Saturday, 25 August 2012

Can you pass it on?

Can I ask you for your help?
Could you tell a couple of other people about our magazine?
Tell them why you read it?
Can you try to let some new people in on the secret that together we might actually be able to change some things for our best friends?
(The Don't Cook Your Dog campaign is a great example of how uniting the dog world can start to actually save lives. Every person who has felt brave enough to intervene is our hero.)
That we can help each other when things do go wrong. (For eg: When Halifax and Lloyds left pet owners in the lurch by suddenly dropping their cover for life pet insurance we formed a group to fight it and against all odds there was a U turn when everyone stood together.)
That we can all celebrate when things go right? (For eg: We've all watched the amazing Allen and Endal story over the last decade and rejoiced at the birth of Hounds for Heroes...)

We've put together a really, really special offer where people can buy the next two magazines and get the next one free - anywhere in the world - and they can pay with just a click by PayPal.

It's never been easier or cheaper.

Plus we'll be picking one person out of those that take up the offer in the next week to win a copy of Kevin Brockbank's much-loved print The Howl - a doggie version of Munch's famous Scream.

Here's the link for the special offer.
Please do pass it on!

We'd love to reach out and find some lovely dog lovers who don't yet regularly buy our magazine.

Can you help spread the word and tell people why you read this magazine?

If it helps to explain why we're different, maybe you can re-tell the story of how we started?

In 1990 I saw an advert in the Guardian for the launch editor of a new magazine aimed at pet dog owners. I applied and had a grueling interview process with many tests (pre-dating the Apprentice, but similarly fierce!).
Despite being pretty young (almost a baby if you're doing the maths...), I got the best job in the world.
The magazine was the brainwave of Viscount Rothermere, the media mogul who owned the Daily Mail empire.
I was a young girl from Liverpool who had no previous experience of press barons, but I did share something very important with the good lord.
We both loved dogs.
He was an Akita man and his dogs obviously meant the world to him.
One day while driving in France he had a terrible car crash. He was injured and one of his dogs died and the other was so traumatised he ran off.
He sent an urgent message to all his staff.
Anyone who could speak French was told to leave their desks immediately and go to France to look for his lost dog.
The very brilliant journalist who tracked down that very scared dog was given the coveted Hollywood reporting job.
Well wouldn't you do the same in his hand-made shoes?
He and I shared a vision.
We both really valued dogs.
It had been a tense first meeting, he obviously tested me.
I'd stood up to him and told him he was wrong and after that we got on very well.
I wasn't being cheeky, but I was confident when it came to dogs.
He didn't ever frighten me, I could see a twinkle where others only saw steel.
Lord R encouraged me to go on crusades, to try to change things and make life better for dogs.
Sadly, not everyone else in his empire thought our voyage was such a worthy one.
There were some who thought he and I were, quite literally, barking.
I was only the editor and Lord R was very far removed from my every day working life.
I did get used to international phone calls in the early hours when he got excited by something he saw that we could report on - or heaven forbid - if we made a mistake. He really did read every single word we wrote!
Sadly, the business-side of the magazine was somewhat chaotic and beyond my remit.
The project made my very many middle managers very nervous.
Having the ultimate boss taking a close interest meant a lot of nervous tummies for 'the suits'.
Just the hint of a rumour that Lord R might drop into our Windsor offices would cause the management to do mad things like paint the car park, order new office chairs, have his favourite brand of bottled water delivered...
Lord R was someone very few people in my management chain had ever had much to do with. He was a very private man.
Grown men, my bosses, would literally go pale and shake in the lift up to his office in Derry Street.
It made people do strange things to try to impress him... TV advertising for a magazine that retailed at 75pence.
I had never edited a magazine before, I didn't know quite how mad that was.
It was incredibly exciting.
We got really very involved in making the adverts and it was thrilling.
But it was soon painfully obvious that it was simply impossible not to make an enormous loss.
For a start, we didn't print enough copies to capitalise on the new demand.
We had given a sampler edition of the mag away with the Daily Mail and it was one of the most successful campaigns for the paper ever - only putting Diana on the cover shifted more copies of the paper.But next month we'd only put a few thousand extra copies on the shelves. We blew our big chance by not being bold enough. We spent a fortune on the ads yet scrimped on the print bill.
We made a shocking £350,000 loss and the shareholders started to tire of Lord R's very expensive pet project.
On the day Windsor Castle almost burned down, I got the news that we were being made redundant and the title was to close.
All the team went to the pub opposite the castle to moan that the Queen had other houses, but we only had one magazine.
That day we vowed not to let Dogs Today die.
It was heart ruling head.
We'd already started so many campaigns, we badly wanted to keep them going.
We were all sure we had to try.
The next day we all turned up for work as if nothing had happened.
All our colleagues on other titles thought we were quite simply mad.
We started working on the next edition of a magazine that had already closed.
Peter Smith was the first person who told me I could do it.
(You might remember him as the first and very genial newsreader on Channel 4's Big Breakfast.)
He had been the genius behind our TV advertising campaign, he had got to know and love the magazine and realised the thing that connected us and our readers was that we would do anything for dogs. Viscount or homeless person, we were all connected by that bond.
We all knew that the love of a dog was worth a lot more than money.
We were part of a secret club of people who knew dogs were special and deserved much better.
Peter taught me to do spread sheets and budgets and to believe in myself.
He got me to look at the business side of the magazine and figure out a way to make it work.
I don't know where the courage came from, but I told my boss I wanted to buy the magazine.
He laughed.
He told his boss - he laughed a lot!
No one said no, they just passed the request up the line.
Some mad, scouse, doggy, slip of a girl, who had no money or experience wanted to buy a magazine that had already lost a fortune...!
My offer got all the way up to Lord Rothermere, who called me in for a meeting.
He had a big grin on his face, but at least he wasn't laughing.
I had nothing to lose, quite literally.
He looked me straight in the eye and said he'd heard I wanted to buy his magazine and he'd had a word with his financial advisor.
The advisor had told Lord Rothermere that he should sell me the magazine and invest in my new company.
I often think back to the moment and wish I could experience that feeling again.
It was the most unexpected news imaginable.
He asked if I'd like to see his financial advisor.
I think I nodded, unable to form words by this point!
He showed me a photo of his Akita.
Lord Rothermere sold me the magazine for £1 and then invested £10,000 in some shares in my new company Pet Subjects Ltd. At the time I thought it was a vast fortune. To me it was.
I didn't know then, but he'd set it up so I couldn't be damaged if it all went horribly wrong.
He really didn't think I stood a hope in hell of making the magazine profitable - his vast army of experts had all failed, so why would a young girl from Liverpool who had never published a magazine turn that massive loss into a profit?
In retrospect, it was a very fair question indeed.
Rosie Peace (our designer then and now) and Sarah Whitehead (then editorial assistant and now famous behaviourist and Dogs Today columnist) took the giant leap of faith with me.
Looking back £10k was nowhere near enough to float a business.
And I didn't bullshit people that it was. I told people when I didn't know what I was doing or couldn't afford something.
Contributors worked for free, subscribers paid us forward and even sent us food parcels and furniture! Our repro house (for these were the days before digital and we needed photos scanned and film running out) gave us a whole edition free, amazingly generous.
Then there was that very starry night at the magazine equivalent of the Oscars.
We'd been given free tickets for the dinner by our distributors as I'd pleaded poverty. I hadn't had a hair cut in months and I was wearing a vintage dress out of frugality not fashion.
I thought I was dreaming when I heard the man on the stage telling the story of how we'd saved our magazine and I realised lots of people were in tears including me!
We won Small Publisher of the Year that night.
The first year we'd even been publishers.
Lord Rothermere heard the news and immediately sent over his chauffeur with Champagne.
He really hadn't thought we could turn his magazine around, but we had somehow done it.
We made it work with pure willpower.
It made him incredibly happy.
Many years later, sadly after Lord R had long since died, I would often meet people who worked in the massive Associated Newspapers empire who could remember him bringing our little magazine into very serious meetings and giving people a roasting about not being passionate enough or committed enough. He'd always tell our story.
He'd forced so many people to read our magazine - stood over them until they did. Most notably the Home Secretary who had produced the god awful Dangerous Dogs Act....!
We really do miss the wonderful Lord Rothermere.
It was wonderful to know he was reading every issue and cheering us on in every campaign.
He saw a spark in us, a way of getting pet people to stick together and change things.
He gave us this chance.
Please can you pass on what Dogs Today is all about and spread the word to a new generation of dog owners?
It's hard to imagine it's already been 22 years since we started.
That we're still battling vile BSL, Puppy farms etc etc.
But there are some battles won, but there's still so much more to do to make the world a better place for dogs.
Please spread the word.
We need you!

Here's that special offer again:

Just before you go, can I tell you about some lovely people who have kept every single edition we've produced since we started out in 1991? We only found this out when a devastating flood destroyed our office. Our precious bound copies of the magazine were destroyed and we lost all our history in a matter of minutes.
But then fantastic readers started coming forward and offering to give us their own complete sets of magazines to replace ours! It still makes me cry... it was such a terrible time, but hearing that so many people had treasured their magazines for all those years gave us all the strength to keep going.
Thank you for reading us - whether it's been for a month or two decades. We really appreciate it.

Monday, 20 August 2012

November Adopt Me now open!

Our November edition (out October) Adopt Me is opening now. We sometimes have a theme, and I'd like this month for us to particularly give some oldies a chance. All dogs will be considered, but we'll look very kindly on the golden oldies!

Here is how to get a hard to home dog included in Adopt me feature.

1. We need a good photograph (about a 1MB when attached, in focus ideally!)

2. The answers to these really simple questions.   

3. A 100 word statement from the dog that makes people look twice. (See below if you need inspiration!)

Here are the questions:
Name of dog:
Type of dog and size if not obvious:
Approx age: (in years)
With other dogs?
With cats?
Good with children?
Location (County):
Contact details:
Foster or forever home?

Email all three of these elements to a new email address (retype this as copy and paste for some reason often will not work!) 

and put 'Adopt me' in the subject. 

Good 100 word statements to inspire!
Hey I’m Shady! Will you throw my ball for me?
I’ve been in Rescue for over a year now which my carers say they are very surprised about. I love the company of people and get quite stressed if left on my own for long periods of time.
I’d love an owner with a lot of time on their hands; I’ll thank you with my devotion and wagging tail!
My new year’s resolution is to find a loving new home where I can play lots of games of fetch – could you help me make it come true?
I am the busiest dog in the world! I like to train, and play games, and love my obedience classes here in Leeds. I have lived with children with severe learning difficulties in a very busy house, and with another dog. I am much prettier than my photo, but I won’t keep still long enough for anyone to take one – I’m too busy seeing if the photographer has treats! I would love to live with an active family who like to get out and about as much as I do. You can watch videos of me training at the Iron Mountain website.
I’ve been at Battersea over a year – the Home never puts on a limit on how long it takes to rehome a cat or dog – and I’m a real favourite in the offices where I spend a day or two a week chilling out, being good-natured and friendly, well-mannered and very affectionate. For someone who looks like they ate all the pies, I’m actually a delicate and discerning eater – I once said no to a Bonio! Like my namesake Cleopatra, I am very beautiful, with carefully applied eyeliner, and would like to be building my own little homely kingdom soon.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Get in line for our online directory!

The fabulous new Dogs Today Online Directory went live yesterday!
Do check it out!
I've had a quick look and at while there's already loads of exciting listings there are still a few gaps and of course we'd love to see the listing grow and grow as many more great people join in.
We know our readers and they are usually the folk in their community that people ask for doggie advice - so put your details somewhere where they'll always know where to find them.
We don't yet have any vet surgeries signed up to be listed in the directory - would be a great help for people when they get a dog or move house - we're always being asked to recommend good vets and it would be lovely if vets who feel they have a particular talent for looking after pet dogs exceptionally well took out a listing. If you're progressive and proud of what you're doing and want to attract pet lovers who probably also want to go that extra yard to keep their dogs in tip top health, please do put your hand up!
If you're proud of the service you provide - get a listing.
We'll even throw in a free sub for your vet's waiting room!
Also - be great to know who is the doggie dentist to give your eye teeth for - the brightest neuro specialists, the stand out HD Xray guru, the eye specialist with the vision to tell you definitively whether your dog has an injury or a significant hereditary problem.
Another gap - hydrotherapy pools and physio!
Please show yourselves and take the plunge!
Swimming can be great for dogs recovering from injury or battling a debilitating progressive problem like CDRM. Until you need one you probably just don't spot them.
It can also be a really fun way of getting a really good work out generally, too  - especially if the weather has been too hot for long walks or your dog can't often let off steam due to being scared off other dogs or unreliable around rabbits etc.
Who is the top knot dog groomer in your area? The one who really knows what they are doing who can take a puppy through to old age and make going for a trim a really positive experience? Who can do the nerve racking nail trimming and- ugh - anal glands and turn their clients into friends? Is that you? Don't hide your talent.
Again, we'll throw in a free sub for your waiting area if you take up a listing.
I know I get asked these questions all the time from our readers... be great to have somewhere to point people towards 24/7 as not everyone gets to ask me direct! (Feels like it sometimes!)
Dog walkers and dog sitters, this should be perfect for you, too!
Not many people know there are folk that can handle an emergency situation... let people know you can turn someone's crisis into a calm and positive solution. (Eg going on holiday - you spot your dogs vaccines are out of date and the kennels will not take them... what do you do, apart from email me? Dog sitting agencies - this is perfect for you.)
We don't seem to yet have any doggie artists or photographers listed - have you commissioned someone to do something you loved? Why not give them a nudge to get themselves listed?
We know there's not much margin in doggie art as this is a time-hungry business - but this is a very economical way of telling people you're out there when they are searching for that totally unique present for a loved one or a permanent reminder of their dog of a lifetime.
I'd also like to see people who do clever stuff like turn your photos into embroidery, make your photos into cushions, your pet's hair into diamonds, great doggie signs for your house... all those really clever things that make a gift personal.
Maybe your website does include a link to these things - why not highlight it in the listing so people can find you?
How about services still just emerging? Are you a progressive dog trainer with loads of experience who would be happy to help someone select and train their next dog? I know lots of people who would adore this bespoke service. Someone to go through the choice of rescue or puppy, what type of dog, what sex and then get them completely up to speed on housetraining before the bundle of joy even arrives... there are people out there who really do want this service. I can tell you nearly everyone I went to infant school with has now contacted me to help them through the new dog minefield.
Our online directory is a great place to be listed, an economic way to make sure your details area always to hand. And our readers are ever so helpful - they are likely to be the people
If you have a doggie service that you think could be included please talk to Rachael Hames (full names, for we have two Rachaels in our office!), Fred or Mike on 01276 858880 during office hours or email them on, or
Favourable charity rates too! Just saying.
We want this listing to be accessible to everyone that will benefit.
Do have a browse - some really interesting and talented folk already listing - thank you so much for your good taste and support!
Well done to my lovely staff and designer Judith Broug, the famous @MissyRedBoots for pulling all this together while I've been away on a family holiday in Greece (I still am on holiday by the way! But my job never feels like work!)
Check it out now!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

There's never been a better time to subscribe!

Do you subscribe to Dogs Today yet? Why not? It works out very much cheaper than buying it in the shops. If you still need convincing you can buy an  issue post free via our website  (UK only for postage free, sorry - Europe and ROW prices display on Worldpay but for paypal we'll have to email you the cost).

And you don't need to pay a year in advance - you can do a standing order in three issue slugs. There are so many different ways of saving money and now that we've moved our mailing house (this issue onwards) you should get your editions in the post well before the magazine hits the shelves.

The advance copies of our much anticipated September issue will shortly be arriving at our office and if you order now we can get one posted out to you ultra early! Phone 01276 858880 during office hours or click here.

September's issue contains 132 pages of unmissable features. Many more pages than any other dog magazine.

We remember Lennox and take an in-depth look at what happened and why with comments from all the main players, including contributions from Victoria Stilwell, Sarah Fisher and David Ryan. I talk to prosecution witness Peter Tallack and give Lemmings, Lies and a Videotape the chance to talk.  Behaviour specialist, vet Kendal Shepherd assesses BSL, and you send us your special Lennox tributes from all around the world.
I can't believe you'll read more in depth coverage of this case anywhere.

53 homeless dogs are searching for forever and foster homes, might one or two or them become part of your family? We’ve got updates on those dogs previously featured who have found love.
And remember we're always looking for more dogs to feature in this section - click here for how to be included.

Behaviourists Karen Wild and Chirag Patel consider what decisions you should make before welcome a new canine family member.

Sarah Whitehead tells us why we should be aiming for training gold.

Peter Neville helps soon-to-be parents and their collie prepare to welcome their bundle of joy.

Anna Osborne guarantees you’ve got a gambling addict living in your home.

Jemima Harrison asks if neutering is really just a load of balls.

Part three of Gina Stokes’s guide to doggie dancing.

Richard Allport keeps you flea-free the natural way.

It’s a family affair for Terry Doe this month as he sorts out doggie problems for his elders.

Scientists say you and your dog are more alike thank you think.
Rachael Millar asks if stray dogs about become laboratory fodder?

We celebrate 30 years of Hearing Dogs with Bruce Fogle.

This month we give you the lowdown on the Finnish Lapphund. Could they be the breed for you?

Laura Lee urges you to make friends with fellow doggie people.

You tell us your dog’s favourite supplements and we answer readers’ queries in our Think Tank.

Meet the brave children who went from running in front of a car to avoid a dog, to stroking one, in just one hour.

Lots of goodies to be won, and oh-so-chic pet boutiques to browse.
And to top it all off, we meet Hollywood starlet Krysten Ritter and Downton Abbey favourite Lesley Nichol and their dogs.
September's issue is on sale Thursday 9 August in the shops.
To subscribe in an ever growing number of formats and start saving money, visit

Do let us know what you think of this edition. We always want to hear your views.