Friday, 30 April 2010

Can you rescue me?

 Just received these urgent pleas - can you pass them on?

 I have two Standard Schnauzers FREE to an amazing home. Poppy is seven years old and very affectionate and stubborn and loves a cuddle and a swim. Lubo is four and has behavioural problems, he is fear aggressive and nervy and would need an experienced owner / trainer. Once he trusts you, he adores you. He likes plush toys and is currently enjoying carrying around a teddy bear almost as big as he is. I am having to rehome them as I have split with my partner and I am at work all day, they deserve more of a life than they are currently getting. With the right training and owner they would make someone really wonderful pets. I would not recommend that they go into a home with children though.
Westcliff on Sea, Essex
07743 642873 (evenings)

From Gumtree
My girlfriend recently came back to the UK after three years in Cyprus. Due to the extortionate costs involved in shipping her dogs home, she decided to re-home them. Unfortunately this meant separating brother and sister -Benjie and Honey- as they went to two different homes.

While Honey has settled into her new home & bonded with her new owners, Benjie is having less luck. His new owners aren't as responsible as they seemed at first, and are basically hippies that smoke pot around him all the time, and he's been unable to relax around them. This morning we found out they want to get rid of him, which in Cyprus means he'll end up chained to a stick in a yard somewhere.

Obviously my girlfriend is distraught, as there is very little she can do now that she's back in England. My first instinct was to place an ad on Gumtree to see if anybody out there might be able to help.

There is no Cyprus-specific version of Gumtree, however I wondered if anybody on here might know of a friend or family out there that would be able to offer Benjie a suitable and loving home.

Neither we, nor his current owners, want any money for him; just the assurance that he'll be somewhere safe. He is extremely well-tempered, with a gentle nature. He just misses his old owner, and his sister Honey, and wants the kind of home he can relax and grow old in.

Please get in touch if you know anybody that could help find a home for Benjie. Many thanks!

Colin & Emily 

 (+44) 07717 167425  

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Hounds for Heroes on ebay!

No you can't buy dogs on ebay! But you can buy a limited edition Hounds for Heroes dog tag and show your support for this wonderful new charity.
Just click here to get one of the first.
A little bird, (actually Allen Parton) tells me there'll be a draw at the end of the year as each tag has a unique number. There'll be exciting prizes on offer - including, I'm told, Dogs Today free subs! (there'll be other prizes too - obviously - as yet to be revealed!)
So please show your support of this lovely and worthwhile cause - buy one of their dog tags.
Here's Hounds for Heroes website.

Friday, 23 April 2010

We're toying with you on the Think Tank today

So please don't forget to add your pearls of wisdom so we can really help prospective puppy owners prepare properly. As always the best answers will end up in the magazine - so do check back. And while you're there do have a browse and see if there' any more questions you can help with!

The Puppy Love series in already on day four and we'll keep posting another topic each day so please do keep stopping back and joining in. If we can help puppy owners get off to the best possible start hopefully there'll be fewer dogs in the already overburdened rescue system.

Here's the link to take you to the Think Tank,

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Pitter Patter of puppy feet....

Liz Dixon our wonderful ad sales lady is getting a puppy! Consequently every day on Think Tank we're looking at another burning issue. Please do pitch in and give her and others some good advice, we'll be printing the best comments in the July issue. Here's the first three questions - please go to Think Tank and leave your comments there - you need to click on the underlined words at the end of each question which say "3 comments" or "0 comments" etc to get access the comments box - it often foxes people. In case of difficulty posting, do email me your comments

Day 1:
The Dogs Today offices are shortly to hear the pitter patter of little paws! Liz Dixon, our wonderful ad sales person, is about to get a gorgeous German Shepherd Dog puppy.
Now we've all been bending her ear with our advice, but as anyone about to get a pup knows, the choosing all the goodies to buy before you get the dog is often just so thrilling you've got an endless appetite for browsing!
So the first topic we're looking for your input on is...

Safety – enclosing your garden, building a secure run, containing your dog in the house.

Have you found any brilliant national companies that can make your garden dog-proof? Or any DIY solutions for filling in gaps? We've got a pond and twice Oscar fell in as a pup, so sometimes it isn't just your boundaries you need to examine. If you've got too many hazards what will it cost to erect a secure run so your dog can be off lead at home without constant supervision? Or how about an outdoor puppy play pen or temporary fencing? Where do you get yours from? And stair gates? What's the best for little pups so they can't squeeze through.
Also, a little tiny pup can sometimes wriggle under gates. Any temporary devices to get you over the really tiny phase safely?
Any other safety tips generally? How did you puppy-proof your house?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Day 2
Further to yesterday's first puppy blog, let's jump into the lion's den!
What's the best puppy food for a German Shepherd Puppy - a fast-growing medium sized dog. And what if the breeder feeds brand X and you want to feed brand Y how do you transfer the pup over?
And what if you want to feed raw and the breeder doesn't and vice versa!
Come on - tell us what you would do if it was you that was about to get an adorable bundle of GSD!
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Day 3
In the third of our daily series on all you need to do BEFORE you get your pup, we're looking at pet insurance. Which policy should you go for?
Liz will be getting a GSD puppy in a few weeks time.
As with some other insurance policies some will calculate on postcode so for those in expensive counties like Surrey it might be better to pick an insurer that doesn't consider address in their quote. Plus some breeds are cheaper to insure than others - is there a GSD friendly policy?
And do you get what you pay for? If it's too much cheaper than another brand is there a catch? And do price comparison sites really work for pet insurance? After all it's not like car insurance - there are many types of pet insurance and some the most limited are really worse than useless.
Where to start? Anyone done this recently? Which policy did you plump for?
And is there a case for just saving a little each month if you can't afford the premiums for the top of the range cover?
What's the difference between a policy giving 12 months of cover for a condition and one giving a limited spend per condition? Which is better? Why?
And is the six weeks free KC insurance given at the time a sale worth having - or are you better starting full insurance ASAP? Is it still the case that the free cover doesn't cover you for death by illness?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Remember - please post your replies on the Think Tank blog, thank you!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

RSPCA announcement reaction

You can still see the Channel 4 piece on the RSPCA on  catch-up - it's the fourth story down.
Looking at Twitter immediately afterwards and searching on  'RSPCA' the reaction from the general public seemed to be total shock at just how much money the RSPCA is sitting on! And how much they cost to run and just how huge and glitzy their offices are.
And as this was news to them, the idea that the charity is now cutting seemingly vital services obviously jarred.
People were very shocked that the RSPCA are distancing themselves from rehoming. They'll obviously still rehome animals involved in court cases, and they're still pushing the Home for Life scheme for elderly people planning their wills etc.
But far from the RSPCA just turning their back on fickle people giving up their pets on a whim, the glimpse on the film clip of the leaked documents showed that the advice to staff if presented with impossible to avoid situations - for example when someone with pets has died suddenly or is taken into care - is for them to advise people to call the police or local authority!
The new policy starts on May 4th but in reality many of the centres have already started turning more pets away to keep the kennels free for prosecution cases. I notice in today's papers other charities saying not to worry, they'll keep taking in unwanted pets. But my experience is getting any of the big charities to take a normal average homeless dog (ie not a PR friendly sob story or an ultra cute unusual pedigree or pup) is as difficult as getting your kids into Eton!

Just after I published the above the RSPCA press office put this on Twitter... 

#RSPCA #animals in need policy has been grossly misreported. For the facts - including the "leaked memo" ...

But, if you check their version of the 'leaked memo' against the documents shown on the Channel 4 clip  the crib sheet showing where to refer callers to isn't included. I haven't seen the paperwork the Channel 4 news crew received, it wasn't from my source, so can't comment. But grossly misreported? Bit strong! Perhaps there's something elsewhere I've not seen. Uncomfortable, yes.

Stop Press
When a call came in just a few moments again from an RSPCA branch I was ready to take a pasting. The central press office stance today has been very bullish and defensive on Twitter.
But I was amazed when the lady straight away confirmed that she "agreed with every word I said on Channel 4 last night." She even said she was cheering me on her sofa.
It seems the branches aren't at all happy with head office and where possible will be continuing as before. They're very worried that the central stance will mean the branches will struggle to get funding. (Branches have to pay the RSPCA to use their name and have to raise their own funds.)
I promised her I'd put a word in for the RSPCA branches and give them some moral support. I've certainly found the branches to be wonderful - just wish the RSPCA would reform its structure so the public can have a clearer idea of what it is they do. It seems if you back rehoming - donate to your branch. If you want enforcement - give to the generic central RSPCA. I am sure this subtle difference is not at all clear to the wonderful old ladies who leave their money to the ancient charity.

and just in:


Chris Pope, Chairman of Bath Cats and Dogs Home, says: “We have spent the last 70 years caring for local animals in need. We operate independently of the RSPCA and therefore decide our own priorities. I would like to assure our supporters that it’s very much business as usual as we continue to rescue unwanted pets, not just from our local area but from other parts of the UK.”

Although a branch of the national RSPCA, Bath Cats and Dogs Home is a totally independent, self-funding charity that does not receive financial support from the organisation. We are not eligible for funding from the Lottery or Government and rely totally upon the generosity of individuals’ donations; sponsorship; fundraising and legacies to secure the huge £1.2m, that’s £3,000 a day, required every year just to keep us running.

Thanks to our independent status, Bath Cats and Dogs Home will not be adopting the RSPCA’s recent proposals. Our Policy is to continue the rescue, re-habilitatation and re-homing work caring for as many unwanted pets as we are able; work we started 70 years ago.

Bath Cats and Dogs Home was the first centre in the UK to pioneer a non-destruction policy, which continues to underpin our work today.

As one of the Society’s most successful re-homing centres in the UK, we provide essential shelter, veterinary care, re-homing and re-habilitation services to more than 3,000 dogs, cats and small animals each year and we re-home more than two thousand animals annually. This figure includes rabbits; ferrets; rats; guinea pigs; hamsters and battery hens.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Channel 4 breaking story

The Times today have covered Channel 4's big exclusive which will be on tonight at 7pm. I've known about this for a few days as I was asked to quote - but as it's embargoed, I couldn't say!
Henry, the head of the RSPCA press office, has been on the blower again this morning saying this isn't really such a big story, honest. Which is exactly what you would expect from a good press officer.
It does all sound terribly thrilling from a journalist's point of view - leaked memos and all that. Sounds a real scoop. But as he points out,  in reality the memos just show what's been happening for quite a while. But for some members of the general public, this will be news in itself. Most of the public still think we take stray dogs to the local RSPCA or the police station!
Those in the know are painfully aware that Britain's rescue kennels have been full to overflowing for ages, it's just the public who haven't been privy to it.
Perhaps this story will spread the news that there isn't a queue of people ready to help you should adversity strike. Far from it.
My own experience of trying to help a terminally ill man find a space for his middle-aged, perfectly behaved dog taught me that lesson. He had knocked on every door and been graphic about the fact he was dying and about to go into hospital for the last time. He'd sold his house and all his belongings. He would have probably given the person who solved his problems everything he owned just to make his pet safe. He had no relatives. Yet still there was no one offering to help!
He was just advised to have his lovely dog put to sleep.
(Thankfully, I phoned the Dogs Trust press office and they found him a place - so the guy died happy, but when he had tried their branches he'd been turned away - they were full.)
If the RSPCA are now even less likely to take in animals when someone dies or is evicted - because in future they're trying to keep their kennels empty for cruelty cases, where will these poor unfortunate animals go?
I'm guessing heaven.
The figures show that the RSPCA is currently a significant rehomer - 85,000 animals rehomed in 2008. If there's no longer to be  room at their inn, who knows where the overflow is going to go? Henry says most of those animals are part of cruelty cases in any case so there'll be no sudden crisis or change of policy, he says they've 'not had room for people chucking out dogs that don't match the sofa for quite some time'.
It seems clear the RSPCA want to concentrate on enforcement and leave the routine rehoming of plain unwanteds to other charities - but most of those have a lot less money.
Yet as Henry points out, the RSPCA  also run a Homes for Life policy, where you can arrange for them to take your dogs after you die. But doesn't that give a mixed message to the mostly elderly people that scheme would appeal to?
Do the public yet grasp enforcement and prosecution is their USP? What about those who have already donated? At the time of donating were these people quite clear where their money was going and what it would be used for?
It's a difficult time for all charities, but those leaked memos are unlikely to increase donations to the RSPCA.
Be interesting to see all the interviews in the Channel 4 item tonight so we can all make our minds up.
We really do need the puppy contract to stop people churning out pups to make ends meet. There are just too many unwanted dogs in Britain already.

Some links:
BVA response to the article in the Times.
RSPCA press release
And via Twitter the alleged same 'leaked memo' openly on an RSPCA website

The cost of living and dying

I've just been sent a clipping from the Daily Mirror about some Staffie owners whose dog experienced difficulties while giving birth. They took her to the vets and were shocked to find the bill for a Caesarian would be at least £1,240. They were given an ultimatum, pay £1,200 in the next 24 hours or have the mother and pups put to sleep. The bitch couldn't be moved, so there was no chance of shopping around - although I have to say that doesn't sound an expensive C-section to me.
They paid £90 for the mum and unborn pups to be put to sleep.
They had their dog's mother at home, too - so presumably they'd bred their current dog themselves so this wasn't the first litter they'd bred. They weren't complete novices.
The headline and the tone of the article instantly makes you think the vet's been a bit harsh, but unlike a car accident or a sudden diagnosis of a serious unforeseen illness, if you allow your dog to get pregnant you know there is a risk to the mum.
Why should the vet pick up your bill?
And why were these people breeding yet another litter of Staffies? Is there a world-wide shortage of them suddenly? Aren't the rescue kennels already completely over-flowing?
Was it to make money?
If you breed for money there are definite costs you should be off-setting against your profits. What would a litter of Staffie pups fetch, if you were able to sell them of course in a very over-crowded market? Around the cost of the C-section perhaps?
If you plan to breed a litter you must always be ready for the possibility of a C-section or another medical emergency in your budgeting. And if you can't cover the emergency vet's bill - in my opinion you really shouldn't be breeding. There is after all no NHS for dogs.
Please support the introduction of a Universal Puppy Contract which will hopefully dissuade people on the breadline from finding having litter-after-litter of pups attractive financially.
Very sad for the mum and pups, but logically, should they have ever been conceived?

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Somewhere Rover the rainbow!

Well we all got behind the Facebook page that was encouraging rescue dogs to take part in Andrew Lloyd Webber's search for a new Toto. According to the Daily Mail more than 600 dogs took part and certainly one of the finalists is a rescue dog according to the Mail - the Great Dane. And the Cocker had a cleft palate and was going to be put to sleep. Which one will be your favourite? There's only one that looks like a Cairn, but I'm guessing we shouldn't be breedist!  Above are the eight finalists.
Here's a link to the full story in the Mail. Final on tonight BBC1 at 7.15pm. Good luck to the dogs and their handlers.

Friday, 16 April 2010

A marathon effort for hounds and heroes!

For most people the prospect of running a marathon is daunting enough, but running five marathons in five days - with dogs - and you're into the superhero bracket!
And how fitting that this heroic gesture should be in aid of the wonderful Hounds for Heroes.
And they're not approaching this in a cavalier way - on Sunday the team of four people and 11 dogs will be going along to a gait analyst and myotherapy expert to checkout any possibles problems.
Nicky Hutchinson revealed, "We are looking out how the therapy can improve our dogs performance, make us aware of any occult areas of weakness and prevent injury, stress etc."
So four people and lots of dogs canicross from Ifracombe to Burford in Wiltshire. Now that deserves sponsorship and guess what, here's a link so you can do just that!

Here's some more details I've pulled off their website:
Simon(42) and Cushla Lamen(40), Nicky Hutchinson(49) and Mark Dunbar(47) plus their canine athletes will run five marathons in five days as part of the Project 65 Forces March due to take place 27-31 May 2010. The fearless four will trek from Ilfracombe to Bulford in order to raise funds to buy dogs to be trained as Assistance Dogs specifically for disable Military Personnel.
Team captain, Simon Lamen, commented "three of us will be running with huskies - it is unlikely that huskies would ever make the grade training as Assistance Dogs but what they can do is run and run and they love it so it is their way of helping both the human and canine heroes!" Non-huskies Norman(Springer Spaniel) and Ringo(Heinz 57), however, give the huskies a run for their money with owner Mark Dunbar.
Simon (British Army) and Cushla Lamen are seasoned runners with several marathons and ultra-marathons under their belt. Nicky Hutchinson was a 40-a-day couch potato, non-runner until about ten years ago when she got her first huskies and got fit 'almost by mistake'. Mark Dunbar (Ret'd RAF) was also a non-runner until two years ago when he took on Springer Spaniel, Norman and he will also be running with his rescue dog, Ringo. Simon, Cushla and Mark will be representing the UK at the prestigious European canicross event the Trophee des Montagnes (12 canicross races in 9 days) and they also hope to compete in the forthcoming European Championships.
The runners expect it to be a tough experience but their primary concern will be the dog's welfare.'We will ensure the dogs are fit enough for the challenge and will be taking advice from our own vets as well as other specialists,' observed team member Nicky Hutchinson. 'Julia Robertson of Galen Therapy will be checking our dogs for muscle balance and patterning and giving us guidance on Canine Myotherapy and a canine exercise physiologist will be giving us natural strengthening exercises to practice with the dogs to provide ease and economy of movement and so ensure that our canine partners remain fit, happy and injury-free.
Because of the Forces connections the trailrunners are very keen to raise money for Hounds for Heroes as well as raise the profile of dog running as a sport in its own right.
The purpose of "Hounds for Heroes" is to provide specially trained assistance dogs to injured and disabled men and women of both the UK Armed Forces and Civilian Emergency Services.

A familiar face and a forgotten facebook page!

I've only recently rediscovered the Dogs Today facebook page! Click here to become a fan! Thank you to Rebecca who set it up some years ago - and many apologies to anyone I didn't talk to in the years I neglected to stop by! This blog was being posted on there automatically so it looked like I was just being really rude. Sorry! Will be stopping by more often now.

On facebook I just launched a little competition. I'm just wondering if any of our readers can remember what month and year the unclothed chap with the Westie first appeared on our front cover? Dog toy for the first correct answer to my email Clue it was in a previous century! He's probably a grey old grandad now!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Want to get your paws on an I-Pad?

I still think my dogs would like one! Any chance of one to test for a very Apple-friendly dog mag? We were one of the first mags to be produced on Apple Macs after all...!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Can I ask you a few questions?

Can you imagine you are being asked these questions by someone in the street with a clip board - that you haven't got time to look the answers up or cross the road!

1 What sort of work do the RSPCA do?
2 Roughly how big a part of their work (both nationally and at branch level) is the rehoming of unwanted dogs and other pets? Are they a significant rehoming charity?
3 If people are in serious trouble (about to lose their house, having mental health issues, about to enter prison for eg) and are aware they are not able to look after their pets and want to give them up, where can they go for help?
4 Do you donate to the RSPCA or are you planning to? If so, what are your reasons for choosing this charity?

Please email ASAP. More interested to know what the public perception is of the above rather than the reality!

Monday, 5 April 2010

What's not to like...

Click here to take you to an uplifting story of prisoners training dogs to help American veterans overcome post traumatic stress disorder.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Walking on Sunshine

If there are clouds where you are, here's a lovely little film to cheer you up!

Anyone know what the Mirror Method of training is? Looks like it works!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Wouldn't it be Wizard?

As you may know, Andrew Lloyd Webber is searching for a dog to play Toto in the upcoming musical version of the Wizard of Oz. There's a marvelous plan to try to make sure that Toto is a rescue dog and there's a special Facebook page set up to try to achieve this.
Can we all get behind this?
Traditionally Toto was a Cairn, but I'm guessing they'll be looking a little bit wider than that and talent and star quality will have much more to do with the selection.
Here's the link to the page and more information as to how to get involved with the auditions.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Competition time!

Can you guess which breeds Ben's parents are?

I'm guessing not as we've not had anyone get even near so far!

Guessed correctly in record time by Aisling O'Donoghue of Limerick! Norfolk Terrier x Glen of Imaal Terrier.

But there's still just time to enter the caption! We're judging at 2pm so get emailing now!

And you've only got an hour to submit a caption for this photo! We'll be judging at 2pm. Prizes from the company of Animals. Enter by email -

Good luck!