My Favourite Dog Treat Recipes (super easy!)

Our dogs are fed a raw diet so everything is either meat, bone or offal. This means that I prefer to feed them healthier treats rather than your standard store-bought ones (some are great for dogs and some do great things like Pooch and Mutt do some fab calming and digestive treats the dogs love, but also some contain things dogs don’t need and won’t benefit from) because then you can directly control what your dog eats. There are different things you can put into homemade treats to make them for different purposes, for example: turmeric will help joints and chamomile leaves are great for calming and relaxing for high-strung or nervous dogs. Our dogs love them, as well as a lot of other dogs too. Not one dog has refused any of my homemade treats, even the picky ones! I thought I’d share some of my favourite recipes and I’ll leave links to the websites I used to find them. (These recipes can both be frozen until needed.)

Liver Cake (Credit: Agility Net Canine Cook):
Ingredients:
450g liver
450g self raising flour
3 eggs
2 cloves of garlic
milk or water

  1. Beat the eggs in a separate jug or mug and then add an equal amount of milk or water to that.
  2. Blend the liver and garlic in a food processor and then combine the two separate mixtures until they resemble cake mixture. I also sometimes grate some cheese into it, or add a few tablespoons of turmeric into it.
  3. Bake on a greased/lined baking tray at gas mark 6 for 45-60 minutes then leave to cool.

Tuna Loaf (Credit: Bishopton Dog Walking Services):
Ingredients:
2 160g tins of tuna in oil
2 eggs
160g of oil
1 clove of garlic (I never used the garlic and it was fine without)

  1. Combine the two tins of tuna (use the oil too) with the two eggs and beat together.
  2. Add the flour and the garlic if you’re using it.
  3. Mix everything together and mush together to form a very thick paste.
  4. Spread it out across a small plate and microwave for 4 minutes (I found 6-8 minutes worked better for me because my microwave is a bit rubbish).
  5. Flip it over and cook for another minute (in my case, 3-4).
  6. Leave to cool then cut up and serve to your pooch! = HAPPY DOGS!

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If any of you do make these, be sure you tell me on twitter (@furrybookshelf)!

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The Gifts Any Dog Owner Secretly/Not So Secretly Wants

Many dog owners will agree with me when I say that our dogs are firmly a part of our family. We wouldn’t go on holiday somewhere they couldn’t come with us because we know they would just be stressed in kennels/staying with a friend. We decide what to do every day based on/around the dog walk and we love them. So if someone didn’t know what to get me for my birthday(it’s October 10th by the way…) or for Christmas, it would be easy for them to figure out that something dog-related would make me very happy! I thought I’d put together a list (in no particular order) of products/companies/ideas that are often not considered but would make great gifts and are maybe from smaller businesses that you might not have seen.img_20161010_213324

First off, we have the standard pet portrait, which a lot of people won’t actually think of when thinking of a present for a dog owner, but it makes a perfect gift, and if you’re lucky, they might even cry! Here are a few websites that I know of/know the artist from which do great portraits. The artist from the first website is the one who did the gorgeous portrait of my dog, Hunter!
Kat Compton Pet Portraits Jim Griffiths Pet Portraits Bowwow Dog Portraits

Another great idea for a dog owner is a lovely collar. A beautiful collar is a very20160814_143557 good way to get a ‘doggy’ person to like you because we all appreciate a stunning new collar for our pet pooch. There are plenty online, on Etsy and on eBay, but of course, it’s import
ant to get the right kind/size for the dog. For example, a big old greyhound isn’t going to appreciate a small/narrow, clasp collar as it’ll cut into its neck, but a wide, martingale collar gives it room to pull so there won’t be much pressure (as long as it’s not a ‘pully’ dog) and it won’t dig into its neck. A great place to get dog collars from is PinkFluffyKitty Boutique, which make collars (of various types), leads, snoods, bags, keyrings etc… They also make things for cats, as well as dogs. Here is the link to their website, but they also have a very active Facebook page with a monthly prize draw. Pink Fluffy Kitty Boutique

fb_img_1476827996405Every dog owner has a soft spot for their own dog; they’re more annoyed when they misbehave, they’re more proud when they learn something new or achieve something…wouldn’t it be great if you could give them a gift that meant they could have their dog with them wherever they went? Well, that’s where Specially Made come in. They make a glass bead which will look exactly like your dog, they’ll fit most necklaces (even Pandora/similar, I’m told) and only cost £12. It’s a lovely present and all you’ll need is to send them a clear photo of the dog’s head/face. Please click this link to see their website: Specially Made

A gift, possibly more directed at sighthound owners, although they are very cute, would be a flat hound. It’s a hound sewn together and they’re completely flat, rather than a stuffed toy. This means they can be hung up on the wall etc. They’re well-made and lovely as you can see, of course. They’re made by Haberdash Hounds and the link to their Facebook page is Haberdash Hounds

If the person is a fan of a specific breed, it’s so easy to find beautiful products on websites like Etsy. For example, for a budding author or stationery fanatic who has three labradors, just type in “labrador notebook”or anything similar and you will be amazed! Easy shopping and they are often so stunning that you may regret not ordering one for yourself while you were there!

10 Reasons My Dog is Melman from Madagascar

So by this point, if you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know I love comparing books to animals. But what if I compared film characters to animals? Well, I know a lot of lurchers, and obviously they’re all very different personality-wise, but most do have a lot in common. For me, I think there are two main kinds of lurcher; bull lurcher and your standard lurcher (I know there are others, these are just most relevant to me and to this post, please don’t shout at me…). Bull lurchers are loving, cuddly and boisterous. They love to run, but they have solid heads and solid bodies which they seem to feel no pain in. They’re the tanks of the dog world. Standard lurchers are the skinny ones; the greyhound, saluki or whippet crosses. Those too are loving, but have a tendency to either be snooty or a little bit naughty! They love to run and may even play boisterously, but are still quite different to bull lurchers.
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This is Hunter, my saluki lurcher and he is Melman. Why, you ask? Well I will tell you!

20160723_2153541. His legs are too long for his brain to handle and (especially when he was younger), he would fall over on turns and stumble a lot…he
still has problems with his wrist because he runs too hard on it and then wakes up with it in a lot of pain. He also often squeals when he scratches his ear with his feet… Melman is also clumsy and he lands in a drum kit, slides around everywhere he goes and gets his head stuck in the clock at Grand Central Station.

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2. He thinks he’s hurt himself even when he hasn’t…he will scream like he’s just been shot and limp back to us and if we just massage the offending foot for a minute, he happily runs off again. I believe if he could talk, he would relate to this Melman qufb_img_1474109613014ote: “I’m calling in sick; I found another brown spot on my shoulder…right here!”. And another; “ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow”.

3. He hates being dirty…although I doubt this is because he’s scared of the germs associated with dirt, it still has a good link as at the start of the film, a pair of underpants lands on Melman’s head and he is terrified of them and the germs on them.

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4. He loves attention, even medical attention. He quite enjoys taking tablets as he’s taken painkillers so often so he isn’t phased by it and doesn’t mind it at all! He likes to wear a bandage or wrist support and stopper-pad protectors. Melman doesn’t want to leave the zoo to go after Marty because other zoos wouldn’t be able to cater to his needs of accupuncture, medicines, regular scans and all the many special requirements he has to do with his medical health.
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5. One of his favourite things is sleep! He sleeps at night, he doesn’t like to get up early, he goes to bed quite eagerly at night and he can sleep for the vast majority of the day except for food times. Melman is quite sleepy too, as he says “Sleeping just knocks me out” proving that he can wake up tired, as does Hunter. (PS: baby Hunter is very cute!!)

6. He tendsimag0450 to panic very easily…So he’s quite a calm chap and he won’t really cause any problems at all on walks, but he does have friends he loves to run with. However, if he gets barged or knocked over by other dogs, or if they run dangerously close to him, he will have a little melt down and be subdued for the rest of the walk, usually hidden behind your legs. Unfortunately, poor Melman also panics about nearly everything; he hyperventilates, he hides his head in the sand, he repeats everything he says in a manic way and at one point he even digs his own grave complete with his will.

7. He loves food, a lot! He’s a good lad and at home, he won’t steal an20160916_144348d he hardly even moves to get his own dinner, but pretty much anything you take to him is gone in seconds! On a walk, he’s a pesky little devil as he knows who brings treats on walks, so he knows who to pester and he will stay near them until they feed him! Melman finds a “mint” on the way to saving Marty and although Alex takes it off him, he still sneakily reaches around him so that he can take the “mint” back!

8. He’s a cleve030015bar boy but not in the conventional way of being clever…For example, he isn’t very good at learning ‘tricks’, but he’s a star at agility. He knows how to annoy his brother and how to avoid going on his lead if he’s determined to stay off it (don’t worry though, he comes back once treats are involved!). When they arrive on the island, Melman’s first instinct is that it’s San Diego Zoo, which is a semi-logical assumption, and he even uses intelligent reasoning to back himself up. He says the sands are pale and the rocks are large, but unfortunately he was wrong completely…
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9. He adores to be pampered; he loves fuss, he loves massages and he just loves attention all round. He loves to be brushed and he really likes to be snuggled and tucked under a duvet. To win over the “aliens/freaks”, King Julian pampers the main four and Melman loves it a lot as he has a lot of attention and feels looked after!

10. Finall20151001_164535y, he’s a brave soul when he needs to be; he’s defended his two ‘siblings’ multiple times and he’s also defended friends he doesn’t even live with. He’s also defended me and my little sister when we’ve been out on walks with him, so despite all his fears and nervousness, he can be brave when he feels he needs to protect the ones he loves. Towards the end of the film, it’s actually Melman who scoops up Marty away from the foosa who are attacking him! A surprise rescue from seemingly the world’s most fearful giraffe is very similar to the feelings we get when Hunter defends his family/friends!

Is there an obvious link between your pet and a film/book character? Please do comment and tell me all about your strange pets’ behaviours/likes!

Our Trip To The Beach (Furry Friday #2)

20160918_123323Well haven’t our little bunch had a wonderful month indeed! They’ve been on plenty of interesting walks, met some new friends and had a lot of fun overall, but the highlight was their trip to Brancaster beach (England)!

They went with some friends and although Hunter doesn’t often appreciate the joys of the beach, he still had a lot of fun! Jessie always loves the beach; sand to dig in and water to splash in, what more could a pesky terrier want?!

So what did they get up to? Well, Jessie dug a lot and rubbed her face all over the sand…Hunter ran around and attacked a lot of seaweed like some kind of monster and Shadow climbed and dug a lot of holes too! There were a lot of zoomies and a lot of charging about across the beach, and we even saw some seals!

Our squad’s friends had lots of fun too! Coco got covered in sand and enjoyed splashing around in the water, Hector had a good lie-down in the pools and looked very smug whilst doing it and an elderly greyhound called Lucy found a new wave of energy and flew around the beach like she was a puppy!

At the end, we all had ice creams (including the dogs!) but I wasn’t quick enough with my camera so there are no photos of dogs enjoying ice cream, sorry about that!

We’ll see you next month with the third Furry Friday!

Two weeks at Dogs Trust Loughborough

I’m on an animal care course at the moment, and it means I have to do 150 hours of work experience a year. This year, I chose to do 90 of them at Dogs Trust, Loughborough and it was the most enjoyable two weeks of my life so far.

My first day was spent getting to know the rules and protocols of the centre, and where everything is. I also walked a few dogs to learn routes which were good for the dogs and how to avoid other people walking dogs which could have issues with other dogs, such as fear or reactivity. From that day, I spent a lot of time in with the puppies since a litter of American Bulldog puppies had arrived at the centre (about nine/ten 11 week old and two 5 month old), and there was a lot of jobs to be done so extra help was useful to them. I helped with weighing, micro-chipping, feeding, cleaning out, exercising and socialising the puppies.

Something interesting I learnt was that the Dogs Trust won’t use any negativity at all with the dogs, so that means no saying “no” or pulling them around. They believe that if a dog is couped up all day in a kennel (there really isn’t enough time to walk them all to the extent they need), then it deserves as much freedom as possible when out on walks. This means that they have the full length of the lead and can go anywhere they want, obviously unless it’s dangerous for the dog or other dogs/people. They can sniff as much as they like and are let off lead as much as possible in paddocks which prevent other dogs from interrupting them. Positive reinforcement was the only way they trained the dogs and there were a lot of treats involved! There was also a homework house which let the dogs relax in a normal environment and also allowed the carers to see if there were any obvious issues which would be likely to happen in a home. For example, one dog had an issue with people sat on chairs/sofas when he first got there, so the homework house helped him to get used to that. Another dog was very reactive to the doorbell and to strangers entering her house, so it gave the carers the opportunity to work with her on that issue specifically, obviously making these dogs easier to rehome and more desirable.

I also watched some training with two sighthounds (Dennis the lurcher and Bowie the lurcher) where Dennis was being muzzle-trained so that he could leave the centre fully trained in case the new owners wanted to muzzle him when off lead since a lot of lurchers have a high prey drive. Also, Bowie was being trained to wear a cone since he was going to have his eye removed (he was blind) at the same time of his castration, so they wanted him to be used to it so he wouldn’t be excessively stressed.

I figured most people reading this would be most interested in seeing photos of puppies and dogs so I thought I’d tell you the stories of some of the dogs there which are sadly quite typical in rehoming and rescue.

These are a few pups from the litter of 9/10 week old American Bulldogs. They were handed in to the centre since the person who bred them couldn’t find homes for them so the dogs trust took over. They arrived on the Monday I started there and by the time I left (two weeks later), they all had homes. They’ve had no bad experience, no trauma and no incident which has left them “damaged”, so essentially, the people who adopted them now have an American Bulldog puppy for £120, whereas they would normally cost from about £400-£1500. However, people will tend to shy away from rescued puppies because they’re “damaged” and unpredictable, which is silly because these puppies hadn’t had a chance to become damaged.

This is Olympia, another American Bulldog puppy, from the same owner, but she’s five months old. There were two at this age and the other went straight into foster (then was adopted by her foster family 2 weeks later). She was nervous but not hugely and once I’d walked her a few times and spent time with her, she happily gave me hugs and let me walk her without a fuss. She was fine with other dogs and people once she got to know you, and she too was rehomed during my second week, after arriving on the same Monday as the litter.

This is Lady, another puppy who is a five month Beagle cross Cocker Spaniel. She was a little more nervous than Olympia and less sociable with other dogs if they were too full-on and bouncy. She took longer than Olympia to become fine with me but it happened eventually and she greeted me every morning and let me put a harness on her and check her feet when she picked one up (it was just grass stuck in her pad). She too found a home before I left.

A special case is Dennis the lurcher. He has a problem in the bones in his forelegs which isn’t clear in the photos because he also doesn’t enjoy standing still. His wrists touch and are growing inwards which will soon become a huge problem as he’s only eight months old and still growing. He will need expensive surgery to fix his legs and until then, he won’t be up for rehoming because of how expensive it’ll be, but when he does go up for rehoming, he won’t be available for long because he’s lovely. He’s very attractive of course, but he’s also the most sweet-natured dog ever and all the staff love him because he’s just so simple to work with and so loving to everyone and everything.

A lot of the dogs in rescue are bull breeds, especially staffies because they get treated badly/roughly because of the breed which causes them to show aggression towards kids, cats, other dogs etc.. This then gives them a bite record, enforcing the assumption that all bull breeds are nasty and aggressive and can’t live with kids or other dogs. This means they get left behind, even though a lot of their behaviour can easily be manag20160817_110316ed or is actually non-existent since the bites were provoked. I don’t know the history of him, but this is Kevin, a staffie. He’s the only staffie (I think) that volunteers are allowed to walk and the sweetest little ball of wiggles ever. He greeted me like I was his bestest friend in the whole wide world and then spent the whole walk looking up at me and wagging when we made eye contact. He sat for me when I got a treat out of my pocket, before I even said anything, and he was no problem seeing other dogs. However, he isn’t currently reserved, probably because he’s a staffie and people assume the worst. He’s young and bouncy and can live with older children as well as other pets, so he won’t have ever bitten.

 

I think a lot of people are happy to buy puppies from breeders or even puppy farms unknowingly, before they consider a rescue dog, just because they think all rescue dogs are aggressive or going to kill their children or run away at the first chance. All my dogs are rescue dogs, most of the people I know’s dogs are rescued and from just two weeks at the Dogs Trust, it’s obvious that with the right care and consideration for the dog, any issues can be worked through. Any puppy from a breeder can also have these issues too. Any dog can be triggered to become aggressive or reactive or nervous, it just takes the wrong experience. If you take anything from this post, take away the thought that rescuing changes these dogs’ lives. Most dogs hate kennels and once in a home change and become a completely different dog. A dog which is aggressive or easily frustrated in a kennel can become relaxed once it’s in a home and can be given plenty of exercise with the same regular family members. If you can’t have a dog because of where you live or because of money etc, think about volunteering with your local rescue because most of the time, they need the extra help and on top of that, you can spend a day working with dogs and helping to find them homes too. And because I know why you’re really here, here are some more photos of the dogs I met!

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Walking puppies..

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Hydrotherapy treadmill.

Meet The Squad! (Furry Friday #1)

It’s our first furry friday and I thought I should introduce the animals which will be involved in the furry fridays. First off, I should explain that me and my family are involved with a Facebook group/charity which helps with various things like rehoming, socialisation, raising awareness and generally a lot of support and advice is given by them. It’s based in Leicester (England) and helps the specific breeds under the “sighthound” banner but there are a few other dogs in the group. Here is a link for those interested: https://www.facebook.com/leicestersighthounds/?fref=ts

First off, we have the first dog in the family, our very own Jessie. She’s a patterdale terrier crossed with a border collie (we think!) and we got her from the Dogs Trust in August 2010. Her favourite things are water, tennis balls and food and she’s got a huge personality… She’s a very vocal dog and tends to make little grumbling noises to herself when no one’s even near her but she will also grumble when people are stroking her but she does enjoy it and will make it clear if she isn’t enjoying it. She loves to swim and will also spend hours in water, picking up stones from the bottom of the water and leaving them in a pile by the edge. We don’t know why, she’s just a bit quirky..

Secondly, we have my dog, Hunter who is a saluki/collie lurcher so is basically insane. He’s a year younger than Jessie, he too was from the Dogs Trust and we got him in March 2011. His favourite things are food, running and agility. He likes to chase his friends, but he does prefer to be the one in front winning the race. We think it’s the saluki in him that makes him proud but he is quite a snooty dog. However, he does love to be stroked and hugged and he will often snuggle in further so that it looks like you’re squashing him. 

The baby of the family is Shadow the bull lurcher who we rescued directly from the original owners at the age of about eight months. Since then, he’s matured into a beautiful and very obedient/eager to please dog, but he does have severe reactivity problems, which makes walking him difficult because other dogs have to be avoided where possible so that he doesn’t become stressed. His favourite things are cuddles, playtime and running. He’s gradually built up friendship with a few other dogs and he likes to meet up and run with them as well as Hunter. He really does give the best hugs but he also doesn’t realise that his claws hurt, a lot, so that’s a problem sometimes..

These are our guinea pigs, Nutmeg (white) and Fudge (black). You’ll probably mostly see Nutmeg because she seems to enjoy posing and is a lot more relaxed out of the cage than Fudge is. They love to eat, squeak (a lot) and sleep. They really enjoy cucumber and apple and cuddles.

Finally, these are my gerbils, Tom and Jerry. These are rescued from being abandoned and Tom is pretty feisty/aggressive as heck so you probably won’t see much of him either. They love to chew and dig, and Jerry likes to investigate things outside the tank, but Tom prefers the safety of the glass walls around him.

Every month, the last Friday will be Furry Friday, where I’ll tell you what’s been happening with my pets and what they’ve been up to, complete with photos of course!