DOGGIE NEWS AND VIEWS
Sam the charming and calming Cockapoo proves to be a hit in the classroom…
I’m so pleased to get our first update about Sam the cockapoo who is currently training to become a Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog. Sam’s owner explains:
This means he will go into school and help children who have trouble expressing themselves or enjoying childhood to the fullest for whatever reason that may be.
He is currently “in training” at school so the children know that they are part of the process too; when they stay calm, Sam stays calm. Mostly, he spends time with a boy who is seven years old who has home worries and needs some extra support at times. Every week, he takes Sam for a walk around the field and they have a fun game of fetch (all supervised of course). He’s learnt to be calm around Sam (actually learning to feel calm for himself) and he knows that it’s a special responsibility to look after him so he feels very proud of himself. While he’s with Sam, he can forget his worries and be a seven year old boy; the changes in his face and body language are amazing.
When Sam is fully trained and accepted as a PAT dog the plan is that he will spend more time with children like this, simply helping them to be children, teaching them about responsibility and listening to them reading too!
He’s been meeting lots of different children he’s never met before and spent time with children reading as well as a group who’d never had any experiences with dogs before. He’s been great and one of the children actually remarked on how “smart” he was because he listened to everything she was saying.
Sam is still going through a little more training but his mum and dad hope that soon he’ll be ready for his official assessment. By the sounds of it he’s already doing an amazing job and we wish Sam and his owners the very best of luck!
For more information about the PAT charity visit: www.petsastherapy.org
On the home page you will find details about how to text to donate. The website also includes details of how you can donate online or volunteer and get involved.
Thanks so much to Caroline for providing this information and for the photos. We look forward to hearing more about Sam’s therapy adventures in the coming months…
Before Whickham Walkies I’d never experienced working with beagles before and it’s been a total joy working with two lovely ladies over the last couple of years. They’ve both stolen my heart. It’s been challenging, frustrating at times and sometimes stressful working with these beauties whose spirited, playful, friendly nature can be balanced with stubbornness, determination and an amazing nose than can pick up a scent at the drop of a hat! We have worked so hard on recall and it makes me incredibly proud that we’ve had so many successes (and balanced with that comes the occasional stresses, where the occasional deaf ears and the scent of a bunny proves far too tempting).
For a lot of dog breeds a really good recall is a lifelong effort but with beagles they take it to a whole new level, they’ve taught me you can’t ever be complacent, you have to be even more prepared. As part of this job you always have to be thinking ahead, looking for potential dangers or distractions but with beagles you need to really be on your top game and practice, practice, practice recall in the most fun and creative ways possible and sometimes we have to take things right back to basics too. Here’s to our beagleicious lovely ladies, who love to keep me on my toes…
This month we’ve had some heart-breaking news that one of our regular dogs is suffering from severe hip dysplasia at aged just two years old. The condition involves the failure of the hip joints to develop normally which leads to deterioration over time. His condition can be managed and he has already shown signs of improvement since receiving the anti-inflammatory drugs he needs. His vets and owners are hopeful that with careful management he will continue to have many happy years of walks left to enjoy.
Some breeds such a Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd are more likely to suffer from it and it can be genetic, in this case he believed to be born with the condition. There are precautionary measures that can be taken to prevent the onset of the condition in the early years. If your dog shows any symptoms of hip-dysplasia which can include a sway when walking, difficulty getting up or showing any signs of pain in the back legs, bunny hoping, avoidance of climbing up stairs etc. then don’t put off seeking advice from your vet.
Don’t throw sticks!
Last week we met a beautiful three year old Spaniel while out and about in Whickham who is recovering from an operation after catching a stick awkwardly resulted in a four cm hole in the back of his throat. He now has to wear a harness and can’t wear anything around his neck. The injury resulted in a vets bill of £700.
Let this be a reminder to us all that it really happens and chatting to people while we’ve been out and about this week it’s amazing how many people have injured their dogs whilst throwing sticks for them. If they love sticks let them carry them but don’t throw them, buy them a safe stick toy to throw instead.
On a happier note it’s great to see that our regular doggie that is treated for severe anxiety has been making some really significant progress and has really come out of her shell lately, to the point that she’s been scouting out and venturing ahead of the pack on some parts of our walks which would have been unthinkable when I first started out walking her, many of the sounds that would have sent her into a shaking mess are no longer of concern to her and it’s just so nice to see the progress. It’s also such fantastic news to hear that her anti-anxiety medication has been significantly reduced with no ill-effects, in fact she seems better than ever and will only be taking medication when needed rather than every day.
This spring/summer we’ve provided TLC puppy visits to a new Miniature Schnauzer puppy. He’s a temporary client and I’ve had a lovely time watching him grow up so fast. It’s been a total pleasure getting to know him, playing with him, taking him on some of his first walks and introducing him to other doggies. We’ve also enjoyed practicing recall and some basic commands too.
He’s such a cuttie and a real character, make sure you say hello when you see him out and about in Whickham!
First time face time
We’re also saying hello to a new chocolate Labrador this summer. After a short trial period it was clear that he’s proved himself to be a real hit with all of our doggies. He’s a real softie and has been doing a very good job setting a good example with recall for many of our youngies (of course he has, he’s a lab).
They love playing tug of war with him – he has such a gentle nature that he lets the little ones win, after giving them a bit of a work out first…
New Face Update
Also just an update on the gorgeous rescue junior that I told you about in the Spring Blogathon. He has found his feet and has started settling down into the Whickham Walkies gang really well. He is currently attending puppy foundation classes with his Mum. He is starting to do well with recall and basic commands during walks, I know his mummy is very proud of his progress… We’re also interested to hear that after a tiny bit of speculation, his sister (who was found at the same time in the shed with him in Ireland) was DNA tested and was found to be a setter/border collie cross.
We have introduced TLC cat visits as part of the Whickham Walkies service. £6.50 per pop-in visit during the week and £7.50 per pop-in visit on weekends and bank holidays. As part of this service litter trays will be emptied, food replenished and of course lots of TLC.
For those who want it cats will have a kitty-cat diary sent and not to be outdone by the dogs, they will also have their own personal photo gallery. So if you have small children they can enjoy reading about their adventures and seeing what they’ve been up to while you’ve been away or at work. This is Lizzy, our first kitty client, what a beauty of a pussy cat….
More with four?
We only recently introduced walking dogs in groups of four which after a trial period has gone really well. It’s made it possible to have a couple more beach excursions during the warm weather. It’s also been great to see how the dynamics of the groups change when there are four buddies out together (obviously they all know each other before we move to a group of four). Of course we’re still continuing with trios, duos and solo walks, especially with the younger dogs, but this option is great for a bit more variety, and for a bit more mischief and mayhem (but they’re mostly good…. honest!)
There’s lots more to update but this is getting really long, so check back soon for more photies and news…