The Dog Next Door Story

There is a lovely chocolate brown Labrador who lives next door to me. I see him very infrequently either walking with his owner or in the back of the owners car. When I say infrequently I mean perhaps once a month. I don’t think the dog next door goes for many walks.

Leroy and Madison have walks, drives, bike rides and many exciting happenings in their daily existence. They also come to work with me in the studio, so they are rarely alone in the back yard. Compared to my lonely dog neighbour they both lead very exciting lives.

For some dog owners just a pat on the head, a food bowl and the odd walk is enough for their dog. For me I like to include the dogs as much as I can in my life. I believe a stimulated and well exercised dog is a happy dog and as result I am a happy dog owner. There have been times in my life where I have come down with the flu and not been able to walk the dogs for a few days. During these times I have noticed how stir crazy the dogs get and also how their behaviour changes. They get a little naughty and they also create their own games but it only seems to result in some sort of destruction of either a pillow or soft toy.

In our busy and time poor lives it can be difficult to find the time in a day to walk the dog. I don’t believe walking is the only exercise we can do with our dogs. Dogs like to use their brain too. Dogs thinking is often overlooked and many consider just a walk in the park is enough to stimulate a dogs mind. There are many other activities you can do with your dog if you can’t get to the park, however I do believe dogs need to be walked regularly but a day here and there is almost unavoidable in our busy world.

I like playing the “where is it game”. I find an object that both the dogs like, either their ball or toy, and then I hide it. I make them sit and wait, (Madison is very sneaky at this game and will tiptoe behind me to watch where I hide it) then I give the command to them to find the object. Sometimes they find it instantly and other times it takes them a while. Both the dogs love this game and it will entertain them for hours. It seems to use up some of their energy and I love the way they have to use their brain to work out where the object is. I can also catch up on things around the house while they are busy looking and playing.

Sometimes I just the play in the backyard with the dogs and they seem to enjoy it when I spend time with them in their environment. The good old ‘throw the ball game’ is always the the best game in a frantic lifestyle. I will sometimes combine both the ‘ball throwing’ and ‘the where is it’ game, and this seems to burn off some excess energy – not as good as a walk but fun none the less.

These mentally involved games are great if you only have a little time to spare. I think the dogs feel more content after the games, human contact and attention. Ideally a walk and the games would be the best choice but sometimes just a few games and a few pats will be enough for a day but only for a day.

Dogs do need walks and they do need experience different environments. Even a quick car ride can seem like hours of activity for your dog so even if you are popping down to the shop take your dog with you. Of course on a hot day always remember to ensure they have fresh air and never leave a dog in a hot car.

Remember to make your dogs mental health and physical health a priority in you life. If you don’t have time to exercise your dog your self have a look at investing in a professional dog walker or take your dog to dog day care.
It’s unfair to leave your furry friend in a back yard for days on end. Give them some of your love and time and they will reward you twenty fold.

Creative Designer – Catherine Dorrestyn

Christmas Presents, Cake and Dog Well-Being

Recently Leroy managed to snaffle a Christmas cake out of the presents pile which was hidden in the bedroom. Little did I know he had snuck into the room, rummaged through the bag and found the handmade Christmas cake which was to be a present to my brother.
I found the remnants of the cake and plastic wrapping in the garden, I also found one fat happy and sugar high Leroy rolling around on the ground. I am sure he thought all his Christmas’s had come at once.

My mind went into overdrive a little, firstly I was mad at myself for not shutting the wardrobe door properly and then secondly my next concern was what was in that cake and would Leroy be ok with sultanas, raisins,cherries, sugar, nuts and all sorts of other products which I am sure are not so good for dogs.

I rang the vet and was told sternly that grapes, sultanas and raisins can shut down dogs kidneys and was asked if he was showing any signs of not eating, drinking or listless behaviour. I was told to observe Leroy closely over the next twelve hours and should there be any hint or signs of changes to his demeanour I was to bring him immediately to the vets. I was then reprimanded and
reminded by the vet to keep the dogs away from Christmas presents and specially those containing food. My face blushing a little red at this comment as I do consider myself very pet aware but even mishaps happen to the best of us.

Luckily due to Leroy’s size and the small size of the Christmas cake, he has not done any damage to his kidneys he has however had a stomach upset and has been letting off some fruity fermented smells and leaving little sloppy patches in the backyard. Sorry not a nice subject I know but it really needs to be highlighted how important it is at this time of year we keep our pets away from our tasty Christmas presents and special Christmas food.

This also goes for table scraps, be aware of what is not a good food item to give to your dog. Under no circumstances give chocolate, grapes, sultanas, raisins or onions. Make sure your guests are aware of this too.

Be aware of any changes to your dog. Below is a behaviour check listLeroy trying to find christmas treats
Signs of toxicity include vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, abdominal pain, decreased urine production, weakness and a drunken gait.
Onset of signs typically occurs within 24 hours (though they can start just a few hours after consumption)

It’s easy to get caught up in the mayhem which is Christmas but remember if it smells nice and is within easy reach of our four legged friends they may find it hard to resist.
Keep these items up high and remember when you put the presents under the tree you will need to be very aware of where your dogs are at all times as they are quick and they can do themselves a lot of damage if they get hold of something they shouldn’t and it would be a sad Christmas period for you and your four legged friends spending time at the vets this holiday season.

We wish you all a Merry and Safe Christmas for you and your furry friends.

Stephanie & Catherine