Laura Patricia
She's talking to herself again…
Dogs Die In Hot Cars (via http://dogsinthenews.co.uk)

With both the Huffington Post and The Independent now reporting that Spring is finally here, we thought it was time to re-introduce our annual drive to raise awareness of the dangers of leaving your dog in a hot car. Dogs die in hot cars. The RSPCA knows it, PETA knows it, The Dogs Trust knows it. “…

It’s not often that a headline gets me angry enough to write a blog, but yesterday the mainstream media achieved just that with their eager reporting that ready meals are “healthier” than those cooked by celebrity chefs.

A study of the nutritional qualities of 100 recipes taken from some of the UK’s bestselling cookbooks found they were “less healthy” than a random selection of 100 brand-name ready meals from leading supermarkets, according to “several Food Standard Agency metrics”.  Specifically: “per portion, the recipes chosen from these books contained significantly more energy, protein, fat and saturated fat and significantly less fibre then the ready meals.”

While the study did concede that “neither the TV chef’s recipes nor the ready meals met national or international guidelines for a balanced diet”, almost every news source decided to run with a “newsflash, microwave meals are better for you than those cooked from scratch” type of headline.

The question I put to the media today is this: define “healthier”.

Lower in fat? This is usually because ready meals substitute butter for margarine, real cheese for processed etc – these have awful health implications of their own which are rarely taken into account (like, for example, the potential that they increase your risk of cancer…) Low fat cheese, made that way with chemicals and scientific processes, might have less saturated fat than real cheese, yes, but is it really better for you? I’ll take a block of Cheddar made with real cow’s milk over the stuff that’s dyed orange and comes out of can any day. (Michael Pollan makes this argument much better than I ever could in his excellent book “In Defence of Food”.)

Low calorie? Of course we should all try and restrict our calorie intake where we can. But not all calories are created equal. It’s an oft quoted ‘fact’ that a McDonalds’ salad has more calories than a Big Mac.  Potentially true, but it also has more nutrients, fresher ingredients and, hopefully, less salt and refined sugar. The calories in that big Mac are mostly empty, while the calories in the salad are not. Orange juice has more calories than Diet Fanta as well, but I doubt anyone would suggest you swap the vitamin-rich juice for the aspartame and additives-rich soda. (See “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes to back up this argument.)

Less protein?  Since when was “more protein” a bad thing when it comes to food?  Protein is a vital component of our diets and one which is increasingly getting the stamp of approval from dietitians and nutritionists alike, due to its ability to help regulate blood sugar levels, build and maintain muscle and keep us feeling fuller for longer. (For a full defence of protein’s place in our diet, and exactly why our carbohydrate heavy diets are responsible for a whole raft of modern health problems, check out Gary Taubes’ “Why We Get Fat”.)

Replacing (expensive) meat and bulking dishes out with (cheap) carbs is a standard ready meal trick to keep costs down. (Heck, even the dog food manufacturers have cottoned on to this one, with most mainstream pet food brands made up of more cereals than meat.) What no one ever mentions is that carbs (especially the refined carbohydrates found in ready meals) cause spikes in blood sugar which lead to obesity and diabetes, not to mention troughs which leave you feeling hungry and reaching for more unhealthy food.  (One third of our pets are overweight now too, I wonder why that could be?)

I also suspect that, like for like, a ready meal cottage pie or cauliflower cheese etc would contain far less vitamins and minerals than its fresh cooked equivalent.  The way these sorts of meals are processed, packaged, stored, reheated and served at home removes incredible amounts of goodness, not to mention flavour.  (In fact, the study itself did concede that these factors were not taken into account, an inconvenient truth not picked up by any media sources who covered the story.)

Recent relevations about the presence of horse meat in some pre-prepared beef products highlight the problem with food which is prepared by someone else, behind closed doors. If you cook a meal yourself from fresh ingredients, you can see the supply chain and you know for sure what is in your food. Unhealthy? Hardly.

And don’t even get me started on the artificial colours, flavourings, and preservatives which are pumped into pre-prepared food, or the hideous plastic which they are packaged in!

Ready meals are NOT healthy, (ready meals are, to my mind, barely even meals, but that’s another rant for another day.) The media should not be publishing reports which claim they are or perpetrating this myth in any way. They especially should not be trashing freshly prepared, home cooked food made with quality ingredients; not in this health climate of rising diabetes, malnutrition and obesity.

Now there will be a move away from the “fresh is best” mantra which people have tried so hard to implant, new lines of “healthy” mircowaved meals released just in time for the summer swimsuit season and thousands of obese and unhealthy people the length and breadth of the county tucking into ready meals with virtuous feelings! ‘Heck, they’re so good for me, I might even have two…”

Sigh.

Woops. Once again I have been neglecting this blog in favour of other projects, and once again I would like to apologise to my readers for this.

However, I do have a little something for you today!  Back in October, I became involved with Intuition Magazine, an online student publication. Since then, I have produced a monthly column for them, with the theme of “Life After Graduation”. 

Today, I have compiled this collection in one place, for your reading pleasure:

October 2011 – Introductions

This is a difficult time of year for us graduates; our social media feeds are full of people making us jealous. I am talking, of course, of the 1st and 2nd years we knew back at uni, who are now 2nd and 3rd years and regaling us with tales of all the new friends and fun antics which we are missing out on.

Of course, it’s not their fault that we handed in all our coursework and passed our exams. In fact, if we’re honest, the people we’re really jealous of are the Freshers; they have at least three marvellous years ahead of them and they’re just starting out on the whole experience. (Plus, no dissertations…)

One of the first things I noticed upon my arrival to academia in 2007 was the difference between secondary school and university. At school, you had one group of friends, maybe three to five core people who you spent every lunch hour and weekend with. It was quite cliquey, and everyone was just trying to fit in.

Uni is very different. You have your hall/housemates. You have your course mates. You have the folk from your sport or society of choice. These people all form your social circle, and you swap between them or allow them to mix and mingle as you choose. You can be much more yourself at uni, because you don’t have to conform to the expectations of any one group of people.

And, unlike my secondary school crowd, who I had to ask “what are we doing this weekend” every Friday, I rarely had to arrange to meet my friends at uni anywhere. I went to English lectures and oh look, there were Sam, Fleur and Mel. I went to Creative Writing seminars and found Kirsty and Kayleigh. Coffee ensued. I then headed into the office where I volunteered as Editor of the uni paper and there, oddly enough, were Jacob, Alex, Tom and Phil. We would often head out for drinks after work. At uni, I had a social life without even trying. I was constantly busy and doing things.

Not so the life of the graduate! Once the funny flat hats have been tossed, everyone goes their separate ways. Email and Facebook become something you check because a friend might actually have sent you news, not merely a tool for procrastination. Even people who stayed nearby still have to be called; a mutual time has to be found, difficult if you both work, and something solid decided. It’s also harder to meet new people, especially if you get stuck in the cycle of never going anywhere because you don’t know anyone. If you don’t make the effort as a graduate, you may very quickly find yourself isolated and alone.

So take note, current students. Enjoy it while it lasts! Get out there and do things. Meet people; make the most of your time. If not for yourselves, do it for us, the unemployed graduates who are stuck at home feeling jealous.

November 2011 – It’s just not fair!

Job hunting sucks. I think we can all agree on that one. And in this current economy, any job hunt is likely to be a long hard slog. Trust me, I know. I’ve been unemployed and actively looking for a position since August.

It’s not fair. My entire life I have been led to believe that hard work produced results. So I have always worked hard. I left secondary school with good grades. While at university, I sacrificed a lot of my free time to the university paper, being heavily involved as Editor for three years and learning a lot in the process. I graduated with a solid 2:1 degree in a relevant field for the type of career I want to pursue. In short, I’ve done the work, and now I want the results.

But instead, I spent the past year working as an Admin Assistant for the local council. I know it’s more than most graduates get these days, and I was grateful for it, but it was hardly the bright career starter I was imagining. Now, budget cuts due to a recession quite beyond my control mean that I don’t even have that job anymore and I am finding it impossible to get another.

It’s not fair. I have heard all the platitudes about how it’s hard for everyone and the state of the economy etc, but the positions are out there. I know – I’ve applied for most of them! But somehow, despite my qualifications and experience, I keep getting passed over.

I’m beginning to feel like all my efforts were a waste of time. I fear that this is something which a lot of students will end up feeling eventually; not exactly a sentiment you want to take away from the university experience.

There is little justice in the graduate job market these days. It used to be that entry level jobs were ours for the taking, but now we’re expected to first pay our dues in an unpaid work experience placement before we are even considered for generic work we could have done without a degree. So three years of tuition fees and student loans land us in a huge wad of debt, and then they expect us to live off of air while we spend a year photocopying and making tea.

So here I am, and I’m sure there’s many others like me, stuck in unemployment limbo, unable to take unpaid work but not able to start our careers otherwise.

It’s tough out here in the real world kiddies, so don’t waste your time at university. Apply for those summer placements now – and start networking. You never know who you might meet or who knows a guy who can get you in. It’s hardly the “work hard and you will be rewarded” message that I was raised on, but in this day and age it’s seems you’re far more likely to get in the door that way.

Like I said, it’s just not fair.

December 2011 – Christmas

One of the many advantages that students enjoy is an extended Christmas holiday, usually two to three weeks of blissful, uninterrupted time off.

Most of you will presumably spend this time at home, in the bosom of your family. Maybe it will even be the first time you’ve gone back to your parent’s house since flying the coop. And while you may be homesick now, sitting in your cold room in Halls after yet another awful microwave meal, I am here to warn you that, however much you may love your family, the buzz soon wears off, and you’ll be wishing yourself back at uni within days of arriving.

How pessimistic, you cry! Not so. Any person who has left home will tell you the same. We love the homecooked meals, we’re ecstatic to see the dog and catch up with our siblings, and it’s great to see all our old school chums who have also come home for the holidays. “Pub at 8?” “Sounds great!” We fly downstairs to tell our mother we’ll be out that evening and then we hit the crux of the problem.

Our mothers, not realising we’ve been free and independent for the past 3 months, walking home drunk at two in the morning, coming and going as we pleased, off on our merry adventures, want to know who we’re meeting and when we’ll be home. When we do head off, she reminds us to wear gloves. She’s forgotten that we’re 19, not 9, and that we’ve been taking care of ourselves just fine without her.

It’s a dynamic that never changes. I have been living at home for the past five months, due to my lack of income, and most of the fights my mother and I have centre around the fact that I am used to having my own place, doing what I want, eating and sleeping when I please, and popping out to see friends whenever it suits. She, on the other hand, knows I am used to being independent, but still treats me like she did when I was 13. She’s constantly asking what I’m up to and, since I don’t drive, I can’t go anywhere without begging a lift.

You may think I’m acting like a spoilt brat, but trust me, it’s frustrating. You First years will see what I mean when you arrive home; Second and Third years already know what I’m talking about.

Just try to remember that they love you; that they do it out of general care and concern. That they probably missed you just as much as you did them, and that they want to cherish the time you’re around because they might not see you again until Easter. You can be free and independent in January – let them “mother” you for a few weeks, if you can. Try and keep eye rolling to a minimum. After all, in a few years, you may only get one or two days off at Christmas.

January 2012 – Philanthropy

Philanthropy sounds like a big word which philosophy students would examine in their seminars, and which the rest of us should ignore. But it’s actually a huge part of the student (and graduate) experience, especially if you want to get the most out of your time at university.

Philanthropy, as defined by the dictionary, is the “altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement”, altruistic, of course, meaning “unselfish”. Here’s a much better definition: “private initiatives for public good”. Things like donating to charity, giving your time to help a cause, or using your skills to help others; giving back to the community.

So what does this have to do with students? Well, philanthropy is something that is increasingly lacking from many aspects of 21st century life; businesses are out for themselves and care more about the bottom line than anything else. Isn’t it about time that our generation made a move in the other direction?

If I called it the “Big Society”, would that ring a bell?

Students and graduates should embrace this concept, and give freely of their time and knowledge where they can. We’re all in this together, so let’s help each other out where we can.

The very best student philanthropist shares the skills she’s gained with others, whether in her seminars, during work experience, or in her future place of employment. The best part is that she’s usually rewarded for her efforts.

To pull a random example out of thin air, take this column. I am not paid anything to produce these words every month. But I still do, because I know that without content an online magazine is just a blank web page, and I want to help out my fellow student journalists and editors by providing that content. In return, I can put Intuition Magazine on my CV, and demonstrate real writing abilities and commitment to a project. It’s win win.

Each and every student who wants to succeed at and after university should ask themselves how they can get involved in such philanthropic endeavours. Perhaps you could help out on your university newspaper (as I also did), or assist your Union’s Raising And Giving team. If you want to be a vet, you could volunteer to walk dogs at your local rescue centre, and if you’re looking to be a teacher maybe you could tutor kids at the local primary school.

These are all ways in which you can enhance your skills while boosting your CV. And you get good karma, and will hopefully make some friends along the way.

I’m sure you’ve heard all this before. Volunteer, take part, get involved. But seriously, think about it. Life after graduation is tougher than ever – believe me, I know – and you have to do everything you can to stand out from the crowd. Maybe being a good person, giving your time and helping others, will be the one thing that will make you stand out from the crowd. If you’re not already involved in philanthropy, there’s never been a better time to start!

February 2012 – Ambition

There’s a scene in the movie “Cool Runnings” – bear with me, I am going somewhere with this – where the hero is talking about his dream of competing in the Olympics. He says: “I don’t care how fast they run, I’m going to run faster. I don’t care how much they want it, I want it more.”

This month’s topic is ‘Ambition’, and that’s why the above quote has resonated with me so much the past few days. Ambition is wanting something – whatever it may be – more than anyone else, and being willing to put in the work to get it. Ambition is what the most successful students and graduates will have; not just the desire to succeed, but acknowledgement that nothing in life is just handed to you, and the drive to do what needs to be done to achieve your dream.

Take myself as an esoteric example. One of my interests is dogs. I have loved dogs for as long as I can remember; I read magazines, books, and articles about them, and will always stop to say hello to a puppy. To that end, I started contacting dog websites to see if I could write for them after I graduated. This lead to me launching a Twitter feed of doggie news stories in June 2010, and last year I attended Crufts (the world’s biggest dog show) as a reporter for a pet website. Shortly after, I extended my Twitter feed into a website in its own right, and now have around 1000 visitors a month. I have become well known and respected in canine circles. To that end, this year, I have a press pass for Crufts with my own name in it.

You may think I am a massive nerd, but it’s a huge personal achievement. I am combining my skills (writing and social media), with my passion, and I am getting results. No one is paying me to do this, but they are a lot of little steps down the road towards becoming a dog reporter full time, which is my dream job. Maybe it will never happen, but at least I can say I tried. And no one can fault my ambition; I juggle these and other commitments (including a job and this column) because I need to know that I did everything I could to reach my goals.

I know almost everyone has dreams, be they realistic or impossible. But only a few people really have the ambition, the drive, to make them realities.

I hope you, dear reader, are one of them. It’s a tough world for students and graduates these days, but those who really want to succeed will. They will find the chances rather than waiting to be found by them, and they will chase their desires to the ends of the earth. Keep saying it to yourself: “I don’t care how fast they run, I’m going to run faster. I don’t care how much they want it, I want it more.”

I hope you have enjoyed my little collection of columns. Please come back soon for more!

People might think that, because I’m a writer, I’m excited that it’s November because November is National Novel Writing Month – or, as it’s more colloquially known, NaNoWriMo.

However, I have always been one writer to whom NaNoWriMo makes no sense at all. Not least because, since people all over the world take part, it really should be called “IntNoWriMo”, but perhaps that’s just me being pedantic…

Anyway, the aim of NaNoWriMo – which is getting so annoying to type that I shall just refer to it as “Nano” from now on – is to produce a first draft of a novel in the space of a month. It started back in 1999 as a motivational stunt for a small group of writer friends, and has since grown into an institution with some 130,000 participants last year.

A rough target for a completed manuscript is set at 50,000 words, which means that people taking part should aim to churn out 1600 – 2000 words a day. And so, being a writer who is friends with other writers, during November my social network feeds descend into word count updates and rants about writer’s block.

I want to make it clear before I go on that I am not putting down people who are currently attempting the Nano challenge. I think it’s very brave of you to undertake the task and I wish you well. But seriously, please stop telling me about it. One of the main reasons that Nano grates with me is because writing is, to me, such a private process, and the real joy of writing is creating something.

It seems the joy of Nano, however, is to be SEEN be creating something, and all that that implies. It’s a bit like THIS:

That’s why I haven’t ever participated in Nano, and why I don’t plan on participating in the future. I, personally, can only write fiction when I am inspired, and a lot of creating goes on in my head first and a lot of crafting goes into it afterward. I physically could not produce 2000 words of anything decent day after day after day just because an internet ‘competition’ dictated that I should. Real writers write because they have to, whatever month of the year, not because they have to meet a target.

Secondly, coming back to the writers’ block, please stop getting stressed. No one is forcing you to do this to yourselves. If you miss your word target a couple of times, no one is going to come to your house and tell you off. There isn’t even a real prize at the end of the challenge, so let’s all just relax a bit, okay? I know that some people take Nano very seriously, but I swear some people got less angsty about their dissertations! If you’re not enjoying it, stop.

(Also, if you’re on Facebook complaining about a lack of progress – and you don’t appreciate the irony behind that – then perhaps you need to reconsider your motives for taking part.)

I do acknowledge, however, that the point of Nano is to force you to move forward with your novel no matter what. It’s about getting past the notion that novel writing is some insurmountable task. And to that end I think it’s a good idea, in terms of a sheer volume of work produced.

However, my next observation is that I resent people who look down their nose at me for not participating in Nano. In November last year, while working a full time job, I produced some 6000 words of original writing. Last month alone, I wrote approximately 20 articles for various different websites. Some days I would probably not be far off 1600 words. Though not prolifically, though not anything of great literary merit, I was, and am, writing regularly. So what if it’s fact instead of fiction; does that make me less of a successful writer than someone who has completed Nano?

At least my work is solid; finished, polished articles. As it says on the NaNoWriMo website itself: “ the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality.”

(And yeah, maybe that novel I’ve been working on (say it in your head like Stewie Griffin) will never get read by anyone but myself, but can you honestly say that the opposite is true of your Nano offering?)

To that end, as a final thought, I would stress to anyone undertaking the Nano challenge this year that what they are producing  – unless they are some sort of genius – is a very rough first draft. Perhaps December should be considered NaNoEdMo: National Novel Editing Month. If you have been meeting your 2000 word target every day, you probably haven’t been paying that much attention to what you’ve been writing, so it will need plenty of revision before you even think of doing anything else with it.  Agents and publishers up and down the country are bracing themselves for a pile of slush manuscripts as we speak; don’t let yours be one of them!

So no, I’m not really excited that it’s NaNoWriMo once again. I wish everyone taking part the best of luck, but this is one writer who won’t be joining you.

What do you think? Are you taking part in Nano and think there’s more to it than I’m giving credit for? Or perhaps you agree with me?  I’d love to hear from you – just use the comments box below!

Hey guys, once again I have been ignoring you, haven’t I? Woops.

I am hoping to blog later this week, but for now the short version is that I ended my contract with the Kennel Club and currently living with my parents and job hunting and trying to make a real go of being a writer at the same time!  While I may have been neglecting you here, I have become a regular columnist for Intuition Magazine (first article out in September), and my Dogs In The News website reached over 1000 hits last week! We also have a new banner and logo, designed by Cat Fyson.

Here’s a short rundown of what I’ve been up to over there, and hopefully I’ll be back soon with more non doggie related articles.

In July, things continued apace with the Don’t Cook Your Dog campaign, and I mailed out 81 car stickers to readers from across the UK and as far away as Switzerland, Holland and the USA. (I still have 47 looking for homes, so please let me know if you want one.)

In August I covered the KC’s Accredited Breeder Scheme changing its name, and a petition which hopes to end the cruel practice of puppy farming.

In September I wrote an article about the dilemma of killing off a beloved canine character, in response to the news that Schmichael the dog will soon be leaving Coronation Street.

Then, last Friday, BBC’s The One Show caused a huge controversy with their new “dog training expert” Jordan Shelley. You can read the full story here, along with a copy of the letter of complaint we sent to the BBC and a list of ways which were utilised to make our opinion heard. Just a week later, The One Show announced that they were dropping the segment from their program.

Which sort of brings me full circle – neither the Jordan Shelley protest nor the Don’t Cook Your Dog campaign would have been half as effective if not for the power of social media.

I am planning on spending this afternoon arranging giveaways and writing reviews for Dogs In The NewsDoggie Book Club. If you love free books about dogs, you might want to consider joining – but in the meantime you can see all the reviews I have penned so far here.

Thanks for bearing with me during this quiet spell – I will be back soon, I promise.

Yes readers, I am still alive. I apologise for the lack of blogging and promise to be ‘in touch’ soon.

But in the meantime, I just thought I’d let all my student readers know about a little competition being run by CrossCountry Rail.  They are offering you the chance to win a free year at uni!

That’s right – CrossCountry Rail will pay your tuition fees in full (up to £3,375) for the 2011/2012 session! All you have to do is ‘like’ the Student Rail Deals Facebook page and fill in some minor details.

Not only will you be entered into the competition, but you’ll find some fantastic travel deals as well.

CrossCountry has also teamed up with the NUS to offer NUS Extra card holders an additional 10% off the price of a CrossCountry Advance rail ticket on top of your Railcard discount.

It seems too good an opportunity to pass up, so get on over to Facebook and enter now!

It’s been very hard to focus at work today. Everyone has been following the London Riots and wondering where they’re going to flare up next. I hope none of my readers were affected by them, and that everyone else takes necessary precautions to ensure they stay safe.

Here at work (in Piccadilly,Central London), there’s a very sympathetic atmosphere, one of everyone being in this together. We’re all concerned for people we know in the areas involved and everyone is sharing updates and advice as we receive it.  We all gathered around a computer screen to watch David Cameron’s statement, and I think we all agreed with every single word he said.

I’ve also been following the new Riot Clean Up movement on Twitter – which is hoping to co-ordinate and organise people to assist public services in clearing up their neighbourhoods and getting their communities back to normal as soon as possible.

The response to this campaign has been remarkable. Anyone who is despairing at the state of humanity right now should take a look; these are people who are giving up their time to help those around them, who are holding out a hand to help their devastated neighbour back to their feet. They are refusing to let the few nasty people on the planet change the way they live. From the ashes of their town centres has risen something quite admirable.

It’s all very “Keep Calm and Carry On” here in London today.

I used to roll my eyes when people told me that poster was a “mantra for recession hitBritain”, but today I’d have to say it’s an apt message for the way people are reacting. Before, they wore the slogan on their t-shirts, but not on their hearts; they turned and looked the other way when the damage wasn’t in their backyard, and apathetically moaned if it happened to hit somewhere that hurt.

But today, people are actually standing up and doing something to right a wrong. We’re showing the bad apples that they will not bring us down. We’re all pitching in, one for all and all for one, not just serving our own self interested purposes. It’s amazing.

People have compared it to the atmosphere during the Blitz. What hurts most this time is that it’s the British hurtingBritain, not an outside force beyond our control. I only hope the troubles stop and let us get on with our rebuilding efforts soon – and that those responsible are duly punished.

In the meantime, people are coming to work as usual. We’re smiling at each other on the Tube and we’re sharing messages of solidarity and support. No one I know is on the side of the troublemakers.

But deep down we are afraid – afraid it will get worse, afraid it will affect us or our loved ones. Afraid anarchy will prevail. We’re following it all very closely. Like I said, it’s been hard to focus on work today. But I’m here.

Here in London, we’re defiantly carrying on. And we’re all trying to keep calm.

It was a month ago today that our sister website, Dogs In The News, reported the death of two police dogs, Milly, a five month old GSD, and Chay, a Belgian Shepherd Malinois, after they were left in a hot car by their handler.

At the time, many dog lovers were outraged not just that this had been allowed to happen, again, by the police, but also that people STILL hadn’t gotten the message that dogs die in hot cars and that even leaving them for a few minutes with the windows down is unacceptable.

Well, they’re going to get the message now.

Within hours of our original post, enough people had gotten upset and spoken out in frustration and anger that Beverley Cuddy, Editor of Dogs Today magazine and well known campaigner for canine rights, had decided to use her powers to do something about. “Don’t just get mad,” she urged on her blog “Let’s stop it happening ever again.”

The way she proposed to do this was by giving the general dog owning public a shocking reminder that dogs die in hot cars every summer. In just a few short days, a slogan was devised and the amazing Judith Brough was called in to design an eye catching image.

This image and slogan were to adorn a car sticker, which we hope to soon see in cars up and down the country and around the world. Dogs In The News are offering this sticker for FREE to anyone who wants one; you can place your order here.

The campaign is coming along in leaps and bounds: there is now an accompanying video, downloadable material and web buttons, and even a merchandise store if you fancy spreading the word via a mug or t-shirt. You can find out about all the latest updates via the official campaign website.

Plus, the message has been endorsed by the British Kennel Club, as well as other animal rights groups and charities.

I’m doing my bit to spread the word by promoting the heck out of the campaign via any outlet I can think of. I hope all my readers will help me by writing a short post for their own blog or website, or at the very least placing an order for a sticker. I really don’t want to see any more tragic headlines!

Remember, it is unacceptable to leave your dog in the car on a hot day, even in the shade or with the windows down. Dogs die in hot cars. Don’t cook your dog.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit dog mad. Which is why my new job (see yesterday’s blog) at the Kennel Club in London is so exciting for me.

Meanwhile, I have also decided to start pursuing my dream of becoming a dog reporter, and I think it’s safe to say that I am well on my way, with 40 posts on my ‘doggie website’, over 200 visitors there a month and a Twitter following of almost 550 dog lovers!  We also run a monthly Book Club.

But this new venture does mean that I have been ignoring my readers over here a tad. I am hoping to remedy that in the future; but for now, here’s a selection of the articles which I have been producing over there for your enjoyment.

March:

After Crufts, the RSPCA wrote an open letter to the KC expressing their concerns about the world of pedigree dogs. You can read my response here.

I also produced an article hailing Irish breeds in honour of St Patrick’s Day.

April:

I took a serious and a lighthearted look at the designer dogs debate.

May:

I looked at the issue of beach bans, and urged all dog owners to scoop the poop!

June:

I promoted National Microchipping Month, Child Safety Week and live blogged an episode of The Apprentice (it was a pet food task).

I also covered a soap opera esque dispute between two magazine editors, and covered in depth the story of the two police dogs left to die in a hot car, and a campaign (which is still ongoing) to stop it ever happening again.

Whew! Putting it all down in one place like that it certainly does look like a lot! I hope you forgive me for my lack of attention over here, and enjoy all my articles. Thanks for reading!

 

“I think America is finally ready for an animated sitcom about a fat, stupid guy with a wife who’s too good for him”, claimed Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family GuyAmerican Dad and The Cleveland Show this week, when he announced that Fox has picked up his new series, due to premiere in America in 2013.  The premise of the new show has already got commentators buzzing – don’t worry, it’s not a Klaus spin off – and I for one can’t wait to see the results.

Seth MacFarlane is going to revive “The Flintstones”.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment. If you’re not a fan of Seth’s work, you may be gaping at your screen in horror, imagining endless “e-rock-tion” jokes and Dino’s reincarnation as a fey triceratops with a glue addiction. Even I have to admit that I am slightly dubious, given how disappointed I was with the most recent offerings from Family Guy and Cleveland.  However, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I actually think he’ll pull this project off quite well.

To read the rest of this article, go to Unbored!