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Ensuring man’s (and woman’s) best friend doesn’t get into trouble this Easter

Cautionary tails ahead of Bank Holiday Mutt day

Happy Easter everyone! For a variety of reasons my email box has been filling up with cautionary tales (or should that be tails?) about dogs this bank holiday weekend. The county’s fire brigade is concerned about what your dog might get up to when close to water; an organisation with close interests in the countryside is understandably concerned about livestock being worried by off-the-lead pets; and for a little light-heartedness we even have piece about swimwear for dogs. So, in the order mentioned:

Terrier is a real stick-in-the-mud

Two days ago (March 31) took quite an unexpected turn for two-year-old pup Raki and his owners, who were enjoying a long coastal walk on Reculver Lane, Herne Bay. The Russian Black Terrier gave his owners quite a scare when he fell down a steep and slippery coastal wall – before getting completely stuck in the mud and water below.

The footage below shows Raki, who was lucky to escape the ordeal with no injuries, being rescued by Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) crews. Firefighters wearing dry suits used the wall base for access, before releasing specialist rescue lines to secure Raki and lift him back to safety. The pup is now back in the care of his relieved owner, Meredith.

A passerby who had climbed down over the wall in an attempt to rescue Raki himself, before calling the fire service, also had to be rescued by firefighters. 

Meredith says: “The one thing I would take away from this is to urge other dog owners to always keep your dogs on a lead. You never know what trouble your dog may find themselves in, because there aren’t always visible warning signs near steep edges or other hazardous areas. It was such a scary thing to go through, especially since the tide was starting to come in, and it was becoming more dangerous by the minute. We’re so glad the fire service were there – they did an absolutely amazing job rescuing him, and I’m pleased to say that Raki is now back to his usual self.”

Following the incident, crews are urging Kent and Medway residents to keep some important safety messages in mind this Bank Holiday weekend, and beyond.

Adrian Still-well Cox, group manager at KFRS, says: “Our crews are often called out to rescues from mud and water, and the reality is that the result from this incident could have been very different. If you’re out walking your pets this season, remember to place them on a lead whenever you’re near water, steep heights or other hazards.

“It’s also important to never jump into water after your dog, because chances are, if they become stuck or are unable to get out – the same thing could happen to you. The best thing to do in this situation is to call for help.”

Whenever you’re out and about this season, it’s always important to keep KFRS’ water safety tips in mind:

  • Take any warning or water safety signs seriously – they are there for a reason                 
  • Look out for trip or slip hazards around water and stick to proper pathways      
  • Keep in mind that wet riverbanks, steep edges and jagged rocks can make it hard for a dog to get out of water, and it can also be a slip risk for owners
  • Raise the alarm by calling 999 if you see someone in trouble
  • Avoid throwing sticks or balls near water for dogs
  • If you spot someone in trouble in the sea, call 999 for the Coastguard. If it’s by inland water, such as a river or a lake, call 999 for the fire service. 

More water safety advice, here.

Spike in attacks by dogs predicted as ‘pandemic puppies’ visit countryside for first time

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is warning of a spike in dog attacks as ‘pandemic puppies’ are set to visit the countryside for the first time, coinciding with the peak of the lambing season.

As dog attacks are up 10% compared with last year, the CLA – in line with the relaunched Countryside Code – is offering advice for dog walks in the countryside, to help the 2.2m new dog owners understand how to protect their pet while keeping farm animals safe. 

This includes calls for owners to pick up dog faeces to avoid the spread of Neosporosis, an infectious disease of animals caused by the Neospora caninum parasite that causes abortion and stillbirth among dairy and beef cattle.

The CLA, which represents thousands of farmers and rural businesses across Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight, recommends dog walkers take the following action:

·       Ensure your dog is under control; keep your dog on a lead and only let go if you are chased by livestock

·       Never let your dog worry or chase wildlife or livestock. Follow advice on local signs to reduce disturbance to plants and animals.

·       Prevent your dog from approaching horse riders, cyclists, or other people and their dogs uninvited.

·       Keep your dog with you on paths or access land and don’t let it stray into crops including fields of grass, fruit and vegetables.

·       Never leave bags of dog poo lying around, even if you intend to pick them up later. Containers and deodorised bags can make them easier to carry.

·       Ensure your details are on your dog’s collar and it is microchipped, so you can be reunited quickly if it is lost.

A lack of education around the Countryside Code has left some visitors without a basic understanding of what is acceptable behaviour. The CLA continues to campaign for the Code to be taught in schools across the region.

CLA south-east regional director Michael Valenzia (pictured) says:“Getting a new puppy is an exciting time for everyone, although it is also a huge learning curve. Part of that learning curve is teaching your dog how to interact with other animals safely. But worryingly, a third of dogs bought during lockdown have never even visited a park, let alone a working farm.

“With lockdown restrictions easing up as the crucial lambing season is hitting its peak, we want to help inform the millions of people on how to protect their dog and keep farm animals safe, allowing everyone to enjoy the countryside together.

“The Countryside Code is generally adhered to by the majority of people, but there can be incidents of anti-social behaviour or a lack of awareness of the working countryside. All visitors should be conscious that the countryside is a place of work where the land, livestock, machinery, wildlife and environment must be respected.”

“Over the past year, we’ve all come to value the importance of getting outside for our mental and physical wellbeing. Farmers and landowners are looking forward to welcoming the public to make the most of the 150,000 miles of public rights of way in Great Britain. We hope that by reading our advice visitors can respect the local environment while staying safe.”

Swimwear to keep your dog out front in the fashion stakes

As lockdown is eased across the UK, thoughts turn to the summer months and holiday planning after almost a year in lockdown. Searches for ‘swimsuits’ and ‘bikinis’ are on the rise, up 78% and 42% year-or-year respectively. With this in mind, the UK’s leading lingerie brand, Boux Avenue, has launched its new swimwear collection featuring the latest looks for the coming summer season. 

But why should humans have all the fun? With predictions that staycations will be the big trend for this year’s summer holidays, Boux Avenue has now added a whole new range of items to its swimwear for dogs – and the best part is each item comes with a matching version for the owner, too!

There’s something for every doggo, whatever their vibe, from mint and lilac gingham sets, to bright coloured stripes and super cool palm print sets. Energise your summer wardrobe with bikinis and swimsuits in bold brights and statement prints -– perfect for twinning with your favourite pooch!

And as for sizing? Small is best for Chihuahuas, Mini Dachshunds and Small Yorkies, medium best suits Jack Russells, Border Terriers, Yorkies, Mini Schnauzers, Pugs, Mini Poodles, Cavaliers, Cocker Spaniels and Dalmatians, while large will fit Westies, Large Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Old English Sheepdogs, and Rottweilers best.

A confession! I’m not overly keen on dressing up dogs. But that’s just a personal thing. If you think your dog will look great in matching swimwear, don’t listen to me.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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