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Designer dog homes to descend on London


If you’re visiting St Pancras International on or after 19 March, keep your eyes peeled for some very special dog kennels.

Designers from around the world have come together for the BowWow Haus installation of doggie dream homes.

The dog houses will be shown on the upper mezzanine of the station until 26 April 2018 where they will be auctioned off in aid of Blue Cross pet charity and US-based outdoor arts Foundation. Funds raised will go towards helping sick, injured, homeless and unwanted pets in the charity’s care.

SINGAPORE Spark-architects doghouse


Over 60 dog kennels will go on display at St Pancras International and Stratford International stations, including the work of internationally famous Zaha Hadid Architects, renowned mosaic artist Ivan Djidev and multi-award winning designers Denizen Works Ltd. Celebrities who co-designed houses alongside architects include dog lovers Anne Robinson, Russell Watson, Ben Fogle and Bruce Oldfield.

Matt Cull, Deputy Director of Fundraising at Blue Cross said, “We very excited about the kennels descending on central London, where they will be on view to so many commuters, holidaymakers and visitors to the capital. We hope they make an interesting and unusual addition to people’s journeys to and from St Pancras International. Blue Cross helps thousands of pets, from hamsters up to horses, and we are delighted that this unique project will help us to care for the many pets needing our help every year.”

Wendy Spinks, Commercial Director at HS1 adds, “St Pancras International is a destination known for showcasing the very best talent from across the arts, so we’re thrilled to provide a platform for these celebrated designers and to support such a worthwhile cause. This is just one of a series of events, exhibitions and installations we look forward to surprising and delighting our one million weekly visitors with this year, as we celebrate our 150th anniversary at the station.”

The auction will take place on 26 April 2018 at the St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel. For more information, visit the Blue Cross website

2018 Wag Walk – Sunday 20 May


Grab your lead and raise money for dogs in need at Bath Cats and Dogs Home.

Bath’s biggest dog walk returns this year for a beautiful walk across Bath’s countryside, starting and finishing at the Home.

Every dog that takes part will be given a Wag Walk doggie bandana to wear on the day and a tote bag filled with celebratory treats once they’ve finished the walk.

Registration is £15 for your dog, plus £5 thereafter for each dog taking part, and a small online processing fee. You can choose from a new two-mile route or a five-mile route and the walk is guided by the Home’s events team. There will also be stalls selling refreshments and pet products.

Participants can help raise more money for the charity through sponsorship and the dog that raises the most money will receive a hamper full of delicious treats and toys.

The event takes place at the Home on their Event Field, access from Claverton Down Road. Sign in at 9.15am and walk begins at 10am.

For more information and to register, please visit the Bath Cats and Dogs Home website.

Six of the best


Rex: a review – DVD competition


Review by Professor John Cooper QC

In 2003, Megan Leavy joined the United States Marines and before she knew it, she was serving in the most hostile of war zones in Iraq.

But Marine Corporal Leavy was not alone. She had Rex.

It is interesting that this movie (available on DVD from the 19 March and digitally from the 12 March) was released in the United States under the title of Megan Leavy. In the UK, the film title has been changed to Rex. Perhaps I should leave those marketing this superb movie to explain that interesting difference, but whatever it is called, this movie is a ‘must watch’ for anyone interested in that unbreakable bond between a dog and his owner.

It is the sort of bond many of us feel for our own companion animals; that no-strings-attached love and devotion that you get from your dog every time you return home. But in Rex we see all of those emotions, but heightened in a background of danger and violence.

Rex is, in fact, a true story. Megan Leavy came from a difficult family background, which in a short scene in the film, dealing with her return home for Christmas, encapsulates the dysfunctional nature of her upbringing. She joined the Marines to escape.

After an indiscretion, Megan is put on kennel duty, where she meets Rex, a German Shepherd, who seems to be displaying behavioural problems. The particularly unsympathetic vet has little time or inclination to delve into the seemingly aggressive dog’s problems, but within weeks of being assigned to Megan, we begin to see a different side to the dog. Both Marine and combat dog form a formidable bond, each of them watching the other’s back.

This becomes increasingly important in the war zone where the two complete more than 100 missions.

Their work comes to a violent and abrupt end in 2006 when both are injured in an IED explosion.

Megan begins her painstaking recovery resulting in an honourable discharge and a Purple Heart for valour. Rex, on the other hand, upon his recovery, is sent back to the war zone in Afghanistan, despite Megan’s efforts to bring him home to her.

A substantial part of this movie deals with the traumatic effects upon Megan of the separation between the two of them, and it is clear that Megan is further traumatised by this cruel separation. But one of the impressive features of this mature film is that it does not demonise either side on the issue about whether Rex should or should not be allowed into a domestic environment post-combat.

Kate Mara in Rex. Credit: Lionsgate UK

Megan Leavy spent five years trying to reunite herself with Rex, finally learning that he was going to be retired and was facing being euthanased, already suffering from facial palsy.

In a previous interview, Megan said, “I’ve taken care of him. He’s taken care of me. It’s a bond you can’t break,” a sentiment that needs no explanation in these pages.

Kate Mara puts in a skilled and sensitive portrayal of Megan Leavy and effectively combines the toughness required of combat personnel with a depth of sensitivity and empathy, a hard act to pull off, which she does throughout the film.

Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, who is no stranger to animal welfare related projects, having directed the documentary Blackfish about the treatment of captive whales, and a devoted dog lover and animal advocate herself, this project was in impeccably safe hands.

This is a powerful and inspiring story of the bond between animal and human, which everyone who loves dogs will immediately recognise.

Five stars. Don’t miss it.

Watch an exclusive clip from Lionsgate UK

Win a DVD of new military dog movie Rex

We have three DVDs to giveaway in time for next week’s release thanks to Lionsgate UK. To enter, fill in the form below. Closes Friday 23 March.

Rex is out now on Digital Download and on DVD from next Monday 19th March


Skin infections


My 10-year-old Labrador keeps getting skin infections and is moulting a lot. He also seems to have aged quickly – he’s not really that itchy, but I’m worried. What do you think it might be?

Graham Finch advises…

Your very good and concise history immediately makes me think he might have an underactive thyroid. This is known as hypothyroidism and can be treated with lifelong tablets.

Hypothyroidism has a range of effects on the body, including affecting the skin’s defence system and the hair follicles, which can lead to the signs you describe. In the simplest terms, this can be diagnosed with a single blood test, looking at the relationship between two hormones including the thyroid hormone itself. I’d suggest you make an appointment for your Lab and chat it over with your own vet, who will then advise.

Brave Police Dog Finn to be awarded ‘Animal George Cross’


Courageous Finn may be retired but his schedule is busier than ever.

Now he is to receive the prestigious PDSA Gold Medal – the non-military equivalent of the PDSA Dickin Medal.

Instituted in 2002, the PDSA Gold Medal, also known as the ‘Animal George Cross’, is awarded to civilian animals for life-saving bravery and exceptional devotion to duty. Finn has been awarded for the incredible bravery he showed one night back in 2016 where he sustained near-fatal stab wounds while on duty.

PC Dave Wardell, PDSA’S Director General Jan McLoughlin and Finn

Finn and handler Police Constable Dave Wardell from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Dog Unit were called to an address in Stevenage. The dog unit were instructed to give chase to a suspect evading arrest and who was believed to be armed with a baton or stick.

PD Finn caught up with the suspect, getting hold of his leg and foiling his escape.

PC Wardell explains, “I joined Finn, grabbing his collar and straddling his back to give him support as he held the suspect. In a split second, I saw the man lunge at Finn’s side with a weapon. As he pulled away, I saw a 10-inch blade, covered in Finn’s blood.

“The man then lunged at me with the blade but Finn, despite being seriously hurt, grabbed hold of the suspect and stopped him from landing a fatal blow. My hand was cut in the struggle and Finns head was sliced open.”

But Finn didn’t let go, allowing PC Wardell to wrestle the assailant to the ground, where he eventually dropped the weapon. Once officers had joined them, Finn was rushed off for emergency surgery to save his life. He made a miraculous recovery and 11 weeks later he was back on active duty.

PC Wardell adds, “Finn’s determination, even after he’d been seriously hurt, was absolutely faultless. He definitely saved my life that night and stopped an armed criminal from posing a threat to other officers or the public.

“I’m bursting with pride that Finn is receiving this award – he is a true gem and embodies everything that is special about police dogs in the country. He is my best friend and I owe him my life.”

Retired Finn now lives with PC Dave Wardell as a family pet

PDSA’s Director General, Jan McLoughlin, said, “Finn displayed outstanding devotion that night, both to his duties and to his handler. For his actions, Finn is an extremely worthy recipient of the PDSA Gold Medal.”

Chief Constable Charlie Hall, who, alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner nominated PD Finn for the award, said, “Our Police Dog teams perform outstanding work and are a great source of pride for the Force. Finn’s story highlights the vital role that these animals play in our society and the dangers that our officers face on a daily bases. I am thrilled that Finn’s actions are being recognised.”

Finn’s act of bravery captured the hearts of the nation and has inspired #FinnsLaw. This campaign aims to change the laws that surround service animals, to provide greater protection and prosecution powers. The Second Reading is expected to take place on the 27th April in Parliament.

David Lloyd, the PCC for Hertfordshire, said, “Finn’s horrific injuries and the bravery he showed that night lit a fire in the hearts of the British public. Attacking a police animal should not be treated in the same way as damaging a police car. The public clearly think the same, and the fact PD Finn’s actions have prompted this response shows how much the public care about our animals important contribution to policing.”

Finn will be awarded the medal in a formal presentation on Sunday 6 May, at the PDSA PetLife ’18 festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. You can also read Finn’s story in his new book Fabulous Finn: The Brave Police Dog Who Came Back from the Brink.

Read our interview with Police Constable Dave Wardell in our April issue out now!

Persistent cough


My 13-year-old Jack Russell Terrier has developed a harsh cough that has been going on now for two months. My vet has suggested a chest X-ray, but I’m on a tight budget. Do you think an X-ray is a good idea?

Graham Finch advises…

It does sound like it’s been going on for quite a long time, and most infections – kennel cough, for example, will resolve within one to two weeks. Also, while a physical examination can tell us a lot about what’s going on, unfortunately, it may only narrow down the possibilities, so yes, an X-ray does sound like a good idea.

There could be a number of different conditions that can cause similar signs. Heart problems can sometimes occur in older dogs, as well as bronchitis; in both cases, treatment can be given that can help the symptoms and increase longevity, too.

In terms of cost, although there is the upfront expenditure, finding the root cause of the problem can be more efficient in the longer term. I would have a chat with your vet about the procedure and see what they advise.

Style to Rescue: UK’s first rescue dog grooming competition – May 19th


Rescue dogs from all over the country are invited to be treated like Crufts champions at the first-ever grooming competition specifically for rescues.

Style to Rescue will take place on Saturday, 19 May at Stoneleigh, near Kenilworth.

The event is all about benefiting rescue dogs and their rescuers. Professional groomers will compete against each other in grooming the dogs. They’ll be judged by Philip Langdon and Mike Wildman with specific attention paid to the groomers’ ability to deal with dogs they’ve just me, keeping them calm with kindness and compassion, as well as grooming them in a manner that enhances their natural features, whilst remaining appropriate form the breed.

It is also hoped by the organisers that all the attending dogs will find their forever homes as a result of the event. The winning groomers and the rescue dogs’ charities will share the financial rewards as well as prizes donated by sponsors. Ten groomers and rescue organisations will be placed, with £500 each for first prize. Every dog that is entered receives a donation to their rescue of £10.

Visitors can observe the grooming competition and attend seminars held throughout the day on topics such as Canine Coat Care (Sue Oliver), Pet First Aid (Jan Gallier) and dog training tips (Craig Flint), as well as a grooming demonstration from England Groom Team.

You could also get to meet Mojo the Poodle who’s appeared in films and Britain’s Got Talent.

The day will be run by a small group of volunteers and is the brainchild of Jitka Krizova (main photo), successful business entrepreneur and championship groomer from Uttoxeter in Staffordshire.

Style to Rescue is very grateful to all the sponsors and raffle prize contributors, who include Vita Canis, The Welsh Grooming Association, For all Dogkind, Roses Top Dog, The Hair of The Dog, Tail Waggers Lichfield, Beco Pets, Lintbells, Fish 4 Dogs and Dogrobes.

Disowned Lurcher’s leg is saved thanks to charitable vet practice


When a disowned puppy needed complex surgery to fix a severely broken leg Davies Veterinary Specialists immediately stepped in to help out free of charge.

When Mickey, a six-month-old Lurcher, arrived at Scott Veterinary clinic in Bedford, he was suffering from a mid-diaphyseal transverse fracture of the tibia and fibula in his hind leg. Sadly his owner was unable to pay for the treatment so opted to disown the dog at the practice. Without prompt surgery, Mickey faced amputation of the limb or euthanasia.

Scott Clinic’s Vicki Fabon made an urgent call to Davies, a private small animal veterinary referral practice based on the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire border, asking for help. Luckily the puppy was immediately admitted on a pro bono basis.

The fracture repair was performed through a medial approach to the tibia and with the aid of a femoral and sciatic nerve block. The fracture was reduced and stabilised with a Synthes 3.5mm locking plate placed in compression. Mickey recovered very well from surgery and was walking on the operated limb within 24 hours.

X-Ray of Mickey’s leg with the plate in place

“It was really rewarding to be able to help such a lovely dog and see him recovery so quickly,” said Davies’ Orthopaedic Surgeon Rob Adams. “Had he not already had a home I would have rehomed him myself.”

Not only did Mickey make a complete recovery but he also captured the heart of Veterinary Nurse Hayley Mills who has offered him a forever home. One year on, it’s almost impossible to tell that the lurcher had a severely broken leg.

“He’s my world,” says Hayley. “I wasn’t in the market to adopt a dog. I had recently lost a cat that I was very attached to but then Mickey came along and it all just seemed to fit. The rest is history!”

Mickey and Hayley Mills

Scott Clinic were also touched by Davies’ kindness. Clinical Director Vicki Farbon said, “We would just like to say a huge thank you for your help with Mickey. Thanks to you guys he still has four legs! It was such a kind gesture to help that has gone above and beyond what most Specialists would ever offer.”

Tease the Whippet takes Best in Show title but PETA protest interrupts celebrations

Copyright: Flick.digital

Last night the winner of Crufts 2018 ‘Best in Show’ was announced as Collooney Tartan Tease, a Whippet.

Tease was brought to the podium by his handler Yvette Short from Edinburgh. They joined the ‘Reserve Best in Show’ Chilli, a Pointer. It was the first time that ‘Reserve Best in Show’ was announced before ‘Best in Show’.

Yvette Short from Edinburgh with Tease a Whippet, who has won the coveted title of Best in Show. Copyright Flick.digital
Joanne Blackburn-Bennett from Blackpool with Chilli a Pointer, who was announced runner-up of Best in Show. Copyright Flick.digital

But the celebrations were cut short when a group of animal activists from PETA ran into the stage of the NEC Arena in Birmingham, carrying placards saying ‘Crufts: Canine Eugenics’.

Yvette reacted quickly, picking up two-year-old Tease and running to safety as security rushed on to stop the two demonstrators.

A spokesperson for Crufts issued this statement:

“It appears that protestors from PETA gained unauthorised access to the ring in the main arena at Crufts, and in doing so scared the dogs and put the safety of both dogs and people at risk in a hugely irresponsible way. Our main priority at the moment is the wellbeing of the dogs that were in the ring, who are being looked after by their owners and show officials. The NEC Group have extensive security procedures in place at Crufts and we, along with the NEC Group, will be reviewing what happened as a matter of urgency.”

PETA tweeted the footage and said the activists were protesting against “extreme breeding”.

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