Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Review - LaRoo Squeaky Rugby Ball Dog Toys (pack of 2)

You receive two ball in random colours 

LaRoo Squeaky Rugby Ball Dog Toys 

Product description 

  • A Good Elasticity with Steady Squeeze Sound: The dog ball with sound is just the right weight with enough heaviness to throw far, no extra strength needed to play with, it is ideal dog daily toys. With built-in a special sounder, this ball can produce the instant sound to grasp the dog's attention and excites the dog when chew or press it, and also bounce and allow your dogs keep playing it and have a joyful life.
  • The Unique Rugby Design and Bright Color to Grasp Dog's Attention: The unique Rugby-shaped design, lovely and flexible to play with, the bright color is most suitable for the dogs chewing or playing with, have fun with it and meanwhile improve their intelligence and agility, prevents boredom and creates happy dogs when we are out or not around the dogs.
  • Build More Healthy Chewing Habits: This dog treat egg can help the dog to build healthy and non-destructive chewing habits instead of chewing the shoes/furnitures, have more happy and healthy dog. Also a great agility trainning tool and interactive toys with our dog friends.
  • Easy to be cleaned and Keep Fit for Your Dog: This squeaky ball is washable and easy to be cleaned with worry free. The dog will like it and improve its health via running, chewing and doing sports daily. High Standard Eco-friendly Safe Materials: This dog ball is made of high quality and food-graded materials, environmental and non-toxic. It is gentle on a dog's mouth and dog owner's hands, but also super strong and durable, can offer safety of dog bite for chew toy purpose.
  • LIFETIME PRODUCT WARRANTY (MONEY-BACK OR REPLACEMENT): 100% satisfied GUARANTEE, no query asked refund or replacement (Just feel free to contact us via Amazon message if you are not 100% satisfaction).

Purchase Link


Price

£12.99 for two toys

Reviewed by

Bev

Rating 

3/5 stars 

Review 


Bev's dog Rolo is ball crazy, so I thought he was the ideal candidate to review these squeaky rugby balls for us. The LaRoo squeaky balls come in four different colours - blue, orange, pink and lime green. Unfortunately you are unable to choose the colours you want, you are sent two randomly coloured balls. Rolo received a pink ball and a lime green ball.


I expected Rolo to love these toys, but unfortunately they were too heavy for him to pick up (he's a chihuahua cross Yorkshire Terrier so he's quite a small dog). They were also too heavy for Dottie the chihuahua and Scooby the Pomeranian. Bev feels that due to the size and weight of these balls, that they would be much better suited to larger dogs.

There are some definite positives about the toys though. The colours are lovely and bright so they are easily spotted in the grass when you throw them. They are also very bouncy, and as they are rugby ball shaped they bounce in random directions which is great fun for the dogs. Although Rolo and his brother and sister couldn't pick the balls up, they did enjoy chasing them around the garden when they were thrown for them.

The toys look to be quite tough but the dogs haven't tried chewing them so we can't comment on how long they'd last with a dog that chews toys. 

Overall we wouldn't recommend the LaRoo rugby balls for small dogs, but larger dogs would enjoy them as they are fun and very bouncy. I do feel that the price is a bit high - £12.99 for two squeaky balls seems quite expensive to me. Bev and Rolo have given the rugby balls three out of five stars.

Review - Billy + Margot Dog Food and Treats

I received complimentary products in exchange for an unbiased review.


Billy + Margot dog food and dog treats 

Product descriptions and purchase links

Venison Chew Sticks-

100% Venison meat (prepared from 250g per 100g of finished product) collagen casing. A healthy snack, high in protein. Sticks can be broken into smaller pieces if wished. Hypoallergenic. Do not feed to puppies under the age of 14 weeks old

Honey & Banana Training Biscuits 

Product Description

No Wheat
No Additives
Pure Fruit
Linseed Oil
Seaweed
Lovingly hand prepared and oven baked in Britain. Billy + Margot nutritious biscuits are wheat gluten free and are lovingly oven baked in Britain using the finest ingredients. With the help of our pet nutritionist, we have carefully selected each ingredient for their nutritional properties. Composition: Oat, Barley, Chicken Fat, Honey, Seaweed, Linseed, Cinnamon, Banana, Yeast Extract, Turmeric

Fish Skin Cubes

Made from 100% whitefish skins (nothing else), these natural low calorie treats have a rough texture which helps remove tartar from dog’s teeth.


Venison Complete Canned Wet Food

Made in Britain – Grain free complete food for dogs
A nutritious complete wet food for dogs made with 60% Venison, pure vegetables and fruits, milled flaxseed, seaweed, Omega 3 rich salmon oil, herbs, plus all the essential vitamins and minerals your pet needs for a truly healthy and nutritious diet.
As with all our treats we only use pure ingredients: no rendered animal parts, carcass or derivatives, no GM, no artificial preservatives, no colourants, no taste enhancers or sweeteners. No grains (not even rice!).
We only use wholesome fruits and vegetables – the proof…. you can see the carrots, green beans and blueberries. The result is a delicious and nutritious meal for your dog.

Find other stockists


Prices

Venison Chew Sticks £4.99

Honey & Banana Training Biscuits £2.69

Fish Skin Cubes £3.25

Venison Complete Canned Wet Food £2.45

Reviewed by 

Julie

Rating

5/5 stars for all products tested

Review 

Elgin waiting to try his Billy + Margot goodies

I first discovered Billy + Margot at a large dog show in Kent back in 2012. The dogs we had then, Henry and Jessie, absolutely loved Billy + Margot's iced treats which are fruit based 'ice creams' for dogs. Billy + Margot now also make a wide range of natural dog treats as well as complete canned pet food. They kindly sent us a few of their products for Elgin and Cherry to try.

The Honey and Banana training biscuits were very popular with Elgin and Cherry. They both have a sweet tooth, so these treats were a big hit. My brother's lurchers, Bandit and Skipper, also tried these biscuits and they both really liked them. Skipper is a fussy dog and he rarely likes non meaty treats, so I was very impressed that he liked these biscuits. These treats are gluten free so are ideal for dogs with sensitivities.

These honey and banana training biscuits were great for rewarding Elgin.

Elgin tried the tin of complete wet food - he usually has dry food so he was very excited when he saw meat in his bowl! The flavour he tried was venison with carrots, green beans and blueberries. I must admit I'm not usually a fan of feeding tinned dog food, quite simply because the look and smell of it makes me feel queasy (one of my health problems makes me extra sensitive to strong smells)! But the Billy + Margot food looked completely different than other wet dog food I've used in the past. It smelt meaty, and it was a much more pleasant smell that than of more widely known tinned dog food.

The meat looked a lot better too, you could tell it was of a very high quality just by it's appearance. You could even see the bits of vegetables and blueberries in the food. Elgin devoured this food very quickly - I don't think he's ever eaten his dinner this fast before! At £2.45 a tin to feed a dog of Elgin's size just on the tinned food it would work out a bit over my budget. But I would definitely buy it as an occasional treat to put with Elgin and Cherry's dry food and it is reasonably priced for a very high quality food.

If you have a fussy dog, then I would suggest that you give Billy + Margot wet food a try as I really think that they'd like it.


Elgin and Cherry trying the venison chew sticks.

The venison chew sticks were definitely Elgin and Cherry's favourite Billy + Margot treats - I think they may even be their favourite treats ever. These meat sticks can be broken into smaller pieces if you wish, but I gave them to the dogs whole. Elgin and Cherry went absolutely crazy for the venison sticks, their little faces lit up whenever they saw the packet. The only thing I wasn't too keen on was the smell of the treats, but this is probably what made them appeal to the dogs so much, so it's not a problem. I think I'm definitely going to have to buy some more of these, as the dogs enjoyed them so much.

Cherry was impatient to try the venison sticks!

The fish skin cubes were also very popular with all of the dogs. My brother's deerhound, Bo, also loved these. He's fifteen and has lost sone strength in his jaw, so I wasn't sure if he'd be able to eat these crunchy treats - sometimes he decides harder treats aren't worth the effort to chew them - but he really enjoyed them and kept asking for more!

Billy + Margot are passionate about using high quality, nutritious ingredients in their products and this shines through in the quality of their treats and food. The treats are reasonably priced and are good value as they they are of such high quality, they are definitely worth the price and I would even pay a little bit more. Our dogs are now big fans of Billy + Margot - and so am I! I definitely recommend Billy + Margot to other dog owners, and I will be buying some more treats for Elgin and Cherry.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Review - CLAVUZ Gel Nail Polish

CLAVUZ Gel Nail Polish, Shade BU007

Product Description 

  • INCLUDED: 1pc Magic Blue Gel Polish 8ml / 0.27fl.oz GEL COLOR:BU007 12 Colors Avaliable
  • EXCLUSIVE BRAND: CLAVUZ NO HARM to Skins and Nails! NON-TOXIC and Harmless Resin, High Quality Gel with almost No Smell, Good Tenacity,Color Resistant, Flexible and Shiny Resistant to Any Test
  • LONG WEARING: 2-3 WEEKS Shiny High Gloss Wear without Chiping or Peeling When Applied Properly. No Grinding. No Filing. No Drying Time after Application
  • NEED: To Cure Under the UV or Led Lamp.Our Gel Nail Polish is Easy to Apply just like Normal Color Polish but Much More DURABLE
  • SUITABLE:Perfect for Professional Salon Beauty Shop or at Home Personal Use. Suitable for Natural Nails, UV Gel Nails, False Nails, Acrylic Nails, Nail Tips, etc

Product Link


Price

£4.99

Reviewed by

Katie

Rating 

4/5 stars 

Review 


Katie tried this gel nail varnish for us and she was very happy with it's performance. The shade she tried was called BU007 which is a very bright blue.

The colour of the polish is great, a really vibrant shade that looks just as good in real life as it does in the sellers photograph. Katie felt that this particular shade would be ideal for a night out on the town!

The nail polish was easy to apply, and it was long lasting. At £4.99 it's a good price for gel polish and it is an affordable amount. At that price you could justify buying it for a one off special event to add some colour and pizazz to your look. Katie gave the CLAVUZ Nail Polish four out of five stars. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Review - Paw Beam Laser Cat Toy


Paw Beam Laser Cat Toy

Product description 

  • Interactive with Cat - This exercise toy can increase the intimate interaction between you and the cat, make the cat full of energy.
  • Cute Paw Design - shaped paw, instead of the shape of the traditional toys, more entertaining and interesting.
  • Comfortable Material - silicone button, soft and comfortable, intimate consideration for the owner and cat.
  • Unique Key set - each button can be used to light up the toy.
  • Long Time to Use - Applicable for the replacement of button cell with the 2 AAA batteries (not included) , it can using long time and convenient to discharge.

Purchase link


Price

£4.89

Reviewed by

Bev

Rating

5/5 stars 

Review 


The Paw Beam Laser Cat toy allows you to shine a laser onto the floor for your cat to chase. It's an interactive toy so all of the family can have great fun playing with your cat. It comes in a choice of five main colours - black, white, red, blue and yellow.

Bev and her 15 year old cat, Kitty, have tested this toy. 


This is what Bev had to say about the toy:

"Fifteen year old Kitty had an amazing time chasing this. It turned him into a kitten again with him running, jumping and chasing the light. Our young chihuahua also enjoyed chasing it so it's perfect for dogs too. 

This gave Kitty some good exercise indoors on a wet day. It's great fun for all of the family to interact with both cats and dogs. I feel that this toy is good value as it's a great way to exercise your pets and it's fun for them too."


The light that this laser toy generates looks bright and easy for your cat to follow and chase. The design of the toy itself looks fun and stylish, as well as easy to hold. This laser beam toy proved to be extremely popular with Kitty and he gave it five stars. Great fun!

It's 2 years since Elgin came into my life

Two years ago I had just completed a two week residential training course at assistance dog charity Canine Partners' Midlands centre. During the two weeks I learnt how to work with Elgin, and learnt all of the different tasks he'd been taught my his amazing trainer. At the end of those two weeks my new assistance dog, Elgin, travelled back to Devon with Mum and I.

Elgin at the training centre.

The course was hard work, I found it physically and mentally exhausting because there was so much to learn. But it was 100% worth it. During those two week I started to bond with Elgin, as I was essentially a stranger to him, having only met him once before on our matching day (when the disabled person meets a dog or dogs so that the trainers can see if you work well together). 

It was amazing had quickly he did bond to me, I think he knew that I needed him and he wanted to help. Elgin is a very sensitive boy and he very quickly started to pick up on how well I was or how much pain I was in. He knew when to be gentle, and he knew when to act the fool to cheer me up.

Elgin and I practicing his 'my lap' command. This is where he gently puts his front feet on my lap. This is useful for when I need to put his working jacket on, and for passing me objects if I'm unable to stretch or bend down to his level.

During the two weeks we did a lot of public access training, where we went into town centres, shops cafes etc. I found this all very scary as at this point I'd hardly left the house for two years, but with Elgin by my side my confidence grew.

Elgin in our room at the training centre, trying to get me to play with his toy octopus!

In the two years since the training course my health has rapidly deteriorated, plus I have lost all of my hair to alopecia. Back then I could walk a few metres around the house, now I can only walk a step or two (and some days even that is impossible ). I'm now a full time wheelchair and need Elgin's help more that ever. He is an incredible dog, he loves work, he always wants to please you. His tasks are all fun to him and they earn him his two favourite things - treats and praise - he would work all day if I let him!

Five minutes after Elgin met Jessie and Henry for the first time.

On the way home from the training centre I was worried how Elgin would react to my two pet dogs, Henry and Jessie. They'd never met before but canine partners' trainers had assessed Jessie and Henry's characters and chose a dog who would play with Jessie, but be gentle with Henry who was 13 at the time. Well the trainers certainly matched them well! All three instantly became best friends. Sadly Jessie and Henry have now passed away, I think Elgin misses them, especially Jessie who was his playmate and partner in crime.

The last two years have been tough, I've had a lot of health problems, including a stroke the day after my 36th birthday. But with Elgin next to me I can get through anything. Elgin is a special dog, I love him more than words can say, and I'm so grateful to Canine Partners for bringing him into my life.

Review - Pusheng Pom Pom Keyring/Bag Charm



Pusheng Pom Pom Keyring/Bag Charm

Product description 

  • Package Included: 1 X Pom Pom Keyring/ball keyring,1 X a free gift bag
  • This Pom Pom Keyring Diameter: 8cm(Appro.)Material: Artificial Plush
  • NOTE:This Fluffy Keyring is made of artificial plush.
  • Pom Pom Keyring has a great soft hand feeling.As a Mother's Day Gift.
  • Pom Pom Keyring Used as car and bag charm, keychain etc.

Purchase Link


Price

Rose - £4.99

Dark purple - £5.29

Reviewed by 

Katie 

Rating 

5/5 stars 


Pom Pom keyrings are apparently very fashionable at the moment, or so my friend's teenage daughter Katie tells me! I initially thought they looked a little strange, but Katie was very excited about reviewing them!

This is what Katie says about the keyrings:

"I really like how fluffy these are. They are also a nice size to connect onto your bag or keys. If you keep them in your bag you wouldn't easily lose them due to their size and bright colours,"

The pom poms do look very striking, and the colours are gorgeous. The free bag that they come in looks great too, and will make the poms poms ideal to give as gifts. £4.99 sounds a little high to me for a keyring. But Katie and her mum tell me that they have seen some just like this in a high street store for £6.99, so it does sound like these are good value for money.

Katie loved the Pusheng Pom Pom Keyring/Bag Charms and gave them five stars.

Review - Dijiu 8 Colour Eye Shadow Palette




Dijiu 8 Colour Eye Shadow Palette 

Product description 

  • Wonderful 8 full color palettes eyeshadow sets prefer for party makeup/casual makeup/wedding makeup, etc. Great for on stage makeup, Dance makeup, neutral makeup. Different colors for different looks.
  • This kit has been specifically created to be water resistant and to keep on lasting way after the day (or night) is done.
  • Discover subtle nudes, rich blues, vivid pinks, blazing oranges, and sultry neutrals along with a wide array of fabulous finishes from matte to super shimmer.
  • Glossy color and nourish ingredients together to care eye skin around!
  • Item size: L-7.1 cm x W-8.2 cm x H-1.2 cm. Stylish black hard case.

Price

£5.89

Purchase Link


Reviewed by

Katie 

Rating

3/5 stars 

Review 


The Dijiu Eye Shadow Palettes are available in six different colour combinations. They range from vibrant, bright shades to more neutral ones. Also the finishes on them vary - some are matte colours, others are shimmery and glittery.

My friend's teenage daughter, Katie, reviewed the eye shadows for us. The set she chose to review was set #5, which has natural colours in a shimmer finish.


The eye shadows that Katie tested were very sparkly and looked pretty. I think they looked very effective when applied (see photo below), but apparently you had to apply a lot to achieve this effect. It took a few applications to build a noticeable, clear colour on your skin.


Unfortunately Katie found the eye shadows to be quite messy. The glitter comes loose from the eye shadow and you end up with glitter all over your face.

These eye shadows are probably best suited to those who want a glittery, party look or for young teenagers like Katie.

Katie has given these eye shadows three stars, because they are messy and it takes a lot of time and applications to build up a decent colour.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Competition - Win a Secret Life of Pets DVD



We have one copy of The Secret Life of Pets on DVD to be won!

Use the Gleam form below to enter.

U.K. Entries only.
Closes 27 August 2017 at 11.59pm

The Secret Life of Pets DVD giveaway

Review - Oneisall elephant dog toy

This elephant dog toy is super cute! I loved it as soon as I saw it, but unfortunately neither Cherry or Elgin like rope type toys. Luckily I was able to recruit my friend Bev and two of her dogs to review it for us. Thank you Bev, Dottie and Scooby!


Oneisall elephant dog toy

Product description 

  • Yellow Elephant chew toy measures 9 inches legth, 2.4 inches width.
  • The rope chew toy feature solid knots that helps clean dog's teeth and improve dental health.
  • Purely cotton made,non-toxic dyeing. Environmental cotton material.
  • Helps strengthen relationship between you and your dog, build self esteem and makes obedience training fun.
  • Suitable for cat kitten puppy dog small animal. Note: Large dogs and powerful chewers may destroy the toy easily and ripped pieces may pose a choking hazard to your pet.
Purchase Price 

£7.99

Rating 

5/5 stars 

Reviewed by

Bev

Review 

Dottie with the elephant 

This toy was initially intended for Dottie the chihuahua pup, but it ended up being popular with Scooby the Pomeranian as well. This is what Bev had to say about the elephant toy:

"My dogs absolutely love this toy. The puppy loves to chew it and both dogs enjoyed playing tug with it. My Pomeranian, who hardly ever plays with toys, actually sneaked off with it to play and he really enjoyed himself. It was lovely to see him having such fun."

Scooby playing with the toy.

When I asked Bev if she thought the toy was good value for money at £7.99 her reply was "yes, I think it is due to it's play value. They really loved it and I've had to buy another one so that the dogs have one each".

It's tug of war time!

So this little yellow elephant was very popular with Dottie and Scooby! Thank you for your hard work toy testing!

This toy also comes in different colours and shapes - including a tiger, a bear and a dinosaur.

Dog rehoming website study reveals the type of photos that are moreappealing to potential adopters

New study reveals the ‘key to cuteness’ in dogs

Photo credit - St Giles Animal Rescue. This is our rescue dog Cherry and the photo used by the rescue centre on her rehoming page. Who could say no to that face?!


A study by a dog rehoming website, involving twenty different breeds of dog, has found that when dogs move a particular facial muscle, humans react more positively and their chances of finding a new home increase.

The study, conducted by dogsblog.com on behalf of Direct Line Pet Insurance, also found:

● The facial expression of a dog in their listing photo can be more influential than breed, age, size, colour and sex of a dog when it comes to rehoming enquiries

● Facial muscle AU101 is the ‘key to cuteness’ when it comes to dogs

● Adult humans appear to react to dogs in the same way we react to babies

● Dogs with a ‘sad expression’ in their listing photo are more likely to be rehomed than dogs who look happy


Psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE believes humans can be influenced by a dog just by looking into his eyes

The study, in which a team of analysts measured the rehoming rates of different dogs based on the facial expression displayed in their listing photo found that dogs who move their AU101 muscle to create a baby-like expression are more likely to be rehomed quicker than dogs who appear happy or sad, playful or quirky.

The findings, which have been released by dog adoption site, dogsblog.com and Direct Line Pet Insurance, reinforce research released two years ago which revealed how humans form attachments to their dogs by looking into their eyes*. But what makes this latest study unique is that the case studies involved all began with a single photo without physical contact between the dog and person.

This latest study however took the thought process one step further setting out to find out just how much of a role photographs play in a dog’s rehoming success and whether there was a particular type of photo that could dramatically increase a dog’s chance of finding a new home quicker by attracting more interest from would-be owners.

Twenty dogs of different breeds, sizes, colours and genders completed the study across a variety of photograph styles including: happy and sad, playful and quirky with a separate category for dogs with a particular facial expression (specifically around the dog’s eyes and eyebrow movement).

The findings revealed that of all categories, dogs who moved their eyebrows making their eyes appear bigger, like babies, attracted a higher interest rate** than all other categories.

Dogs with sad photos finished in second place, while dogs with happy photos or which showed the dog’s in happier settings and circumstances, fell far behind attracting two thirds less attention.

Professor Sir Cary Cooper, an expert in psychology and wellbeing at the University of Manchester says the study reveals more about our relationship with dogs:

“There is a relatively close bond between dogs and humans, and it is certainly the case that humans look for nonverbal signs from dogs, such as eye contact and facial expressions, in determining whether we like them and they like us.

“Studies with pet owners have shown that gazing into our dog's eyes releases levels of oxytocin in the brain and this plays an important role how dog owners bond and form attachments with their dogs, much in the same way parents and children do.

“This latest study reinforces beliefs that whether humans are in direct contact, face to face or looking at dog photos online, how we interpret the relationship we have or could have, with a dog stems from their eyes and facial expression when emotion is a factor.” 

On the point of whether dogs are deliberately able to manipulate humans using facial expressions, Cooper says, “Whether this is conscious or not, who can say - certainly, dogs read humans and humans read dogs.”

The myth that dogs with particular coat colours attract more or less interest than others – the so called ‘black dog syndrome’ was also put to rest during the study with little difference noted between light and dark coloured dogs.

The research did, however, have one outlier, a cream Jack Russell Terrier cross dog named Jack, pictured below, whose happy photo drew more enquiries in a short period of time than the other 19 dogs in the case study.

Photo credit- dogsblog.com. Jack's photo was the most popular photo in the study 

On this, dogsblog.com co-founder Ryan O’Meara said, “When we began our study I had a suspicion that happier photos, those which show the dog’s personality would take the lead based on my emotional connection to my own dog’s photos. However, the overall findings prove differently.”

A dog named Timmy from the quirky category was so called because he was unusually pictured with a lookalike teddy. This drew one of the highest volumes of interest, but didn’t translate into enquiries. His Essex based rescue say they suspect this is because he had an operation to his jaw and still has a slight malformation concluding his looks drew attention, but that’s where the interest finished for all but one family who saw him on dogsblog.com and have since rehomed him.

Photo credit - dogsblog.com. Timmy

Prit Powar, head of Pet Insurance at Direct Line, said: “It is interesting to see that over time we are learning more about how dogs communicate with their owners. These new findings are exciting for dog lovers and owners alike, as they mark a step forwards in better understanding what feelings and emotions our canine friends are trying to express. From a human perspective, it is also fascinating that like with small children, dogs can behave in certain ways which can influence the way we act around them, and even contribute to which dog we believe will suit us as owners when searching for a new pet."

*********

* Source: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/brv.12235/full
** The research took place between January-June 2017 with selected dogs placed in photo study categories for: happy, sad, playful, quirky and facial expression (specifically around the dog’s eyes and eyebrow movement).

Calculations were made to determine popularity and interest by monitoring page views and rehoming enquiries per dog and per category. The categories with the highest ratio were facial expression followed by sad. Happy, quirky and playful photo categories completed the study in that order.

Twenty dogs completed the study, ten dogs were considered inconclusive (still looking for homes) and three removed from the study (one was rehomed then re-entered rescue and one was rehomed with her foster family).

About dogsblog.com:

dogsblog.com is the UK’s leading dog adoption site. Launched in 2007, the site was set up to help publicise the concept of dog adoption, support animal rescues and help more dogs to find loving new homes.

Working alongside over 550 animal rescues across the UK, the site has helped more than 46,000 dogs to find new homes.

Friday, 11 August 2017

International Assistance Dog Week is coming to an end

As today is the last day of International Assistance Dog Week I thought I'd tell you a bit more about my assistance dog, Elgin, and how he has transformed my life.

Elgin was trained by the assistance dog charity Canine Partners who train dogs to help adults with physical disabilities. He entered my life in August 2015, and in the two years since he has made a huge difference to my independence and quality of life. He is a fun, bouncy Labrador who not only helps me with physical tasks, but he has incredibly taught himself to alert me to medical episodes. Elgin is a very special dog and I feel extremely lucky to have him in my life, and I will forever be grateful to Canine Partners.

In March Elgin saved my life by fetching help when I was choking on vomit and losing consciousness. He instinctively knew I needed help and ran off to fetch my mum from downstairs. I was unable to move from my position of laying on my back because both of my shoulders and knees had dislocated, but thankfully Elgin got mum and she was able to move me and dislodge the blockage from my throat. I wouldn't be alive today without Elgin, he's a true life saver.


I have complex health conditions that effect my day to day life. In the last two years I have become reliant on a wheelchair full time due to repeated joint dislocations and severe muscle weakness. My joints are hyper mobile and very unstable - just reaching out to pick up an item can cause my shoulders to dislocate. It effects every joint in my body including my ankles, knees, wrists, elbows and even my jaw.

The list of tasks he can help me with is endless, and he's constantly learning new things. Here are just some of the things Elgin can do - helps me dress and undress by tugging garments on or off. Tugs off shoes, hats (I have alopecia so always wear hats or scarfs), socks etc. Loads and unloads the washing machine and puts it in the laundry basket. Takes items and notes to and from my carer for me. Picks up dropped items. He knows the names of dozens of  items (phone, mobile, shoes, keys etc) and can fetch them from another room for me. Opens and closes doors in the house using tug toys that are attached to door handles. Fetching the phone when it rings. Raises the alarm or fetches help if I'm ill or fall. Raises and lowers the foot plates on my wheelchair. Picks up items off of low shelves in the supermarket for me (stretching for items often dislocates my shoulders ) and passes my purse to the cashier. Elgin loves task work and would work all day if I let him! Most of his tasks involve tugging or retrieving and it sees it all as a big game that he'll be rewarded for. 


My health has been rapidly deteriorating over the last year which means that Elgin has become even more important to me and my family. He is able to help me with a lot of things that a carer would previously had to do. This not only helps me be more independent, it takes a huge strain off of my mum and makes me feel less of a burden to her. I know this isn't how mum saw it, but I always felt guilty to be constantly her for help for little things like picking up a dropped phone, or helping me take off a cardigan. Mum is now able to have a bit of a social life again knowing that I'm safe with Elgin.


Incredibly Elgin has also taught himself to alert me to high or low blood sugar levels (I'm diabetic) and he also alerts me to severe muscle spasms/seizures a few minutes before they start which means I can take medication earlier. This means the spasm is less violent and less painful than it otherwise would have been - they are so violent they cause my joints to dislocate. These are things he started to do naturally because of the strong bond between us. He wasn't trained to do this, but he is praised and rewarded for correct alerts so that he continues to do it - he is always so proud afterwards!

I have also be having a lot of falls lately as transferring to and from my wheelchair is becoming more and more difficult. When I fall Elgin comes and checks that I'm awake (I've lost consciousness a few times because I've hit my head) by nudging me and licking my face. He then either gets my mum if she's home or he fetches my phone so I can call for help. He then gets a pillow or cushion for my head to make me comfortable while I'm waiting for help, then he cuddles up with me and keeps me calm by making sure my attention is on him. He does all of this without me giving any commands now - he instantly knows what I need. Elgin is incredibly clever - sometimes he seems almost human!


Since I've had Elgin the world has opened up to me again. He's given me the confidence to leave the house and keeps me calm enough to visit places like Monkey World recently. I spent years not leaving the house but with Elgin by my side I now like visiting new places when I'm well enough. He behaves brilliantly wherever he goes and takes it all in his stride. He especially enjoyed Monkey World - he was fascinated by the primates and they were fascinated by him. His next big trip out is going to be to an aquarium which I'm sure we'll both enjoy.


When Elgin first came to live with me I was still able to walk a few metres using crutches and Elgin used to fetch them for me. It's not a task he needs to do for me any more as it's no longer safe for me to use them, but I wanted to include this photo as I think it shows how much he enjoys his work.


A very unflattering photo! Thus is Elgin refusing to leave me when I'm very unwell. He lays on my lap like this if I'm in my reclining chair, or if I'm in bed unwell he lays next to me in bed. He keeps me company, gives amazing cuddles and he is a great comfort to me when life is scary or getting me down.


I'm always asked if he gets time to be a 'dog' and the answer is a big YES! He spends most of the day playing with our young pet beagle, Cherry, goes on lovely walks and has great fun playing on the beach or park and the rest of the time he's asleep on my lap! He is also a mud magnet! When he's having his off leads runs in the park or woods, he can find every single muddy puddle. If there's mud you can guarantee Elgin will be in it!


Elgin loves going to the beach and luckily for him we live only 200 yards from one! Unfortunately I can't get right down to the sea, but mum takes him down to the sea for me. I stay on the ramp and watch him running around having fun. Seeing Elgin so happy makes me happy, he is a joy to be around.


I will forever be grateful to Canine Partners, Elgin's puppy parents, his foster parents, his trainers and all of the wonderful people that helped bring this incredible dog into my life.

Elgin has drastically improved my quality of life, my independence, my self worth and my mental health - he is my hero. Canine Partners are a wonderful charity and I owe them, their volunteers and their supporters so much. They help so many disabled people and really do transform lives.

Need to know: pet emergencies. Blue Cross offers owners Top Five FirstAid Tips



At this time of year pets are out and about with us and may be more likely to get themselves into tricky situations where they need our help to give first aid before getting to a vet. 

Common emergencies include: bee stings, broken bones or eating toxic plants such as daffodils and lilies.

National pet charity Blue Cross is offering owners essential first aid tips for pets to prevent tragedy when the worst happens. 

Seb Prior, Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Blue Cross says: “It is vital for pet owners to know what they should do to help their pet in an emergency – in some case it can mean life or death. Once owners give first aid they must also contact their vet for advice, act quickly and never give pets human medicine as it could be fatal.”

Image credit- Blue Cross 

Top Five First Aid Tips

1.    Heatstroke - Put the dog somewhere cool with a draught out of direct sunlight. Wet the coat with tepid/cool water (not cold water) and go the vet. You can offer a small amount of water but don’t delay going to the vet. 

2.    Cuts and bleeds – Most cuts are best left undressed, but if there is continued bleeding a bandage maybe needed. To put a bandage on you must apply a layer that won’t stick to the wound such as a clean towel or cloth, add a layer of padding such as cotton wool to protect the wound, secure in place with a bandage that isn’t too tight and get to a vet as soon as possible.

3.    Poisoning - Some of the common symptoms of poisoning are staggering; vomiting; dribbling; collapsing; and difficulty breathing. Call the vet immediately. Take any packaging or plant cuttings with you to the vet. Do not make your pet vomit unless your vet tells you to do so. Rabbits do not have the capability to vomit.

4.    Coat contamination – Use an Elizabethan collar, if you have one, to prevent them from licking it. For smaller animals and rabbits, wrap them in a towel to stop them from getting to the affected area. Never use turpentine or paint remover on your pet. Contact the vet.

5.    Stings - Pull out the sting if possible by pressing below the poison sac. Soothe with ice and contact the vet for advice. Watch the animal carefully because if the sting is in the mouth or throat, it may swell and interfere with breathing.

View the Blue Cross' first aid video tips for dogs here: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K38nALhayUo;
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQqfU5x0vCY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xfc4oaUcDs4

For more first-aid tips and additional advice on many other medical emergencies, please visit the Blue Cross' website-


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Review - Magicdo Glass Paints

I purchased this item at a discounted rate for the purpose of an unbiased review.


Magicdo 12 Colour Glass Paints

Product Description 

  • Easy to Organization -These Glass paint come with a painting palette, the glass painting in a glass plastic tray to keep them organized and locked in place when not in use. Outer paint box is made with recycled materials. This art glass paints are good for drawing on glass and other glass material." glass paint transparent made your painting outstanding" " tempera paint set for adults painting" "artist paint sets suitable for professional and beginner"
  • Good Effect - Glass paint are brilliant, intense, and this paint tube may take time to dry out, easy to mix up to create the subtlest of differences in shade, but due to the glass paint does not absorb into the glass, you should paint several layers after glass paint dried out if you want a real opaque look. Glass paint "stained glass paint" "stained glass paint""art glass paint"
  • Professional Glass Paint - The Glass Paint set is the best for glass coloring, glass painting kit has 12 bright natural colors, each of the glass paint tubes has a paper label that states the name of the color and shows bright a color. "glass craft paint for adult drawing & Glass paint for glass projects and glass art drawing"
  • Superior Item - Magicdo Glass Paint Tubes Set is Environmental-friendly, non-toxic, conforms to ASTMD-4236 and EN71-3 safety standards, Non-Toxic and high quality. Glass Paint Accessory made from a combination of high quality pigments natural gum." Acyrlic Glass Paint Set"" Glass Craft Paint Set"" art paint tubes"
  • Wonderful Gifts - As a great gift for Art Students and lovers on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Birthday, Graduation, Valentine's and Easter Day. Multi-Purpose Glass Paint Kit with bright colors and long-lasting, great gift for celebration days. Magicdo Glass Paint Set for glass painting are great for beginners, teens or adult artists that love painting on any dry glass. "easy dry glass paint kit for glass decoration and craft glass decoration glass paint tube"

Purchase Links (Amazon.co.uk)


Price

£15.99

Rating 

5/5 stars 

Review 


I enjoy a wide variety of art and craft activities, although due to my hand strength and dexterity deteriorating I can't do as much craft work as I'd like to. I've not done any glass painting for quite a few years now so I looked forward to giving these Magicdo Glass Paints a try.

There are twelve different colour paint tubes, and these cover pretty much every colour you are likely to need. I found them very easy to mix too, so you can make a wide range of colours and shades. The paints come with a plastic paint palette that is ideal to use to mix the paints on. It's easy to wipe and clean too so you shouldn't end up with patches of dried on paint on it.


The paints are suitable to use as glass and similar materials like acetate. I've used them on drinking glasses using outline stickers from my craft stash and I also plan to use them on sun catchers. The paints are easy to work with and cover the glass nicely. Glass paints look most effective when you paint in several thin layers to create a nice opaque effect that isn't patchy. The paint dried quickly and evenly so it was easy to complete one layer then move onto the next.

Work in progress - a glass with painted dogs. Due to injuring my hand in a fall I've not been able to finish it off yet, but I am to continue working on it soon.

I've not yet been able to complete the glass I'm working on, as unfortunately I've injured my wrist and hand in a bad fall while transferring from my wheelchair. As soon as I'm able to hold a paintbrush properly again I will be straight back into my painting project as I found it very enjoyable and relaxing.

These paints are high quality and would make a great gift for a friend or relative who enjoys art and crafts. If you've never tried glass painting before why not give a go, it's great fun.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Review - Avon South West

I've been an Avon customer for over twenty years, using various Avon reps that have come and gone for different reasons - sometimes because I've left a workplace where they had their round, other times because the rep has moved on. Our current rep is Avon South West with Sarah Barrett and I've placed a few orders with her now. Sarah kindly gave me a few mini samples with my last purchase so I've decided to review them.


Links



Rating - 5/5 stars for service and the products mentioned below

Review

Sarah is based in the Seaton area of East Devon and can deliver orders free of charge in the Seaton, Sidmouth and Axminster areas (just choose the delivery via representative option when you order via her online store or contact her via her Facebook if you wish to receive a brochure). However you don't need to be local to order from Sarah's Avon store as delivery is available nationwide for a reasonable delivery fee.

Avon have a wide range of products these days - it's not just make and toiletries. I've noticed that they are now selling a lot of clothing, gifts, jewellery, kitchenware and even gadgets. This month I bought a camera lens set for my camera phone that was great value at just £5, this isn't a product that I'd normally associate with Avon, but I love it.

I've always found Avon products to be very reasonably priced. They have make up ranges for pocket money prices for teenagers, up to more sophisticated, higher end lines - and everything in between. I'm also a big fan of their skin care products, many of which are perfect for my sensitive and eczema prone skin.

One of the samples that I've been trying out is Avon Life for Her Eau De Parfum. This luxurious, Avon exclusive fragrance from Kenzo Takada is currently priced at £18 for 50ml which I think is good value for this quality of perfume. The bottle itself is gorgeous and would look fabulous on your dressing table. The fragrance is a delightful blend of water lily, violet and iris flowers.

This is a very fresh, floral fragrance and I absolutely loved it. It was long lasting and unlike some perfumes I've used it didn't irritate my sensitive skin. I'm sure this scent would appeal to ladies from all age groups and walks of life.

If you want the man in your life to smell just as lovely as you then I'd recommend Avon Attraction for Him Eau de Toilette Spray. It is currently priced at £11.50 for 75ml. It has notes of rich ginger root, magnetic musk and smoky woods. It's a very masculine scent but isn't overpowering, I really liked it. I'd be very happy for my man to wear this - if I had one that is!

Mark The Bold Lipstick comes in a wide range of vibrant, intense colours. This is Avon's most intensely coloured lipstick ever and costs £7.50. Both my mum and I have been trying this lipstick and we are both very impressed. The colours look great and don't fade, and it is long lasting. Most importantly for me and my dry skin, this lipstick is very hydrating and not at all drying. My favourite shade is Rapid Rose as it's a very flattering colour.

All of these products are available on Sarah's Avon store (see the link above).

Sarah is very helpful, polite and friendly so if you wish to speak to her about any products or potentially ordering from hereplease do contact her via her Facebook page. If she can help, then she definitely will. We've been very happy with everything we've ordered from her - which includes makeup, jewellery, gadgets and skincare products. Why not take a look at her online store, I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised at the range, price and quality of items available from Avon.




Disclosure: I received no payment for this post, however in the interest of full transparency Sarah is my sister in law - but the review of both the Avon products and the service we've received from Sarah is unbiased and 100% honest.