Thursday, 27 November 2014

Black Friday & Cyber Monday offers with PetShopBowl

If you are a regular reader of A Spaniel's Tail, you may remember we have featured PetShopBowl a couple of times, first with a review (which you can find here), and later with a special promotion and giveaway.  PetShopBowl are a nationwide delivery subscription service (although subscribing is not mandatory, you can do one off orders too like any other pet shop site), run by a team of friendly, helpful staff dedicated to helping you save time and money.

This time, they have let us know about some special promotions they currently have on, starting from midnight tonight - we may not have Thanksgiving here in the UK (Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends!), but Black Friday and Cyber Monday has certainly made its way over to us!

Details of the offers PetShopBowl are running are as follows:

  1. Their main deal of the weekend: Free £5 Voucher when you spend £50 OR Free £10 Voucher when you spend £100.
  2. Extra 5% Off Royal Canin (excludes vet diets): Use code - ROYAL
  3. Extra 5% Off Selected Hills (excludes vet diets & nature's best): Use code - HILLSOFFER
  4. 20% Off Selected Almo Nature dog & cat food

You can find all their Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals by clicking here - all offers will go live at midnight tonight!  

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Product Review: Pawsome Box.....and a Giveaway!!!

We were recently very delighted to receive a trial subscription box from Pawsome Box to try out - we also have a fab giveaway at the end of this post, so read on!

Who are Pawsome Box?

Pawsome Box is a pet subscription service, run by a team of experienced pet parents, constantly on the look out for the highest quality, most innovative products they can find, from around the world.  Their aim is to surprise you each month, with the best toys, treats and goodies that they can find - Pawsome Box' ethos is to help customers discover exciting new products that they wouldn't find in the local supermarkets or pet shops - again, with the emphasis being on 'surprise'.  They are also aware of those less fortunate animals, and provide financial support to a number of UK associations that provide shelter, protection and care for maltreated and homeless animals. 

Customers set up the profile of their dog which will determine age, breed, size and fur type and boxes will be customised towards your pet.  There are three plans available - either a one-off monthly box for £19.90, a half year plan with one box a month for £17.90 a box, or a yearly plan with one box a month for £15.90 (all including a £1 per box Royal Mail delivery charge).   Plans also renew automatically so your dog doesn't miss out! 

Each box contains 5-6 high quality items, ranging from treats, to hygiene products, to toys and other goodies.   Each box has a theme - the Summer Box was filled with travel goodies, and the World Cup box was based around toys and games!

So what was in our Pawsome Box? 

I was very excited to receive my Pawsome Box and couldn't wait to see what was inside it!

Trying to get in my Pawsome box!

There was quite the array of goodies - described clockwise from left:

Look at all these pawsome goodies!

Flamingo Petcare Toothpaste and Brush

Perhaps not the most glamorous of products, but essential for good dental hygiene for your dog. Having used a malty toothpaste previously, this left my breath lovely and fresh according to Hooman, and I quite enjoyed licking it! Not so sure about the toothbrush, yet..... (Hooman's only ever used a finger brush before)

Marc & Chappell Creamy Centers (with yogurt and real banana)

These were very interesting little treats, with a crunchy cereal shell and filled with a creamy yogurt and banana filling.  Liked these!

Karlie Latex pop-up egg

Made with a soft latex, squeeze these little eggs and the top pops up revealing a chick, along with all the required squeakies a dog could want!  Lots of fun, and bounces all over the place when thrown.

8 in 1 Pro Dental chew

Stop taking photos and let me CHEW!

Hooman doesn't often let me have rawhide but occasionally she relents, and this was a good one to try out!  This has dried chicken (think jerky) wrapped in good quality rawhide, with a blend of minerals that help attain whiter teeth and a fresher breath.  I liked it so much, after chewing it for a while, I carried it around whimpering trying to find somewhere to hide it, which is very unusual for me!

Rubba-Guma Dental Toy

Ingenious design with lots of knobbly bits to clean your dogs teeth, described as "the natural rubber toothbrush" and with a spearmint flavour.  I'm not a dog big into chewing rubber, but it's a very clever design and we think this would appeal to big chewers.

Karlie High Frequency Whistle 

Finally, one for the Hooman - she always finds whistles useful, especially if I've found a particularly fresh cowpat that needs investigating and suddenly develop selective hearing (not often we must add!).  This is a good quality metal whistle (her existing one is plastic) so we will be trying it out (Hooman hopes we don't NEED to!) soon on a walk.

What did we think? 

We have reviewed a couple of of subscription box services, and Pawsome Box is very favourable with high quality items and a nice range of chews, health products, treats and toys.   We totted up the cost of the box if you were to buy the items through places like Amazon and Argos, and it came it over £27 excluding delivery, so definitely good value, particularly if you decide to subscribe to the longer term plans, but even as a one off order, it is always fun to be sent new stuff to try. Overall, we give Pawsome Box the paws up!

For more information, check out their website at
For the feline owners among you, they have an equivalent service for cats, at Purrfectbox!

Product was provided for review.
Prices were correct at time of publication. 


Pawsome Box are also sponsoring a giveaway for us - there are FIVE opportunities to win your own Pawsome Box!  The giveaway will run until 29th November 2014, and the winners will receive a box in time for Christmas. 

In addition, Pawsome Box are offering 20% discount on the Christmas Edition Pawsome Box for all who enter the giveaway (providing your email is a mandatory entry requirement) so get entering!  This is only open to UK residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 17 November 2014

Woofs With.... A Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog owner

We were delighted recently to catch up with Leisl, and her two gorgeous orange roan cocker spaniels Muppet & Krumble.  We wanted to find out all the ins and outs of PAT work - Muppet has been a registered PAT dog since 2006, and in 2011, won PAT dog of the year!

So first of all, for those who don't know, what is Pets As Therapy?

Pets As Therapy is a national charity founded in 1983. It is a community based charity  providing therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other establishments from volunteers with their pet dogs and cats.

Since its beginning over 28,000 dogs have become registered PAT dogs. Every year some of these wonderful dogs need to retire and new dogs, having first passed a health, temperament, and suitably assessment, join Pets As Therapy.

Tell us about your gorgeous dogs, Muppet & Krumble

Leisl with Muppet & Krumble

You can read all about Muppet and Krumble on our website - Muppet is bomb proof and perfect, Krumble is super intelligent and possessed by the devil! 

Muppet has been a registered PAT (Pets As Therapy) Dog since January 2006. She regularly visits the children’s wards at both the Royal United Hospital in Bath and The Barbara Russell Children’s Unit at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. She brings joy and happiness to over 100 people a week.

Krumble came to live with us in March 2010 and has been keeping us on our toes ever since. She is a bit of a "work in progress!"  Full of beans, she is very savvy and wilful.  This abundance of energy needs to be channelled into agility or Rally-O I think.

Why did you want to join PAT?

Like everyone else I firmly believed I had the best dog in the world and wanted to share her with everyone.  Muppet came with me and did everything, she had a fantastic temperament and was really well socialised as a puppy, nothing phased her.  I am a medical rep and spend my life in hospitals.   I had vaguely heard of Pets As Therapy and the work it did and I thought I would find out more.   We contacted the office and were sent the details of an assessor.  

What does the PAT assessment involve?

Muppet was put through her paces.  There were no surprises as all of the assessments are clearly stated on the website but there are several key elements to the test.  The dogs have to be able to sit / wait quietly for long periods of time.  This perhaps is one of the harder things.  I meet a lot of people now who say “my dog would be a great PAT dog” but their dog has just spend the last 10 minutes jumping up, barking and pestering them!  Also the dogs have to be bomb proof, and I mean bomb proof.  Sadly in society there is still little education about how to interact with dogs, their body language etc. and often someone will run up from behind and throw their arms around the PAT Dogs or there may be an overzealous ear tug and the dogs cannot react.  We do a noise test to make sure the dogs are not fazed by loud bangs, squealing children etc..

The volunteers (i.e. me) also have to be referenced too, after all, although you are never left alone with a patient / resident etc. it is really important that we are who we say we are and have no skeletons in the closet!

Describe a typical PAT day

Muppet winning HiLife PAT Dog of the Year in 2011 at Crufts

When we first started visiting, we used to go to a residential home (this was after all why Pets As Therapy was formed, for those people who had to leave their homes and their pets behind). It was good fun; residents who never usually interacted with anyone or anything would suddenly become animated, look forward to Muppet's weekly visit and recite stories of the dog that lived on the farm when they were growing up!  Unfortunately we had to stop visiting there as everyone kept trying to feed Muppet biscuits and I don’t mean just one biscuit but custard crèmes, jammy dodgers etc. and it got crazy.  They then got two visiting Labradors and we moved on to the Children’s Ward in Bath where access to food was more limited (although Muppet does like visiting after lunch when one of the kids may have dropped the odd chip or pea on the floor).

We have been at Bath for 7 years now and they have totally embraced the concept of Pets As Therapy.  She is often talked to, read to, dressed up, etc. and she actively takes part in examinations as a distraction.

Muppet also used to visit the Barbara Russell Children’s Ward at Frenchay in Bristol but it was very different to Bath.  On the whole the children in Bath are well, they are there for elective surgery, knees, teeth, tonsils etc. but Frenchay was a specialist unit for very sick kids.  There was a lot of burns and neuro patients.  Often we were there just to stimulate eye movement and focus rather than to be physically interacted with but the kids would make much more effort to interact with Muppet than they would with a toy or a person.

Sadly not every child we meet gets well and we have said goodbye to some cracking, courageous and humble children over the past 8 years.  In March 2011 Muppet’s work was recognised and she was awarded PAT Dog of the Year in front of nearly 10,000 people at Crufts.  The hospitals, doctors and patients all nominated her and I was absolutely thrilled.  In September this year I attended a collection with Pets As Therapy at Bristol Temple Meads Station and we were greeted by one of our former long term patients who has made great progress.

Being greeted at Bristol Temple Meads Station by an old friend

On the whole we try and visit every 2-3 weeks now as I have to try and fit it in around work. My Dad recently had a stroke and the Matron of the Stroke Unit agreed for Mupps to visit “Grandpa”! We hardly got to see him as we were mobbed by patients and staff but I am pleased to say that dad has made an excellent recovery and is now back at home.  The Charity, Pets As Therapy, have approx. 100 PAT Cats too!  They are particularly good for stroke rehabilitation work as they can easily sit on someone’s lap.  Sadly there are not more cats, not because they won’t make excellent visitors but because a) they have to walk on a harness and b) they have to travel to the venues in cars and on the whole the cats hate that part!

What do you love most about owning two PAT dogs?

Muppet at work

Although Krumble is also a PAT Dog, in the main I tend to let Muppet fly the PAT flag. Krumble is great for charity collection work, she is gorgeous and draws the crowds in but she is still a completely bag of beans and although she has a fantastic temperament she wants to visit everyone at 100 miles an hour. I let Muppet do the PAT work and Krumble is my Super Sniffing Search Dog!  We are only ever allowed to use one dog at a time, so at Crufts it is handy that I can work one while the other rests. Its normally a full on 4 days for us so down time is really important.

What would be your best piece of advice for someone thinking about joining PAT?

Please, please, please do not be disappointed if your dog does not get through the assessment. As an assessor (I became a temperament assessor for the charity about 9 years ago) I have to be 110% sure that dog is bomb proof.  I cannot have it on my conscious if they growl or react in a negative way.  It could be something minor which can be easily worked on.  Often is down to the handler not reading the situation / dog correctly and with practice this can be overcome.

Also I would encourage people to have a think about the sort of place they want to visit.  There are hundreds of places wanting a PAT Dog and if you become a successful visiting team then your area co-ordinator may suggest some establishments but not all people want to work with children, disables, mental health etc. and that is fine.  We would far rather you said no than going somewhere that you and your dog are both miserable visiting.  If you pass a residential home every day and think, I’d like to go there, then make contact as see if you can visit.  Also, as volunteers we work with establishments on the frequency of our visits.  If you can only visit once a month then that is fine but don’t say you will go every week and turn up 1 week out of 4.

A huge thank you to Leisl, Muppet and Krumble for the opportunity to find out about more about PAT!  We really enjoyed this interview and hope you did too!

To find out more about Pets As Therapy, click here for the website
To see more lovely pics of Muppet and Krumble, click here!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Guy Fawkes Night Special: Top 10 Tips for animal safety

We hope everyone had a spooktacular Halloween last night!  Hot on the heels of Halloween, we have our next big evening in the UK - Guy Fawkes Night on the 5th November.  As the 5th falls right in the middle of the week, this year we can typically expect fireworks to be going off now for the next 9-10 days, with big displays at the weekends, and local people setting them off and as when!  In fact, it is the 1st November and the first ones have just started going off as I write this.   And unlike the 4th July (a similarly massive firework night for our American friends), Guy Fawkes Night also typically includes bonfires.

I am an unusual dog in that I spent last years Guy Fawkes Night flat on my back, snoring my head off while Hooman watched on amused (I'm just faking it in the Sepia Saturday photo below!), but not all my furry friends are so lucky.  Here are our top tips for keeping pets safe and stress free over this period:

Guy Fawkes bonfire fireworks night animal pet safety top tips spaniels tail

  • First of all, keep pets indoors at times when fireworks seem likely to be set off - make sure your pets also have their collars and ID on, in case the worse should happen and they escape.  
  • Don't forget your outdoor pets (such as guinea pigs and rabbits) if you have them. If you can move them to a garage or shed, then do so - otherwise provide some extra bedding for them to burrow into, and cover their hutches to protect them from flashing lights and to muffle the sounds a little - please ensure that you do leave a small gap for ventilation though! 
  • For indoor pets, particularly those that are prone to stress, make sure they have a quiet, safe and dark area they can retreat to - for example, a covered crate or a bed tucked away somewhere.  If they want to hide, then leave them to do so - coaxing them out may scare them more.
  • For nervous dogs and cats, DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) sprays such as Adaptil (or the feline equivalent Feliway) can help calm them down - these can come in a plug-in form, or as I had as a pup when I hated being left alone in my crate, a spray form which can be sprayed over blankets 10 minutes before use.  You can even get aromatherapy sprays for your pets made with lavender, known already in hoomans for its relaxing and calming effect, such as this Chill-Out spray for dogs which we were recently sent a sample of and smells gorgeous! 
  • Close all windows, draw the curtains and shut doors to muffle sound as much as possible, and put the TV or a radio on to provide a familiar sound
  • Common sense - but don't walk your dog(s) while fireworks are being let off, or take them anywhere near a fireworks display.  We would advise walking, toiletting and feeding them all before fireworks begin, as it could put them off their food.
  • Provide pets with toys, treats and games while fireworks are going off, as it will distract them from the noise.  We would recommend a big bone or chew, as the act of chewing has been found to be a great outlet for stress and anxiety in dogs.
  • Too late for this year, but if your pet has a serious aversion to fireworks, it would be worth thinking about sound therapy - you can download sounds off the internet (or buy on a CD) and start playing them quietly, gradually increasing volume, until they are comfortable with that particular sound.  Take a look at the SoundsTherapy4Pets website where you can download different sounds through iTunes.
  • If your pet does react to the noise (and they can react in a myriad of ways including making noise, hiding or pacing around), don't reward their reaction with lots of attention, and conversely don't reprimand them for fearful reaction, both of which could intensify their fear. Stay with them throughout, and be calm and relaxed.  If you are on edge, your pet will be on edge too. 
  • Lastly, don't forget the wildlife - if you are having your own Guy Fawkes Night party with a bonfire, remember that hedgehogs and other small critters are looking for places to hibernate, so build your bonfire as close as possible to being lit, and one fab tip we heard was to put your building materials just next to where you will light it, and re-stack it just before lighting.  

We hope you enjoy the fireworks wherever you are, and we wish your pets a happy and stress-free Guy Fawkes time!  Please share any more top tips you have in the comments below.