Friday, 28 March 2008

London, Paris, New York... coming to a city near you? Plus our competition!

At the beginning of the month I highlighted three lonely boys. I'm sorry to say Freddie is still waiting for his chance to become someone's forever dog.
He's had quite a few disappointments in the past, but he's ever the optimist - like most dogs.
He needs an urban home (away from sheep) and no cats. He gets on fine with other dogs - but best if they're not too small and cat like! Neutered, civilised apart from his sheep obsession. About 4 or 5 years old.
If you think you and Freddie could be made for each other, please call Anne on 01341 241238. He is in Wales at the moment - but he really could do with moving to somewhere else where sheep are less of a temptation, so please don't be put off by his current geography. Freddie should not be a difficult dog to home as he his affectionate and good in the car, but as he needs to relocate that is the tricky part of this particular rehoming.
Another factor is that Anne at Home-a-Dog is obviously poorly as she has terminal cancer. At her request we ran a successful appeal to find someone to take over her vital work with death row dogs a little while ago. The wonderful Demelda takes over Home-a-dog on May 1st, but I do think it would be a tremendous morale boost if Anne could see Freddie finally settled as he isn't enjoying kennels and would really thrive in a home. His previous attempts at happiness have all come to nothing - through no fault of his own.
So does anyone have an urban fireside with a little empty space next to it? Anne thinks Freddie could even suit someone living in a flat.
Please post this one far and wide. Let's put a smile on Anne's face and find Freddie his dream home.

I didn't want Freddie getting overlooked - so I've taken the odd decision to also include our regular competitions on this same blog!

Caption competition:


First prize a comfy square Rosewood sleeper bed in chocolate brown Faux leather and five runners up get a soft comfort squeaky toy called a Dishy Dog Banger from the Chubleez collection.

Email your captions to:

And please, don't forget Freddie... !

And I thought I'd share a really upbeat story about Staffies...

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Happy Easter

Just got this wonderful email:

"Total love at first sight! :-)
They have taken him and are renaming him Jake. "

Ahhh - I do love a happy ending!

Otis: All his eggs in one basket

Today Otis has a chance. A wonderful lady faxed 473 vets and asked them to put up a note about Otis in the waiting room. One of them hit the bullseye.
The sign was read by a lady who had owned a Dobe x Staffie that wasn't good with other dogs. The dog was the centre of her world until he died of cancer a year and a half ago.
She phoned Em without seeing Otis's photo or the video clip. She said it didn't matter to her what he looked like.
As soon as I have an update, I'll let you know.
Fingers crossed everyone!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Good Friday and the Staffie cross?

I'm not normally all that religious, but it just occurs to be that this is a very apt time to be contemplating Otis having his innocent life taken.
We all know it's about to happen, but we're none of us doing anything to stop it.
Emma just sent me this email.
"I have read that a lot of people have advised to have Otis PTS because of his aggression with other dogs. Is this because he is a staffie/bullbreed or because they think that every dog-aggressive dog should be euthanased? Does it matter that he is a very loyal companion to a human or do they (like many misadvised people) think that it is 'cruel' to keep a dog on its lead? Staffies are very urban dogs and seem quite content as long as they are with their handler.
"Do they think that dog-aggressive Greyhounds should be euthanased? I had a Greyhound for 10 years who was dog aggressive (except to his own pack) and he spent most of his life on a lead with a muzzle on. He led a very fulfilled life and was my soulmate. What about dogs that attack/kill cats or smaller caged animals? What makes their lives any less important than that of another dog?
"Here is a short video clip to show why I am trying so hard to save this boy. Feel free to crosspost it onto your forums and then maybe people can actually see how people friendly he is and why it would be such a waste of a loving dog's life. "

Yesterday I got an email from someone warning me to be careful - that Otis looks like a Pit Bull. Deep sigh. I suspect that in medieval times he'd have been going around pointing fingers at women with long straggly hair and warts and saying they were witches, too. Just for society's protection of course.
I have to say I am deeply uncomfortable with a society that doesn't help an animal in need just because of the way it looks. That gives up on a living creature because it isn't quite perfect. Convinces themselves it's better off dead.
It's not such a massive leap to start killing the old people, the disabled, the red heads, the people of different race. Hitler found quite a few people to agree with him, just because a lot of people start saying 'kill' it doesn't make it right.
Enjoy your Hot Cross buns this weekend - would Jesus have had a Staffie cross?

Stop Press: Just heard from Em - more than 50 rescue orgs contacted so far, all with no space for Otis.

The next two in the queue at the pound:
Damian is a Staffie x English Bull Terrier BT who was abandoned at a vets because the owners thought that he may attack the kids iafter seeing Casualty. He is only about four months old and completely adorable. He is good with other dogs, great with kids and seems fine with cats.

Then there is Jenny. She is about six years old and a Staffie. Absolutely great with kids and makes a noise similar to a Pot Bellied Pig when she is rolling in the grass in the sunshine. She is rubbish with other dogs, but so affectionate and loving with people. Some people came to view her, let their toddler fuss her for over half an hour and then announce that they would not be able to adopt her because Staffies attack people.

Email Em for more details:

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Ticking clock

Still no room at anyone's inn for Otis. There's been lots of threads on various forums saying if he's not good with other dogs maybe the best thing is that he is PTS.
Have to say if we start killing dogs that don't like other dogs there'll be carnage. Pretty much most Staffies prefer humans to other dogs.
I've been emailing Em, the lovely caring lady at the pound and I just can't imagine how she sleeps. What a tough job she has. So rewarding when she gets a dog placed but so devastating when she doesn't.
Just strikes me we are in a crisis where rescue is stretched to the limits.
As Em says - why take on a two year old that someone else messed up when you can pick up the free sheets and get a 'pedigree' pup for almost nothing!
If anyone is interested in helping the contact details are: 0797 356 9371 or email:
Otis isn't particularly dog aggressive. He is just a typical Staffie albeit a cross. It's an honest appraisal of a dog that is literally on death row - it isn't even a home that is being looked for here - although that would be wonderful - it's a space in a rescue sanctuary. No mock drama. He has so many days and then he will be put to sleep if he isn't claimed by his owner or found somewhere else to go. If he were a Cocker Spaniel that didn't like other dogs or a Chihuahua or even a Great Dane he'd have been snapped up so quick!
And sadly Otis is the tip of an enormous iceberg. Rescue is stuffed full of abandoned young Staffies and Staffie crosses.
Perhaps we need free neutering for all bullbreeds now. Perhaps we need it to be an official breeding ban - with people having to apply for exemptions until the population explosion stops. Did you know that an unneutered Staffie could account to in excess of 60,000 puppies in a relatively small number of years? If all her progeny are bred on from. And the free papers show that so many people are breeding. Don't know how you enforce it - but maybe a tax for owning these types of dog that is small if they're neutered but enormous if they're not?
Got to just be better that killing them. Em at the pound says she will hold Otis when he dies if he has to. He loves and trusts her already after a few days, that's how she feels about all these dogs. That if they have to die it's best if it's in the arms of someone that cares. But I still can't see how she can keep it up - the stress must be enormous.
Thank God for people like Em.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Death Row in leafy Surrey

Can anyone help Otis please? Just got a very urgent email, this poor fellow is on borrowed time. No one has room and he's about to come to the end of his stay on death row. There's probably hundreds of unwanted Staffie crosses about to be euthanized all over Britain, but now this one isn't just a statistic. We know his name. We know he's there.
Otis is about two years old and is not good with other dogs but is good with people and although he can be a bit stubborn he is a very sweet boy. He would need to be walked onlead because of his nature. He would be better suited to someone who had teenage children or an adult household.
No cats!
Otis would need to be vaxed, chipped and castrated.

Finding a home for dogs like Otis was not helped by the negative depiction of a Staffie-type dog on Casualty this weekend. I got an urgent call today from someone in Staffie rescue who was already feeling very stretched - she saw Casualty as such a low blow to the breed. She asked - why would any dog trainer allow their dog to be used to depict such a terrible stereotype? Good point. Wonder if that pay cheque is making them feel a bit queasy? Blood money?
Let's try and buy Otis some time, 30 emails just looking for a temporary space have all come back saying sorry we're full - so the future is looking more than bleak for this poor boy.
Otis's plight struck a particular chord with me this evening. I am reading a very strong kids book to my son, a chapter a night. It's called Dog Lost - will look up the author later. It's about a Pit Bull pup called Cash that gets given to a little boy by his alcoholic single dad. The boy and dog become such great friends, but one day the dad tries to hit the boy and the Pit Bull stands between them and protects his young master. Pit Bulls are in the news and the father uses it as an excuse to chuck the dog out. The Pit Bull gets dumped and the little boy becomes so sad and withdrawn, like he did when his mum died. We're reading how the clever dog fends for itself - but the poor young dog has just been taken in by dog fighters. I have to say it is a huge tear jerker. And so believable. It makes the point that as soon as one breed is banned people who want aggressive dogs just move on and ruin another breed.
Maybe Otis has a sad story, too. He probably thought he was loved, thought someone was coming back for him.
Wonder how many more Staffies and crosses were dumped after the nation watched Casualty?

Come on folks can we make some space for Otis? Anyone got a spare kennel to take him out of immediate danger?

Phone Emma on 0797 356 9371. Or email:

Please let us know what happens & please cross post this far and wide! This is life and death.

PS. Just had an email from Emma, she'd just read the blog. "Funny you should mention Casualty. We had a Staffie x EBT brought in today who was dumped at a vets by the owners as after they had seen this programme they thought that the dog may attack the kids. He was supposed to be put to sleep but was handed over to the dog warden instead. He is about four months old."
I'm off to bed. My son's story book had a happy ending. Cash the Pit Bull saves a few people's lives while she's a stray - even saves a cat. She's reunited with her boy who moves out from his abusive father and go to live with his step brother.
Let's hope we can at least give Otis a happy ending, although god help every Staffie and cross out there with the anti-dog climate the way it is.

Death Row Dogs - falls short

I have to say I was a bit disappointed - it ended abruptly. You felt there was going to be another 15 minutes where a conclusion would have been reached. That could have been a brilliant TV show with a bit more effort. For a start, why did it finish when it did? Did they run out of funding or just lose interest when they realised most of these people were probably going to eventually get off as they were decent, honest dog owners in the middle of obvious injustice. That those were probably going to be the only people who would ever agree to be filmed. I think they'd hoped for more tears at pet dogs being destroyed. In the planning meeting they'd have expected more drama and they'd have been disappointed how slowly things moved.
The show's transmission was delayed - originally it was going out in December - but by hanging on for a few more months did they get any of the stories properly concluded? Not really unless you think that final frame of update was sufficient - even that was badly out of date.
A missed opportunity.
I expect the problem stems from the planning stage. The researchers had no idea what the key dog injustice issues were before the started and by the end of it I'm still not convinced they got it. These stories are not easy to film as everyone spends so much time in limbo just waiting for something to happen. No one can capture that - but thinking you can follow even a handful of stories all the way though without setting aside at least a year to film was the other big mistake.
Some of the unchallenged details on the Two poodle Martyr story made me cringe - it's a good job they had already got off by the time it was transmitted. And did they make it clear it wasn't a Dangerous Dogs Act case after all - that the police had made a mistake that first night when they charged Peter!
There's room for a much more searching documentary that looks with fresh eyes at dogs in society, how and why everything is changing and what realistically needs doing.
Knee jerk legislation hasn't worked - that's black and white as more people are bitten than ever before. Children are certainly no safer.
Someone needs to sort out why people aspire to acquire dogs they can't control. Ban one breed and they'll just move on to another. A realistic look at what is going wrong and hopefully a road map out of there.
Just as we're making it hard for people to own gas guzzling cars maybe we need to make people think twice before they acquire a high performance dog? Not a dog tax - just some accountability. The Dog wardens association have some great ideas. Like all dogs having to have 3rd party insurance - like you have with cars! Accountability that protects others if things go wrong.
No one seems to hear them though. It's a simple idea and gives them the reason to knock at the door when someone says a dog is out of control. Not just a silly dog licence that costs more to collect than it raises. Sounds like the start of a plan and as they're on the streets shouldn't we be listening to them?

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Death Row Dogs on TV

A few months ago I told you about a documentary being made about dog owners caught up in the legal system. It finally airs tonight on Virgin 1 at 9pm, the title Death Row Dogs. (Channel 121 on Sky - listed after all the ITV extra channels)
The Two Poodle Martyrs case is featured and Jill tells me she can't bear to watch. I suspect all the cases will be harrowing but I'll be watching, I'm interested to see how the production team deal with the cases.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Can we change the world?

I've often said that bloggers can do anything. Well numerous of you have told me about these biggies, so let's give it a go. Please sign up and help if you can.
In 2007, an 'artist' called Guillermo Vargas Habacuc caught a stray dog on the street, tied it up on a short leash to the wall of an art gallery and left it there to die slowly of hunger and thirst. Over the next few days, the artist himself and visitors to the gallery watched impassively as this happened. Now the prestigious Central American Biennial of Art has decided that this was art and has asked Vargas Habacuc to repeat his actions in the Biennial of 2008. If you don't believe it, Google the artist's name... or look at this link (distressing photos so be warned). Please sign the petition and circulate to as many people as possible.
Click here for the petition.
There's also a petition to stop puppy farmers supplying puppies to the restaurant trade in China. A much harder one to crack. Changing a nation is harder than stopping one artist from doing something inhumane.
Click here for the China petition.
Please cross post, and thank you to everyone who contacted me about these stories. I was hoping the art one was a hoax, but unless the photos are shown out of sequence I don't see how they can be. I was hoping they found a starving dog and gave it food until it looked well. Now that's the sort of art I'd appreciate!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

New beginnings

Kim from the wonderful PACT animal shelter took in three quite rotund waifs and strays at Christmas. Two slimmed down but one got fatter and these nine lovely pups resulted. She describes them as Lurcher X Staffy X GSD X Collie X Miscellaneous!

Mum is only a pup herself. There are 20 other dogs at PACT that Kim describes as sticky.

For more details:

PACT Sanctuary
01362 820775

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Death on the road

I was taking the kids to school this morning when I saw something odd up ahead. Cars slowing and some cars stopped at strange angles in the road.
A woman at the roadside was very animated and distressed, a policeman was talking to her. I guessed she was the driver of the silver car stopped at an angle in the road. The policeman had pulled up behind her - I guess it was just chance that he was following her as it looked like it had just happened. There wouldn't have been time to call the police.
Still lying in the road was a young dog, very obviously dead.
I don't think it had a collar on, it looked medium sized, mainly black with brown eyebrows and legs and a coat like a Border Terrier.
How ghastly. For the dog, for the woman driver. For whoever loved that dog.
I've been feeling slightly sick all day as a result.
I've told Dog Lost what I saw, just in case anyone was still searching for the poor thing - but I couldn't see anything local listed. The accident was this morning, just before 8am on the Chertsey Rd between Chobham and Ottershaw in Surrey.
The kids didn't see, thankfully. They were engrossed in listening to Stephen Fry reading them Harry Potter.
Made me feel so grateful for every time we've got Tess back after she'd broken through the fence after a rabbit. We've spent more than £6k on fencing, but she and the rabbits seem to be in league and they keep digging holes that Tess can squeeze through. They're not that bright obviously as if they kept her in they'd be safer too.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Some pointers for the KC?

If indeed it is the fear of what DEFRA may be about to impose that is driving the KC into a corner, I have route map out of it for them!

1. Stop looking at breeders - just look at accrediting individual litters. Breeders tend to be inconstant. They may test everything possible for one litter but they might be tempted next time into using an untested dog if they really like it or have an accident. They can get old, lose the plot or just get short of dosh. Just look at the dogs and then you make no claims for the breeder's behaviour that you can't verify.
2 Create a second level of registration - a gold standard. Publicise this and the benefits it brings to the buying public.
3 Don't go charging the good breeders extra for this new registration, fund a more meaningful registration scheme by charging the people who don't qualify a lot more for basic registration. Make it a tax on poor breeding. Give breeders a financial incentive to test, a reward for good behaviour. Perhaps in time make it very hard for people to breed on from dogs with only basic registration? Maybe insisting they test that dog and have good results before their progeny can join the higher level of registration?
4. Elevate the bar. Follow our exisiting model in Dial-a-dog! Insist on sensible and available health tests, check they've been done and start reprimanding people who knowingly breed from dogs with known hereditary health issues. Forget the KC telling people off for swearing at judges, I think knowingly breeding from two dogs with serious hereditary eye problems is bringing the world of pedigree dogs into disrespect. (Historical note: This recently happened in Labradors and the KC defended the Accredited breeder for doing this!)

I doubt they'll take any advice from me - but doesn't this seem a lot more sensible and easier to administer than the ABS? Isn't it more likely to work as the good breeders get the recognition they deserve without being used as a profit centre for the KC.
Make these registration certs look lovely so the pet people get the message that these are very well bred dogs and put a bit of gold on them. Make people proud to have done their best for the future of dogs. Talk to the public and warn them that if they don't go for gold they are taking a risk and that gold registered dogs may cost a bit more - but they're worth it.

What do you think - perhaps I should stand for Chairman of the Kennel Club? It really can't be all that difficult to steer that ancient creaky leaking ship into something approaching the right direction.

Muzzled but still making a noise!

An extract from today's Sunday Times:

Dogs Today magazine has also been tapped sharply on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. Last year it published a guide called The Little Black Dog Book, which warned about hereditary problems in pedigree dogs. The magazine’s editor, Beverley Cuddy, described the breeding of pedigree dogs — a pastime in which the Kennel Club is something of a specialist — as “a genetic timebomb”.

This year Dogs Today was told that its journalists would not be allowed official accreditation at Crufts. Whoever thought the world of the dog show could be so fierce?

“They won’t tell me why we’re banned,” said Cuddy, although it might well have something to do with a headline that screamed “Stop breeding ignorance — reform the Kennel Club now!”

“They have totally cut us off,” she said. “I am very upset that we’re excluded from the show.”

Saturday, 8 March 2008

The banned wagon!*

Still no reply from the Kennel Club Press Office, so I think we have to assume it was a bullseye. (Don't know what we're talking abut? Click here!) I've been having a think about our KC relations and they stopped sending us press releases and stopped answering our questions shortly after we published, "The Little Black Dog Book" which went out with our July 2007 edition. (See dial-a-dog for how to order a copy)
It was a volume we were very proud of. It listed and explained every hereditary health problem for which there was a test. It was a very thorough directory and was universally well received - well with one exception - which I will come back to! It wasn't tabloid-esque, it was produced with a very straight bat. It was simply designed so that everyone could see what tests should be performed, hopefully educating the puppy buyer to be more demanding and encouraging the novice breeder to do all they could to produce healthier dogs. It removed the excuse of ignorance from the equation.
We had some amazing phone calls shortly after it came out. Many Cavalier owners were stunned. What they had previously thought was an amusing habit their dogs had of scratching into mid air and missing their ear was actually a symptom of a very serious and fast growing problem in the breed - syringomyelia. These pet owners had simply never heard of this condition – even though probably the majority of the breed suffers from it. Incidentally it is not even listed in the Kennel Club's list of known hereditary diseases - they don't even insist on heart testing Cavs - merely recommend!
As a direct result of our publication many pet dogs are now on essential pain meds and their suffering has been vastly reduced.
We received not a murmur of negativity and lots of praise from all quarters - until I got a very thick envelope from the MD of James Wellbeloved and Royal Canin. They had been the sponsors of the supplement and we had sent each page to their PR people for checking before we went to press and they had absolutely loved it. It was hence quite a shock to receive an incredibly negative and hostile letter from the boss!
The letter I received was cc'd to Rose Smart at the Kennel Club. Also enclosed was a long letter from James Wellbeloved's supremo to Rose at the KC to which I was cc'd.
Basically the letter was apologising at great length to the KC for sponsoring our supplement and saying they'd be reviewing their policy of advertising in our mag in the future as they didn't want to further upset the KC and greatly valued working with them. Reading between the lines the letter seemed to have been provoked by some sort of earlier exchange with Rose Smart at the KC as there were lots of references like "as you know" etc in the letter to her that implied a previous conversation or earlier correspondence.
No one at KC contacted us about the supplement, no one had expressed any problems with a single word of its content.
I expect the KC will have had an issue with our campaign slogan, "Stop Breeding ignorance - Reform the KC now," but if they had, they weren't sufficiently motivated to write to us even if they did feel the need to express their upset to our advertiser.
To this date James Wellbeloved and Royal Canin have refused all invitations to advertise in our mag - and they were very regular advertisers before. They continue to advertise elsewhere in the pet dog press, so it's not a change of marketing strategy.
At Christmas we had some of their treats to give away to readers, again arranged via their PR department. Just as we went to press their head office tried to stop it going out - but it was too late to pull it.
It seems too much of a co-incidence, but the publication of our very educational manual seems to have provoked the KC into a stance of trying to silence our vocal critical stance by other means than fair and reasonable debate!
I was sent some information very recently that I think maybe further explains their sudden wish not to be criticised.
I was given sight of some highly contentious notes from a meeting between KC reps and a breed council.
There was a very plausible explanation given by the senior KC rep for the hurried KC Accredited Breeder Scheme (ABS). It seems there was an urgent need to be seen to be doing something to tackle health problems before Defra imposed something much more meaty.
Apparently Defra were proposing to impose the aspect of the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals which would limit close dog breeding to a co-efficient of only 6%. That would mean that in future only one grandparent could be shared by two sides in a dog's pedigree. It would mean an end to line-breeding and it has to be said it would need a very complex and expensive re-writing of the KC registration software so that the KC could check out who could and could not be registered in future. (The same meeting seemed to infer that at the moment automatic checking to see if ABS breeders had indeed done the required checks wasn't yet possible.)
Is this why the KC would really like everyone to join the flawed ABS as soon as possible, as a smokescreen to decoy Defra? Is this why they are making it ridiculously easy for people to qualify?
Is this why our advertisers seem to have been lent on and our press passes were refused for Crufts?
I expect I was meant to learn my lesson, limp away and shut up. They don't seem to know me very well!
I continue to receive deeply upsetting contact from readers who have young dogs with distressing and avoidable hereditary diseases. If I waiver and consider taking the easy road and producing a bland, safe dog mag and not having to put up with all this crap I just re-read a few emails and I get all fired up again!

* Thank you to Rachel for suggesting the headline

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Time to win!

While you're probably fairly unlikely to win Best in Show at Crufts, you could win one of these competitions - but hurry there's not much time!

Send your funniest captions for the above photo to today by 2pm please! Brilliant prizes - first prize brown faux suede dog bed from Rosewood. Cyber Rubber Treat Balls for the runners up!

And here's the cross question and we know it's a hard one so straight away there's a clue to get you started!

Lola is a cross between two terriers - one of which won't be on show at Crufts this week!

NEW CLUE: One of the two parents could have been in the TV series Dallas. The other has a colour in its name.

ANOTHER CLUE! You're obviously all too young to remember Dallas! One parent is a terrier that is named after a famous parson. (A longer legged version can be seen at Crufts.) The other hails from Ireland.

CONGRATULATIONS Angela Gallant who is the winner - the answer was Jack Russell x Kerry Blue Terrier.

Still time to enter the caption... but hurry up!

Winner gets either a breed book or a general book from Interpet Publishing.

Must be won today - more clues to come if you don't get it - email me direct if you feel inspired!

Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Banned from Crufts!

Today I got an email from one of our merry band of photographers. He'd just rung up Crufts press office and was surprised by the response.
"I was set to go up tomorrow and do day 1, so just phoned the press office to check something about parking, and have been told that I wouldn’t be allowed in as press on behalf of Dogs Today due to events last year. I wasn’t even aware of any issues last year."
Had one our photographers got up to no good last year? Had they been asking the top dogs to slip out of their collars, had they been moonlighting for Playdog? We asked the KC for a statement and were told, "Caroline would be sending one along presently." Presumably that's Caroline Kisko - KC supremo.
We never got one, but we did receive this email!
"I’m afraid we are not going to be able to provide you with a comment. We believe that Beverley knows why we would not wish to register Dogs Today at Crufts and so do not feel we need to re-iterate this.
Best Wishes
Kat Watts
Crufts Press Office"
I wrote back:
"Dear Kat
I'm sorry but I have no idea why you are refusing to admit our photographers! So far as I can see, every year I call for the KC to reform its health policies yet this year you seem to have decided to ban us, rather than reform yourselves!
Clarification is needed to explain your new response to criticism.
To which I have yet to receive a reply.
The dummy does seem to have been thrown quite firmly out of the pram. They'll be burning copies of our magazines next! At least we didn't compare the KC to the Klu Klux Klan like Peta did! (Click here)Wonder what punishment they got - bet even they've not had their press passes ripped up!
At the risk of further sanctions I'm going to tell you something else about the KC and dog health!
This week we discovered that the KC's much criticised Accredited Breeder Scheme appears to have been further watered down. (Perhaps it should now be renamed their Discredited Breeders Scheme?)
We had an application from an Accredited Breeder to advertise her pups via Dial-a-Dog (click here). We have a strict criteria for each breed as to which health tests need to be performed and as this breeder very definitely didn't do the tests we looked into how she could claim to be Accredited. She was. It seems according to this breeder that now the KC just "strongly advise" testing - she said it is no longer a condition of being an Accredited Breeder. When did that happen? And more importantly - why? And if we ask them - would they tell us as they seem to have completely sent us to Coventry!
I'm afraid we had to refuse the KC accredited breeder - but how many members of the public would be fooled into imagining an Accredited Breeder would be doing all the required health tests?
I have to say I'm surprised that they've bothered to ban us this particular year and no other - we have pretty much been saying precisely the same thing for the last 18 years! We'd love to stop - but that would require them to evolve, to improve, to listen?
Maybe the message has finally got through? Just in case it hasn't and there's any room for ambiguity...
It's time to stop breeding ignorance - reform the KC registration system now, make health testing mandatory and do it soon - before it's too late for so many of our beloved breeds. Other younger Kennel Clubs have been doing what we ask for 20 or more years. Every day we get calls from people with pet dogs that are suffering - the perception that KC registration is a mark of quality still exists. I would love to celebrate the day when that perception becomes a reality!

Don't forget to read the latest blog which continues on from here... click here

A bit of a dog's breakfast - or not?

Yesterday was one of those days where you put the phone down and then question your sanity. I had just agreed to a BBC Breakfast film crew coming to our home only a couple of hours later to talk about - well it has to be Crufts doesn't it - it's the season. I had put a few obstacles in the way - my obligations to do the school run - for example, but no - they still wanted to come and could do it after I had my darling seven year old with me - no probs. Kids and dogs, always a recipe for success when filming.
I was not dressed for TV, it wasn't a rare good-hair day, the house and dogs were certainly not broadcast-standard either and of course my in-tray was overflowing as usual. Still - needs must. The Crufts media issues this year seemed to have turned into a strange attack on heelwork to music - I wanted the spotlight moved back to something more sensible, ie health and the importance of testing. I certainly have no problem watching dogs running about doing clever stuff. It is certainly much more demanding of their brains and anatomy than the normal dog show competition!
Anyway the crew were nice - although 'crew' these days is just two people, in the past we've had just the one person in a crew for ITV - he did the sound, lights, camera and did the interview, too! Very eco-friendly!
Dawn, the reporter, was a bit nervy around dogs so her stint at Crufts on Thursday was going to be testing. Although I have to say being greeted by Oscar putting both his paws on her shoulders was a baptism of fire. I'm sure Jeremy Paxman doesn't have the same distractions as Dawn had when he's formulating his questions - Oscar and Tess stuck to her like a magnet every time she opened her mouth!
The item is due to go out on Thursday's BBC1 Breakfast show and I cringe when I think what garbled footage they managed to get!
Oscar and Tess were meant to be just in the background - but for some reason they were each very keen to find their five minutes of fame. We shot the piece in the garden sitting around a big table - so my rapid spring clean was in vain and, sadly, I hadn't had the time or the skills to catch up on several years neglected weeding!
Someone (I'm being vague here - it might have been me!) had thought it amusing to teach Tess to be an agility dog and leap on the table to do a down stay. Hence during our very serious interview from time to time we were interrupted by an incoming dog joining us at speed and plonking herself in between the camera and me. And where Tess goes Oscar follows...
Eventually they settled down a bit and Tess decided to sit next to me and look into the camera - Oscar got a bit bored and we had to stop filming as the sound man could hear a strange noise. It turned out to be Oscar chewing the table! Oh dear. They were intent on showing me up.
And those interested in continuity should keep a close eye-out to see if my answers are edited out of sequence. At the beginning of the piece I was wearing a black cardigan. By the end it appeared to be cream mohair!
Oh well, did I make the point that it's okay to put on a flash show that's entertaining - so long as the fundamentals are right but sadly they're not. The Swedish "Crufts" has green carpet and Andrew Lloyd Webber-style theatrics, too - but they also have mandatory health testing for all dogs before they are bred from - and clear rules to follow for improvement of those results. Plus they have a temperament test before a dog can become a Champion. How incredibly sensible!
Did I let the KC off lightly this year due to my own dogs conspiring against me and putting me off my game? We'll have to wait and see... but at least we now know which one of the dogs is eating the garden furniture!

Monday, 3 March 2008

Three lost and lonely boys...

If you're a Dogs Today reader you may just have got your April issue and that may mean you're looking here for news on Freddie. (Don't forget to read my earlier blog of today - about the Two Poodles Martyrs!)
So far, no news on Freddie - he's still waiting. Here's a photo and some details in case you haven't yet seen the mag.

Meet Freddie, he's already had more comebacks than Frank Sinatra and all through very little fault of his own. Wonderful Anne Fowler of Home-A-Dog took him off death row on the day he was due to be killed. His first new owner became allergic to him; his second kept him nearly a year and then returned him saying he was noisy - which he wasn't when he was in Anne's kennels.
Anne had him neutered and found him another home, but the new owner had a fall and slipped into a coma. His next home lasted eight months without incident, but he bounced back after he chased some sheep and after getting a taste for hunting he became troublesome to their pet cat.
Freddie's very clean, excellent in the car, good with other dogs - but ideally not squeaky ones now his hunting instinct has been raised! Being in sheep country, Anne would prefer to find a more urban home for Freddie as she doesn't want him to be stuck in kennels for the rest of his life. If you think you and Freddie could be made for each other, please call Anne on 01341 241238

Meet Dumbo - we heard about him a week ago and we thought we'd found him a home - but so far no luck! Here's the email I received, just missing inclusion in the April mag.

Dumbo is really desperate now - he's not coping well at all in the cold kennel. I was pinning all my hopes on him being in the next issue of the magazine, as I know he would have such a good chance of finding the home he deserves.
I don't know what else I can do for him.
Jodie Adams

Gulp! Here's some background on this poor dog - please do post far and wide and let's find a Disney-esque happy ending for Dumbo and these other dogs.

Here are his vital stats:
  • Eight-year-old Brindle Male Greyhound.
  • Dumbo has been waiting for a home for three years now. He is always overlooked due to his age and nervousness.
  • He is such a lovely well behaved boy, just a bit nervous around strangers. But once he knows you he is very loving and affectionate.
  • Dumbo is cat friendly and good with other dogs.
  • Ok with children, although we are looking for a quiet home with no young children.
  • He is housetrained.

Contact Castledon Greyhound Rescue on 01268 733293 or check out their website

Meet Jamie. He was on death row in a pound in North Wales - an unclaimed stray about to be put to sleep. Lovely Demelda Penkitty (who is set to take over the reigns at Anne Fowler''s Home-A-Dog) wasn't able to take this handsome seven year old as she's currently in Cornwall but was still able to save him by putting him into kennels. But the clock is ticking and the bills are rising - BIGGSD in Surrey are paying for his kennels till mid-March, but he really needs to be finding a home very soon. He's good with other dogs, cats and even chickens.

If you are interested in taking Jamie please phone Demelda on 01208 850530.

Should you be able to help any of these three lovely boys, please let me know!

Brilliant news - but also - a scandel!

I've just heard the excellent news that the Crown Prosecution Services has finally decided to drop all charges against the Two Poodles Martyrs. There's still a very slim chance that the farmer may still bring a civil case, but if the CPS don't think there's a case to answer, he'd struggle.
Jill and Peter are obviously hugely relieved. The whole family have been so stressed. Jill has lost a lot of weight and she was very slim to start with. They've both been on anti-depressants.
Why on earth have they been put through all this? Any sane person would have seen there was no case to answer. So why attempt to criminalize two very law-abiding dog lovers in this way?
Peter was arrested, had his DNA taken, finger prints the works just because two of their dog escaped through a newly broken fence.
The two lovely dogs were taken away to a secret kennel and held there for three months at the tax payers expense.
Think of all the hours wasted by policemen, courts etc that could have been devoted to finding proper criminals. Remember this was all happening in the midst of a serious terrorist alert. Why was Sussex police force engaged in a pointless witch hunt against two big soppy Poodles instead of looking after national security?
Jill says she wants to ensure this never happens to anyone else.
I know from experience, it's stressful enough already if a much-loved dog is lost for any reason. You already have the fear of them being killed on the road, the worry that they may have been stolen or just the agony of them being lost to you forever with no further clues as to what happened. We don't need to also fear the knock on the door that could mean that life will be turned upside down, your dogs will be seized and you will be treated as guilty until proven innocent and faced with possible financial ruin.
You really would not believe that a frisky young cow knocking down your garden fence could bring so much angst to your door...

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Cold Wet Nose - Warm heart?

Have you got an amazing story to tell? I'm always stunned by the little gems of stories people store away within them that they've never considered sharing. Every photoshoot seems to unearth something either heart-warming or remarkable. I often speculate that if you just put any random group of dog owners in a room for half an hour you'd be bound to hear several exclusives that otherwise would never get aired.
They say there's no such thing as good news, but I do usually find there's a very good percentage of happy ending - but of late the opposite seems to have been true.
In the last week several people have confided in me stories of such magnitude that to be honest I've had trouble sleeping. It's easy to just look at the surface and think everything is okay for those about you, but for a percentage life will have taken a ghastly and totally unjust turn and most people will be totally oblivious to their pain.
But I guess, just as bad things can happen to good people, the converse must be true and somewhere someone is enjoying spectacular good luck. I just don't seem to hear about those stories at the moment!
Inca was a Rottie who ended up in rescue. As this is a very familiar story of late, her prospects looked bleak. I'd had a hand in finding her the very, very best home imaginable with some great people. She seemed the luckiest Rottie in the world - so many others were left waiting for a good home. Then, very quickly, she was diagnosed with serious HD and needed a very big op. Her superb new owners didn't even flinch at the vet bill - even though they were uninsured, they already loved her unconditionally and would do anything for her without question.
But there were serious complications and she contracted MRSA. Months and months of very intensive treatment at enormous cost followed with her life hanging by a thread - but against the odds she pulled through and she started to enjoy her lovely life at last. We all enjoyed the happy ending and her busy owners even took Inca to Discover Dogs to support the excellent work of the Bella Moss MRSA foundation.
Then yesterday I heard she'd been killed in a road accident. Her owners who fought so hard to save her are understandably totally devastated at this sudden and unexpected loss.
By chance I'd already heard several other heartbreaking stories in the past week that left me questioning how some people find the strength to get up every morning.
Can we please hear of someone experiencing good fortune soon? For example can poor old Dumbo get the home he deserves? Can one of you write a comment in this blog that gives us a glimmer that somewhere else on the planet something incredibly uplifting is happening that can put the earth back on its axis and make us all feel like we can actually make a difference?
As part of the Cold Wet Nose Show we'll be giving a series of awards to people and dogs that do make the world seem a much more 'human' place.
Now would be a very good time to tell me your happy stories! But even if you have a sad story to share, don't hold back. I'd hate to think people might stop confiding when they are down - we do feel totally honoured to be included in all the lows as well as the highs. Some of our readers have been with us every step of the way for the past 18 years and whether you're one of the old school or the newbies, I like to think at Dogs Today we're at least one part of the planet that wants to listen and help whenever possible. I know I've been very grateful of the same support when my life has had its ups and downs!