During my lifetime of living with dogs I've been really fortunate to meet some fantastic people who have taught me so much and have provided me with great service and so I thought I'd say a big thank you, in print, to some of the people and companies I've met along the way. There are far more than I can mention in any one post but here's a start.
Food, raw or not to raw?
I'll begin with a little big of background - You cannot be a dog owner without coming up against this question again and again.
I first became aware of the raw food eating debate back in the 90's. A vet named Ian Billinghurst was writing and lecturing at the time on the, then largely contentious theory, that a raw food diet led to improved health for dogs. I'm not going to go into the science here because the internet is full information.
As a dog owner, who fed her dogs on what she believed to be the very best commercially available dry food at the time, I could not imagine ever being convinced to make the switch. However, always wanting to understand more and do what is best for my dogs, I started to read the research and I read masses of literature, some for, some against, raw feeding. I became very gradually convinced that a natural diet was best but was still very far away from transitioning to giving my dogs raw meat - I'd surely kill them with salmonella and every other bacteria known and unknown to man. So I cooked for my dogs, two home cooked meals a day for 3 dogs, it was undoubtedly time consuming.
Fast forward a decade and I welcomed a little puppy into my home. He was a fast (ish) growing breed and my concern was whether I could give him the balance of calcium and protein that his bones would require. I read everything about egg shell calcium and bought a coffee grinder and ground my own calcium. But I still worried that I was giving him everything he needed to grow into a strong, healthy dog. Knowing that I'd never return to feeding "kibble" again, it was with some trepidation, I ventured back to the raw food debate and slowly, very slowly started the journey to raw feeding. After the first time I fed my dogs raw chicken (which they demolished with gusto), I stayed awake all night, absolutely terrified that I'd just inflicted deadly disease upon them, truly if I could have turned back the clock I would have. The following day, with still healthy dogs, I went back to cooking for them, I couldn't believe that I'd "got away" with feeding them raw food. But gradually a little voice in my head told me to persist with raw and so I did and my dogs took on a healthy vitality and shiny coat and teeth that was clear for all to see. Literally, I've had people stop me in the street and ask for the name of my dogs' hairdresser because they want to have hair like them.
So this blog began as "My Favourite things....", clearly my number 1 slot goes to my dog food supplier. When I first began my search for a supplier of pre prepared raw food, I looked for a company whose ethics matched mine. I add here, that I'm not a meat eater and so wanted truly ethical producers who were responsible within the environment and for animal health and welfare and I came upon Honey's Real Dog Food. Their web site is full of information regarding feeding a raw diet. I have found them to be everything they say they are, they are open about their ingredients, ethical in their approach and always on the end of the telephone with advice and support and their service is absolutely fantastic and always has been.
If you want to check them out for yourself, they are:
HoneysRealDogFood, based in rural Wiltshire and
Their telephone number is: 01672 620260.
And on a personal level. My job means that I have to be fit and flexible. I bend down, get up, lie down, get up, twist into weird positions on the floor hundreds of times during a photoshoot. I have to be flexible to do what I really love and I owe a huge debt of thanks to the very wonderful Sue Simpson my amazing McTimoney Chiropractor at The Fir Tree Clinic. I've been seeing Sue for years now, I am absolutely convinced that she is largely responsible for my degree of strength and fitness and flexibility and she's a lovely lady to boot.
The Fir Tree Clinic, Pamber Road, Charter Alley, Tadley RG26 5PZ. Sue and her team are brilliant.
Tellington T-Touch - Toni Shelbourne.
I came upon this method of helping my dogs to relax when I saw it demonstrated in a Paws in the Park day. I was so impressed that I remembered it and sometime later when I found one of my dogs exhibiting signs of stress around other dogs, I sought out a local practitioner and was very fortunate to meet the wonderful Toni Shelbourne.
Toni taught me the basic moves for t-touch, and it's something I use every single evening. My dogs come to me for their relaxing session, if I'm honest, I'm not even aware most of the time that I'm carrying out the moves, it's such an utterly relaxing way for both them and me to end the day.
Thoroughly recommended and I'm sure Toni doesn't realise that she's changed my life and that of my dogs, but she has and I want to say a huge thank you to her.
There's lots of information on the internet about Tellington T Touch and it's origins.
Collars, Leads and Harnesses - Holly and Lil
One of my dogs' favourite things are their walks and so their collars and leads are of vital importance to them.
Several years ago, I paid what felt like an enormous amount of money for what looked like "collars, leads and harnesses for Sunday best". The collars were hand beaded leather, the harnesses, beautiful cow hide edged in the softest of soft leathers. Years on, those same collars, leads and harnesses have been used on a daily basis. They've been rolled in mud, they've been worn in the sea, rubbed along sand and they look almost exactly as they did the day they were purchased. I keep wanting an excuse to buy my dogs some more collars from the same producer but the originals are so good I just can't justify the expense.
Those collars, leads and harnesses were from Holly and Lil, 90 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 4TP. Telephone 0203 287 3024.
Cleo and my gang.
PS: I'm not being paid in any way by any of these people to write any of the content of this post.