Archive for category Advice
Huge thanks to Willow Veterinary Centres for posting on Ralphie’s wall about a puppy scam which has made its way to Milton Keynes. The full details of the scam can be found on Willow’s website here but it’s a typical example of pulling on a potential dog owner’s heart strings, offering a pedigree puppy for free and then conning them out of money for ‘delivery’ never to be seen again. Pedigree puppies are not cheap to buy and it’s easy to see how people could be tempted by this offer, but please don’t be scammed.
We bought Ralphie almost two years ago now and he was £550; we paid a deposit of around £100 when we saw him and picked him out at just two weeks old. That ‘secured’ him for us and we paid the full amount when we collected him at eight weeks. when he was old enough to leave his mother. So don’t ever pay up front and in full for your puppy and don’t buy one without seeing it first, seeing it’s parents where possible and without having a chance to quiz the breeder about health checks etc – you need to make sure the puppy you’re paying for will be a healthy one. Equally, if you’re buying a puppy from a home where it’s no longer wanted, go and see it in its home environment first.
Whether to get your dog neutered or spayed is a question faced by all dog owners. Ralphie.co.uk talks to Stony Stratford’s Gemma Bessant, owner of Stamp the chiwawa, about her decision…
Taking on a dog is a big decision and one the whole family needs to be on board with. And it’s often not as easy as you might think. Here, mum of three Ali Varty, from Shenley, talks about the ups and downs of picking ‘the right dog’ and persuading the husband…
When I was growing up as a child we had a family dog called Patch who was given to us by some friends of the family who were emmigrating to Canada. I was about three and so don’t remember my childhood without a dog. I loved having a dog and therefore thought it would be great for our family to welcome one into the home.
I’d been trying to persuade my husband for a number of years that a dog would be a lovely addition to the family. Our three children were very much behind the idea but unfortunately the husband was not keen and was quick to point out all the disadvantages of having a dog. He did once say that if we tidied all the rooms in the house and kept them that way for three months we could have a dog. Unfortunately we were unable to keep our side of the bargain! So we continued to look after the hamsters and guinea pigs.
‘The idea of starting off with a puppy didn’t even enter my head’
Funnily enough a few years later, after reading a novel which was based around a rehoming centre and coming into contact with friends who owned dogs I began to rethink my plan of having a dog. I came up with a list of advantages and began to think very seriously about whether we were ready to make a good family home for a dog.
My first thoughts were to look into rehoming a rescue dog, mainly because it didn’t seem fair for these poor dogs to be on their own when they could be looked after and bring pleasure to others. The idea of starting off with a puppy didn’t even enter my head.
I spoke to friends who had carefully explored rehoming centres locally and a little further afield. I then spent hours trawling the internet (when I should have been tidying those rooms) looking at ones they had recommended and others too. We really liked the look of the Wood Green Animal Shelter, the website was easy to navigate and friends had got their dog from there and couldn’t speak highly enough of the centre, its staff and the way they looked after the animals. We were able to view the dogs online where there were pictures and very honest descriptions of the dogs along with the type of people they would suit.
After looking on the website the night before, we arrived one Saturday morning but, to our dismay, several of the ones we had identified had already been reserved and were very disappointed.
‘Prepared to wait for the right dog’
We walked a dog called Sophie who looked lovely and the children liked her. I did not want to pick the first dog we saw just because we wanted a dog and I know it sounds funny but I didn’t feel she wanted to be with us, she just wanted to be with anyone. I was prepared to wait for the right dog.
We went again the following Saturday, this time taking my mum with us. My mum visits us and stays frequently and I felt it was important for the dog to be right for her too. This time we walked Poppy who sat beautifully in the kennel but when we walked her she was very hyperactive and jumped up all the time. The handlers said this was an issue but they were trying to work with her to get it sorted out. Poor Poppy was not the dog for us.
We went a further time during the school holidays but kept coming up against barriers, for example the dogs we liked could not go with small furries (Jimbob the guinea pig) or could not go with children under 11 and my youngest was eight at the time.
We were all getting disappointed (except the husband who had not come with us due to work commitments) and were wondering if we were going to remain dogless when a friend text me from Salcey Forest to say there was a number on a piece of paper with the words border x puppies for sale. This is not normally the sort of thing I would do but rang the number and spoke to a very nice lady from Northampton who said due to an accidental breeding her Jack Russell x border collie had given birth to five puppies and the father was her sister’s Lurcher x poodle!!!! Still not being put off we arranged to go to Northampton two days later to visit.
In the meantime I was on the internet finding out all I could about the breeds, looking after a puppy and all sorts of other dog things. I also rang a dog trainer and found out what questions to ask and what characteristics to look for then I phoned a vet to find out the initial cost of puppies and dogs – although I felt I had done my homework, my head was in a spin and I still couldn’t imagine what these puppies would look like.
‘Jim, Joe, Mo, Flo or Susan?’
We were all in the car, husband included, and off we went. I had given strict instructions that we were not going to make any decisions today and that we would have a family discussion in the car on the way home. All I can say is that as soon as we saw the eight-week-old puppies our hearts melted and we all gushed, husband included; now we had the awful decision of which puppy to have: Jim, Joe, Mo, Flo or Susan. Although they were all lovely Joe was the dog for us and who was it who decided he would cancel his badminton to go back to Northampton the next evening to up Joe? You’ve guessed it – the husband!
It is now 19 months since we picked up Joe and I can’t imagine our lives without him. Maybe it was meant to be that we didn’t get a rescue dog but we still got a dog who needed to be loved, looked after and has definitely brought lots of pleasure to us all, husband and mum included.
‘Don’t rush in, do your homework, ask advice’
My advice would be to not rush in, do your homework, ask advice from as many people as possible – friends and professionals and make sure that the whole family are prepared to help look after your dog. It’s not always easy, especially at the beginning but with the right help and advice having a dog is truly rewarding.
I’m not sure dogs can make New Year resolutions and the one I have in mind for Ralphie this year probably won’t go down too well. It goes without saying that he’ll get more walkies as hubby and I – and the rest of the planet no doubt – aim to slim down in 2012. But the real resolution I have in mind is “the snip”.
We always planned on having Ralhie neutered, as all the doggy literature we read when we first got him said it was probably the right thing to do. And we pledged that we’d get it done when he turned one, which was back in May. But we moved house in May and just never got around to it and as Ralphie isn’t overly sexual or aggressive we didn’t think it mattered.
Over the summer Ralphie had a grass seed stuck in his paw and had to have a minor op to try and remove it. And during the tooing and froing I asked the vet if we should get Ralphie “done”. What were the pros and cons, I asked.
The information I got back was something along the lines of… the best time to have it done is when a dog is between one and five years old and it can calm dogs down who are overly aggressive or sexual. Which Ralphie isn’t. The vet said it does prevent against some kinds of cancer, I can’t remember which, and can lead to a small weight gain post operation, not a problem for Ralphie as he’s a tad on the skinny side.
Apart from the cancer scares, he said there was no major reason why you should get your dog castrated. So confusion reigned, still. I’d always been under the impression that dogs should absoloutely be neutered for health and behavioural reasons, we’d just not got around to doing it for Ralphie yet, but certainly would. So now the vet was saying there was no real reason. And I recalled a conversation I had with a breeder some six months before we got Ralphie who said castration drastically changed a dog’s coat, it lost its shine. And Ralphie is so fluffy and shiny and soft and I’d hate for him to lose that.
So I’m still confused. In our heads, we still have plans to get Ralphie castrated, but I wonder whether we’ll ever really get around to it. And when is the best time?
Have your dogs had the snip? Did it change their behaviour or appearance? And would you recommend it?
Huge thanks to the lovely Helen Cooke for posting a notice on Ralphie’s wall on Facebook – alerting dog walkers and lake users to the potential dangers at Caldecotte Lake, Milton Keynes, at the moment. The cuplrit? Blue-green algae.
It sounds harmless but the Environment Agency has confirmed that blue-green algae is present within the north and south lakes at Caldecotte and is advising dog walkers to keep their pets out of the water. Ralphie’s never swam at Caldecotte Lake (pictured) but it’s a lovely spot for a stroll.
A notice posted by the Parks Trust reads: “Algal blooms can be harmful to both people and animals. Blue-green algae produces toxins and anyone coming into contact with it should seek medical advice. Blue-green algae occurs naturally in rivers, lakes, ponds, estuaries and the sea.
“Excess nutrients cause the algal blooms when the rapid increase in the number of algae leads it to rise to the surface of the water. Blooms can look like paint, jelly or form small clumps and may be blue-green, grey-green, greenish-brown or reddish brown in colour. Blooms can occur over a matter of days or weeks and are often dispersed by a change in weather conditions.”
For further information visit the Environment Agency website.