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...


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.

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:
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.

Monday, 15 October 2007

A bad day for Hull

Just got this email (please read previous blog for the full story):

"Thank you so much for replying. The Car dealers concerned were Barkers (Skoda), Beverley High Road, HULL, East Yorkshire. I do not know where the Head Office is (perhaps the Internet will help).
Many thanks again. Perhaps one little dog need not have died in vain.
Marilyn and Gottfried and Beinn"

I've done some digging - the dealership email is: hullsales@barkersmotorgroup.com
A Skoda press office email is jane.roxburgh@skoda.co.uk (they aren't easy to track down!)
I've also emailed Top Gear press office. If you'd like to contact them, too http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2005/05_may/20/topgear.shtml

Perhaps we should have an award for people like the manager at Hull Skoda.. any ideas for the name?

Thinking of a Skoda?

One of the first emails of the morning made me very sad...

Dear Beverley,
Something happened on Thursday that we are terribly upset about and hope that there might be others out there who would feel the same.
On Thursday's I stop at Tescos on the way home from work to do the weekly shop. As our home is about a mile away, it is my Husband's practice (he is retired) to walk our Westie, Beinn, up to meet me to help with the boxes and then we all go home in the car with the shopping.
Yesterday he set off as usual at about 5PM and was nearly there when he saw a little dog (no collar and probably about 3 to 4 months old) running loose in the busy road. It was nearly run over by a bus before it spotted Beinn and ran over to him to say hello, as dogs do.
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 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 ageed 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.
The dog was in good condition and clearly not a stray. Yes, it should have had a collar on and yes, the principle cause of its death was that it was out unattended. However, the Manager of that Showroom had the power to save its life and yet threw it out to its death.
We are deeply horrified and this is why we need to share our experience with you.
Yours sincerely,
Gottfried and Marilyn Steigmann

I have asked for the address of the Skoda dealership. I will publish as soon as I have it. I will also look up and publish the details of Skoda's national office. I have contacted their press office and shown them the email.
I don't think I'd want my brand represented by someone with such a scant regard for life - both human and canine.

Before you leave the blog, please also click here to read of another very matter that needs your support. Two Poodles escaped from a garden after the fence was damaged by cows - the dogs were recovered but the owner was later arrested and the dogs seized... sounds like madness, but it's happening now and you might be able to help by just sending an email!

UPDATE: Click here for the official Skoda response and click here for the Steigmann's response to the response.

Here's a picture of Lucky Clover, see Rosie's comment

A road not travelled

For some reason I woke up this morning remembering a strange phone call I had received probably 10 years ago in the Dogs Today office.
We often get unusual calls, odd requests - so we're pretty much ready for most things. (We were always puzzled why we were getting one series of calls and not a cat mag - we had a sweet old lady phoning us for a few days from a pay phone, asking for advice on how to get her cat stuffed, she had the poor thing frozen in a vet's freezer and always ran out of money at the crucial moment! She needed a taxidermist who would spread her payments like HP.)
Anyway back to the call that popped into my mind this morning!
An American voice asked to speak to me and no one else. When I took the call I was sure it was a wind-up and that I was probably on live radio being well and truly set up.
"I've always admired your magazine, it's the best in the world. You're the only person who could edit Playdog."
I think I may have coughed to buy me some time. I asked him to repeat the name of the title.
Yes, he really had said Playdog. I was polite and non-committal.
He was going to fly over to meet me immediately. He'd never been to England before, could I recommend a hotel near by he could stay at.
He did turn up, he was totally charming and he was deadly serious - he did remind me slightly of Captain Kirk from Star Trek, so I did wonder if I was on concealed cameras. He showed me the pilot edition. It had the same masthead as Playboy, it had centrefolds, and reader's dogs - the works.
He gave me his business card - must have it still somewhere - and it did indeed say proprietor of Playdog.
He wanted me to come over to the States and get going on the project straight away.
I have to say my mind raced. I imagined putting a showtrim black standard Poodle on the cover shot from behind and changing its tail to a white one - in bunny girl fashion. Having the magazine launch in New York - A dog's breakfast at Tiffanys.
I gave the offer a great deal of thought, but eventually declined.
I think I made the right choice...

Saturday, 13 October 2007

What a day!

Thank you to the three people who came to the shoot at late notice! I hope you enjoyed it, we did! We took some breathtaking photography yesterday and we were busy from the start to the end. They're always busy days, but yesterday had a few unusual ingredients!
First on set was Ida from the Blog, a four month old black Labrador being puppy walked for Dogs for the Disabled by Rebecca Hotchkiss. I've never seen a glossier dog and her fur was like velvet. Gorgeous! Rebecca and her partner told us some amazing and unexpected stories - but you'll have to wait for our February edition to hear them - really uplifting stuff!
Apparently it doesn't get any easier giving up the pups at the end of walking them. Rebecca hopes Ida will have great hips and become a brood for the charity - that way she gets to stay!
First giggle of the day - we'd photographed the sit - so it was time for "Ida - down". We're easily amused!
Phone call says Mr Trevor's running late, the bus hasn't come. We're all looking forward to meeting Mr Trevor - again from the blog. With a name like that he must be a very important dog. We'd fit him in when he arrives, we're impressed by any attempt to use public transport - it can't be an easy journey!
In comes Fred with Mina - another blog find and we spend quite some time wondering what are the ingredients that make up the gorgeous and unique Fred. His paperwork had said Jack Russell - but it wasn't one of the breeds I could see! Fred posed on a brown background that brought out his delicate red and brown shades and his really cute pale nose. Fred had been fostered by Mina, but he bounced back and she couldn't let him go a second time. He reminded me a little of Basil Brush and Spit the Dog - but I could also see a trace of Bull Terrier around the eyes. Some very nice shots, he was fascinated by the beep the flash makes and pulled some funny faces!
Mr Trevor and party arrived, and he was a very distinguished gentleman. We had a few background changes - he's mainly black with a reddish tinge and a hint of grey - so we had a few tweaks to do him justice. Got some lovely shots and his arm-stretched begging was quite remarkable!
Next were the Bolognese for our Fido Facts feature. I have to say they were unbearably cute! Imagine a little Bichon and relax that perm. They look discheveled and gorgeous, delicate and pretty. All four had tiny pink bows in an attempt to keep the wayward hair out of their eyes. They were so light on the leads - and the puppy would stand on her back legs and bounce like a little rabbit if she saw something that interested her. I don't know why, but they kind of reminded me of Gwen Stefani! Watch out for the March issue for the feature if you're interested in this numerically small breed.
After these tiny little dogs we had quite a contrast.
Suddenly the studio - which is pretty large - began to fill up. Everywhere you looked were Labradoodles and no two were alike! We're doing an in-depth feature on the 'breed' and we wanted to show the diversity. The Labradoodle people had done us proud! They were all gorgeous, but different and so well behaved - don't think we've ever had that many dogs in the studio at one time. There was a fair few play bows going on, but when each dog went on set they concentrated beautifully.
Next we had January's Fido Fact breeds and we had been so relieved to get some Boston Terriers - they'd come all the way from Derby and Bournemouth! Gosh did they photograph well! Jet black and white and such expressive little faces! Have to say we were stunned by the head studies - some of the best photographs I think we've ever taken. While we were shooting there was a knock on the door, I'd almost forgotten we had a TV documentary crew coming along!
In came Raw TV who are filming a series that will go out on the new Virgin 1 channel (you know the new one that is showing Eddie Izzard in the Riches at the moment - isn't it good? I'm hooked!) The dog show goes out on December 5th we think - so watch out - it's all about dogs on trial and is all about injustices and dogs in court.
They filmed our Bostons and interviewed their owners and we had one more Labradoodle on set too, they wanted some establishing shots for their documentary before the last dogs on set arrived. They said they wanted to show how glamorous our shoots are - I had to laugh! (Of course they managed to film me making my silly cat noises and barking - very chic, but I'll do anything to get the dogs to put their ears up!)
I'd really been looking forward to our last item. I started this blog in June in order to publicise the story of two pet Poodles that had seized by the police after escaping from their garden. I christened them the Two Poodle Martyrs.
Jill and I had spent month's emailing each other, but at last we were going to meet. The film crew were keen to capture the moment, but we stuffed it up by hugging each other and making our radio mikes go all muffled!
Meeting the Poodles was very emotional. They really are the sweetest, most gentle dogs. And seeing how soppy they were and cuddly with us made me really quite tearful - imaging them locked up for nearly four months, not knowing why or whether their people were coming back.
We got some lovely shots. The case is back in court again in a week or so. The death sentence still hangs over their heads, the real possibility of a criminal record, too and crippling fines (if found guilty they'll have to pay for the privilege of having their dogs incarcerated (about £8k) - plus compensate the sheep farmers. Lovely people, lovely dogs - such a waste of public funds.
If you don't know the story click here.
It had been a long day - but much longer for Jill. She's an air hostess and she'd just finished working the flight from Hong Kong!
I love my job, (we've been using the studio and Slough and wonderful Tim Rose since 1992 - but every shoot still comes up with surprises!). What a privilege to meet all those lovely people and dogs today. Thank you to everyone who came. And watch out for the pics appearing in the magazine!

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Just when you thought there was nothing left to invent....

Yes, I know it looks like a dog with its foot stuck in a jug, but read on ...

... you get an enticing email from New Zealand from someone who has heard a whisper of a thrilling new product just launched in America that could be the answer to everyone's muddy paw prayers!
I've got excited before - but it's rare. I'll admit the automatic poop scooper did get my pulse racing. It bagged the poos before they hit the ground - however it did look alarmingly like fetish wear, but innovators are often laughed at before they are celebrated. I still maintain that one day soon all dogs will probably be wearing them.
Hsin-Yi Cohen - one of our contributors (regular DT readers will know the name, you know - the one with the Great Dane that dances) had spotted the Paw Plunger and thought I'd be excited so emailed straight away.
I was.
Christine who does our accounts (and also our reader offers) emailed the Paw Plunger people to tell them I was excited.
When Paw Plunger inventor herself Brianne Leary emailed us straight back I was ecstatic. Two Paw Plunger's are now on the way to us and they will not arrive a moment too soon for our kitchen floor, carpets and soft furnishings.
So what is a Paw Plunger I probably hear you ask?
Brianne owns Lulu - a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.
She lives in New York just off Central Park. Or rather Central Park used to come home with her on a regular basis on wet days, hence needing to invent the Paw Plunger.
Imagine a mini car wash, in a big jug. You fill it with warm water and instead of walking your muddy pawed dog through the house to the bathroom when you just need to wash his paws - you just dip each paw in turn into the Paw Plunger and dry with a towel. Genius!
I'm having one of them obviously, my need is great and you don't get that many perks being editor of a dog mag - but if you have the muddiest dog in Britain we'd like you to test out the other one for us!
Send me a picture of your paw print problems and the most deserving gets to try the Paw Plunger before it gets into the shops.
So remember this day - I predict there'll soon be a Paw Plunger in every doggie house. But then again I was wrong about the automatic poop scooper...

For more info on the Paw plunger visit their website
(There's a really sweet video on the site of Lulu getting all muddy in Central Park and then taking the plunge. And by the way, the St Bernard at the top is the Paw Plunger Owner of the Month - in case you were still wondering why we had a picture of a dog with a jug stuck on its foot!)

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Are you free on Friday at 10am?

Could you get to Slough?
We have a photoshoot on Friday and someone has just pulled out of the first slot - bummer!
Ideally I would love to find via this blog a heelwork to music person to take the slot so we can work on a very visual article on how to start dancing with your dog at home - much in the style as our very popular "how to do agility in your back garden" series.

I realise this is very short notice and while I was lucky stumbling on a petfood mogul via this blog, can I really find a a budding journalist in the heelwork to music field? We'll help you with the writing and the planning if you're not confident! And if you can't make Friday, never mind we do the shoots every six weeks! Please pass the word on and if poss cross post so the dancing people get to hear about this!
So, barring a doggie dancer with Friday free, is there anyone out there who thinks there dog is cover material who can make their way to sunny Slough this Friday? You get to keep the gorgeous photography as well as see your dog in the mag - can't promise cover position as it all depends if we get THE shot on the day, but you'll definitely see your dog in print. You get a doggie bag and it takes a remarkably short period of time. We get brilliant results with rewards (chicken and bacon usually) and if necessary people holding onto dog's bums if they won't do a sit stay! Only concern - please don't volunteer dogs that are flash phobic as they'll hate it.
Could your dog be on our front cover?

We've already got Labradoodles, Boston Terriers and Bolognese coming - sorry - so unless you're a dancer with one of those breeds who wants to teach others - can we have other breeds or types please! We love putting pups on our cover - so please do get in contact if you've got a pup at the cute stage - don't miss getting a pic to treasure.
You get a CD of images to keep that you can use in breed books, adverts in Dog World annual etc. And you'll be having a session with Tim Rose - probably the best dog photographer in the world!
This offer is open for a limited period only - we must fill our 10am slot - so don't be shy - get in touch ASAP! Ideally describe your dog if you can't send a pic and what makes him or her gorgeous!

Monday, 8 October 2007

Cross question

Photo of Wilbur submitted by Michelle Ainsworth, S Yorks

Can you guess which two breeds produced Wilbur? The first correct entry will win either a specific breed book or a general book on dogs courtesy of Interpet publishing - you choose.

To date almost everyone postally got one of the parents correct - but the other ingredient proved elusive.

I will be giving progressively easier and easier clues in the next 24 hours we want this competition won!

Clue 1: The elusive ingredient may share its origins with a TV cook.
Clue 2: When West meets East (Anglia)

More later....

Are you a winner?

We had a lovely time judging the caption on Thursday and a staggering four out of the six winning entries came from you lot - well done!
A little later today I'll give you details of another competition we need your help with - so please keep checking the blog!
We judge our caption entries communally and as we're interviewing for our admin/editorial assistant's vacancy at the moment our interviewee of the day joined in, too. It is one of our jolliest tasks and vital that anyone we employ has a good sense of humour!
The ultimate winner managed to arrive via the Post - which is an achievement in itself! You'll have to wait for the mag to come out to see the winning entry (it is spectacular!) - but I'll reveal our four successful blog winners - can you email me your postal(!) addresses for the prizes (beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk).

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

C: 'You’ve been framed.'
LouBeale - Labradoodle forum

D: ‘I can see the head, just one more push!’
Lainey74 - Labradoodle forum

Which of these deserves the best blog caption prize - please post your votes (A,B, C or D) in the comment section!

Thanks to all who entered, a little later today I'll put up the cross question competition from October's mag - I'll come up with a clue as all our postal entries to date have been wrong! So it's obviously a toughie.
See you later...

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Caption competition

Today (Thursday) at 1pm we judge the October Dogs Today caption competition and the pile of entries so far received aren't that brilliantly funny. Can you do any better?
Here's the photo, the dog featured is Max one of our office dogs if that helps! ....

The ultimate winner gets a copy of the Pet Poets Club Book, a dog tag and a t-shirt. Five runner-ups win a book and a tag.

Post your best efforts as a comment and I'll also do a Dogs Today binder for the best blog entry - who can resist that? Shy retiring types please email me direct beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk. we're judging at 1pm tomorrow (that's today, Thursday!) so hurry up!

Sorry I've been slow to blog, we're interviewing for our admin/editorial assistants job and it's quite time-consuming!

In case you want to know more about Pet Poets Club here some more info:

Ever wondered what your pet is thinking, or what they get up to when you are not around? Then wonder no more because these secrets are now revealed by The Pet Poets Club in their superb collection of hilarious poetry and adorable photos written from the point of view of pets.

Each poem gives readers an enjoyable insight into what it really means to be a pet and with characters like Fifi the showbiz Chihuahua, the Dogfather and Dare Devil Dave the stunt cat, it is no wonder the Pet Poets Club has been such a hit. Since its creation a year ago, the Club has become an internet sensation with thousands of fans joining in the fun from across the world.

Last year the popular poems were released into a book and have since expanded onto a whole range of merchandise including clothing and stationery.

The Pet Poets Club products are available in Pets at Homes stores across the UK and online