Friday 11 November 2011

Purple Poppy

Hi all.

It has been some time since I last had the chance to post a message on the blog. We have been cruising on our boat and having a good time. Both me and Abbey managed to fall overboard on this trip. But we had a great time.

Over here in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world we celebrate Armistice Day on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month each year. This year makes it 11/11/11/11 or the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the 2011 year.

However, on item is purchased which is a red poppy, this is a symbol of recognition of the soldiers who gave their lives on both sides in a conflict. Some people choose to wear a white poppy as recognition of the soldiers sacrifice whilst stating at the same time their belief of being a pacifist.

There is also a third emblem - it is the purple poppy. Throughout the history of human conflicts, animals have been victims of war. During World War I, dogs and pigeons were used to deliver messages between front line trenches and further afield. Horses, donkeys and even elephants have been routinely used as beasts of burden, while an array of animals – from bears to deer – have been kept as pets in the midst of battle.

Today, animals continue to be used in the battlefield to detect explosives. To commemorate all the animal victims, a purple poppy, can be worn alongside the traditional red one, or white one as a reminder that both humans and animals have been – and continue to be – victims of war.

Yip Yap.

Poppy and Abbey.

Monday 22 August 2011

Summer into Autumn Canal Boat Cruise

Hi all.

We are leaving our home mooring in Sheffield today to start our summer into autumn canal boat cruise.

We were soon on our way and through Jordan's Lock and puttering our way down the valley towards Rotherham. Every time we pass Jordan's Weir I am minded of the ghost poem here. There is also an amazing story about Narrowboat Copperkins II that happened between Holmes Lock and Ickles Lock that you can read here
We will be gone for about 50 days, so you might not find much on the blog for a while. Our next stop is Eastwood Lock. Eastwood is the first of the Electric hydraulic powered automatic locks.Then we moved along the canal to our favourite place to stay which is Sprotborough Lock. 
Lots of places to go for a walk and plenty of space to run free as a bird. Distance: 19 Miles. Locks: 22
Yip Yap
Poppy and Abbey

Sunday 17 July 2011

Celebrity Dog (9)

Chips was the most decorated American war dog from World War II. Chips was a German Shepherd-Collie-Siberian Husky mix, owned by Edward J Wren of New York state.

Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dogs for Defense was (DFD) was established. During the war, private citizens like Edward Wren would donate their dogs for war duty. Chips shipped out in 1942 for training as a sentry dog. He served with the 3rd Infantry Division in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany. His handler was Pvt. John P. Rowell.

Chips the Dog

Chips served as a sentry dog for the Roosevelt-Churchill conference in 1943. Later that year, during the invasion of Sicily, Chips and his handler were pinned down on the beach by an Italian machine-gun team. Chips broke from his handler and jumped into the pillbox, attacking the gunners. The four crewmen were forced to leave the pillbox and surrendered to US troops. In the fight he sustained a scalp wound and powder burns. Later that day, he helped take 10 Italians prisoner.  On one occasion, Chips alerted to an impending ambush. Then, with a phone cable attached to his collar, Chips ran back to base, dodging gunfire so that the endangered platoon could establish a communications line and ask for the backup they so desperately needed.

For his actions during the war, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart. Chips was a true hero -- but his Silver Star for valor and a Purple Heart were taken away because he was categorized as mere "equipment". His unit unofficially awarded him a Theater Ribbon with an Arrowhead for an assault landing, and Battlestars for each of his eight campaigns. Chips was discharged in December 1945 and returned to the Wren family.

Today we salute the memory of Chips - his hard won battle honours taken away by the government he served.

Yip Yap.

XX Poppy and Abbey

Monday 11 July 2011

Celebrity Dogs (8)

Hello everyone.

The celebrity dogs today are Irma and Psyche.

Irma, was an Alsatian who assisted in the rescue of 191 people trapped under blitzed buildings while serving with London's Civil Defence Services during the Second World War. During this period she worked with her handler and owner, Mrs Margaret Griffin, and another dog named Psyche. Noted for her ability to tell if buried victims were dead or alive, she was awarded the Dickin Medal in 1945 and is buried at the PDSA Animal Cemetery, Ilford.

Irma was initially used as a messenger dog to relay messages when telephone lines were down. She was teamed with another dog from the same kennel, named Crumstone Psyche (commonly referred to as Psyche), and they were both retrained to become search and rescue dogs. The pair of dogs were handled by their owner, Mrs Margaret Griffin, and together the two dogs found two hundred and thirty three people, of which twenty-one were found alive. In one incident, Irma refused to give up on the scent of two girls who were trapped under a fallen building for two days. Irma specialised in being able to bark differently depending on whether the buried victim was dead or alive. This included one occasion when Irma signaled with an "alive" bark and rescuers dug out a victim who was apparently dead. Irma was proved correct, as the man eventually stirred.

She was awarded the Dickin Medal on 12 January 1945 with a citation that read "For being responsible for the rescue of persons trapped under blitzed buildings while serving with the Civil Defences of London." Irma, along with Jet (See celebrity dogs 7)  was one of two dogs to participate in the London Victory Celebrations of 1946 held in Pall Mall, London on 8 June 1946. Both wore their Dickin Medals during the parade. Irma's owner, Mrs Margaret Griffin, was awarded the British Empire Medal for her work in training her dogs and accompanying them on rescue missions.

So today we salute the memory or Irma and her companion Psyche.

Yip Yap.

XX Poppy

Sunday 26 June 2011

Celebrity Dog (10)

Hi Everyone.

Today we remember four celebrity dogs. Rebel, Cubby, Toby and Nemo.

Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Republic of Vietnam was attacked by a large force of Viet Cong commandos. Once inside the base, the enemy divided into smaller groups to attack their targets. Several sentry dog teams stationed on perimeter posts gave the initial alert and warning almost simultaneously. This early warning enabled security forces to successfully repel the attack, minimizing damage to aircraft and facilities.

During the initial assault, one handler George M Bevich Jr and three sentry dogs were killed.  Sentry Dog Rebel, was the first to be killed. At an adjacent post, Sentry Dog Cubby, alerted and was killed by gunfire. Another sentry dog, Toby, also alerted as the infiltrators advanced, and was killed by gunfire. The attack had been thwarted.

Just before total darkness on December 4th, 1966 after Sentry Nemo and his handler were posted, Nemo alerted to an attack by Vietnamese troops who had evaded earlier detection. Nemo and his handler were both wounded. Nemo's injuries included the loss of one eye and a gunshot wounded that ripped into his nose. 

Nemo in Recovery
Before help could arrive, Nemo, an 85 pound German shepherd, although severely wounded, protected his handler by crawling across his body, and guarding him against anyone who dared to come near. When help arrived, they were able to convince Nemo to leave his handler, who was then given first aid. Nemo, suffering from a gunshot wound to his face, and the lost of his right eye, was relieved of sentry dog duties.

Nemo A534 Returns Home
On 23 June 1967, Headquarters, USAF, directed that Nemo be returned to the United States as the first sentry dog officially retired from active service. His permanent retirement kennel was located at the Department of Defense Dog Center, Lackland AFB, Texas.  Sentry Dog Nemo was one of the few Military Working Dogs that returned home. Nemo died in December of 1972 at Lackland AFB shortly before the Christmas holiday.  The Vietnam War Hero was laid to rest on March 15, 1973 at the DoD Dog Center at the age of 11. 

Later the United States began to pull their armed forces from Vietnam. But, there would be no homecoming for the dogs.  Military regulations prohibited the return of these heroes to the United States.  It was against military policy for war dogs to re-enter civilian life after they had served in combat. It was also declared that the dogs were military equipment, thus classifying them as expendable.

The dogs that had so valiantly served their country and survived were abandoned in Vietnam and Thailand.  Many were given to the Thai military who already had an excess of dogs. No one truly knows what happened to these heroes.

Today we salute four celebrity dogs. Rebel, Cubby, Toby and Nemo.
Yip Yap.

XX Poppy

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Words fail me.

Hello Everyone.

Me and dad are very angry today by this despicable joke for a human being. The RSPCA have revealed that a man who was banned from keeping animals for 10 years after being caught on camera kicking and punching a dog was jailed yesterday after the same dog was found in his flat.

Thug Major

Simeon Major, 20, was given the ban, as well as a custodial sentence, in August 2010 after he was caught on CCTV attacking his Staffordshire bull terrier-type dog, named Dream. The attack, which happened in Brantwood Road, Luton, in March last year, lasted 15 to 20 minutes. CCTV footage showed Major kicking and punching the female dog, which was around seven-months-old at the time, in front of a group of friends. The dog was kicked against a wall and punched, and dragged onto the wall only to be punched down again. The RSPCA said yesterday that Major, of Buxton Road, Luton, was jailed again at the town’s magistrates’ court yesterday after the same dog was found in his flat. Major pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to breaching a ban on keeping all animals for 10 years.

The court was told that the same dog was found in Mr Major’s home by police investigating an unrelated matter, and it was clear she was being looked after there. Major admitted the dog was the one which he had been caught attacking on CCTV. Thug Major sobbed in the dock as a four-minute edited version of his savage attack was played to the court.

The court was told Major had given Dream to a friend to be cared for while he was in prison, but she was returned to him afterwards because the friend could no longer look after her. He was jailed yesterday for 136 days, and had already served 68 on remand.

Dream the Staffy

Inspector Peter Warne said: “The original offence was a prolonged and disturbing attack. It wasn’t just one kick and punch, he repeatedly attacked the terrified dog over a sustained period of time.”

The RSPCA said it was currently looking after Dream, and said centres up and down the country were full of “Staffy-type” dogs like her in desperate need of loving new homes.

Our thought today are with our canine sister Dream. A very brave, beautiful and gentle Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Yip Yap.

XX Poppy

Sunday 29 May 2011

New crew member

Hello everyone.
Well, its about time I introduced you all to a new member of the crew on board Rosie. Meet "Abbie" who is now my permanent companion to help crew the boat. Abbie is a retired lady aged a whole twelve years. She is very fit and active and like me also loves nothing better that a soft comfortable lap to sleep on.

Abbie -n- Poppy

Abbie joined us on a recent cruise to see if she would settle on the boat OK. She stayed for three weeks over Easter. She proved to be a good sailor in that she never fell overboard. She tended to prefer sitting on the side in the boat cockpit watching the world go by whilst keeping company with whoever was at the tiller. 
I true to form went over the side on our return back to the marina. So I have maintained my record of at least one dunking per trip!
Abbie also has the endearing habit of inviting herself onto any boat moored nearby to carryout a full inspection. So far her list includes Narrow boat, Dutch barge and GRP Cruiser. I think she is working down a tick list of boat types. If nothing else, an inquisitive and slightly over friendly Wire Haired Fox Terrier soon helps you to make a few new acquaintances on other boats moored nearby.
I love the picture taken on the back steps of the boat, as it looks like I am stood next to a mirror.
Yip Yap.
Poppy xx

Sunday 15 May 2011

Celebrity Dogs (7)

Hi.... Everyone.

We have been away on the boat for three weeks but now we are back. Latest news is that Abbie has now permanently joined the boat crew. She is proving to be a good buddy when dealing with that pesky cat Jasper.  So more news on our latest trip with the boat is to follow soon.

Today's celebrity dog is Jet or "Jet of Lada". Jet was a stunning black Alsatian, who assisted in the rescue of 150 people trapped under blitzed buildings. He was a pedigree dog born in Liverpool, and served with the Civil Defence Services of London. He was awarded both the Dickin Medal and the RSPCA's Medallion of Valor for his rescue efforts.

He was loaned to be trained at the War Dogs School in Gloucester from the age of nine months, where he was trained in anti-sabotage work. Following eighteen months work on airfields performing anti-sabotage duties he was returned to the school for further training in search and rescue duties where he was partnered with Corporal Wardle. They were relocated to London where Jet was known for calling out every night until the end of the air attacks. Corporal Wardle and Jet were the first handler and dog to be used in an official capacity in Civil Defence rescue duties.

He was awarded the Dickin Medal on January 12 1945 for saving the lives of over fifty people trapped in bombed buildings.The dedication read "For being responsible for the rescue of persons trapped under blitzed buildings while serving with the Civil Defence Services of London." Following the war, he was returned to his owner in Liverpool.

Mrs Babcock Cleaver with Jet of Iada wearing his Dickin Medal.

On 15 August 1947, an explosion occurred in the William Pit near Whitehaven, Cumbria. Dogs trained in body recovery work were unavailable, so two dogs were sent from the RAF Police Dog School at Staverton, and Jet was collected from his owner on the journey north.

After his efforts he was awarded the RSPCA's Medallion of Valor. There is a memorial to Jet in the English flower garden of Calderstones Park, Liverpool near where he is buried.

So today we salute Jet of Lada's memory.

Yip Yap.

Poppy XX

Sunday 24 April 2011

Call to Action

Hello everyone.

I am repeating this posting verbaitim from another blog.... Click the link to read the origional posting.

Android, who is owned by Google, has available in the Android Market a new downloadable game application for your phone called DOG WARS (developed by Kage Games LLC). This is a DOG FIGHTING GAME. The player feeds, waters, trains and FIGHTS the virtual dog for virtual money. It is clear to me that the people at Google/Android /Kage Games think dog fighting is a joke and that perpetuating the myth that pit bulls are inherently aggressive has no repercussions.

Call to Action: Contact the Android market team here and email to demand this disgusting application be banned from the Android Market.

REPEATEDLY EMAIL until they take this application off the market.

This kind of stereotyping is responsible for countless deaths of loving, gentle and well adjusted pit bulls across the country. These innocent dogs suffer and die in shelters because it gives false verification to the public that pit bull type dogs are vicious. The people at Google/Android and Kage Games are too daft to realize that aggression is not a breed issue, it is a dog issue. Any dog breed can be “trained” to behave aggressively. This fact has been supported time and again.

The developers state on the game description page “If you have a bug up your b*tt about the game concept, remember: It is just A VIDEO GAME…” It is not just a video game, it is irresponsible and devastating to the animals that are victims of this abuse. The animal abusers who participate in dog fights starve, beat and train the dogs to behave aggressively to both animals and people.

Fighting dogs are kept isolated from other dogs

Fighting dogs spend most of their lives on short, heavy chains, often just out of reach of other dogs.

Fighting dogs may also be given a variety of legal and illegal drugs, including anabolic steroids to enhance muscle mass and encourage aggressiveness. Narcotic drugs may also be used to increase the dogs’ aggression, increase reactivity and mask pain or fear during a fight. Young animals are often trained or tested by allowing them to fight with other dogs in well-controlled “rolls.” Those who show little inclination to fight may be discarded or killed. Some fighters will use stolen pets as “bait dogs,” or sparring partners.

Fighting dogs used by all types of fighters may have their ears cropped and tails docked close to their bodies. This serves two purposes. First, it limits the areas of the body that another dog can grab onto in a fight, and second, it makes it more difficult for other dogs to read the animal’s mood and intentions through the normal body language cues dogs use in aggressive encounters. Fighters usually perform this cropping/docking themselves using crude and inhumane techniques

The effects of dog fighting are devastating, please take a moment to speak up for the victims, thank you

Yip Yap

Poppy XX

Thursday 21 April 2011

Celebrity dogs (12)

Hello everyone.

Today I have an truly amazing tale of courage and daring, one that will amaze and move any animal lover to tears of joy and sorrow. I think that everyone will know that the Husky sled dog was the primary means of transportation and communication in subarctic communities around the world. Long before the first aircraft flew in Arctic conditions in the 1930s. Long before the snowmobile arrived in the 1960s. Both new means of transport which drove the use of a dog sled almost to the point of extinction.

We are going back in time to the summer of 1924, the only doctor in Nome Alaska and the surrounding communities was Dr Curtis Welch. His supply of 80,000 units of diphtheria antitoxin (dated 1918) had time expired. The replacement order for serum he had placed with the health commissioner in Juneau had not arrived before the port closed for the winter freeze.

On January 22, 1925, Welch sent a radio telegram and alerted all major towns in Alaska including the governor in Juneau of a major risk to public health. In a second radio telegram to the Public Health Service in Washington, Dr Welch wrote: "An epidemic of diphtheria is almost inevitable here STOP I am in urgent need of one million units of diphtheria antitoxin STOP Mail is only form of transportation STOP I have made application to Commissioner of Health of the Territories for antitoxin already STOP There are about 3000 white natives in the district. STOP"

And so began what became known as at the time as the "Great Race of Mercy" when 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs relayed diphtheria antitoxin 674 miles (1,085 km) across Alaska in a record-breaking five and a half days. (Nenana to Nome by dog sled normally took 25 days) 

The temperatures across the Interior were at 20-year lows due to a high pressure system from the Arctic, in Fairbanks the temperature was already at −50 °F (−46 °C).  Thus in these exceptional weather conditions Balto, Blackie, and Togo the Husky and their brothers and sisters saved the small city of Nome and the surrounding communities from an incipient epidemic. Both the mushers and their dogs were later portrayed as heroes and received headline coverage in newspapers all across the World.

The first musher in the relay was "Wild Bill" Shannon. Despite a temperature of −50 °F (−46 °C), Shannon left immediately with his team of 9 inexperienced dogs, led by Blackie. The temperature began to drop, and the team was forced onto the colder ice of the river. Shannon developed hypothermia. He reached Minto at 3 AM, with parts of his face black from frostbite. The temperature was −62 °F (−52 °C). After warming the serum by the fire and resting for four hours, Shannon dropped three exhausted dogs from his team and left with the remaining 6.

Edgar Kallands waited in Tolovana. Shannon and his team arrived in bad shape at 11 AM, and handed over the serum. Kallands headed into the forest. The temperature had risen to −56 °F (−49 °C), and according to one report, they had to pour hot water over Kallands' hands to get them off the sled's handlebar when he arrived at 4 PM.

George Nollner delivered the serum to Charlie Evans at Bishop Mountain on January 30 at 3 AM. The temperature had warmed slightly, but at −62 °F (−52 °C) was dropping again. Evans relied on his lead dogs when he passed through ice fog where the Koyukuk River had broken through and surged over the ice, but forgot to protect the groins of his two short-haired mixed breed lead dogs with rabbit skins. Both dogs collapsed with frostbite. He arrived at 10 AM; both lead dogs were dead. Musher Tommy Patsy departed on his leg of the trip within half an hour. 

The serum then crossed the Kaltag Portage in the hands of Victor Anagick, who handed it to his fellow Alaska Native Myles Gonangnan on the shores of the Sound, at Unalakleet on January 31 at 5 AM. Gonangan saw the signs of a storm brewing, and decided not to take the shortcut across the dangerous ice of the Sound. He departed at 5:30 AM, and as he crossed the hills, "the eddies of drifting, swirling snow passing between the dog's legs and under the bellies made them appear to be fording a fast running river." The whiteout conditions cleared as he reached the shore, and the gale-force winds drove the wind chill to −70 °F (−57 °C). At 3 PM he arrived at Shaktoolik. Seppala was not there, but Henry Ivanoff was waiting on stand-by just in case.

Leonhard Seppala and his dog sled team, with his lead dog Togo, traveled 91 miles (146 km) from Nome into the oncoming storm. They took the shortcut across the Norton Sound, and headed toward Shaktoolik. The temperature in Nome was a relatively warm −20 °F (−29 °C), but in Shaktoolik the temperature was estimated at −30 °F (−34 °C), and the gale force winds causing a wind chill of −85 °F (−65 °C).

Henry Ivanoff's team ran into a reindeer and got tangled up just outside of Shaktoolik. Seppala still believed he had more than 100 miles (160 km) to go and was racing to get off the Norton Sound before the storm hit. He was passing the other team when Ivanoff shouted, "The serum! The serum! I have it here!"

With the news of the worsening epidemic, Seppala decided to brave the storm and once again set out across the exposed open ice of the Norton Sound when he reached Ungalik, after dark. The temperature was estimated at −30 °F (−34 °C), but the wind chill with the gale force winds was −85 °F (−65 °C).

Togo led the team in a straight line through the dark, and they arrived at the roadhouse in Isaac's Point on the other side at 8 PM. In one day, they had traveled 84 mi (135 km), averaging 8 mph (13 km/h). The team rested, and then departed at 2 AM into the full power of the storm.

During the night the temperature dropped to −40 °F (−40 °C), and the wind increased to storm force at least 65 mph (105 km/h). The team ran across the ice, which was breaking up, while following the shoreline. They returned to shore to cross Little McKinley Mountain, climbing 5,000 feet (1,500 m). After descending to the next roadhouse in Golovin, Seppala passed the serum to Charlie Olsen on February 1 at 3 PM.

Olsen was blown off the trail, and suffered severe frostbite in his hands while putting blankets on his dogs. The wind chill was −70 °F (−57 °C). He arrived at Bluff on February 1 at 7 PM in poor shape. Gunnar Kaasen waited until 10 PM for the storm to break, but it only got worse and the drifts would soon block the trail so he departed into a headwind. Kaasen traveled through the night, through drifts, and river overflow over the 600-foot (183 m) Topkok Mountain pass.

Balto led the team through visibility so poor that Kaasen could not always see the dogs harnessed closest to the sled. He was two miles (3 km) past Solomon before he realized it, and new he needed to keep on going.

The winds after Solomon were so severe that his sled flipped over and he almost lost the cylinder containing the serum when it fell off and became buried in the snow. He acquired frostbite when he had to use his bare hands to feel for the cylinder.

Kaasen reached Point Safety ahead of schedule on February 2, at 3 AM. Ed Rohn believed that Kaasen and the relay was halted at Solomon, so he was sleeping. Since the weather was improving, it would take time to prepare Rohn's team, and Balto and the other dogs were still moving well, Kaasen pressed on the remaining 25 miles (40 km) to Nome, reaching Front Street at 5:30 AM. Not a single ampule was broken.

Together, the teams covered the 674 miles (1,085 km) in 127 and a half hours, which was considered a world record, incredibly done in extreme subzero temperatures in near-blizzard conditions and hurricane-force winds. Some dogs froze to death during the trip.

Balto, the Siberian husky was the lead sled dog on the final stretch into Nome. Balto became the most famous canine celebrity of the era after Rin Tin Tin. A statue to Balto is a popular tourist attraction in New York City's Central Park. It should be said that Balto is depicted wearing the medal awarded to Togo who was considered to be the better lead dog by the mushers. The citation reads: "Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dogs that relayed antitoxin six hundred miles over rough ice, across treacherous waters, through Arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of stricken Nome in the Winter of 1925. Endurance · Fidelity · Intelligence"

The resurgence of recreational mushing in Alaska since the 1970s is a direct result of the tremendous popularity of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which honours the history of dog mushing with many traditions that commemorate the serum run.

So today we salute the memory and devotion to duty of lead dogs Balto, Blackie, and Togo and all the other brave and courageous dogs pulling the sleds the 674 miles from Nenana to Nome in incredable sub zero temperatures carrying the life saving Diphtheria serum. It is beleived that from the 150 dogs taking part, up to 12 dogs may have died during the life saving run.

We also remember the selfless bravery of mushers Shannon, Kallands, Nollner, Evans, Anagick, Gonangnan, Seppala, Ivanoff, Olsen, Kassen, Green, Folger, Joseph, Nikoli, Corning, Pitka, McCarty, Patsey, Jackscrew and others.

PS. from Poppy's dad: There are animal welfare groups who criticise the use of dogs in the Iditarod trail sled dog race. However, when you have over 1000 dogs taking part in any competitive event, including Greyhound racing or even Crufts.  It is highly likely that one or more may die for any number of reasons.

In both 2010 and 2011 it has been reported that no dogs have died during the Iditarod event. The organisers take the welfare of the dogs seriously and some individuals have been banned from the event for maintaining a poor level of animal welfare.

We have an open mind on events like the Iditarod.  We also have an open mind on horse racing and events like the grand national. We have a closed mind on issues like Fox hunting, Dog fighting, Badger baiting, Hare coursing with dogs and tail docking to which we are absolutely and totally opposed.

Yip Yap!

Poppy and Abbey.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Celebrity Dogs (6)

Hello everyone.

Today's celebrity dog is Rip. Rip was a mongrel (mixed-breed) terrier who was a Second World War, Search and Rescue dog. Rip was found as a stray following a heavy bombing raid over London in 1940 by an Air Raid Warden.

Rip was never given any training for search and rescue work.  Rip took to it instinctively. In a one year period between 1940 and 1941, he found over a hundred buried alive victims of the air raids in London.

His success as a search and rescue dog, was responsible for prompting the UK authorities to begin the training search and rescue dogs.

Rip was awarded the Dickin Medal (the animal VC) for bravery in 1945.  He became recognised as the service's first search and rescue dog. He would go on to wear the medal on his collar until the day he died. He was the first of twelve Dickin Medal winners to be buried in the PDSA's cemetery in Ilford, Essex. His headstone reads "Rip, D.M. We also serve - for the dog whose body lies here played his part in the Battle of Britain."

Rip and a Child in the Rubble
He was found in Poplar, London, in 1940 by an Air Raid Warden, and by accident commenced his search and Rescue career. Rip first came to the attention of his handler Mr King, when was thrown scraps of food. Mr King, who expected the dog to leave, but somehow the two struck up a special friendship. Rip began acting as an unofficial rescue dog, being used to sniff out casualties trapped beneath buildings.

Rip searching through rubble
 accompanied by his handler Mr E. King.


Rip' the dog helps this Air Raid Precautions Warden to search amongst rubble and debris following an air raid. The Warden signals for help from his colleagues to search the spot indicated by Rip.

Jilly Cooper, in her book "Animals in War" 1983. Wrote “How welcome to the victims must have been the first sounds of those scrabbling paws, shrill terrier yaps, and the first sight of the grinning Tommy Brock face with its merry friendly eyes.”

On such small shoulders was such a heavy burden carried.

So today we salute the memory of  Rip DM.

Yip Yap.
XX Poppy

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Long term visitor

Hi all.

We have a visitor joining us on the boat. Her name is Abbie and she is an eleven year old wire haired fox terrier. She belongs to my human mum's identical twin sister. However, Abbie has not been well for some time now. And when everyone is out of the house at work and Abbie has been left on her own, she has been getting a bit worked up. So dad came up with a great idea, why not let Abbie join us whenever her owners are going to be away from home. So that's Monday to Friday most weeks taken care of. This week she is on-board the boat with us for our spring cruise and is having a good time. This is much better than sharing my food and basket with that smelly old Jasper the cat.

We get to go for a long walk most mornings, dad is keeping Abbie on the long lead until he is sure that she will not panic and run off. Abbie has a good appetite and has been scoffing my left over dinner and my special doggie treats. She has even taken to searching out the treats that I have secreted away from Jasper the cat. I may need to have a word about ownership of secreted treats.

The weather is fantastic though it was a bit cold last night and dad got the stove going on the boat. We are all going to a family wedding on Good Friday more details to follow later.

That's it for now.

Yip Yap

XX Poppy

Thursday 7 April 2011

Celebrity Dogs (5)

In these days of political correctness the use of the word "Nigger" has changed in public acceptance  much as the word "Gay" has also changed its underlying meaning and tone. However, at the time I am writing about, the word was used to name the dog from colour of  its coat. In a strange about-turn of what was acceptable, in those times. The pejorative word used in the UK back then to describe people of African origin was "Blackie".  Times change as do word meanings and people become more aware of the racist undertones. I feel sure that no offence was intended then or now by Guy Gibson in the naming the dog.

As a child my memories are filled with my first love, a dog companion who was also called Nigger. His name came from the colour of his coat. Much of my love of dogs is as a result of time I spent in the company of Nigger. He was my constant companion, on my short walk to school each day. He would return later to wait at the gates, to walk me home. My parents would never have even considered for one moment calling the dog "Blackie" for what would have been to them at that time a very derogatory name. Today, we know a couple of younger people with dogs called Blackie. The name describes the dog and and caries no derogatory or pejorative connotations. These individuals are not old enough to harbour knowledge of an old name that once carried so much ignorance and prejudice.

Poppy's Dad.

Hello everyone.

Nigger who is the subject of today's celebrity dog posting was a rather handsome black Labrador retriever belonging to Wing Commander, Guy Penrose Gibson VC. (The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration which is, or has been, awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the British armed forces)

Commander Gibson also was awarded a DSO and Bar. The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime. When used in conjunction with decorations for gallantry medals, the term "and bar" means that the award has been bestowed multiple times upon the officer.

Commander Gibson was also was awarded a DFC and bar. The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the Royal Air Force, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy".

Nigger was the mascot of 617 Squadron (the Dam Busters) commanded by Guy Gibson. Nigger died on 16 May 1943, the day before the famous raid, when he was hit by a car. He was buried at midnight as Gibson was leading the raid. "Nigger" was the codeword Gibson used to confirm the breach of the Möhne Dam.

Nigger with members of 617 Squadron. His owner, Guy Gibson can be seen crouching on the right.

Nigger's grave is at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire. Unusually by today's standard, Nigger had often accompanied Gibson on training flights.

So today we salute Niggers memory.

Yip Yap.

Love to all.

XX Poppy

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Saves Sinking Boat

Hello everyone.

I have not been on the blog for a while, dad closed down the computer. Dad then popped me in the car and we went to see some family friends. The mum and dad of my friend Holly the King Charles Spaniel. The next thing I know, mum and dad abandon me and go to Spain on holiday.  Well now they are back, I am back on the boat and I can catch up on my blogging.

The local newspaper headline.
We have had quite an interesting start to the day. It all started in the early hours of the morning, when I heard some footsteps along the towpath. I listened and after a while the foot steps disappeared off into the distance. However, some time later I felt a very gentle nudge when something bumped into us.

It seems that our boat had broken free of its moorings and drifted along the river. Everyone else on board was still fast asleep and did not notice the gentle nudge.  But me,  always being alert and on guard. I am alert even when my eyes are shut. Even when I am curled up in my basket in front of a warm stove. I am still on guard duty.

Mum and dad were sound asleep in bed. But you know who decided to bark a challenge just in case there was a problem. Mum gave dad a nudge and said "Go and see what she is barking at." It was a struggle for dad to get out of bed but he managed to stagger into the saloon where my bed is normally located. He said "what's up Pops - do you need to go out?" I decided that there was a bit more urgency needed and so I started jumping up at the deck door.

When the door opened, dad could now see that we were drifting downstream towards the weir. There was a flurry of activity as dad started up the engine. The boat started to push back against the flow. I pawed at the mooring line that was hanging over the side and dad recovered the rope before it could get tangled up in the propeller.  By this time mum had come to join us - she was wondering why we had started the engine so early in the morning. Dad sent her forward to recover the front line which had also come loose.

With the tunnel light illuminating our way back to the mooring we made steady progress. Our mooring pins were still in the bank and dad made the lines fast to them again. It was at this point that we realised that our boat mooring lines had been deliberately untied. Dad checked the lines of several other boats at the mooring and had to make one or two secure again. By the time he got back on board it had started to rain. so we banked up the fire and the boat was soon as warm as toast. We all headed back to our beds. Except for Jasper the cat who had taken up residence in my bed. Dad turfed him out and I was soon curled up back on guard duty again.

Dad reported the matter to the Police. Letting go of a boats mooring lines at night is very dangerous. Later, because we were staying in the same place for a few days. Dad got the front and back anchor out of the locker and set them over the off side of the boat away from the bank. This way if anyone set our lines free again the anchors would still hold the boat in place. I am now keeping a close eye on people walking past the boat. I might just be able to recognise their footsteps and then I would be able to let them know that I know it was them. Dad says that rescuing a boat from sinking is all in a days work for a brave Wire Haired Fox Terrier guard puppy.

It seems that my adventure has been written up in the local newspaper. Anyone know what "a medal as big as a frying pan" is? It seems according to dad that I deserve one?

Yip Yap.

Love to all.

XX Poppy

Friday 25 March 2011

Celebrity Dogs (4)

Hello everyone.

The devotion that dogs give to their owners can be amazing. One of the best examples of such devotion was demonstrated by "Tip" a shepards working dog in the Peak District of Derbyshire.

Shepherd Joseph Tagg lost his life on Howden Moor, in the Upper Derwent Valley. His loyal sheepdog Tip stayed by his side through a severe Derbyshire winter. A memorial to this amazing feat of devotion can be seen on the banks of the Derwent Reservoir.

Tip's Memorial
Joseph Tagg was born in 1868 and for many years he served the fifteenth Duke of Norfolk as a shepherd. He was a well-known Derbyshire character known locally as ‘Old Joe’ and lived with his niece Ms Helen Thorpe at Yorkshire Bridge, near Bamford. In 1905 he was a founder member of the Hope Valley sheepdog trials and earned a reputation as a sheepdog breeder. Even in later life he was still active and was 86 years old when he set off with Tip for to tend to some sheep in the Upper Derwent valley on the icy cold day Saturday 12 December 1953. By the next morning Old Joe and Tip had failed to return home and RAF mountain rescue, gamekeepers and shepherds went out to search for them.

It was not until Saturday 27 March 1954 that they were found by two men, who were rounding up sheep high on Ronksley Moor. It was exactly fifteen weeks since their disappearance when the frozen corpse of ‘Old Joe’ was found lying in a dip. With a very weak and emaciated Tip lying only a few feet away. The eleven-year-old Tip had survived 105 days by her master’s body in one of Derbyshire’s harshest winters.

Tip was taken home to Joe’s niece, Helen Thorpe and nursed back to recovery. Tip was later presented with the Bronze Medal of the Canine Defence League. This is the equivalent to the Victoria Cross of the animal world. Unfortunately Tip lived for less than a year after this ordeal and passed away on 16 February 1955. Her remarkable feat had been reported far and wide and a campaign raised funds to erect the memorial which can be seen at Derwent reservoir.

Yesterday, we stopped at Tip's memorial just to say hello.

Today we salute the memory of our sister the exceptionally devoted Tip.

Yip Yap.

Poppy XX

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Extended family members

Hello all.


The boat dog family have long sponsored other dogs usually with the Dogs Trust. However, last month we had a new sponsored canine member join the extended canal dog family. 

Kaspar is a Labrador who is in training for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. We give a small donation every month towards the costs of Kaspar's keep. We get an occasional postcard and the odd letter letting us know how Kaspar is getting along. Dad says that guide dogs like Kaspar who is in training with the The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association have to be very special to be chosen. So Kaspar is a bit like me then!

Mr Magoo

We also have another sponsored member of the family called Mr Magoo.
Magoo was a long term  resident of the Dogs Trust. This was because as dad said Magoo was too wonderful to be re-homed with a normal family and would need to be with someone very special.
Dogs Trust believes no healthy dog should ever be destroyed and that every dog should have a chance to lead a happy and healthy life.

We also sponsor another dog called Podge.

Podge is an English Springer Spaniel who is also a long term resident (since 2007) of the Dogs Trust. Dad has a soft spot for Springer Spaniels, because he had owned one in the past called Toby.

Dad says Toby was a very loving and friendly character and dad still misses him to this day.

News of a useful little item to attach to your favourite dogs collar. Especially when out on any nocturnal walks. Attach this luminous keyring to your dogs collar alerting motorists to your dog's presence and keeping tabs on them when he or she is off the lead. Includes battery which lasts 60 hours. Available for £4.50 from the above link.

Love to all.

Yip Yap.

XX Poppy

Thursday 10 March 2011

Theo and Liam

Hello everyone.

Today is a very sad and downbeat day on the boat.

The ashes of Theo a Springer Spaniel who died of a broken heart when his handler was killed in Afghanistan is to be repatriated home today. Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, a dog handler with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was shot while on patrol with his dog Theo, near Camp Bastion last week.

They served together and died together.

Three weeks ago Theo was praised by the Ministry of Defence for making 14 finds of hidden bombs and weapons caches in just five months - a record for a dog and handler. The 22-month-old spaniel, on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, had uncovered so many improvised explosive devices that his time in the country was extended by a month.  Lance Corporal Tasker had praised the dog for his dedication.  "I love my job and working with Theo. He has a great character and never tires. He can't wait to get out and do his job and will stop at nothing," he said last month.
Theo and Liam were deployed to Afghanistan last September and working together as an arms and explosives search team they saved countless lives by locating improvised explosive devices, weapons and bomb-making equipment.
Theo suffered a fatal seizure on his return to camp, just hours after Lance Corporal Tasker was killed in a firefight. The Ministry of Defence briefing revealed that  Theo’s ashes and Lance Corporal Tasker’s coffin would be returning to Britain on the same flight and that the 22-month-old dog’s ashes would be given to Lance Corporal Tasker’s family.

They are set to be flown into RAF Lyneham, in Wiltshire, today.

In their tributes colleagues described Liam, who was from Kirkcaldy, Fife, as a character who was "larger than life". Major Caroline Emmett, said: “Lance Cpl Tasker was a joy to be around. He and his dog Theo were made for each other. Liam was one of the best people I have ever known. Kind, with a good heart, he always put others before himself. His professional excellence and positive attitude to life is something that I and others looked up to. He died a hero, doing a job he loved, and he will be very sadly missed. He will always have a place in our hearts and will never be forgotten.”

"A natural with animals, he had an affection for his dog that truly was a window to his soul ... he used to joke that Theo was impossible to restrain, but I would say the same about Lance Corporal Tasker" Major Alexander Turner, commanding officer.
Liam's girfriend Leah Walters, said she would have a Liam Theo-sized hole in her life forever.
Royal Army Vetinary Corps Military-Dogs. (Click)

Today we salute the memory of two brave members of the armed forces. Theo and Liam.

Yip Yap.

Poppy XX

Tuesday 8 March 2011

The stupidity of animal experimentation.

Hello everyone.

Today, is a day of very mixed feelings. As a dog, I am proud of my relationship with my human family. I love them and I get a great deal of love back in return. However, I am a very lucky dog to have a family that care for me. I have a family that provide for me as well as treat me as an equal.

Unfortunately, it is not the same for all dogs. I have written about Laika the Russian space pioneer in a previous posting. (Celebrity Dogs 3) Laika is a well known and much revered canine sister. But there have been hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters who have led lonely and unloved life's in research institutes. Some have been forced into enduring inhaling cigarette smoke whilst others have suffered much worse fates.

Vivisection: "Operating on a living animal for experimental rather than healing purposes or more broadly, all experimentation on live animals." Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2009

Animals are used to test the safety of cosmetics, household cleansers and other consumer products. These innocent dogs, primates, cats, rabbits, rodents and other animals are used against their will as research subjects. In experiments and procedures that would be considered sadistically cruel were they not conducted in the name of science. The science is flawed!
We are not alone. Every year, tens of millions of other animals are dissected, infected, injected, gassed, burned and blinded in laboratories on university campuses and other research facilities. 
Dad worked for many years in a university with an excellent research record. It was a university that did not practice any form of research on animals.
Me and dad believe that over-reliance on animal experimentation has hindered scientific advancement and endangered human safety. This is because results from animal research typically cannot be applied to humans. In fact, dad says that "Scientists could save more human lives by using humane non-animal research and testing methods that are more accurate and efficient."

Click and join
the March
 Research scientists are also seeing the negative consequences of using one species to provide information about another species; often the results of animal experiments are totally misleading or even harmful to humans. The achievements of physicists, chemists, mathematicians, computer engineers and bio technical engineers have long since outpaced the archaic research methods of animal experimentation.

Me and dad believe that direct action against medical research institutes is a bad way to bring about change. The negative publicity generated by such action deflects and detracts the public perception away from addressing the cruelty of animal experimentation.
Are products you
purchase tested
on Animals?
There is much that our human companions can do to help end the animal testing problem. You could for instance choose to buy products that are not tested on animals. So is there any information available to help you choose the products or companies to avoid? 

 Uncaged is typical of a number of prominent UK websites that publish such information.

Uncaged say "The most important factor that affects whether a product is ‘cruelty-free’ is the animal testing policy of the manufacturing company. You have to ‘follow the money’. Even if a particular product and its ingredients are not tested on animals, if the company that makes it performs animal tests in other areas, then purchasing any of their products promotes and supports cruelty to animals. This also includes parent companies of subsidiaries."
Uncaged also have a web page specially targeted at Pet Foods and Animal Testing Policies. Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on animal welfare said. "Uncaged keeps alive the flame of hope that one day, animal experiments will seem as outdated as today sending children up chimneys seems."

Uncaged also have a Compassionate Shopping Guide. This publication is an 80 page guide to cruelty-free companies, shops and supermarkets. You can purchase a copy by making a small donation.

The Sunday Express
On pet food cruelty

In the United Kingdom, any experiment involving vivisection must be granted a licence by the Secretary of State for Home Affairs. The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 expressly directs that, in determining whether to grant a licence for an experimental project, "The Secretary of State shall weigh the likely adverse effects on the animals concerned against the benefit likely to accrue."
The political fall-out surrounding animal experimentation continues at a pace. The problem with following the political route to banning or limiting the use of animal vivisection is that politics has as murky a reputation, as animal experimentation itself.

The Observer On
Animal Organ

Me and dad would like to see the Code of Practice used in Australia adopted by the UK. The code of practice "Requires that all experiments must be approved by an Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee. That includes a person with an interest in animal welfare who is not employed by the institution conducting the experiment. And an additional independent person not involved in animal experimentation."

So today we salute the memory of those hundreds of millions of dogs and other animals that have been subjected to unnecessary animal experimentation around the world, all in the name of flawed science.

Yip Yap.

XX Poppy

Thursday 3 March 2011

Celebrity Dogs (3)

Hello everyone.

This is the third posting in an occasional series of famous (celebrity) dogs of the past and present.
In Greek mythology, Canis Major (Great Dog) and Canis Minor (Little Dog) are Orion's, two hunting dogs. Canis Major is one of the most striking constellations in the heavens. Look for Sirius, "The Dog Star", the brightest star in the heavens. Legend has it that Canis Major is said to be crouching, ready to pounce on Lepus, The Rabbit. Things have moved on today and now man is set upon a constant quest of the exploration of space. Everyone has at some time looked up at the stars and allowed our minds to wonder.

More recently we have embarked upon a journey to the stars. With probes to our near neighbour planets like the moon and mars. Through our land based telescope we look at planets that are millions of miles away. We can also look with the Hubble space telescope at Galaxies that are millions of light years away. All of this started in 1957 with the launch of the Russian Sputnik one.

There is one very famous dog pioneer in the race for space. Today, we celebrate the memory of a very brave little dog with several names including Laika, Little Curly, Little Bug or Limonchik. Laika as she became known to the World was a very special Russian space dog and the first animal to orbit the Earth. At the same time Laika was to become the first casualty and the first orbital death in the World wide space program.

The technology to return a space craft from Earth orbit had not yet been developed. So our canine hero had no expectation for survival. Little was known about the impact of spaceflight on living things at the time Laika's mission was launched. Some scientists believed humans would be unable to survive the launch or the conditions of outer space, so engineers viewed flights by non-human animals as a necessary precursor to human missions.

Laika, a three year old stray underwent training with two other dogs. Laika, was eventually chosen as the cosmonaut of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 that was launched into outer space on November 3, 1957.  Soviet scientists chose to use Moscow strays since they assumed that such animals had already learned to endure conditions of extreme cold and hunger. At the end of the space flight, it was widely reported that Laika was euthanised prior to oxygen depletion. Nonetheless, the experiment proved that a living passenger could survive being launched into orbit and endure weightlessness, paving the way for human spaceflight and providing scientists with some of the first data on how living organisms react to spaceflight environments.

On April 11, 2008, Russian officials unveiled a monument to Laika. The monument in her honor was built near the military research facility in Moscow which prepared Laika's flight to space. It features a dog standing on top of a rocket.

Before the launch, one of the scientists took Laika home to play with his children. In a book chronicling the story of Soviet space medicine, Dr. Vladimir Yazdovsky wrote, "I wanted to do something nice for her. She had so little time left to live."

After some 2,570 orbits, Sputnik 2 burnt up on re-entry along with Laika's remains. Our brave little cosmonaut remains were scattered to the four corners of the Earth. It was not until 1998, after the collapse of the Soviet regime, that Oleg Gazenko, one of the scientists responsible for sending Laika into space, expressed regret for allowing her to die:
Work with animals is a source of suffering to all of us. We treat them like babies who cannot speak. The more time passes, the more I'm sorry about it. We shouldn't have done it... We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog.

Russia launched thirteen other dogs into space to further their knowledge. These dogs should not be forgotten and deserve a mention here as brave little souls like Laika. Bars (Panther or Lynx). Belka (Squirrel). Chernushka (Blackie). Damka (Little Lady). Krasavka (Beauty). Lisichka (Little Fox). Mushka (Little Fly). Pchelka (Little Bee). Strelka (Little Arrow). Ugolyok (Little Piece of Coal). Verterok (Little Wind). Zvezdochka (Little Star)

So today we salute the memory of space dog Laika and the memory of her canine cosmonaut friends.

Yip Yap.

XX Poppy