Rescue Dog Files…Honey

Hello my name is Honey.  HONEY LARGE

I am an adorable 2 year old Brussels Griffon cross.

I am quite a happy, excitable young lady who loves to play and enjoys going out for long walks.

I really love having company and like to be kept occupied so I would benefit from an owner who has lots of time to give me all the love and attention I need. I really like treats and I am keen to learn so would benefit from some all-round reward based training once I’ve has settled into my new home.

HONEY

I am quite excitable and full of beans so will make a lovely addition to an active home where I can be given lots of exercise and have my mind kept busy.

I would like to be the only pet in the home.

Honey is currently at the National Animal Welfare Trust in Hertfordshire – do get in touch with them if you can offer this lovely girl a home.

Animals Asia

I’ve been trying to write this blog ever since I returned from Chengdu and my visit to the amazing bears. Why am I finding it so difficult? It’s the bears – I just don’t know how to sum them up. Majestic creatures – yes. Awe inspiring – yes, but that doesn’t really go far enough. The trip has had a major effect on me – just as many people told me it would, just as it does on everyone that visits.

I don’t want this blog to simply be a diary of my trip I really want to tell you the bears’ story along side that of the utterly magnificent Jill Robinson.

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I have never met anyone like Jill.

Having started campaigning for the welfare of moon bears in 1993, and moving to rescue them from 1994, Animals Asia have rescued over 400 bears and have sanctuaries in both China and Vietnam. One woman started this charity with a vision of ending the bear bile trade in Asia.Image

Jill is recognised as one of the worlds leading experts on the trade and yet when you meet her it is the absence of ego that you first notice; she is eager to listen even to the untrained and goggle-eyed-tourist that was me. Her passion for the bears is clear to see and spending time with her at the sanctuary was a very special thing indeed.

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The sanctuary itself is a tranquil place made up of zones housing different bears. Some need their own space like the beautiful brown bear Oliver.

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Oliver is a very special brown bear that was in a cage for 30 years. 30 years in a cage being drained of his bile every day. He now ambles slowly (due to his legs being very obviously damaged) around his own little piece of paradise and while we observe him taking drinks from a little pond in his enclosure. The fact he is still alive is nothing short of a miracle and still brings a smile to Jill’s face.

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Another bear that moved me was beautiful Bluebell. We had been walking around the sanctuary for most of the day and had seen the wonderful Peter Egan’s namesake Peter bear. We were in this part of the sanctuary at a particular feeding time and there were a few bears eagerly waiting for their food. This is where we saw for the first time some stereotypical, caged bear behaviour – displayed at this point in time a swaying of the head or pacing – a coping mechanism if you like. This was the time when I saw Bluebell, a beautiful lady missing a leg and an eye. It was her face that tipped me over the edge – the cruelty these bears have had to endure which will obviously never leave them really hit home. It must be one of the cruelest things man does to an animal – trap them in a cage for their natural life to drain them dry.Image

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Seeing a moon bear close up for the first time is difficult to describe. They are like no other creature I’ve ever come across. You can tell these large fur balls mean business – they have claws that could rip your arm off in a second and yet all you want to do is give them a hug (we did not do this!). They are strong and elegant creatures but the most remarkable thing about these bears is their willingness to forgive.Image

Some had been locked in cages for the majority of their lives, cramped and unable to move whilst being tortured to extract their bile, but we witnessed Bamse the bear having blood taken. After all he had been through he voluntarily put his arm into a hole so the needle could draw the blood – the only thing needed for a little persuasion was condensed milk (might suggest this to my Doctor!). It was truly humbling sight, particularly because this is not something could have happened overnight. A long process is undertaken with each bear, built on trust, (condensed milk) and the kindness of the staff. This really demonstrated the values of Animals Asia to me. The time and love spent on each and every bear is what makes this place truly remarkable.

At the sanctuary the bears move around freely, foraging for food as part of their enrichment programme.

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The staff put various fruits and vegetables in sometimes difficult to reach places so the bears have to find the food, thus stimulating their natural instincts. This is done daily, but never repetitively in the same place. Animals Asia methods are all about trying to provide as natural a habitat as possible. This is not a zoo; Theres no petting, No stroking and no posed pictures with a bear here, and the only part of the sanctuary’s activities that don’t mimic the wild are to do with the bears health.

The bears have a health check every 2 years – checking teeth, mobility and scanning for any disease and I was lucky enough to see Harley’s health check up close. I wont go into the details as not being from a veterinary background I observed with fascination as the team, along with my travel buddy Marc Abraham (or Marc the vet) set about doing the various checks (which Im sure Marc will tell you about in his blog). The health check really was fascinating – seeing Harley up close was amazing. His fur was quite corse and his hands and feet so soft – a bit like the back of a dogs pads.

Image I saw harley’s scars from where the bile was extracted and felt how hard that part of him was compared to the rest and where he had been biting the bars of his previous prison making groves in his teeth.

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The care with which the health check was carried out was remarkable – his hands and his foot (Harley only has one leg) were covered in knitted water bottle type covers to keep him warm. I was also lucky enough to give harley’s nails a bit of a trim!

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Harley had to have a tooth extracted which was a long and tricky process due to the size of the teeth. However when we saw Harley the next day he was chomping down on a carrot!

As we walked around the sanctuary Jill showed us the grave yard and memorial which was very moving. Local staff visit and tend to the bears graves – each one bearing the mark of the moon bears – of course the Chinese love these bears just as much as Jill does.

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The great thing is that attitudes in China are changing. When I visited only seven years ago there were around 10 animal welfare charities. There are now, in 2013, more than 100 animal welfare groups in the country. Animals Asia help educate the former and even current farmers of bears. It is that willingness to engage has won them great advancements in the cause and now the Chinese government is on side in the fight against the bear bile trade.

Of course its not just the bears that Animals Asia help – they help fight the dog meat trade and are encouraging therapy sessions in their Doctor Dog programme – I will bring you more on this in Part 2 of this blog.

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Pupaid – A Gandy old day on Primrose Hill

Getting up at 5 in the morning on a Saturday is never usually that easy. Well this past weekend was an exception as it was the amazing Pupaid event in Primrose Hill.

Raising awareness of the cruelty of puppy farming with an online petition garnering public support daily, here at Sniffy’s we were very excited to meet lots of like minded doggy people and we were not disappointed. The day started off with everyone helping each other set up, grabbing cups of tea and smiling even when the heavens opened.

The day got brighter as did the smiles of all the dog loving members of the public, stall holders and celebrities that descended on Primrose Hill. A lovely taste tester

Walking around there was an array of doggy shopping options including the fab Snaffles biscuits all the way from Brighton, Nina’s Nannies for pets who did a great raffle, Urban Mutts who made us feel very lazy! the brilliant Doggity team and the lovely City Pups. There were also lots of other charities supporting Pupaid including Sniffy’s fave’s Animals Asia, The Mayhew Animal Home, All Dogs Matter and the Born Free FoundationOpening wide for a Carrot and Polenta...

Doggy competitions were the focus in the central ring with categories such as Best Rescue judged by everyones favourite animal welfare advocate Peter Egan and new kids on the block ‘Life with Pets’ magazine. Others included Most Stylish, Prettiest Bitch and Sniffy’s category ‘Best Trick’. Never having judged at a dog show before, we can safely say it’s a very difficult task and really wanted to give everyone a prize; although the winner could make her dog do tricks we can only dream of Nacho ever being able to do!

The winners of 'Best Trick'As the day grew to a close it was announced the petition had gained even more support and with celebrities in attendance including the oh so handsome model David Gandy(pictured below), beautiful Elle McPherson, recently announced Strictly star Abbey Clancey and her husband Peter Crouch, Gail porter, Mary Portas and big supporter Meg Matthews – its no surprise Pupaid is finally gaining the attention it so richly deserves (links to the articles appearing in the Daily Mail, The Sun and The Mirror).

Just your average looking fella...

When the last dog had left and Primrose Hill had returned to normal Sniffy’s had a wee drink with Marc Abraham and his wonderful team who were obviously exhausted but delighted with the turnout.

It just leaves me to say a massive thank you to them for organising a fantastic day and more importantly getting the message out there – puppy farmers beware – the british public are coming for you!

If you havent already – sign the petition here

If you havent seen the fantastic Pupaid ‘Crazy Puppy Party’ video then what are you waiting for – click here

Animals Asia and the floods

Earlier this year I had the great pleasure of attending a screening of the award winning film “Cages of Shame’. This short film is the story of bear bile farming in China, the mission to save ten bears and close down a bear farm. It shows the very essence of Animals Asia and how much they care.

The Odeon Lounge Bayswater

The Odeon Lounge Bayswater

Rula Lenska, Lesley Nicol, Jill Robinson and Peter Egan

Rula Lenska, Lesley Nicol, Jill Robinson and Peter Egan

Whilst the film is not an easy watch, it highlights the amazing work that a dedicated team of people do to save one of man’s most beautiful creatures.

The film made a lasting impression on me – seeing people put their heart and soul into such a worthwhile cause made me want to do more.

The film also dramatically changed the way I view China. China has, and always will be a country that fascinates me. I spent much time travelling there and am no happier than when Im reading a chinese book (in translation Im afraid). However their view on animals was something I found hard to take – informed by things Id read, some things I’d seen and word of mouth.

However seeing the Chinese people going out of their way in this film was heartening and actually shows how wrong I was. The people want change and Animals Asia are helping them to do this.

Im guessing if you’re reading this post you’re interested in Animals Asia or at least want to find out more. Well now is the perfect time as they need our help more than ever.

Floods have recently devastated the sanctuary in China to such an extent that if the money isnt raised in time to rebuild parts of the sanctuary they could really be in trouble. With over a month of the rainy season remaining, urgent repairs are needed.

Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson commented: “The team reacted quickly to rapidly changing circumstances  as the river rose during the heaviest of rains and the release of water from the dam upstream.  Our longstanding flooding protocols proved up to the task and were implemented superbly by the team in the most extreme of conditions. Now we need to repair the riverbank urgently and further strengthen it so that, as weather patterns continue to change, we can be proactive in the ongoing prevention of future floods.”

Jill continues, “Our staff excelled in keeping the bears safe, dry and blissfully unaware in their beds throughout the ordeal.  Floods such as this are rare, but with weather patterns changing globally and here in China, we must ensure that urgent repairs and reinforcements guarantee the safety of staff and animals, and the future of the sanctuary itself.”

To donate to help with the repairs and save wonderful bears like Misty and Rain below then click here

Warning – these bears are incredibly cute!

Animals Asia dont just save these amazing bears, they also save dogs and have implemented a programme in China, similar to Pets as therapy here in the UK. Sniffy’s are very excited to be going out to see the work they do in the near future!