Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Puppy Chronicles - Deciding to Get A Dog

After a year of lockdown, and with the warmer summer months approaching it is a time when many people are considering adding a dog to their family. The school summer holidays are always a peak time for puppy breeders and rescue centres. Unfortunately after the holidays are over and the children have grown bored many of these dogs then find themselves in shelters or even worse abandoned.

It is also very often the case that people buy puppies without doing their research and either end up with a sick puppy or one that they have no idea how much work it entails to care for a puppy. Now let me point out I am not labelling everyone here, a majority of people get dogs for the right reasons. Unfortunately you do get some selfish people who buy them as a quick fix for their children over summer who then cannot be bothered with the upkeep. A sad story and one that many many rescue centres all over the world will confirm.

With that in mind over the next few weeks I will be adding articles on guides for getting a new puppy or dog as well as training tips and tricks, common health complaints to watch out for and nutritional needs.

If you are considering either adopting a dog or purchasing a puppy then you need to think carefully about your own home and circumstances first. There are hundreds of breeds of dogs, some need much more exercise then others, some don’t need as much. First look at your home and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have enough space to accommodate a dog?

  • Is the breed you are considering suitable for your home?

  • Are there any hazards eg stairs with no banisters, steep drops etc

  • Do you have glass furniture? Sharp edges, large windows that are easily mistaken as open doors.

You need to think about the size of the dog you are considering, and how big it could possibly grow. Look around and see if your home has enough space for a dog to get around easily, places to sleep etc. Remember many dogs also run around indoors so consider the possibility of things getting knocked over. Glass topped furniture especially. Whilst thinking about your furniture, would you be happy having to cover your sofa’s with throws, would your dog be allowed on the sofas?

Personally in my home nowhere is off bounds for any of my fur babies, they can go wherever they like and sleep wherever they like. They all have their own beds but choose to sleep on my bed or the sofas. So everyday I vacuum to stay on top of the moulted fur.

If you are considering a dog or puppy accept the fact that they can and will make a mess.

Dogs can be kept in flats as well as houses, if you are in a flat then a dog can still be very happy as long as they get enough toilet breaks and walks.

If you have a garden ensure it is safe for a dog. Check there are no holes in fences, or loose fence panels. This would cause you to fail a home check with a rescue centre.

Once you have thought about the practicality of your home, think about how much time you can dedicate to your dog. Dogs must be walked at least once a day, some dogs more then once. How long are you usually out of the house each day? Is someone home throughout the day. If you are out most of the day and nobody will be at home then you’ll need to consider hiring a dog walker or dog sitter who can check in on your dog throughout the day. Many dogs suffer with separation anxiety and if left alone for too long can become destructive. If you are considering getting a puppy then it is best if someone is home for most of the day as they will require extra attention and training.

It is also important to consider the financial commitment to getting a dog or puppy. There are a lot of costs involved that you need to consider carefully. Veterinary costs, insurance, dog walking, food. It all soon starts to add up.

The best advice I can offer anyone considering either adopting a dog or puppy is to definitely take everything I’ve mentioned into consideration then do your research. If you are considering a puppy then research different breeds to find a few that will match your home and lifestyle. Think of breeds that you like and then look at their exercise requirements, how big they may get and whether they would suit you and your family and home. If you are considering adopting a dog from a rescue centre then they will sit down with you and discuss in detail your current lifestyle, home and family life and match you to dogs that match your situation.

It’s worth considering that there are some dogs in rehoming shelters that have specific requirements. There are older dogs who may suit someone who is not very active and may only require one walk a day. There are dogs with ongoing medical conditions which should never put you off adopting them. Many conditions are very easily managed these days and if you have a good vet your dog will live a long and full life. There really are so many possibilities.

One thing I would like to add is that there are an awful lot of Staffordshire bull terriers in rehoming shelters. Due to bad press many people are reluctant to rehome them. There is no such thing as a bad dog, it is the owners who are bad. Any breed of dog can become aggressive if not raised properly. I see so many people refusing to rehome a staffie and there really is no need to be so concerned. I have met many absolutely lovely staffies. I do not believe in writing off a certain breed just because of a bit of bad press. So if you are matched to a staffie don’t panic, it has been matched to you as you match his or her requirements.

Talk to other dog owners and find out about their own experiences, talk to staff at your local veterinary practice. Get as much information as you can to be able to make an informed decision. If you do your research you will not end up with just a dog. You will end up with a new family member who suits you perfectly.

My Experience

Before I welcomed Phoenix into my family I had done plenty of research. At the time I was with my former partner and as we both worked in the music industry found we was not at home a lot of the time. Adding a dog to our family was something we wanted to do together when we had the time to focus on the dog. We had been considering it for well over a year. 

I am someone who will always recommend adopting any pet from a rescue home. Everyday there are hundreds of dogs looking for their new family. I did a lot of research on a number of rescue organisations and looked at their policies. In the end I decided we would buy a puppy purely because we already had two cats who had never been around dogs. Whilst some dogs are tested with cats at the rehoming centres there was no guarantee that they would get on as they could not meet beforehand. If you already have a dog they require your current dog to meet your prospective new dog prior to any adoption taking place. With that in mind I made the decision that it would be best for both of my cats (Sox & Vixen) if we got a puppy. That could then grow up around the cats and learn how to act around cats. For us this was the best plan and one I never regretted.

Afterwards I spent a lot of time researching different dog breeds. We considered many; Poodles, Collies, Cockers. Then finally settled on Labrador. I had previously had a gun dog before so knew a bit about the breed group. I researched Labradors extensively, or so I thought. I had been under the impression that all Labrador’s were the same. It was only when Phoenix was a little bit older and still had so much energy that I researched her pedigree family tree and found she was a field Labrador. Also known as a working Labrador or American Labrador.

Later on I will share how we came to find Phoenix.

Next week I will be talking purely puppies in my guide to choosing the right breed and breeder for you.

As part of this series I would love for you to get involved, if you have any questions in regards to getting a dog or puppy or any behaviour, feeding or training questions please use the contact form or reach out to me on Instagram. Answers will appear at the end of each blog post in this series.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Trials and Tribulations of a cat mum, or dog Mum

 People with children often say to me 

You don’t have children you couldn’t possibly understand the struggles of parenthood. Sleepless nights, tantrums, being covered in sick, not going to the loo alone” 

That’s where you are wrong, I do understand the struggles you face daily. To be honest our lives aren’t entirely that different, rather similar in fact. 

I cannot remember the last time I slept through the night, between being woken up by one of them needing cuddles after a nightmare, or taking up so much of the bed that there is no room for me. Waking up only to find I’ve been puked on, or pooped on, or on one very unfortunate night when someone had a bad case of the runs and instead of using the litter tray that was just a few steps away decided to jump up and do the lot right in the middle of the bed. To then have to clean up the puke or poo, change the bedsheets in the early hours, dealing with any other incidents they’ve had throughout the night. Only to be woken up at 5:30am or if they’re being generous 6am demanding to be fed, for me to ignore them. When they then proceed to jump on me, bite me, claw at me, attack my feet from the side of the bed, knock the lamp off the bedside table, pull the wallpaper off? Oh and yes this routine happens every morning. Once I am up, awake and fed the little darlings they then have the cheek to go back and sleep, on my bed. 

There have been many a many a night where I have been up all night caring for one of my sick babies. 

The night Phoenix was rushed into the hospital at midnight then into surgery at 3am for a three hour operation. That was the longest night of my life sitting in that waiting room unsure if she would make it through the surgery. 

The next night when she was back at home I spent the night laying on the sofa watching her sleep, just incase her sutures ruptured or she stopped breathing (something which happened previously after a surgery) I didn’t sleep properly until 10 days later when the stitches were removed. I spent two weeks sleeping on the sofa, well dozing as I was so worried I had to keep checking on her. 

Or the night when Sox was really ill and suffered a seizure in the night and I had to stay up with her just incase she went into another one. 

Ironically something I still have to do whenever Starla has a seizure. 

On two occasions I have been laying on the bed comforting two cats dying, one thankfully went so peacefully but one was a sudden deterioration that was absolutely traumatising. 

How many times I make a nice cup of tea or coffee, and then have to clean poo, feed someone or go and retrieve a “lost” toy that apparently MUST be found right this minute. It’s been under the sofa all week but no they decide this is the crucial moment. I then return to a cold cup of tea or coffee, or even worse return to find someone has already finished it for me.

More times then not my living room floor resembles a kindergarten. Toys absolutely everywhere. Balls waiting for me to trip over them, catnip mice that I swear are starting to look too realistic for my liking. I tread on damn toys all the time, or even worse a piece of what I call b**t**d f*k***g cat litter. I trip over everything, even the cats themselves sometimes. 

Quite often there’s usually a discarded body been left for me to discover. Always when I very least expect it, like just after I’ve walked through a dark room to open the curtains, finding a lifeless spider in amongst the threads on the rug. Or even more disturbing attached to my foot. 

Doing anything remotely simple takes forever, even typing this article has taken over 6 hours as I’ve been disturbed by food time, playtime, deliveries, zoom meetings. Whenever I do try to do something I always have to get up at least once. If I go to the loo someone always follows, if I have a bath I’ve sometimes got all 3 of them in there with me causing all manner of mischief. 

Counter in twice daily walks with Phoenix, cleaning the house, cooking, feeding and doing my own work I really do not get much time to do anything else. 

I may not have human children (not through lack of trying) but I have three children. A 9 year old and two almost 5 year old twins. 

Pet Mums are still Mums, we still care the same and often do the same things as mums of children. Every Mum is a Mum first and foremost. It doesn’t matter if your babies are human or furry we still do the same job. We still have to do our best, they still depend on us and we try to do it the best we can. Mums are Mums. 

This weekend is Mothering Sunday here in the UK so this article is dedicated to all Mums out there reading this. You are all amazing. 

Thursday, March 4, 2021

March Recommendations - Moulting Season

Each month I will be featuring products that we personally use and can therefor recommend. As it is March and we are coming into spring it seemed fitting that this months reviews should be focussed on moulting and shedding. 

With three cats in total and a Labrador, keeping shedded fur at bay is a constant battle. During the shedding season I vacuum every single day, sometimes even twice a day if the shedding is particularly heavy. For my vacuum I use a Vax Power Nano which I got in 2018, I can't link it on here as it doesn't currently seem to be available online. 

Here are our top picks to help you keep fur at bay

Fur Magic 

I bought the fur magic in 2019 after coming across it on Amazon when looking for something else. I read a few reviews and thought it would be worth trying. When I received it I tried it instantly on my fabric sofa and it really does do a great job of collecting shedded fur. The brush sits in the holder and when you want to use it you just pull it out and brush the surface i.e sofa, bed etc. Once there is enough fur on the brush pop it back into the holder and pull it up and it is clean ready to be used again. I use this every night mostly on the bed, as both of my cats sleep on the bed during the day, my boy sheds constantly through the year so there is always a layer of white fur on my bed. This brush does such a good job cleaning it up. It doesn't leave any residue or blue fluff behind and has no smell. The collected fur sits at the bottom of the holder and when it's full you just empty it into the bin. I do put the brush in a few times to get more fur to the bottom. Two years later I am still using this and am finding it really effective at picking up shedded fur. It works on cat and dog fur. 

Fur Magic is currently selling on Amazon for £12.99 get yours Here 


Pet Room Dematting Dog brush 

When Phoenix sheds, she really sheds. I often find a layer of yellow fur all over the place. My sofa has an extra layer, the rugs are getting a slightly yellow tinge to them. Just by stroking her I get a handful of yellow fur. Being a Labrador she has a really thick multi layer coat so shedding is quite a messy time. 

I got this brush last summer just intime for her summer moult and thought I'd try it. I have been through many different combs over the years. Some I have found to be too sharp for her or she hasn't liked the feel of them. 

I will admit this is actually the only brush I use on her now. It has two sides to it which are great for getting the top coat and undercoat moult. Each time I brush her with this I get so much fur off of her I think I could quite possibly build a whole new dog out of it. It's great for getting into the deeper layers of her coat and afterwards she looks fantastic and smart. It isn't at all sharp to use on her and this is the first brush she doesn't mind me using on her. I think she rather enjoys being brushed now, whereas before I had to chase her around. I used this brush on her last week and it looked like I'd been shearing a sheep in my garden. Another handy tip, if you gather all the fur you've brushed off together, tie it loosely and place it in a tree or shrub the birds use it to line their nests. One groomed dog and many happy little birdies. 

Pet Room comb is currently seeling on Amazon for £12.59 get yours here


Homedics Desktop Air Purifier

This air purifier was recommended to me last year by a friend. I had never really considered buying one before and to be honest I wasn't entirely sure what they did. 

Basically they clean the air of any pollutants including pollen, dust, pet dander and even germs. Perfect for a pandemic. I am asthmatic and have found since buying this that I do cough a lot less. I don't use it everyday but when I do use it you do notice the difference in the air quality. It has a removeable hepa filter which you can clean out and empty. I have found it catches a lot of flying fur and lint so can also be used to keep fur at bay. It has three speed settings 1 being the quietest and 3 the loudest. It also has a 4,8 and 12 hour timer setting meaning it will switch off automatically after the set time if you choose to use the setting. It also has an ioniser which is not good for pets but you can turn that off. One of the reasons why I bought this particular one as you can deactivate the ioniser meaning you can then safely use it around your pets. The carbon filter also gets rid of any unpleasant smells in the air. It is a little on the expensive side to buy, I did purchase it when it was on offer for £79 last summer and haven't regretted it. So it's always worth checking for offers before you buy. 

 Homedics Desktop Air Purifier Is currently selling on Argos for £99 Get yours here 


Note: These products are my own personal opinion and are products I use myself, I receive no revenue for featuring these products on my blog.