Getting a dog can be such a wonderful and exciting experience but it’s also a huge responsibility too, and the pressures on us to get it right have never been greater.
The sad results of getting it wrong can be found up and down the country in our dog pounds and rescue centres, which is why Dogs Trust recently launched their campaign to ask everyone to really stop and think before committing to the lifelong care of a dog: Press Paws for Dogs Trust
No wonder. There is an awful lot to think about, for example:
- Should you get a puppy or an older dog?
- Should you go to a breeder or save a dog in a rescue centre?
- If you want to get a puppy from a breeder, how do you choose a breeder who is trustworthy?
- What size, breed and energy of dog is right for you and your family?
- What should you feed your dog? Is raw better than proprietary dog foods?
- How do you properly socialise your puppy/dog?
- Do you need a crate and, if so, what size is right and how do you crate train your dog?
- What else will you need in the way of equipment?
- What’s the best way to house train your puppy?
- How long can your dog/puppy be left alone?
- How much exercise does your dog need?
- When should you start training and what does your dog need to learn?
- Do you need insurance? How do you choose what’s best for you?
- What will happen when you go on holiday?
- How do you know when your dog is sick?
- What are your legal obligations?
- What is it all going to cost and what will happen if your circumstances change?
Not only does the list seems endless but the advice does to. Everyone, it seems, has their opinion about what you should and should not do, sometimes making it even harder to know where to start.
I’ve had dogs pretty much all my life and when I got Kodi as a pup 7 years ago, I was pretty sure I knew everything I needed to know. However, even with all my past experience, with hindsight I now know I still made a few mistakes along the way. Little wonder first time dog owners so often get themselves in a mess!
Which is why we think the idea of going to classes to learn all about getting the right dog for you, as well as discovering just what is going to be involved in taking care of him/her BEFORE you commit yourself is such a good idea: Dog Trouble Consultations – Getting A Dog
If you or someone you know is thinking about getting a dog soon, please, please make sure you/they have considered what is involved very carefully and that you take the trouble to learn everything you can first – no dog deserves to become someone’s ‘mistake’.
but, for how long…?
Last year more than 112,000 stray and abandoned dogs were picked up by Local Authorities across the UK. While it’s good to know that there is somewhere safe lost dogs can be taken and cared for, what many people don’t realise is that local authorities are only obliged to keep a stray dog for just 7 days. If a dog is not claimed by its owner within that time the dog becomes the property of the council and will either be re-homed or, in some cases, may even be PTS.
7 days is not long, which is why it is vital that, should you lose your dog, you contact your local authority dog warden service as soon as possible. Of course, if your dog is microchipped, and the records are up-to-date, it is likely the local authority will be able to contact you fairly quickly but, microchips can fail, and name tags can come off, so even that is not a 100% guarantee.
Thankfully, many rescue centres will take dogs from council pounds for rehoming if they are not reclaimed, and there are also charities such as Safe and Sound specifically set up to save unclaimed strays by working to secure rescue placements with established rehoming centres, as well as arranging the transportation of dogs from pounds to places of safety.
To rescue an unclaimed dog from a pound and transport it to a rescue centre requires lots of planning as well as volunteers to provide transport. Sometimes temporary boarding in private kennels is necessary too, and stray dogs may have medical expenses to meet as well. Without the money raised by their fundraisers, none of the work Safe and Sound do would be possible. If you think you could help, please check out their fundraising ideas or maybe consider becoming a fosterer or part of their volunteer transport network team: Click here for details
You had better be on the look out for more than just a ‘teddy bear’s picnic’. For some time now, we have been made aware of the potential dangers of something dubbed Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI). According to the Animal Heath Trust, cases of this mysterious illness are normally seen between August and November and can cause dogs to become very ill, very quickly after being walked in woodland. The most common signs are sickness, diarrhoea and lethargy. If you suspect your dog is showing signs of SCI then please contact your vet immediately as, untreated, this illness can lead to death. Although researchers are confident that they are homing in on the causes of this illness much more needs to be done before a definitive answer is found.
As if this were not worrying enough, just the other day we were made aware of the heartbreaking story of a 4 year old dog that died last week after being poisoned on a woodland walk in a working forest near Petersfield. Her distraught owners were horrified to learn that she had most likely been poisoned with bait which, according to the forestry commission, had deliberately been left out for grey squirrels – something that, apparently, is perfectly legal and can be quite common in certain woodland across the UK between March and August: Grey squirrel damage control with Warfarin
Although this document makes it clear the poison used should be mixed with wheat and placed in special hoppers designed to keep other animals ‘safe’, we have since heard of another dog who died the same way so, obviously, these hoppers are not as good as they need to be in some cases! Personally, I am against leaving out poisons like this for any reason because, so often, we seem to end up doing more damage than intended. However, given that, at the moment anyway, there appears to be nothing to stop this horrible practice, obviously this in now another thing dog owners need to add to the list of dangers to watch out for when walking our dogs between March and November. Let’s hope our dogs are still safe from December to February, apart from accidentally falling through a frozen pond, that is…
By the way, We also heard over the weekend of a new case of a dog dying of kidney failure after a walk in the New Forest near Linwood. A local vet believes the cause to be the same as whatever killed several dogs earlier this year in that area. Take care, everyone!
There have been several articles in the press recently about the bacteria our pets carry and, for once, the news has been good rather than bad, with research indicating that homes with dogs in, for example, also seem to have kids with less allergies: Dogs bring bacteria in homes and that’s a good thing
We also know that stroking cats and dogs can lower the blood pressure and make us feel more positive while several studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home. Even heart attack patients who have pets appear to survive longer than those without, while many pet owners often have less signs of heart disease, including lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-owners.
Particularly for anyone who lives alone, pets are also a wonderful source of loyal companionship too and, in some cases, can even be great matchmakers when owners meet and strike up conversations about their pets!
In fact, according to WebMD, if you’re counting, there are as many as 27 ways in which pets can improve our health, from ensuring we take some exercise to acting as therapy pets:27 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health.
Just how many medicines do you know that can claim to do all that, and without any negative side-effects either?
Take Your Dog To Work Day® this year is on June 21st, which is less than month away now so, if you are thinking of finding out whether you could join in the fun and take your best friend to the office with you, now is the time to get started.
Take Your Dog To Work Day® (TYDTWDay®) was originally created by Pet Sitters International way back in 1999 to celebrate the great companions dogs make and to encourage their adoption from animal shelters. Now a worldwide annual event, TYDTWD give pet lovers the chance to celebrate the humane-canine bond as well as to promote pet adoption by encouraging their employers to open their workplace to employees’ four-legged friends on this special day.
Got to the TYDTWD Registration Page to find out more and to download your free 2013 Action Pack with everything you need to explain the concept to your boss and help you and your employer organise your company’s event. Don’t forget to check out the 7 rules for success too!
To further help promote dog adoption, why not consider teaming up with a local animal rescue centre – see our list of Berkshire Local Welfare & Rescue Centres – and maybe ask if they can bring along some adoptable dogs to your office on the day?
If you do organise a local event in your workplace, we’d love to see your photos of the day.
With so much talk about dogs and the law recently, and everyone having an opinion on if or how the Dangerous Dogs Act should be amended, we thought it would make a change to have a look at how the law relates to our feline friends.
The Animal Welfare Act of 2006 applies to both domestic and feral cats and, as well as addressing cruelty offences, it also places an obligation on anyone responsible for a cat or cats to ensure that their needs are properly met: Cats and the law.
The penalties for committing an offence of cruelty, or for failing to provide for any animal’s welfare needs, currently include a ban from owning animals, a fine of up to £20,000 and, in some cases, a six month prison sentence. However, many people consider these penalties to be nowhere near severe enough. If you agree, you may like to check out Alfie’s Law Foundation to find out more about the campaign to do something about this.
Because a cat is regarded as property, cat theft is treated as an offence in the same way as the theft of any other personal belongings. This also means that, if you find a stray cat, you have a legal obligation to do everything possible to find the cat’s original owner before considering adopting it yourself.
While it is commonly accepted that cats have the right to wander around freely, owners do have a general duty at law to ensure their pets don’t cause injury or damage to people and property. However, it has to be said that legal cases regarding such issues are rare. It is, however, an offence to injure or kill a cat belonging to someone else with out a ‘lawful excuse’. So, if your cat is annoying your neighbour by digging in her garden, for example, while there is nothing she can legally do about it, in the interests of neighbourly harmony it’s a good idea to make it clear you do not object to her chasing your cat away and, of course, ensuring that your cat has a litter tray at home to discourage him from going outside.
Although in many homes dogs and cats live together quite happily, the expression ‘fighting like cats and dogs’, is a well-known and much used one in our society. Currently, there are around 50 cats killed by dogs in England every year, plus who knows how many injured, and some would like to see dog owners prosecuted for such attacks.
Last week, the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee recommended that the Dangerous Dogs Act should be extended to cover dog attacks that injure protected animals, including cats: One step closer to a cat-friendly law
Those opposed to this recommendation, however, believe this is going too far because even the most well-behaved dog will chase a cat given the right circumstances. While dog owners should be encouraged to do everything they can to prevent such incidents, and also to help with veterinary costs should their dog injure a cat, is it really reasonable to make what is usually just an unfortunate accident into a criminal offence?