Monday, 18 June 2012

Part Four

Gossip Dog here, your one and only source into the scandalous lives of the dog world's elite. And who am I? That's something I'll never tell. You know you love me xoxo

Missed me? Well I've had a little holiday and been on many adventures since the last episode. But I'm back now and ready to have an opinion on everything.

The Keith Lemon (aka Leigh Francis) 'incident' has been and gone. But giving a puppy as a prize on a TV programme will no doubt be something that haunts him for the rest of his career. Lemonade? What a fizzer. And as for ITV's judgement, well let's hope that they bottle it next time someone comes up with such a tasteless excuse for entertainment. On the positive side, Offcom is now investigating the ITV1 show. Gossip Dog pants with excitement as to their findings. Will it be a moral victory for those members of the public who were so incensed by the lack of ethics these programme makers displayed that they complained? I count myself as one who put paw to paper!  

Slightly off subject but still worthy of a juicy bite is the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. A green and pleasant land complete with 70 living farm creatures at its heart. Danny Boyle is now right up there with Keith Lemon in terms of using animals for their entertainment value. What most decent, thinking, people will rightly view as atrocious animal exploitation. 

Well Gossip Dog phoned the RSPCA and DEFRA the day after the unveiling, for their comments. The RSPCA said they were happy with the welfare advice they had given the organisers. And that they would have a few RSPCA people there on the day - just in case. Just in case? Meanwhile DEFRA refused to speak to anyone who wasn't officially from the press and suggested I write to them. Still waiting for what will no doubt be a meat-free response. Don't you just love those standard generic form letters?

I asked the RSPCA what would happen if one of these sentient creatures died from heart failure in front of the world on live TV as a result of the stress experienced from the noise that nearly 100,000 screaming people will undoubtedly make. The loud music. The flashing lights of cameras. Well, he said and I quote "I see your point, but I can't comment on that."  

It is deplorable that this is being allowed to happen. These poor farm creatures are being forced to endure horrendous stress for the sake of human entertainment. It's nothing more than an open air animal circus. And it is quite frankly, shameful. It's also hypocrisy. Where are the foxes being chased and ultimately ripped to shreds by hounds? Where is the badger baiting? Where is the hare corsing? The tractors spreading slurry. Oh, and let's not forget...where are the battery puppy farm sheds? 

Just what era is Danny Boyle living in? And if he thinks that the farming community are overjoyed about it, he should take a peek at some of their online forums. They aren't too bothered about the welfare side of things, but they are pretty irate that this is how the public will view the harsh realities of farming in the UK in 2012. Still there will be those moronic individuals who will be watching both here and abroad and thinking "oh how loverly and how charrrrrming". If I was a cat I'd be coughing up a particularly large fur ball right now and spitting it right in the London Olympic Committee's faces. 

Danny Boyle is of course Irish. Which leads me on to the next subject of lunacy. Lennox. The Labrador/American Bulldog cross. Let's look at the players here. For the prosecution: Belfast City Council, former BCC dog warden Sandie Lightfoot who started this whole murder by measurement scandal, and of course High Court Judges who would it appears be more at home on the panel of the XFactor than in Chambers. 

For the defence (taken from the Lennox Campaign website): "When Lennox was a puppy his owners had him neutered, licensed, insured, DNA registered, Pet Safe registered and micro chipped and although the Belfast City Council have issued a dog licence for Lennox for the last five years and continue to do so today, the Council now find the need to class him as a Pit Bull type dog and murder him. On the day Lennox was ripped from his family home the Belfast City Council issued his owner with a warrant of seizure which was incorrectly addressed and was for another location, furthermore the Council used the ADBA Inc (American Dog Breeders Association Incorporated) breed standards guide to help identify Lennox as possible Pit Bull type. It has now become clear that the Council used this ADBA breed standards guide illegally breaking international and Berne copyright laws as Belfast City Council have never been authorised by the ADBA to use the copyrighted breed standards guide in full or derived version. Since Lennox's seizure the ADBA have issued the Belfast City Council with 'Cease & Desist' orders due to the Council's unauthorised continued use of ADBA material."

Well, there you are. A loving family pet that's fine for 5 years and cared for by clearly the most competent, honourable and responsible family and then 'bang'. Despite no complaints ever made about him, despite no aggression ever shown by him - even when goaded and provoked in shocking fashion by 'behaviourists' while in the BCC pound, this pour soul continues to languish at their discretion. What puzzles me is how a Labrador cross can be called a Pit Bull type despite not having any Pitt Bull DNA. So anyway, today it's Lennox, tomorrow it'll be your Labrador Rotty, GSD, Ridgeback crosses. Unfortunately we already know the damage that this stereotyping does to breeds, given the media's constant sensationalism against Staffies. But don't worry, we have it on extremely good authority that the next breed of 'choice' for those who caused the whole 'status' symbol gang mentality problems for Staffies are now turning to the Jack Russell! Yes you heard it here first. And anyone who has ever been bailed up by a few snappy JRs will know that they are not to be trifled with. Perhaps in years to come all we will be left with is handbag dogs who don't remember how to walk. What a world?

To close I'd like to leave you with some Gossip Dog definitions to ponder on.

Question: What do you call a person who buys a puppy from a classified ad because it can be delivered to their door:

Answer: Lazy.

Question: What do you call a person who buys a puppy from a pet shop despite being told that they come from Welsh puppy farms?

Answer: Heartless.

Question: What do you call a person who buys a puppy from a pet shop or from a classified, has never seen the parents or where the puppy was brought up but then discovers their new bundle of joy has a major health problem and wants a replacement?   

Answer: Despicable. 

Question: What happens to 'faulty' puppies who are returned for a brand spanking new replacement puppy?

Answer: Imagine the cruellest way to end a puppy's life and you still won't even be close.

Until next time... xoxo

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Part Three

Gossip Dog here. Your one and only source into the scandalous lives of the dog world's elite. And who am I? That's something I'll never tell. You know you love me xoxo

Isn't it amazing what you can discover when you do some homework?

History, for example, is littered with amazing co-incidences. Take 1952 (a decade before I was born you understand!). In this one year alone, there were some incredible events in human history.

Firstly, we lost some important people, including our own beloved King George VI and Argentina's adored Eva "Evita" Peron. But science and medicine had a good year with the first plastic lens for cataract patients fitted, the first transistorised hearing aid sold, and the creation of the world's first artificial heart. 

1952 also saw the Big Bang theory proposed in Physical Review by Alpher, Bethe and Gammow.

Still with me? Good, keep up now.

It was also the year Britain announced that it had its own atomic bomb. East Germany closed its links with the West. And the US ended its occupation of Japan. Meanwhile there was a different kind of revolution taking place in our kitchens because Clarence Birdseye marketed frozen peas!

Excited? I knew you would be. But what has all this got to do with dogs I hear you ask?

Well, 1952 was also the year that Charles Schulz' comic strip 'Peanuts' first appeared in the Sunday papers. People fell in love with Snoopy, the cheeky, headstrong Beagle who sat on the roof of his kennel - aka the Sopwith Camel - and embarked on many a dogfight in the skies against the cursed Red Baron. Today, 60 years later, you will still find lots of dogs called Snoopy across all breeds. Sadly you'll also see a good many Snoopies on rescue sites fighting to stay alive because their human carers had a 'change of circumstances' (but don't get me started on that one). 

Anyway, being a bit of a tease, I've saved the best until last. 

In 1952 a novelty song was written by Bob Merrill and Ingrid Reuterskiold. Bear in mind this was a time when the world was a very different place. A time when the words 'ethical' and 'animal' were 100% mutually exclusive. The title of their song was "How much is that doggy in the window?". Bet you're singing it in your head right now.

In 2012 we know a lot more about animals than we did then. And we're still learning. When I say 'we', obviously I'm not referring to slow Joe public who is a different species altogether. No, in our more enlightened times, those of us with more than a time-share on a braincell understand why puppies being sold in pet shops is wrong on every level. 

And yet, providing you have a pet shop license, it is perfectly legal in the UK to sell sentient beings in shops the way retailers sell Blu-ray players and even supermarket groceries. 

Yes, I hear you and you're spot on. Just because something's legal, it doesn't make it right. 

Of course the owners and staff of pet shops that sell puppies will tell you that they obtain what they so charmingly refer to as their 'livestock' (again, don't get me started), from licensed breeders. Licensed as we know, by the councils. Councils with often more than a passing interesting in helping commercial breeders remain profitable. And councils that are free to interpret the guidance issued to them on animal welfare, in their very own sleepy-hollow way which differs from county to county. No standardisation. No consistency. And no intervention from the government. 

Just how many shades of wrong can there be?

I don’t know about you, but it just makes me see red. And unlike Snoopy, I'm not thinking 'Red Baron'. No sir. I'm sitting on my Sopwith Camel, thinking 'red light district', Amsterdam. Prostitutes sitting in shop windows. Punters salivating through the glass at what they can get for their money. And of course, pimps who run the show, rubbing their grubby, sticky little hands together while counting their ‘earnings’. 

All totally legal you understand.

Whatever your feelings on prostitution, the similarities of selling puppies in pet shops can’t have escaped your notice. Pups, punters and pimps. Of course, the prostitution takes place hundreds of miles away, far from prying eyes. Seeing breeding bitches tied down and raped might put the punters off and we can’t have that now can we? 

Pet shops will also tell you that they are completely transparent about where they obtain their ‘livestock’. What they don’t tell you is that you will only find out where your puppy has been bred, after you’ve parted with your money and signed on the dotted line. Then, and only then, can you trace your purchase back – yep, you guessed it – across the Severn Bridge to sleepy hollow.

Oh how quickly people forget. It's only a few years ago that one very famous London department store was exposed by the BBC for having a contract with an unlicensed puppy farmer in Ceredigion. The puppy farm was visited by the Dogs Trust assistant field director who said, "Conditions inside this puppy farm were absolutely horrific...".  

But don’t worry punters. Head up north to Leeds and Manchester and if your pet shop puppy is sick, those nice pet shop pimps peeps, will give you a replacement. Like all good retailers your purchase is covered by a warranty. Yes each puppy comes with a six month guarantee for your peace of mind. So you can trundle back to the shop, hand over your sick puppy and get a brand spanking new one, no questions asked. What’s that? Oh, I should have read the small print? I have to prove that my puppy was sick when I bought it? Ummm.

As for what happens to the sick puppy if it is returned? That’s not for the faint hearted. Let’s just say that faulty goods are not returned to the manufacturer. Puppy farmers don’t work on a ‘sale or return’ basis. 

No friends, a pet shop should be a place where you buy things 4 pets. End of.

So, regardless of all the amazing human advances we’ve seen since 1952, while the sale of puppies in pet shops remains legal in the UK in 2012, as a species we are sadly no more enlightened or evolved than we were back in the middle of last century. 

Now, we all know that there isn't a reputable breeder, breed club, animal charity, ethical vet or responsible dog publication that condones the sale of puppies in pet shops. But unfortunately, Mr and Mrs slow Joe public and their darling little "I want a puppy now!" ankle biters have proven time and again that they can't or won't be educated.  

So it's now time to change the course of history again. All we need to do is find ourselves a nice, ethically minded MP (there must be one) and get them to propose a Private Members' Bill that results in a long overdue change to the law. A law that sees an end to the indignity of pet shop prostitution for ever.

All those in favour, say 'aye'!

Gossip Dog

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Part Two

Gossip Dog here. Your one and only source into the scandalous lives of the dog world's elite. And who am I? That's something I'll never tell. You know you love me xoxo

So you're back for another sniff? Good for you! It seems Episode One of this unfolding saga travelled around the world to 10 countries in a heartbeat. So many dog lovers, so little time...

And speaking of sniffing, Part Two sees Dame J inviting more comment from the breeding and showing world, and as expected her friends and foes alike have been only to happy to oblige. 

Able Mabel, bless her, is pitted against Pringham's Rockstar (the Top Mail Bulldog 2010 and Best of Breed for Crufts 2011). Some can't see any difference between the two (Specsavers anyone?). Some prefer the looks of the Crufts champ and are distinctly agitated about Mabel's top line. Are her legs too long? How old is she? And so on and so on. To be honest, Gossip Dog is just happy that Mabel can breathe. And hey, another bonus, she even has a tail! You see the problem with genetic experimentation, which is what breeding is really all about folks, is that if you change things that didn't need changing in the first place you're going to get slapped on the wrist by mother nature. And you know what they say about the fury of a woman scorned...

Speaking of mother nature, how glorious has the weather been of late? It's like dog heaven out there. Lots of frolicking and playing in the sunshine. I wonder how Liz is? No not diamond jubilee Liz, the other one. Well, the grass is short and dry so perhaps her award-winning little paws will have been allowed out of the inner sanctum for a quick stretch. Here's hoping.

Not that I'm labelling anyone here you understand, but thinking about the other Liz for a moment, isn't it remarkable how having a royal warrant can go to an organisation's head? And in the minds of poor, unquestioning, slow Joe public that emblem used to mean all was right with the world. 

Now that's got me thinking. Everyone's searching for the perfect antidote - sorry, I mean alternative - to the KC. So perhaps it's also time for an alternative RSPCA? It could still be called the RSPCA, but the word 'Royal' could be replaced with the word 'Real'. 

Just imagine it. The Real Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would be an organisation where you could phone up and report your concerns about the welfare of an animal and someone would actually do something about it. Even if it was just a little thing, like a starving moggy that you found in your garden hedge. Or a pony that was left in a field without access to water. You know, those everyday animal welfare events that don't warrant a herd of TV cameras and journalists showing up to cover it. No big media opportunities to drool over. Just big differences to the lives of animals in need. A novel approach I know. But I'm getting all tingly just thinking about it. So, any takers? 

Meanwhile our queen of the airwaves, St. Bev has been doing the dogs proud again. Surely it's only a matter of time before she twigs to the potential for DT radio?  

Nothing breathtaking to report on the CA front. But I will admit to a brief titter thinking that these brave new pioneers of pugnaciousness may one day have Trustees. That would mean CATs talking about dogdom, and we all know where that would lead. Saucer of milk anyone?

Across the Severn Bridge and into sleepy hollow, or Wales as I sometimes call it, something stirs. People  are getting nervous. Dare I use the 'C' word? For those of a nervous disposition, look away now. I'm talking about 'Councils'. Yes, the rumours are true. It seems that certain members of certain councils have personal interests in puppy farming. Shock, horror? Not really. They hand out dog breeding licences there the way others hand out jelly beans. And it seems nobody can stop them. Certainly not the Welsh Government who, despite knowing what goes on, don't want to interfere with the running of Local Authorities. It seems that the lunatics are running the asylum in sleepy hollow after all. 

But back on the right side of the bridge we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that the KC only registers litters from breeders in Wales who are licensed by... oh dear, the councils. 

Words are such interesting and powerful things aren't they? So while we're vaguely on the subject of animal welfare, I will leave you with a question on which to ponder until Part Three:

If you believe that animals have the right to experience the five freedoms of the animal welfare act, does that make you an animal rights advocate?  

Gossip Dog

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Gossip Dog here. Your one and only source into the scandalous lives of the dog world's elite. And who am I? That's something I'll never tell. You know you love me xoxo

Another picture perfect early spring day. People walking their dogs in the sunshine. Picking up after their canines with their pleasantly scented poo bags. What could be more perfect? But how dull. There's nothing to bitch about there. So let's move on...

Brace yourself, the dog world or 'dogdom' as the astringent Alan so quaintly (and mildly irritatingly continues to refer to it) held a meeting. Breeders were positively incandescent. Ooops, sorry no my mistake. The less than 5% of the total membership that attended the meeting were incandescent. But what the hell, they carried on and gave themselves a name, made up a strapline, a bit of an election campaign to find a glorious leader and woo hoo they're gonna show the KC what's what! Guys? Lesson One. Next time you hold a meeting, don't do it on a school night. Lesson Two: 5% isn't exactly an Alliance where any decisions are truly representative. The clue is in the name. But keep going, for God's sake. It's great entertainment!

Meanwhile St. Bev has been carrying the torch along the path of her latest crusade - the injustice of those nasty pet insurance companies who are so intent on leaving their customers and their pets in the lurch. Hey St. Bev - just loved the  'Rolls Royce cover for pets' quip - could be a nice bit of product placement there in your next issue. Rescue dogs riding around in the back of chauffeur driven RR - very cool. Note to Halifax, Lloyds and PetGuard. Customers have long, long memories. You mess with their pet's life, you pay in other ways. St. Bev is also doing the rounds of the airwaves of late. And they say radio is so last century...who'd could know? And luvvie - it's getting warm again so best get those car stickers happening pretty sharpish.

So how was everyone's Mothering Sunday? We know how sparky Marc's was. He was busy trying to find his mum. Or at least I think that's what he was doing. No, wait...."Where's Mum?" isn't about being an orphaned vet, but about his latest anti puppy farming campaign. Careful Mark - there's no 'I' in 'team'. But go to the top of the class for being the king of self promotion. In fact in the history of the dog world - sorry Alan, I mean dogdom, there's really no better example. Oh and Marc, I'm speaking to Gok tomorrow about getting you a makeover luvvie. That blue outfit never seems to be off your back. Relax kid, I think everyone's figured out you're probably a vet by now. No need to keep labouring the point eh? In exchange perhaps you could have a word with Gok about flaunting his latest bit of fluff. He took her on the Jonathan Woss show and yes she's an adorable pup. And yes, you can just guess where she came from...tisk, tisk.

Now when it comes to looking and sounding the part, all vet's could certainly take a leaf out of the gorgeous Joe's book. Whether on the One Show or off it, he's Mr relaxed in boy next door shirt and trousers. We likey a lot. And his food aint bad either from what I hear. Oh yes, I know what you're thinking. He's a shrewd businessman as well as a vet and there's a lot of promoting his range of dog food. And OK, so you saw him at Crufts. Nobody's perfect. But fairplay, he did have the guts to blog about the old KC furore and it's pretty obvious he's on the side of what's best for the dogs. So Joe? Respect dude.

Now isn't this fun?

Where to next. Oh I know, Dame Jemima (oh come on you know it's only a matter of time). Well, Dame J is, as we know, passionate about dogs. And she's been a real sport about taking some pretty nasty, bad-mouthing from people who have never even heard of, let alone read The Origin of Species. Historically boat rockers have never been popular. But boat rocking is sometimes a necessity in order for there to be progress. And if the first step of that progress is to make a tidal wave with the power to break down the doors of the establishment then so be it.

That tidal wave engulfed Clarges Street W1 and hopefully washed away some of those crusty old cobwebs in the process. Although in a desperate bid to save face the old guard did make a bit of a pig's ear of things with Crufts. But some kudos to old Sir Bill for giving it a bash. You could almost feel sorry for him - stuck between feisty women whichever way he turns. Dame J, St. Bev and his very own Caroline Biscuit. It's reassuring that he doesn't believe in incest when it comes to humans though. Only time will tell if Ms Biscuit crumbles under the call for fresh bloodlines to be added to their human gene pool.

So now Dame J's film is off to Canada to awaken or reawaken the conscience of breeders in the land of the Mounties. They're calling it Re-Exposed over there. Which is really quite risqué isn't it? Makes them sound like serial flashers.

And speaking of countries of yesteryear and inbreeding, let's not forget Wales. Try as we may. Wales is a bit like having a small splinter in the crook of your index finger. Irritating. This time the long, long, long overdue dog licensing legislation has yet again been delayed. This time by the good old boys, the puppy farmers themselves. Well actually from their very expensive barrister. Oh yeah, those puppy farmers aren't short of a few quid you know. Anyhoo, it seems they haven't been able to 'see or read' (not my words, that's a direct quote from the Welsh Government) the WG's submission in order to respond to it. Isn't devolution a wonderful thing? So now every licensed breeder in Wales has to be written to - explaining what it's about and giving them a chance to respond. Jesus, do we really have that long? I hope the letter from the Local Authorities is in words of one syllable. Sorry Carwyn luvvie, but you do realise you'll get more sense from the dogs they've got tied up in the sheds, don't you?

Well, lovely dog people that's it from me for now. Just remember, in this life, you reap what you sow. Until next time...
Gossip Dog