A monthly dog blog
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
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
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
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
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
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
Dogs get Green Light
for Canine Colorectal
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.
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
“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
“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
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
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
The charity receives no government funding and relies
entirely on charitable donations.
For more information visit the website at
* Photographs by Emma
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
“Sadly, in some cases, poor socialisation when young can
even lead to fear aggression later on – sometimes with
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
For details click on
You Can Teach an Old Dog New
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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’, 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
Find A Pet page.
The RSPCA has hundreds of dogs on its
Find A Pet pages
who are all looking for their fur-ever homes.
If you’re thinking of getting a dog, please consider
* Pictures of
Sammy are copyright to Jennifer Whitten.
information is correct at time of going live and
availability of dogs may change.
Holidays Your Dog
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
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
A seven night stay at Cilhendre starts at £535,
rising to £1335 in summer holidays.
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
A seven night stay at Upper Mead starts at £575,
rising to £1675 in summer holidays.
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.
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.
For more information about the Woof Guide click on
For reservations or more information please call 01437 772760.
Pro Launcher and
Zipflight for Dogs
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
For more information about Chuckit! pet toys click
For Your Chance to Win
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
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
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
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
“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
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.”
plants to avoid are:
– even drinking the water from a vase of
daffodils can made a pet ill.
– just chewing laburnum bark or twigs can affect
– These include leeks, spring onions and wild
– all parts of the plant are poisonous to dogs.
– including the pollen, which can be harmful as
a cat may lick this off their fur after brushing
against the plant.
– the buds have a high concentration of a poison
called ‘tannic acid’ but not all dogs react to
– 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
Funding from players of People’s Postcode
Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with
vital advice and information.
For details click on
Make their Home at
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
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
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
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
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