Saturday, 26 July 2014

Sardine Cake for Dogs!

When my brother's lurcher found our missing tortoise recently I made him a sardine cake to say thank you.  I posted a photo of it recently and a few people have asked for the recipe so here it is!



Sardine Cake for Dogs


Ingredients
2 tins of sardines 
225g self raising flour or wholemeal flour
225g Porridge oats 
3 eggs
2 – 3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon oil
Soft cheese for the topping (optional)

Method
  1. Blend together the sardines, oil, egg and chopped garlic using a fork.
  2. Mix in the flour and oats.  The mixture should be a reasonably firm consistency.  Add more flour if necessary.
  3. Pour contents into a loaf tin and spread evenly.   Make sure the tin is greased or lined. 
  4. Bake at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until springy when pressed and when stabbed with a knife, the knife comes out clean.  Allow to completely cool before removing.
  5. If you wish to use the cake for a birthday or other celebration, top with soft cheese and decorate as required.
  6. If you are using if for treats divide it into the required size pieces and freeze.



Review - Ozeri CardioTech Pro Series BP5K Digital Blood Pressure Monitor

Several years ago my parents bought a blood pressure monitor to use at home as my father had high blood pressure, however it wasn't always accurate in its readings.  So when I was asked to review a blood pressure monitor I was a little sceptical about its accuracy, but these worries soon proved to be totally unfounded!



The Ozeri CardioTech Pro Series BP5K Digital Blood Pressure Monitor is very easy to use and has proved to be accurate and a very useful gadget over the last few weeks.  You simply fit the Velcro strap around your wrist and press the power button.  Then comes the extra clever bit - a voice instructs  you to place your wrist in the correct position and guides you through the whole process of taking your blood pressure.  Both the voice and a diagram on the screen makes sure that your wrist is at the correct height in relation to your heart - this precision is what helps make this gadget so accurate.  Once correctly positioned the monitor gently inflates around your wrist and calculates your blood pressure.  The results of your blood pressure and your pulse are displayed on the screen and the voice speaks them aloud too.  It also tells you if your results are normal/high/low etc according to the World Health Organisation Standards, so this helps you to understand the results.

Testing my blood pressure.

I kept getting consistently high blood pressure readings so I mentioned this to my GP when I saw her for other reasons.  Blood pressure tests on this visit, and subsequent visits to the nurse confirmed that my blood pressure is too high and I've now been put on medication.  If it wasn't for the Ozeri monitor I wouldn't have mentioned it to the doctor and it would have been left untreated, so I'm very grateful that I had this handy gadget at home.

The Ozeri CardioTech Pro Series BP5K Digital Blood Pressure Monitor is a fantastic addition to your medicine cabinet.  It comes in a stylish black case, is small enough to fit in your handbag and  most importantly it produces accurate results.  Because it is voice guided it is ideal for people with vision problems, although if you prefer you can switch off the sound.  It has a built in memory for two users so you can use it with another  family member.  I was really impressed with this gadget and would definitely recommend it!


Disclosure: This product was received free charge for the purposes of a review.  I received no monetary compensation and my opinions are 100% my own and were not influenced by the sponsor.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Terry's Great Escape and Skipper the Hero Dog

Recently I experienced one of my worst nightmares - one of my pets went missing for nearly 24 hours!  .  I was ill in bed so mum put Terry out in his outdoor enclosure for a few hours in the sun.  She checked on him every hour and he was happily eating his weeds, but the next time she checked him he wasn't there.  At first she didn't panic as he is tiny (he's only 11 months old and just 2 inches long) so she thought he was hidden in the grass.  After searching every inch of his enclosure she still couldn't find him and called my brother and my sister in law in to help.  By the time it got dark they had been searching for hours. 

Obviously I was extremely upset, nearly hysterical as I was so worried about him being out overnight.  It made it even more frustrating as I was stuck in bed and unable to search for him myself.  I didn't sleep at all that night, I was numb with shock and worry.  My family was up early the next morning to begin searching, but I thought it was a hopeless cause.  Our garden is huge, Terry is so tiny.  I was convinced he'd either been taken by a predator or he had perished overnight.  He needs to be kept warm and has a heat lamp in his indoor enclosure, he couldn't survive outside for many nights on his own.

Later that day my brother was searching for Terry when his lurcher suddenly started barking and digging under the hedge.  My brother went to look and crawled under the hedge - and there was Terry!  When they brought him into my room, I'd never been so glad to see anything in my life!  Thanks to Skipper we had Terry back!  There was no way we would have found him without Skipper, and Terry wouldn't have survived for much longer as we had an awful storm that night.  Thankfully Terry suffered no ill effects and his enclosure is now like Fort Knox so that he can't dig out again!  

This is Skipper with his thank you cake and Terry.


I'm back! Plus competition winner announced

I've not been able to blog over the last couple of weeks as I've been very unwell.  Unfortunately for most of the last two weeks I've been stuck in bed dosed up on morphine.  I'm alot better now and able to get up and about using my wheelchair, so I should have some blog posts for you this week - a photo competition, some recipes, some reviews and more.

Thanks to everyone who entered the jewellery competition.  I've just chosen a winner at random using the rafflecopter app - and the winner is Richard Tyler. Well done!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Competition - Win a necklace & beaded bracelet

One lucky reader will win this cord necklace with paw print charm and this pretty beaded bracelet with dog charm.  It's easy to enter, just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below.  Entries closes at 6pm on 12th July 2012.  UK entries only.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Pet charity reports big rise in small horses bought on the hoof

Leading pet charity, Blue Cross, says it has seen a massive increase in the number of miniature ponies being bought on the hoof and later being abandoned at its equine centres across the UK.



The charity has reported a massive seven fold increase over the last 10 years in the number of Shetland type ponies coming through the doors of its rehoming centres.

Like fashionable breeds of popular handbag dogs, Blue Cross believes these small horses are being bought because people think they are easier to look after. But owners don’t realise that these ponies, although little, can be hard to handle and are a big responsibility.

Vicki Alford, Blue Cross horse rehoming manager explains: “This issue is the equine equivalent to the handbag dog trend. Small ponies are very popular with families who want to get their children a pet. But despite their size, Shetlands can be very strong and require as much care and management as any other large horse. When people can’t cope, rescues like Blue Cross are left to pick up the pieces.”

Buttons and Smartie are just two of the 65 Shetland type ponies that Blue Cross took in last year. The 17 year old ponies arrived at the charity’s Burford rehoming centre after being abandoned by their owners. They are now being cared for by the charity team until they are ready to go to new homes.

Vicki Alford adds: “We would urge anyone thinking of getting a horse or pony to give it serious thought and, like any pet, do lots of research before making a commitment. There are lots of horses in rescue centres, so please do pay Blue Cross a visit if you think you can help a horse in need.”

Blue Cross rehomes over 8,000 pets every year and receives no government funding. To find out more about Blue Cross and to give a pet a home, visit www.bluecross.org.uk.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Jessie's story - abused dog makes it to Crufts!

Jessie is a 5 year old beautiful Mastiff cross Great Dane who has sadly had a tough life.  She is a large dog who sadly appealed to the wrong kind of person who saw her as a ‘status’ dog and a way of making money.  Kept in a lock-up shed behind a community centre, Jessie was bred from but not given proper after care – abused and neglected she didn’t know what love or care was like.

Her owner was sent to prison (for unrelated offences) but he made no arrangements to have Jessie looked after. Neighbours alerted the police and dog warden after hearing pitiful howling and crying coming from the shed, who broke in and rescued her.  The sight was sad to see – a large beautiful dog that was painfully thin and just so grateful to see human company. She was taken to a rescue centre where she received emergency vet treatment for a vaginal infection probably caused by lack of care after she had a litter of puppies.  She had cigarette burns on her legs and ears, her nose had been slashed and by the way she reacted to raised hands she had obviously suffered badly at the hands of her owner.  Her eyes were the saddest I have ever seen, I just cannot imagine what she had seen and been though.

Jessie when she arrived with us as a foster dog.  She had already put  on weight at the rescue centre, but was still painfully thin.


My mum originally fostered her, but as soon as I saw her eyes I knew I couldn’t bear to part with her. I have a lot of health problems, including fibromyalgia which causes me chronic muscle and joint pain, M.E, diabetes, depression and anxiety problems. Six years ago I was at rock bottom and was pulled out of a severe depression by my spaniel, Henry, and he has helped me a lot over the years. However since my Dad died two years ago Henry has attached himself to mum and I had been feeling very lonely again. I soon as I met Jessie I knew that loneliness was nothing compared to what she had suffered. The depression had begun sucking me back into a dark and dangerous place but I pulled myself out of it as I knew I had to help this poor dog who had suffered at the hands of man.

When she first arrived in our home, she had shut down and was very withdrawn, but gradually her health improved and her true personality began to show. She had to put on over 10kg as she was very underweight, and she was treated for infections and cuts and burns. Put the most important treatment we gave her was love.

We have now had Jessie for almost two years and I have never known such a loving, loyal and trusting dog. Despite everything she has been through, she loves and trusts everyone.  When I am in pain (which is most of the time), Jessie instinctively knows it and won’t leave my side. She cuddles up next to me and won’t leave me.  If I am upset or crying, she licks away my tears.  My spaniel has always been able to tell me when my diabetic sugar levels drop, and Jessie seems to have copied him. She can now alert me if it drops to a dangerous level – a wonderful achievement I think.  When I am out on my mobility scooter, she trots proudly by my side. If I am getting anxious, she knows how to calm me down to prevent a panic attack.  Jessie sleeps on my bed and is there for me 24/7.



For years my mobility has been poor and I’ve had to use a scooter or walking frame. However over the last few months my pain levels and mobility have worsened and I am now at the stage where I am confined to my wheelchair most of the time, even indoors. I have found this incredibly hard to deal with, but Jessie has really helped me and has kept me going. She is gentle and doesn’t pull me, and has even leaned into me to steady me when I’ve stumbled.

For everything she has been through she is an amazingly kind, trusting and well-adjusted dog.  She is happy in any environment – be it a busy dog show, bustling pub or a busy town centre.

 I was very proud of Jessie in March 2014 as she made it to Crufts! She was a finalist in the Friends for Life competition and appeared live on Channel 4. She behaved amazingly well in such a busy environment, and I hope she showed a few people that rescue dogs like her make great pets.

 Being interviewed by Clare Balding live on Channel 4!


She also acts as ‘ears’ for my other dog Henry who has gone deaf – she tells him very important things like when a packet of treats is being rustled! If Henry is asleep and we want to wake him up, we ask Jessie if she wants some ham or a biscuit. She then gets up and nudges Henry. He sees that she is excited and they both get up to have their treat. When mum comes home from work, she wakes Henry up and they both go to the door together. He relies on her a lot and is much more confident when he has Jessie with him.

Jessie is a true ambassador for large rescue dogs.  Some people are initially frightened of her due to her size and the image people have of dogs like her as ‘status’ dogs, but after just a few seconds in her company they realise she is a big softy who is gentle and loving with everyone she meets, young and old.  We put bright, fun bandanas on her to try and soften her appearance – she gets many admiring glances and smiles when she is trotting next to me on my mobility scooter.  When I look at the photos I took of her when she first arrived as a walking skeleton, I hardly recognise my beautiful girl, and it brings tears to my eyes.  Jessie truly is a special rescue dog who has overcome unbearable cruelty in her life and makes my life brighter - I am so proud of her. 



Thursday, 19 June 2014

Jessie says 'Come on England!'

Here's Jessie showing her support for the England football team.  She's keeping her paws crossed for an England win in the match tonight!



Tuesday, 17 June 2014

And the winner is...

The winner of the Good Boy soft dog toy was - Chloe Elphick!  Chloe has been contacted by email.
Well done and thank you to everyone who entered.

Monday, 16 June 2014

BBQ Recipes Part 1 - Delicious PGI Welsh Lamb

Like most families we enjoy a nice BBQ when the sun is shining, in fact we had one only yesterday.  But you can get fed up with the usual burgers, sausages and chicken drumsticks, so we have some tasty BBQ recipes to share with you that will add a new dimension to your family BBQs.

The first batch of recipes we have to share with you are from PGI Welsh Lamb.  I must admit that we don't often BBQ lamb but these recipes look absolutely delicious and have inspired me to try it this weekend (weather permitting!).  

Welsh Lamb was awarded PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status in 2003 for it's  unique flavour, which is a result of specific geographic elements and traditional farming methods. Welsh sheep have been reared in the hills and valleys of Wales for centuries, leading to hardy breeds that thrive in the country’s natural landscape. Rain and fertile land combine to produce lush grassland with many different heathers and indigenous fragrant wild herbs that contribute to the distinctive flavour of Welsh Lamb.

For more recipes, competitions and lots more visit www.eatwelshlamb.co.uk

Butterflied leg of PGI Welsh Lamb with orange, soy and thyme
Cooking Time: 40mins                 Serves 6-8

Ingredients
-      1 whole leg of PGI Welsh Lamb, bone removed and butterflied (cut through large muscle so that joint becomes flatter and of a more even thickness). Finished weight approx 1.35kg (3lb)

Marinade:
-      30ml (2tbsp) soy sauce
-      1 orange, rind and juice removed
-      15ml (1tbsp) Dijon mustard
-      3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
-      3 sprigs fresh thyme

How to cook
  1.    Fire up the BBQ, or if the British summer has struck again pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 5, 190ºC, 375ºF.
  2.    Either ask your butcher to butterfly the leg of lamb or, follow our step by step guide and have a go yourself.
  3.    Take two long metal skewers and thread through the meat corner to corner. This not only holds the meat together, but believe it or not, also helps it cook.
4.    Place all the marinade ingredients into a large deep dish and stir well. Remember that the dish must be big enough to hold your joint of lamb.
5.    Now place the joint of meat into the dish and turn it to coat with marinade. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge to marinate for about 1 hour – maybe grab a cool drink while you’re there.
6.    The joint can be cooked on the BBQ (lidded BBQ’s are best) or you can place in a preheated oven directly onto the oven shelf with a ‘drip tray’ placed under the meat to catch juices.
7.    Cook for about 40-50 minutes or until centre is around 70ºC – the thinner the lamb the quicker it will cook! Keep the delicious marinade, pour it into a small pan and boil rapidly.
8.    Serve with jacket potatoes and a salad of mixed leaves, chicory and orange wedges drizzled with the heated through marinade. Oh, and don’t forget to bask in the glory.


Leg of PGI Welsh Lamb with Coconut Chilli and Coriander

Time required: 50 mins                Serves: 6
Ingredients:
-      1 Boneless leg of PGI Welsh Lamb
-      400ml (approx) can reduced fat coconut milk
-      2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
-      2 garlic cloves, crushed
-      Fresh coriander, roughly chopped
-      1 lime, grated rind and juice

How to cook
  1.    Remove strings and flatten out lamb. Place boneless leg of lamb into a shallow dish and add the marinade ingredients - thoroughly combine together, cover and place in fridge for 1 hour.
2.    Remove from the marinade and thread metal skewers crisscrossing through the meat to keep flat.
3.    Cook on a lidded or covered barbecue - place flat onto the barbecue grid (not too close to the coals) turning frequently for about 40 - 50 minutes.
4.  Alternatively place directly onto the shelf in a preheated oven (gas mark 4-5, 180°C, 350°F, place a tray underneath to catch the drips) for about 40 - 50 minutes until browned on the outside and still a little pink in the centre.
5.   Take reserved marinade and boil thoroughly until thickened slightly - about 5 minutes, and serve drizzled over the lamb. Serve with Chinese stir-fry vegetables.


BBQ PGI Welsh Lamb steaks and chops with ‘cupboard’ marinades

Time required: 30mins                 Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
-      4-6 PGI Welsh Lamb loin chops, leg steaks or a mixture of the two
-       
Chilli Tomato marinade:
-      1 can chopped tomatoes
-      1 fresh red chilli or 5ml (1tsp) dried chilli flakes
-      2 cloves garlic, squashed
-      Seasoning

Piquant BBQ marinade:
-      30ml (2tbsp) tomato ketchup
-      15ml (1tbsp) Worcestershire sauce
-      30ml (2tbsp) English mustard
-      Splash of orange juice

Garlic, rosemary & chilli marinade:
-      2 cloves garlic, squashed
-      2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped or 15ml (1tbsp) dried rosemary
-      45ml (3tbsp) sweet chilli sauce

How to cook
1.    This delicious recipe gives you three easy marinade options that can be made from ingredients you may have lying around in the cupboard. You simply mix the marinade ingredients of your choice together & marinate the lamb for 1-2 hours covered in the fridge.
2.    Heat the BBQ, making sure that the sky is blue and the coals are grey. If it starts to rain, don’t worry, you can cook this incredible dish just as easily under the grill.
3.    Cook for around 4-6 minutes each side. Any remaining chilli & tomato marinade can be boiled thoroughly and served as a sauce.
4.    Serve with garlic bread and your favourite seasonal salads.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Terry has arrived!

Yesterday was the much anticipated day of Terry the tortoise's arrival - a day that I have been waiting for for months!  He travelled home from the breeders really well, he was perfectly content in his travel case - it was about an hours journey so we were pleased he coped with this well.

Here is the little chap - as you can see he is absolutely tiny!  He is only 10 months old so he is still a baby and has alot of growing to do yet.


He is eating well, he tucked into a nice breakfast of weeds and he's been grazing throughout the day.  As it's been lovely and sunny here today he's been able to go in his outdoor enclosure.  I sat and watched him explore for the first hour as I was too paranoid to leave him!  Here are a few more photos.




Thursday, 5 June 2014

Henry's story - from abandoned dog to a doggy hero!

Henry is a rescued English Springer Spaniel who we adopted in the summer of 2008.  Henry was abandoned by his previous owner, and was in very poor health.  Little did I know how much this neglected, sad, scared dog would change my life.

He was left in a house alone for several weeks while his owner worked at the other end of the country.  His neighbours rightly complained about this, as he made alot of noise when food etc. ran out, so the next time he had to go away he put Henry in boarding kennels - and never came back to collect him.
Henry was extremely underweight, had a matted urine stained coat, infected ears, sore skin and a sore nose.  He was also suffering from a severe stomach virus, which he nearly died from.  But worse than this was his mental health - he was scared of everything; hated doors closed in the house, was obsessed with food and couldn't be left alone.

Henry at the rescue centre

In 2004 I had a promising career as a trainee accountant and led a happy, normal life.  Suddenly all normality ended when I came ill and had to leave my job.  I was constantly exhausted, often had black-outs and was in huge amounts of pain all the time.  Eventually I was diagnosed with ME, fibromyalgia (a condition which causes severe muscle and joint pain) and diabetes.  As months became years I lost all hope of getting my life back and fell into a deep impression.  I cut myself off from my friends and refused to leave the house unless accompanied by my mum or brother; even then I often made excuses not to go.  My life had become restricted to my bedroom, living room and hospital appointments.  I suffered panic attacks at the thought of having to see or speak to anyone, and would hide in my room if even close family visited.  It had come to the point where I seriously thought that my life wasn’t worth living and thought of ending it all.  Then Henry entered my life and everything changed.

I saw in Henry’s eyes some of the anxiety and fear that I also felt, he too had also lost his former life and was afraid what the future held.  We bonded instantly and I vowed to help him overcome his poor health.  Henry gave me a purpose to keep going, and saved me from a world of dark depression and saved my life.  Gradually Henry’s health improved and he became a happy and healthy dog.  I was proud of him and what he’d overcome.

Me and Henry a few months after we adopted him

Over the next few months Henry helped me when I was feeling low, and even managed to calm me down when I had panic attacks my nudging my hand and making me stroke him so I focused my attention on him.  I was proud of my handsome dog and started to take him out for walks using my mobility scooter.  If people came to talk to me I was happy to tell them all about my amazing dog, and didn’t feel the need to rush away.
I didn’t think it was possible for Henry to help me any more than he already did, but boy was I wrong.  I often collapsed when my blood sugars went low and mum noticed he acted very strangely before these happened.  Eventually we realised then Henry was letting me know when my blood sugars were dropping my sniffing my breath and licking my face.  We tested my sugars and he’s right every time.  When he gives me this warning he gives me time to eat a glucose tablet to raise my sugars so that a diabetic hypo is prevented.  This has saved me several times over the last year.

Out and about with Henry

Then in august of 2010 I was asleep on the sofa unwell, mum assumed it was my normal ill health and let me sleep off the pain.  Then Henry acted very strangely pulling her over to me, barking and pawing at me.  Mum came to check me and realised I was burning up unconscious.  It turned out I had septicaemia and was in hospital for a week.  I had an operation to remove some infected tissue from my leg.  It was very serious, and if it wasn’t for Henry I wouldn’t be here now, he saved my life.

My father passed away on November 11th 2011, and Henry has helped both myself and my mother cope with this.  When we’re crying, he cuddles into us.  When we’re feeling sad, he makes us laugh by throwing his toys at us.  He has been a great comfort.

In April 2013 Henry suddenly went deaf, almost overnight. The vets believe this is due to his age and the problems he had with his ears when he was rescued. He is coping very well, has learnt sign language and has even taken part in demos for the Deaf Dog Network

Henry is now deaf, but copes amazingly well

18 months ago we adopted Jessie, a mastiff cross who suffered severe abuse. Henry helped her to learn to trust humans, if it wasn’t for Henry I don’t think Jessie would have recovered so well.

Henry is such a special dog, he's my hero.