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Archive for March, 2009

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.”

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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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So what’s going to happen dogwise in the White House? Mali and me have been discussing this for a while. Apparently, they are going to get a Portuguese Water Dog, although they favoured before a Labradoodle.

wportuguesewaterdog

“In an exclusive interview with People magazine hitting stands Friday, First Lady Michelle Obama opened up about her marriage, life in the White House and, most importantly, the upcoming arrival of the First Dog. Obama said she favors Portuguese Water Dogs, although, as of last month, a Labradoodle was still considered a possibility. The pup’s target arrival date is April, after the family’s spring break trip, Obama said.” (source: US News)

I found this about the breed:

“The Portuguese Water Dog was originally a hunting dog introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by Moors from North Africa; it is as a fishermens dog that he excels.  Loving water, and accomplished diver, he would accompany them on voyages, retrieving nets or tackle that had fallen overboard and taking messages from ship to shore by carrying them in waterproof cylinders.

The Portuguese Water Dog is described in the Breed Standard as being “self-willed” and as a puppy he needs to be challenged to reduce his tendency to stubbornness.  Very intelligent and energetic he is obedient to his owner but needs the opportunity to use his energy constructively.

Medium sized at up at 22½” and weighing about 25kg, his coat is, unusually of two types.  It is either long, loosely waved with a slight sheen, or short, harsh and dense with compact curls.  Both types of coat are clipped over the hindquarters, leaving a long plume on the tail. He can be black, white, shades of brown or black with white and brown with white.  Not a numerically large breed in the UK, he needs ample exercise and a fair bit of attention to grooming if he is to look typical.  It is thought that the Portuguese Water Dog could have played a part in the development of the Kerry Blue when Portuguese ships were wrecked off the coast of Southern Ireland.”

Mamma Mia! We Labradors sound like pussycats, compared to this piece of hard work… No, I’m not jealous! And I wouldn’t certainly like my bottom part and tail been shaved like a spaghetti!

portuguese_water_dog

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