Motorola Scout Wi-Fi Camera

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There has been an abundance of TV programmes about dogs recently, filming them as they are home alone. And another in the pipeline you will have seen from my previous post here. If this interests you, the Motorola Monitor from Anywhere camera is a great way for you to keep an eye on your own pet if you have to leave them alone. If you’ve always wondered what they get up to, or just how they get on the worktops to reach the tiniest crumb, this camera is perfect for you.

It essentially works like a baby monitor, and at just £99 it’s embarrassingly better than our actual baby monitor for a few reasons. It has a clear picture both day and night, even showing you the temperature of the room. As someone who leaves the heating to come on for the dog in winter, I’d be interested in this feature! But obviously useful for babies too.

It’s straight forward to set up, if you can remember your home Wi-Fi password, unlike me. Smart phone users can download a free app, connect it to your internet and set up the camera straight away. There is nothing more too it, and you’re ready to go.

I’ve been using this camera for a few months now. I was ready to write that Lupo has grown out of his ‘interesting’ behaviours when left alone, but I found an empty butter packet in his bed when i got home from work, sooooo maybe not! I haven’t caught him on camera unfortunately but you can see from these screen shots the App lets you take, the image is really clear so you can see exactly what they are up to.

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What’s missing for me is an easier way to attach it to surfaces that may not be flat, to increase the angle the camera can pan. One of those bendy tripods (pretty sure that’s not the brand name, but you get the picture) would do the job. I love how you can control the camera from your app, so if you can’t see your pet at first, move it around the room until you find them chewing the sofa, or enjoying another favourite pastime.

When chatting to people about this camera I have heard comments such as ‘I don’t want to know what my dog does’, maybe due to guilt or not being able to do anything about it if you can’t get home. But I would have loved this when Lupo was a puppy, as it was heart wrenching leaving him for work.

I think it’s a handy bit of kit, a bit of a luxury purchase for most people, but one I can see myself using for many years to come.

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Scout is available in all retail stores, pet retail chains and distributors for £99.99. Motorola will be donating a percentage of each sale to the RSPCA.

Want to be on TV?

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Calling all pet lovers! Do you want to know what your beloved pet does behind your back? Channel 5 are looking for animals to take part in ‘The Secret Life of Pets’. Whether your dog is stealing your food, your cat is disappearing all day or your hamster is acting strangely we will find out what is really going on.

The Secret Life of Pets is an enchanting brand new 8 part TV series for Channel 5. The show looks into the extraordinary and bizarre secret lives of our pets. We discover what our pets really get up to behind those puppy dog eyes, what they are hiding in the garden and how they have learnt to open the fridge door! Using the latest and most innovative filming techniques this series shows us what life is like from a pet’s-eye-view.

To take part email annie.tickell@itn.co.uk now!

(UK residents only)

A Blanket Obsession & Swell UK

It’s no secret there is one thing Lupo loves more than me. I’ve accepted it, I’ve come to terms with playing second fiddle, but it’s difficult to compete with his obsession.

I’m talking about blankets. Lovely soft, woolly, paw print covered blankets. Doesn’t matter the colour, (he’s colour blind anyway right) If it’s on the floor, and resembles a blanket he thinks is for him, he’ll drag it to the sofa, get into just the right position and suck it like a baby with a comforter. Dangerous breed eh?

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Swell Pets have the daddy of all blankets. I wasn’t expecting it to be so large and so soft! A sign that it’s appreciated is the fact it is already full of holes he has picked out of it. I am forever finding soggy bits of red fluff. It’s a good job he’s cute.

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You can buy the same blanket here. I was really impressed with the delivery process, it might annoy some, but I liked the fact you are sent an email at every stage of delivery. So you know exactly how long it will take and more importantly be in to receive it.

There are a multitude of products for cats and dogs on the Swell Pets, so make sure you have a look around. If your pooch has a love affair with blankets or just his bed in general (hey, I love my own bed too!) then you are sure to find something to treat them.

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How to Take Awesome Photographs of Your Pet

Talented photographer Jonathan got in touch to tell me all about his pet portrait services and I asked if he could provide my readers with some top tips for your own photography. You can also see some examples of his brilliant shots below, I think he captures the dog’s personalities perfectly. 

Like so many dog owners I love to record the enjoyment I get from spending time with them.  In my case I took that a bit further, and used my existing professional photographic skills to turn my hand to providing an award winning, fine art pet portraiture service to clients.

Whilst sharing some of my imagery, I thought it would be a great opportunity to give a little bit of guidance on how you can take the best shots of your pets. You don’t need to spend £1000s on equipment.  You can take great images with your smart phone or your point and shoot.  The following tips should help you, whatever your camera….

Location – where is your dog is happiest, it could be at home or in the park.  A happy dog will always look better in your shots.  I photograph clients’ pets in both my studio and out on location too.

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Time of the day and light – a good shot needs to work with the best light available.  Good light is found in the morning or late afternoon, so avoid harsh mid-day sun if you can.  Use shade to cut down on the glare and avoid light coloured fur being blown out.

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Backgrounds – place your pet in a spot where it stands out.  Use backgrounds to create texture in your photographs.  Our eyes should always be drawn to your dog and not other elements in the frame – try and see this before you click the shutter.

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Framing – just like when you take a photograph of a human, it’s the eyes that are the most important element.  Use your camera’s focus to ensure that the eyes are always sharp.  Leave breathing space in the framing around the dog to avoid it looking cluttered.

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Viewpoint – We all like shots of the dog looking up soulfully into the lens.  But how about getting down low and on the dogs level too?  You might need to roll around in the dirt, but you get great shots that way.  Focus on details like their nose or their paws too.

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Get their attention – bright eyes and perked up ears and perhaps a head tilt all look great in your shots.  Use trigger words or noises to make them look up and concentrate on you and the camera.

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Make it fun – lastly it should be fun for both you and your pets.  So keep the session short and sweet, the treats coming and other elements to keep their interest.

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If you would like me to photograph your pets, I mainly cover the North West, but am always happy to travel too.  Just contact me on email: jonathan@jonathanyearsley.co.uk or via my website http://www.jonathanyearsley.co.uk

Thank you to Jonathan for the fantastic tips. I love photographing Lupo as you know, check out some photographs we took of him here.

When pets win the lottery…

Winning a massive jackpot in a lottery like the US Mega Millions with its jackpot of $309 million would change your life dramatically. So when you begin to enjoy your wealth as a newly minted millionaire, don’t forget your animal companion can now also live the good life. Here are a few ways your beloved pet could be spoilt and live in luxury.

If you are going to dream, dream big. Everyone fantasizes about what they would do if they hit the ‘big one’ in the lottery. Cars, houses, travel, paying off debts, to name a few. For those of us who adore our animal companions, spoiling them definitely ranks high on the fantasy list. Here are some ideas to help you spend that money.

Everyone knows the way to your pets’ hearts is through their stomach, so no more kibble and bits for Fido or Mittens. Why not hire a personal chef to ensure your fur-baby eats a healthy nutritious and delicious meal. A few examples of meals that a personal chef would prepare:

Mediterranean Lamb – ground lamb, eggs, organic whole wheat couscous, fresh grated zucchini & carrot, organic raw apple cider vinegar, fish oil, ground egg shell, sea salt

South American Chicken – chicken, eggs, organic quinoa (cooked in natural broth), yellow squash & zucchini, organic raw apple cider vinegar, fish oil, ground egg shell, sea salt

Turkey Harvest – ground turkey, eggs, millet, fresh grated carrot & zucchini, organic raw apple cider vinegar, fish oil, ground egg shell, sea salt

Shopping when rich is always fun. Here are some of the most luxurious items you could purchase your little darlings:

22k Gold-Thread Pet Mattress  – £1,793

Versace Barocco Pet Bowl – 22K gold leafed porcelain bowl designed by the famous Versace – £450

Louis XV Pet Pavilion – a glorious bed styled after an 18th Century French Rosewood commode – £14,345

I Love Dogs 52-carat Diamond Dog Collar – A regular studded collar not enough. This has more than 1600 hand-set diamonds on 18K white gold attached to a crocodile leather collar – £1 Million

Swarovski-studded Cat Flap  – not to be outdone by the pooch this cat flap features more than 1000 Swarovski crystals ensuring a royal entrance every time.– £983

Being ridiculously rich can be stressful, so why not treat your pet to a deep muscle massage at the local spa (approximately £1,195). Even better why not combine a little shopping while your pet gets pampered and take him or her for a pet-icure at Harrods? While you shop till you drop your pet can enjoy a blueberry and vanilla facial and pedicure. Offering over 42 different types of treatments, your pet will be spoilt rotten and come out looking like a million bucks.

Got an itch to travel? Time to find a place to let your pet relax. For an estimated £47,000 you could put your pet up one of the Paws Seasons. At these hotels your pet can enjoy a walk with a Commonwealth hurdler and food prepared by a personal chef.

Your baby will get their own private suite and be able to enjoy surfing lessons, a reiki session and a luxury wardrobe. When it all goes to your pet’s head there is a behavioural expert on site to discourage any bad behaviour (you don’t want to find out about your pet’s antics in the Sun or the Mirror).

Nothing is too much or too expensive when it comes to puppy (or kitty…or birdie) love, so don’t forget that your cherished pet too can be spoilt rotten when you win the big one.

Top Collar Treats

Ever had a pair of big brown puppy dog eyes staring at your fork as you tuck into a deliciously greasy Full English Breakfast? You’re not alone. And yet sharing that breakfast with your dog is likely to land him in doggy fat camp quicker than you can say Sausages. Help is at hand to offer your pooch the chance to try the nations favourite dish in a healthy and tasty treat version, from the very clever treat company, Top Collar.
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Young entrepreneur Sophie makes these Full English treats in my home county of West Yorkshire, along with apple porridge, sunday roast, pork pie, chicken tagine and cheese and biscuit flavours. Mouth watering for dogs and owners alike!

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You can buy a box of each flavour from £4.95, or set your dog up with the delightfully Yorkshire named ‘Keep em coming’ service. For £8.95 a month you’ll get a box delivered so you never run out of treats. That’s sure to keep you in Rover’s good books.

We received a box of Full English treats for Lupo to test out. The packaging and branding is great, although Royal Mail had to stick it back together so just a bigger label is needed to keep the treats secure.

They look (and smell!) great, in cute heart shapes to please us humans. Lupo is a bit fussy with treats, which makes him a great tester, so he carefully took one from my hand and ran to the living room to drop it on the rug to make further inspection. After playfully pushing it around the rug, it was gone in one gulp. And he was back to my side waiting for another. As I type this he is whining at me as the box is on the table!

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I try to choose treats to take on his walks that have a smell he loves, so we’ve gone through fishy things, meaty treats, even garlic sausage, so I know these biscuits will be great at getting him to come back to us.

Make sure you visit the Top Collar website, let me know which flavour your dog loves!

www.topcollar.co.uk

Read all about Sophie and how she started her business: http://journalismatleedsmetropolitan.com/2014/02/25/an-award-winning-business-that-really-takes-the-biscuit/

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Dog-friendly Holiday Package Launched at Highbullen Hotel

If you went back 5 years, dog friendly luxury hotel breaks in the UK were practically non existent. Fast forward to 2014 and I’m happy to hear of more and more places that welcome dogs. As a dog loving nation, it’s always puzzled me that dogs are banned from so many places, leading us to leave them at home when all they want is to join us on our adventures. If you’re looking for a stay-cation this year and want Rover along for the ride, you’ll like this…

Highbullen Hotel, Golf and Country Club – a luxurious estate in the heart of the North Devon countryside – is set to get tails wagging with the announcement of its new “Highbullen Hounds” package, now available at the hotel.

Pampering pooches as much as their owners, dogs will be barking mad not to enjoy all the treats in store during their stay.  Offering dog’s dinners that are anything but, as well as a doggie bag full of treats during the stay, guests and their owners will be well prepared for a relaxing weekend filled with fine food, spectacular walks and unparalleled comfort.

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The ‘Highbullen Hounds’ package is for guests staying in the hotel’s four dog friendly Forester’s Rest rooms.  It costs from £299 for two people plus a dog, and includes:

  • In-room dog bed with blanket and lead
  • Two course “Dogs Dinner”, which includes Chicken Casserole and Sirloin Steak with Vegetables and Jus
  • Doggie gift bag of toys and treats tailored to size of dog (small, medium or large) including:

-     Brush

-     Toy

-     Treats

-     Bag for waste

-     Tennis ball

  • Walking map of Exmoor
  • Two nights for two owners on a Dinner, Bed and Breakfast basis
  • Additional dogs are £25 per night

As well as the rolling hills, rivers and woods all on Highbullen’s doorstep, nearby there is also the wilds of Exmoor to explore and some of the best coastal walks in the UK, along the South West Coast Path. North Devon is a dog-walkers playground,  and many more maps are available at the hotel – with the shortest a half hour route around the hotel and village and the longest a walk on Exmoor, taking in the highest cliffs in England with views over the Bristol Channel to South Wales.

To book, call 01769 540561 or visit www.highbullen.co.uk