Cat the Vet, dog behaviour expert Jordan Shelley and Dogs Today editor Beverley Cuddy talk about the worrying trend for people to source mutilated puppies and what we can do to stop this vile fashion.
There is a petition to sign: click here
Alessandra Paccelli has written an article about this in the latest issue of Dogs Today magazine, to order a copy click here.
As you might have gathered, my two favourite things are dogs and films. (Jaffa cakes (the posh ones) close third.)
So, I was very delighted to talk to to the very talented Dominic and Ian Higgins. Do check out their spectacular back catalogue - they run Pixel Revolution Films and they are attracting lot of attention at international film festivals - a cutting edge mix of reality and art.
This was recorded on the day of the premiere of their new animated short film Of Wolves and Men. You will love it, I promise you. And lovely Peter Egan did the voice over. Their next film will be Fleur, the beautiful little collie cross who has graced our magazine covers twice - a doggie Kate Moss.
She had been very badly mutilated in Romania. Gov-sponsored canine genocide had seen the streets cleared of dogs and them being 'spayed' by people who definitely weren't vets. Fleur hadn't been properly stitched back up and her insides were falling out when the photos did the rounds on Facebook. It's an epic story of a dog refusing to die and never giving up trust in humans despite barbaric treatment.
Well guess what, we helped Wendy and Andrew get Fleur's story published as a book. And guess who saw the front cover on Amazon and fell in love.... well only the Higgins' brothers from Pixel Revolution!
Here's a link to Of Wolves and Men....https://youtu.be/DieDRSneYmE
Colin was one of the first professional stunt men, in an era before CGI he was in very many of the blockbuster movies you will have watched. For the first three Star Wars movies he was Luke Skywalker’s stunt double. You’ll have watched him in James Bond movies. He was an extra in Superman on his day off from stunts.
He was in so many iconic movies and it took him around the world. Back home he was in so many famous TV scenes and when he worked he took his dogs with him as there was a lot of sitting around waiting.
They were so at home on set that when ‘acting’ dogs came in to do their jobs Colin would watch dogs spooked by the equipment and the difficulty of long distance commands in this alien world. Directors were often not animal savvy and it would hold up filming when they couldn’t get the dog shot.
More and more Colin was asked if his dogs could do the action, and they always could. Consequently Beardies starting cropping up in roles they would not normally have been cast in! Midsommer Murders always had a disproportionate amount of murders – but in this beautiful place Bearded Collies were the most popular breed of dog – everyone had them!
When Jules won Britain's Got Talent it should have been a joyous thing but the media made her life a misery. They became obsessed by there being several highly trained dogs in the act. Had they never heard of stunt doubles? Jules has many strings to her bow and is an accomplished assistance dog trainer. You will also have seen many of her dogs on TV adverts, she's much in demand.
When Jules won Britain's Got Talent it should have been a joyous thing, but the media made her life a misery. Luckily she was already living her dream life, but what happened could have destroyed a less strong person. It was totally unexpected, the press suddenly created a front page story out of nothing and turned something that should have been a dream come true, into being a living nightmare. Even her daughter was being stalked on her way to school by the British press. Jules has very many strings to her bow and is a top competitor in obedience and other disciplines, an accomplished assistance dog trainer and is also in much demand training dogs for TV and film. She's also trained her first assistance horse! What a lovely, fascinating person. Based in Belgium she is speaking from the latest lockdown, stay with it to the last to meet the latest acquisition. No one wanted the blind and deaf dog when she went to the rescue to find a dog for her sister-in-law. Only three weeks in and the little sweetheart has taken over and is thriving.
Do you want to order a physical copy? Click here https://dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/product/dogs-today-uk-subscriptions/
Remember those dogs in the animated film Up! ? Weren't they brilliantly observed? I loved the way they would all suddenly stop for squirrels. That was Dr Ian Dunbar’s idea. If you get the Pixar DVD with the extra disk included you’ll see him on stage teaching the animators all about dog behaviour and facial expressions.
He's done so much already, but he's eager to do more.
I hope you will discover in this video why I say that Ian is our doggie David Attenborough. I would just love us to have him on the TV all the time curating the way we see the dog world.
In this interview we discover how the young farm boy became a vet, moved to London in the 1960s and then off to California in the 70s to do a Phd in animal behaviour. He reveals he also lectured in human sex… which I hadn’t heard before, but it was apparently very popular!
Ian loved teaching and soon some of the human psychologists where attending his puppy classes to watch how the people learned!
He says he used all he learned on the farm to go backwards in dog training, to start early and make everything rewarding.
His grandfather won a ploughing competition with a horse that worked remotely without reigns. He trained the horse to plough in a straight line without any compulsion. And as a child Ian was regularly recalling 50 cows.
Ian wants everyone to stop obsessing with theory and get back to actually training dogs.
His son Jamie is gradually digitising Ian’s brain and you can now find much of it in the Dunbar Academy archives.
In this in depth interview we talk about the revolutionary Open Paw. The brilliant scheme that changes rescues into universities for dogs. And we talk about dog breeders training their puppies before they sell them, dramatically reducing the number of dogs in rescue and increasing the price they can charge.
Here’s a link to access Ian’s brain - and the amazing Dunbar Academy. A huge resource where you can find the solution to every problem as well as some classic seminars. It would literally take you decades to binge watch everything!
Do you remember her documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed on BBC1 (you can find it online here if you want to see it again: https://vimeo.com/33444270) . It's hard to believe that it was 2008, it still seems quite recent somehow. Certainly some dog breeders are still really prickly if you mention it. Before PDE there were only a few people banging on about health and dogs, I was of course! (Both at the time I worked at the Kennel Club and ever after.)
But a big prime-time documentary on the subject certainly made the public sit up and take notice. Jemima doesn't mess about. Her documentaries take years to make and she really, really drills down. She had already produced some very big hitting science related documentaries, and she'd cut her teeth (canines?) on Panorama. And, as you will find out, her love of dogs is unquestionable. This was a passion project.
A tsunami of hate hit the Kennel Club, Crufts and dog breeders generally. Crufts was dropped by the BBC. Crisis PR was brought it to deal with it. Somehow they hadn't seen it coming, they'd ignored their critics for so long they were blindsided.
Lots of things changed, but ad hominem attacks on Jem were astonishing. If shooting the messenger were a sport, dog people would win all the medals.
Jem's latest documentary was the hugely critically acclaimed Parkinson's Drug Trial: A miracle cure. It was the result of very many years of work culminating in unique access to a pioneering drug trial. She had to win the trust of the scientists and the patients. It was exceptional TV and the BBC were very proud of it. It has won huge accolades already. Jem is an exceptional person and just an exceptionally honest person too. I believe she will always do the right thing and to see her attacked for bravery has been hard. Really looking forward to catching up with her and hopefully dog lovers who may have preconceptions about her will watch and realise that we're all on the same side.
When I first clapped eyes on Jordan he was on the One Show, he had his own segment on dog training. I wasn't watching it live, I had been told I must watch by seemingly the whole of social media.
He was a young, handsome chap. Very telegenic. But where had he suddenly come from? His methods for training dogs did something everyone thought impossible - he had united dog trainers! They all wanted him off the TV ASAP.
Jordan had used methods once considered the norm. But people also used to hit their kids. It's not PC to use dominance anymore. Jordan had put his foot in it literally and metaphorically.
Everyone makes mistakes, but poor young Jordan's were being broadcast on primetime. I had written on my blog "Get Jordan Shelley off the telly," and it worked.
It wasn't just me, obviously, it was pretty much all the charities saying it, too.
My blog had said some nice things about Jordan, but I hadn't minced my words about his training methods. So, when I was told "Jordan Shelley" was phoning for me, I assumed it was someone having a laugh.
But it was Jordan, bless him. And to his eternal credit he had read my blog and wanted to ask for advice on how to be a better dog trainer. Well that was a plot twist I didn't see coming. I got my little black book out.
The positive dog world community welcomed him with open arms. Lovely Dr Ian Dunbar and Kelly literally took him into their California home. It was almost like going into witness protection. The Daily Mail photographer had been hiding in his hedge for days.
Jordan turned a very low ebb into a turning point.
John Cooper QC is the defender of the underdog. He is helping end trophy hunting, and he’s working to change the Breed Specific Legislation, introduce a law on Pet Theft… and tackling human rights, too!
Dog theft is a huge concern for dog owners, as it is on the rise due to the high potential gain – either by selling or breeding them – and low risk, as it is considered a no more serious crime than stealing one’s mobile phone. But a phone can be replaced – a member of the family cannot.