Guilt and Making Changes

For a couple of weeks every year, we send Lupo on his holidays. Most of the time it’s because we are abroad, but there is also a time when our dog walker goes on holiday. So with no family in the same city and not really wanting to trust neighbours with walking our first baby, Lupo is packed off to my in-laws home. He loves it, as they no longer work he has someone at his disposal 24/7 to follow around and get fussed over.

We are lucky they love him as much as we do, as I do recognise he is hard work and not everyone’s cup of tea with his fondness for human company. As we dropped him off, Lupo timed a long drink of water, followed by a sharp shake of his head, chops slapping and drool flying…straight into my father in law’s cup of tea. Graceful and elegant, this dog is not.

Usually every morning I come downstairs and receive, what is affectionately known as, being Dober-Poked. When his big wet nose is planted on my jeans, with some force. He also curls his top lip up and smiles at us. So it’s a strange time and as I sit here on the sofa without Lupo leaning on me and trying to nick my blanket. I am led to imagine what life would be like without him around.

I remember losing family dogs and the first thing I could think of was regretting any time I had ever shouted at the dog to get out the way/stop eating what they shouldn’t or not doing what I ask (obviously due to lack of training on my part, never the dog). This is what runs through my mind every time Lupo tests my patience. That if something were to happen to him, I’d regret every minute I didn’t spend appreciating him as just a great dog.

When I first had to leave Lupo and go to work, after us taking a month off work between us as puppy paternity leave, I felt incredibly guilty leaving him. Perhaps I shouldn’t have a dog if I can’t be there all day? Perhaps he’ll hate us for leaving him? Perhaps he’ll love the dog walker more than me?! Owning a dog can make you feel terribly guilty for a lot of decisions you have to make. But it’s never too late to change things.

I’ve been thinking about Lupo’s food for while. I feel guilty we feed him tinned meat and dry food that contains a small amount of real meat and all manner of animal parts that aren’t fit for human consumption – so why am I feeding this to my dog? Sure it’s very easy for us to buy, store and give to him readily, but is it really best for him? There are all manner of ‘premium’ dry dog foods, but we’ve tried them and he, understandably, gets bored very easily with them. After a lot of reading recently, I’ve come to agree with the evidence that suggests dogs aren’t built for this over processed food we give them.

So this is going to be the first post in our journey of switching to raw feeding. I’ve no idea how it will pan out, but while he’s not here I can start making plans, reading more and preparing to start feeding him a mixture of bone, meat and organs. The food a carnivore is supposed to eat. There are multiple benefits to raw feeding, which I will share in more detail as I go, but I hope to see in Lupo an improvement in muscle tone and his body shape, a reduction of the dry skin he gets on his back and the smaller and less frequent end product of feeding him raw food. Oh yes, we’ll be talking poo, people.

I hope you’ll join us on our journey and at the very least I hope it makes you consider making a change with your dog, whatever that may be. Stroke them instead of shouting, walk them instead of watching Eastenders or feed them a juicy bone because you love them. Remember, you may regret it if you don’t.

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How to make your dog happy

Some dogs are happiest in the great outdoors, others cosy on the sofa. Your dog may love the company of other dogs, but someone else’s may prefer human company. Mine is, as his nick name goes, is happiest when he is glued to my side and following me from room to room. When he’s had enough of me, there are his beloved blankets of course. He’s also partial to our corner sofa with a view of the street, for his afternoon nap… dobermann Like us, every dog is different, but there is nothing better than a happy dog. I’ve been inspired by things I’ve read and watched online these past few weeks, so here are my top five ways to make your dog happy (OK they may inadvertently make you smile and laugh too, but that’s cool). 1. Take your dog to the beach, but don’t forget to strap a GoPro camera to him first. The end of this video is the best bit, you can see the pure joy this dog has for swimming!   2. Fashion your dog a giant spider costume and let them be the star of their own horror film. This is the best video I’ve seen for a long time.   3. Always thought your dog has super powers? Turn him into a real hero with a white sheet and a few Sharpies. Check out the Instagram account below for more fab drawings with Jimmy Choo the English Bull Terrier.

4. Dogs love to play and dogs love food. Blow their tiny minds and combine the two with an interactive feeder game from Swell Pets. Lupo has one of these and I need a towel on standby when he’s playing due to the drool! A great sign of course.   5. You may think your dog is badly behaved if he doesn’t come when you call him, but what if he hates the name you chose for him? Give your dog a name that won’t see him hiding in the bushes in shame when you shout it in the park. That means you, Paris. ‘Prince Hilton Mr Amazing’ is not a suitable dog name.

Velcro Dog’s September Favourites

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Christmas came early for Velcro Dog this month and this post shares our favourite treats and toys to give you some inspiration for shopping for your pooch.

Lupo’s new best friend is a soft toy duck, that came in the first ever Pawsome Box (£19.90 a month), a subscription treat service for dogs. This duck doesn’t have any stuffing and has lasted a good few weeks without me having to throw it out in disgust!

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The rest of the box contained some banana treats which didn’t excite him as much as I thought they would, as he loves real banana. The raw hide bone was gone in an instant (and is only a rare treat as they aren’t vey good for their insides). There was a dog whistle, ear drops and a yellow plastic bone. Whilst this bone doesn’t have the appeal of a Nyla bone with him, it’s good to have to bring out on rotation – anyone else rotate toys for their dogs or just me? Also a good tip for kids!

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We’ve also been trying a new product from the Beco Ball family. The solid ball we have from them, made from rice husk, is still going strong and surviving being left in the garden most days. This new ball is hollow so you can place treats inside for the dog to move around to free them. A similar concept to the Kong, and Lupo enjoys food based games! My only concern is this Beco Ball is a little small for him. If we need a King size Kong, I’m afraid most other things must also be giant size.

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Those are our favourites from this month, have you found any new products you think we should check out?

The Itchy and Scratchy Show

A few months ago I shared with you details of a competition FRONTLINE Spot On are running on their Facebook page, to find the UK’s most dedicated pet owner.

This is a reminder that entries close on the 10th September, so head on over to their page and get your entry in www.facebook.com/frontlinespoton

It is quite timely that just this week was the first time Lupo caught fleas, and I found myself Googling how to get rid of them on a sunday night when all the shops are closed and I hadn’t thought ahead and bought FRONTLINE (I have now!).

It all starts with one person saying, ‘the dog seems to be scratching a lot’, watching said dog and repeating phrase until you think you’d better check it out in the manner of a chimpanzee helping out a friend in need.Thankfully Lupo’s short coat means fleas are easily spotted. I don’t know what you long haired dog owners do apart from reach for the clippers. I only saw two fleas on Lupo, which he must have picked up on a weekend walk in the woods, as it wasn’t an infestation or anything.

After some internet based top tip searching, I picked both fleas from his coat with my thumb and forefinger and filled a bowl with water. Now this is the clever bit (I’m actually getting geeky over fleas, I know) If you put a flea in water it will simply float to the edge and jump out – yep, they are good at that. So you need to give the bowl a good helping of washing up liquid or other soap based product, swill it around and then dunk the flea to it’s death. The soap means they don’t float and drown a slow and possibly painful death. but don’t let that put you off hey.

If you’ve got a bit more than two of the little beggars setting up camp on your furry friend, there are loads of ways you can coax them away from their host over night. My favourites were the soapy bowl as detailed above, left in front of a TV in a dark room over night. Apparently they are attracted to light and heat and will navigate towards the TV and fall to their death in your soap water. The same premise works with lighting a candle, but obviously don’t leave this over night, unattended.

These tips are to fill in the time before you can get to the shops and buy FRONTLINE of course and then if you keep the treatment up, you shouldn’t need to be mixing soapy water at all hours of the night like I did. Learn from my mistakes people!

Good luck if you’re entering the competition, can’t wait to find out who’s won!

Doggielicious Launches Crowdfunding Initiative

Fast-growing dog treat business Doggielicious is launching a ‘crowdfunding’ initiative as it prepares to expand into new premises and employ extra staff.

Isle of Man Company Doggielicious was launched in 2011 with the ambition of creating high quality dog treats bursting with natural and fresh ingredients, sourced locally where ever possible. From humble beginnings of baking treats for her own dog Amber and her friends’ pets, Alex now supplies shops and customers all over the world.

Her range includes treats which boast ingredients like Isle of Man Creameries Manx cheese, Laxey Glen Mills Manx flour, Ratcliffe’s Manx honey and Gelling’s free range Manx eggs. She also includes ingredients such as ginger and garlic, which have been shown to be beneficial to canine health.

Doggielicious now needs new premises, including a commercial kitchen, and new employees to continue meeting existing demand, and allow for expansion into new markets.

Indiegogo allows people to pledge cash towards the project in exchange for a variety of rewards, ranging from a hamper of Doggielicious goodies to a Master Class in the Doggielicious bakery making your own dog treats with Alex. The £30,000 target must be reached in just 60 days.

Alex explained: ‘I decided to create my own dog treats after realising I couldn’t even pronounce the names of some of the unnecessary ingredients found in mass-produced treats. I spoke to local suppliers and dog owners before designing a range of treats using the freshest and most natural ingredients, sourcing as many as possible from near my home in the Isle of Man, and baking them myself in my own kitchen.

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‘Just like me, many dog owners don’t want to feed their pets treats they couldn’t trust and the business quickly took off. My first sales came at a Farmers’ Market on a cold and windy day and now I am receiving orders through my website from dog owners all over the world.

‘I am also supplying shops and stores, including Shoprite here in the Isle of Man.’
She added: ‘I am delighted there has been a steady increase in demand, but I have now reached a point where I need to invest in new premises, a commercial kitchen, and in staffing, to meet that demand and, importantly for the business, explore new opportunities.

Alex has chosen Indiegogo as her crowdfunding platform. Since its launch in 2008, Indiegogo has seen millions of people pledge millions of dollars to fund thousands of projects in more than 220 countries and territories. It is a platform and resource for people to attract direct funding for all sizes of projects, including films, games, music, art, design and technology, and is visited by nine million people every month. The creator retains control and responsibility for the project, which must meet strict Indiegogo guidelines.

She explained: ‘After extensive research I decided crowdfunding was the best way forward, as Doggielicious is a dream I have built up from the ground with passion and conviction. I believe there are many people out there who share my vision of healthy, high quality dog treats which taste delicious and are good for our dogs, and I would like to get them involved.

To find out more visit http://igg.me/at/doggielicious

One Sided Relationship

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It’s been 15 months since our daughter was born, and Lupo was no longer our only baby. Now she can walk it means big changes for him and their relationship has taken a one-sided turn. She finds him hilarious, smiling and laughing at him every morning, or even if he just comes in the room as his nails click clack on the wooden floor.

I’ve been waiting to hear her say his name but I think as one of the words we use most, she probably feels she doesn’t need to. However, if Lupo barks she will join in with her version of an enthusiastic woof, that sounds like “Ooooff Ooooff”. Lupo also loves a good game of catching bubbles – shared interests!

IMG_1009She has tested his patience a few times (I am always right next to them both, prepared for any reaction – I’d do this with any dog, no matter what the breed) Lupo doesn’t take kindly to being repeated poked in the nose – who does?! Quite often he will retreat to his basket or outside. So it’s fair to say the baby loves him more than he loves her. Well, I thought that until today…

I didn’t capture a photo, but the cutest moment yet happened this afternoon. The baby was having a tantrum, a regular occurrence at the moment and one I felt particularly sorry for Lupo as it was really high-pitched screeching. His poor ears. As she sat cross-legged on the rug, bottom lip protruding and tears rolling down her cheeks. Lupo, also on the same rug, sidled up to her, licked her tear filled cheeks and placed his head on her knee, as if to comfort her. My heart just about burst at this point as I fumbled to try to take a photo. But before I could, the baby giggled her head off at Lupo touching her and he leapt up, shocked at the different loud noise coming out of her.

I feel like he’s still a lot to learn about babies, but as a parent so have I. We’ll figure it out, all of us together.

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Husky Home Removals

Moving house for Manchester’s Keath Armstrong will mean hitching his huskies to a hand-made sled and walking the 217 miles to his new home in Dorset, raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust along the way. Keath left his job at Croma in Prestwich and set off on his epic journey, for his new life in Bournemouth on July 18th. The sled will carry Keath’s tent and special food that his huskies have to eat.

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32 year-old Keath, who currently lives in Crumpsall, was friends with brothers’ Carl and Richard Jones who both died from cystic fibrosis, a disease which slowly destroys the lungs and digestive system. Carl died in 2006 aged 20 and Richard – Keath’s best friend – died in 2013, aged 30.

Keath says: “I grew up with Richard in Dorset and now I’m moving back I wanted to do something challenging and different to make more people aware of cystic fibrosis and raise as much money as possible. Richard and Carl were brilliant, you couldn’t fault their outlook on life and despite everything they had to put up they were always there for other people.”

Keeping Keath company on the journey will be his three pet Siberian huskies: Sakari, Nukka and Nala and he has designed his own sled, complete with a shower curtain, cystic fibrosis posters and reflectors, for the dogs – and himself – to pull.

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He adds: “Walking won’t be a problem for them, they need plenty of exercise and we’ve been in training by doing the Wainwright walks in the Cumbrian fells. I’m aiming to walk 24 miles a day and complete it in nine days, but it will depend on the weather – if it’s too hot, the huskies will need to slow down a bit.”

To donate visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/keatharmstrong 

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust is in its 50th year. But we are not celebrating until we have beaten cystic fibrosis for good. We are here to make a daily difference to the lives of those with cystic fibrosis, and the people who care for them. Fighting it is a battle we must win. That’s why we must keep working for and fundraising for change. That’s why we must develop better treatments and invest in cutting edge research to ensure that people with cystic fibrosis can also look forward to their 50th birthday and many years more. Find out more at: cysticfibrosis.org.uk or call our helpline 0300 373 1000.