Rehoming A Rescue Dog

As many of you who read our blog will know we are big fans of animal rescue and are very passionate about the rescuing and rehoming of abandoned dogs. Living in North London we have two fantastic charities on our doorstep that we work with – The Mayhew Animal Home and All Dogs Matter.

Nacho when he was found

Nacho when he was found

Our first dog Nacho came from the Mayhew – he was found in a bin bag at just a few weeks old. Nacho was our first dog and after getting him at 3 months we were getting used to the toilet training and those little razor teeth. Four years on Nacho is a dream dog and he comes everywhere with us.

Nacho at a past Doggy Sunday

Nacho now enjoying the life of riley!

We have been thinking about getting a second dog for a long time but have always been nervous as Nacho isn’t generally over keen on other dogs. This all changed when little Twiglet arrived at our house. From the moment she walked in Nacho was in love and that hasn’t stopped in over a week.

Around 2 years old and a proper Heinz 57, Twiglet was found wandering by a motorway and taken in by All Dogs Matter. When we first met her she was nervous and very shaky. Well a week on – she’s been on a weekend to Cornwall and now sleeps in bed with Nacho. The shakes have gone, she is great off lead and is eating well. Nacho is very food possessive and they ended up sharing a bowl yesterday! We think she may have been hit previously as she cowers when Sam goes to put a lead on for walks. However this is improving daily and she now wants to sit on his lap.Twiglet

We are big fans of positive reinforcement training and this is working wonders for her recall as she gets used to her name and is also working with toilet training. So far we have only had one accident in a week – pretty impressive I think.

If you’ve ever considered getting a rescue dog but were put off by the possibility of erratic behaviour or past trauma all I can say is give a rescue dog a chance. Twiglet has not had a good start to life but is a joy to have in our home. She settled (sleeping by me right now) in right away, eats her food with gusto and loves Nacho. It’s as if she has always lived in our house. Part of me thinks she is so pleased to finally have a home she can relax in and part of me likes to think she was always meant to end up here.

Over 20 dogs are put to sleep every day in the UK so why buy when you can adopt and save a dogs life? You can get all types of breeds from rescue centres – Ive seen everything from Cockapoo’s, pugs, shelties and chihuahuas. People pay thousands of pounds for a puppy when a perfectly healthy dog that just wants a loving home is waiting round the corner. The myth that rescue centres wont give dogs to people who live in flats, have young kids or work are false. We don’t have a garden, work and have visiting children.

The trend of buying dogs from the internet or in a shop is a worrying one and one that we want to see an end to. Dogs should never be sold in shops – chances are they are from a puppy farm and in poor health (see our previous posts about Pupaid) Something you will never get from a rescue as they will have been vet checked and vaccinated.

I can highly recommend The Mayhew Animal Home and All Dogs Matter, and all the other rescue centres out there saving these beautiful dogs.

Just look how happy these two are…




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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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

From the bath to Primrose Hill – Pupaid’s Journey

Puppy farming is defined as ‘a commercial dog breeding facility that is operated with an emphasis upon profits above animal welfare and is often in substandard conditions regarding the well-being of dogs in their care’. And yes its a big problem here in the UK.

This is something that makes most animal lovers angry and sad – why does this go on in an animal loving country like the UK? But the problem is that a lot of people don’t know about it – websites like Gumtree advertising cute puppies, pet shops (even those luxury ones) that sell puppies – they all come from puppy farms. Step in TV vet and animal welfare campaigner Marc Abraham (or Marc the vet as he’s more commonly known). He is the man behind Pupaid – the UK’s biggest anti puppy farming event. Image

Sniffy’s met up with him recently in primrose Hill – home to this years event…

“I was working in an emergency vet clinic a number of years ago now, and I noticed that we were getting more and more cases of sick puppies coming in and an increase of them having parvovirus. I started studying puppy farms on the internet to see what they were all about and how, if at all, they were regulated. To say I was shocked when I saw my first puppy farm is an understatement. I had to do something. I knew that there was a puppy mill awareness day in the US, so decided to start one here. I actually came up with the idea in the bath…”

From the bath to Brighton racecourse, Marc put on his first event in 2009. When MP Caroline Lucas turned up Marc knew his passion was gaining support,

“The first event was the called worlds biggest puppy party, I had no idea if anyone would turn up to be honest. But people did and were so supportive that I knew this was a cause that wasn’t one I was going to have to battle on my own. Since then the worlds biggest puppy party became Pupaid and we’ve had stars like Bob Geldolf talk about it, Ricky Gervais tweets about it and Liam Gallagher, Pual Weller and Brian May signed a guitar that was auctioned off – the support has been incredible”.

(There was also some air guitar with Brian May in his garden but thats another story!)

Since then Pupaid has moved to London and the event has taken place in Primrose Hill. This year’s event is certain to be the biggest so far with more interest, stars and trade coming than ever before.

As far as the campaign goes, 2013 is by far the biggest year in it’s history with the launch of an e-petition to stop the sale of puppies without their mothers present.Image

“This year is so important for us – we want to raise more awareness than ever before. The speed in which the petition has been signed is amazing. So far we are on 60,000 but it keeps growing everyday (its only been going since May). We need everyone’s support – we want puppy farming to become a thing of the past in the UK and its possible to achieve – in the US dog mad states like Los Angeles have banned the sale of dogs in shops. We can do it”.

Be part of Pupaid’s campaign – sign the e-petition and get parliament talking about puppy farms.

ImageJoin us at the UK’s biggest anti puppy farming event in Primrose Hill on September 7th and be part of something that will change animal welfare in the UK for the better. Sniffy’s are very proud to be a part of  and support Pupaid. We are delighted to be sponsoring the “My Dog’s Got Talent’ category in the show.

For more information visit Pupaid

Always remember the following when buying a puppy: 

Only buy a puppy if:

  • You can see puppy interacting with mum
  • It’s a breeder recommended by the Kennel Club (preferably Assured Breeder)
  • It’s a rescue centre that’s a registered charity 

Be suspicious of a puppy farmed pup if:

  • Mum isn’t there (she’s most likely miles away on cruel puppy farm)
  • You’re told mum’s at the vet, been run over, sick, basically anywhere else
  • Price is either very cheap (£100-£350) or very expensive (£2000-£7000)
  • Pup is being sold in a pet shop or garden centre
  • Pup is sold from website, Friday Ad, motorway service station, pub
  • You’re offered free delivery

Dogs Trust Honours Awards 2013

Nacho and I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Dogs Trust Honours Awards this week. Held at the exclusive Home House in London’s Portland Square, the awards celebrated some of the bravest dogs in the country.

On a balmy (and pretty sweaty) afternoon in the capital, celebrity favourite Adrain Chiles presented the awards to the seven lucky winners, whittled down from the hundreds of entrants. There was not a dry eye in the house as videos showing each winners story were shown to the crowd, who included dog lovers Arlene Phillips and Donna Air.

One of my favourite awards was for the Hero Service Dog. This went to the beautiful Newfoundland Atrayu (and yes Nacho was a bit scared). Atrayu, is a constant companion for seven year-old Tolemey who suffers from Leukaemia. He helps him swim and provides constant relief and friendship. Truly a best friend to this very brave boy.


Another favourite was Daisy the Bullmastiff, who won the ‘Dogged Devotion’ award. Daisy joined the marshall family after Tracey’s seven year-old son Jack recently lost his battle with brain cancer. She has helped Tracey with her grief and is one of the sweetest dogs we’ve ever met – she was so chilled she later went to sleep in the garden, whilst other dogs like Nacho were way too excited!

After the awards Home House opened up their garden to the guests providing us with a chance to meet all the fellow guests. We had the pleasure of meeting Basil the Boston – a very handsome little fellow who works with his Mum for doggy blog Barkarama (definitely worth a look).


Basil and Nacho were well looked after on their day out – they were treated to delicious doggy treats including popcorn and some yummy looking cupcakes. Im not complaining though as they also had yummy mini lemon meringue pies for us humans!

The day was a wonderful way of celebrating the brave dogs in the UK but also the fantastic work that the Dogs Trust do. Thanks to Marc for the invite!

To read about the other awards including those run by the Daily Mirror please click here

Pup Idol – All Dogs Matter

The sun was shining in leafy hampstead on Saturday for the 4th Pup Idol event for the charity All Dogs Matter. They do amazing work saving strays from the pound and helping the dogs of North London find homes.

The Spaniards Inn played host to an array of dogs and their owners all competing for the coveted titles of Mr hampstead / best dressed and cutest puppy (amongst others).

One of the winners of the veteran dogs. Blind but very happy with such a waggy tail

One of the winners of the veteran dogs – Blind due to Glaucoma but very happy nonetheless

Winner of Mr Hampstead

Mr hampstead: Percy

The winner of the hotly contested Mr hampstead was Percy, owned by Angela and Martin Humphery. A win that is absolutely deserved for eight year old Percy. Percy is a rescued greyhound from Spain and only last year would have found the atmosphere of an event like this very distressing. You can find out more about Percy here

We also caught up with one of our favourite competitors, and probably one of Sniffy’s smallest fans, the gorgeous Chanel, pictured here with her owner.


We were delighted to be able to give owners some of our tasty treats as they arrived to register for each category and also to the winners in their goody bags. Nom Nom!

One of the winners with their goody bag

One of the winners with their goody bag

The judging team, who had the difficulty of choosing between all the gorgeous doggies (how do they do it?) was made up of some of our favourite doggy people including Marc Abraham, Peter Egan and Michelle Collins.

3 of the lovely judges

3 of the lovely judges

In between judging, Sniffy’s favourite Peter Egan (and proud patron of All Dogs Matter) told us all about his recent trip to Afghanistan – a special mission to one of our favourite charities Nowzad. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post about this very exciting trip!

We were also delighted to meet Coronation Street regular Michelle Collins. Michelle is not only gorgeous, she is also a massive supporter of All Dogs Matter. Her dog Humphrey (pictured living the high life!) was rescued by the charity.

Michelle and Humphrey

Michelle and Humphrey

After Marc Abraham finished getting some pooch kisses, we got some time to chat to him. Marc is a lovely guy and a big fan of rescue dogs – he is a supporter of All Dogs Matter amongst others. He is also the founder of Pupaid – an annual celebrity judged dog show in Primrose Hill highlighting the horrors of puppy farming in the UK. A petition has been launched to stop this awful practice which you can sign here. Pupaid is set to be huge event in September and one we are very proud to support and be attending.

Pooch smooch

Pooch smooch

Although the day was incredibly fun and well organised, we must remember that we were all there to raise funds for All Dogs Matter to continue their vital work. Work such as saving puppies like this tiny little one below – found dumped in a graveyard and covered in a skin disease. He is now on the road to recovery and looking for a new home; somewhere he can enjoy the start in life he deserves.

A saved puppy pictured with All Dogs Matter founders

A saved puppy pictured with All Dogs Matter founders

Thanks to everyone at All Dogs Matter and The Spaniards for a fantastic day – see you all next year!

Thanks also to Dogstar Photos for the brilliant images above – visit their website to see