Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Crufts - Pedigree Pull Out Of Their Sponsorship Deal !

The fallout from the Pedigree Dogs Exposed program continues !!!

Well-respected organisations like the RSPCA and Dogs Trust have already severed links with the Crufts Dog Show. Last month they announced that they were withdrawing from the dog show. It now seems that other exhibitors may also quit.

Crufts main sponsor, Pedigree Pet Foods, have withdrawn their estimated £1.5 million deal. Pedigree have been associated with Cruft's for the past 44 years.

Some dog experts are now concerned for the show's long-term future. However, the Kennel Club have said that next year's dog show will go ahead as normal.

But will the BBC , who cover the show over it's four days, be there???

On a positive note, the Kennel Club and the Dogs Trust are to review breeding standards for over 200 dog breeds.
The first breeds to be reviewed will be : Basset Hound, BloodHound, Bulldog, Clumber Spaniel, German Shepherd, Mastiff, Pekingese, and St. Bernard.

Cruft's has been running since 1891. But will it continue without major change?

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A Look At Lurchers and Greyhounds

Gaze hounds, sight hounds, long dogs - whatever you want to call them - Greyhounds and Lurchers make wonderful family dogs.
At this point I must admit to being owned by two greyhounds, Olive and Boris, who are looking over my shoulder as I write - this is to make sure that I say plenty of nice things about them!
Whilst greyhounds are a well-recognised breed, a Lurcher is a crossbreed, traditionally a cross between a collie (for intelligence) and a greyhound (for speed). This, along with the varied coat (good for camouflague) , made the lurcher the ideal poacher's dog!
Nowadays a Lurcher is a cross between a sight hound and another dog, so that you can have a Saluki cross (loveable lunatics!), Whippet cross, Wolfhound cross, Borzoi cross, etc.
Lurchers come in all sizes and with a variety of coat types and colours.
If you breed two lurchers their litter of puppies can have a variety of coats and colours. It is hard to predict exactly what the progeny are going to look like.

Sight hounds are so-called because they hunt by sight rather than by scent. They have excellent eyesight and will often stare excitedly into the distance because they can see a rabbit from a mile away!

It is a common misconception that greyhounds need lots of exercise and are fierce because they wear muzzles when racing. NOT SO! They are sprinters , not marathon runners. After a good run they like nothing better than a good long sleep on your couch to get over it.
The muzzles are worn during a race in case of doggy disagreements ("turning the head"), and to protect the mechanical "hare".

Greyhounds are normally very good with children. Both of mine have been in schools for talks, and have been impeccably behaved. They should be called "GreyThounds".
Both greyhounds and lurchers love their fuss and you will often get the famous 'lurcher lean' where they put all their weight against your legs!

Sadly, both breeds can be exploited and mis-treated.

Lurchers are used for coursing and hunting - I've heard of bets up to £30,000 being placed on the outcome of a contest.
Significant numbers of Luchers come into rescue. They are often in poor condition with skin problems, sometimes mange. Quite a few will have been treated with Jeyes Fluid or oil! This doesn't cure anything - but it does burn the coat and skin.

Greyhounds start racing at 15 months and are usually finished by 4 years - sooner if injured or not good enough - and face a very uncertain future.
Thousands are destroyed every year because they no longer race and there is nowhere for them to go. The lucky dogs end up in rescue centres and find the loving homes that they deserve. Others may go to Spain or Thailand for a racing life and can sometimes endure horrible deaths if the owners no longer have any use for them.

Organisations like the Retired Greyhounds Trust (UK) and Greyhounds In Need (who do a lot of work in Spain) are doing a wonderful job. They are charities which rely on volunteers and donations from the general public.
There are also decent owners and trainers who will ensure that greyhounds who can no longer race are found a good home.
But the problem is huge!!!

Give a Gazehound a Good Home!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass - Why Does My Dog Eat Grass

While I was out walking my dogs Olive, my female greyhound, stopped to eat grass. She is very selective and usually seeks out goose grass - a very coarse grass with sticky seed cases. ( Not much of that about at this time of year, so she ate flat coarse grass)
I'm wondering if it helps clear her insides.
Wild geese eat very coarse grass before migrating. This is to clear themselves of any worms that they may have. (Research shows that geese have no or few worms after migration flights).
My girl doesn't have worms, so it may be some other reason.

So why do dogs eat grass?

Most dogs eat grass, and there are several possible reasons :

  • Your dog may be feeling unwell.
  • There may be something missing from their regular diet.
  • Grass may be a normal part of their diet. Wild carnivorous animals eat the intestines of their prey, and so ingest any grass and plant material that is present. Dogs are carnivores.
  • They might just like it! Some dogs search for particular types of grass. (That's what my girl does; in her case, goose grass)
  • Dogs are scavengers. If you are hungry you have to eat!

Do dogs eat grass because they have upset stomachs, or do their stomachs get upset because they have eaten grass?

Maybe there's something in grass that makes them throw up.The stomach will respond to what dogs eat.

Healthy dogs can eat grass without being sick. They usually chew it well first.

Dogs who are unwell don't chew grass carefully. They just swallow it. This may make them sick, and so clears their stomachs. If a dog finds that something works, it will do it again!

Be Careful What Grass Your Dog Is Eating

The grass may have been treated with chemicals. It usually states on the label if they are dangerous to pets. Keep dogs away from treated grass. The chemicals will usually break down fairly quickly, but they can be dangerous if your dog eats them while they're fresh.

On a final note, if your dog often eats grass to be sick there may be something wrong - so see your vet.

If your dog is in good health and regularly eats grass, then try adding some roughage like bran to the food bowl. (A couple of teaspoons will do).

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Dogs and Fireworks Don't Mix! What to Do to Help Your Frightened Dog

Dogs and fireworks should be on different planets!

The majority of dogs are frightened, and some are absolutely terrified by fireworks.
Dogs hearing is much more sensitive than ours, so the problem is magnified.

Fireworks can be heard at Christmas , New Year, Diwali, private parties, etc. as well as on Guy Fawkes Night. November 5th is creeping up on us, so start preparing NOW to help your dog with its fear.

So what can we do?

  • Make a secure, safe place for your dog. This can be done by placing his bed behind a sofa. Being in a quiet, dark corner with familiar things is very comforting to a dog.
  • Make sure he cannot escape from the house. Be vigilant and careful with doors. Dogs think that the explosions are inside the house and will want to get outside to escape them! Keep his collar on with home details attached, just in case!
  • Don't be tempted to 'comfort' your dog. This can make things worse. You ignoring the noises will give reassurance.
  • Close windows and curtains to reduce noise levels, and to hide flashes.
  • Have the TV or radio on. Research by Dogs Trust has shown that Classical music can have a calming effect.
  • Feed your dog and take him outside to empty himself BEFORE the fireworks start. Don't let him out on his own, just in case he tries to escape.
  • Don't worry if your dog refuses food.
  • Play with your dog - this is a good distraction.
  • I've used Bach Rescue Remedy on my dogs with some success. Give just before the noise starts! Repeat as per instructions on the bottle.
  • DAP - dog appeasement pheromone - can help. It calms anxious dogs.
  • In very severe cases of fear, it could be worthwhile to consult your vet or a dog behavourist.
  • look out for signs of stress (see list below)

Look out for Signs of Stress

The following are all symptoms of distress

  • trembling or shaking
  • restlessness or pacing
  • panting
  • whining
  • barking
  • hiding
  • destructiveness
  • attention seeking
  • trying to escape
  • messing or urinating in the house
  • refusing food

Please DO NOT take your dog to a fireworks display. This will NOT cure his fear, it will only make matters worse!

I love firework displays, but my dogs come first.

Boris the lad is frightened and curls up into a ball in his bed. He looks tiny and he is a big greyhound! He also refuses food. Boris knows well before we do when the fireworks are going to start. I always watch him closely, so I have early warning!

Olive the girl is very laid back. She stretches out on the couch and goes off to sleep!

Good luck with your dog!

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Most Popular Dog Names - Top 10 Favouites in UK , and in America

Choosing a name for a dog

This is great fun but can cause endless arguments! Everyone has their personal favourites and likes and dislikes.

A good approach is to think about your dog and its characteristics.

Here is an example. We had a very active young border collie who was constantly turning round to examine new things. 'Spin' was the name we decided on. It suited him and was ideal for a border collie.

Also consider what it will be like to call the name out loud!

If you want use the name of a friend or family member it is a good idea to ask them first - they just might object!

Top Ten Most Popular Dog Names In UK

1. Molly 2. Max 3. Charlie 4. Holly 5. Poppy

6. Ben 7. Alfie 8. Jack 9. Sam 10. Barney

American Favourite Dog Names (from the American Kennel Club)


1. Lady 2. Belle 3. Princess 4. May 5. Rose

6. Daisy 7. Grace 8. Baby 9. Molly 10. Maggie


1. Bear 2. Blue 3. Max 4. Duke 5. Buddy

6. Jack 7. Prince 8. King 9. Bailey 10. Rocky

Good luck with choosing a name for your dog!

Friday, 3 October 2008

My Dog Woke Me At 2.30 in the Morning! I Got Up and Here's The Reason Why...

Do Your Dogs Get You Up in the Night?... Mine Do!

So, you are wandering around some surreal Alice in Wonderland landscape, or even having a very pleasant dream! Then something starts to break through! You eventually surface and finally realise it's one of your dogs urgently crying. It is also some unearthly hour of the morning.
Do you ignore it or go back to sleep?
I always get up. My lass is old and it might be serious.

I've got two rescue greyhounds, Boris 6 year old male dog, and Olive 12+ year old female dog.
They stand at the bottom of the stairs and cry with increasing urgency, until I come down.
These are the various reasons why one or both dogs drag me out of bed!

Olive :
  • I need to go out.
  • I know I got you up not long ago, but I need to go out again!
  • I want a biscuit
  • I need my ears rubbed
  • Can you see me back onto the couch and give me a fuss
  • I'm a poor old girl

Boris :

  • I need to go out
  • I want a fuss
  • Can you make my bed comfortable
  • There's something in the garden
  • I need reassurance

Both Dogs :

  • We want to go out
  • There's something in the garden and we have to gallantly defend our family, our house, and our territory!

Should We Get Up or Ignore Dogs?

Once you start you can have an increasing problem. So ignoring may be the better option.

Giving a biscuit (as I do!) is rewarding unwanted behaviour.

But Olive is an old dog and I don't know how much longer we will have her. 12 years is average for a greyhound, and she's on a lot of medication now. She also drinks quite a bit and so needs to go out more frequently.

She's a very gentle old lady and we love her to bits. She gets what she wants now!

As far as Boris is concerned, its impossible to ignore him when he starts calling!

They are both very clean dogs and would hold themselves as long as they could. They would both be upset if they messed in the house. It isn't kind or fair to not let them out if they need to go out.

You just have to exercise judgement and be careful that you aren't creating a problem!

And then try to get back to sleep!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Do You Fancy a Career with Animals? Would you like to Work with Dogs? Part 1 : Have You Got What It Takes?... Find Out Here!

So you want a career with animals. Good for you!
But working with dogs (or any other animal) isn't just a nice job - it's a way of life.

Please remember that I am speaking with the voice of hands-on experience!

And this is what it takes :

  • Infinite Patience
  • Compassion and a caring nature
  • Complete commitment
  • 100% Total Dedication
  • A strong sense of responsibility
  • Even more dedication!
  • Physical fitness and stamina
  • Good powers of observation
  • Attention to detail
  • A willingness to learn
  • The humility to realise that you are never going to know everything about animals
  • Good communication skills
  • People skills
  • Courage (mental, physical, and emotional)
  • Being prepared to do unpleasant jobs
  • You may have to make difficult decisions - including life & death ones.
  • Be willing to undergo further education & training

You must also :

  • Know your strengths
  • Even more, know your weaknesses
  • Be mentally, physically and emotionally robust

The welfare of a dog comes before your needs.....If an animal's welfare is compromised you stay until it is sorted - even if you have made plans to go out!

Good observation, even of something apparently insignificant, can mean life or death to a dog!

Most work with dogs is badly paid! You won't get financially rich, but you will become rich in many better ways.

Some things like communication and people skills can be learnt, others like observation and physical fitness can be improved by practice. Other things are down to your personality.

Knowledge comes with experience and training. You may have to take one or more courses and obtain qualifications. Learning is a lifelong activity!

Think long and hard, do some voluntary work with animals. Appropiate work experience can be an eye-opener!

I will give you two real examples of what I mean.

1) On observation. A man brought a stray female dog in just as I was locking up for the night. When I got her out of his car, I noticed a tiny spot of very dark blood on the blanket he had put in for her. I checked with the finder and he said it wasn't there when he put it in. ALARM BELLS! I checked her vagina for discharge by swabbing with some damp cotton wool. The result - a dark blood-like discharge. Potential pyometra. (Serious womb infection). I took her straight to the vet and she underwent a life-saving operation. If I had not noticed or had chosen to ignore the spot of blood, I would have found a dead dog in the kennels in the morning!

2) On dedication. A dog had been locked in a house on its own for 2 days. The owner had been injured and was in hospital. The local people were unable to deal with the problem. I waited at work until gone 6pm for a phone call from the police. Then, with a colleague, drove a 40 mile round trip to collect the dog. Once it was fed and settled, I locked up and then arrived back home just gone 8.30pm. The theatre tickets for that evening went in the bin!

Look out for Part 2, where I will write about the different sorts of work with dogs. I will also discuss qualifications and training.