like us. After having the first lot of paperwork sent back, and a second lot requested, they have come back and said no. We now have to try for the 'hardship' clause. This really isn't easy, and we were just over the 'limit' for having legal aid. It really does make me want to declare ourselves bankrupt or claim we are illegal asylum seekers. I am sorry to say that but life really doesn't seem to be on our side.
"Peter went back to court a couple of weeks ago, and as the legal aid issue hadn't been decided yet, our solicitor wasn't present. He obviously said that he couldn't plead as he didn't have legal representation, but the magistrate make him use the court solicitor and enter a plea. It was obviously not guilty. It really doesn't appear fair, as I am sure that the court solicitor is great at GBH, drunk and disorderly charges etc, but dog law is rather specialised. At that time they said that he had to go back to court on 3rd December and present his case, and booked the trial for 10/11th January. However, the bulldog said that he cant do the January dates, as he is elsewhere, and doesn't actually have a free date until March 2008! It doesn't look as if the bulldog is going to do the 3rd Dec date either! Talk about feeling alone, and left high and dry! The bulldog's secretary has said that he will write to the court and explain that as he wasn't present when they made the 10/11th Jan dates, they will have to be rescheduled, but I don't hold out much hope. Various people that I have talked to have said that the court really wont change it, so we really don't have a leg to stand on. At the moment we are trying to come up with some assurance that we could pay the bulldog, even if it means going seriously into debt, but I don't think he will consider it.
"I am at the moment trying to get the paperwork together for the 'hardship' case'. Luckily I am in the country for 24 hours, so have been trying to pull together all the relevant paperwork. This job really doesn't make it easy.
"On a much brighter note, Jenni and Minki are GREAT, and getting LOTS of cuddles and kisses! They are gradually getting better, but are still very clingy, which I can go with! Minki is enjoying playing with the puppies, William and Milli, and it is really fantastic to watch them running and chasing each other in the garden. They use the garden rather like a race track, and steam around after each other.......and I thought greyhounds were fast! Jenni is still taking herself off to our bed to be alone, and she really does seem to have aged - if the increase in grey poodle hairs are anything to go by!
"We want Dr Roger Mugford to do an assessment on them, but of course we will have to wait and see if we get that all important legal aid! I think that when I get back from this next trip, on Wednesday, I will ring him. I feel that his input will be vital.
"It looks as if the case hinges on the doggie id parade, which is seriously suspect, but without legal advice it is hard to say. We still haven't got a copy of Peter's statement, so we cant even go through that! It is all just so horrible. There is a cottage on the farm, which was occupied by a young couple, who have since been sent packing, because they were causing serious problems. It is from the girl that the sheep farmer got the idea of our poodles, and went ranting and raving to anyone who would listen to him. She, apparently, said that she had seen 'the poodles' out in the cow fields, which is true. They were, but they were with us and the puppies we had left from the litter. We were walking them in the cow fields behind the farm because we didn't want to try crossing the race track they call a road to get to the woods! Not safe at all with all the little ones!
"Well, what to do now? Peter is due in court in a week's time, and we still don't have any definite legal representation. All we can do is get the next lot of paperwork off to the Legal Aid people, cross fingers, hope and pray!
"Well, got to go and sleep!! More 'chicken or beef' tomorrow, and hopefully, no more medical emergencies ( yes I have had more!) or young Russian males who we nearly got the police to arrest on landing. My, I do have a 'glamorous' job!"

Thursday, 22 November 2007

This little dog really is just for Christmas!

Do you live in the Norwich area? Have you got a dog-proof garden? Have you got some experience with small dogs? Might you have room for one more just for the Christmas holidays?

An active 16 year old neutered male Yorkie needs somewhere lovely to spend Christmas. His elderly owner (Age 82) will be in hospital following a fall and the neighbour who very kindly took the dog in and usually helps her out with walks is going to have a very full house over Christmas and really could do with finding a temporary holiday break for this lovely little dog. He can come back to her as soon as her guests go - she'll have 9 Miniature Schnauzers staying! She tells me he gets on well with other small dogs and is very affectionate. Only needs one walk a day and is on no medication.

If you think you can help please email me or message me for the contact details.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Anyone use Engivita?

Just had a call from a reader that I couldn't answer and I thought - why not ask the bloggers!

Anthony Walker is trying to move his dog towards a veggie diet and had been advised to use Engivita yeast flakes as a supplement (sorry folks - had put wheat in here earlier instead of yeast - I'm on deadline, brain fog!). He wanted to check that this product was okay for use with dogs. Does anyone have any experience of using it? If so can you write a comment here or email colonel_john_oswald@yahoo.co.uk

I remember my parents used to feed our dogs handfuls of brewers yeast tablets - although I can't think why now - I think they thought it was good for their nerves!

Another reader phoned yesterday to say that she'd been told you shouldn't use TCP on dogs and also that it was wrong to feed dogs pork as it was bad for them. Does anyone know why that is?

Had lots of interest from the previous blog - lots of people seem to be considering it. Hope one of them works out for Anne.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Ready to change your life?

I get a lot of post, but every now and again I get a letter that stops me in my tracks. Do you fancy leaving the rat race behind to go and help Anne save dogs' lives?

"I run a small rehoming centre in a beautiful part of Wales, about a mile from the sea in a quiet position on the edge of a village. I usually rehome about two dogs from Death Row every week. The kennels only occupies about three hours of every day, often less - but I enjoy spending time with "my" dogs - and training them where necessary.
"I have been diagnosed with terminal cancer, probably having between six to 12 months to live, and I desperately want my work saving innocent lives (often only super lost dogs) to continue.
"I can offer an excellent caravan as accommodation - soon to be upgraded to a cabin or chalet. And possibly free grazing or stabling for one horse/pony to someone experienced with all kinds of dogs, who believes in discipline but also love. They would need to be a car driver and computer literate.
"There are dog grooming facilities and room for agility training - with a large exercise area on site.
"The only financial offer would be to retain housing benefit, plus the use of a decent car. But there are plenty of other opportunities for other work. Dog walking other people's dogs, bar work, domestic cleaning, gardening, lawn cutting etc."

I asked Anne for some more background. The sanctuary is in a small Welsh village. There's about 500 people, a delicatessen, two pubs, greengrocer, newsagent, hairdresser, small tool repair shop and a choir.
"My place is five minutes walk from the town centre and is very quiet. Badgers pass by it and it is full of birds and wildlife. A paradise for anyone seeking peace and calm rather than the rat race. It is two miles from the beach."

Please pass this appeal on. Let's try to find the right person to help Anne continue her excellent work. Email me for more details or to be put in touch with Anne. Please cross post - we need to find someone!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Caroline and Harry latest

Some of you who have been reading the blog for a while will remember the story of Caroline and Harry. Both are doing really well and enjoying their new food. Click here for the story if you're new here.
A few of you wanted to send them Christmas treats etc. Ceri, the care worker has been off work for almost a month so it's taken some time to find the address to send stuff to - but we have it now!

Gifts for Caroline and Harry can be sent c/o Ceri PREP. 184 Corporation Road, Grangetown, Cardiff. CF11 7AY and just got this message re collar sizes: "Also we measured Harry's current collar which is 18.5 inches from end to end, do those measurements help? She would be delighted to receive a hand made collar from your reader, again many thanks."

It's been bucketing down here - I've been viewing the river nervously as we're not long dried out from the last flood. Just imagine how dreadful it must be to be homeless this winter. How on earth did Caroline and Harry cope?
If I get chance later, I have another major blog topic to tell you about.... Our new person Luke is busy learning the ropes. Let's just hope his previous carpentry work experience won't need to be called upon to build us an ark!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Injustice personified

I've just been given permission to blog this and yes theoretically I should be making the tea... but this has got me so angry I have to write it down.
Michelle wrote to me a while ago about her original insurance company going pop (the second oldest in the industry) and being taken over by Pet Protect - click here to read episode one. Briefly her insurance premium went up to £62 a month from £24.99 for just one dog.
It just sounded crazy so I tried to intervene and got nowhere.
Things have just got worse. Here's Michelle's email of earlier today....
"Unfortunately Ellie who is also now insured with Pet Protect (via VIP for 9 years) has been very ill. She has very recently been diagnosed with a mask cell tumour in her small intestine. I am told that there is only 10 recorded cases of this in dogs and 2 of those where in Japan (you would think with odds like that I could as least win £10 on the lottery). Her prognosis is described as grave. I have just been told her insurance premium will go up to over £600 per year (fifty something pounds per month). I was expecting this and as it is going to be for a limited time was prepared to try and pay it, only to be told that if I claim and she subsequently dies before the end of the term I am liable for the whole amount. It is highly likely that she will be dead within a year, I am left trying to find where I can get either £600 or the money to fund her treatment (this is on top of the costs of frequent visits to Newmarket and back). Due to a change in my financial circumstances this is going to be almost impossible. To say I feel let down doesn't describe it.
"I know this isn't the fault of VIP and that there is nothing that can be done but I really thought by insuring them I would never have to face this sort of decision, how naive was I.
"Apologies for dumping on you, I suppose I just wanted to tell someone."

This just doesn't seem fair does it? Michelle has paid her premiums for nine years and when she really needs insurance - where is it! It's bad enough having a dog this ill without having to worry about paying for the treatment.
And what's this about having to keep paying the premiums after a dog dies - is this normal?
I'm going to ask Michelle to write to Tailwaggers for some help - I know she's been thinking of remortgaging her house to pay for Ellie's chemo.
If you'd like to organise a sponsored walk for Tailwaggers we'll see what we can do to help - but this is just so totally unfair...

And if any of you with chemo experience would like to give some moral support to Michelle I'm sure it would be appreciated. A letter to Pet Protect might not be such a bad idea either...

Another quick appeal!

You've guessed it - we're still short of people - light at the end of the tunnel though. Luke starts on Monday - but then other people start going on holiday shortly afterwards! It'll be okay - I just keep repeating that to myself.....!

Another request from the media - this time the Sunday Times.

Do you have a fancy dress costume for your dog? Apparently there was something recently in the Spectator on this subject - the growing phenomena that is doggie fancy dress.
Anyway if you have one or more outfits for your dog and fancy being featured can you get in touch by comment or email (beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk).
Not sure exactly what they're seeking - think there's very few homes without a set of strap on antlers for the dog - we've all bought that at some time - admit it!
If you have something spectacular that always wins at your charity fun days go on share it!
Come on don't be shy!
Or if you are indeed a manufacturer of weird and wonderful outfits for doggie parties do get in touch!
I suspect there'll be some of us who don't approve, but I always say if no one laughs at the dog it's probably okay - they really do know when they're being laughed at don't they! My old Sally wore her antlers with pride every Christmas.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Doggie facebook

Does your dog have his or her own page on the canine equivalent of facebook? Would you like to talk about it tomorrow on BBC Radio Scotland?

Just been asked for someone who enjoys networking with their dog. It's urgent - so can you email me your phone number and some details to beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

It's a lighthearted piece that will be going out tomorrow at approx 9.30am.

Cheers and no - still virtually no staff here! Eek

Friday, 9 November 2007

Little Missy needs our help

I joked in the last blog about Staff problems not being Staffie problems - and guess what? I immediately get a real Staffie problem landing on my desk.
One of the stories waiting to be told was about Missy a five-week-old Staffie pup who has not had the best start.
Tailwaggers receives so many heart-wrenching requests - but I thought this one needs airing.

This email came in recently from the vets treating Missy.

"I am writing to you in respect of a fantastic Staffie pup called Missy, who is an inpatient here with us, and has been so brave.
"Missy is a 5 week old puppy who I delivered by Caesarian section, when her mum Tilly, developed problems. It turned out that a dead mummified foetus was blocking Tilly's uterine body, and Missy could not pass. She was the only other pup and possibly the largest newborn Staffie I have ever seen! She came out crying and has been a source of great joy to all concerned ever since.
"Tragedy struck when Missy's mum Tilly nipped her face one week ago, with no warning sign from Tilly that she would ever do so. Her owners rushed her in to me at the emergency clinic at 6am, with Missy having suffered severe blood loss, shock and serious facial injuries. I
repaired a large deficit at the front of her hard palate, which involved the palate itself and the nasal bones, which were crushed.
"The injury was more extensive and serious than initially suspected by her owner, and this new has come as a great shock. Missy has been an inpatient for all but one day since the trauma. As you can see from the notes (sent by post), she had an oesophagostomy tube placed to
allow adequate nutrition and she has been so brave. As she requires such intensive nursing, we have all become so very fond of her. She has been nibbling her teddy in the cage (and her carers too!)- she is showing no signs of pain. The operation site was checked on Thursday
by my colleague Paul, who placed the oesophagostomy tube, and seemed to be healing reasonably well.
"I sedated her this morning to check the op site for myself, and was devastated, but not entirely surprised, to find a different story. We had expected some post-op complications, but Missy had been very bright, her tube feeding working well, no fever etc, but she had been snorting a little more in the last 24hours. The cause became apparent this am-
50% of the sutured tissue has broken down and left a large deficit/gap. Some of the damaged bone has also died due to the crushing nature of the injury and reduced blood supply. We are essentially dealing with a non-congenital cleft palate.
"We (my vet colleagues and I) feel a specialist opinion is urgently needed, but this is outside the financial ability of the owner. As you will see from the notes I have sent by post, we have frozen her bill with us, and the owner has paid a considerable amount via cash and
cheque, both for the Caesarian section and Missy's treatment. I feel Missy may be offered the chance of an advancement flap, which is sometimes what a craniofacial surgeon can achieve for a child with a similar injury.
"Needless to say, this is conjecture on my part and the specialist may beg to differ. I am certain, however, that euthanasia is a strong possibility for Missy as we have taken this as far as we can here, at her regular vets.
"We wanted to enquire if you would be able to sponsor an initial consultation with a specialist? He/ she would be able to give us an accurate assessment of her prognosis. I am saddened that more specialists do not do pro bono work, but so it is.
"Missy's owner does work (night shifts, like myself) and is not PDSA eligible, but is on a low income. She is, I believe, a classic example of someone who really deserves to be PDSA eligible, like many people. (I do out of hours PDSA work).
I have spoken to my colleagues (vets, nurses, receptionists) who have all fallen madly in love with Missy and are reluctant to give up on her.
"I fully appreciate you will receive thousands of similar applications annually, and may be unable to support Missy's quest.
"I have only just heard of you (Veterinary Times)and wish you continued great support. As a practice, we pledge to contribute significantly to Missy's treatment, should she see a specialist, and receive the option for surgery."
"As a vet, I am supposed to be quite detached and pragmatic, but am finding this little gem of a pup a really tricky one.
"Many thanks, regardless of the outcome of our enquiry."

What do you think folks? Tailwaggers has already agreed to pay up to £200 towards the specialist, but I suspect they'll need quite a bit more than that.
How lovely to hear of a vet going that extra yard for a pup in their care and getting involved.
If anyone wants to help Missy see a specialist please donate to Tailwaggers or organise a sponsored walk (please email me for sponsor forms). To hear more about Tailwaggers click here - but you can post cheques payable to Tailwaggers Trust to Dogs Today if it's easier and we'll pass them on.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

A bad week for blogging

Sorry for the silence - the stories have been screaming to be told, but I've not had time to write them.
We've had a few staff problems (but thankfully not Staffie problems!)
The main problem being an almost total lack of staff.
In theory there are lots of us, on paper.
One of us has relocated to Yorkshire and is (thanks to BT) not yet broadbanded-up so can't use our whizzo new BT phone system that will ring in her house at exactly the same time as ours. Jen's pilgrimanage to the North coincided with another of our 'A team' being uncharacteristically poorly for a week, and yet another being on a long weekend holiday in a very remote location so her dogs could avoid the firework season.
Hopefully calm will break out shortly and I will be able to go back to doing my normal job. I've surprised myself by enjoying banking, inputting subs and answering the phone.
But what should usually be calls lasting a couple of minutes have mainly turned into epics because a) I no longer had the first idea how anything works b) I told people why I was so useless and that took even longer and then we'd get totally sidetracked when they realised I was the editor.
But I had some really lovely chats with readers, so I hope they didn't mind me being completely incompetent taking their orders!
More blogs soon a huge story to write - just have to judge a dog warden competition, write next month's editorial, plan the Feb issue - oh yes and answer the phone....
Things have got to get better soon - famous last words.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Sometimes I get asked difficult questions!

Can anyone think of how to find the answers? I couldn't!

Can you help fill in any of these blanks?

In 1957, a British dog would have an average lifespan of x years and x months. It is now x years and x months. In 1957, xx per cent of dogs lived outdoors in all weathers compared to just xx per cent today.

I can't think of anyone who would have colated these statistics in the 50s, but maybe you know otherwise. Anyone solving this or coming up with a good answer gets a Wubba!

Two Poodle Martyr latest...

If you're new to this story click here for the story so far....

Here's the latest email from Jill, "I am trying to type this, but my hands are shaking, so I will try and get it right.
"We have not heard from Legal Aid yet. So when Peter turned up in court today, the bulldog [their solicitor] had faxed to ask for it to be put off, explaining that the legal aid had not yet been agreed, but the court didn't accept that, and forced Peter into making a plea, using the court solicitor. He obviously said 'Not Guilty'!
"The prosecuting solicitor was making the case, and it appeared to Peter that the only evidence they are going on is their "doggie id parade".
"Oh God, this really has gone beyond a joke now. If it wasn't for my babies, friends and family, I don't know how I would go on. The next court date is 3rd Dec, and the actual trial is set for 10/11th January 2008, so it drags on into next year.
"The case has been classified as one that carries a penalty of a maximum of £1,000 - obviously plus our solicitor's costs. If we lose this case then it goes to Civil Court, where the farmer can take us to the cleaners. Mind you, I don't know what he expects us to come up with when we have nothing to start with.
"On the good side, Jenni and Minki are settling in at home again. Minki is occasionally playing with the puppies, which is lovely to see, but Jenni is still very clingy and tends to isolate herself. I spent a lot of last night wandering around the house, as I couldn't sleep, with all the dogs following me. They are such great company, and just enforce the feeling that what the Police did to Jenni and Minki was so wrong."

I don't know about you, but this just all seems so dreadfully wrong. If the only thing the Prosecution has to link these two Poodles with the sheep is a doggie ID parade then I'm amazed it has got this far.
Judge John Deed would have had none of it. It's like doing an ID parade for humans and putting the two Chinese male suspects (which have been mentioned in press reports) in a line up of Aborigine women, Pakistani children, and assorted red-haired midgets and giants! It would hardly be surprising that the police got the right result! There are rules for human ID parades - people have to be of similar race, age and build. The doggie ID parade made up of collies, police dogs and pointers has to be seen by any sensible person as flawed!
And as the local press had already reported that two Poodles had worried sheep - putting the two Poodles in the same kennel and having all the others in single kennels would seem to have compromised the process from the outset!

Poor Jill and Peter - having this hanging over their heads all over Christmas. Peter is self-employed so proving income (or lack of it!) for legal aid is not straight forward.

They need legal support - I don't think they should go back in without proper representation. The cost prediction for their legal fees is £26k. If they lose and go to civil court the costs will spiral and they could face up to £60k in compensation and £8k in kenneling fees.

I feel helpless. What can we do to help them? I've already asked everyone to write to the charities to see if they'll help. Suggestions please! One of our rank is facing ruin - just because a herd of cows decided to get frisky and knock down their fence. Never have two dogs escaping got their owners into so much trouble.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Please tell me about your golden oldies

It's been a big week in the Dogs Today office!
My longest serving employee (Jen) had her last day yesterday - she'll be working from home - the latest in a long line of our employees that have left the 'real' office to inhabit a 'virtual' one. My second longest serving employee (Julia) has been off all week and can't stop being sick - poor thing. So we're really rattling about here at the moment!
I've just looked at Julia's work in progress and have found that only two people this month have successfully negotiated our postal service to write in and tell us about their lovely golden oldies. As the oldest dog featured each month wins a smashing doggie cake, I immediately sensed the blog may help fill that hole!
Please do email me and tell me about your beloved oldies - we need to know how old they are, which breed or type and ideally their weight. We use all these things to apply a formula that calculates their human equivalent age and it includes a formula that even's out the pedigree/crossbreed different life expectancies.
Any dogs calculated to be 100 in human years or over get a special telegram from the Queen's corgis!
If possible please email a photo, too and any anecdotes that you can give us.
Send direct to me beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk and mark golden oldies in the subject please so I'll spot it.

Another thing we're short of - doggie events for our free listing service - if you have anything that needs a plug, do drop us an email ASAP!

Caption judging was an intimate affair with only three of us short-listing and Karen, assistant ed in Norfolk having the casting vote for the ultimate winner.

Two came from the blog this time:



A: "No, stop telling me Porkies! from Lorraine Gibbons, Slough
and
B: "There's Snout as queer as folk" from Dawn Key, Luton

Please vote for who gets the Wubba between these two. Some cracking one's in this time, really tough to judge!

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Caption comp closes tomorrow 1pm!

Holly is owned by Janet Frid of Staffs

Guess which two breeds combined to make Holly. The first correct winner gets the choice of either a breed-specific book or a general book about dogs from the Interpet Publishing range.

To date we've not received any correct answers. Therefore I'm going to start giving clues as we want someone to win! Either post your entry here as a comment - or email me direct (beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk) and put cross question in the subject.

CLUE ONE: Both of Holly's parents are terriers
One of the breeds is very unusual

CLUE TWO: One of the parents could be said to be the latest designer cross to be recognised by the Kennel Club

CLUE THREE: One parent is of a breed that has won Best in Show at Crufts

***The winning entry came in via email on Wednesday morning (9.25am) from Karen (Crazy Diamond) - Cesky Terrier x Westie. Hard luck to all the others who came close - but there's still time to enter the caption comp - it will be judged tomorrow at 1pm so hurry!***


Photo submitted by Mark & Lynn Leach, Glos


Study the above and come up with your funniest captions - no limit! And again either post as a comment or email me (beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk) and put Caption comp in the subject so I don't miss it! ENTRIES CLOSE THIS THURSDAY AT 1pm

There's a Wubba - the great new toy from Company of Animals for the best caption via the blog - plus...

One lucky winner gets a complete set of grooming products, including shampoos conditioner, wipes and brush courtesy of John Paul Pet - worth nearly £100! (for more details see their website). Five runners up get a shampoo, pot of wipes and a brush from the John Paul Pet Products range.

Tie-breaker needed - please vote!
Last month's best blog-delivered caption tied so we need you to decide which of these two was funniest... So here's the pic again...

[CC+Oct.jpg]

A: 'Back to WeightWatchers – this bloody door fitted me a couple of months ago.'
Jags - Labradoodle forum.

B: 'Now Max, I told you not to get in a flap – Dogs Today has been delivered on time.'
Chapstaff - DforDog

And please vote by leaving a comment here - you can be anonymous!

Monday, 29 October 2007

Happy endings!


If you read the blog back when we told you about Caroline and Harry you'll be delighted to see these photos. Click here and here to catch the story from the beginning if not.
After enduring terrible domestic violence at the hands of her husband, Caroline fled her home with nothing more than her clothes and her beloved dog, Harry. She found herself suddenly homeless in Cardiff and soon realised that finding accommodation would be a struggle. Caroline could not bear to be parted from her best friend but the Housing Association’s “no pets” policy meant she would have to rehome her five-year-old Tibetan Terrier.
Harry had provided vital support for Caroline during this very difficult time so she stood her ground and wrote to the United Welsh Housing Association with a reference for her impeccably behaved pet. After meeting Harry for themselves, project workers realised how necessary he was for Caroline’s well-being and decided to make them a test case to see if their policy could be reviewed in the future. Caroline cannot praise the Housing Association enough for granting this exception and helping her to start rebuilding her life.


“If Harry had been put into a dog pound he would have starved himself, I know he would,” says Caroline. “I don’t know where I would have been without Harry. He is not just part of my life, he is a part of me. We come as a package and he is my soul mate. Harry’s not a barker and will only bark if someone knocks on the door. People don’t even realise he’s there.”
Caroline is currently struggling to get back on her feet and make a new life for her and Harry but financially it is very difficult. After Caroline has paid her utility bills out of her £59 a week income support there is very little left for food so a project worker contacted the Tailwaggers charity for help - and I'm the Chairman so it landed on my desk.
As you all hopefully now know, Tailwaggers Trust is a very small charity which helps pet owners who have fallen on hard times. Click here to find out more about Tailwaggers. When I put out an appeal for anyone to help feed Harry on this blog, Liz who runs OrganiPets emailed to offer that same day!
OrganiPets has agreed to provide Harry with as much of its Premium Complete organic food free of charge, until Caroline is back on her feet again. This has given Caroline peace of mind knowing that her beloved Harry will be well fed.
“I can’t tell you what a relief it was when OrganiPets came forward and offered to help Harry,” says Caroline. “After paying my bills there is very little left for food and I would always make sure Harry ate first. Harry loves OrganiPets’ food and he should, as it’s a top brand. He’s very lucky!”
Harry is a Tibetan Terrier of distinction, with an impressive pedigree, so it is only right that he should be eating the very best food.
OrganiPets Premium Complete food contains human grade organic free-range chicken with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Furthermore, no pesticides or fertilisers are used in the process.
OrganiPets food is hypoallergenic and contains organic rice, rather than the usual wheat or soya, as it is easier to digest. This makes OrganiPets the natural choice for animals with sensitive stomachs. Click here for their website.
As Christmas is coming, should any of you feel like helping Caroline and Harry out with any toys and treats - which you might imagine still aren't that easy to finance on her very low income - even with the food coming free, please email me and I'll you give you an address to send stuff to.
Any lovely pet insurers out there who might want to really make their Xmas by giving them a year's free insurance - please do please get in touch. (Well it's worth a try!)

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Moved & Skoda say sorry...

We're all relaxing a bit now after our hectic morning of moving. We must be getting good at it to get finished in less than a day. But I guess we've all had enough practise. The boxes are unpacked, the computers are plugged in and the phones are off divert.
Our 'new' old office is so much bigger than we remembered. For three months we squeezed into the tiny Barns and to be honest, it was really quite fun being all in the same room. Now it takes us ages to walk to the kitchen to make the tea and we have to shout to talk to each other!
We'll get used to it here again, soon - and then the rain will come...
We'll be taking our warm indoor loos for granted in no time. We'll forget that we once had a 'convenience' where the doors didn't lock. They weren't even really doors - they were actually shutters that didn't go all the way down to the floor or meet in the middle!
If you want to know more there are photos on Jennie's (our office manager) blog click here
Did you see the latest Skoda comment from the dealership? I'll copy it here so you don't have to try too hard to find it. If indeed the majority of the people who work at Barker's Skoda dealership in Hull are dog lovers what a shame that the man who Gottfried had to deal with very obviously wasn't. Had Gottfried been told that the dog had simply escaped he'd never have got in touch. I quote from Gottfried's email as to his recollection of the events...

"Returning to the Showroom (the doors were closed!) immediately after the road accident, I asked a man in a suit sitting at a desk if he had let the dog out and he said he had.
"He also said that it was not his job to look after dogs. I asked him if he had a dog himself and his reply was "no fear"!
"If what Skoda is now claiming were true, and I had been told at the time that the dog had unfortunately escaped, we would not be having this dialogue now!"

To Whom It May Concern:
We at the Barkers Motor Group are animal lovers and some of us dog owners, and would hate anything to happen to our own dogs.
We are very sorry for the incident that happened at our dealership with regards to the small dog that died. This was an unfortunate accident and it was not our intention for any harm to come to the dog. However, a customer, who didn’t realise the dog was in the showroom, opened the door and the dog bolted out. It happened too quickly for us to catch him again.
We can understand that people reading about this on this website were concerned, because we were all very upset by what happened.
From the management team at the Barkers Motor Group

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Tomorrow is a new day

We're moving office again tomorrow. No, we don't have a touch of gypsy in our soul. We just have an office that floods.
Tomorrow we return to Town Mill and watching the skies with trepidation. Two floods in a year make the next flood a case of 'when' not 'if'.
It'll be our fourth office relocation in two years. We're getting rather good at it.
And flash floods do tend to eventually train you not to leave your important stuff on the floor.
While packing I spoke today to someone new at the Sunday Times, I mentioned the Skoda story. Wouldn't it be great if it did get picked up by the paper, for the issue to be debated - who knows maybe that poor little dog's life being taken so casually might actually change something for other stray dogs.
We're working on a major feature on what happens to strays these days. If you have ever been given the advice to let a stray dog go, please can you get in touch so we can share your story?
Dogs Today was lucky and someone very kind took us in when we were homeless. From what we hear stray dogs are not usually so lucky if they happen to go missing outside office hours - or happen upon a Skoda dealership in Hull of course.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Poodles today - your dog tomorrow?

Off blog on a forum someone asked that now the dogs' lives were no longer in jeopardy, why should the charities help?
I'd say the angle with the charities is that this is a precedent case that could have a knock on affect for other dog owners.
If we are routinely at risk of criminalisation and financial ruin should our dogs escape from our garden for any reason, would dog ownership among much of the population remain tenable?
One of my old Beardies was let out by a dog sitter and roamed for days before I could get her back. Had sheep been worried in that period the same scenario could have happened to me. How many of us could find £60k to pay the fines. How many of us could work with a criminal record?
Jill and Peter - so far as I can see - have done nothing other than been loving dog owners yet they are now the wrong side of the law facing ruin.
Think how this country treats serious criminals - it's totally off the scale what is happening to Jill and Peter. Their dogs were taken away for nearly 4 months, plus they've had 5 months worried sick about getting a conviction. Someone needs to stand up for dog owners - they are being treated worse here than terrorist suspects!!!
Even when destruction was on the table there was zero help coming from the charities.
Someone needs to show solidarity to stop this happening to other dog owners. The dogs might not now die at the hands of the courts - but if the owners' lives are destroyed then I don't see it being too long before those dogs end up at the charities door. Being homeless with four Standard Poodles wouldn't be easy!
Dogs Trust were there for the people of Merseyside when they were being oppressed in the middle of the Pit Bull fiasco. Just lending support and advice to vulnerable dog owners would be helpful - I just wish they had employed lawyer Trevor Cooper rather than just giving him an award - it was being considered! If they had a dog expert lawyer in their ranks to help others in these tricky situations and to lobby and advise on doggie laws, doggie welfare generally would be in much better shape.
Dog welfare is a massive subject and while protection of pet owners' rights doesn't translate into such cute TV adverts as sponsor a dog schemes, it ultimately will affect many more thousands of dogs lives. As Britain becomes more and more anti-dog - dog ownership will become increasingly difficult.
What has happened to Jill and Peter could happen to any of us.
The amount of time and money already wasted by the police on this case is astonishing. Had any other sector of the community had one of their own so victimised there'd have been one hell of a stink! We need the big welfare institutions to register their outrage before its too late.

Sorry for the rant, it's just I feel Jill and Peter are like lambs to the slaughter and they need everyones help.

Here are some contact details should you feel moved to ask for support:

Dogs trust contact details :
http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/topnavigation/contact_us (phone / address)
customerservices@dogstrust.org.uk (e-mail)

RSPCA details
https://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RSPCA/RSPCARedirect&pg=MyRSPCALogin (they do respond but you need to log in to use it)

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Clock is ticking for the Poodle martyrs

Got a frightening email last night. In two weeks time the Two Poodle Martyrs are in court. At the moment the owners have no solicitor acting for them as legal aid papers are still going through.
The consequences of them losing this case are devastating. These dog owners need someone to help them now! I have emailed ace doggie solicitor Trevor Cooper to beg him to come out of retirement. Perhaps one of the big dog charities could help them, they haven't so far. Just seems madness that they are approaching court without any proper legal representation.

Here's the story to date - I realise a lot of you are new to the blog, but this is the story that got us started here on the blog. This is a terrifying story - and it could easily happen to any one of us.

Jill and Peter have four Standard Poodles, they live in a rented cottage, on a hill surrounded by cows. One evening Jill let the dogs out into the garden without realising the cows had damaged the fence. Two of the dogs got out.
Like any loving owners they were worried, even though they live in the Sussex countryside, there are still some very busy roads. They walked and searched into the early morning frantically looking for their beloved dogs. The weather was vile. Jill is an air hostess and she had an early transatlantic flight the next morning. She was worried sick but she still had to go to work and left Peter still searching. Early the next morning the dogs came home, tired, wet and cold but unharmed.
Everyone was delighted.
However, later that day the police arrived - arrested Peter and seized the dogs. At first they cited the Dangerous Dogs Act (incorrectly) and at the station they changed the charge to the Livestock Act - but oddly Peter was still arrested - normally this act is civil, but they charged them under the criminal part of the act.
Peter was in shock. This was completely unexpected.
It transpired that overnight some sheep had been worried. While no one had seen the Poodles in with the sheep they were the chief suspects because everyone knew the dogs were missing that night as Peter and Liz and asked everyone to look for them.
To cut a very long story short - the two pet Poodles were taken away to a secure police kennels and kept there for nearly four months under the Criminal Evidence Act. For the first three months they had no grooming or veterinary attention. They were treated exactly like a knife or a screwdriver found at a crime scene - they had no rights.
You can only hold a terrorist suspect for 28 days, but two escaped Poodles can seemingly be kept forever.
During this time the police conducted 'forensic tests' on the dogs - but no trace of sheep was found. Two ID parades also took place as a witness had seen 'something' in with the sheep (not attacking them) - but it had been dark, and from a distance and in poor weather. These ID parades were not videoed and involved German Shepherds, Pointers etc. and not other Poodles - nor even other solid coloured dogs of similar size. And the two Poodles were put together in one pen while all the other dogs were singular. As local papers had already reported the rumour that two Poodles had worried a flock of sheep, these 'ID parades' would seem somewhat compromised.
When the dogs returned home after being missing, Peter hadn't had time to wash them, he'd wacked up the central heating and left them to dry. There had been no sign of blood, no wool between their teeth. And when the police checked their poo - nothing - no evidence of sheep worrying.
So there appeared to be just circumstantial evidence. The police knew these two dogs were missing overnight when the sheep worrying had happened. But could every other dog in Sussex's movements be accounted for that evening? Could they arrest the first human they found without an alibi in a normal case
I think everyone who read this blog over the last few months thought sanity would prevail, that this case would never go the distance.
But two weeks from now Peter stands in the dock and potentially will receive a criminal conviction and be asked to pay £50-£60,000 in compensation and costs. At the moment he has no brief preparing his defence as legal aid papers have only just been filed.
These are lovely gentle people totally unused to being criminalised. They don't know their way around the system, they are - ironically - like lambs to the slaughter.
The police have said that they are no longer going to press for a destruction order and the dogs are now out on bail. They don't seem to think the dogs are really dangerous - so why continue?
It's a nightmare - and it could happen to any one of us.
A dog escapes - something bad happens that night. There's no evidence to link your dog, but you have to fight for your innocence and your livelihood.
These people live very simply. They have a rented cottage - they don't have £60k. Peter is dyslexic and is finding all this completely baffling.

What can we do to support them?
My first instincts back in June was to go to Dogs Trust and say please help! They were there for the people in Liverpool who had their dogs seized in the Pit Bull fiasco. How about supporting another dog owner in what seems an equally obvious case of injustice.
The immediate threat of destruction may have now, at last, gone - but making Jill and Peter homeless and destitute would seem to put the future of all four of the Poodles into question.
Can you try asking Dogs Trust to ask their good friend Trevor Cooper to help them? I've given it my best shot and got absolutely nowhere so far. If we all ask, maybe they might reconsider? This could happen to anyone of us. Please spread the word like you did with the Skoda case.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Happy news for a Friday

The Chobham missing Shih Tzu has been found! Someone had taken it in two days ago. Apparently they saw the lost dog posters that had been liberally plastered everywhere and realised the dog was missed. Presumably they'd have kept the dog otherwise!
I think an article on what to do if you find a stray dog is needed. You might have seen references in the Skoda blogs to ringing the RSPCA - well those in the know will realise that is not who you ring these days. It's not even the police.
It's the dog warden these days - but how many people know that?

Thursday, 18 October 2007

And the reaction from the finder of the dog...

Dear Beverley,

The little dog was about the size of our Westie, long haired, black and white, very clean and in good condition. It was very friendly with our dog as well as with people, my impression was that it was a very young dog.

After I picked up the dog I spoke to one of the salesmen who was talking to another man. I asked him if he would take take the dog in and contact the RSPCA and he said he would. He went through a back door into the showroom and I put the dog in after him and closed the door. The main doors to the showroom were at the other end and are self-closing and were closed. Returning to the Showroom (the doors were closed!) immediately after the road accident, I asked a man in a suit sitting at a desk if he had let the dog out and he said he had.
He also said that it was not his job to look after dogs. I asked him if he had a dog himself and his reply was "no fear"!

If what Skoda is now claiming were true, and I had been told at the time that the dog had unfortunately escaped, we would not be having this dialogue now!

Gottfried and Marilyn Steigmann

Don't know about you, but I'm all fired up again... what do you think folks? What do we do next? This just gets worse and worse.... a simple 'sorry' might have been the best strategy from Skoda.

Skoda latest

Marc Mustard from the Skoda press office phoned earlier and has left the following comment on the blog. I have copied it to Gottfried and Marilyn Steigmann and am awaiting their response.

OFFICIAL COMMENT FROM SKODA UK
Hello. My name is Marc Mustard and I am a press officer for Skoda UK.Firstly, I'd like to say how upset we all are at the fate of this poor dog. Any driver who has ever hit an animal will know how upsetting this can be.
I have contacted the dealership outside which the incident took place and have been assured that they are equally distressed by the situation.
The manager, a dog lover himself, told me that the dog ran out through an open door moments after being dropped off by Mr Steigmann. It certainly was not 'put out of the showroom'.
If the staff there had had the opportunity to aid the dog, they certainly would have.
Once again, I would like to reassure all users of this website that Skoda UK and the dealer involved are most upset by this occurence.
Thank you for reading.
Marc Mustard, Skoda UK

I'll quote from the original email from Gottfried and Marilyn:
"My Husband picked the little dog up so that he would not be in any further danger and, with the little dog under one arm and Beinn on the lead in the other, looked for help.
He went into the entrance of a Skoda showroom (the nearest place) and an assistant there agreed to take the dog from him, keep it safe and call the RSPCA.
My husband, thinking that he had done his good deed for the day, continued with Beinn (their Westie) in the direction of Tescos. Hardly had he set on his way when he heard a screech of brakes and saw the rapidly slowing traffic. The little dog was out on the road again and had been fatally hit by a car.
He doubled back to the Skoda sales place and asked about what had happened, to be told by the Manager that the dog had been put out of the showroom. Quite apart from a total disregard for the fate of the dog, this person also seemed not to care about the hazard to motorists. It transpired that he did not like dogs and said that the person who agreed to help "was with a client".
A passing woman picked the dog up from the road (at risk to herself) but the little animal died before any help could be organised. She was very distressed, as was my husband."

It would seem the two sides of this story don't match. I had emailed the Hull Skoda dealership and offered them the right to reply some time ago and contacted the press office by email, too on the first day the blog went up. No response was received, you'd think if there had been an 'innocent' explanation they'd have been eager to set the record straight immediately!
The 'official' version of events was only received today - after approximately 1,000 people have read the blog and a proportion of those have probably complained to various parties!
We await Gottfried and Marilyn 's response...

Have you seen this dog?


Just had a call from a very distraught owner - her Shih Tzu went missing in Chobham, Surrey yesterday. It's a mainly black dog, very friendly, touch of white. She's microchipped but not wearing a collar.
I don't yet have much detail, she was out looking when she called and the signal was poor. But I gather the dog was in her boutique in the Glass House on the Bagshot Rd, Chobham and then she just wasn't there. It's a very busy road and there's a suspicion she may have been stolen.
Vets, police and dog wardens are alerted. But if anyone hears anything please let me know and I'll let her know. We'll have our eyes peeled as we're in Chobham but if you know anyone else in this area please ask them to have a good look for this little lost dog. Fingers crossed - am about to post for her on Doglost - any other suggestions?
Owner's mobile is 07771574879. Just spoken to Dog Lost and they are wonderful! Can't praise them enough!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

What are the best doggie forums?

I'm a member of three very lively forums - dfordog, dogclub and the UK Labradoodle Association. I'm guessing there are many more out there.
When something like the Skoda Hull fiasco happens it would be great to be able to tell all dog lovers something really quickly and get them to all complain and show unity.
If you are a member of any other doggie forums could you copy and paste this message and see if we can get something done about changing this trend for people (even the police!) to think it is acceptable to let lost dogs go after they have been found.
If you're on a great doggie forum, can you leave a comment here, a sort of mini review and tell us how easy it is to join? I got excluded from a show dog forum when I tried to join - so I can't communicate with the show people on this sort of topic - which is a great shame as hopefully we all love dogs and they'd want to know! So if you're on any show dog lists - please cross post this appeal. People spend far too long worrying about differences instead of looking at the common ground. We all love dogs.
Any of our dogs could have been the dog that died in Hull.


Requiem for a lost dog
Please read the blog:
http://coldwetnose.blogspot.com/2007/10/thinking-of-skoda.html
and the subsequent ones which gives the details of who to complain to.

The callous actions of the staff of the Skoda dealership in Hull caused the needless death of a lost dog. We feel Skoda should issue a formal apology to all their doggie customers, who will be appalled by their actions.
Please read the blog and register your disapproval with the Skoda press office – plus if possible contact Top Gear and The One Show (http://www.bbc.co.uk/theoneshow/contact/ideas.shtml) who we have asked to cover this item and to name and shame the Hull dealership. Human lives could have been taken, too had someone swerved or run into the road to save this poor frightened dog.
We are also alarmed that two days later another blog reader was advised by the police ‘to just let go’ the elderly lost dog they had found wandering. They didn’t and the 17 year dog has now been reunited with his loving owner. But how many other people would do what the police advised?
What price a life?
Is a Skoda for the scrapheap and not the dog lover?
And are all police now advising finders to release stray dogs into traffic at weekends?

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Some good news

A couple of blogs ago (when we first mentioned the Hull Skoda garage carnage) Rosie, our magazine's designer, included a comment about an elderly stray dog her sister had found on Saturday.
I make no excuses for re-running it here...
"We've had a similar situation this weekend. My sis rescued a very old crossbreed that was running in a main road on Saturday morning. She picked him up and put him in the boot then drove to us for advice. We advised her to take him to a vet to see if he was chipped and then report him at the police station. The vet was great. The dog (now called Lucky Clover by her kids!) has a severe heart murmur and very bad teeth - he also appears to be stone deaf.
"When she went to the police station she spoke to someone through an intercom who said there was no-one there who could help and she advised my sis to, "just let him go," as the dog warden couldn't be contacted till Monday.
"What sort of advice is that? On talking to someone at a local rescue who take in strays in conjuction with the local dog warden, this advice is commonly given if the warden is not on duty - even though they know she is willing to take in any strays.
"Quite apart from the risk of death or injury to the poor dog, there's the serious risk of him causing an accident - unbelievable.
"Lucky Clover is staying with my sis for the time being and has now been reported to a different police station and his details posted on doglost.co.uk."

Lucky Clover with Rosie's niece and nephew

Well Lucky Clover has lived up to his name. He's just been reunited with his heartbroken owner who has loved him for 17 years.
I just fret that the owner of the Hull Skoda dog may still be searching for their lost dog. Having had one of my dogs go missing for several days (dogsitter left two gates open... long story) - every time I see a dog running scared in traffic, my stomach turns over.

Competition time again!

With the postal problems we know people will struggle to enter our competitions by post this issue. So we're opening up the caption and cross question comps to the blog extra early this issue. If we don't get a correct answer on the cross we'll issue clues on the close date November 1st.
Here's the caption pic....

Photo submitted by Mark & Lynn Leach, Glos

One lucky winner gets a complete set of grooming products, including shampoos conditioner, wipes and brush courtesy of John Paul Pet - worth nearly £100! (for more details see their website ). Five runners up get a shampoo, pot of wipes and a brush from the John Paul Pet Products range.


And here's the cross question:
Holly is owned by Janet Frid of Staffs

Guess which two breeds combined to make Holly. The first correct winner gets the choice of either a breed-specific book or a general book about dogs from the Interpet Publishing range.

Send your entries for both to: comps@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

I'll be back with clues on November 1st if the cross question prize isn't won - we haven't had a correct answer by post yet - no one has even got one of the parents right yet!!! It is a pretty hard one this month.

Go on, have a go!

And if you haven't yet emailed all your doggie friends about the Hull Skoda horror story which is the subject of the last two blogs - please do.