The best that you can be!

Last night I received an email from a client with a little blind Poodle. It wasn’t a long email and I have included it for your perusal, but it meant so much to both me and the sitter who cared for him that it prompted me to include it in my blog.

When Nina’s Nannies for Pets was formed, it was done through love – a love of animals that I believe was inherent from birth.  I have always found it easy to connect with animals, who were my constant companions as a child. Being an animal lover inevitably drew me to the veterinary profession which soon became a long held dream.  I was going to save every poorly pet on my planet and help rescue and re-home every orphan!

I felt sure that all I required to become a successful Veterinarian was love, but  I was soon to discover that I could not actually handle the not so pretty side of this profession, which was euthanasia and not forgetting that I was never really academically minded, or able to achieve the required qualifications.

When I left school at the age of fifteen, I decided to follow in my beloved dad’s footsteps and join the family painting and decorating business.  For a young female donning a pair of white overalls and venturing up a ladder to paint the outside of a house, was still a source of amusement in a largely male dominated world and yes I did look for the left handed screw driver and the tub of elbow grease, much to my workmates amusement.  I did not however, fall for my boss’s insistence that the woodchip wallpaper I had just spent an afternoon hanging, was upside down!

When I left the building trade, I spent several years doing secretarial work and a further six manning a switchboard, before my life was to change dramatically.  My husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was just forty two years old, but his determination and zest for life was unwavering and undoubtedly helped my recovery when fate was to strike once again six months later when I suffered a brain hemorrhage.

Without going into detail, it made me even more determined to attain my dream of working with animals.  Being away from the office made me realize how stressful and unhealthy it was and just how much I hated the work and so my venture into the world of pet sitting began.

After thoroughly researching the American pet care industry (it was largely unknown in the UK at that time), I decided that this would finally realize my dream of working with animals.

Meanwhile the phone is left unanswered since I am spending a considerable amount of time trying to help re-home a client’s dog whose owner is emigrating to Australia! When I have finally secured a place with a local rescue centre, it is time to address Mrs Smith’s SOS.  Her niece can no longer care for her hamster, three chickens, and her three legged pooch and she is flying out to Italy the following day!  I explain that a preliminary visit must be undertaken before an assignment is accepted, but she insists that she is so desperate she will accept anyone!  After almost half an hour of explaining our procedure and the benefits of meeting your prospective sitter, she agrees and I replace the receiver only for it to ring again.  This call is from a client desperate to excel the virtues of their regular pet sitter and why they must be available for a short notice wedding that is taking place that weekend!  My colleague had spoken to her earlier in the day, to explain that her regular sitter has already been booked, but she is insisting that little Bertie will only accept Susan and after all, she has used our services for over eight years!

So yes, I feel that I have realised my dream.  I am also extremely thankful that despite my setbacks, I have been able to help educate pet owners, but I will always feel that I could do more!

Serious illness does have a massive impact on your life, but for us it has been in a positive way.  Last night, when I received that email, I knew that you should never stop trying,  to be the best that we can be!




Fireworks have no place in the modern world!


With Christmas and New Year fast approaching, it is time for pet owners to focus their attention to the safety and well-being of their pets over the New Year celebrations.

We continue to be appalled by the bombing atrocities caused by terrorism and yet every year at the end of November, the UK happily celebrates a failed bomb attempt to blow up the houses of Parliament! The connotations of which I find simply astounding.  What other country would pay homage to a historical terrorist!

I continue therefore, to be astonished that fireworks are legally sold to the general public.  They are explosives and by their very definition, can be lethal in the wrong hands.  They wreak havoc with our countryside, causing stress to our wildlife and livestock and should only be used in the hands of trained Pyrotechnicians.

Pet owners are constantly warned to keep their pets indoors during the Bonfire and New Year celebrations, but what of our livestock and wildlife!  We cannot bring our  horses into the safely of our living rooms and even the calmest can be spooked during this time.


It is heartbreaking to recall incidences of horse fatalities.  More recently Nelly Shell, who was left heartbroken when her beloved horse suffered  severe injuries having become terrified and ran into barbed wire surrounding his paddock.  His injuries were so severe that she had to make the heart wrenching decision to have him put to sleep.

Karen Mills is also calling for a ban on the sale of fireworks to the general public, following the tragic death of her beloved horse, Shiloh.  He was found dead in his field, tangled in wire fencing.  His owner believes he was spooked by fireworks which led to the accident.  She also stated that there were nearby displays taking place!


What of the dangers to our environment.  November 5th is  the most polluted day in the UK calendar.  Rockets contain residues of unburnt propellants and colourants and some of this finds its way into our lakes and riviers.  Researches have collected airborne particles which were found to deplete lung defences which exceeded those from traffic sources which suggests a far greater toxicity.

It is common knowledge that the basic ingredient of fireworks is gunpower, however, it is the cocktail of chemicals and heavy metal that pose the most concern.  Barium  is the ingredient used to produce the vivid green colour, which is both poisonous and radioactive.  Rubidium, cadmium and other toxic components are used which can cause respiratory and other health issues.

In short, fireworks can unleash a shower of toxins into our atmosphere, soil and water.  Yet another good excuse to ban them completely.

Domestic pets

The worse fear case I have seen during my years as a pet sitter, was a beautiful young Staffie whom we walked on an ad hoc basis.  He was a big lad, with a soft heart and a tail that wagged for England.  Imagine my shock to hear from his owner that on the lead up to bonfire night, he suffered a heart attack following what she described as supersonic booms and died shortly after.  Despite her best efforts at calming him, he failed to respond and I doubt she will ever fully recover from his loss.

Instances of animal cruelty also soar in the run up to Bonfire night and one cat was forced to have his leg amputated following what was described as a twisted attack.

Should we really be investing in products such as thunder shirts, and drugs to make fireworks more tolerable to our domestic pets?  My answer to that is no, since this is easily avoidable by restricting them to organise displays and minimising the noise that they generate.

Let us also look at the example set by country who are now insisting that fireworks are restricted to one day celebrations and are therefore using ‘silent’ ones. The Italian town of Callechhio, who employs a ban on loud pyrotechnics.  This was following a bid to ease sufferers of post traumatic stress, pets, livestock, children, wildlife and those of a nervous disposition).  Edinburghs famous New Year celebrations could also see a switch to a silent fireworks, an example that I hope will see many cities following.

Chinese Lanterns.

I would also like to add the dangers of Chinese Lanterns, which have proved extremely harmful to our wildlife.

Lanterns are long been a symbol of beauty as they light up our night skys but they pose a significant threat and can cause fires.

In 2011 a roof fire was caused as a result of one falling onto a family home.  The fire spread to within feet of sleeping children, who were thankfully evacuated when a neighbour was alerted by the flames and called the emergency services.

These lanterns can carry for miles before they land and when ingested animals can suffer internal bleeding, leading to a slow and painful death.   Birds can become entangled in fallen frames, suffering stress and injury in their attempt to get free.  This can lead to starvation and marine life can be endangered by the debris falling into the sea.

Landowners are now calling for a complete ban following cases of injured livestock and fire authorities have united in their support.

The U.K is known to the rest of the world as being a nation of animal lovers, so please think twice before using fireworks and Chinese lanterns to celebrate the New Year.  If you simply must use fireworks, please consider the silent ones.

Keeping Pets Safe In The Winter Months

We all know that dogs and cats are happiest and healthiest kept indoors, but even cats who have access to outside require protection from extreme weather conditions such as cold, wind and extreme heat.  With the temperatures set to plummet this week, it is time to spare a thought for all those animals who are kept outdoors.

Although snow may be a great source of fun for the family, you should always be prepared for the hazards it may bring, especially for our outdoor pets, so here are a few  tips for keeping them safe during the cold winter weather.

Doggie do’s and don’ts during the winter months.

  • Short haired dogs such as Greyhounds and Chihuahuas can be really sensitive to cold weather and benefit greatly from wearing coats during exercise.
  • Pavements are usually salted during snow fall, so remember to wash pads and feet  since it can be an irritant.
  • NEVER exercise off lead near rivers or lakes. They can become frozen and although the majority of dogs are strong swimmers, prevention is better than cure!
  • Be mindful of slippery conditions. The elderly should refrain from putting themselves and their dog at risk.  You can always entertain them inside until conditions improve.
  • Wearing bright or reflective clothing is advisable for both dog and owner to be seen by motorists, during dark winter evenings.
  • If your dog is under active during the winter months do not forget to cut back on his calories. Extra weight can cause health problems so please do not kill with kindness!
  • Dogs should NEVER be left outside in freezing conditions.

Cat’s survival guide

  • The majority of cats like to remain inside during the cold winter months, but if your cat does enjoy snowy conditions ensure that they have access to indoors. If there is no cat flap, keep them inside as cats can suffer from hypothermia and develop frostbite.
  • If you are keeping your cats inside, a litter tray should be provided.
  • Cat flaps can become blocked in heavy snowfall, so if your cat does venture outside,  ensure they are checked and cleared regularly.
  • Cats adore warm places and often gravitate to the warmth of a car engine to keep warm. This can cause them to be trapped without food and water so check before making your journey.


  • If you really cannot bring your little furies indoors during the cold winter months, hutches should be positioned so that extreme snow/rain cannot get in and covered with an old blanket or sacking. Many of our clients use an old tarpaulin under a hutch to provide extra warmth, but remember when covering with any material, to leave the front clear in order that your pets can still enjoy daylight.
  • If a garage is to be their winter home, ensure that they have good ventilation (by a window) and an area that is damp and draft free. Fumes from your car can be fatal so do not use a garage that is used by a car.  Out of sight should not mean out of mind, so do not forget them.
  • Pets enjoy a thicker coat during the winter months, which can moult with constantly changes in temperature. Please therefore do not bring them inside at night to be put out again during the day.  This could also cause stress and further vulnerability to the cold.
  • Remember to add extra bedding and change it regularly.
  • Water bottles can often freeze over when left outside, so these should also be checked on a regular basis to ensure that your pet(s), can still drink.  Insulation sleeves can be purchased from good pet stores and if the water does freeze change for another as defrosted water can cause tummy upsets.
  • For those people who think ‘well wild rabbits live outside’, should be mindful that they have underground burrows which are dry and draught free and are able to snuggle up to other bunnies!
  • You can line the floor of your hutch with a layer of newspaper and extra hay/straw and you can now purchase a heat pad, but please remember to read and follow the instructions fully before use.
  • Hutches should be kept clean throughout the year whatever the weather.

It is worth remembering that rabbits are communal animals and should never be kept alone. Kept in pairs they will be able to enjoy the warmth and comfort of each other, but check the sex of each one before pairing to ensure that you are not over run with their offspring.

Pets rely on us for their well being and safety, especially during harsh weather conditions, but if in any doubt, please contact your veterinary practice who will happily offer advise without charge.


Christmas Dangers for Pets

We may still only be in November, but already Christmas trees and decorations are being hauled from the loft and with them come potential dangers to our pets.

Last Christmas, within 24 hours of publishing my vlog about the dangers of chocolate, I found myself and German Shepherd Dog Luika, in the vets at Leighton Buzzard, having his stomach pumped!

Such an embarrassment and a fine example of how quickly and easily dogs can capitalise on our mistakes.

Being a pet sitter, we have frequent visits from happy clients brandishing bottles of wine and boxes of chocolates.  All of which we donate to the staff of  local rescue centres as a thank you for their hard work throughout the year.  Sadly they are all to often forgotten and without their dedication and hard work, pets would never find suitable homes.

On this particular day, my husband had answered the door, to discover a beautifully wrapped parcel on our doorstep.  He was late for an appointment and left it on kitchen workshop at the same time as I had answered the phone.

I turned my back for no more than five minutes to discover on my return, a demolished parcel, an empty box of Baileys finest liqueurs and a rather sorry and furtive looking German Shepherd Dog!

I immediately reached for the phone to put our vets on alert, grabbed his lead and made a dash to the car.  Luckily it was only a few minutes drive, who immediately administered an injection to induce vomiting.

For those of you who’s dog has never required a vomit inducing drug, I can assure you it is not a pretty sight.  The next half an hour was spent watching my poor pouch, throwing up vast quantities of chocolate until the vet was satisfied that his system was completely clear.

With over eighteen years working within the pet care industry and a lifetime of owning pets and offering advice on my blog, I was aghast that this could happen to MY dog!  It takes but a few minutes for your pet to find danger and Christmas is a time full of them for our pets.

Every string of tinsel, each Poinsettia and even a Christmas dinner, can hold dangers for our pets.  Cats in particular, simply adore the allure of the Christmas tree decorations, so should never be left alone with its temptations and our pet sitters have lost count of the Poinsettia’s that have been relegated to a locked cupboard. Only last year, a client recalled how her prize Pug guzzled the contents of an unattended glass of sherry, which saw him spending Christmas night at the veterinary surgery, followed by a rather hefty vet bill!

The majority of Christmas dangers can be avoided however, so have a wonderful Christmas and remember to keep your pets safe.


The Cruelty Behind The Traps

There is a hidden side to greyhound racing which race goers will never see. This includes painful injuries; kennels not fit for purpose, lack of socialisation and wanton neglect to name but a few!

This money driven industry, with its poorly maintained tracks, cause frequent injuries to these beautiful dogs and thousands will die or vanish each year that are deemed ‘surplus to requirements’. Their bodies have been found dumped in mass graves, often with their ears cut off to avoid identification.

In 2010 Government regulations were introduced to address these problems, but The League Against Cruel Sports states that they are woefully inadequate.

As a result of over breeding and the demand for better performances, dogs that do not make the grade are cruelly disposed of, with their ears sliced off and often shot with a bolt gun,  while some are sold for experimental purposes.  Such a cruel and bloody end for dogs whose only crime is being ‘unfit for purpose’!

Greyhound racing remains big business, where profit is put above animal welfare and of course while the Government continues to rake in taxes, there is little hope of a change.  There is an old saying within the racing fraternity, ‘You bet, they die’, which is sadly true of such a barbaric sport.

People who patronise these races, are quick to point out how Greyhounds love to race, but there is no freedom of choice on the racetrack.  These dogs can reach speeds of up to 40mph and if they collide at full sprint they can receive such horrific injuries that they have to be destroyed.

Sadly, an early death is the fate of most dogs born into the racing industry and due to the vast number bred each year it is impossible to re home them all.  So until people wake up to the reality behind the traps, they will continue to suffer!

The biggest welfare challenge for the lucky dogs that survive the track,  is what to do when they do retire.  The normal age for retirement is 4 – 5 years of age and that does not account for the puppies who do not make the grade.

Sadly there is still public perception that Greyhounds do not make good pets and that they require to much exercise when in fact the opposite is true.

They are still misunderstood and make wonderful, placid pets and contrary to public belief, do not need that much exercising. In fact the majority of retired Greyhounds that have been through our hands as pet sitters, only required a twenty to thirty minute walk, twice a day.  In the course of our dog walking duties, we would often enter the clients home, to find them feet up, sound asleep in a comfy bed and those dogs from the racing industry, often retire early, so have many years ahead of them.

Greyhounds make lovely pets

One word of caution however, a Greyhounds instinct is to chase, so they may require training in order that that can live happily with small pets, but we have cared for quite a few of these lovely dogs, who happily live with cats.

I cannot praise these dogs highly enough. They have been a joy to walk (although vigilance is required when spotting a squirrel or passing little furry), docile, biddable and an all round lovely companion, so next time you are looking to re-home a low maintenance dog, why not contact The Retired Greyhound Trust, who will be more than happy to match you with an appropriate dog.


Say NO to puppy farms

In my eighteen years working in the pet care industry, I have seen a massive increase in the puppy farming industry.  As demand for cheaper, pure bred and designer puppies increases, this despicable trade booms and the last year we have cared for numerous puppies who were purchased cheaply over the internet, from newspaper adverts and in some cases pet shops.  All with fake documentation. The majority required immediate veterinary treatment, while others died from preventable diseases such as parvovirus, indicative of the puppy mill industry.

By purchasing these pups, you might be removing them from a squalid life, but no thought is given to the mothers of these sick puppies who languish in cramped spaces, never seeing the light of day or feeling the comforting touch of a human hand.  They are breeding machines, with little or no recovery between litters and when they can no longer reproduce, are often killed.

I remember Lily, a Cocker Spaniel who was purchased from an online advertisement.  Our client had suspected that she was a breeding bitch since she was not house trained and was petrified of open spaces.  When I first met Lily she was unresponsive and had very little interest accept for her owner, whom she followed everywhere.  It was heartbreaking and took many visits before she would even acknowledge me, but the breakthrough, when it came, was almost euphoric.  I entered the property as normal and called Lily’s name.  Usually it took a few renditions of Hello by Lional Ritchie, before she would lift her head from a sleeping position, but that day, there was a slight wag of her tail and a little light in those dark brown eyes that made me believe that she was slowly emerging from her shell.

In the three years of walking Lily, she would never show the exuberance of a ‘normal’ dog, but slowly, over time, a bond was formed.  Lily was shy with strangers throughout the remainder of her life, but she became the most loving of dogs and completely devoted to those within her family unit.  Sadly the family moved out of our area, but kept in touch until we were informed  that she died a couple of years later.   Lily was one of the lucky ones.  She made it out of her prison and was given a chance.  She absolutely adored her saviors and her loyalty knew no bounds.


Puppy farm dogs

So how can we put an end to puppy mills?  NEVER buy a puppy/dog from an online or newspaper or advertisement.  Do NOT buy from a pet store and if you suspect that a neighbour, or someone you know is involved in the puppy mill trade, report them immediately to the RSPCA.

The only real way to shut down puppy mills is to stop the demand.  Did you know that virtually every breed has a rescue, so if you really must have a pure bred puppy or dog, contact the Kennel Club, who will direct you to the right organisation.  These societies are completely dedicated to re-homing pedigree dogs and by adopting this way, you are quite literally saving lives.  For every empty kennel in rescue, or with a foster carer, there is another dog waiting to be re-homed.

I also find it extremely frustrating that some people see adoption centres as full of problematic dogs.  Pets in rescue should never be tainted, as those with behavioral problems!  Let me assure you that this is largely untrue!

Nearly 45% of our clients have pets adopted from shelters and not one has proved problematic to our pet sitters.  In fact, they are loving, faithful and devoted to their owners and form close bonds with their sitters.

We have also helped to re-home clients pets, who have been the result of a marriage breakup, where clients have moved out of the country and been unable to take their pets with them, or a change in circumstances which has seen them unable to continue care for their animals, so please do not attach a stigma to pets that end up in rescue.

Far from being unadoptable, they make the most wonderful pets  and a good rescue organisation will temperament test and offer training were necessary.  They will also be fully assessed, health checked, micro chipped and spayed or castrated before going out into their new home, so please give them a chance


Wolf Study at Whipsnade


I wanted to find out why the mythical image of Canis Lupus is still haunting and why, even in modern times, he still holds the capability to evoke such passion. He has lived amongst us for thousands of years, and yet still he remains the most feared and persecuted of all wild mammals.



Most of the research on wolf ecology and behaviour, involves field studies, radio tracking and aerial surveys, and through the pioneering efforts of Dr David L Mech and other leading biologists, we now have a far greater understanding of this shy and illusive creature.

However, being a complete novice and armed only with a camcorder, a pair of rickety binoculars and a notepad and pen, I set off on a cold and damp February morning to Whipsnade Wild Animal Park for my first encounter with the Whipsnade wolves.

I arrived just after 8am in the morning. The park boasts some 600 acres, laid out in natural surroundings and luckily for me, Wolf Wood was only a few hundreds yards away from the main entrance.

I was thankful that I had remembered my binoculars, for they are an essential item to any field study and enabled me to identify individuals and observe behaviour at close quarters.

At Whipsnade, there are obvious differences with pack behaviour. Their food is provided and territory limited, but the social hierarchy remains the same. The pack consists of a mated alpha pair and their offspring. Only one cub had been produced that year, which contradicts the usual litter of up to six in the wild.


Diet consists of meat obtained from a local butcher, which is thrown into the enclosure at random, usually early morning between 8.30am and 9.30am before the gates open to the public.

On the fourth week of my visit, the keeper had wheeled round a feast of fallow deer. It was a park animal which had died the day before and following a post mortem to ensure that the carcass was free from disease, it was cut up to serve as a meal that the wolves may hunt naturally in the wild.

Two of the sixteen wolves had been injured. One a male, had been quite severely bitten and the wound was still bloody. It appeared that they were both higher ranking individuals and had attempted to mate when the alpha pair intervened.

The female had suffered similar injury through her exile had only been temporary, whereas the male, despite constant attempts to rejoin the group (this was done by intermittent circling around the pack), was persistently pushed back to the far end of the enclosure by the alpha male.


Throughout my time at the park, the outsider continued his advance in passive submission, yet the alpha’s reaction remained threatening. This wolf had obviously lost his status for good. As in the wild, the alpha male continued to assert his authority. He is most self assured and the only one to be seen lifting his leg whilst urinating. He often approached the public with a far bolder stance than his pack mates, with his tail held high.

There appeared to be rank relationships during feeding, they threatened and directed intimidation behaviour toward each other, and at times there were biting frays, but real confrontation was not observed at that time.

Body language is like a communicative signal which depends on the behaviour of his pact mates. Undisturbed, the body is relaxed whilst his ears seem to follow the direction of sound like finely tuned radar signals.

Although I had witnessed noisy confrontations during feeding, on no occasion did it lead to serious fighting, but I was intrigued to observe a lower ranking wolf defending a piece of meat. I thought it rather comical at the time, for facially he appeared threatening with ears forward, yet his hind legs were bent and his tail was tucked firmly between them.

During late morning, early afternoon, the pack went to ground which I found rather frustrating, so I turned my attention to the great British public milling around the enclosure. It was interesting to note the varied remarks from parents as they spied a wolf or two lazing in the undergrowth.

Bad reputation

All too often I would hear songs such as “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf”, but on the whole, comments were favourable and I was often approached for information by curious people as I took notes and filmed my subjects.

My study took most of that year, and was a unique opportunity for me to observe wolves in a much greater freedom than the confines of a zoo.

For conservation to be successful we need knowledge and understanding. My study was only possible with the help of Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, where they continue to enjoy the protection of captivity.

In an ideal world, the wolf should be left where he belongs, in freedom, but it is extremely difficult to change the opinion that this earth is for humans and all else should be subordinate. Whatever their outcome, one slow floating howl through a midnight sky still holds the ability to set even the faintest heart aflutter.

Written by Nina Cole

Chimpanzes are an Endangered Species


chimpChimpanzees used to live throughout equatorial Africa from southern Senegal through Central Africa to western Tanzania. This is an area almost the size of the United States and includes 25 countries.

Today, chimpanzees are extinct in 4 of them, and are down to such low numbers (100-200) in 5 more that their disappearance is inevitable. Another 5 countries have small, scattered populations of a few hundred. Only 10 countries have chimpanzee populations that exceed 1000. There are estimated to be about 200,000 chimpanzees left in Africa. Only 50 years ago there were probably several million.

In spite of their status as an endangered species, chimpanzee numbers continue to decline rapidly in those countries where wild populations still survive.

The primary threats to chimpanzees are habitat destruction and hunting. Local agricultural activities are encroaching ever deeper into even protected areas of chimpanzee habitats and large scale logging is now a major threat to the forest primates of Africa. Subsistence hunting of chimpanzees as a source of meat has gone on for centuries. But because of increasing human populations in previously undisturbed areas and a thriving commercial market for bushmeat, including chimpanzees, hunting is now a major threat to their survival.

Source: Tess Lemon, Chimpanzees, Whittet Books, London, 1994

Information provided by

Canine Health Concern

PO Box 7533, Perth, PH2 1AD (UK)
Tel 01821 670410

The role of CHC

The aim of Canine Health Concern is primarily to empower people to enable them to talk and act from a point of knowledge, and therefore be in the right position to do the very best for their dogs, and other animals (including themselves).

Therefore our efforts are made to, in effect, 'spread the word', with the final aim that enough people learn the truth and gain a balanced view, which will change the world. We have already seen some significant changes since the start of CHC in 1994 and have support throughout the world. We continue to have impact and will strive to do so for the better of the animals.

We do not preach and do not advocate that approach – we simply allow others to make their own judgements but from a point of knowledge. We always advocate diagnosis from a suitable vet and do not see us as any kind of alternative to veterinary practice, but one that helps people work with/alongside the veterinary profession.

We are independent and do not take paid advertising, and therefore do not have the big budgets of industry, pharmaceutical giants or official bodies. In fact we don't have our own advertising budgets at all. We also work on an expense only basis – any monies made are put straight back into furthering the aims.

What we do have is the freedom to speak the truth.

So how can you help?

People need to know that we:

  • are here, that we exist
  • have a membership available to join
  • have a website available to anyone to use, read and gain knowledge from
  • have the 'Shock To The System' book available to buy
  • have our Foundation in Canine Healthcare programme
  • have leaflets available for people to hand out

So please pass on information about CHC or the information that we supply, by word of mouth, by letter, by email, by whatever means that suits your own personality. Who to? Well, we all know that talking to someone who doesn't want to listen is a frustrating and uphill task, so we don't usually bother with that!! But there are people out there who do want to do better for their animals but don't know how, or some that just don't realise that they do until they hear something that makes sense. So you could contact:

  • friends and family – is an easy start
  • other dog lovers you meet in the park – you never know, you may meet other CHC members along the way
  • dog clubs – there are all sorts, training & behaviour, agility, show etc. Real change has always come at grassroots level and there are many people and dogs suffering under 'official' rules within clubs that only need some impetus and dialogue for that change to begin
  • breeders – how many breeders out there don't know of the support and information available. We have members who breed and do a wonderful job educating new puppy owners on how to bring up their dogs to be healthy long-lived adults
  • welfare organisations – a real tough one, but you have to start somewhere, and many smaller independent organisations will be open to look at the facts. Plus the more the larger ones come into contact with knowledgeable dog owners, the sooner they'll realise they will need to look at some of their own practices
  • groomers – again, we have members who are in a great position and pass on information to dog lovers
  • kennels – and yet again a real problem, as many people believe for example, that having vaccinations for dogs being boarded is law. It is not and gradually kennels are accepting opathic nosode treated dogs, without councils closing them down, as so many would be in fear of. Talk to your local kennels!! Educate them!!
  • vets – of course many conventional vets still see us and what we do as contentious and as an opposing organisation. Far from it – and in years to come we believe that moving with the times is the only way that they will survive. Vets truly are in the best position (apart from the owners of course) to really take animal husbandry into the 21st century
  • alternative and complementary healthcare practitioners and practices – who will have open minds and who already take a holistic view
  • pet shops – many of whom will already be going with the changes as more and more people require local supplies of natural foods and products
  • dog papers – Catherine is already a guest columnist for Dog's Today. But putting your say in the letters page of any dog paper can only help 'spread the word'
  • local papers – as with many areas of the canine world, the vast majority of the general public probably don't know we exist, have little awareness of the issues and certainly do not have access to the information and the facts. Raising issues in the letters page can help address this, and why not write to tell them that our Foundation in Canine Healthcare programme will be held in the area?
  • dog wardens – officialdom is always hard to change, but in the dog wardens handbook/manual it states that they should be aware of the full and balanced facts in order to deal with the public. We have already had several wardens on our courses and we are proud that they have taken our information for use in their role in the community. Write to your local dog warden and tell them that we will be holding lectures in their area – we are trying to put together lists of as many areas of the canine world as possible and, for example, have a list of all the councils and contact details for dog wardens. If you need any of these details to help you then just ask
  • dog shows – full of big business propoganda, advertising and sponsorship – but there are also lots of small shows, and at any size show we have found that there are people who are receptive and even quite refreshed to hear or read information that is not selling anything – something that cares about the health of their loved one

This is what we do at CHC, along with seminars, lectures, courses, publishing etc!! And in the process we devote our lives to this. We do not have the resources to do as much as we would like, or is needed. So if you would like to do something to help, in your own way and at your own pace to suit your own life, then do any of the above. Then you will play your part in what so many past and present CHC members have seen with changing the world for the better of the animals.

Choosing the Right Dog

All About Pets, The Blue Cross
Registered charity no: 224392

A dog can be the most rewarding of pets, but also one of the most demanding. Before you acquire a dog please think first. Is there really time for a dog in your life and your , and can you commit to your dog for at least 15 years, possibly more?

Before you start please consider the following:

  • Does everyone in your want a dog?
  • Do you have the time to provide exercise walks and play, in all weathers and on dark nights, etc and give adequate daily attention such as grooming?
  • Do you have time for the training and socialisation a dog will require throughout life?
  • You will be legally responsible for your dog's behaviour so ensure training and socialisation are done correctly.
  • Can you afford the vet's bills, including annual vaccinations and regular worming?
  • Other expenses include providing a proper diet to keep your dog in good condition.
  • Also, boarding kennel costs need to be considered if you have regular holidays where your dog will be unable to accompany you.
  • Can you provide a safe and secure for the dog for life?

sittingdog01Dogs of all ages are appealing, so it is easy to get carried away with the idea of taking a dog without thinking of the consequences. Your dog may be with you for 15 years or more, so consider the time, effort and money required. Your dog's health and happiness will be your responsibility, so if you do not think you can provide care for the rest of the dog's life, please do not get one. Remember, you will be responsible for behaviour your dog must be taught good manners and be well socialised. Should unforeseen circumstances arise and you can no longer care for the pet, a dog with bad manners might face an uncertain future.

Which dog should I choose?

Before you take on a dog, consider what type suits you best. For example, a terrier will have a different temperament from a herding breed, and a guarding breed will be different from a toy breed. There are many books and magazines devoted to giving information on breed differences, so conduct your research carefully and in depth before committing. There are also breed rescue societies, dedicated to particular breeds, and websites giving good information on dogs.

In the case of a crossbred dog, remember it is more difficult to judge what the predominant behaviour trait might be, so get as much information about the individual dog as you can. However, many crossbreeds carry the best traits of both parents, and make wonderful companions.

Taking on an adult dog

dogwalkAn adult dog may be a better option than a puppy, because the dog will probably be house trained and more settled. Your dog will probably have passed the chewing and destructive stage of life, and habits both good and bad will have been formed! However, do remember that an adult dog will reflect previous upbringing, so there may be some problems to try to overcome. If you are taking an adult dog, the chances are it will be a rescue dog from one of three sources: a charity such as The Blue Cross, a private where the owners are unable to look after the dog any longer, or a breed rescue club. 

If you go to a charity centre, be guided by the staff. They know the animals in their care, and have a lot of experience in matching dogs with the right s. The aim of any rescue centre is to find loving, long-term s for dogs that have been the unfortunate victims of circumstance. Please remember these dogs may have had a bad start in life, most frequently through no fault of their own. Do not be swayed by the appearance of the dog a dog's temperament and previous history are the important factors. For example, a rescue dog may not like cats, or may not be able to live with children. If the dog has behaviour problems (for example it cannot be left alone for long), the staff at the shelter should be able to give advice and assistance in order to overcome the problem.

Taking a dog from a private is more problematic. The person you are getting the dog from may not be the first owner, and the dog may have had several s, so you will not get a lot of information about background. Also, if any problems arise, it is unlikely you will be able to return the dog or get ongoing help and advice. For pure breeds, a breed rescue club will be able to give you advice about the specific breed, and about any individual dogs they are trying to find new s for.

Choosing your dog

greyhoundHaving done your research, and spoken to the staff at the kennels (or to the previous owner if you are getting a dog from a private ), answer the following. Have you been given sufficient information about the dog's history and likes and dislikes? Have you had a chance to take the dog for a walk and play together so you can see what the dog is like away from the kennels, or away from ? Do you have a full veterinary history? What illnesses or operations has the dog had?

What vaccinations have been given and have you seen proof, such as vaccination certificates? Also make sure you have a written agreement that taking the dog is subject to a satisfactory veterinary inspection within 72 hours of your doing so. What help or advice is available should there be veterinary or behavioural problems after you have taken the dog? If yours is a rescue dog, make sure you find out as much information as you can. If you are adopting from a charity or a breed rescue club, check if a pet insurance cover note is available to cover any early, unforeseen veterinary costs.

Other points to remember

Veterinary treatment can be expensive, so pet insurance is highly recommended. There are many different policies available, so speak to your veterinary practice. It is still a legal requirement for dogs to have a collar and tag giving the owner's name and address. In addition, microchipping is recommended as a means of identification. If you are going away and cannot take your dog, boarding kennels can be booked a long time in advance. In addition, they will need to see an up to date vaccination record.

Exercise is essential to your dog's well-being, both on and off-lead walking. How much exercise is required will depend on the type and size of dog you have, but one good walk every day is the minimum. Training is ongoing. You can teach an old dog new tricks, so investigate training classes in your locality vets' practices, rescue centres and dog wardens will have details. If you research carefully and make sure you are prepared and able to spend the time, money and energy on your new companion, you will reap the rewards. If, however, you have problems or need advice, organisations such as The Blue Cross, or the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors may be able to help.

Further information

For further information and advice on caring for your pet or horse visit the national pet care information service. Alternatively, you can write to us at the address below to request a list of available leaflets. All About Pets is provided by The Blue Cross, Britain's pet charity. We rely entirely on your support to enable us to continue our vital work. Any contribution would be most welcome.

Thank you.