header image


We’ve had The Puppy for eight weeks and now it’s hard to remember life without him.

Now I’ve managed to train the kids not to run away screaming every time he goes for their legs,  he’s settled down a lot and is content to just sit with them and be stroked.

Considering he had never put foot inside a house before he came home to us, he’s done very well.

After The Lurcher’s puppy hood, I was expecting months of puddles and poo inside and sleepless night punctuated by unhappy howling. The Lurcher never got on with her crate and we gave up after 4 sleepless months.

The Puppy doesn’t seem to mind his crate at all. He goes in at night without a whimper and can sometimes be found there during the day as well. We may have to buy him a new crate at some point though, as we thought he would end up the size of a collie but he looks like he might end up the size of a GSD instead!

He’s pretty good at toileting outside too, as long as we remember to give him the opportunity. We had 2-3 weeks of setting the timer for every 20 minutes, then every 30 minutes, then every hour, just to make sure he got outside in time, but now he seems to have the idea.

The Puppy does chew anything he can get his teeth into so the kids are quickly learning  to pick up their toys when they have finished with them. His favourite things to chew are empty milk bottles and soft toys. He has also been responsible for the sad demise of 3 My Little Ponies.

Now The Puppy is 15 weeks old and has had his vaccinations he’s enjoying coming out with us for walks.

I always let my dogs off the lead when they are young and a little unsure; this way they learn to follow you and you don’t end up with adolescent know-it-all dogs who think it’s fun to run away from you.

The Puppy loves The Lurcher and she’s learnt to tolerate him too. They expend a lot of energy playing doggy games with each other.


All those teeth do look a bit scary and sometimes the kids think they are fighting, but it is only play.

The Puppy is growing rapidly and changing as he does so. One of the fun things about getting a rescue dog is that you are never quite sure what they are going to end up looking like.

At the moment, the Puppy looks like this.

But who knows what he’ll look like in another 9 months?

Unfortunately, we lost our old dog about 6 weeks ago.

It’s not been easy without him; before he died he didn’t do much except join us on our walks, but he could always be relied on to bark at the front door if someone knocked. Now he’s gone, we might actually need to get a doorbell.

I miss him at odd times. I keep ‘seeing’ him lying beside my bed or in the hallway, or ‘hearing’ him move around upstairs. And I feel awfully lopsided walking only one dog.

I haven’t even managed to get into the vets we sent his body to, pay the cremation fee and pick up his ashes yet. I tell everyone that it’s because I’m too busy, but it’s really that I don’t want to. Having a small box with his name on, in the house will make it just too real in some ways.

The kids are coping fine; they stop now and again, look sad and tell me they miss him, but in the next breath are asking when we can get a new puppy.

The one who is really suffering is The Lurcher. She really misses her friend. The house sitters we had were good with her but when we got home we could tell she had lost weight. Everyone who has seen her recently has commented on how subdued she is and she seems to have lost a lot of confidence when we meet new dogs on our walks.

The kids are trying to give her lots of strokes and cuddles and she will play with them a bit, but you can tell she’s got one ear cocked listening for Old Boy coming down the stairs to join in. When we go for a walk somewhere I used to take the dogs together, she jumps out of the car and looks around madly, like she expects him to be there. Maybe she thinks we just left him behind somehow.

It’s heart breaking.

The only time she cheers up is with a bunch of other dogs that she knows. The dog walker says she is bright and cheerful when she’s out with him and his pack.

We always planned to get another dog sooner or later but it looks like we are going to have to do it ‘sooner’.

We want a rescue dog as there are so many dogs out there needing homes. We don’t want a pure breed. I’d like a collie x, DH would like a lab x, but any older sensible dog that was happy to play with The Lurcher and keep her in line would be ideal.

However, considering any new dog we get is going to need to be dog friendly, cat friendly, child friendly and small furry friendly, we are more likely to end up with a puppy. I don’t relish another round of toilet training but maybe this one will get the idea quicker than The Lurcher.

We have trawled all the dog rescues, signed up for email updates and I am checking for new dogs every day but quite a few Rescues don’t rehome dogs to families with children under 6, so we are ruled out immediately.

It seems a shame as we can offer a good home to the right dog. I’m home most of the time, we have a big garden and there are lots of lovely walks in the area.

Our next dog has to be out there somewhere, surely?

We just wish he’d hurry up and arrive!

I’ve seen this list on the web in various forums over the last couple of days but can’t find the original source. If anyone knows, please contact me and I will credit them.

1. My life is likely to last 10 to 15 years. Any separation from you will be painful: remember that before you get me.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3. Place your trust in me- it is crucial to my well being.

4. Do not be angry at me for long, and do not lock me up as punishment.

5. You have your work, your entertainment,and your friends. I only have you.

6. Talk to me sometimes. Even if I don’t understand your words, I understand your voice when it is speaking to me.

7. Be aware that how ever you treat me, I will never forget.

8. Remember before you hit me that I have teeth that could easily hurt you, but I choose not to bite you because I love you.

9. Before you scold me for being uncooperative,obstinate,or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I might not be getting the right food, or I have been out too long, or my heart is getting to old and weak.

10. Take care of me when I get old; you too will grow old. Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say: “I cannot bear to watch” or “Let it happen in my absence.” Everything is easier for me if you are there, even my death.

Remember that I love you

Many people spot an unaccompanied dog on the side of, or even on, the road and worry it’s going to get run over. It’s only natural to want to rescue an animal in this situation but please make sure you don’t put yourself in danger while doing so.  If you are driving, make sure you park your car sensibly before trying to catch the stray, and take care crossing any necessary roads.

Don’t go racing up to a strange dog and grab its collar. If you are a dog owner, you may have a spare lead in your car. If so, and the dog seems friendly, try and slip the lead on as calmly and carefully as possible. In the absence of a lead, use rope, string, a belt or item of clothing can be used to restrain the dog. You may need to lasso the dog with your ‘lead’ rather than attach it to the dog’s collar if it looks like it might object to being touched around its neck.

This is a good time to see if the dog is wearing an identification tag; by law every dog should wear a tag bearing their owners details but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t have one. If there is a phone number and the owner picks up, you are in luck. If not, then you’ll need to decide what you are going to do with your stray dog.

Any unaccompanied dog can be handed over to your local Dog Warden. If you can’t wait for them, or the dog appears injured or ill, you should take it to your local Vet clinic. They will check it over, scan it for a microchip and contact the Dog Warden who will come and pick it up.

Please don’t take it to the police station; the police no longer look after lost dogs. However, if the dog is aggressive or is running around in traffic then you should ring the police with a description of the dog, how it’s behaving and its whereabouts.

If the dog is merely resisting capture, don’t follow in hot pursuit. If you have the time, you can follow it at a distance,  and it may be worthwhile ringing the local dog warden and describing the dog and the direction it is heading in. Ring any local veterinary clinics and give them the same information.

If you manage to catch the dog and are an experienced dog owner, and feel you can care for it yourself, you are allowed to take the dog home, as long as you give its details to the council’s Dog Warden service. They will want to know;

  • Your contact details. This includes your name, address, telephone number and email address.
  • A description of the dog including the type or breed of dog, its colour and size, approximate age and any features that might help to identify it. They will also want to know if it has a collar.
  • The time and date when the dog was found
  • Where the dog was found
  • Where the dog currently is and where it can be collected from
  • Other important information such as whether the dog is injured or ill.

It’s also worthwhile informing your local vet clinics that you have found a dog and giving them the above information as well.

In fact, it may be a good idea to take the dog up to the vets and get it scanned, as it may have a microchip inserted in its neck and the staff may recognise the dog. It’s worth remembering that if you choose to look after the dog yourself, and it gets ill, then you may be liable for any veterinary costs incurred.




I have blogged about our sound-phobic collie in the previous post, ‘About Dogs and Fireworks’, here.

The Old Boy is not severely phobic. He doesn’t destroy things, but he does follow us from room to room painting and holding his tail between his legs. When he really can’t cope, he goes upstairs and hides in the shower.

We’ve always just managed his fear by ignoring his behaviour and letting him follow us around when he wants. I’ve tried a DAP diffuser, but it didn’t seem to help, and I don’t want to try drugs as his last blood test showed he has raised liver enzymes.

His behaviour doesn’t really  impact on us, but it’s clear that he’s scared by fireworks. So when I read about Thundershirts, I thought they might be worth a go. (continue reading…)

The days are getting shorter, the leaves are tumbling from the trees and pretty soon the firework season will be upon us.

We live in Greater London and fireworks are no longer confined to one night, or even one weekend. They go off for months around here! They usually start in October, carry on through November and December and tail off after January.

We have a sound phobic collie so for him that’s 4 months of terror. Our poor old dog stays upstairs, either under our bed or in the shower(!), unless the fireworks are very close. Then he comes downstairs and sits pressed up against us and pants.  (continue reading…)

Paul Walker FMPA is one of the UK’s best pet photographers and author of the internationally selling book “Pet Photography Now”. He has extensive experience of photographing pets and animals with many different temperaments, from rescue dogs through to highly trained dogs at Crufts. His bespoke pet imagery and attitude to pet photography is well regarded, as are his crazy “animal wizardry tricks”. These have been learned and refined over many years, guaranteeing the personality of the pet will be more than just captured with a resulting set of professional images to treasure for a lifetime.

The Visiting Vet was lucky enough to get him to answer a number of questions about how to get the best  possible home photos of your pet.

1/ How do I get my pet to sit still?

Either obedience training, or food treats are the main two methods, though I always prefer the former method if the owner has put the work in.  For cats, it may well be food treats or perhaps after exercise a dog will be that bit more compliant.

2/ How do I get my pet to look at the camera ?

You need to entertain the pet’s senses, whether it be sound or smell (food).  I have a large repertoire of different sound makers together with other noises, its about arousing the pets curiosity.

3/ What’s the easiest way to get a good action shot?

Have another person throw an object that interests the pet from left to right in front of your line, so that the pet is running perpendicular to you.  Cameras often focus easier when the pet is running from left to right or right to left rather than straight at the camera.

4/ How do you photograph a black animal?

It really is all about the light and where it is falling on to the pet subject.  Black dogs and white dogs can be hard because you need to get the detail showing in the fur of the pet.  Sometimes you can have black and white pets and in such cases I’d opt to have the detail retained in the white fur.  The key is in setting the correct exposure with your camera and having the light in the direction that shows the level of detail required.

5/ How do you photograph a white animal?

Very similar to that of the black pet – get the correct exposure so the detail is retained in the white fur.  With a very high midday sun, sometimes positioning the white pet in an area with top shade can help reduce the harsh light that is falling from above.

6/ What’s the best way to get a good picture of a ‘small furry’ or reptile.

Often food is the main way of directing such pets, so observe the light and background and position the food in any area that will tempt the pet into such places.

7/ Is there anything I can do for a nervous or camera shy pet?

yes, take your time, be patient and gentle, do not move around too abruptly or make too loud a noise, build the session up gently and get the respect and trust of the pet.  Involve yourself in some of the pet’s favourite activities.

8/ How to get a good photo of a child and their pet?

Don’t they say “never work with children and animals” – think of ways that they could interact whether it be a child throwing a ball, running together etc..ensure that safety and welfare is key and that there are enough handlers to help out.

9/ Whats the best way to photograph fish in a tank?

Unless you are going to use an underwater camera, fish can be tricky, ensure the flash is turned off and ensure that the tank is illuminated or positioned next to an area of great light.  Fish often do not stay still for long periods but some great images can be taken around feeding time, you can easily position certain types of food in the best places in terms of light or backgrounds.  Tubifex worms are a great sight to see in the open mouth of a goldfish as it tussles with the food cube.

Paul takes photographs his subjects on location. He is based in Scotland but travels down to London 4 times a year.

Follow him on Facebook and Twitter or enquire about booking a session with him by clicking here.

I’ve just been to the park to walk the dogs while it’s not raining.

While there I met up with a lady who owns a one eyed lurcher and we had a chat because her dog is now a one-eyed, 3-legged lurcher. The dog developed bone cancer in one of her hind legs and although has had it amputated, she’s doing really well. She’s now a very distinctive dog and I doubt her owner gets far on their walks before someone asks about her pet.

This lovely lady took one look at The Lurcher and said, ‘Oh, she’s been in the wars too’.
At first I couldn’t work out what she was talking about and then I realised she was pointing to the 2 remaining staples in the almost-healed wound on her side. This not the wound she got from jumping into a tree, but the one that was inflicted by The Old Boy, about a week later.

The Lurcher likes to tease our older dog but is sometimes just that bit slow about getting out of the way, and The  Old Boy’s teeth are still sharp enough to do some damage. It hadn’t been a very big hole, so I left it for a couple of days before I decided I did probably did need to intervene. So The Lurcher had a light sedation, and I cleaned and stapled her up on one side, and removed the staples from the other side at the same time.

The first ‘bad-owner’ thing I did, was not leave an Elizabethan Collar, or ‘lampshade’ on her for long enough. The Lurcher is devastating with one of these one, marking furniture, knocking down children and damaging shins as she goes. So I took it off after a couple of hours and as a result she ate 3 of the staples out herself.

The second was leaving the staples in for too long. I should have removed them about a week ago but was distracted by half term. The remaining 2 staples were firmly embedded in the skin and one had turned back to front as a result of her harassment. They were more difficult to remove than they should have been

But it was all okay in the end despite my ‘bad owner’ tendencies. But I’m a vet and can fix things if it all goes wrong. I’d advise you to listen to your vet when it comes to Elizabethan collars and suture/ staple removal..

The other example of a Bad Dog Owner I want to bring to you today, isn’t me.

On the way home I spotted a big, white dog ambling along the footpath, who then strolled out into the middle of the road and stood there. I parked the car and he walked back onto the pavement. A lady with a couple of small, toy breeds came out of the park entrance and I asked her if she’d seen anyone looking for a dog.

There was no one obviously looking for a dog in the park, but it seemed to be hanging around a particular house on the street, so I knocked on the door. There was no reply so I got a lead onto its choke chain so it couldn’t wander off again.

He was a big, handsome boxer/ mastiff type dog and seemed quite young. I didn’t quite trust him though, he was an unneutered male and was nervous, which can turn to aggression when a dog feels threatened.

The lady with the small dogs lived nearby, so she dropped her pets home and came back with some friends, one of whom offered to walk the dog down to the closest vet clinic where it could be scanned to see if it had a microchip. The dog was not keen on getting into my car, and there was no way we were going to be able to force him!

I drove down ahead of them, and about 10 mins later the guy turned up with my lead, but no dog! It seems the owner met them as he was walking back from the shops and was hugely aggressive about the fact that some stranger had his dog. Luckily our good Samaritan was okay about being abused for his attempt at a good deed but it certainly makes me wary about trying to help in this situation again.

But lessons to be learnt from this are : make sure your dog can’t get out of the garden, make sure your dog has a collar with a name tag on and make sure it’s microchipped.

I would lay money on the fact this dog wasn’t chipped, which means it would have been picked up by the dog warden  from the vet clinic, and probably ended up in Battersea by the end of the day. If the owner was keen to get it back, he would have found him in the end but it would have cost him a bit of time and some money as well.

Lately I’ve been trying to decide whether I hate mud or ice more. Ice is really hard to fall on and probably breaks more hips than mud, but jeez, mud is so …. muddy!

After a good dump of snow on the 18th of December, the resulting slush seemed to hang around for ages. We didn’t have a white Christmas here but there was enough white stuff on the ground for the kids to go sledging on Boxing day. Shorty after that, the temp rose above freezing and it melted, leaving behind thick, sticky, brown mud.
The dogs love it but my car and carpet are suffering hugely.
I bought a paw plunger at the last conference I went to but tbh we haven’t really got on with it. The dogs don’t like the feeling of it and are reluctant to put their feet in it which leads to a struggle. So I tend to just keep a (filthy) towel in the car- when it starts making more of a mess than it removes, I replace it.
My other weapon against mud is a properly fitting dog coat. By properly fitting, I mean it needs to go down over the dogs bottom and fit over his sides. For the lurcher, the coat offers warmth as she’s a naturally skinny dog, but our old boy loves to roll in anything muddy or smelly and it is 100x easier to wash the coat than the entire dog. Especially since he has trouble getting in the bath since his stroke last year, and he’s really a bit heavy for me to lift- if he needs washing, then I have to take him into the garden and hose the poor old boy down. It’s rather cold for both of us.
I have to say this is the time of the year that I least like having a dog, and tend to be rather unadventurous in my walking habits.
I stick to parks with proper paths and try to stay off the grass but of course, as far as the dogs are concerned, all the good smells are in the fields and hedges, so the car ride home is always a muddy one.