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

Tuesday 1 March 2011

There is a phantom about!

Hello everyone.

I have not blogged for a while. I have been a bit "under the weather" and not been feeling myself for a few days. I was not sure what was happening, only that I felt different to normal. Dad said I was getting to be a bit more grumpy and jumpy with everyone.  I wondered if I was coming into season again, but it did not feel like that to me. I have had about five season in the last three years. The way I was feeling was different to that. Was I coming down with some kind of a bug, had I gotten a bad case of the canine dreaded lurgi?

Dad told mum that the "dreaded lurgi" was invented by the Goons (Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Seacombe) on the goons show on radio.  The dreaded lurgi became a school playground term for some horrid infection you had supposedly contracted. Especially a case that let you bunk a day or two off school.
I was feeling quite listless and just wanted to curl up in my basket all the time. I am a bit picky when it comes to food, but my appetite had disappeared. I still enjoyed taking dad for his morning walk, but I have to admit that I was soon a bit bored with chasing after his exercise ball. All I wanted to do was get back into the boat and to settle down in my bed and like Jasper the cat, just to go to sleep.

Mum and dad both spent some time keeping me company and checking me out. Mum said, "I think I know what's up with her." At which point I pricked up my ears. So, you can imagine my dismay when I heard the word vet being bandied between them. Now, I am not keen on visiting the vet, as it usually means that I get prodded, poked and pricked with a needle.

Soon a telephone call was made that proved my worst nightmare - An appointment was being made for me to visit the vet from hell. The weather outside was cold, windy and wet so my best waterproof coat was dug out of the cupboard. I was taken for a walk along the towpath to the nearest road bridge. Where we met up with a couple of friends of mum and dad.

John and Tracy are mum and dads best friends. They also have a dog called Holly, she is a King Charles Spaniel. We get along quite well, Holly comes and stays on the boat when her owners go away on holiday. I sometimes go and stay with them when mum and dad go away. It's good fun, Holly even has her own life jacket for wearing on the boat.

Say No!
To Rectal

Soon we were whisked away in their car and after a short journey we arrived at the vets surgery. I was through the door and up on the examination table in the twinkling of an eye. The vet started to prod and poke me. Then all of my worst fears were confirmed when the moment of lost dignity arrived. When without so much as a by-your-leave a rectal thermometer was inserted in a place where the sun never shines.

After a while the vet pointing at me said - "Has she been spending any time in the company of any other dogs?" Whatever could she mean, the cheeky bitch! I will have you know that dad says I am a good girl. I am a good girl and not in the habit of "spending time nudge, nudge, wink, wink" with other dogs. At length the vet pronounced her judgement "I think it is a Phantom Pregnancy" said the vet. Dad looked me straight in the eye and said - "What's this my girl, are you wanting to have a litter of puppy's?" He picked me up and gave me a big cuddle. I could see he was quite relieved to find out that I was not sick.

So now, I am on 1ml of a potion called "Galastop" every day for the next week. Dad says this will put my hormones back on track. Dad keeps smiling at me and giving me a funny look. He has a new cuddle name for me now, he keeps calling me a "broody old Hen". I have been thinking about puppies for the last few hours. I would not mind having a small family, I came from a small family of five myself. I am sure that Olive (my mum) would not mind being a grandmother.

Mum says that if I am to have puppies then we will need to go back home, as there is little room on the boat for a family of boisterous pups. Dad said there are enough unwanted puppies in the World without adding even more. He has been thinking for some time about getting me a foxy companion from one of the dog rescue groups. We filled in a questionnaire form with Fox Terrier Rescue about a year ago. When we did not hear anything back, dad said "It might be that the rescue centre think a life spent in pampered luxury on a boat is much too dangerous." He is a crusty old curmudgeon sometimes. He also said something about me being spayed, I'm not sure what that's all about. I will have to do a google search to find out later. 

That's all for now.

Yip Yap.

Love and licks to all.

XX Poppy