Joeys Animal Facts Vol.2 – Live Long (and Large)

Last month was all about speed: this month we are looking at size and longevity. So, which are the heaviest and longest living animals?

Maxing out the scales are the Whales, and there are quite a few of them. The grand-daddy of them all, however, is the Blue Whale, weighing in at 190,000kg (29,919 stone). After the Whales come the Sharks, with the Whale Shark (11,800kg / 1,857 stone) being the heaviest of all fish. The weightiest of all land animals is the African Elephant at 5,000kg (787 stone) – beating it’s Indian cousin (4,000kg / 630 Stones) in to third.

Next, to the wise old heads of the animal kingdom now. The creature which has the longest life expectancy are the marine clans with the fantastic name; Quahog (200.2 yrs). Second is the Giant Tortoise (150 yrs), just ahead of the Greek Tortoise (110 yrs). That should be enough to make everyone feel just that bit younger (and thinner!).

Have you got a question about animals? Email Joey and ask away!

Get your next installment of “Joey’s Animal Facts” by signing up to our monthly newsletter “The Ethical Pets Gazette”

A Dogs Day (at the office)

science spot logoWe are starting to bring pets into hospitals and nursing homes because we know that they make us happier and healthier (1). So, why not bring pets to work? Barker et al (2012) (2) have done some preliminary research to see what happens when the dog comes to the office.


The study aimed to examine levels of stress during the work day and job satisfaction. They compared between dog owners who brought their dog to work, dog owners who didn’t and people who had no pet at all.

Who gets to take their dog to work?!!

The study took place at Replacements Ltd who have allowed dogs to come work for over 15 years.


The study used three groups, with about 30 participants in each group. One group bought their dogs to work, one did not, and the last group had no pets. To be extra clever, they also measured what happened to the dog group on a day when they didn’t bring the dog to work. Last of all, they took a saliva sample each morning from all the participants, to check for the stress hormone cortisol.


The dogs had no effect on “how valued” by the company the employee felt, however, the group with the dogs reported much lower levels of stress. The group who had no pet reported the next highest levels of stress, and the group who had a dog, but left it at home, were the most stung out of the lot.

The people with no pets, and the people who took their dog to work had a consistent amount of stress throughout the day (be it lower or higher). The people who left their dog at home, however, became more and more stressed as the day went on. Interestingly, on the days that the dog-group left the dog at home… they got more stressed as the day went on too!

The cortisol test showed that the group without a pet were more stressed at the start of the day than the two groups who had pets – however, there were too many other complicating factors to be sure of a correlation.


The most interesting thing we see in this study is the effect of having a pet, but not bringing it to work. The stress levels start off low, but get higher and higher as the day goes on – and they end up even higher than those who have no pets. Why is this? Is the stress-busting effect of the pet wearing off? Do people pine for their pets and worry more for them as the day goes on?

Also – while the dogs didn’t effect how valued the employee felt by the company, this may be because the company makes all their employees feel valued already – perhaps just being allowed to bring a pet to work (even if you don’t have one) can make you feel appreciated.

Don’t the dogs get in the way?

The study also looked at this – and found that most people had a neutral response to the dog. Then, about 20% felt that the dogs made them more productive, and about 20% felt they harmed productivity. Despite this, many positive comments were made by people in this 20%: it seems a lot of concern revolves around poor behaviour, hygiene and allergies rather than a dislike of the dogs.

What next?

This is the first study of its kind – and it was quite small. Future studies would include larger numbers of participants. Also, they could measure more things. Do dogs make us late? Do they make us more or less productive? Also, a comparison between pet owners who work from home and pet owners who commute with their pet, could be really interesting.



(2) Preliminary investigation of employee’s dog presence on stress and organizational perceptions, by Barker, Knisely, Barker, Cobb and Schubert. From International Journal of Workplace Health Management, vol5. No1. 2012 page 15-30.

Shep: Reporting Live Vol.1

Shep recently interviewed Sarah Graham, Communications Assistant at The Dogs Trust. Here is a full transcript.

Christmas was fun for me, I slept by the fire mostly. What do the dogs in Dogs Trust sanctuaries do at Christmas?


Once they are all cleaned and fed, all the dogs go for lovely long walk. Staff spend all day with the dogs to make sure they all enjoy their day and get lots of fuss and attention. All the dogs will also get a special treat out of their stocking – a special chew or a toy. All the dogs have stockings and the sponsored dogs proudly display their Christmas Cards from their sponsors. There is a Christmas tree in reception and the staff wear festive Santa hats.


So do people still get Dogs for Christmas (and not for life?)



I’m afraid so. 34 years ago Dogs Trust created the famous slogan “A Dog is for Life, Not Just for Christmas” – but sadly it appears that many people still buy dogs as presents without proper thought being given to the responsibilities involved. Each year we see around 100 dogs dumped at our re-homing centres over the Christmas period. We regret to say that 2012 was no different. It seems that people are still giving puppies as Christmas presents without considering the long term ramifications. Dogs can provide a world of happiness and enjoyment, and we urge anyone considering a new addition to the family to ‘think life’ and carefully consider the individual needs of the dog’s breed too.


Where do all the Christmas dogs come from?



Sadly one of the most popular places to buy dogs is online. Dogs Trust acknowledges that the Internet is an accessible way of purchasing gifts quickly, but the impulse buying of pets and animals poses the enormous risk of attracting many unscrupulous breeders. Consumers could, unintentionally, end up purchasing a pet from a puppy farm that has been trafficked into the UK. Such puppies often have physical and behavioral problems as a result of poor breeding conditions and traumatic transportation. To help prevent people thoughtlessly buying or giving a dog as Christmas present, Dogs Trust centers did not re-home dogs between the 22nd and 29th of December (22nd December to 2nd January in Scotland). People were still able to visit and reserve a dog, but were not be able to take it home until the New Year

Were there any Dogs Trust miracles this Christmas?


Dogs Trust Glasgow was broken into four times during the Christmas period. Not only did the charity lose equipment, but some of the dogs became very distressed by the trauma and the centre was forced to close for a short period of time. In the midst of this turmoil, however, a Christmas miracle took place as dedicated staff helped a three year old Jack Russell Terrier, called Josie, give birth to a litter of seven pups on Christmas eve. The pups are all doing really well and have all been reserved to go to their loving new homes when they are old enough.

Here’s Josie and her pups, all doing well!

Ethical Pet of the Month – January 2013

Ethical Pet of the Month LogoMaggs

Ethical Pet of the Month, January 2013

A few words by Andy, Magg’s guardian.

Maggs appeared a few months back outside the house, looking forlorn and bedraggled. The neighbors had taken her into their porch and made a make-shift bed for her whilst we all tried to find out if she had an owner. One evening Charlie, my wife, took her in because she was in distress with fleas and the cold – and she’s been here to this day.

She impressed herself upon us with her warm nature and never gave up sitting at the door or coming to greet us… We had never had a pet before and were somewhat reluctant to take her on – but we did, and we have never regretted having her, although the first few weeks were tough because she really wasn’t very well. There were times we thought she might be too poorly to survive – but she made it and rewards our patience with loyalty.

She is an amazing cat – the vet has told us that she is 10 years old – but she is really still active and she clings to the human touch. When I’m working at home she stays by my side and sits on my lap whilst I am editing photos and videos. She sleeps in the kitchen at night and in the morning, as you open the kitchen door, you glimpse her curled paw around the door edge prizing it open to greet you. Although she has lost her miaow – she never stops trying.

Out of all the things in her lovely Ethical Pets hamper, she most adores her bed (the mouse is a close second). Because of her ordeal she craves security and warmth and spends much of her time in there, as you might imagine.

Andy Marshall is an award wining architectural photographer and an award wining social media wizard. He was kind enough to give us some help with social media when we founded Ethical Pets (and knew nothing of Twitter!). At first, we were surprised to hear that Andy had adopted a cat: his studio is tidy and meditative and his mind, totally focused on cameras and buildings… We couldn’t quite picture a noisy, demanding, mouse-dragging cat about the house. But then, we met Maggs… gentle, patient, neat and very affectionate: the perfect cat for a sensitive photographer type! If only she could give our cats some lessons…

Here is our favorite Andy Marshall Art work:

Ethical Buisness: Ethical Life. Vol 2.

Welcome to Ethical Business: Ethical Life – we aimEBEL logo to showcase the people behind the amazing Ethical Businesses we meet through running Ethical Pets.This second edition is about our friends at Riverflow Clothing: they live on a beautiful red boat and sell fair trade clothes at affordable prices – it’s hard not to like them! Riverflow are a family of four and a half: there is Miriam, Matt and then Caleb and Flynn (5 ½ year old twins) and a bump on the way, due in April! They also live with their dog called Ella, who they rescued from from Birmingham Dogs Home. Ella was a “death row dog” – due to be put down the very next day. Thank goodness for Riverflow eh?!

Why did you set up Riverflow Clothing?

We’ve both worked jobs before that have either involved lining someone else’s, already very well lined, pockets or compromising our beliefs. Or both. So, Riverflow Clothing was born out of a desire to work for ourselves and to earn our money in a way that didn’t compromise our ethics and values. We don’t want to make money at the expense of others or the environment, so we try to ensure our business has the minimum negative impact possible. Everything we sell is fairly traded and ethically sourced, and our packaging is biodegradable or compostable too!

We get our stock by buying up samples, previous season and end of line stock from several fair trade importers, which means we can pass on the saving we make by offering everything at prices we’d be prepared to pay ourselves. Also, pretty much everything we stock is unique; it’s rare we have 2 of the same item.

the riverflow boat in the summerWhen did you set up and how did it go?

We set up just over a year ago. Matt was working full time so we sold at the odd event here and there to test the water. It was a slow and sometimes disheartening start. There were a lot of initial expenses, aside from the stock itself and rails etc, we’ve had to buy a box trailer to store everything and a stall frame for outdoor events. It’s also always a gamble booking new events, sometimes you pay a hefty stall fee and footfall is really low or it’s just the wrong sort of event. We made a few bad choices to start with but then, we had a stall at a local music festival in the summer and did really well which was a massive confidence boost. Since then we’ve been more selective about which events we book and have found it’s well worth traveling a distance for the right events.

Do you enjoy your work?

When we have a stall at an ethical event, it doesn’t feel like working: we get to spend the day together as a family and meet a whole bunch of lovely people. We’re definitely on the look out for more of those this year.

Riverflow is not the only work we do however. Miriam works a couple of days a week in a local charity shop and Matt has does some freelance website design. We’re not into profit yet with the clothing and don’t know if we’ll ever make enough to lithe twins playing in the show by the boatve on it exclusively – but we’ve grown a lot in a year though and feel like we’ve got a better idea of what we’re doing now!

Describe an average day in the life of you.

The most important thing to us is our family. We try to spend as much time together as possible – something that doing events allows. Do we have an unusual lifestyle? We’re a home educating, vegan, TV free, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, nomadic, live-a-board family. Whether that’s unusual depends on your perspective, but I guess to most people it probably is.

An average day? There isn’t one! As much as possible we try to make sure one of us is available to spend time exclusively with/on the boys. What we’re doing though varies day to day and depends on so much. Matt works mostly from home but Miri is in a different couple of days at the charity shop each week. There are home ed. groups we go to. We have stalls at events. There are lots of chores living on a boat too, so we might have to move the boat to fill life on the waterwayswith water or fuel, take washing to the launderette, visit the builders merchant for a new gas bottle or take recycling and rubbish to the tip. This time of year there’s always wood to fetch and cut. Never appreciated the phrase “there’s not enough hours in the day” as a kid but can completely relate to it now!

What are your ethical principles and how do they guide and motivate you?

We try to have the biggest positive impact and smallest negative impact that we can in everything we do. We don’t really subscribe to any particular set of beliefs as is but veganism, sustainability, fair trade, permaculture, unschooling, attachment parenting, non aggression principle, libertarianism, anarchy and volintarism all come into it somewhere along the way.

We’re fortunate to know a whole bunch of lovely people from different backgrounds and with massively different lifestyles and beliefs. It often makes for interesting conversations and ones that challenge, or make you reaffirm, what you think and do.

Any words of wisdom?

‘Anything is slavery if it isn’t in your heart’

Inner Terrestrials – Thirty Pieces

Joey’s Animal Facts Vol.1 – Life in the Fast Lane

Life in the fast-lane…

Which animal is the fastest? The fastest animal on land is the Cheetah (61mph/98km/h), with the Pronghorn Antelope (60mph/97km/h) coming in a very close second, and the Lion third place (50mph/80km/h).

In the water the speeds get even greater, with the Sailfish reaching speeds of 101mph (68km/h). Marlin come in at a relatively distant second clocking 80mph (50km/h) and the Wahoo (78mph/48km/h) winning the bronze medal.

At the top of the animal time sheets, however, are the birds: in level flight the Spine-Tailed Swift is the Usain Bolt of the animal world recording speeds of 171mph (106km/h). Coming in second and third are the Frigate bird 153mph (95km/h) and the Spur-Winged Goose 142mph (88km/h).

The 171mph Spine-Tailed Swift is not the fastest an animal can naturally travel, however. The Tom Daley of the bird world, aka The Peregrine Falcon, reaches astonishing velocities breaking the 200mph mark when Diving – but that’s gravity aided.

Have you got a question about animals? Email Joey and ask away!

Get your next installment of “Joey’s Animal Facts” by signing up to our monthly newsletter “The Ethical Pets Gazette”