It’s A Pet’s Christmas Too

Ollie was very interested once we started to pile up the presents we had to open this morning. He came to sniff each parcel, checking whether or not they contained something edible. As we took turns opening gifts, revealing items like new slippers for me, a new purse for Julie, and bottles of wine and other assorted items, Ollie seemed to lose interest, and walked away holding his Grumpy Cat soft toy in his mouth.

At that stage, Julie produced one of his wrapped presents. “Is this for you? Is this Ollie’s?”

The cat toy fell from his mouth, and he rushed around to sit close. As she started to tear the wrapping paper, Ollie moved his snout forward, trying to help by nudging the paper open with his nose. When the first of four toys was revealed, a stuffed Christmas Turkey, fresh from the oven, he grabbed it and rushed off, shaking it furiously from side to side.

Five minutes later, he got a toy that had been sent in the post by my cousin. It was a a small sheep with a squeaker inside,and he rushed off to get that when it was thrown for him.

We continued opening our gifts, and soon after he was shown another present. This time it was a giant happy-face carrot, and he went hysterical when that was thrown.

Last but not least, one of his favourites. A stuffed lion toy, with a very shaggy mane. That was grabbed and taken away to be immediately chewed, the lion losing a chunk of its mane within seconds.

Now the toys are scattered around the living room. They are all soaking wet from being carried around in his frothy mouth, and he has well and truly marked them with his own distinctive scent.

Worn out by the excitement, he is fast asleeep behind me, snoring loudly.

An Alphabet Of Things I Don’t Like: Y

Yappy Dogs.

I love dogs, and there are few breeds I am not attracted to. I even like tiny dogs. But why oh why do so many of them have to constantly bark in such an annoying ‘yappy’ fashion?

Some of the worst offenders include these breeds.

Pomeranian. (Sorry Kim)

My uncle had one of these for years. It would sit on his shoulder and yap constantly at anyone who came into the house. It could never be silenced, making conversation almost impossible.

Chihuahua.

One of my fellow dog walkers owns one, and it never stops yapping at everyone and every dog it sees. He has to resort to holding its mouth shut.

Miniature Pinscher.

These tiny dogs like to be heard. They yap for attention, yap at people walking toward them, and yap at any dog they don’t know.

Dachshund.

Perhaps being so low to the ground makes them nervous, but the miniature variety of this breed is also famous for constantly yapping.

Other well-known ‘Yappers’ include Yorkshire Terriers and Jack Russell Terriers. I really like all of these breeds. They have great personalities, and also make very loyal companions.

But I don’t like that yapping!

Ollie And The Beauty Parlour

I am just back from collecting Ollie from ‘Pawsh Dogs’, where he goes for his bath and general tidy up a few times a year. He loves Kelly the groomer, and always behaves impeccably while he is there.

As well as being shampooed twice in his special (and very expensive) hypo-allergenic Vet recommended shampoo, he gets his nails clipped, and his ears cleaned too.

He also has his wrinkly face washed. Today’s choice of face wash was Lemon Verbena, with added avocado oil, so it doesn’t irritate his skin.

He looks sleek, and smells great.

If only that lasted for longer than two days!

Ollie’s Sad/Happy walk

I took Ollie out earlier today, hoping to take advantage of the sunshine while it lasted. With full darkness by around 4 pm now, it makes sense to be out long before that.

It was a crisp and cold day, with bright sunshine that was uncomfortable to look into. It had also stirred up some insects, and four bites on my head later, I was beginning to regret my decision.

Ollie wasn’t too happy either, as there was nobody else around. With no other dogs to greet and sniff, he had to resort to sniffing anything left behind by the early-morning dogs, those taken out before their owners leave for work. It was sad to see him looking decidedly fed up after almost an hour of us being the only two on the usual route.

He was staring along the path that leads to each of the three entrances, his concentration intent, no doubt hoping to spot a canine pal arriving. But to no avail. As we headed home, he plodded along reluctantly behind me, making me feel extra guilty for leaving home forty-five minutes earlier that usual.

Suddenly, his head shot up, and he started into the distance. I looked in that direction, and could see a dog running for a ball a long way off. Ollie wasn’t waiting for permission, and took off like a rocket. When I finally caught up with him, I saw he was wth our next door neighbour, and her dog Henry. She was accompanied by a friend with a small Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and both dogs were chasing balls as if their lives depended on it.

Although Ollie has no interest in the balls, he ran alongside each dog as they chased them, and kept that up for at least fifteen minutes. Then a lady arrived with a large white Retriever that Ollie loves, and he scooted off to see that big dog, yelping with delight.

I felt vindicated. His sad walk had turned into a happy one, and he got some great exercise into the bargain.

Ollie Changes The Rules

Last week, for the first time in eight years, Ollie started to refuse to eat his dinner at the usual time of 5 pm. Every day since the spring of 2012, he knew it was dinnertime around five, and would be ready and waiting to gulp it down.

But not anymore.

At first, we were worried that he might be unwell. But he still enjoyed his midday treat, and his late evening Bonio biscuit. After throwing away his dinner on three occasions, I decided to try something.

When we get back from his walk at around 3 pm, he often eats some of the dry pellets left over from the previous evening. The exercise and fresh air obviously gives him an appetite when he gets home.

So I gave him his dinner at 2:45 the next day, and he ate the lot as if he had never seen food before. So now he is fed as soon as we get back from his walk, and he has been eating everything.

By changing his behaviour, Ollie changed the rules to suit himself.

My Doggy Doctor


(Not Ollie of course. He has no uniform)

It is well known that dogs can detect illnesses in humans.

Here are some examples I found online.

Malaria
Last week, researchers presented evidence that dogs could tell from sniffing someone’s socks whether they had malaria. After several months of training, a labrador and a labrador-retriever could tell if a child had the disease even if they were not showing symptoms.

Prostate cancer
In 2015, Italian researchers announced that they had trained two German shepherds to detect chemicals linked to prostrate cancer in urine samples. The dogs were correct in 90% of cases, while the standard PSA blood test is not considered reliable enough for screening. There is an ongoing study in Milton Keynes hospital NHS trust that aims to evaluate dogs’ abilities in a normal clinical setting.

Diabetes
Dogs are already used by diabetics to detect when their blood sugar levels are dangerously high or low. A charity called Hypo Hounds trains dogs to smell tell-tale changes on their owner’s breath or in their sweat. The pets can detect a problem earlier than a glucose monitor.

Parkinson’s disease
Researchers at Manchester University are attempting to train dogs to detect Parkinson’s disease years before symptoms emerge. The work is inspired by the work of a human “super-sniffer” who detected a change in her husband’s odour six years before he was diagnosed.

Breast cancer
Dogs are also being trialled at Buckinghamshire healthcare NHS trust for their ability to detect breast cancer. If dogs could detect this form of cancer from a woman’s breath it would allow more frequent screening; currently, women over 50 are screened only once every three years because of the exposure to radiation involved.

Ollie sniffs me intently, any chance he gets. He will also sniff my clothes when I get undressed. If I have a scratch or a cut, even one so small I might not have noticed it, he will suddenly start to lick my leg, arm, hand, or foot as soon as he smells the tiniest trace of blood. It is believed that licking a wound can actually hasten healing. Hence the old saying, ‘licking his wounds’.

Last week, Ollie started to refuse to take any treats from my hand. If I put them in his food bowl he would eat them, and if I gave them to Julie, he would take them from her. But he flatly refused to accept them from my hand, for the first time ever.

Then on Saturday, I was watching TV quite late and wearing a dressing gown. He suddenly got up and walked over to sniff my legs. He was concentrating intently, sniffing very small areas. Soon after, he began to lick both of my shins. He kept doing it so obsessively, I had to stop him and tell him to go and lie down.

On Sunday, I remembered those facts about dogs detecting illness and injury, so examined my legs for any small wounds. I couldn’t find any.

As for illness, I feel fine at the moment, and have no obvious symptoms of anything. But this morning, he still refused his treat from my hand.

Perhaps I should be worried?

Ollie’s Sister

Last week, we heard the sad news that one of Ollie’s sisters had to be put to sleep, after suffering acute kidney failure.

I don’t have a photo of Milly, but she was identical to Ollie in every way, as the only other brown pup in the litter. She was somewhat smaller than him physically, but otherwise they were impossible to tell apart facially.

The lady who had Milly lived in our nearest town, and a few years ago, she brought her to see us. Ollie seemed to know her instinctively, licking her face, and sticking close by her side.

He doesn’t know she has gone of course, but it made us feel so very sad.

RIP lovely Milly. 2012-2020.

An Alphabet Of Things I like: T

Tortoises.

The smaller breeds of tortoise are very popular as pets. Slow-moving, easy to feed, and long-living. Many families, including mine, have kept a pet tortoise, or more than one. But that doesn’t mean to say we should keep them of course, as they are never truly domesticated.

In some countries, they are called turtles, because they are in the same animal family. As this graphic explains.

In far-flung places like the Galapagos Islands, giant tortoises can grow to an enormous size. In the past, they were hunted for their meat, and also for their shells.

I understand that they are no longer so popular as pets, and that is a good thing. Hopefully, they can be left alone to live their lives naturally.

An Alphabet Of Things I Like: R

Rabbits.

Rabbits make great pets. They are fairly easy to keep in good condition, and can even be housetrained. They are content to be cuddled if handled from babies, and come in so many varieties, there is a type and colour that should appeal to everyone.

They also get on with other household pets.

It is important to give them a good balanced diet, and take them to the Vet for health checks, but they are great around children, and an easy way to teach them about caring for an animal that doesn’t need long walks, or exotic food.

If you would prefer one that is as big as a dog, you can also buy very large breeds.

I have had rabbits in the past. One benefit of the smaller ones is that you can take them to family or friends to be cared for when you go on holiday. They rarely show any distress about being kept in captivity, though they sadly do not live that long.

(And I also like to eat rabbit, but don’t tell them that!)