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Sophie

Embrace the Curfew

Five German Shepherds

Left to right: Fin, Amy, Sophie, Blitz and Molly

Out of Control

Back in 2002, we were the confused owners of five German Shepherds. Their behaviour was appalling and we were losing control. Every morning we would take them to the nearby army ranges for their morning walk. We found ourselves going earlier and earlier in the hope that we wouldn’t meet other dog walkers because if we did, it would turn into utter chaos.

We realised we needed to do something about the situation and we consulted dog behaviour expert, Angela Stockdale of The Dog Partnership. Her advice was ‘they need a curfew‘. We were even more confused if we didn’t take them out, how would they get the exercise they needed? They would become even worse, surely.

We decided to put our scepticism aside and follow her advice. For three months we didn’t take them out for walks. Their stress levels that had been escalating day on day during the walk, began to come down.

Life without walkies

But you can’t just stop walking your dog and leave it at that. The morning walk had to be replaced with some other activity. For us it was clicker training and to say it was a life-saver is not an exaggeration.  We scheduled short five-minute sessions several times a day, individually for each dog. It enabled us to get to know each one of them far better, learn their strengths and weaknesses, what motivated them and what bored them.

In no time at all, they weren’t rushing to the front door at 5 am, barking and waking the whole neighbourhood. They were more relaxed. When it came to training sessions, we did various different things with each of them. We had a lot of glass doors and when one was doing their training session, the others would watch.

Dogs Dancing

Molly (left) does the tango with Fin

Molly, who was a timid girl, learned to dance and her confidence grew. Fin, who was our newest rescue, learned some manners and how to behave around ladies!

Dog Skateboarding

Amy on her skateboard

Amy who was frankly a bit of a thug diverted her attention to skateboarding.

KONG Time

Amy (left) and Sophie at the top of the stairs

Sophie was a master of the KONG. She would empty it of every last crumb by taking it to the top of the stairs and dropping it down.

Jolly Ball

Blitz with his beloved Jolly Ball

Blitz, our first rescue boy who was a real gentleman, loved the Jolly Ball and would spend ages playing with it on his own. Both him and Fin mastered the peek-a-boo trick (see our What Makes You Click Training Cards for this trick) and many others.

Did it work?

So, what was the result of our three-month curfew? We had calmer, better-behaved dogs that we knew as individuals. They could entertain us and show off their tricks which they really enjoyed. Who doesn’t enjoy praise for a job done well? It was time well spent and we were able to gradually reintroduce them to the outside world.

What you can do right now

Why not give clicker training a try? We have Clicker Training Cards, that come complete with clicker and treats, or download our What Makes You Click? cards absolutely free and get started right away.

Clicker Cue Cards

What Makes You Click Training Cards

You will need lots of tasty Training Treats which we have in abundance, or why not make your own. Most people have a tin of tuna, flour and eggs in the house. This recipe will get you up and running in no time: Tillies Tuna Cake Recipe.

Tuna Dog Treats

Tillies Tuna Cake Recipe

Snuffle Mats are becoming an increasingly popular game for dogs and cats. If you fancy a challenge how about making your own Snuffle Mat to keep them entertained when you’re flagging. An old doormat and some t-shirts should suffice to complete this excellent tutorial from the Dogs Trust.

Make your own Snuffle Mat

Make your own Snuffle Mat

Learn to love the curfew

Your dogs may not be badly-behaved and in need of a curfew, but it has been forced on us all and we have an opportunity to really make the best of it by embracing it and spending quality time with our furry friends. You never know, both dog and owner could learn something new.

Training with a Long Line

Tilly on a long lineThe beginning of the line

Many years ago, we attended a number of workshops for reactive and aggressive dogs. Throughout the workshops, long lines were being used as training aids and at that time, they were hard to come by. We realised there was an unmet need, so began making those long lines and hence the name of our company, Training Lines.

We used climbing rope to make the original ones, and we are still using our prototypes today!

The use of a long line has been brought home to us again just recently because Tilly has been on restricted exercise following her elbow arthroscopy. We have also used the same long line in the not too distant past when Tracking with Toby.

Scent Work with Toby

In short, they are useful tools, training tools, and not to be confused with long leads or extending leads.

We prefer to use them with a harness rather than a collar and advise you should always, no matter what the weather, wear gloves. Rope burns are painful.

Why use a long line?

Well, although they could be used as a long lead, they take some management to prevent both yourself and your dog from becoming hopelessly entangled.

Managing a long line

It’s easy to get tangled up, especially when other dogs are around

They are useful for young dogs to give them a sense of freedom while still retaining that all-important control, or for teaching a recall. They are also essential in BAT (behaviour adjustment training) in reactive dogs and provide a physical connection to your dog as a back-up for your mental connection.

And of course, there are various ones for use in Scent Work or Tracking.

Our preference is no handle. A dog can get up a good turn of speed on a long line, and the last thing you want is a dislocated wrist. It can help to tie knots near the end so that you know when you are running out of rope.

Before buying a long line, you should decide first of all what you want to use it for and then how long you want it. As mentioned above, the lines can be very unwieldy if too long.

Although we no longer make them ourselves, they are now far easier to obtain and here is our pick of the ones available.

CLIX Puppy House Line

Puppy House Line

Puppy House Line

The Clix Puppy House Line is a lightweight lead that can be used in the house to interrupt a dog’s undesirable behaviours without the need for confrontation or misunderstanding. 

Preventing undesirable behaviour is always more effective than stopping it once it has started because your dog will not get a chance to find out how much fun it is to be ‘naughty’.  You do have to think ahead and predict what your dog might do next.

The house line helps you to get to your dog before he makes a mistake. If your dog is about to do something undesirable, pick up or step on the house line to restrain him.  Distract him from what he was about to do by calling him, encourage him to show the behaviour that you want instead and then praise and reward him for getting it right.

Can be used to stop jumping up, stealing, chewing, digging, chasing, play biting, pestering other dogs in the household, climbing onto furniture or running out through an open door.

It should never be left on an unattended dog.

Company of Animals Lightweight Recall Line

A lightweight recall line

Lightweight Recall Line

The Clix Lightweight Recall Training Line is ideal for puppies and young dogs as it is made from an ultra-light yet durable fabric. The recall line allows the dog to be seemingly free and yet remain under control, combining security with freedom. An essential tool for recall training and ideal for controlled socialisation of puppies and aggressive dogs.

The perfect training tool for outings in a public place and the soft padded webbing makes the recall line comfortable to hold.

Clix Recall Line

Recall Training line

Recall Training Line

As with the lightweight version, the Clix Recall Training Line allows the dog a feeling of freedom while ensuring that you have control. For teaching a reliable recall, the long line is an excellent proofing tool for testing your dog’s proficiency and doing it safely.

Two lengths are available (5m, 16 ft 8 inches, & 10m, 33 ft 4 inches).

Trixie Tracking Lines

Tracking Lines: Tracking Line with Ball (cord), Tracking Line (cord), Tracking Lead (webbing)

Tracking Lines

The Trixie Tracking Lines come in several different varieties and can be a powerful communication tool between the dog and handler. With proper use, the communication flows back and forth all the time during the track. A handler’s primary job is to keep the line from distracting the dog, keep it out of the dog’s way and do not let it get tangled. The correct tension on the line will keep it straight in the air from the dog’s harness to your hand.

Tracking leads can be used for scent work or as a long line for recall training. They come in various lengths and styles.

PVC Coated Tracking Lines

Tracking leash with a PVC coating or integrated shock absorber

The Trixie Easy Life Tracking Leashes are available with a PVC coating which is resilient and durable, and easy to wipe clean. Available in various lengths, they offer freedom of movement while training or walking, and are also ideal for tracking or searching.

You can even get one with an integrated shock absorber that helps to cushion any sudden pulling making it kinder on you and your dog.

Excellent for tracking, scent work and distance or recall training.

Lining yourself up for success

We hope that gives you an insight into why, if used correctly, a long line is such a valuable training aid and although we haven’t gone into detail on how best to use them, a lot of the products come with basic instructions which are well worth reading before getting started. Alternatively, it’s worth doing some research online before deciding which one is best for you and your dog.

Tilly in her cone of shame

Beat the Boredom

Tilly after her elbow arthroscopy

Her legs must be chilly?

Cage Rest and Cone?

What do you do when you’ve got a sick or injured pet? What if they’re on cage rest? What if they are doomed to wear the cone of shame? We have been faced with this problem for weeks now.

But it’s not only that, what if they’re home alone or the weather is bad? How do you entertain a bored pet?

Exercise their brain!

For a dog on cage rest as our Tilly was after her elbow arthroscopy, wearing a cone to protect her stitches, life was very miserable and we feared for her mental wellbeing. Not only that but two weeks into her confinement, her spay scar became infected, so she was double coned and confined for a further two weeks.

Tricks and Tips

How did we cope? Well, we had two large dog crates which were situated in the main parts of the house so that wherever we were, she could be nearby. She had a soft toy with her at all times, but that had to be operated on to remove the squeakers. Toby hates squeakers and she was driving him crazy!

A stuffed KONG

A well-stuffed KONG always proves popular!

Due to the amount of space available, we decided to use smaller treat toys to entertain her. She couldn’t have coped with the puzzle toys in such a restricted environment. Our go-to toy for most occasions is the KONG. Stuffed to the gills with tasty treats, what dog could resist? And you can always freeze it for longer-lasting play. You simply can’t go wrong with a KONG!

Our second choice was the Starmark Treat Ringer Orb which proved such a big hit with Toby as a pup.

Treat Ringer Orb

The challenging Treat Ringer Orb

At first, Tilly found this difficult and it lay untouched in her crate, but by removing a treat and letting her get a taste of it, she was motivated to try for herself and eventually got the hang of it. Now it’s one of her favourite evening challenges.

Thirdly was an old favourite, the Lotus Ball. This is a very simple toy and probably better suited to retrieving, but for Tilly, it contained another little treat for her to extract and keep her mind active. To make it more appealing, we boosted it up with a jackpot treat, Davies Puffed Jerky. Our dogs go wild for it.

Lotus Ball and Puffed Jerky

Lotus Ball and Puffed Jerky

Puzzle Toys

If your dog is not restricted space-wise, there are numerous puzzle toys to keep them entertained. If you haven’t tried one before it’s best to start with something straightforward as you will find they are easily discouraged if they can’t get the hang of it. A great starter toy is the Nina Ottosson Dog Smart.

Nina Ottosson Dog Smart

Nina Ottosson Dog Smart

Another simple toy is the Lick n Snack Platter which gives them an instant win, plus licking can have a calming effect on your dog. Great as a feeding bowl, too.

Moving on you then can progress to the K9 Pursuits Interactive IQ Game Watson, and bring out the super-sleuth in your dog. There is the Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Interactive Toy, which has 3 different treat-feeding features and is a long time favourite. Or why not try the Dogit Mind Games Interactive Dog Toy that challenges both their physical and mental abilities. The K9 Pursuits Multi Maze is a 2-in-1 anti-gobble slow feeder and interactive game! The best of both worlds with its three interchangeable centrepieces all offering a different challenge!

Interactive Games

There are games to suit all levels: from top left, K9 Pursuits Interactive IQ Game Watson, Trixie Lick n Snack Platter, middle, K9 Pursuits Multi Maze Slow Feeder, bottom left, Dogit Mind Games Interactive Dog Toy and the Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Interactive Toy

Or your dog may prefer soft toys, so why not make these interactive too? If they’re not treat motivated but love a squeak, what about the Puzzle Plush Hide A Squirrel. Three furry gremlins to remove from their tree trunk nest.

Alternatively, there is the Sniffing Blanket Strategy Game, which has multiple hiding places for treats and small toys. Excellent for the keen forager.

Interactive Soft Toys

Some dogs prefer soft toys like the Puzzle Plush Hide a Squirrel or the Sniffing Blanket Strategy Game

You may find something above that you think is suitable for your dog but if not we have plenty more to choose from in our Interactive Play section or even our Treat-Dispensing Toys. And don’t forget the all-important Dog Treats to accompany your strategy games.

Keeping Cats Occupied

Cat in crateIf your cat is confined to a crate for any reason here are some tips and tricks:

  • Keep the crate super clean, changing water and blankets regularly.
  • Ensure the crate is in an area in the house where the family spends most of their time to prevent loneliness and boredom.
  • Keep some toys in the crate, perhaps infused with catnip, or dangling through the bars for entertainment. Swap the toys from time to time to give your cat something new to play with.
  • Have a regular routine so your cat knows what to expect and when. At night half cover the outside of the crate with a blanket.
  • Talk to your cat or play music or the TV so there is some background noise.
  • A cat pheromone spray may also help to calm and de-stress anxious cats.
Cat Enrichment Toys

From left to right Snack Mouse Treat Dispensing Toy for Cats, FroliCat CHEESE Automatic Cat Teaser, Cat Activity Fun Board Interactive Toy

There are a wide variety of enrichment toys available to keep your feline active and prevent boredom. There are self-play toys such as the FroliCat CHEESE Automatic Cat Teaser. Useful when they are home alone.

Next, there are the food puzzle toys that encourage foraging and make them work for their treats with the Cat Activity Fun Board Interactive Toy being one good example, and the Snack Mouse Treat Dispensing Toy for Cats, another. Your cat will learn to manipulate the toy to release the food.

Then there are interactive toys that are designed to strengthen the bond between you and your cat. The Cat Activity Fun Circle Interactive Toy is a game you can enjoy together, which is also suitable for older or sick pets and provides different activities on two different sides.

Take a look at our full range of Cat Strategy Games to find something to keep your kitty fully engaged.

So, do you know if your cat is bored? Take a look at this excellent article, Is Your Cat Bored? 10 Ways to Prevent Boredom, which explains how you can tell and provides some interesting ideas for enriching your cat’s environment.

Horses Need Enrichment Too!

Likit Equine Boredom Breaker

The Likit Boredom Breaker for Horses with Likit Refills in 4 delicious flavours

In a 24-hour period, a lot of equines will only have a few hours of mental and physical human engagement so boredom vices can set in. Enrichment toys can provide welcome relief for them and hung in the stable, the Likit Boredom Buster will do just that. Developed to provide environmental enrichment, this challenging stable toy is designed to get horses to work for their reward and there are four scrumptious Likit Treat flavours to choose from (available separately).

Enrichment provides a way to stimulate a horse’s natural instincts and is crucial to their overall wellbeing. By engaging these instincts, they can become healthier, happier equines.

Stock up and be prepared

In summary, ensure that your pets have a well-stocked chest with a wide variety of toys and games for both physical and mental stimulation. You can’t make every minute of your pet’s life exciting, but you can go a long way to keep their boredom at bay!

Daisy’s Story

Pup at 14 weeks

Daisy pup at 14 weeks

The White Wolf

Daisy’s story begins with a devastating loss for us. In the summer of 2009, we lost two of our five German Shepherds, Molly and Amy. One after the other within a week. Completely unrelated illnesses. They weren’t old, so it was totally out of the blue.

The grief was raw and for me, I couldn’t seem to get past it. I kept thinking puppy! I bought the local paper and trawled through the pet section. For once there was a distinct lack of German Shepherd pups for sale, but there was one ad that I decided to respond to.

I spoke to a woman who told me she had a 14-week-old white German Shepherd pup for sale. It wasn’t KC registered but was a full shepherd. If I was interested, I should act quickly as there were other people interested in her.

I had never wanted a white shepherd. We live in a very muddy place and I couldn’t think of anything worse than a white dog. However, she was all that was available at that moment in time and I felt like a pup was the only thing that would drag me out of my grief.

Neil didn’t take much persuading and we arranged to see the pup the next day.

On arrival, we discovered that the pup was living in a rented shed in someone’s back garden, with both its parents. The woman who was selling her, didn’t even keep her dogs in her own home.

Alarm bells should have gone off, but no. We saw her running around with both mother and father, who were friendly enough, so we took her. Instantly, I called her Daisy.

When we got her home, we carefully introduced her to the others, Sophie, Blitz and Fin. Sophie as always took charge.

That evening, despite the fact that she had never had much human contact, she spent the whole time asleep on my lap. She was a small white bundle of fluff and a real poppet. Although she was pure white, she had one single black spot on her front leg!

Daisy settled in well with the others, but it wasn’t long before she began growling at me. I was drying her tummy after she had been outside, and she started. I couldn’t quite believe it. I told her off, carried on with what I was doing, and she shut up.

From that day on, she was always a growler. She would growl at everybody apart from Sophie. Sophie wouldn’t have stood for it.

Our first encounter with DM

Not long after her arrival, we discovered that Blitz one of our rescue boys, had DM (degenerative myelopathy), a progressive disease of the spinal cord in dogs, most common in the German Shepherd Dog, although other breeds such as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Boxer, Rhodesian Ridgeback and Chesapeake Bay Retriever can also be affected. The condition has also been referred to as CDRM (chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy). It was our first experience of this horrible disease. The vet told us there was nothing to be done. As time went on, Blitz couldn’t move about much, so Daisy would cuddle up to him on his bed.

Daisy and Blitz cuddled up

Daisy pup with Blitz

We didn’t really know much about DM but learnt as we went along from various groups on the internet and although Neil made a wheelchair for him from copper pipe, we never tried him in it as he also had a mass in his gut and we were wary of putting any pressure on it.

Dog wheelchair frame

Our first attempt at making a dog wheelchair

Neil would carry him outside in a belly band that I made for him out of old sweatshirts. He was happy enough sitting in the garden. Then, of course, inevitably, the day came when we had to say goodbye. We were prepared, but it still hurt.

After we lost Blitz, Neil had to have physio for tennis elbow due to strain on his joints from hefting a large dog around day in and day out.

With just Sophie (Amy’s litter sister), Fin and Daisy, who was growing rapidly, we soon added to our numbers with Archie, then Jack came along. A collie. We had sheep, they needed herding and the German Shepherds just couldn’t quite grasp that concept.

We lost Sophie in the wintertime. She collapsed suddenly and died before we could get her to the vet. We were once again devastated.

The big Ginger Fin, our second rescue boy, was getting on and had his own ailments. Namely, anal furunculosis, a chronic, progressive inflammatory disease of dogs that results in ulceration and inflammation in the area surrounding the anus. He needed constant nursing, but inevitably we lost him too.

Daisy takes charge

Daisy was now in charge. She ruled the roost with Archie and Jack and continued her growly ways, but we were used to her and took no notice, although she could be alarming to visitors. She may have growled and snarled, but it was all show.

Daisy and a goat kid

She loved her life here on the croft, surrounded by livestock. There were two walks a day in the fields, the occasional rabbit to pursue and her favourite thing of all, chasing frisbees. She adored them from a tiny pup. When the Pullers came along, she was in her element.

In 2017, I started to notice that her back legs weren’t working quite as well as they should. There was nothing obvious, just a feeling I had, having been through a similar thing with our Blitz.

We buried our heads in the sand for a while because we didn’t want to believe that there was anything wrong, but during the winter months, I could tell from her pawprints in the snow that all was not well. It was apparent she was dragging her back legs very slightly.

Paw prints in the snow

December 2017

It was time to face up to it and get a diagnosis. A few years had passed since we had lost Blitz so there could have been some new treatment available.

DM strikes again

DM was confirmed, and we were disappointed to hear that there was still nothing that could be done to combat this horrible disease. We had recently discovered that we had a dog hydro pool nearby, Fusion Vet Therapy, so we decided to try physio and swimming.

Dog physio

May 2018:  Physio

We didn’t know how she’d react to the pool; she had never swum before, but during her first session, she took to it like a duck to water. She absolutely loved it.

Dog swimming

November 2018

As well as her swimming and physio, we scoured the internet and Facebook groups for something, anything that would help us prepare for what was to come.

As her disease progressed, and her back legs got weaker, we put her in Dog Boots to stop her from damaging her back feet. We tried just about every boot on the market with varying degrees of success. Some wouldn’t stay on her feet and we would spend hours looking for lost boots in the field. We quickly learned to tape them to her legs with micropore. Some wore out too quickly so we would reinforce them with duct tape. The boots that worked well for us, we decided to stock ourselves. Daisy tested them all!

After doing a lot of research, we learned that DM could be related to deficiencies in diet, after finding the following article: Does DM (Degenerative Myelopathy) and other Neurological issues like Seizures and Doggie Dementia, actually start in the gut? In desperation, we embarked on an extensive vitamin regime which was primarily based around vitamin B and magnesium.

Eureka!

We had one moment of triumph. Five days after we started her on the vitamin supplements, she suddenly stood up on her back legs for the first time in weeks and we were over the moon. We really thought we had found the cure!

Dog with DM stands up

December 2018: Daisy stands up

But it was short-lived, and we soon realised that vitamins weren’t the answer.

We continued with the weekly swimming sessions. She would get so excited when she realised it was time to go to the pool. She also had hydrotherapy sessions which she wasn’t quite so keen on but put up with them with good grace. Funnily enough, she never once growled at the girls at the pool.

She was at the stage where she couldn’t stand up on her own and we were using the belly band that I made for Blitz to get her out and about. She could drag herself along the floor so to help her get about indoors, we removed all the rugs that she was getting snagged on. This left wooden floors which were difficult for her to grip, so we bought metres of black rubber flooring and covered the ground floor of the house.

There was also some incontinence, so we got a cover for the sofa and invested in boxes of puppy training pads.

A wheely good idea

I really wanted to try a wheelchair, but Neil wasn’t so keen. I spotted a second-hand one on Gumtree which was not too far away from us, so we went ahead and bought it.

At first, it wasn’t a great success. It was a bit on the big side for her and she didn’t like the rigid saddle. She would just stand in it and not move. On the other hand, if we put her in the belly band, she would run around quite happily with Neil trying his hardest to keep up with her.

Sweatshirt belly band

October 2018: Out and about in her sweatshirt belly band

We decided to make some modifications to her wheelchair so that the belly band could be used to support her instead of the fixed wheelchair saddle.

When it was done, it looked a bit Heath Robinson, but she loved it. She had her freedom back. She could walk outside unaided, go to the toilet, run with the other dogs and even chase her beloved Puller.

Modified dog wheelchair

October 2018: We combine the wheelchair with the belly band

She may not have had her legs back, but she had her life back.

Her back legs were still very mobile, although they couldn’t support her weight, so we still needed functional boots.

There wasn’t the space to use the cart indoors, so she would crawl.

Her feet were of major concern to us, and every day we would check them over, put Sudacrem on any sore bits and bandage them up to protect them when she crawled. She also developed sores on other parts of her body from the friction of using the chair daily, and they also had to be attended to.

We rarely went out or left her alone for more than an hour as she got distressed. One day my mother was staying with us and offered to sit with her whilst we had a few hours away from home. Daisy was under the table in the kitchen. After a while, my mother detected an odour and when she looked, Daisy had pooed. As she was in such an awkward position, my mother couldn’t get to her to clean it up, so she used my extra-long wooden jam spoon to drag the poo nearer and pick it up! Needless to say, I shan’t be making jam with that spoon ever again!

But it didn’t matter what we did, there was no halting the progression of the disease and day by day, week by week, month by month, it gradually crept up her spine, leaving her more and more debilitated and reliant on us for her every move. She was too heavy for me to lift and take outside in the homemade belly band, but then we discovered the Solvit Mobility Harness, and with the aid of this, I could manage when Neil wasn’t around.

Her cobbled together wheelchair was wearing out, so we managed to get her another from a DM charity, Cure4DM. Once again, she had a new lease of life, only this time her back legs were no longer mobile, they were just dragging, so we hooked them up in stirrups. Still, she was running with the others and chasing her Puller.

Dog wheelchair with stirrups

April 2019: Her back legs are now in stirrups

It wasn’t long before we realised that her front end was struggling. She found it challenging to sit up. She was no longer dragging herself around the house and wasn’t finding it that easy to walk in her chair. There were also problems with diarrhoea and urinary incontinence.

The vet recommended Incurin for the incontinence and it worked. No more peeing herself overnight. The diarrhoea was a problem on and off. We knew we were having a good day if she ate her breakfast, didn’t pee herself and her poos were firm!

We lived day to day, hoping for the best. Worrying when she was under the weather. Neil slept next to her every night for months, holding her paw or rubbing her belly. He started off in a chair in the lounge and then graduated to a camp bed!

We decided to get her a new quad chair so that she would have support at the front end. We ordered her a snazzy, camo Walkin’ Wheels.

Daisy in her Walkin' Wheels

September 2019:  In her Walkin’ Wheels

Her new chair arrived, and it was perfect. However, we never did fit the front wheels. Our fields are rough grassland so we weren’t sure that she would be able to manoeuvre around it with the front wheels on. We were at the point where we were going to fit them on her wheelchair to try them. If they didn’t work for her, we would have looked for a flatbed trolley to take her out and about.

We lost the fight

Sadly, there was no halting the ever-creeping paralysis and the weekend just after Christmas she lost coordination on her right-hand side. Her belly was distended. She wasn’t peeing when we took her outside and she was generally sluggish and quite distressed.

As painful as it was, we knew the time had come to let her go while she still had some dignity, so we called the vet out. He examined her and agreed with us. It was her time.

On her bed in the lounge next to the wood burner, with a Christmas tree in the background, we said our goodbyes, told her how much we loved her and held her paws while she slipped peacefully away.

We buried her in the garden next to Blitz, Sophie, Fin, Amy and Molly. Some she had known and some she had never met, but we like to think of her running free with them all.

The pain of the loss seems unbearable, but we know from bitter experience that it will start to fade in time.

Knowing what to do with ourselves is another matter. Our days revolved around her care and now they seem to drag on endlessly.

We have the others to focus on. Archie, Jack, Toby and Tilly and already the pack dynamic has changed. We were always so focused on Daisy, her needs and her wellness, now we can see them coming out of their shells and blossoming with our attention. It must be hardest for Archie as he spent all his days in my office with Daisy and myself.

From the summer 0f 2017 until December 2019 was the time it took for that horrible disease to take our beautiful White Warrior. She fought it so hard and so did we.

We went to extraordinary lengths to care for her. Our whole lives were geared up to her needs and people must have thought we were crazy, but I know that there are hundreds, probably thousands of DM dog parents out there doing exactly the same. From diagnosis to progression of illness, to aids for caring for your DM dog, there are so many people seeking solutions. And we are passionate about sharing our experiences and knowledge with them.

Breeders take note

We have had Archie, Toby and Tilly DNA tested and we know that none of them will ever suffer from it which is a massive relief for us. However, we know Toby is a carrier. If mated with a bitch who is clear, none of the pups would be affected by DM, but there is a 50/50 chance that they too would be carriers. When I gave his breeder the results, she told me that none of her dogs had ever suffered from DM, but although she claimed her dogs were DNA profiled, they couldn’t have had that particular test. Without that knowledge, she could possibly mate two fit, healthy dogs that just happened to be carriers, thereby creating a new generation of dogs vulnerable to DM.

We will never buy another pup unless it has been tested.

We know nothing will stop the puppy farms and back street breeders, but to all those registered breeders out there, or even owners who think it would be nice to have a litter from their dogs, we urge you to DNA test your dogs before breeding from them. It’s a simple test. We used Animal Genetics, who offer a whole range of canine testing options. It doesn’t cost a fortune and it could stop other people and their precious dogs going through what we’ve been through, twice now.

Neil will once again be getting physio for his elbows, but he would gladly put up with the discomfort of carrying Daisy again in a heartbeat, if he could.

Daisy on the beach

April 2019: Daisy 2009 -2019 The White Warrior rides again

We wish you a Wheely Good Christmas

A huge thank you to all our valued customers

As the year draws to a close, we wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your valued custom and hope that in the coming year we will continue to be of service to you and your very special pets.

As dog owner ourselves, we are always striving to find new and innovative products and appreciate the importance of mental exercise with mind-engaging activities such as enrichment puzzles, treat toys, and also learning new skills and tricks.

From all of us to all of you, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

And now some pawsitive thoughts from our highly skilled Testing Team

Daisy

Daisy: These wheels are made for rolling!

Archie

Archie: It’s hard being so handsome, but someone has to do it!

Jack

Jack: I might be outnumbered but I can outrun them. Border Collie’s Rule, OK!

Toby

Toby: I’ve been Naughty and Nice!

Tilly

Tilly: Whereas I’ve just been Naughty!

Tilly with the cone

Neutering – making that choice

Tilly wearing her cone

The cone of shame or e-collar

Tilly is Scored

It’s been a sad month for us. We had planned to breed from young Tilly. Such a lovely, bright, happy girl. Full of fun and love for everyone. Having waited for a long time to find a German Shepherd with the perfect nature, we wanted to ensure that her physical health was good too, so we had her DNA tested for DM (Degenerative Myelopathy, also known as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy – CDRM). Having had two GSDs with this condition, we wouldn’t risk perpetuating such a devastating disease. To our delight, she was clear. Next, we had hips and elbows scored. Her hips weren’t the best at 14, but the big let down was her elbow score of 3. It seems she has elbow dysplasia on the left side. This could be hereditary meaning she could pass it on to her offspring, but we will also have to deal with this painful condition that needs lifelong treatment.

X-Ray of Elbow

Choosing to neuter

Because of this, we made the difficult decision to have her spayed. It’s not easy to send a healthy dog under the knife, but we have two entire males in the house and it was the only sensible thing to do.

She came home from the op looking quite dopey, but we were certain she would brighten up later. Unfortunately, she didn’t and by 11 pm that evening, blood was dripping from her wound. We were told to expect some seepage and weren’t sure if that was what we were seeing.

A sleepless night followed and at 7 am the next morning, the blood was still dripping. By that time, there was a lot of it, so we couldn’t wait any longer and called the emergency vet. Back at the surgery, she was operated on again and the problem resolved. It was a really scary time and the guilt we felt for sending her in the first place was awful.

At the vet with a compression bandage to stop the bleeding

Cone versus suit

Thankfully, she has made good progress since then and it wasn’t long before her sore belly started to interest her. The inevitable cone or e-collar (Elizabethan collar) came out and she had to wear it. Everyone who has ever had a dog operated on will know the misery of the cone of shame. Shins, furniture, other dogs, nothing is sacred. It was a stressful week for all until we remembered a sample suit we had from the makers of the excellent Vetgood veterinary boots.

We used these Vetgood boots on Daisy to protect her feet when she was out and about and they were so brilliant, we decided we had to share, and now stock the full range.

We slipped the protective recovery suit on Tilly and hey presto, instant calm. Although it was a little big for her, it did the job and protected the site of the wound without causing upset to our girl or the rest of the pack and the gentle, constant pressure from the fabric had a dramatic soothing effect on her.

The two-piece design of the suit makes it easy to put on and take off when necessary. The vest and pants connect easily with Velcro. It’s made from 95% cotton with 5% lycra, so it stretches. It even has pockets inside where you can put ice packs, should that be necessary. It helps us humans help our pets heal and recover, and restores peace to a disrupted household!

We shall be stocking these suits very soon.

Tilly in her Vetgood Suit

Modelling the Vetgood Protective Recovery Pet Suit for Dogs and Cats

Pumpkin and Carob Dog Biscuits

Pumpkin and your Pets

Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

Last month Daisy was unwell. She had an upset stomach which resulted in bouts of diarrhoea. That is bad enough when you have a dog with four working legs, but for a dog that cannot walk unaided, it is deeply unpleasant. The vet advised a bland chicken and rice diet, which we had already begun, but he also prescribed some paste which did the trick and she was soon back to normal. We were relieved, but of course, the bill followed! Now, we don’t begrudge paying for her treatment, but it got us thinking about natural alternatives. In the distant past, we had given our dogs pumpkin when they were unwell, so since it is now pumpkin season, we thought we would revisit the idea.

Why is pumpkin good for dogs?

Pumpkin provides a natural source of many beneficial vitamins and nutrients:

  • Potassium – an electrolyte essential for muscular contraction and recovery from activity
  • Vitamin C – one cup of pumpkin contains at least 11mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for its antioxidant and immune system supporting effects
  • Beta-Carotene – beneficial for preventing cancer. The bright orange colour is an indication of how rich it is in beta-carotene
  • Alpha-Carotene
  • Fibre
  • Zinc – will help improve skin and coat
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A – which is important for your dog’s vision

One of the most common uses of pumpkin is for dogs suffering from diarrhoea. The natural fibre content of the pumpkin helps to slow down digestion by adding bulk to the dog’s stool. Experts recommend adding pumpkin to your dog’s normal dog food and this has widely been reported to act quickly to settle their stomach. We used to keep small bags of frozen pumpkin in our freezer for just that purpose.

Interestingly enough, while pumpkin is a great remedy for diarrhoea, it is equally effective at easing constipation. Naturally increasing the amount of soluble fibre in your dog’s diet will also help move things along in a comfortable way. Pumpkin is gentle, unlike some conventional drugs designed to relieve constipation. Once again, pumpkin can be added to your dog’s normal food in small quantities whilst ensuring that they have plenty of fresh water. Dehydration can have a direct link to constipation and will certainly make a pre-existing condition even worse.

Since we are in pumpkin season, it’s also an excellent opportunity to make some pumpkin treats for your dog, so we have a couple of recipes for you that are as easy as pie! These make great Jackpot treats so you can incorporate them into your training.

Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Bones

Always check your ingredients for Xylitol before using.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

or Ingredients for grain-free

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup organic peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted then slightly cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir until a stiff dough forms.
  4. Roll out dough to approx 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Use a cookie cutter to cut out dog bone shapes, or just bake into little circles like cookies.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Treats should have a slightly golden colour around the edges.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Can be stored in airtight containers for up to three weeks.

Carob Icing For Pumpkin Bones

Pumpkin and Carob Dog Biscuits

Unlike chocolate, carob is safe for dogs. You can buy it in various forms such as bars, chips or powder and it will turn your treats into something a bit special. Melting carob can be a little tricky – it doesn’t melt as easily as chocolate. The easiest way to melt carob chips is with a little coconut oil in a double boiler on the cooker.

  1. Fill a saucepan a 1/3 full with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer.
  3. Place a heatproof bowl on top of a saucepan. It should fit tightly on top of the saucepan and shouldn’t touch the water. Make sure no steam gets into the bowl or it will ruin your melt.
  4. Put 1/2 cup carob chips and 1 tablespoon coconut oil into the bowl. After a couple of minutes start to stir them around. Continue stirring until mixture reaches a smooth consistency and has no more lumps.
  5. Dip biscuits into the melted carob immediately.

Make the carob icing when you’re ready to use it because you can’t successfully melt carob a second time. Store iced treats in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer!

Remember, once Halloween is over, pumpkins will be cheaper than ever. Why not buy a batch, chop, roast, puree and freeze for use throughout the year or alternatively check out these other super pumpkin recipes.

Cats can benefit from pumpkin too

Is Pumpkin good for Cats?

One of the key nutritional qualities of pumpkin is that it is rich in fibre (the material from plants that cannot be broken down by enzymes in the body).  Fibre can beneficial to cats in the following ways:

  • Weight control, fibre promotes a feeling of fullness, even if fewer calories are being taken in.
  • Treatment of diarrhoea. Pumpkin contains soluble fibre, and this can absorb excess water in the digestive tract, reducing or relieving diarrhoea.
  • Constipation. Conversely, a pumpkin’s high fibre content can act as a laxative. The combination of fibre and moisture can be of great benefit in creating bulk that stimulates bowel movements.
  • Hairballs in cats can be relieved by pumpkin through the same mechanism as it relieves constipation.

Fresh roasted pumpkin seeds, without any salts or spices, can be fed to cats. They have been rumoured to help with worm infestations. Although we don’t see as much of it in the UK, you can buy canned pumpkin without additives, spices or sugar which is also perfect for your feline friend. And lastly, you can feed fresh pumpkin that has been baked until soft.

It is advisable to start with very small amounts of pumpkin if you are planning to add it to your cat’s diet and, of course, for expert advice, speak to your vet first, especially if your cat is unwell.

If this has piqued your interest in the humble pumpkin as a superfood, then you can read more about the subject in Did you Know your Pet can Eat Pumpkin?

Light up your Life

Scarab beacon dog safety light

It’s that time of year again when the darker nights and mornings are catching up with us fast. Like a lot of people, we find ourselves walking the dogs at twilight and let’s face it, it’s only going to get worse in the coming months. However, let’s think positively and break out the glowing dog balls, flashing discs, light up dog collars and flashing dog harnesses to brighten up the long nights, or at least, provide us with some much-needed illumination!

So what’s on offer in the world of Lighted Safetywear?

Beacons of Flashing Light

First up we have the powerful  Scarab Beacon rechargeable safety light for dogs. This is one of our personal favourites and it comes in two varieties. There is the Scarab Trio which gives you a choice of 3 colours (red, yellow, and green) all in the one device and 3 power settings depending on your requirement. It is waterproof, has approximately 120 hours run time and 4km visibility. Scarab uses every bit of the lens to ensure your dog’s safety making them visible from any angle. In safety terms, it maximises awareness that you and your dog are present – premium safety when you are outside in low light and the dark! Scarab stands out that’s for sure.

The second offering is the LED Scarab Uno. It has one colour (red), 4 light modes, and 3km visibility. Because Scarab flashes it heightens your dog’s location, on or off the lead this is a valuable feature. If you have more than one dog or walk in groups, you can easily identify your dog when off the lead by changing the RED light modes. The perfect beacon if you don’t need quite so many features or for the budget-conscious.

What’s in the box:

What comes with a Scarab Beacon

Scarab Beacon for dogs, walkers and trekkers, for runners

Our very own Archie is a huge fan of the Scarab as it fits nicely onto his harness, thanks to the Velcro uni-strap.

Archie modelling the Scarab

Orbiloc Dog Dual Safety LightNext, we have the Orbiloc Dog Dual Safety Light which we have been offering for many years now, and have watched develop into the versatile and we have to say, attractive, lighted accessory that it is today.

The design is modern and streamlined with a size of 35mm x 20mm, and it weighs only 19 grams. That means it won’t get in your dog’s way, even if he’s lying down or rolling around on the light itself. The Orbiloc Dog Dual is also very user-friendly. To choose the function you prefer, just turn the Mode Selector Ring to the left or right. It will flash or stay steady-on accordingly. The battery life is approximately 100 hours when steady-on, approximately 250 hours when flashing.

The Orbiloc Dog Dual is 100% waterproof and offers your best friend the opportunity to take a swim or play in the snow.

The Orbiloc Dog Dual has a range of accessories so that you can decide how and where you want to place the light. Included is the Orbiloc Quick Mount Adjustable, which allows for a quick attachment on your dog’s collar, leash or harness. You can adjust the Quick Mount Adjustable to multiple sizes, without leaving a mark on your gear. There are other mounts and maintenance kits available to purchase separately, which also makes the Orbiloc perfect for runners or hikers or dog walkers. Get one for yourself and one for your dog, in matching or contrasting colours!

The Orbiloc Safety Light comes in nine different colours. Five Safety Colours (Yellow, Red, Blue, Green and White), giving you the opportunity to choose the right one for your specific needs, as well as one suited to specific weather conditions. And four Fashion Colours (Pink, Turquoise, Dark and Amber) allowing you to give your gear a personal touch. But don’t worry. Orbiloc Dark isn’t actually dark. It has a bright white light, but with a dark lens for a sleek style!

Or if you have multiple dogs, as we do, get them all a different colour and then you can identify each one in a flash!

Orbiloc Dog Safety Light Colours

Orbiloc’s Five Safety Colours

Orbiloc Dog Safety Light Fashion Colours

Orbiloc’s Four Fashion Colours

The latest colour, Amber, blends perfectly with the autumnal mood at the moment.

Orbiloc Dog Safety Light in Amber

Orbiloc Dog Dual in stunning Amber

Overall the Orbiloc Dog Dual Safety Light has managed to merge safety and fashion, giving a wide range of choice and making safety a lot more fun!

Daisy wearing the Orbiloc Yellow

Daisy wearing the Orbiloc in her pre-wheelchair days!

Be Safe Be Seen in our Light up Dogwear

In addition to the beacons, there is a whole host of Lighted Safetywear to suit your needs and help ensure both you and your dog can be seen.

Safer Life Flashing USB Collars and Safer Life Flasher

Around the neck and clip-on Lighted Safetywear

The Safer Life Flasher is a neat device that attaches to a collar so there are no dangly bits, or what about the Flash Light Rings which slip around the neck, can be easily cut to size and are USB chargeable.

We have items to wear on the body such as harnesses and vests and Safetywear for walking or jogging such as lighted safety belts.

Flash Active Belt by Trixie and Safer Life Flashing Safety Vest

Lighted Safety Wearables

For you, the Flash Active Belt is a comfortable neoprene belt with a flashing strip at the back for safety, but not only that, it has an assortment of pockets which can store keys, mobile phone, pick-up bags, etc. and straps at the front to hold your dog’s lead!

For your dog, the Safer Life Flashing Safety Vest has Velcro fastenings for an easy fit, and is both reflective AND illuminated.  It operates in both flashing and continuous modes and is available in two varieties, either battery operated or USB rechargeable.

And you really can’t forget your cat who would also benefit from being visible on dark nights. It may even help you to spot them when they’re hiding in the undergrowth!

Safer Life Flasher for Cats and Dog and the Safer Life Flash Light Collar

We have the Safer Life Flasher For Dogs and Cats, which hangs your pet’s collar and flashes with 3 small LEDs (Red, White, Blue).  Visible up to 300m and comes in vibrant colours (batteries are included).  And for those that prefer a traditional lighted collar, there is the Flash Light Collar for Dogs. Visible up to 500m, and a great way to illuminate your dog during morning and evening walks with it’s fast and slow flashing and continuous light modes. Plus it’s USB rechargeable.

Playtime Never Ends with our Glowing and Flashing Dog Toys

Finally, don’t let playtime end when the sun goes down; there are plenty of toys that light up in the dark.

HyperFlite Midnight Sun Flying Disc, Chuckit! Light Play Kick Fetch Dog Toy, Hyperflite Jawz Bite Resistant Flying Disc, Chuckit Max Glow Ball for Dogs, The Flashing Bal,The Flash Dog Disc, The Flash & Glow Illuminated Ball for Dogs

 

From left to right, HyperFlite Midnight Sun Flying Disc, the brightest and longest-lasting glow-in-the-dark disc ever made! Chuckit! Kick Light Play Kick Fetch Dog Toy, large enough to kick, and the contours make it easy for your dog to carry. The ‘glow technology’ charges up in bright light for a long-lasting glow! Hyperflite Jawz Bite Resistant Flying Disc, the toughest and best-flying puncture-resistant disc ever made in a Glow-in-the-Dark option. Chuckit Max Glow Ball for Dogs, a durable, grip-able rubber ball that glows in the dark to allow the game to keep going when the sun goes down.  The USB Light Ball Dog Toy is a robust and fun, silicone toy which illuminates when touched lightly and flashes for approx 45 seconds. USB rechargeable. The Flash Dog Disc is made from soft silicone that is gentle on your dog’s mouth. The centre can be set to continuous light mode, or one of three flashing light modes. The Flash & Glow Illuminated Ball for Dogs is made from a durable plastic which glows after being exposed to light, has a flasher inside that is motion activated and flashes for 25 seconds.  It floats too!

Pampered cat

Happy Cat Month 2019

Pampered cat

A pampered cat is a happy cat!

Happy Cat Month is a time to celebrate our feline companions by showing them extra love and attention. Using this time as an excuse to focus on positive reinforcement for our cats is a great way to promote their happiness and show appreciation for their company. In honour of Happy Cat Month, we’ve teamed up with Sainsbury’s Bank and listed a few tips for pampering your pet that you can find below.

A great gift for the playful cat is cat agility weave poles. These fun toys are simple to use as you can set up them up as an obstacle course for your cats to manoeuvre around.

Cat agility weave poles

Train your cat to weave

Gifting your feline friend with new toys is not only fun for them but stimulates their minds. A catch the mouse game is perfect for the cat who loves to mess around.

Catch the mouse fun cat toy

A game of cat and mouse

Rewarding them with homemade goodies for when they are on their best behaviour is another thoughtful gift idea. Consider making them a yummy personal cat cake filled with chicken. We’ve included the recipe below!

Cat cake:  

Gifts for pets: 

Finding that perfect gift is never easy but here are some ideas that may put you on the scent to finding something to satisfy even the most discerning feline or pampered pup!

For more tips on how to show appreciation for your furry friends, check out Sainsbury’s Bank guide that’s full of unique pet gift ideas.

Vetgood Protective Waterproof Dog Boots

Vetgood Protective Waterproof Dog Boots

Vetgood Protective Veterinary Dog BootsBoots are In! Collars are out!

If you have ever been to the vet for paw or leg wounds, you will know that most of the time you are sent home with a neatly wrapped bandage or even worse a cast or splint and an uncomfortable and hideous Elizabethan collar to prevent your dog from interfering with the wound.  Your dog walks into walls or your shins, slobbers in the collar and lets you know by barking or whining that the hot and uncomfortable collar has to go! Finally, someone has thought of an answer!

Vetgood Protective Boots keep your dog's wound clean

Vet wrapping versus Vetgood

Vetgood Protective Waterproof Dog Boots

We are delighted to distribute the Vetgood line of boots for wound care! These lightweight and durable protective boots cover all types of wounds and have so many benefits to us the pet owner. First, you can get rid of the Elizabethan collar-hooray!  Second, you can protect the wound not only indoors, but also outdoors allowing your pet to get the much-needed exercise to heal and to resume his normal routine even with the bandage, cast, etc. And finally, it reduces the number of times you need to return to the vet clinic to get a bandage re-wrapped or re-casted which is so inconvenient for you and a real relief for your dog!

Vetgood offer a range of boots for all your needs

Vetgood offer a wide range of sizes in their protective boots

So which boot do you need?  (See the chart below to choose the right one for your pet.)

VetGood-Boot-Comparison-Chart

The Vetgood Extreme Dog Boot

If they have a cast or splint or a bandaged wound that will last more than 2 weeks? You need the Extreme boot with the durable, moulded bottom.

The Vetgood Extreme Boot for longer-term injuries

Vetgood Extreme Protective Veterinary Dog Boots

The Vetgood Basic Dog Boot

If they have a soft bandage then you need the Basic boot.

The Vetgood Basic Boot for bandaged wounds

Vetgood Basic Protective Veterinary Dog Boots

The Vetgood Slim Dog Boot

There is even a boot for open wounds that have no bandages – perfect for hot spots or lick granulomas – lined in a soft bamboo and nanosilver fabric that has antimicrobial properties to promote healing.

The Vetgood Slim Boot with a microbial lining for open wounds

Vetgood Protective Slim Veterinary Dog Boots

So stop struggling with the E-collar.  Boots are in!

How to size your Vetgood boots

Tested by Daisy!

But we use Vetgood boots as we find they are great protection for Daisy’s delicate paws, whether she’s being carried in her harness or out and about in her wheelchair.

Daisy wearing her Vetgood Slim Boots

Daisy shows us a clean pair of heels in her super smart Vetgood Slim Boots.