Westie Wins ‘Best In Show’ For First Time In 26 Years

Marie Burns from County Durham with Devon a West Highland White Terrier, who won the coveted title of Best in Show today (Sunday 13.03.16) Copyright onEdition 2016

Marie Burns from County Durham with Devon a West Highland White Terrier, who won the coveted title of Best in Show today (Sunday 13.03.16) Copyright onEdition 2016

A West Highland White Terrier called Devon was crowned Best in Show at Crufts last night – the first for her breed in 26 years.

In a packed arena, Devon (Ch Burneze Geordie Girl), who is two years old in July and Marie Burns, a Kennel Club Assured Breeder from Bishop Auckland, County Durham were cheered on as they were chosen by top judge, Derek Smith and awarded the prestigious Crufts Best in Show title by Clare Balding. The historic moment was captured live on Channel 4 and watched online around the world.

Almost 22,000 pedigree dogs from around the world competed at the Birmingham NEC over four days for just seven places in the 125th Crufts 2016 Best in Show final. The other six finalists were, Jen the German Spitz Klein, Eric the Pekingese, Zony the Border Collie, James the Gordon Setter, Hazel the Whippet and Hector the Bouvier Des Flandres.

Devon’s, owner, Marie said of her win: “I can’t believe it, it was amazing. She is a typical terrier, a bit of a tomboy, very independent and fun to be around. I’m so thankful to everyone who has helped us get there. I can’t believe it she’s the first West Highland Terrier to win in more than 20 years.” 

Winner: Devon the West Highland White Terrier. Photo copyright onEdition 2016

Winner: Devon the West Highland White Terrier. Photo copyright onEdition 2016

The Reserve Best in Show award was won by Hazel, the Whippet, owned by Charlie Donaldson from Middlebie, Dumfrieshire, who was also bred by a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “This has been a fantastic year and a wonderful final, and it’s clear to see why, for 125 years, Crufts has been one of the major British events.

“Congratulations to Devon who helped end this year’s competition on a high note, taking the prestigious Best in Show award with her owner, Marie Burns. 

“This year has been such a great show, with dogs and their handlers showing their fantastic relationship across a range of dog sports and competitions.”

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Crufts Controversy Over ‘Best Of Breed’ Cavalier

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pups

Under threat from irresponsible breeders: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies

Canine health campaigners have expressed their disappointment and Cavalier online forums are buzzing with disbelieving and angry comments as it emerged that the Crufts Best of Breed title winner fathered a litter of puppies at nine months old. This flies in the face of breeding protocols for Cavaliers, a breed beset by inherited health issues.

“Because there is no simple DNA test for Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) and Syringomyelia (SM), the two most serious inherited conditions suffered by Cavaliers, it is absolutely crucial that dogs are not bred before 2.5 years and that they continue to be tested throughout their life,” says long-time campaigner Margaret Carter, whose online petition asking the Kennel Club to make testing for MVD and SM mandatory has amassed over 25,000 signatures.

You’re My Sunshine Vom Kaninchengarten, a Blenheim Cavalier, is less than two years old and has heart and eye tests recorded after he fathered a litter. “For years the majority of Cavalier breeders have ignored MVD and SM breeding protocols even though these were established nearly two decades ago. This Crufts win not only exemplifies why the Kennel Club needs to get tough but it also makes a mockery of its claim that Crufts is ‘Celebrating healthy, happy dogs’,” adds Carter.

All of the current top five Cavalier Club “best stud dogs” all produced litters before their second birthday. “The fact that the Best of Breed Cavalier was, according to official online records, used for breeding while still a puppy himself underlines why the breed remains under such tremendous and devastating genetic health pressure,” claims Karlin Lillington, owner of the forum CavalierTalk.com and co-founder of Rupert’s Fund, which has raised over £30,000 for health research and breeder MRI scans.

“For a top show exhibitor to breed a Cavalier so young that it would still compete in puppy show classes, and only heart test months later – when it is still too young to be meaningful in a progressive disease – indicates that clubs remain unable or are unwilling to motivate breeders to breed for health. Therefore, testing should be made mandatory for litter registration.”

Donna Farrand’s Cavalier, Freddie, underwent decompression surgery last year to help improve his SM symptoms. Freddie’s father sired a litter at just over a year old and continues to be used for breeding. “I was furious to see the owner of his sire judging one of the Cavalier rings yesterday.

“What kind of message does this send out and what kind of example does this set to other breeders?” she asks.

On some online forums, breeding at a young age has been defended but Lena Gillstedt, a Cavalier breeder and biologist from Sweden where testing for Cavaliers is compulsory, says this is nonsense:

“If males needed to be proven at nine months to know what to do, the breed would be extinct in Sweden because here no Cavalier can be bred until it is at least 24 months. But here the breed is actually thriving.”

Canine health campaigner Carol Fowler, founder of the Dog Breeding Reform Group, says: “A Cavalier Breed Clubs’ heart scheme was agreed almost 20 years ago. If only all breeders had followed its recommendations, including that no dog under 2.5 years should be bred, we would have seen a marked improvement in early onset MVD by now. However, success in the show ring, glory for the owner and the resulting stud fees are seemingly more important.”

See the petition at https://www.change.org/p/the-uk-kennel-club-stop-registerin-g-cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-puppies-unless-their-parents-are-mri-scanned-and-heart-tested

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RSPCA Survey Confirms What Dogs Enjoy Most About Being Dogs

The RSPCA surveyed hundreds of dog owners to find out what makes their pets happy…


Running, eating, and sleeping  are some of the activities that make our pet dogs the happiest, according to an RSPCA survey.

The animal welfare charity spoke to hundreds of pet owners to find out what makes their dog happy.

90% of dog owners revealed that their canine companion loves nothing more than exploring and investigating, 81% said that their pet enjoys going for a walk off-lead, and 82% said that their pet enjoyed going for a run.

The survey results also revealed that 91% of dog owners said eating was their pet’s favourite pastime, and 90% of dog owners agreed that their pet loved sleeping.

And a whopping 94% of people said it was important that their dog is healthy and happy, and able to exercise, run and play freely.


However, for some dogs, the way they’re bred to look can make activities like running or playing practically impossible. For example, dogs with short, flat faces (brachycephalic) – like Pekingese and pugs – are more likely to suffer from respiratory disorders which can make it difficult for them to breathe when they exercise.

One survey found that 88% of brachycephalic dogs experienced severe exercise intolerance and prolonged recovery time after physical exercise, and 56% suffered from a variety of sleep problems.

Another study found that extreme brachycephalic dogs died at a significantly younger age (8.7 years) in comparison to other dogs without short, flat faces (12.7 years). It also found that extreme brachycephalic dogs overall were 3.5 times more likely to have at least one upper respiratory tract disorder compared to the dogs who were less flat-faced.


Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome and narrowed nostrils are two of the three most prevalent conditions reported in French bulldogs, another breed which has been selectively bred to have short flat faces.

RSPCA canine welfare expert Lisa Richards said: “We remain concerned that many dogs are still suffering because they’re bred and judged primarily for how they look rather than with health, welfare and temperament in mind.

“Many dogs have been bred to emphasise certain physical features, some of which have become so extreme that they can cause pain and suffering, make dogs prone to particular disorders, or even prevent them from behaving normally and from enjoying the activities we know dogs love.

“The RSPCA believes there is still much to be done to protect the future health of dogs and that all those who breed dogs should prioritise health, welfare and temperament over appearance when choosing which animals to breed.”

Katy Price, a pug owner from Norfolk, said: “I must admit, I chose a pug partly because I think they have such wonderful characters, but also because I found their looks appealing and cute.

“But, during the first few years of having Olive (pictured above), I started to become concerned that she was struggling to breathe.

“I voiced my concerns with a vet about her snuffly noises and tiny nostrils, but I was told she would probably change as she grew. She didn’t.

“Olive snores very loudly. She also used to take a while to calm down after walks, more so than any of my friends’ dogs. She would regularly ‘reverse sneeze’, and also belch and burp after eating – things I now know can be secondary to breathing problems.

Olive x ray.jpg

“I think I was somewhat ‘breed blind’ to her problems, thinking that her breathing was that way because she was a pug, and that is what pugs sound like.

“I was unaware at that time that these dogs could have surgery to help them (pictured right). If only I knew what I know now! I did eventually get Olive referred, though I wish I had done it sooner.”

Olive’s larynx – the hollow muscular organ forming an air passage to the lungs – had collapsed. Symptoms of her condition included snoring, noisy breathing, coughing, reverse sneezing and nasal congestion. Vets opened up her nostrils and shortened her soft palate. They also removed her laryngeal saccules.

Many pugs also suffer with eye problems including entropion (a condition in which the eyelids fold inwards), pigmentary keratitis (a build up of dark scar tissue on the eye), and corneal ulcers – in fact, a recent study found that brachycephalic dogs were 20 times more likely to be affected by corneal ulcers than non-brachycephalic dogs. These were sadly other conditions for which Olive had to have surgery. All of her procedures have cost her insurance company around £4,000.

english bulldog cream and white standing in front of white background

“She will always be at risk of further airway problems, but she is now much more comfortable,” added Katy. “It’s not just pugs who suffer from these conditions – French bulldogs and bulldogs (pictured right) are prone to them, too.

“Emotionally, this has been a rollercoaster of worry. Olive is a stoic little dog, but I hated putting her through all the procedures. She didn’t ask to be born this way.

“Sadly, because of how I have seen Olive suffer, I would advise against buying a pug. But, if you feel you have to get one, why not rescue one? But be sure to get good insurance!

“Pugs are delightful little dogs but they can, and do, suffer a lot due to the way they look. Get to know the breed before committing. Do not just follow the latest trend of cute accessory dogs. The breed is high maintenance and could cost you a fortune both emotionally and financially.”

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All At Sea: Ships’ Mascots & Pets



Ship’s pets and animal mascots have been a common sight throughout the ages until that is just over 40 years ago in 1975 when the Royal Navy banned them for ‘health and safety reasons.’ HMS Trincomalee in Hartlepool is one such illustrious vessel that had a long history of animals padding around its decks and into its briny bowels in search of scraps or else a friendly face. Pets – most commonly cats or dogs – were needed for companionship and for more practical purposes such as ridding a vessel of vermin. The crew would go for many months at sea, perhaps only stopping to re-stock and sometimes to pick up a more exotic crew member such as a monkey or parrot.

When British naval officers rescued a polar bear cub from drifting ice off Greenland during World War II, they took her on board their ship and made her their mascot. But before long, Barbara, as she was named, outgrew her new home and the crew deposited her at the Royal Navy’s training facility on Whale Island, where a ‘sailor’s zoo’ had been established in 1893 to accommodate those animals given to the Navy or brought back from the exotics. By 1935 there were lions, kangaroos and birds that had, however reluctantly, made ‘sailor’s zoo’ their home.

HMS Trincomalee

HMS Trincomalee

The majestic HMS Trincomalee, now the oldest warship still afloat today, was built in Bombay, India, in 1817 for the Royal Navy shortly after the Napoleonic Wars at a cost of £23,000. Named after the 1782 Battle of Trincomalee, she was fitted with temporary masts and rigging, and before stopping to pick up guns and ammunition on the way to Britain, she arrived in Portsmouth in 1819. During her first commission, the 1,447-ton ship provided hurricane relief in Bermuda in 1847, as well as preventing an invasion of Cuba. After returning to Britain and being refitted, she headed for Vancouver in 1852 under the command of Captain Wallace Houstoun. From there she patrolled the west coast of North America and the Pacific Ocean.

Goats were carried on ships for food

Goats and other animals were carried on ships

Animal noises were a very audible feature of life on board a ship like HMS Trincomalee with livestock being kept as a ready food supply just yards from where the formidable ship’s cook served up ropy but sometimes nourishing fare to crew members. When the ship was at sea and in battle mode, these poor creatures were often the first to be chucked over board if a lightening of the load was required.

Companion animals fared better as the men became attached to their feline and canine friends. When travelling to exotic places, it was also not unusual to pick up an animal such as a monkey or parrot or perhaps even a kangaroo or a far from cuddly bear. However we feel about the ethics of all this in modern day Britain, back then the company of a parrot that could be taught to talk and a monkey that was inherently clever (and often cheeky) provided endless hours of respite from the serious business of serving aboard a ship in the disease and death ridden 1800s.

Cats were worshipped in Ancient Egypt

Cats were worshipped in Ancient Egypt

Cats were perhaps the most common animal to be found on board ship. Mariners in ancient Egypt were known to keep cats aboard their vessels for the vital service they provided on the frontline of vermin control. If mice and rats weren’t kept under control, they would quickly consume the men’s provisions and threaten the voyage. The mongoose too was a relatively common ship’s pet, adept at catching cockroaches and rats. Sailors throughout history also believed cats brought good luck, as well as companionship during long voyages. They also adopted cats from the distant ports they visited.

Perhaps the most well-known ship’s cat was Simon, the black and white moggie that fought a valiant battle against vermin on HMS Amethyst. His story is fascinating. When an orphaned kitten is discovered in the Hong Kong docks in 1948 by a British soldier, he has no idea of the journey he’s about to go on. Smuggled onto the HMS Amethyst, and named Simon by his new friends, the little cat quickly acclimatises to his new water-borne home, establishing himself as the chief rat-catcher in residence while also winning the hearts of the entire crew.

Simon the 'sea cat'

Simon the ‘sea cat’

Then the Amethyst is ordered to sail up the Yangtze to guard the British Embassy, and tragedy strikes as the ship comes under fire from Communist guns. Many of the crew are killed and Simon is among those who are seriously wounded. The ship is held hostage for months, with the crew and Simon working together to keep morale up and devise a means of escape. Soon, news of Simon’s heroism spreads and he becomes famous world-wide – but it is still a long journey back to England for both the crew and the plucky little cat known as Able Seacat Simon…Able Seacat Simon is the only cat to be among 65 animals to be awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, the animal charity’s equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Although pets are now banned on board Royal Naval ships, the role of ship’s mascots is commemorated by the ‘Animals in War’ memorial, which was unveiled by HRH the Princess Royal in 2004, the 90th anniversary of the start of World War I. Among the heroic horses and dogs is a solitary cat, walking alongside its comrades.


The inscription reads:

“This monument is dedicated to all the animals

that served and died alongside British and allied forces

in wars and campaigns throughout time.”

A second inscription simply reads:

“They had no choice.”

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Video: The Health Crisis In Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

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Kennel Club Under Pressure From Welfare Campaigners On Eve Of Crufts

The Kennel Club (KC) is facing pressure from pet owners on the eve of its prestigious dog show Crufts, which starts this Thursday, as 25,000, including a host of celebrities, sign an online petition asking it to tackle a health crisis affecting Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.


They may be one of Britain’s best-loved breeds but these adorable dogs also suffer from shocking hereditary health problems.

Supporters of the petition, including Craig Revel Horwood, Deborah Meadon, Binky Felstead and the RSPCA, want the KC to make testing mandatory for the two most serious conditions: a heart disease called MVD and SM, a distressing neurological disorder caused by dogs being bred with skulls too small for their brains.

“The KC’s breed health survey, published last month, reveals Cavaliers are dying 17 months earlier than a decade ago,” says Margaret Carter, who started the petition.

“Research proves that breeding from dogs tested clear increases the chances of healthy puppies yet the KC refuses to take proper action. Families are seeing their loved pets living in pain and dying young. Many have written to the Prime Minister in the hope the KC can be shamed into living up to its claim ‘to promote in every way the general improvement in dogs’.”

TV vet Emma Milne adds: “When will the KC stop seeing pound signs and start seeing sense. The UK is way behind much of Europe where other countries have seen dramatic improvements in disease prevalence in Cavaliers through robust testing.”

The BBC ditched its coverage of Crufts after the 2008 documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed revealed top show Cavaliers with inherited disease being used for breeding against veterinary advice. Despite promises of action from the KC, campaigners say little has been done to improve the lot of Cavaliers in the years since and that many successful show breeders continue to set a bad example by ignoring breeding guidelines.

Mother-of-three Charlotte Mackaness signed the petition on behalf of her Cavalier, Beebee, who started yelping in pain from SM when around six months old. Now three, she takes a cocktail of powerful painkillers every day. “Beebee came from a breeder who has won Crufts’ best of breed titles many times and who came recommended by the breed club. Sadly, my family has learnt that looks and money seem to count more than these dogs’ health.”



According to long-time owner Nicki Hughes: “The KC and breed clubs would like people to think it’s just backyard breeders and puppy farmers that don’t health test. I lost my beloved Teddy at six. He had MVD and SM. His breeder? An international judge. There is an official CM/SM screening programme but breeders have boycotted it.”

Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood and his partner Damon Scott own two Cavaliers with health issues. “It’s wrong that there is such a high probability that a Cavalier with inherit a terrible disease,” says Damon, who provided the voice over for a Cavalier version of the 80s hit The Final Countdown. It has had 54,000 views on Facebook alone and stars the couple’s Cavalier, Sophie, who has heart disease.

Giving a voice to these dogs was really important to us. This message and their plight needs to be heard. I find it unbelievable that the Kennel Club won’t do the right thing,” he says.

View The Final Countdown movie at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL2NhnhOcNM

See the petition at https://www.change.org/p/the-uk-kennel-club-stop-registerin-g-cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-puppies-unless-their-parents-are-mri-scanned-and-heart-tested

Numerous famous faces are backing the campaign, including Tony Parsons, Linda Robson, Fern Britten, TV vet Mark Evans and many others:

“Please can I ask you to sign and retweet this petition to save dogs’ lives”, Pixie Lott urged her Twitter followers.

“We need to make sure all Cavaliers are health tested before breeding,” believes Craig Revel Horwood

“We should be breeding for health, not creating problems for our loved pets,” says Deborah Meadon, who has been a staunch supporter of the Cavalier health campaign.

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VIDEO: Cats Stealing Dogs’ Beds!


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VIDEO: Trailer for ‘Unleashed! A Dog Dancing Story’

Unleashed! is now live on iTunes and Google Play :
iTunes UK : https://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/unleashed!-dog-dancing-story/id1036173370?ls=1
Google Play UK : https://play.google.com/store/movies/details/Unleashed_A_Dog_Dancing_Story?id=HFuCexgXxGQ&hl=en_GB

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VIDEO: Pets Magazine Meets Marc The Vet


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Therapy Dog Maida Is Off To Crufts

dog and owner

Maida and Julia

A Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog who has given comfort and love to children, young people and adults with life-limiting conditions is to have his spot in the limelight at the world’s biggest dog show.

St Oswald’s Hospice PAT dog, Maida, will soon be heading off to take part in Crufts (March 10-13), much to the delight and pride of St Oswald’s staff, volunteers and patients.

Maida, a seven-year old Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound), and her owner Julia Marvin from Ponteland, have been visiting St Oswald’s patients and families every week since 2012. Maida is well known throughout the Hospice and patients, children and young adults look forward to her visits.

Julia explained: “Maida has been going to Crufts every year since 2011. She is now qualified for life as she has a Stud Book number, which she won by coming first at a Championship Show. Maida is popular with patients and children at St Oswald’s and they are all very excited about her Crufts entry.

Julia added: “Maida is currently on a diet as part of her prep for Crufts but a lot of the Day Hospice patients like to give her biscuits. I’ve had to put a stop to that and I’ve started bringing carrot sticks in for her instead!

“Maida really enjoys her visits to the hospice, we make sure that we spend time with everyone who wants to see us, both across the adult and children and young adult services. She’s a loving dog and seems to be very empathetic towards the patients. She gives each person individual time, and she’s the perfect height for petting from a wheelchair or bed. I don’t just see her as my dog, she belongs to all the patients and children as well.”

A Day Hospice patient at the Newcastle upon Tyne based hospice said: “The patients at St Oswald’s have really adopted Maida, she’s part of the ‘family’. She’s a very loving and placid dog who gives lots of cuddles and kisses. We all really look forward to seeing her and can’t wait to hear how she gets on a Crufts.”

The national charity Pets As Therapy (PAT) provides therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, care homes and other venues by volunteers with their own friendly, temperament-tested and vaccinated pets. St Oswald’s already has several PAT cat and dog volunteers, however they are looking for more PAT qualified pets.

If you think your pet would make a great volunteer at the Hospice, please contact St Oswald’s Volunteer Office on 0191 246 9125 or email [email protected]. The hospice provides volunteers with full training and support and travel expenses can be provided.

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