Thursday 29 March 2007

Dog saves owner

Toby, the two year old golden retriever, saved his owner from choking to death.
Take a look at the link below.

Wednesday 28 March 2007

How about these eyes then?

This message came as unsolicited mail. I was going to ignore it until I viewed the attachment.

“SINGLE BLACK FEMALE seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I'm a very good girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your car (whatever make or model, not fussy), hunting, camping and fishing trips, cosy winter nights lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me."

I gather her name is Daisy and I do hope she has found a loving companion or loving family.

Sunday 25 March 2007

For your eyes only.

These are Belle's eyes. Pure Border Collie eyes.

Although we are unable to ask our dog to read an eye chart, it is possible to make some educated assumptions about their vision. The position of the eyes placed on the sides of the head determines the degree of peripheral vision and results in a visual field of 240 degrees compared with the human field of 200 degrees, for instance. Most humans have the ability to see all the different colours of the electromagnetic spectrum, and consequently perceive all its' colours. Animals, such as the dog, are often thought of as being at a disadvantage by not being able to see all the hues of the spectrum. Evolutionarily however, the dog and the human each developed the visual system that worked best for them. Humans have depended on their diurnal ability and a sense of colour throughout time to help them find food. Dogs on the other hand, were not originally diurnal animals, until humans domesticated them. Consequently, the ability to see at night was originally more important to the dog than colour. After all, their prey is often camouflaged with the surroundings, so they are unable to rely on colour vision cues as heavily as humans do to find food. Dogs have developed the ability to see in dimmer light and to detect motion that aids in their survival. Humans on the other hand, are visual creatures that heavily depend on both colour and acuity to go about their everyday lives. It is commonly believed that dogs only see in black and white. Recent evidence shows, however, that they have some degree of useful colour vision. Behavioural tests suggests that they can distinguish red and bleu but green and red appear similar to them. Dogs therefore rely on contrast and movement to identify objects.

Wednesday 21 March 2007

Dog Dancing

We have a dog dancing section in the dog club where I work and before joining this section, dogs must have acquired certain skills. Based on the picture on the left, I am considering making the tests for joining this section more interesting!

Thursday 15 March 2007

This dog is a killer!

This little American Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a killer. Well, according to the Belgian papers he is after an Amstaff attacked a 4 year old little girl the other day. So if you own one of these dogs you are embroiled in a hot social and political issue. ( More about that some other time ). Your dog is dangerous, your dog kills and whatever your dog does is wrong. Yes, maybe if he falls in the wrong hands. But should we not ask ourselves what goes wrong when a child or an adult for that matter is seriously attacked by a dog. Any dog. Recently I was asked to speak to a class of 10 year olds about dogs and how to train them. I answered their questions about granny's dog biting people's ankles, about auntie's dog yapping and whining all the time, about their neighbour's dog who chases joggers, about a friend's dog who pulls on the lead so much so that he nearly pulled off someone's arm, how one of them was frightened because he had been bitten, about little anecdotes about dogs they knew and so on. I had a great time and at the end of the class, I gave them my ten golden rules and asked them to think about them and show them to their parents.

Here is what the dog has to say to the child:

1. Do NOT pull my ears or my tail and do not poke your fingers in my mouth.
2. Do NOT wake me up or come up to me to play when I am asleep or when I am eating.
3. Do NOT disturb me when I am in my basket or on my cushion or on my blanket.
4. Do NOT take my food away from me when I am eating.
5. Do NOT bring your face too close to mine.
6. Do NOT interfere if I am ever involved in a fight with another dog.
7. Never run towards me.
8. Never touch a dog you do not know. Always ask the owner of the dog if you can stroke his dog. If he says yes, gently show the dog the back of your hand so that he can smell you.
9. Never threaten me by playing with dangerous objects like sticks or by making violent gestures or by shrieking.
10. Treat me like a dog because I am not a four-legged human and definitely not a cuddly toy. Speak to me in a gentle, sweet voice. I will always love you and I will never hurt you.

Sunday 11 March 2007

Belgian breeds

You may have heard of Belgian Shepherds or Belgian Sheepdog ( Berger Belge in French ) and usually 4 come to mind: the Malinois, the Groenendael, the Tervuren and the Laekenois. And therefore we assume that there are 4 Belgian breeds. In fact there are 14 as you can see in this photograph. Now for a small country like Belgium that’s quite something. The photograph's title is: "Des ambassadeurs de notre culture" and that's what they are. Apart from the 4 above, there are the: Bouvier des Ardennes, Bouvier des Flandres, Schipperke, Chien de Saint-Hubert ( Bloodhound ), Petit Brabançon, Griffon belge, Griffon bruxellois, Bichon frisé, Epagneul Nain continental Papillon and Epagneul Nain continental Phalène.

Thursday 8 March 2007


It came as a shock to me today to realise that Belle, my Border Collie, and I are the only living creatures in Brussels not to have seen a single episode of 24.
Should we do something about this?

Wednesday 7 March 2007

Rusty, the fat lab

Going back to my earlier post on nutrition and proper diet, I just need to mention the story of Rusty which really saddened me. Poor thing!
Two brothers in Cambridgeshire have become the first people in England to be convicted for having a dog which is too fat. They were found guilty of animal cruelty for allowing Rusty, a 10 year old chocolate Labrador, to balloon to 74kgs, double the weight he should be. He should weigh no more than 35kgs. He was so fat he looked like a seal and he could hardly stand. He could walk no more than six paces without having to sit down. He was obviously suffering a large amount of pain and discomfort due to his weight.
Since the beginning of March, Rusty is being looking after by the RSPCA and he has already lost 20 kilos. He is on a low calorie diet and on painkillers to treat arthritis.
The RSPCA was right to bring this case to court even though it had rung up a £12 000 legal bill.
How can this happen? How can people be so stupid?
I agree Labradors eat whatever they are given and they will gorge themselves on any food they find. I agree also that when dogs get older they put on weight because they take less exercise and they are less active. But to this degree?
Dogs should eat a well balanced diet. A dog should not eat scraps from the kitchen or leftovers from the table. A dog does not need to snack between meals. He does not need a bit of tea in a saucer with milk and sugar and a chocolate digestive biscuit to go with it. He does not need a sip of champagne. One person I helped with training gave her dog leftovers and scraps on a regular basis and these would include fish heads and fish bones. “It is a good source of calcium”, she would argue. The dog was emaciated and obviously undernourished. I am not surprised to read about dogs being malnourished when attitudes such as these are common?

Monday 5 March 2007

Sheepdog commands

Training sheepdogs relies on them having a strong natural instinct to round up sheep and bring them back to where the farmer wants them.
Working sheepdogs learn four main commands and those are fairly standard amongst sheepdog handlers: “Stand”, “Walk On”, “Come Bye” and “Go Away”. The first two are self explanatory. “Come Bye” means to go left-handed around the sheep and “Go Away” means to go right-handed. Once the dog is trained to these commands most handlers replace these words with different whistles because the sound of a whistle travels better and the dog can hear them from further away, particularly when the wind is howling. The best handlers have different whistle commands for different dogs. This means that when they are using several dogs on a big flock of sheep they can command each dog independently, keeping two dogs still and just moving the third one for example. There are of course more than 4 commands. Each handler has his set of words or gestures and the most important thing in all aspects of dog handling is the relationship between the dog and his master. (ref: Cornwall Advertisers. Clare and Mike Parnell of Carruan Farm near Polzeath)