Friday, 26 February 2010

Hamster with a bald nose

My children's' nursery have a couple of hamsters. They used to get on okay, but boys will be boys, and now they have to be separated. The staff were concerned as one of them has developed a bald patch just behind his nose. With small kids in the nursery, it's very important to keep an eye out for anything that could be contagious.
Hamsters are still a bit of a novelty for me, as they aren't kept as pets in NZ, where I'm from, but this is quite a common problem so I was able to reassure the nursery that it wasn't anything nasty.
Hammy is kept in a wire cage and spends a fair amount of time trying to chew his way out. In doing so, he rubs against the bars and so has worn some fur away.
I advised them to put a few more cardboard boxes and tubes in his cage for him to chew and destroy and hopefully he'll cease his nose-rubbing & allow the fur to grow back.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Some common foods are poisonous to dogs.

My kids love grapes and it turns out that the pup does too; I've caught her scoffing a few that have rolled onto the floor and of course the kids think it's hilarious.
One or two won't hurt as long as they don't appear on the menu regularly but it's better that dogs don't get a taste for them so, if they get a chance, they don't wolf a whole bunch. Tooo many grapes or raisins can cause vomiting or diarrhoea, which can progress to kidney failure in some dogs. This kidney failure is often fatal.
Other common human foods which can make dogs ill include onions, chocolate and avocados. If your dog has eaten any of these, you should consult your veterinarian. Let them know how much your pet has eaten, how much your dog weighs and whether he or she is showing any signs of being unwell.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

3 things about puppies.

Little W is settling in well but as I'd feared, I had indeed forgotten how much work a puppy can be.
First of all, there are the sleepless nights. For the first few nights after little W arrived, I got around 2-3 hours of sleep each night. She really wasn't happy in her crate and wasn't quiet about it. If my neighbours are reading this, I apologise! She has settled down a little now and I'm hoping the day when she goes to bed at night without a doggy temper tantrum is just around the corner.
Second, there is the toilet training. I'm getting up at least once a night to maximise her opportunities to be clean; she's not always making the most of it. We have had the classic 'stand outside in rain and snow for hours to no avail, but come inside for 5 seconds and have her wee on the floor' scenario far too many times. And she's also managed to sneak away from our 'constant supervision' and poo under the kitchen table more than once. Some times it's hard to remember it's never the dog's fault...
Last, there is the matter of having to watch her all the time. I guess we should put her in her crate more often but she makes such a noise, it's impossible to concentrate on anything else- so we 'keep an eye on her'. It's not just for toilet training purposes; puppies don't come with an inbuilt set of rules apart from 'if it's on the ground, it belongs to the hound'. Obviously, a pup who believes this isn't going to be welcome in a house with 4 kids, so much of our time is spent removing things she isn't allowed to chew and replacing them with things she is allowed to chew.
She seems to be getting the idea but this may just be because we now have more dog toys scattered around on the floor than kids toys; the chances of her picking up one of her own is statistically much greater!

New Arrival!

Today we get our new pup and I'm half excited, half terrified. She is currently somewhere on the road between Swansea and London and will be arriving in about 4 hours time.
I haven't had a new pup for over 8 years and I've never had one with small children in the house. We got our older dog when I was 6 months pregnant with our first, so when she was born he was already pretty well under control and babies really don't do that much that concerns a dog for the first 6 months.
Now, I have 4 kids; 2 are under 5 and one is suffering from an acute case of the terrible 2's and is non verbal to boot. *What* am I doing getting a new pup?
The new arrival is almost 9 weeks old and is the offspring of a sad old saluki X bitch who was found wandering, abandoned, in Wales. So we have no idea who ( or what) dad was. But the 4 pups have been well looked after and brilliantly socialised by their foster mum, so that's a point in their favour. One of the most important things, when getting a pup, is to make sure that the puppy is brought up in an environment as close to your household as possible. And these pups are used to children, lots of noise, different adults, other dogs but not cats, rats and guinea pigs (yet). So a pretty good match for us. She's eating the same sort of food we feed the old boy, has had her first vaccination, has been wormed and microchipped, is on her way to being toilet trained and seems to be fine in the car.
I found her on Lurcherlink, a website that is run by dedicated people who aim to re home luchers by liaising between rescues, stray pounds and the general public. In some areas of the country, these dogs are being put to sleep due to lack of demand and in other areas, people are actively looking to re home a lurcher as a pet. This site features forums listing dogs for rehoming, and it was on one of these forums that the story of Lyra and her pups came to my attention.
I really wanted to get a rescue dog but because of the kids, was wary about rehoming an adult. A puppy seemed a good solution.
Why a lurcher? Well, I couldn't make my mind up about which breed to go for and have since decided I don't really prefer any particular breed of dog. They all have their good points ( some more than others ;) ) so a crossbreed is a compromise. I did look at labradoodles and the like for a bit and while I'm sure one of these would have suited our family well; I just couldn't bring myself to spend that much on a dog.
Our old boy is part lurcher, but really more Golden Retriever and Collie, so I really don't know much about lurchers types. I'm willing to learn though and accept that the prey instinct could be a problem. I'm hoping by getting a young puppy, we can train her to look but not touch.
Wish me luck!