Sunday, 22 September 2013

Want a job?

In both places where I work there are opportunities should you be interested in a doggie job!

At Dogs Today we have an opening for an entry level job, Editorial Assistant. We need someone able to multitask and throw themselves into being a team player. To be just as good and keen on writing as they are at doing the essential admin.
Warning: You will need to be able to get to work and survive on a low wage. Dog mags sadly do not pay well, but being on a small publication you get to do very much more proper editorial stuff than you would ever do as an editorial assistant on a massive glamorous mag like Glamour or Cosmo.
We are based in Chobham which is in Surrey, near Woking and it is not accessible by public transport, that means you have to drive.
This would be a perfect intern- to-perm opportunity as make yourself indispensible and you'll be just that!
We are moving office and growing so there may be more than one of these vacancies.
Some use of Excel, franking machines etc so you need to be able to have a maths head sometimes. We're Mac based.
If you can do whizzy things with social media and web we'd love it, but most of all we want a team player with solid literacy skills that will work as a happy team until the edition is put to bed and answer the phone to our lovely readers in a compassionate caring way if they need our help.
If you want to be a feature writer, get all the admin done that needs doing and yes you will get your byline in the magazine and build up you portfolio.
You'll also be organising photoshoots and cuddling pups... there are perks! But it is hard work and we need brilliant people as our existing staff are wonderful!

We also have an opening for a dynamic, tenacious, charming ad sales person to join our team. It will be office-based and full-time. There is a decent basic but there's a commission element, too that rewards you hitting attainable targets. You'll be dealing with everything from multinationals and agencies to new start ups who will need much hand-holding as they take their first steps into advertising their products and you'll be selling across the newstrade editions and online.
23 years of track record, great team of people and exciting new developments and an office move into a lovely new office in central Chobham in the next few weeks.

And in my other job, CEO at the charity Hounds for Heroes, I'm just wondering is there anyone out there who'd like to do a bit of interning with a twist - you could mainly work at home if you're too far away from Ramsdean, Hants as we don't have Macs or any design programmes at HQ anyway! I really would love to be able to bounce some ideas off someone with a bit of time to polish up some proposals and work up some presentations etc. So many ideas, so little time and I can't always keep pinching my lovely Dogs Today staff to work for nothing!
Anyone done any 3-D pattern design for example? Bit of a long shot! Looking for some pro-bono work on some projects that at the moment are only in my head!
Might suit someone doing a degree and wanting an interesting case study or project? Maybe someone doing business studies? Do people do needlework degrees - not really fashion, but that might be interesting too! Lots of opportunities for bright sparks who might want to include us in their studies!

There's also a dog training job being advertised at Hounds for Heroes at the moment - click here for all the spec and how to apply....

To discuss any of the above please do email me a CV and some background information for the Dogs Today vacancies and for the the charity opportunities.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

All change

I am sorry for the lack of blogging of late.
I have a new job.
I know.
Pick yourself up off the floor, now.
After 23 years of being the Editor of Dogs Today and saying I already had the best job in the world it's an unlikely statement.
Someone once said to me many years ago, "you have your head in the clouds, but your feet on the floor," which made me answer: "Am I very tall or do I just jump up and down a lot?"
I am still trying to work out what they meant and whether it was an insult, but I think it means that I still dream of a better world while inhabiting the real one.
Let me just point out I'm still Publisher and majority shareholder of the magazine, I'm just letting someone else sit in the Editor's chair and have their chance to do the best job in the world.
Someone really perfect who has already shown their good heart and special skills.
And sensible girl, she's not even choosing to sit in my actual Editor's chair. It is one of those 1970s-esque black fake leather executive efforts that was on very special offer via Viking the stationers very many years ago and looked a lot more comfortable than it is in reality!
I'm now four weeks into my new job which has a very normal sensible chair and the job (not the furniture) is very different than I perceived it would be.
After 23 years of having no bosses the role of CEO is very different.
You are neither boss, nor employee.
I feel I need to join a club of other CEOs to ask them strange probably trivial questions about protocol.
So what is the new job?
And why now?
Why never apply for a job in 23 years and then in a blink of an eye start working somewhere entirely different?
It is THE only other job I'd ever wanted.
I met Allen Parton and Endal in 1999 and I was totally sure that their inspirational story would change the world.
I had no inkling that 13 or 14 years later their story would change my world, too.
But that is what has happened.
I've watched from the sidelines and encouraged and cheered on, but now I'm on the pitch and this is a football analogy and I am so allergic to sport.
Allen and Endal have already featured in this blog a great deal over the years and I am sure you know all about the charity he founded Hounds for Heroes as I am always going on about it.
Well they needed a CEO and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it.
It is the most challenging and exciting job imaginable.
After years of a monthly cycle of building something new every few weeks from scratch I will be part of creating something that will last for hopefully centuries.
Allen had the incredible clarity of vision to create a charity that could bring the Endal effect to those who had been injured after serving their Queen and Country, be they in the forces or the emergency services.
He needs you and I to make it the best charity in the world.
And just as I couldn't stand on the sidelines a moment longer I hope you will do the same and get involved, help shape the future.
They need puppy parents - at first locally near the HQ in Petersfield, Hants.
Would be amazing to also find some people able to short term foster dogs - people with good dog training skills, too. And what we call B&B-ers. People who can take an older dog for weekends or holidays. (Great for people who work in the week who love a dog but can't.)
And we need brilliant people to help out in the office, too. I'd love to hear from any recent graduates that could be interns or anyone with skills that a growing charity might need. Anyone with experience in fundraising.
Or even someone who would like to help drive Allen and EJ to the events they attend, now that would be a great job!
And if you're not local, can you fund raise?
Could you become a speaker who tells others about the Endal effect and how brilliant this charity is?
I have a new email address (old one still works, too):
And the new editor of Dogs Today is, of course, my deputy Rachael Millar and her email address is
I am on holiday at the moment (was booked before I took the job), which is probably why I have had at last had the time to blog. But as always I have wifi!
In the meantime if you want to know more about Hounds for Heroes the website is: and there are downloads for puppy parenting and volunteers.
Wish me luck and any other CEOs out there, can we compare notes?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

That ASA ruling in full...

The embargo on the ASA ruling on the much complained about Morrisons Christmas pudding advert is now lifted. At first we thought it was a disappointing result, and that it's all taken so long that it's so late it would have been pointless anyway.

But that's not the worst of it... today the Grocer have reported as fact the unfounded and dangerous allegation (apparently made by an un-named ex President of the RCVS) that a dog would have to eat a very large quantity of grapes for it to be harmful!


here's the offending passage from today's the Grocer.

 I quote from the email from the Veterinary Poisons Unit at Guy's Hospital the authority on this subject....

"The fatal dose of raisins / grapes has not been established and there does not appear to be a dose-response relationship. Therefore, potentially any dose is a problem. Numerous fatal canine cases have been reported in the literature .

"We were advised that the condition has only been confirmed in respect to raw fruits and that the dog in question would need to have eaten 1 – 2.5 lbs of raw raisins/grapes for risk of toxicity to be a concern".

The above sentence is very interesting - it implies that the actual dog in the advert could tolerate 1 - 2.5 lbs of raisins !
2.5 lbs is equivalent to approximately 1133 grams - please note the following cases reported in the literature:

· Raisin/sultanas: In a review of 24 cases of renal failure in dogs after ingestion raisins or sultanas where the dose could be estimated it varied from 2.8 to 36.4 g/kg. All these animals had renal failure and there was no significant difference in dose ingested between dogs that died and those that survived (Eubig et al., 2005). A Norwegian Elkhound was euthanased after ingestion of 4.7 g of raisins/kg Mazzaferro et al., 2004).
· Grapes: A 8.2 kg dachshund developed renal failure after only 4-5 grapes; he survived with supportive care and hospitalisation for 12 days (Mazzaferro et al., 2004). Renal failure developed in another dogs after 10 to 12 grapes. In a review of 4 dogs, the quantity of grapes ingested varied from 448 to 1,344 g, which is equivalent to 19.6, 30.8, 50.4 and 148.4 g/kg (Eubig et al., 2005)."

The 2,000 people who joined the facebook campaign to warn people about vine fruit toxicity, the hundreds who complained to the ASA - the vets and vet nurses, the owners of dogs who had died who bravely told their stories all did it to spread the word and save lives. The Advertising Standards Agency is meant to protect the public from irresponsible advertising - but even though they received so many complaints from eminent vets giving clear scientific back up for their factual information the ASA has published incorrect information which is now being reproduced as authoritative facts that could kill many more dogs than the original advert!
The article in today's Grocer states as 'fact' that dogs would need to eat between 500g and 1kg of grapes for it to be harmful to them. When it is clearly documented in scientific literature that as few as 4-5 grapes killed a Dachshund after 10 days of distressing renal failure. And there are many more published cases of vine fruit toxicity.
Who disciplines the ASA when they behave irresponsibly?


The ASA has decided not to uphold complaints against the Morrisons Christmas TV advertisement.

In December the BVA issued a statement and also wrote to Morrisons asking them to withdraw the commercial which showed a child feeding Christmas pudding to a dog.

Commenting on the ASA’s decision, Peter Jones, President of the British Veterinary Association, said:

“This ruling is disappointing but the ASA has set out its reasons for the decision and we accept those reasons. Thankfully, the advert only had a short shelf life and we hope that Morrisons is now very unlikely to make the same mistakes again. Overall, we hope the whole incident has served to educate Morrisons and the general public about the dangers of grapes and raisins to dogs.”


The ASA ruling in full...

A TV ad, for Wm Morrison Supermarkets, featured a family at a festively decorated dining table. A young boy was given a plate of Christmas pudding, looked at it disdainfully, and passed it down the table to a younger boy. The boy gave the pudding to a dog that was sat beside him. The dog took the pudding, whimpered, and dropped the pudding in a plant pot. The plant sighed and wilted. A voice-over stated, "Not everyone loves traditional Christmas pud. So Morrisons have a cherry chocolate gateau, an exclusive white Christmas pudding and a sparkly snow-capped baked Alaska."


The ASA received 234 complaints, including a number from vets, veterinary nurses and others who worked with dogs.
The complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and harmful, because it implied it was acceptable to feed Christmas pudding to dogs, and some complainants also were concerned the ad could encourage children to feed Christmas pudding to dogs. The complainants understood that Christmas pudding contained ingredients which were potentially lethal to dogs.



Wm Morrison Supermarkets (Morrisons) said the ad was intended to light-heartedly reflect the fact that not everyone liked Christmas pudding. The dog was shown clearly rejecting the pudding and disposing of it in a plant pot in a dismissive manner. They felt the ad conveyed the message that dogs did not like Christmas pudding and would not wish to eat that type of food. They said they would never condone or encourage anyone to feed Christmas pudding (or any other non-standard canine diet food) to dogs.
Morrisons acknowledged that advice from the Veterinary Poisons Information Centre suggested that "a handful" of grapes, raisins or sultanas could cause some dogs to suffer kidney failure. However, they had received written advice from a vet, who was a former president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, that there would be minimal, if any, risk to a dog of serious toxic reaction if it were fed a small amount of Christmas pudding in relation to its bodyweight on a one-off basis. They provided a copy of that advice.
The vet, who was also present during filming of the ad, advised that cases of toxicity apparently caused by ingestion of raisins or grapes had been reported in the past 10 to 15 years, but that the condition did not affect all dogs, was not conclusively related to the ingestion of grapes or raisins, had not been reproduced experimentally, and the toxic mechanism was not fully understood. Reported cases did not reference cooked fruit and the implication was therefore that cases had only arisen in respect of raw fruit. It was likely that where toxicity had arisen it was because dogs had accidentally gained access to large quantities of raw fruit.
The vet advised that the dog in the ad would have to eat 1 to 2.5 lb (c. 0.5 to 1kg) of raw raisins or grapes for the risk of toxicity to be a concern. Morrisons calculated that, even in a worse-case scenario, the dog in the ad would have to have consumed more than one of their largest Christmas puddings with the highest concentration of fruit in order for toxicity to be a risk.
Clearcast said that when animals were used in ads they requested an assurance from a qualified person to attest to the well-being of the animals on set; in this instance they requested an assurance that it was safe for the dog to be offered Christmas pudding, carry it to the plant and deposit it there. They also highlighted the written advice given by the veterinary surgeon.
Clearcast said the dog's rejection of the pudding showed the circumstance of a dog being fed Christmas pudding in an unfavourable light; that was reinforced by the voice-over stating, "Not everyone loves traditional Christmas pud". They considered the message of the ad was that dogs did not like Christmas pudding, and for that matter nor did plants. The ad did not condone feeding Christmas pudding to dogs and did not present it as a reward or treat for the dog. They had approved the ad because of the expert opinion of a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the lack of conclusive evidence available for cooked fruit in relation to toxicity to dogs, the rejection of the pudding by the dog, and the uniqueness of the festive situation depicted in the ad.


Not upheld
The ASA agreed that the ad depicted the circumstance of a dog being fed Christmas pudding in an unfavourable light: the boy passed the pudding to the dog in a surreptitious manner, and the dog then did not eat the slice of Christmas pudding. The voice-over also emphasised that "Not everyone loves traditional Christmas pud". We considered it was clear that, in feeding the dog, the boy was doing something he was not supposed to, and it was also clear that the dog had rejected the pudding. We considered it unlikely that viewers, including children, would interpret it to mean that dogs liked Christmas pudding or that it was appropriate to feed Christmas pudding to dogs. Furthermore, we understood that, because the ad was for foods which were high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS foods), it had been given an 'ex-kids' restriction, which meant that it would not be broadcast in or around children's programmes, and therefore the number of children who saw the ad would have been limited.
Whilst we noted the complainants' concerns that dog owners might not be aware of the possible toxicity of grapes and raisins (and other foods) to dogs, we considered that dog owners would be aware that they should not feed their dogs foods which did not form part of a standard canine diet, and that it was the responsibility of parents to educate their children that they should not feed unsuitable food to dogs.
We concluded the ad was not irresponsible and did not condone or encourage viewers to feed Christmas pudding to dogs.
We investigated under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Responsible advertising) and 4.4 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.