Thursday, 23 December 2010

Don't count your chickens - or your turkeys...

Rosie our designer has not long moved house so doesn't yet have a freezer. At the supermarket they were giving away large frozen turkeys if you spent over £80 so she decided to have one and buried it in the snow outside till she could take it to her sister's.
Rosie has a very elderly Staffie called Molly. When Molly went missing for a little while Rosie grew concerned as she has been known to wander off and fall down holes etc.
Rosie went outside to find a very, very happy Molly indeed who obviosuly thought Xmas had come early.
Look at how much she ate, not bad for her ancient old teeth!
 

We all knew they were clever...

.... but now there is scientific proof. New Scientist carries a report of Chaser, a Border Collie that knos the name of 1022 objects and can reliably fetch them when required. The dog is also able to sort them into shape and function - something that a three year old child would be able to do.

Thanks to the Daily Mail phoning me up for a quote yesterday I know that the latest edition of New Scientist includes the story in depth:

"To find out whether there was a limit to the number of words a border collie could learn, psychologists Alliston Reid and John Pilley of Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, started an intensive training programme with Chaser.
"Over three years, they taught the collie the names of 1022 toys by introducing them to her one by one, getting her to fetch the toy and then repeating the name to reinforce the association.
"The team regularly tested Chaser on her entire vocabulary. Groups of 20 toys were chosen at random and put in a separate room from where Chaser had to retrieve them by name. The toys were in another room so the trainer would not unintentionally give Chaser cues about which toy to choose. According to Reid, the dog completed 838 of these tests over 3 years and never got less than 18 out of 20 right (Behavioural Processes, DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2010.11.007)."


This is obviously a big leap for the scientific community but possibly just reinforces many owners' existing belief that their dog understands every word they say.
Other great milestones in doggie intelligence:
The first day Endal helped his wheelchair bound owner without being asked by helping him to use the cash point machine.
Vicki McCleod's super-dogs that started attempting to speak and unlike a parrot used this ability to ask for things they wanted!

Can you think of any other significant advances?

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Oh no, I am ashamed to say that this made me laugh...



This advert is so very obviously very wrong, but it still made me laugh in the same way I laugh at bad taste disaster jokes! The biggest offence is Harvey Nicks comment on You Tube that,
"Harvey Nichols wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas. The must-have accessory this Christmas is canine."

Harvey Nicks don't sell puppies thankfully, but they do next door at Harrods.
Do we have the strength for another campaign against a major retailer...? And I can see from the comments on You Tube that war has already broken out.
But I thought I'd share it with you and listen to what you think.
Surely a chunky donation to Dogs Trust is in order at the very least for 'borrowing' their slogan to actually encourage the buying of dogs at Christmas...

Just got this comment in from Clarissa Baldwin OBE, the Chief Executive of Dogs Trust and the inventor of the phrase "A dog is for life not just Christmas":

 “Dogs Trust is deeply disappointed and concerned by the content of this Harvey Nichols advert. While it may be intended as a tongue in cheek reference to the Dogs Trust slogan ‘A Dog is For Life, Not Just For Christmas’, the depiction of dogs as gifts is extremely irresponsible and undermines the serious message behind this famous saying, which was born out of a need to prevent dogs from being bought as presents for Christmas only to be discarded when the novelty wears off.
 
"There will be some who view this advert at face value and see nothing wrong with purchasing a puppy on a whim as a gift. Wrapping up dogs with bows and gift tags for humour’s sake is in poor taste and we would strongly urge Harvey Nichols to rethink this advert. We have made contact with Harvey Nichols directly to open up a dialogue about this and we would welcome a response.”

and a comment just in from Wood Green:
Head of Animal Welfare Shelley Wooding said: “While we can see from the final clip of the advert that Harvey Nichols is trying to emphasise the point that dogs are for life and not just for Christmas, there are a number of animal welfare issues within the advert which sadly over look this key message.
"Dogs are not accessories that can be stored in a handbag or even a drawer. Dogs are living beings which are too often thought of as an accessory that can be discarded or replaced like the latest fashions.
As a result of this, their emotional and physical needs are over looked and they are unable to express their natural behaviours.
Adverts like this do nothing to deter people from treating pets as accessories and instead as the life-long commitment and cherished part of the family that they are.”
 

Monday, 6 December 2010

Harrods protest

News received from Mandy, one of the protesters:

Campaigners from the anti-puppy farming groups Puppy Love and SPEC and from the rescue site Dogpages organised a peaceful protest at Harrods last Saturday. We are campaigning against the sale of puppies in pet shops and although Harrods might have better welfare than some other pet shops a department store like this should not be selling puppies. Harrods are a high profile store and should set an example by stopping the sale of puppies immediately.

There was a lot of publicity all over the internet beforehand which has also raised awareness about pet shop puppies and puppy farming. We were hoping for a big turnout because of this but the weather and transport problems prevented many people from getting there. We had a dozen people there and handed out at least 300 leaflets. We also talked to a lot of people many of whom had no idea that Harrods sold puppies or that it was legal to sell puppies in shops or about puppy farming.

We gave Harrods a petition with very nearly 2,000 signatures and a lot of very good comments on it. There were more signatures on paper petitions that had been delayed in the post because of the snow and these will be added to the online one. This petition will carry on and Harrods will be reminded about it regularly.

The campaign will continue and we will go back to Harrods next year. There are also protests at other pet shops all over the country including monthly ones at Dogs4Us at Leeds. Please get involved and together we can make a difference.


I'll let you know of any future protests as I get to hear of them. I have to say even getting a dozen people to turn out in this dreadful weather was fantastic.

Details of next pet shop protest: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150105747043060&set=a.71710688059.99429.20069898059#!/event.php?eid=175947935756308 

And click here to see previous protests and more info.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Farm fresh and nervously waiting a new life...

Many Tears has some young, quite damaged Beardies looking for homes on their website and this has sparked a lively debate among Beardie people as to what should be done.  (Frost, seen above, is five)
It is likley these have been puppy farm dogs and we are to be grateful they are there no longer. They all look of good type and doubtless a couple of generations back there will be kennel names we all recognise.
The young dogs are very thin, they were covered in lice. They are all nervous.
Beardie rescue probably have good people waiting and lots of funds in the bank.
Should they just give Many Tears some money and take it from here?
Some are saying, however, that paying the adoption fee rather than just the expenses is wrong and that rescues should hand over any pedigree dogs to breed rescue where they exist.
A counter argument is why should the rescues not charge a fee for normally quite 'desirable' pedigrees as no one is offering to take all their Staffie crossesoff their hands and they're only using the funds to help other dogs.
And it has been pointed out that Many Tears is not a registered charity. Does it matter?
My view is Many Tears do an amazing job of wrestling dogs out of puppy farms that may otherwise just end up dead and dead in an often inhumane way.
I support the Many Tears ethic and I vote that Beardie Rescue pays the adoption fee in full and then uses their expertise to find these gorgeous gentle neglected dogs Beardie appropriate homes.
I am pleased to see the most shy has a reserved notice against her name. It was her sad face that I was seeing as I closed my eyes to go to sleep. I would love to take them all, but I'm sure someone with more time will coax these lovely dogs back to full Beardie bounce levels.
What do you think? Do check out all the dogs looking for homes on Many Tears, they do a fantastic job IMO.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Caption time!

This month the top prize wins a Nina Ottosson Dog Finder,

courtesy of The Company of Animals and five runners-up will each receive a tub of Coachies training treats, for either adult dogs or puppies.

Send your best captions to comps@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk - we'll be judging the caption on Monday at 1pm, so don't miss it!

Here's the fantastic photo of Mr Custard who also features on our blog about CV247





Do you know who Wee Barney's parents are?




If you are the first to guess the two breeds who make up this gorgeous dog you can win a book of your choice from Interpet.

Send you best guesses to comps@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk asap. First correct entry by email gets the prize.

I personally don't think this is so very difficult - two well known breeds. Clues to follow if no correct guesses.

FIRST CLUE: A directional-ish dog and a brand of chocolate

It's all over - Emma Faulkner has won it - Yorkie cross Westie. Congratulations. Caption competition up next! And don't forget of to enter the Dogs Trust facebook page for the daily competition... win a Furminator today!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Too late for the magazine...

....But I'm printing it here - not my words!

Now with how to enter details - see end of message


This competition is open to everyone and Beverley Cuddy Editor of DOGS TODAY magazine will have the hard job of judging the winners for us.

The competition will start 8pm Dec 6th and finish at 6pm Dec 14th. The winners will be announced at 8pm on Dec 15th.

Each category will cost you £2.50 to enter. Once entered you can add as many pictures as you like. They must be of your pets only. Sorry no humans. They can be funny, fancy dressed what ever you like.

They must all contain their name age, how long you have owned them & a brief little background about them (ie; likes dislike funny traits etc about them.)

We have included a section for best foster dog as sadly they are not often allowed to enter competition as they are usually for owners dogs so we thought we would give them a chance to shine.

Categories are :

1) Best 4Pawz Rescue
2) Best Other / Rescue
3) Best foster dog.

The winners of each section will receive 3 months free subscription to Dogs Today & free goodie bag from us for their pet.

Finally we will have Futures for Dogs Dog of the Year. This will be where Beverley will have her work cut out. He /She will be chosen from all the homed rescues dogs that have been entered and will be winning their owner & themselves :
12 months free subscription for Dogs Today (three month will be void should they win twice.) Futures for Dog T shirt, Mug and a goodie bag of treats & Toys.

The comp is being held on our web site http://www.futuresfordogs.co.uk. Any one wishing to enter must post their pictures on the site .Comp does not start though till 6th Dec. We do however have a fun free caption comp going at the moment should any one wish to enter for free!

Can you help? Time is running out

I've been asked to bring this to your attention:

Rudozem Street Dog Rescue is a new UK based charitable group helping the dogs of southern Bulgaria. RSDR works tirelessly to take dogs and puppies from the streets, treat them for parasites, vaccinate and socialise them before rehoming them to other places in Europe.
Diane and Tony Rowles, a British couple, moved to Bulgaria with their children in 2007. Their intention was never to create a rescue, but, unable to ignore the plight of the local dogs, they were compelled to do something. However, their house and garden is now full with over 50 dogs, which is not ideal. This has caused problems with local residents who have even started a petition to get the family or the dogs removed.            
A proper shelter is desperately needed, not only to house the dogs but to provide a clinic where they can be neutered and re-released. This is the only way to stop the perpetual cycle of breeding which has led to the current situation. Each day, dogs are run down, or shot, stoned, beaten and generally abused by the locals.
A piece of land with a building on it has been found and offered to the family. The price is €38,000 but they only have until 15 December 2010 to find the funds before the current owner advertises the property on the open market.
They are desperate for donations. At present they have about €23,000 towards the cost so are appealing to dog owners and animal lovers for help to raise the remaining funds.

There are a number of ways you donate to RSDR via the ‘Donations’ page on their website – www.streetdogrescue.co.uk – where there is also a video of the premises they hope to buy. You can read more about RSDR and the work they do on Facebook, at the website listed above or at their alternate website, www.streetdogrescue.com

Friday, 26 November 2010

For those that care about showing they care

We've just launched some Just Giving pages to support the charities which bravely spoke out on behalf of the dog and helped persuade John Lewis to ditch the advert that glamourised neglect.

Please click these links to be taken to the special Just Giving pages we've just set up/

Dogs Trust




Mayhew:




Tailwaggers



To donate to Border Collie Rescue UK click here  

(Border Collie Rescue aren't yet registered on Just Giving but have another charity collection site).

Mike from Border Collie Rescue UK just pointed my 'yet' in the above sentence wasn't correct as they are not likely to ever join the scheme. They did consider having a Just Giving account but they prefer the charity collection site they use as it doesn't charge as much commission as Just Giving. By 7am this morning they have received an impressive £87.50 including Gift Aid so far, so well done everyone for donating!

Let's reward those that care about showing they care...

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Happy Christmas the war is over!

At last, here is the email from John Lewis which means the dreadful advert with the dog in the cold will NEVER run again!

Congratulations to everyone who complained, joined the facebook page, signed the petition, retweeted, phoned in to a radio station...
Well done and respect to Dogs Trust and The Mayhew Animal Home for sticking up for all dogs and putting out really strong passionate complaints where other charities where let's say a bit flakey. And to Border Collie Rescue UK for getting involved and making it clear that even dogs that can work shouldn't be left out in the cold.
Well done to Julie Hill for setting up the fast growing facebook campaign page that attracted 2,500 or more people and a handful of trolls! Well done to Muriel Brasseur for getting involved and keeping the peace on the page allowing Julie time to occasionally eat and sleep!
Together dog people are awesome, they didn't listen so we all just kept talking...
As of today there were almost on 300 complaints to ASA. Would they have ruled against the ad? Will we ever know?

Give your dog and hug and please stay warm!

This email is short and the magic word 'sorry' isn't one of the 33 words - but it's still the best email I've had for simply ages!! The earlier one said it would run to December 18th so this is a U-turn no matter how reluctant they are to admit it.

Hi Beverley

The 60-second ad with the dog will not be repeated. Its last showing was on Sunday evening. The two 30-second ads are proving popular with viewers.

Best wishes
Louise

Louise Cooper
Senior Manager, Corporate, Digital & Branch PR
John Lewis

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Mayhew speak out about the John Lewis advert

Many thanks for your email. Here is the response from our CEO, Caroline
Yates.

"The Mayhew Animal Home was very surprised and really disappointed to see the new John Lewis Christmas advert ending with a dog left outside in blizzard conditions, with very limited shelter. We can appreciate the sentiment shown of the dog being given a present by the little boy, but that would have been better inside the home, within a cosy, family atmosphere. With the advert ending as it did, it sent the message that keeping an animal in such conditions is acceptable and this, of course, is something we, as an animal welfare organisation deem totally unacceptable. With John Lewis recently cited as the 'most influential' British brand by a YouGov and Populus study and promoting the image of being a forward-thinking, socially responsible company, this error of judgement needs to be corrected immediately."

Click here for their website.

Just in...

A coalition of anti-puppy farming groups will be staging a protest over the sale of puppies at world-famous store, Harrods on Saturday 4th December 2010. A petition will be given to Harrods during the protest.

Mandy Dumont, a spokesperson for the campaign said:  “Harrods are a high profile store and should set an example by stopping the sale of puppies immediately. The vast majority of pet shop puppies are from puppy farms who only breed for money with no thought to the welfare and health of the puppy, its parents or the buyers.  Puppy farms often have appalling conditions And lack of welfare, no checks for hereditary diseases and no socialisation. Parents suffer for years and are then discarded once they can no longer breed.”

TV vet and anti puppy farming supporter Joe Inglis says “Puppy farming is an abuse of our loyal canine companions who deserve to be brought up in healthy and loving environments, and I wholeheartedly support Puppy Love's campaign aim to bring an end to the suffering puppy farms cause.”

Matty Mitford, a supporter of the protest says: “Rescues are overflowing and thousands of dogs are being put down every year due to lack of homes. Anyone considering themselves a dog lover should look to an established rescue centre for a dog. Otherwise they should go to a reputable breeder who will have performed all the relevant health checks for their breed and where they can see the mother with the puppies. The breeder should ask a lot questions and offer lifetime back up for all the dogs that they breed. If not, walk away. Dogs bought from shops can never have this level of support and care and it is deeply unfair to the defenceless animals who depend on us for their welfare for them to be sold in this way ”

Anyone interested in joining the protest should contact Mandy Dumont at puppyprotest@yahoo.co.uk

Do we care?

After days of trying to make a big company care about the way they are depicting dogs in their Christmas advertising and experiencing a colder heart than Charles Dickens ever conjured up,  let's spare a moment to spread a bit of love and compassion generally to balance up the bad Karma that has been flying around.
A culture of not caring about others is a very cold one.
And because people care about dogs, it doesn't mean they don't care about people, quite the opposite in my experience.
This morning Ori Golan sent me this email. Ori has written some fantastic articles for Dogs Today over the last decade and more. Stories from around the world that always surprise and enlighten and very often move me.
This story doesn't have a dog in it, but I'm very glad I read it, even though it made me cry.
More people not less need to show they care about what is happening to those around them, whether those in need have two legs or four.
If we don't care, who will?
When he was child, my brother, Gil, returned home one day with a small charge in his hand. He had found a rabbit and did what was most natural to him: he gave it a home. Gil named the adopted guest Sapojnikov. For three months we went around the flat cleaning up Sapojnkov's droppings. Then,
inexplicably, the bunny disappeared.
Gil is now gone. What remains of him is a collection of memories. God, they say, is in the details, and with Gil there were lots of details. It is difficult to piece them all together, not just because there were so many, but also because everyone knew him differently.
To his friend Anne, he was a remarkably handsome man, of 'movie star quality'. Some remember him as a military officer; and there are those who knew him as the head of their choir and recall his phenomenal musical talent. When I think of him, I see him playing with our cousin, Dror, making it seem so easy to bring down the barrier of communication which Autism put between this cousin and the world. For many others Gil was their friend. And they loved him very much. The mention of his name still triggers a peel of laughter over something he'd once said or done; a glance at a photograph of him still precipitates a deluge of tears.
When we grew up there was no AIDS in our universe. It's hard to imagine now a world without the HIV virus, but, growing up in a small village, we were blissfully oblivious to the ill winds that were blowing far away. Even as we left the eighties AIDS was something we believed happened to other people, elsewhere. A divine retribution to sinful and wicked people for their transgressions. We didn't know such people.
The year 1992 was a sad year. It was the year we learnt that AIDS is not someone else's disease. The year Gil was diagnosed with the HIV antibodies.
Gil's optimism was indomitable; his determination awe-inspiring. A few years ago, I received a letter from someone who knew Gil in which she recounts an incident of which I was unaware. When Gil was in hospital for routine check up, he met a woman who had been diagnosed with HIV. In the course of their conversation it transpired that she had no family to turn to or friends to support her. Gil sat with her all afternoon. They chatted, laughed and cried together. When she went in for her consultation with the doctor, he waited for her until she emerged from the room. Then he did what seemed most natural to him: he invited her to stay with him. In this he saved her the worst suffering a person can endure: the pain of rejection. The letter was from this woman.
His last few years were his most creative. He set up a company selling T-shirts which he designed; he founded a choir; he wrote and composed; and he raised funds for AIDS charities. He was an arrow on a mission. We believed he'd go on forever. But we were wrong.
In January 2000 Gil plunged into a coma. Ten days later he took his last gasp of air, aged 36.
Gil now lies at the cemetery in Kibbutz Shefayim. It is a beautiful and serene place. You can sit on a bench and collect your thoughts with the rhythmic sound of waves in the background. I know he would have made a joke about it having unobstructed ocean views for the residents.
This Wednesday, the 1st of December, is World AIDS Day and I shall be wearing a red ribbon. The red ribbon is the international symbol of AIDS awareness. I shall wear the red ribbon because it is a symbol of respect for those who have died of AIDS-related illnesses and a tribute to the millions
of people who have lost friends, family members or loved ones to this scourge. It is also a show of solidarity with people living with the HIV virus; a symbol of hope that one day a vaccine for this terrible affliction will be found.
The red ribbon is about increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. What we could pretend we didn't know two decades ago we now know beyond any doubt: AIDS targets all people, regardless of their religion, age, gender or sexual orientation.
The ribbon is also reminder to us all that HIV has not gone away. Treatments have advanced significantly in recent years, but people still die from AIDS related complications and there is still much work to do. We need to keep raising funds to support medical research, educate those at risk so that they can protect themselves, and support those living with HIV. Our support, whether material or emotional, can significantly improve the lives of those affected by this scourge.
When you next walk down a road of houses ask yourself: in how many of these houses is there someone living with HIV? Above which doorway hovers the shadow of AIDS? How many families on this street are treading the fine line between hope and despair?
AIDS has already claimed the lives of over 6,700 Australian. At present, some 16,500 people in this country are living with the HIV virus. Each week 20 more Australians are newly diagnosed. In addition to them, millions of people around the world are infected. These people are someone's neighbour, someone's best friend, someone's colleague. Maybe someone you know.
This year's World AIDS Day theme is 'Universal Access and Human Rights'. It provides an opportunity for all of us - individuals, communities and political leaders - to take action and ensure that human rights are protected and global targets for HIV prevention, treatment and care are met.
Gil is now gone. His life was a gift to all who knew him; his death a statistic in this vast death toll. But his legacy lives on, and the memories and optimism he left remain unchanged.
I hope you too will wear a red ribbon this World AIDS day.

The writer is a journalist living in Sydney and a volunteer with the Ankali project.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Dogs Trust's new statement on John Lewis

“Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has written to John Lewis to urge them to consider the welfare messages conveyed when using animals in their marketing activities and we are waiting for a response. As the charity who coined the phrase “A Dog is for Life, Not Just for Christmas”, we feel it is disappointing that the John Lewis Christmas advert continues to show the family dog being left out in the cold this Christmas. This is an irresponsible way to depict dog ownership. ”

We asked the RSPCA to comment and they said, "It's not our place to comment, people should be directed to the ASA to complain."

I'll leave it to you to comment on the RSPCA's lack of comment...!

I've asked Battersea if they'd like to refresh their comment, waiting to hear back.





 

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Depressed by the John Lewis commercial?

Have you seen the epic John Lewis Christmas TV commercial?
The one with the haunting soundtrack (a cover of Your Song by Ellie Goulding).
It is very atmospheric, making you really feel warm and look forward to a present-filled, idyllic, family-based Christmas - right up to the moment when you see the family dog - a Deerhound - lying in the snow, outside a ramshackle, bare shed - ironically clad in festive fairy lights.
No door, no raised bed.
No basic comforts.
How very unChristmassy to glamorise neglect!
It makes keeping a dog outside in all weathers appear almost aspirational.
And who'd have thought this imagery would come from such a normally ethical, animal friendly company?
That final scene totally ruins the advert for most dog lovers.
We're not stupid, we know it's not real.
Of course the dog doesn't live there really. That the snow is probably fake.
But the illusion makes putting a dog in an open-to-the-elements shed seem acceptable, even normal - in fact actually quite posh!
It validates something people should feel very, very uncomfortable about doing.
In the real world, if your neighbour kept their dog like this dog the RSPCA would be interested.
It would probably constitute a breach of the new Animal Welfare Act.

A few days ago dog lovers were tricked into believing that John Lewis had listened to the complaints from their customers and welfare charities like Battersea Dogs Home, Dogs Trust etc. Even the Telegraph and the BBC were fooled. But it turns out John Lewis has not agreed to stop showing the 60 second advert uncensored. They intend to show it prime time this weekend against top rating shows like Xfactor etc and through to December 18th whenever they feel like it.
And they have been copying and pasting answers to customers. They really are not listening.
All we need is for them to stop showing this advert with this ending. To re-edit.
 
If you'd like to do something positive to ensure this advert that glamourises neglect stops being shown as soon as possible here's how:

Complain to the Advertising Standards Association click here
They will ask you when exactly you saw the advert. Here are some recent showings just in case you haven't recorded the channel and time. It is being shown very frequently.
There were 145 complaints as of a few days ago. (Another advert was taken off after only 9 complaints to give this some context). Please do take the time to log your opinions. To read previous blogs giving background on what others feel is wrong with the advert and another complaint to ASA click here and  click here

Sky Sports News 15.01 20th November Soccer Saturday
Sky1 08.46am 20th November Malcolm in the Middle
Channel4 15.42 19th November Countdown
ITV3 21.00 approx  19th November Rebus and Ruth Rendall Mysteries
ITV2 19.10 19th November Xfactor
Five USA 19.30- 45 19th November Crime Scene Investigation Miami
ITV1 19.00-21.00 19th November Coronation Street
Discovery 19.45 19th November Mythbusters
Channel 4 21.10-15 19th November The Event
 Channel 4 17.41 20th November Come Dine With Me

Please join the facebook page (almost 2,000 followers in a few days) and post your opinion on the John Lewis facebook page, too.
And sign the petition: click here

Should you wish to email them you are likely to get a stock reply as they are not coping with the response and appear to have their fingers in their ears! But if you still want to contact them:
Helen Dickinson, Head of Press and PR 
helen_dickinson@johnlewis.co.uk
Tel: 020 7592 6222
Louise Cooper, Senior Manager, Corporate, Digital and Branch PR 
Louise_Cooper@johnlewis.co.uk
Tel: 020 7592 6223

Friday, 19 November 2010

John Lewis - it's a little bit funny peculiar

The latest statement from Julie at Dog Cast Radio:
 
"The John Lewis Christmas advert contains scenes that many dog lovers have found offensive. I started a Facebook page which 1000 people joined in the first twenty four hours, and there is a petition too which within a day had over 1000 signatures.

John Lewis ignored us, then they fobbed us off then they misled us. This is the email that was sent to me, it is this wording which caused a story to run in my local paper which was picked up by the Telegraph (who did not contact me) :


"We have taken into account all comments from people who have viewed our Christmas TV advert. The theme focuses on the tradition of buying, hiding and wrapping presents for loved ones.  We've received lots of positive comments, but we are aware that a small number of people don't like the final scene of the advert.  Our intention was to portray a poignant moment where the little boy shows affection for his dog by putting a stocking on his kennel.  We purposely show a lovingly decorated kennel and the breed of dog was specifically chosen as one that is used to being outside some of the time. Rannoch is a well loved pet and his owner is very happy with how he is portrayed. We also had a dog handler present at the shoot (approved by the animal consultants and trainers association), and our advert was approved by an independent body, who ensure that no scenes are shown that encourage the mistreatment of animals.  We are genuinely sorry if this scene has caused any concern. This weekend we will be launching shorter versions of our advert which have a different ending."

That makes it sound like they are responding to us and changing the ad - when in fact they are not. That is the statement that is now misleading the BBC News Online to run with the story that John Lewis has changed the ad in response to our protests, well they haven't and here's the email I had from John Lewis that proves it:
 

"Thanks for the chat earlier. As promised here's a few lines to confirm our conversation.

"The 60-second version of our commercial will continue to run until the end of this weekend with the dog scene still in. There may be other occasions between then and the 18 December where this version of the ad will run but these will be rare.

"There are two new 30-second versions of the commercial which air from tomorrow and these do not contain the dog scene. As I said, it was always our plan to introduce shorter versions at this time and indeed there may be other versions which we run later on in the campaign.

"We do really appreciate your feedback and whilst we'll probably never agree on this specific scene, I hope you can at least see that we have listened to the many different opinions about the commercial and made our decisions with the best intentions. "

John Lewis is proceeding exactly as they were before - they have not listened to or addressed our complaints at all. BUT they are misleading the BBC and the media in general into thinking they are doing so. I spoke to a journalist from the BBC who said that they can only run with what they are given - well I am going to run with what I was given.
 
John Lewis are using a misleading statement to fool the media into thinking that they have changed the advert in response to complaints, but they are still running the ad, will run it as and when they want to until the 18th of December and they have indicated no intention of changing course.



If you have a blog or you are a member of a dog forum - or any Internet site that you can repost this post, please do so. Include a link to the Facebook Stop The John Lewis Christmas Ad   page and help get the truth out - because otherwise this may be the only place you read it.


Finally, it's not the specific dog in the ad or his treatment that has sparked all this; the message of the ad is that it's ok to keep a dog outside in the snow in inadequate shelter. This is dangerous and wrong for so many reasons. United we can have a strong, effective voice and speak up for animals. Don't let John Lewis have his cake and eat it.  

A dog's breakfast at John Lewis

Latest:
The story has now been picked up by the BBC
and was discussed on today's Radio 4 You and Yours (click to listen - 45 mins in - the 19/11/10 edition) 
Campaign highlight the high number of ASA complaints
The online version of the Daily Telegraph is celebrating what all we thought a couple of days ago was a heart-warming victory for dog lovers in the fight against the John Lewis TV Christmas advert which glamorises neglecting your dog.
If only it was the happy ending they depict.
This weekend the full un-censored version advert that normalises keeping a dog outside with inadequate shelter will show to record millions in the X-factor break. 
The John Lewis press office continues to fob dog owners off and say they have listened, but while they've edited out the dog of the shorter adverts that are to come, the 60 second advert that we, Battersea Dogs Home, Dogs Trust and the Mayhew and others are deeply concerned about is still going to run. That we are still only a small number of complaints. The concern of the biggest dog charities in Britain is obviously insignificant to them, too.
The press office continues to patronise all voices of concern with standard 'copy and paste' replies that knowingly totally miss the point and try to deflect the argument to refute that no actual abuse occurred on set. Something that no one is alleging in any case. It's the abuse the advert will cause when people try this at home.
A comment on this blog reveals: 
"I have found a dog on a dog forum I use who has already been affected by this advert. The woman's Dad now believes there's no reason why his daughters Deerhound cannot stay outside as the 'one on the advert looks fine'. She is not able to go and visit her Dad now, as she won't leave her dog outside as he is not used to it, especially not in winter! "

In the meantime anarchy rains on John Lewis's own facebook page which has been overrun with angry customers while the pop-up "Stop the John Lewis advert" facebook page has reached 1,500 followers in a very few days.
In today's article in the Telegraph John Lewis appears to acknowledge they are listening to the voices of concern and taking action - so why is this now tarnished advert still running? Is so why continue to show it?
They can't bask in the praise they get in the Telegraph while at the same time pumping out the message that it's aspirational to leave your dog out in the cold this Christmas. 
An industry PR blog was earlier highlighting how clever John Lewis had been at containing this story on facebook. 
Now the Telegraph has picked it up, maybe it stops being an 'insignificant number' of their customers upset by the advert - although what store can afford to alienate the 10.5 million dog owners in Britain? (And the 80% of British people who when surveyed said they actively like dogs.)
Just 1,500 customers leaving John Lewis for ever as the result of what should have been a feel good advert has to be a major faux would seem to be someone in every department at JL seems to be making a complete dog's dinner of handling this complaint!
They are obviously still not listening, perhaps we all need to shout a bit louder?
Once again - below is  all the places to make your feelings heard and some other blogs to read for the background of this sorry tail.



Other blogs which give more of the story:
What's the problem with the advert... what to say to those idiots that say it is 'just an advert' and 'dogs have fur, deal with it!"... click here

When we thought they'd listened: click here

When we discovered the press office had misled us: click here

A small film to warm you and warn others about what happens to dogs in the cold, the runaround JL press office is giving dog owners and the ASA complaint by Carolyn Menteith citing the Animal Welfare Act.  click here


How and where to complain and show your support:

They might ignore us, but they won't ignore these guys...
To complain to the Advertising Standards Association click here
You are asked for a specific time and place that the advert  was shown otherwise they won't register your complaint. Few of us remember to write this information down as advert is being shown so very frequently.  A recent showing was Thurs 18th Nov. Channel 4 +1. 9.50pm ad break for Beeny's Restoration Nightmare
 
If you dislike this advert you can make your feelings known via a petition:

click here


To email direct to John Lewis click here   

On Twitter: @johnlewisretail

To complain in other ways:
John Lewis
Helen Dickinson, Head of Press and PR 
helen_dickinson@johnlewis.co.uk
Tel: 020 7592 6222
Louise Cooper, Senior Manager, Corporate, Digital and Branch PR 
Louise_Cooper@johnlewis.co.uk
Tel: 020 7592 6223

The agency who made the advert is - http://www.adamandevelondon.com/
on Twitter ironically: @AandE








Thursday, 18 November 2010

John Lewis under fire

As John Lewis retail find the time to celebrate the advert's soundtrack reaching number one they avoid dealing with the growing complaints about the advert's content which glamourises and normalises neglect.

Katey Price has made a very good film that you may want to watch...





Julie at DogCast radio (who started the facebook campaign)  has been ringing the PR department all morning...
"I have phone the PR dept at John Lewis every 20 mins this morning and the person I am after is always in  a meeting/out of  the office/ etc. She has emailed me but is not responding to the key question which is whether they will screen the scenes with the dog in the kennel again. It feels as if they are trying to pull the wool over our eyes, and they are telling different people different things. This is where the power of Facebook & Twitter come in – if we all keep communicating JL loses the ability to bluff and fob us. Can I make a plea to people to keep supporting the campaign – via FB, Twitter, other dog forums and so on. Dog lovers have done a wonderful job sending John Lewis a strong message, but unfortunately it seems JL is trying to brush us off. "

I have sent the following questions to the John Lewis press office this morning at 11.09, no response so far.
Can I have answers from you or your press office on the following? If it is ‘no comment’ we will run with that if necessary.
  1. Has John Lewis taken any action in the light of protests from dog owners and dog welfare groups?
  2. Was the switch to the 30 second adverts planned before the protests?
  3. What is John Lewis's reaction to the statement issued by Dogs Trust - the Britain's largest dog charity?
  4. Disgruntled John Lewis customers grouping on facebook have been comparing stock responses from John Lewis and it would seem they feel you still do not grasp the point that while there was obviously no neglect on set, to glamourise or even normalise the keeping of dogs in such poor conditions sets back animal welfare 50 years. It may be true that the Deerhound is one of a very few breeds hardy enough to survive poor conditions without adequate housing, it is a very rare breed. Should someone try to keep an average dog in such conditions the RSPCA would probably see this as a breach of the Animal Welfare Act and suffering would result. Do you accept that most dogs should not be kept alone and outside in open sheds?
  5. Will this advert, that makes neglect aspirational, still run this weekend to massive TV audiences even though the potential damage it does has now been pointed out to you? 
  6. As one in four homes contain a dog is it sensible to alienate such a huge segment of your customer base? 


 Just got back the exact same response as everyone else have got back... get the feeling they've got their fingers in their ears and the blindfolds on...


Hi Beverley

Thanks very much for your email.

We had always planned to introduce 30-second versions of the ad at this stage in the campaign. The 30-second ad that will launch tomorrow does not feature the dog. During the process of editing shorter ads, we will always choose the scenes which work best. It's apparent that some people don't like the scene with the dog and we have other scenes that we shot but haven't used yet.

We've taken the views of dog owners and dog welfare groups into consideration when editing our 30-second versions.  

The 60-second ad (which will have completed the majority of its scheduled run by the end of the weekend) is the original ad that features the dog. Other versions of the 30-second ad are yet to be finalised, as is normal practice in an ad campaign of this length.

Best wishes
Louise


Louise Cooper
Senior Manager, Corporate, Digital & Branch PR
John Lewis






Carolyn Menteith has just sent the following complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority...

"Having talked to a solicitor who is an expert in this field, it seems to me that there would to be little doubt that keeping a dog in the conditions that, on balance, this advert gives the impression is acceptable, would arguably be in breach of animal welfare legislation (Animal Welfare Act 2006). DEFRA's guidelines on this act state that owners have a duty of care and that includes that duty of care includes that a dog be kept in a suitable environment free from discomfort or distress. The inference from this advert could therefore constitute an illegality.

The dog is shown in a kennel which is totally inappropriately (old wooden kennel far too small for a dog of his size and type - even if you do accept that some dogs can live outside, which in a snow storm is highly debatable - with wet bedding, electric cables within the dog's reach and no adequate shelter), and alone with no human or canine company. While the dog used in the advert was obviously well looked after, and is of a breed who, historically, was known for being hardy, I do not think that average viewer would see the Deerhound used as anything other than 'just a dog' and so little different from their own pets.

It could certainly be argued that giving the public the impression that this would be an acceptable way to keep a dog (and all inference does indicate that this is meant to be 'the dog's home' (ie the decorations, and the fact the boy very obviously waves the dog goodbye- so the inference is he is not welcome in the house), could incite an illegal act.

I hope you take this complaint very seriously and act on it promptly as this advert is continuing to be shown in high profile slots and is scheduled to run this weekend, during X Factor (so in one of the highest viewed slots of the year) so it will be seen by people who may be dog owners or potential dog owners but who have little knowledge of animal husbandry and would expect a company such as John Lewis to be showing a responsible message.

I know several animal welfare organisations have also spoken out on this advert, and so I hope it can be replaced with one of John Lewis's other adverts from this campaign which I am told has an alternative ending."



Please scroll down and read the previous blogs for all the background and how to complain and follow this issue on the facebook page, too.

 





John lewis - seems their song has two tunes...

After yesterday's excitement that seemed to imply John Lewis had listened and reacted it seems that was an illusion. 
Today they are saying they always intended to show 30 second versions of the advert from after this weekend...
They'll be showing their full length advert that glamourises neglect prime time during X-factor.
So folks, time for another push?
Their stock answers to complaints show they continue to trivialise this issue.
They are trying to focus on the lack of suffering on set, refusing to acknowledge that what they are selling is a lifestyle where it is acceptable to keep dogs outside in an open shed in all weathers.
So yet again - here are all the places to complain:
"Isn't it funny,
this feeling inside...
our dog who loved us,
was so cold that it died."

If you dislike this advert you can make your feelings known via a petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-the-john-lewis-christmas-ad/
and a dedicated facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-the-John-Lewis-Christmas-Ad/170227882996689?v=wall

On Twitter: @elliegoulding @johnlewisretail

To complain to the Advertising Standards Association click here
To complain in other ways:
John Lewis
Helen Dickinson, Head of Press and PR
Tel: 020 7592 6222
Louise Cooper, Senior Manager, Corporate, Digital and Branch PR
Tel: 020 7592 6223

The agency who made the advert is - http://www.adamandevelondon.com/
on Twitter ironically: @AandE

To email direct to John Lewis click here 


A dog is for life - not just for leaving in a shed for Christmas

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

John Lewis docks dog from unpopular advert

From the weekend onwards an edited version of the John Lewis advert will be running - minus the dog!

Well done everyone. Job done.

According to Marketing Week the 60 second advert was due to run for five weeks.

Here's their statement:

We have taken into account all comments from people who have viewed our Christmas TV advert. The theme focuses on the tradition of buying, hiding and wrapping presents for loved ones.  We've received lots of positive comments, but we are aware that a small number of people don't like the final scene of the advert.  Our intention was to portray a poignant moment where the little boy shows affection for his dog by putting a stocking on his kennel.  We purposely show a lovingly decorated kennel and the breed of dog was specifically chosen as one that is used to being outside some of the time. Rannoch is a well loved pet and his owner is very happy with how he is portrayed. We also had a dog handler present at the shoot (approved by the animal consultants and trainers association), and our advert was approved by an independent body, who ensure that no scenes are shown that encourage the mistreatment of animals.  We are genuinely sorry if this scene has caused any concern. This weekend we will be launching shorter versions of our advert which will have a different ending. 

Here was Dogs Trust's statement: 
Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, was disappointed at the canine content of this year’s John Lewis Christmas TV advertisement. The Deerhound in the advertisement appears to be kept outside alone in an open kennel on an exposed snowy hill. While we appreciate that some dogs do prefer to live outdoors and the dog used in the advertisement is a trained actor, we were nonetheless disappointed at the depiction of a dog kept alone in inadequate outside accommodation in harsh weather conditions, as part of a ‘feel-good’ Christmas campaign. Dogs are pack animals and thrive on the company of people and other dogs. We would ask retailers to consider the welfare messages conveyed when using animals in their marketing activities.

Monday, 15 November 2010

John Lewis Christmas ad leaves dog lovers cold

Have you seen the epic John Lewis Christmas TV commercial?
The one with the haunting soundtrack (a cover of Your Song by Ellie Goulding).
It is very atmospheric, making you really feel warm and look forward to a present-filled, idyllic, family-based Christmas - right up to the moment when you see the family dog - a Deerhound - lying in the snow, outside a ramshackle, bare shed - ironically clad in festive fairy lights.
No door, no raised bed.
No basic comforts.
How very unChristmassy to glamorise neglect!
It makes keeping a dog outside in all weathers appear almost aspirational.
And who'd have thought this imagery would come from such a normally ethical, animal friendly company?
Why not have some homeless people in the snow outside begging and shivering, too?
A shivering cat locked out of his cat flap for fear of pulling down the decorations.
That final scene totally ruins the advert for dog lovers.
We're not stupid, we know it's not real.
Of course the dog doesn't live there really. That the snow is probably fake.
But the illusion makes putting a dog in an open-to-the-elements shed seem acceptable, even normal - in fact actually quite posh!
It validates something people should feel very, very uncomfortable about doing.
In the real world, if your neighbour kept their dog like this dog the RSPCA would be interested.
It would probably constitute a breach of the new Animal Welfare Act.
If you have a Husky, yes, it will cope with our winters - but I bet most of them given the choice would still prefer more shelter than an open shed gives.
And Deerhounds, too, are very hardy dogs, but the average member of the general public isn't going to differentiate that degree of subtlety of purpose between breeds - that for example their Greyhound might die if kept in similar conditions. It would certainly suffer considerably.
The two breeds look pretty similar. But most dogs just aren't equipped to thrive outside alone in a shed. For one thing, they're pack animals.
On YouTube the comments left after viewing the advert show we are very much divided into 'them' and 'us'. Dog lovers versus unbelievably stupid and rude people!
The stupid people keep contradicting themselves - both there and on Twitter.
They claim the advert influences no one, yet in the next breath they defend the practise of keeping dogs in sheds as if it is normal!
"Dogs have fur, they can live outside."
"My dog was kept in a shed all its life, it dealt with it."
"It's only an advert, it doesn't validate neglect. I thought it was okay to keep a dog in a shed before I saw the advert."
And no, John Lewis spin doctors, it's not okay to depict a dog living in a shed as aspirational because the owner of that dog thinks it's okay - because she keeps her dogs outside all year around!
Didn't you think of asking Dogs Trust or the RSPCA for their opinion?
And the vet you booked may have been happy that there was no suffering.... on the set of this advert!
What about when people try this at home? Are you able to find some decent vets who will advocate that dogs generally thrive outside in the snow, in sheds with no doors, no raised beds etc?
Claiming in your letters to complaining customers that you thought this one through and still decided to go ahead makes this a whole lot worse.
If you realised this advert would cause dog lovers to get upset - why did you go ahead with it?
There are 10.5 million dogs in Britain according to Bristol University's latest figures. And another poll suggested that 80% of the population actively like dogs, even if they don't own one.
It's rather a large faction to have knowingly alienated.
I think John Lewis should re-edit.
Give this advert a happy ending.
Bring the poor Deerhound into the house, even if he's a show dog unused to the privilege of being a pet, let it have a family Christmas, too.
Allow the ghosts of Xmas adverts past, present and future do their best on your wonky Christmas spirit and let the no-so-tiny dog have a proper Christmas, too.
Either that or donate a shed load (that 's' word shed keeps coming up) of money to a doggie charity pretty promptly to prove you do still care about dogs and the damage this ill-thought out advert is doing!
The singer Ellie Goulding said last night on Twitter that she is proud of the advert and that us dog lovers are all being "stupid".
A number of her followers went on to defend the practise of keeping dogs in sheds in an almost perfect illustration of why this advert is such bad news.
Can't John Lewis see the damage this advert is doing?
On YouTube someone had left a very touching comment.
The lady had rescued a dog (via the RSPCA) who had been kept in a shed very similar to the one used in the John Lewis commercial. Her poor dog needs to be on medication for the rest of its life to recover from the damage caused by living outside in all elements.
Traditionally John Lewis was always the most dog-friendly of stores, isn't it time they put this right and stopped sending out standard letters to their core customers that just further grate and prove they have still not grasped the point and aren't taking this seriously.
Perhaps Ellie might have a change of heart and re-record Your Song with the following lyric...
"Isn't it funny,
this feeling inside...
our dog who loved us,
was so cold that it died."

If you dislike this advert you can make your feelings known via a petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-the-john-lewis-christmas-ad/
and a dedicated facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-the-John-Lewis-Christmas-Ad/170227882996689?v=wall

On Twitter: @elliegoulding @johnlewisretail

To complain to the Advertising Standards Association click here


To complain in other ways:
John Lewis
Helen Dickinson, Head of Press and PR
Tel: 020 7592 6222
Louise Cooper, Senior Manager, Corporate, Digital and Branch PR
Tel: 020 7592 6223

The agency who made the advert is - http://www.adamandevelondon.com/
on Twitter ironically: @AandE

To email direct to John Lewis click here 

A dog is for life - not just for leaving in a shed for Christmas

Discover Dogs

I didn't go to Discover Dogs, but if you'd like to see some footage turn to Jemima Harrison's blog. You'd have thought that the KC would have been casting an eye around for things they'd rather the press didn't capture - if they did they probably need a BVA/KC eye test as some of the dogs on show make me very uncomfortable indeed.
Check out several posts - the Neos, Bulldogs etc...
Progress, what progress?

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Good Evans?

I've been a bit slow to blog of late, sorry.
I am pleased to see someone else has started though!
Jemima Harrison, the creator of Pedigree Dogs Exposed has started a blog and has commented on some things in the last few days that I was meaning to mention, but never quite got around to!
Jemima did a thought-provoking blog about chief vet Mark Evans leaving the RSPCA.
I'd already heard about his exit on the grapevine before my copy of Our Dogs newspaper landed on my desk with the front page news that unashamedly celebrated his departure.
Isn't it ironic that a newspaper that loves to criticise the RSPCA was so keen to see the back of probably the man best placed to reform them!
Mark was a breath of fresh air and quite simply someone who got things done no matter how much shit hit the fan. But one man can't move a mountain and my guess is he'd probably had quite enough of trying to move a steaming hill with a teaspoon.
Mark isn't a shrinking violet and he'd love to have a heated debate with anyone who disagreed with him - but Our Dogs seems to have encouraged turning a difference of opinion into bald personal hate. Some of the comments on the Our Dogs facebook page were very ugly indeed.
We are all human and whatever Mark's reasons for leaving, why try to turn him to a pantomime baddy and objectify him? It's a familiar technique, something likely to happen to anyone who dares point out that perhaps the Kennel Club emperor isn't wearing that many clothes! The same facebook page refers to Jemima Harrison merely as "She". They can't even bare to say her name!
Picking at scabs and past imagined hurts encourages hiding behind the barracades. It doesn't really get anyone anywhere - why continue to cry injustice, that all is fine when patently it is not. To continue to shoot the messengers even as they exit the building!!
Mark said what he thought at every opportunity.
To me, that makes him a brave, interesting and honorable man - regardless of whether you agree with him.
You won't find him anonymously slagging people off he's never met on facebook.
He wasn't a political animal, he was an interesting ingredient in a perhaps all too cosy charity world that normally doesn't call a spayed a spayed for fear of offending the neutered!
I am sad he's gone, he had a lot more to do in that job.
It's the RSPCA's loss and ultimately ours as you can bet he wasn't pulling any punches within that Victorian charity.
Mark, I'll miss you. 
But I should have put a bet on how long you'd stick it.
Perhaps Mark wasn't quite morally flexible enough to be a career-long charity vet? His instinct to put his head up above the parapet probably meant someone would get shot at some point! Let's just be grateful they'd stopped using the captive bolt.... I wonder if Mark had anything to do with that? Hmmm