Call Me Cassandra…

I met a women in the park a few months ago. She was walking a Finnish Spitz and, as they are not common where I live, I asked her if she had always owned the breed. She replied that it was her first dog. I then asked if she had bought on looks alone and been surprised at the amount of barking and relative difficulty in training, especially recall, that her dog exhibited. Astonished she agreed that all were the case. I then cheerfully informed her about the way that the Finnish spitz was bred to hunt and told her about the annual King of the Barkers competition. Needless to say, she didn’t take up my offer of help with training.

I met her again last night, now accompanied also by her other dog, a nervous Staffie cross that I would guess is a rescue. She is pregnant with twins and was cheerfully talking to another (very sensible) dog owner about it.

I asked if she had a plan in place for accustoming her dogs to the major changes that they are about to undergo.

She laughed.

I explained that I was perfectly serious. She then informed the other dog owner that she intended to breast feed and would hug each dog to either side of her while she accomplished this feat so that they felt included because “they think that they are human”.

My sincere entreaties that this would lead to potential disaster were dismissed.

Sadly I suspect that it is only a matter of time before two dogs are looking for a new home, assuming of course that they have not been put down for biting “out of the blue”.

This is not a good week. A couple of days ago, I found out that my neighbour had re-homed his lovely Australian Shepherd. I first met him with his partner and the then tiny puppy outside a local pub. The dog had not had his second vaccinations but they had carried him round the corner so that he could experience the world going by. They were first time dog owners and I suggested that they might have their hands full with such a breed. Of course, they assured me that he was centre of their world and all would be well. He went through a very nervous adolescence and my doubts grew. Then she got pregnant.

Surprise, surprise, the dog was no longer centre of their world. Last month they sent him back to the breeder because they were too busy to deal with him and he had started stalking their offspring.

They are of course to blame but then so is the breeder for selling them this dog. I hope that he has a fulfilling and happy life with a new owner. I will miss him.

(Image courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Bad Hair Day

I was sent a link to a news article yesterday regarding a couple whose “beloved” Samoyed had been shaved by a dog groomer.

As with everything else in the canine world, grooming is unregulated. It should come as no surprise that these groomers had no idea of the importance of the double coat in protecting against heat and cold or the consequences of clipping it off. I was pursued by a judge at a companion show who was also a groomer. She kept insisting that my Sibe needed a trim. I withdrew him from the ring and complained to the organiser after she also handled him really roughly – another common factor in dog grooming. I met a couple at another show who had not only shaved the guard hairs off their Sibe but were parading her round in full sun. Her coat had hardened and become like sharp straw.

The blame ultimately lies with the owners for buying a double-coated dog that they are then too lazy to acclimatise to being groomed. How “beloved” is a dog if you cannot even be bothered to keep its coat groomed? The groomer should of course have assessed the dog on arrival and recommended that the dog be sedated by a vet who could then remove the tangles. The owners should then have been reported under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and placed under RSPCA supervision to ensure that they maintained their grooming regime under threat of losing their dog.

That’ll be the day.

Grooming a dog is an important part of care and of bonding between owner and dog. It should be done at least daily as well as checks for lumps, ticks, grass seeds and any other abnormality. Buying a dog with a complex coat that humans have bred to need a lot of attention, not bothering to care for it then dumping the dog on a groomer who is not likely to acclimatise it gradually to being handled and groomed is not acceptable. The time to obtain advice about how to handle and groom a dog is before buying.

As with puppy farming, we need to stop treating owners as victims and put the blame – and the resources for education- squarely where it lies.

How Much Do You Love Your Dog?

The emphasis here is on the “how much”, not the “love”. The Office for National Statistics published the weekly expenditure on pets and pet food across the UK by region as follows:

Pets and Pet food

SE £5.30
SW £5.10
East £5.10
W Mids £4.90
Scotland £4.70
E Mids £4.70
Wales £4.60
N Ireland £4.00
Yorks & Humber £3.80
NW £3.50
NE £3.40
London £2.40

Basic Food £11.70
Treats £0.09
Vaccs £1.00
Worming £1.50
Flea £1.50

Are they mad or were they just counting food for stick insects?
Here’s mine:

Basic Food £20.00
Cod Liver Oil £0.39
Treats £1.00
Vaccs £1.00
Worming £1.53
Flea £2.30
Toothpaste £0.75

The PDSA PAW Report 2016 estimates that the lifetime cost of owning a dog is between £21,000 and £33,000. Assuming an average of £22,000 and a lifetime of 12 years, that works out at £43.27 per week. That of course takes into account expenditure outside of the ONS survey scope such as collar and lead, neutering and non-prophylactic veterinary costs, grooming equipment etc. 97% of dog owners in the survey underestimated the cost of owning a dog, with 9% thinking that it would be up to £500 over a lifetime, 11% between £501 and £1,000, 47% between £1,001 and £5,000, 23% between £5,001 and £10,000 and 11% more than £10,000.

The ONS survey seems to show that either owners are underestimating actual costs or they are purchasing low-quality foods and non-prescription prophylactics. 31% have not neutered their dog of which 19% “don’t believe in it”, 17% “haven’t considered it” and 14% “haven’t got round to it”.
12% of owners have not vaccinated their dogs of which 19% say that it is too expensive (possibly the same 19% that “don’t believe” in neutering), 18% believe that it is not necessary and 11% “haven’t got round to it”. 22% of owners are not bothering with vaccination boosters.
10% of owners are not even registered at a vet of which 32% don’t think that it is necessary at all, 23% don’t think it is necessary because their pet is not ill and 17% “haven’t got round to it”.

Scary isn’t it?


Well, hello world (again). It’s good to be back. The more observant among you may have noticed that this site was one of the millions that was hacked a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, and somewhat ironically, it coincided with me adding a more powerful spam filter to the site which took me over the default bandwith. I assumed that I was locked out of my site by the hacker.

I have now summoned the assistance of a grown up (this will cost me a good dinner at the very least) and we are now back with tails wagging.

Missed you.

More soon.