Saturday 1 December 2012

Hawkeye's Story

No friendship between humans is ever stronger than the unconditional bond between a dog and its owner. When you come home we greet you with unbridled and unconditional enthusiasm. When you rest we rest, when you grieve, we grieve with you or we grieve for you. We have no words to share we only have actions to show.

The dog of slain Petty Officer Jon Tumilson refused to leave his side during the Navy SEAL’s funeral in Rockford, Iowa. The heartbreaking photo taken by his cousin, Lisa Pembleton, shows Tumilson’s dog Hawkeye lying by the casket. U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jon T. Tumilson was among the 30 American troops killed when Taliban insurgents downed their Chinook helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade. 

At his funeral in Iowa, his dog Hawkeye paid his last respects by walking up to the casket, laying down in front of it, and heaving a sigh. Pembleton wrote on Facebook that Hawkeye was Tumilson’s loyal pet who wouldn't leave his master’s side during the funeral in Rockford, Iowa.

Lisa Pembleton wrote.“I felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn't make it or couldn't see what I could from the aisle.” 

Today we Salute Hawkeye, friend and companion.

Yip Yap!

Poppy and Abbie

Thursday 1 November 2012

Pal Gander Story

Today's story is about a very large and friendly Newfoundland dog.

Newfoundland's are renown for their friendliness and for their rescuing abilities. Since the breed was developed in Newfoundland , there have been many stories told of Newfoundlands saving passengers from sinking ships and rescuing children in trouble while playing in their favourite swimming holes. But there is one Newfoundland that showed bravery and loyalty beyond what is commonly credited to the breed. His name was Gander and he gave his life protecting Canadian and other Commonwealth soldiers on the beaches of Hong Kong Island during World War II.

In 1940, Gander was the family pet of Rod Hayden, a resident of the town of Gander in Newfoundland. The dog's name at that time was Pal. He was well known in the town, but often mistaken as a bear by pilots landing at the airport. This gentle giant was loved by the neighbourhood children who used him to tow their sleds during winter. 

One day, while greeting a group of children, Pal's paw accidentally scratched the face of a six year old. Concerned that the dog might have to be "put down", Mr. Hayden gave Pal to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Rifles of Canada as a mascot. His new owners called him Gander, after the military base they were responsible for protecting during the war. 

Gander and the Royal Rifles were sent to Hong Kong Island in 1941 where they joined other Commonwealth troops to defend the island against attacks by the Japanese. During the Battle of the Lye Mun, Gander displayed great bravery protecting his friends. When the Japanese landed near the Canadian section of the beach, Gander greeted the enemy with threatening barks and attempts at biting their legs. On another occasion as Japanese troops were nearing a group of wounded Canadian soldiers, Gander surprised the enemy by charging them. For some reason, the Japanese were unwilling to shoot the dog. Instead, they changed their route and the lives of the wounded soldiers were saved.

Gander showed his greatest and last act of bravery and loyalty during another Japanese attack. During the battle, an enemy grenade landed near a group of Canadian soldiers. Probably out of concern for his friends, Gander grabbed the grenade in his mouth and carried it to where it would do no harm. Unfortunately, the grenade exploded in Gander's mouth, killing him instantly. He had given his life saving the lives of the Canadian soldiers.

The story of Gander's bravery, once well-known and told many times by residents of his home town, was almost forgotten. In a conversation between Mrs. Eileen Elms, who knew the dog as Pal and whose sister had been scratched by the dog, and local historian Mr. Frank Tibbo, Gander's act of bravery was mentioned. Through their efforts, Gander's story was revived and his act of bravery recognized.

Gander, the Newfoundland dog, was posthumously awarded the prestigious Dickin Medal, equivalent to the Victoria Cross given to soldiers of the British Commonwealth for their acts of bravery. Gander was awarded the medal in August, 2000.

So today we salute Gander, a big, lovable shaggy Newfoundland who is a credit to his breed.

Yip Yap

Poppy and Abbey

Monday 1 October 2012

Shana's Story

Today, we bring another amazing story of the bond between a dog and their owners. When Eve and Norman Fertig rescued a sick, two-week-old half wolf, half German shepherd puppy from a breeder, they would  never dreamed that the animal one day would save their lives.

When one evening the 81-year-old Eve and Norman Fertigs were treating injured animals in the forest sanctuary on their property. It was routine for the couple to feed and exercise the dozen or so animals there every night. "While were there, the lights went out and I realized that something had gone wrong. We went outside to see what's was happening and down come a massive tree it fell across us."

The huge storm that hit that night brought down a large number of trees, blocking the Fertig's path to the other sanctuary buildings and to their home. "We were in big trouble, I think we could die out here." Eve said.

The Fertigs huddled in a narrow alley between their building and the aviary, where they sheltered from falling trees. They couldn't climb over the trees without injuring themselves. Neither had warm clothes on since it was a clear, crisp fall day just a few hours ago. They hugged each other for warmth.

Eve said "I wasn't prepared for this … I thought, 'we're trapped, we're absolutely trapped. That's when Shana began to dig beneath the fallen trees."

The 160-pound dog that habitually follows her owners around when Shana eventually found the Fertigs and began digging a path in the snow with her teeth and claws underneath the fallen trees, similar to a mineshaft, and barking as if to tell them to follow. A reluctant Norm said, "I had enough in Okinawa in a foxhole," referring to his service in World War II. "'Norman, if you do not follow me, I will get a divorce,'" Eve said to her husband of 62 years. "That did it. He said, 'a divorce? That would scandal our family.' I said, 'all of our family is dead, Norman!'"

After Shana tunnelled all the way to the house a process that took several hours she came back, grabbed the sleeve of Eve's jacket, and threw the 86-pound woman over her back and neck, which Eve described as "as wide as our kitchen shelf." Norman grabbed Eve's legs, and the dog pulled them through the tunnel, under the trees and through an opening in a fence to the house, at which they arrived around 2 a.m.

Concerned neighbours — many of whom had children Eve taught — who couldn't get hold of the elderly couple via telephone throughout the night had called the Town Line Fire Department.

"It was the most heroic thing I've ever seen in my life," Eve said. "We opened the door and we just fell in and she laid on top of us and just stayed there and kept us alive … that's where we laid until the fireman found us." There was no electricity and no heat in the house, so Shana acted as a living, breathing generator for the exhausted Fertigs until the local fire department arrived the next morning.

But when the fire department urged the Fertigs to go to the firehouse to take shelter along with 100 others, they told them they would have to leave Shana behind. "We said, 'we don't go anywhere without her." So the couple stayed at home with Shana until Sunday, when the fire house emptied out. During the three days in a house with no power, heat or hot water, Shana slept with her owners to keep them warm. "She kept us alive. She really did," Eve said.

Also during that time, firefighters not only helped clear trees from their grounds, but they brought food and water for both human and animal. "They kept looking at that tunnel and said, 'we've never seen anything like it,'" she said. "I can't thank them enough, they're heroes." When they went to stay at the fire house, Shana followed the Fertigs everywhere, even to the bathroom. And she was 'spoiled rotten' by the fire crews there, Eve said. The fire chief said her story of being saved by her pet rejuvenated exhausted fire teams. "The story, they said, just gave them new hope."

Shana received the Citizens for Humane Animal Treatment's Hero's Award for bravery an award traditionally given to humans. The plaque, complete with Shana's picture on it, hangs in the Fertigs' living room, along with other pictures of other wolves the couple have worked with. Eve, who teaches courses in Saving Endangered Species and Caring for Injured and Orphaned Wildlife at community colleges and trains animal rehabilitation in New York, said she hopes her story will help further her message of humanity toward animals and educate people about how even a wolf, if treated with care and dignity, can be a "kisser and a hugger" like Shana. "If you're vicious to a human being, they'll become fighters," Eve said, but even wolves, "once you treat them right and raise them in your house, they're magnificent."

Yip Yap.

Poppy and Abbie

Saturday 1 September 2012

Koochee Tiger

We have not added a posting for a while, having been busy doing other things.

So today's posting is about "Brin" A British army's canine hero. A stray that helped save the lives of two soldiers in Afghanistan and survived capture by the Taliban is one of five canine heroes chosen to help launch this year’s dog show at Crufts 2013.

Brin, a local breed known as a Koochee Tiger, was adopted by the British army when he was found starving and abandoned outside a base in Helmand in 2010. The soldiers discovered he had an in-born talent for sniffing out danger and soon he began accompanying patrols around the area. It was during these patrols that he saved the lives of two soldiers when he barked to alert them to a hidden bomb that would have killed them. He was later captured by the Taliban during a raid and remained with them until later that year when a daring mission was mounted by Afghanistan Special Forces against the Taliban and Brin was found.

His plight was still not over, and he faced being left behind and killed when the unit flew home, so a campaign that went worldwide was mounted to save him and he was bought back to the UK by Nowzad Dogs 
Brin now tours the country raising funds with his new owner.

Sally Baldwin, and brin are raising money to help the shelter in Afghanistan. Ms Baldwin, of Hailsham, East Sussex, said: “Brin has been through so much but this never stopped him being loyal, loving and brave. "Despite being left starving and abandoned, he found new humans to love and saved the soldiers’ lives. Having survived being captured by the Taliban, he came back to the UK and made the most loving pet. He is one in a million."

So today we salute the brave dog Brin and the work being done providing shelter  for our canine friends in Afghanistan.

Yip Yap!

Poppy and Abbey. 

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Target, Sasha and Rufus

Sometimes we read a story on the internet and we feel very sad and the tail droops down to let mum and dad know how we are feeling. Today is a very sad, tail droopy day. We learned about a three very special dogs called Target, Sasha and Rufus.

Target is a very heroic, bomb-sniffing stray dog that saved several human lives in war-torn Afghanistan, Target was brought back to the U.S. by Sgt. Terry Young. Target appeared on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" for her heroics in Afghanistan. Target and two other stray dogs, Sasha and Rufus, were adopted by U.S. troops in Afghanistan after wandering into a military compound there. The three dogs were hailed as heroes after attacking a suicide bomber who entered the compound, apparently headed toward barracks with some 50 soldiers inside.

Sasha was badly injured when the bomber detonated an explosive device and did not recover. But Target and Rufus survived and were brought home with soldiers returning from their tour of duty in Afghanistan. Sgt. Chris Duke has Rufus at his home in Georgia, where the dog lives with the soldier and his family. 

At a time when Target should have been enjoying the company of his friends and family. Target was picked up wandering the streets and she did not have a microchip or tag. Sadly she was taken to an animal shelter, and mistakenly put to sleep.  All that is left now is a memory of a very brave dog. 

Can we all learn a lesson here. If we are your best friends, please ensure that we have a chip, a collar tag and where possible, our chip number on a tattoo inside our ears.

So today we salute, Rufus, Sasha and Target who was one very brave and very special lady.

Yip Yap

Poppy and Abbey.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Good days and bad days.

Some days are good and some days are bad. We like the sunny warm days, we also like the frosty crisp hard days. The only days we don't actually like are the soaking wet and muddy days we get from time to time. 

Sunny days we get to go straight back on the boat for a drink of refreshing cold water. We search around for the cool spots to lay quiet and cool down. Some times mum and dad like to join in by picking out the sticky buds that get tangled up in our coats. Then we have a snooze for a couple of hours before enjoying lunch. Then its time for a siesta up on top of the boat.

Cold, frosty mornings when the puddles of water are hard and the snow is powdery, fluffy and dry. When we can run and run leaving a track that we can follow back home to the boat. Best of all, we get to go straight back on the boat and get to gather around the stove. Some times mum and dad like to get near the stave, but me and Abbey are pretty nifty at getting a place close to the stove. Never eat the yellow snow, OK!

The days when it rains are OK, we can run around we dash through all the puddles. Sometimes we run through the deep puddles and the muddy water splashes up onto our coats. We get to shake our coats and then everyone who is near us runs away from us shouting Oi! Its such good fun. The bad bit is that we are not allowed back onto the boat. We have to be hosed down with clean water. There is something strange about clean water. Its always colder than the water in the rain puddles. Then we have to be towelled down, and we are not allowed in the comfortable chairs until we are dry.


Poppy and Abbey.

Friday 1 June 2012

Black Pearl.

Hello everyone, its been quite a while since my last posting. Things have been a bit hectic around here. But the boat cruising season will soon be here again and we will be off to visit many new places for us all to explore.

Let me first of all introduce you to Pearl. She is a very special dog in more ways than one. Special not only because she has like me and Abbey floppy ears. Pearl was once a homeless dog who has turned her life around. Today, Pearl is a search-and-rescue dog. Because of her keen sense of smell and hearing. Pearl was sent to Japan to search for the buried survivors after the country's earthquake and the devastating follow up tsunami. Pearl's story is captured in a book for children called  "A New Job for Pearl." This is a photograph of Pearl, looking all resplendent in her bandanna. The logo on the bandanna says that Pearl is using her skills as a National Disaster Search Dog. 

Click Here to Buy
Pearl was taken on by the Search Dog Foundation which is a charitable non-profit organization based in California. The foundation has a mission to strengthen disaster response by recruiting rescued dogs and partnering them with fire-fighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of any disasters.

So today we at Canal Dog salute Pearl and her human friends and her canine companions for the work that they do.

Yip Yap.

Poppy and Abbey.

Friday 25 May 2012

Strangers on the bank.

Hello everyone.

A wet but warm day today, we have had our morning constitutional walk and scoffed our breakfast on our return. Abbey tends to dawdle along and we have to stop and wait for her because she likes to check out every blade of grass. Me, I hit the ground running, I am still stopping dad from littering the towpath with rubber balls by bringing them back. I even bring back the ones that go in the water. I think I deserve an award for keeping the towpath tidy.

Dad says that I am not good when we meet strangers on the bank. I always bark at them if I feel that they are suspicious in any way. I don't ever give anyone the benefit of the doubt. We see lots of strangers, because people like to stop and watch the boat as we pass by. Sometimes we have to pass through the canal locks and then there is always someone watching. We call them gongoozelers as it is a very old name used by the old boat people. It is used to describe people who live on the bank who stand and stare at people who live on the boats.

Yip Yap

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Celebrity Dogs (11)

Hi everyone.

Dad is keen on feeding Me and Abbey the right sort of food and to ensure that we are getting regular daily exercise.  I started out in life on special puppy food diet that was blended to give me all the extra nutrients needed for a fast growing dog. Then when I was three, dad put me on what he calls regular food - with no preservatives or additives. It seems that I will be on this diet until I am about seven and then he will change my diet again. We all get a cod liver oil tablet everyday. We all have a target weight and fitness level and our diet is adjusted to maintain the weight target. We all get wormed twice a year.

Dad put Abbie who is now 12 on to what he calls a senior blend. Reduced protein with no preservatives or additives. Ab's is still very sprightly, she can run as fast as me, but maybe not as far. Dad says she has good joints, good teeth (her teeth are cleaned once a week) and has good general health.

Jasper the cat was 29 years old. He had been kept on a controlled diet all his life. (with the exception of the odd rodent) The vet said at his last check-up that his heart, liver and kidney function are very good for a cat of his age. Jaspers only problem was with his thyroid and some mild arthritis. However, he took his medication ever day and he looked good on it. Jasper was on a diet that was formulated for his needs. As for Jaspers exercise regime, it was based around waking just in time to eat. We all miss him now and he still has a place in our hearts.

Dad often uses the phrase "old girl" when talking to me or Abbey, this started me thinking about who is the oldest dog in the world. Dad says longevity in a dog depends on the right kind of food and exercise.

Dogs aged over fifteen who are fed a good diet are quite common. Dogs aged over twenty are un-common but not unknown. Dogs aged over twenty five are exceptional. But dad says age is not everything. It is quality of life that is most important.  So being old is not as important as being old and being fit at the same time. Extreme old age should be regarded as an uncharacteristic exception rather than as indicators of common longevity for all dogs. Being old and being fit should also be combined with being bright alert and interactive. So dad likes to play games with us and to get us to do little tasks on command.

The Guinness Book of World Records say:-

The most recent record for the Worlds oldest dog was held by Butch, a 28-year-old from America who died in 2003.  The oldest dog ever was Bluey, a sheepdog from Australia, who lived to 29 years.

So today we salute the memory of Butch and Bluey, who live to a good age and with a good level of health.

Yip Yap!
Poppy and Abbey

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Getting ready for the off.

Hello all.

Just to let you know that I have recovered from my surgery. I am frisky and full of vigour. Mum has taken up knitting cold weather dog jumpers again. here is a picture of Abbey in her jumper.

We will soon be leaving the boat marina after mooring up for the winter. We will be heading out on our travels once more. This time we should be away from home for about 8 to 9 months.

We have lost a family member. Jasper the cat who was my arch enemy when it came to my favourite basket has passed away at the ripe old age of 29 years 11 months and 7 days. Everyone was looking forward to celebrating his 30th birthday in a few weeks time.

Jasper passed away peacefully in his sleep and I now miss having him around. he has been laid to rest in his favourite sunny patch in the garden at home. Mum and Dad are also a bit sad, but we have loads of memories of him, so he will never be forgotten.

More news later when we get under way on our Spring - Summer - Autumn cruise 2012.

Yip Yap

Poppy and Abbey

Saturday 4 February 2012

A hectic day.

It's been a hectic day or two at chateau "Wits End" with your scribe having to play the dutiful and supportive half of the family. Lots of TLC have been administered as required. After some needed surgery the little general has now returned home, but obviously she is still in some discomfort. So I have been fluffing cushions, keeping the stove burning bright and assisting whenever required in and out of bed, in and out of her favourite chair and up and down the stairs for a visit to the bathroom.

I have to admit the occasional twinges of pain have been born with some stoicism on her part and for the most with silent fortitude. However, her body language has displayed her discomfiture from time to time. Now we will all have to relax for a few days and let the healing process continue on a pace. Meals have been prepared and we are now getting round to making a visit for the first of our post operative checkup's. I'm hoping that the snow that is due to arrive today will not cause us to abandon the appointment.

The medical advice has been to take it easy for the first three or four days and then to return to some light exercise after that. Building up over the following ten days with a few leisurely walks to get her back to her usual level of activity. Her stitches are apparently of the internal self dissolving type. A look at the scar shows that the surgeon has done a very good job. I noticed this morning that her appetite had started to return and so I prepared a couple of rounds of buttered toast which is her favourite breakfast treat. We just have to get used to the idea that there will be no puppies around to continue the Fox Terrier dynasty.

The patient is doing as well as could be expected.

She sends her love to everyone.

Poppy's Dad.

Monday 23 January 2012

Shirley a very special dog!

Hello everyone. its been a while since my last posting. Today I want to tell you about a very special dog called "Shirley".

When Rebecca Farrar was four years old she contracted a virus which, in her mother’s words, “killed her pancreas”. Hampered by a serious form of type one diabetes, little Rebecca’s world changed forever as she and her family battled to keep a check on her blood sugar levels. Unable to detect when her blood sugar was too high or low, at her worst Rebecca would collapse repeatedly, slipping into unconsciousness.

Her mother Claire Farrar, recalled “I had to give up work as I couldn’t leave her with anyone, she would just collapse. She needs at least four injections a day, every day. Some days she could collapse two or three times a day.” But then Shirley came along; a medical alert dog who is now the seven-year-old’s constant companion.

Shirley’s amazing nose for trouble enables her to smell an increase in Rebecca’s sugar levels, allowing teachers and family members to leap into action at the first sign of danger. Three-year-old labrador-cross Shirley, who was trained by the charity Medical Detection Dogs, hit the headlines when it was revealed that she and Rebecca had been nominated in the Crufts Friends For Life category.

Watching Shirley lolling upside down by a fire in the family’s living room, it is hard to imagine she is any different from any other dog. But as soon as Claire puts the canine heroine into her ‘medical alert dog’ jacket, a transformation takes place. Shirley stands to attention and has a pair of devoted eyes trained on Rebecca at any given moment.

Having a dog which such amazing skills as Shirley’s has made a huge difference to the Farrars. Claire said: “It all happened because my brother saw an advert in his local paper for foster families for hypo alert dogs. They came out and vetted the house to make sure it was suitable for a dog and they wrote to the hospital to make sure Rebecca was diabetic. Within 12 months – there was a 12-month waiting list – they found a dog suitable.”

The impact of Shirley’s presence was immediate. Claire recalled: “We went on holiday and Shirley came for two weeks. During this time Rebecca was at a disco and Shirley got up and started licking her and licking her. We did a sugar test and she had gone down to 3.1. It has made a big difference. We haven’t had to phone the paramedics once since we had her. Shirley goes to school with Rebecca from 9am to midday and when she is in class with her she is as good as gold. Last Friday Rebecca was at school when her levels went down to 3.1 so Shirley started licking Rebecca. They gave her some Coke and a Kit-Kat and then she went up to 21.2, her sugar levels can go just like that. She can leave for school in the morning and be 9.5 and by 10am be down to 2.8."

It was frightening at night, she would go to sleep and I would think ‘will she wake up?’ Before we had Shirley, I did not know if she would. Now Shirley sleeps next to Rebecca’s bed so she will wake her up if anything is wrong and Rebecca will come in to me. It is a big relief now and peace of mind. She cost about £10,000 to train but Shirley is worth more than that to me.”

Claire said she would now like to see more understanding about medical alert dogs within the general public. She said; “We have had a few problems with restaurants. You can’t refuse a medical alert dog access anywhere, in the same way as guide dogs, but we have had a few problems with restaurants who have said ‘you can’t come in here with the dog.’ One area manager even had to write and apologise to me recently.” But for all the misunderstandings, there have also been companies which have understood and supported Shirley’s work with Rebecca.

Claire said; “I would like to say a particular thank you to Vets 4 Pets in St James as they have sponsored her with her treatment and ‘vaccinations for life.’”

IT was 1989 when an article in The Lancet described the mysterious case of a woman whose dog showed a persistent interest in a mole on her leg. Doctors checked out her skin condition and she was found to have malignant melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer.

This is just one of many anecdotes in which animals have sniffed out potentially fatal illnesses. In 2004, experts behind the charity now known as Medical Assistance Dogs, based near Milton Keynes, published their first joint study in the British Medical Journal, demonstrating for the first time that dogs can be trained to identify the odour of bladder cancer in urine. The charity was later formed. The organisation’s ground-breaking work in the detection of human disease by dogs continues today and it is currently working with universities and hospitals to try to pinpoint the potential animals can have in assisting medics to identify disease.

Claire Guest, chef executive director of operations at Medical Assistance Dogs, explained: “We were the first people to discover that cancer has a unique odour and we discovered that other diseases have unique odours too. We quickly realised that dogs seem to be able to detect these changes.”

These dogs work for two or three days a week and are not placed with clients but in another, separate strand to the charity’s work dogs like Shirley are placed with clients to help raise medical alerts. Dogs trained by the charity now work all over the country to help clients manage conditions such as allergic reactions, diabetes and Addison’s disease.

Offering a unique service like this means there is now a three year waiting list for dogs, but Claire hopes the future will be a time of expansion for the charity. She explained that the training process for dogs works through a reward system.

Claire said: “As far as they are concerned, they are learning that certain odours are rewarding. It take about four months to do the advanced odour work. Labradors and Labrador-crosses are very good with this kind of work but other breeds can also be very good. We had a Yorkie called Poppy who was a very successful dog, I’m sure we can train many dogs to do odour recognition. The type of dog we need is the kind who wants to sit with you. Shirley was a guide dog not considered suitable because she failed in puppy walking as she was so inquisitive, but that is fantastic for us.”

The idea that disease has an odour is no new one and, before modern medical technology came in, even doctors would use their sense of smell to identify illnesses, according to Claire. She said: “Physicians used to use odour as a way of recognising certain conditions. It has been said that some people could smell TB so the idea that diseases give off odours isn’t new.”

Currently the charity has 18 assistance dogs working in different parts of the country, and the waiting list is growing. Claire said: “We are desperate for funding, there are so many people who need our help. We can’t train any more dogs without expanding.”

So lets hear it for a very special canine friend "Shirley"

Yip Yap
Love to all.

Poppy and Abbey.