Animal magic: Five owners stories of how their pets saved them

From Wolfy the lurcher to Trixie the hamster, these affectionate animals helped five people get their lives back on track.

animals helped people

‘I put myself on peternity leave and we hung out’: Kate Spicer, 49, journalist, and Wolfy the dog, 9, London (pictured left)

There were a lot of things that were a bit awry about my life. The main problem was that I went out and didn’t come home. I’d go on these benders that were incredibly destructive to my well-being. And then when I was working, I’d never leave the house. I’d just sit in front of the laptop thinking about all the work I had to do, moping, writing, moping again. I felt frozen in time. Unable to move forward.

There are some things you don’t question because they’re family lore and in my family it was that you can’t have a dog in London. But when I met my boyfriend and we got a flat together, I realised I really, really wanted a dog.

After many failed attempts, we found a man who was getting rid of a lurcher. The night before we met him, I was out and someone offered me drugs. I said: “No, I’m getting a dog in the morning.” They looked at me like, “So?” But it felt massive to me.

That morning, my boyfriend and I drove to a place near the M25 to meet the man with the lurcher. The dog walked towards us and was a bit sad-looking, really dirty and smelled terrible. But he was still so elegant and funny, too.

It was exciting having this other little soul come into our tiny orbit. I put myself on “peternity leave” and Wolfy, as we called him, and I just hung out for a while. We’d go for lunch together and on lots of walks. He loved it.

Obviously he’s simple, he’s an animal, but his presence pulled me out of myself and centred me back to a calm part of myself.

I was 45 and had worked as a freelancer in London for 25 years and was pretty hardened.

I was 45 and had worked as a freelancer in London for 25 years and was pretty hardened.

Sometimes I’d take him with me and he’d just look at me like, “What the hell? Let’s go home.” And I’d be like, “Yeah, you’re right.”

It’s been an ongoing thing since then to disentangle from doing things that harm me.

It’s been an ongoing thing since then to disentangle from doing things that harm me.

Kate Spicer’s book Lost Dog: A Love Story is published by Ebury. Order it for £14.95 from guardianbookshop.com

‘My cat alerted me to cancerous cells in my breast’: Angela Tinning, 46, finance manager, and Missy the cat, 7, Newcastle

We got Missy as a kitten and gave her that name because she was quite the diva. Our family immediately loved her, but she didn’t necessarily show that she loved us back. She didn’t like being picked up or cuddled.

Everything was on her terms. In April 2013, when she was less than one year old, we were all playing on the floor when she jumped on my chest and I thought, “Ooh, that hurt a little.”

After that, whenever I was lying down she’d lie on me and paw at this one spot on my right breast.

If I moved her paw, she’d put it back in the same place. If I was sitting down, she’d get up on my lap and nudge her head there. She started following me around everywhere. She wasn’t like that with anyone else.

It was three months of that behaviour before I admitted it wasn’t going to stop. I knew it sounded crazy to go to the doctor and say, “My cat keeps bothering me,” but I had some discomfort, too.

The doctor found atypical cells and calcification in the same spot Missy had been nudging. It wasn’t full-blown breast cancer, but it had the potential to change, so I had an operation to remove the cells.

I felt so grateful to Missy; I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor if it hadn’t been for her. I’d heard of dogs doing that kind of thing, but not cats.

When I got home I rewarded her with some Marks & Spencer’s prawns – rather than the Asda ones that she’s used to.

As my wound healed she backed off and went back to her aloof self. It was weird for me. I felt like maybe she didn’t love me as much any more. I was back to being treated like everyone else. But I was comforted that there was a reason for her behaviour.

One night two years later, she came and lay on my chest in bed. I said to my partner: “Do you think she’s trying to tell me something?” He laughed it off. But the next night was the same. She started following me again.

It was really unsettling. I’d got used to her barely bothering to get off the bed. When I went back to the same doctor with no symptoms other than my cat pestering me I had to plead with her to believe me.

She sent me to the hospital and I was given the same diagnosis and they did the same operation again. It was the same consultant and team. They were fantastic – and believed me. Not everyone does, but that’s up to them.

Two years later when it all happened a third time, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

There were eight areas of calcification in my breast. I had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery and they removed the lymph nodes.

That was 2017. Thankfully, Missy’s been consistently aloof since then and I’ve been fine. I know it sounds strange but I feel as if she saved my life.

She will forever be my hero, whether she likes it or not.

‘After I lost everything, he made life worth living’: Ben Coles, 33, unemployed, and Biggie the iguana, 4, Chippenham, Wiltshire

When I first got Biggie, I had a job, a house, a girlfriend. He was six months old and about 18 in long. But about six months into having him, I went through a bad spell of mental health. As a result, I lost my job, then my house, broke up with my girlfriend, and was almost declared bankrupt.

Everything just toppled on me. I had anxiety and I was very easily irritated. I don’t blame them, but my family and friends eventually became sick of me. It felt like Biggie was the only being not giving me grief and I just felt this closeness to him. But it was a struggle for me to keep hold of him. No landlords wanted to take us in and I was left homeless. People hear “iguana” and they think, “Oh God, it’s going to rip everything apart.”

I spent three months living on my mum’s sofa, paying friends to look after Biggie. I fell out with my mum for not taking him in. For a period, he lived in Bristol and I went back and forth every day to see him, because obviously all the moving and being apart from each other was stressful for the lizard as well.

I’d lost everything in my life, but he was my partner in crime and the only thing I was living for. I can’t imagine how much harder that time would have been without him. Keeping him alive saved my life.

Eventually I got a place in Chippenham. He’s grown to four-and-a-half foot long now. He thinks he’s a cat and just loves attention. When I do the dishes, he comes and sits on my head.

If I turn my face, he’ll give me a little lick on the lips. With certain people he’ll climb up their leg and sit and stare at them until they start stroking him. When he outgrew his vivarium, I set out basking areas with UV lights, and now he roams free around the house.

I bathe him twice a day because he’s a rainforest lizard. He makes a fuss to get in the tub, but loves it once he’s in. My girlfriend works in an expensive supermarket and Biggie loves their fruit, which is quite a pricey habit. His favourite is Candyfloss grapes. At night, he sits on my chest and I put my dressing gown over us. Luckily, my girlfriend loves him, too.

‘Trixie helps me control my obsessive thoughts’: Stephanie Lynch, 25, civil servant, and Trixie the hamster, 1, Port Talbot, Wales

So often in my life I feel like what I say or what I do is going to have a grave consequence, but with Trixie I don’t feel that way. When I shut the bedroom door to be with her, she’s so present in the room, everything else just goes away.

I have OCD which stems from guilt towards a lot of things. As a child, my family had a house fire and one of my little brothers passed away. After that, if I heard a noise in the night, I had to sit up to check everything was OK; if I didn’t, I’d feel like there would be another fire. I became obsessed with thinking about accidents. Every 10 minutes I was imagining falling and would have the physical feeling you get just before you fall. It was about me, my boyfriend, anyone around me.

But Trixie helped change that. Late last summer, I started medication and got her not long afterwards. Hamsters need a lot of care and having a positive impact on her through feeding, changing her bedding, just making the right choices, really helped me.

Watching Trixie play, sniff around, climb all over me, I found myself smiling on my own, which is not something I do. It was such a light feeling of joy. And a break from my thoughts.

Our boxroom is her room now. I love changing her cage. I think, “Well, what might she find interesting?” I know her different moods and have learned her favourite treat is watermelon. I still get the obsessive thoughts, but I can choose to let them go and think of Trixie.

She doesn’t know how much she means to me. Or how I feel. But that doesn’t matter. There’s something to be said for getting comfort from another being without telling them why you’re upset. Obviously I know hamsters don’t live forever and hate the thought of her dying, but I know I’m giving her the best life possible. And she gives me so much back.

‘I felt so isolated, but he helped connect to the world’: Majid Sohrabi, 49, and Oxford the dog, 5, Alexandria, Dumbartonshire

The first time I saw Oxford he was a puppy. I thought, “He needs someone to look after him; how’s he going to help me?” But within months, he had changed my life. I can’t bend down any more so when I drop things, which is all the time, he picks them up.

He helps me get dressed. If I ask him, he gets the landline phone. He kind of stands and puts his paws around the handset and then grabs it with his jaws, very gently. It’s especially helpful when I’ve had a fall.

Back in 2010, I was working as a nurse in Glasgow and writing my dissertation for my master’s when I started to get this feeling like I had cushions under my heels, within days it turned into unbearable pain. I was having lunch with my girlfriend when I realised I couldn’t stand up on my own. Later that year I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Physically, the disease made me uncoordinated and I became unstable. I had to give in to using a wheelchair. To me, it felt like the end of the road. I used to love cycling from Glasgow to Loch Lomond and running. I couldn’t stand looking out of the window at people going about their normal life.

My girlfriend and I broke up and my family were all in Tehran. I had to move out of the city to find a bungalow. I didn’t know anyone in my new town and just spent my time on my own behind the computer watching movies. My physiotherapist suggested I get a dog through the charity Canine Partners.

Oxford was key to reconnecting me to the world. He made me get out of the house to take him for walks. I started sailing and playing wheelchair basketball.

He’s changed my body image, too. When I used to go shopping I felt like this strange thing everyone was staring at in the middle of the shopping centre. When you’re at a lower level to everyone else, you can think of yourself as not a part of society. But with him next to me, more people say hello or approach me and ask about him.

His foster parents, from when he was a puppy, Jan and Peter, live in Sussex and we’ve become close. They come to visit us once a year and we travel around Scotland. I can’t believe how pessimistic I was before I got him. He’s my best mate and we’ve become a great team.

Majid has received support from the MS Society

(Article source: The Guardian)

Pet owners warned of green slime in heatwave which could kill dogs in 15 minutes

Experts say that while not all blue green algae are poisonous, it is impossible to tell the difference visually so are urging pet owners to take care.

green Slime

The Mirror reports that UK dog owners are being warned about a deadly green slime blooming in the hot weather which could kill their pet in 15 minutes.

Lakes and ponds across the country are being swamped by a toxic
blue-green algae called cyanobacteria. In long periods of high temperatures it multiplies and forms vast, deadly carpets on the surface. Dogs leaping into the water who swallow it or lick it off their coats could die within quarter of an hour.

Symptoms of exposure can appear within a few minutes or hours, depending on the type of toxin ingested, and commonly include:
vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, disorientation, trouble breathing, seizures and blood in faeces.

Experts say that while not all blue green algae are poisonous, it is impossible to tell the difference visually so are urging pet owners to take care. If left untreated, it can cause liver damage and ultimately be rapidly fatal.

The Cotswold Water Park holiday hot-spot near Swindon has posted notices urging owners to keep their pets on short leads. The bacteria has hit other popular tourist lakes in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire including Neigh Bridge Country Park.

The Blue Cross animal charity warned “Blooms of blue-green algae can produce harmful toxins which stop a dog’s liver from functioning properly. “Sadly, exposure to toxic blue-green algae is often fatal, and can also cause long term health problems in dogs that survive after drinking or swimming in algae-contaminated water.

“Some types of blue-green algae can kill a dog just 15 minutes to an hour after drinking contaminated water. “Dogs who have been swimming in water can get the algae caught in their fur, and can ingest it while cleaning themselves later on.

“Concentrations of the algae vary throughout the year and may not always be harmful – but you can’t tell simply by looking at them whether or not they are dangerous, so it is best not to run the risk of allowing your dog to come into contact with water where the algae may be present.”

British Veterinary Association president Daniella Dos Santos said “We are hearing of increasing numbers of blue green algae sightings across the UK during this warm summer. “We know that some dogs enjoy nothing better than a paddle in a cool lake while on a walk, but we’d urge pet owners to keep their dog on a lead during walks near water confirmed to have toxic algal blooms.

“While not all blue green algae are poisonous, it is impossible to tell the difference visually, so it is better to be safe than sorry. “There is currently no known antidote for the toxins, so prompt veterinary treatment is the only way to tackle their effects and ensure a good chance of recovery for your pet. “If you suspect your dog has been exposed to blue green algae, seek emergency veterinary treatment as soon as possible.”

The BVA is urging pet owners to look out for any warning signs put up by the Environment Agency or local councils near lakes, canals and other water bodies.

The BVA said “Keep pets on a lead and by your side around water bodies known or suspected to have blue-green algal bloom – don’t let them swim in it or drink from it. “If your dog has been swimming outside, wash it thoroughly with clean water afterwards. “Seek emergency veterinary treatment in case you’re concerned it may have ingested toxic algae.”

(Story source: The Mirror)

Couple spends £40k doing up their home so they can give their 20 rescue dogs the best life possible

Chris, 33, and Mariesa, 32, have spared no expense in giving their dogs the best life possible.

Rescue Dogs

Metro reports that we don’t say that lightly – they’ve spent $55,000 refitting their house to make it ideal for 20 senior and special needs rescue dogs, after the death of their first dog, Mr Moses, left their hearts broken. Alongside their brood at home, the couple, from Clifton Park, New York, also have another 104 dogs in their care through their foster programme, Mr Mo Project.

That’s all thanks to being inspired by Mr Moses, a dog who Chris rescued from a kill shelter, where his family had surrendered him because he was ‘too old’.

Mariesa said: ‘Moses was such a light in our lives and such an amazing dog that when he was diagnosed with an inoperable spinal cord tumour, we thought our world would just end and we would fall apart.

‘We sold everything we had to get him alternative treatments but ultimately, he died five weeks later. ‘Chris decided we should start a senior dog rescue so we could help dogs like Moses. ‘Our niche is that we pay medical expenses for the rest of the dog’s life which is a terrible and wonderful idea.’

The couple’s organisation has saved hundreds of dogs from euthanasia and is a non-profit, so along with caring for hundreds of dogs, Chris has to work full-time from home and Mariesa works as an occupational therapist to cover all the costs.

Simply running the programme and covering the hundreds of dogs’ medical care costs the couple around $40,000 (£30,600). Caring for their own pups is another major expense.

Chris and Mariesa have spent thousands customising their home to make it as comfortable as possible for the 20 elderly dogs who permanently reside in their home.

A hydrotherapy pool to help the dogs exercise cost $30,000, while two custom king-size beds for the dogs to snooze on cost $5,000. Mariesa, who sleeps with the majority of her pets each night, says:

‘We have two king-size beds next to each other because so many of the dogs want to sleep with us. ‘In my bed, I have Delilah on my head/pillow, Mabel next to me in a crown-shaped bed so I can clean her trach when I hear her cough, then next to Mabel, across the top of the bed is Vera who gives a little growl when she needs to go to the bathroom as she is not able to use her front legs to get up on her own.

‘Next to me as close as humanly possible are mother and daughter chihuahuas, Lacie and Pixie. ‘In my arms is a blue Pitbull named Stig, he kisses me whenever I move and then between my legs, under the covers is Sam, a senior Pitbull.

‘Mya Marie, Major and Fitzgibbons all go between the two beds and in Chris’s bed is always, Frenchie Mercury, our paralysed French bulldog and Quinn. ‘Our older, blind dogs sleep in packs and play in our bedroom.

‘So Frank the pug and Pesto and Gizmo have their own personal space. ‘The greyhounds sleep in big beds on the floor and Meatball will sometimes come into bed but usually sleeps on a bed on the floor.

‘My puppy Phil sleeps in a bed next to me, he has hydrocephalus and a bad vertebrae in his neck so he wears a neck brace, I can’t let him sleep in the bed because he’s very aloof and can easily fall off.’

Along with a load of money, it takes a lot of time to care for the dogs, with around four hours a day dedicated to the pooches. The dogs have their own doggie playground so they can play outside with the couple for hours a day, and they go on regular walks – even Mercury, who uses a wheelchair, and the elderly dogs who have to go in baby carriers as they’re less mobile.

‘When I get home from work it’s usually time to clean up any messes and then it’s dinner time, it feels a little like groundhogs day,’ says Mariesa. ‘When it’s nice out we spend time outside, they have a doggie playground, they like to roll in the grass and jump on us when we lay outside with them.

‘We don’t watch much TV but when we do, we do it as a family. ‘Bedtime is a process, just getting everyone out to do their business and settled into their spots in the bed, we are usually up a couple of times through the night letting different dogs out and at least four times a day or night, they all like to howl and sing, it’s pretty adorable.’

Life looking after so many dogs is a challenge, but the couple don’t regret a thing. For them, it’s all about letting elderly dogs live out their final years in luxury.

‘The big thing that brings us together is our passion for saving senior dogs and giving them “the best, for the rest”,’ says Mariesa. ‘We are only able to do that through the support of our friends and followers. ‘It’s a lot knowing that we have to raise 40 k each month but somehow, we always do it. ‘All of this because one dog lived, Moses, and we miss him every single day but we hope this rescue is honouring him.’

(Story source: Metro)

Britons told to begin paperwork in September if they plan to travel with pets in 2021

Pet Passports will become invalid when the Brexit transition period ends in December.

Pet Passport

The Independent reports that Britons have been told that they must start the paperwork for taking pets abroad on 1 September 2020 at the latest if they plan to travel on 1 January 2021.

During the Brexit transition period, Britons can continue to use the existing Pet Passport system to travel with their pets. However, new processes could be introduced after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, which could render the current documents invalid.

The changes will affect domestic pets as well as service animals. A statement from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said: “The UK government is working with the European Commission to ensure a similar arrangement for pet travel between Great Britain and the EU from 1 January 2021.

“However, if an agreement is not reached there could be new requirements in place for those travelling with a pet from Great Britain to the EU from 1 January 2021. “If pet owners are planning to travel from January 2021 onwards then they should contact their vet at least four months in advance of their travel date to discuss the latest requirements, including the documentation and vaccinations needed. “For example, those wishing to travel with their pet from Great Britain to the EU on 1 January 2021 should discuss the relevant documentation their vet by 1 September at the latest.”

To further confuse the situation, it’s not entirely clear what paperwork is needed at the moment. Great Britain – which includes England, Scotland and Wales – will become a “third country” from 1 January 2021. Under EU law, a third country is “a country that is not a member of the European Union as well as a country or territory whose citizens do not enjoy the European Union right to free movement.”

There are three different categories of third country under the current EU Pet Travel Scheme: unlisted, Part 1 listed, Part 2 listed. The rules and regulations applicable to each category is different. The UK government has applied to be a listed country, but at present it’s not clear which category Great Britain will fall into.

Pet owners are advised to check the latest pet travel advice before they travel. Once the Brexit transition period ends, a number of changes will come into effect, which could increase the cost and amount of red tape travellers have to face to enter EU countries.

The European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) scheme, for example, looks like it will not continue for Britons, which would mean higher travel insurance costs for many travellers.

(Story source: The Independent)

Channel 5 joins forces with The Dogfather on hunt for Britain’s naughtiest pups

Is your pup not acting like a 10/10 good doggo? Then they could become the star of the next Channel 5 series of Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly.

Dogfather

Metro reports that dog trainer Graeme Hall is looking for the naughtiest dogs in the land to put him to the test, lending his services to those who love their pets, but are struggling with their behaviour.

The new show also reassured potential candidates on the series: ‘We will be following all government guidelines and will adapt our filming protocols in line with those.’ Previous episodes have seen Graeme – dubbed The Dogfather – being put through his paces by puppies who are having trouble learning things.

But he’s managed to calm down aggressive dogs who won’t stop barking, hounds who keep nicking food from their owners, and others who have separation issues.

Speaking on This Morning previously, Graeme said one of the biggest problems was leaning towards negative punishment rather than positive enforcement.

‘Often it’s because we don’t reward the good bits, because we get stuck in telling them off for what they do,’ he said. ‘And then when they stop and they’re actually quite good for a while, you kind of forget to go, “Good boy”. ‘So if you’re not careful, by accident you end up nagging them.’

Avalon Factual, the show’s production company, are yet to set a release date for the new series, with filming yet to start as they look for the next stars of the show. If you’re interested in taking part, email [email protected] or call 020 7598 7365.

(Story source: Metro)

Goofy-eyed husky finds love, new home and internet fame along the way

Jubilee was rejected by her breeder after he complained he couldn’t sell such an odd-looking dog.

goofy-eyed

Huffington Post reports that a sweet Siberian husky with remarkable eyes, who was described by a breeder as “weird,” has rocketed to internet fame and found a new home.

Jubilee, 4, was dropped off at the Husky House shelter in Matawan, New Jersey, two years ago after her breeder complained he couldn’t sell such an odd-looking dog. In an effort to seduce a future owner, the shelter wrote a heartbreaking appeal on Facebook.

“Huskies are majestic looking dogs and I don’t know why I don’t look like them,” Jubilee “wrote” last week (with the help of her humans). “I wish I was beautiful so someone would want me to be their dog.” The message went viral and Jubilee soon found a new home:

UPDATE – Thanks to everyone who shared Jubilee’s story. She has found her forever home with previous Husky House adopters and joins her new fur-siblings in a wonderful new life!

My name is Jubilee. I’m a 4 year old female husky who has been with Husky House for a long time. I came from a “breeder” who couldn’t sell me because he said I was “weird” looking. Huskies are majestic looking dogs and I don’t know why I don’t look like them.

I wish I was beautiful so someone would want me to be their dog. I like other dogs, but I don’t like cats. I love people, but I’m a little shy because people mostly laugh at the way I look.

Doesn’t anyone want a funny looking husky? I wish I had a family of my own who could love me even though I’m not pretty. Apply to adopt Jubilee at huskyhouse.org The shelter even arranged a bit of a make-over for Jubilee, thanks to a nearby grooming centre that volunteered its services.

Thousands of people responded to the Facebook posts about Jubilee and said things like: “She’s right. She’s not pretty – she’s beautiful!” Jubilee’s condition, which created her unusual look, is congenital, but isn’t a health problem, according to the shelter. “We want to thank everyone for the overwhelming amount of support, comments, love and outreach for our Jubilee,” the shelter posted on Facebook. “She is very special.”

(Story source: Huffington Post)

It’s raining dogs and dogs! Can the weather affect your dog’s mood?

Here in the UK you might be forgiven for thinking that we’re obsessed with the weather, as it is one of our go-to topics of conversation and one of the easiest openers to begin a chat with a stranger or to fill a lull in a conversation.

weather

Most of us have a preferred season and type of weather too, and feel that the weather actually affects our mood, for better or for worse – but is the same true for dogs? Can the weather affect your dog’s mood? Yes it can. This article will tell you how different types of weather can affect dog’s moods, and why this is. Read on to learn more.

Your dog’s breed might dictate the type of weather they’re most comfortable in

Different dog breeds often originate from distinct geographic regions, and some of these are very hot climates and others very cold.

This in turn means breeds from different parts of the world evolve with different physical traits to help them to cope with the conditions in the regions that they originate from, dictating things like the length and density of the coat.

This in turn means that the breed of dog you own and so, where they come from and the physical traits that result from this can have an impact on the type of weather they’re most comfortable in. Comfort levels will affect your dog’s mood, and the temperature that is ideal for one dog might be a little chilly or a little too warm for another, and so different dogs may indeed have specific preferences for different types of weather conditions.

Some dogs are apt to be somewhat unhappy in hot weather

Dog breeds that have very long and thick coats are apt to suffer a little in hot weather, and it will be harder to keep them cool and comfortable.

However, it is not just the coat that can make some dogs unhappy in hot weather when other dogs are fine, and brachycephalic dogs in particular are apt to feel the heat quite acutely, find hot weather a struggle, be prone to overheating faster, and even sometimes simply struggle to breathe.

This includes some really popular breeds like the French bulldog and the pug.

Dogs tend to be more irritable and less tolerant in the heat – like people!

Regardless of breed and how hot the weather itself is, any dog that is too hot, particularly one that cannot cool down effectively or find a spot that is comfortable, is going to be unhappy and so potentially irritable and even snappy.

In fact, the hottest days of the year do see a statistical increase in the number of dog bite-related injuries seen in A&E departments of hospitals!

But as long as your dog isn’t cold, colder weather doesn’t tend to upset dogs

Nobody likes being too cold any more than they like being too hot; but regardless of the breed or type of dog you own and how badly they feel the cold, there will be options available to you to maintain their temperature at a comfortable level, with boots and coats and other accessories.

This means that you can theoretically prevent a dog from becoming too cold and so colder weather itself should not upset them; although rain, sleet and snow and so on might!

Windy weather can make dogs excitable – or flighty and anxious

Weather that is very blustery or windy can make dogs excitable, because it adds a lot of stimulus including scent, and affects the way things move. However, these same effects can also make some dogs flighty, anxious or unpredictable as they might find it frightening and confusing.

Many dogs love the snow, but some will find it scary

A lot of dogs are fascinated by falling snow and enjoy going out to play in the snow, particularly if they’re introduced to it in a fun way and bundled up properly to keep them warm if needed.

However, some dogs will simply dislike snow as it is cold and wet, and the way it masks scents and familiar landmarks, and even changes the audio effects in the air, can unnerve and upset some dogs.

Stormy weather can put dogs on edge – even before the storm hits

Storms that include thunder and lightening can be a real challenge for many dogs, and an unexpected clap of thunder can make even people jump in shock.

However, some dogs may begin to behave strangely and seem on edge when a storm is in the offing, even before you yourself realise that this is the case.

Changes in the atmosphere and electrical charges in the air can’t usually be consciously detected by people, but dogs can pick up on them; and if you know what signs to look for, you may learn to recognise them in your dog in turn.

Dark, rainy and miserable weather can make dogs rather flat and listless

Cloudy weather and rain or drizzle can make everything look grey and depressing, and make many of us reluctant to go outside as well as finding it hard to stay productive or positive.

This type of weather can also have a similar impact on your dog, and coupled with this, they will pick up on your own mood and feelings about things too.

Most dogs are slower out on walks in rain!

Another weird thing about rain – other than the fact that some dogs hate it and will flatly refuse to go out in the rain at all – is that even dogs that appear unbothered and that walk quite briskly tend to take a little longer about things in the rain, whether you realise it or not – even though it would seem to make sense that the opposite would be the case!

(Article source: Pets 4 Homes)

Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2020: Proud owners submit their funny pet ‘selfies’

An intellectual dog, a gossiping trio of horses, some socially distancing cats and a pair of guinea pigs doing tricks are among the entries to this year’s Mars Petcare Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2020.

comedy pet photo

The adorable shots, which including smiling pooches and dancing cats, have been entered by pet owners across the UK, who hope to win the £3,000 prize and be crowned pet photographer of the year.

The competition, which is in partnership with rehoming charity Blue Cross, was started by the founders of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam.

They hope to showcase the positive impact that pets have on people’s lives and raise awareness around homeless pets in the UK, a message that is at the heart of competition sponsor’s Mars Petcare and their mission of ‘Ending Pet Homelessness.’

Those who hope to enter have until 31st August, and the finalists will be announced 28th September 28th. We reveal some of the funniest and most adorable shots so far…

Magdalena Strakova’s ‘Gossip Girls’

This picture shows three clumsy horses butting heads, which caused for a very cute shot. The photo was taken in Prague. Magdalena said: ‘I was photographing horses in a pasture, and these three got together and appeared to have a chat, gossiping like giggling schoolgirls’.

Bag for life please!

Sarah Bub’s ‘Cat or Snail’ shows a very cute black and white cat in a plastic bag – who also uncovered some dirty soil. Taken in Kreuztal, Germany. Sarah said: ‘This is my crazy tomcat Ron. On a sunny afternoon we were on the balcony together. I had re-potted plants and when I turned around I saw this interesting snail’.

Say cheese!

Nicole Rayner’s Smiley reveals an hilarious angle of her pet Mimi the German Shepherd from above – which made it look like a selfie. Taken in Stockport, Greater Manchester, Nicole said: ‘I was rubbing her belly and then asked if she’s ready to go walkies, her reaction was priceless’.

You looking at me?

Dean Pollard’s ‘Super Happy Dog’ shows an cheerful golden retriever posing up against a fence at Hill Head Beach in Fareham. Photographer Dean said: ‘Taz, our rescue dog from Cyprus was super happy on a sunny day and clearly delighted to be at the beach’.

‘Hung Dog Drop Out’

Karen Hoglund’s photo showed this heartwarming snap of a retriever perching on a rock to say hello to a bird – which is in fact made of paper. Taken in the Colorado mountains near Denver, Karen explained: ‘One year, we decided to send out Thanksgiving cards and our dog, Murphy, was a willing model. The turkey is made out of paper, twigs, pine cones, etc. Murphy is naturally curious so it was easy to get him to look at the fake turkey. My husband just put treats near the turkey and Murphy did the rest!’.

This is a good one!

Maria Indurain’s ‘Intellectual Dog’ shows her pet pooch deep in a book while lounging across a comfy bed. Taken in Barcelona, Maria explained: ‘I was reading, sitting on the floor, went to the kitchen and on my way back I found him playing with the book’.

Keep six feet apart please!

Mehmet Aslan ‘Social distance meal order’ shows a line of pets queuing up for a treat from their human in Hatay Turkey. Mehmet said it was taken as it was inspired by ‘corona days’ as ‘social distance meal orders and curfews are in place’.

Vegetarian cat

Ivan Studenic’s photo shows a kitten very excited by a green pumpkin – who looks like she may eat it whole. Taken in the artist’s garden in Plavecky Mikulas Slovakia on a phone. Ivan explained: ‘The model is our cat Kamila’.

Is it a snow day?

Magdalena Strakova ‘Snow Monster’ shows a pair of black dogs hidden among the snow on a winter’s day in the Czech Republic. Magadelena explained: ‘I was walking with a friend and her dog, and he started to roll in the snow and really had a blast. He packed as much snow in his fur as he could, then shook it off and started again, and we could not stop laughing. Such a comedian, doing it again and again, just for the laughs’.

Is anybody home?

Sally Billam ‘Ding dong, Can you spare a few minutes of your time’ show a cute spaniel taken through a fish eye lens in Hornsea, east Yorkshire. Sally said that Freddie the ‘sprocker’ (a springer spaniel – cocker spaniel cross) was suspicious of having his photo taken.

Road trip!

Alice van Kempen’s ‘The Shepherd Family Road Trip’ shows a group of white Swiss shepherd dogs in an old red car ready for a journey in the northern Netherlands. Alice explained: ‘Thee owner of the dogs had put her dogs in the back of the car. We didn’t pay attention while we talked, when we looked at them after a good five minutes we noticed two of the dogs had moved to the front seats. It looked so funny so I took this photo of the Shepherd family.

Red slippers?

Teun Veldman’s photo shows an adorable little kitten hiding in a pair of woollen shoes. Shot in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, the photographer captured the playful look of the cat caught being mischievous.

(Article source: Daily Mail)

Tails from the dog park: ‘In this new world of tangled worries, my puppy keeps me sane’

Conversations amid canines reflect the loss and anxiety being felt in the pandemic. But there’s also connection and joy.

dog park

Lola Montez and Gadget the cavoodle are delirious in their play: on hind legs and wrestling with bear-cub front paws, pashing with drooling mouths; rolling across the grass, legs akimbo then wrapped tight around the other’s furry body in mad embrace; then up and off, zooming away, flying and skidding back.

Last time we crossed dog-park paths, Gadget’s owner, Kim*, gave me a recipe for kangaroo risotto – minced roo, rice, a can of kidney beans, oats, grated carrot. Lola Montez wasn’t too fussed about the risotto. I’m not too fussed about being my fussy puppy’s personal chef.

Today Kim and I are talking employment, or lack thereof. As Gadget pins Lola Montez to the ground, I complain about a media industry in crisis, the freelancing hustle, impending penury.

Kim reveals she was made redundant from her HR job a month ago. “I get to spend more time with Gadget,” she says, as a giant groodle, who has yet to understand that playing fetch requires releasing the object of the exercise, hovers nearby with a ball in his mouth and a crestfallen expression.

In the three months since a tiny chocolate-brown labradoodle upended my life, this has become my pandemic pattern: arguing with my capricious wild child at the end of her lead on the way to inner-Sydney dog parks where the conversations reflect life in this extraordinary new world of tangled worries, mass unemployment, financial stress, home offices and home schooling, geographical relocation, plus anxiety, loneliness, boredom and uncertainty.

A torrent of redundancies is laid bare: a single mother with two school-age children tells me she has just lost her job as a project manager with an ad agency; her toy poodle the size of a thumb engages Lola Montez with the intensity of a prize fighter as the woman wonders what’s next. A 40 something bloke, the owner of a gargantuan black groodle, is reserved the first couple of times our dogs sniff each other’s backside, but he warms up.

One day we introduce ourselves: his name is Mark, his dog is Iggy, named with Iggy Pop’s Dog Food lyrics in mind. Mark was laid off as general manager at a prominent tourist attraction a couple of months’ back. “I look every day but there are no jobs.” His golf handicap has dropped. He tries to moderate his Netflix consumption. He’s thankful his partner still has a job. Jobkeeper is helping.

Tails from the dog park reveal other facets of the zeitgeist: the pivot, for example. A makeup artist, the custodian of a small feverish chihuahua, tells me he’s happier with edgy editorial work but has accepted a nine-to-five job for a mass-market fashion conglomerate. Pays the bills.

I chat with a young woman with a gorgeous mass of red hair and a fluffy cream cavoodle about the oodle invasion as Lola Montez spars with her puppy. Only a year out of uni, she recently lost her job at a PR firm. A change, she thought, and enrolled in a diploma of community services. She’s interested in issues of social justice. She didn’t like PR anyway.

For a while one day I talk with a friendly woman with a timid rescue Maltese shih tzu. She tells me about the dog’s traumatic history, about how, when it was only six weeks old, a breeder drugged it and air-couriered to its first unwitting new owner. Some years on it had a nervous breakdown and now has major separation anxiety issues.

We talk about the Covid-19 puppy boom; the parks are full of silly-as-a-wheel young things and the old dogs are fed up with youthful assaults. On a labradoodle Facebook page I follow, mournful would-be dog owners lament the length of waiting lists for puppies and breeders comment about the unprecedented demand.

I hope, I say to the woman, that barbarous people such as the one who bred her dog aren’t taking advantage of the demand and that new owners are committed. And what about the mass separation anxiety that might unfold should we ever go back to the office?

Our talk moves to work: the woman lost her job as a fundraiser a few weeks back. Now, to give herself a financial buffer, she’s thinking of selling her apartment in a large inner-city complex and moving somewhere cheaper. But she’s livid: a newly unemployed neighbour is selling her apartment and has set a reserve of $850,000 – in a complex where places usually sell for between $1.2 m and $1.5 m.

On another day, I overhear a woman with two young bounders called Campari and Soda also talking about relocation. She and her partner are moving out of the city, back to the outer-suburban neighbourhood where their families are. She can work from home and besides, she says, “there’s nothing happening in the city anyway”.

Who was it who said, if you want to meet people, get a baby or a dog? Through this seminal period in the history of humankind, my puppy has helped me stay sane. I have stopped and had long chats with neighbours I usually would rarely see, exchanged messages of support, agreed to catch up when all this is over, met new neighbours. The loneliness that haunts me has dulled – I live alone and, even in the best of times, work from home.

And there’s something else my puppy has brought to me: I named her for a wild and unbridled “devil woman” – Lola Montez, a dancer, actor and the mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who brought her exceptional lust and joy for life on a tour to Australia in the 1850’s.

Watching my Lola in the park during one of her euphoric performances with Gadget, or any one of umpteen other dogs, something has been catching, and it’s not a virus. Her mad excitement and joy: it comes home with us and stays for a while.

(Article source: The Guardian)

Pet passports: What being an ‘unlisted’ country would mean for Britain’s dogs and cats after the Brexit transition period

EU pet passports would not be valid for travel if the UK becomes an ‘unlisted’ country.

pet passports

Inews reports that pet owners who wish to travel with their pet to the EU next year are being advised to contact their vet at least four months beforehand to make arrangements for the journey.

The guidance, which forms part of the Government’s new public information campaign to prepare Britain for the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January 2021, is vastly different to the current pet passport scheme Britons use to take dogs, cats and ferrets to the EU.

What is changing on 1 January 2021?

Before Brexit, pets belonging to Britons could travel freely around the EU with their owner if they had a pet passport, a rabies vaccination and a microchip. UK pet owners could take their dogs, cats and ferrets abroad and bring them back without the need for quarantine under the EU Pet Travel Scheme.

The Brexit transition period is due to end on 1 January 2021, which means the current pet passport scheme will become invalidated for owners in the UK. This is because the UK will become known as a “third country”.

What does third country mean?

Under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, there are three types of third country; unlisted, Part 1 listed and Part 2 listed. Pet travel requirements will depend on what label the UK is given on 1 January following negotiations with the EU.

Unlisted

Becoming an unlisted country is likely to cause the most headache for pet owners who wish to travel to the EU next year. Any current EU pet passports issued in the UK will not be valid for travel.

In order to take your dog, cat or ferret abroad, you will have to get the pet micro-chipped and vaccinated against rabies. At least 30 days after the vaccination, a blood sample must be taken from the pet and sent to an EU-approved laboratory for testing. Then owners will have to obtain an animal health certificate (AHC), detailing the successful blood test, from the vet and wait three months from the date of the test before travel is permitted. Owners can take their pet to get the AHC no more than 10 days before the date of travel. A new certificate is needed for each trip to the EU.

Pet owners and their pets will need to enter through the Travellers’ point of entry when they arrive in the EU, where officials will request documentation about the animal, including the successful blood test results and health certificate.

To return to the UK, an EU pet passport and health certificate will be needed. For people who wish to take their dog to Ireland, Malta or Finland, tapeworm treatment is required.