Last week I was far too busy to blog. In fact, I was too busy to get off my chair and go to the kitchen in the office and put my lunch in the microwave - in fact come to think about it, it's still in the fridge. There wasn't any fast food fast enough.
But when a journo called Jasper from the Sunday Telegraph phoned to ask for help with an article on dog health, I dropped everything and gave him an hour or so of telephone support. He later followed it up with sending me his first draft by email so I could tweak it and make sure he didn't screw up.
I was guessing he was young and new to the job. We've all been there. I saved him from making an arse of himself with this sentence... "while Labradors are increasingly prone to infections associated with longer ears, which are seen as a popular characteristic." There were a couple of other howlers - but I'll get to them later.
He dug out my article from a few years ago in the Telegraph and took some facts out of that. Still I don't mind - so long as the story gets told and we educate people to only buy from tested dogs it's got to be a good thing.
I told him about Dial-a-dog, about our Little Black Book. I even got our designer to email him all the pdfs of this incredibly detailed definitive guide to doggie health tests.
So today I get the email version of the paper. Thankfully no more mentions of long-eared Labs or indeed the other one he had in the first draft -"King Charles Cavalier Spaniels are now prone to a painful condition that involves the growth of a cyst at the back of their necks, because their skulls are too small."
But not a single mention of Dial-a-dog, Little Black Book or indeed us at all. Nothing to point people to our website - to get the info they need. No attributed quotes despite most of the facts coming from me! Astonishing behaviour.
But what he does do is direct people to a brand new website - a very recent venture that so far as I can see mentions nothing at all about pet health and certainly gives no one an ounce of information on health tests.
I have to say sometimes my patience is tried. You work so hard to change things, give people all the time in the world that you don't have - and they still cock things up!
But better to have something about health in the paper than nothing I guess!
I've emailed the journo. I was pretty nice, I didn't bite. I just explained how he could have given the readers a website that could have actually informed and educated them - that might have changed things. It's closing the stable door, but in 20 years I've never before been an unpaid sub editor for a national newspaper that then forgets to mention us in the story! If we're a good enough source to check the facts with - shouldn't we have been quoted? An evil part of me says I should have let him go to print on his ridiculous long-eared Labs angle and dogs getting cysts because their skulls are too small!
Will I still take the next call from a fledgling journo stumbling into the complex world of dogs and give them hours of unpaid advice? Of course I will - I'm like a Beardie at heart. I don't hold grudges, or could that be I don't learn from experience?
Here's the Telegraph article. And for those among you who are not Emma Milne fans - perhaps best to to take your tablets now if you are going to press that link. But I have to say I am very pleased that she's bringing up this topic at the vet conference. She may have written a really duff Greyhound article, but I'm with her 100% on this one.