YHA England & Wales Goes Dog-Friendly

YHA welcomes dogs (002)

In a very welcome move by YHA (England and Wales), dogs are now welcome to stay with their owners at Youth Hostels that offer camping and cabins accommodation.

The move will not only enable YHA to reach new customers but also enable dog owners to take advantage of nearly 60 YHA sites that offer camping pods, cabins, tipis, bell tents and pitch up facilities in their grounds.

Dogs will be charged £5 a night, however there will be no additional charge for dogs where owners choose to bring their own tents and use the pitch up facilities available at 31 Youth Hostels throughout England and Wales.

To ensure that all guests have the best experience when staying at dog-friendly sites, YHA has developed a doggy code of conduct which requires dogs to be micro chipped and fully vaccinated to ensure the safety and wellbeing of other animals and guests. Additionally, owners must keep their pets on a lead at all times, including external areas.

Camping pods at YHA Stratford upon Avon
To make the most of the fabulous locations that many rural Youth Hostels boast, YHA has invested £1 million in camping, glamping and cabin facilities at 63 of its Youth Hostels since 2015. The decision to allow dogs to stay in the network, coupled with the investment in camping and cabin facilities, is making YHA more accessible to even more people and will enable the youth hostelling charity to capitalise further on the increase in staycations in the UK.

Explaining the decision to allow dogs to stay in the YHA network, Caroline White, Chief Executive of YHA (England and Wales) said: “We identified that a barrier to many people staying with us is the fact they can’t also bring their pooches. We have invested heavily in our camping and cabins accommodation provision within the network over the last 12 months so this has enabled YHA to relax its policy on dogs. It’s a move that I know will be welcomed by many people who want to stay with YHA. Now the whole family can enjoy a stay with us.”

For further details of all Youth Hostels in England and Wales, or to make a booking, visit www.yha.org.uk.

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COMPETITION: Win 3D Sculpture Of Pet Who Has Passed Over Rainbow Bridge

PetSculptures1

To celebrate Pet Remembrance Day (next Tuesday July 5), pet lovers are in with a chance of winning a life-like copy of a beloved departed pet.

All competition entrants need to do is to submit photos of their deceased companion animals by 12 midnight on Pet Remembrance Day (5th July). To enter, just use the hashtag #PetRemembranceDay together with one photo on either Twitter or Facebook.

The lucky winner will receive a 3D pet sculpture created using photos of the deceased pet that will faithfully capture its individual characteristics.

All entries will be submitted in to a competition to win one 3D sculpture of the pet by Arty Lobster.

Selection

Pet Remembrance Day has been set up to provide an opportunity for people to celebrate the increasing number of ways in which to commemorate our pets. Pet lovers are also being asked to support the national day’s partner The Oldies Club, a national charity, which rehomes dogs aged seven and over.

A Twitter chat will take place on Tuesday July 5 using the hashtag #PetRemembranceDay for people to show their support and share thoughts and photos.

Lars Andersen, Managing Director of Arty Lobster, said: “A growing part of our customer base is served by people looking for that lasting memento mori of their pet. People want to have a good send off for their pet, which is most usually their dog or cat companion. They also want ways of remembering their pet and its quirks and character traits and the importance it played in their lives and the life of the family.”

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Marie Carter, Editor of Pets Magazine, said: “Sadly, many people still do not understand that for many pet owners, dogs and cats in particular, are now regarded as ‘family members’. Of course, people realise they are pets and as such have generally much shorter lives than people, but that doesn’t underestimate the real grieving experienced.

“There is a real need to recognise that, and for relatives, friends and employers to take into account the real, and often overwhelming, sense of loss. Arty Lobster’s pet sculptures are a wonderful way for pet owners to remember a deceased pet.”

TV Vet Emma Milne added: “For me, like everyone else, animals are part of the family. My ‘boys’, Pan and Badger, were with me for 15 years through thick and thin and their loss utterly crushed me. Events like Pet Remembrance Day are hugely important to bring people together through shared anguish and unite them to help them remember the great times with their pets rather than just the final moments.”

To donate to The Oldies Club, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/oldies/donate

3D dog sculptures

Competition Terms and Conditions

  1. The competition runs to 12 midnight on Tuesday July 5
  2. The winner will be notified via email
  3. There is no cash alternative to the stated prize
  4. The prize is available subject to availability
  5. By entering, you agree that personal details may be supplied to our partner
  6. company providing the prize and will take part in marketing activity to promote the competition
  7. Please note that this competition is open only to entrants who are currently resident in the UK
  8. The winner will be notified via email within 7 days from the closing date.
  9. If the prize is not claimed within 14 days of the notification email being sent the prize will be reallocated
  10. No correspondence will be entered into and the judges’ decision is final

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The Amazing Work Of The Medical Detection Dogs

The average dog's nose is 10,000 times more sensitive to odours than the human nose.

The average dog’s nose is 10,000 times more sensitive to odours than the human nose.

At its headquarters in Buckinghamshire, UK charity MEDICAL DETECTION DOGS is harnessing a time-old technology to pioneer a brand new method of early cancer detection. Remarkably, the charity trains dogs to recognise the smell of human disease before even the symptoms are felt.

Dr Claire Guest ©Janine Warwick

Dr Claire Guest ©Janine Warwick

DR CLAIRE GUEST, animal behaviourist and director of the charity Medical Detection Dogs, has dedicated the last ten years to exploring the possibility that dogs could be the solution to the ever more pressing problem of early cancer detection.

She set the charity up in 2008 in partnership with Dr John Church, a former orthopaedic surgeon. Four years previously, both had worked on the first significant study to investigate the possibility that dogs could detect human cancer.

Dr Guest explains: “For hundreds of years humans have worked with dogs in every aspect of our lives. Dogs have helped us catch our food, protected us, found us when we’re lost and consistently provided loyalty and affection.

“They are tuned into our moods and our behaviour. If you take into account this intimate relationship and combine it with their extraordinary sense of smell, which is powerful enough to detect one drop of blood in three Olympic-sized swimming pools of water, the idea they can pick up the odours related to human disease is really not so hard to believe.”

As life expectancy has risen and healthcare improved, the threat of cancer has grown. One in two nowadays will be diagnosed with cancer. In spite of this, little progress has been made in the sphere of early detection.

Prostate cancer is a salient example. The traditional prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests have a 75 per cent false positive rate. This leads to three in four men with a positive result unnecessarily undergoing a second round of painful, invasive tests.

In contrast, secondary screening provided by the dogs would involve a painless, non-invasive and cheap process of sending a urine sample to the bio-detection unit in Buckinghamshire.

Working one at a time with a trainer, the cancer detection dogs are presented with eight urine samples on a carousel, one of which contains cancer. The dog sniffs each sample until it finds the one that contains the cancer volatiles. The dog then sits and stares fixedly until the trainer confirms a correct identification and rewards the dog with a treat.
The detection dogs never come into contact with the patients who volunteer to donate their samples.

In these types of training trials, the cancer detection dogs have recorded 93 per cent reliability.

Daisy © Emma Jeffery

Daisy © Emma Jeffery

The charity is currently completing two training trials, one into the detection of breast cancer using breath samples and another into prostate, bladder and kidney samples using urine samples. The research will be double-blind tested and peer reviewed.

Is Dr Guest frustrated by the slow process of turning her research into a functioning secondary screening service available on the NHS?

“Yes and no. Of course it’s frustrating that right now there are people all over the country – and indeed across the world – who cannot be screened by the dogs instantly and receive the quick, accurate answer to this most important question of all.

“However, you would expect – and demand – the level of scrutiny we have faced to be applied to any new technology in healthcare. It is people’s lives that are at stake and so it is vital we can prove conclusively that our dogs achieve a high level of reliability.”

While the cancer work makes steady progress, the second arm of the charity is already saving the lives of sixty individuals across Britain with long-term conditions on a daily basis. Of these, the majority suffer from brittle type 1 diabetes, a severe form of the condition which means sufferers get no warning signs that their blood sugar is nearing crisis levels.

Jobi © Emma Jeffery

Jobi © Emma Jeffery

Claire Moon, a diabetes nurse from Cambridge has brittle type 1 diabetes herself and was one of the first to receive a dog from the charity.

“I used to stay awake, or wake up every hour overnight, testing my blood sugars 20 times a day,” she says. “I feared not waking up in the morning because my body has stopped giving me warning signs, such as dizziness or blurred vision, when my blood sugar dips dangerously low.”

Now Claire has Magic, a bounding golden Labrador who remains at her side wherever she goes. “Magic has alerted me hundreds of times and saved the NHS thousands of pounds by preventing emergency call-outs. I used to be rushed to hospital in a critical condition about once every month.

“Before Magic, I had to give up my job; now he’s a firm favourite on my ward. I call him the blond bombshell!”

Gemma Faulkner at only 13 years old has had to deal with more than most people her age. Diagnosed with brittle type 1 diabetes a month before her third birthday, her condition has meant frequent stays in hospital and the fear of lapsing into a coma at night.
Thanks to the charity, she now has Polo, an energetic black Labrador. Polo is firmly one of the Faulkner family.

Gemma’s mother recalls the first time Polo alerted during the night to Gemma having a hypo. “He came into our bedroom and came up to me. I knew he was telling me there was a problem. We tested Gemma’s blood and her blood sugar levels had fallen dangerously low.”

For Gemma, Polo is more than just a life-saver: “He is my new best friend. I love him so much. We have great fun running through puddles and playing ball. He makes me feel safe and confident – I can’t imagine life without him!”

Dr Guest is ever pragmatic, but nevertheless remains resolutely optimistic about the future. “We know we have revealed a remarkable ability dogs have to detect dangerous chemical changes in our bodies. These highly sensitive bio-detectors should not be underestimated just because they possess waggy tails!”

The charity receives no government funding and relies entirely on charitable donations. For more information please visit: http://medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk.

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Why Are So Many Pets Overweight?

LaurenOtleyBy LAUREN OTLEY, Canine Nutrition Consultation & Therapy www.thedognutritionist.com

Just like humans, pets become overweight when their calorific intake exceeds their energy output. In other words too much, or the wrong type of food, and too little exercise!

Whilst inappropriate nutrition and overfeeding are primary causes of pet obesity, there are certain factors that make some pets more prone to weight gain than others. You may think your roly-poly dog looks cute, and you find it hard to resist those eyes, but obesity can cause serious health and welfare implications.

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As a pet owner, it is crucial to pay close attention to diet and exercise, particularly if your pet falls into one of the high risk categories:

Some BREEDS are more prone to obesity than others

Risk increases with AGE

NEUTERED pets are more at risk (particularly females)

Elderly or less active OWNERS are more likely to have overweight pets

Certain ILLNESSES can cause weight gain

We all know being fat is not an optimum body condition and, the majority of us would not want to do anything to put the health of our animal at risk. So why do we still have such a problem with pet obesity? The answer is that generally, there is a misconception about what an ideal weight looks like.

Recently, I met a lady who was worried that her puppy was too thin and wasn’t eating enough compared to her sister. Looking at her dog, I could see she was a healthy weight and if anything, could have done with losing a little not gaining it! It emphasised to me that fat pets are so common, people have started to think that is what they should look like. This has resulted in owners of healthy, fit animals believing, or being incorrectly told by others, that their pets are underweight.

Obesity shortens lives

The health implications associated with pet obesity are often underestimated. Excess weight puts strain on all areas of the body, not just the joints and limbs. It contributes to many health problems and chronic disease such as:

 

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreatitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cancers

Lethargy resulting from being overweight can sometimes mask illness, delaying diagnosis and treatment. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention states that being obese reduces life expectancy by 2.5 years.

 

Is my pet fat?

You can assess your pet’s condition by observing what their body looks and feels like. Do this regularly, and make note of any changes.

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Healthy weight Overweight/Obese
RIBS Easily felt but not seen Cannot be felt
WAIST (veiwed from above) Definitive waist tucking in behind the ribcage No waist, or the waist is wider than the ribcage
ABDOMEN (viewed from the side) Clear abdominal tuck – i.e. the area behind the ribs should be smaller in diameter than the ribcage No abdominal tuck

 dreamstime_xs_53395032My top tips:

#1 Feed a good quality diet my number 1 rule! If you do not start with a good diet, maintaining your pet’s condition will be an uphill struggle.

#2 Feed less – it really is as simple as that. If your pet starts to look a little bit on the tubby side, just feed them a little less. Please don’t take feeding guidelines on food labels as gospel: the best way to decide how much to feed your pet is to look at their condition. If they are a healthy weight eating 200g less than what it says on the packet, that is all they need.

#3 Treats in moderation the bottom line is, we all love to give treats! It makes us happy and it makes our pets happy, but it is  important not to overdo the extra snacks. If you are doing lots of training with your dog, feed small, good quality treats and nothing too fatty. If you want to give treats every day, set an appropriate allowance and stick to it (no, the allowance should not be 50 treats a day!). If your pet breaks into the treat tin or you have a friend that likes to spoil them, just reduce the size of their main meal that day to compensate.

# Exercise Ensure there is a good balance between the amount of food your pet consumes and their activity level. Remember, mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise: it helps to burn calories too!

Keeping our animals at an optimum weight should be at the top of our list of priorities regarding their welfare.  Let’s all keep educating and spreading the word – we want a nation of fit pets, not fat ones!

For further information, please visit: www.thedognutritionist.com or  Instagram: @thedognutritionist (www.instagram.com/thedognutritionist.)

Sources : Association for Pet Obesity Prevention: Obesity Facts and Risks; RSPCA : Pet Obesity

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How To Protect Your Pet From ‘Petnapping’

All puppies should be microchipped

All puppies should be microchipped

Pet theft, or ‘petnapping’, which most usually involves dogs, is sadly on the rise. In the last two years, police have recorded over 4,500 offences involving stolen dogs in England and Wales, so what’s to be done to stop our pets being snatched?

Lucy Ross, an animal specialist and Head of Training at retailer Pets Corner, has put together an owner’s guide to help safeguard your dog from theft and what to do if an animal is stolen.

“The emotional impact of losing a cherished pet is profound so if an animal goes missing it can be an incredibly distressing time for its owners,” Lucy says.

“There are a number of things that owners can do to help protect their pet from thieves as well as procedures they can follow if an animal is taken.”

Microchipping and tags

In April 2016 it became a legal requirement for all dog owners in England, Wales and Scotland to get their dogs microchipped.

Lucy said: “Microchips are not a replacement for ID tags on collars – legally all dogs need to have both. Having clear identification details on your pet means it can be quickly reunited with its owner should it get lost. Remember to make sure your details are always kept up-to-date and to replace ID tags as soon as possible should anything change.”

GPS dog trackers

Whistle's activity tracker

Whistle’s activity tracker

“Advances in technology mean keeping track of your dog whilst out and about has become a lot easier,” said Lucy.

“Dog trackers fit to your dog’s collar and use GPS signals to provide live tracking information 24 hours a day. They are ideal when you are out and about on walks or simply want to monitor your dog’s activity.

“Products such as the Dog Tracker Nano will even allow you to set safety zones around your location with audible alerts should your dog wander too far from you.”

Pets in public

Lucy continued: “Avoid leaving your pet alone in public places or cars. If you know your schedule will include visiting somewhere that dogs aren’t allowed, then it is safer to leave them at home.

“When getting your dog out of the car at the end of a journey, make sure they are attached to you by their lead to keep them safe and secure.”

Lost and found

Lucy added: “If your dog is stolen then inform the police immediately. They take all crimes very seriously and will issue you with a Crime Reference Number. You should also contact your local authority dog warden service, local vets, any rescue centres and The Petlog Reunification Service to make them aware your dog has gone missing.

“Share photographs and information about when and where your dog was last seen with as many sources as possible. Posting details on social media and encouraging others to share, contacting the media as well as internet-based search organisations will all improve your chances of reuniting you with your dog.”

If you have experienced the loss of a pet and need help, please contact the Pet Bereavement Support Service on 0800 096 6606.

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VIDEO: Support Campaign To Halt Unregulated Internet Puppy Trade

This video by international animal charity FOUR PAWS calls for classified ad sites to improve their procedures for selling pets online.  FOUR PAWS research discovered that sick, dangerous and illegal animals are sadly still commonly being sold online.

Visit http://www.petdeception.org/en to find out more and sign the FOUR PAWS petition.

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Revealed: Lettuce Is Killing Rabbits

dreamstime_xs_32010486

For years, poor rabbits have been chomping away on foods, including carrots and lettuce, that we assumed were good for them, but are in fact doing more harm than good…

As part of Rabbit Awareness Week – an annual campaign to raise the profile of rabbit welfare – Lucy Ross, Head of Training at Pets Corner, warns that Bug’s Bunny’s favourite carrot snack should be rationed, and that iceberg lettuce should be banned completely from the pet’s diet.

“We are all familiar with Bugs Bunny, who would regularly whip out a carrot to munch on, but carrots are not the best thing to be feeding rabbits on a day-to-day basis,” Lucy says.

“The bulk of a rabbit’s diet should be made up of hay with 10% of what they eat comprising of vegetables. For example, curly kale is among some of the veggies rabbits can enjoy on a daily basis.

“But iceberg lettuce – a popular staple among humans that can often make it into the pet food pile is dangerous and should never be fed to rabbits.”

A healthy diet for a pet rabbit should mimic what his cousins in the wild forage for – grass, plants and vegetables.

Good quality hay is an excellent alternative to grass and the foundation of a healthy diet for pet rabbits. As well as strengthening teeth and jaws, it provides fibre to maintain a healthy gut and nibbling on hay keeps bunnies busy, reducing boredom and helping prevent behavioural problems.

Lucy added: “Alongside hay, which should make up 80% of your pet’s diet, we recommend adding one and a half mugs of fresh, raw fruit and veg per rabbit every day with complete nuggets and mix making up the remaining 10%.”

Lucy has put together the following feeding guide for rabbit owners:

  1. Feed often – most days: bell peppers (remove seeds), raspberry leaves, watercress, coriander, courgette, curly kale
  2. Feed frequently – two to four times a week: parsley, blueberries, cabbage, cauliflower leaves, broccoli, tomato (not stems or leaves), mangetout, Brussels sprouts
  3. Feed occasionally – once a week: apple (remove seeds), mint, carrots, pak choi, blackberries, cucumber peelings, dandelion leaves, celery
  4. Never feed: avocado, coconut, garlic, iceberg lettuce, hot peppers, chillies, potatoes, tomato leaves and stems, onions
  5. Fresh water – always ensure your rabbit has plenty of fresh, clean water

Lucy added: “Take care to introduce any new foods gradually. An abrupt change to a rabbit’s diet can trigger digestive upsets, which could prove fatal to some.”

Rabbit Awareness Week runs until Sunday 26th June www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk

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How To Get Fit With Your Pet!

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Research shows that people with pets, and dogs in particular, are generally healthier, happier and fitter than those without a pet(1). The reason for this is simple – if you have a pet dog, you’re probably taking them for regular walks.

Taking your dog out for a walk is a fantastic way to keep them happy; however, you don’t need to limit your outdoor activities to a simple walk in the park.

Here’s Jayne McPherson from evolution to wellbeing introducing her new work-out guide in association with Petbarn to keep your pooch pal entertained while keeping you both fit and active.

Raise your heart rate with your pooch:

Interval training is the perfect activity for dogs as they have short bouts of energy.

What to do:

petbarn-well-034

Throw the ball up a hill (or across flat ground) and sprint/jog/power walk in same direction as the ball with your furry friend – even challenge yourself and race your dog to get the ball!

After each sprint, switch up the activity in order to create an active rest. Give your legs a break by working on your core.

Jayne says that bodyweight exercises are a simple and effective way to improve fitness, strength and flexibility. Use a bench or the ground to do any of the below exercises in between each sprint or throw of the ball. Your pet can also join in by being part of your sit ups or even step ups. (If appropriate, hold your pet for some extra resistance.)

16 x step ups (8 on each leg)
16 x push ups
16 x squat jumps (or squats if you can’t do jumps)
16 x tricep dips
16 x sit-ups or crunches

After you have completed the above exercises, take a rest by playing fetch with your dog until you catch your breath. If your pooch looks parched make sure to give them plenty of water and adequate rest. Make sure you do this for yourself as well.

After your breathing and heart rate have settled, repeat the sequence between three and five times for a great cardio and body workout.

petbarn-well-030

Two people and a pet work-out:

This routine is designed for two people.

What to do:

The first person throws the ball and runs against the dog to catch the ball

Meanwhile, the second person performs a body weight exercise using the sequence below which alternates between lower and upper body:

16x lunges (8 on each leg)
16 x push-ups
16 x squats or squat jumps
16 x running mountain climbers
16 x sit-ups or core exercises

When the first person returns they swap roles, and the second person throws the ball and runs against the dog, while the first person performs their body weight exercise

Aim to complete one full round each (i.e. working through all the above exercises).

Smaller breeds:

The advantage of having a smaller breed is that you can use your pooch as a power prop. When doing this, ensure both you and your dog are comfortable and your posture remains the priority.

Squats – To create added resistance, cradle your pet in your arms against your chest.

Sit Ups – Hold pup against the chest for added resistance.

Elbow plank (on knees or toes) – Come up into a straight arm plank position, reach out and pat your dog for a few seconds for an added challenge. Reset, hold and repeat with other hand.

Larger breeds:

Squat – with dog sitting in front of you. Hold squat position and ask dog for paw. Stand up and repeat with other paw.

Push ups – with dog sitting in front of you. Perform a push up and come back up to starting position for a wet sloppy kiss or ass a pat / treat.

Sit ups – Command dog to sit at feet, assume sit up position and give a treat every five sit ups.

petbarn-well-005

Important work-out tips

Where to work-out:

A dog-friendly park

What to bring:

A ball
A ball thrower
Leash
Poo bags
Dog treats
Water and a container
Your best friend

Tips to keep your work-out interesting:

Find an area with varied terrain i.e. combination of hills and flats. You’ll also need a bench or solid surface.

Perform the different exercises by holding the position for longer, going through the movements faster or slower changing the rate at which you perform each movement and /or change the amount of repetitions (reps) i.e. 14 reps, 12 reps, 10 reps.

When performing any exercise (which includes walking your dog), ensure that your posture is strong.

This means:
a. standing tall
b. relaxing the shoulders
c. keeping the head back and the chest lifted.

This will ensure that you and your pooch get the most out of your workout and maximise the amount of calories burnt.

If your dog has to be on a lead then a harness is a better alternative as they distribute pressure over a wider area and this minimises the risk of neck injury.

1 study from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that dog owners who regularly walked their dogs were more physically active and had a reduced chance of being obese than those who did not own or walk a dog. Source: http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2009/February/feature1.htm

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3D Artists Create Sculpture of The Supervet’s Dog Keira

Keira01

3D printing experts Arty Lobster are hoping to meet Channel 4’s Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick at Britain’s biggest dog festival this coming weekend – to present him with a mini me of his cute Border Terrier Keira.

Arty Lobster are exhibiting at DogFest, which is taking place at Windsor Great Park for the first time (25-26 June). The show dubbed ‘Britain’s biggest dog festival’ will be a hive of all things doggie and a brilliant day out for all dog lovers.

London-based Arty Lobster takes 3D tech to the limits by creating items that are truly bespoke and unique. Highly skilled artists create the 3D pet sculptures from customers’ photos of their pet, which are then 3D printed before being delivered to the customer.

Lars Andersen, Founder and MD of Arty Lobster, said: “We wanted to be part of the first Dogfest to be held at Windsor and decided that we must have a stand there. We have a huge amount of respect for Noel and his pioneering work in saving animals’ lives and improving the lives of countless others’, and so were excited to find out that he would be there too.

Keira02

“The Keira sculpture is something fun and unique that hopefully he will like and think is a good likeness of Keira. We would love a chance to catch up with him at DogFest and give him the sculpture. Perhaps he’d like to pop by our stand when he’s free? We’d love to meet him.”

Arty Lobster produces 3D prints in three options, including sandstone, porcelain and bronze with prices starting at £140.

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Rescued Magpie Becomes Best Friends With Shop Owner

Peter Redwood-Smith with Pica the Magpie

Peter Redwood-Smith with Pica the Magpie

A man has become best friends with a magpie after rescuing the garden bird from the clutches of a cat at just two weeks old.

Peter Redwood-Smith, 21, became a devoted adoptive father to the black and white bird named Pica after saving it when it fell out of its nest.

He has hand reared and nurtured the tiny chick he named Pica, and the bird now happily sits on Peter’s shoulder throughout the day.

Pica is capable of flying away now and can come and go as he pleases – but instead has chosen to stay close to his friend’s side.

Peter, from Rayleigh, Essex, said: “Pica has free roam and he follows me from room-to-room.

“He’s started to pick up a few little tricks now and he will try to steal things.

“He will run off with a number of things, he takes money quite a lot like five pound notes and coins.

“He’s even tried to run off with a pair of scissors and will hide things around the shop.

“But when I call him he comes to me and he tries to speak to me as well.

“Apparently they are very clever and have the intelligence of a five-year-old.”

Peter has even set up a Facebook page where his fans can keep up to date with the pair’s latest adventures.

He rescued the bird almost six weeks ago when it had no tail feathers and was so weak it could barely stand.

SWNS_PICA_MAGPIE_043-750x460

Peter feeds him a number of different things including duck, chicken, pheasant, meal worms, crickets and locusts.

The shop owner added: “I found him right outside my shop and brought him in and said ‘here’s a present’.

“There was a cat just outside and Pica was so tiny he couldn’t have outrun the cat.

“It’s very lucky he was saved just in time otherwise he would almost certainly have met an untimely end.

“I have hand-raised Pica and looked after him. I had to feed him by hand so that he could build up his strength.

“I am just trying to give him the best life I can, he’s a lovely little bird. He’s very friendly.”

Pica has flown away twice but has returned to his adoptive dad not long afterwards.

He goes outside for up to two hours a day where he forages for food such as earth worms, but mainly he enjoys sitting on Peter’s shoulder.

Magpies are known to be clever and inquisitive garden birds which pick up all sorts of things to explore them – and they can even recognise their own reflection in a mirror.

But the birds are also a nuisance to other garden birds as they eat songbird eggs and chicks.

Their natural diet is quite broad as they eat insects, mice and other small rodents, as well as berries and fruits.

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