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“When you rescue a dog, you save three lives; the dog you give a home to, the dog that will fill the rescue space, and of course yourself.  You're doing an amazing thing!”

This is how Paula feels about her rescue dogs Riley and Mitzi and her words will move anyone who has taken in a dog from a shelter.

Four years ago, she was working in talent management, looking after celebrities like Kerry Katona and Margi Clarke, putting in long days and partying into the small hours and it took its toll on her health. 

Kerry Katona was a client
And so was TV's Margi Clarke!
Paula with Ian Brown
With Bez from the Happy Mondays
Then her dad Paul Riley Stewart was diagnosed with cancer

He’d dedicated his life to helping animals and Paula decided to take a year out and leave Liverpool to return to Yorkshire to care for him.

She said: “It meant I got to spend time with dad when he needed me. Dad was such a kind person. He’d always worked in the countryside and loved animals.

“He’d protected badgers, toads, newts and foxes and would put himself in the line of fire, going out to stop hunting and badger baiting and risking his life to save theirs.

“He had lung cancer and it spread to his bones. There was nothing the doctors could do. But I treasure the time we had together.

“Dad had two cats, Bilboa and Frodo and they both died shortly before he passed away at the age of just 64. Losing them broke his heart and while I was devastated to lose Dad, I knew he wasn’t suffering anymore.”

Paula's inspiration - her dad Paul Riley Stewart
Afterwards, Paula returned to Liverpool and took some time to reflect

She decided to honour his memory by going to Merseyside Dogs Home to see about adopting a dog.

She said: “As I walked around the cages, one dog stepped forward and put her paw on the grills. She was Mitzi, a Rottweiler Mastiff cross and it was like she was reaching out to me.

“Behind her I saw a pool of blood so I asked the volunteer what it was. She explained Mitzi had Stress Colitis and when she went to the loo, she passed blood.

“She’d been picked up as a stray and rehomed many times but each time she was returned because of her condition. Being in the home made her stressed so she was caught in a vicious circle.

“It absolutely broke my heart. I’d suffered with Crohn’s disease for many years and I could identify with her - I had to take her.

“She came home and it felt like she was terrified we’d hurt her. She was so thin people would stop me in the street and asked if she was abused.

“I’d explain we’d rescued her. We’d share a bed and I did all I could to reassure her that finally someone was going to look after her.”

Paula's first rescue dog, Mitzi, is a picture of health and happiness

Paula, 36, who lives with boyfriend Mark, a music promoter, also took Mitzi to see a behaviourist to help overcome her fear of other dogs. She now happily plays with pups of all shapes and sizes.

She’s recovered from her colitis and having her has made a positive impact on Paula’s life. Walking every day has helped her lose weight which helps with her diabetes and Crohn’s. Before, she’d party for days but being a pawrent meant she was never away from Mitzi, now five, for more than a few hours.

Knowing her dad would be proud of her is hugely rewarding too. “I love my life now and I feel that his legacy is continuing,” she said.

“Having her there means so much after losing dad. Because he’d been so kind to animals all his life, doing the same makes me feel close to him.”

Inspired by Mitzi’s ordeal, she decided to volunteer at the shelter

She was horrified to see the terrible states in which animals were abandoned. One day, a Bull Mastiff came in, covered in scars and cigarette burns, his head twisted in agony. 

Paula said: “It was a year after I adopted Mitzi and I could see he had suffered so much. I feared he might struggle to find a home as he’d been used as a fighting dog and I just said, ‘I’ll take him.’

“I named him Riley after dad and knew he’d help Mitzi get over her problems. He was so damaged but I reassured him he was in a kind home and wouldn’t come to harm, as I did with Mitzi.

“They both helped each other trust dogs and people again. Then he started walking into walls so we took him to the vets for scans and they found he had a benign tumour behind his eye that was pressing on his optic nerve. 

“It was thought to be from an impact injury where he’d been hit. They said he only had a few months left and I just wanted them to be a happy time as he’d been through so much.

“The we found a lump on his neck which was a mast cell tumour that was removed. That was two years ago and he’s now ten and still with us. We treasure every day we share.”

After adopting Mitzy, Riley's story melted Paula's heart
As well as adopting her dogs, Paula spends her days working with pets too

One of her former talent management clients is Layla Flaherty, 35, a former Desperate Scousewife who now runs a pet model agency, Urban Paws.

Layla contacted Paula for advice shortly after she returned to Liverpool after losing her dad and she ended up joining her team. She now manages the famous cats and other animals for Layla’s agency.

She said: “I knew Layla back in 2011 when she was on TV, and back then I wasn’t that interested in animals, but when she got back in touch, I was well on my way to becoming a crazy dog lady and now I’m a crazy cat lady too.

“My most challenging job was working on a Worcester Bosch advert with 13 cats and we did another for UniKitty where they had to sit in cinema seats! Nothing is computerised so every scene you see we had to create with the cats. 

“They were very well behaved but it is hectic. We spent two days putting the advert together on set and it really was like herding cats but it was so rewarding seeing the finished product.”

The UniKitty advert - herding cats!
Behind the scenes on a shoot
She often needs to think on her feet dealing with the challenges of working with animals

Paula revealed her secret weapon on set was once Femfresh!

She recalled: “I was on a fashion shoot with a model and a kitten, and, naturally, the kitten got a little nervous and had an accident. 

“I knew the model had to pick up and cuddle the kitten while wearing expensive, designer clothes, and I was like ‘What do we do?’

“I had the idea to get some talcum powder to freshen the kitty but couldn’t find any anywhere! But I did find some Femfresh and that worked perfectly.”

While she works with beautiful and talented pets from all over the world, it’s her rescue pups that hold a special place in her heart.

She said: “It’s so rewarding and the love they give is immeasurable. With rescue dogs you think about where they’ve come from and they still have the capacity to give so much love so it’s wonderful to be able to give them a second chance at happiness.”

To find out more about Urban Paws, visit www.urbanpawsuk.com or if you’ve been inspired by Paula’s story, visit the shelter Mitzi and Riley came from www.merseysidedogshome.org

If you like stories about rescue dogs, you may enjoy Trio of terriers find their forever home or How Frances fell in love with Zante Stray Smee and saved his life.

The post Paula Stewart from Urban Paws – ‘My rescue dogs changed my life.’ appeared first on The Paw Post.

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We meet Debora Robertson who created Dogs' Dinners - a cookbook for dogs!

Paws up if you cook for your dog?

I’m guilty - I was inspired by my mum who cooked for our gorgeous Cocker Spaniel Charlie and he lived to the grand old age of 16.

When Daisy was poorly and needed medication - this was every day in the last few months - I made meals like chicken casserole, a doggy cottage pie and turkey and rice to make it more palatable but my creations were pretty basic!

But we have some great news if, like me, you slave over a hot stove for your fur pal because Debora Robertson has a brilliant new book called Dogs’ Dinners packed with meals you can share with your pet!

It all started when journalist Debora met another dog owner in a park who cooked for her pup. She rolled her eyes and even went home and said to husband Sean, 'If I ever start baking for my dog, shoot me!'

But the woman's words played on her mind and soon Debora was cooking for her dog Barney, a Border Terrier, now 11. 

She spoke to her vet, read up on canine nutrition and came up with scores of recipes for him to enjoy - and for the rest of her family. Debora has another dog now too, Gracie, a 10-month-old Dandie Dinmont Terrier.

After sharing her crazy dog lady story in the Daily Telegraph and on This Morning, she was inundated with other owners relieved to hear they weren’t alone and she got a book deal!

Dogs’ Dinners is full of fab recipes, from Christmas Dinner to kibble, biscuits, Shepherd’s Pie (my fave) and even puppy smoothies and porridge.

It’s really inspiring for anyone looking to go gourmet for their furry friend. Debora spoke to us about her journey into becoming a top canine cook!

  • Main photo by Andrew Rowsley. This post contains an affiliate link.
The book is beautifully illustrated by Cinzia Zenocchini with over 50 recipes for dogs!
What inspired you to start cooking for your dogs?

I started out by making a few treats, especially the Doggy Breath Bones, and then moved on to making full meals.

I cook for everyone who comes into my orbit, so it seemed a natural development to cook for my lovely dogs who give me so much pleasure.

How did you learn what to use in your recipes?

I did a lot of research into what they could and couldn’t eat and tailored my recipes around that.

I stick to a ratio of about 70 per cent meat, 20 per cent vegetables and fruit and the rest made up with healthy grains, eggs and a bit of live yoghurt.

Have you always been an adventurous cook?

My main job is writing about food for humans and creating recipes, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to start cooking for my dogs too. 

Was it easy?

Yes, it’s really easy. All of the recipes are built around the sort of meat and vegetables and other bits and pieces I have in the kitchen anyway – no weird ingredients!

And all of the recipes are super simple, as like everyone else these days, I am busy and don’t have time for a lot of faff!

The book shares what you need in your pup pantry! Illustration by Cinzia Zenocchini
Have you seen a change in your dogs since cooking for them?

They certainly look forward to meal times more!

Before I started cooking for Barney (I’ve always cooked for Gracie), I would put down some dried kibble and he might leave it for an hour or so – he just wasn’t that interested in it.

Now he leaps on his food the minute I put it down. Gracie eats so fast I had to get her one of those puzzle bowls with a sort of maze in the bottom so she really has to slow down and work for it.

Do your friends come for dinner hoping for a gourmet meal for their dogs?

I always take special doggy treats to my friends’ houses if they have dogs.

I have catered dog birthday parties and even a dog wedding – people really seem to enjoy the idea of it!

What's your personal favourite?

Most of the dishes can be adapted for humans with some seasoning – I did this because who has the time to make separate meals?

Some of my friends with small children even give their little ones the unadulterated dog recipes as they are nutritious and contain no sugar or salt.

Personally, we love the turkey and quinoa meatballs seasoned with salt and some chilli, served with a yoghurt and mint dipping sauce.

I’m particularly fond of the sweet potato and sardine bake just as it is, served with a nice green salad. It makes a great, simple lunch.

Turkey and Quinoa Meatballs - Illustration by Cinzia Zenocchini
And for Barney and Gracie?

They looooove the liver and cranberry brownies, one of the few recipes you probably don’t want to eat yourself.
It makes a great training reward cut up into little squares.

And the lamb and millet casserole is always a firm favourite at dinner time for them.

We humanise our pets more than ever which is brilliant! Since talking about your cookbook for dogs have you found more people are doing the same?

When I first wrote about cooking for my dog I was inundated with tweets and emails from readers ‘confessing’ to cooking for their dogs and happy to come clean, relieved they weren’t the only ones.

I think lots of people are cooking for their dogs now. I suppose it’s just an extension of becoming more and more aware of the link between what we eat and health.

Lots of commercial dog food is full of cheap carbs and other fillers and the meat content is quite low.

What's your advice for making more adventurous doggy dishes?

Start quite simply, with some snacks and then try a few meals with a high meat content, simply cooked.

It really is easy and once you get started, the reaction of your dogs who absolutely love what you’re giving them will spur you on to try more dishes.

Some people will go on to making homemade food for their dogs every day and some will combine it with bought food and that’s fine too.

What is the most rewarding part about creating your own dishes?

I think when you welcome a dog into your life, you take on the responsibility for giving them as happy and healthy a life as you can.

For me the reward is seeing them enjoy their food so much. Both of my dogs have lots of energy and lovely coats and teeth, which is a great barometer of good health.

Do you have nice feedback from pet parents?

Friends who have tried the recipes on their own dogs have given me great feedback.

I’m delighted to think that my food is making dogs and their owners happy.

Feeding time is such a great opportunity to build up that special bond between you and your dog and I hope my recipes will help.

Dogs's Dinners: The healthy, happy way to feed your dog, is available now (Pavilion Books, £9.99) here.

It's so inspiring hearing the happiness Debora's meals bring to her pups and you can do the same!

We are launching a new, monthly newsletter with a round up of news from the pet industry.

And there's a bonus for everyone who signs up from now until the end of June. You'll be put in a prize draw where you have the chance to WIN a copy of Dogs' Dinners.

Simply fill out the mailing list form at the bottom of the page to take part.

If you enjoyed this story, you might like How Christine created Three Pugs Gin after rescuing her three dogs or Meet Monty Dogge, the Newfoundland with his own range of children's books.

The post Dogs’ Dinners – Why Debora Robertson created a cookbook for her dogs! appeared first on The Paw Post.

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Having a pet is life changing - any owner will tell you that

But some animals are going beyond being cute and cuddly.
Purina recognises the people behind game changing initiatives taking place around the world through their Better With Pets Forum.
This week the pet food brand gave prizes totalling £75,000 to support five different causes at an event in Barcelona where each project pitched to win the prize.
We hear a lot about entrepreneurs - people who come up with innovative money making ideas - but this was to celebrate social entrepreneurs - people who simply want to improve the lives of others.
Bernard Meunier, CEO of Purina explained: “We wanted to create a network of powerful connections to make change happen, together.
“We believe that this forum will become a catalyst for change, enabling richer lives for pets, the people who love them and our communities.”
Sofie Brouwer, Founder of the OOPOEH Foundation was the winner, and the judges were so blown away by all of the pitches they awarded her £30,000 prize and £11,000 to each of the projects.
Listening to them was humbling. They are so driven and passionate about making people’s lives better - through pets.

Sofie Brouwer created OOPOEH to tackle loneliness in the elderly

OOPOEH stands for Opas en Omas Passen Op Een Huisdier which translates as Grandmas and Granddads Caring For Dogs. How lovely is that?
Sofie was inspired to set up her enterprise in Amsterdam after chatting to her elderly neighbour Sonja while out with her dog Buffel.
Sonja was a dog lover but didn’t have one of her own, and often felt lonely so Sofie said she could care for Buffel. It dawned on her that many elderly people might feel the same.
So she set up a website connecting them to owners and she now has 33,000 seniors and 35,000 dogs who bring joy into their lives.
Sofie said: “Loneliness is a great problem in Amsterdam for the over 55s. A report found a million people said they felt lonely and a fifth of those very lonely - they only saw someone once a month.
“We connect people from different backgrounds who come together through their love of dogs. The dogs enjoy seeing the senior person and they enjoy the benefit of having a pet.
“We arrange trips and outings and a lot of friendships have come from people meeting through caring for dogs. The prize means so much for us and we are so pleased.”
A social impact report by Price Waterhouse Cooper found 71 per cent of their sitters exercised more, 82 per cent felt happier and 72 per cent interacted more with their neighbours. Find out more at www.oopoeh.nl

Sofie when her name was announced as the winner! © Robert Watson
Marie Yates is the founder of Canine Hope which helps rape survivors

Marie, from Herefordshire, drew from her own experience as a rape survivor to write the fiction novel, Reggie and Me, about the journey of a teenage girl and her rescue dog.
It got her thinking - if her own dog had helped her recovery other dogs could do the same. She set up Canine Hope partnering people who had experienced sexual violence with rescue dogs.
Marie shared a heartwarming story of Bruno, a dog who was so badly abused by his owners he lost his leg.
She said: “Bruno has three legs. He had to have his leg amputated after he was kicked and stamped on by two grown men. Did he bite them? No.
“Did he bark? No. Did he run away? No. Instead, when the police raided the house they found him cowering behind the sofa.
“Bruno and many dogs like him help people understand it’s the perpetrator who is to blame by allowing them to understand things through the perspective of a dog.”
Marie’s story moved me to tears. Via Canine Hope, she’s helped 200 people and thousands more through her books.
Every town in the UK has a rape crisis centre and a dog shelter, and she wants them to collaborate, so the dogs learn to socialise and help the humans in their recovery, building resilience, accepting they’re not to blame and teaching them to live in the moment.
She plans to grow her project nationwide and she would LOVE to hear from rescue centres interesting in supporting her at canine-perspective.com/canine-hope/

Dr Claire Guest set up Medical Detection Dogs after learning animals could sniff out cancer

Medical Detection Dogs in Milton Keynes is a charity many are familiar with. Claire recently met the Queen to celebrate their tenth anniversary.
Along with her colleagues, she’s trained over a hundred dogs, many from terrible backgrounds. One, Faith, was saved from a Korean meat farm last year, another, Zen, is from Battersea Dogs Home.
Claire trained dogs to detect cancer and her own dog Daisy who sadly died earlier this year warned her that she had breast cancer. Her early diagnosis saved her life and Daisy’s legacy lives on.
She applied for funding for a new project training dogs to detect Parkinson’s. It’s an illness Claire has personal experience of and the dogs can detect the odour from a swab taken from the neck and forehead.
“Dogs are bio sensors only with a fluffy coat, a waggy tail and a wet nose,” she said. “We believe dogs can change the face of human medicine.
“We hope seeing how the dogs can help with early detection of Parkinson’s - usually 50% of the brain is irreparably damaged when the person is diagnosed - will lead to advances in treatment.
“This will help keep families and their dogs together, all through the incredible power of their noses.”
Learn about her work at www.medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk

One of the adorable four legged guests! © Robert Watson
Marlies and Betty allow prisoners to train rescue dogs with Dutch Cell Dogs

Betty Buijtels and Marlies de Bats take dogs who have been abused and neglected into prisons and, alongside behaviourists, the inmates train the animals so they’re able to be rehomed.
The project helps resocialize the dog and the prisoner and since setting up ten years ago, 511 dogs have been trained and found forever homes.
Betty and Marlies and their team of nine trainers work in 14 prisons and 13 asylums in the Netherlands with dogs from ten different rescues and it takes eight weeks to train each dog.
Inmates say training the dog increases their feeling of self worth and boosts confidence, and nine out of the ten dogs in the programme have been successfully rehomed.
In a letter shared at the forum, prisoner Jan explained what helping a dog meant to him. He said: “You do so much good work. Not just to give us convicts and the dogs a place of love and trust.
“But also to offer a future owner happiness. That is what you do, leaving behind a trail of happiness, not putting yourself first but the dog.
“With your help, we gave the dogs what was taken from them. By offering us your program, you offer us bridges towards a new future.”
Find out more about their work at http://dutchcelldogs.nl/

Uta and Meike take dogs into the classroom with Happy Kids With Happy School Dogs

Uta Keilau and Mieke Heyer pooled skills as a teacher and behaviourist and created a project in Germany to help children learn to read by taking dogs into schools.
Being in a classroom can be stressful but they ensure dogs are treated very carefully. They have a safe space where children can’t approach them and spend a maximum of 45 minutes in class.
You’d expect the kids to go wild at the sight of a pup, but Uta showed a video of a dog at work and the children were impeccably behaved and thrilled to have a four legged classmate.
Explaining the positive impact dogs have on learning, Uta said: “One boy, Ben, was highly frustrated and had experienced many academic failures.
“We worked on a one to one basis with a dog called Lex. Slowly, Ben grew to trust me as Lex’s owner. He enjoyed his time with Lex and agreed to learn to read.
“Lex enabled Ben to learn and after two years he was at the same level as his fellow pupils and school is no longer stressful but a happy place.”
Learn more at www.k9-hundekunde.de

I hope this leaves you feeling as inspired as I was at the heartwarming and incredible ways dogs are changing lives all over the world.

Purina’s hashtag is #wearebetterwithpets and you can read about their commitments to pets and people at www.purina.co.uk

If you enjoyed this, you might like to read Pets, tech and the future: Six things I learned at Better With Pets or you can find out about Shadow, who was rescued with Medical Detection Dog Faith in Meet Shadow, the pup rescued from a South Korean meat farm.

The post The five social entrepreneurs changing lives with Purina’s Better With Pets appeared first on The Paw Post.

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Dog owners are being urged to arrange pup-dates in their local community on June 23rd in memory of Jo Cox

The #GreatDogWalkTogether event is part of the Great Get Together Weekend set up by the Jo Cox Foundation for people to celebrate what they have in common.
Jo was Labour MP for Batley and Spen in Yorkshire and was killed on June 16th 2016 while working in her constituency and events are taking place across the country between June 22nd and 24th, which would have been her 44th birthday.
In her first speech to Parliament, she said: “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us,” and it’s this sentiment that’s behind the initiative to bring dog owners together.
For some people, a four legged friend is their only companion and that's dog walkers are urged to take part and help people affected by loneliness and isolation.
We spoke to one of Jo’s old school friends, Louise Woollard, 44, who is taking part in the event with her dog, Golden Doodle Otis, aged two.

Louise with her Golden Doodle Otis
How did you know Jo?

“I've been friends with Jo since I was around seven years old. We met a junior school and attended the same secondary school. We've been close friends throughout our lives sharing our teenage years, university experiences and holidays in the sun.
“Jo’s career took her overseas but we still maintained a close friendship. She loved coming home to Yorkshire and being with her family and friends.”

Louise with Jo Cox and friends Heidi and Kim
You have a gorgeous Golden Doodle, Otis. Did Jo meet him?

“No, sadly, Jo was murdered a month after we got Otis. Jo’s hectic life and the travelling early on in her career wasn’t compatible with having a pet. However, she loved the outdoors and walking.
“Jo was also very passionate about loneliness and how we could help others to be less socially isolated. She understood the importance of having a pet and how this enabled those who were socially isolated to interact with others.
“They add a meaning and purpose to life which can often be missing.”

Adorable Otis
I can’t imagine what it must have been like losing Jo. How did you cope?

“After Jo’s murder I struggled with my emotions and walking Otis really helped. Being out in the fresh air and talking to strangers enabled me to try and deal with what had happened.
“It also helped me to stop constantly thinking about what had happened. I lost my dad three months to the day after Jo had died and so emotionally 2016 was a very difficult time for me.”

So Otis has been a huge support to you?

“Yes, in the months after Jo’s murder the walks I took with Otis were a massively important. Having a pet, particularly one you have to walk, gives people a reason to get out of bed.
“I have my own Financial Planning business so I take him to work with me and now have a reason not to sit behind a desk all day. My clients also love meeting Otis when they come to the office and he’s an important part of the team.”

Adorable Otis at Louise's office
Being a dog owner means you naturally get chatting to other people which is what the More In Common Initiative is all about

“Yes, in addition to the health benefits of walking, you’re interacting with other dog owners. People say hello to each other and often forge friendships based on a shared love of their dogs.
“The unconditional love of a dog is such a rewarding experience and one which the whole family can benefit from."

How do you think Jo would feel about The Great Get Together events?

“Jo would've loved the idea. She wouldn’t believe that so many people had been moved to try and make their communities a better place after her death.
“Jo would be gobsmacked about her legacy. She was one of the most modest people you could meet and wouldn't want to take any of the credit for starting the projects which have ultimately become her legacy.
“She was a proud Yorkshire lass and I'm so proud that she was part of my life.
“By embracing what was important to Jo and keeping her spirit alive we can ensure that our communities are more inclusive and enjoyable places to live.”

Elaine Brown who had the Great Dog Walk idea and Rupert
Great Dog Walk Together events are taking place all over the UK on June 23rd

You can find an event near you or even organise your own.
Elaine Brown, a dog lover and owner of Rupert, a 13-year-old Westie, came up with the idea for the walks.
She said: "What makes it so great is the number of walks taking place and the more walks the better. You're never alone when you have a dog.
"You don't need a dog to take part. It would be great for us to help people who don't have one to enjoy the company of dogs. An elderly person who is at home more would be a great companion for a dog who is left at home when their owner is working.
"We really hope this is the start of encouraging people to arrange regular dog walks so people can get out, start a conversation and make friends."

The initiative is sponsored by In Your Dog House - an online market place for all things dog. Learn more and search for a walk near you at www.greatdogwalktogether.com

The post Join in The Great Dog Walk Together in memory of Jo Cox appeared first on The Paw Post.

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Seven years ago Ruth Kirby's English Bulldog Holtz was stolen from her yard

The 34-year-old from Tottenham in North London had a dog flap and came downstairs one morning to find their Jack Russell Scraps trembling in terror.
She went outside and Holtz, then only an 18-month-old puppy, was gone. Ruth believes the dog nappers had watched her take Holtz out on walks - English Bulldog pups sell for as much as £2,500 - and planned to steal her.
"I was frantic," she recalled. "They'd scaled a six foot wall to get into the yard with a five foot drop the other side. There was no way they were just opportunists.
"I called the police, local vets, the council, local pounds and rescues, and spent months searching for her. We were all heartbroken.
"I also spoke to Jayne Hayes at Doglost.co.uk and put an appeal on there. She helped make posters and gave me advice, and told me to never give up hope. I always updated her microchip when we moved or changed phone numbers."

Holtz in 2011
At home as a pup
Then two weeks ago Ruth had a call - Holtz had been found!

It was from a vet in Great Yarmouth - 140 miles away from where Holtz went missing.
She'd been dumped with an elderly male Chihuahua. Ruth recalled: "She said to me, 'Have you lost your dog today? We've found her.'
"I was just stunned. I couldn't speak. I stammered, 'She was stolen seven years ago.' The vet sounded confused too. She said, 'She's here, you can come and collect her.'
"I arranged to pick her up the next day as it was late at night and just cried and cried. For all those years I'd prayed she'd been in a nice home but if she had, they wouldn't have just dumped her."

Ruth's fears were confirmed when she was reunited with Holtz

Heartbreakingly, she'd been used as a breeding dog in a puppy farm and had been cruelly abandoned when she was too exhausted to produce any more litters.
She was skin and bone, her nails had grown so long she could barely walk, she had mastitis and a tumour on her leg which needs surgery.
Ruth said: "I was distraught. After seven years I was so happy to be reunited with her but thinking of what she'd been through, it was horrific. It makes me so upset and so angry. How can people be so cruel?
"When we saw her, she looked puzzled a first then started wagging her tail as she realised it was me. All I could think of was getting her home and safe again and trying to help her forget what she'd been through.
"What is so sad is before she was stolen, we were saving up to have her spayed. The vet said she had signs of 'quite extensive breeding' and had recently had a litter. It makes me sick, these awful people making money out of her and being so cruel."

Ruth, Duchess and Joni are so thrilled to be reunited
Ruth's family rallied to help take care of her and renamed her Duchess

She'd been found just before the Royal Wedding between huge dog lover Meghan Markle and Prince Harry and Ruth and her sister Joni, 32, thought it would help her make a new start.
In the years that her dog had been missing, Ruth had another son, now two, and decided after all Duchess had been through, she needed a calm environment and Joni said she would care for her.
Ruth said: "Duchess is a senior dog, she's nine and she's suffered so much. I want her to be happy and to enjoy her golden years, but I was worried about my little boy as he's so young, he just wants to play and it didn't seem fair.
"As soon as I said that, Joni said, 'She can come and live with me.' I'm so grateful. She lives nearby and we see Duchess nearly every day. We just want to make every day special for her."

Duchess with Joni who is caring for her full time
Because of her ordeal, Duchess needs veterinary care

As she had been stolen, Ruth was unable to insure her and she faces expensive vet bills to get Duchess back on her paws.
Her vet has said she needs surgery to remove the tumour on her front leg and Ruth is appealing to animal lovers to help.
She's set up a Crowdfunding page where well wishers can donate.
Ruth said: "We want her to live out her adult life being healthy and happy after all she's suffered and any amount will help. It feels strange asking for help but we don't know what else to do.
"We just want to get her well again so she can enjoy the rest of her days being cared for by people who love her. They say dogs live in the moment and we hope we can help her forget what happened.
"I'm so glad we found her and thankful to Jayne at Doglost.co.uk who told me never to give up. I'd say the same to other owners like me. Always keep your details up to date and have hope."

There has been a seven per cent rise in dog theft in the last year

A report by Direct Line Pet Insurance found 1,909 reported cases in 2017 alone. London was the worst area in the UK, with 225 thefts, followed by West Yorkshire, 162, and Kent, 160.
Staffies continue to be the most stolen breed, however the research also uncovered a spike in thefts of crossbreeds reflecting the rise in popularity in for the likes of Cockerpoos and Puggles.
The French Bulldog was the third most commonly stolen breed, up 27 per cent from 2016. But 20 per cent of stolen dogs were reunited with their owners.
Jayne Hayes from Doglost.co.uk says: "There are lots of things we can do to keep our pets safe. Ruth did nothing wrong, her dog was in a safe place and what happened is just terrible but we are so thankful she's home.
"It reiterates what we say to all owners who lose their dogs, never give up and always keep your microchip details up to date. We hope Duchess recovers from her ordeal and can enjoy a happy life with her family."

  • Ruth and Joni, 32, have set up a JustGiving page where well-wishers can donate to pay for her care. If you can help, visit it at www.justgiving.com

If you found this post interesting, you might enjoy Why Jayne Hayes set up Doglost to reunite owners with their pets and for advice on what to do if your pet goes missing, visit www.doglost.co.uk.

The post Appeal to help English Bulldog Duchess stolen by puppy farmers appeared first on The Paw Post.

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It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and if you ask any pet owner if their animal helps them emotionally the answer will be a resounding ‘Yes!’

The most recent published report into the impact of pets on mental health by Dr Helen Brooks of The University of Liverpool found animals reduced stress, improved quality of life and promoted social interaction for their owners.
“Pets by provided acceptance without judgement, giving unconditional support, which they were often not receiving from other family or social relationships,” said Dr Brooks.
The therapeutic visits arranged by charity Pets As Therapy to residential homes, hospices, hospitals, schools and prisons mean thousands of people are given a lift each week.
The volunteers and their cats and dogs bring joy and comfort to people who aren’t able to have a pet of their own but enjoy spending time chatting to and stroking their animal.
In America, Emotional Support Animals are recognised in the same way as assistant and service animals are here. There’s cases of dogs, cats, ducks and even pigs going on flights to comfort owners.
This year, the focus for Mental Health Awareness Week is stress. A recent report by the Mental Health Foundation found 75% of people felt ‘overwhelmed and unable to cope’ due to stress.
Thankfully, our furry friends can help. I spoke to four owners about the emotional benefits their pet brings and shared my own experience too.

Dave with Cassie and Bonny
Dave Beevers, 63, a newspaper editor from Bolton and dogs Cassie and Bonny

“Everything about having a dog improves your emotional wellbeing and mental health when life is going well.
“When tragedy strikes as it did with me when I lost my wife Diane in February 2013 their companionship and presence was a positive counterbalance to the grief.
“We had been together for 20 years and she had a long battle with cancer having been diagnosed in 2006.
“Cassie and Bonny needed me, which gave me an immediate focus in the days following Diane’s death. At the time I was massively overweight and struggling with mobility.
“Diane’s dying wish was that I took care of my health so I could be there to the girls all the exercise they needed and having them inspired me joining my local gym.
“Then I started running. At 24 stone it wasn’t easy. I started with a 5km, then a 10km, then a half marathon, then, just over a year after losing her and ten stone lighter, I did the Rotterdam marathon to raise money for Breast Cancer Care
“I’ve since started motivational speaking and a blog, Running With Diane, trying to inspire others and help those going through the same as I did.
“I did my best to support the girls as they were grieving too. They had spent every day of their lives with Diane. This was our loss, not just mine and the three of us were going to help each other.
“Sadly we lost Cassie earlier this year. She was 16, and illness and deteriorating sight and mobility meant she was in a lot of pain and it was kindest to let her go. I whispered to Cassie as I cradled her, ‘Find Mummy and wait for us there.’
“Bonny and I are helping each other cope. Cassie was a big part of my life, but Bonny never knew a single day without her big sister in it. We need to lean on each other to get through it.
“I’m lucky in that I have never suffered from stress – maybe it’s having dogs around that has kept me stress-free - another thing to thank them for.”

Cate and Doug the Pug Therapy Dog
Cate Archer, a former special needs teacher from London, and Doug

“I learned how pets can help us emotionally when Doug came into my life. We had dear family member who was very poorly and thought having a dog would reduce the awful feelings of loneliness and isolation that come with long term chronic illness.
“It was felt a little dog would bring more comfort. As a carer of someone so very precious, I learned so much.  I hadn't quite appreciated how someone poorly can feel so strongly that they don't want to be alone but don't want to listen to anyone or talk to them either.
“A companion animal is the most perfect companion! They ask nothing of you and their love and care is without judgement, stigma or condition. The pet allows a poorly person to feel as normal as their condition allows.
“When caring for someone very special, knowing that this beautiful bond is so healing has been of enormous comfort to me. It also allowed me, as the carer, much needed respite to re-charge my batteries and find the strength and resilience needed to sustain nursing someone I cared for so deeply.
“Doug was everything we could have wished for. When this very special family member got better, we felt he had so much love to share and that’s how he came to be a Pets As Therapy dog and he has a website too - Doug The Pug Therapy Dog.
“A woman we work with in the mental health unit told how Doug allows her 'to get out of her own head' and 'put her troubles to one side'.
"At the hospice a friend who has MS and is blind says Doug helps her 'enjoy the moment' and ‘not reflect too much on the past, what might have been, and what the future holds.’
“We can't change the lives of these people - but we can help give them strength and resilience.
“Sharing time with a companion animal is a great stress reliever. It reduces blood pressure and suppresses the body's production of the stress hormone cortisol.
"The body starts to produce the feel good hormone oxytocin - which then goes on to suppress any further production of the stress hormone so it's Win, Win!”

Leslie and Minnie
Leslie Sinoway, 38, a PR from London and Minnie

“Two years ago I was signed off from work following a combination of a cancer scare in my family, an extremely upsetting incident that happened while I was working abroad on the other side of the world and a cycle of extreme insomnia due to chronic pain.
“I was devastated as I’d always prided myself on being able to throw myself into my work and to just carry on. Everyone around me could see that I was falling apart - apart from myself.
“At first I just didn’t want to do anything at all but sit on the sofa, watch Netflix and be with my cat. Somehow she knew I needed her to be there and it was a huge comfort. But in time, I began going to yoga classes, seeing some art, cooking and finding myself again.
“My friends and family helped me immensely too - but when I was by myself in the house it was Minnie that was there and I truly believe she helped. Caring for a small creature gives back immeasurable joy.
“They make you laugh, they astound you with their cheekiness and naughtiness. Minnie knows when I am upset, stressed, ill or indeed just about to come home. I am greeting by a miaow most evenings.
“Minnie senses when my husband Simon is stressed out too and will deign to sit with him. She is totally part of our household and Simon and I both feel as if having her gives us a sense of wellbeing that you just don’t get in any other way.
“After a long day at work the best way to for me to destress is to sit on the sofa with a book in one hand and Minnie on my lap. Just hearing her purr and knowing she’s there literally calms me down.
“There is science behind this too. Stroking your cat actually makes you produce oxytocin, the love hormone, and so makes you happy, which in turn makes you de-stress.”

Mary and Gracie-Lou
Mary Burgess a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist from Hampshire and Gracie Lou and Romana

“I’ve suffered panic disorder since I was a teenager and thankfully I was able to manage it for many years.
“Then, when I was 32, I was struggling and would feel helpless and extremely anxious and overwhelmed by everyday situations. I went to see my GP. I didn’t want to take medication and wanted another way of managing it.
“My doctor suggested hypnotherapy and I found it so helpful I decided to train as a hypnotherapist.
“I first had a dog in 1985, a greyhound I rescued from the RSPCA in Portsmouth. As a psychotherapist I was aware of the emotional benefits of having a pet, but actually having one myself really gave me an understanding of just how significant a role they play.
“I’ve had five dogs and each one of them has been a huge benefit to my mental health. Walking them means I get out and exercise and this brings endorphins and I never feel alone.
“My dog Gracie-Lou who I had from being a pup back in 2010, always seems to know when I’m not quite right and comes for a cuddle. We share a very special bond as a few years ago, I had a breast cancer scare and thankfully the lump was benign.
“Around the same time, I found a pea sized lump in Gracie-Lou’s chest, and, knowing the signs from my own scare, I had her checked over only to find she was suffering with cancer. My scare actually saved her life.
“She is a huge comfort and inspired me to set up the Animal Star Awards, recognising special pets and people, and to take in another dog, Romana, two, a stray I rescued last year from Romania.
“Now, my anxiety is very rare and my work as a hypnotherapist helps me manage it too. It’s only really apparent these days just before a migraine.
“When it comes to stress, having them to focus on other than yourself and what you’re thinking and feeling is so good for helping you realise what is important and gain perspective.
“Having the dogs makes me feel more secure too, and knowing that they need me just as much as I need them is a comfort and gives a real sense of purpose. I could never be without a dog now.”

Daisy and I
Me and Daisy!

“Daisy came to live with me in 2009 when I was 33.  I was freelancing for National newspapers and lived on my own.
“Most of my friends were married; many with children, or settling down, getting engaged and planning their weddings.
“I was single and while I was very happy for them, I struggled emotionally. Every disastrous date or failed romance chipped away at my confidence and I felt happiness was so far out of my reach.
“I don’t think I was depressed - I spoke to a counsellor friend and read more self help books than you could shake a stick at - but I was certainly lonely.
“Having Daisy was a huge comfort. She was full of energy so we’d go for long walks and runs, and on days when I just wanted to get away from it all that’s what we did.
“When I did go on dates, if they didn’t make enough of a fuss of Daisy they were out of the door. She helped me find the right man! (BTW if you’re single and reading this, Dr Karin Anderson’s Single Is the New Black was amazing too.)
“My working day was shaped around when she needed to walk. It helped me de-stress and if I had a feature to write and was struggling, I’d work it out while walking her.
“I couldn’t leave her for longer than a few hours and I didn’t want to either. I started doing more pet focused stories - they led to this blog.
“In January 2016, I lost my dad and Daisy was there for all my family. She knew when we needed a cuddle and her just being with us was a huge comfort.
“Daisy gave so much to me in the nine years we shared. Having a dog was a coping strategy in my low times and I feel I’m stronger and healthier emotionally because of that.”

The post How having a pet improves our mental health and reduces stress appeared first on The Paw Post.

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When Mark Sanders and his wife Dawn decided to take in Newfoundland pup Monty, it changed their lives forever

Both dog lovers, they already had three Cocker Spaniels, Molly, now 11, Poppy, nine, and Bailey, eight, and shared their home with a range of pups over the years.
Monty was something else. A little black and white bundle of fluff soon grew into a bounding nine stone dog as a young pup and now, at seven, he weighs 13 stone!
Their home has been rebuilt, with a separate living room for him with his own sofa and a bathroom with a custom walk in shower.
Their dinky Nissan Note car was switched for a Berlingo people carrier and when the family go away with Monty, instead of using the family caravan they hire his own holiday cottage!

Monty, the Cockeyed Spangles Molly, Poppy and Bailey, and sister Cookie!
But Mark, 59, wouldn’t change a thing

“Monty has transformed our lives and it’s been a fascinating journey,” he chuckles.
Just before Monty arrived, Mark had taken early retirement from his job as a football development coach and decided the family were ready for another pup.
“I was fascinated by Newfies,” he said. “We spent a long time researching the breed and finding the right breeder and then found Monty.
“He was totally adorable. Like all pups, he grew quickly and was soon into everything, but rather than being a regular sized dog, he was nine stone! Nothing could have prepared us!”

At 10 weeks with Bailey
Mark had always enjoyed writing and set up a Facebook page where he spoke about life with Monty

It soon attracted other large dog owners and lovers who shared their experiences too.
Mark said: “I guess it was a bit like Mumsnet but for people with big dogs! I’d write stories about what he’d been up to and it was like therapy.
“I’d be half laughing half crying, talking about how he’d chewed through the wall or tried to eat the postman.
“I’d share how he dragged me over in the street, or how other dog walkers had laughed as he’d pulled me face down through a muddy ditch in the park trying to chase something.
“People shared their own stories and it became a community. Then I started to write about the world through Monty’s eyes.”

Monty, Cookie and their human sister Pippa, also known as Pipsqueak!
Wherever Monty and Mark went, people stopped to chat

One afternoon while out shopping in Wigan Town Centre, he stopped to talk to an Army veteran who was selling poppies.
People flocked over, so he stayed there for the rest of the day. “The poppy seller told me it was the most money he’d ever raised,” recalls Mark.
“That’s when I decided I wanted to use the fascination people have with Monty to do good. We’ve worked with the poppy appeal for four years and have raised £30,000.
“Monty is also the face of the charity Shoulder to Soldier supporting soldiers, ex soldiers and their families.”

Monty as a charity ambassador
Soon one large dog wasn’t enough!

Mark decided Monty needed a companion and Cookie, now five, arrived. Their house had by now been extended with an extra living room and a ground floor walk in shower room!
Mark said: “The builders laughed when I said it was for the dogs, but when you have two of them and they’re muddy, you can’t just carry them up to the bath!
“We have our own sitting room where Dawn and I and Monty and Cookie watch TV. Monty will try and sit on Dawn’s knee sometimes.
“We used to buy dog beds for them but they grew out of them so quick that now they have their own sofa. “They’re always knocking things over, glasses, cups, ornaments. We have a hippo we brought back from Africa which is pretty much made of superglue now!”

Monty and his not so little sister Cookie!
Then Mark started to blog and this became a trilogy of children’s books

He set up Montydogge.com and the idea for the first of his three books - I’m not a Panda-Cow - came when a gang of teenagers started taking the mickey out of Monty while out on a walk.
Mark recalled: “They were larking around as teenagers do and started laughing at Monty and one said, ‘Oh look, it’s a panda,’ then another said, ‘No, it’s a cow,’ and a third lad quipped, ‘It’s a panda-cow!’
“I get so many silly things said to me while we’re out, like ‘ooh, I bet they do massive poos,’ so it’s brilliant that one of them inspired the books.”
The first book is about Monty’s journey of self discovery. As a pup, he doesn’t know what he is and the other dogs he meets, from Spaniels and Terriers to Rottweilers, tell him he’s a Panda Cow.
He finds himself at a river and all around are other Newfoundlands and they embrace him into their world.
The second book, Monty and the Slobbernosserus, is about Monty and his sister Cookie and the bond they share.
A third, Monty and the Poppit Dragon, is out next month (June 2018). Monty finds a dragon who can’t fly and all the animals work together to help him.
Mark says: “It’s a lovely story and the message behind it is that it doesn’t matter how you’re born, you can work together to achieve what you want in life.”

Monty's latest heartwarming story is about his encounter with a dragon who can't fly!
Mark and Monty meet his fans at a book signing
Now Monty inspires a love of reading in children

Monty started visiting children in schools last April when the first book came out and now the pair travel all over the country and meet hundreds of children every week.
He has a cult following and Mark says it’s one of the most rewarding parts of caring for Monty as it’s teaching children to be passionate about reading.
He said: “It’s really good to see the kids who don’t think it’s cool to like reading to completely change because they’ve met a giant dog!
“It’s so moving. You see how much spending time with a dog affects them and the joy they bring. Their faces light up and it’s just lovely that he brings something so positive to people’s lives.
“Monty loves it too. He would much rather be around people and be at school with the kids than out having a walk, so it’s fun for him too.
“He’s fantastic with kids as he’s such a gentle giant. My daughter and her family live with us, and my two year old granddaughter Pippa spends so much time with the dogs she thinks she is one.
“She crawls around on the floor panting!”

Mark is surprised and thrilled at the impact Monty has had

By raising money for charity and helping children enjoy learning to read, Monty is making a positive impact on the lives of many people.
And through the blog and Facebook page, Mark raises awareness about Newfoundlands while supporting other owners and education people about the breed.
He said: “It’s become a resource where people can ask for help if they’re struggling with their dog, just as I was when we first got Monty.
“Whatever owners need to know, or whatever they’re experiencing, someone on there will have been through the same and can help.
“We want to educate people about life with a larger dog, not just the fun stuff but the reality. Newfies can have heart and hip problems and bloat, a deadly disease.
“The best thing is the unconditional love. It really is something special, seeing their big eyes and wagging tails. They have so much to give.
“Monty may have turned our lives upside down but it’s been for the better and we absolutely adore him for it.”

To follow Monty's adventures and buy his books at Montydogge.com and you can find him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you enjoyed this post, and would like to learn more about inspiring animals, then you might like to read about Cate and Doug The Pug Therapy Dog or How Starina the Cat became an emotional support animal.

The post Newfoundland Monty has helped thousands of children learn to read appeared first on The Paw Post.

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Our dogs are part of the family so it’s only fair that they join us on our holidays too!

There’s so many dog and pet friendly cottages and hotels now that it’s easy to take our furry friends away.
Dogs love to see different places and sniff new smells - Daisy loved exploring and we took her on a staycation every few months at least.
For first time travellers, taking your dog along can be stressful so we’ve rounded up ten tips to make you trip run smoothly.

1. Make sure the venue really is pet friendly

This may seem obvious, but from my experience there is a difference between pet friendly and pet tolerant.
We’ve stayed in places where they have literally rolled out the red carpet for Daisy.
Last year at Letheringham Water Mill in Suffolk which was voted Visit England’s Dog Friendly Business of the Year, we were greeted by resident Labradoodles Teddy and Amber.
Daisy had her own bed, poo bags, bowls and treats and even when she jumped in the lake and went running around our cottage covered in slime, the owners didn’t bat an eyelid.
We’ve been to places with lists about what dogs can’t do and threats of fines if they do so much as sit on a sofa. So check just how pet friendly they are.

Daisy at Letheringham Water Mill, voted the most Dog Friendly destination in the UK
2. Be prepared

You want to be able to relax so think ahead and make sure you know where the nearest vet is in case of emergency and carry the address and phone number at all times.
A first aid kit is handy too. This one from Animed Direct contains the essentials including cleaning wipes, plasters, dressings, a bandage and a tick remover.
First Aid Kit £9.99 Animed Direct.

3. Pack a doggy suitcase

Whenever we went away with Daisy we had so much stuff it was easier just to pack her own case even though she was a tiny terrier!
I’d advise taking a spare collar and lead, towels (the hotel/cottage may not want theirs on a muddy dog!), a coat, shampoo, poo bags, food, treats, toys, medication and a portable water bowl.
Pale dogs with pink pigments and white coats can get sunburnt too, so take a sunblock. Filtabac is an animal antibacterial skin protection that can be used for dogs, horses and cats as a sunblock, for sunburn, wounds and damaged or irritated skin conditions.
Oh, and some carpet cleaner, just in case.
Filtabac Sunblock 50g £4.95 Animed Direct

Sunbathing is fun for pups too, but make sure they have shade and water and keep cool and use a suncream for fair dogs
4.  Help them relax before the journey

Daisy was always very good in the car, but many dogs suffer with motion sickness or become anxious.
There are natural remedies that can help. Dorwest herbal pet care have Digestive tablets which contain calming herbs ginger and valerian, rhubarb and peppermint to settle tummies and slippery elm to soothe and comfort. 
For anxious travellers, Skullcap and Valerian tablets help them to relax without feeling drowsy. These are good for Bonfire Night too.
Give them to your dog the night before and two hours before setting off.
Dorwest Digestive x 100 £9.55 Animed Direct
Dorwest Skullcap and Valerian x 100 £17.99 Animed Direct

5.  Protect your dog in the car

The Highway Code states your dog must be ‘suitably restrained’ when driving so they can’t distract you or injure you or themselves so use a crate, pet carrier or seat belt harness.
Always take lots of water so everyone in the car has plenty to drink in case you’re stuck in a traffic jam.
Walk your dog just before setting off so they’ve had a chance to go to the loo and are ready for a sleep in the car.
Depending on how far you’re travelling, you might want to plan stops. We tend to have a break every two hours for a leg stretch, fresh air and water.

6. Create a home from home

Being in a new place is exciting but can be unsettling too. So take their bed and a blanket which will have familiar smells for your dog.
You can use an Adaptil Calm plug in diffuser which releases dog appeasing pheromones which are the same ones that the dog’s mum would have released to her pups in the litter.
Whether your dog is a puppy or a senior, this is a pheromone that they instantly recognise and that will put them at ease through their entire life.
Or you can use a collar, where the dog’s body heat releases the pheromones bringing comfort and reassurance whether indoors or outdoors.
Adaptil Calm Diffuser and Refill £17.82 Animed Direct
Adaptil Collar (small) £17.73 Animed Direct

 

Daisy making herself at home by sneaking on to the bed for a snooze
7.  Keep them safe

Check around your house or cottage to make sure it’s secure in case your dog decides to wander off.
It’s been a legal requirement for dogs to be microchipped since April 2016 and for them to wear tags on their collar with your name, address, postcode and phone number on.
Check your contact details are up to date on the microchip database too, just in case.

8. Check out the best places for dogs!

Our trips revolved entirely around Daisy. So first, we’d find some walks and plan a route, pack what we’d need, then Tommy would hit Trip Advisor for Dog Friendly pubs.
Ask your host or hotel for recommendations too. We found some amazing fish skins for Daisy at The White Horse pub in Suffolk which she loved.
If you’re planning a trip to the beach, make sure dogs are allowed. Annoyingly, quite a lot of places ban them between May and October!
Remember they get hot and bothered too, so keep them cool and don't have them chasing balls for miles - we think a few small throws is ok though.

Daisy tucking into some fish skins on her holiday!
9. Be wary near water

On a serious note, the RNLI launched a campaign this month to raise awareness of the dangers of walking near the coast.
More than 200 walkers have died since 2011, many while trying to save a pet who has then survived, and they urge owners not to jump in the water after their dogs. 
Chris Cousens, safety partner at the RNLI is keen to stress they will attend a pet in distress. “We would not encourage people to enter water to save pets,” he said.
“Instead, people should call the Coastguard on 112 or 999 when at coastal locations or 112 or 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue service when at any inland waterside location.”

A beach and a ball to play with - the perfect holiday for a pooch but make sure you and your dog are wary of the water
10. Have fun!

Dogs are part of the family and holidays are a great opportunity to relax and enjoy time together.
Make sure you take lots of photos of your pup and create memories to treasure forever.

This post is sponsored by Animed Direct, an online retailer providing discounted medication, food, treats and accessories. To find out more about the products mentioned, visit www.animeddirect.co.uk

The post Dog friendly travel – 10 tips for taking your pooch on holiday appeared first on The Paw Post.

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We have some sad news

Two weeks ago we made the heartbreaking decision to let Daisy go to sleep.
Earlier this year she was diagnosed with dementia but thankfully she responded well to medication and continued to enjoy life.
Then we became concerned about her vision shortly after relocating to Newcastle at the end of March.
A few weeks before, Daisy had been for a check up at her vet in Lymm as she’d started walking with an unusual gait. During the appointment she had her eyes examined and all was fine.
But when Daisy began walking into things and hitting her head and struggled to see her ball - chasing balls was her favourite thing to do - we knew something wasn’t right.
We took her to be checked over and the vet confirmed our fears. Her vision was fading but her eyes were healthy, meaning it was most likely something was pressing on her optic nerve.
The vet suspected a brain tumour and we asked what we could do for Daisy.
As she was a senior dog, at least 13, she explained having surgery or chemotherapy wasn’t an option and that the medication Daisy was taking was all they could give her.
Daisy was already on Metacam, a pain killer and anti-inflammatory for arthritis, and Vivitonin, which increases blood flow to the brain and vital organs, Activait, a nutritional therapy containing antioxidants and vitamins to support dogs in later life and YuMove supplements.

We took some time to consider what steps to take next

A MRI scan could have confirmed the tumour, and the vet said that in time that it would grow, causing fits or seizures.
We agonised as to what to do. At this point, Daisy was still happily going out for walks, eating her food and having cuddles with us every night.
She was slowing down, but still enjoying life. I spent hours, days, reading about dogs and brain tumours, sobbing over posts from other owners sharing their experiences.
I read about dogs having seizures, injuring themselves and coming out of them confused and frightened.
I couldn’t comprehend the thought of Daisy suffering such a terrifying thing. She was always such a tough, strong, independent dog.
I didn’t want that to be the ending for her.

I made up my mind to have a scan, and if it showed a tumour, to ask the vet to put her to sleep

I believed that would be the kindest thing. I didn’t want her to suffer.
But in the days that followed, Daisy rapidly declined. We took her to Tynemouth beach where only a week earlier she’d been happy and confident, playing with her ball.
Instead, she was confused, walking in circles in the sand and became anxious when dogs approached her.
I wanted to protect her, to wrap her in cotton wool. Seeing her like that, while young dogs bounded around just as she had always done was heartbreaking.
That night, we took her for a walk and she darted manically in the street, and not because she was being her usual giddy self but because she was scared. This had happened a few times before.
The only thing I could do to help her settle was play calming music for dogs (Thanks Spotify) and cuddle her on the bed.
The same thing happened the following morning, and that evening. Daisy’s anxious episodes became more frequent and seeing her scared broke my heart.
We did all we could to comfort her. Tommy’s daughters Hannah and Millie snuggled up and read her a story - Harry The Abandoned Puppy by Holly Webb.
The Monday morning before they left for school, they sat quietly with her on the sofa, cuddling her and telling her how much they loved her.

I knew then it was time

Because we’d recently moved, I wanted to speak to Rachel, Daisy’s vet from Lymm Veterinary Surgery who had cared for her for many years.
Thankfully, I was able to have a phone consultation, and I explained my fears. Rachel agreed that Daisy’s anxiousness, declining vision and gait suggested it was most likely she had a brain tumour.
I told her I didn’t want her suffering and broke down. She gently explained that around the corner Daisy could have a terrifying and painful haemorrhage or seizure.
I couldn’t have that for my gorgeous, funny, feisty girl. Daisy was such a tough little dog.
She’d survived on the streets before being taken in by Manchester Dogs Home where my friend Jane adopted her before letting her come to live with me.
Nothing fazed her. She was fearless and full of mischief, even in her senior years.
But now she was tired and frightened of the things she was feeling and the changes happening in her body and her mind too.
Daisy had put her faith and trust in me to care for her and I felt she was starting to suffer.

They say dogs tell you when they’re ready to go

After speaking to Rachel, I made an appointment for the vet to come to our home the following day.
We took Daisy to Watergate Park and let her potter around at her own pace and for the first time in ages I felt calm.
I’d been so fearful of what had been happening to her. I didn’t expect to lose her so soon. After her dementia was diagnosed, I spoke to a woman with a 19-year-old dog who’d been living with it for five years.
Of course, I convinced myself Daisy would be the same. She’d be like a lovely, eccentric granny and happily drift away.
But this was different and I was so scared. I prayed we could keep her safe and comfortable until the vet came.
She slept next to me that night as she had every night for the last few weeks. I tried not to crumble that morning, seeing her little face and knowing it would be the last time I’d wake up with her.
Instead, I went off in my car and stood sobbing at the till in Greggs buying a steak bake for a treat her breakfast.
(Just to clarify, she didn’t eat it all and Daisy was always fed nutritious, high quality dog food until her final months where I alternated this with home cooking to help her take her medication)
Her final walk was at Jesmond Dene. When we came home, she didn’t even want to eat a cocktail sausage. That had never happened in nine years.
She lay with her head on my leg and looked at me as if to say, ‘I’m tired now, I’m ready to go mum.’ Even when the vet came, she barely lifted her head to acknowledge him.

Saying goodbye

Daisy had so much spirit. She was my rock, my best friend, and was there for me every day for nine years.
We did everything together and she gave me so much love. I had to repay her unconditional love by being selfless, by letting her go.
I tried to make saying goodbye as calming as I could, with candles and relaxing music.
Daisy lay next to me when it happened, with Tommy and I stroking her and telling her how much we loved her.
There is no such thing as an ideal ending but I feel I did my best for her.
Now she’s no longer in our home and our lives (although she is on the walls of every room in the house) I can’t begin to describe the void left behind.
I’m not going to try now, it’s still too raw.
Every day I wake up and realise she’s not here and feel like someone’s standing on my chest.
I have to take comfort in knowing she’s not in pain or suffering, but we just miss her so so much.

Thank you

We have shared privately what happened to Daisy with family, friends and people we’ve connected with and have been totally overwhelmed by their kindness and love.
Daisy was such a special dog to us, but in the last two weeks, we’ve realised how much she meant to others too, and we are so proud of her.
I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us, who sent messages and cards, and who loved Daisy.
I’m writing about this here because I feel I need to share what happened with those who have followed this blog, a journey Daisy and I shared.
It’s less than a year since we launched. Our first post was about us doing the Battersea Muddy Dog Challenge together which she bounded around and throughly enjoyed.
Never did I imagine that I’d be writing this now. We will continue with the blog - it’s her legacy - and we’ll continue to share her stories and adventures and in time give another rescue dog a second chance at happiness.
So please, if you’ve managed to read this far and you’re with your dog, give them a cuddle, tell them you love them and treasure every moment.

We will love you and miss you always our gorgeous Daisy sausage, forever in our hearts xxx

  • If you have lost a pet and need support, the Blue Cross has a 24 hour bereavement helpline on 0800 096 6606. Find out more at www.bluecross.org.uk
Tommy and Daisy
Having a sniff around
Me and Daisy

The post Saying goodbye to our gorgeous girl Daisy appeared first on The Paw Post.

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When Jayne Hayes lost her dog Hermes she was utterly distraught as any pet owner can imagine

The mini French Bulldog went missing from her home in 2003, when the breed was so rare most people didn’t even recognise it.
Desperate to find her, she pounded the streets, printed posters, drove round to vets, groomers, rescue centres and council pounds.
Still, it took her six weeks to trace her 30 miles away. Had it not been for Jayne’s dogged determination she may never have seen her again.
It inspired her to set up DogLost, a database to help owners locate their pets, and 15 years later, she has 120,000 people poised to help each time a dog vanishes.
Today, April 23rd, is Lost Dog Awareness Day and Jayne kindly agreed to speak to us about her work, and share her advice for owners if they’re ever faced with the nightmare of losing a pet.

Jayne Hayes has dedicated her life to reuniting lost dogs with their owners
What inspired you to set up DogLost?

I decided to set up a lost and found database as when my own dog Hermes went missing there wasn’t anything online out there.
Losing your pet is terrifying. You can’t think straight and go through so many emotions, but I was fortunate enough to get my dog back.
I decided I wanted to use what I’d learned to help others.

What happened with Hermes?

I opened the back door to our old home, we used to live in Hermiston Hall, a manor house in Doncaster, in the morning so our three dogs could run outside, as I did every day.
I walked to the front door to greet them, opened it, and Hermes had gone. She’d been stolen. I was frantic.
My friend made me posters and we drove round to about 90 different places, rescues, vets, councils. I’d already rang them beforehand to ask if they’d seen her.
But when I got there only four people knew what I was talking about, they hadn’t taken down details, people were so busy.
It made me realise how hard it was. All the dogs at the rescues were jumping up and I was thinking ‘Oh my gosh, these are somebody’s pet.’
At a pound, I asked them what PTS meant after seeing it written on the cages. They told me, ‘It’s seven days until they’re put to sleep.’ It broke my heart.
Owners didn’t know they were there and I vowed I’d do something about it.
We found her through complete strangers who saw me putting up posters.
One lady took one from me. Her daughter worked in a vets 30 miles away and it was that vets that called and said a woman had walked in, seen the poster and recognised her.
Hermes was a French Bulldog and at that time they were rare. There was only 320 in the country and it was the sort of dog people looked twice at.

So what happened next?

The woman who had seen her phoned me and told me that every day she’d been phoning all the organisations I was calling.
No-one made the connection. She even phoned the police and said her neighbour had turned up with a French Bulldog that was worth thousands of pounds.
The couple were unemployed and there was no way they could have paid for her. She’d even said to them what a lovely dog she was and asked what breed she was - they didn’t know!
She told me where they lived and we contacted the police but they wouldn’t help so we staked out the house.
We spoke to the neighbours who had dogs and asked them to let us know if they left.

It sounds so dramatic, but you’d do anything to get your dog back wouldn’t you?

Absolutely. We had a tip that they got on the bus and went into Worksop town centre every Wednesday to sign on and they had the dog with them.
I went in the car with my partner, and as soon as I saw them he ran out and grabbed the dog. Someone thought we’d stolen her and I said, ‘No, it’s our dog!’
A mob came from nowhere, kicking my husband and I was on the phone with the dog, clutching her. The police came and wanted to arrest him for affray.
Eventually they worked out what had happened. We were just so relieved to have her back.

A recent report by Direct Line found five dogs are stolen every day in the UK and only one in five are recovered?

Yes, it’s a huge problem and I wanted to do something to help. And also to help the people who lost their dogs too.

So how did DogLost begin?

Well I’d never even used a computer when I started the DogLost website and I did it all on my own and it was entirely self funded.
Word spread and we added missing dogs to the database and people who wanted to help owners find them.
Now, we have 120,000 people on our database and within minutes people of a dog being reported missing, they start sharing it so people can look for them.
For every two people who join, we get one dog back. Dog wardens and vets use us and can check on gender, age, area and ideally find the dog.
We keep our records forever. We’ve had dogs reunited with owners after five and eight years.

That’s remarkable. And you work with rescues too?

We work with the RSPCA, with Battersea Dogs Home and the police. People trust DogLost which means the rescues work with us too so they have space for other dogs.
Sometimes we put up a dog on the ‘Found Dog’ page and send it out and so many people don’t recognise them but they remind them of a pet they once had.
They’ll say, ‘Oh doesn’t that look like our Benji, he’s in the kennels, let’s go and see him,’ and they end up taking a dog. It’s so lovely.
I thought it would be a couple of minutes a week and it has taken over my life. I sold my manor house and gave up everything to fund it but it’s so rewarding.

Jayne and the DogLost team are involved with many welfare organisations including Marc Abrahams' Pup Aid
Can you talk us through what happens when a dog is reported missing?

Yes, the owner calls us and we calmly gather the information we need to try to find their dog.
So their name, age, sex, whether they are microchipped or tattooed, if they have any distinguishing marks or features, where they went missing and contact information.
We put clear details on the website and make up a poster for the owner to print and distribute in their local area.
We press a button and immediately alert pet owners nearby. Owners are told to put posters up where people go; cashpoints, stations, shops, get them in the local paper and on the local radio. You have to be positive and think, ‘Yes I will see my dog again.’
For every day a dog is missing there are ten people out there who will see them. Neighbours, visitors, the postman. Dogs can’t talk but people can.

An example of the poster kits Jayne provides to owners searching for their pets
What else are owners told to do?

We have 50 regional volunteers so as soon as a dog is reported lost the volunteer will send them a list of all the relevant organisations in their area.
On there will be councils, wardens, vets, rescue centres and the owner is asked to call them and tick off on the list. We urge they to keep going to places and ringing, just like I did.

We see lots of posts about missing dogs on social media, does this help?

Yes, but it’s a combination of doing things the old fashioned way too. Not everyone is on Facebook and the internet and it’s dog walkers and owners who are most likely to spot a dog.
If you share a post on your personal page that your dog has gone missing, your friends will see it, but if we share it, we can reach thousands more people.
Facebook or other platforms are excellent at spreading the word but it’s unlikely that social media alone will find a dog.

Are there any measures owners can take just in case their dog is ever lost?

Make sure they’re microchipped or tattooed. We actually prefer tattoos as vets will check eyes and ears as soon as they come in and they will notice the tattoo in the ear.
It’s a reference number and you call the National Tattoo Register and they will give you the contact details. 
Also, keep microchip details up to date. This has been a legal requirement for over two years but you would be surprised how many people move or change phone numbers and can’t be traced.
Have photos of your dog from the front, and from both sides so they can be easily identified from a poster.

What do you think needs to be done to tackle dog theft?

Ultimately, there needs to be tougher custodial sentences for people who take dogs as a deterrent.
We have a great relationship with the police with three police liaison officers who deal with the stations directly.
Five police forces work with us who have given us assigned officers who we can call and we’ve had a lot of arrests. They all want to help dogs too.
People who steal dogs or who are cruel to them don’t get on very well in prison as inmates are often dog owners and they give them hell.

We have a petition to reclassify the theft of a pet as a crime and you can sign it HERE

Hearing your story shows how many people are dedicated to finding dog though which is amazing

We want to reassure owners that there a strong chance they will be reunited with their dog and there are so many people who want to make that happen.
If they lose a pet, try to stay calm, contact us, follow the advice we give from our many years of experience, and try to be positive and have faith.

To report a missing dog, find out more about Jayne’s work or to register to try to help find dogs in your area, visit www.doglost.co.uk and you can follow them on Twitter  and Facebook 

To read about Jayne’s #pettheftaware campaign click HERE 

The post Jayne Hayes reveals why she set up DogLost to help owners find missing pets appeared first on The Paw Post.

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