Figo the 4 year old Bichon Frise is a telly addict

Figo the 4 year old Bichon Frise is a telly addict

Figo is an unusual little dog: he enjoys watching television. Every evening, he settles down on his favourite cushion with Maria and her husband, gazing at the television, just like his owners. Many dogs barely seem to notice television, as if they can’t even recognise what’s on the screen. Perhaps they’re similar to humans from tribes that live in remote areas who’ve never seen television before. At first they can just see light and dark shapes on the screen, then suddenly, they realise that they are moving pictures, and then there’s no going back. Figo has obviously made a similar leap of comprehension and he can see the pictures. He’s become a telly addict. Like most humans, Figo has his own preferred type of television programme. It’s obvious that he’s bored by most of the evening schedule. Maria’s husband enjoys watching news and documentaries, but these do nothing at all for Figo. He slumps dejectedly on his cushion, looking around the room to see if there’s anything else interesting happening and even yawning from time to time. It’s a different story when Figo’s own choice of programme comes on. Predictably, he loves anything at all that features animals. When animals appear on the screen, Figo wakes up. His ears prick, he jumps to his feet, and he’s suddenly full of energy. He stares avidly at the screen, taking in all the detail, his head tilted to one side as he strains to listen to the sound as carefully as possible. He often gets over-excited, rushing at the screen, barking. He even jumps up, pawing at the tv, as if...
Scruff is a 4 year old Yorkshire Terrier who had dandruff

Scruff is a 4 year old Yorkshire Terrier who had dandruff

Scruff was originally found wandering the streets when he was eight months old. He was in poor condition, half-starved and covered in fleas. Lynn took him on as a pet, gave him the treatment that he needed, and he’s matured into a fine healthy adult dog. There is one problem that remains: dandruff. If you closely examine the area of skin along his back, between his shoulders and the base of his tail, he has white, flakey scales lurking in the depths of his fur. If he was a human wearing a suit, there would be small white flakes gathering on his shoulders and the back of his neck. Lynn has tried various treatments, including an anti-dandruff shampoo that she bought in a pet shop, but Scruff’s problem is as bad as ever. It doesn’t bother him at all; he isn’t itching, and he doesn’t know that there’s anything wrong, but Lynn would obviously prefer that he had normal healthy skin. Dandruff is a word that isn’t generally used in veterinary medicine: skin specialists prefer to use the term “scaling disorder”. Normal, healthy skin is the result of a complicated natural process, starting with the cells replicating at the base of the skin, then maturing into fully fledged adult skin cells by the time they reach the skin surface. It’s like a continual microscopic elevator: as old skin cells fall off at the top, new ones come up from beneath to replace them. In healthy skin, this continued replacement happens in such a gradual way that it’s invisible. Nobody notices tiny skin cells falling off into the surrounding environment....
Susie the six year old Bichon Frise who had a sore paw.

Susie the six year old Bichon Frise who had a sore paw.

One weekend, Polly and Susie were watching television together in the living room. When Polly looked over at Susie, she noticed at once that there was something odd about her; she was lying on the couch in a different position to normal.  She responded normally when Polly petted her and talked to her, so she didn’t think much more about it. Later on that evening, Susie refused to go for her normal walk before bedtime. Polly carried her outside, and when she put her on the ground, she just stood there, looking at Polly, instead of running around as she normally liked to do. It was only when she began to walk that the problem became clear: she was limping on her left front leg. After a couple of steps she stopped, sat down, and began to lick her foot.  Polly now realised what was going on; Susie had a sore foot. Polly tried simple first aid, putting a light bandage on the lower leg to stop Susie from licking it.  This seemed to help a bit, but the following day, Susie was still not herself, and she began to hold her left leg in the air, hobbling around on three legs. It was time to go to the vet. There are many causes of lameness, from sprained joints to arthritis, but the cause of Susie’s problem was obvious as soon as I examined her. She had a red, swollen area between the second and third toes of her left front foot. It was so sore that she refused to let me look at it properly, pulling away in...
Missy is a two year old St Bernard

Missy is a two year old St Bernard

Missy’s a big dog, weighing in at around ten stone, and until the baby’s arrival, she was the centre of attention in Sorcha’s household. Everybody adores her; she oozes gentle good nature. When Sorcha discovered that she was pregnant, she was delighted, but she did have one concern: how would Missy take to the new baby? Sorcha knew that their family’s home life would be completely transformed, but she couldn’t explain what was happening to Missy. The dog might feel that she was being pushed out by the new arrival. And there was a risk that she might feel nervous or frightened of the baby. Sorcha did some research and she quickly discovered that there were some simple steps that she should take in advance of the baby’s birth to increase the chances of things working out well. Firstly, she did some extra work on Missy’s obedience training. It’s bad enough if a small terrier jumps up on a child, but if a St Bernard was out of control, there could be very serious consequences. Sorcha did extra training with Missy, so that she reliably responded to simple commands like “Here”, “Sit”, “Down” and “Walk to heel”. Sorcha realised that a well-behaved dog would make life much easier when she was trying to care for the needs of her newborn child. The second area that needed pre-baby preparation for Missy is known as “socialization”. Missy had never met a baby before, and it was important that she became familiar with “little humans” before one arrived into her own house permanently.  It so happened that Sorcha’s sister-in-law had had a...
Loulou is an 8 year old Shih Tzu who had eye surgery

Loulou is an 8 year old Shih Tzu who had eye surgery

The Shih Tzu is one of the most ancient breeds in the world, with DNA analysis confirming that the breed’s genetic lineage goes back for thousands of years. The breed’s name in Chinese translates as “lion dog”, and there’s supposed to be a resemblance to the lions that are often depicted in traditional oriental art, or seen as statues on either side of entrances to buildings. The Shih Tzu breed was almost completely wiped out during the Chinese Revolution. Seven males and seven females were saved, and today, it’s believed that all Shih Tzus can be traced back to one of these dogs. It’s a popular breed; they’re good natured, friendly dogs, and they “scrub up well” for the world of pedigree showing. Shih Tzus have a traditional long silky glossy coat that reaches the floor without regular trimming. This needs daily brushing to avoid tangles, and many people choose to have the coat regularly cut short to make life easier. The long hair gives the breed a uniquely distinctive appearance. You can see from Lou Lou’s photo that the fringes around her face make her look particularly appealing. When Loulou was a young dog, she suffered from recurrent bouts of infection in her eyes that needed courses of ointment. At that time, Helene took her to an eye specialist who carried out a tailed analysis of her problem. The conclusion was that her eyes were literally too big. Part of the appeal of the breed is their large Disney-like eyes, but in Loulou’s case this was too extreme. Her eyeballs were too exposed to the dust and grime...
Sierra is a magnificent 14 year old Scarlet Macaw

Sierra is a magnificent 14 year old Scarlet Macaw

Sierra is a magnificent Scarlet Macaw parrot. He’s a popular and striking bird, with bright colours and long tail feathers. He’s the resident bird at a hotel complex where I was staying in Florida. Sierra has three cages, and he moves from one to the other at different times of the day. His main daytime perch is in, or on, a poolside cage. He likes to keep an eye on visitors in the swimming pool, saying hello in his broad southern American accent, or just screeching at them as they pass by. His second cage is indoors, by the hotel reception. If it’s raining or windy, this is where Sierra prefers to stay. His third cage is his night-time base, where he’s taken to sleep at the end of the day. This cage is his “snug”, and he even has his own bed-side sound system. A specially designed mini-stereo has been set up for him, playing sounds of the rainforest, complete with bird calls, frog croaks and cricket song. This type of background noise is recommended by parrot behaviour specialists, to create a reassuring relaxing atmosphere for a tropical bird like Sierra. He was bred in captivity, so he’s never known about life in the wild, but the noises from his ancestors’ habitat still have some type of soothing effect on him. Parrots can be sensitive birds, and Sierra’s owners take his health seriously. He’s taken to visit a specialist avian vet every three months for a general health check, even though he always seems to be in sparkling good health. He has his nails clipped, his beak checked,...