Monday, 30 April 2012

Think about where you let your dog off lead....and NEVER give up hope.

Just back from a few days campervanning with the dogs. It was brilliant, but Cairid decided that things hadn't been quite exciting enough and had a say in our final night. Here's what happened.......

Last night of the holiday, we park up at a remote loch side. Looks beautiful, even in the rain. Lined with forest. Dogs are fed and Cairid is outside the van on his long lead. Years of knowing him only too well have led to this slight restriction for him.

The rain goes off and the evening looks pleasant so we decide to take the guys for a walk, especially as they have been cooped up for a while in the van. We wander down to the loch edge which is pretty nice. We throw some stones into the loch for the boy to chase after and take some stunning photos. He is having a ball, yipping and hollering for us to throw another stone.

 As the evening is so nice we decide to walk down the road and on to a forest track that seems to be surrounded by deer fencing – (reflection : deer fencing doh! – doesn’t that say something in big large capitals to you Thicko??)

Shortly afterwards, with the boy off lead, he gets the scent of deer and off he goes. Our hearts sink. We just know that he loses it completely when he gets on the trail. Just hope that he doesn’t go too far, but after just a couple of minutes we hear him from far far away in the distance. We call him – nothing. We decide that one of us will stay in the area and the other will march up the track to see if he is there. Nowt. This is hellishly real, not to mention very scary.

We wander up and down the forest tracks a few times until the light fades, and there is not only no sign of him, there is nothing to be heard. We have no option but to go back to the van and hope against hope that he will find his way back to it. So, leaving the tiny gate open which would be his way out, we trudge back. Gads, there are sheep in the fields round about – there is traffic on the road (not much granted, but...)  -  there is darkness in the air - and despair in our souls. Poor Abby, she has had to walk with us all evening and is probably not best pleased at this whole scenario.

Back at the van, we sit and have a coffee. We go into the back and sit with the duvet round about us because it is pretty cold, but just can’t settle. We might as well put the bed down and at least be comfortable, up to a point. This we do – it seems strange that Abby has plenty of room and there is no ‘Care Bear’ between the two front seats. We lie there for ages, looking out the window forlornly.

4.30am and the first signs of light. Every so often through the night we have turned the lights of the van  on just in case it acts as a beacon and brings him to us. In my heart, I resign myself to the fact that its life without Cairid from now on, and I only hope that if he is out there, he isn’t hurt/caught in a trap/drowning. If he is to never be seen again, then let him go quickly and as painlessly as possible.

We have a cuppa and at 5 o’clock head off down the road again. During the course of the night it was suggested that we follow a narrow path further into the forest. Good shout.

We notice that the gate is still open – also that the sheep seem to be undisturbed (is this a good sign or does it mean the worst, who knows!). So we start hollering out his name. You can hear the echo coming back from the far hill. We stop and listen – nothing. We go and have a look at the wee fishing bothy to see if he took shelter but, no. Up the path to the corner, and one of us goes on up to the clearing, before we make our way through the narrow path. I get up there and shout for all that I am worth, nothing again.

Suddenly I hear you shouting my name  and I run as though my life depended on it (which it kinda did to an extent) slipping and sliding down the muddy path. Would’ve been a bit ironic if I had slipped and broken something, but…………………….  I get to you and you tell me that you heard a bark and saw a deer running in front of you, up the hill. I feel my heart race, and feel a glimmer of hope, where there hasn’t been one for twelve hours. We march down the path, not very far, shouting his name. Then…………………….over the top of the gorse bushes………………I see the head of ‘Care Bear’, and he comes running, whining to us. We hold each other and cry loud and long. This is a total miracle. Even Abby is overjoyed and sets about kissing the ‘wee man’ all the way back to the van. We just say over and over that we just cannot believe it.

Cairid?  He had a ball and will have splendid dreams for weeks to come – whilst our reward will be to detick him on a regular basis. We couldn’t care less – the boy is safe.

What a night – not recommended to be done on anything like a regular basis………….

We think that we must be the luckiest dog-owners ever.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

(copied from DEFRA site)
“Examples of animal by-products are: fallen stock on farms, pet animals when they die, and wild animals where they are suspected of being diseased. Other animal by-products include  meat, fish, milk and eggs when they are not intended for human consumption, and other products of animal origin including blood, hides, feathers, wool, bones, horns and hoofs.
Rules on use and disposal of animal by-products are set out in EU and UK legislation. There are controls on the use of animal by-products when used as feed (including pet food),  …”
So what are these controls?  Only certain categories of by-products may be used, and we’ll source that too.   All by-products are categorized as follows:  (quoted from DEFRA site, link at end)
“Category 1 Material
Category 1 material is defined in Article 8 of Regulation (EC) 1069/2009.
It is the highest risk, and consists principally of material that is considered a TSE risk, such as Specified Risk Material (SRM) - those parts of an animal considered most likely to harbour a disease such as BSE, e.g. bovine spinal cord.
Pet animals, zoo and circus animals and experimental animals are also classified as category 1 material due to the level of veterinary drugs and residues they may contain. Wild animals may also be classified as category 1 material when they are suspected of carrying a disease communicable to humans or animals.
Catering waste from means of international transport (i.e. which has come from outside the EU) is also category 1.
Category 2 Material
Category 2 material is defined in Article 9 of the Control Regulation.
Category 2 material is also high risk; it includes fallen stock, manure and digestive tract content. Category 2 is also the default status of any animal by-product not defined in the Control Regulation as either category 1 or category 3 material.
Category 3 Material
Category 3 material is defined in the Control Regulation.
Category 3 materials are considered low risk. Category 3 materials includes parts of animals that have been passed fit for human consumption in a slaughterhouse but which are not intended for consumption. Category 3 also includes products of animal origin, or foodstuffs containing products of animal origin which are no longer intended for human consumption for commercial reasons or due to manufacturing or packaging defects or other defects that do not pose a risk to public or animal health.

WHICH OF THESE CAN GO INTO DOG FOOD?  We are still trying to find out.

Trying to find out what the regulations are about what can and can’t go into dog food is quite simply very very difficult!   It seems to be controlled by EU regulations, and England, Scotland and Wales have their own version of this.  One of the things we found out is that horses and rabbits are not covered by the same regulations as dogs and cats;  this is because they are categorised as “food” animals.  DEFRA is a good site to visit, but you need to follow up all the regulation numbers at the end of each paragraph and then try to decipher the complexity of it.   There are a lot of fuzzy areas about which specific items within the three categories of Animal By-products (ABPs) are permissible.
Some good news about Abby!    We weighed her today and she’s gained 2 kilos since her last weigh-in 5 weeks ago!   This must be down to raw tripe which we started feeding her about 3 weeks ago.  We’ve recently stopped feeding rice, so her diet is now grain-free.  We’ll see if this has any effect.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

More on Abby

Over the past couple of weeks we've introduced raw green tripe to Abby's Diet. She now gets a much smaller amount of boiled rice (and we may phase this out altogether) with cooked veg (mashed up), cooked chicken, or raw minced turkey, fish or rabbit, a raw egg every other day, live organic yoghurt or cottage cheese, fish oil and bromalain digestive enzyme. Every meal has raw tripe added.

So far she has been GREAT! (and loving her food, but then she would eat absolutely anything!!).

We're so worn out worrying about the dogs' diets we generally survive on bread and cheese ourselves!!!!

No, really, it is absolutely no sweat to prepare, especially the raw stuff. Her coat is shinier and her eyes brighter, but................HAS SHE PUT ON WEIGHT?

Watch this space.........................she is due at the vet's in a couple of days for both a weigh in session and another B12 injection. Fingers crossed.