RIGHT YOU LOT!!
And yes, I mean every one of you dog owners, breeders, showers or just enthusiasts out there reading this. We all know about the growing problem in this country that is now getting way out of hand – fueled by a lethal combination of credit crunch and the public’s desperate quest for cheaper goods and services – and it’s time we were all able to do something about it as a team.
I am of course talking about puppy farming. Stay with me. I’m not going to bore you with the details, we’re all perfectly aware of what it is and how badly this barbaric cruel industry treats our country’s poor abused dogs and pups.
However during the last few weeks of June while I’ve been vetting, I have noticed a definite increase in pups bought from dodgy doggy ‘suppliers’.
In just one day I treated a Pom with pneumonia bought off the internet, a Westie (cross!) who’s “Mum lived in Wales” (the proud new owner assuming that it was a Welsh Spa Resort for pampered pooches) and a Jack Russell who couldn’t have been more than 7 weeks old with a vaccination certificate already signed and stamped by a vets in Carmarthenshire – even though this puppy was now 300 miles away from his mother.
Another owner told me “How lovely the breeder was ‘cos she came to meet her at the service station so she wouldn’t have to drive all the way”. 2009 and still all these clichés, and now I think it’s time to do something about it on a national scale to raise awareness for these naïve first-time buyers.
But what, I hear you all ask, and probably sigh at the same time?
Well, in May I received an email informing me that this year in the States on Sept 19th there will be a repeat of last year’s successful Puppy Mill Awareness Day, and would I be interested in holding an event on this side of the pond to try to educate the public about where to buy a pup? After all, they would rather buy healthy well-bred pups but don’t seem to know how to go about finding them.
Well the very short answer was an obvious ‘Yes’ so here’s what I’ve got planned…
As most of you know, I run a customer service, value-for-money, putting-animal-welfare-first ‘social petworking’ website called ThePet.net, a completely free service where owners can rate and comment on pet services (including dog breeders) in the UK and beyond.
So on the 19th September 2009, ThePet.net is organizing the ‘Biggest Puppy Party in the World’ in order to raise awareness and encourage/educate prospective and current dog-owners/lovers to get puppies from responsible breeders like you rather than off the internet, from free newspaper ads or even motorway service stations.
As I write I’m waiting to hear from the Guinness Book of Records to make it an ‘official’ World Record but either way it’s going to happen and hopefully get some decent national (maybe international) coverage out of it too.
So I would like to take this opportunity to invite you all, with your puppies and dogs, to Brighton Racecourse on Saturday 19th September, for the biggest gathering of puppies ever, and there’ll also be a fun celebrity-judged dog show and Scruffts heats running all day as well.
All proceeds from the day will go to 3 charities: Sussex Pet Rescue, Hope Rescue and Pro Dogs Direct who rescue, rehabilitate and re-home ex-breeding bitches and stud-dogs. Our first dog loving celebrity has already confirmed and it’s canine-crazy actress Carol Cleveland (pictured), the only female member of the legendary Monty Python’s Flying Circus team (www.carolcleveland.com).
Carol Cleveland with the rest of the Monty Python Team (www.pythonline.com)
So please visit ThePet.net for more information, forward on to anyone you know who would actively like to do something positive against puppy farming and as I write we are looking for an overall show sponsor and trade stands for what will no doubt prove to be an extremely photogenic and PR-worthy event, so let me know if you are at all interested in getting involved in this unique, exciting and fun ground-breaking gathering with such a serious message.
And while you’re still logged on, why not take a minute to add your pet-business’ details to the site (for free) so when prospective owners are looking online for a pedigree puppy, your name comes up first with recommendations from clients you’ve dealt with? You can add your website links, and join us in the fight to finally close down these nasty places for good.
Rant over. Earlier this month I was up in Norfolk helping to celebrate the Kennel Club’s National Microchipping Month, organized by the SOFA (Speaking Out for Animals) Group at the Giant Pet Store, Norwich (pictured).
SOFA Group, Mayor of Norwich, Rufus the dog, and me at Microchipping Day in Norwich
It was a really nice and productive day where Sarah and Charlie Fry from leading microchip manufacturers Pet-ID and I chipped a constant stream of dogs and even a few cats. We were even joined for an hour by the very canine-friendly Mayor of Norwich Councillor Eve Collishaw and her lovely and particularly well-dressed dog Rufus (pictured) who proudly wore a bespoke red satin jacket with the words ‘Lord Mayor’s Dog’ embroidered in gold!
Mayor of Norwich Councillor Eve Collishaw with Rufus.
During the day, SOFA’s matriarchal leader Sue Cole introduced me to a very genuine and caring dog-owner Mr Steve Moore who has recently written a heartwarming true story about his remarkable Staffordshire Bull Terrier Laurel (below), who in her short lifetime has brought so much happiness to so many.
Laurel the Staffie
‘Laurel – Everyone’s Best Friend’ details the pleasures, sadness, responsibilities and rewards of living with a remarkable Staffie. It’s brand new and can even be signed with your own personal dedication by Steve; furthermore every single penny of profit goes straight to Staffie Rescue and Welfare, local animal sanctuaries (Hallswood and PACT), The Mayhew Animal Home and Dogs Trust.
At present Steve has been able to donate nearly £2,000 since its publication, but sadly Laurel now has cancer so Steve’s time with her is limited, but he assures me that they are still enjoying wonderful times together – one day at a time. Please check out Laurel’s website, and buy a copy for yourself and any animal lover you know as it will make the perfect gift for any pet owner.
Amongst treating poorly puppy-farmed pups at two lovely practices in June – Foreman & Hanna near Eastbourne and Beechwood Vets in Seaford – I was also fortunate to diagnose and operate on a dear 8-year old Basset Hound called Bessie that came in my consulting room with a classic ‘open pyo’.
Now I’m sure most of you will be aware and may even have experienced a bitch with pyometra before but for those of you that haven’t, a ‘pyometra’ describes an infected uterus that’s full of pus that almost always requires surgical intervention and removal.
Classic signs will typically include lethargy, drinking alot, fever, occasional vomiting and most obviously, thick yellow pus dripping from the vulva. But beware as there is also a condition called a ‘closed pyo’ where the cervix remains tightly shut, confining the pus to the womb and making it slightly more tricky to diagnose.
Bessie, an overweight ‘pub-dog’ made a very fast recovery indeed after surgery and trotted back into the practice the following day for her post-op check and new fitness regime instructions!
I then got a call from one of the BBC Breakfast News producers inviting me upto London the following morning to join Bill Turnbull and Kate Silverton on the hallowed red couch for a discussion about whether dogs are more intelligent than cats! We were also joined by Roger Mugford and his dog PC.
I’ve been a big fan of Bill and Kate for a while so it was so nice to meet another two enthusiastic dog-lovers in the media: Bill owns labs and Kate told me she was interested in adopting an older rescue dog so I gave her the details of the Oldies Club (www.oldies.org.uk).
This year’s midsummer canine celebrations took place the following weekend a few miles down the road from Stonehenge at Broadlands Park, Hampshire, in the shape of Paws in the Park.
I attended last year’s event in Kent which was such a fantastic show for all dog-lovers that I wasn’t going to miss this one for the world; and neither I nor any of the other thousands of attendees or their dogs were disappointed at what has now become THE most fun dog show of the year. So much so that it’s being repeated in Kent again at the Hop Farm, Kent from 12-13 September and I really recommend that you all go along and take part.
As well as all the excellent (and noticeably ultra-friendly) trade-stands and various doggy displays, there are so many opportunities for you and your dog to get involved in various games and fun competitions from scurries, flyball, agility and of course the famous and hugely popular unique K9 Aqua Zone featuring Dash ‘N’ Splash.
The best trained and working dogs were on show and competed in agility classes, heelwork-to-music competitions and advanced gundog tests too. This really is a dog show designed by, and for, dog-enthusiasts and my veterinary skills were even called upon to pull out an elderly Yorkie’s wobbly left lower canine tooth, check a few fatty lumps and bumps, and even remove a few cheeky ticks from a young Lab!
At Paws in the Park I was again honoured to be asked to judge four Scruffts heats, Most Handsome Crossbreed Dog, Prettiest Crossbreed Bitch, Child’s Best Friend, and Golden Oldie Crossbreed won by 18-year-old Eric (pictured); and also the final of ‘My Dogs Got Talent’, won by – yes you’ve guessed it – a dancing Border Collie! Please visit www.pawsinthepark.net for more information about September’s event.
The Golden Oldie Scruffts Winner Eric with owner Emma Graham and me at Paws in the Park.
So a look forward to July’s highlights which include Buckinghamshire’s Princes Risborough Summer Dog Show on Saturday 11th July which I’m judging to help raise funds for Cancer and Biodetection Dogs.
A week later on Saturday 18th July I’ll be at the climax of the one-off month-long mini-festival in London called ‘British Big Splash’ – a vast street carnival awash with performers including jugglers, stilt-walkers, and some of the ‘Best of British’ culture for all to enjoy.
This all takes place in the no-better-named place than the Isle of Dogs where the Kennel Club is inviting dogs and their owners along to celebrate 150 years of the great British tradition of dog-showing and to meet and greet British breeds on the brink of extinction; there’ll also be a rare opportunity for visitors to meet a range of British breeds at the event, who are on the Kennel Club’s vulnerable breeds list because they number less than 300 new puppy registrations each year.
This exciting British day of doggy delights will also include a have-a-go ring – where visitors and their dogs will be able to try their hands – and paws – at showing and are invited to take part in a good ol’ Companion Dog Show with classic classes including Waggiest Tail, Glossiest Coat and Best British Pedigree giving everybody the chance to learn more about showing and see if it’s something that they would like to take up as a hobby in the future.
I and other experts will be on hand to talk to dog-lovers about how dog and owner can keep active and healthy together as well as Good Citizen Dog Scheme Bronze testing for those well behaved dogs. The day is being organized to celebrate the 150th anniversary of dog showing and the way it has benefited the health and welfare of pedigree dogs; for more information about this event visit www.westindiaquaycentre.co.uk.
And finally, I would like to dedicate this month’s column to my dear friend Ann Webb (pictured) who sadly, and suddenly, lost her battle with cancer and passed away last month.
I only met Ann and her sweet little dog Katie for the first time at last August’s Wag & Bone Show in Windsor and awarded them first prize in the Golden Oldie category sending them straight through to the November finals at Discover Dogs. They were such a loving couple and Ann and I regularly stayed in touch via hilarious emails as well as bumping into (with lots of hugging!) one another at Earl’s Court and at this years’ Crufts in March.
To me Ann was the ultimate and prize-example of how the mutual love between dog and its owner should be. Each gazing into each other’s eyes, both overflowing with unconditional love and respect for the other. Even though I only knew Ann for less than a year, I will truly miss her support, energy, emails and smile, and my thoughts are with her family, friends, and of course, her dear little Katie.
My dear late friend Ann, with Katie and I at last year’s Wag & Bone Show
So see you next month and don’t forget, for regular updates on all things funky, why not follow me at twitter.com/marcthevet.