Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Pet Bereavement - The Loss of a Dog - And The Rainbow Bridge

Yesterday I wrote about my greyhound Spot. It seems to me to be useful to write some more about the loss of a much loved dog.

When we lost Spot I felt as if my right arm had been cut off. Even now, I can feel great sadness about his loss, but it is tempered with wondeful memories.

Every dog lover knows the great joy that they get from their dogs, and the terrible pain at losing them.
Anybody in that situation has my deepest sympathy.

We all cope with our grief and come to terms with our loss in different ways. There is no right or wrong way to do this.
It is worth talking to other dog owners - you will get a sympathetic listener in most people.

There are pet bereavement counsellors who can help at this difficult time. Ask other pet owners, talk to your vet. Your local animal rescue may be able to help. You will also find information on the internet.

Many dog owners who have suffered loss have found comfort in The Rainbow Bridge poem.

Its origins are unknown.

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigour; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had been left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together

Author unknown

My sympathy to all of you in mourning, Ti

Monday, 24 March 2008

Greyhounds Are Great! In Memory of a Much-Loved Greyhound

Greyhounds Are Great! A Personal Story and In Memory of a Much-Loved Dog

Like many people we never thought of having a greyhound for a pet. But when we met Spot at a rescue centre we were instantly won over. One look from those pleading eyes was enough! After doing some essential fencing work in our garden we had a successful home check, and Spot was ours to bring home. He settled in very quickly - within 3 days - and proved to be a well-mannered and clean dog.

Greyhounds are intelligent animals and will quickly learn about their new environment. They are laid back and self-contained. However, they do like a lot of affection and will lean heavily against you while looking straight up into your face. Totally Irresistible!

People often stopped to admire Spot (he had several local fan clubs!), and invariably asked if he needed lots of exercise. Greyhounds don't - they are built for speed, not marathons. The truth about them is they are couch potatoes! They will lie still for hours on end, usually with one leg stuck straight in the air, as if they are asking for permission to leave the room.

Quite often, Spot would go into a kind of trance, his eyes wide open and dreamy. This was a bit uncanny at first! He also tended to slide off the couch. Slowly and gracefully his back end slid to the floor, whilst his head was held high in the air. He never bothered to correct this, but stayed like that as if it was the most comfortable position in the world. A friend of mine who has kept lots of greyhounds says that this is a sign of a happy dog.

Spot had a tattoo in one ear, an indication that he may have raced in England. (Irish greyhounds have tattoos in both ears). I checked with the Greyhound Stud Book and found out his exact date of birth, that he was from a litter of eight, and that his racing name was Little Mustang.

Greyhounds are tattooed as a litter and start racing at about 15 months. By 4 years old they are near retirement. At this point they face an uncertain future., and many end up in rescue centres.

Greyhounds are very loyal and make wonderful pets. We were very happy that Spot the Greyhound came into our lives. We lost him soon after his 12th birthday. The poor lad developed a spinal problem. He saw a specialist, had scans, and an operation, but sadly nothing could be done. I would have sold the house if the money could have saved his life.

We dedicated a tree to him. It is a hazel, which in folklore is a protector of animals.

Sleep tight, Little Mustang.


Sunday, 23 March 2008

Happy Easter ... Blizzards and Chocolate For Dogs and Me

Happy Easter!!

A nice covering of snow this morning. So a day to pig out on the creme eggs!

My lass took one look and decided the couch was the best place to be. She is arthritic and had a good walk yesterday. Anyway Boris thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a secure enclosed field that I can let him have a good blast around. Greyhound circuits galore!

We gamely battled against a bitter wind that cut through you like a knife. Add in the driving snow and it was like the middle of winter. Spring???

Back home to a warm drink and chocolate.

The dogs had their Easter treats too. But NOT human chocolate. This is very bad for dogs. I believe it can kill in extreme cases. If your dog gets to eat a lot of human chocolate , it would be a good idea to see your vet. I think that it damages the liver.

You can easily buy special dog chocolate at your local pet shop. It comes in all sorts of shapes and combinations.

It is safe for children. I tried some dog chocolate once. The first taste was well... OK. After that it was downhill! Dogs love it. Me - I'll keep to human chocolate!

See you again soon, Ti

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Troublesome Ticks - A Danger To You And Your Dog!

Tick Invasion !!!

Did you saw the article in the Daily Mail (Monday 17th March) about ticks?

There has been a rapid spread of disease-bearing ticks across Europe. Apparently this spread is due to rising temperatures.

This viral disease is called TBE (tick-borne encephalitis). It causes swelling of the brain, fits, paralysis, hallucinations and can kill. If you survive the effects can be permanent.

Both dogs and people can be infected.

People can be vaccinated against the disease. I understand that this is only available privately and costs £70 per jab. So far I haven't discovered if dogs can be vaccinated against TBE.

TBE is not the same as Lyme Disease, which is also spread by tick bites.

Lyme Disease is present in the UK. It is usually contracted from deer ticks.

If you are taking your pet abroad do talk to your vet. And talk to your GP as well for your own sake!

For more info on the web try :
- DEFRA (defra.gov.uk)
- the ISW Group on TBE (tbe-info.com)
- CDC (cdc.gov)
- the Foreign Office (fco.gov.uk)

So what practical steps can we take?

- Carry out regular checks while you and your dog are out and about.
- Do a thorough check once you are back inside.
- Carefully remove any ticks (they can be very small).
- Thoroughly clean the area with soap and water.
- Monitor all bites for a couple of weeks.
- If there is any signs of infection ,or even just a red area , take your dog to the vet straight away, or see a doctor straight away. Delay can be very serious.

Tick Removal

A special tick removal tool can be bought from your vet , a pet shop, or on the internet. They are inexpensive to buy.
There are two types that I know of. One is a push-button operated clamp, the other is like a small bent crow-bar. Follow the instructions carefully.
Make sure that you fully remove the tick. Anything left behind could cause infection.
Thoroughly wash the area with soap and water.
Don't pinch your dog's skin - they don't like it!
Please don't use lighted cigarette ends or vaseline. These methods can shock the tick and cause it to release toxins into the blood.
Once you have removed the tick kill it by crushing the body and ,most importantly ,the head.

On that cheerful note I will finish! Bye for now, Ti

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Well The Show's over For Another Year ... Crufts Dog Show That Is!

Hi, Sorry that I've been absent for a while. Both my wife and myself had a really bad tummy bug. (There's a lot been going around!). I didn't have the energy to do other than what was necessary. We even missed out on going to Crufts!!!
I did get to watch it on TV and managed to lose myself in the doggy world for a while.
It was useful being able to go through the red button to get the extra stuff on freeview.

Two things always stand out for me at Crufts dog show.
The first and most important is the dedication and love that people from all walks of life have for dogs. It gives me hope for the human race!
Secondly, you get to meet all sorts of dogs that you don't meet every day. It's a real eye opener. The range of sizes, shapes, coats, abilities, etc is amazing.

I thought that the 'Friends For Life' feature was fantastic. That little girl with cerebral palsey touched my heart. She has a true friend in her dog.

Mary Rae was as brilliant as ever with her exhibition of heel work with dogs. Its good to see so many people getting involved.

I thought that the Best in Show deserved to win. (I still hope that a greyhound is going to win again one day!)

So I hope that you all enjoyed the show,either on the telly or by being there. If you haven't been it's well worth the effort. There is so much to see. And ,as I said, the love of dogs really shines through.

Speak to you again soon, Ti

Thursday, 6 March 2008

One Of My Dogs Was Pooing For England!

Recently my lass had a really bad bout of dog diarrhoea. She got me up no less than 6 times in the night. It was like water.
She's nearly 12 and on steroids, and very rarely has any problems in that area, so I was quite worried.
There was no blood or mucous present and my lad (6yrs) was OK.

Then I realised that the problem was probably the new food. I had changed them on to it quite quickly.
When you change dogs food it needs to be done slowly over several days. Add a bit more of the new to the old until the swap over is complete. Yes, I know that some dogs have cast-iron stomachs and won't be affected, but that isn't true for all.

I won't say what the new food is, as I do rate it, and it would be unfair to paint a bad picture of it.

I starved her for 24 hours, fed her tinned Chappie for a couple of days (small amounts several times a day) , and put her back onto the old food. The problem cleared up, and hasn't repeated.

If your dog has diarrhoea (this means loose, very soft as well as liquid), you do need to examine the output! Not nice, but all part of caring for your dog.

There may be worms - see your vet.
Blood and mucous (jelly like stuff) - if it persists see your vet.


Sorry for shouting..... but I can't emphasise enough how serious it is.

So what best to do?

- a 24 hour starve ,unless you have an old or sick dog. Then just give tiny amounts of food several times a day. This rests the system.
- feed something like freshly cooked chicken and boiled rice (not too much). You can use plain pasta instead of rice. This is gentle on the tum and easy to digest.
- scrambled eggs are very good. They help to bind.
- tinned chappie (original) is very gentle on dogs stomachs and can stimulate the appetite.
- make sure there is plenty of fresh clean drinking water for your dog. Dehydration needs to be avoided.
- sterilise the dogs food and drinking bowls
- destroy or thoroughly wash any soiled bedding (you don't want to risk recurrence)
- make sure you thoroughly wash your hands to protect yourself and your family
- you can get Kaogel from your vet. It's like human kaolin or diocalm. This will stop the ouput and absorb any toxins in the dog's gut.
- rehydration powders may be necessary. You can get those from your vet.

If the dog diarrhoea problem persists or keeps happening a veterinary examination will be needed. Dogs can get a bacterial overgrowth in the intestines and it takes weeks of medication to get rid of it. A dog with this can quickly become emancipated.

I do talk about some horrible things don't I! Next time I'll keep things light.
I'll finish now so I can watch the opening days highlights from Crufts (BBC2 this week).

Bye , Ti

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

If Your Dog Is Not Eating It Could Be Serious!

Hello, I added a post to my dog blog on Tuesday 26 Feb about dogs not eating.

I've just realised I should have added a comment about the possible serious problems that can happen.

If your dog isn't eating it may be due to an internal blockage.

This may be due to having swallowed something like a toy or a piece of bone. This is something to be aware of if your dog is a chewer or a scavenger.

Another serious possiblility is an internal growth.

If your dog continues to refuse food or seems lethargic go to your vet straight away.

You will also need to go if your dog keeps being sick or is in discomfort.

Of course it may just be a temporary tummy upset which will sort itself out.

Bye for now , Ti

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

There's a Dog Rescue Near You That Needs Your Help

There are lots of dog rescues which need volunteers for all sorts of jobs.

Why not take a look on the internet or pop down to your local library to ask.

You don't have to be knowledgable, but you do need to be committed and reliable. It's really annoying if a volunteer doesn't turn up as expected. It means someone else has twice the work to do.

I started out as a volunteer. I walked in one day just to enquire - 3 hours later I was still there. I turned up regularly, regardless of the weather or anything else....they ended up offering me a job!

Charities have a duty of care to their volunteers, so expect a training session. You may think "I know all that, why should I do this?". The simple answer is that if a charity doesn't and something happens they could be in serious trouble. It might mean imprisonment for the manager or trustees, and the charity could be shut down.
If a dog rescue was forced to close ,what do you think would happen to the dogs? The sad reality is that most of them would be destroyed because there would be nowhere for them to go.

As a volunteer you do have certain legal responsibilities. Any issue relating to Health & Safety is everyone's concern. What is required is that you report any issues to a responsible person, e.g. the duty manager or senior member of staff.... duty discharged.

OK, so what can you do? Here are some possibilities :
- dog walking
- kennel cleaning
- helping run the charity shop
- sorting donated goods
- administration
- answering the telephone and handling general enquiries
- helping out on event days
- fundraising (Very Important)
- looking after the website
- photography
- editing and publishing the journal or newsletter
- anything else I haven't thought of !

What is available will depend on each individual dog rescue's needs.

If you want to work with dogs for a living (or work with animals in general) working as a volunteer will stand you in good stead. It shows commitment on your part, for a start.

When you go home at the end of your stint you will have that warm feeling of having done something very worthwhile.

It's not just the obvious animal charities or rescues that need help.

Remember that there are a lot of small animal charities who are desperately struggling to keep going. They only survive because of the (often badly paid) hard-working, dedicated staff and the goodwill of volunteers like YOU.

Go On - Give It A Go!


Monday, 3 March 2008

It's Dog Show Time Again!....Crufts 6-9 March....What if your dog hates being left?

Well it's Crufts this week.....time to head down to the NEC near Birmingham.

I love going and will probably be there on Sunday because that's Hound and Terrier day.

I will, of course, be leaving my dogs behind. You can't take your dogs into Crufts unless you're showing. There is no shade in the car parks, and it wouldn't be fair to keep them shut in the car for hours anyway.

So what if your dog doesn't like being left?

Separation anxiety can sometimes be dealt with quite easily.

Tips to try are:

- Leave the house without doing anything special with your dog, e.g. don't fuss it or give a treat. Wait 5 minutes and then go back in and ignore your dog. The message is : leaving and coming back is no big deal. Then increase the time gone over the next few days or weeks.

- Put the radio on. The charity Dogs Trust has done research on this. Pop music and the human voice are broadly neutral. Classical music has a calming effect. Heavy metal drives them wild! So tune into ClassicFM. Leave the volume low - dogs have much more sensitive hearing than people. I do this with mine. We also used to do this at the rescue with good results. It is also useful when fireworks are going off.

- Rescue Remedy can help. Put a few drops on the tongue before you go. It is one of the Bach Flower Remedies and can be bought over the counter at your chemist (or on the internet).

Your vet can prescribe drugs, but why dope your dog up?

You could always ask a friend or good neighbour to pop in a few times.

Let me know if you've got or had a dog with seperation anxiety and what you found helped with the problem.

Cheers for now , Ti