Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Famous Dogs

With Britain’s Got Talent in full swing, we’re looking forward to seeing the next talented pooch take to the stage, on our screens. Over the years many dogs have wowed, impressed and stolen the nation’s hearts. We know all our furry, four legged friends are special and unique, but here is a few of the wonderful hounds who have found themselves in the lime light and taken to a life a showbiz;

Lassie- Who doesn’t wish they had a pet like Lassie?! There was no situation the beautiful collie couldn’t fix; she showed the courage and loyalty so many dogs offer their families. Although the scripted Lassie was of course a girl, there were a cast of 6 male dogs who played the role.

Beethoven- As fun loving and clumsy as this huge St Bernard was, he never failed to steal everybody’s hearts with his loyalty and protective nature.

Rin Tin Tin (Rinty)- Appeared in  27 Hollywood movies, and in 1929 received the most votes for the first academy award for Best Actor, It was however, ultimately decided the award should go to a human….Booo!

Chandi – The 2010 Britain’s got talent star, was something of an inspirational story, fished out of the dog pound in 1997 by his faithful owner Tina, she went on to win the inaugural Crufts HTM/Freestyle Final in 2005 and then clocked up an impressive hat trick of wins in 2009 at Crufts, winning all three HTM, Freestyle and International Freestyle Finals in the same year setting three records (that still remain) ; first dog to win a total of four Crufts titles, first dog to win both HTM and Freestyle at the same Crufts and first dog to win all three finals in the same year! To then finish fourth in the 2010 series of BGT and publish her own book the following year, this talented, zero to hero pup has built up quite the profile!

Pudsey- Britain’s got talent 2012 saw the lovable Border Collie, Bischon Frise and Chinese Crested powder-puff cross take the crown, to go on and
perform for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in front of the Queen. Pudsey and his talented owner Ashleigh are now working hard on ‘Pudsey; The Movie’ due to be released in May this year!

Of course all these wonderful dogs deserve our attention and applause for their impeccable skills and dedication, along with their owners and trainers, but they are not the only ones to make it to our screens or tug on those heart strings. Dogs all over the world and constantly serving, entertaining and working for us in ways that must be highlighted and respected; Working Police, War and Farm dogs, Rescue and Guide dogs, Athletes, Homing dogs, Mascots, Sled dogs and everyday loyal and heroic pets that have helped in a search and rescue or aided saving the life of a human. Dogs, have, for many years played a vital role in the development and success of our culture, so the next time your delightful pup is chewing on your new trainer or splashing mud up your wall, just give him a hug and remember, we as a nation, wouldn’t be where we are today without these wonderful creatures!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Hair Reveals Horse Temperament

A whorl of hair can tell you something about a horse's temperament, according to equine scientists in Poland. They've concluded that the location and shape of a hair swirl lying near a horse's eyes is linked with how the horse responds to handling and to new objects.
The study was with Konik horses, some of which were reared in stables, while others roamed free in a forest reserve. Four types of facial whorls existed among the horses. The whorls were classified based on their location relative to the horse's eyes. One type of whorl was an elongated or double swirl of facial hair rather than a single circle.
The various whorls became distinguished in two test situations. Horses with a single whorl located above the eyes were the most difficult to handle. In comparison, horses with a single whorl situated below or directly between their eyes were easier to manage.
Horses with an elongated or double hair whorl were the most cautious of the groups in approaching a strange object. They took much longer than the single-whorled horses to approach and touch something new.
Situations also arose where the whorl pattern and position had no connection with a horse's behavior. For one, whorls had no bearing on a horse's startle reaction to a strange object suddenly appearing before them. The study also did not find any difference in heart rate and increases in heart rate among the groups.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Amazing Stories - Toby

My story is about my rescue dog, Toby, who is now 10 years old.
I rescued Toby when he was just two years old.  He had been abandoned by people in a car and had been taken to a rescue centre.
Toby was very fearful when I first took him home.  He would react to other dogs and strangers by barking and lunging at them.  Over the following years I trained Toby tirelessly, going to training classes, one to one training with a professional trainer, group walks with other dogs to socialise him.
Gradually, Toby's confidence grew and he was able to mix with other dogs and go for days out - he became a happier dog.
In 2009 (three years after rescuing Toby), I split with my partner.  He wouldn't let me take Toby with me and it ended up that we had joint custody of Toby.  It was so hard having Toby for a week and then taking him back to my ex for a week.  I missed my boy so much on the weeks he wasn't with me.  I took legal advice and was told that if it went to court, it was unlikely that anything would change - dogs are regarded as "chattel" and because he had lived with the two of us over three years, then my ex would have just as much right to Toby as I did.  I knew my ex was doing this to be spiteful - he even went and got another dog during this time but still wouldn't let me have Toby back.
Fortunately, Toby was a little star during this time.  He coped really well, his behaviour never altered - when I picked him up and brought him home, he would bark with delight and run round the living room carrying his bone!
I decided that I wanted to do a bit more with Toby in the way of training and one day I thought, that's it - I will train him up to be a Pets as Therapy dog.  Nobody thought it would be possible - he pulled on the lead, he could still be a bit wary of strangers etc - people told me not to get my hopes up.  I owed it to Toby to do this - he was so good in coping with the shared custody, that I thought I've got to do this.  So, we trained again - going to pet shops, coping with the distractions of other pets, the temptation of treats on the shelves.
Eventually, we were assessed by an assessor from Pets as Therapy and we passed - it was such a proud moment.  Since then, we have been able to visit residential homes for the elderly, where it makes their day to see him.
The icing on the cake was Valentines Day this year - I got a text from my ex saying that he didn't want to see Toby anymore - at last, my boy was home for good.  Just over three years of him having to go back and to and now he is with me every single day.  He is such a special boy and I treasure every day I spend with him.  It has taught me to never take anything for granted and also that you should never, ever give up on your dreams.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Why choose Memory Foam for your dog's bed?

Memory foam dog beds
Until recent times, orthopaedic and memory foam dog beds were some-what rare and expensive, targeted almost exclusively to pets suffering with arthritis, joint or hip pain. Even in the human market, these styles of mattress were mostly the domain of the rich or those in need of specialised care. Spreading wildly through hospitals and veterinary centres, they were soon seen to make large impacts on the recovery and well-being of patients.

However, over the years, the comfort of memory foam is becoming more available to us, with the development of many new products making the market competitive and prices more affordable. Great news for the dog owners amongst us! With most of the nation now making use of the benefits of memory foam on our own beds, we are pleased to see affordable options to provide those benefits and comfort for our beloved pets arriving too.

How does memory foam work?
Memory foam was created in the 1970’s by NASA, designed to provide support and maintain a stable body temperature for long periods of time, whilst spreading pressure equally over the body, avoiding pressure points.

Memory foam’s visco-elastic structure aids by relieving the pressure on bodies which in turn relieves, rheumatic, muscular, circulatory, arthritic hip and joint pain, whilst providing anatomical and orthopaedic support. Memory foam responds to temperature and distributes it through the surface to prevent isolated heat patches, making for a comfortable rest, no more pressure points, reduced pain, less discomfort and no more restless nights.

Other benefits
By providing a comfortable, supportive, temperature regulating surface for your pooch to sleep on you are not only aiding healthy joints and reducing muscle pain, dogs rest better, feeling less disturbed during the night, which means less throwing themselves on the hard, cooler floor, less scratching around and the sometimes inevitable, once awake, midnight loo call.

What to consider?
There are many styles of memory foam dog beds available, it is important when deciding which is best for
your dog, you look at the actual depth of MF (memory foam) layer compared to regular foam. As a rough guide, dependant on factors such as the quality of the foam being used, the weight of the dog and the amount of orthopaedic support required, you should be looking for no less than 5 cm of actual memory foam layer.

Dog bed decisions
Without doubt a good quality memory foam mattress can ease the pain and discomfort of dogs suffering with stiffness, joint or muscular pain. But that doesn’t mean they should be restricted to medical use. Memory foam beds can provide support and comfort to all types of dogs, especially older dogs, over-weight dogs, restless sleepers and those that just can’t quite get comfortable.                                

We can all feel a little sore or achey in the morning, dogs make no exception to this, no matter their age or physical condition all dogs can benefit from memory foam.

You can buy a range of Memory foam dog beds on www.4legsonline.co.uk

References; vetnet.co.uk,memoryfoamwarehouse.co.uk,dogsmedicalguide.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Amazing dogs - Ruby's Story

After suffering from depression for nearly 25 years and going in and out of therapy, Loosing my dad at the age of 11 and the constant bullying I suffered, the name calling, being punched and slapped, spat on and told how useless I was and I would never mount to anything in my life, i was beaten, I lost all my confidence, I never went our and never really had any friends. I work go to work and come home, and even that was a chore. After having my daughter I developed an eating disorder with I am still battling now, Life I as I knew it had ended!

Ruby came into my life as a 7.5 week old puppy, My friend asked me to go and have a look at her puppies, in the hope they would put a smile on my face. I agreed and went to look at the puppies all were
bounding around, apart from one tiny puppy which just sat in the corner of the room away from the other pups, My friend said that this poor little girl was bullied by her litter mates and was so scared of the other puppies, A lump stuck in my throat as I was taken back to my childhood and all the memorie
s came flooding back of the torment I went through for 6 years at school with bullying which started just after my dad had died.

We decided to give this very special little girl a chance that I never had, A way out from the sadness and torment that I had gone through, I took her home.From day one Ruby followed me everywhere, it was as if she knew how ill I was and that I so desperately needed a friend. She seemed to know what I was thinking and that I didn't want to be here anymore. Very slowly Ruby taught me to start to trust people again, I never used to go out and the world can be so cruel.
When Ruby was about 10 months old, I took Ruby to a local spring fayre with my daughter as I couldn't go to places alone. Ruby pulled me over to a ring where a fun dog show was going on and looked up and my with her beautiful brown eyes as if to say come on mum we can do this together, All of a sudden it seemed as if a light had been switched on in me that had been out for so many years, I felt an over whelming serge of love for this very special little dog. I felt that little bit braver and decided to give it a go. As I stood in the ring shaking as the judge came closer to speak to me about Ruby, I found the courage to speak to the judge with a shakey voice. 5 minutes later, the judge pointed as Ruby and me and gave Ruby a first place Rosette. I picked Ruby up and hugged her tight crying into her fur, she licked my face as to say, look mum we did it.
 Ruby follows me wherever I go and I take her everywhere with me. She has given me the confidence to get out and start meeting people again.

Just a year after getting Ruby I was diagnosed with skin cancer, Ruby gave me the strength to carry on through the 2 operations and treatment I had to remove to cancer, she would come running to me when I came home from the hospital and would never leave my side. Thankfully I am now all clear of cancer.

I still find it really hard if I don't have Ruby with me, and she makes me such a strong person. I have good and bad days, but Ruby is always by my side. She never judges me or tells me to pull myself together, and she is always there for me. I can never repay Ruby for what she has done for me. Ruby is my world and my lifeline, and I truly believe that if it wasn't for her I'm not sure that I would be here today. I love my Ruby so much."

Sadly in January this year, Ruby needed patella surgery.

Ruby had been there for me all throughout my illness and now it was my turn to be there for her. My vets gave me special permission to stay whilst she had her op as the thought of leaving her broke my heart. I held her after she had her pre-med, when she was sleepy the vet came and took her from me, I gave ruby kisses and waited for her during her surgery. Almost 2 hours later they came and got me so I was with her when she woke up, she was still very sleepy as I sat in her kennel talking to her, but she knew I was there, she crawled over and climbed into my lap for a cuddle. She amazed the vets and nurses on how quickly she came around and how she had the strength to crawl to me, I held her for about half an hour and spoke softly to her, when she fell back to sleep I left her for the evening my eyes full of tears. I must of drove the vets mad as I called them all afternoon and evening and all Friday making sure she was ok. She refused to eat anything whilst being in there, not even her favorite chicken. On Friday I was finally aloud to pick her up at 4.30 and the time couldn't come quick enough. As soon as she saw me she was so happy and she cried (as well as me) all the whole way home in the car. She ate a huge plate of chicken and smoked salmon and then we sat together the whole night and we slept with together, the following morning she woke up looking bright. She has a very long road ahead of her but with all the TLC she is getting and the therapy we have planned, I'm hoping its not going to be long until she up and about chasing her ball again.

Ruby Is my whole world and I owe her my life. I would do anything for my special little angel, Ruby Roo I love you xxxxx  

Thank you for reading our story,
 Karen & Ruby Roo xx

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Tying up troubles

The winter has been pretty kind to us this year, and one Monday morning in January, we were discussing, over breakfast, how well all the horses are looking and feeling. The going still good, the horses all fit and the weather mild, a perfect recipe for equestrians.
We saddled up, ready to exercise the horses on their usual 5 mile hack, having hunted the Saturday and rested the Sunday they are always keen to see us on Monday morning, today being no exception. Just 10 minutes into our ride, Plujia, a 5 year old, Andalusian mare, slowed up quite suddenly, her head low and her legs like pegs, we knew at once she was ‘tying up.’  Fortunately we were still not far from the yard and instantly dismounted, walked her home and called our vet.
Although we could recognise the signs of ‘tying up’ quickly and have seen and heard of it many times in others horses, I felt very worried, it suddenly occurred to me how little I knew about this condition, so I decided to do a bit of research to gain a better understanding.

What is ‘tying up?’
‘Tying up’ also known as azotoria, is a muscular condition, for years it has been believed to be caused by lactic acid build up in the horses’ muscles, often seen in working horses who have been given high concentrate feeds on a day off, usually a Sunday, hence the condition often referred to, as ‘Monday morning disease.’ The fact that most horses’ high energy rations were not reduced on their day off was thought to be the main contributing factor to an attack.                                                  

Research over the past decade, however, has led to azotoria being termed a ‘syndrome’ in which multiple possible underlying causes can produce similar symptoms (shortening of the muscles). With almost any breed possible of being affected, it occurs in approximately 3% of horses in work.

Possible causes:
‘Tying up’ can be either sporadic or recurrent, with many causes for both. Recurrent tying up episodes are usually due to underlying conditions that cause muscular abnormalities. Recurrent Exertional Rhabdomylysis (RER) is thought to be an inherited, intermittent, stress-induced defect in the muscle contraction regulation, thought to be caused by abnormal regulation of calcium with the muscle cells. Young, nervous fillies appear particularly susceptible, encouraging studies into the relevance of hormones. These horses tie up on more than one occasion.

Sporadic tying up episodes are usually a one-off, caused by specific nutritional or environmental factors – excessive concentrate feeding, electrolyte depletion, over-working an unfit horse or after resting a fit horse, they can also be secondary to a viral respiratory infection. As long as the condition is managed appropriately these horses usually recover well and do not suffer further episodes.

Avoiding Azotoria
Although some cases are un-avoidable, as owners we can do our best to carefully manage our horses diet and exercise to minimise the risk of tying up:

Nutrition:- Avoid high-concentrate feed rations, high fibre, low starch and high oil diets are beneficial. Adequate forage is essential and calculating hard- feeding relevant to exercise.
Exercising:- Be sure your horse is appropriately fit for the level of work you ask of them. Regular daily exercise and/or turnout is recommended.

Vitamin E and Selenium supplementation:- Both are anti-oxidants that may aid prevention of tying up, although it is important that you do not give your horse too much selenium.

Electrolyte supplementation:- Replenishing your horses electrolyte levels( particularly sodium and calcium) can be useful especially when your horse has been sweating a lot.

What to look out for
Classic signs of tying up include stiffness and reluctance to move, about 10-15 minutes after the onset of aerobic exercise. Typically involving the large back muscles and hindquarters, the affected horse may start sweating heavily, have a stilted gait and increased respiratory rate. In severe cases the forelegs may, too, be affected, and the horse will not be able to move, sometimes even laying down.

What to do
If you suspect your horse may be tying up, stop exercise immediately, dismount and call your vet, If your horse is really stiff it is best not to move him until the vet arrives to avoid any further muscle damage, if he is very hot and sweaty, wash him down with cool water, then keep him warm with a cooler type rug, but not hot. 

You can offer hay and water, but avoid giving hard feed. Your vet will normally diagnose tying up based on the clinical signs, however a blood test can be done to confirm diagnosis as the muscle enzymes CK (Creatine Kinase) and AST(Aspartate Transferase) are released from damaged muscle cells when the condition strikes. It is likely your vet will then investigate the cause which may involve a muscle biopsy.

Mild cases;- Where the horse is a bit stiff but able to move relatively easily, generally these horses recover uneventfully after a couple of weeks’ paddock rest, along with some anti-inflammatories and appropriate diet and exercise management.

Severe cases;-Where the horse is unable to move or is laying down, distressed, off his food or has discoloured urine (due to myoglobin) the vet will enforce a treatment strategy that may involve intensive intravenous fluid therapy to maintain kidney function and help flush out harmful myoglobin.

Fortunately for us, Plujia recovered in a matter of weeks and we are 100% sure it was a genuine case of excess hard feed on a day off. It is, however, interesting to note all the other causes of this commonly heard of condition and important that horse owners know to act quickly when azotoria presents itself.                                   

The learning journey continues…………………………………………………………………………

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

What Is Heelwork To Music? An interview with Tara Fisher

Heelwork to Music is a competition giving handlers an opportunity to demonstrate skilful movements by their dog and to perform heelwork and freestyle movements in a combined manner that interprets the chosen music and reflects the dog and handler working as a team.

This is done by incorporating Obedience skills within a choreographed routine, which has been devised by the handler, alongside a chosen piece of music.
There are two types of class, Freestyle and Heelwork, the main difference being that Heelwork focuses on a dog's ability to stay in variations of the heel position while the handler moves to music, whereas Freestyle demands that the dog perform a variety of tricks and other Obedience talents not necessarily in the heel position.

Can Any Dog Take Part?
Heelwork to Music is open to all dogs so your dog does not have to be a pedigree or pure-bred dog to take part, but it must be registered with the Kennel Club on either the Breed Register or the Activity Register.
All competing dogs must be aged 12 calendar months or over on the day of a Heelwork competition whilst all competing dogs must be aged 18 calendar months or over on the day of a Freestyle competition.
If you decide that Heelwork to Music is the activity for you and your dog, your next step is to receive some expert training, for a list of Heelwork to Music training clubs, call 0844 463 3980, ext. 212 or visit the Find a Club page. Handlers are placed into the age group in accordance with their age on the first day of Crufts.

An Interview with Tara Fisher
Tara was lucky enough to compete at Crufts 2014 – we went to watch her and interviewed her afterwards. She did fantastically well!
Hi Tara, how old and you and where are you from? I am 16, From Lincolnshire

What type of dog do you have & what is his name? My dog is a Yorkshire terrier called Alfie who is 6 years old

How did you get into Heelwork to music & how long have you been doing it? I got into Heelwork to music through friends an me and Alfie have been training for almost a year.

Competing at Crufts must have been exciting – how did you feel? Was 2014 your first year competing at Crufts? Competing at Crufts was exciting and nerve racking too, this year was my first year ever to compete in any discipline at Crufts, I did enjoy, I am so proud of my dog and would love to compete again next year.

What would you say to anyone your age wanting to get into heelwork to music? To anyone wanting to compete in heelwork to music, there is one key thing you must have, fun, as without it, your training can become stressful for both you and your dog. To anyone wanting to compete in heelwork to music I would say good luck, as all you need is you, your dog and a piece of music which you can choreograph to then your away!