Friday 20 November 2015

Work placement at H&H

We were delighted to have Emily, an A-Level student, join us for a week of work experience recently. Here's what she had to say about her time at Hubble & Hattie ...

"To say I was nervous on the long walk here on Monday morning would be an understatement. I was anxious to meet everyone at Hubble & Hattie for if I didn't fit in or the team didn't like me, and I also didn't want this experience to change my mind about my plans to make a career in publishing. After spending a week with the production team, I can now say that this is something I definitely want to do.

"Once I had spent a good five minutes trying to find the building itself, I arrived to a warm welcome from Kim. She immediately went and made us a cup of tea — something I don't think I've stopped drinking all week — and then gave me a tour of the building and introduced me to the friendly team. 

"Throughout my time here, I have been given an insight into exactly what goes on within a publishing house, everything from author submissions to proofreading the final draft for printing. The amount of time and effort that goes into producing a book of H&H's standards, the endless checks back and forth between editor and author, still baffles me. I don't know how the team managed without the VCR, which happens to hold every piece of information you would ever need about every book Veloce and Hubble & Hattie has published. 

"I was shown how detailed the editing process is, from copy editing to line editing, as well as how the layout and the image resolution can either make or break your book. I learnt how to keep track of the accounts, how marketing through different companies, advertisements and social media expands the popularity of books, as well as how each book is packaged and sent to customers from the warehouse. I also managed to see how chaotic things become when a delivery turns up a day early!

"The team at H&H are some of the nicest, most genuine people I have met, as they made me feel welcome within their workplace and were almost always joking around about something or other. A huge thank you to Kim who has looked after me during my time here, and always made sure that I had something to learn or do, other than just drinking tea! Another big thank you to Rod and Jude for allowing me to come to Veloce and experience the business first hand, and thank you to the rest of the team who gave me their time and showed me exactly what they all do.

"Despite my original worries, Hubble & Hattie has not put me off from getting my degree and becoming an editor; if anything it has confirmed it for me. It feels like I have been here for a lot longer than five days, and I wish that I could restart the week and do it all over again, and not go back to school!"

Thanks again to Emily for joining us, we're glad you had a great time and wish you luck for your future in publishing! 

Friday 13 November 2015

A day in the life of ...

... a KAR Rescue Centre Volunteer

High in the Besparmak Mountains of Northern Cyprus, is Kyrenia Animal Rescue. It's a rescue centre very dear to H&H Publisher, Jude, as it's where she met and adopted Immie, the resident H&H hound, 14 years ago. The centre is run for the most part by hard-working volunteers, and we would like to take a moment to salute these dedicated people who make the lives of Northern Cyprus' stray dogs and cats a lot brighter.
Over the next few months, we'll be getting to know some of these volunteers as they take us through a typical day working with the animals in their care. In this instalment, we're joining Caroline as she gets cooking ...

"Up at 6.00am – an early start. A hasty snack for breakfast before I pack my bag with the requisite items: sandwich for lunch, water and a pair of appropriate shoes. It looks as if, yet again, it will be hot. Very hot. I swap my small bottle of water for a larger one that has been in the freezer.

"I join two of the team who live nearby, and we pile into the car, heading through the early morning traffic to Girne, all of us chuntering about the state of the roads. We manage to negotiate the worst of the traffic and roadworks, and join more of our fellow workers at the KAR van. A well-worn but trusty vehicle, it stands high off the ground, and we short ladies with a larger waistline have a bit of an undignified scramble to climb in the front. Those who can’t fit next to the driver sit on old cushions on the floor in the rear for the trip up to the Arapkoy Centre. In all there are six of us today.

"The combined choir of three hundred-plus dogs in the compounds greets our arrival. The cats yawn, stretch and peer sleepily out of their beds and boxes. On this particular morning, there are no animals abandoned at the top of the track leading to the Centre – an all too common occurrence. The team are allocated specific tasks, and today I am on ‘The House’ – responsible for the animals staying in the main building (two puppies and two adult dogs), cleaning up the kitchens, loo and prep rooms, cooking a vast amount of pasta, and subsequently feeding the fourteen dogs in the adjacent compounds. A busy day lies ahead ...
"KAR depends solely on the donations of the public, its voluntary workers and the kindness of a variety of benefactors to keep it going.  Some hotels kindly supply us with leftover food from their kitchens to help feed the animals – and the results can be fairly interesting. As we are slopping out today’s mush of bread, gravy and veg to feed the four dogs in the back room of The House, I come across a rather odd-shaped lump of flesh. I am wondering quite what this is when one of the lads informs me that it’s a sheep testicle.  We dig around in the slop (rubber gloves a must) and find several more, so we chuck them in a pan ready to cook later for the puppies. I casually mention that I shall have to chop them up into very small pieces, at which there is a concerted wince from the chaps. Concealing a smirk, I take the items out to be boiled and put on two huge vats of pasta to cook. 

"In the back rooms of our building we have treatment pens for small, sick animals, or those undergoing treatment. Larger dogs who need to be isolated are accommodated with their beds in the two rooms available. Today, I have two small Pointer pups in one of the pens – siblings who are being given preventative treatment for Parvo. A pretty Golden Spaniel and a black-and-tan Lurcher make up the remainder of the group.

"I set to with the poop scoop, mops and buckets to clear up the night’s detritus, cleaning out the pups and moving them into a fresh, clean pen with a plastic bottle to play with whilst I get their food ready. It is not a job for the squeamish, or those with a sensitive stomach! 
"The main office holds the Centre administrative functions, and is where we greet visitors. A different mop and bucket is hauled out (another load of pasta is put on to cook) and I dust, polish and mop to make the place look nice and tidy. Through the door, I can see my team-mates trundling their equipment around, hosing out the pens, filling bowls with fresh water, and making sure that any medication is administered. The ‘cat people’ move a group of cats out of their pen into the play area, and do the same.

"Next I clean the kitchen areas, and I decide to boil the testicles while I am working in there. The resultant pong is truly horrendous, and every fly in the neighbourhood drops in to see what this delicious concoction might be. I beat a hasty retreat, leaving the noisome mess bubbling on the stove whilst we break for coffee.  

"A family turns up with cans of dog food. They tour the pens and fuss the dogs, then bath two pups. One takes exception, making a bid to escape and causing mayhem as he runs around the yard with us in hot (literally) pursuit. The bath may not be popular, but the strokes and cuddles while being rubbed down and dried make it all worthwhile. 

"After lunch, another four packs of pasta are boiled up. The preparation room now holds dustbins full of food, and it is time to feed the dogs. Bowls (many well chewed) are filled and taken out. I stand in the pens that I am working on as the occupants eat to make sure that war doesn’t break out, also giving the animals some fuss – and a once over for ticks and fleas. Some dogs like to have their food placed up on top of their kennels, others cheerfully amble from dish to dish, sampling everyone else’s as well as their own. There is no animosity; everyone gets enough to eat. The bowls are washed up and the residue of gravy, bread and vegetables cleaned off the prep room floor. Empty food bins are hosed out and the testicles, now cooked and cooled, are chopped up and gleefully welcomed by the puppies as their second meal of the day. Yummy!

"I clean up behind the pups and dogs in the back room again, then head outside to watch a puppy out in the main run. She is racing round, nipping her mates and jumping on them. The others join in, and a mad five minutes of silliness ensue before they all suddenly collapse and go to sleep in the shade, piled up together in a furry heap.

"Last job – clean the loo so it’s fresh and nice for the staff and visitors the following day. The team have closed up the pens, made sure that the security cameras are on and the gates to the walks are locked. We have had people breaking in, vandalising the compounds and upsetting the animals. I put all my mops in water and disinfectant, then do a last-minute water bowl check, pat a head and rub a proffered tummy. 

"Back on the van, the return journey is a mirror image of the morning. As I get home, my own three dogs race around the corner of the house to greet me, three lucky little animals who all came to us from the Centre. I throw my clothes in for washing, shower and sit down to a peaceful evening. One dog hops up beside me on the settee and puts her nose on my knee. It has been a busy day – ten hours from end to end – but worth every moment for the pleasure of seeing vulnerable animals well cared for."

To learn more about the work of KAR and the animals in its care, visit the website.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

All God's Creatures – Ivor's Alsatian

Bryan Apps, author and illustrator of H&H eBook exclusive, All God's Creatures, shares a story from the book about a couple of regular church-goers who are a bit out of the ordinary ...

"... The Jeffery-Machins had no children, but they doted on their Alsatians. Tombstones in the vicarage garden marked the graves of their earlier pets, and each morning when Ivor met me in the Parish Church to say matins, his dog always accompanied him. She was allowed to wander around the empty church at will while we recited the psalms and canticles, and was always joined by a Golden Retriever, who somehow managed to arrive at the west door of the church at the same time as us. 

"I believe this other dog came up the High Street from the lower part of town, and must have negotiated numerous traffic lights along the way. The two dogs solemnly walked about the church together, obviously enjoying each other’s company, and never getting in the way or being a nuisance. 
"Occasionally, they would disappear behind the altar frontal, going in at one end and emerging from the other. I am sure that the Almighty was as pleased to welcome them as we were to enjoy their company. Afterwards, Ivor and his dog would part from me as we went our separate ways, and the fourth member of the company would happily trot off down the road to wherever he lived!"

For more great anecdotes from Rev Bryan Apps, check out H&H eBook, All God Creatures, available to download now. 

A delightful compilation of funny and touching real life anecdotes relating to animals and birds which have engaged Bryan’s interest throughout his life. They are set, in chronological order, within the framework of his work as an Anglican priest. More generally, the account touches upon the life of a parish priest in the course of a ministry which stretches over more than fifty years.  

The text is complemented by Bryan’s own drawings and sketches throughout.

For details on how to download your copy, visit the Hubble & Hattie website.

Friday 6 November 2015

A day in the life of ...

... A KAR Puppy Carer

High in the Besparmak Mountains, Cyprus, is Kyrenia Animal Rescue. It's a rescue centre very dear to H&H Publisher, Jude, as it's where she met and adopted Immie, the resident H&H hound, 14 years ago.
The centre is run for the most part by hard-working volunteers, and we would like to take a moment to salute those dedicated people who make the lives of Cyprus' stray dogs and cats a lot brighter.

Over the next few months, we'll be getting to know some of these volunteers as they take us through a typical day working with the animals in their care. This month, we're joining Puppy Carer Patricia as she goes about her day ...

"My day starts, not with the puppies, but with a little ritual involving Timmy, a dog who has been with us since 2009. Timmy can only be described as eccentric, and he likes to start his day with a plastic bottle in his mouth. So, on arrival, I have in my bag one plastic bottle to throw to Timmy to catch and run around with. My first job is completed and as you can see, Timmy is very happy with a bottle held firmly in his teeth!

"On to the puppies. This involves clearing poo – and lots of it! We have over 20 puppies in the older
puppy area, and it never fails to amaze me how so few puppies can produce so much poo overnight. We also have about 12-15 smaller puppies in ER7, and they, too, are very messy – on the floor, in their beds – they really are a mucky lot! So it is a quick hose-down to clear the floor ready for the puppies’ breakfast. I also make a quick check of the pups to make sure they are all okay and haven’t got into any scrapes overnight.

"The older pups have their breakfast first. Balancing 15 large bowls of food with 20+ pups jostling for position is no mean feat. I have never yet gone flying, but there’s always a first time. The food is demolished in less than a minute and then I feed the pups in ER7. They too polish off their breakfast quickly and all the bowls/trays are cleared.

"Next is a more thorough clean of the puppy areas. The floors are disinfected and the beds cleared of
dirty bedding and cleaned. If any pups are in cages, they are moved into a clean one while I clean the dirty ones. The puppies' drinking water is also replaced.

"This all sounds quite straightforward, and would be, except for one thing ... The puppies! They like to help – or rather, they like to get in the way. They particularly like to chew the hose if it is laid on the floor for a second, and the floor scraper is one big game to some of them.

"Here I am being supervised by two of the older pups. So, where are the others? Well, they have taken a shine to the person taking the photo, and are trying to swing on the camera strap – and anything else they can get hold of!! It’s a pity I didn’t have a camera as well!

"Now, this is what they are usually like – all clamouring for a bit of love and attention. All they really want is a loving home and someone to take good care of them.

"By now it's around 10am, and time for a quick tea break. A holidaying family have arrived and are
taking some dogs for a walk. Sid and Salt from Pine Walk have just been out and now it’s the turn of Mitch, Cecille and Missy in ER3. "My next job is to clean the ER block, which consists of six kennels. The ER block holds smaller dogs and others than are recovering from illness or injury. Again, the floors and beds are cleaned and the drinking water changed.

"One of the residents of ER block is Beedy, a Cyprus terrier who was already at the centre when I first started back in 2008. Beedy was a bit of an ankle-biter all those years ago, but he's a bit more sedate these days, probably because he doesn’t have too many teeth left!

"On to the Sandpit  – so named because that's what was there before the kennel was built. The
residents here are two sets of sisters – Ellis and Elena, and Emmy and Elisa. "As I walk towards the Sandpit, the other nearby dogs start barking, because they know what is going to happen next. Ellis is an escape artist and always tries to get through the gate as I open it. She doesn’t always succeed the first time, but she then just waits until I go back out again, and this time she is always too quick for me. She charges up the lane and back again, and then, because it’s too hot, waits for me to pick her up and put her back in.

"A quick clear-up near Shannon, a grey terrier who lives under the tree, and then it’s off to the
Cornerhouse. "The current residents are a French Bulldog who was abandoned at the centre, Cinders, a little white & tan dog, and a small black sausage dog who has a skin condition. Cinders and the sausage dog are both very friendly, and they just love to be picked up and made a fuss of. The French Bulldog is rather sad ... probably wondering why his owner didn’t want him anymore and left him at the rescue centre.

"Another visitor has arrived and taken two compound dogs for a walk – Samson and Wotsit. He is
looking for a dog to home and takes a shine to Bindy – a small husky cross who has been with us since the end of 2013. He goes away to think about it and kindly leaves a generous donation. About 30 minutes later he is back, having decided to take Bindy today. What excellent news! After the new owner has gone through the homing paperwork with Joanna, it’s time to say Goodbye to Bindy – she is such a lucky girl! "It is getting near to lunchtime, so I go back to the puppy area for another clear-up before the afternoon feed. I give the puppies clear instructions: no more pooing before dinner. Do they listen? No, they do not!

"Before I stop for lunch, it’s time for a cuddle with the smaller puppies in ER7 and as you can see, they all clamber for their turn to be picked up!

"After a quick bite to eat, I like to take a walk round the compounds and say hello to all the dogs. It’s
become part of my routine. The same dogs wait for me every time I go around – Mini, Galaxy, Gloria, and Geri, plus about 100 others! Some are not so interested in my visit, they look up, think to themselves “Oh, it’s her again,” and go back to sleep.

"By now it’s 2 o’clock and time for the afternoon feeds. The larger puppies are first to be fed, followed by the pups in ER7. If any pups do not eat or are too slow I take them inside and give them a separate feed.

"The dogs in ER block are fed next, followed by the Sandpit (Ellis doesn’t try to escape this time!) and then the Cornerhouse. Afterwards all the feeding bowls are collected and taken inside for washing.

"My last job of the day is, yes you’ve guessed it, clearing up poo. A final scrub of the floors, clean
bedding is put down and the water bowls are topped up. The puppies are still trying to help, some of them particularly like to catch the water from the hose! Finally, they start to settle down for the night and curl up in their beds. So it’s 'goodnight, puppies,' from me, and see you next Sunday. Time to go home and have a much needed shower!"

To learn more about the work of KAR and the animals in its care, visit the website.

Friday 18 September 2015

The Golden Rules for exercising an older dog

As he gets older, it isn't normally necessary to stop all of the games and forms of activity that your dog enjoys. If your dog is still up to it, simply reduce the intensity of the exercise as required, and be sure to follow these golden rules ...

• Talk to your vet
Make sure that the exercise regime you have in mind is appropriate for your dog’s age and condition.

• Start with a warm-up
Before you undertake any fast or strenuous walking, stroll around with your dog in a leisurely fashion for a few minutes to get everything moving. This will enable him to perform better and reduce the chances of a muscle injury. Sometimes a little massage is beneficial before starting exercise, as well as afterwards – follow the techniques in a good canine massage manual (make that a hyperlink to complete massage manual) if you are going to do this.

• Exercise little and often
Several short walks daily – not just at weekends – are better than one long daily route march. Walking this way will help to reduce strain on your dog’s bones and organs.

• Provide water
Many senior dogs drink lots of water due to kidney problems, but even if this is not an issue you should carry a bottle of water to prevent dehydration, as well as a collapsible water bowl.

• Be guided by your dog
If your senior dog shows signs of fatigue, such as lagging behind, lying down for a rest or panting excessively, he has probably had enough.

• Where and when you walk are important
Try to include a good proportion of footpaths and fields; these are kinder to joints than hard surfaces like pavements. Keep in the shade as much as possible on hot days. Don’t always walk your dog in the same direction around a field: alternate by going in the other direction. Avoid walking too far in very cold, very hot or very wet weather. A waterproof dog coat will help to keep your dog’s body warm in winter. When returning from a wet walk, always dry your senior dog’s coat well with a good towelling rub.

The information and images for this article are taken from Living with an older dog – Gentle dog care  by David Alderton and Derek Hall.
    How to recognise and understand the changes – both mental and physical – that occur as your dog ages; manage these changes successfully, and make the senior canine years more enjoyable and fulfilling for both you and your beloved companion. 
    There is also advice on how to work closely with your vet in order to manage your dog’s senior years, as well as sympathetic advice for when the time comes to say goodbye.

Friday 11 September 2015

Charlie – the dog who came in from the wild book launch

Hubble & Hattie saw the release of its newest book earlier this month: Charlie – the dog who came in from the wild. 
The book's author, Lisa Tenzin-Dolma and H&H publisher Jude were at Corston Villiage Hall near Bath for the book launch. Thank you to everyone who attended the event, which was a complete success! Check out these great pictures from the day:
1  Actor Anthony Head & partner, the animal behaviour expert, Sarah Fisher.
2  Journalist & broadcaster, Bel Mooney, and her dog, Bonnie, pose with Lisa at the launch.
3  Resident H&H hound, Imani Cricket, organises sales of Charlie's book!
4  A happy Lisa with her tribute to her beloved Charlie.

Charlie is the true story of the bond that developed between author Lisa Tensin-Dolma, and Charlie – a traumatised, one-eyed, Romanian dog who lived the first 18 months of his life in the wild, never socialising with humans. Charting Charlie’s progress and setbacks, it explains how Lisa worked with Charlie to help him overcome his extreme fearfulness to become a happy, affectionate, fun-loving family dog. Charlie – The dog who came in from the wild is touching and heart-warming, and clearly demonstrates the transformative power of love and kindness.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Puppy Awareness Week – Preparing for a new dog

In honour of Puppy Awareness Week, Sainsbury's Bank has released this amazing article to help us through the process of getting a new dog ... from deciding if you're ready, what type suits you and your family, and what age of dog to get, to settling your new addition into your family and choosing the right insurance for your dog. It's a very interesting and informative read, so if you're thinking of getting a new dog, make sure youhave the facts!

Once you're done reading, be sure to enter a photo of any of your existing four-legged family members to Sainsbury's Bank's photo competition! You could win a new camera – perfect for taking pics of your new addition, should you decide to get one!

For more information on how to enter, visit the Sainsbury's Bank websiteGood luck!

Friday 4 September 2015

Puppy Awareness Week – the dos and don'ts of buying a puppy

1st September saw the start of the Kennel Club's Puppy Awareness Week (PAW), which runs until Monday 7th. It aims to make sure that puppies live healthy, happy lives with suitable owners by spreading the 'be puppy aware' message, which involves making sure you know which dog and breed is right for your lifestyle so that you can care for him or her for life, and making sure you can separate responsible breeders from puppy farmers.

The dos and don'ts of buying a puppy
The Kennel Club has released these helpful guidelines to help make the right decisions when choosing a puppy:

  • Buy a puppy from a responsible breeder
  • See the puppy where he or she was born and raised
  • See the puppy interacting with his or her mother
  • Ensure your breeder has given the pup's parents the correct health tests for their breed

  • Let your puppy be delivered to your door, or pick up your puppy from a neutral location
  • Buy a puppy from a pet shop or online services such as Gumtree
  • Buy a puppy on a whim or as a gift
  • Buy a puppy from a suspected puppy farm to 'rescue' him or her. You are just making space for another poorly pup to fill

For more information on how to help stop puppy farming, and for ways to show support for PAW throughout the year, visit the Kennel Club's website.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

K9 first aid – what to do first in an emergency

Whether on a long journey or a day trip, it's good to be prepared for illnesses or injury in your dog, should it occur. But would you know what to do in an emergency situation? These points will guide you through the priorities of handling an injured/ill dog.

Keep calm!
Try to stay calm. You'll find it a lot easier to help your dog if you're not panicking.

Ensure your own safety
Assess the surroundings and make sure that you are safe before approaching your dog – you can't help him if you're also in danger of hurting yourself!

Secure your dog
Being careful not to aggravate any injury your dog may have, make sure he is secure in some way to avoid him running off.

Check the colour of your dog's gums.
Reassure your dog
Talk to your dog gently and calmly to reassure him. 

Assess your dog's condition
If he'll allow you to, assess your dog's condition. How is his breathing? Can you hear any unusual noises, such as gurgling? Is his airway blocked? If yes, and it is safe to do so, try and remove the blockage. What colour are his gums? Check his heartrate. Is he bleeding from anywhere?

If your dog displays signs of aggression, try and secure a
makeshift muzzle around his mouth.
In the event of aggression ...
Your dog may display signs of aggression due to fear and/or pain – in this instance, endeavour to tie a makeshift muzzle around his mouth.

Treat injuries 
Treat and secure any injuries to the best of your ability.

Organise transportation
Arrange a way to transport you and your dog to your vet for treatment.

Call your vet
Ring ahead to let your vet know you are on your way and the nature of your dog's illness/injury so they can be prepared for your arrival. 

The information and images for this article are taken from Emergency first aid for dogs – at home and away by Martin Bucksch.

What should you do if your dog treads on a shard of glass, begins choking on a foreign object, or has an allergic reaction to an insect bite?
Including information on foreign travel, vaccinations, and general travel preparation, this compact and easy-to-understand guide provides the help that might be urgently needed to save the life of your faithful, four-legged friend.

Vet Martin Bucksch lists the most common emergency situations, gives tips on how to perform first aid, and provides advice on emergency treatment.

Monday 24 August 2015

An extract from Charlie by Lisa Tenzin-Dolma

Here is a short extract from our new book – the heart-warming true story of how one-eyed Charlie went from traumatised feral dog to joyful family member.

My ears are ringing. Charlie, our one-eyed Romanian feral dog, has heard something in the distance – perhaps another dog barking, a car engine revving, or the red-tailed hawks calling as they fly high above us. He throws back his head to fully expose his throat, purses his lips into an ‘O’ shape and emits a lengthy, high decibel howl. Charlie is announcing to the world that he is here ... and that he wishes to have his presence acknowledged.

Charlie’s howls are, fortunately, a source of deep fascination for my friends in the small village where we live. However, they’re loud, and they carry across great distances. It’s hard to ignore them, and they can be a strain on the eardrums if they continue for long. So, in the interests of maintaining harmonious neighbourly relations, I call Charlie indoors and reward him with praise and a liver treat for coming to me. He sits and offers me a paw in a gesture of trust and friendship, and I take it in my hand and hold it gently as I thank him.
     Less than eighteen months previously, this feisty strength of character would have been hard to imagine, yet it was the reason for Charlie’s survival in the wild during the first years of his life. When he first came to live with us he was in a state of paralysed shock and terror. He was totally unsocialized, and had never experienced a close relationship with a human, or been inside a home. In many ways, Charlie seemed more like a wolf than a dog, and he has travelled great distances through geographical location and newly-learned behavioural responses in the comparative blink of his single eye. I have learned a great deal from every dog I have lived and worked with – especially from Skye, my wise Deerhound/Greyhound/Saluki mix Lurcher, who has mentored all of my fostered and adopted dogs over the past seven years – but Charlie has been, without doubt, my greatest teacher.
     The lessons that Charlie and I have absorbed from each other have relevance for each of us. We all experience the intense emotions that Charlie so eloquently expresses. We all have to find our way through the painful, thorny patches that occasionally block our way, and at times we all experience an urge to throw back our heads and sing out to make our presence known. This book tells the story of life with Charlie during his first eighteen months with us, but it is not the whole story because the events of his wild past can only be guessed at. Instead, what follows are chapters in the life of a dog whose world was turned upside down, and then gradually turned around again to find a different level.

Sixteen months after Charlie’s arrival, I take him and Skye for a walk on my own. This is a recent development. Usually, Amber and I go out together with them, so that both dogs can move at their own pace. Skye has slowed down a great deal, and prefers to amble along, catching up on news that other dogs have left in the field, while Charlie likes to trot, and still has a habit of either bolting or freezing when he sees anything unfamiliar.
     The boys dance with glee when I lift their harnesses and leashes from the peg in the hall, and stand quietly while I slip them over their heads and buckle them. Once out, they walk side by side, stopping to sniff around when some scent catches their attention. Charlie deliberately slows his pace so that Skye can keep up with him comfortably, and I’m touched that he’s so considerate of his friend. We greet people as we pass them, and one of my neighbours, who Charlie has never met, stops for a chat. To our surprise and delight Charlie walks straight over to her, sits to offer both front paws, and invites her to stroke him.

I fell in love with Charlie the moment Gina carried him, trembling and paralysed with terror, into our home on that cold February evening in 2013. His fear and confusion brought out the protective instinct in me; the desire to help heal the psychological wounds, as has happened with all of the traumatised dogs I’ve worked with over the years. Love and nurturing, combined with helping Charlie to feel safe, allowed the first step to healing, and Charlie’s behaviour leaves me in no doubt that he loves me too.

New! Charlie – The dog who came in from the wild by Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, with a foreword by Marc Bekoff.

The true story of a bond that developed between author Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, and Charlie – a traumatised, one-eyed, Romanian dog who lived the first 18 months of his life in the wild, never socialising with humans.

Charting Charlie’s progress and setbacks, it explains how Lisa worked with Charlie to help him overcome his extreme fearfulness. Click here for more information about the book.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Dakota & Alba – an extract from Among the wolves

Toni Shelbourne is part of a very exclusive club; one to which only a handful of people worldwide belong. She has had the privilege of working with socialised wolves, those who have been reared to be comfortable around people. Here is an extract from her new book Among the wolves ...

Even though Dakota was a very well socialised wolf, her true instincts were never very far from the surface. To run away from unfamiliar or frightening situations is the first line of defence for any wolf, so although Dakota would be happy and unfazed at a busy event, a wheelbarrow out of place at home could be a big deal for her. She would refuse to walk past it, or wait until I did so in order to use me as a shield between her and this scary object. She was also wary of the metal traps and doors in her enclosure, especially when they rattled in the wind. Often, though, vocal reassurance and a belly rub would calm her.
     Dakota loved to sunbathe, and would often lay out to bake for most of the day. In the summer sometimes she would be so comfortable she wouldn’t even come in for her dinner, and you’d find her late at night, lying sleepy and content in her scrape (a bed that wolves make in the dirt). She’d let you stroke her, lay down next to her, or even use her as a pillow, but try to get her up and moving towards the kennel area where the wolves fed and slept and she’d become grumpy, so we usually left her there to enjoy the evening. Wolves don’t need to eat every day, and will self-starve if they feel so inclined.
     Photographic days at the UKWCT were a favourite with Dakota, who was always a bit of a poser (in her younger days, before she lost part of her tail and became ill with lymph node cancer, she was extremely photogenic). Dakota had her limits, even so, and after striking various poses (she seemed to have a stock of them, displayed in order: sideways look, sit, ears picked, howl), would let us know she was done with her adoring public. She always ended each session with a howl, after which she’d look at the handlers in a bored fashion, which definitely said “Right, time to go back and have a snooze now, please, I’m done toiling for the day.”

Alba was the male of the European pack, and lived with his sisters, Lunca and Latea. This litter was born at the Trust on 3 May 1999, and is said to be the first born on British soil since we eradicated wolves from mainland UK, hundreds of years ago. Roger Palmer imported their parents and an aunt – Apollo, Athena, and Luna – from Europe, and they subsequently went to live at Wildwood in Kent.
     To various handlers Alba was a wolf to fear. Domineering; sometimes unpredictable, he was an impressive, majestic animal who took no prisoners. I never understood why he accepted me into his inner circle and not others, and I never once felt threatened by him. Even at a very early stage in our relationship he would enthusiastically greet me by sometimes holding my entire head in his mouth!
     I didn’t meet him until he was about eighteen months old, and I was one of the last people he took to. Volunteers who joined after that time were held in distain, or targeted for an impressive display of posturing and growling. He could set a handler’s heartbeat racing in a minute if he looked at you the wrong way, and had the ability to stare you down with hard, glazed-looking eyes. If you saw that look, watch out!
     To me, though, he was just Alba, my mate, and we rubbed along together well. Although he was too strong for me to handle on a lead on public walks, I occasionally got to walk him double-leaded with one of the strapping male handlers that Alba liked. His power was amazing, and I’ll never forget the sight of him dragging around sixteen stone guys when he got the wind up his tail, which often happened when he’d had a dip in the pond on walks, and had become frisky. I’ve no idea how they managed to hold onto the lead ...
     I never really knew how Alba would be in the enclosure: some days he would want to play; others he simply rolled over for a belly rub. Either way he demanded respect and compliance – and he was bigger than me, after all!

One girl, eleven wolves – and a whole host of heart-warming stories ...

This extract is taken from Among the wolves – Memoirs of a wolf handler by Toni Shelbourne.

The fascinating story of Toni’s life with eleven charismatic wolves at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust, Berkshire, England. Over ten years she handled, raised, cared for and nursed these amazing creatures, and within these pages you will come to know the characters; laugh at their sense of fun, mourn at their passing – and learn to love them as she does.

Describing some of the best and worst of times, discover what happens behind closed doors when the public goes home, leaving just Toni and the wolves ...

Click here for more information about the book.

Thursday 13 August 2015

The dos and don’ts of road travel with your dog

We all tend to think that nothing bad will happen on that quick trip into town, or to the park to walk our dog, but that’s why accidents are called that!

Don’t carry your dog on your lap, as she could up end being thrown through the windscreen. Likewise, if your dog is sitting in the rear of your vehicle without restraint, an accident or emergency stop could propel her forward at speed.

Although an airbag may save your life, the force and speed at which the bag deploys can actually cause severe injury, particularly if the driver or pasenger is not sitting upright and centred in the seat. Consider, then, the likely injuries to your dog as a result of airbag deployment, be that in the front or back seat.
     The front seat is not an ideal place for your dog to sit for the same reason that it is not recommended for children under a certain weight and height, as airbags are designed for adult humans.
     An unrestrained dog, or one who is allowed to move about within a vehicle, is also a common sight. This is unfortunate, as a dog who is leaping about can easily distract the driver and cause an accident.

Pickup beds
The most dangerous way for your dog to travel, however, is in the back of a Pickup. Fitting Camper or Pickup shells offers no additional protection, it seems, and may even cause further injury.
     If your dog is properly secured via a professionally-designed travel harness to a centre seatbelt restraint, or well secured in a crate, her chances of avoiding major injury in the event of an accident or emergency stop are greatly increased.

Dogs are commonly seen enjoying the ride with their heads stuck out the window, but this is a very dangerous practice, as apart from the possibility of a head or neck injury, there’s also a risk of contracting eye and ear infections.
     In addition to having their heads out the window, many dogs will also have their feet up on the window ledge, which puts them at risk of ejection in the case of a sudden stop. Dogs can also be crushed, potentially fatally, by a window that is accidentally or suddenly raised by a child or forgetful owner.
     A good general rule of thumb is to apply the same safety considerations to your dog as you would a child.

If travelling to cold or snowy areas ensure your dog does not suffer from frostbite and/or hypothermia.
To avoid your dog suffering heat stress or heatstroke when travelling, never, ever leave her in the car on her own – even if all of the windows are open and the car is in the shade.
     Your dog can also suffer heat stress whilst the vehicle is moving, if the temperature should rise rapidly. Despite what may be considered adequate ventilation by us, an older, overweight, or short-nosed dog is more prone to heat stress. Dogs literally cook in hot cars – a horrible, excruciatingly painful death. Make sure it doesn’t happen to yours.

Start early
If you plan to take your dog with you in your vehicle on a regular basis, start the trips early in her life. If your dog has grown up used to travelling in a vehicle. it will be a much more comfortable experience for all concerned, and a building block in her socialisation process.

It helps immensely if you begin crate training at home as well as when travelling, and, if you prefer to use a harness, begin getting her used to wearing it around the house before trying it in the car.

You should feed your dog well in advance of setting off in your vehicle, or plan on feeding her when you stop for the day. A dog who suffers from motion sickness should not be fed for at least eight hours before travelling. You should also exercise your dog in the usual way before leaving, to allow her to empty her bladder and bowels.
     It’s important that your dog has access to fresh water during journeys, particularly if they are long ones. If you are driving in warm weather your dog will pant more in an effort to stay cool, increasing her evaporation rate. Ensure you make frequent stops to offer your dog fresh water so that she is comfortable and not at risk of dehydration.

Ensure that your dog always wears an identity tag on her collar with at least two contact numbers on it (not her name, though, as this could assist would-be dog thieves). It’s strongly recommended that you also have her microchipped. In the event that she should become lost, there’s every chance you can be reunited.

If you are travelling away from home for a period of time, always carry your dog’s vaccination record and any health certificates as a precautionary measure.
     If travelling abroad, note that different rules and regulations apply in different countries, so thoroughly check these out before departure to prevent delays or being refused entry. All medications that your dog may need should be purchased ahead of time in sufficient supplies. it’s good practice to take your dog to the vet before setting off on a lengthy trip or holiday: your vet knows your dog and has all her records, and can identify any health changes or concerns.

Restraint system
As a rule, a crate should be roomy enough for your dog to comfortably stand up, turn around and lie down in. The crate should be secured to the floor or wall of your vehicle to prevent it sliding around, or being thrown about in the event of an accident.
     The alternative would be a barrier that separates the seating area from the crate, although your dog would still need to be secured to prevent her from being thrown about.

Have your dog’s lead readily to hand for rest breaks, and in the event of an emergency. Travelling with two leads is not a bad idea as this allows you to keep one in the passenger glovebox and another in a door or seat pocket for convenience.
     Don’t keep a lead on your dog when actually travelling, though, as this can become tangled or caught on something, which can also prove dangerous.

Depending on your destination, taking extra bottled water for you dog may be something to consider: if you have concerns regarding the local water and the effects it may have on your health, these concerns apply equally to your dog.
     Make sure you have an ample supply of bags to pick up after your dog.

Comfort and interaction
If your dog is properly restrained in the back seat, consider asking one of your passengers to sit with her. A dog is a very sociable animal, and may feel rather isolated alone in the back.
If you usually talk to your dog, be sure to include her in your conversation when travelling, mentioning her name to let her know you are talking to her.
     Crack a side window or the sunroof to allow fresh air into the vehicle. Although we may only notice the strongest smells that permeate the car, your dog will register and enjoy them all.
     Comfortable, safe and enjoyable travel with your dog should be as automatic as fastening your seatbelt, and sitting back to enjoy the ride.

The text & images from this article are taken from the RAC handbook Dogs on Wheels – travelling with your canine companion by Norm Mort.
• Combines personal insight and well-researched information
• Expert advice from experienced veterinarians
• Input and opinion from a former professor in animal behaviour
• Looks at various types of vehicles, and the benefits and drawbacks of each
• Critique of various accessories/fittings available for transporting your dog
• Simple activities to break up your journey and keep your dog happy
• Dos and don’ts for animal travel
• A look into the mind of a dog

Click here for more information about the book

Also available! Walking the dog – Motorway walks for drivers and dogs (eBook) by Lezli Rees.

Anyone who drives on motorways will benefit from this guide to walks within 5 miles of motorway exits. All of the UK is covered, from Exeter to Perth and Swansea to Canterbury. Use this book to get more fun for your petrol, see more of the countryside, take a healthy break, or enjoy a relaxing pub lunch.

Each page features a 30 to 45 minute walk, with a selected pub or café on the walk. Activities for children are included, from bouncy castles to nature trails.