Thursday, 28 July 2022

Paws on board? Dogs in cars – how to travel safely with your dog on board

Inevitably, your dog will travel in the car with you, whether you’re off on a well-earned break, or simply going out and about for a long walk somewhere. But thinking about the options for the safest way for you and your dog to travel in the car together is not a subject that all owners consider fully.

It’s important, as making sure that your dog is restrained properly is part of the Highway Code. Dogs can and do cause accidents when the driver is distracted by them in the vehicle.

Certainly there are plenty of options on the market for the dog-owning motorist. So whether it’s a dog car seat, a seatbelt and harness, or a grille that keeps them safely in the back, there’s lots to consider.

The size and strength of the dog is a key factor. Whilst some car seats may look cute and appealing, they are usually only suited to small and lightweight dogs, and may not provide enough security and protection to the dog if the vehicle were to be involved in a crash. They may not restrain a heavier or more active dog safely, putting both dog and owner at risk of injury.

Not all dog car seats have been tested in crash conditions, and of course dogs come in many shapes and sizes, so a ‘one size fits all’ product is not going to be right for many.

Moreover, owners have different views about what is the best way for their dog to travel in the car. Some owners of small dogs prefer a sturdy strap that attaches to the dog's harness and the seatbelt rather than a car seat.

A sturdy metal grille (or sometimes a crate) may give both owner and dog a sense of security, because the dog is safely contained in the back of the vehicle. These are usually used for larger dogs. However, the dog is not usually restrained within the space in the hatchback or boot, so should there be a collision he or she would be thrown around in the area or within the crate, likely causing them injury.

A safer alternative to a crate or grille is a crash crate; these have been designed not to deform during an accident, built to withstand side, front and rear impacts, with some also preventing damage caused by cars rolling. You will, of course, pay a premium for this level of protection, but you'll get much better protected from rear-end shunts and side impacts than with a normal crate.

Do consider carefully the safest and most comfortable way of securing your dog when travelling by car. It could help to save both you and your dog’s life in an accident.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

Paws on Board – get on board with your canine companion!

Surf school for dogs takes off in Dorset

Vicky Mansfield, based on the Dorset coast, has used her ethical dog-training skills to branch out into making the most of the ideal beaches around Bournemouth and Poole by offering to teach dogs to surf with their owners!

A lifelong dog lover, Vicky has immersed herself in all things dog-related for as long as she can remember. A believer in ethical training methods without fear, pain or punishment, she is a member of The School of Canine Science, The Dog Training Academy, The Victoria Stilwell Academy and Dr Dunbar’s Dog Behaviour and Training Academy. Vicky lives and breathes dogs, and loves sharing her knowledge and passion with others.

As well as offering dog and puppy training, dog owners can immerse themselves (quite literally!) in the Dorset waves, accompanied by their dog on board! By teaching the dogs confidence and calmness in the water, both dog and owner can enjoy the waves safely. All that’s needed, alongside Vicky’s training, is the hire of a dog-safe surfboard and lifejacket. Vicky believes in slow learning techniques that help the dog to digest information in their own time, rather than forcing behaviour on them.

     Dogs and owners start to catch the waves

Paws on Board offers the only dog surfing lessons in the area. By building confidence, balance and behaviour on a board, it offers a unique way to bond with your canine companion whilst having fun and learning new skills. The organisation was recently recognised by the local newspaper, the Bournemouth Echo, as a ‘Trader of the Week’ for the enterprising way that Vicky has developed the business.

If you would like to find out more about Paws on Board, the website has lots of useful information:

     Getting ready to hit the surf

All photos with thanks and credit to Paws on Board.

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Despite the ongoing conflict, Ukrainian Cat Café remains open

                         Visitors and residents in the Café

Cat Café Lviv, in the heart of the Ukrainian city of Lviv, is home to 20 resident felines and, amazingly, has remained open since February 2022, throughout the escalating conflict and fear of air strikes on the country.

Opened over 6 years ago by owner Serhii Oliinyk, the Café is home to cats of various breeds, all used to interacting with the daily visitors who come to enjoy their company, and the refreshments on offer.

More recently, the Café has provided a place of refuge for people fleeing dangerous areas, and a calm escape from stress and fear. The location of the Café provides three large rooms, two of which are in a secure basement, should shelter be needed.

Serhii has no intention of closing the Café or moving the cats elsewhere. He says, “we realized that we would never leave our country, that this was the only place where we could see ourselves in the future.”

Images of Ukrainians fleeing their homes due to the conflict show many with their beloved pets. This is undoubtedly a nation of animal lovers.

You can see updates from the Café via their regular posts on facebook, at @catcafelviv

Almost 18,000 people follow their posts. People are able to support the Café with donations via Paypal, should they wish to do so.

In dark times, the Cat Café Lviv remains a place of joy and brings some much-needed positivity.

                        Serhii and some of the cats 

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Filling a ‘doggy void’ – Borrow my Doggy unites dog owners with dog lovers to share the love!

Have you heard about ‘Borrow my Doggy’? In the UK, it’s connecting dog owners with dog-lovers who, for whatever reason, can’t make a full-time commitment to having a dog, but who want to fill the dog void in their life!

‘Borrow my Doggy’ connects dog owners with local dog borrowers for walks, weekends and holidays, finding trusted dog lovers who can spend time with owned dogs, helping out their owners whilst getting all of the fun and love from a ‘part-time doggy’! For dog owners, it can help remove the worry of not being with their dog all the time, knowing that the dog borrower is able to provide quality time, walks and fun. It’s a win-win for the dog, their owner and the borrower!

Here’s a real-life story about how it has worked brilliantly for Jane from Dorset. She is a full-time solicitor with a busy social life, and so doesn’t have the time to have a ‘full-time’ dog at present. However, as a dedicated dog lover, she found the perfect solution through ‘Borrow my Doggy,’ as she explains:

For a while I’d been wanting my own dog but knew this was impractical, whilst working full-time. My cousin in London recommended ‘Borrow my Doggy.’ I looked on the website for a dog close to my home and, straightaway, there was Percy – an adorable Coton de Tulear – looking for walks and company when his owners are at work. I didn’t need to look any further!

Percy soon arrived for his first walk and, of course, I was immediately smitten. He made himself at home, exploring and generally getting his bearings before jumping onto the passenger seat of my car to have his seat belt secured for a drive to my favourite beach. He was in his element there. That was 6 years ago and we’re still enjoying wonderful walks. Just to see his excitement at reaching the sand, and his exuberance as he races along the beach is so uplifting.

                         Percy enjoying Jane’s local beach

One of the best things about Borrow my Doggy is its flexibility. It works well for Percy, his owners and for me. It also helps that Percy is local. This is important to me as it’s easier for last minute arrangements to be made for a walk or the occasional ‘sleepover’ if his owners are away for the weekend. There’s no set pattern.

It comes with its responsibilities. I’m always very aware when out walking Percy that he is someone else’s dog and I’m careful about where I let him off the lead. I’ve got to know and love his personality. He’s so expressive and I can tell when he’s considering a ‘bolt’ along the beach!

We’ve got quite a bond now. For me, Borrow my Doggy is the perfect arrangement. I would recommend it to anyone who likes the outdoors and walking. Percy has exceeded all my expectations and I can’t believe how lucky I was to find him.”

                      .....and relaxing after his exercise!


It’s heart-warming to hear how much both Jane and Percy enjoy their time together. They wouldn’t have been able to meet without ‘Borrow my Doggy’ introducing them and now have the perfect arrangement.

If you’re based in the UK and would like to find out more, as a potential borrower or owner, visit Borrow my Doggy’s website.

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Selective breeding of British Bulldogs and King Charles Spaniels is banned in Norway, recognising that it has caused health problems for the animals concerned

In a landmark ruling in January 2022, Norway has banned the selective breeding of two iconic British dog breeds, the British Bulldog and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Recognising that the 'practice is cruel and results in man-made health problems' in the reasons given for the ban, it states that breeding breaches the country's Animal Welfare act.

Both breeds are brachycephalic or flat-faced, which can result in respiratory problems. The popularity of flat-faced breeds has escalated hugely in recent years.

In 2018 the case was taken to court by Animal protection Norway, which sued the Norwegian Kennel Club, the Norwegian Cavalier Club, the Norwegian Bulldog Club and six breeders. Since then the Norwegian parliament voted to amend the wording of the breeding clause in the country's Animal Welfare act to say that the clubs, breeder groups and private breeders were responsible for breeding healthy animals, and the lawyers arguing for the ban said that because of historic selective breeding, none of the dogs living there could be considered 'healthy' and so could not be used for breeding.

      A British Bulldog

Opinions differ on whether this is a positive move, with breeders arguing that it will be difficult to enforce and will instead push people towards the 'black market' for puppies, whilst those in favour believe it is a victory for the dogs and their right to be healthy.

Selective breeding can cause a range of health problems for flat-faced dogs like Bulldogs, including 'BOAS' or brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome caused by their short skull and snout. This in turn can lead to other medical issues. Sadly, some owners do not recognise that their dogs are suffering or that they are having difficulty breathing.

The Norwegian ban does however allow breeders who are working to end the animal's health problems to continue, giving some hope for future improvements. 

     A King Charles Spaniel

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Microchipping for cats is set to become law in the UK

Since 2016, all dogs have had to be microchipped, and around nine million currently have a chip.

However, it’s estimated that over a quarter of pet cats in the UK aren’t microchipped, as it is not a legal requirement to do so. Leading animal charities have campaigned for many years for this to change and to make the microchipping of cats a legal requirement of the owner … and it looks like things are about to change at last.

From 2022, the UK government is set to introduce new rules dictating that all pet cats must be microchipped by the time they are 20 weeks old (around five months). Owners will face a fine of up to £500 if they are found not to have microchipped their cat, after being given 21 days to have one implanted.

The benefits of microchipping are many, including making it easier to identify cats who are lost or stolen, enabling them to be reunited with their owner. Currently, eight out of 10 cats coming into Cats Protection centres are not microchipped.

It’s important that microchip details are kept up to date, so if an owner moves house, for example, they should update their address on the central database.

How easy is it for a pet to be microchipped?

Usually, it is very easy. The microchip is a tiny device, about the size of a grain of rice, that is implanted just under the skin between the shoulder blades via a quick procedure that is pain-free for the animal. The chip can be scanned by a vet or animal care professional, which will bring up the owner’s details from a database, enabling him or her to be contacted to arrange return or collection.

Vets can offer advice and appointments for microchipping, which is not expensive, usually around £20, and some animal charities may offer this at reduced rates.

For just a few minutes of your time, chipping can help to alleviate the stress and worry when a cat goes missing. Without a chip, they may be handed into a rescue centre, and could be re-homed to a new owner, as there is no way of tracing their original owner. A chip also enables an injured cat to be reunited with their original owner, or, sadly, if they are killed, at least an owner knows what has happened.

You can read the government’s press release about cat microchipping, issued on 4 December 2021


Below, a cat is scanned for a microchip

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Cats in the news (mews?) - felines can track their owner’s location, and 250,000 are feral in the UK

There has been a recent flurry of news stories in the UK media concerning cats, with some fascinating findings.

Researchers have discovered that cats have ‘the ability to picture the invisible in their minds’ with findings showing that they can imagine a mental representation of their owners even when they can’t see them. Studies at the University of Kyoto in Japan have discovered that cats can mentally map their location based on their owner’s voice through a series of experiments where cats cold hear only their owner’s voice. When the voice changed location, the cats appeared confused. It’s perhaps unsurprising given how important tracking and location is to cats in the wild, and how domestic cats associate food and security with their owner. 

More new research by the charity Cats Protection has found that around a quarter of a million cats (approximately the human population of Southampton) are currently unowned and feral, living in the UK’s streets. Unowned cats can pose problems as their numbers can expand rapidly if not controlled. Numbers vary across the country but are highest in densely populated and deprived areas. 

Cats Protection helps feral communities by neutering and finding homes for friendly unowned cats, and by giving local residents the means to looks after feral colonies in the community: for example, by building cat shelters and providing the materials to do so.  

Numbers of feral cats have increased as people return to work after lockdown, and some, sadly, are abandoned. It is good to know that Cats Protection is doing what it can to help the UK’s huge feral cat population.  

And lastly, a new social media superstar has arrived in the shape of Midas, a Russian Blue kitten from Turkey who has a recessive genetic mutation that gives her two sets of ears. Her hearing is unaffected, and she has been adopted, having originally been a rescue cat. You can follow Midas on Instagram at midas_x24.

Midas is pictured below, on her Instagram page, and has over 100,000 followers.