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.

Friday 7 August 2015

Summer reading

Chill out by the pool, in the garden or on the beach with a great H&H book! We've handpicked a selection of essential Hubble & Hattie summer holiday reading that will fit perfectly in your travel bag! Follow the links below to find out more:

My Dog, my Friend – Jacki Gordon
Your Dog and You – Gill Garratt
Among the wolves – Toni Shelbourne
Dogs on wheels – Norm Mort