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
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
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
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
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
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
Every pet owner understands the challenge of getting their
beloved companion to take their medicine.
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
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
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
For more information about the PDSA visit
Indoor Cat Tips
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
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 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
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!
National Cat Awards
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
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
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
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
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
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.
to Consider Before Getting a
By Maia Boylla, Product
for Argos Pet
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
a Hamper of
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
Here’s what you could win:
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
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.
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.
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
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
us how much
do Furminator deShedding tools reduce shedding by?
Up to 50%
b) Up to 65%
c) Up to 80%
Up to 90%
To Enter the Competition
us how much do Furminator deShedding tools reduce
shedding by? Then send in your answer together with
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
Dog Bed Range
The new luxury Scruffs® Balmoral dog bed
collection is covered with a distinctive tartan,
produced from a very durable 600-denier Oxford
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
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.
Machine washable, the Scruffs Balmoral
Boot/Travel Dog Bed comes in three colourways
Black, Blue and Brown. Price is £54.99.
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
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
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