Website for the over 60s  April 2017
 Food and Drink
Health & Wellbeing
Easter Gifts & Reviews
Travel & Holidays
 Entertainment & Travel
Competitions & Letters


 Chat and Socialise
Retirement & Hobbies
 Beauty & Hair Styles

Fashion & Accessories
Pet Care
Homes & Gardens

 Our Friends


      Dora's Diary


             A monthly dog blog

Hi folks.

Hey, guess what. We’re into April. Cherry blossom. Daffodils. Clumps of primroses: and lambs gambolling in the fields. Yes, spring has sprung. We should all have one in our step. A spring that is. Have you I wonder? I’ve certainly been full of vim and vigour. Full of bounce. Ready for the chase. And I like nothing better than that chase to be after a ball. But there are a few canine rules that us mutts need to observe.

The first is that you must never to take your eye off that ball. If you’re aware there are other things around that you could be chasing you’ll end up in a tizz. Confused. Then guess what? You’ll not catch anything. What’s the fun in that, eh?

One of the best fun things to chase is a Frisbee. You know, those flat plastic saucer shaped things that spin round if thrown properly. They can hover in mid-air just like a bird, tempting you to leap up and grab it. But let me give you a tip here. Be a bit patient because eventually it will come down. That’s the time to sink your teeth into it. And of course, it goes without saying that when your owner tries to reclaim it, hold on tightly. Make him struggle before letting go at the last possible moment.

It’s worth noting here that Frisbees can be funny things. They’re liable to waver and wobble and turn suddenly without warning. Rather depends how good your owner is at throwing it. Bossman’s hopeless. His throwing often causes the wretched Frisbee to weave all over the place. But I still go after it like a shot.

Likewise balls. But there’s a difference here. Once a ball hits the ground it tends to bounce. So you do need to have a good sense of your terrain to get some idea of the trajectory the ball might take once its landed. I can tell you if a ball lands on a hill, it will go down not up. That’s a fact. And if it lands in a hedge it’s not going anywhere.

Several of Bossman’s poor throws have seen tennis balls vanish into his yew hedge never to be seen again. Countless times I’ve rummaged through the hedge attempting to find them. All to no avail. I personally think the best balls are those soft foamy thingies. You can really go to town with those and rip them to pieces once you’ve caught them. Mind you, tennis balls bounce better and give you the chance to catch them in mid-bounce which might impress your owner.

Sticks as you’ll know are just small bits of trees. Bigger than twigs. Smaller than branches. Seems they hold a special place in the human-dog bond, as they’re believed to be the first objects thrown to canines by man. Just think, when chasing a stick you’re enacting something that goes back many thousands of years. Imagine Neolithic Bossman dressed in bear skins tossing a stick for me from the mouth of his cave? Doesn’t bear thinking about.

But a word of warning here. Sticks can snap. Bits can splint in your mouth and jam in your throat. Bossman once had a red setter that ran onto a stick thrown by his owner. The stick sliced through the dog’s gullet and ended up wedged the length of his neck. Poor dog. Makes me gag just to think of it.

Finally, there’s one extremely irritating thing your owner might try. That’s the fake throw. It’s where he’ll show you what he’s about to throw. Something like one of your favourite balls. He’ll wave it around in front of you. Make sure he’s got your interest. And that you’re all worked up ready to chase it. He’ll then cock his arm back as if he’s going to throw it. But he doesn’t. You go racing off, looking for the wretched thing while all the time he’s still got it curled up in his hand. He’ll think it very funny. You won’t.

Bossman tried this trick several times, laughing himself silly before he eventually threw the ball. An expensive new one. On catching it, I was delighted to find my teeth sank into it very easily. Within minutes, I’d torn it to shreds. In doing so I had a ball. Though to judge by Bossman’s long face, he didn’t. Hee…Hee…

Love and licks


Pets Aplenty by Malcolm Welshman

P.S. My Bossman is Malcolm Welshman.

His latest novel, Pets Aplenty, is published by Austin Macauley Tel: 0207 038 8212 at £7.99, Kindle version £0.99 and available to buy from  

Malcolm Welshman has his own website at 


     Medical Detection
Dogs get Green Light
for Canine Colorectal
       Cancer Trials

Medical Detection Dog

Medical Detection Dogs has received the go-ahead to begin the first colorectal cancer trial in the UK using the extraordinary smelling power of dogs. The charity is working in partnership with Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust to collect and test 2,000 urine and stool samples from both healthy volunteers and those diagnosed with cancer.

Medical Detection Dogs has won the personal backing of the Secretary of State for Health for its work. In a recent interview with the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme, Jeremy Hunt said, "I think ideas like this sometimes don't get looked at as quickly as they should, because they sometimes get put in the quackery box.

"I will personally look at this research when it comes through. One of our jobs as MPs is to question orthodoxies and look at different ways of doing things that possibly the establishment has swept under the carpet. If this research is good, I want to know about it."

Mr Hunt acknowledged the UK lags behind the rest of Europe in cancer survival rates and welcomed any technology that would improve the UK’s dire record. Colorectal or bowel cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer in the UK with around 42,000 cases diagnosed each year.

Medical Detection Dog

The five-year survival in England is 51% for colorectal cancer, with a figure of 54% in Scotland and 50% in Wales. The European average is significantly higher at 57%, while survival rates in Germany survival were 62%.

Like all cancers, colorectal cancer is best treated when diagnosed early. Caught at stage one, 95% of men and 100% of women will survive for five years or more. If the cancer is only picked up at stage four however, the chance of survival drops to five per cent for men and 10% for women.

The existing screening for colorectal cancer consists of a first stage stool test, which measures only traces of blood in an individual’s faeces rather than detecting the cancer itself. The second stage involves the insertion of a camera into the rectum to look for evidence of cysts forming.

Uptake of colorectal screening is low. It is hoped a quick, easy and non-invasive test by the dogs using urine would encourage more people to get themselves tested.

Medical Detection Dogs has achieved a high level of reliability in training dogs to detect cancer. In training trials, the dogs had a 93% reliability rate at detecting prostate cancer in urine samples, which is considerably higher than most comparable tests.

Dr Claire Guest, co-founder and CEO of Medical Detection Dogs commented, “We are delighted this colorectal cancer trial can now get underway.

“Colorectal cancer is a lethal disease claiming 16,000 lives a year in the UK. Colorectal, prostate, breast and lung cancers together account for almost half (46%) of all new cases.

“A key challenge is catching patients early – uptake of screening is not high, and it’s an area that many patients are reluctant to seek help for, or to volunteer for screening programmes.

“If our trial shows dogs can detect colorectal cancer in urine samples, the potential is there for a quick, non-invasive test, which could encourage far higher rates of testing and therefore early diagnosis.

“Our dogs are highly effective bio detectors that have been in development for thousands of years. Their capability to detect disease should not be brushed aside in the hope that one day man might create a machine that’s half as good as the dogs already are.

“We are grateful to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for his support and look forward to presenting him with the results of our trial when they are published.”

The NHS’s Independent Cancer Taskforce estimates 30,000 lives can be saved each year by 2020 through earlier diagnosis and better treatment and care.

Medical Detection Dogs has established a reputation since its foundation in 2008 for training dogs to detect cancer. It has published two research papers on bladder cancer and is currently running two major trials into prostate and breast cancer in conjunction with NHS trusts.

It is seen as a world-leader in its field and advises other smaller clinics in Italy, Canada and the US.

About Medical Detection Dogs

Medical Detection Dogs is a charity co-founded in 2008 by a team including Dr Claire Guest, a scientist and animal behaviour expert, and Dr John Church, a former orthopaedic surgeon.

The charity is based in Buckinghamshire and works in partnership with researchers, NHS Trusts and universities to train specialist dogs to detect the odour of human disease. It has two main arms: cancer detection dogs and medical alert dogs.

The bio detection dogs are trained to detect the odour of disease, such as, in the case of cancer, volatile substances in urine, breath or sweat samples. The cancer dogs have the capacity to provide a second line test for cancers that are difficult to diagnose reliably. Currently the charity is running two major trials into the detection of prostate and breast cancer due to be completed in 2019. Medical Detection Dogs has previously produced two papers in 2004 (BMJ) and 2011 (Cancer Biomark), which have shown dogs to reliably detect bladder cancer.

The medical alert assistance dogs are trained to assist individuals who manage complex medical conditions, such as diabetes, on a day-to-day basis. The dogs are taught to identify the odour changes that are associated with certain medical events, such as a drop in blood sugar level. There are currently 74 dogs partnered to people with chronic conditions across the UK and with more funding this number will increase.

The charity receives no government funding and relies entirely on charitable donations.

For more information visit the website at

* Photographs by Emma Jeffery.

     PDSA Tips for a
Happy, Confident Pet

PDSA Tips for a Happy, Confident Pet

A socialisation programme is one of the most important things you can do for a new pet. This is particularly important for young pets, as the experiences they have in their first few weeks and months will shape their behaviour and reactions for the rest of their life.

PDSA Vet Rebecca Ashman says, “Socialisation has a big influence on the behaviour and temperament of your pet. A well-socialised pet will be more likely to grow up to be friendly and confident; whereas a pet that doesn’t experience everyday sights and sounds, both indoors and outdoors, when they’re young may be fearful and anxious as an adult.

“Sadly, in some cases, poor socialisation when young can even lead to fear aggression later on – sometimes with devastating consequences.”

The first 12 weeks of a puppy’s life, and the first 8-10 weeks of a kitten’s life are key, which is why it is vital to make sure they’ve been bred responsibly in a home environment. The breeder should ensure that young litters are exposed to positive experiences of all kinds of everyday sights and sounds, including strangers and children. Then you should continue this process once you take your new pet home. Here’s a list of things your pets should experience:

· Loud noises, such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, thunder and fireworks. Commercially available CDs can help pets gradually get used to sounds like these.

· Being alone - gradually get them used to being left alone for increasing lengths of time, up to a couple of hours.

· People of different ages and appearances, including children and young people under supervision.

· Once vaccinated, have them meet a wide variety of friendly, healthy, vaccinated pets – for puppies, your vet can advise of any ‘puppy parties’ in your area.

· Travelling in the car – let them spend time in a stationary car in a cat carrier/dog harness a few times, and build up to going on a short journey.

Build up new experiences gradually. For example, get them used to quieter sounds before louder ones. When they are calm and relaxed give them praise and a healthy treat so they enjoy the experience.

Remember these experiences should always be positive ones. If your pet seems anxious or afraid, calmly end what they’re doing, or gently move them away, but don’t try to comfort them as this may make them interpret this as a ‘reward’ for their nervous behaviour.

Don’t introduce too many new experiences in one day. Three a day is a sensible number, remembering to repeat them as often as possible once your pet is happy with them, but work at your pet’s own pace.

PDSA’s website has a handy Socialisation Schedule:



PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

For details click on

Pet Care  

You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!

RSPCA press officer Amy De-Keyzer shares her experiences of cracking the agility world with her 10-year-old rescue dog, Sammy

Why dog agility can be great for you as well as your four-legged friend…

The old myth goes, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. But it couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, you can teach an old dog new tricks, as well as new skills, new habits, and even new jobs.

The RSPCA rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes thousands of dogs every year and many of those go on to achieve all sorts of wonderful things from training to be working dogs and police dogs, to winning top awards, and competing at the highest level of competition. So, before you discount a rescue dog or an older dog because you want to take part in a new hobby or sport with your canine companion, think again…

Here RSPCA press officer Amy De-Keyzer shares her experiences of cracking the agility world with her 10-year-old rescue dog, Sammy.

RSPCA press officer Amy De-Keyzer shares her experiences of cracking the agility world with her 10-year-old rescue dog, Sammy

Taking on an intelligent, energetic and active crossbreed I knew I had my work cut out when I adopted Sammy in November 2013. He’d been found, abandoned, chained in a disused yard with his collie friend, Inky, and was taken in by the pound. Having done his seven days the future wasn’t looking bright for him, until he was rescued and I then adopted him. His background is fairly unknown but that didn’t bother me - he had a heart of gold and such a lovely temperament.

After a few weeks settling into our class (and realising the true extent of his intelligence - at times, it still scares me!) and after receiving a clean bill of health from the vet, I signed us up for our first agility course. Little did I know then that three years later we’d still be going along week in and week out, come rain or shine.

I’d always wanted to have a go at this fast-paced and exciting sport but always got the impression it was a pastime made for - and dominated by - collies. But, as soon as I stepped foot inside the ring at my new training club, I realised how inclusive the sport actually is. Whilst it’s not an activity that every dog may enjoy or be able to do, there were dogs of all ages, sizes, breeds and types - from collies, spaniels and huskies, to Jack Russell terriers and even a pug-cross, and everything in between!

We started out with training tips and basic obedience, which was really helpful for me as the new owner of a rescue dog with an unknown past. Working intensely on the basic commands was vital in building a strong bond between Sammy and I and not only made him more receptive and engaged in the agility ring, but also much more responsive out on walks.

Next, we started the slow process of introducing the different pieces of equipment - such as jumps, tunnels, the dog walk and the seesaw - and gradually building the dogs’ confidence, as well as learning complex courses, agility commands and handling techniques - all using positive reinforcement and reward-based training methods.

As well as learning new skills and giving the dogs - and handlers! - physical and mental work-outs, the classes were also great for helping with vital social interaction. Within just a few months, a reactive German shepherd in my group who, at first, had lunged aggressively at every dog that looked at him or walked near him, had found a friend in Sammy, and some of the quieter, more timid rescue dogs were beginning to gain confidence and come out of their shells.

Three years on, Sammy’s an old man and is beginning to slow down. His eyesight is starting to fade and his joints are getting stiffer but he still transforms into a bouncy, barky boy every Wednesday night when the lead comes off in the agility ring and he waits to charge around a course. Sometimes he struggles to see the entrance to the tunnel in the fading light, he’s been known to trip over his own feet in his eagerness to scale the A-frame as quickly as possible, and he barks at me frustrated when I get the course wrong - but it’s all in the name of fun, and it’s so good to keep his brain and his muscles ticking over.

It’s been amazing to see my ‘old dog’ learn new tricks over the years and nothing we’ve thrown at him has phased him. He’s taken every piece of equipment, different turn, and combination of jumps in his stride - which for a little dog, is actually quite big! Although, due to his age, I’ve made the decision that I’ll never compete with him, we continue to go to our training classes each week and it always brings a smile to my face when he learns a new skill or completes a new course without fault.

Needless to say, there are times in the howling wind and pouring rain when I think I really should take up baking or stamp collecting, and there are also times when I’m nearly tearing my hair out because we just can’t quite get something right, but they are by far outweighed by the many proud moments I have when I think how far Sammy has come since I got him.

From an abandoned mongrel nobody wanted, to an agility superstar. So he may not have any trophies or rosettes, but he’s a star in my eyes - and he just goes to show, a dog is never too old, to learn new tricks.

If you’ve been inspired by the incredible agility displays on Crufts and would like to try out the hobby or if you already enjoy agility and are looking for a new dog to challenge in the ring, give an RSPCA rescue dog a chance, Here are a handful of RSPCA rescue dogs ready and raring to go, and looking for an active agility home to call their own:


Collie pup Skye

Collie pup Skye is just seven-months-old and, just like any other youngster, is full of energy! She is super bright, eager to learn, and has huge potential.

She will need a home with experience of active dogs who like to be kept busy, where she will get lots of training and exercise, and something to keep her brain occupied such as agility or obedience. If you’d like to find out more about her, please visit her
Find A Pet page.


Shadow is a seven-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier

Seven-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier Shadow may not be the athletic collie you usually see in the agility ring, but would love to give it a try! He can be a little shy at first but once he gets to know you he is very affectionate and playful.

He’s got good basic training but would benefit from further training and something stimulating such as agility or flyball. For more information about Shadow, visit his
Find A Pet page.


Jack is hoping to find a home where he can reach his potential

Youngster Jack is less than a year old and is hoping to find a home where he can reach his potential. He’s a loving, affectionate boy who loves nothing more than fuss and playtime!

He is very energetic and would benefit from agility or flyball training. He’s looking for an experienced collie owner who understands the breed’s needs. To find out more about Jack, see his
Find A Pet profile.


‘Super Steve’ is a 10-year-old smooth-coat collie-cross

‘Super Steve’, as he’s known, is a 10-year-old smooth-coat collie-cross who is very intelligent and enthusiastic. He’d like an experienced new home where he can enjoy lots of physical and mental stimulation, such as agility.

He’s very playful and has a good basic grasp of commands so should prove easy to train further. For more information about this boy, please check out his
Find A Pet page.

The RSPCA has hundreds of dogs on its
Find A Pet pages online  who are all looking for their fur-ever homes. If you’re thinking of getting a dog, please consider rescuing.

* Pictures of Sammy are copyright to  Jennifer Whitten.

* Pet information is correct at time of going live and availability of dogs may change.

Holidays Your Dog Would Choose

Holidays your dog would choose


It can often be difficult to find wonderful holiday accommodation that not only 'accepts' dogs, but actively welcomes them. That's why Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire have created The Woof Guide, where you can find great dog-friendly accommodation that's rated according to a unique Paw Rating System that tells you whether it's best for your dog, whether they're energetic, water loving, elderly, timid or even a puppy.

Pembrokeshire is an ideal destination for you and your dog all year round, with beautiful beaches, stunning coast path walks and lots of dog-friendly attractions. The Woof Guide has all the information you might need for a Pembrokeshire holiday your dog would choose.

Cilhendre is a lovely cosy, dog-friendly cottage situated in the heart of Newport

Cilhendre is a lovely cosy, dog-friendly cottage situated in the heart of Newport. It's especially suited to the smaller dog who loves nothing more than the pleasant bustle of coastal town life, however more energetic pooches will enjoy the walk to the beach and splashing about in the sea!

The cottage itself is deceptively spacious, and sleeps 8 people and 2 dogs very comfortably. A wood burner creates a cosy retreat outside of the season while during summer months Cilhendre transforms into a sunny haven with a secluded patio well equipped for alfresco dining with garden lighting, leading onto a large lawn for children, adults and dogs to enjoy.

A seven night stay at Cilhendre starts at £535, rising to £1335 in summer holidays.

Upper Mead

Upper Mead is a stunning house set on the hillside just above the seaside village of Amroth, with breathtaking views out to sea over Carmarthen Bay. Sleeping 6 people and 2 dogs, it's recently been refurbished to a high standard with wooden floors that are practical for soggy paws!

Energetic dogs will thrive here, as a short downhill walk takes you to the wonderful long Amroth beach, where you can join the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path to explore the wonderful coastline on your doorstep. For a different kind of walk, the National Trust Colby Woodland Gardens are only a 0.5 mile walk from the cottage.

A seven night stay at Upper Mead starts at £575, rising to £1675 in summer holidays.

Hawthorn Cottage

For couples, Hawthorn Cottage is part of a picturesque 18th Century stone barn converted into two delightful cottages, full of character with exposed stone walls and beams, set in the sleepy hamlet of Talbenny just over a mile from the beautiful cove of Little Haven. Sleeping 2 people and 2 dogs, it sits in half an acre of extensive shared grounds, making it a perfect location for an elderly or nervous dog to enjoy short, quiet walks.

The beach at Little Haven is open to dogs all year round

For the more energetic, the beach at Little Haven is open to dogs all year round, and is perfect for a walk followed by lunch on a pub terrace while your pooch snoozes it off at your feet.

A seven night stay at Hawthorn Cottage starts at £400, rising to £705 in the summer holidays.

Find out about the best holidays for dogs with the Woof Guide

For more information about the Woof Guide click on

For reservations or more information please call 01437 772760.

  Sixtyplusurfers Competition

   Win a Max Glow
 Pro Launcher and
  Zipflight for Dogs

Win a Max Glow Pro Launcher from Chuckit!

Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with Chuckit! to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a Max Glow Pro Launcher and Max Glow Zipflight. These glow in the dark pet toys are perfect for early mornings or late nights when it is still dark.

Founded in 1998, Chuckit! quickly became a sought after and trusted dog toy brand across the USA. With requests and reputation growing, Pedigree Wholesale began exclusively distributing this side of the pond to satisfy a more global demand. Pedigree Wholesale, based in Nottingham, is the exclusive distributor of Chuckit! throughout the UK.

Win a Max Glow Pro Launcher from Chuckit!

The Chuckit! product range consists of a variety of different products, which fall within six different categories. These include Balls and Launchers, Flyers, Ground Pursuit, Tug, Shake or Toss, Indoor and Max Glow. All Chuckit! toys are available to buy from independent pet retailers, selected garden centres and can be purchased online at

While many dog toy companies have tried to copy Chuckit!’s innovative ball launchers, none have come close and Chuckit! still has the most powerful ball launchers in the world. Chuckit! understands that different dog breeds have different needs, personalities and preferences when playing – so whether a dog likes toys that fly, float or fumble, Chuckit! is proud to provide more ways to play.

Win a Max Glow Zipflight from Chuckit!

Chuckit! has been a leader in the dog toy market for nearly 20 years and is an expert when it comes to exhilarating and interactive play. The human-animal bond is at the heart of every Chuckit! toy made, and Chuckit! strives to make toys that are as fun for people as they are for pets. Chuckit! also aims to get owners outdoors too and inspire a healthy, active lifestyle.

The Chuckit! mission is clear and strong – play bigger, faster and longer with our complete line of toys. Built on innovation and ergonomic design, Chuckit! revolutionises the classic game of fetch. It’s important that Chuckit! makes durable, bright, exciting and engaging toys to elevate playtime to a new standard and encourage a healthy, active lifestyle for owner and pet. Chuckit! creates interactive toys for ‘fetch-tastic’ play to build a deeper and longer-lasting bond between owner and pooch.

Win a Max Glow Pro Launcher from Chuckit!

The Max Glow glow in the dark toy range is ideal for late night, early morning or dusky winter walks, allowing owners to extend a pooch’s play time with a range of high quality glow in the dark toys - so you can stay and play!

Throw further and faster - and never bend down to pick up a slimy ball ever again with the Chuckit! Pro Launcher. The Pro Launcher in this range also comes with a standard Chuckit! tennis ball. It is perfect for dogs who need outdoor exercise at all times of the day and enjoy long distance fetch games. For dogs with lots of energy who love to ‘glow’ get em’, the Max Glow pro launcher is ideal.

Win a Max Glow Zipflight from Chuckit!

Suitable for both land and water play, the Max Glow Zipflight amphibious flying ring is designed for exceptional visibility and performance. The Zipflight also features and a glow in the dark rim and insets for easy retrieval.

It is perfect for dogs of all sizes who love to chase and jump on land and in the water at all times of the day, the Max Glow Zipflight is the perfect companion for on the ‘glow’ dogs.

Max Glow pet toys are perfect toys for night and day

For more information about Chuckit! pet toys click on

  For Your Chance to Win

Tell us what is the
Max Glow Zipflight?

  a) A Pet Coat
  b) A Dog Collar
  c) A Flying Ring
  d) A Feeding Bowl

  To Enter the Competition

Tell us what is the Max Glow Zipflight? Then send in your answer together with your full name, postal address and telephone number to the Sixtyplusurfers email address as shown below:

* Please label your entry Chuckit
Dog Toys Competition

* This competition is open to
our UK readers only


   Have a Pet Friendly
   Garden this Spring

Have a pet friendly garden this Spring

     Pet care advice from the PDSA

With Spring now here, and the weather warming up, many of our pets will be spending more time in the great outdoors.

If you’re as proud about your garden as you are your pet, you may be starting to plan your perennials and arrange your annuals. You may also know that there are some plants to steer clear of if you have pets, such as daffodils, lilies and laburnum. So what shrubs and flowers will give you a colourful and pet-friendly garden?

PDSA Vet Rebecca Ashman says, “Outdoor exercise and playtime is great for pets and we shouldn’t think that pets only need to go in the garden just to do their ‘business’. Many pets enjoy exploring new scents and sounds as part of their natural behaviour, it helps to keep them active and happy.

“While pet owners do need to think carefully about what flowers and plants they have in their gardens, there are plenty of harmless varieties which mean owning a pet doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful and colourful garden.”

African Daisies look exotic, will brighten up your garden, and are resilient to knocks too. Crocuses are a good alternative to daffodils, but avoid colchiums, also known as autumn crocuses, which can be poisonous.

Safe plants for dogs include ferns and African violets. For cats, choose sunflowers and snapdragons. Owners should always check whether plants may be poisonous to pets before buying and advice can be sought from garden centres. The Horticultural Trade Association has a code of practice that most garden centres adhere to. The code labels plants A – poisonous, B – Toxic if eaten and C – Harmful if eaten. Plants in any of these categories are best avoided for a pet-friendly garden.

Rebecca adds, “A little bit of research can prevent a large veterinary bill. There’s no reason why you can’t have the best of both worlds – a great looking garden that’s also safe for your pet to enjoy.”

Rebecca’s top plants to avoid are:

Daffodils – even drinking the water from a vase of daffodils can made a pet ill.

Laburnum – just chewing laburnum bark or twigs can affect a dog.

Allium species – These include leeks, spring onions and wild garlic.

Bluebells – all parts of the plant are poisonous to dogs.

Lilies – including the pollen, which can be harmful as a cat may lick this off their fur after brushing against the plant.

Oak – the buds have a high concentration of a poison called ‘tannic acid’ but not all dogs react to it.

Rhododendrons – all parts of the plants are toxic. Commonly seen in parks

Signs your pet may have been poisoned vary depending on the type of plant, so it’s important to always seek veterinary help if your pet show symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, drowsiness or fitting.

Further information about plant and garden safety can be found on PDSA’s website at

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through preventive care, education and emergency treatment.

Funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

For details click on

      Loveable Otters
   Make their Home at
      Great Kneighton

Loveable Otters make their home at Great Kneighton

Otters are one of the most playful animals. they love having fun and will happily create water slides just for their own amusement or dive for stones at the bottom of the river, not dissimilar to children playing on holiday. These extraordinary creatures are wonderful to spot in the wild, so, it was with great excitement that Countryside, the developers behind the Great Kneighton development in Trumpington, Cambridge, discovered these beautiful creatures were living on Hobson's Brook in the heart of the new Country Park.

Otters often travel over large areas, sometimes 20km or more of river habitat and they require clean rivers with an abundant, varied supply of food and plenty of bank-side vegetation which offer secluded sites for their holts. At Great Kneighton Country Park several measures have been put in place to ensure the quality of habitat for a range of wildlife is maintained. A buffer between Hobson's Brook, where the otters have been spotted, and the built development and haulage roads has been created to reduce noise and human impact on the bankside vegetation. In addition, the crossing points for haulage roads and footpaths were designed to span the brook to minimize ensure wildlife safe and secure access beneath.

Andrew Carrington, Managing Director of Strategic Land, at Countryside comments, “Providing natural green spaces, both for residents and wildlife, is very much our ethos at Countryside. We have a number of ecological projects on all of our sites to attract and enhance the wildlife and make sure they thrive for many years to come. The discovery of otters is such exciting news for us and our residents at Great Kneighton. We have employed experts Ecoulis to oversee the ecology of the Country Park, who have been on site long before any construction started, and will be keeping an eye on our wildlife for as long as 10 years after construction finishes.”

The new Country Park, stretching over 120 acres, is the focus of the Great Kneighton development and a wonderful addition to the green open spaces that Cambridge has to offer. Already, the park has lots of woodland, four ponds, one of which is a 50,000 sq m bird reserve, allotments, playing fields for the new secondary school, and will have a range of adventure play areas for younger residents.

Construction of the park has been taking place in phases, with the first phase now complete and planned to be open to the public next spring. All four ponds have been constructed including the bird reserve which is proving very popular and is now home to a wide range of birds, including lapwings, common terns, mallards, coots, corn buntings, little ringed plovers, grey partridges and moorhens. In the summer, bats have been widely seen as a number of bat boxes were installed in the park. There has also been evidence of foraging badgers within the grassland on the site although no new setts have been recorded.

Great Kneighton is an exciting new community, taking shape on the southern fringe of Cambridge. Countryside is building a contemporary, sustainable development of over 2,000 imaginatively designed homes, from apartments through to six bedroom family houses. Everything will be on the doorstep with a whole range of amenities being planned. In addition to the country park there will be a secondary and primary school, community square with health centre, shops, library, sports pitches and public art programme.

For further information on the new homes and all the fantastic facilities and amenities at Great Kneighton, visit