Somewhere near the England-Wales border sits a very unique and special place; blending in so well with its surroundings you would have no idea it was there. Amongst the natural beauty and wildlife of the valley a few long lost apex predators have a place to call home.
Currently home to a handful of wolves, Wolf Watch UK is a small and friendly organisation run by just a few dedicated individuals with a passion for Wolves, conservation and education. In return for the safe haven provided by the centre the wolves act as ambassadors for the species, to help teach interested individuals not only about wolves and their plight but also to allow those interested in canine behaviour to observe it in its most authentic form.
These wolves have come from other parks where they did not fit into their previous pack, perhaps due to disagreements with other pack members or breeding leading to too many individuals for their enclosure. Despite this relocation these wolves certainly seem to have landed on their paws, now living in large enclosures with lots of natural cover and features making it a great home from home. For more on the history of the centre take a look at http://www.wwuk.org/history.htm.
I was lucky enough to meet these wonderful animals up close, an encounter that I will never forget. Visits are limited, which in my opinion makes this experience even more special. People who are interested in learning about the centre and interested in visiting for themselves should take a look at the membership option on their website: http://www.wwuk.org/adoptawolf.htm.
I would like to extend a personal thank you to Tony for his efforts with these animals and for allowing me to meet them.
Daisy~Mae is my 3 year old Japanese Chin. Ever since she was a puppy she has always thrived on learning, she picks things up and learns so quickly that she is such an easy little dog to train in that respect. I decided that when she was old enough I would start agility training with her, if anything for mental stimulation and of course it’s good exercise for her and myself 😉 Most people associate agility with larger dogs and most people associate Japanese Chins as purely just show dogs! I started out training her at home with some foam equipment, Daisy~Mae being my first dog this was just as new to me as it was to her. Once I had taught her some basics we then joined an agility club where we have been training now for about 2 years. I have a friend who also runs a Japanese Chin and as far as I know we are the only two people in the country to train and run with Japanese Chins currently. I generally do agility training for fun but we have entered a few competitions of which her first one she came in at an amazing second place and we have also run as a pairs with my friends Japanese Chin and hope to do more of this in the future.
I started Daisy~Mae on Akela Wholeprey about a year ago. It truly was the best thing I ever did. She can be quite a fussy eater and with this in mind I did a lot of research on different brands of dog food. With this knowledge and learning that what I was feeding her on was not as good nutrionally as I thought it was I decided to look for something that was much better for her. I ordered a free sample of Akela Wholeprey to try her with and she absolutely loved it!! She especially LOVES the newer flavour Suffolk Duck and I love the fact that all mouth sizes are catered for. Being a toy dog the ‘small paws’ kibble is just perfect for her and I know she is getting everything she needs nutrionally and it’s not costing half as much as her previous food. So that can only equal one happy dog and one very happy dog mum 🙂
Here is the first of our guest blogs written by mum Sue about her dog Pippin. See the end of the post for more details on our guest blogs.
“Every dog is a superstar to their owners, but Pippin, I think, fulfils every definition of the term and is a true ambassador for rescue dogs. My husband Stephen and I had always wanted a dog, and in 2007 found we were in a position to fulfil our dream. Stephen is in the Royal Navy and not home that often, so the only time we could adopt was at Christmas when we would be together for two weeks. We never considered getting anything other than a rescue; our only stipulation was nothing with collie in as that would have been too challenging for a first dog.
I studied the websites of local rescues eventually found one happy to let us adopt at Christmas. Hereford and Worcester Animal Rescue understood immediately and invited us over to the kennels where we fell in love with a little curly-coated collie cross (woops!); she sat on her backside and put her front legs over my arm, then cried when we left. How could anyone resist that? A week later Pippin was home.
Around five months old, she was terrified of the car, and it took eighteen months before she wouldn’t try to run if we opened a side door. We were told this is an indication of her having been thrown from a car, although as she was picked up as a stray in Herefordshire and taken to the pound so we have no history whatsoever.
It soon became apparent that she loved to learn; she revelled in puppy classes and then won Best Trick at her very first dog show when we had only had her four months, jumping through a paper-covered hoop. She has been to plenty of shows since and may have won rosette or two.
Stephen went to Afghanistan that summer, and Pip was the only thing that kept me going. Every week I made a DVD of her antics to send to him, including a parody of Indiana Jones – Pennsylvania Pip, obviously! A Pip fan club formed to watch her videos; there were many in Kandahar who missed their dogs!
With no vacancy at training until autumn, I taught Pip tricks that summer to keep her mind occupied, and I am still teaching her them even now, eight years later, as she cries to be trained. Given the choice between her dinner and training she will always choose the latter! Come autumn we joined Malvern & District Dog Training Club and worked our way through the Good Citizen Awards, gaining Gold in the summer of 2010. We have now been in the advanced class for five years or so, and she still loves it.
Pip obviously adored running and jumping, so as soon as she reached 18 months we joined an agility club, having our first class in January 2009 just days after Stephen returned home, and Pip just loved it! She is one of the fastest, most excited, most manic dog in the club, which is challenging for me as a novice handler, but in spite of me she now has some points under her belt as she is extremely fast and always placed when clear; she just doesn’t go clear very often!
Due to her striking appearance and friendly nature lots of people ask what breed she is. Although very worky from her collie side, we think Pip is half lurcher, and that has made her very calm when not excited. She used to love seeing my mother, and Mum had an awful lot of pleasure from Pip, so when she died in the summer of 2010 I wanted to share the joy Pip had brought to her, and applied to join Pets as Therapy. Pip passed with flying colours and for the last five years we have been visiting a care home and a dementia home each week which Pip enjoys and I find very rewarding.
In 2010 Pip was asked to join the Paws for Thought Dog Display Team. Largely rescue dogs, they travel the country during the summer and Pip took part in agility, obedience, flyball, trick and fire-jumping displays. She has performed at the Three Counties Show and at Paws in the Park in Kent as well as smaller local events, and just adores the atmosphere, convinced every round of applause is for her! We had to leave the team after four years due to time constraints, but Pip still helps them out when short-handed, and also does the odd solo trick display at dog shows etc. Through Paws For Thought she was on Who Let the Dogs Out and About on CBBC, and has since also appeared on Sport Relief’s Top Dog on BBC2 in 2014.
Pip has always been a fussy eater when it comes to dog food, and we have tried a number of high quality brands, but she tends to only eat them for a few weeks. We are quite picky with what we feed her; not only must it be very good quality food, but, as we are obviously animal lovers, it also needs to be ethical from non-intensively reared meat. We discovered Akela last summer, and, as it fulfilled all our requirements we thought we would try Pip on it. She absolutely loved it, and is still eating it enthusiastically nine months later. Although she is now rising nine, she shows no signs of slowing down – quite the opposite in fact, and has a lovely coat to boot.
We used to worry that we ask Pip to do too much, but she really is happiest when working and loves everything we do; whatever we throw at her she just revels in it and asks for more – she has even tried both Heelwork to Music and Working Trials with great success. We knew having a dog would change our lives, but never imagined it would be to quite this extent – she has even led me to a new career as a dog photographer! The mongrel somebody discarded has become the centre of our world and has brought joy to many lives through her P.A.T. and display work. She really is a very special girl.”
Thanks to Sue of Malvern Phodography for this wonderful write up about Pippin.
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