Tuesday 23 December 2008

Season's Greetings

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous (sic) 2009
Je vous souhaite à tous un Joyeux Noël et une Bonne et Heureuse Année 2009

Thursday 18 December 2008

Get this.

Not many dogs would pester their owners for a pair of Neuticles. These are prosthetic testicles which owners can have implanted in their pets' scrotum after they've been castrated so as to appear "anatomically intact". Louis Schwartz is chief of staff at the Overland Veterinary Clinic in Los Angeles which performs the procedure. He says it's particularly popular with pet owners of a certain gender. "What I find is the vast majority are men. I can only think of one woman who has come to me to have the procedure on her pet. She was an animal control officer whose husband, because of his religious beliefs, did not want the dog to be neutered," he said."One weekend while he was away she came to me with the dog and years later, this man has no idea". Having the Neuticles "placed" costs $400 and is an extreme example of the wide range of medical and cosmetic procedures now available at vet clinics which in the US account for $20bn of consumer spending. The manufacturers of Neuticles believe that:"Dogs neutered with Neuticles do not realise they have been neutered and do not suffer post neutering trauma." What utter rubbish.
In my opinion the world has gone completely nuts (sic).

Saturday 13 December 2008

Poor boy!

Lipton is a 6 year old Flat-coated retriever. His full name is Chapelvalley Lipton Boy. In 2006 he became both Belgian Beauty Champion and Belgian Working Champion ( both his parents were too ). He is a tireless working dog and an outstanding swimmer. He displays natural abilities for the retrieval of birds and is of excellent assistance during shooting and hunting. His owner runs the hunting division at our dogclub. Lipton is actively employed 40 days per year. Last week, he very enthusiastically jumped off a 3 meter bank into 10 cm of water and badly sprained his wrist. The cast will have to stay on for 2 weeks and he will have to rest. He lives with a family who has two children and a chocolate Labrador. He is a super pet.

Tuesday 9 December 2008

A dog's life

You might be interested to read this article from today's Independent: "There is, it seems, some scientific basis to the old idea that dog and man are kindred spirits. Researchers from the University of Vienna have discovered that, like us primates, canines feel jealousy. When a dog was denied a tasty treat after performing some service and that treat was conferred on another canine that had done none of the work, the first dog was rather miffed. And well might it be. There is surely enough injustice in this world, without introducing more in the name of scientific research.
But were not these researchers missing something? If they wanted a deeper study into the emotion of jealousy they should have carried out tests not only on the dogs, but their owners too. One suspects that the humans would have been far more jealous of the dogs and their simple lives than the canines were of each other. Think about it: no recession, negative equity, credit card bills; just running, chasing squirrels and some barking. It's a dog's life? If only."

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Lap of luxury

In England when you go on holiday you might put your dog into boarding kennels. Here in Belgium into a “pension pour chiens”. In America into a country club. Top Dog Country Club is such a place and here is what they say on their website about their facility:
“Top Dog Country Club located in New Germany, Minneapolis, has the quality and service level of a Marriott hotel with the fun and activities of a Club Med vacation for dogs. It is a very special place on 42 wooded acres with 18,000 sq ft of Astroturf play area in 3 outdoor play yards and an indoor playroom. The property also includes a wooded trail and a 34 foot, full-size, heated swimming pool. The 5000 sq. ft. club house has separate wings for small, medium, and large dogs. Full-view glass doors lead to 3 separate outdoor play yards. Floors are heated, air is fully conditioned and purified.
In the middle of the club house is Kiwi's playroom (for indoor play), and a full kitchen where the aroma of apple cinnamon biscuits fills the air.
All rooms are private suites . . . no kennels! Suites have faux-stone heated floors, textured walls, windows, plants, & orthopaedic beds with tapestry covers on custom-made wrought-iron frames. Suites have incandescent lighting on dimmers and music is piped throughout the facility to provide a home-like atmosphere. There is special accommodation for older dogs and puppies.
Lots of individual attention and play is part of the boarding fee. Dogs have human and/or dog interaction from 6 am, morning potty time, until 9:30 pm bedtime. We know how important socialization is, so supervised group playtime is our standard.
Well- socialized dogs average 4-6 hours of play each day in one of 3 large outdoor yards, in the swimming pool, an indoor playroom, or on the wooded trail. All playtime is supervised by well-trained, adult staff
Each afternoon your dog participates in "yappy hour," with treats baked fresh in our kitchen, and then settles in for an afternoon nap, serenaded by a little Frank Sinatra.
Our day ends with bedtime storytelling and hugs - even a little body massage! We believe that constant human interaction is the key to a fun and happy experience for your dog.
Dog photography is available as are grooming services and spa services which include bathing, brushing, and massage.
There is a pick-up and delivery service. And Top Dog can plan and host a birthday party for your pup! »

I fear poor Belle would be totally overwhelmed and intimidated.
I have no idea what a stay in this place costs. Any idea?

Saturday 29 November 2008

What's this?

Chen from Kunman, the capital city of Yunman in south west China, bought what he thought was a rare dog from a market but later discovered it was just a common breed with stripes painted on by the dodgy vendor. When Chen spotted the dog at the pet market in Jingxing Street, he haggled the vendor down from 120 ($18) yuan to 50. He was delighted with himself for scoring a bargain. He then washed his new pet when he arrived home. He soon noticed the black stripes on the pooch had all disappeared. "I bought the dog because of the stripes - they looked like tigers'," Chen complained to a reporter. A resident living near the market said sellers often painted dogs in order to sell them for better prices

Wednesday 26 November 2008

The Isle of Dogs

The Isle of Dogs is a former island in the East End of London that is surrounded on three sides (east, south and west) by one of the largest meanders in the River Thames.
Why Isle of Dogs? The name was first recorded in 1588, but had been in use for some years before this. Brewer's 1898 Dictionary of Phrase and Fable attributes the name: "So called from being the receptacle of the greyhounds of Edward III." Some say it is a corruption of the Isle of Ducks, and that it is so called in ancient records from the number of wild fowl inhabiting the marshes. Other sources discount this and believe it might come from:
-the presence of Dutch engineers reclaiming the land from a disastrous flood;
-feral dog packs inhabiting the uncultivated marshland;
-the presence of gibbets on the foreshore facing Greenwich;
-a yeoman farmer called Brache, this being an old word for a type of hunting dog;
-Henry VIII kept deer in Greenwich Park. It is thought that his hunting dogs might have been kept in derelict farm buildings on the Island.
The reality is that the origin of the name remains an enigma.

Friday 21 November 2008

Barking mad

Matthew Parris has written this moving tale in The Times:

“This is the story of a dog called Darcy. I met him in the Australian bush, where he was on holiday barking at a piece of barbed wire. Later I found out why. Well, no, not why but how it came about.

Darcy, who is 12, belongs to a breed that the Australians call kelpies. Black and tan, but predominantly black, about the size of a Border collie and lean like a collie, Darcy had in other respects something of the labrador about him, but smaller and packed with vim. Kelpies are a kind of Australian sheepdog, highly intelligent, faithful and trainable, but essentially working dogs that need lots of exercise and should never be cooped up.Darcy's owners know this, so since he was a pup he has been taken for regular runs in the park when they are in town, and when in the country he has grassland and forest to tear around in - which he enjoys. But he is obedient - good on long car journeys, well behaved indoors, you need only say “turn” to him and (however reluctantly) he'll immediately turn back from wherever he was headed. He sits when instructed.You can tell he loves the family that own him and they love him.

Darcy seems comfortable in his own skin. But when he was about 11 weeks old, something happened. Making his first visit to his owners' property in the bush, he leapt from the pick-up truck to find a dead sheep just inside their boundary fence. Some hardwired dog-knowledge stirred deep within him and he was riveted. Fearing that he would roll in it or worry the carcass or try to eat it, his owners heaved the sheep over the fence.

I'd better describe the fence, because it's going to figure prominently in Darcy's life: a fence strung between steel posts, about 4ft high. The bottom half is deer-netted; above are a couple of strands of plain wire, with a strand of barbed wire on top. This will keep in a puppy or a sheep, but a dog or a human can jump over.Seeing the carcass on the other side of (for him) an uncrossable fence did not lessen Darcy's interest. He stood, stared, barked, ran at the fence and started jumping at the wire until his owners brought him in. Whenever released he was back at the fence, lunging, barking.

And when another day the family returned and the sheep was gone, Darcy went straight back to the fence, stared at the very spot where the dead sheep had lain and began again to bark and jump until they took him inside.That was 12 years ago. And since that day he has never stopped. I made quite a study of him last week.I had arrived in the pick-up truck with Darcy's owner. The moment the door opened he made a beeline for the fence. For an hour he ran backwards and forwards behind it - his run has become a channel (“we're down to rock,” the family said) - eyes fixed on a single point on the other side, leaping at the fence, pawing the wires, barking and - and this was weird - snapping his jaws shut with a clack-clack sound, as if snapping at flies. He could easily jump the fence now but he never does.“Darcy, Darcy, it's OK,” the family would shout, sorry for him. “Come back.” But unless commanded - whereupon he obeys, slinking back to the house with many a backward glance, then running back to resume the barking as soon as he is out from under his master's eye - it is there that he wants to be.

Yet the family say there's relief on his face when they tie him up on the veranda - like the grateful obsessive-compulsive shoplifter as the handcuffs click shut or the child-molester begging for castration.

After breakfast, when the front door is opened and he can slip out, he leaves the house with a dutiful expression - almost as if to say: “Mustn't tarry. Work to do at the fence. See you later.” Left to himself he will do it all day until his front paws bleed from continual jumping at the wire. Nor is it simply an excess of energy: Darcy can be taken on a long walk, come home tired and hot - and pad wearily back to his Sisyphean labour at the fence.”

Sunday 16 November 2008

Is this the one?

The pet allergy problem in the U.S. is considerable; about 10 percent of the U.S. population is allergic to animals, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. For those persons afflicted with asthma, the rate is even higher - approximately 25%. Allergic reactions to pets can range from unconfortable (itchy or watery eyes) to downright dangerous, such as asthma attacks that constrict breathing.
Dog allergens are very small, sticky, and lightweight. Originating in a dog’s skin, saliva, and urine, the dander and saliva allergens are able to drift about the home, contaminating everything. All dog allergen is not the same, however, which is good news for allergy sufferers. Some pet allergens are breed-specific, so some breeds produce less than others such as poodles, airedales, and schnauzers. These breeds shed their skin about every 21 days. Compare this to cocker spaniels, Alsatians and Irish setters, which shed their skin every three to four days.
So logically, the hairless dog should be the one to get for all sufferers. But that is not the case because it is the dander (skin scales) that causes the most significant allergic reactions and not the length or amount of hair on the pet.
Words like “hypoallergenic dogs, non-allergic breeds, reduced allergic reaction” are highly searched terms on the internet but let’s face it if you are allergic, it is much wiser not to acquire a pet which will make you suffer and which eventually will have to be put up for adoption.

Friday 14 November 2008

First dog

Among the offices Barack Obama has yet to fill, one has a special importance to his family: first dog. At his first post-election news conference, the president-elect said that the issue of a "first dog" for daughters Malia and Sasha had generated more interest on his website than any other topic. "We have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic," he said. "On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me."
I ask myself the following two questions?
1. Can someone explains to me what a “hypoallergenic” dog is?
2. Are Afghan Hounds still banned from the White House?

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Remember - N'oublions jamais

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae (1872-1918)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Goddess of the hunt

At the age of ten, Marie-Adelaïde de Savoie (born 1685), daughter of Anne-Marie d’Orléans and Victor Amedée de Savoie, was betrothed to Louis XIV’s grandson, Louis, Duke of Burgundy. She was sent to Versailles so as to learn her proper role as the future Dauphine and Queen. Louis XIV declared that she was to be the First Lady of Versailles, and he loved his granddaughter-in- law dearly. She reinvigorated the life of the aging king and enchanted the court. She was doll-like; some courtiers referred to her as a "walking doll". It was said that Louis XIV has not loved anyone as much as he loved Marie-Adelaide. Other members of the court called her a plaything. Adélaïde was taught well on how to please the King and did her best to amuse him at all times. In her letters to her family, she frequently wrote of her love for the King and his kindness to her. Her marriage to the Duc de Bourgogne, took place on 7 th December 1697. She was twelve ( legal age of marriage ) and he fifteen. The two were very much in love, a rarity at the court of Versailles. On 14th April 1711, her father-in-law died. Her husband became the Dauphin and she his Dauphine. Both she and her husband fell ill in early 1712 and died within six days of each other from an illness, thought to be smallpox. Her second son died the same year from the same disease. Her son, Louis, became King Louis V. The marble sculpture in the picture shows her as a light hearted goddess of the hunt. Note the just as light hearted little dog! The sculptor, Antoine Coysevox, enjoyed the patronage of Louis XIV and produced a great many the sculptures, fountains and garden statues for the vast gardens at the Chateau of Versailles. His Winged Horses, at the entrance to the Tuileries Gardens, as well as his portraits and memorial sculptures are all part of his extensive work.

Monday 3 November 2008

This dog does not bark

The basenji is a hunting dog that originated in central Africa. Basenjis are generally quiet dogs and their pecularity is that they do not bark. However, they produce a wide variety of sounds including yodels, crows, chortles, howls, growls, and some which are simply beyond description. Each dog has it's own repertoire and it is rare to find two that sound alike. Hence the nickname “voiceless or barkless dog”.
The basenji is one of the most ancient dog breeds and has been venerated by humans for thousands of years. Basenjis can be seen on steles in the tombs of pharaohs, sitting at the feet of their masters, looking just as they do today, with pricked ears and tightly curled tails. Anubis, often seen sitting atop of a tomb to protect it, is the Egyptian God associated with the burial of kings, the dead and mummification, definitely bears the basenji’s features.
The breed had almost totally disappeared from the West when Europeans came across it in the Congo in 1895. However, attempts to breed basenjis failed due to litters being wiped out by distemper. In the 1940’s, a succesful litter in Boston ensured the survival of the breed.

Thursday 30 October 2008

Beware of the dame!

Extract from Wuthering Heights:

“ I took a seat at the end of the hearthstone opposite that towards which my landlord advanced, and filled up an interval of silence by attempting to caress the canine mother, who had left her nursery, and was sneaking wolfishly to the back of my legs, her lip curled up, and her white teeth watering for a snatch. My caress provoked a long, guttural gnarl.
“You’d better let the dog alone,"growled Mr Heathcliff, in unison, checking fiercer demonstrations with a punch of his foot. “She’s not accustomed to be spoiled-not kept for a pet.”
Then, striding to a side-door, he shouted again.
Joseph mumbled indistinctly in the depths of the cellar, but gave no intimation of ascending; so, his master dived down to him, leaving me vis-à-vis the ruffiantly bitch, and a pair of grim, shaggy sheep dogs, who shared with her a jealous guardianship over all my movements.
Not anxious to come into contact with their fangs, I sat still but, imagining they would scarcely understand tacit insults, I unfortunately indulged in winking and making faces at the trio, and some turn of physiognomy so irritated madam, that she suddenly broke into a fury, and leapt on my knees. I flung her back, and hastened to interpose the table between us. This proceeding roused the whole hive. Half-a-dozen four-footed friends, of various sizes, and ages, issued from hidden dens to the common centre. I felt my heels and coat-laps peculiar subjects of assault; and, parrying off the larger combatants, as effectually as I could, with the poker, I was constrained to demand, aloud, assistance from some of the household in re-establishing peace.
Mr Heathcliff and his man climbed the cellar steps with vexatious phlegm. I don’t think they moved one second faster than usual, though the hearth was an absolute temper of worrying and yelping.
Happily, an inhabitant of the kitchen made more dispatch; a lusty dame, with tucked-up gown, bare arms, and fire-flushed cheeks, rushed into the midst of us flourishing a frying-pan; and used that weapon, and her tongue, to such purpose, that the storm subsided magically, and she only remained, heaving like a sea after a high wind, when her master entered the scene."

Sunday 26 October 2008

Fireworks. How to keep your dog safe.

As we near Bonfire Night, let's think of our pets who hate it.

Every year thousands of animals will suffer as a result of fireworks being let off. Blue Cross animal hospitals across the UK see a marked rise in pets requiring medication during such stressful times, and many animals are brought into Blue Cross adoption centres having run away from home.
Animals have very acute hearing. Loud bangs and whistles may cause them actual pain in their ears.
This is the advice the Bleu Cross gives to dog owners ( and cat owners ):
- Always keep pets inside when fireworks are being let off.
- Make sure your dog is walked earlier in the day before the fireworks start.
- Close all windows and doors, and block off catflaps to stop pets escaping and to keep noise to a minimum.
-Draw the curtains, and if the animals are used to the sounds of TV or radio, switch them on (but not too loudly) in order to block out some of the noise of the fireworks.
- Ensure dogs are wearing some form of easily readable identification (ID) – even in the house. By law, they should have at least a collar and tag. Think about fitting pets with a microchip, so that if they do run away they have a better chance of being quickly reunited with you.
- Prepare a ‘den’ for your pet where it can feel safe and comfortable – perhaps under a bed with some of your old clothes. It may like to hide there when the fireworks start.
- Let your pet pace around, whine, and hide in a corner if it wants to. Do not try to coax it out – it’s just trying to find safety, and should not be disturbed.
- Try not to cuddle and comfort distressed pets as they will think you are worried too, and this may make the problem worse. Instead stay relaxed, act normally and praise calm behaviour.
- Avoid leaving your pet alone during such potentially upsetting events. If you do have to leave the house, don’t get angry with your pet if you find it has been destructive after being left on its own. Shouting at a frightened pet will only make it more stressed.
- Don’t tie your dog up outside while fireworks are being let off, ie outside a shop while you pop inside, or leave it in the garden or in your car.
- Never take your dog to a fireworks display. Even if it doesn’t bark or whimper at the noise, it doesn’t mean it is happy. Excessive panting and yawning can sometimes indicate that your dog is stressed.

Sunday 19 October 2008

Guarding angel

A Chinese zoo has given an orphan monkey a guard dog to stop it being bullied by bigger primates.
Keepers at Jiaozuo City Zoo said the monkey was continually being bullied and they had intervened several times to save his life.
"So we put a dog in the monkey cage, hoping he can protect the orphan," a zoo spokesperson told the China News Network.
The zoo spokesperson said the dog, Sai Hu, was doing his job well.

Wednesday 15 October 2008


A British survey found that 64 percent of British dog owners would rather cuddle their dogs than their partners. 50 percent thought their dogs were better looking than their partners and 33 percent preferred dogs to people.

I wonder what Americans and other Europeans think?

Sunday 12 October 2008

Marble dog

The marble dog in the middle of room 4 of the Acropolis Museum in Athens was probably the guardian to the entrance to the sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia in the southwest part of the Acropolis. This statue is dated 520 B.C.

Thursday 9 October 2008

Ne me quitte pas

Jacques Brel died 30 years ago today. He was born in Brussels and died in Paris. He is buried alongside Paul Gauguin on the island of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.

He sang about Brussels. He invented the verb " brusseler ".
He sang about Belgium. "Le plat pays qui est le mien".
He sang about it's people. "Les Flamandes dansent sans rien dire ..."
In his song "Ne me quitte pas", these lines spring to mind:
"Laisse-moi devenir
L'ombre de ton ombre
L'ombre de ta main
L'ombre de ton chien
Ne me quitte pas ......."

Sunday 5 October 2008

Dogs used as shark bait

Stray dogs are being skewered on hooks and dragged behind boats as live shark bait, The Sun shockingly revealed a few days ago. The cruel practice takes place on French-controlled Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.
A six-month-old labrador pup was recently found alive with a huge double hook through its snout - like the dog in the picture - and another through a leg.
The pup was found in a coastal creek and is thought to have somehow freed itself from a fishing line.
But other dogs and kittens have been chomped up and swallowed by sharks.
The RSPCA plans to petition the French government, demanding an end to the hideous torture.

If you would like to sign a petition to stop this practice, here is the link:

Saturday 4 October 2008

Today is World Animal Day

World Animal Day is not linked to any one individual, organisation or campaign, but belongs to everyone. It was started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. Since then it has grown to encompass all kinds of animal life and is widely celebrated in countries throughout the world. October 4 was chosen as World Animal Day as it is the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
World Animal Day’s mission statement is:
To celebrate animal life in all its forms
To celebrate humankind’s relationship with the animal kingdom
To acknowledge the diverse roles that animals play in our lives – from being our companions, supporting and helping us, to bringing a sense of wonder into our lives
To acknowledge and be thankful for the way in which animals enrich our lives.

Tuesday 30 September 2008

Comparative literature

Excerpts from a Dog's Daily Diary......(read below)

8:00 am - Dog food! My favourite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favourite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favourite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favourite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favourite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favourite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favourite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favourite thing!
6:00 pm - Oooh, Bath . Bummer.
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favourite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favourite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favourite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat's Daily Diary. .. (read below)

Day 983 of my captivity.
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.
Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet.I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bastards.
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However,I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.
Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches.The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.
The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now ................

Wednesday 24 September 2008

The phantom dog

In Europe, belief in the black dog is very widespread and the demon varies greatly in its habitat, appearance, behaviour, degree of malignity and in its effect on people. In Great Britain, the main concentration of black dog-phantoms is to be found in East Anglia.
The Lincolnshire dog appears to be the only one that is virtually innocuous and is often felt to be protective. It often trots alongside people returning home at night in country lanes. It is not feared since no harm has ever come from meeting this phantom. In Suffolk, although the phantom dog is called “Black Shuck” ( derived from the Anglo-Saxon word for Satan), it is still comparatively mild. People do not see it, they only feel it and firmly believe that if they see it they would die. Suffolk people are not very afraid of Black Shuck, since meeting it is not considered dangerous; the experience is unpleasant enough to make them avoid lanes, churchyards and paths. In Norfolk, Black Shuck is more satanic and is feared by many people. It is described as a dog as big as a calf with a long black shaggy coat, with eyes the size of saucers which burn like coal. It emits an unearthly howl. It pads silently across desolate marshes, along lonely footpaths and in the shadow of hedges. This demon leaves no footprints and fishermen say that on stormy nights when it runs the cliffs its yells, which make the blood run cold, can be heard above the howling gale and roaring waves. They say it is wise to shut your eyes when you hear it howling, for no one survives whose eyes meet those of Black Shuck. To meet Black Death means death within the year.
In East Anglia, it said of someone who is sullen and bad-tempered: “The black dog’s walked over him” or “ The black dog is on his shoulders” and of someone who is dying of an incurable disease: “ The black dog is at his heels.”

Saturday 20 September 2008

Utter devotion

Prince, an Irish terrier, was devoted to his master, Private James Brown of the North Staffordshire Regiment, and was inconsolable when this young man was posted to France in September 1914. One day he disappeared from his home in Hammersmith, London, then to everyone's amazement turned up at Armentières a few weeks later, and tracked down his master in the trenches in a frenzy of delight. Because no one could believe the story, the Commanding Officer had man and dog paraded in front of him next morning. Evidently Prince had attached himself to some troops who were crossing the Channel, and had found his way to his owner. He became a hero and fought beside his master for the rest of the war.

Saturday 13 September 2008

Dangerous toy.

In June, a 10 year old labrador mix named Chai was playing with this toy when his tongue got stuck in the hole of the ball, leading to the amputation of his tongue. While chewing on the toy, a vacuum was created which sucked his tongue into the hole of the ball. This occurred because there is not a second hole in the ball preventing the vacuum effect from happening. Chai is recovering slowly. He is learning how to eat and drink again and is finally free of pain. Chai's owner has started a blog called The Chai Story to raise awareness about this dangerous toy. It seems Chai is not the only dog to have suffered at the hands of this poor design. Another dog, Coley, died after such a vacuum occurred in 2005. Coley's owner wrote countless letters asking for Four Paws to change the design, but was assured this was just a freak accident. Now, he is devastated that this has happened again to another dog. I have read that there are at least 13 dogs who have suffered injury from this poorly designed toy which is manufactured by Four Paws in the US.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Muffin, the rescue dog

A dear friend of mine brought this article which was published in The Guardian on 6th September to my attention.

"Barney Bardsley decided to get a dog when her husband, Tim, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In the difficult times to come, Muffin was to play a crucial role.

She is an ordinary dog. A leg at each of her four corners. An inquisitive nose, which she thrusts into everything - the more disgusting the pile, the better. Bright, button-brown eyes. Two feathered flops for ears. This is Muffin. A spaniel-collie cross- in other words, a bog-standard mongrel. I make no special claims for her. But her role in my life, and in that of my daughter and late husband, Tim, has been crucial. People who do not like animals will never understand her story of canine valour. Others will find it laughingly obvious. Nonetheless, it impresses me: the power of companionship, the pivotal support one small dog can provide. In life, in sickness - and after death. They should put Muffin and her ilk on the NHS: she's better than Prozac and a good deal cheaper.
She has been with us nearly nine years now, and it has not been an easy journey, for the dog or her human companions. But definitely worth it. In December 1999, I decided our family needed a pet. We had two goldfish but they were hardly interactive. Our daughter, Molly, was seven - and the initial thrill of the fishes' arrival had long since worn off. But as we started to face up to the reality of Tim's recently confirmed terminal cancer, we all needed a little joy and a bit of bounce in our lives. So I suggested a rescue dog.
So far, so good. Off we all went to the RSPCA in central Leeds. I had visions of a gruelling prison visit but it wasn't like that at all. We sat in the waiting room and leafed through a brochure with a write-up of each dog. Then we picked three possibles and they were introduced to us, one by one. All most civilised.
The first one - big, blonde and rather smelly - immediately knocked Molly over, ruling herself out at the first strike. The second - a hairy mop on legs - was overexcited and slobbery. The third was a scrawny bag of bones with a scurvy-like skin condition and a sad string for a tail hanging down between her legs. She was an anxious and darting individual. Black and tan and the smallest of the bunch. Curiously, it was Tim - an imposing 6ft 5in - at whom she first launched herself. They say the dog chooses you, rather than the other way round. And she had made her choice. This was Muffin - or rather Sonia, as the RSPCA rather ludicrously called her.
Frankly, I was not impressed by any of the three specimens, but both Tim and Molly preferred Sonia. It was intriguing that I had clearly missed something when I met this dog - something that had conveyed itself to both husband and daughter. So I decided to have another look at her, in secret, on my own, just to be sure.
The RSPCA allows you to walk your chosen candidate under strictly controlled conditions. I took the little dog up the road from the shelter - a soulless, inner city stretch of tarmac - until I found a scrub of green littered with a few reluctant trees. It was a windy winter's day. There were a few dead leaves swirling around and a good deal of litter. Sonia, who had walked like a robot in front of me all the way, suddenly had a change of character. She stopped dead having spotted a flying leaf and gave chase, in a quick and mad little circle of delight, lips curled back in an unlikely grin. This creature, until now an unattractive collection of troubles and needs, was giving me a glimpse of something else. Character. A sense of humour. Life. That was it. The dog was saved - or, rather, saved herself - and I was sold.
Of course, I had to confess my secret mission to the two back home. After a family summit meeting, we decided to adopt her. Sonia came home with us a couple of weeks later. She was re-named Muffin: double chocolate chip. Her life was transformed - and so was ours.
The next bit was tricky. Muffin was wild and woebegone. She had no concept of indoors and outdoors, no rhythm or routine to her life, no notion of where she ended and the rest of the world began. She ate erratically and pooed prodigiously - mostly on the carpet at the foot of the stairs or outside people's bedrooms, as if making some kind of scatological sacrifice to her new masters.
Although Tim loved dogs and had always longed for one of his own, he was a fastidious man and found all this mess unbearable. One morning, I found him halfway down the stairs, dog muck on his bare foot, bellowing at Muffin, who cowered beneath him by the front door, awestruck by his size and the overpowering volume of his voice. Tim was a quiet man. This outburst was uncharacteristic in the extreme. I had to step between the two of them and calm things down. This was the week before Christmas. The house was in turmoil.
Tim may have had doubts about Muffin but she had none about him. As with most of the humans who knew him, she regarded my (normally) gentle giant of a husband with a mixture of tenderness and awe and picked him as pack leader from the second she clapped eyes on him. Soon she became responsive, house-trained, devoted. He, in turn, learned to relax, and their bond was fixed for life - not the dog's, but the man's. They became an inseparable duo.
By the end of her first year with us, Muffin was thriving. Her tail, always an accurate barometer of canine wellbeing, metamorphosed from a piece of matted old rope to a waving, feathery plume. She put on weight. Her eyes sparkled. Her star was rising.
Tim, meanwhile, was getting sicker. In 2000, he started to work from home. Over the next three years he suffered a multitude of symptoms, due both to the cancer and the heavy medication used to control it. At first, he was still mobile, although he tired easily. He took the dog for long walks in the local wood. They played together - elaborate and interminable chase games with sticks and balls that exhausted them both and bored everybody else, but made them happy.
Later, when he was too weak to walk, Muffin lay at his feet and slept. When he vomited, she sometimes retched in sympathy. When he was in pain, she was a silent, sympathetic witness. In her role as companion - even some kind of simple soul mate - she never flinched.
In autumn 2003, Tim was admitted to the local hospice and died there in January 2004. Muffin was a frequent and honoured visitor. She was with us, on our last visit to see him, the night before he died. As we left, I took his left hand and placed it under the dog's muzzle. She gave one discreet lick farewell. Like him, she was dignified, accepting.
Denial and disbelief at a death are not confined to humans. Muffin looked for Tim constantly in the following days. Every time Molly and I came home in the car she would welcome and count us in at the door, one ... two ... and then run to the passenger door, tail waving high, for number three.
But, unlike humans, who find it easy to become mired in grief and hard to move forwards, dogs are pragmatic creatures. The love she had for Tim was quietly and quickly transferred to Molly and myself. She still had a big job to do and became the willing receptacle for all the tense and sorrowful emotions that a bereavement brings in its wake. She became exceptionally alert to distress - knew, from the quality of a walk down the stairs, from a fluttering of the hands, that tears were coming - and was there, like a shot, lying gently at the sufferer's feet, waiting for the storm to erupt, and willing it to quickly subside.
Four years on, a different, calmer life is established. Muffin relies on me for all practical considerations. For my daughter she reserves a special devotion - and a great sense of silliness and play. Her role in our small family is integral and much appreciated. She has formed a character as big and bountiful as the problems she presented when she first came.
But Muffin is certainly no saintly dog. She has no special powers. She is hairy, messy, noisy when visitors arrive, sulky when ignored and capricious with her appetites. There is a "princess" streak in her as pronounced as her skills in nursing and psychotherapy. Her strong attachment to us makes spontaneous trips away very difficult. She is a tie, no question. I grumble at her all the time: she glares back. Neither of us deserves a halo. Both of us, however, accept the mutual dependence.
The British are famous for their supposed devotion to their dogs and we do love to assign recognisable human emotions to the species with which we have perhaps the closest bond. I am guilty of this, too. Muffin, I feel certain, is such a gifted individual. In those brown eyes reside - surely - such depths of intelligence and wisdom?
In essence, of course, what she does so well is just to be herself: a dog. Our family pet. We miss the point when we ascribe too many of our own feelings to the dogs we own. They do not so much enter our emotional territory as simply share it and reflect it back to us, without judgment or blame. It is that atmosphere of acceptance - of wordless cheer - that is so deeply comforting, even transforming. This is the dog's gift to us.
Muffin is 11 now. She is getting a little creaky around the edges: her back end is going slightly, there are white whiskers on her muzzle. Still, she is playful. Still, life is fun. Always there is good faith between us. Loyalty and deep affection. That was the deal. We rescued her, then she rescued us. It is a nice example of the symmetry between animal and human and of a certain, special kind of compassion."

Saturday 6 September 2008

On line again

I have been off line for a while due to technical problems but I am back. Watch this space.

Sunday 24 August 2008

Olympics for pets

While athletes in China were competing for medals in the Beijing Olympic games, 400 pets took part in the first ever 'Olympets' organised by a pet shop in Hong Kong.
Organiser Howard Cheung, who runs the city-centre PetMAX store, said he was inspired by the Beijing Games, but also wanted to help owners keep their animals healthy.
From rabbit hurdles and parrot rope-climbing to cat agility contests, the Hong Kong pet shop has organised 10 weeks' worth of events to try to promote sport for animals
"Pets need to exercise and they don't have much space in Hong Kong. So we are trying to promote exercise and stimulate owners to exercise their pets," he said.
Most of Hong Kong's 7 million people live in tiny cramped apartments and dogs are banned from many city parks.
Nevertheless, pets have become a must-have accessory and are treated accordingly - grooming parlours abound, and the city even has a bakery dedicated to making cakes for animals.
Mr Cheung said the so-called 'Olympets' had proved popular, with 400 animals taking part in the heats held so far.
An awards presentation will be held at the end of August, using pet-sized medals the store has had specially made for the event.
But Mr Cheung admitted the prospect of winning gold was not always enough to inspire the animals.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Companionship (part 2)

"There came another and more diffident rap at the door. 'Come in ' he called wearily. It opened and a dispirited-looking sausage-dog waddled into the room followed by Angela Errol who said, in a tone of strident heartiness not untouched by a sort of aggressive archness, 'Forgive the intrusion, but I came on behalf of the Chancery wives. We thought you seemed rather lonely so we decided to put our heads together. Fluke is the result.' Dog and man looked at each other in a dazed ans distrustful silence for a moment. Mountolive struggled for words. He had always loathed sausage-dogs with legs so short that they appeared to flop along like toads rather than walk. Fluke was such an animal, already panting and slavering from its exertions. It sat down at last and, as if to express once and for all its disenchantement with the whole sum of canine existence, delivered itself of a retromingent puddle on the beautiful Shiraz. 'Isn't he jolly?' cried the wife of the Head of Chancery. It cost Mountolive something of an effort to smile, to appear to be overcome with pleasure, to express the appropriate thanks due to a gesture so thoughtful. He was wild with vexation. "

Monday 18 August 2008


“I shall soon have to change my life radically” he thought “or it will become completely empty. How best should that be done?” Somewhere in the link of cause and effect he detected a hollow space which crystallized in his mind about the word “companionship”. He repeated it aloud to himself in the mirror. Yes, there was where a lack lay. “I shall have to get myself a dog” he thought, somewhat pathetically “to keep me company. It will be something to look after. I can take it for walks by the Nile.” Then a sense of absurdity beset him and he smiled. Nevertheless, in the course of his customary tour of the Embassy offices that morning, he stuck his head into the Chancery and asked Errol very seriously what sort of dog would make a good house pet. They had a long and pleasurable discussion of the various breeds and decided that some sort of terrier might be the most suitable pet for a bachelor. A fox-terrier! He repeated the words as he crossed the landing to visit the Service attachés, smiling at his own asininity. “What next!”

Extract from Mountolive, book three in The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell.

Friday 15 August 2008

Just in case

This is what the RSPCA has to say about leaving dogs in a car:

-In warm sunny weather cars become ovens, with temperatures soaring to 120°F/49°C or even higher. Because of this, the RSPCA advises that animals are never left inside cars.
-If an animal left in a car is panting for breath it may be starting to suffer from heatstroke, which can kill an animal very quickly.
-Leaving windows open or putting a bowl of water in the car does not help.
-Owners who put an animal at risk by leaving it inside a locked car could face prosecution.
Please help us get this message across this summer. It will save more dogs from suffering and avoid the need for us to prosecute owners.
Dogs can die from heatstroke in a minimum of 20 minutes. If you see a dog left inside a parked car on a warm day, please contact the Police on 999 for assistance. In the event of the police being unable to attend, please contact our 24-hour Cruelty and Advice telephone line 0300 1234 999.

Monday 11 August 2008

Please let me off the lead.

This picture was taken in a field on a cliff walk in North Devon. In the background ( not very visible but click on picture to enlarge ) is a flock of sheep. Belle was straining on the lead and eager to round them up. Even though she is a "city slicker", the herding instinct remains very strong indeed.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Don't let your dog (s) get stuck in the middle

Almost half of the vast number of divorces each year involve dogs, who are more than just "animals" these days. Couples are struggling to do what is right for their beloved dogs, while making one of life's most difficult decisions. Jennifer Keene’s book We Can't Stay Together for the Dogs answers their plight by leading them in choosing dog-friendly solutions and compromises. By integrating training tips and success stories into the text, this self-help guide shows that a dog-friendly divorce or break-up is not only possible, it is the only way to treat our best friends. As the first book on the subject of dogs and divorce or dogs and break-ups, it features simple step-by-step directions and offers a dog-centric point of view that men and women alike will appreciate.
Written by professional dog trainer and "single-again", Jennifer Keene, We Can't Stay Together for the Dogs makes use of personal stories, expert opinions, checklists and humour to guide couples through divorcing (or breaking up) with dogs without treating them like property and while maintaining the unique human canine bond.

Tuesday 29 July 2008

The Pact of the Fire

This is a Lakota Sioux Legend.

When the world was created, First Man and First Woman struggled to stay alive and warm through the first winter. First Dog struggled also. Deep in the winter, First Dog gave birth to her pups. Each night, she huddled in the brush of the forest, longingly watching the fire, which kept First Man and First Woman warm.

First Winter was severe, so cold that First Dog dared not leave her pups to search for food to fill her own belly, fearing that her pups would freeze to death in her absence. She curled around them, but the wind was bitter.

Her belly shrank with hunger, and soon she had no milk. The smallest pup perished, and First Dog felt her own life draining away as she struggled to care for the remaining pups. Fearing for the fate of the others, she knew she had no choice but to approach the fire and ask First Woman and First Man to share their food and the fire's warmth.

Slowly, she crept to the fire and spoke to First Woman, who was heavy with child. I am a mother, said First Dog, and soon you will be a mother too. I want my little ones to survive, just as you will want your little one to survive. So I will ask you to make a pact.

First Woman and First Man listened. I am about to die. Take my pups. You will raise them and call them Dog. They will be your guardians. They will alert you to danger, keep you warm, guard your camp, and even lay down their life to protect your life and the lives of your children.

They will be companions to you and all your generations, never leaving your side, as long as Mankind shall survive. In return, you will share your food and the warmth of your fire. You will treat my children with love and kindness, and tend to them if they become ill, just as if they were born from your own belly. And if they are in pain, you will take a sharp knife to their throat, and end their misery. In exchange for this, you will have the loyalty of my children and all their offspring until the end of time.

First Man and First Woman agreed. First Dog went to her nest in the brush, and with the last of her strength, one by one, she brought her pups to the fire. As she did so, First Woman gave birth to First Child, wrapped her in Rabbit skins, and nestled First Child among the pups by the fireside. First Dog lay down by the fire, licked her pups, then walked away to die under the stars.

Before she disappeared into the darkness, she turned and spoke once more to First Man. "My children will honor this pact for all generations. But if Man breaks this pact, if you or your children's children deny even one dog food, warmth, a kind word or a merciful end, your generations will be plagued with war, hunger and disease, and so this shall remain until the pact is honored again by all Mankind." With this, First Dog entered the night, and returned in spirit to the creator.

Tuesday 22 July 2008


Record numbers of dogs are being poisoned after being fed chocolate, grapes and raisins by their owners as treats, say vets. Vets have seen a surge of almost 50 per cent in the number of dogs falling ill after eating chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean, which affects the central nervous system and heart and can kill a dog. The danger depends on the dog's size and the type of chocolate. Darker and more expensive chocolate contains more theobromine. Humans, and cats, have the metabolism to cope with theobromine. Toxins in grapes, raisins or sultanas can cause renal failure in dogs. In some cases, small dogs have died after eating as few as four grapes. Vets believe many owners are unaware of the dangers and have fed their pets cake and biscuits containing chocolate or grapes as treats. In other cases the animals have helped themselves. There has also been a rise in the number of dogs eating painkillers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol and aspirin. These can sometimes be fatal.Vets believe the animals sometimes find the drugs lying around the house. In many cases, however, pets are given the pills by their owners when they are injured, as it is cheaper than going to a vet.

Monday 21 July 2008

Le plat pays qui est le mien

Today is Belgium's national day.
Amidst the political turmoil and the politicians inability to unite the country, here is what I have to say: Vive la Belgique, mes amis, ma famille et mes ancêtres. Lang leve België. Flemish dogs or Walloon dogs? Does it really matter?

Thursday 17 July 2008

Dogs in Art. The Movie.

Moira is one of my blogger friends. Please watch her film Dogs in Art. It’s fabulous. Follow the link below.
Moira is a Los Angeles based artist and writer. She worked for 10 years in the film business as a screenwriter and Kevin Costner’s assistant before she decided to focus on making collages of people’s pets. She started her own art and t-shirt company DreamDogsArt in 2002 and her blog Dog Art Today in 2007. Now she blending her past love for film with her passion for dogs and creating dog films like Dogs in Art to share on the Internet with the world.
In her blog called Dog Art Today she looks at the art world, past and present through the subject of dogs. She features stories about dog sculptures, contemporary dog houses, dog bowls, dog wine labels, and dog books. She is also an artist who creates custom collages of people’s pets using photographs from them and incorporating the pet’s personality into the final work.
Her film looks at the evolution of dogs in art through various art genres over a span of 5,000 years. Beginning with Anubis from Ancient Egypt and ending with “The Worlds Minimum” dog, just a handful of pixels on a white background, it includes dog art from Ancient Greece, Pompeii, a 15th century French manuscript, along with works by some of the greatest painters of all time; Picasso, John Singer Sargent, Hockney, Pierre Bonnard, Frida Kahlo, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol, to name just a few. There are 60 artworks in total all morphed together in 3 minutes.
Moira feels the piece also celebrates the constancy of dogs in our lives as companions and cherished friends. Looking at the works, it seems that little has changed in our devotion to dogs, a devotion strong enough to capture in art to save for posterity.

Link to the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpIp0Ebao8k
Link to Moira’s blog: http://dreamdogsart.typepad.com/art/

Monday 14 July 2008

Plat du jour

Beijing has asked hotels and restaurants in the city to take dog meat off the menu for the duration of next month's Olympics and September's Paralympics.
A directive from the Beijing Food Safety Office issued last month ordered hotels and restaurants which are expected to be popular among foreign visitors not to provide any dishes made with dog meat “to respect the dining customs of different countries”. Beijing is concerned that canine dishes might offend animal rights groups and Western visitors.
The directive advocated that all restaurants serving dog suspend it during the Olympics but made no mention of the many popular establishments with donkey on the menu.

Thursday 10 July 2008

Friend or foe.

The conclusion of a recent study to identify the most and least aggressive common dog breeds at the University of Pennsylvania claims that little dogs such as Chihuahuas and Dachshunds tend to be feisty, while certain breeds, like Golden and Labrador Retrievers, are as mellow as their reputations suggest. The study is one of the most extensive of its kind and is the first to report aggression related to breed. Although certain pooches appear to be more cantankerous than others, Chihuahuas and Dachshunds scored higher than average for aggression directed to both humans and dogs, putting them towards the top of the list. "Small size very likely plays a large role in the development of fear-based aggression among some breeds. Smaller dogs may feel more threatened by other dogs and people -- a perception that may be well founded.” The study goes on to say: "There is some evidence that smaller breeds are more often the targets of aggression by other dogs. And small breeds, particularly Dachshunds, are more prone to injury due to rough handling by children, so this form of aggression among small breeds may be a learned response due to negative past experiences." Akitas and Pit Bull Terriers, which have "bad boy" reputations, mostly scored high for dog-directed aggression. When they did injure humans, however, the injuries tended to be more severe than those inflicted by the scrappy, smaller dogs. Other breeds with a greater tendency to bite humans included Jack Russell Terriers, Australian Cattle Dogs, American Cocker Spaniels and Beagles.On the "least aggressive" end of the spectrum were Basset Hounds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Brittany Spaniels, Greyhounds and Whippets. Interestingly enough, several of these dogs also rated low for "watchdog behaviour" and "territorial defence" behaviours, suggesting that they tend to be lovable family pets, but are less vigilant watchdogs than Chihuahuas and Dachshunds. Having a tough appearance, however, can make up for a lack of skill. "Certain breeds, through either their reputation or their size, are inherently more intimidating than others even if they show little or no aggressive behaviour," it is further reported. The researcher’s advice which I totally agree with is this: “Anyone looking to bring a dog into their home should find out as much as possible about the individual dog's history and temperament. Certainly some breeds are better with children than others on average. However, it wouldn't make sense to pass up a well-socialized, well-trained, non-aggressive Rottweiler for an atypically aggressive Labrador Retriever."

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Let's have fun.

Belle would not like this at all. What about Sparky, Simi and Mopsa I wonder?

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Let's get down to work

Newfoundlands are valuable members of beach rescue services in Italy and in France. The dogs are trained to jump out of helicopters and boats and swim to the rescue of struggling swimmers. They are credited with having saved several lives by taking lifebuoys to swimmers and towing them to safety. A strong relationship with the handler is fundamental, especially in the water. It takes three years to train a dog completely. The training is rigorous and only top dogs graduate but it's their natural qualities that serve them best. The flaps of skin between their toes make them strong swimmers, and their thick layers of fat insulate them from cold waters. The dogs get very excited when they see someone in the water — and that's a good thing. It means they react quickly and without hesitation when someone is in need of rescue. The four-legged lifeguards are always teamed up with human partners, but it's the dogs who do most of the work. They often pull several people in at once — even boats — to safety. These rescue dogs are heirs to a centuries-old tradition across Europe, where they've long been loyal companions to fishermen.
In previous posts I referred to two rescues which went down in history:
1. Napoleon is rescued from rough seas in his attempt to escape from Elba
2. the Newfoundland who saved lives after the Titanic went down

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Kennel Cough

Yesterday we took the decision to close our club for two weeks. About ten dogs caught acute tracheobronchitis or Kennel Cough. It is a widespread disease caused by several different viruses and bacteria and is highly contagious.The most common symptom is a dry hacking cough sometimes followed by retching. Many owners describe the cough as being similar to whooping cough in children. A watery nasal discharge may also be present. With mild cases, dogs continue to eat and be alert and active. Many times, there is a recent history of boarding or coming in contact with other dogs. In more severe cases, the symptoms may progress and include lethargy, fever, refusal to eat, pneumonia and in very severe cases, even death. The majority of severe cases occur in animals with a low immune system or in young unvaccinated puppies. There are two treatment options depending on the severity of the disease. In the most common mild and uncomplicated form of the disease, antibiotics are usually not used. If the dog has a good appetite and is alert but suffers only from a recurrent cough, it is best to let the disease run its course just as with a cold in humans.In more severe and complicated cases where the animal is not eating, running a fever, or showing signs of pneumonia, antibiotics are needed.The best prevention is to not expose a dog to young puppies. If this cannot be avoided, then proper vaccination is the next best option.Infectious tracheobronchitis is a disease of dogs and wild canids. It does not appear to be a risk to healthy humans or cats.

Sunday 22 June 2008

Dog Show

This week end I am at the 112th edition of the Brussels Dog Show where 18 countries among them show 278 varieties of dogs. I feel a dog show is not just about breed competition leading to the ultimate best in show but there is a broad range of activities to be seen. Working dogs, assistance dogs and activity dogs display their skills. They are far more concerned with being “man’s best friend” than whether they comply with the breed standard.
Our club is an official partner and we are giving an obedience demonstration. The exercises we show emphasise that early socialisation and acquisition of basic obedience skills enable a dog to be happily integrated in our daily lives. We are also showing some Doggy Dancing and giving spectators a taste of our newly opened Flyball section.

Sunday 15 June 2008


A study published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America presents the world's first evidence that size can be assessed on the basis of vocal signals. Anna Taylor, a psychologist at the University of Sussex, and her colleagues recorded growls emitted by 30 privately owned domestic dogs of 22 different breeds. An experimenter would get a dog to growl by showing up at the dog's house, approaching it and then staring into its eyes. The dog perceives this as an intimidating move and emits a defensive growl. The researchers then played these growls back to over 50 human listeners, who were asked, "What is the size of this dog?" In virtually all cases, the listeners correctly guessed the general size of the dog, be it a 45 kilos Rottweiler or a miniature Dachshund, based on just the animal's growl.

Wednesday 11 June 2008

Happy end for some

The South China Morning Post reports that a team from Hong Kong has found one of the two dogs that helped an elderly woman survive 196 hours trapped in rubble. Volunteers from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) came across Qian-jin, a six-month-old mongrel, on a hill next to a Buddhist temple in Pengzhou city. The other dog, a German shepherd named Guai-guai, was found earlier by temple staff. The animals were reported to have kept alive Wang Youqiong, a 61-year-old Buddhist, by licking her face as she lay stuck between two rocks next to the temple. Their barks led rescuers to her last week. The mongrel was taken to an animal shelter, but will be reunited with the German shepherd and returned to the temple after it is rebuilt. Tony Wong Tse-tong, superintendent of a team sent to the earthquake area by the SPCA, said both animals were in good shape.

Sunday 8 June 2008

Puppies to the rescue

There are numerous stories of brave dogs which helped in finding victims in the recent earthquake in China. This particular story I thought was worth telling:
"Wang Youqiong did not know the two puppies. But the two canine strangers have become her best friends since they helped save the devout Buddhist who survived 196 hours stuck between two giant rocks.A resident of Chengdu , Mrs Wang was planning to stay in a Buddhist temple in the city of Pengzhou throughout May. But her month-long retreat was interrupted when the massive earthquake struck the mountainous region on May 12. The grandmother fell to the ground and was then swept away by an ensuing mudslide. When it was all over she was stuck between two rocks, the Xiaoxiang Morning Post reported. Villagers in the surrounding neighbourhood had abandoned the area, so her cries for help went unheeded, then the puppies came along. In the following eight days, the dogs were her only companions. They did not leave her until rescuers followed their barks and found her."Over the past eight days, these two dogs kept barking, and licked Wang Youqiong's face and mouth," the report said. Mrs Wang reportedly survived by drinking rainwater and by the moisture from the dogs' licks. She was conscious when pulled out and was able to give rescuers her family's contact details. The family was overwhelmed upon receiving the rescuers' call. "I have been waiting for my mother's call. I couldn't believe a miracle would happen," her son Zeng Linghua said. "

Wednesday 4 June 2008

The oldest dog ever

The owners of Bella say that she is at least 29 years old. That's 203 if every year of a dog's life equals seven human years. David Richardson, 76, said he bought the Labrador cross from an RSPCA rescue centre about 26 years ago when she was at least three years old. The faithful pet is believed to be the world's oldest living dog and could even be the oldest dog ever. Unfortunately her owner has no documentation to prove her precise date of birth and so Bella's extraordinary longevity will never enter the record books. Does it matter?

Saturday 31 May 2008

Sweet Honey

Dick Twinney is renowned for his detailed, lifelike paintings faithfully depicting wildlife and countryside scenes.
His packed studio is a room in his home in St Columb Major, North Cornwall, where hundreds of wildlife books cram the shelves and where his paintings are on display.The magnificent scenery and the rich and varied wildlife of the South West provide a constant source of inspiration and never ending material for his highly detailed artwork.
A real countryman, Dick always spends several hours each day in the 'field' walking with the family dogs (all rescue dogs ) over the moors, along the coast or in the local woods, observing wildlife in it's natural habitat, constantly on the look-out for that 'special' chance encounter that can be recreated onto canvas.
Meet Honey from Burlorne Tregoose Farm near Wadebridge in Cornwall.

Tuesday 27 May 2008

A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose

Avant-garde writer and culture impresario Gertrude Stein was a solid, heavy presence, monolithic, unladylike. She liked to gossip and a good laugh. She boxed with welterweights for exercise. Alice B. Toklas was a chain smoker with a slight moustache, given to exotic dress, gypsy earrings and manicured nails. They became inseparable after they met in Paris in 1907. Alice cooked, typed manuscripts, fended off the unwanted, did promotions and chatted up the wives and significant others of famous men, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, Guillaume Apollinaire, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway who found her "frightening". On a lecture tour of American universities in the 1930s, Stein would begin her obscure lectures with the following words: “I am I because my little dog knows me but perhaps he does not and if he did I would not be. ” She insisted, there are two selves: an external "I," whom a pet may recognize as its master and an interior "I" that exists independent of observation. She would conclude that "I am I because my little dog knows me but that does not prove anything about you it only proves something about the dog". Say what?

Friday 23 May 2008

New York, New York

Cai Guo-Qiang’s Head On ( click on picture to enlarge ) is an arc of 99 lifelike and life-size replicas of wolves that appear to be barrelling in a continuous stream towards a glass wall which they career into head on. I saw a picture of this work of art in The New Yorker and my attention was drawn to it because I thought they looked like dogs.
The wolves were produced in Quanzhou, China. The commissioned local workshop in Cai’s hometown specialises in manufacturing remarkable, life-size replicas of animals based on clay models and drawings. The realistic and lifelike 99 wolves that grew out of these models and drawings possess no literal remnants of wolves: they are fabricated from painted sheepskins and stuffed with hay and metal wires, with plastic lending contour to their faces and marbles for eyes.
Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in the city of Quanzhou in Fujian Province, China, and is considered today to be one of the most important contemporary international artists.
Cai is due for plenty of attention in the coming months, as he is in charge of the visual and special effects for the opening and closing ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics.
Peter Schjeldahl of The New Yorker says of Cai who is known as an installation and pyrotechnic artist that : “A whiff of eccentric passion complicates the character of his art, which is strenuously theatrical and weirdly political (with ambiguous stands on Mao Zedong and terrorism), calculated in content (East-West tropes are a specialty), and ad hoc in form.”
Well, yes. Of course.
Would anybody like to fly over to New York with me? The Guggenheim is open late on Fridays.

Tuesday 20 May 2008

"The worst is still to come"

The title is a quote from Schopenhauer, one of the world’s greatest pessimists, who wrote among other things about the goodness of dogs. Depressed and prey to phobias, he alternated portraits of dogs with portraits of great philosophers on the wall of his apartment in Frankfurt which he shared with his poodle called Atma. He even went so far as to protest against the use of the pronoun "it" in reference to animals because he felt, it led to the treatment of them as though they were inanimate things.

Thursday 15 May 2008

30 seconds in the life of Eurodog

I answered the phone this morning and this is how the conversation went : « Please you’ve got to help me with my Labrador. She’s getting out of hand. She is 10 months old and I got her from a very good breeder. She has a pedigree, you know. She has a tattoo and a microchip. My son whose good-for-nothing wife left him cannot come to the dog club with the dog because he has epilepsy and is prone to fits. He is such a good lad; I don’t know why she was so horrible to him. He has found himself a new girlfriend and I think she is a decent girl. Not pretty but that doesn’t matter does it? I can’t come either because I am 77 but that’s not the problem. See, I have just been diagnosed as having Meuniere disease and have dizzy spells. I have heart problems too something to do with the valves and the aorta. I have acute asthma and when it is this hot I can’t breathe properly so I can’t leave my house. I can’t use public transport because I might faint and my husband, ex-husband actually, still lives with me but he is an alcoholic. He is willing to drive me to your club but he’s always drunk and a real liability on the road. My son still lives with me. Just as well with his epilepsy. He has no car anymore because is good-for-nothing wife went off with it. You have to help me”
The whole conversation took 28 seconds so you can imagine how fast all this information was transmitted. My concern was the dog but I was unable to make myself understood.
Who gave this lady my name?