Thursday, 31 January 2008

To the Max

Max was the sort of dog that changed people's perceptions of dogs in general, and rescue dogs in particular. He was just the politest, most civilised dog you could ever hope to meet. His presence in our office was always a joy. He was so rarely naughty that he made all others appear like hooligans – well, my dogs specifically!
When Karen, my assistant editor, made the decision to relocate to nearer her family base in Norfolk we were all very sad to see them go. Karen continued to work for us as before, but Max's soothing daily presence was lost to us.
Karen acquired Max from Battersea Old Windsor not long after she started working for Dogs Today.
Max was a handsome, old-fashioned mongrel - timeless really. You couldn't quite see any one particular breed influence in him, maybe a bit of Shepherd or Collie but whatever the mix, he summed up what many people think of as a typical cross - even though these days they seem as rare as hen's teeth!
Max was already a fairly old dog when Karen rehomed him and it was a mystery why anyone would have opted to give him up. He was gentle, well mannered – a perfect gent in fact. He had a maturity and intelligence that some dogs never acquire; he'd just put his ears up and look on benevolently while the younger dogs in the office went crazy play fighting. He'd tolerate their impudence with consistent good humour. He'd also put up so patiently with my young son raining kisses on his head. Kieran loved Max so much that we had to intervene to stop him hugging him too tightly!
Max was a diamond dog that we all loved. But Max loved Karen and her husband Simon most of all, and together they had wonderful holidays and adventures. Max went everywhere with Karen, he always liked to have her in sight and even in old age would want to follow her from room to room.

Max proved a natural at our photoshoots and his very elegant controlled sitting beg was the obvious candidate when we needed to design a logo for the Wag and Bone Show.

He was a strikingly handsome dog and those intelligent, sensible, kind eyes made him a popular first choice dog for lots of people. Amusingly, he fronted the Dogs Trust's Annual review one year even though he was most definitely a Battersea dog - and he graced our front cover, too. His famous begging photo also appears larger than life as a mural in many Dogs Trust training barns.

In recent months, Karen wrote a great article on CDRM and sadly it was a first person piece as poor old Max had been diagnosed with this depressing condition. (Perhaps there definitely was a German Shepherd element in him that had made him prone?) Karen had been expecting a slow deterioration, but then Max developed a more pressing problem - a nasty fast-growing lump that turned out to be malignant. The clock starting ticking down and she knew he was on borrowed time. Good pain meds and home cooking and lots of TLC made his last days the very best they could be.
Our sympathies go to Karen and Simon at this very sad time. Max was a dog in a million and the void he leaves is immense. We'll never know what the first half of his life was like, but there never was a more loved dog from the day Karen and Simon first saw Max at Battersea.
The last picture of Max, taken a week before he died

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

I didn't enjoy my trip!

The tragic story about the Rottweiler and the elderly man has been praying on my mind today. I was told that the owner had collapsed and his dog was trying to drag him home, but managed to kill him in the process. The dog still got shot though, but I guess people saw the blood and it was the obvious conclusion that he had intentionally savaged him. What a very sad story.
This morning I was bringing the shopping in from the car while chastising myself for forgetting to buy the milk, when I missed the step, my dodgey ankle buckled and I ended up on the floor thinking about that poor man and his Rottie.
My foot was starting to hurt at lot and I was trying to figure out if I was going to be able to stand up or not. There was no one home and no neighbours to shout to. My phone was still in the car. (I managed to break my ankle just a little bit when I was eight months pregnant and it's never been the same since. I was coming out of a Dogs Today photoshoot carrying a big box on top of my very large bump and surprise, surprise I didn't see the step! Frightened the life out of everyone it did, think they thought I was going into labour in the car park. I seem to fall over a lot more than other grown ups and I don't even drink more than a glass of wine. Perhaps it's because I only see properly out of one eye - it throws my perspective out! My world is pretty 2-d and steps just don't make any sense to my brain! )
Anyway, while I was rolling around on the floor in a most undignified fashion I was 'helped' by Oscar the Beardie licking my face in a most concerned and intense manner. His beard was, of course, beautifully filthy as ever.
It really freaks dogs out you being on the floor outside especially if you're obviously in pain.
I wonder how many people socialise their dogs to deal with this scenario? I don't recommend my example though, simulating collapse would be a much better plan!
What if I had knocked myself out today - what would my doggies have done? Would I have ended up being dragged back into their bed like all their other trophies?
Today's fall made me think about it. Pity I didn't think about the milk when I was in the shops, though as it might not have happened otherwise...
I soon got up, bit bruised, bit muddy, bit less make-up than I started with. What would your dog do if you hit the floor?

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Beginnings are fun

Don't know about you, but I'm never happier than when there's a blank screen or a blank page. I love being immobilised with a pen in my hand and a list ready to be made. Be it stuck on a plane or sitting in the hairdressers with loads of silver foil on my head. When there is no opportunity for you to do any of the million other things that are pressing - it's my luxury.
Like I really know I should be sorting out all the socks and putting the laundry away, getting everyone dressed and ready for the day, but the computer is calling me.
What I really want to do is start coming up with mad ideas for the Cold Wet Nose Show. Just posted something on a Yorkie forum saying what about a ring called "It's a small world" as there's never much for little dogs at shows. Mini agility, mini-training, how about every little breed rescue or pet owners' club has a timeslot where they have their own get together or competition. Maybe look for the smallest dog with the biggest personality?
Then I started thinking every type of dog could do that. Have a reunion or a gathering, use the space for their own picnic or strawberry tea. Beardie people have some lovely fun events for pet people all the time - the Tramps tuck in - or Beardie bounce-ins. Why not use the venue for those sorts of summer gathering? It's 10.30 - all Cocker Spaniels to ring 20 to find the dog with the saddest face, the most persuasive eyes capable of talking you out of eating that last bit of your dinner. It's 11am All Bull Terriers to ring 25 to for the Morris Memorial Award for the owner with the most imaginative insurance claim resulting from a typical Bull Terrier-related incident. At 11.30 all collies please herd their owners to ring 15 for a competition to find the collie with the highest IQ. And for crosses who may not know much about their relatives, can all the dogs who are unique go to rings 45-50 to see if anyone can spot a possible brother or sister!
I think Loseley has a marriage licence - and I've heard of two people who can't come cos they're getting married - why not get married on site! How memorable would that be!
Anyway my son is calling for me to play Lego Star wars with him, which beats sorting socks, but please if you should be stuck somewhere with a moment for contemplation please have a dream about what you'd like to be doing on July 12th and we'll see if we can make it happen.
I'm going to need loads of people to help on the day, doing nice jobs - not car park or poo picking or stuff, there'll be people to do those sorts of things - we need people who are doggie who are going to enjoy running a ring or judging or stewarding. There'll be perks, promise!
The website has a holding page, now - we're starting to fill in that blank page - how exciting! Please bookmark it or click here.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

I'm back and I'm ready for almost anything

Apologies for the lack of blogs recently. I've had a nasty, black cloud hanging over me. But I got some really excellent new yesterday, I'm going to be okay!
I've had two weeks of vile tests, I had contemplated blogging the details - but just finding vocab to describe some of things was a struggle and as I was already feeling quite queasy myself I didn't want to put any of you lot off your dinner! So, I've waited till its all over and now it is. Scare over. I'm absolutely fine, in fact I've probably never felt better!
I'm not allowed to drive for 24 hours because they gave me loads of drugs in the hospital yesterday - I joked at the time to the nurse that they sedate you so you can't run away and then when I was waiting to be wheeled in, I overheard the nurses say that the next patient was threatening to run away and he'd done it before!
(I remember getting the flight urge when I had my little boy. I was having contractions even though I was meant to be having a planned Cesarean - and for some reason my mind was irrationally telling me to "run away - leave the building!" Luckily I didn't, although why I imagined I was capable of running... I was huge!)
So you can imagine, I am as full of positivity as you can be.
This may explain the decision to put on another dog show...!
I know I said never again, I know I expressed how lovely it was to have my summer back last year, but for some reason, throwing a huge dog party is something I'm obviously totally addicted to!
Here's the date for the diary - July 12th at Loseley Park, Near Guildford, Surrey.
It's called the Cold Wet Nose Show - click here to go to the website.
This time we'd be working with Assistance Dogs UK -(Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Canine Partners, Dogs for the Disabled, Support Dogs and Dog Aid).
There'll be camping - Loseley is a lovely, beautiful stately home and they are used to having people stay so hopefully it'll be a bit more civilised for the campers. Plus it's not going to be far to go to buy lovely Loseley yoghurt's for breakfast!
So what I'd love you bloggers to do is spread the word and the date, and also tell me what you'd like to see at this show. Let's have a blog brainstorm!
I've come up with a search for the Dog Brain of Britain - a search for the brightest dog. What other rings should we have? Please... put your thinking caps on and let's design the greatest dog show in the world.
Breed rescue and welfare orgs will all be offered a free space by the way. What name should we give the tent that has all those lovely people in it? Maybe "The Good Intent" - (the good - in -tent - no it isn't very good is it, drugs are obviously still in my system!) Can you do better?
If shy or you're unable to fathom how to leave a comment - you can email me direct -

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Everyone (nearly) is a winner!

Ok - we now need your names and addresses for the prizes and to publish in the mag.

It's like the Golden Globes isn't it - or Dancing on Ice....

The winners, in no particular order are...

"I hate designer labels, I know dear but not everyone recognises a Poodle"- kizkiz noble - think we have Bev's details so don't worry!

"Right, when she opens the door, run for it - I'm not being dyed pink again!!!" - anonymous!

"I know I said change the plates on this stolen van....but are you sure the false plates arent going to link it to us????" - bailey boy

"I know they advertised this parlour as compact and bigou but this is verging on ridiculous " - Mudgie

We have the details for the other winner already.

Anyone not claiming their prizes by the time we go to print will have the prize donated to Caroline and Harry the dog and owner living in a housing project on a very low budget!

Please email your name and address and which caption is yours ASAP to

Well done everyone - great showing via the blog this time!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Tearful bedtime story

Over the last few nights I've been reading a few chapters of Marley - a dog like no other (by John Grogan) to my six-year-old son, Kieran.
It's a children's version of Marley and Me, the international best seller. I'd picked up the adult version and kept putting it down. I couldn't get into it, couldn't see how it had sold so many copies. But it's sold millions, so I obviously missed something.
The kiddie version of Marley appealed, Kieran loves dogs.
Together we met the naughty Labrador and heard how the poor thing obviously suffered from various phobias that his novice owners didn't understand. I winced at the references to choke chains and at John's happy discovery that kneeing the dog hard in the chest stopped him jumping up at people!
Bu despite these negative adult observations, Kieran (my 6 year old) was falling in love with naughty Marley. Every night he was more eager for the next installment.
With every night I was getting more and more worried about where we were going. Of course Marley got ever older and weaker.
By the way - if you have read the adult book, how annoyed were you at the poor old dog being packed off to the vets while they all went to Disneyland? I can't imagine anything more stressful for a dog than staying at the vets!
If you really love your dog you'd put non-essential trips away on hold when they're so near to the end. (I once missed out on going to a party at 10 Downing Street because my old doggie didn't like the dog sitter who I'd booked. I wouldn't have been able to enjoy myself for worrying about the poor old girl - she was on a hair trigger and if she got stressed she'd end up on a drip after losing copious amounts of blood - my car used to look like a meat wagon. The dog sitter had brought her own dog with her and Sally hated other dogs.)
Anyway I tried hiding the book when we got down to the last three chapters, but Kieran was insistent. He wanted to hear the ending.
It was hard to read it aloud. I think we both cried in equal measures - passing each other tissues and giving each other hugs.
I have too often cried into a beloved dogs' fur and felt that dull ache as the gentle loving eyes lose their sparkle so I was probably remembering all those times. But it was all new for Kieran.
I couldn't help recall my mum's death as I read to Kieran. The doctor's had turned up her morphine and stopped assisting with her breathing. It was inevitable she was going to slip away in the next few hours. I got to stroke her hair, and hold her hand and tell her how I felt about her, too. I don't think I'd connected all those bereavements before I read Marley to Kieran.
(I'm welling up again just thinking about it.)
This morning Kieran was still thinking about Marley. He is a gentle little fellow. He hugged our dogs extra hard and told them what great dogs they are. Words that John had whispered to Marley at the end.
Who'd have thought a kid's book could stir up so much emotion!

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Competition time again!

Photo submitted by Wendy Peacock and not Allen Parton as wrongly attributed in the mag - sorry Wendy!
Now come on everyone - send in your funny captions for this photo by Friday 1pm to Lucky winner gets a Classic Kong and Kong Wubba. Five runner ups get a Wubba!

*DEADLINE EXTENSION* You now have till Monday at 1pm, we didn't get around to judging the comp on Friday - we ran out of time!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Photoshoot panic as usual!

Our next photoshoot is on Thursday and we were hoping to feature two breeds in depth for our mega Fido Facts section - 12 plus pages of in-depth history, suitability, health etc. But Julia's best efforts at tracking down people is proving tricky.
The breeds we are looking for are Scottish Terriers and Schipperkes.
We've talked to loads of breeders but being in the run up to Crufts no one in Scotties wants to trim the dogs as they say it'll ruin them for Crufts and the Schipperkes we've found are out of coat.
The photography from these shoots is breathtaking and you get to keep some of it to use in breed books, Dogs World annual ads etc. Tim Rose is one of the best dog photographers in the world and his camera and equipment is worth £1,000s.
So if you know any Scottie or Schipperke people able to get to Slough this Thursday can they contact Julia on 01276 858880 or by email
Good pet examples would be lovely, too!
The Keeshonds that are coming are Champions, we do like to show a show standard example of the breed, plus what they are likely to look like in pet hands, too.
Please cross post this! Thank you!

Monday, 7 January 2008

For those that have just bought the Feb issue

... and are expecting to see something on Anne and the welsh sanctuary opportunity please click here!

Friday, 4 January 2008

London Tonight

It went okay, I think. Although I hate watching myself on TV so I haven't studied it. It was live and I didn't see the video so I was commenting a bit blind.

Here's the link if you want to see it click here

I can't get it to work properly - but I'm on a Mac, so nothing new!

Today's challenge

Apparently Wandsworth Council has gone a bit extreme and are trying to bring in a few measures that could make life very hard for dog owners. I suspect this is a knee-jerk reaction to the Rottie and the baby incident.
If you have any inside knowledge or ideas do please share because at 4pm I get picked up to go on ITV's London Tonight at 6pm - it'll be live and I need to make some decent points to try to help avoid chaos in Wandsworth.
Basically they want to bring in a licence for fighting dog types (?) of £500 a year. Dogs not already covered by the DDA - so do they mean Rotties?
They will also have the power to evict anyone who has a 'fighting-type dog' -that is out of control.
Sounds complete madness to me. And everyone who has a Staffie, Rottie, cross will be living in fear of falling out with a neighbour in case there's an allegation made against their dog.
I'm sure something else newsworthy will happen in the next few hours and we'll get bumped.
What would you say if you were in the chair?

Just been given this link to Wandsworth council's site - have a read. £500 a year per dog - gulp! Only the drug dealers will be able to afford dogs.

Been having a mull - here's my ideas so far:
I have to say this isn't the easiest topic to deal with, it's easy for it to become emotive and for me to be seen as callous. But I think the basic thrust is that no one should keep dogs as guards. That a dog treated mean and kept outside in the yard is a huge danger to the owner and their family. And that is the lesson we should learn from the recent tragedies involving dogs and children.

All the dogs that have been killed were acquired because they were perceived to be dangerous - and that's the problem!

Wandsworth's proposals would put dog ownership out of the league of normal people - only drug dealers and dog fighters could afford them - and I don't think that would make me feel any safer!

As Staffies are the number one dog through rescue in the south think how many home-checked responsible owners would be hit by this dog tax. It's madness.

How about a system where you prove your dog is a good citizen - just like you can reduce your congestion charge by cutting emissions. if you take your dog on a training course you don't pay the tax?

What do you think folks? What will the intreviewer say to that one?

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Permission to dream

When you work hard, when every day seems to have too few hours, it's easy to forget about your dreams.
In the last 24 hours I've allowed myself to ponder about the things I would still love to do, things I would love to try, things that may make life better for everyone. To do something really useful.
I've been so busy just keeping up with what needs doing that I must have forgot to keep reaching for the seemingly unobtainable.
I've had one email last night and one phone conversation today that has reminded me to get on with stuff and that if you are passionate about something you can make it happen. If you don't try to do the unexpected, nothing out of the ordinary will ever happen.
You will probably fail, but at least you'll have tried.
I sound like I'm talking in code, I can't say exactly what I mean but I've regained a bit of my fight today. There are things I want to do, there are stories I want to tell.
New Year is traditionally a time for new resolutions. Mine is to regain my belief that good things will happen if you do your best.
I'm heading down a road that potentially will make life even more hectic, but fingers crossed it's going to be worth it! I always did reach for the stars, but in the last year or so I seem to have been looking down rather than up and I just forgot they were up there!
I'm so full of positive energy I may even dust off my two movie ideas and try to get them made, too....
Perhaps one step at a time might be a better plan! But if you are a movie mogul or have connections please do drop me a line! I have two potential Oscar-winning scripts (that may feature dogs pretty heavilly) just waiting for the right director/producer!
As soon as I can, I will tell you about my latest project. I'm making lists again... it's just so exciting!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

It's a new year - a new start?

After more than a decade in the job, I've just heard that very sadly our ad sales lady Fiona Sachs has decided to call it a day. Even though she obviously looks much, much younger than her years, she could have officially retired a few years back - so I guess it's not completely unexpected, plus she's not been at all well this year. Fiona is a huge character and will be much missed. She's going to be very hard to replace.
I was just writing the job adverts for the local papers and I thought, why not try the blog first?
Anyone out there think this is the job for them?
Selling is something you can either do, or not do - but this requires a gentle but persistent charm - to build relationships with people for many years to come. I sold the ads for the first couple of mags after the MBO back in 1992/3 and I was hopeless - but I had to do pretty much everything in those days! Everyone got a bargain as I wasn't great at closing and even gave a few away, but I spent hours chatting to people which was nice! Our advertisers are lovely. We need someone unafraid of talking about money and keen to sniff out new opportunities, too.
Ideally we want someone to be based in our office - that's in Chobham, Surrey. We've got so many home workers already and it's a huge office - so it would make sense to have our new person based here - so that would be my first choice. It may be that after a few months it could become a home-based job, but in the early stages I suspect a degree of hand-holding would be good. Plus you'd get to feel part of the team by being part of the team. Ideally I'd like our ad person to always be in the office as I like to bounce ideas around and there's bigger projects we could work on together if that was the case.
Unusually, there's a possibility for our ad sales person to perhaps do a bit of editorial too - in bigger publications that's usually impossible as the ad sales and editorial team are completely separate. But as one of our team will at some point in the future need maternity cover (sworn to secrecy so not telling which - but it's not Luke!) there's a chance for someone to take on some editorial duties, too.
If this sounds interesting or you know someone who would be perfect, please pass it on. My email address is