Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Allen Parton's new charity Hounds for Heroes is preparing to launch. First fundraiser planned for April 10th in conjunction with Help for Heroes. Watch this space.
More details to come, but what a very gorgeous young pup. Chocolate always was my weak spot!
Monday, 28 September 2009
Does your pet have an socially difficult illness or an embarrassing behaviourial problem?
(What a pity old Sally is long gone... she'd have provided enough material for a whole series! How fondly I remember her embarrassing emissions timed for maximum disruption - the time she pooed at my first time meeting the boyfriend's parents, how she bit all those guide dogs while I was giving a talk to their owners... I could go on and on.)
Do you worry people might think you neglect your pet due to an unsightly illness or peculiar behaviour?
Got a skinny dog, a scabby dog, a bald dog, bits missing? Do people give you grief when you walk along the road thinking it's your fault the dog looks like that?
Would you and your pet like to be part of a new TV show and get advice from top experts? It's bad enough coping with some of these problems but when people think you're the reason for a health condition it can make walking affected dogs a real misery.
If the answer is yes to any of the above questions then please leave a message for the Tiger Aspect team on:
020 7529 9400 or email@example.com
who are working on a programme for Sky one.
Go on, free therapy and the chance to be on TV! Give them a call!
Saturday, 26 September 2009
First of all I had to find my way to the rendez-vous.
The exit at Highgate Tube.
First of all I couldn't find my London A-z, didn't have any pound coins for the parking machine, was running late, couldn't get a parking space near Woking Station in any case and there was a massive queue for rail tickets.
Then the train was late and packed so I had to stand up.
When I got to Highgate tube there were three exits to choose between, not one. I texted Peter the producer but he was obviously still underground so I plumped for exit one and at the top of the escalator realised it wouldn't let me back in again if I was wrong!
I had a look at a map on the wall of the station and decided that another of the exits would have been nearest the park, so I walked around to get back in exit 3 that was also an entrance and came out of exit number 2. I texted Peter the Producer to tell him where I was. I had already done a fair few hilly miles at this point.
Peter arrives and he's got a clever phone that shows him where he is and he thinks one of the other exits is better for the park. Jon and Oscar arrive and we set off again emerging from exit 3 and climbing up the hill past the first exit I'd come out of!
A brisk walk later we still aren't seeing the park that the BBC have paid for permission to record in. Eventually we see some park gates on the right and in we go.
Peter has concerns as he thinks the licence is for a different local authority to the one on the park notice board! He phones the park ranger as advertised on the board.
When he arrives he looks a little like Robin Hood, although he's on a little truck and wearing full camouflage gear and holding a walkie talkie.
We are definitely in the wrong park.
He will walk us to the right park.
The lone park ranger is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about trees and he tells us that all the trees in his forest have GPS. We can see the BBC producer starting to wish he was doing a feature on the trees for his GPS item.
We don't really notice where he is leading us as we are all mesmerised by his story telling. Apparently Dick Turpin used to rob people in the very woods we were walking through.
We go through a gate and then over the road we see the correct park that Peter has permission to record in and our guide bids us farewell.
We start recording the item. I am given lovely Oscar and I have to walk off and hide with him.
I am feeling a bit weary so we walk a little way along the path until we're out of sight, I spy off-road to the left a clearing with some comfortable seats and decide that's a really great place to hide.
Peter starts walking along interviewing Jon about how he can track Oscar via his mobile phone. It's impressive stuff. I was given a collar to look at earlier and it's surprisingly light.
I see Jon talking to Peter with a big microphone and realise he's so deep in concentration he's not yet looking at his phone, guess they'd thought I was going to be walking a bit further for this test!
Oscar and I watch them go off into the distance and the little dog gives a sad little whine!
Doesn't take long, and we see Jon and Peter coming back and we're soon discovered. How easy was that? Most people tracking a lost dog won't be being interviewed for Radio 4 at the same time!
So a few more sound bites and it's a wrap.
We retrace our steps and come out of the park. Left or right? We think it's right as the first park we entered was on the right hand side. We start walking but nothing much looks familiar. Peter now doesn't trust his phone sat nav as it hadn't found the right park earlier and as he had flown down from Glasgow that morning he had no local knowledge.
After a while we see a lady to ask.
"Are you lost?" she asks before we admit it.
We say we are looking for Highgate Tube.
"Oh dear, you're going the wrong way," she sympathises. "It's two stops on the bus in the other direction and it's all up hill."
Peter had earlier admitted he used to be a guide in the Alps. The bus is obviously for softies so off we hike.
Getting lost doing an item on GPS tracking was kind of ironic.
Oscar's collar did have a panic button on it though should any of us have lost it big time.
We made it home but find I still have the spare Retrieva collar in my handbag. I am tempted to set Jon the task of tracking my handbag to retrieve it, but will probably just post it back to him on Monday unless he'd like our serial fence jumper Tess to trial it.
We should have asked Oscar to take us back to the tube, dogs know this sort of stuff. Earlier in the day I had been totally unable to find a button to switch off my mobile while we were recording. I could make it go silent, but switch it off - I didn't have a clue.
If you think that's bad for being techo-rubbish. The day before I was sent a link for a survey that all those attending the Woman of the Year lunch were being asked to complete, (I know I'm as surprised as you that I got an invite!). Guess what, I couldn't make it work so emailed the organiser assuming the web site was broken.
Apparently I wasn't the only one.
Lots of us were baffled by it.
With some instructions it became obvious how it worked, but it did make me wonder if we needed to pass some sort of competency test before we got our posh lunches as I certainly wasn't feeling like Woman of the Year material and yesterday's performance wasn't great either!
Just got this email!
Great to meet you yesterday - an interesting but enjoyable few hours! I see from your blog that you have my spare collar! I did wonder if I had left it in the woods, but it tells me that your handbag was at Lat 51.3538695, Long -0.5575310 at 9.50am this morning! - I have attached an image which gives you the detail! (There is a feature on the collar that allows you to locate the collar once a day even if it is unlatched (and therefore switched off) as it would be a bit ironic to lose a tracking collar!)
I look forward to catching up again soon.
What do pet owners want from dog breeders? Here's my list...
Good socialisation/early training
Every effort to prevent health problems
Lifetime of aftercare
Perhaps if someone started giving accolades out for those qualities we'd all see the way forward and be unified?
Wouldn't breeder shows be interesting where the pet owners judged them!
Maybe Dogs Today should launch such a competition?
Anyone got any breeders they'd care to nominate as role models?
Email me your suggestions. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Best of Breeder, sounds like a competition to me!
I've heard of people handing over house trained pups that can do recall at 8 weeks, that's such a leg up for a first time dog owner! Impressive stuff.
Do you know a progressive breeder that we could feature?
We could do a Worst of Breeder category too and expose the biggest battery farmers.
Compare and contrast what you get for your money.
Friday, 25 September 2009
Here's an extract!
When I spoke recently with Jemima Harrison, the producer of BBC’s “Pedigree Dogs Exposed”, she told me that she was disappointed that she could not be there herself today. She said that that she’d heard that the draft title of the talk was “What Breeders Want From Their Vets”, and that this had prompted her to come up with the following suggestions:
* To carry out Bulldog Caesarian sections, with no questions asked.
* To cull ridgeless Rhodesian Ridgebacks and those with dermoids (an inherited defect) with no questions asked
* To carry out surgery to correct the inherited inturned eyelids of Sharpei dogs, with no questions asked
* To agree to not submit that very high hip score - or to suggest, after a preliminary examination, that a hip test might not be a good idea
* To not report cosmetic operations to the Kennel Club
* To not point out that they shouldn¹t be breeding from that dog with a serious inherited problem
* To not point out that the extreme conformation of their dog is not in the dog¹s best interests
* To not suggest that their dog has syringomyelia. After all, don¹t all dogs scratch?
* To not think that vets are in any way qualified to comment on dog breeding
* To stop recommending that people should buy cross-bred dogs
* To greater embrace reproductive medicine so that those dogs that wouldn¹t be able to breed naturally can pass on their genes. (After all, it will guarantee income for vets for generations to come.)
It’s an interesting list: whilst there are many good dog breeders out there who’ll be incensed at any suggestion that they’d want their vets to behave in such ways, the sad truth is that until vets take a hard line (or are made to take a hard line) on all of the above issues, there’s unlikely to be any quick fix to the problem of inherited disease in pedigree dogs.
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Four Standard Poodle Pups (6 months old) which have had their rabies vaccination
Black, apricot, white or cream
Girls and boys
Owner/breeder: Sharon 00 34658359947
Please give these details to any Poodle lovers you can think of - these pups are FREE. Sharon had 11 pups and has been giving them away but she cannot find homes for these. [2 she got back after finding the new homes were bad] She owns mum who came from reputable breeder in Madrid and dad who she bought from England.
PLEASE CONTACT SHARON DIRECT IF YOU CAN HELP
(Seen a comment asking about testing! This has been passed to me from our Perfect Pup breed advisor, I'm sorry I don't know any more details than I have written here. Health tests that we would advise for this breed are that both parents should be eye tested and they need to be tested for Sebaceous Adenitus. Von Willebrands testing would be a good idea, too. Liver shunt, too is flagged. But I'm not at all sure what the local vet situation is in Spain, how easy it is to get these tests done or indeed Sharon's circumstances. Sounds to me that this is a very large litter that has affected by the credit crunch and the Euro currency problems. There are lots of ex-pats leaving Spain due to UK pensions now being so low value, I suspect the market for dogs in Spain has taken a real dip as lots of dogs are being abandoned according to David the Dogman who has a radio show out there.)
"It is estimated that every year insurers settle some 25,800 pet insurance claims, worth around £4.92 million, linked to lacerations, and a number of these will be caused by chasing and catching sticks. This can cause scratches or cuts to the skin or damage the lining of the mouth, which can lead to serious illnesses such as septicaemia, due to the foreign bacteria carried on sticks.
"In addition to this, dogs playing in ponds can be exposed to poisonous algae which can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. Sainsbury’s Finance estimates that insurers pay out £9.30 million in claims settlements linked to pets vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea, some of which is undoubtedly linked to being exposed to bacteria, for example from drinking pond water."
Oh dear! Our Oscar prefers our stagnant pond water over Evian any day of the week.
And sticks. He cleverly runs through the undergrowth attaching as many as possible to his flowing locks then spends the rest of the day removing them, crunching them up and then eating them.
In fact, must check his insurance is up to date!
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Haven't had time to investigate this one yet, but with no names given - what do you think of this one?
If you had a conviction for badger baiting, would you lose your job if it involved animal welfare? How about two convictions and actually being found with a badger in a cage in your home as well as an expensive lost pedigree dog previously handed in at the police station that never arrived at the council pound as expected?
Keep your job as a dog warden - or not?
How about running a council pound and being a unlicensed dog breeder at the same time? Conflict of interest?
There's definitely some murkiness in the puppy farming world. If there are any budding investigative journalists wanting to get their teeth into these stories, do get in touch.
How can we end puppy farming if all the people in the chain aren't squeaky clean?
All the above have allegedly been reported to the local authorities - who chose to take no action.
Any news hounds prepared to dig deeper? Wish I had the time to do a Watergate on this one, but my instincts say there's something very whiffy about it!
Friday, 18 September 2009
Thursday, 17 September 2009
Twenty minutes that for me completely explains why Pedigree Dogs Exposed was a very long overdue wake-up call.
Click here and prepare to do a lot of head-shaking.
Some low points to watch out for: Inbreeding. Hugh Gent says he needs to see breed-specific evidence of problems caused by incest-matings. (I wonder if that chap who first thought the world wasn't flat had this much trouble...?)
Bulldogs and C-sections. "We don't interfere". The AKC breed standard still says "The bigger the head the better."
The interviewer asks what research has been done to find out how prevalent the health problems are. Much squirming. They are about to have a database to record hip and eye testing... (How long ago did Sweden make health tests mandatory - was it 25 years ago? And how are the eye and hip tests currently recorded? Are the AKC still using wax tablets and reed pens?)
And yet again, it's full of 'it's not us good breeders that are the problem - it's the others.' Those back street out back breeders.
The 1,000 Bulldogs Hugh Gent has judged in his career could all apparently breathe, so that's okay. No need to change the system then, no Bulldog cadavers in his ring so far... yippee!
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Pedigree Dogs Exposed was recently shown in Australia to a massive audience and a huge and positive response from dog lovers. ABC produced these extended interviews so people could find out even more about the show and its effect in England and as such it is fascinating for us to view as few of us have yet heard Professor Bateson speak. The on line forum was open for an hour after the show was aired broke all records and was largely very positive. You can click a link to see the discussion on the same web link given below.
I have to agree with professor Bateson's view that PDE has done so much good for dogs, whatever your perspective.
Here's the link:
Get a cup of tea, take the phone off the hook and put your feet up - almost 30 mins in total of fascinating viewing.
Friday, 11 September 2009
Anyway, I'm quoted as saying the following...
"Why did Mrs Wang pay £350,000 for Yangtze River Number Two? It is difficult, even for a dog lover, to know what makes a dog worth so much. Most dogs sold for extremely high prices are skilled — a highly trained sheepdog, for instance — or have won the Best in Show prize at Crufts, for example. Perhaps Yangtze Two was sold on mythology: is the dog the reincarnation of a Tibetan monk?
The Chinese attitude to dogs is varied. At one end of the spectrum dogs end up on the menu. You can buy dogs on eBay, and owning dogs as pets is still an emerging hobby. At the other end, rich dog owners bring in overseas trainers to ensure that they get it right. But one of the most unfortunate developments is that the Chinese seem to be adopting the Western, and many would say dubious, practice of dog showing. Dogs Today has campaigned against inbreeding caused by the pedigree dog show system for almost 20 years.
If you inbreed and close the gene pools you are destined for disaster and dogs with endemic health problems. This is a worldwide issue, but invented in Britain: the Victorians created the concept of the purebred dog, and that was also the era of the freak show. Until then dogs were bred for a purpose.
We must also dissuade people who are breeding just for the cash, and ensure – whether a dog is purebred, crossbred or a mongrel – that it is healthy and the owners go into it with their eyes wide open. This is beginning to happen in Britain, and it must happen in China, too. Let’s hope it is the case with Yangtze Two.
I can think of one dog, and only one, that is worth £350,000: Endal, an assistance dog who belonged to the badly injured Gulf War veteran Allen Parton. He could put his owner in the recovery position, use a cash machine and order drinks at the bar. According to Mr Parton, he even saved his marriage.
One of my own dogs, a bearded collie, cost £650 and the other £75, for a rescued springer spaniel who had been abandoned in a Tesco car park. They have both been excellent value. I wouldn’t sell either of them for £350,000.
Beverley Cuddy is Editor of Dogs Today"
Click here for the Mrs Wang story in the Times in full. (A motocade of only 30 limos.... I'd have the thought the neighbour's would have made a bit more of an effort!) I think Pedigree Dogs Exposed may need to air in China some time soon...
Thursday, 10 September 2009
I know the show is on tonight for a variety of reasons.
The most amusing is that 20 something years ago when I worked at the KC I met an Australian journalist called Brian Kelly who was being groomed as my successor as I was off to a glamorous new job at... BT! (From one unpopular two letter abbreviation to another!)
Working closely together we ended up seeing each other socially and at my leaving party he announced he was leaving too and we lived together for the next eight or so years!
He's back in OZ now and has two beautiful young kids.
Brian has just emailed to say he's just seen me on his TV, apparently I'm on the PDE trailer!
Isn't it a very small world.
Pedigree Dogs Exposed has definitely started to change things in this country, let's hope the ripple affect keeps going. I recently wrote a piece for American dog mag Bark about the show and whether there was a better way of doing things. It was interesting talking to an audience who hadn't yet seem the documentary (or "doco" as the Sydney Morning Herald quaintly call it!).
BBC America are due to show PDE soon. I wonder if any old friend's living in America will get in touch if they catch the show? It's better than Friend's Reunited for encouraging people to get back in touch!
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
At the Robin Hood Game & Country Show!
This October your Spaniels will be springing and your Labradors will be leaping to Aztec Events` exciting new shows at the Suffolk Show ground, Ipswich (October10th/11th) and Newark & Notts Show ground (October 17th/18th). These are fun filled family days out where all dogs on leads are welcome.
Come and see Robin Hood & Friends- who will be at both shows all weekend interacting with the crowds – with sword demonstrations, story telling and hilarious re-enactments.
Enter your dog in the World Dog Dock water jumping competition. This is a competition with heats held at the shows. How far can your dog jump off the jetty into an enormous pool? Why not throw a ball and see the BIG splash. We will have dog scurry and agility competitions for those four-legged visitors who might be shy of the water! Meet the experts on the Purina Foods stand (Newark only) and find out what’s new in the way of dog beds and accessories at our many trade stands.
Visitors to the show can see sheep shearing demonstrations, ferret racing and falconry displays. The Knights of Arkley will be jousting and dogs can bark for their favourite knight. Dog owners can have a go at Water Zorbing…...an enormous plastic ball that you climb into and then roll around on water…lots of fun for all the family.
To book your tickets in advance - and at discounted rates until the shows - call our ticket line on 01702 549622 or book online at www.robinhoodcountryshow.co.uk.
The Robin Hood Game and Country Shows will be open from 10am to 5pm on all days. Parking is free.
We have 20 family tickets to be won. Each ticket admits 2 adults and up to 3 children
Simply answer the following question:
“What forest did Robin Hood live in?”
Send your answer with your name address, telephone number and email address to:
Please state which of the two shows you'd prefer the tickets for.
Closing date for entries is 1st October 2009
Here was the wording and the background info:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to introduce legislation to reform the Kennel Club.
Following the powerful Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary on BBC1 the Kennel Club still seems reluctant to grasp the nettle, face the problems and reform itself. The program revealed it urgently needs to bring in mandatory minimum standards on levels of inbreeding, make health testing mandatory, prevent unhealthy physical exaggerations being rewarded and stop the culling of healthy non-standard pups by changing breed standards. The KC continually complains that it lacks the backing of legislation to bring in these urgent and much needed reforms, so we the undersigned urge the Prime Minister please instigate legislation to ensure pedigree dogs are saved from unnecessary future suffering.
An impressive 2,355 people responded.
Here's the response from Number 10, I have to say it does not make my heart leap with excitement. DNA tests are not exactly new, nor will they cure all the ills. Let's just hope the two reviews look a little bit deeper!
Read the Government’s response
The Animal Welfare Act 2006, which came into force in 2007, means that we now have the power to make regulations to protect the offspring of vertebrate animals.
The various genetic problems suffered by pedigree dogs have long been recognised by the veterinary profession and the Government. We welcome the work being done by organisations such as the Kennel Club and the British Veterinary Association to address these problems. We also welcome the work being done by the Companion Animal Welfare Council to bring together expert opinion on the nature of these problems and how they should be addressed.
We are also aware that advances have been made by geneticists in developing DNA based tests for some conditions. This provides breeders with the opportunity to breed responsibly and to improve the welfare of future offspring.
The Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999, which amended and extended the provisions of the Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 and the Breeding of Dogs Act 1991, already provides protection for dogs used in breeding establishments. Under this legislation, any person who keeps a breeding establishment for dogs at any premises and carries on at those premises a business of breeding dogs for sale must obtain a licence from the local authority. Those people who are not in the business of breeding dogs for sale, so called “hobby breeders”, and produce less than five litters in any period of 12 months, do not need to obtain a licence.
The local authority has the discretion whether to grant a licence and, before doing so, must satisfy itself that the animals are provided with suitable accommodation, food, water and bedding material; are adequately exercised and visited at suitable intervals; and that all reasonable precautions are taken to prevent and control the spread of diseases amongst dogs. Local authorities are responsible for enforcing the legislation. In addition to ensuring that dogs are kept in suitable accommodation, the law also places limits on the frequency and timing of breeding from a bitch. Bitches cannot be mated before they are a year old, must have no more than six litters in a lifetime, and can only have one litter every 12 months. Breeding records must be kept to ensure that these requirements are adhered to. Puppies that are produced at licensed breeding establishments can only be sold at those premises or a licensed pet shop.
There are those who consider that the law on the breeding and selling of dogs should be amended because they believe that it is too difficult to enforce. However, there are currently two independent reviews of pedigree dog breeding taking place. One is a joint review by the Kennel Club and the Dogs Trust, and the other is being carried out by the Associate Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare. Both inquiries, which have indicated that they will co-operate with each other, are likely to report towards the end of 2009. It is therefore appropriate to wait until the two reviews have reported before considering whether the law on dog breeding needs to be amended.
Sunday, 6 September 2009
And I'm just talking about an instinctual attraction rather than a cerebral one.
Not the dog that fits our life, the type of dog imprinted on our hearts.
Can you spare a few minutes to describe to me the dogs you instinctively adore?
For example I'm attracted to pretty much any shaggy dog. I just love their faces particularly. Be it that shaggy mutt in the Oreo commercials, a PBGV, a Spinone or a Beardie - I just love them all.
What's your type?
Are there some shapes of dog you could never love?
Forget temperament, I'm purely interested in looks here.
What are our dog prejudices?
For example, Pugs.
Do you find them ugly or beautiful?
Freak or unique?
Why do some people like ears up? Do you favour a gentle looking face or an assertive one?
Why are you/aren't you attracted to sad looking dogs?
Round eyes, small eyes - human eyes - what sorts of expression do you feel drawn to?
I'm not asking you to interpret or theorise your prejudices - just own up to them! I know its terribly un-PC to say you don't like the way any dog looks, but I think we have to acknowledge we each have a definitive doggie type and it would be interesting to try to unpick the reasons why!
What is it about these unconventionally shaped dogs that some of us find attractive? Is it their vulnerability? Do we feel sorry for them when we look at them? Does it make us feel protective?
Do some people want a dog that will take care for them - while others want one they can nurture?
Do some people want an 'ugly' dog because they might have self-image problems themselves or are just tired of being judged by others according to their own level attractiveness?
Please do email me your inner most thoughts about why you are drawn to certain dogs and not others!
My email address is: email@example.com
and you can be anonymous if you prefer - or very public. And if you send me good photos of you and your dogs we might put some of them in the magazine.
Can everyone just give me a quick soundbite on Pugs - do you love or loathe their looks? Nothing to do with temperaments or health, just purely aesthetics.
Saturday, 5 September 2009
But when it was uplifted we discovered that there had been some wildlife living underneath it.
Here they are!
Still alive and a bit surprised to be suddenly uncovered but in no hurry to hop off!
They are big - the size of a man's hand. One bigger than the other.
Did they dig under the skip? It was parked on pea shingle and is the other end of the garden from the pond. Were they stuck to the bottom of the skip when it arrived more than a months ago? If so how did they survive?
Any clues, do let me know?
The squashed dead frog discovered by our groomer hiding in Oscar's coat was tiny compared to these fellows! And we have never seen anything this big in the garden before. In fact I've only seen things like these in the zoo!
Thursday, 3 September 2009
If so drop Chloe an email with a photo for a chance to be in the mag and get some goodies. The Golden Oldie page is a place to celebrate your older dogs, pass on tips and generally show the world how lovely your dog is!
All dogs featured get a doggie Bacon and Cheese muffin and the oldest each month get a Turkey and Rosemary bone-shaped cake from the brilliant Daisy's Dog Deli.
Remember to include the age of your dog, its weight and if it is a crossbreed or a pedigree as the chart does take this into account. We use a special chart to calculate your dog's age in human years and if it is 100 we'll send a special telegram - but even if your dog is a long way off the telegram, still email! Lovely prizes.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org asap!
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
I am becoming known for my fortune telling in some parts - particularly Clanfield where Allen and Sandra Parton live.
Even for me, yesterday was a little surreal.
We'd been invited to the PDSA's pet memorial gardens as Allen was being presented with a special memorial disk for Endal. (Check out their website - these memorial disks are a great idea).
It's always a pleasure seeing Allen and EJ, it was lovely to meet up with the good PDSA folks, too.
But as usual, a day out with Allen takes some unusual turns.
First there was a lovely lady over from Malaysia who had tracked down Allen and EJ to this pet cemetery in Ilford. The lady - not a dog owner herself - was also a Dogs Today reader who had previously emailed this blog with the idea of coming up with a sentence to sum up Endal with each word starting with a letter of his name. Since the book, lots of people have been turning up from all over the world just to shake the Parton's hands and meet EJ.
It was the old Endal magic working again.
And the next person I met was Simon Brooks. I'd spoken to Simon twice in the week before and oddly it felt like I was talking to an old friend - which considering he was a proper Hollywood film producer seemed remarkable.
Eight years ago, at Crufts, I awoke in my hotel room with a very urgent need to convince someone to make a movie about Allen and Endal.
I phoned up Peter Smith, a good friend who I had always imagined capable of anything after he helped me do my MBO of Dogs Today, and insisted he drive to Birmingham immediately to meet Allen, Sandra and Endal.
Bless him, he dutifully did.
He saw the vision, too. He went off to try to make it happen. But he'd never made a film - he'd made commercials and TV programmes - but never a film.
I wrote off to 10 different publishers suggesting a book instead. No reply. Harper Collins was in that list, too.
A very kind wealthy chap offered to fund me going to film school in France and hinted he might put up the money for the movie if I wrote the script. But I had a little boy and a business depending on me, I couldn't run off to learn a new career - tempting as it sounded!
Despite a lot of enthusiasm we all got no where! But still remained convinced that this was definitely an Oscar-winning movie.
I could imagine almost every frame, it had touches of the English Patient, the feel-good factor of Shine and that extra ingredient that is Endal.
And then Isabel George (PDSA press officer and ironically also at the gathering yesterday) wrote a brilliant piece for She magazine that revealed Sandra's story. For many years Sandra had been strong and pretty much silent, letting Allen get on with all the media. She had fought shy of telling her story, but Isabel had done a great job in teasing it out of her. It revealed a new side to what is a love story, a very strong, brave woman keeping her family together against the odds. (Sandra is invited to this year's Woman of the Year lunch incidentally.)
The folk at Harper Collins were already working on a book idea, but that piece in She changed their direction and they came up with the alternate chapter scenario where Allen and Sandra each told their own versions of the story.
That internationally best-selling book inspired a moving Sky documentary. (Regular readers will probably remember - the one partly shot at our photoshoot, the one where I had terrible flu, bad hair and a very red nose in glorious HD... they did say I wasn't going to be interviewed!)
Guess who caught that documentary on TV quite by chance? Simon Brooks, film producer.
He saw the vision, too. He could see this was a great movie.
Chatting with Simon in Ilford yesterday was great fun.
Would Ewan McGregor, Colin Firth or Michael Sheen make the best Allen?
Kate Winslet or Rachel Weiss for Sandra? And what a meaty role those two lead characters will have.
Who should train the dogs? Where will it be set? Who is writing the script?
It's Juliette Towhidi if you're a film buff - and she's already started! She wrote the script for the movie Calendar Girls. And if you want to check out Simon's back catalogue try White Noise or My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Simon totally gets this movie. Thank god he's not going to Disneyfy it, which was my greatest fear. That it would move to America and all the dark would be removed. Simon's aware of the enormity of the human and canine story.
And you know the great thing, he's doggie, too.
He's a Bernese Mountain Dog man. And he revealed he's such a softie he's never been able to watch Marley and Me because he can't stand to see Marley being put to sleep.
Simon had been warned about my psychic abilities and I told him he was going to win an Oscar. "No pressure then!" was his reply.
They do say be careful what you dream of, but I really am delighted to see this one coming true and for the right film producer to have come along!
(My money would be on Ewan and Kate as the dream ticket, by the way Simon if you're reading this! Or indeed Ewan or Kate...! But Colin might pull it off...)
Just another day in the Parton household of course.
And yes, regular readers will have guessed it, I have already bored Simon rigid with my next film idea - John Carter the movie. Got another little one bubbling along, too! A chick flick about a dog magazine editor who dreams of making Oscar winning movies that actually happen!