In animal sanctuaries there are dogs of all shapes and sizes… and some of them are very old. Milo was, until recently, one such dog. It’s hard for sanctuaries to find homes for dogs like Milo; they are often ill or needy and require a lot of attention and patience. Additionally, many people worry that it will be too sad befriend an animal who has only a few months left to live. At Ethical Pets, we have cared for a dog like this before, called Beth: we found living with her a wonderful and fulfilling experience, so we have decided to do it again! This time, we are keeping a blog in the hope that maybe others will consider adopting their own little Beth or Milo one day. So, here it is: our record of Milo’s Last Miles.
I spent last week animating with plasticine with some 5-11 year old children from my Mum’s church. I used Phatch, Linux Stop Motion and Kdenlive to make the animation. Those are all Free Software, so they can be used for any purpose, shared and changed. I also got some music from CCmixter.org which has a Creative Commons licence, this also allows you to share and reuse the music too!
We all know what a positive effect our pets can have on our lives. For some, letting those precious pets be a part of someone else’s life too, allows this wonderful charity to reach out to thousands of people each week, sharing the benefits of unconditional love and companionship that these wonderful animals can bring. This charity is Pets as Therapy – this week, Shep, our adorable rescue mutt, interviews them about what they do.
In animal sanctuaries there are dogs of all shapes and sizes… and some of them are very old. Milo was, until recently, one such dog. It’s hard for sanctuaries to find homes for dogs like Milo; they are often ill or needy and require a lot of attention and patience. Additionally, many people worry that it will be too sad to befriend an animal who has only a few months left to live. At Ethical Pets, we have cared for a dog like this before, called Beth: we found living with her a wonderful and fulfilling experience, so we have decided to do it again! This time, we are keeping a blog in the hope that maybe others will consider adopting their own little Beth or Milo one day. So, here it is: our record of Milo’s Last Miles.
Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has been helping homeless and vulnerable dog owners for almost 20 years through its Hope and Freedom Projects.
The Hope Project
The Dogs Trust Hope Project helps dogs whose owners are homeless or in housing crisis by providing advice, support and veterinary assistance for their dogs.
The Hope Project Veterinary Scheme offers free and subsidised veterinary care to any dog owner who is rough sleeping or living in temporary accommodation. The scheme runs in 100 towns and cities across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and offers free preventative healthcare – microchipping, neutering, vaccinations and flea and worming treatments. Dogs Trust can also subsidise most other essential veterinary treatments that a dog would need. Since the scheme began in 2004, the Hope Project has funded more than 10,000 veterinary treatments.
The Dogs Trust Hope Project also works with providers of homelessness accommodation to encourage them to accept residents with dogs. Unfortunately most homelessness organisations and housing providers in the UK still do not accept clients with dogs. Currently only 7% of hostels are dog-friendly . This means that many people are being denied access to shelter and support, simply because they have a dog. Dogs Trust offers advice to accommodation providers on a range of issues such as introducing a pet policy, health and safety, hygiene and behaviour.
Every Christmas, Dogs Trust works with winter shelters and homelessness projects to provide a Christmas parcel service. Christmas can be an especially difficult and lonely time for people who are homeless. By sending out parcels of treats, toys, coats, collars and leads, the Hope Project tries to make Christmas special for homeless people and their dogs as well as providing essential coats and jumpers to keep the dogs warm during winter.
The Freedom Project
The Dogs Trust Freedom Project is a pet fostering service for dogs belonging to families fleeing from domestic violence.
Each year, thousands of women suffer abuse at the hands of their partner. Research indicates a strong link between animal abuse and domestic violence, with men who are violent to women often threatening or harming a pet in order to intimidate their partner.
Families fleeing domestic violence are usually unable to take their pets with them into a refuge or temporary accommodation, so in many cases they are reluctant to leave their home until they know there is somewhere safe for their pets.
Dogs Trust offers a service which places dogs in the homes of volunteer foster carers until their owners are in a position to take them back. Dogs Trust covers all expenses so there are no costs for the volunteer foster carer or dog owner. The service operates in Greater London, Hertfordshire and Yorkshire. In Greater London & Hertfordshire, Dogs Trust can also foster cats in partnership with Cats Protection. Since it began in 2004, the Freedom Project has fostered more than 1000 pets.
 Homeless UK, Homeless Link.
For more information on Dogs Trust’s Hope and Freedom Projects, please visit www.moretodogstrust.org.uk
Dogs Trust is funded solely by public generosity. If you would like to make a donation towards the work of the Dogs Trust Hope Project or the Dogs Trust Freedom Project, please go to www.moretodogstrust.org.uk/donate.
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The Fox Project is a wildlife hospital, information bureau and humane deterrence consultancy, all specializing in the Red Fox.
Pretty much going on as we are. Last year, we moved into a new wildlife hospital, which took everything up a notch. It would be nice if we could have a quiet year – time and space to settle in.
No! Last year we admitted 640 casualty foxes and THAT was a quiet year, possibly because the fox population fell slightly – a natural phenomena with self-regulating species like the fox. But we normally take in around 750 per year and I expect 2013 will be typical.
Is the new wildlife hospital making a difference to what you can do?
Yes. The Fox Project has struggled for 20 years with converted premises, spending valuable funds on annual renovations just to stand still. We’ve always prided ourselves on hygiene and efficiency but it’s so much easier when everything is new and designed for the purpose.
I suppose spring, when the cubs are born, is your busiest period?
We usually receive around 250 cubs along with all the adult foxes. Vixens are only in season for three days a year, all around the same time. Because of that concentration, half the year’s patient intake arrives in one quarter of the year! The majority are rescued by our three wildlife ambulance drivers and 40 local volunteer rescuers. Others come from RSPCA and organizations outside our area that don’t have suitable facilities.
What happens with the cubs? How do you get them back to the wild when they’ve become accustomed to humans?
Even those brought up on the bottle usually revert to wild by the time they’re twelve weeks old. Humans are useful in that they bring food and water and change the sawdust but that’s their only real purpose! But of course, we have a well-regulated program to prevent and undo bonding between cubs and humans. We must have this, or they could go back to the wild trusting people and that’s not in their best interest.
Without wanting to sound like a conspiracy theorist, some of those papers have a pro-hunting agenda and support repeal of the Hunting Act. We always do what we can try to investigate stories about foxes attacking people and no case thus far stands up to scrutiny. There’s usually a hidden agenda, like wanting the local authority to remove foxes from someone’s property – which, as foxes are not classified as ‘vermin’, councils are not legally obliged to do. Sometimes it’s an attempt to divert attention from an attack on a child by the family’s own pet and to avoid the media shame that would inevitably follow. But the most common fears are based on simple misunderstandings.
Years before we opened a wildlife hospital The Fox Project was a fox information bureau. It still is, and an important aspect of that is to make knowledge of the species readily available. Like so much in life, it’s an ongoing battle of truth and reality v. myth and prejudice.
It’s an admirable survivor, intelligent, resourceful, adaptable, humorous, good natured and beautiful – traits we might admire in the best of people. It has suffered too long from ignorance and superstition. We owe it.
We 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.
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.
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 Pet of the Month, December 2012
A few words by Debbie, Rosie’s guardian.
My partner Paul & I decided to get a dog because he was in the RAF & was spending many months of the year away. We thought a dog would be good company for me & would also encourage us both out in the beautiful countryside. I wanted to rescue a dog as we felt that there were so many dogs who needed rehoming & we wanted to give one a second chance.
So, the hunt was on!
I found a sad, skinny looking girl on the website of the Bath Cats & Dogs Home. She was underweight & had sore, red & swollen eyes. But those eyes…
We spent time with her, & the decision was made: Rosie was coming home to us!
Her history was vague. She was 2 years old & we were to be her third owners. Her previous owners had taken her to the dogs home telling them she was a stray, but they then proceeded to fill the staff in on her entire medical history!
The first few months were difficult: Rosie had many behavioural problems as a result of not being socialized. She was very sensitive to dietary changes so we had to choose her food carefully. She also displayed some upsetting signs that she had been abused by her previous owners. We would take one step forward & two back: it took patience & time, but now, two years on, Rosie is the most loving, loyal, happy friend we could ask for.
She loves people & has learned how to play gently with other dogs. She is wiggly & always wagging her tail. She also spends almost 22 hours a day sleeping!
I work shifts & Rosie has made it her mission to be attentive to my strange sleeping patterns by always being by my side come day or night, fast asleep on her back, legs in the air snoring like a train!
Rosie is the most loving, loyal, happy friend we could ask for… She is wiggly & always wagging her tail!
Which brings me on to our friends at Ethical Pets! Sadly, Rosie began to suffer from unexpected & unexplained panic attacks. They were so distressing for her & we were exhausted from nights awake with her, trying to calm her down & reassure her. The attacks would last for hours & there seemed to be no way of calming her down.
I was reluctant to medicate her as this was just masking the problem rather than dealing with it & so I began to look for an alternative, natural & ethical solution. This is where I found Ethical Pets & their Mucky Pup Calming and Soothing Massage Oil. It took a few nights to totally kick in but I could see almost immediately that she was starting to relax. By the third night she had begun to present herself for her doggy massage before bed! I had discussed Rosie’s problems at length with Anna who was able to suggest some new products that they had recently discovered. She kindly sent some samples off for us to try.
In our goody bag (along with a yummy vegan doggy treat!) was a Pet Remedy Plug-in Diffuser. Pet Remedy is made with a mixture of herbs that have a natural de-stressing effect on animals that is also non-sedating. I can honestly say we haven’t had any further problems with Rosie’s anxiety: she has returned to the happy, chilled out bed slug we love dearly… & I can’t tell you the relief of getting a good nights sleep ourselves!
Debbie & Rosie x
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