Sunday, 15 December 2013

Farewell to Mac


We told you about our foster dog, Mac, who we continued to walk twice a week once he went home to his owner.  We were just getting ready to collect him last week when his owner called us.  Bad news.  Mac couldn’t get up this morning and has ended up at the vet’s with a suspected heart attack.  Phone calls back and forward, and his owner asked us to accompany her to the vet’s to see Mac.  With sinking hearts, we picked her up and off we went to see our beautiful boy.  He was very poorly but managed to stagger out of his crate and collapse on a rug.  Heartbreaking.  Well, you know the rest.  How sad we all are, and how much we miss him.  Rest in peace, old fella.

Thursday, 7 November 2013


It is with a heavy pair of hearts that we had to let Abby make her way across the rainbow bridge. Be happy at the other side girl.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


Anyone that has followed this blog will be aware of Keeber, the GSD, who contracted CDRM (‘that bastard disease’ that affects this particular breed).

As her disease progressed, desperate times led to desperate measures. We bought a book entitled ‘Crystal Healing for Animals’ by Martin J Scott and Gael Mariani, not least because, included therein, was a case study of a GSD with CDRM stating what crystals were used to help, and the outcome of the case (no actual cure but assistance in the slowing down of the progression of the disease).

We set about buying the requisite crystals amid a great deal of scepticism but, by this point, we were ‘beyond help’ from conventional medicine (and, dare I say it, homeopathic medicine too, tho’ we continued to give her homeopathics that were kindly made up for us). The contents of the book were devoured voraciously as time was of the essence. In through the letterbox came clear quartz, Herkimer diamond, smokey quartz, cornelian and rhodolite garnet. These were then arranged at the recommended chakra points, below her bed. We would love to say that we were waiting with some enthusiasm for some sort of ‘magic’ results but in truth we didn’t think that anything would come of it! At this point she was still mobile to a limited degree. Next morning……. The wee soul had actually lost the power of her legs – panic phone call to our homeopathic lady who said ‘you just left them under her bed for a couple of hours, didn’t you?’ – er, no, all night we replied – well ‘you have totally zapped her, but don’t worry, the power will come back in a day or two – and she was right!

At this point it must be said that we can’t honestly say that the ‘power of the crystals’ slowed down the progression of the disease (maybe it did!) BUT, SOMETHING happened that night. There was definitely a release of ENERGY, even though the reasoning behind this force was ‘way beyond our ken’!!

Fast forward a few years – Cairid – yes, you know him from the blog too.

The one with ‘attitude’ that we have been trying to introduce to other dogs over a few years with varying degrees of success. We have had a fair degree of success when we look back to how he WAS to where he is today but he is, in truth, unpredictable! Also, we told you about our fostering experience, and how having another male dog in the house has affected Cairid. Once our foster dog went home, the effect on Cairid was most apparent, or perhaps we just had more time to focus on it. From being mostly calm on walks and with lunges at other dogs reduced to a minimum, he reverted back to reacting to every dog, and the cycle of stress began again – he gets stressed, we get stressed, causing him to get more stressed and so on. We needed to try something new. New for Cairid that is….. and so back to the book…..

We bought a whole batch of new, different crystals and also installed a ‘new approach’. This time it was going to be in the form of an elixir. We ‘energised’ the crystals in the sun, placed each one in a separate receptacle of spring water – basically did everything ‘by the book’! We made up dispensing bottles with this elixir and added it to his food, eight drops at a time (another ‘magic’ ingredient in the mix is brandy!!!!!). We have been giving him these drops for around three months now and there has been a MARKED improvement in his attitude towards other dogs. (We might add that when we got this latest bunch of crystals, we left them on the dining room table overnight, in the room where Abby sleeps, and noticed a change in HER the following day too – back to the ‘keeber syndrome’ – poor legs!!).

There are forces in this world that we only have scant knowledge of and WE firmly believe in ENERGY (some people call it God, but that might seem blasphemous, tho’ it is not intended in this way). We do not see the crystal healing as a panacea but remain convinced that it HAS beneficial qualities and, worst case scenario is that it does NO harm whatsoever to the animal that it is administered to.

So – search out the book – leave your preconceptions at the door – and see what you think. It could very well be that, because YOU believe there is something to all this, that you give off positive vibes to your dog/cat/rabbit etc. If that is all it is then there is still some good coming their way, no?!?

Of course, the reverse side of the coin is that this whole theory could be a big pile of bollocks and there is nothing to it. BUT, you’ll never know unless you go there………..

Any stories for or against this subject and we would be very interested to hear from you.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

THE FOSTERING EXPERIENCE.....................

We decided, in our wisdom, to have a second shot at fostering.  We have the space and the time, and our own two dogs are showing signs of being really social animals, although as previously mentioned somewhere on here, Cairid our GSD can be over-enthusiastic in greeting other dogs outside, so much so that we don’t let him do that unless we have the other dog owner’s permission and his dog is bigger than a mouthful (Cairid’s).

We are already “failed fosterers”, so I’m not sure why we thought this was a good idea.  Abby, our other GSD, was originally a foster, but quickly turned into an adoption.

We registered with Pet Fostering Scotland, a great organisation that arranges fostering for dogs whose owners are in hospital or perhaps have become homeless.  And sat back and waited.

Before long we were the proud temporary owners of a 10 year old Labrador.  A sweet-natured boy, he fitted in just fine, although the feeding routine was a bit fraught as both Cairid and our lab were interested in ensuring their food wouldn’t get stolen.  We fed them in separate rooms.  Food, in fact, turned out to be the only issue.  Quite a big issue, though.  It meant not wandering about the house eating biscuits in case we dropped a crumb.  It meant eating our meals at the table instead of on our knees in front of the telly.  Yep.  I know, we shouldn’t do that anyway!  It meant that when people visited, we had to watch over every morsel of food in case it reached jaw-level at any point.  Although we sometimes have a trip away – a few hours somewhere – we didn’t like to do that while we had our foster dog.  It didn’t seem right to dump him in a strange environment then go off and leave him.  So altogether it was a stressful experience, even although this dog absolutely won our hearts.

And of course it didn’t end there.  His owner had had an accident and was in hospital.  When she came home after three weeks or so, she wasn’t able to cope with her dog.  Being elderly, she was struggling to recover from her injury, and walking her dog was just too much.  She wanted to re-home him – oh NO …….!  And worse.  She wanted US to have him!  The situation was awful.  Poor owner.  Poor dog.  (Say after me:  “YOU CAN’T SAVE EVERY DOG YOU CAN’T SAVE EVERY DOG YOU CAN’T SAVE EVERY DOG”.)  And of course we visited and walked him for her a couple of times a week, and are still doing that, weeks later.  And she’s such a nice lady.  And he’s the most loving dog in the world.  Always so pleased to see us.  Like nearly all Labradors, really.

Eventually the pressure came off and the lady realised that we were not going to take him (though we would have, if it had got to the stage of PTS), and now we are dog walkers, with no intention of venturing again into fostering.  Really.  Never again.  It breaks your heart to part with them, and when the situation they’re going to is less than ideal, it’s even more heartbreaking.  Don’t let me put you off, however!  If your own pets never give you problems (Who are you?  We want to know!) or you currently don’t have any, Pet Fostering Scotland are always looking for fosterers.  Check out their website:

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Good For Dogs Survey Finale

Well, we finished the survey at long last.  It was a lot of work, for apparently very little result, unfortunately.  The final document is  lengthy and trawling through it to find what you want is probably a bit daunting, so we’ve picked out anything we thought could be of interest for future survey-designers.  We put the whole thing out to those who helped by advertising it, and those who showed an interest.  The interest obviously waned considerably when no conclusive evidence turned up, and we received very little feedback.  The truth isn’t always what we want to hear, I guess.  Is it possible that some dogs are evolving digestive systems that cope with pretty awful food when you look at what is in it and how it is processed?  Is it possible that vaccination can hurt some dogs, while others sail along untouched?  There is no doubt that something is harming our dogs.   Just under half of the dogs whose owners completed the survey had something wrong with them.  That’s a lot.  But if you think it’s only food that is the culprit, you’ll be disappointed in the survey results because no clear picture emerges:  45% of dried-fed dogs are ill;  41.12% of raw-fed dogs are ill, but as noted in the survey results, many had switched to raw following an illness, and in 17 cases no longer suffered from that illness although these dog owners recorded an illness in the survey.  (Future survey designers should note this and make it clearer than we obviously did!)

Of note in the feeding section is the difference in the number of ear infections:  15.48% for dried-fed, 9.09% for raw-fed dogs. 

Behaviour problems occur in slightly more dried-fed dogs than raw, among the survey population. This is interesting because high protein diets have been implicated in aggressive behaviour in the past.  (See “Effect of dietary protein content and tryptophan supplementation on dominance aggression, territorial aggression, and hyperactivity in dogs”, Denapoli, Dodman & Shuster et al, in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, August 15, 2000 Vol 217 No.4 Pages 504-508 if you’re into reading research papers.)  And, of course, some dried food is quite high in protein, although most are not.

Unvaccinated dogs had a far lower percentage of illness, but there were only 51 unvaccinated dogs, as opposed to 527 vaccinated dogs.  There were no cases at all of epilepsy or arthritis among the unvaccinated population.  There was a higher incidence of ear infections and digestive disorders in the vaccinated plus booster category in the survey population.  Ear infections, digestive disorders and allergies also occurred more frequently in those treated regularly for worms.  17.15% of dogs treated for fleas and ticks had ear infections, while only 8.55% of untreated dogs suffered from this.
So what caused almost half of the dogs in our survey to be ill?  A combination of things?  Environmental toxins?
Our gut feeling is – if anyone is interested! – that humans really ought to stop playing God and trying to organise everything to suit the human race.  The human race is dependent upon a fully integrated living world, and if we get rid of everything that might cause us problems (antibiotics because our dog might get infected, vaccines because our dog might get parvo), we are likely to get rid of things that certainly are beneficial.  Bees are a topical example of this.  All highly controversial, but it’s worth thinking about.
On the other side of the coin, if we feed ourselves and our dogs good fresh food, and avoid assaulting our bodies and our land with toxins that we think we might need, as well as having exposure to some germs to build up immunity naturally, there is a two-fold effect of helping our immune systems to cope and avoiding the need for them to cope to the extent we currently demand that they do.  But you decide what your dog should eat.  Fresh raw or lightly cooked food, or something so zapped with processing that all the vitamins have to be added at the end because they all disappeared in the processing.  We would just like people to think logically about it, and not blindly feed stuff because it’s handy on the supermarket shelf, or the veterinary retail outlet.  Rant over!  No conclusive evidence either way on the food front, but time – and your own experience – will tell.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

It's Been All Quiet...... BUT IT'S HERE AT LAST!

Apologies to anyone who has been following this blog for a lack of activity recently. Events have somewhat caught up with us and we have been busy working flat out on the survey as well as doing a little bit of dog fostering and the likes.

However the GOOD news is that we have completed our work on the survey and below is a link for you to get a hold of a copy of it all for your very own selves! It's a bit of a weighty tome but we are sure that you will agree that there is a lot of good information in there.

What we ARE missing though is some quality statistical analysis so if you are a statistician reading this and you fancy a little bit of extra curricular activity, please feel free to contact us and we can provide you with any information that you require. Alternatively, if you know someone else who is a statistician and would like to get their teeth into it, just let us know and we will be happy to oblige with the information.

Link :

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

It’s All About Treo

(Life and War With the World’s Bravest Dog)
We have all heard the news reports about the soldiers in Afghanistan. We are becoming a bit blasé about hearing ‘another soldier was killed today in Helmand province’. Well, you know, we shouldn’t.

And with the help of reading this book, it brings it all back just how dangerous a tour of duty is for these guys out there. But what we generally DON’T hear about is the work that is done by the dog teams out there. These dogs are highly skilled in their job, be it sniffing out improvised explosive devices or guarding the troops from intruders.

Personally speaking, I do not condone war in any shape or form but Dave and Treo combine to make a formidable team, and are essentially out there not only to protect the soldiers, but also the large civilian population. There was a tv program on recently which followed a photographer that returned to Afghanistan after having lost three of his four limbs as a result of one of these devices. What was brought home vividly was the fact that there are a helluva lot of civilians that lose limbs there too – and not just ‘fighting’ men, but innocent women and children too.

Anyway, off the soap box. What shines through in this book is the close bond between man and his dog. Dave puts his dog’s welfare first and foremost before anything. Treo displays astonishing ‘sniffing’ powers. The book does not go into much detail about the training of the dog, but what is touching is the dialogue between Dave and Treo (although it is obviously not the dog talking – tee hee!). You get the impression that this fake dialogue goes a long way towards keeping Dave ‘sane’.

You DO keep waiting for the inevitable heartbreaking moments, and to this end the book doesn’t disappoint – but some of these come from the least likely sources (the two local dogs that attach themselves to Dave & co…..ah….gulp…where’s the Kleenex!!).

It works out well for both Treo and Dave in the end, and ultimately it is the ‘humanity’ that shines through.

This book is not going to change your or anybody else’s world but what it is is a good read.

There are another couple of books about dogs in Afghanistan that we can recommend – both by Pen Farthing – ‘One Dog at a Time’ and ‘No Place Like Home’. The subject matter is different as these are about saving the stray local dogs. If you are interested then check out the website ( Pen came up to Scotland a couple of years ago to give a talk and slide show for the people of our town and brought one of his rescued dogs with him. It was a fabulous evening – very informative and enlightening. It raised awareness and left us, the audience, in awe at the work that is being done out there.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Microchipping.... Good or Bad?

According to ChipMeNot’s Manifesto   microchipping dogs is only the start.  If you look at what has happened in parts of the US it seems inevitable that certain humans will be next.  The idea of microchipping dogs is that they won’t get lost.  They do get lost, however, and a microchip doesn’t necessarily result in a happy ending.  If your dog is stolen, or the organisation who finds him doesn’t have the correct reader, it won’t help.  In addition there are indications of microchips causing cancer.  As always, money talks.   This forthcoming law in England will not have the slightest effect on irresponsible ownership ( the supposed target of this legislation) – in what way could it do this?  And how will this law be enforced?  But it will make a lot of money for someone.  And it will look like the Government is “doing something”.  And by the way …….. have we been swallowing microchips with our horsemeat?
An extract from the Manifesto:
8. Responsible ownership cannot be legislated into existence
It is not possible to create responsible owners via legislation. Anyone that
believes this can be done does not understand what responsible ownership
entails. Governments increasingly want to control all elements of peoples'
lives and are no longer satisfied with their role of administering the nation's
infrastructure. The media play their part in calling for the state to "do
something" and an increasingly infantalised public all too often fall into line.
Responsibility cannot be state sanctioned - only obedience and fear can be
state sanctioned. As a society we need to work together to improve our

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Sebaceous Cysts in our GSD follow up

You may remember our post of 6 October last year, when we said that we had started giving Cairid, our shepherd, cider vinegar and turmeric, in a bid to help with his sebaceous cysts, especially the ‘grape sized’ sucker on his back.

At the time of that post it appeared to be receding.

Well, here we are some five months later………….. and it has COMPLETELY gone!!! Yee-hah!!
Now some people think these sorts of applications/remedies are old wives tales (you know similar to ‘leg of toad, spit from a giraffe, roadside herbs all boiled in a cauldron made of clay’….) but, we researched long and hard on the internet to find that this in fact appears to be the widely accepted ‘cure’ for them. What’s more, Cairid is our living proof that it works.

So, add to your four legged friend’s food a ‘thimble’ full of cider vinegar (in our case, twice a day as that is how many times we feed him) and about a quarter of a teaspoonful of turmeric (the Indian superfood) and see if it helps you too.

One cautionary note however – Cairid has now taken up sitar lessons and has developed an uncanny liking for pakora……………….. !!!!!!!!!!!! tee hee!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Bloat is a particularly nasty event, even fatal, for dogs.

Dogs Naturally have a wonderful article written by Peter Dobias DVM (written July 2011) that not only explains what this is but gives us dog owners great pointers on how to minimise the risks of our dogs suffering from it.

Read it here :

and as the title suggests - it's done 'naturally' Woo - hoo!!

Saturday, 5 January 2013


The big food debate – well there’s no debate at all as far as the PDSA are concerned.  In their leaflet, “Diet and Nutrition”,  they seem to imply that feeding your dog a “complete commercial pet food” is a legal requirement.  What they actually say is that it is a legal requirement for pet owners to make sure their pet has a suitable diet, then go on to tell us that “feeding your dog a complete commercial pet food is the best way of ensuring they get all the nutrients they need.”  I have to disagree.  Commercial food varies tremendously, so to tell us that all complete commercial pet food is good is to my mind designed to send a long queue of sick animals to the vets.

How astonishing is this democratic civilisation that allows us to stuff our kids with burgers and chips on a regular basis, but does not give us the credit of being able to work out what our pets need.  Food for thought!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Animals Matter by Marc Bekoff

BOOK REVIEW:  Animals Matter, by Marc Bekoff (2007) published by Shambhala, Boston & London, ISBN 978-1-59030-522-5 (above pic from Amazon)

What did I like about this book?  I liked Bekoff’s gentle philosophy, his belief that all living creatures have an important part to play (not just humans) in this world and we should respect that.  Of course I only read this kind of book because I already share this belief, and probably all the animal experimenters, zoo keepers, farmers, and anyone else whose way of earning a living involves looking at animals as separate entities from human animals, will never see it. 
I have always leaned towards vegetarianism since the day I walked into the local market with my children to see the nice animals, and realised I had a pound of animal in my bag.  I was 29 and had never made this connection.  Now I am totally vegetarian and do not miss the meat I was in the habit of eating, although it took many years to cut it out altogether and the support of my vegetarian husband.  Vegetarianism requires you to break habits, but more importantly, form new ones.  There is a huge variety of wonderful vegetarian foods out there, and more and more people are experimenting with it.  Bekoff states that “Twenty vegetarians could live for a year on the amount of grains needed to provide meat for just one meat eater.”  That’s worth thinking about.
This book covers all the ways that humans “use” animals, (and particularly interesting is his chapter on researchers’ observational methods and the effects these might have on an animal population – a practice that is done with the best possible intentions of increasing our knowledge so that we are more aware of what these animals need), and questions the value of these uses.  The people likely to read it probably don’t need convincing, but everyone will find something about this subject that they didn’t realise, so a very worthwhile read.  Although written in 2007, it is still relevant.  It would be a wonderful school text book, but never will be.

And now for something completely different !!

Dog Behaviour Science is a great site for browsing away at. You come across quite a number of differing views.

Brad Pattison - remember the name. Canada's finest???

Just one quote from his dog training ethos is enough to let you make up your own mind,

'Why you should never try to accomodate your dog, but rather force the dog to accomodate you'

W-H-A-T !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We would put up a link to his website, but we cannot condone his practices. But then again, it took the dinosaurs a wee while to die out too, didn't it!!!!