Happy New Year to you and of course your dogs; and I really hope you all shared some lovely Christmas’ together.
But are you feeling like your body outline has gone from an Italian Greyhound to a Newfoundland in the space of just a fortnight?
We all do it. Year after year we have that lovely little extra helping of Christmas pud on the condition that our New Year’s resolution will be to get fit (again).
But more often than not we don’t have the time, can’t be bothered, or simply just tire of exercise routines, making little progress in getting fitter and/or healthier.
As you all know walking your dog is one of the most effective forms of physical activity. It is also of course a key factor in the health and well-being of your dog, and it will help you shed some of these extra pounds gained over Christmas – especially when you consider that it is estimated that most of us eat around 7,000 calories on Christmas day alone!
And if you really want to go for it with your canine chum in 2009 (and if you haven’t already), then why not consider taking up agility? Talk about ‘every box being ticked’?
Fitness, stamina, bonding, traveling around our beautiful countryside and a whole new energetic social circle for both of you – it’s not hard to see why this is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK right now.
Last month I was lucky enough to be invited upto the International Horse Show in London just before Christmas to present the first prizes to the winners of the Small Dog Pairs Relay on behalf of the Kennel Club.
So refreshing to see these little dogs and some of them rescue dogs, competing in an event I thought was only for Border Collies and the like.
At Olympia I also had the enormous pleasure of meeting and hanging out with agility legend and organizer Dave Ray. What an exceptionally nice guy and clearly so passionate about all dogs and their welfare.
Cheers for the chat Dave.
I’ve also been highlighting the continuing problems of puppy farming and irresponsible breeding with BBC1. The irony of them featuring this topic and at the same time choosing not to promote the Kennel Club and all it’s doing to promote responsible breeding to the public? Crazy yeah I know, but we’ll come to that in a minute.
But thankfully December’s been a little less hectic than November, and a perfect chance to plan next year’s canine-themed action. For the Chinese this year’s the year of the Ox but for me and www.ThePet.net it’s truly the year of the Rescue Dog.
I won’t go into my full rant as you’ve all heard it before but credit crunch has resulted in an unbelievably large number of animals being dumped and abandoned at rescue shelters up and down the country. A large proportion of these unwanted pets will be old, or even on long-term medication, and if not re-homed quickly, most will definitely die in there.
Expensive vet and food bills, lack of pet insurance and even being forced into pet-unfriendly temporary accommodation have all contributed to some owners finding it just impossible to own a pet; so incredibly sad and a sadness that was soon to turn into pure anger when I heard the news that the BBC, our country-and-beyond’s primary public information service had dropped coverage of this years’ Crufts.
But I wasn’t gutted for the Kennel Club; for they’ve proved that they’re a strong bunch who will continue to bounce back from all the recent negativity and name-calling of the last half of 2008.
I was sad for all these dogs now in rescue shelters whose odds of being re-homed in the spring as a direct response to dogs-on-the-telly have just been slashed from about 2/1 to 1000/1; the equivalent of a small second-hand car garage having their 3-minute advert in that break before they announce the X-factor winner removed, and ironically depriving exactly the same number of excited viewers in the cruel process.
We all know that Crufts is more than a dog show. It’s a celebration of dog-ownership, highlighting all the positive aspects of canine companionship to a massive targeted audience of potential dog owners worldwide.
Credit crunch’s overflowing shelters have, with one person’s decision, got a hell of a lot more depressing for their inmates now.
And if the BBC’s main reason is animal cruelty then I look forward to next year’s Grand National being dropped too; or better still according to BBC’s new censorship rules (wanting to exclude certain breeds, the whole Russell Brand/ Jonathan Ross kerfuffle), how about only allowing those horses to race who definitely won’t fall?
This single decision is going to hit thousands of innocent dogs the hardest – they will remain alone and confused in our country’s many fantastic rescue shelters.
And it’s so not their fault.
www.ThePet.net will of course continue to ‘do its bit’ for the problem by encouraging dog owners to log on for free and list their favourite and most pet-friendly value-for-money pet businesses; the ones that deserve our business and keep people wanting to own and replace their beloved pets well into the future.
There’s also a section for dog breeders too so please get involved, join up today and spread the word.
In fact we’re offering two dog-friendly holidays to our lovely users too. The first is a weekend away in the Cotswolds for your whole family including your dog.
This is in conjunction with Sony Pictures as we’ve been asked to help promote their brand-new movie Open Season 2 and its February release – the story of a dachshund called Mr Weenie, a toy poodle called Fifi and a host of other pedigree characters and some woodland creatures too! We’ll be screening the movie on our stand every day at Crufts so make sure you come over and say ‘Hi’ at Stand 10 in Hall 3.
And as for all you romantic readers out there who may just fancy a bit of poochy passion with your partners and dogs this Valentine’s Day, we’re giving away a night at Clivedon Hotel, the famous and grand stately home in the heart of the Berkshire countryside. What a location for a romantic break, complete with extravagant detailing and indulgent service.
As the setting for the Profumo affair, Cliveden has seen its fair share of cheekiness, but they consider puppy love to be equally important and this is reflected in its fantastic dog-friendly attitude.
It is almost impossible to believe that such a grand and historic country house could be a dog-friendly hotel but every canine is greeted with a very warm welcome and treated as the VIP that they clearly are.
Both competitions are free-to-enter, so register at www.ThePet.net; and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank both Sony and Clivedon for providing such fantastic (and expensive!) prizes.
I’m really looking forward to what 2009 has in store for the dog world – especially Crufts and the first-ever Ultimate Pet Show, which is also at the NEC in May. Of course there’s also Cold Wet Nose, Wag & Bone, Discover Dogs, the Championship circuit with its new and improved judging rules and a host of other doggy delights…
Happy and healthy New Year to everyone and your pets – see you around…