Don’t forget the dog bed! Choosing a new home with your dog

Few of us go through all of our adult lives in the same home that we started it in, and for numerous reasons such as needing more room, relocating with work or the end of a tenancy, most of us have to face the reality that at some point, we will need to move house!

New Home

Finding and buying (or agreeing a tenancy) on a new home can be stressful and hard work, not to mention the actual process of moving itself-and naturally, everyone has their own ideas of what they are looking for in their perfect home at different life stages.

However, if you have a dog, you should take this into account when it comes to finding the perfect property, and doing this can help to ensure that you make the right choice, and your dog settles in as well as you and your family do.

In this article, we will look at some of the things that you should think about when it comes to choosing a new home with your dog in mind, and how to avoid any potential problems. Read on to learn more.

Red tape and rules

First of all, whether you are renting or buying, before you get your heart set on a particular property you should first make sure that you are able to keep pets there. Some landlords will not accept pets, and even some purchased properties may have regulations on the keeping of animals, particularly if the property is leasehold, part of a managed development, or is an apartment with the public areas run by a management company.

This is something you should ascertain and clarify before you even arrange to go and see a property, to avoid wasting time and effort.

The house itself

When you go to view a house or apartment for the first time, it is important to view it through the eyes of a dog owner, and assess its suitability as a future home for your pet.

Think about things like the size of the rooms, hallways and doorways, as a large dog should be able to move around in their own home comfortably. Also think about things like where you would feed the dog, where they would sleep, which door you would take them in and out through, and if you could close your dog off or separate the house into two parts if you needed to.

It can also be helpful to look for a home that has a utility room or wet room that you can use for cleaning your dog (and yourself) up in after walks, and to store muddy boots and coats!

The garden or yard

Assessing your outside space is important too, and it can be challenging to keep a dog in a home with no garden or yard.

Look for a garden or yard with enough space for your dog, easy access from the house, and views from windows that would allow you to see what your dog is doing. Also, look at the suitability and condition of the fencing, and whether this would be sufficient to house your dog, or if you would have to make changes – and of course, find out the cost.

Also, look out for any potential hazards in the garden, such as ponds or toxic plants-these may not be a deal breaker, but you should also think about how you would be able to resolve the issue before your dog uses the garden or yard.

Local facilities

Check out online listings and talk to other dog owners to find out how well served the neighbourhood is in terms of services and facilities for dog owners. Check out Google maps or a similar service, and look for local vets, groomers, pet sitting or dog walking services, and anything else that you need.

Additionally, if you are involved in canine sport (or want to be), find out about any clubs or groups nearby and factor this in if it is important to you.

Walks and green spaces

Check out the general area around the house, and see how well served it is with suitable routes to walk your dog safely, and green spaces where your dog can run off the lead. Think about local dog parks, enclosed fields and footpaths, and consider how well you would be able to meet your dog’s needs in this respect.


Finally, it is a good idea before making a final decision to go and say hi to your potential new neighbours, let them know about your dog, and find out if they have any pets or concerns.

If your immediate neighbours have cats, they will rightly expect you to ensure that your dog is contained and cannot get out, and if your neighbours have dogs, they may be able to provide you with invaluable local advice on information on what’s around!

(Article source: Pets 4 Homes) 

Steady decline in UK pets, reveals Pfma’s Annual Pet Population Survey

2014-15 figures confirm there are around 58.4 m pets in the UK compared to 64.9 m in 2013-14 and 69.2 m in 2012-13. The number of households with pets has fallen to 12 m (46%) from 13 m (48%) in the same period.

Pet Survey

PFMA reports that the PFMA research is a long-standing survey of the UK pet population tracking the peaks and troughs over the years. The decline is across most pet types including dogs, cats, rabbits, fish, birds, other small furries and reptiles.

Michael Bellingham, PFMA Chief Executive and Chairman of National Pet Month, comments on the results:

“Having withstood the recession when many households had to tighten their belts, many may find it somewhat surprising that we are now seeing a decline.

There is no single stand out factor. Family finances are likely to play a role but we also believe that the pet industry’s responsible pet ownership messages are cutting through and as a result owners are thinking twice before adding a pet to their family, wanting to give the best care possible.

These figures mirror the situation in other developed countries with a strong focus on responsible ownership such as the US.”

Dogs are still considered man’s best friend but there has been a slight decline to 8.5 m from 8.6 m in 2012-13.

Adrian Burder, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust the UK’s largest dog welfare charity commented on the research:

“We’re pleased that dogs remain the UK’s number one pet of choice. With this year’s slight decline in dog ownership, Dogs Trust hopes prospective owners are really considering whether getting a dog is right for them.

There were over 110,000 stray and abandoned dogs taken in by local authorities last year – so we would welcome any reduction in the number of impulse puppy purchases.”

The number of cats currently stands at 7.4 m versus 8.5 m in 2012- 2013.

Peter Hepburn, Cats Protection’s Chief Executive said: “Our own findings show that more people are giving up cats than adopting them.

This can be for a range of reasons including refusals by landlords or care homes to accept pets, loss of secure jobs and emigration, as well as people giving more careful consideration to whether or not they are able to care for a pet.

However, although we do our best to help as many unwanted cats as possible, the sad fact is we are constantly full looking after between 5,000 and 6,000 homeless cats so we’d welcome potential adopters coming forward to offer a cat a home.”

Rabbit ownership is down to 1 m from 1.3 m and there are now half a million pet birds versus 1 m three years ago.

June McNicholas, Psychologist, comments:

“More people are becoming aware of the need to research the costs and responsibilities of owning a particular type of pet prior to actually acquiring one.

Thanks to the wealth of information provided by animal welfare organisations which is now so readily available on-line, people find it easier to access the correct information to decide whether to become a pet owner, and which pet is most suited to their lifestyle, plus the costs and responsibilities involved in caring for a pet over its lifespan.

So, as we embrace National Pet Month – a true celebration of pet ownership, what are the implications of a declining pet population?

Michael Bellingham adds:

“Although we are delighted that pet owners and potential owners are taking a more responsible outlook, we would like to remind everyone of the huge psychological and physiological benefits of pets from reducing blood pressure and perceived levels of stress to increased fitness, as well as boosting self esteem and providing an invaluable companionship.

Ideally we would like many more households to benefit from this companionship.”

For more information on National Pet Month go to:

(Story source: PFMA) 

Primark launches adorable new pet clothing range with outfits for £7

How do you feel about Primark’s new petwear?

Pet Clothing

Edinburgh Live reports that many of us love to shop so it makes sense that we would also want to dress up our fur-babies and now you can for just £7.

Budget retailer Primark have just dropped a new clothing line…for pets – and it is pretty adorable. The fancy dress outfits includes a unicorn onesie, a bumblebee get-up and even a cute hot dog costume (sausage dog owners, that one was made for you). Whether you’re thinking of next Halloween, a Christmas wish list or your pooches birthday, these cute outfits are bound to get tails wagging.

The best part is that they won’t break the bank, retailed at just £7 – so it won’t matter if your dog tries to tear them up. Primark is also stocking a light blue harness complete with wings for your little angels, costing just £4.

There is also collars in various different colours for dogs, cat collars and a range of toys for pets – all for under a fiver.

(Story source: Edinburgh Live)

Pet owners urged to leave cats and dogs in good hands before going on holidays

Providing the best for your pet while you are holiday can be stressful – but here’s the best solutions for relaxing getaways.


The Mirror reports that you have booked flights and hotels but there is a key family member to sort out.

Trusting someone to look after your dog or cat while you’re soaking up the sun can be stressful. But with a little research and forward planning leaving a pet does not have to seem so daunting.

The basic options for owners are: leave a pet with family or friends, employ a pet sitter who comes to your home or who takes them in or use a kennel or cattery.

Leaving a cat or dog with a trusted family member or friend can be ideal. Your pet will have met them and you know they are in safe hands.

Pet sitters visit or live in your home while you are away and look after your pet for a fee. This has the added benefit of keeping your pet in their own home.

Alternatively, home boarders take pets into their own houses and look after them. Kennels or a cattery may not be for every pet.

Cats tend to be more adaptable and long-suffering than dogs. Many dogs find kennels isolating and hate being left alone. If this is the case, a home environment will be best. If you are planning to use kennels search in plenty of time as good places book up fast.

Ideally get a personal recommendation and check the kennel has a licence from the local authority, which should be renewed every 12 months.

Visit without an appointment and ask to look around. Check the living area is warm, secure, clean and dry, with plenty of comfortable areas. Dogs who don’t know each other should not be able to make nose, paw or eye contact. Other dogs staring at them can be stressful.

A good kennel will ask lots of questions about your pet, including diet, to help keep to their routine. Many insist vaccinations are up to date. Ask about insurance cover and procedures for contacting a vet and you in case of an emergency.

For more information visit kennel-advice- and-alternatives.

(Story source: The Mirror)

Helping the paw: Meet the woman who’s devoted her life to looking after 22 rescue dogs who all live in her one-bed house

Dog-lover Becky Shuttleworth has her hands full when she goes for walkies – she has 22 pooches.

Rescue Dogs

The Sun reports that the adopted pack, from across the UK and Romania, includes nine Jack Russells and a huge Dogue de Bordeaux.

As I take a stroll with the dogs, it’s easy to see why some people accuse Becky of being, well, barking mad.

As she is pulled in every direction, the 33-year-old calmly shrugs and says: “People tell me that I’m crazy. It’s a mad life looking after 22 dogs. But I just love them all.”

A dog trainer and groomer, she has ended up with all the pets because she was unable to part with any pup she trained in her role as a fosterer for a rescue centre.

The canines have taken over Becky’s ONE-BEDROOM bungalow in Rochford, Essex. There’s hair everywhere, scratches up the wall paper and washing-up bowls filled with water in every room.

There are chew toys strewn across the floor in most rooms and boxes of bones hidden behind sofas.

Becky admits: “I love them so much, but I realise it is a large number. “I hoover every day because there’s so much dog fur – it’s a losing battle. The hair gets everywhere. “I can’t really wear anything that glamorous. I live in jeans and T-shirts because I know I’m going to get hair and drool all over myself. “I’m constantly washing their bedding and blankets. And I can never go on holiday because who is going to look after 22 dogs?”

Costly cause

It’s not cheap either. Becky spends between £300 to £400 a month on her dogs, who get through 15 kg of food every day. The dogs eat raw meat and Becky adds apple, bananas and carrot to their diet.

The vet bills can also be eye-watering. Becky is currently trying to raise £6,000 for her newest recruit Bella – a limping one-year-old Dogue de Bordeaux who was dumped at a local pet shop just before Christmas. Bella needs two new elbows in order to live life to the full – and is not covered on insurance.

Becky, who lives with partner Kevin, 36, a car technician, says: “When I took her on she was skinny, malnourished with ear infections”.

“She suffers with double elbow and double hip dysplasia, it’s considered to be a pre-existing medical condition so she can’t be insured for it so I have to raise the money myself.

“Even after the operation she’s going to need hydrotherapy and physiotherapy. Her vet bills are going to be massive. We think she was bought by people that wanted to breed from her but imagine they abandoned her when they realised she had all these issues.”

Becky and Kevin got their first dog seven years ago, a Jack Russell called Russell who decided to move in with them.

Behavioural problems

She says: “It was really strange – he kept coming up to the house and basically made it known that he wanted to be our dog. “He actually belonged to a family down the road but he kept escaping and coming here. Eventually his owners just said, ‘Take him – he wants to be with you’.”

The arrival of Russell, who has since died, was followed by a Scottish rescue centre asking Becky to foster and rehabilitate pups in her home.

She says: “I just fell in love every time. It takes a lot of time for a dog to trust you, it can often take six to 12 months to achieve. Obviously by that point there was no way they were going anywhere.”

Becky’s oldest dog is Benson, 18, while the youngest is Bella.

About half of the dogs are adopted from a Romanian charity – and many of them have behavioural issues because of a hard start in life.

At capacity

She says: “Some of these dogs have been really abused – Brian and Chelsea, in particular, can’t even wear a lead because of the extent of the abuse they’ve had.”

But Becky insists she’ll have no more, saying: “I can’t. I’m definitely at capacity now. “I don’t want it to be unmanageable. I do get days where it feels like too much.”

The day before we meet Becky was asked to teach a dog behavioural class in Buxton, Derbyshire.

She left home at 5.30 am and did not return until after 11 pm. Although a friend called in on the dogs during the day, a tired Becky had to take them out when she got home. She says: “I just wanted to get home and flop.”

But Becky says most days she loves having her canine companions, who sleep around the bungalow, including her bed, and have the run of her medium-sized garden plus walks on farmland.

She says: “It’s life to me now. It can be hard some days but it’s so rewarding to see the changes in the dogs.”

Incredibly, her partner Kevin is happy with the arrangement. She said: “He’s as bad as me. Sometimes, when I’ve been umming and ahhing about whether to take on another rescue, he’s the one convincing me that we’ve got the space.”

The couple also have a rescue goat, three sheep, two cats and six ducks. She said: “We welcome all comers, here. Kev’s nieces and nephews absolutely love it. “It’s like visiting a real farm.”

It’s a ruff life…

7 am: Wake up and let the dogs out in groups for play time in the garden

9 am: Becky splits the dogs into groups, who spend the day in different rooms.

11 am: 6-8 dogs go out on a walk, while others roam around the farm

1 pm: Play time

3 pm: Afternoon nap

6 pm: Watch TV with the pups

7 pm: Becky feeds the dogs in groups of five at a time

9 pm: Bedtime.

(Story source: The Sun) 

Larry the Cat: ‘Security incident’ as cat tries to GET INSIDE Trump’s armour-plated Beast

LARRY the cat nearly caused a political incident when the Number 10 feline tried to make his way into Donald Trump’s armour-plated car today.


The Express reports that the bizarre moment was witnessed by Sky News presenter Kay Burley who was talking to the cameras at Downing Street. At the time Mr Trump was in Number 10 with Prime Minister Theresa May. It is not believed Larry made it inside the president’s famous heavily-secure Beast car. Fellow reporters also witnessed Larry’s latest adventure.

Sky News’ Ms Burley said: “I’m just noticing with some photographers how Larry the Cat is trying to get in the Beast”.

“That can only ever end badly”.

“He’s sheltering underneath the Beast now from the rain. “That’s one armour-plated vehicle”.

The cat, well known as Number 10’s official mouser, is 12 years old and his antics have become well-known around Westminster.

NBC correspondent Bill Neely observed “Huge security issue as Larry the Downing St. cat shelters under Donald Trump’s limo ‘’the Beast’ & refuses to move. #TrumpinUK”.

He joined Number 10 under David Cameron’s premiership and has continued under Theresa May.

His most recent moment of fame was when Theresa May gave her recent resignation announcement.

Footage showed Larry refusing to come inside Number 10 ahead of the Prime Minister’s speech.

A Downing Street official had to pick up the feline.

Reporting on the latest incident today, Charlie Proctor of Royal Central said: “Security incident in Downing Street after Larry the Cat tries to get inside the beast.

“He is currently sat underneath the car, meaning it can’t move.” And NBC’s Bill Neely said: “Huge security issue as Larry the Downing St. cat shelters under Donald Trump’s limo ‘’the Beast’ & refuses to move. #TrumpinUK”

Mr Trump’s security detail was shown dusting the vehicle shortly afterwards – although there are no indications that Larry managed to get on the roof.

The brown and white tabby, who is known as Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, has been involved in several violent confrontations with Palmerston, the Foreign Office cat, in recent years.

(Story source: The Express) 

Canine campers: Dog etiquette and rules on a campsite or caravan park

As summer fast approaches, many of us are planning a holiday or short break that we can take the dog along on too, and this can in many cases limit your options of where to go and where to stay.

Caravan Dog

However, dog-friendly holidays are becoming more popular every year in the UK, and today, a great many places like hotels and resorts that previously did not accept pets will allow dogs to come along, with certain restrictions in place.

One good option for a holiday that your dog can join you on is going away in a caravan or motorhome to a caravan park or resort, or taking your dog to a campsite with you to enjoy the facilities and use as a base.

Caravan and camping holidays and campsites are usually very welcoming of dogs, and holidays of this type are generally very popular with dog owners as a result.

If you are considering taking your dog to a caravan park or campsite with you for your holidays, the chances are that they will have a great time.

However, it is important to understand that environments of this type often have special rules in place for dog owners, to protect the facilities themselves and to keep other guests safe, and there are also simple good practices that dog owners should follow in such situations too, whether this is dictated in the site’s rules or not.

In this article we will share the etiquette and sensible rules that dog owners should follow when taking their dog to a caravan park or campsite. Read on to learn more.

Find out the rules first

Most caravan and campsites welcome dogs, but they will often have specific rules for dogs that stay with them, and if you breach them, you may be asked to leave. Find out for sure before you make a booking whether or not dogs are welcome, and if there are any additional fees or restrictions in place for bringing them along.

Additionally, when you check in with your dog, let the site’s owners know that you have a dog and ensure that you are offered a suitable plot for them. It can also be worth asking if any of the other guests nearby have dogs of their own too, and letting them know that you’ve got a dog with you as well, and finding out how well their dogs get on with others so that you can manage introductions.

Use good judgement

Even if there are no formal rules in place for the site you’re visiting, always display good judgement and consider the impact of your dog’s presence on others. For instance, your dog might be allowed everywhere on the site with no restrictions, but even so, keeping away from some spots may be wise – such as dedicated children’s play areas. Additionally, if there is a bar or clubhouse on site, this might also be somewhere you can take your dog to, but avoid busier periods and be prepared to take your dog out if they aren’t having fun, or are bothering other people.

Always clean up after your dog

It should go without saying, but the normal rules still apply to picking up dog poop when you’re on holiday, and you should be vigilant about ensuring that you always bag and bin your dog’s waste. Dog owners that don’t pick up the poop give other dog owners a bad name and might directly impact upon the willingness of campsites to allow dogs to visit in the future.

Keep your dog contained and under control

Your dog should not be allowed to wander around or find their own entertainment when you’re chilling out by your caravan or tent, and even if you know that your dog is impeccably trustworthy and friendly with both other dogs and people, other guests might not want to have a dog hanging around.

Keep your dog on a lead when walking around the site, keep them close by when you’re using your tent or caravan, and don’t simply allow your dog to wander around and approach other people without an invite. Be particularly vigilant about your dog scavenging food from others, especially when other people are cooking or barbecuing.

Make sure your dog is healthy and fully vaccinated

Your dog should be healthy and up to date with their vaccinations before you take them on a holiday of any type, both to protect them and to protect other dogs too. Check your dog’s boosters are up to date, and take proof of their vaccination status in case you are asked to show this when you check in.

Keep their flea and worming treatments up to date

Campsites that welcome dogs will often have lots of dogs there, which means flea and worming treatments are essential to keep your dog from picking up parasites – or passing them on to others. Once more, check your dog is up to date before you travel.

Find out where your dog can run and play off the lead

Many campsites will have a dog walking field or set area, so ask about this when you check in so that you don’t miss it. The site’s owners might also be able to recommend other nice areas to walk in, and those that are best avoided.

Think carefully before leaving your dog on their own

If you need to leave your dog alone while you are on holiday, think carefully about this. A dog may not be sufficiently securely contained in a tent without a crate, and caravans can get very hot in the summer, potentially as hot as a car – which all dog owners know can be dangerous. Don’t leave your dog in the caravan if the temperature is rising, and never use your car to leave your dog alone in either.

Manage noise

Something else to think about is how noisy your dog is – if your dog is apt to bark for half an hour or more after you first leave them alone, all of the neighbours will hear through the walls of a tent or caravan, so consider the impact on others before you leave your dog unsupervised.


Finally, make sure that your dog is micro-chipped with up-to-date information recorded for them on the database, and that they display a collar tag with you contact details on it too. It is also a good idea to let any immediate neighbours and the site’s owners know what your dog looks like and where you are staying, so that if they do wander off, people will be better able to return them to you safely.

(Article source: Pets 4 Homes) 

Zara and Eddie: Zara Holland introduces her dog & talks life after ‘Love Island’

Zara Holland is a model and fashion boutique owner who is probably best known for appearing on ITV’s reality show ‘Love Island’.


She has spoken openly about her time on the show in the hope of helping to encourage all reality TV producers to put in place more stringent procedures to help cast-mates cope with life after the cameras stop filming.

We met up with Zara at her home to find out more and to meet her dog Eddie, who she says makes her laugh constantly with his antics.

Hi Zara, thanks for chatting with us today.

Hi! Thank you! Oh my god, Eddie loves all of his goodies from the photo shoot. The toys, the shampoo, everything – all amazing. I can’t thank you enough, we had a great time and it was a lovely day.

I can’t wait to find out more about Eddie. What led you to him?

We’ve had Eddie for an amazing two years now and before that, we had English Bulldogs. Mum and I actually used to show them, we’ve both been to Crufts a couple of times with them. Sadly they passed away about five years ago.

So you had a little time without a dog in the home?

Yes, I think as most dog lovers would say, you need some time before you bring another dog into the home, don’t you?

What made you choose a French Bulldog?

Well, we’d seen a few around and they are quite similar to our original dogs but it was such a big decision because we all have busy lifestyles so we decided we wanted a small-ish dog, who could come with us everywhere and a dog with a big character too. Every French Bulldog we’d seen seemed to have that about them. We probably saw around four litters before we met Eddie and we thought ‘a-ha, it’s you we need to come into our lives’ and that was that.

How did you come up with his name because we do love a human name for a dog?

My mum came up with Eddie’s name for no other reason than he just looked like an Eddie.

You mentioned choosing a French Bulldog because you wanted a dog with character so what’s he like?

Eddie’s hilarious. He is so cheeky, very needy – he’s such a mummy’s boy – and he’s so clever. I think all French Bulldogs are the same, they are very intelligent and know exactly what’s going on and have a lot of character too. I can’t say Eddie’s very obedient (laughs). He sits and gives his paw if he knows there’s food around but he lights up our lives every day and that’s what dogs are all about, isn’t it? They are a part of the family and Eddie’s brought so much fun and happiness into our family, he really has.

I know you own two fashion boutiques, does Eddie come to work with you?

He does. He has a thing about anything with pompoms or tassels so he was with me the other day and I thought ‘oh Eddie’s gone a little bit quiet’ and he was in the window with a pair of tassel earrings which then had to go in the bin. Everyone loves him and wants to meet him and he loves to watch everyone going about their business.

You’ve spoken a lot about mental health issues and of having anxiety yourself. How have your dogs helped you cope with anxiety over the years?

You definitely have an extra sense of support with a dog by your side.

With Eddie, although I think it applies to everyone in the household but especially me, he loves a walk so if you need to clear your head it’s brilliant to just get out with him and he’s very loyal. He knows if you’re not very well, he’ll stay by your side. He’s very caring. I think if you’re suffering from anxiety or just having a bad day in general, dogs give you so much extra support because you have your best friend by your side and a ready-made excuse to get some fresh air and clear your head.

They are brilliant for that, aren’t they?

They are. I think if you haven’t got a dog you won’t get it but people who have dogs will understand.

That’s true and some dogs are more sensitive than others, aren’t they?

Yes, true.

I have three dogs and my youngest, who also happens to be the heaviest, is the most sensitive of them all. He’s a Rottweiler who thinks he’s a Yorkshire Terrier in size and weight.

(Laughs) It’s like humans though, isn’t it? It would be boring if everyone was the same.

‘Love Island’ has been in the news a lot lately in the build-up to the latest series launching in relation to its aftercare failings. What do you think of the situation?

What I said in the press recently, and some have twisted it, was that after axing Jeremy Kyle’s show, they were contradicting themselves by not axing ‘Love Island’, especially when there have been two suspected deaths (Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon). The show was never going to go away, it generates ITV too much money – last year it generated them £5 million just from the app – so it was always going to go ahead but I hope, really hope, that the aftercare is a lot better. That’s the thing for me.

Is there a wider issue with reality TV do you think?

Yes. This isn’t just about ‘Love Island’ let’s be honest, in reality TV in general, the producers are going to play with your emotions. A reality TV show is pretty boring if everyone’s happy, and that’s sad but it’s true. You then think who’s to blame for that and you’ve got social media which we all know can be pretty nasty at times.

One of the suspected deaths linked to ‘Love Island’ relates to your friend Sophie, who was with you on the show in 2016.

How big a part does social media play, emotionally? It must mentally take it’s toll when one minute you’re gaining a lot of followers and friends and the next week you have people saying anything they like at you?

Yes, it’s really hard. It’s a very vivid memory for me because it’s still so recent really and I think others who’ve been through something similar would back me up, but about a year and a half after our series of ‘Love Island’ had been on and everything had settled down, a new series was even airing, ITV sold our 2016 series to Netflix. But they didn’t let anyone know, so I woke up one morning to an extra 40,000 followers and just thought something had gone wrong on Instagram but it hadn’t, it was because the series was available to the world to watch. The fear and abuse from trolls came back overnight and I just didn’t have time to mentally prepare myself for it.

People say ‘but Zara you applied for the show’ and I did because you think you know what you’re getting yourself into. I mean, you apply because you want to get onto the reality TV show, however, I think there are ways the TV people and producers can help you cope and prepare for it all, and for us, we didn’t get that. So that was the hard part.

So there was nothing given to you to help you prepare for how life would change after the show?

No, there was nothing. They always said the support was there but they never offered it. So that was the hardest thing for a lot of us.

I mean when I was on the show around 400,000 people watched it nightly, now it’s four million. I hope things will change. I hope the aftercare will get better.

Before ‘Love Island’ had you watched much reality TV?

I was always a fan of ‘The X Factor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ so I’d definitely watched a bit.

Thinking back to the earliest series’ of ‘Big Brother’, do you think we lose our innocence around reality TV the more our favourite shows grow in popularity?

Yes. I don’t think TV producers ever expected that the public would be so interested in what goes on in other people’s lives here.

It’s kind of like legitimate curtain twitching, isn’t it?

Of course. I mean if you compare it to social media and think about how that’s changed – if you said ten years ago that companies would be paying bloggers to promote their products you’d probably think it was nonsense but that’s what happens.

Fingers crossed lessons are learnt moving forward.

Okay so let’s get back to Eddie. I always say that these are probably questions you won’t have been asked before – and probably won’t be again – so we can have some fun.

(Laughs) Okay.

If you were to swap roles with Eddie for a day, what would you love most about being him and how do you think he’d cope being you?

(Laughs) I’d love to be him for a day because he eats and sleeps a lot and he’s probably the most spoilt dog I’ve ever met. I think Eddie would get tired very quickly if he were me because I’m always so busy. I think he’d definitely miss his afternoon naps and snacks if he were me but I’d love to sleep as much as he does.

Dogs sleep on average between 11 and 14 hours a day, apparently.

That’s definitely Eddie, although when it gets to six o’clock he has a mad hour. He gets his squeaky toys and goes mad and all you hear is ‘squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak’.

We ask all of our celebrities this question, it’s all in the name of fun.

Based on personalities alone, which breeds of dog come to mind when you think of these celebrities and why?

David Walliams – (Laughs) He’s quite fun and bouncy, isn’t he? I think he’d be a Poodle because they’re quite energetic and funny and I think that would bring out his personality.

Jess Impiazzi – I know Jess. She’s so kind and loving I would say she’d be a Labrador because they’re very clever and super kind and I think that’s Jess all over. She’s so beautiful, she’s helped me through a lot and always been such a great friend.

Chris Hughes – I’ve met Chris too. I’m going to say he’d be a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel because Chris comes from the countryside down South and I think a Cavalier has a royal/posh look about them and I think Chris gives that vibe but at the same time he’s lovable and emotional when he’s in a relationship, as he is with Jesy (Nelson from Little Mix), and you can see all of that too.

Meghan Markle – I think she would be a Miniature Dachshund, beautiful in a small package. I love the breed but I think they can have quite a feisty side to them and especially with her doing acting as well, I think Meghan has both sides to her.

And what about you, what breed of dog would you be and why?

(Laughs) Oh, Kim! This is hard. Can I be Eddie again?

Of course.

Okay, I think I’d be Eddie (laughs).

Moving onto our quick-fire questions, are you ready?

Go for it.

Tell us something that not many people know about you.

I can’t drink gin. It goes straight to my head. (laughs).

Can you share with us what Eddie last did to make you really laugh out loud?

Last night it was Elliot’s birthday so we were all having a family dinner and I’d got him some balloons. They were on the table but I put the silver weight holding the three helium balloons together on the floor and we were all just chatting when all of a sudden we saw these balloons just move past us, it was like they were being blown away, but Eddie had actually got the end of the silver weight and was running outside with them and because he’s so little, all we could see was the three balloons just going outside (laughs). It was hilarious, my mum took a video of it.

Have you ever pictured Eddie with a voice? If so, what accent does he have?

(Laughs) I’m going to sound crackers but I have and because of his breed he has a French accent.

What do you think is the most important life lesson we can learn from dogs?

To not take life so seriously and just be happy.

Finish the following sentence, my dog is…

mischievous. No actually, because he’s a good boy I’m going to say my dog is handsome. He might be able to read. (laughs)

This is always a tough question so you might need some time to think about it, but if you could ask Eddie one question and one question only, what would you ask him and what do you think he’d say?

I would ask him ‘what’s the one thing you want to do?’ because I can then make sure we do it or if there was anything in particular that he wanted I could get it for him.

Many thanks, Zara!

(Article source: K9) 

Book Club: ‘Everyone is guaranteed at least two great dogs in a lifetime’

Dogs and stories are wound tightly through my life. And though they did not exactly save it they have made it infinitely richer, and – I think – made me a better person than I would have been without them, writes C.A. Fletcher, author of ‘A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World’.

The dog who was the model for the fictional Jip in this book was called Archie. And much like Jip, he wove himself through the childhood of our son and our daughter like a golden thread – through their childhood, from one end of their adolescence to the other, and on into their young adulthood. And perhaps more of a gold and black thread, since like Griz’s Jip in ‘A Boy and His Dog’, Archie was a rough-coated black-and-tan terrier, long-legged and fearless. He was somewhere between an Airedale and a Patterdale, a ‘Fell Terrier’ if anyone asked, which they often did. He was an eye-catcher.

My wife – who is an artist and dog-maker of some repute – has a pile of books about dogs that she often uses for reference and inspiration, and browsing through an antiquated encyclopaedia of dogs published in the early part of the last century I found a reference to an extinct breed called the Old English Terrier.

The description fit Archie perfectly, so – since make-believe is after all my stock-in-trade – I used to imagine that this was what he was – a noble remnant, the canine equivalent of ‘The Last of the Mohicans’. He was really a scrappy mongrel and all the better for his mixed blood. And then, as I was finishing the last chapters of this book, he died. It made me think about the dog that ran through my own childhood, and remember a letter my father wrote to me.

As an only child I grew up without siblings, but I never felt lonely. Partly this is because neighbouring families had boys of my age so I was part of a ready-made gang of five, partly it’s because I began to read early and always had a story to lose myself in when alone (I would climb a tree and wedge myself in a fork in the trunk and read hidden in amongst what felt – in a light breeze – like a slowly moving sea of leaves. But that’s a whole other story….). The main reason I never felt alone was because of a dog. And that dog was the best present an only child was ever given. On the morning of my fifth birthday, I walked into the kitchen and was pointed to a cardboard box in the corner. I can still feel the lurch of pure joy in my heart as I realised it was a puppy, a Golden Retriever, and he was for me.

The first thing he did was run into the larder and steal an onion. So I called him Robber, and the name stuck. And he wasn’t a pet or a possession, because that’s not really how kids and dogs work: he was just family, and he ran alongside me through my childhood as playmate and companion and was a touchstone of security and loyalty.

When I was small he lay beside by my bed, his fur under my hand as my parents read me stories at night, and though he was expressly forbidden to ever get on the bed, the moment they left I would pat the mattress and he would wake from feigned sleep and jump up. My parents were very good at turning a blind eye. Maybe they knew I really thought of him as a brother.

He lasted until I was away at University, and died when I was twenty-two. When my parents called to tell me, I walked to the end of a lonely pier jutting into the eye of a narratively convenient storm coming in off the North Sea and hid my tears in the wind and the rain.

My dad was not of a generation of men who spoke easily about emotions, but I still have the letter he wrote to me at the time. In unexpectedly moving language he said that if you were lucky you got several great dogs in a lifetime, but you were guaranteed at least two great ones: the one you grew up with, and the one you watch your child grow up with. Because of Archie, I now know that to be true. I also know he was trying to tell me that the end of something wasn’t always a permanent end, but could eventually be the start of something new and different.

The real point of the letter was not the truth of what my father was saying, but the fact he was saying it at all: it was the first time I looked up and realised that there was a whole unexpected emotional story going on beneath my father’s habitually gruff and somewhat stormy exterior that I had, until then, been blind to.

And maybe because I was studying literature and was for the first time acknowledging to myself that I wanted to be a writer, and so was thinking about stories as something I wanted to make, rather than just consume, I now think that letter made me realise two important things.

Firstly that character reveals itself as much by what is not said as it does by what is and secondly that it reveals a lot about itself by the timing of that moment when what has not been said is finally voiced. That unexpectedness, those contradictions between light and shade, all the inner conflicts at odds with the outer appearance are what make characters really sing and stick in our minds. That’s why I’ve always loved Robert Louis Stevenson’s Long John Silver and Alan Breck Stewart, one an unrepentant, silver-tongued pirate but an honest one in his way, and the other a gallant hero, but also – possibly – a murderer.

Maybe the real work of stories is actually done in the bits between the words, where there is space for the reader to get in and come to their own conclusions about the truth.

P.S. Turns out my dad was right about something else. I’m lucky. I got more than just the two guaranteed great dogs.

So far the count is four: not only do we have Bobby – Archie’s ‘wife’, who my wife rescued off the streets, but the week I sent the manuscript of this book to my editor, we got a new dog. He’s a terrier too, shorter legs but so far, all the indications are that he has just as fearless a heart.

And, because of course, we had to, we call him Jip. And so the story continues…

About the Author

Charlie Fletcher is a screenwriter and children’s author living in Edinburgh. His latest novel, ‘A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World’ was written under the pseudonym C.A. Fletcher.

Charlie’s Stoneheart trilogy has been translated into a dozen languages and the film rights have been sold to Paramount. The first volume, Stoneheart, was shortlisted for the Branford Boase award and long-listed for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

His standalone novel for children, Far Rockaway, was published last year to great critical acclaim and has been long-listed for the Carnegie prize. He can be found on Twitter at @CharlieFletch_r.

(Article source: K9) 

Hydrotherapy hounds: Does hydrotherapy work for dogs?

Trendy health fads seem to come and go on an almost weekly basis. We always seem to be hearing about the latest, greatest health, fitness or diet regimes that the stars all swear by.


The trouble with health fads is they have a tendency to cloud popular opinion of some relatively new or lesser known treatments that actually work.

Hydrotherapy works. It is not a fad and many dogs have reason to be grateful for its existence. So now that’s out of the way – the fact that hydrotherapy is a real treatment that produces real benefits – let’s take a closer look at what it is and what it does.

What is canine hydrotherapy?

Simply put, hydrotherapy is the use of water for the treatment of illness or injury. In the case of canine hydrotherapy, it allows a dog to take part in controlled swimming exercise which can be particularly beneficial to joints, muscles and limbs as they recover from injury. It offers a therapeutic, relaxed and enjoyable workout, which many dogs are deprived of in day to day life.

Arthritic joints or limbs recovering from injury or surgery benefit particularly. Controlled swimming allows muscles to be stimulated and exercised without the stress element associated with land-based exercise, causing potential pain.

Vets recommend a course of hydrotherapy for pre- and post-surgical conditioning, to reduce weight in obese animals, for painless exercise for pets with arthritis or dysplasia, cardiovascular workout for seniors, rehabilitation for stroke sufferers, and pain management.

It is used in many orthopaedic conditions both pre-operatively to improve muscle tone to affected limbs (for instance, prior to total hip replacement) and post-operatively to improve repair – for instance in the post-operative care of cruciate ligament rupture, osteochondrosis or fracture repair where light swimming can begin as soon as the sutures have been removed.

Preliminary observations suggest that hydrotherapy if initiated early in the course of the disease, can help to maintain muscle tone in cases of degenerative myelopathy, also known as degenerative radiculomyelopathy (CDRM) and other neurological diseases with similar presenting signs.

In show dogs and racing dogs, it provides an effective means of maintaining fitness and toning muscle, particularly in the winter months, and is a valuable aid to weight control in the obese pet.

Immediate benefits of hydrotherapy for dogs

Hydrotherapy techniques help to relieve pain and strengthen and re-train muscles; because the animal is effectively weightless when swimming. Hydrotherapy acts by encouraging a full range of joint motion, thus improving muscle tone without imposing undue stress on damaged tissues. This is why results can be seen quickly.

Each hydrotherapy session should be tailored to an individual dog’s condition and fitness levels – all dogs should, therefore, visit through a referral from a veterinary surgeon. An assessment of the dog’s condition will be made and the treatment given at each session recorded.

In this way, the progress that the dog makes can be monitored. The rate at which such progress is made will be dependent on the breed of dog, condition for which it is being treated, age and fitness level.

Health & safety

There is no set size for a hydrotherapy pool. All pools should have water heated to a temperature in the range of 24 to 30C and should allow all year round operation.

It goes without saying that the combination of water and electrical circuitry makes it essential that the owners and operators of hydrotherapy pools adhere to strict safety standards. There are appropriate safety certificates for owners of hydrotherapy pools.

Cleanliness of the water is a critical factor. All regulated pools must regularly test their water quality and in busy periods this would be several times each day. This is to ensure no harmful bacteria are present and there is no risk of cross infection. In the case of hydrotherapy pools operated under the guidance of The Canine Hydrotherapy Association, their members are required to keep detailed records of water quality.

How to choose a canine hydrotherapy practitioner

The Canine Hydrotherapy Association (CHA) is a UK-based nonprofit organisation that provides self-regulation for the animal hydrotherapy sector. Aquatherapist Malcolm Adler has this advice for people searching for a reputable hydrotherapy pool operator:

“There is no statutory requirement for Canine Hydrotherapists in the UK to undergo training. It is always advisable to visit a hydrotherapy pool before you begin any treatment programme, to inspect the facilities, ask about qualifications and training, check water quality and insurance cover, and discuss your dog’s condition and the treatment programme. The key aspect is quality treatment for your dog.”

Because hydrotherapists do not have any compulsory regulation to adhere to, as is the case with dog trainers or behaviour professionals, it does not always mean that a non-accredited practitioner is necessarily a bad one. Use your discretion as a customer and speak to as many people as possible, especially your vet, when searching for a suitable hydrotherapy practice.


Rates for a hydrotherapy session are set by individual therapists and will vary according to the facility and its location. Typically a session will allow for up to 30 minutes, to include time for drying the dog afterwards. Fees are normally in the range of £15 – £35 per session. In most centres, owners are encouraged to attend sessions to help reassure their dog during its initial exposure to water.

Interested in hydrotherapy for your dog?

If you think your dog could benefit from a hydrotherapy session, speak to your vet and see if they can recommend a hydrotherapy practitioner in your area. You might also like to contact some hydrotherapy pool operators and ask if they would be prepared to let you inspect their facilities or maybe talk to some of their existing clients about their experiences.

In much the same way that it is important to dog owners to inspect a new boarding kennel and get a general feeling of confidence about the people running the operation, always be prepared to visit premises and ask lots of questions.

(Article source: K9)