Saturday, 31 January 2009

CV247 update

Just in case you haven't spotted the additions to the previous blog here are the latest things we know.

CV247 has arrived in the UK but as yet there are no vets prescribing the drug although a couple have already shown interest in being the first stockists. Will keep you updated.

In Hungary CV247 is available over the counter from veterinary pharamacists without prescription and comes with a dietary advice leaflet - the diet is hugely significant in my experience. (It will only be obtained via vets in the country.)

Here are some of the properties of the diet:

Diet low in salt
Diet low in red meat
Diet low in sugar
Diet high in organic fruit and vegetable
Diet devoid of processed foods
Diet disciplined to avoid over-feeding

I am corresponding with a very nice lady with a cat who has cancer who is hoping to start using CV247 ASAP and I'd be very grateful if anyone knows of anyone who used John Carter's method could get in touch with some dietary advice for cats.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

John Carter gets his dream a year too late

Updating this post, CV247 now has its own dedicated blog which lists vets and GPs willing to prescribe. It also follows people whose pets are currently trying the diet and regime and includes links to other information. This blog below was written on the night I heard that CV247 had at last been given a licence. There was also a major article in April and May 2009 editions of Dogs Today magazine.

If you are in the London region you may have caught this evening's London Tonight on ITV. It has made me cry, smile, cry again... luckily I pressed record while I was doing all that.
(Click here to see the item - link will only work for 7 days.)
I was making my son's tea and the TV was just on in the background. I heard the name John Carter and I looked up and there he was.
Which was a bit of a shock as John died quite suddenly last year.
It was library footage of course, but it still brought all sorts of memories flooding back.
John, if you don't already know his work, was a proper old fashioned genius. An eccentric vet that broke all the rules, but with the best possible intentions.
I first heard of him in 1991. I heard that a vet in Harrow was having huge success with cancer with an oddball but gentle method. I sent off a reporter who was pretty sparky and not easily impressed. She came back raving about him. She was a diabetic and he'd come up with all sorts of interesting theories about that, too. She wrote under an alias - Steph Freeman - as she was doing it in her spare time - she was quite high up at the Dogs Trust (NCDL in those days).
We put it on the front cover - it was a yellow background and we had two Bassets wearing a dunce's cap and a mortar board - even though the headline was "Mr Carter's cancer miracles" the item on doggie IQ tests still took precedence. (Hindsight's a great thing!)
Every few weeks after that story ran someone desperate would phone us up for his phone number and we'd give it out.
Then a few years later my beloved Sally was diagnosed with liver cancer. Inoperable and ghastly and a terrible shock.
I was told all we could do was to manage the distressing symptoms. She was only seven - a baby for a Beardie.
It was off to John Carter or give up all hope.
At that stage I was still a huge sceptic.
He was very, very odd. And he was very late - there was no appointment times, no receptionist. Just a room full of people waiting patiently with their pets.
And everyone in that waiting room had big flasks of coffee and cool boxes full of food and big fat books to read.
Eventually, Sally had CV247 squirted down her mouth and we got firm orders for her very peculiar diet: raw NZ lambs liver, organic carrot juice and some green capsules containing pig's pancreatic juices and some very high potency vitamins C and E.
I paid some random amount of money and John put it on a shelf. Next time I came the pile of money was higher. If you wrote a cheque, he'd never get around to cashing it for around six months.
John reminded me of the mad scientist in Back to the Future crossed with someone in a Quentin Tarantino movie. When he got to know us, every other word was an F and most of his passion was focused against the drug industry and mainly chemotherapy. I'm sure he never swore until he really got to know you.
As Sally started to get dramatically better I started to adore this wonderful man and realise the tremendous privilege of waiting around for hours to see in him in a draughty old house in Harrow. Talking to the wonderful people in the waiting room - many of whom had travelled many 100s of miles to save their pets - that was just priceless, too.
I started to hear whispers of another surgery down the road - at which John was treating people.
And I started to hear of tremendous saves - people who had taken their pet first and when they themselves had been diagnosed with terminal cancer they'd begged John to treat them, too.
Sally bounced back and lived till she was 16.
We'd stopped having to have our regular trips to Harrow after only about six months, but we stayed on the weird diet for the rest of Sal's life.
When my Dad collapsed and was rushed to A&E he was found to be in end stage inoperable cancer. There was no treatment offered whatsoever and only the prospect of a horrid painful death ahead.
So that's how my Dad became one of those whispered about people in the other surgery.
In between Sally and Dad, John had had something awful happen to him.
Investigative reporter Roger Cook was doing a story on cancer charlatans that were conning ill people out of their money and giving them cruel false hope.
I guess a vet treating people sounded perfect Cook material and he set about trapping him.
At first he found lots and lots of terminal patients that had recovered against all odds, but they didn't fit his story so he kept digging.
He eventually found a disgruntled relative of a woman who had died.
John had agreed to treat this patient even though she'd had "f-ing evil chemo".
He knew it was pointless as his method needed a chemical free body able to fight - not one already ravaged. She'd died as predicted, but the relative hadn't approved of her family member's decision to give John a try instead of dying neatly in hospital - so she tried to set him up with secret filming.
John was doorstepped by Roger in a very aggressive style and you can imagine from my earlier description John already looked startled by ordinary life and often behaved like he was from another planet as he really was such a free thinker, but with a camera pointed at him he made great TV and the programme ran on primetime ITV.
John and all his patients were devastated by how he was depicted.
The only hope was to complain to the ITC - the equivalent of today's Ofcom.
And to be successful he'd need to prove he wasn't a quack, he needed to prove his method worked.
It hadn't been a priority to him before, just like money wasn't important or time! He knew what he was doing was working - all he wanted to do was tweak it until it was perfect.
He submitted his CV247 and odd diet to Imperial Cancer Research (now CR UK) to independently test. They took it away and used it on mice with cancer.
The results were extraordinary.
Significant reduction of tumours with no side effects.
Head of research Professor Andor Sebesteny had never seen anything like it in his very long career. He resigned his post and went to help John.
The proof was there, John was on to something highly significant.
He won a complete victory against the programme and a full retraction was transmitted just before the News at Ten.
But Cook wasn't having it and came back on air after the apology saying John was still a crook. He was wrapped over the knuckles for that very strongly. Cook wasn't on TV much after that. (Click here for a Hansard reference to Cook's antics )
A long piece in the Guardian shamed him and praised John Carter as a genius.
Around this time, some of the people that John had saved - an oncologist, a lawyer, a GP etc all got together to focus on getting John's method licenced - they formed Ivy Medical Chemicals and organised John to move towards getting the method licenced and established for others to use.
John was always paranoid about getting bumped off by people who made their money out of ineffective cancer treatments - he knew the drug companies made millions out of cancer.
Cook had frightened everyone who cared about John and made them realise how much could be lost if something did ever happen to John.
A very bad thing had turned out to be a good thing - although John would never trust the media again.
I wasn't media though.
I was friendly press.
It was our readers that gave John the chance to prove his method worked. Our lovely readers travelling miles and miles for the chance to save their beloved pets - as I had done, too.
When Dad was told he was dying, John was my first thought.
But we had to as a family decide to all put our faith in John Carter.
My brother Neil lived in Canada and he was always the very, very sensible one - a significant historian, an academic. His wife was a brilliant financier. Their combined intellect - both Drs - wasn't going to be easily convinced by little old me - that my vet friend could be our Dad's best chance.
But they had to agree that John wasn't just our best shot - he was his only one.
The human diet was even more exacting than Sally's and the daily trips to Harrow were harrowing as Dad was already so very ill. Brother Neil did the driving, I am a rubbish driver and it was before Sat nav, I did the sourcing of the food.
Neil met others who were getting better and became totally sold on the method, too. His analytical brain sucked it all in. He met a young man with a very visible facial cancer that was reducing all the time against all other medical predictions - he had kids and a very successful business, he needed to survive. A GP who had been coming for years who had been written off with prostrate cancer. Lots of rational, intelligent people were seeing the vet, too. And they were getting better and feeling great.
The cancer had started in Dad's lungs but had spread to his brain and to many other parts of his body before it had been detected.
But hope made Dad keep going, trying to beat it was better than giving up and we were all together, in one house, in one country. United in giving it our best shot.
He wasn't in a hospital drugged up to the eyeballs with wires coming out him, either. He had dignity.
One night, about three weeks into the regime, we were told by John we needed the GP to urgently prescribe some heart medication as he felt Dad's heart was under a lot of strain.
I had the GP in the house and she was arguing with me and calling me deluded, "You don't give a man with end stage cancer heart medication - you've got to face it, he's going to die. He should be on morphine in hospital - not heart meds."
I was on the mobile to John and he was urging me to convince that stroppy GP when my Dad died... of a heart attack.
The young GP went into shock. Don't think she'd ever seen someone die - or been told by a vet just before it happened that she could have prevented it.
If she had given Dad the drugs John wasn't allowed to prescribe, maybe Dad would have watched tonight's show with me. Seen his grandson born.
So you can imagine, seeing John again got me thinking about that fateful night.
Late last year I heard that John had died and with that news so did a part of me.
That bit that always hopes for the happy ending. That good triumphs over evil.
I heard that he'd had the animal licence turned down for CV247 in the UK by "those f-ing b*****rd bureauprats".
He used to say all the time, "How can they licence chemo when it kills nearly everyone, when my method hurts no one and has such a high success rate. Chemo is crap and it costs a fortune - mine's cheap. No one's going to make money out of my method."
He went into a decline after that licence was cruelly refused on a technicality.
The two trials on terminal human patients in cancer hospitals had been very, very successful in their first two phases, but after John died the money to fund the third and final part dropped out.
But Professor Andor Sebesteny didn't given up.
It was lovely to see him on the TV tonight, too.
He went back home to Hungary, and in Budapest he set up a fresh trial on pet dogs with cancer.
The method was more warmly received by their establishment.
The animal licence for CV247 has been granted in Hungary - and my understanding is that if a drug is licenced in a European country, vets here can use it, too.
The London Tonight report revealed Dr Ros Taylor medical director of the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire is still prescribing CV247 to named cancer patients. Bless that wonderful woman for her vision.
And they'd also found a man who many years ago had a terminal diagnosis from two cancer hospitals - kidney cancer.
A decade later, thanks to John's method, he's alive and well with no tumours. That could have been my Dad. (Wonder how many people and dogs could have been saved already if our establishment had got their finger out and granted the licence here?)
For many years I've been saying I want to write two books and make two films - I have been a thorough bore about it.
The first, Endal's story, has at last been written - by Allen and Sandra themselves which is wonderful!
And even though it's not yet out officially for another couple of weeks, it's already number 16 on the bestseller list - so my instincts were bang on and it's only a matter of time before Brad and Angelina sign up for the leading roles in the film!
I also always said John should win a Nobel prize for his discovery, can you get them posthumously?
I still want to write the story about John and all the wonderful people who helped him make history.
Perhaps I can write the whole thing up, the journey that my beloved Sally took me on that led me to find John, Allen, Sandra and Endal and the other amazing people and dogs - of course the wonderful Lord Rothermere has to feature large and how he was to change the Government for the love of his dogs!
Come to think of it, I'd like to start writing that story now, but I've got to put my son to bed!

If you or your dog was treated by John, can you email me your details so I can include your story?

John was a great believer in the afterlife, he found it a tremendous comfort. I have a precious piece of paper he gave me when my dad died that outlined his theories.
I have to say, tonight John is laughing wherever he is - I suspect, knowing his sense of humour, if he can arrange it he's round Roger Cook's house writing "see you idiot - you missed the greatest story of life, you ****er!" on all his mirrors.

Delighted to hear from John's son last night! By any chance does anyone have the London Tonight bulletin saved in a format that can be passed on to his family? They missed it.

Some links that might interest:
Human trial
Background and trials
More about trials
Ivy medical chemicals website

If any vet surgeries might interested in finding out more about being able to prescribe CV247 I can hopefully point them in the right direction.

I have been delighted to hear from so many people that remember John. I was blown away when his son emailed the same night as the programme aired, and yesterday his wonderful vet nurse for many years Yvonne emailed and I've heard from Gunner's owner, a Belgian Shepherd that had bone cancer that visited when I did. Would love to hear from more people who knew him. I'm also talking to friendly vets interested in CV247, in Hungary the drug is available over the counter at veterinary pharmacies - but over here it must go through vets, stocks of CV247 are already in this country in a veterinary wholesalers - just needs some nice vets to start using it.
Just heard from Brian Kelly, my partner when Sally was ill and for many years either side of that! Brian is an Aussie journalist, we met at the Kennel Club and he is often sighted as the reason there was a small degree of scandal associated with my leaving! I helped select him to take over from me and trained him up during my notice period, but then at my leaving do he announced he was leaving, too! He'd hated the job but loved the people. We got together for the next eight years or so. Anyway he's now married with two kids and back in Oz working on Aussies papers again.
He struggled using the comment section so emailed his comment for me to post:

"A revelation to read all this. some details in there I didn't know about.
"I was alongside Beverley for pretty much every one of those visits with dear old Sal (yes, I drove; yes, she is a bit hopeless with directions ... !). And it panned out just as B says - kindly old chap, battling at times to make sense of everyday life, but with such an enormous gift to give. Each visit ate up most of a Saturday morning but each one was much anticipated - I knew I'd walk out of Carter's little old semi-detached feeling more inspired, more hopeful, more upbeat with the world.
B and I had gone our separate ways by the time her dad got sick (he too an eccentric old-fashioned Englishmen in his own way, I know B won't mind me saying) so it has been interesting to read how much progress he had made under the Carter regime. And I have watched the progress of CV247 with interest since; did not know and very sad to read about it being knocked back for licence. I'd say that - and the whole Cook episode - were the two worst things to happen in John's career. I remember him saying how "that bloody so-and-so" had set him back at least 12 months with progressing the treatment.
Thinking back, I think it was me who alerted Beverley to the news of John's death.
Anyhow, great to read that his name and his work is living on.
Brian Kelly"

Updating this post, CV247 now has its own dedicated blog which lists vets and GPs willing to prescribe. It also follows people whose pets are currently trying the diet and regime and includes links to other information. This blog below was written on the night I heard that CV247 had at last been given a licence. There was also a major article in April and May 2009 editions of Dogs Today magazine.


Just in case you are returning, please do re-read the very sad Taiga story on the next blog as there are several new elements added and new photos.

Please also take a look sideways at the Think Tank as there are three new questions we need your input on...

Do you have a dog that bursts balloons - or just need cheering up watching one that does? The video link really made our day... the current record holder is so obsessed! How much pleasure must she get from bursting a balloon?
What's the story with NatureDiet supply problems, we have the answer from head office. And a reader asks if you really can't find NatureDiet and you're desperate any suggestions for any other really good dog foods to try?
And what car do you drive? We're looking for the most dog friendly cars for budget, kids and dogs and multi-dog owners.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

A shot in the dark?

Taiga RIP

Lovely Taiga (pictured above - my Oscar's brother) is dead.
This gorgeous Beardie was not yet three years old.
His owner Lorraine Murphy is devastated.
A gentle, beautiful dog with a huge love of life.

Taiga died in November and Lorraine is still very upset, but feels that sharing her story may help someone else avoid similar distress.

Here's Lorraine's story in her own words...

For quite a few years, I've been concerned about vaccinations and boosters.

Taiga had his puppy vaccinations and his first booster 12 months later including Leptospirosis and that was going to be it. But I listened to the vet telling me that my family could be affected by Lepto, and through fear I let Taiga have the Lepto booster.

Thirty four days later, Taiga was off-colour, didn't want his food.

Day 37

Taiga started screaming, blood curdling screaming.
I took Taiga to the vets, and the vet thought he'd hurt his back and put him on antibiotics and painkillers, which seemed to work.

Day 42
We went back to the vets, the vet was happy with his progress, temperature had come down and Taiga seemed a little brighter. He told me to carry on with the antibiotics and painkillers, which I did.

Day 47

Taiga started vomiting, but so did my other Beardie Brock. I thought they'd both picked something up, Brock was better by the next day, but Taiga continued vomiting.

Day 48
Phoned the vet and was told to bring Taiga in the following morning. Was told not to give him anything to eat as they'd probably keep him in for tests.
Day 49 Vet decided to do blood tests first. Taiga was also given anti-sickness tablets. I was told to stop giving painkillers.

Day 52

Got a phone call from the vet to say Taiga had a problem with his liver and was jaundiced and he was being referred to Liverpool University as an emergency. The emergency appointment was two days later, in hindsight this was a blessing, but at the time I wanted to take him straightaway.

Day 54
5th November. Taiga had an appointment for 2.10pm at the University, at about 11.45am Taiga was laying at my side when he cried out, a few minutes later he cried out again and then he died. I just picked him up and ran, we arrived at the vets within five minutes but they told me it was to late and he'd gone.

54 days after having the Lepto booster Taiga died.

My heart has been broken since and I'm struggling to cope with the fact that I killed Taiga, after listening to the vet.
I know a lot of people would not have had a postmortem done, but I needed to know why a healthy dog can die in such a harrowing way. The postmortem, showed that all Taiga's cells were dying, where the cells died ulcers had developed. Taiga's heart, lungs, liver were all in a terrible state and his stomach had ulcers. Every part of him was dying.

The cause of death on the PM was listed as heart attacks, brought on by: Necrotising Granulomatious Inflammation of Multiple organs due to Systemic Histiocytosis. They say the cause of the Histiocytosis is unknown - idiopathic. The following is what is written in the comments at the end of the report: Granulomatious inflammation is a reasonably common reaction pattern in the dog and suggests the presence of a persistent antigen. Causes could be bacterial infections, fungal infections, mycobacterial infections and immune-mediated disease. No bacterial infections, fungal infections or mycobacterial infections were found, despite utilising immunohistochemistry.

When he cried out, Taiga was having heart attacks. I relive this continually, go over and over what has happened.
My vet has reported Taiga's death as a suspected vaccine reaction. The drug company have also been informed and they have asked for a copy of the postmortem and they are investigating.

I want to scream out, so other people are aware.
I don't want this happening to any other dog.

Taiga - a special dog

Taiga was such a special little fellow, he was small but full of character. He'd stamp his front paws when he wanted his own way, which was all the time. He could twist me round his little paw.

Taiga winning at Crufts

He won his class at Crufts last March, he was such a handsome lad. To help me I made a DVD of Taiga's life, a celebration of his very short but very happy and loved always and forever.

Taiga - much-loved

We need to make informed decisions.

Lorraine obviously links Taiga's death with the Lepto vaccine - felt by many to be the least effective and most reactive. Unlike other vaccines it is said to be unlikely to last more than six months and that it covers you for only 50% of the strains of Lepto.
Headlines in the Veterinary Times this week reveals a shortage of one of the other Lepto vaccines (not the one used on Taiga) meaning that only the most vulnerable dogs in the community will be boosted until this is resolved.

I emailed Linda Aronson DVM, a director of the excellent BeaCon Beardie health website.

Vaccinosis is not rare in Beardies. In other pastoral breeds, lines with autoimmune diseases were also the ones reporting vaccinosis reactions. In Beardies there are relatively few reports of anaphylactic type reactions. However, autoimmune diseases with onsets within four weeks of receiving a vaccine are suspect.

Of the vaccines commonly given to dogs the ones most likely to result in vaccinosis reaction are leptospirosis and rabies. I do not find the leptospirosis vaccination effective - coverage may be less than 6 months. Unlike most other vaccines which are protective against viral diseases, leptospirosis is a bacterial disease. Ron Schultz, who has done most of the independent research on vaccines, does not recommend giving the vaccine, but if it is given it should never be given on the same side of the body as vaccines against viral diseases.

Elements of Taiga's illness do sound like leptospirosis. The depression, fever, vomiting, the pain - leptospirosis often starts with pain and aching all over the body. The response to pain killers suggests that Taiga's screaming was due to pain. The vet also gave antibiotics. This is the treatment for leptospirosis - depending on the antibiotic given but not for a hurt back, so I wonder why this was the vet's first line of treatment. Lorraine says his temperature had come down, which suggests it was elevated, and this would suggest infection and hence starting antibiotics. In leptospirosis the initial high temperature may fall below normal as the disease progresses. Liver failure is one of the three common presentations of leptospirosis which can also cause kidney disease and uveitis in the eye. Toxins from the liver could have caused secondary heart and lung lesions. The gastric ulcers were likely caused by the pain killers if he wasn't receiving any gastro protection with them. This is all speculative, but a microscopic follow up to the gross necrospy should be able to pinpoint the cause of death. I would be surprised if the drug company didn't request this. It is true that vaccination against any illness lowers circulating thyroid levels for about three weeks post vaccination and suppresses immunity against other diseases. Taiga's illness could have begun during this time.

I asked vaccine campaigner Catherine O'Driscoll from Canine Health Concern if Taiga had a vaccination reaction why there might have been a delay before symptoms showed ...
"Years ago, Chris Day (homoeopathic vet) told me that, in his clinical experience, if patients (dogs, cats, rabbits etc) were ill, 80% of them become ill within three months of a vaccine event. CHC tested Chris’s observation in practice and did a massive vaccine survey, involving 4,000 dogs. We found that, where dogs were ill, 66% became ill within three months of a shot.

The unfortunate thing about vaccines is that the side effects are not uniform. It’s not like the Thalidomide drug, for example, where you could see the children without limbs. Instead, vaccines can attack any system in the body. Some of the reactions are immediate, such as anaphylactic shock where the dog will die within minutes of a shot unless given adrenaline or antihistamine. Some take longer to develop, such as brain damage and arthritis, and especially autoimmune diseases.

Very little is shown up by a PM. The scientist might say, for example, this dog had kidney failure, or this dog had lesions in the brain – but they won’t say what it’s caused by if it’s a vaccine."

I must admit I've been looking at Oscar and worrying about him ever since hearing of Taiga's death. I do worry about in-breeding in Beardies. Could in-breeding have increased the chances of a vaccine reaction? There's some research being carried out about the differing levels of MHC in different breeds. I needed an idiot's guide to this subject as I do tend to struggle with the science... I am indebted to Jemima Harrison the Creator of Pedigree Dogs Exposed for making it all so clear...
"MHC – major histocompatability complex. Essentially, the part of the genome that deals with immune response.
"Think of the immune system as a company of sentinel soldiers, each trained to alert the body to recognise and respond to individual onslaughts (bacteria, allergens, virii etc) with a huge array of weapons at their disposal. In natural dogs (such as the Africanis) this area of the genome is very diverse. They have lots of sentinel soldiers with different skills and a vast array weapons at their disposal resulting in a fully-functioning, vigorous immune system – essentially a fit and well-trained army able to deal with anything that’s thrown at it by the enemy. But inbreeding causes homozygosity so you start to get a build-up of identically-trained soldiers with the same weapons – losing others that could have identified different enemies and fought the attacks with different weapons.
"This they think is what’s happened with the Tasmanian Devil – so much inbreeding that the animal simply doesn’t recognise the infectious cancer as an enemy.
"Just think of skin grafts and/or organ transplants in us. We recognise the graft as foreign and our immune system does its best to destroy it. This is the MHC at work. And then note that you can do a skin graft between cheetahs and they won’t reject the new tissue. This makes them very vulnerable – a bout of feline flu could wipe out an entire population because they will all respond (or not) identically.
"This diversity of immune response between individuals of the same species is what allows populations to survive. If we had all been as genetically similar as the Tasmanian devils and cheetahs, the Black Death wouldn’t just have wiped out 20 million (or however many it was). It could have wiped out the entire human population."

There's a lot to think about contained in this little blog today.

Whatever the cause of poor Taiga's death, what a terrible thing for Lorraine to have gone through.

Will we ever know definitively what killed him?

Hug your dogs and have a good think about all these issues.

If you are interested in finding out more about vaccine reactions, click here to be taken to Catherine O'Driscoll's Canine Health Concern website. (We had an article on vaccine reactions in our January edition.)

I am definitely not anti-vaccines - just pro informed decisions. One of my dogs nearly died of parvovirus many years ago, so I am concerned that someone might not vaccinate as a knee jerk reaction without clearly assessing all the risks. Another of my pups exported to Finland died of Leptospirosis despite being vaccinated.

These are terrible diseases. I would hate for someone to stop boosting or vaccinating without first investigating this subject fully.

Vaccines have saved many dogs lives. If we had a completely unvaccinated population many dogs could die in outbreaks. There are other options than totally giving up on vaccination.

You can look at how often you boost and you can blood test first to see if it's needed. And you use single vaccines rather than combined if the titre levels suggest it is necessary. Are there some diseases that you might simply choose not to vaccinate against if you have a dog you are already concerned about? Lepto doesn't last the full 12 months in any case and only covers half of the strains you could encounter.

Difficult decisions we have to make.
But hopefully you will now have your eyes wide open. Please do read widely and make your own mind up as the best thing to do.

Brothers: Taiga (second right) with brother Oscar (far right) and other brother - Homeward Bound (second left)

Catherine's website contains downloads of several Dogs Today articles on this subject. One in particular is ironically about the Lepto vaccine specifically - and the cover picture used on this area of the site is the one showing Taiga's brother Oscar as a pup.

Just had a fascinating conversation with Bill Knight, a very sensible Cavalier breeder who has featured on this blog before. He was very sad to hear of Taiga's death. He offers a suggestion for others concerned about vaccine reaction. Click here for a link to his website.

"We used to find that after their first vaccination our puppies would be very sleepy, off their food, often with an upset tum and with a painful lump at the site of the vaccination. About 14 years ago we changed our regime and we now don't have any of these problems. We now use Dog Combination 30c from Ainsworths in London when the pups are two and half weeks old. It contains homeopathic potencies of Hepatitis, Leptospitosis, Hard pad and distemper, Parvo virus and Kennel cough and it must be crushed - you can't touch it and it must be given without food. You need to ask for a leaflet that tells you how much to give and when. The dogs then get their traditional vaccine at eight weeks and since we've started using the Ainsworth Dog Combination we've not had any problems with reactions. We always insist on Nobivac and the other thing we do is keep all our pups until they are 10 weeks so they don't have any stress. There are four things we do that might otherwise be traumatic - the pups are jabbed, tattooed, chipped and litter screened before going to their new homes so we like to keep them for that extra two weeks to make this as untraumatic as possible. If anyone wants to know more I'd be happy to explain further. I'd just like to say how very sad I am about Taiga and send Lorraine all my sympathy."

Sunday, 25 January 2009


Jacob ran off after some deer on a walk in Littlebury Green, Saffron Waldron, Essex on 21.01.09.
Bracco Italiano, Male

07828 671550
Help us find Jacob for latest info or to print posters click here

Has anyone seen this little man. He went missing in the Carnkie-Wendron area of Cornwall post code area TR13.

Please look out for him, especially if you have outbuildings and sheds. He will probably be a bit scared and disorientated and his name is Monty.

He is missing somewhere in West Cornwall.

There is a reward for his return. If you have any information or just see him please could you call this number

07810 300157

or see this blog - click here

or click here to download a poster

Friday, 23 January 2009

Bulldogs - chewing on that wasp

How did we get from this?

To this?

From dogs that looked almost athletic...

To a breed that can have trouble doing simple things like eating, breathing, reproducing...?

I was recently sent this article by the Victorian Bulldog Club and as it arrived just as we are putting our March issue to bed it was too late to include it traditionally - so I asked if I could blog it instead as a little extra for our blog readers.

Could the Victorians have the answer today?

Bulldog skull changes

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past week you will have heard about the Kennel Club’s revised breed standards designed to create healthier dogs. Many breeds are to be revised, but none has created such a wild and frenzied reaction than with the nation’s iconic dog the British Bulldog.

The Bulldog has in fact been through many upgrades and evolutions over the past 300 years in this county. However in the past 70 it has evolved into its most radical form which many of us simply take for granted. It has been accused of being inbreed, undershot with cruelly deformed features crippling it from breeding or whelping naturally let alone being able to “catch” as it was designed.

But few know that something positive was being done about the Bulldog long before any of the Kennel Club proposed reforms this week. Indeed in the mid 1980's the late Ken Mollett started a breeding program in the UK with the aim of creating a healthier Bulldog similar to the dog of the late Victorian period far and away from the type seen in the show ring (the modern Kennel Club Bulldog) today. He had many critics insisting the Bulldog was fine and to leave it alone mirroring the incensed reaction today from breeders. But unsatisfied with its humane fitness he persisted with his vision of a healthier Bulldog with a line he created known as the “Victorian Bulldog”.

The “VB” as it is known among its fanciers is more able than the show type, ie able bodied; climbing stairs, enjoying long walks with his owner, jumping and playing freely breeding naturally with less breathing problems whilst retaining the same happy friendly temperament it is loved for.

The Victorian Bulldog was carefully created by the selective crossing of the following breeds, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bullmastiff, Dogue De Bordeaux & top modern show type Bulldogs the highest percentage of being the later breed. The Victorian Bulldog Foundation which was founded in 2003 with a view to promoting & continuing Mr Mollett's blood line states “We do not profess to have “pure” bred dogs, this “pure bred” snobbishness is one of the reasons for a lot of problems with in pedigree breeds” explains Mr Martin Moran Chairman of the VBF. “The VB was not created to be a working type breed like the earlier Bull-baiting dog it is modelled on the bulldog of the late Victorian period before it began shrinking and developing the many problems we see today, it is in my opinion when the breed was simply at its truest and at most awesome.”

The size of the Victorian Bulldog makes it highly suitable to be kept as a family house dog. They are medium sized, slightly bigger than a Stafford and tending to be calmer natured. Although the Victorian Bulldog was not bred to be a guard dog the sheer look of them is probably enough to deter undesirables. Moran continues “What tends to make the Victorian Bulldog larger than the KC show Bulldog is its leg length plus the body is not as “cobby” resulting in a more physically able to walk, run & play. Along with less exaggerated physique, a good natured breed and a great family dog.

Victorian Bulldog head

How and why did we change their faces into this shape?

Victorian physique

Martin Moran has been promoting VB’s for the past 12 years go to his site and one can clearly see the impact of the Victorian Bulldog against its modern counterpart. “We’re simply breeding the Bulldog to the official standards chart of 1887 no more no less, they we’re very specific about all measurements of the animal”. He continues “But what people fail to realise is how incredibly far the modern KC bulldog has drifted from those standards. If you consider that the breed is over 300 years old and in just 70 years breeders have destroyed it to the point of failure, but, not anymore” he chuckles. And he’s right one only needs to line them up against each other to see the radical differences he’s so concerned about and the good ethical work he and his community have done. “The Bulldog we know today is a totally different dog entirely” says Moran, “When the Edwardians got hold of the dog in the 1920’s they began inbreeding it to accentuate its “funny” features; creating massive undershot jowls and deeply compressing the nasal passage (see pic one). This of course instantly disabled the dog from being able to “catch” any prey to do its job and by crushing the nasal passage to such radical lengths disabled to dog from breathing freely and excessive mobility.

Not satisfied with distorting the head the Edwardian breeders extensively shortened the original dogs legs and grossly widened its chest.

Moran enthuses “It’s amazing nobody questions that my dogs are NOT Bulldogs when I take them out to the park, even though no one has ever seen a Bulldog like this for a hundred years, but what they do question eagerly is “where did I get it from, how much did they cost and where can they get one from”

So what is the future for the modern Kennel Club Bulldog? “Well, I guess they need to do what we have done and rebuild the dog or they could be breeding with our dogs using the bloodline to unravel all the damage that 20th century breeders have created getting the standard back in line with the new Kennel Clubs’ directives. But then again that’s something we’ve been busy working on for the past 25 years. It takes about 25 years to create a solid bloodline and today we have it, pup after pup, so the timing with all this is just about perfect for us, in fact we can show our dogs as they are now. I doubt any modern KC Bulldog breeder wants to get into the ring with anyone of our dogs.” Moran continues, “You know I was originally a Kennel Club Bulldog enthusiast but I just lost heart with all of the artificial elements to maintain the breed. I thought to myself this is the historical profile breed of this nation.
“And when I heard of what Ken was doing and seeing the results of his program I joined him, working side by side producing fit Bulldogs giving me great pleasure. Ken passed away in 2002 and I have been flying the flag if you like for the true British Bulldog since then, along with all my fellow VB breeders."
He continues, “Once the true Bulldog gets into your blood you can’t get it out. Bit like owning a real piece of Chippendale compared to some MDF flatpack”. Martin chimes, “I mean when I see a Bulldog shuffling down the street, its belly and chin practically on the pavement, out of breath and as artificial as plastic it saddens me as it’s just cruelty plain and simple cruelty. I look at my dogs and realise I am doing more to keep this breed alive; I care about the welfare of this breed.”
“Trust me nobody laughs at my dogs when I walk or show them, they command absolute respect with an air of nothing to prove, exactly as they were intended to, can you say that about the modern Kennel Club Bulldog?” Moran shrugs.
“Enough is enough which is exactly why the Kennel Club finally had to say something."
“The VB is the Bulldog that Churchill was based on and the one Tommy had in his veins fighting in the trenches and a family pet the one anyone can now own guilt free”.

You can visit the Victorian Bulldog Site here and the VBF here to talk to Martin or the breeders:

The good old days

The new Victorian

Slings and arrows

After Fluffygate yesterday we have the Poodle-people-being-offensive episode.
Every now and again I like to have a look at who is reading the blog, you can click through and see the referring site for the last 100 visitors. One click went to a Poodle site so I clicked to find a charming little thread. Click here
Now much of this thread seems to make little sense at all, apparently I may have said a throwaway remark like, "If you think show Poodle trims look over the top, look at these" - and then we had some photos of dogs that had been turned into chickens etc... Actually I've no problems with Poodles, in fact I really do think they're under-rated as pets. A bit like a doggie Skoda.
But they're obviously a touchy lot.
Does it matter what I look like?
Does it matter what any of us look like?
Is that how women are perceived in the Poodle community, just graded into two piles of lookers and not. Astonishing! And to think we used to have our office in dear old Emmeline Pankhurst's family home. How very evolved these Poodle men are!
But Mike in Standard Poodles went a little bit further, he claims to have met me on Hampstead Heath and seen me up close to decide I was unattractive!!
I have emailed him to point out he is deluded as I have never been to Hampstead Heath, and when I didn't go I never met anyone walking Miniature or Toy Poodles, and I have never chewed on a wasp.
I emailed him to put him straight, here's his lovely reply...

Oh we did you know, it was a long time ago and was over the Heath Extension (Golders Green side) where all the dog walkers go. I had Miniature and Toy Poodles in those days.
You have either forgotten or someone was impersonating you !!!
We are all well aware of your opinion of show people and I suspect nobody really cares what you think anyway.
My spies tell me that it is great fun going into Smiths and covering Dogs Today with the real dog papers.
At least then the public will get a balanced view of things and not a load of nonsense.


I reiterate, I live miles away from London. I don't go to any of the sides of Hampstead Heath. I don't know Mike, but he and his friends think I am very unattractive and they'd like to put me out of business and see my children starve.
Apparently being the Editor of a dog magazine gets you called a terrorist by the KC Chairman and allows men in Poodles to debate how ugly you are while trying to sabotage your business.
Good job I have a good sense of humour isn't it!

Mike has been emailing me again...

Nobody has made anything up, you must have an impersonator, why should anyone want to is the question!!! As for pathetic, Dogs Today comes to mind!

It's probably that dratted country and western singing doppleganger again...

I reiterate, I do not know Mike and I have never been to Hampstead Heath.

...and I think he's just tried to post another nasty little jibe that wasn't very entertaining as a comment, but I hope you'll forgive me if I block him. The joke is wearing a little thin now.

Did I ever tell you about my stalker...? Well he didn't stalk me physically, he used the Royal Mail - I used to get up to 20 letters a day from him. All of them identical and handwritten. He affectionately called me 'dunce editor' and called on me to sack 'dunce vet' Bruce Fogle. It was never clear why Bruce or I had upset him, but I added him to our Christmas card list and wrote back every now and again. It was actually a sad day when the letters stopped.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Which adjective would you use to describe me?

On another publication's website one pro-KC (possibly a professional KC person judging by the depth of their protective instincts for the archaic institution) actually called me "fluffy".
She didn't use it as a term of affection or anything, it wasn't a pet name. It was an attempt to suggest that Dogs Today didn't tackle the thornier issues!
I am still in shock. I never wear pink. I've never been a girlie girl that hid behind men. Have always been someone to roll those sleeves up and get stuck in should the situation warrant it.
But to have been perceived by anyone as fluffy.... it's made me want to renew my subscription of Spare rib and get a tattoo.
My biggest fan also claims I am always censoring the comments on this blog and that our magazine speaks with one voice - mine.
As I just okayed a letter for print from someone who called me a t**t for suggesting that Prince Edward shouldn't hit his dogs with big sticks, I wonder what I need to do to show I believe in free speech. And no - please don't just post abuse now to test me out - and certainly DO NOT EVER CALL ME FLUFFY!
(Do you think she hit a nerve?)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Incest will be banned after March 1st

Yesterday the Kennel Club issued its New Year Regulations.
From March the 1st they'll be refusing to register dogs that are the result of a mother/son, father/daughter or brother/sister mating.
From 2010 all dogs will have to be microchipped or tattooed if they are to be assessed under any of the BVA/KC health schemes.
Crufts judges will be expected to judge to the new revised breed standards - some of which are now available to view on the KC website. Judges have now also been given the power to remove a dog from the ring that they feel is unhealthy.
It's a new year, let's hope this is the new start for Kennel Club we've all been hoping for?
They still need to do a lot more about Coefficients of Inbreeding as very, very few dogs are the result of obvious incest. Most inbreeding today is caused by the overuse of popular sires and line breeding, but it's a start.
Here's the link for the whole story.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Bark Obama

You heard it here first...
I am told the choice of dog in the White House is between two types of dog.
The Labradoodle or the Portuguese Water Dog.
Either one would be a first.
Watch this space!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Have you seen this dog?

Just received this plea...

On Boxing Day our beloved dogs were stolen from our home in Woodford Green Essex
They broke in through the back door and took them from their beds - we were only out for a couple of hours.
We are all devostated and need as much help as possible....
We managed to get the boy back, a lady found him on her doorstep in the Debden area five miles away from were we live four days after they went missing.... he was found with burns and cuts on him...
The vets and police think he was dumped in the area because he was no use to the thieves as he had been castrated and is very aggressive to people he doesn't know.
Our little girl is still missing and we are missing her so much and are worried sick as she is on daily medication and its now been two weeks since she took it and will now be in so much pain.

Breed Miniature Pinscher
Colour: Black and Tan
Female One year old
ID: Very small (Chihuahua size) Looks just like a tiny Dobermann)
Tattoo in right ear
Long skinny tail

Large reward - all we want for the new year is to have our little baby home and will not rest until she's back.

I am begging people to help us.

My numbers are 07908677681/07984994084/0208 270 9403

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

A Christmas story

It was lunchtime and the phones were busy, so I picked up a stray call to find someone called Natasha on the line.
She seemed agitated.
"Can you help me? My puppy's sick," she blurted.
It all started tumbling out. She'd bought her 7 year old son a Westie for Xmas, from what sounded like a posh, expensive W7 pet shop. She'd paid nearly £600 and had asked the shop keeper to keep the pup till after Xmas as they would be away on holiday.
Two days ago they picked up the now 12 week old pup and took him home.
She'd thought the dog looked poorly when they picked it up but at home things deteriorated further. Lots of coughing, refusing to eat. The vet first gave antibiotics, next visit kept the dog in and put it on a drip. The dog's future is looking very bleak as the vet says it has pneumonia but there are other problems, too.
The little boy is heartbroken.
The pet shop owner slammed the phone down on Natasha when she phoned to tell him. Trading standards will phone her back in a few days.
While you'll be having a deep sigh at Natasha buying a dog as a Christmas present in a pet shop, she had done something untypical of the impulse puppy purchaser. She'd booked a really good dog trainer to come to her house this week to start teaching them to train the pup. To be fair it sounded a lovely home! It was the trainer who told her about us, what a shame she didn't ask the trainer to help source the pup for her. What a shame she didn't find out about the dangers of buying a dog in a pet shop until the vet's bill started being greater than the purchase price.
Natasha simply didn't know about puppy farms, pet shops or indeed Dogs Today until it all went horribly wrong.
Will this little Westie survive? Will the pet shop take any responsibility? Natasha says her pup was mixed in with other pups so I presume they are all dying, too?
There's one seven year old boy who'll never forget this Christmas. You can take a broken toy back to he shop, but how many thousands might it take to save this little Westie - if indeed it can be saved? Being so ill throughout the socialisation period, what chance does the little dog have of having a normal life in any case.
Happy New Year everyone - apart from the puppy farmers and the despicable dog traders.