Thursday, 27 November 2008

KC read this blog - it's official

In the anonymous and sometimes scurrilous Kennel Club gossip column in this week's Dog World we get a name check - something I wrote seems to annoyed someone - although they seem to think I'm being much more sensible these days, gosh I'm almost blushing at this. Who knows I may end up on their Christmas card list at this rate!

Get the facts right
Interesting to hear that Beverley Cuddy is taking a more sensible line with the KC now - working together is meant to be what it's all about after all. But I would ask her to consider the facts a little further before she puts finger to keyboard in future.
I'm told that in her coldwetnose blog she states that 'the majority of breeders (of Labradors) aren't observing good standards' - ie since they aren't hip scoring. It's very easy to look at total registration figures and make assumptions about who does and doesn't hip score but the fact is that the only dogs which need to be scored in order to be relevant to the future health of Labrador hips are those which will be bred from.
The following information comes from a report by Jeff Sampson, geneticist at the KC: "Of all the breeds that participate in the BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme the Labrador has the greatest participation. In 2007 3,842 hip scores were added to the KC database from Labradors; in total 55,775 KC registered Labradors have been scored under the scheme. The most
recent data (for Labradors) shows that in 2006, 23.4 per cent had either the dam or the sire hip scored and 51.6 per cent had both parents hip score."
Now I will accept that it is only just a majority of breeders that are scoring both parents but a further 23 per cent of pups are born into a litter with one parent scored and the result is that hip scores in the Labrador are coming down.
Whichever way you look at it, Beverley has her facts wrong because she's looking at all Labradors rather than the relevant ones - ie those being bred from.
I'm told that over the last ten year period what's called the rolling mean score for the breed has gone down from 16 to 12 which is good news. All it needs is for more puppy buyers to ask the question of the breeder as to whether or not the parents' hips have been scored - and
ask to see the certificate for proof - that way all breeders will have to get on and join the many responsible ones out there.

Just how 48.4% of Labrador litters registered at the KC not being from hip scored parents anything to brag about I really don't know!

Have these people never witnessed a dog recovering from hip replacement surgery? Or been on the end of a line to someone who can't afford to fund the operation in the first place and is in floods of tears at the thought of putting their pet to sleep.

And huge apologies KC for my 1.7% margin of error when I said that the majority of breeders aren't doing the tests. But I wonder how many of the 51.6% were actually breeding from dogs below the average hip score? How many tested for eye problems or for any other hereditary diseases you can and should test for.

Here's the bit that seems to encouraged the KC to investigate their own figures. The figures they now quote weren't ones I had seen before this column announced them. Be fascinating to see these percentages in all breeds if the KC would like to publish them!

It seems I over-estimated the total number of Labradors hip scored when I said 60,000 had been tested in the 30 years that the scheme has existed - which averages out at 2,000 dogs a year. As 45,000 Lab pups are registered every year the 3,842 tested in 2007 - which is nearly double the average since testing started - is still less than 10% of the annual additional Labrador population. Hardly anything to celebrate!

Here's the bit that appears to have riled them! Gosh, who'd have thought they be so touchy over a 1.7% error!

Who'd have thought they'd want to put the spotlight on the 21,780 Lab pups born each year to breeders not using hip tested parents.

I'm sorry - and just what exactly is the point of breeding from a Labrador and having only one of the parents hip scored? It shows some breeders are aware of the scheme but still just choose to be random and just breed on blind regardless!

COMMENT: Yet again we have a charity that should know better saying:
"While we acknowledge that most dog breeders do observe good standards..."
At the risk of sounding like a broken record. Only 60,000 Labradors Hip scored in 30 years since the hip scoring scheme started. 45,000 Labrador puppies registered by the KC last year! So the majority of breeders aren't observing good standards quite obviously as only a moron would breed from Labradors without testing them for hip dysplasia at the very least!
But great to see the vet world finally saying publicly what normal vets have been saying for years - change is long overdue!


Pedigree Dogs Exposed and acclaimed

Groundbreaking TV documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed has been shortlisted for Documentary of Year at the Broadcast Awards which will be announced at the Grosvenor in January.

Here's the whole of the field:

Best Documentary Programme
A Boy Called Alex, C4
America Unchained, More 4
My Street, C4
Pedigree Dogs Exposed, BBC1
Sex Change Soldier, C4
Undercover in Tibet, C4

Congratulations to Jemima and all the team at Passionate Productions.

I note someone called Miked is posting some pretty angry comments here - would love to hear more from you Mike so we can understand your perspective a little more? You may not like us very much, but we do try to listen to critics as well as supporters.

Can you calculate COIs?

While I love Apple Macs there are times when having one does mean you are discriminated against.
For example, I would very much like to be able to calculate the coefficient of inbreeding for a particular dog. If I lived in Sweden I simply could turn to the Swedish Kennel Club website and type in the name of the dog and instantly I would have the COI. Well I would be able to if I had a PC. Even Sweden isn't Mac friendly.
As our KC is not that evolved no matter what type of computer you have, I needed to source the software to calculate the COI.
Guess what - it's all PC-only!
So I have a choice - buy a new computer just to calculate COI and the software. Or learn how to do cross platform stuff on my already creaky Mac - scary.
Or appeal through this blog for someone who might already have the software and a computer that can handle it to please, please, please calculate the COI for this one particular dog.
We need to use the maximum number of generations as all the inbreeding seems to concentrate on the fourth generation onwards.
My manual research shows that 11 out of the 16 dogs in the 4th generation are all line bred to three siblings! And of the remaining 5 dogs many of them feature one or other of those siblings parents.

Be very grateful for any help anyone can offer!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Driving me mad

Oh dear, I'm having one of those days.
I loaded Oscar into the car - it's his grooming day again. I put my bags on the passenger seat but as I went to sit in the driver's seat something unusual on the car floor next to the peddles caught my eye.
It was about three inches long and an inch wide, brown and flat with a very ornate border.
I picked it up and turned it over in my hand and was surprised to see it was actually four pieces of a Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate bar that appeared to have been very evenly chewed around the edges. Very like the chocolate bars Kieran and Cameron had for their home-from-school treat the night before.
The complex edge design was very, very neat. The needle-like teeth marks were very regular.
Now regular bloggers will know I have had rodent problems with this car before. Twice a rat has chewed the electrical loom in the engine costing over £1,000 to repair and giving the garage a lot of laughs as the rats had a little store of cheese and biscuits to go with their wire starter.
But I'd never had a rodent problem inside the car. These teeth marks looked more mouse-like, too - although a baby rat could also have similar dentition.
I am a complete coward with regards to all things small and quick moving and the possibility of sharing my car interior with a mouse was likely to make my somewhat erratic driving just that little bit worse.
Tess the Springer seemed the obvious next step. She is a natural hunter.
Tess will look for stuff if you ask her and she did a great impression of drug sniffer dog in the car interior and she covered every inch of the car - but if Mr Mousey was hiding he wasn't daft enough to make a run for it with killer Tess on the case.
So as well as a mouse in residence I also now have the muddiest car seats imaginable!
I rang my husband who was on a train so unfortunately unable to come to my assistance. However, he called mutual friend Craig who very kindly rushed to my side to provide moral support.
Craig attempted the tactic I'd probably have tried with the kids - of trying to reassure me that it wasn't really a rodent that had chewed the chocolate, but probably a child using an implement. But that didn't wash as I'm sure someone from CSI could have easily rustled us up a three dimensional image of the guilty mouse's skull with those very clear rodenty teeth imprints. This mouse had one tooth slightly shorter than the rest and at a slight angle. I'd be able to recognise him anywhere!
Then Craig assured me that Mr Mousey had probably long gone, but I'd have seenhim if he had made a run for it through the open door. So that didn't wash either.
There was nothing more he could do - we realy needed a thermal imaging camera to convince me Mr Mouse had left the car.
My solution - apart from sell the car and call a taxi - was to drive very quickly and put the radio on very loud and encourage the children to finish their sweets in future.
Oh dear.
Was Mr Mousey working alone? Did he escape and will he tell all his friends about my car's well stocked larder of unfinished confectionery items?
Craig told me that his chickens sometimes catch mice.
Is that a solution, some hens for the car?
To be honest they probably wouldn't make half as much mess as the kids!!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Ethics and extinction

A very strong new report from the Companion Welfare Animal Welfare Council (CAWC), issued yesterday, has concluded that an independent advisory body needs to be set up to decide on genetic welfare issues on a breed-by-breed basis.
It considers that this advisory role could be fulfilled by CAWC and that it should look at ethical and practical concerns to decide if continuing to breed from some of the unhealthiest pedigree dogs could be justified. And if there are valid arguments for continuing - it will outline what the appropriate breeding strategies need to be.
If any breeders needed another boot up the backside to put health higher up their agenda this will certainly provide it.
CAWC simplified things considerably by saying there are three possible approaches in every breed:
1. Breeding to reduce prevalence or eliminate within the breed
2. Outbreeding to reduce prevalence or eliminate
3. Ceasing to breed at all from potential carriers

I predict mass hysteria in the weekly breeder press.

Here's the report in full:

Approaches to tackling genetic welfare problems in companion animals

Report of the Companion Animal Welfare Council Workshop held at 14:30 on Thursday 9th October 2008 at 2 Millbank, Westminster.

Summary and conclusions

At present, structured and coordinated approaches to implementation of appropriate breeding strategies for addressing genetic welfare problems in companion animals are limited and the leadership for such coordination is unclear. By default, the approach adopted has been one of developing diagnostic tests and breeding strategies to tackle specific problems. This is of course extremely important but there needs also to be higher level consideration of whether the best way forward, for animal welfare, is to proceed in this way or, instead, to cease breeding at all from some strains.

The Workshop concluded that a suitably constituted and independent advisory body, set up to consider these issues (ie the best ways forward to tackle genetic welfare problems on a breed by breed basis) could provide a very valuable service to animal welfare and to society. By addressing the issues outlined above, ie by making explicit both the welfare costs and the possible benefits of continued breeding, and by offering its consensus views on the balance of these and making clear its reasons for these, such a body (and this may be an appropriate role for CAWC) could provide valuable guidance. It would clearly have to consult widely and its standing and authority would rest only on the quality of its composition, including its technical advisors, and its judgments. It would address, with breeders and others, both the ethical and the practical genetics aspects: can continued breeding in a population be justified? And, if so, what the aims (and perhaps methods) of the future breeding strategies (species by species or breed by breed) should be.


Background

On 29th April 2008, CAWC held a workshop meeting at the House of Lords to review progress in tackling genetic welfare problems in companion animals two years on from the publication of its Report on ‘Breeding and welfare in companion animals’. This workshop focused on the condition of syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS) in order to try to highlight general principles about tackling genetic welfare problems that might have wide application in companion animals.

At that workshop there was discussion about the possible approaches to tackling genetic welfare problems. A brief report of the meeting is available from CAWC and the relevant section of this is reproduced at Appendix A below. At that meeting, three kinds of approaches to tackling genetic welfare problems were identified (see Appendix A):

• breeding to reduce prevalence or eliminate within the breed,
outbreeding to reduce prevalence or eliminate,
• or ceasing to breed at all from potential carriers.

It was concluded that there should be further debate about such fundamental aspects of approaches to tackling genetic welfare problems in companion animals

The aim of the workshop held on 9th October was to discuss these matters and the relative merits of these three approaches to tackling genetic welfare problems: recognising that this is a large and controversial subject which clearly includes both scientific and ethical aspects. The intention was to try to capture key points with a view to producing a brief paper, perhaps for publication as a letter or brief report, to help inform society and stimulate further critical thinking and debate about these important animal welfare matters.

A list of the Workshop participants is at Appendix B


Breeding strategies for tackling genetic welfare problems in companion animals. How are decisions reached and what factors underlie them?

If it is believed that there is something intrinsically important about a breed then the matter of how best to deal with any genetic welfare problems within it is one of practical genetics.

However, if there is not something intrinsically important about a breed, then the question of what to do about genetic welfare problems is more purely an ethical one. Under this circumstance, shouldn’t the breeding of these animals cease so as to preclude the risk of perpetuating welfare problems? So how does one decide which breeds are sufficiently important to justify continued breeding in the face of genetic welfare problems?

There are some 200 breeds of dogs so would it matter if this dropped to, say, 180? For those species that have only relatively recently begun to be bred as companion animals (eg many species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish), it has been argued that breeding for particular traits should be avoided (CAWC, 2006; CAWC, 2008a): there seems to be no good case for developing wide varieties of breeds of these. This is because, from the welfare point of view it is likely to be generally better not to select for characteristics away from the wild type (although some modifications - eg that result in better adaptation to the new environment - may have welfare benefits).

Breeding animals that will be at risk of genetic welfare problems reflects a judgment (perhaps usually tacit) that, in some way, the benefits of so doing outweigh those welfare costs.

Assessing the costs and benefits

It is clear that individuals reach different conclusions about which way the scales tip in this cost to benefit balance. The workshop considered that there were some breeds of dogs whose perpetuation could not be justified (at least in their present forms) because it was felt that any benefits of so doing could not outweigh the welfare costs. However, where in other breeds, the welfare costs were judged to be milder (ie less intense, and/or of shorter duration), and where the proportion of individuals affected was (sufficiently) small, opinion was that continued breeding is acceptable: the benefits can outweigh the costs in these cases, providing that breeding is structured and managed so as to tackle the existing genetic welfare problems.

In these cost to benefit assessments, welfare costs are put, in the mind’s eye, on one side of the scales and the various benefits are put on the other. We each form a judgement of which way the scales tip. The ‘weight’ on the welfare side is dependent on our judgements about the impact of the condition on the animal’s quality of life (in terms of, for example, pain, fear or other unpleasant feelings, how severe these are, how long they last, and the proportion or number of animals affected). But what are the benefits that we (tacitly, or otherwise) place on the other side of the scales? That is, what are the reasons why we might, for example, choose to breed (or buy) a dog of breed A whilst being aware that the dog may face an increased risk of a problem that will diminish its welfare? (The dog is picked here as an example – the principles apply to any species).

The reasons might include some of the following.

• Function. For example, we may choose a sheepdog if we want our companion animal also to herd sheep.

• Economics. We may wish to breed As because we depend upon so doing for our income (say, to feed our family).

• Suitability. Choices may often relate to suitability for our needs with respect to, for example: size, feeding costs, space and exercise requirements.

• Predictability. We may choose to buy a dog of breed A because its temperament is predictable, because of its breeding, and hence is more suitable for our needs.

• For social reasons. Our friends may all have dogs of breed A and we want one also for social reasons.

• We just like them. We may wish to breed or buy dogs of breed A because we just like them (eg because of the way they look).

Some of the reasons for our preferences, described above, might be logical and reasoned. For example, choices that relate to suitability in relation to meeting the animals needs for food, space and exercise, space and cost; or choices relating to function (eg getting a sheepdog because we need to herd sheep). However our choices may, in some cases, also be reflections of arbitrary preferences the basis of which may be unclear to us, and which may perhaps be whimsical. We may just like As.

The bullet points above list reasons why we may wish to buy or breed a companion animal breed that is known to be at risk of genetic welfare problems. So ‘good welfare’ is not included in the list. However, good welfare is undoubtedly also a powerful factor influencing people’s choice. So, it is very important that clear information is readily available on genetic welfare problems in companion animals and how to avoid or minimise them so that potential buyers and breeders can take this fully into consideration.

Historically, it appears that function was a major factor driving the breeding of particular genetic lines of dogs. For example, the purpose of bulldogs was to bite bulls and their design reflects the selective breeding that was directed to that end. The purpose of bulldogs now – the reason why people breed and buy them – is as companion animals. It appears that ‘just liking them’ is a very powerful motive for breeding and buying particular breeds and that this, rather than function, economics or other reasons in the list above, may often be the major factor.

If this is the only factor, the question becomes does ‘just liking them’, with whatever human welfare benefits this may bring, justify continued breeding where it is known that there is a risk of poor welfare due to hereditary disease as a result? If animals were to be bred, for scientific purposes rather than as companion animals, where there was a known likelihood that the welfare of some of the offspring would be compromised, this would be permitted only under licence under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, and only where the Home Secretary was persuaded that the benefits outweighed the welfare costs. It seems very unlikely that ‘just liking’ something would ever be accepted as a justification for causing poor animal welfare in this context. Similarly, there is legislation which aims to protect farm animals from risks to welfare associated with breeding - the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 provide that: 'It shall be the duty of any person who selects an animal for the purpose of breeding from it to have due regard to any anatomical, physiological or behavioural characteristic apparent in the individual or the breeding line which is likely to put at risk the health or welfare of the offspring or the female parent' .

So, is ‘just liking them’ justification enough to breed companion animals whose welfare may be at significant risk?

No doubt there is a wide range of opinions about this. Perhaps, if views were surveyed rigorously, there would be a consensus (as in this Workshop) that there are some breeds whose continued breeding cannot be justified.

The way forward?

At present, structured and coordinated approaches to considering these questions are limited and leadership is unclear. By default, the approach adopted (if any is adopted at all) tends to be one of developing diagnostic tests and breeding strategies to tackle specific problems. This is of course extremely important but there needs also to be higher level consideration of whether the best way forward, for animal welfare, is to proceed in this way or, for some strains, instead, to cease breeding at all.

It was not the role of this Workshop to begin to consider approaches to particular breeds but it was clear that there was little support for the continued breeding of those whose very breed characteristics have direct adverse welfare consequences. For example, dog breeds with deep skin folds are very likely to suffer from dermatitis and any perpetuation of this is very hard to justify. However it is not always simple to draw a clear line between welfare problems that are linked to breed characteristics and those that are independent of them.

The Workshop concluded that a suitably constituted and independent advisory body, set up to consider these issues – the best ways forward to tackle genetic welfare problems on a breed by breed basis - could provide a very valuable service to animal welfare and to society. By addressing the issues outlined above – by making explicit both the welfare costs and the possible benefits of continued breeding, and by offering its consensus views on the balance of these and making clear its reasons for these – such a body (and this may be an appropriate role for a group that CAWC might establish and operate) could provide valuable guidance. It would clearly have to consult widely and its standing and authority would rest only on the quality of its judgements.

It would address both the ethical and the practical genetics aspects: can continued breeding be justified? And, if so, what the aims (and perhaps methods) of the future breeding strategy should be. And, what would be the key characters upon which quality of an animal (especially for future breeding) should be judged (breed standards) and how can these be assessed or quantified? With respect to methods, the Workshop recognised that all the methods listed above may have a role to play depending on the circumstances.

Tackling these welfare problems depends on them being recognised as such. Where the way forward is through structured and managed breeding programmes, success will depend on those responsible for breeding taking ownership of the challenge. Breed standards should reflect welfare objectives. It was proposed at the Workshop that there should be breed-specific certification (regarding health and welfare status) and that such certification should be a requirement for entry to shows or for breeding. This certification should be managed or overseen by a specialist panels.

The workshop also concluded that the creation of veterinary databases that could be accessed for monitoring and properly regulated scientific analysis would be a most valuable step towards proactive management of welfare problems in companion animals. The need for recognising emerging problems, monitoring the prevalence of these and existing ones, and for prompt development of appropriate responses has been the subject of a separate CAWC workshop and the ‘Scoping Report on Companion Animal Welfare Surveillance (CAWC, 2008b) is available from CAWC.

The intention, following the Workshop, was to produce a brief report of the discussions (and this is that report). After seeking comments on this from the Workshop participants, this would be circulated to the CAWC Council, made generally available, and publicised to help promote debate and seek wider views about the way forward to inform, among others, CAWC regarding the next steps to pursue.

References

CAWC (2006) Breeding and welfare in companion animals: the Companion Animal Welfare Council’s Report on welfare aspects of modifications, through selective breeding or biotechnological methods, to the form, function, or behaviour of companion animals. Available from the Companion Animal Welfare Council. www.cawc.org.uk.

CAWC (2008a) Report of the CAWC Workshop on ‘Fixing ancestral problems. Genetics and welfare in companion animals focusing on syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels as an example’. 29th April 2008, House of Lords. Available from the Companion Animal Welfare Council. www.cawc.org.uk.

CAWC (2008b) Scoping report on companion animal welfare surveillance. Available from the Companion Animal Welfare Council. www.cawc.org.uk.







































Appendix A. Excerpt from the Report of the CAWC Workshop ‘Fixing ancestral problems. Genetics and welfare in companion animals focusing on syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels as an example

Approaches to tackling genetic diseases

Where genetic diseases occur that cause welfare problems in companion animals - and here we are referring to principles and in all companion animals (eg fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals) - there are various possible responses. These are outlined below.

(i) If maintenance of breed purity is taken to be the priority – then the approach pursued might be (as some advocate in the case of syringomyelia in the CKCS – see above) to take steps to eliminate the problem through selective breeding whilst as far as possible minimising further loss of genetic diversity in cases where the population is already very inbred (eg dog breeds).

(ii) If breed purity is not such a priority – then outbreeding (with another breed or breeds) may offer advantages. Whilst there could be risks with this, of introducing other genetic diseases, generally one would expect that advantages would be more likely than disadvantages. Ideally, this would be undertaken in managed programme – perhaps directed to try to address particular problems. To illustrate this using syringomyelia as our example again: since this a consequence of large brains in small skulls and selection for increased body size tends to result in relative greater size increment in skeleton than brain size, it might prove beneficial to breed for increased body size (whether or not this idea might have merits in the case of CKCS needs further consideration – some do not think it appropriate).

(iii) If animal welfare is the only consideration – then a decision might be made not to breed from any carriers or potential carriers of the disadvantageous trait even if this meant that the strain or breed might be lost. (For example, if a new colour morph of, say, a species of snake was bred but this strain was found also to be predisposed to a genetic disease that compromised welfare, then, if the priority is welfare, ceasing to breed this strain would resolve the problem).

It is apparent (and it was apparent at the meeting) that preferences concerning these options differ radically. This is not because of differences in the importance attached to welfare – all believe it very important. Some people feel strongly that breed purity is a great priority (whilst seeing welfare as a great priority also), others take the view that breed (the details of particular morphology and appearance) is not so important, being largely a matter of fashion, and that where it might be advantageous for the animals’ quality of life to relax the pursuit of breed purity, this should be the way forward. As far as we are aware public opinion on the desirability of breed purity in this context has not been surveyed.

As for the idea of not breeding from any potential carriers in order to prevent births of further animals whose welfare is compromised when the consequence of this would be that some lines or breeds might go extinct, it is apparent that there are strongly held views against this approach. As discussed above in the context of CKCS, one reason for this is that – depending on the circumstances - not breeding from potential carriers could lead to further loss of genetic diversity that may compromise the tackling of other genetic problems in a population. It was suggested that public opinion would not support the approach of not breeding from potential carriers in order to prevent births of animals at risk, but here again, as far as we are aware, public opinion has not been surveyed. The other side of this coin is acceptance that, during the course of efforts to eliminate genetic welfare problems, perhaps over a number of generations, animals will continue to be bred that are affected with painful and / or debilitating conditions.

It is important that, in the design of strategies to tackle these problems, the priorities (as outlined above) are clearly identified in each case as these will greatly influence the approach adopted. There seems to be a need for further debate about these fundamental aspects.


Appendix B Workshop Participants

Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, CAWC Chairman
James Kirkwood, CAWC Workshop Chair
Sir Colin Spedding, Advisor to CAWC
Tony Birbeck, CAWC
Alan Waldron, CAWC Secretariat
Jeff Samson, Kennel Club
Clare Rusbridge, Stone Lion Veterinary Centre
Sarah Blott, Animal Health Trust
John Woolliams, The Roslin Institute, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh University
Geoff Skerritt, Chestergates Referral Hospital
Judith Skerritt, Chestergates Referral Hospital
Nicky Paull, British Veterinary Association
Rachel Wain, British Veterinary Association

Companion Animal Welfare Council Contact details

CAWC Secretariat
The Dene
Old North Road
Bourn
Cambridge CB23 2TZ

Or as listed at CAWC website
www.cawc.org.uk
email: cawc@cawc.freeserve.co.uk






Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Look closely at your vet bill!

How much is your vet now charging you for prescriptions?
The law change at the beginning of the month means that prescriptions you take away and fill online are no longer free of charge .
What is your vet charging? Can you help us research this?
One of our readers found it varied between £10 plus VAT to £2.50 including VAT in her area per prescription. With her rescued Great Dane being on constant very expensive regular medication that is available at half the price on line compared to via her vet this extra cost at the vets is a very unwelcome change.
Click here to go to the relevant page of Dogs Today Think Tank to please add your regional price information.
And while you're at the other blog, do have a look at the other questions and see if you can add anything to the answers already in. Rocky and Rambo are certainly attracting the most comments so far.

I'm back in work today and Kieran is back in school - thanks in no small part to the pharmaceutical industry in general!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Dogs Today Think Tank

Five new problems on the Dogs Today Think Tank - can you have a look and see if you can help with either some solutions or some observations?

Please click here to move to that blog.

But don't forget to read the last blog... if your dog can talk, we want to hear all about it!

We are all in quarantine here. Mel, who sells our adverts gave me the flu and I've passed it on to my son Kieran who was meant to be having exams today.

I'm working from home today and trying to keep my poorly son company, and finish the magazine (we go to press on Thursday!) and stay alert on approx two hours of sleep. Yawn! Its going to be a long day I can tell already! Oscar has the day off from the house of sickness, he's being photographed today for a new book on grooming by Peter Young of Peter's Posh Pets fame. He loves getting pampered and I have to say he's a text book example of a dog who always needs grooming.

Can your dog say "sausages"?

If you have a dog that can speak, get them to give me a call ASAP!
We will put you in touch with an agent who will arrange for your verbose canine chum to appear on a certain live TV show that started last night. (Nope - sadly you don't need to go to Australia, if there was 1st class travel thrown in I'd have concealed a tape recorder in Oscar's coat and applied myself!)
No, dogs are not going to replace Ant and Dec - even though budgets appear to be being chopped if the stories about the celebs' fees are correct.
First choice is a dog that can say "Sausages" - but in reality the ability to say anything at all will be greatly appreciated.
Please get in touch ASAP and I will unite you with the man who can make your dog a star!
Some remuneration is highly likely for the right candidate.
But hurry, if you've not yet trained your dog to speak - you'll need to be quick!
The show is only on TV for three weeks!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Home-A-Dog to Close

Just had this very sad news in from Demelda, those who have followed this story from the start will be devastated to hear this news:

As some of you will know we at Home-A-Dog have been fighting the planning department at Snowdonia National Park since we arrived in April this year to take over from Anne. This was a long standing issue that we were unaware of at the time but already having made the decision to move and to some degree having burnt our bridges in Cornwall we decided to accept the challenge and fight to keep Home-A-Dog.

To our great disappointment and sadness Snowdonia National Park refused the planning applications made in retrospect for the caravan and existing stray dog kennelling facility at Home-A-Dog, Llanbedr, Gwynedd.

We will of course fight this decision, however, the chances of altering this refusal are slim if not impossible.

This ultimately means that Home-A-Dog WILL CLOSE, leaving one less sanctuary for the stray and unwanted dogs of Gwynedd. To the best of my knowledge leaving only one such facility in operation - PAWS. With the best will in the world one rescue organisation alone will not be able to cope with the volume of stray and unwanted dogs in this area.

This means DOGS WILL DIE!

If you can help in any way -

Property or land that we could move our facility to.

Financial assistance to enable a move to take place.

The knowledge and time to source possible avenues of funding.

Or even just provide moral support. We are open to all suggestions.

Please contact Demelda or Colin Penkitty on 01341 241813

To view the background to this story (oldest last...)
Best laid plans
Help write a wrong
Ready to change your life?

Demelda and Colin were real troopers stepping up to the challenge and risking everything to help Anne in her moment of need. We all need to get behind them and do our best to help the stray dogs that could be saved in this area of Wales judged too beautiful to house a small and incredibly efficient rescue organisation. Just kind words of support may help them keep their chins up a this very difficult time - but obviously anyone who can give practical or fund-raising support would be very warmly welcomed.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Has Crufts become a toxic brand?

Just stumbled across this story...

It seems the people who look at brand values are speculating about whether Crufts has gone toxic and if so what needs to be done about it....

LONDON - After a damaging exposé, Crufts will need all its agility to regain public affection. By Joe Thomas

For an event that has 120 years of history, is the biggest dog show in the world and a staple of cosy TV viewing, the appeal of Crufts seems to be disappearing as fast as a greyhound out of the traps.

Brand Health Check: Crufts

by Joe Thomas, Marketing 11-Nov-08, 08:30

LONDON - After a damaging exposé, Crufts will need all its agility to regain public affection. By Joe Thomas

For an event that has 120 years of history, is the biggest dog show in the world and a staple of cosy TV viewing, the appeal of Crufts seems to be disappearing as fast as a greyhound out of the traps.

The programme featured epileptic boxers, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs unable to mate or give birth unassisted. Its exposure of 'maltreatment' of man's best friend rocked the hitherto happy and harmless little world of Crufts, and its slightly eccentric breeders, and consequently the affection of the average pet lover for the brand.

In the aftermath of the broadcast, the RSPCA and canine welfare charity Dogs Trust withdrew their support for, and participation in, Crufts. In a more commercially damaging move, Pedigree terminated its sponsorship deal with the show.

The Kennel Club complained to Ofcom that it had been the victim of 'unfair treatment and editing', after which the BBC called its bluff with threats of a follow-up documentary.

We sought the views of Jeremy Caplin, head of communications and media, dunnhumby, and a former marketing direc-tor of Nestlé Purina Pet Care, and Warwick Cairns, planning director at Brand-house, who has worked on the Cesar dogfood brand.

Jeremy Caplin head of communications and media, dunnhumby

A major brand and long-time supporter has jumped ship, and it is clearly time for Crufts to re-evaluate its strategy. The public backlash against the practices of in-breeding and awarding Best of Breed prizes to dogs with serious health problems was one the show should have seen coming.

Crufts needs to reconsider what it stands for and who it is aimed at: breeders, sponsors, or Joe Public and his mongrel in the stands?

If the focus for the event is the breeders, the brand should not only stand by them but devise a funding plan for the event that reduces commercial dependence, demanding more from breeders. If, as seems more likely, the public and TV audiences are the prime source of funding, steps must be taken to disseminate the message that the health issue is taken seriously and addressed by the Kennel Club.

Crufts is an institution, and many long- established institutions are resistant to change. However, in this case, a change is certainly called for. A fresh look can bring the show up to date, and alter a negative perception.

Remedy

  • Go back to basics and look at the core values of Crufts. Determine whether breed health should be promoted as a goal that has a higher priority than aesthetics.
  • Create a mission statement that reinforces the emphasis on health - Crufts and the Kennel Club must be seen to recognise and tackle the issue.
  • Introduce health standards and testing to ensure that breed- and show-winners uphold the primary values of Crufts: showcasing healthy, happy, best-of-breed dogs.

Warwick Cairns planning director, Brandhouse

The relationship between Crufts and Pedigree Petfoods is comparable to that between humans and dogs: it has been long and mutually beneficial.

The heart of the brand's problem, and the reason why the relationship has broken down and Pedigree has pulled out of the partnership, is that it appears that the mutual benefit has fallen by the wayside in the rush by breeders to win prizes.

When mutual love and respect have been elbowed out by ambition; when the dogs seem to be getting the rough end of the stick as they are bred with congenital weaknesses and diseases for the sake of cups and medals, then ordinary dog-lovers start getting upset. After all, our relationship with dogs goes back 15,000 years, so the emotional connection runs pretty deep.

Crufts is in very real danger of becoming a 'contaminated brand' and being replaced in the dog calendar by events such as the Wag & Bone Show', which is open to pedigrees and mongrels alike, and of dragging the whole world of pedigree breeding down in most people's estimation.

Remedy

  • Reassure the public that Crufts cares about dogs by expelling unscrupulous breeders.
  • Reverse the common perception that 'Crufts dogs' are ribbon-bedecked canine topiary, and that breeders have lost sight of the character and abilities for which breeds were originally created - speed, agility, intelligence, tenacity and so on.
  • Reinvent the brand by returning to its founding principles and making the event a showcase for the benefits of pedigree breeding to the dogs and owners alike.




Click here to see the story in situ

Monday, 10 November 2008

Peter Sellers and I have a lot in common

Today's Indie has picked up the shooting the messenger thread, have to say it is good to see it in print. Hadn't realised Margaret C had been threatened with violence. These bullies have to be stood up to.
Click here
On another forum (DforDog) there is one particular poster that I have described as Cato to my Inspector Clouseau. Without warning or seemingly any real provocation she will attack me with a frenzy - to everyone else it is completely obvious we should both be on the same side.
The latest imagined atrocity to have provoked her is the scandal that there is a small photo on one of the 32 pages of our calendar (free with the latest magazine folks - click to buy on the panel at the side!) of last year's Crufts Best In Show winner - Drontal's Dog of the Year 2008. This is on one of their advertorial pages, they were our generous sponsor.
Yes, I know - you're finding it hard to understand why that makes me such an obvious target for a forum assault! But apparently that is further evidence that I am a hypocrite and that's me just cashing in on Crufts positive image to sell magazines.
Does rather ignore the fact that this is a calendar involving 12 enormous positive stories about pet dogs doing amazing stuff and she's just looking at an advert within it.
(If we'd done a 12 most gorgeous and extreme show dogs calendar without mentioning health problems I could see I was virtually asking for someone to hide in a cupboard and jump on me using strange oriental arts.)
I'm thinking here's probably someone who has listened with excitement to the whispering campaign, who wants to believe there are no health problems in dogs and that everything will be all right if those horrible media types and those blasted scientists just clear off. That I'm just a really nasty piece of work, all pent up with hatred for my ex bosses the KC, wishing I still worked there like some doggie Miss Havisham covered in spider webs and fingering maniacally my 1988 Crufts staff badge with hatred in my heart...
A disgruntled ex-employee making up loads of stuff just to make the poor, old, little, multi-million-pound-turnover KC look bad. After all - I did leave under a cloud, everyone says so - so it must be true!
Click here to read my blog entry where I give the full no-punches-pulled story of my life at the KC and what really happened when I left.
I just can't persuade Cato to read my account of what happened at the KC, after my last attempt to get her to read it she speculated as to what my boss would make of all this.... which was a real giveaway that she still hadn't read it! You see, if she'd bothered to read it she'd know I don't have a boss.
Her sidekick on the forum defends her mate's right not to read my side of the story.
True, it must make life much more simple where you can blame all the problems in the doggie world on little old me!
Anyone else want a fight?

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Bark Obama

I wonder if our politicians have begun to wonder just how Obama did it.
What it was that made all those people get out and vote?
Yesterday I was interviewed by the BBC World Service Radio on this very subject - as obviously I'm the very first person to ask on such weighty issues what with being the editor of a dog magazine and all that!
And, of course, I was able to point them in the right direction.
Yes, he is the first black President, true. But people are still missing the obvious.
Obama unleashed the dog vote.
That's why he had the extra big turn out.
Dog folk in the States were fiendishly well organised.
Months ago I was sent a dog collar for Tess to wear which said 'Vote Obama'.
(Pointless Oscar having one as you'd never be able to see it under all that hair. He liked McCain anyway as he is famously short-sighted and professed to liking his oven chips.)
A year ago, dog bloggers (and even the cat bloggers - this really was a new dawn of love and unity) linked together to get their main man elected. What a force they were! Click here - they have some really cool merchandise!
And what an acceptance speech from Obama, a classic, promising his daughters a puppy... masterful! He gave us all exactly what we had been waiting for.
But if he thought the election was tough, the debate as to which dog he should get has filled the political papers big time with passions raised on all sides.
Forget the economy, national security etc. This is the issue that will shape his entire Presidency.
PETA were saying - no way to a pedigree. Oprah Winfrey shocked the nation with a special on shelter dogs. The American KC rushed to provide a poll and Poodles narrowly beat the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier as the new pedigree dog of choice.
The Times newspaper unkindly dealt the Poodle a blow by pointing out the negative history of past Poodles and Presidents - Ronald Reagan having had a quite feisty one called Margaret Thatcher and of course Bush always having his faithful Tony Blair .
The Times also printed my top five suggestions as to what sort of dog Obama should get - click here. (Scroll down to the end for that bit, but the rest of the article is fascinating!)
And I just heard on the BBC TV news this morning that Obama obviously took my guidance straight to heart. (Wonder if I'll get a call to be his special doggie policy advisor or something....?)
He wants a shelter dog, and as he says it'll probably me "a mutt just like me."
The cheeky old BBC World service made me stray into lots of other politically incorrect areas, too.
Why, they asked, is the Pope a cat lover?
I helpfully pointed it out that perhaps he just hasn't met the right dog yet. That having a cat was more like having an affair and it would be a lot more appropriate for the Pope to be in a happy marriage - having a more grown up relationship with a good dog.
Will we see Brown and Cameron rushing to get involved in capturing the dog vote, too?
What sorts of dogs should they get... hold on - I'm not going to help either of them unless they agree to putting helpful legislation together that starts sorting out the pedigree dog health problems. I'm standing firm on this one.
Who'd have thought as the editor of a dog magazine the job could be quite this broad!
It's even in the Sunday Times today - click here. Will the story ever slow down?

Did your copy of the magazine arrive okay?

Can I just check if any of you have not yet received your postal copy of the magazine? If you've not yet got yours, can you email me your address including postcode? The reason I'm a bit jumpy is that five of our remote workers haven't yet had their copies which were posted by our printers last week and we had a lot of calls in the office yesterday from other anxious people who still hadn't had their mag - which is unusual. My home and work seed copies arrived okay - so it looks like the bulk were posted, we just may have a sack or two that have got lost in the Royal Mail system.
The printers are investigating from their end - just wanted to get an idea of the scale of the problem.
Anyone receive their mag in damaged packaging? This month the mailing house appear to have used a different mailing bag and as we have a calendar and a sample of Vitalin food enclosed this could be part of the problem - although I need evidence if this is the case.
So can you email me if you got everything okay, your package was damaged or it has still not received.

My email is beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

Sorry about this folks!
Have you tried the free food sample yet? I split a bag between Oscar and Tess and sprinkled it on top of their Naturediet this morning. Tess hoovered it up with her usual speed but Oscar was fascinating to watch!
It was only today that I realised he has never eaten anything other than Naturediet and table scraps in our house (and Pigs ears and treats! And some childrens' shoes...) - he's not eaten dried food until today!
He ate each piece of kibble separately - chewing it suspiciously as if it might have a worming tablet concealed within it! Took ages, Tess was shaking with anticipation waiting for him to finally finish so she could lick the bowl. But he'd eaten every last bit when she did get there - so he did like it.
Will see how he does digestion wise, but the packet says it's full of good stuff - it's certainly changed since was a kid and we used to have great sacks of it for our pack of Beardies. Vitalin used to look like it had cornflakes in it when it was around in the 1970s! All changed now.
Our great breeder Wendy must have brought our Oscar up well as a pup, how very sensible it is to chew thoroughly before swallowing!
However, you'd not think it was the same dog who only a few days before was gobbling up a dead rabbit at record speed! He ate the eyes first - and no, he didn't chew then - he just swallowed - yeuk!!!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Who are those people with the Partons?




Thought I'd share these pix of Allen and Sandra Parton from the Quantum of Solace royal premiere. These are British Legion pix - but I believe there is also one of Allen with a Bond girl on his lap - but that one isn't on general release!
EJ, Endal and Ikea all had the night off. Guess Endal being retired and EJ not having an official jacket probably means that red carpet invites are going to be out of bounds for them... very sad!

Endal and Daniel Craig - oops, no sorry easy mistake to make - it's Allen Parton

Endal (one of our calendar boys) has been making headlines, too. Click here

And do look at the last post for more Dogs Today Dogs of the Year winners sponsored by Drontal - Britain's number one wormer. (Just added some more stuff!)

Dog of the Year 2009

Joe-Ann Hegge and beloved Odin - Dog of the Year 2009

Our calendar has finally hit the streets and our lovely Dog of the Year Odin is making headlines.

Click here to see the story in London's Metro.

Huge thanks to Joe-Ann and Odin for sharing their inspiring story, I'm sure it'll help lots of others in similar situations. Her "soul mate with a furry coat on" has made all the difference.
And can I say a really massive thank you to Drontal - Britain's number 1 wormer.
They made our calendar possible and thanks to their sponsorship we can tell the world about these 12 really uplifting stories. I'll tell you a few of the stories more every now and again when I get few mins... don't forget to get your calendar, free with the December issue out now and cheaper on the web than in the shops.
It the midst of all the Pedigree Dogs Exposed fall out we have these 12 remarkable stories to remind us who we're fighting to help. All these 12 dogs have made the most amazing difference to others' lives. It's up to us to do the same for them and keep pressing for reform that saves them from suffering and ensures they stick around for our descendants to appreciate, too. Not all are pedigrees - we have two gorgeous crosses, too. But without pedigrees there'd be no crosses either.
Small Dog, Huge Difference award
In our top 12, a plucky Cavalier that works as a Hearing Dog - which in itself would be impressive, but she also saved her owner Nicola Willis when she collapsed in a remote place by running off and finding help in a very imaginative way - grabbing a man by the trouser leg to make him follow! Turns out Lye had found Nicola a handsome male nurse - what a perfect dog!
Then Lye defended her owner and her daughters against burglars in their home and took a very nasty kick for her trouble.
Lye was Nicola's pet dog first before she was trained by Hearing Dogs to help her owner.
Do we need any more reasons to save this wonderful breed from all the ghastly health problems?


Low blow

I've been digging in and talking to breeders in a few places, trying not to take offence when someone says something nasty and personal, and I do think it's worth it in the long run.
I have to admit to being human though.
Two nights ago I was reduced to tears by a post on the Our Dogs forum by a man calling himself Frank ("bad-animal" was his identity):

"For a woman to come from a top class show family and have her attitude is beyond our understanding.
Her family must be so proud.
Frank"

Not many words. So why does it make my eyes sting?
It all centres on whether Frank knew my parents and if he knows me.
I can think of two Franks from when I was a child in the dog show world. And if it is someone who knew them and me, then this is indeed a very cruel post.
My mum died only a couple of years ago, my dad a few years before that. Both died suddenly and traumatically - one suddenly in my front room within three weeks of a cancer diagnosis, the other with me at her side in hospital after three months of terrible suffering. It all still feels very raw - like it was yesterday.
I do feel very alone, I do miss them so much - their encouragement meant the world to me.
They were massive influences, the most supportive parents anyone could ever hope for. They believed strongly in truth and justice and it was my Dad that inspired me never to be afraid of bullies. To stand up and fight rather than run away.
He achieved so much in his life, came such a long way and was loved and admired by so many people. Mum was a very great character, too.
It meant a lot to have the approval and backing of my parents.
Having "Frank" mention my parents seems a really massive intrusion. An out of scale attack.
All I want to do is make things better for dogs, why attack me?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A new president (of the BVA as well as USA!), a new dawn and a new charity pulls out of Crufts

(Don't forget the last blog - clue now given for cross question and Dexter is still looking for a home...)

PDSA suspends involvement in Kennel Club events
‘We welcome and support recent progress but
evidence of real change is needed’ says charity


The UK’s leading veterinary charity, PDSA, is suspending its involvement in Kennel Club dog shows and events, including Crufts. The charity, which provides free veterinary care for the pets of people in need, has participated in these events for over 30 years.

After lengthy consideration PDSA reached its decision based on the evidence of health issues affecting some pedigree dog breeds. Despite its withdrawal from forthcoming events, the charity stresses its commitment to working with the Kennel Club and with the veterinary profession, welfare organisations and other interested parties to bring about health improvements.

PDSA currently employs nearly one thousand veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and support staff at its 47 PetAid hospitals and branches across the UK. They are faced by the consequences of unacceptable dog breeding practices on a daily basis. These include serious health issues brought about by inherited conditions and through compliance to breed standards.

PDSA Director of Veterinary Services, Richard Hooker, said: “We believe change is needed in the way pedigree dogs are bred. Specifically, breeding should put the dogs’ quality of life before appearance and this must be reflected in the show ring.

“Our decision reflects the weight of opinion within our charity and among our supporters. It is consistent with our Long Live Pets campaign and sends a clear message that pedigree dog breeding needs urgent review.”

Mr Hooker added: “We welcome the Kennel Club’s recent efforts to improve the health status of pedigree dogs and will support these with our input and expertise wherever possible. We believe that our position is entirely consistent with that of the veterinary profession, including the British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association.

“PDSA will require evidence that real and sufficient progress is made in the quality of life for dogs before reconsidering today’s decision. While we acknowledge that most dog breeders do observe good standards, this step will help to send a very clear message to all: that the initiatives undertaken by the Kennel Club to work towards improving the health status of pedigree dogs must be taken on board, through their agreement to revised breed standards.”

Solving health problems in certain pedigree breeds means addressing public demand as well as breed supply issues, added Richard Hooker: “The information available to dog owners and prospective owners is critical. If members of the public only want dogs that are healthy and responsibly bred, then undesirable practices will cease. That is why PDSA is committed to delivering good public information and education.”

COMMENT: Yet again we have a charity that should know better saying: "While we acknowledge that most dog breeders do observe good standards..."
At the risk of sounding like broken record. Only 60,000 Labradors Hip scored in 30 years since the hip scoring scheme started. 45,000 Labrador puppies registered by the KC last year! So the majority of breeders aren't observing good standards quite obviously as only a moron would breed from Labradors without testing them for hip dysplasia at the very least!
But great to see the vet world finally saying publicly what normal vets have been saying for years - change is long overdue!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Cross question and caption


A bit of light relief!

Can you guess what breeds Benje's parents are? Will be giving clues shortly if you don't get it!
Winner gets a book of your choice from Interpet Publishing - choose from a non-specific doggie book or state your breed of choice.
Email your answers to comps@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk
First correct entry wins it.

FIRST CLUE: This is a bit cryptic! You could describe this dog as the symbol of an order of Christian Warriors known as the Knights Hospitalier blended with one of the national Terriers.

IT'S ALL OVER - WE HAVE A WINNER!


And can you also have a look at this photo and send in your funniest captions?

Prizes this month: A FURminator grooming tool and a bottle of Waterless deShedding Shampoo and Conditioner from the Company of Animals for the best one. Five runner ups get the Waterless shampoo & Conditioner.
We'll be judging on November 6th so please hurry up!
Email your best efforts to comps@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

And another independent review...

Hot in off the wire... Quite a different stance from this year's BVA President compared to last year's! A breath of fresh air. Does this mean they are joining with the RSPCA's stand alone review - or the Dogs Trust & KC combined review? If the former wouldn't it make sense for the Dogs Trust to join the RSPCA, too?

Times they are a changing - thank goodness!!!

Following discussion at its Ethics and Welfare Group the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has called for an independent review of the breeding of dogs as well as the permanent identification of all registered pedigree dogs.

Speaking today (Tuesday) BVA President Nicky Paul said: “The BVA believes that now is the ideal time to seize the opportunity that has been presented by recent media coverage to ensure that significant progress is made in the improvement of dog health and welfare.

“While efforts have been made to improve breeding over recent years, it is clear that too little has been done so far and we are, therefore, joining with other interested organisations in calling for an independent review on the breeding of dogs in general. There is the genetic potential for health problems in any dog, regardless of whether or not it is pedigree registered and indeed, as the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) report demonstrated, in other species such as cats, cage birds and fish. We therefore believe that the review should act as a model for a series of reviews covering the breeding of both companion and production animals.

“We also believe” she said “that the solution to breeding problems should be based on scientific evidence rather than emotion and we are actively encouraging the collaboration of all stakeholders to work together to improve the wellbeing of animals. In order to facilitate the reporting of hereditary health problems and surgical procedures resulting in conformation changes, we are also convinced that all registered pedigree dogs need to be permanently identified.”

Mrs Paul emphasised that the BVA remained focused on expanding on the efforts that had been and were being made on a daily basis by veterinary surgeons in practices across the country to work with breeders and owners to improve the health and welfare of their pets. “We would also encourage” she said, “members of the public to contact their vet for advice if they are considering purchasing a pet or breeding from an animal that they currently own. The veterinary profession is ideally placed to play an educational role in informing consumers and breeders on matters of animal welfare.”

Monday, 3 November 2008

Dogs Today Think Tank

I've just posted the second question - do please have a look. Great solution to that first one though - Ostrich chews... never heard of those before! Let's see if we can advise Doreen on what to do to stop her dog walks being quite so frightening. Click here to see more.

And I've cheered up a bit since the last post folks! Sorry about that. I've even posted something on that forum strand again, I know... it must be the Beardie in me!!

And don't forget to scroll back a few posts and see gorgeous Dexter. Feeling a bit cold these long nights - go on put another dog on that bed and save on your heating bills!

Forum or against?

Do you remember that Monty Python sketch, "do you want a 5 or 10 minute argument?" Well certain dog forums do remind me of that only minus the humour.
Why can't we all put the stereotypes aside, stop routinely putting on the uniforms of war. It's a bit depressing really. Isn't this how we got the Northern Ireland troubles, the Middle East? Can't we just all sit down with a cup of tea and find the things we agree on rather than picking at scabs?
Or is it just the gloomy weather and the fact it's Monday morning and there was nowhere to stop outside the coffee shop on my way into work!
Anyway - here's what Spellweaver has come up with after many days of brooding. Guess I'm meant to respond so that she/he can come back at me again with further evidence of my lying cheating ways for me to counter until one of us lets the other have the last word.
I could just surprise her/him by saying, "How foolish am I? You are obviously right - nothing needs to change, everything is just fine and dandy for dogs, safest possible hands all along, don't know what I was getting so worked up about these last 20 years. SM - just a headache. Soft palate resection - minor op, get over it! Genetic diversity - what a joke, inbreeding is obviously the way to go..."
Doesn't really matter what I say to people like her/him does it in the grand scheme of things? It's not like they are simply misguided, that if you talk to them for long enough you'll find the common ground. How long do I invest? Two hours, two days, two weeks? Too long?
Sometimes in a war you have to see the whole battlefield rather than get obsessed with the snipers. But hey - I'd much rather be a pacifist, but with people like Spellweaver spinning away it's rather tempting to get the nukes out - even if you were always more of a Greenham Common type of girl.

Take the blood pressure tablets before reading folks... deep sigh.

Beverley – I feel I must answer your reply. You say:
Now exactly what "lies" have I spread about the Kennel Club?
You can't accuse people of lying without evidence. That is so strong!!!
I thought I would have to trawl through various articles to find evidence to support the fact that I feel you spread lies about the Kennel Club, but then in a later post you yourself save me the bother by going on to give some excellent examples of what I mean.
For example – you say that “the whole world of science united to say "get your finger out"” – that is just not true! The whole world of science did nothing of the sort – here are links to several articles which show support for the Kennel Club from several scientific organisations:
http://www.petforums.co.uk/pet-news/...nnel-club.html
http://www.petforums.co.uk/pet-news/...nnel-club.html
http://www.petforums.co.uk/pet-news/...nnel-club.html
http://www.petforums.co.uk/pet-news/...nnel-club.html
So when you write “the whole world of science united to say "get your finger out"” you were not stating the truth.
In the same post you then go on to give some more really excellent examples of why I accused you. You state:
“and we had a powerful BBC documentary they finally listened and we got action”
“They didn't move when it was done from within, from without by just a few people - they only started moving when the general public started screaming and welfare organisations started distancing themselves.”
““I am very aware of what they did in the past - usually the bare minimum”
“The KC is not a little tiny organisation, it should have been keeping abreast of change and protecting our dogs future. They had the money and the resources - just not the will.”
The articles in the web references above clearly show that the Kennel Club was very much on the ball with regard to aiming to eradicate inherited diseases in dogs by the appliance of scientific knowledge, and for a number of years has been focusing on finding the genetic abnormalities responsible for a range of inherited diseases and then developing screening tests to identify the dogs that have these abnormal genes. In addition, any visit to the Kennel Club website will show all the different initiatives for all dogs – pedigrees and non-pedigrees – and dog owners and dog owners’ rights - that The Kennel Club has instigated and that have also been ongoing for a number of years.
So when you state that they were not keeping abreast, that they were doing the bare minimum, and that they only started moving after the PDE programme, again, you were not telling the truth.
I hope these examples help you to understand why I feel that you do not always tell the truth about the Kennel Club, and that I was not merely attacking you as a person, but rather I was contesting the views that you hold and freely write and talk about.
You admirably show why someone in the media not telling the truth makes me so angry when you state:
Prejudice needs confronting - imagine all the people who read your words and assumed them to be true who then go on to repeat what you did.
I agree with your statement there – but just how much more does this apply to someone like yourself, who has the benefit of owning a small part of the doggy media? You have more of a responsibility than most to write the truth, because how many more people are going to read what you write compared to the people who read what I write?
And when you ask “ How else do I clear my name? If I don't confront each person that casually accuses me” - I feel a good way to clear your name would be to actually stop doing these things.
I’ve posted this in your profile message section because then I know you will be notified by the Petforums System that I have replied. However, as there has been the odd poster who has asked on the thread for a reply from me to your post, I am also going to post it on the forum.
Spellweaver

Have I got the energy to educate "Spellweaver" to see the difference between PR spin and fact? And do you think he/she really wants to take those rose coloured spectacles off?
Do I write an epic of JKRowling proportions to tell her/him exactly how the KC has historically not done enough. Do I waste yet another morning looking back and cataloging the missed opportunities for reform to attempt to gain her/his approval?
Do you think he or she would be able to ponder why the KC is now attempting to reform at such a breakneck speed if there's simply no need and everything was perfectly tickety boo before?
The KC could have even added my name to the list of people supporting the Kennel Club on their website - doesn't mean all the people on that list think they've done enough these last twenty years - we just all want them to do better in the future as no KC is even worse than the one we've got.

I don't know, it may just be my mood - but I'm finding it hard to take seriously someone who hides behind the moniker Spellweaver while lobbing insults.
Probably time for some caffeine before I bite someone....!

Just had an email from the forum administrator. Seems Spellweaver has had her/his wand taken off them. All the posts accusing me of lying have disappeared - as well as mine complaining about being called a liar. Suspect he's phoned a legal helpline and realised that someone anonymous calling someone very real a liar could get expensive. So I've no reason not to get on with my work after all... no excuse to waste any more of the morning having a go at Spellweaver it seems - unless he/she would like to move the argument to here? And would that be a five minute or a 10 minute argument?

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Can you help?

I've started a new blog - the Dogs Today Think Tank - designed to tackle tricky problems.
Each question may not have just one answer, there could be loads! Even if you can't answer the question you may be able to contribute something. And if you disagree with an answer please do say.
Can you take a look and see if you can help? There'll be a new problem added every few days and if there's anything you'd like asking - do email me and I'll add it in.

Here's the link.

And please don't forget to check out Dexter on the last blog - he's lovely.

Being almost a Dane isn't that Great


Jemima, the wonderful lady behind Pedigree Dogs Exposed isn't just a TV director. She's a dog lover who occasionally can't help herself and takes in yet another dog that needs a home... few people realise she does rescue in her spare time.

Here is the story of the gorgeous Dexter, can you see if you know someone who likes their dogs big who might have a space? His need is quite acute - he's staying at a local pub at the moment but it's temporary - although the customers are loving his company!

DEXTER.. is a gorgeous great dane/GSD x , we think about two years old, who has a great many strengths. He is very soft, very affectionate and bonds easily. He is also very obedient, house-trained, chilled out indoors, very good on a lead and terrific with children and cats.

But Dexter is a sensitive soul and has had a tough time of it in recent weeks. His situation is now urgent and we are in desperate need of an experienced foster/permanent home for him.

Dexter’s owner gave him up on the grounds that he had bad recall if you walked him off-lead through a field of sheep (a test for most dogs, surely...?). Dexter landed in an Irish rescue where he got stuck - overlooked because he is simply too big for most people, and not dane-like enough to be of interest to the purebred fans.

Dexter ended up in a stable for 23 hours out of 24... safe enough but desperately unhappy. He lost more and more weight until, four weeks ago, we had a call from our favourite rescue angel in Ireland (Ann Moore, who helps the dogs of Dundalk) asking if we could help. She feared that Dexter would die if he couldn’t be found a home situation as soon as possible.

Well, I had great danes when I was a kid and this lad had such a soft, goofy expression... (In fact, although Dexter does not look that much like a modern great dane, he does look very like the danes we had in the 60s...)

So Dexter arrived three weeks ago and we found a foster home for him in Dorset where he has been fantastic - except for one problem. Foster mum Toni has not felt confident enough to let him off the lead yet and Dexter has now started reacting quite strongly when he sees some other dogs. It’s not aggression but he barks and tries to turn himself out - unnerving when you’re as small as Toni. And of course, you can’t just let large dog like him loose to hurl himself towards other dogs, however friendly the intention.

Toni is finding it very hard to cope and so we now need to move him urgently. Poor Toni, feels terrible she can;t do more for him - and not least because she loves this fella to bits - but she says she is now making Dexter more anxious. He also, of course, has a lot of pent-up energy because he has not been able to have a good run.

Can anyone help this truly striking fella? He needs someone with big dog experience and ideally somewhere rural where he can safely run off a bit of steam and regain some confidence without having to face hordes of other dogs (He’d be fine to live with a bitch, though, or a couple of small dogs.)

If you are interested in Dexter, either as a foster or a forever home, please email info@blackretrieverx.co.uk asap.

There will be an adoption fee of £125 for Dexter, which includes the £65 it costs to transport him from Ireland.