Tag Archives: pets

A life of Servitude?

As a guide dog owner for some 30 years, I was interested to come across this article, “Service Animals: A ‘Chosen’ Career Path or a Life of Servitude?”, by Joy Thomas, a teacher and guide dog owner, https://www.crixeo.com/service-animals/.

In her article, Thomas examines the views of those who maintain that the use of service animals (such as guide dogs) is cruel, and contrasts them with others (including scientists and those who train service animals).

The latter group are of the opinion that most service animals enjoy their work and that the bond between a working animal and it’s handler/owner is sometimes stronger than the connection people have with their pet dog.

I have on occasions been asked whether my guide dog, Trigger gets bored. My answer is that he is with me 24 hours a day (not always in the same room but within easy call). Dogs are pack animals and crave companionship.

Being with me is, for Trigger an essential component of his security. Unlike many pet dogs he is not left alone for protracted periods during the day but accompanies me to the office, the supermarket and my favourite watering holes!

He is constantly stimulated, which enhances his wellbeing.

It is (usually) dogs that languish at home, for long periods (not working/service animals) that suffer from bordom/lonleness.

“How To Trust Your Human”, by Victoria Zigler – Book Spotlight

Title: How To trust Your Human
Author: Victoria Zigler
Genres: Children’s Stories – Animals / Children’s Stories – Social Issues – Death And Dying
Release date: July 3rd 2017

“Losing a sibling is hard. Losing three of them is even harder. Repairing a broken bond of trust is harder still.

After his three brothers disappeared, one after another, gone to a mysterious place known only as The Rainbow Bridge, Buddy the degu is all alone in his cage.

Confused and frightened, he knows only one thing for certain: he last saw his brothers in the hands of the human caretaker.

That knowledge breaks the bond of trust forged between Buddy and his human in the years since he was a pup, and leaves him convinced that letting her get her hands on him will mean he disappears too.

Somehow, she has to convince him he’s wrong, and earn back his trust.

Based on actual events that took place in the life of one of the author’s own degus, and told from the point of view of a degu, this is the story of how patience and love taught a confused and terrified rodent how to trust again.”

Find the book on…
Barnes & Noble

Available in paperback soon!

Author bio:

Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK.

Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, has a very vivid imagination, and spends a lot of time in fictional worlds; some created by her, others created by other authors.

When she remembers to spend some time in the real world, it’s mostly to spend time with her hubby and pets, though sometimes to indulge in other interests that capture her attention from time to time, such as doing crafts, listening to music, watching movies, playing the odd figure game or roleplaying game, and doing a little cooking and baking.

To date she has published 8 poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the near future. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II.

Author links:
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Dogs Dream About Their Owners

A recently published study indicates that it is likely that dogs dream about their owners and that large dogs dream for longer than smaller canines.
The results of this study do not surprise me. I am now working with my fourth guide dog and have, from a young age grown up around dogs. Dogs wag their tails and perform other activities, such as running, growling or yelping while asleep. It is therefore logical (to my mind at least) to assume that our four-legged friends can (and do) dream. Anyone who has grown up around dogs will have observed them growling while asleep which indicates that they (like us) also experience nightmares.

3 Ways the Kids Can Help Train Your New Dog

Getting a new dog is exciting for everyone in the family (unless you have a cat), and your kids may be eager to help get your new pet acclimated to your home and family. Depending on the age of your children, it might be difficult for you to find a way to make them feel like a big a part of your new pup’s life.

Getting your dog properly trained is step number one for a new dog owner, and to kids, this prospect is very exciting. They want the dog to learn all sorts of crazy tricks with little to no knowledge as to how to properly train this behavior. While including the kids in the training process may be challenging, it is always a possibility. Here are a few ways your kids can help train your new pup.

1. Give Your Kids the Treat Bag

Your kids may not be able to get the new dog to obey them just yet, but your kids can be your helper during training sessions by doling out treats. Have your kids hold the treat bag and offer a treat each time the dog performs the correct action. If you have a new puppy, be sure your kids know to keep their fingers clear of those sharp milk teeth. It may be best to have them drop the treat in front of the pup.


Image via Pixabay by 825545

2. Let Your Kids Pick the Parlor Tricks

Teaching your dog the basics is crucial. However, which silly tricks you teach him matter a little less. Since it doesn’t matter if your dog learns to shake or high five, let your kids decide which frivolous tricks your new furry friend will learn. If they are old enough, you may let each child take charge of one parlor trick and teach it to the dog themselves. However, if they are young, let them help out by offering treats while you focus on the commands.

3. Have Them Help with Dog-Proofing

Your kids want their new four-legged friend to be safe in your home. To include them in the preparations for a new dog, you might want to have them help you clean and dog-proof the home. Teach them to close the doors to their bedrooms so that their toys don’t become an unintended chew toy, and make sure they know where the pup is and is not allowed to go. This way they can help with minor disciplining and correction if the pup wanders off or is found chewing something he shouldn’t.

Regardless of how you decide to let your kids help with your new family dog, you should always first teach them how to interact with a dog. Never let your kids hit a dog or pull its ears and tail. They should know how to use positive reinforcement and avoid frightening the dog with excessively harsh discipline.

If your dog learns to either ignore or fear your kids, they may never have a successful relationship with him. Once they know the basics of canine interaction, you might find that your kids play an important role in socializing and training their new family member.

Paige Johnson is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast, avid cyclist, and loves exploring hiking trails with her dogs. She enjoys writing about health and fitness for LearnFit.org.


Secret Santa

Today I attended my work’s Christmas Dinner with my guide dog, Trigger. As part of the festivities those attending participated in a Secret Santa, where gifts are given and received, with the recipient being unaware of the giver’s identity. I opened three presents: a selection of miniature whiskies, a furry squeaky toy and a rawhide chew in the shape of a ring. What is puzzling me is this. The whiskies are obviously for Trigger but what on earth am I to do with a squeaky toy and a rawhide chew? …

Working With Guide Dogs

On Wednesday 2 December I gave a talk about my experience of working with guide dogs. Below are extracts from that presentation.

I remember being struck on reading Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” by the reference to guide dogs. Speaking of Scrooge Dickens writes,
“Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then
would wag their tails as though they said, “No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!” (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm).
Researching the history of guide dogs, I have been unable to discover any record of guide dogs being trained in the United Kingdom until the 1930s, when the Guide Dogs For The Blind Association was established (the same charity that trains guide dogs today). However the reference to blind men’s dogs in “A Christmas Carol” indicates that dogs where being used by blind people in Victorian England. I can only surmise that visually impaired people trained the dogs themselves or training took place with the aid of family and friends.
The history of guide dogs does, however go back far beyond the 19th century. A roman sculpture exists of a blind man being lead by a dog, while a plaque from the middle ages shows a blind man being lead on a leash.
In the late 18th century the Paris hospital for the blind trained guide dogs.
It appears that the first (modern) and systematic attempt to train guide dogs took place in Germany. A German Doctor left his dog with a patient while he was called away to business elsewhere. On his return he was so impressed by the way in which the dog had been looking after his patient that he determined to train dogs as guides for the blind. The doctor’s work lead to the establishment of several guide dog schools in Germany and there is evidence of dogs being sent to the UK amongst other countries.
The work of Doctor Stalling inspired the founding of The Seeing Eye in the United States which trained dogs for the blind and (later) the establishment of The Guide Dogs For The Blind Association in the UK. (http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/aboutus/guide-dogs-organisation/history#.VmMIbL-yKSo).

I am now working with my fourth guide dog, a lovely brindle lab/retriever called Trigger. All of my companions have been male with the exception of my third dog, Drew, a lovely yellow lab/retriever who sadly died in March 2011 as a result of a heart attack.
Guide dogs are trained to walk in a straight line and to avoid obstacles. On reaching an obstacle they can not navigate the dog stops and it is then incumbent on the owner to assess the situation and (if in any doubt as to how to proceed) to ask for sighted assistance.
Guide dogs are taught to stop at kerbs and to only go into the road at the command of their owner. Guide dogs lack the capacity to know that vehicles pose a danger (there sitting at kerbs is, therefore purely down to their training). However guide dogs are taught not to go into the road when a vehicle is approaching. However owners are told not to rely on the dog taking evasive action as they have no understanding of road safety (I.E. it is a useful aspect of training but the responsibility for safety remains fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the owner). Having said that, Trigger has, on several occasions pulled me back when I have misjudged the situation and attempted to cross as vehicles approach.
In the UK guide and other assistance dogs are allowed by law to enter food and other premises which pet dogs are prohibited from entering. It is, in fact an offense for a provider of goods or services to refuse entry to a working guide dog. Despite the legislation discrimination does, unfortunately persist and I have myself experienced it on a number of occasions.
In conclusion, guide dogs enhance the independence of visually impaired people and on a much deeper level provide companionship. I and other guide dog owners have built up strong bonds with our dogs who are, to us much more than mere working animals.

When Trigger Met Fanny



Yesterday I went with my owner, Kevin to catch a train into London Victoria. He says he has to go into something called the office. Personally I can’t see why. I mean its much more fun chasing foxes and other wildlife in the park or taking tasty snacks from the shelves in those big stores they call supermarkets. Its most kind of staff to leave eatables just where my nose can reach them …! Anyway I digress. As I was saying, I was at Gipsy Hill station yesterday when this furry tease (she is called Fanny I understand) sat on the Oystercard reader arching her back at me. I wagged my tail furiously but she wasn’t having any of it and kept well out of my way and, to cap it all my owner told me to behave. Fancy telling me to “behave”, butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth (it would be swallowed so fast it wouldn’t have time to melt)! This feline fiend has even got her own Twitter account (https://twitter.com/thegipsyhillcat). Who ever heard of a mere cat having such a thing. I demand one immediately!



Yours disconsolately



A Review Of “More Than Best Friends”, An Anthology To Raise Money For Guide Dogs

Early this year a group of authors, including myself, came together to produce “More Than Best Friends”, an anthology in aid of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA). All funds go directly to GDBA with no monies being received by the authors.

I was delighted when Olivia Emily of Bibliomad kindly agreed to write an honest review of “More Than Best Friends” in exchange for a free copy of the book. For Olivia’s review please visit the following link, https://bibliomad.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/more-than-best-friends-book-review/#more-428.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association are a registered charity who receive no government funding. If you would like to support the work of the Association in providing guide dogs, thereby enhancing the independence of visually impaired guide dog owners, please do consider downloading the anthology and making a donation to GDBA. I would like to thank my fellow authors for their generosity in donating their work and time free.


(Please note. I have been visually impaired since approximately 18-months old as a consequence of a blood clot on the brain which caused me to lose the majority of my vision. I am now working with my fourth guide dog, a brindle lab/retriever called Trigger, of whom I am very fond despite his habit of helping himself to other people’s lunches, particularly my work colleagues)!


The Great Degu Round-Up and A Very Degu Christmas By Author Victoria (Tori) Zigler Are Now Available From Createspace

I am delighted to publish the below announcement from fellow author Victoria (Tori) Zigler regarding the availability of her books in print from Createspace:


“My name is Victoria Zigler, and I’m a blind author of children’s

fiction and poetry.


In April 2012, I began publishing my books as eBooks via Smashwords,

who then distribute them to multiple eBook retailers, including – but

not limited to – Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


Since then, I’ve received several requests to make my books available

in paperback format.


I’m pleased to announce that I am finally able to grant these requests!


The first two of my books are now available to buy in paperback from

CreateSpace and Amazon, with the rest of my backlist of books

following as soon as it can be arranged.


The paperback versions will also be made available to request from

other retailers and bookstores, as well as from your local library,

though this will take a little longer to arrange.


“The Great Degu Round-Up” and “A Very Degu Christmas” are the titles

already available to buy in paperback.



Victoria “Tori” Zigler

(Children’s author and poet)











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