Thursday, 28 August 2008

pedigree dogs exposed day 9

Blogging on a blackberry is never ideal, but as there is no WI fi here and this is the one place on earth that internet caf├ęs are as rare as hen's teeth it's my only link with the outside world!
I couldn't tune in to the kc live webchat, could you? And I still can't get the transcript from their site. Did anyone get a question through? Our office tried and couldn't. Anyone else had the same thing happen? We couldn't even tune in to passivelt observe. What was their defence of the 90 per cent healthy figure despite their own health census saying just 66per cent?
Before I strain my thumb on this tiny keyboard I'm signing off!

remote blogging pedigree dogs exposed day 9

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Pedigree Dogs Exposed Day 4 (or 1 in Scotland)

Okay - today needs to be an action day.

If you need a motivator to get busy, read the latest from the Kennel Club to remind you that they are still not waking up and admitting they have a massive problem to solve. Bill Lambert writes...

"... suggestions of incest should have been enough to suggest to most people that this was not a documentary that one could take entirely seriously."

Here's some petitions for a start...

Here's one to change breed standards
And one from TV vet Joe Inglis

Here is the address of some people to write to if you feel moved:

Dogs Trust are suggesting you write to:
Lord Rooker, Minister for Sustainable Food and Farming and Animal Health at Defra,
Nobel House
17 Smith Square

However - I've just noticed that while Dogs Trust has posted quite a robust message on their website (click here to see their message) in support of the programme the following little tiny easily missed message has just appeared on the KC genetics website...

"the KC has received messages supporting the work the KC is undertaking, with breeders, to improve the health of pedigree dogs, from organizations including Dogs Trust...."

So a line to Dogs Trust might be worthwhile, too as they seem to be wanting to keep everyone happy with quiet low-key support of the KC's lack of action yet public condemnation of them at the same time!
(It must have disappointed a lot of the dog lovers who give Dogs Trust their £40 million pounds of donations each year not see them more proactive on this vital subject when the RSPCA by contrast were so brave and outspoken.)

Dogs Trust 17 Wakley Street London EC1V 7RQ

If you want to write to your MP, here's how... go to to find out their name and contact details - just type in a postcode.

On of our readers' tells us her Jack Russells will be boycotting Pedigree Gravy Bones until they take down their message of support on the KC genetics website. She's written to Pedigree to tell them.

Pedigree Pet Foods Mill Street Melton Mowbray Leicestershire LE13 1BB

Click here to see other supporters of the KC stance who may also like to hear from you!

And here is an idea I've been mulling on.
Would anyone be interested in taking part in a new project? To create the Cavalier Queen Elizabeth. A healthy Cavalier created in our current monarch's lifetime. The idea would be to find the healthiest unrelated Cavaliers we can, and with consultation with lots of experts - outcross with some new blood to retain all the positive features we know and love in this troubled breed.
So what could you cross with? Working Cocker? Jack Russell? Something not too in-bred and something with longevity.
We'd have to get some neurologists on board to look at which skull shape we should try for and really check out hearts and other problems and what level of inbreeding has occurred in any dogs introduced.
There is precedent. In Boxers Dr Bruce Cattenach (the heart expert) crossed Boxers with Corgis with slightly less noble objectives - he was trying to get the tail-less gene from the Corgi into Boxers to beat the docking ban! But in very few generations he did indeed get that gene into the breed which very soon returned to looking like a 100% Boxer. And the KC very happily have taken in these crosses into the Boxer registry.
Anyone involved with project would have to agree to keeping records of longevity and health for the whole of any pups life plus they must also agree to perform all recommended health tests.
What do you think? Perhaps we could get other little groups of caring people modifying other breeds in trouble using the same model?

Friday, 22 August 2008

Pedigree Dogs Exposed Day 4

Today I met a 12 year old girl who didn't even have a dog. She had seen the BBC1 documentary with her Gran and she could remember seemingly every frame. She had cried so much and now wanted to do something to help the dogs. Her mum cleans for us and she been brought to our house as it was school holidays.
This girl didn't know what I did for a living and she didn't recognise me from the programme, we just discussed it as if we had both just watched it fresh.
It struck me how much it had moved and motivated this little girl who previously had no opinions on pedigree dogs or the Kennel Club. The four million other people who had watched were probably still talking about it too and still wanting to help change things.
We must get organised and decide what we want - is ratifying the European Convention for Pet Animal Rights the way to go? We know the KC hate it - but is that enough motivation for pushing the Government to sign it?
It's a blunt instrument in many ways.
I think we need the KC to implement the things we've discussed on the blog - and quickly. There are now two petitions - but neither has the wording that completely sums up all that is needed to be done. I think we should get the wording bang on and then do the 10 Downing Street e-petition when the PM is back from his hols early Sept. There have been calls for a demonstration to show the KC that the public aren't going to forget about this - but I'm afraid this might get taken over by extremists as passions are running very high.
Others are writing to MPs - which is good. Some of our lovely readers are even writing to Pedigree and telling them their dogs are boycotting their gravy bones until they take their message of support off the KC genetics site!
I've been asked to write an open letter to good breeders in show dog paper Our Dogs this week - what would you say to best effect?
What do you suggest we do next to keep the pressure up?

Pedigree dogs exposed day 4

I thought I was angry at the KC. Then I read Terrierman, one of the best bloggers in America.

It's probably just as well there's an ocean between him and Clarges Street!

I'd heard that Ms Kisko had discounted all sorts of health probs to get to her 90% of pedigree dogs are healthy figure that she trotted out on every media interview she did.

It would seem that when in a tight corner saying something to get you out of it can come back to haunt you. Although Terrierman seems to have other ideas of how to bring home the suffering of our dogs.

I'd like to make it very clear I would not wish the same pain and suffering of eye problems, hip or knee surgery on anyone - even Ms Kisko although she must believe they'd not be very debilitating or else why did she discount them from her figures?

Click here for a link - really they need to face the probems and react. This is just making them look not bumbling but something a whole lot more sinister.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

What price knowledge? Pedigree Dogs Exposed Day 3

We do like to check our facts on Furry Godmother and it worried us that since the Japanese Akita had split to be two breeds we had no separate average hip score listed for the new Japanese Akita Inu.
We tried the BVA and they said they hadn't yet got a figure and we should ask the KC for it.
As the KC stopped sending us press releases after we published the Little Black Dog Book (they also banned us from Crufts and wrote grumpy letters to the sponsor of the Booklet) we gathered a direct request for this information wasn't going to be likely to be tremendously successful!
So one of our number emailed posing as a person interested in the breed and wanting to know the breed average so she could choose a breeder carefully.
I have to say when the reply came I was gobsmacked! They wanted to charge £5 for telling our member of the public a hip score..... !
So much for helping the public do the right thing....

A call for older dads - Pedigree Dogs Exposed Day 2

One of my hero's American-based vet and behaviour guru Dr Ian Dunbar has linked to this blog and has come up with a great positive suggestion - only breed your dog with a mate who is over seven years old, unrelated and healthy....

He says on the blog: "Longevity is simply the very best overall indicator of health, fit genes and good behavior and temperament."

Click here to his blog and the article he wrote in 1990 for the American Kennel Gazette - Eugenics or Dysgenics.

And if you don't know who Ian is please click here, please read his brilliant books, watch his unmatched videos and be just thoroughly embarrassed - it's bit like not knowing who Leonardo da Vinci is! Just read a great article on why America thinks it currently loves Cesar Milan when they should be loving Ian - click here for that! Says a great deal about the way society is moving I'm afraid....)

Please read the other blogs about the TV show if you've only just joined us.

If you have a dog with a serious hereditary problem, please write in to Dogs Today or email me with your story. ( Or if you are a breeder striving to keep your lines healthy please also do get in touch - our Furry Godmother service is designed to support you.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Call to arms (or legs I guess!) after Pedigree Dogs Exposed

Time to start a new thread as the comments are getting so long.
So what shall we do - start Pedigrees Exposed and Vulnerable and try and keep up this pressure till we get the points made in the documentary acted upon?
Are we agreed on aims:
After viewing the Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary on BBC1 on August 19th we would like to urge the Government to urgently look into the health and welfare of pedigree dogs and ensure that the Kennel Club reacts to the scientific evidence in the programme by 1. Limiting inbreeding and outcrossing with other breeds where genetically necessary 2. Making health testing mandatory where testings schemes exist 3. Making radical changes to the judging system to make sure that exaggerated dogs are no longer being awarded prizes. 4. Educating against the culling of non-standard healthy puppies.
Anything else - or is that roughly what we're after?
If you need to get all fired up again - do read the KC's webpage of support...
It convinced me they haven't rolled over and admitted they have a problem yet... and that they have to if they're going to change things for the better.
Yesterday's heroes to get blood pressure going down again:
Mark Evans - for making the RSPCA something I will now join!
Cavalier owner Carol Fowler for her incredible bravery.
How can we take this further everyone? Thanks for the supportive posts, too. Lovely to hear from you again Manda and I agree we should be on the same side on most things!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Playing god with the dog

Tonight's BBC1 Pedigree Dogs Exposed was very strong, but it was accurate. It hit home here. I cried, who didn't? Those trusting little faces on those poor Cavaliers, how badly have they been let down by man?
Things have to change. Our chief sub Claire has just been on a non-doggie forum for mums and they're all talking about it.
Even if people thought they were ambivalent, maybe didn't even really like dogs - this show gave people an opinion. It had people throughout Britain shouting at the screen.
It moved me and I pretty much knew what was coming.
There's just been a comment posted on my earlier blog that you might otherwise miss - but I feel I have to answer some of those points. Not picking on you, just want to reply as you make some interesting points.
"I was so disappointed with the BBC over this. What a dreadful piece of over sensational journalism!!!"
I disagree. I thought it was clear, concise and very well crafted. What about you? Bravo BBC, bravo Passionate Productions. Reminded me of the gritty Chicken Out Channel 4 documentaries. TV that makes people think, makes people care. It's what the good old Beeb should be all about.
"I do worry that some dogs are over bred or in bred we know it happens. The Kennel Club is obviously trying to put schemes in place and they said that they were not a reactionary organisation (which what the media want these days - solve it and solve it YESTERDAY)"
How long do we give them? They've been making a dog's breakfast of things since 1873! Surely that's long enough? I personally filed my first constructive suggestion at the KC for compulsory health-testing back in 1980-something! That's one hell of a germination process. Surely we've been patient enough? The Swedes are 20 plus years ahead of us already!
"The problem really is with the breeders that are knowingly breeding dogs with conditions. How can the Kennel Club know what is going on breeding wise on some farm in the sticks?? They are not the secret police or Big Brother and quite rightly the head vet of the BVA said that it will be disaster if the Kennel Club became obsolete and no-one will monitor the situation."
The KC needs to develop some balls - make health testing compulsory if people want to show and breed, ban brother and sister matings and other close combinations. Strike off judges who insist on still picking dogs that are exaggerated.
Other younger KCs do it. And, as our own KC has already made health testing mandatory for one breed - the Irish Setter - why not do it for the other 200 odd?
I want the KC to step up to the plate, take the criticism on the chin and get to work sorting this mess out. It's their job to govern, they are sitting on a fortune in Piccadilly - now is the time to stop worrying about losing a bit of revenue from the bad breeders and start setting sensible rules - they have a massive rule book for all kinds of minutiae, but this documentary showed on the big issues - waffle and fresh air!
"I really didn't like the way they subversively confronted the winner the Cavalier King Charles spaniel after she had won her show. Yes the woman shouldn't be breeding with a known condition, but I actually felt sorry for her as the journalist was completely tactless and cringeworthy in her approach. And quite rightly they told the journalist outside Parliament her approach was disgusting - it was."
It did ruin her day apparently, it made her cry. But didn't you cry at watching that poor dog with SM screaming. Didn't the fact that she had produced countless pups after a positive diagnosis make you less worried about her being reminded that what she did has a consequence?
"I was in tears at the state of some of those dogs, and thought it was really sad, but they didn't talk to any breeders who have bred AWAY from conditions to remove potentially fatal illnesses. To me, if they had done that, and talked to prominent breeders about what other breeds have done to solve problems, would have convinced me this was balanced journalism. It was not. Good luck to the lady Carol Fowler who is waging a battle of awareness. You were the one positive thing in this documentary."
I agree with you here - Carol is a saint, so was the brave lady who spoke out whose own stud dog turned out to be a carrier.
There are brilliant breeders out there - but we have a system that doesn't do them justice at the moment. We need those good breeders to keep pushing the KC to reform. When the spotlight goes away will they just go back to their old ways again?
During the radio interviews I took part in today I heard something really remarkable. I was sharing airtime with the KC's secretary Caroline Kisko. Some of you may remember Crufts two years ago. I wrote an article in the Telegraph with the title "Should Crufts be Banned?"
Live on GMTV Caroline Kisko accused me of making things up about the poor health of the nation's dogs, that there wasn't a problem. That I had some weird agenda.
Nearly two years on with a major BBC documentary hanging over her... now she acknowledged there was a problem, that they might consider making health testing mandatory, may even consider crossing some pedigree breeds with others...
What an amazing conversion - Hooray!!!!
She claimed the looming documentary had nothing to do with these new policies! That the "freaky' documentary couldn't tell the KC anything they didn't already know - that they know there are serious problems.
So why were the KC crying biased reporting on their own website last week?
Let's just hope the pressure keeps up and we get some proper tangible change.
If not, please remember the poor little Cavalier, the snuffly Pug. They really don't deserve to suffer and that's the future for every breed if we don't stop inbreeding change the way dogs shows operate and make health testing mandatory.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Pedigree Dogs Exposed

Don't know if you've seen this announcement from Imperial College issued today. But it is deeply disturbing.

We all know that inbreeding - mating close relatives together - is obviously a very dangerous game. Nothing new here. But Professor David Balding used the Kennel Club's database of pedigees to analyse just how closely related dogs in several breeds actually are.

The researchers' analysis showed that, for example, Boxer dogs were so closely related to one another and had such little genetic variation between them that genetically, 20,000 dogs looked like a population of about 70. In the Rough Collie breed, 12,000 dogs looked in genetic terms like a population of about 50.

Professor Balding was quoted as saying: "The idea that inbreeding causes health problems in particular dog breeds is not a new one, but we believe ours is the first scientific study to explore this issue and analyse the extent of inbreeding in a systematic way, across many breeds. We hope that following our work, dog breeders will make it a high priority to increase the genetic diversity within different breeds. Otherwise, we will see growing numbers of dogs born with serious genetically inherited health problems."

The report says: "Such small effective population sizes mean that the chances of a dog breeding with a close relative, resulting in birth defects and genetically inherited health problems, are high. The researchers argue that those involved in breeding dogs should encourage breeding from a larger pool of potential mates in order to create greater genetic variation and lessen dogs' chances of inheriting genetic disorders. They suggest measures such as limiting how many times a popular dog can father litters; encouraging mating across national and continental boundaries; and relaxing breed rules to permit breeding outside the pedigree."

Surely the KC will find it very hard to allege bias if the whole scientific community are saying "panic".

But the KC is trying to convince themselves that everything is still okay - they've got it all under control. That the only people who say otherwise are very bad biased people with issues.

I have to say some of the behaviour on the dog show forums where the BBC1 documentary has been discussed has been really quite shocking. Some of the pack are obviously very scared of this programme and some of them are getting nasty, calling the producers of this documentary "evil" just for asking them difficult questions about health issues in the usually safe enclave of their own dog shows and forums.

I know there are free-thinking breeders who question the status quo and worry about the future of their breeds who will watch the programme with an open mind and a heavy heart. Hopefully they will be brave in the coming days and their voices will be heard, too - and not just these short-sighted luddites who are an embarrassment to the pedigree dog world.

The brilliant blogger Terrierman has already had a good read of the report and here is his summary....

  1. The study is based on a 10-breed sample of 2.1 million dogs in the Kennel Club's electronic pedigree data base. The Kennel Club's database contained records of a total of 5.7 million dogs from 207 breeds as of the end of 2006. The Kennel Club's electronic data base was begun in 1970.

  2. This is the first systematic attempt to study Kennel Club population structure using The Kennel Club's own pedigree database.

  3. The 10 breeds examined were: the Rough Collie, the Golden Retriever, the Boxer, the English Bulldog, the Chow Chow, the Greyhound, the German Shepherd Dog, the Labrador Retriever, the English Springer Spaniel, and the Akita Inu.

  4. The researchers note that inbreeding condenses and exacerbates genetic disorders with a population:

    "Dog breeds are required to conform to a breed standard, the pursuit of which often involves intensive inbreeding .... This has adverse consequences in terms of loss of genetic variability and high prevalence of recessive genetic disorders. These features make purebred dogs attractive for the study of genetic disorders, but raise concerns about canine welfare."

  5. The researchers note that many dog breeds are associated with specific genetic disorders that have been magnified by inbreeding:

    "Many diseases affecting dogs have high prevalence in one or a few breeds, such as Addison’s disease, common in Portuguese Water Dogs (Chase et al., 2006), interstitial lung disease in West Highland White terriers (Norris et al., 2005), and dermoid sinus in Ridgeback dogs (Salmon Hillbertz et al., 2007)."

  6. The authors found disturbingly high levels of inbreeding within most Kennel Club breeds they looked at:

    "We find extremely inbred dogs in each breed except the Greyhound, and estimate an inbreeding effective population size between 40 and 80 for all but two breeds. For all but three breeds, more than 90% of unique genetic variants are lost over six generations, indicating a dramatic effect of reeding patterns on genetic diversity."

  7. The number of generations studied ranged by breed from 5.9 in Greyhounds to 9.0 in the German Shepherds, with an average over the ten breeds of 8.0 generations of dogs analyzed.

  8. Popular sires are part of the problem, but not all of the problem.

    "Popular sires (defined here as > 100 recorded offspring) are evident in all breeds except Greyhound. Golden Retrievers have the largest proportion of popular sires (10%), and conversely the lowest proportion (5%) of male dogs that are sires. . . . Highly-prolific dams (> 40 offspring) are concentrated in three breeds: German Shepherd, Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever. Most dams have just one litter recorded."

  9. A closed registry system is the core of the problem.

    "Dog registration rules have only been rigidly enforced for about 50 years, prior to that occasional outcrossing was still possible."

  10. The Kennel Club needs to change the way it does business.

    "We have found that the loss of genetic diversity is very high, with many breeds losing over 90% of singleton variants in just six generations. On the basis of these results, we concur with Leroy et al. (2006) that remedial action to maintain or increase genetic diversity should now be a high priority in the interests of the health of purebred dogs. Possible remedial action includes limits on the use of popular sires, encouragement of matings across national and continental boundaries, and even the relaxation of breed rules to permit controlled outcrossing."
Please also have a look at the last post - also on Pedigree Dogs Exposed...

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Who do you think you are kidding Mr Kennel Club....?

It seems everyone is talking about the BBC1 documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed.
It's on next Tuesday evening at 9pm.
No one's actually seen it yet!
But certain people are already complaining that it's biased.
(Isn't there something ironic about people showing prejudice about prejudice? Or is just me and my weird sense of humour?)
Both weekly show dog papers are up in arms - our own famously eccentric Robert Killick is almost donning his tin hat and bayonet! He's urging people to complain to
"Fifty complaints will irritate them, one hundred will worry them and two hundred will bring tears. With the number of you out there you'll be able to swamp them. If the editor will permit it I would like to use the famous words used by Lance Corporal Jones in every episode of Dad's Army, "They don't like it up 'em. Cap'n Mainwaring, they don't like it up 'em."
So what is all the fuss about? The KC's statement shows they really do have their masonic dinner jackets in a Pug-esque double helix. Do have a read.
Passionate Productions has made a documentary about pedigree dog health and they've talked to the Kennel Club (and lots of other experts all over the world) for more than two years.
But either the KC has a very well informed mole at Broadcasting house who has put the wind up them or they just have an overpowering sense of dread that when the spotlight is put on their guardianship of pedigree dogs' health, they're not going to end up looking very good.
And this will of course be down to the edit, the bias of the documentary makers, the lighting, that TV adds a stone and of course lots and lots of conspiracy theories that everyone is out to get them for perverse reasons.
If they come across as looking half as bad as they seem to fear, it'll obviously not be because they should have got their finger out 20 years ago and actually done something (and apologies while I get the scratchy old broken record out one more time) like bringing in compulsory health tests, measures to stop inbreeding, changes to the judging system to really stop exaggerations being rewarded...(stop me when you're asleep)....I will go on and on.
And yes, we all know all about the Accredited (Discredited?) Breeders Scheme, the subtle changes to the wording of some of the breed standards and the Challenge Certificates. But we also know that actually getting any reasonable level of take-up on testing just isn't going to happen without an element of compulsion. The good will always be good even when no one's looking, but the mediocre will be the majority and simply won't bother or even realise they should be testing without some coaxing. And, until you reprimand judges for giving awards to exaggerated dogs, no one will start breeding dogs that look any different than before.
Roll on Tuesday night.
And please, if you feel the programme is balanced do let the BBC know as they've already heard from lots of psychic people who know it isn't going to be!
And again harking back to Dad's Army for a further moment I'd say to the KC, "Don't Panic! Don't Panic!"
Just sit down without prejudice, watch, listen and please, please, please don't just get the hump - take any criticism on the chin - and start doing something more effective even if does ruffle a few feathers in the show world!
Who knows, they might have been totally impressed by your efforts - if you really do believe you've done your very best what have you got to fear?
I'd personally like to see the KC lead the poor battered pedigree dog out of the health minefield before it's too late for some of the worst affected breeds.
Hopefully in 20 years time if someone does a documentary on pet health the KC of that day won't be caught with their pants down.
Get that broken record out again someone... if only they'd started doing the things the Swedish Kennel Club did 20 years ago instead of resting on their laurels and telling themselves that they are THE Kennel Club and that our sensible Nordic neighbours couldn't teach them anything!
I can't see the Swedish Chairman making all this fuss about being asked a few awkward questions! But perhaps they never showed Dad's Army over in Sweden?

PS Should anyone want to learn more about health problems and testing we have produced a chunky little booklet called "The Little Black Dog Book". It explains all the major probs in an easy to digest format, gives case histories of people who have dogs with these conditions and lists what tests you should insist on if you are acquiring a pup on a breed by breed basis. This booklet costs £2.50 inc UK postage and if you click here you'll be able to buy it on line. If you click that link you will be taken to our Furry Godmother website which offers lots of free information and contacts for anyone researching looking for a dog - but the booklet is much more in-depth on health and is a useful reference point. Our very detailed Fido Fact reports on each breed also include a full page from geneticist Dr Malcolm Willis giving each breed a very detailed health MOT that often goes much further listing conditions that you can't yet test for. Fido Facts for most breeds can be bought on line, too. Those not available electronically can be ordered by phone.

Synchronised sitting etc

Natalie and Travis with their Cold Wet Nose Warm Heart Award

A young Finnella with Richard and Natalie

Some of you will have read the inspiring story of Natalie Mangnall one of the recipients of a Cold Wet Nose Warm Heart.

Here is a quick reprise of the story (written by Luke Warren) that we printed a few issues ago:

Travis the Parson Russell Terrier may be a small dog, but he has helped his owner, 32-year-old Natalie Mangnall, through some hugely difficult times.
In 1998 Natalie was diagnosed with a rare right eye ocular cancer. Her prognosis showed promise and she made a good recovery, but in 2005 Natalie was given the devastating news that the cancer had spread to her left eye cavity.
“I had to have my left eye removed,” says Natalie, “and many operations and radiation treatments followed. Unfortunately the cancer progressed to other areas of my body and I am now part of drug trials as I have an incurable metastatic melanoma disease.”
Despite such hardship, Natalie remains resolute. “I am still a happy person who is very positive,” explains Natalie. “Although I have had a lot happen to me I know I am blessed. We live in a beautiful part of the country, near the Lake District, and I make sure I use my remaining vision to take in the best views. I adore being outdoors with my partner, Richard.”
Natalie and Richard began considering someone special to share their love of the outdoors with. “We deliberated long and hard before we took on the responsibilities of owning a dog due to me being sick,” says Natalie. “But I didn’t want to wait any longer as you only live once and I adore dogs.”
After some contemplation Natalie and Richard settled on a PRT. “We chose a PRT for their outward going character and self-assured determination. They are also intelligent and have great energy,” explains Natalie. “We then picked Travis as he was the most responsive to us. He arrived a ten-week-old rocket-fuelled stubborn little thing.”
To help Natalie better understand her new friend, she enrolled in Sarah Whitehead’s Think Dog course. “I am interested in canine behaviour and canine psychology is the most fascinating subject,” says Natalie. “I intend to take my education further and hopefully work towards a degree.”
Natalie has been able use her new knowledge with her new puppy. “Travis was house trained within a week and learned to ring a bell to go to potty,” explains Natalie. “I adore training my dog. It’s challenging at times but we learn a lot from each other. I have learned so much more about dogs since starting the course, and this has helped to develop Travis’ behaviour.”
Travis has now become quite a polite PRT. “He has very good manners and knows tricks that we practise everywhere,” describes Natalie. “Travis knows basic commands, does a really good tired eye trick and can weave a little doggie dancing. He fetches my mail and even tidies his toys away when playtime is up. Travis also does a great “stick ‘um up and play dead” trick, which is usually followed by a chew bone!”
Travis’ huge appetite and zest for life has revitalised Natalie and her own energy levels. “During my first set of chemotherapy I was very tired. But I knew if I gave in my little Parson would suffer if I didn’t drag myself up and out for his daily walks,” says Natalie. “Travis has motivated me to get up and put one foot in front of the other.”
Like her PRT, Natalie’s prevailing determination, dedication and incredible bravery, coupled with Travis’ sheer strength of character and companionship, has helped her in ways no treatments could. “Dogs live in the moment and have a thirst for life, and Travis has made me realise I need to do the same. He has given me so many laughs with his wonderful personality,” says Natalie, “and took my mind off feelings about sickness. Travis has redirected my behaviour to focus on having fun with him.”
Whereas many would have crumbled under such adversity, Natalie and Travis have formed a relationship built with love, learning and exercise. “Travis is usually tired from his day of doggie bliss and takes himself to bed around seven,” says Natalie. “He usually sleeps until morning if he’s not on the sofa with us and the cats having a big cuddle. Travis is so well behaved because he knows we understand his needs as a dog. Travis lives to his full potential.”

Since this story ran Natalie and Travis have been joined by a beautiful Irish Setter puppy called Finnella. Natalie was sadly too poorly to come to the Cold Wet Nose Show as she was having a bad reaction to her second batch of chemo. However, since then she's been getting on with life and training her two lovely dogs.

She sent me a link to show how she's been getting on. I have to say I am in awe! Do watch this little film. It made me smile a lot. If she could train the dogs to dive they'd have won us medals in the Olympics!

Click here to see the short film on You Tube. Anyone who has ever tried to train an Irish Setter will be very impressed!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Have you seen this dog?

Name: Genie
Breed: Lurcher Cross
She is a sandy/blond colour has a white chest and white paws.
On her back left foot one of her toe nails sticks up in the air.
She is small for a lurcher around 16” at the shoulder and has a long body and short legs.
She has been micro chipped.

The last sighting was on the A127 nr the junction of the A130 but she could be anywhere.
Please help find her.
Please call Kate or Gwain Theobald on these numbers if seen or found.

07894 647054 07970 571229 01322 278073

Just heard Genie is home! Hooray and thank you all for looking out for her - many eyes really are the trick when getting these dogs back. If you haven't yet registered at please do - you automatically receive email on lost/stolen dogs in your area - the idea is you can keep an eye out for any new dogs on the block that fit the ID and print out some posters if poss and get them up in local shops just in case someone has the dog at home and doesn't realise how much it is missed. It's a brilliant network. Think it's 6,500 dogs they've reunited since 2003. And it's all free - just needs dog lovers to help each other.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Working 9 to 5 (6 actually!)

The long school holidays must have affected my brain! I have to be honest, but I can't actually remember meeting Martin from the last blog. I can't even remember going to Curry Rivel - or Somerset generally. He sounds a very memorable chap... maybe there is someone out there passing themself off as me? Today is the first full day in the office I've managed for weeks, roll on September! Could really do with two of me at the moment. One to hang out with young Kieran and one to go to work!
Something really weird happened today which made me think perhaps it's possible.
We'd been trying to keep up with our knowledge of the Northern Inuit, Utonagan and the Tamaskan situation. It had been prompted because we had a call a couple of days before asking why we didn't list the Tamaskan when we did include the other two in Furry Godmother. So I thought I'd do a bit of research and did a bit of Googling.
Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a kennel name I remembered from my youth - up in the North West as a junior handler of Beardies! Blustag was the kennel name - there was a stunning Tervuren locally that did ever so well in the ring - and the first ever Laekenois in the country, too. Apparently Lynn the lady behind these gorgeous BSDs was still going strong and was now a major force in the new Tamaskan.
I emailed Lynn straight away and reminded her I knew her from 30 years ago - telling her I did a dog mag now etc etc! And guess what - she wasthe same woman who had phoned us the other day to ask why we didn't include the Tamaskan!
And it turns out that not only did she remember me, but a few years before she'd seen a country and western singer who she swears was my double. She was so convinced it was me she went up and asked the lady her name and when she said 'Beverley', Lynn started talking about Beardies and the olden days up north and the woman started looking very scared indeed and gave her the brush off.
Lynn said she looked so much like me that she was left half wondering if it was really me and I was just in denial of my doggie past!
A singing career, meeting the real 007 - this other Beverley is having a whale of a time isn't she!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Perhaps it's a not such a long long way to Tipperary...?

We do get some unusual requests at Dogs Today, but I have to say this one is mind blowing!
Today the office got a call from Martin Bengtsson who lives in County Cork with 22 rescue dogs (several of them Beardies), 15 stray cats and a tame ferret. (He says his postal address is Cork, but his house is in Tipperary and his land is in Waterford).
He says he's 76 now and just had a couple of 'slight' heart attacks but it doesn't seem to be handicapping him greatly. He wasn't in when I called back as he warned Luke who took the call that he had two tons of hay to shift this afternoon.
Martin is concerned about what happens if he keels over and the pets suffer, so he'd very much like to welcome someone to his remote paradise. He says he's not in the least bit worried about kicking the bucket himself as he's had one hell of a life, but the critters' comfort matters a lot.
Ideally he'd like someone in their 40s-50s who can drive as he lives 14 miles from the nearest town and five miles from the nearest doctor!
It seems I met Martin 12 years ago in Curry Rivel in Somerset, but as I probably talked non-stop about dogs I never did discover the amazing things he'd done in his life. He's been described as a real 007 - a former spy, mafia man, art forger - really you name it!
I suggest you google him you need to know what you might be letting yourself in for! From the reviews of his books you won't be short of things to talk about - this is indeed is a man who has lived several lives already and most of them weren't in Ireland!
Here's a link to an interview I've stumbled across that really is extraordinary - his book is called "If you're not in bed by 10, come home".
If you'd like his phone number - please email me...
Sounds like the beginning of another book to me and who knows this might suit someone who wants to get away from it all. He's already said it doesn't matter if you have two heads - so long as you love dogs!

Another link I've stumbled and check out the articles on that page in the Guardian etc... what a character!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Cold Wet Nose extra!

Even though we have printed pages and pages of Cold Wet Nose coverage there was so much we couldn't fit in – so here's some extra memories of such a lovely day.

Thank you so much to everyone who made it possible. The photography below is by Amber Spain, PAul Keevil, Tim Rose, Natalya Anderson and Steve Collins .

Brendan, a 17-year-old rescued Lurcher, had never been to a dog show before. Owner Jeremy Mustill, from Aldershot, had heard about the show from a friend who was bringing a rescue dog, too. They'd decided to spend the day in the beer tent while their girlfriends showed their dogs. Girlfriend Claire has a pretty Lurcher called Kizzy and it had been assumed she'd be the one winning all the rosettes.
They arrived just in time to book into the final heat of Vintage and Jeremy was stunned when Brendan won not only his heat but the category final and then second prize overall in Top Dog. Not bad for a first go!
Jeremy and Claire have owned Brendan for the past eight years. They'd been in Exmoor for the weekend and had heard that there was a farm shutting down. Two of the farm dogs had already been destroyed but Brendan was still there, alone in a pig sty.
Initially Jeremy said no to giving him a home, as they already had a dog. But 30 minutes into the journey home, he had a change of heart, as he couldn't face his girlfriend's tears for the entire five-hour journey!
Two years ago, Brendan had a serious stroke, but he's bounced back with enthusiasm. He accompanies gardener Jeremy to work every day and still has energy for a good hour's walk every night.
Brendan won a £75 voucher from Pets at Home and a supply of Yumega to keep his coat glossy and healthy.
"He's not looking to make dog shows a career - but bless his little socks!" said Jeremy.

"We have two young Pointers. Snappy is my girlfriend Helen's dog and Chops is mine. Allegedly they take after our personalities.
"Snappy is like a stereotypical supermodel - very pretty, but with no brain at all. For example, it took her a month to work out how to use the dog flap. However, she is very calm, gentle and will fall asleep in your arms if you are stroking her.
"Chops was the runt of the litter and looks very rangy and snaggly. She is very clever, but very naughty. She jumped through the hole in the door before I even managed to fit the dog flap.
"In her heat, she decided to scratch a hole in her head five minutes beforehand. Then, when the judge came, she peed on the floor, jumped up on the judge, and then barked for the next few minutes, as she saw Snappy through the crowd. She came 5th out of six. She's a little turd, but all the more entertaining for it.
"Our Pointers are just pets rather than show dogs so I just entered for fun. It was only when Snappy won her heat for Prettiest Bitch that I thought maybe she had a chance, so I bought her a pink collar to make her look pretty for the final. Amazingly, she won."
Ian Strang, Wimbledon Common

Charlotte & Maly – Natural Lookalikes
"Maly wanted to get back to his roots," said Charlotte Kasner of her 14-year-old crossbreed’s bright-red Welsh Dragon costume. "He's a Welshman, you see; and he hasn't been home since he was a puppy."

Carys & Nessie – Natural Lookalikes
Nine-year-old Carys Lewis decided to make her weekend dog-sitting responsibilities a bit more fun when she entered her family-friend's Welsh Spaniel, Nessie, in the lookalike contest. She's previously won awards for best young handler in local competitions, but misses having a dog of her own. "I do want a new dog," exclaimed Carys. Luckily, Nessie seems to be happy to stand in for Carys in the interim.

Penny & Floosie – Natural Lookalikes
"She lives with three male dogs," says Penny Clayton, explaining how her blue brindle Greyhound, Floosie, got her name. A natural in front of the camera, Floosie was a racing dog for two of her eight years, but is happy now at home in Kent with Penny and the boys.