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Today I am asking you all to take action for greyhounds. Just read this article and sign the petition…

The race to protect greyhounds

greyhound

Every year at least 10,000 greyhounds are retired from racing. The fate of many of these greyhounds is unknown and huge numbers simply ‘disappear’.

We believe that the health and happiness of thousands of racing greyhounds is very poor. Welfare issues can occur at any life stage, so we believe that all aspects of the greyhound industry, from breeding to kennelling, racing, transportation, management and final retirement need to be improved. We want to see greyhounds protected from cradle to grave.
An opportunity to protect racing greyhounds
The Government has launched a public consultation on the regulation of the greyhound racing industry in England with a deadline for submissions on the 22nd July 2009.

Please take action today!
We really need your help to demonstrate the rising tide of public unease about this important welfare issue. We want to get at least 20,000 people responding to the government consultation, to call for the protection of racing greyhounds from cradle to grave.

You can respond to the government consultation using this link. Please feel free to insert your own comments within the email as a personal response will always be stronger.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Freedom Service Dogs

I’ve just read about this initiative and think it really helps humans AND (unwanted) dogs. Would be great if something similar could be arranged in the UK.

(Source: see website)
Our Mission

Freedom Service Dogs, Inc. rescues dogs from shelters and trains each dog to assist people with disabilities. Our custom trained service dogs assist their partners in day-to-day activities providing their human companions with a greater degree of independence and an overall higher quality of life.

Our History
FSD was founded in 1987 as a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization by Mike and P.J. Roche. Both Mike and P.J. were active with Assistance Dogs International (ADI) when the assistance dog industry was in its infancy. The Roche’s worked diligently to transform FSD from a two person “mom and pop shop” to an organization that stands on its own merits. Since its inception, FSD has successfully paired more than 100 client-service dog teams in Colorado.

The FSD Difference

  • Rescues dogs – FSD rescues and trains only unwanted and abandoned dogs, helping solve the pet overpopulation problem. There is no puppy-raising program. We turn “throw-aways” into superstars!
  • Custom trains – FSD matches dogs to their new partner and custom trains the dog to do the specific tasks required by each individual.
  • Provides hands-on support – FSD visits our clients in their homes, offices, and schools to introduce the service dog and to help maintain a successful team.
  • Maximizes your donation – FSD ensures 85¢ of every dollar spent goes directly toward program expenses.
  • Teaches dogs to work with a wag – FSD uses positive reinforcement – treats, praise, petting – to shape play behaviors (retrieve, tug, paw, touch) into

Five of 16 professional service dogs graduating in 2008. Congratulations!

Summer in Norfolk

Oh, I so much enjoy the beach, not only in the summer. But especially then. On our beach, we get quite nice breezes which make my ears fly.

Flori-ears

Some people think that looks funny… I don’t mind. I’m not vain. I just know that I’m beautiful, so what.

waiting

Sometimes, Alpha Su throws us some bottles to retrieve from the sea. I tend to do her that favour, although I’d rather sniff and bumble around instead of constantly exercising.

mali

My daughter however is much keener to jump in – well she’s 4 years younger than me and does not yet know about ageing gracefully.

Anyway, hope we’ll go today again!

Well,  I have recently been studying about my K9 origins. Humans claim they descend from monkeys, which doesn’t surprise me, as they still show many similarities with this amazing species.

However, which are our K9’s ancesters? This is what I found on a BBC website:

22 November, 2002, 05:03 GMT

Origin of dogs traced
Bess dog, BBC

Even puppies seem to have an innate understanding of humans

Dogs today come in all shapes and sizes, but scientists believe they evolved from just a handful of wolves tamed by humans living in or near China less than 15,000 years ago.

It looks as if 95% of current dogs come from just three original founding females

Matthew Binns, Animal Health Trust

Three research teams have attempted to solve some long-standing puzzles in the evolution and social history of dogs.

Their findings, reported in the journal Science, point to the existence of probably three founding females – the so-called “Eves” of the dog world.

They conclude that intensive breeding by humans over the last 500 years – not different genetic origins – is responsible for the dramatic differences in appearance among modern dogs.

One team studied Old World dogs to try to pin down their origins, previously thought to be in the Middle East.

The other team studied dogs of the New World and found they are not New World dogs at all, but also have their origins in East Asia.

Carles Vila, of Uppsala University, Sweden, one of the team studying the New World dogs, told BBC News Online: “We found that dogs originating in the Old World arrived to the New World with immigrating humans.

“Thus, even before the development of trade as we know it now, humans had to be exchanging dogs.”

Sparky dog, Science

A pet now but an integral part of the story of human development

He added that exactly how or why humans domesticated dogs was not known, but the speed at which they seem to have multiplied and diversified indicates they played an important role in human life.

“I can imagine that if dogs were, for example, improving the quality of hunting, that would be a very great advantage for humans. It could even have made the colonisation of the New World easier.

“There must have been something advantageous about those dogs that made them extremely successful and allowed them to spread all over the world.”

Peter Savolainen, of the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, led the study of Old World dogs, analysing DNA samples taken from dogs in Asia, Europe, Africa and arctic America.

‘Bit of a surprise’

His team found that, though most dogs shared a common gene pool, genetic diversity was highest in East Asia, suggesting that dogs have been domesticated there the longest.

“Most earlier guesses have focused on the Middle East as the place of origin for dogs, based on the few known facts – a small amount of archaeological evidence from the region, and the fact that several other animals were domesticated there,” he says.

Chimp, BBC

Genetic evidence shows chimps are our closest relatives

The researchers studied gene sequences from the dogs’ mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited directly from the mother. The findings indicated that the major present-day dog populations at some point had a common origin from a single gene pool.

Matthew Binns, head of genetics at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, UK, said the findings were significant.

He told BBC News Online: “For the first time, there’s relatively convincing evidence actually pinpointing the date at which the dog was domesticated and also the location of that domestication, which is a bit of a surprise.

“People have previously thought that a lot of species were domesticated in the Middle East and this data clearly shows domestication took place in East Asia.”

He added: “It looks as if 95% of current dogs come from just three original founding females and I guess these are the Eves of the dog world.”

Human evolution

In a separate study, researchers at Harvard University and the Wolf Hollow Wolf Sanctuary, both US, studied social cognition in dogs and were surprised by the findings.

In a simple experiment designed to compare their behaviour to those of wolves and our closest relative, the chimpanzee, the findings clearly showed that dogs – even young puppies – were far better at interpreting social cues from humans.

Food, Hare/Science

The food was hidden in little buckets

The dogs had to choose which bucket had food hidden underneath it, and the experiment was designed so they could not rely on their superb sense of smell. The scientists helped by pointing or looking in the direction of the hidden food.

Researcher Brian Hare said the dogs outperformed even the chimpanzees, and the puppies were as good as the older dogs, proving the skill was innate and not learned.

“During domestication there was some kind of change in their cognitive ability that allowed them to figure out what other individuals wanted using social cues. The biggest surprise was the puppies – even as young as nine weeks old, they’re better than an adult chimpanzee at finding food.”

He said the research might ultimately provide some clues as to how social skills evolved in humans.”


Pig does agility

Hi folks,

I want a pig! They seem to be a real competition for us K9s, and they are smart, cute and clean!

now here’s the latest: the BBC reports about a pig able to perform agility tricks. Pig Sue (a boy, mind you!) is a bit slow, but he knows what to do, if he gets a treat.

Have a look yourself…

A farm owner in Herefordshire has attracted comparisons with the film Babe after teaching her pig to perform agility tasks like a dog.

Unlike the character in Babe, Sue the boar can not round-up sheep, but he can respond to commands like a well trained border collie, his owner said.

Wendy Scudamore, of Barton Hill Animal Centre in Hereford said Sue began copying her dog in agility training.

She said he would “never be a sheep-pig” but hoped he entertained people.

Mocking name

Mrs Scudamore said Sue was reared to be a breeding pig but was named after the Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue” owing to an unfortunate incident at the vets aged two months when he was accidentally castrated.

She said: “I don’t usually name my pigs until they grow a bit older and develop a character but I thought it would be funny to call him Sue after that.”

Mrs Scudamore breeds New Zealand Kuni Kuni pigs and said she hoped Sue would be an amusing attraction to draw people to her stand at country shows.

She trains him for up to 15 minutes at a time in the back garden and rewards him with little pieces of apple and occasionally, his favourite treats, custard creams.”

Amazing breed

We are such an amazing breed! Today I found the following article in our local newspaper.  I’m not sure that my sniffing qualities are as good, but then I am just a humble gundog…

The dog who can sniff out a diabetic attack

A helping paw - Elizabeth Wilkinson with her alert dog which can sniff out a diabetic attack
A helping paw – Elizabeth Wilkinson with her alert dog which can sniff out a diabetic attack

RICHARD PARR

19 March 2009 05:12

Devoted dog Chushla potentially saves her owner’s life every week – by smelling the onset of a diabetic attack.

The Bedlington-whippet cross detects a scent when Elizabeth Wilkinson’s blood sugar levels drop dangerously low – up to three times a week – and nibbles her hand to alert her.

Elizabeth, 54, of Southery, near Downham Market, a Type-1 diabetic for over 40 years, has one of just six registered hypoalert dogs in Britain which can smell an oncoming hypoglycaemic attack.

When Chushla showed that she was able to sense and alert Elizabeth to an oncoming hypo attack she contacted the charity Cancer & Bio detection Dogs which specialises in training diabetic assistance dogs.

With support of the charity’s co-founder, Claire Guest, who was able to fine-tune Chushla’s alerting procedure, the pet is now a fully-fledged hypo alert dog .

She now accompanies Elizabeth everywhere she goes as her “guardian angel”.

Chushla first showed off her talent when she was just 10-weeks-old. One night when Elizabeth was asleep, Chushla jumped on her bed and started frantically nibbling at her neck to wake her up.

Elizabeth realised that her dog had alerted her to a oncoming hypo attack.

Two days later Chushla repeated this nibbling behaviour during the day and when Elizabeth checked her blood sugar levels she found they had dropped massively.

She said : “When I first got Chushla I had a very bad hypo attack during which I felt the need for live comfort and I cuddled up with her until I felt better. This was only a few days before she first alerted me to a hypo. May be it was something she picked up on as not being good and it set her mothering instinct in motion.”

Elizabeth started to reward Chushla each time she gave an alert and so her dog was trained to be a reliable hypo alert dog.

Because Elizabeth has suffered from diabetes for so long, she has become desensitised to the warning signs of hypos which is why Churchla is so important to her. It means she now has the courage to lead a normal independent life.

“She has given me my freedom to go out when I wish and Chushla wears her working jacket with pride,” she said.

Elizabeth explained that her dog has been reliably alerting her for 18 months for hypos (low blood sugar) and 12 months for hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar), in effect acting as an assistance dog.

Churchla gives Elizabeth about 10 to 15 minutes warning of an attack which gives her enough time to eat something to raise her blood sugar levels.

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