Website for the over 60s  March 2017
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      Dora's Diary


             A monthly dog blog

Hi folks. Hope the year is going well for you so far. I’ve a question to ask you this month. Do you think us mutts have a sense of humour?

There is a scientist, Dr Marina Davila-Ross from the University of Portsmouth, who thinks we do. She’s been trawling the Internet to find footage of animals that are ticklish and respond noisily. There is certainly a huge number: owls, meerkats, penguins and even a camel and a dolphin. And, guess what? Mutts as well.

Dr Davila-Ross says, "This study across the animal kingdom could begin to shed light on how laughter evolved."

Meanwhile, previous studies have shown that us dogs definitely do laugh. During play encounters, we vocalise in four distinct patterns. Barks. Growls. Whines. And the dog-laugh which is a forced, breathy exhalation emitted exclusively during play and friendly greetings. Never during aggressive encounters.

Recordings of dog-laughs can be used to help minimise stress levels in dog kennels where playing of such recordings have shown to reduce pacing, salivating, barking and cowering - all signs of an anxious dog.

Okay, so dogs and certain other animals can laugh. But do we have a sense of humour? Or is it just a sense of fun? Seems there is evidence for both.

Bossman once had to treat a young chimp, Charlie, at London Zoo for a wound on his right buttock. While the chimp was in the veterinary hospital, Bossman was able to persuade Charlie to turn round in his cage so that each day he could inspect his bottom without having to catch him up. Once back with his mates in the collection, Bossman used to walk past his enclosure each lunch-time on his way over to the canteen.

Charlie would spot him walking by and race over to bounce along sideways next to him, his bottom pointing at him. Charlie would then swing his arm round and jab a finger at his right buttock. Visitors would start to laugh. And Charlie would join in, emitting a panting noise that sounded like a handsaw cutting wood.

Bossman certainly felt Charlie was behaving in that way because he wanted to be funny rather than from just a sense of fun. He was intent on getting a reaction out of Bossman and the visitors just for laughs.

But does that apply to us mutts as well? Do we make you laugh on purpose? Do we know we’re being funny? There are countless stories of dog antics and behaviour that are funny but it's difficult to decide whether these are intentional or not.

Same goes for cats. They can be playful and amusing. You can't help but laugh when a cat chases an unravelling ball of wool or swats at a paper butterfly dangling from a piece of string. That playfulness can be devilish fun. At least for the cat if not for the owner.

Bossman had one client whose cat would wait on the landing for her to come up to bed. As the lady climbed the stairs, out would shoot a paw between the banisters and swipe the poor lady's hair. The cat would then bound away into the bedroom. A hair-raising experience for the owner. Fun for the cat.

Despite some reservations, Bossman thinks us dogs are a bit smarter than some people might give us credit for. And just as some people enjoy making others laugh, Bossman thinks some dogs do as well. But then he is a potty dog owner. Well he has to be, owning such a scallywag as me.

The other evening he had visitors for supper. His guests were enchanted by my looks. I responded with licks and frenzied wags of my tail and just loved being the centre of attention. As they got talking in the lounge, attention diverted away from me.

Bossman suddenly noticed I'd gone missing. He looked at his guests apprehensively, wondering what I was up to. He was about to go and search me out when in I came, tail erect, and trotted to the middle of the room where, encircled by his seated guests, I took centre-stage. I then promptly started to shake my jaws in which were clamped a pair of Bossman’s boxer shorts.

Everyone howled with laughter. That prompted another frenzied shake of the shorts. Did I realise I was being funny? I’m not sure I really did. But who cares? With that underwear, I was certainly no underdog.

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 


   How to Help the
Medicine Go Down

How to help the medicine go down

Every pet owner understands the challenge of getting their beloved companion to take their medicine.

Rebeca Ashman,
PDSA Vet says, “It’s really important that your pet takes any medication prescribed by their vet. Not completing a full course can mean it won’t work as effectively, so your pet could get worse or take longer to get better. But this is often easier said than done, so here are my top tips on helping the medicine go down.”

Liquids can sometimes be easier to give than tablets – so ask if there is a liquid version of the medication.

If tablets are the best option, make sure you ask if it can be given with food, and whether it can be crushed (some tablets are less effective if crushed).

If allowed, crushing the tablet and mixing it with a favorite treat is usually most successful, but make sure they eat it all to get the full dosage. If the pill can’t be crushed, then wrap it in a piece of tasty meat.

If none of these options work, you’ll need to enlist someone’s help to achieve success.

How to get pets to swallow pills

· First, have a syringe of water nearby, then assign roles – Person A will hold the pet still while Person B gives the tablet.

· For small pets, place them on a safe surface with Person A stood behind, holding them gently but firmly. For larger dogs, sitting on the floor against a wall is best, with Person A steadying their body and head to limit movement.

· Person B should gently take hold of the upper jaw of your pet with one hand and tilt it upwards until their nose is facing the ceiling. Then, holding the pill in the thumb and forefinger of the other hand, use the fingers to gently pull the pet’s lower jaw down.

· Place or drop the tablet as far back on the tongue as possible, then close their mouth and stroke the pet’s throat in a gentle downward motion.

· Once your pet licks their lips, this is a good indication that they have swallowed the tablet. It’s a good idea to syringe a small amount of water into the side of their mouth to help them swallow.

· When you’re finished, reward your pet with plenty of praise or a healthy treat so that they will associate the process with getting something nice at the end. Don’t forget to wash your hands when you’re finished and wear disposable gloves if possible, especially if the medication contains steroids or hormones.

If you’re still having problems, then ask your vet practice for advice – they’re usually happy to demonstrate this process to you.

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. They're on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment.

For more information about the PDSA visit

    Indoor Cat Tips

Timmy learns to use a cat litter

      By Jenny Itzcovitz with Timmy

Recently due to a small scratch on his nose, I had to keep my cat, Timmy indoors for just over a week and wanted to pass on a few tips to make this easier for other readers in a similar situation. As my cat was originally a stray, there had never been a need for him to use a litter tray, and he loves using the cat flap to go out and get fresh air. So there were two dilemmas. How to litter train him? And how to keep him indoors and happy at the same time?

Firstly, guided by the advice of my vet, I filled up two litter trays and kept one upstairs and the other downstairs so he had plenty of choice. However, he had no idea how to use them, so I added in some grass and a few leaves (from safe garden plants) to give the trays a garden feel. In addition to this, I gave him a few demonstrations myself (much to the amusement of my children), showing Timmy how to use the trays, by getting in and out and doing some fake digging!

It did take a little time (and one unfortunate accident), but after a day he was using the trays like an expert! Oddly enough, he preferred the old red washing bowl I found in a hurry, to the more expensive pet shop litter tray. But he was using them happily. Problem one solved!

The second problem was the garden. Timmy loves to go out on a sunny day and wasn't very happy to discover his cat flap was locked. Poor Timmy. So I found a cat leash, got him used to it around the house, and on warm days, let him stroll in the garden with a firm hand on the leash.

Timmy wearing the leash

Timmy soon got used to wearing the leash and was excited when I put it on as he knew he could go in the garden. But I made sure I was pretty firm with him outside, and when he seemed as if he was going to bolt under or over the fence, I picked him up, brought him in, and told him kindly, "Times up!" And then gave him a few cat treats when he came inside.

Timmy was pretty satisfied with that. At least he'd enjoyed some sunshine. And fortunately, he was better in a few days. The cut on his nose has now healed and things are back to normal.

Best of all, since Timmy became a temporary 'indoor cat' his confidence and affection have grown (he was always a very timid cat, hence the name Timmy). He's been enjoying the garden on his own now and relaxing inside too. And now he has two new skills - he can use a litter tray and be taken out if needed on a cat leash!

Pet Care  

National Cat Awards

Claire and Tink, last year's winner

Claire and Tink, last year's winner

The search is on to find the nation’s most marvellous moggy as Cats Protection launches its annual National Cat Awards. Sponsored by PURINA® for the sixth year, the competition is open to all living cats in the UK and celebrates the achievements of the country's fearless felines and miraculous moggies.

Now in its ninth year, the awards highlight the real-life stories of heroism, companionship and loyalty in the cat world. The competition is now open and and owners have until noon on Friday 31st March to nominate their cat for one of five categories:

· Hero Cat – Cats that save the day

· Most Caring Cat – Cats that positively impact a person’s health or wellbeing

· Furr-ever Friends – Tales of friendship between children and cats

· Outstanding Rescue Cat – Fabulous felines adopted from animal charities

· Purina® Better Together - Celebrating the special bond that has transformed and enriched the lives of both a feline and human

The winner of each category will then be in with a chance of inheriting the title National Cat of the Year from last year’s winner Tink, who woke her owner to raise the alarm as a fire engulfed the family home.

Kate Bunting, Cats Protection’s awards organiser, says, “The National Cat Awards celebrate the comfort, support and joy cats bring to people’s lives. From cats that have raised the alarm to fires, burglaries or health emergencies to those who provide a constant source of comfort to lonely or vulnerable people, we’re always amazed and touched by the stories we hear.”

Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2017, Cats Protection is the UK’s largest cat charity, helping around 500 cats a day – or 200,000 every year – through a national network of over 250 volunteer-led branches and 32 centres.

The winning moggies, and the overall National Cat of the Year, will be announced at an awards ceremony at London's Savoy Hotel on Thursday 3 August.

Each winner will receive a trophy, a three-month supply of Purina® cat food, a year’s subscription to Cats Protection’s The Cat magazine and a voucher for cat goodies.

The event will be attended by celebrity judges who will present the awards and pay tribute to the nation’s top cats.

Andrew Collins, returns as a judge

      Andrew Collins returns as a judge

Author, critic and broadcaster Andrew Collins was a judge at last year's event and is returning to judge again this year.

Andrew says, “The National Cat Awards is the UK’s premier competition for cats. I was very much moved by the stories that I read last year and want to encourage owners to take part. If your cat has done anything quirky, wonderful or meaningful to help you in your daily life, get in touch with Cats Protection and your cat may walk away with the title of National Cat of the Year.

"I believe a home without a cat is not worth living in! Cats are independent and uniquely cool, and have such diverse personalities. Good luck to all of the cat owners who enter the competition.”

Those wishing to enter the competition can visit

For further information about the awards email

Or phone 03000 12 12 12.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Dog

Things to consider before getting a dog


  By Maia Boylla, Product Manager
           for Argos Pet Insurance

Getting dog broody? When you see those happy, loving faces and wagging tails it’s almost impossible not to, but owning a dog is an enormous responsibility and there are a few considerations you should take into account before you commit.

Owning a dog isn’t always a walk in the park, if you’ll pardon the pun – it’s a full time job. Run through our dog ownership checklist below to make sure you’re fully prepared for your new bundle of furry joy:

Do you have the time?

Unlike cats, who are largely independent creatures, dogs need a great deal of attention, care and exercise to stay happy and healthy, and this means an enormous time commitment for owners.

Depending on their breed and energy level, dogs can require up to 4 hours of exercise per day – yes you read that right, per day. So if you’re away from home for large portions of the day you need to factor this in to your decision to get a dog, which breed you get and how you will arrange alternative care for when you’re not there.

Dogs also need to be regularly bathed and groomed – again the level of this will depend on the breed and coat type – and you will need to factor in time for training too, otherwise you may find yourself with one very mischievous albeit loveable house guest.

Have you considered allergies?

Before you bring a dog into your home you need to be sure that nobody in your family will suffer as a result. Dog hair and saliva allergies are common, and symptoms can range from very mild to very severe, so this should play a big part in your decision to get a dog. If the health of any members of your family will be affected by the presence of a dog in the house, you shouldn’t go ahead; it’s not fair on them or the dog!

Are you allowed a dog in your home?

If you own your own home, ignore this point. However, if you rent your home you may find you aren’t allowed to have animals on the property. Landlords often have strict policies against pets in their properties, so you will need to check your contract before you commit to getting a dog. Some landlords are open to the idea, however, especially when tenants agree to pay for any resulting damage to furniture or décor, so it’s always worth asking the question.

One thing you should never do is risk moving a dog into a rented home without asking for permission first; if you’re rumbled you could find yourself in a lot of trouble with your landlord and needing to rehome your dog, which will be very distressing for both you and the dog.

Is your home dog friendly?

Dogs are inquisitive and very nosey, especially during puppyhood, so you’ll need to dog-proof your home to ensure minimal disruption for you and maximum safety for your dog.

Childproof locks on floor level cupboards are a good idea to prevent unwanted raids, particularly for those containing food or cleaning products. You might also want to invest in a baby gate or two if you want to prevent your new dog from going upstairs or in certain rooms, and a puppy crate will give your new arrival a safe and comforting place to relax while they get used to their new home.

Your dog will also need a suitable, secure outdoor area to go to the toilet. If you live in an apartment with no garden, you will need to take into account the need for very regular trips downstairs, especially during toilet training.

Have you budgeted for the long-term cost?

When getting a dog, the cost goes way beyond the one-off purchase. Food, grooming, health care, vaccinations, spaying and neutering, toys, furniture and pet insurance all carry a cost, and these need to be taken into account before you commit. Owning a dog can cost from £21,000 to £30,000 over their lifetime, depending on breed and size – that adds up to around £2,000 per year.

Health care expenses in particular can really run away with you if you don’t invest in suitable pet insurance. This is definitely something you should invest in if you want to avoid too many nasty financial surprises, which can arise when sudden illness or injury strikes. Certain breeds may be at greater risk of certain diseases than others, which is also worth bearing in mind when looking at insurance.

Have you taken breed into account?

A dog’s characteristics and qualities will vary drastically from breed to breed, meaning some are suited to certain types of household more than others. If you have children you should look into breeds that are known for calm and tolerant personalities, and if you live in a small house you should avoid the larger breeds to prevent a cramped lifestyle.

Fallen in love with a particular breed? Make sure you do extensive research into their needs and characteristics to make sure they’re right for you and you are right for them.

For further information, please visit our website

An Open Door for Muddy Paws at the Queens Arms

An open door for muddy paws at The Queens Arms

Somerset-based destination dining pub, The Queens Arms, has reported a steady rise in pups as punters during owners, Gordon and Jeanette Reid's, seven years at the helm, as more and more dog owners discover their award-winning food, 5-star rooms and exceptional hospitality for man's best friend. With a welcome drink at the door, labelled 0% ABV, and doggy treats flying off the bar, demand has risen sharply for its dog friendly accommodation, complete with a wooden floor, wet room, dog bed, bowl and towel to make sure everyone feels right at home.

Following a lunch menu built around produce from the pub's own kitchen garden and smallholding, with gravy bones and doggy biscuits a popular side order, visitors to The Queens Arms can walk off their meals around the rolling country hills that surround the pub. Gordon and Jeanette have even mapped out four rural routes in a handy guide for their guests, ranging from 5.5 miles to 16 miles and offering a variety of terrains. Wellies are available to anyone wishing to go off the beaten track, sure of a warm welcome for muddy boots, and even muddier dogs, upon their return.

Jeanette explains, “Dog owners are such a friendly crowd and fit perfectly with the atmosphere that we strive to create at The Queens Arms. Our AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence and Taste of the West awards are testament to the fact that it's entirely possible to combine a high quality dining experience with a dog friendly culture and our front of house team are more than happy to keep the water bowls refilled around the pub as they serve. Like most people in the local area, we have dogs, and know the value of a bolthole that welcomes our four-legged friends, so we're delighted that people are seeking us out as a pub for pups.”

About The Queens Arms

Nestled within the glorious rural setting of the Dorset and Somerset borders, The Queens Arms in Corton Denham is an award-winning destination pub offering the finest local and seasonal produce, along with plenty of character and rustic charm. With eight elegant rooms complete with stunning countryside views, as well as two new holiday hideaways in a converted piggery barn, this quintessentially English Georgian Inn celebrates the very best that the local area has to offer, measuring its food in metres, not miles.

Owners Gordon and Jeanette Reid have earned two AA Rosettes during their seven years in Corton Denham, along with accolades ranging from numerous Taste of the West awards to CAMRA's Cider Pub of the Year. During their time at the helm, Gordon and Jeanette have also established a smallholding of pigs, cows and hens to provide an abundance of meat, eggs and milk for their diners to enjoy, along with the outstanding seasonal produce coming from the pub's very own kitchen garden.

For more information on The Queens Arms visit

  Sixtyplusurfers Competition

  Win a Hamper of
     Dog Products

Win a Hamper of Dog Products from Feedem

Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with Feedem to provide the ultimate competition for pet owners. We’re offering one lucky reader the chance to win a Bumper Hamper of Dog Products worth over £50!

The milder weather is slowly starting to arrive, but springtime is still a long way off. As the winter keeps us indoors, it’s sending our four-legged friends stir-crazy, as they long for leisurely summer strolls and dips in the sea to cool down.

The cold weather may have cut their walks to an absolute minimum, but why not enter our competition for a chance to spoil them rotten? Provided by Feedem, our doggy hamper features the things they’ll love — food, treats and a blanket — as well as the stuff you need; a brush to keep mucky pups looking the part!

Here’s what you could win:

Scruffs Snuggle Pet Blanket in brown and cream

Scruffs Snuggle Pet Blanket in brown and cream

With faux-suede on one side and a super-soft cosy reverse, this blanket is a must-have for all doggy-dozers! It’s machine washable too, making light work of mucky paws.

1.5kg bag of Piccolo Chicken & Duck Dog Food

The first great prize included in our hamper is Piccolo chicken and duck dog food. Taken from Feedem’s range of
grain-free dog food, your dog will love the 75% meat content, perfect for even the fussiest of pooches.

It also features sweet potato, vegetables, fruit and botanicals to provide all the nutrients and vitamins they’ll need alongside all that protein!

Iams Minis Dog Treats: Chicken & Carrot and Lamb & Cranberry

Iams Minis Dog Treats: Chicken & Carrot and Lamb & Cranberry

How better to reward a good boy or girl than with a tasty treat? The hamper includes two packs of these gluten-free treats; one chicken and carrot flavour and one lamb and cranberry pack.

1.5kg bag of Piccolo Chicken & Duck Dog Food

Both are low in fat but rich in taste, so your dog will love them — and they won’t impact their waistline too much! They’re perfect for rewarding your pooch or just treating them to something nice.

Furminator Limited Edition deShedding Tool

Furminator Limited Edition deShedding Tool

Okay, so this next prize might be more for you than the dog! Furminator deShedding tools reduce shedding by up to 90%, so if you’re tired of getting the vacuum out, this could be the answer.

The tool’s stainless steel edge reaches below your dog’s short topcoat to remove loose hairs from underneath.

Our dog hamper features the products your four-legged friends will love, so what are you waiting for? Enter our competition today!

For more information about Feedem products click on

  For Your Chance to Win

Tell us how much
do Furminator deShedding tools reduce shedding by?

    a) Up to 50%
    b) Up to 65%
    c) Up to 80%
Up to 90%

  To Enter the Competition

Tell us how much do Furminator deShedding tools reduce shedding by? Then send in your answer together with your name, postal address and telephone number to the Sixtyplusurfers email address as shown below:

* Please label your entry Feedem
Dog Hamper Competition

* This competition is open to
our UK readers only


    Scruffs Balmoral
     Dog Bed Range

Scruffs® Balmoral Oval Dog Bed

The new luxury Scruffs® Balmoral dog bed collection is covered with a distinctive tartan, produced from a very durable 600-denier Oxford fabric.

This hardwearing fabric is used on the outside of the beds for greater support and durability, combined with a super-soft plush lining providing a snug, comfy environment for your dog to dose.

Scruffs Balmoral car boot / travel dog bed

Scruffs Balmoral car boot / travel dog bed

Suitable for most family cars, the new Scruffs Balmoral car boot/travel dog bed is an ideal travel accessory. The ribbed sleep area provides comfort for your dog while protecting your boot from dirt and odour. To use, place the dog bed on the floor of your car boot.

Before your dog gets in, unroll the dog beds cover over your car bumper to protect your dogs' legs as they get into the car. Then, simply roll the cover up to form the forth side of the dog bed. When the dog bed is not in use the cover can be stretched across the top of the dog bed to cover the sleep area, allowing shopping etc. to be stowed without getting dirty.

Scruffs Balmoral car boot / travel dog bed

Machine washable, the Scruffs Balmoral Boot/Travel Dog Bed comes in three colourways Black, Blue and Brown. Price is £54.99.

Scruffs® Balmoral Oval Dog Bed

Scruffs® Balmoral Oval Dog Bed

The new Scruffs® Balmoral Oval Dog Bed is covered with a distinctive tartan, produced from a very durable 600-denier Oxford fabric. This hardwearing fabric is used on the outside of the beds for greater support and durability. The sleep area of each bed is lined with a super-soft plush fabric providing a snug, comfy environment for your dog to dose.

The beds are trimmed with faux leather piping and finished with a Scruffs® TPR logo. High-density foam forms the sidewall and base of these oval beds. The cover is stitched in place, shaping the foam into ribs to further improve the beds rigidity. A separate cushion filled with 100% recycled green fibre filling provides additional comfort and practicality for washing.

Both the cushion and outer bed is machine washable at 30 degrees. Sizes and prices are Small, £34.99 - 56cm x 38cm x 20 cm; Medium, £44.99 - 65cm x 46cm x 24 cm; Large, £54.99 - 77 x 50 x 26 cm; and X-Large, £69.99 - 88cm x 57cm x 28cm.

Scruffs Balmoral Pillow Bed

Scruffs Balmoral Pillow Bed

The new Scruffs® Balmoral Pillow Dog Bed is covered with a distinctive tartan, produced from a very durable 600-denier Oxford fabric. This hardwearing fabric is used on the outside of the beds for greater support and durability.

The sleep area of each bed is lined with a super-soft plush fabric providing a snug, comfy environment for your dog to dose. The beds are trimmed with faux leather piping and finished with a Scruffs® TPR logo.

A 100% recycled green fibre channelled fill provides the pillow bed with excellent cushioning, resilience and insulation characteristics. The removable cover has a non-slip base and hardwearing outer edge for improved durability. The Scruffs® Balmoral Pillow Bed measures 100cm x 70cm , comes in colourways Blue, Brown and Black, and is machine washable at 30°. Price is £49.99.

Founded in 2005, Scruffs® is now firmly established as one of Europe's leading brands of luxury pet bedding and accessories. With distribution in over 40 countries throughout Europe, The Americas and Australasia, Scruffs® has steadily expanded its reach and continues to add more markets to its portfolio each and every year.

All products shown are available to buy direct from