Friday 31 August 2018

New Kids on the Bookshelf

With the summer holidays now drawing to a close, it's time to start thinking about 'Back to School.' And what better way to brighten up your child's day than with one of our new pictures books!

Here at Hubble & Hattie, we have always promoted compassion, understanding, and respect between all animals through our publications. Books that are of real benefit to the species they cover are what we aim to achieve, and we feel that it is never too early to learn such important values! This notion led to the launch of Hubble & Hattie Kids!; books that will champion the same ethos to a younger audience. 

These beautifully illustrated and carefully crafted books are publications that children – and a fair number of adults – will cherish and learn from, absorbing life lessons that will help improve the lives of all animals, and our relationships with them. 

Worzel goes for a walk! Will you come too?

A Hubble & Hattie regular, Worzel is back, and this time he wants to take you on a walk to one of his favourite places – the beach! Just like Worzel says hello! Will you be my friend?, this charming story is told from Worzel's point of view, accompanied by Chantal Bourgonje's beautiful illustrations, and aims to help children learn how to walk dogs in a safe and responsible way. 

Taking a dog for a walk is both pleasurable and essential for any dog. In Worzel goes for a walk! Will you come too?, children learn there are important rules that need to be followed to ensure that the experience is a positive one for all those involved. 

"I loved this book. It's beautifully written and the illustrations complement the text so well." – The BookBag

The Lucky, Lucky Leaf

Speaking of Chantal Bourgonje, her own book based on her wonderful Horace & Nim illustrations and The Lucky, Lucky Leaf, written by David Hoskins, follows a group of forest friends on a windy autumn day, as they are out catching falling leaves for luck. Nim wants to break his all-time record of five lucky leaves before teatime. But the more leaves he catches, the more accidents he seems to have! And then Kay accidentally hurts Nim's feelings. Forget breaking records, will Nim survive until teatime?

This book encourages compassion for others, enjoyment of nature and playing outside in a way that will charm children and adults alike.

"The Lucky, Lucky Leaf has marvellous read-aloud appeal." – Geelong Obedience Dog Club

The Little House that didn't have a home

From the same illustrator who brought us the incredibly funny Ollie and Nina and ... Daft Doggy Doings! comes this wonderful little tale. Written by Steve Burke and accompanied by Neil Sullivan's colourful imagery, The Little House that didn't have a home tells the story of a cheeky and plucky little house that doesn't have a place to live. He packs his bag, and along with his best friend Bear, sets off into the big wide world to find themselves their 'forever home.' Along the way, they encounter lots of interesting characters, some nice, some sad, some not so nice, and some very rude indeed!

"This little classic will endure in the mind of a child as he/she matures and grows." – Geelong Obedience Dog Club

Make sure to get your hands on these wonderful books, and keep an eye out, as we have plenty more children's books coming your way!

Friday 24 August 2018

Out and About with Fido!

It's well established that the weather in the UK is unpredictable, to say the least – and this year has certainly proved that! With a bank holiday looming, here's a look at some things to do in all weathers with your furry friends. 

The furriest film critics around

Are you a fan of films, and wish you could take your pooch along with you to see the latest blockbuster? The Picturehouse Cinemas chain regularly holds dog-friendly screenings. Having been running for over a year now, the screenings have been setting tongues – and tails – wagging nationwide. Every month or so, well-behaved dogs can accompany their owners to a select film screening, usually on a Sunday morning. 

The staff always have snacks and water at the ready, and ensure that all dogs sit on blanketed seats to prevent any hairs or mess. Films are shown with the volume lower than your average screening, to accommodate the dogs' sensitive hearing. 

A large number of Picturehouse Cinemas up and down the country hold these showings; the best way to find out if your local Picturehouse accommodates Man's Best Friend is to check its blog

Out and about in Dorset

If you're local to, or ever visit, the Dorset area with your pooch, be sure to check our Dorset Dogs. Set up by a group of land managers – who are also dog owners – Dorset Dogs was created to find more positive ways to manage issues they had experienced out and about (eg fouling, or disturbances to wildlife, grazing animals or other people), as well as recognising the benefits that dog owners and their dogs can bring. 

The website has a host of information, such as an events page, which lists a whole range of different activities, classes and gatherings that take place in various places across the county, and a Dog Friendly page with details on pubs, cafes, tourist attractions and accommodation that will welcome your pooch with open paws ... er, arms!

Thursday 16 August 2018

10 Years of Buckham Fair!

You may recall, last year we brought you a blog post on our local Buckham Fair, as Scout, the partially-sighted Lurcher, who features in our book For The Love of Scout, was a major winner at last year's event!

This year the event is back, celebrating its 10th anniversary in a show that promises to be bigger and better than ever! Organised by Martin Clunes and his wife, Philippa, on August 19, this popular vintage fair will once again be taking place just outside of the small town of Beaminster, in Dorset, and is sure to be just as successful as in previous years.

The hope, after this summer's event, is to hand over a cheque for more that £100,000 towards the building of a brand new cancer centre in Dorchester. Martin says: 

"We are so proud to support this appeal through Buckham Fair. Many of us have been affected by cancer, either personally or through those we love, so to be able to contribute to the brilliant work that the team at our own Dorset County Hospital is doing is a huge honour for us."

In honour of the show's 10th anniversary, a host of new events are being introduced including a Guinness World Record attempt to have the largest number of dogs sitting simultaneously on command. Let's hope the pups taking part don't try to be Men Behaving BadlySpeaking of which, Martin's co-star Neil Morrissey will once again be in attendance, as he will be judging 'The Dog even more like Neil Morrissey' competition. 

Tracey Ison, Scout and Martin from last year's fair (Photo courtesy Nicky Woods Photography)

A variety of horse, pony, and dog classes and events will run throughout the day, as well as there being a funfair, a classic car display, and a number of local artisan, craft and trade stands. To top it all off, the Food Court will be providing a variety of meals with locally-sourced produce, and will offer a range of vegetarian and vegan dishes, so you won't be stuck for choice!

If you are in the area this weekend, be sure to visit this fabulous fair, as after ten years the Clunes' have decide to take a break after this year and re-group – not just to allow the land to recover, but to give the locals a break from the "incredible patience" they have shown since 2008. For more information, ticket prices and directions, be sure to visit the Buckham Fair website

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Animals in the News

In today's blog post, we bring you two contrasting news stories relating to animal tourism.

Tourist guard shoots a polar bear in Norway

Whilst leading a group of tourists from the MS Bremen cruise ship on the northernmost island of Norway's Svalbard archipelago, a polar bear attacked and injured a ship guard. A second guard shot the bear "in self-defence," and unfortunately, the polar bear died. 

The action has caused outrage, with many blaming the attack on human intrusion of the polar bear's natural habitat. The Svalbard Islands are known for their rugged landscape of glaciers and ice caps, and are home to around 3000 polar bears – greatly outnumbering the human population in this part of the world. 

Comedian Ricky Gervais was one of the many who spoke out against the bear's killing.

Bears behaviour has changed in recent years, as they react to a shrinking mass of Arctic ice by spending more time on land and travelling further distances to hunt. This, combined with the sharp rise in Arctic tourism over the last few years, has meant that there are now very strict rules, with one guide posting on the Haag-Lloyd website that "we all need to be vigilant when we are ashore."

Although it shouldn't have come to this, we hope this incident was a one-off, and that those visiting the islands can be safe, whilst respectful of remaining local wildlife.

Thomas Cook has stopped selling tickets to visit SeaWorld, Florida

Florida might well be the place where many Britons flock to see all the incredible theme parks, but if you are booking with Thomas Cook, you'll no longer be able to get tickets for SeaWorld. The tour operator said the decision was made because of customer feedback and evidence from animal welfare specialists. 

Thomas Cook's chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, said:

"This was not a decision we took lightly. We have actively engaged with a range of animal welfare specialists in the last 18 months, and taken account of the scientific evidence that have provided."

The ban on the sale of tickets to attractions that hold captive orcas, which also includes tickets to Tenerife's Loro Parque, will start from next summer. This also covers 29 other attractions that have been removed from sales as a result of the new animal welfare policy.

It's a step in the right direction for animals in captivity, and we hope that many other travel providers can follow Thomas Cook's lead!

Thursday 2 August 2018

Against the grain

At this time of year, heat isn't the only danger for dogs …

This year’s exceptional summer has brought all manner of animal care issues to the fore: when to walk … whether to walk … how to keep your dog cool inside, and outside … all things that most UK dog owners are unused to having to consider. 

When it comes to dealing with heat, there are numerous strategies you can employ to keep your dog cool, and numerous aids to help you. Similarly for other summer woes, such as fleas and ticks.

Grasses can take all manner of
colours and forms.
Our current long hot summer may be causing issues for many animals and plants, but one group of fauna is doing very well, thank you, and that’s grasses. Grasses are one of the most versatile lifeforms, adapted to everything from luscious rain forests to deserts – not surprising, then, that they’re the most widespread plant type on Earth!

They are certainly varied, and many are wonderful to look at, with their wide range of colours, from yellow, red, and pink, to blue, purple and violet. But it’s once they’ve flowered and gone to seed that they become particularly problematic for dogs.

Seeds of doubt

Some grasses have evolved a survival mechanism that doesn’t do much good for our dogs’ survival mechanisms! The seeds of many common grasses develop at the end of long stalks, and have a sharp tip at one end, and one or more special barbs at the other. When a seed falls and hits the ground, the sharp tip catches in the soil.  Tiny movements caused by weathering enable the tiny, ratchet-like barbs to slowly pull the seed into the ground, increasing its chances of germination.

However, this also make for a particularly nasty hazard for our dogs. Those pointy-ended seeds easily catch in a dog’s coat, burrowing closer and closer to the skin, until, in some cases, the seed actually pierces it. At best, your dog will have a localised reaction, as his immune system fights the foreign body. Bacteria and organisms on the grass can also cause an uncomfortable infection.

By far the worst problem is when the seed breaks, and moves under the skin. Once there, a seed can travel to other areas of the body, and it becomes almost impossible to find. Seeds can also be inhaled, or work their way into the nose, mouth, or lungs. This more likely to happen to dogs who run through long grass, and in very rare cases, a seed can puncture an organ or lung, proving fatal.

This False Barley seed was surgically removed from Pippa's
ear … luckily, she was back to normal in no time!
At this time of year, it’s most common for seeds to become stuck in ears, eyes, and paws, but a dog can get them anywhere on his body. It’s also true that all dogs can be affected by grass seeds, although dogs with feathery paws, dangly ears – and those who like to ‘root around’ and snuffle in the undergrowth – are particularly at risk. Dogs who ‘snaffle’ things – you know the type! – can sometimes get seeds stuck in their gums or between teeth. This can be very painful, and prompt removal is a must, or it may lead to further complications.

Looking for trouble

It can be difficult to tell if your dog has picked up a grass seed, but there are some tell-tale signs to look out for.

Ear it is

If your dog suddenly starts shaking his head, or keeps an ear, or one side of his head lowered, or paws at an ear, it could be a grass seed – a common problem for Spaniels, Labs, and other working breeds. A careful visual check around the ear, and in the ear itself, is called for. If you see no signs of a seed, still take your dog to your vet, as they’ll be able check further inside the ear canal – don't try digging around in the ear yourself!

The eyes have it

Seeds in or around the eyes are easy to spot, and can often be carefully removed by hand. If you see swelling or excessive fluid coming from your dog's eyes or nose, it’s worth taking him to the vet for a quick checkover, just to make sure there are no foreign bodies.

Caught a lite sneeze

Sudden, violent sneezing isn’t uncommon in active or ‘outdoor’ dogs, and can be caused by dust, detritus, or tiny insects (again, more likely if your dog is a snuffler). If the sneezing continues, or your dog is obviously distressed, contact your vet promptly.

Paws for thought

If your dog has walked in, near, or through grass, then it’s ALWAYS worth checking his paws for seeds. Check carefully under the pads, in the long hair between the pads, around the claws, and up around the dew claws: seeds will usually stick between the pads.

If your dog is limping, chewing, licking, or showing an unusual interest in a paw, look for swelling and redness between the pads and toes, as a seed may have broken through the skin: you may even see a tiny hole. Take your dog to your vet, and they’ll be able to remove it safely.

Post-walk check

There are plenty of other areas that seeds can enter, so once you get home from a walk, give your dog a thorough once-over, paying special attention to the areas below, and removing any seeds you find in the coat.

  • Check in and around the ears
  • Check in and around the eyes
  • Check around the nose and muzzle
  • Check between the toes and pads
  • Check the armpits and groin area

The usual suspects

As with most things, prevention is better than cure, and a little care goes a long way in helping reduce risks. Grass seeds are a summer and autumn issue, so during these months, it’s worth avoiding areas of high grass coverage, and keeping running and snuffling to a minimum.

False Barley: a common culprit.
Not all grass seeds are equal, and two types of grass are a particular problem. ‘Grass darts,’ as they’re often called, or Hordeum murinum, to give them their proper name, is the prime suspect for grass seed related-injuries, and is probably the most recognisable to UK residents. This grass, which also goes by the name False Barley or Wall Barley, is the classic, feathery, sticky nightmare, so beloved of schoolchildren to throw at each other, and can be found almost everywhere. Even before it’s fully ripe, when it’s in its bright green stage, it’s a problem for dogs.

Bromus sterilis
Courtesy IJle dravik, Saxifraga
Jan van der Straaten
The second is Bromus sterilis, Barren or Sterile Brome, which has more of a weeping habit, and is also easily spotted and very common. Don’t be fooled by it’s laid-back appearance: it’s still a mean grass to get hooked by!

If your dog has had repeated issues with grass seeds, it may be worth clipping his/her coat. Clipping a coat around the ears, paws and ‘undercarriage’ can help to greatly reduce the chance of pick-up.

Don't lock yourself away

That concludes our look at what seems to be a growing issue this year – no pun intended. As long as the hot spell continues, it’s likely that grass seeds will be an issue, so be vigilant, watch where you walk your dog, and take care near grassy areas. Above all else, don't lock yourself away until the grasses have passed … get out and enjoy the great outdoors and the fine weather … just be sure to give Fido a thorough check after walkies!

Wednesday 1 August 2018

It only takes six minutes ...

It's been hard to escape the news of the heatwave in England over these past few weeks, and even though the majority of us have been enjoying the sunshine, there are many who are more susceptible to the heat, and that includes our four-legged friends.

Although it has been long established that leaving dogs in a car on even a warm day can have detrimental effects, the RSPCA officially launched its "Dogs Die in Hot Cars" campaign back in 2016. The main points that this campaign aims to remind us of are:
  • Never leave your dog alone in a car, even for a short while
  • Even with the windows down, or parked in the shade, dogs can still overheat as they cannot cool themselves by sweating
  • Heatstroke can be fatal to dogs, and requires immediate veterinary attention
Between 2009 and 2018, the RSPCA had 64,443 reported incidents of animal heat exposure in England and Wales. At the start of this summer's mega heatwave, its emergency hotline received 1123 reports of animals suffering heat exposure in just one week (25 June to 1 July).

Just six minutes is all it takes for a dog to die in a car. If it's 22ºC outside, the inside of a car can easily reach 47ºC within 60 minutes. If a dog's internal temperature goes above 41ºC, he is at risk of heatstroke, with a survival rate of just 50%. A few degrees higher in body temperature, and his circulation will fail, causing kidney failure, a lack of oxygen to the brain, and internal bleeding. Even if a dog survives he will more than likely have suffered irreversible brain damage, which could lead to changes in their personality, sensory perception, and cognitive functioning. 

Of course, it's not just when in cars that you need to keep an eye on your dog's temperature. Keeping him in a well ventilated indoor space during the hottest parts of the day, and walking him early in the morning or later in the evening when it's cooler will provide the exercise he needs, without him becoming overheated in the process. Remember: if the ground is too hot for you to keep your hand on for five seconds, then it's too hot for your dog to walk on. Hot tarmac especially could cause severe burns to your dog's paw pads. 

Some breeds are even more prone to suffering in the heat than others, such as large dogs, dogs with short faces, overweight pups, or long-haired pooches. As dogs are unable to sweat like us, help them cool down by draping a cool (not cold) wet towel over their back and sides to cool by evaporation. 

If you witness a dog in distress in a car, the RSPCA suggests you should call the police before you attempt to help the poor pup yourself. If you have done this, and the situation becomes critical for the dog in question, you MUST tell the police of your intentions if you wish to rescue the animal, and collect evidence to support your action – such as videos or photographs of the vehicle, a note of the vehicle's registration number, as well as the names and numbers of any witnesses. The law states that "you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstance" (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971).

We may have had a break in this record-breaking heatwave, but there is still plenty of the summer left to go. Be sure to keep cool, and here's hoping that we see a bit more rain before the autumn!