Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Dionne Warwick, Hurricanes and Archives.

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts that you might have missed and as always I am so grateful for the contribution of others to the blog which adds great content and a different perspective on life.

Exactly thirty years ago to the day, we were told on a weather forecast that high winds were expected overnight.. that particular weatherman never lived that down. On the Monday 16th of October, I was due to start my new job as Advertising Sales Trainer for a paper in South Woodford in London. It was great as it was just a ten minute walk from our house on the edge of Epping Forest. Overnight we certainly had high winds… it was a hurricane with winds up to 135 miles per hour and most of the South of England was devastated. On our estate ancient trees toppled and the next morning I had to climb over several to get down to the main street where the offices were. My first day on the job and apart from the receptionist who lived locally and had managed to get in and open up… I was the only one in the office for the day. On job training they call it.

Hurricane Ophelia has just dropped down by ten miles an hour and downgraded from a category 3 to category 2 which is a tropical storm. It is beginning to break up as it travels north and hits the current depression over us. It is going to make landfall on our west coast tonight which will take a beating especially in coastal areas. We are hoping that by the time it reaches us it will have lost even more power, but because we live in a rural location our overhead electricity and telephone lines are likely to suffer.  We are better placed than many who live in designated flood areas as the rain that will fall is going to fill the rivers rapidly.

If you don’t see me around for a couple of days you will know why.. If you are in the UK batten down the hatches as high winds will be hitting you tomorrow on the north west coast. Be safe.

I have scheduled you with some of your regular posts for the week to keep you entertained..

Time to get on with some posts that you might have missed this week…

William Price King Meets some Legends – Dionne Warwick the Early Years.

The start of a new series and we meet the wonderful iconic Dionne Warwick as she grows up with a gospel influence and rich musical heritage.

Writer in Residence – Pure by Paul Andruss

Thomas the Rhymer Paul Andruss

This week Paul Andruss shares the secrets from the leather tanning industry that is best written between meals. Some of the products used to provide you with soft kid gloves were picked up by collectors.. and a clue.. today we would be fined for not picking it up.. Pure is its name not its nature!

Smorgasbord Health – Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor

This week wind free beans.. and not just baked, but a number of varieties created in her kitchen in Thailand for your pleasure.

I added a few more mushroom recipes to those Carol created a couple of weeks ago

Smorgasbord Health

With the Australia flu raising concern for its spread to the UK and the rest of Europe it is time to think about taking some precautions.

Sunday Interview – Ultimate Bucket List

Delighted to welcome author Amy M. Reade to share her two top items on her Ultimate Bucket List..

Odd Jobs and Characters

My thanks to Adele Marie Park for sharing this week’s episode of Odd Jobs and Characters. I come to grips with a few rams… literally!  On a sheep farm in the mountains of Wales.

Posts from Your Archives

I am so delighted that so many bloggers are sharing posts from their archives that deserve another audience.. MINE.. if you are interested in participating just send four links to I am looking for human interest, informative, entertaining and humour…if you would like to promote your books.. then still email but we will look at doing a FREE promotion instead.

Carol Taylor kicked off the week with the story of a stray mama dog and her pups and the her own impending new fur family member.

Pete Johnson took a look back at the 1950s and 1960s with a realistic look at the hardships that children and adults face in those post war years.

Deana Metzke shares the story of how her son, although still very young developed a taste for chapter books, eagerly looking forward to the next night’s installment.

Debby Gies with one of her informational posts on handling social media and solicitations by email. We all get them.. “I write posts very similar to your blog and feel that I could provide you with content”  or similar.

A new contributor to this series.. Bob Wertzler of Cabbages and Kings with a post about how we are all stories.. everything we do, think or feel is about creating a story.

And a warm welcome back after a couple of months offline to Tina Frisco who shares wise words on how we can manage stressful and sometimes catastrophic events in our lives.

Sally’s Cafe and Update

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the shelves

Smorgasbord Book Promotion

Media Training – Advertising for authors – Physical Watering Holes where readers gather.

This is the final post in this series – physical waterholes where you can meet your readers and sell books.

Personal Stuff

Smorgasbord Pet Health


A herd of dairy cows come rushing across to listen to a jazz band.. and then the unexpected happens…..

Thank you again for all your wonderful support this week and hopefully the winds will die down before they reach us.. if not see you on the other side.


Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Cafe and Bookstore revamp, Archived Post bonanza and great guests.


Welcome to the weekly round up and so pleased that there have been so many guests this week. Delighted too that the Posts from your Archives has proved so popular. Some wonderful posts this week from Pete Johnson, Debby Gies, Carol Taylor, Jennie Fitzkee and Deana Metzke with more bloggers joining next week with the start of their four week series.

My thanks as always to William Price King, Paul Andruss and Carol Taylor for their contribution to the blog with fabulous posts covering music, mystery and legends and food.

And, last but not least, thank you for your continued support, views, likes, shares and comments...

Here are the posts from the week that you might have missed..

William Price King Meets Some Legends – Sir Tom Jones The Finale

This week was the last part in the series featuring Sir Tom Jones and some of his hits from the last decade. Still going strong at 77, this dynamic performer clearly has a huge following across all age groups.  Here he is in 1977 with another performer who has crossed the decades with style.. Tina Turner and Hot Legs. Next week we begin a new series with that fabulous talent – Dionne Warwick.

Writer in residence – Paul Andruss

It was Paul’s birthday yesterday and he recently sent me a post called The Gift and rather than share later in the series, I decided to share on Friday in honour of his special day. Paul writes exclusive posts for Smorgasbord that take a huge amount of research and time to prepare and I am eternally grateful that he accepted the invitation to be writer in residence. I am sure if you missed this post you will enjoy heading over to read. Thought provoking and resulted in some interesting comments.

Thomas the Rhymer

Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor and this week the health benefits of watercress and some wonderful recipes provided by Carol after creating in her kitchen in Thailand.

The Ultimate Bucket List – the top two items on Luanne Castle’s bucket list… time travel…and read on to find out what else.

Posts from your Archives

So pleased at the response to this series which showcases posts from YOUR archives. Perhaps from the start of your blogging career when you may have had fewer followers and you would like to share again with MINE.. It is a way of not only promoting your blog but also if you have books to promote I will add those in too. Email me with four links to posts that you would like to share again. If you want to promote your books then we can do that separately. I am looking for posts that are about life, love, adventure or an experience that you feel made a difference in your life.  Email me on

Here are this week’s Posts From Your Archives.

Carol Taylor with an entertaining anecdote about her father who despite requiring a walker for mobility managed to do some Cirque de Soleil moves!

Pete Johnson of Beetley Pete with a life changing experience that all parents can relate to.

Deana Metzke shared her experiences with the Olympics and her young son’s reaction to watching on television

D.G. Kaye – Debby Gies with a post on a relationship issue that applies to both male and female partners. When one is receiving more attention and success than the other it can require careful thought and management.

Jennie Fitzkee with reflections on the natural and unaffected conversation with young children

New Series – Guess Who I Bumped Into – I shall be doing my usual browse through my readers and will share a blogger each week who is new to me and who I think you might like to meet too. This week  author Peter Davidson who has published 28 books and has just begun a blog.. Marital Advice to my Grandson.. very entertaining.

Book Promotions – Air your Reviews – A chance to show case your most recent reviews.

Pure Trash Bette Stevens

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Updates – New Releases and Reviews

N.B. The cafe and bookstore has had a facelift and over the coming weeks I will be increasing the number of book covers displayed and will also be including and extract from the most recent review for one of those books. The aim is to encourage readers to click the review link and end up in the buy page… I hope it helps.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves – New authors on the shelves of the Bookstore… if you would like to be featured then please email me

Odd Jobs and Characters – hosted by author Lyn Horner – My odd jobs that inspire my stories and characters.

This week I get to grips with a sword wielding champagne magnet and fall in love – not a bad day’s work!

Media Training for Authors – the series continues with a look at the some of the online watering holes where readers gather. There are several out there and once you get started you can explore others that might suit you better but achieve the same result. Bringing you together with readers and reviews.

Moyhill Publishing – Update.

Now that the house and garden renovations are nearing the end (garden weather dependent!) Moyhill Publishing is up and running again and we have been working quietly in the background for the last couple of months. We have just received a wonderful testimonial and I have updated some of the details and covers.

Health – that time of year when we need to make sure we are making dietary and lifestyle changes to boost our immune system.

Smorgasbord Pet health – Hip Dysplasia – get to know your puppy’s relatives.


Thank you once again for dropping and as always your feedback is very welcome. 


Smorgasbord Pet Health – New arrivals on their way – Pregnancy in cats and dogs


I am an advocate for adoption for both dogs and cats. There are so many needing homes.

However, accidents happen and when it does then there are some simple things that you can do to ensure the health of your pet as well as give them a stress free pregnancy and delivery.

As with human pregnancies sometimes our pets and their resulting offspring are also accidental. Cats are pretty organised and their gestation period (pregnancy) lasts between 63 and 65 days whilst dogs can be a little more varied, dependent on breed, and can have a pregnancy lasting between 56 and 72 days.

Unless you catch your pet “in the act” during a receptive period (heat) then you may have to ask the vet to verify the pregnancy at about a month. If you need to know how many there are going to be in the litter you can also splash out for a scan at about 45 days, and this might be important if you are concerned for the health of the dog or cat.


If you are planning to breed your dog or cat then they need as much attention to health and diet before the event as we do.

For dogs and cats it is important that their vaccinations are up to date and that they have just been wormed before conception.

During pregnancy

In the second half of pregnancy you need to gradually increase the level of her food day by day until at the end she is eating about twice her normal amount. Divide the meals into five or six smaller meals per day, as this will be more comfortable for her. She will need a balanced diet that is appropriate for pregnancy and you can ask your vet for recommendations on specific nutrients and what natural foods should be included.

If your dog is used to eating healthy home prepared meals then continue that way, with additional lean poultry and fish as well as vegetables. Make sure that she stays hydrated as her needs for fluids will increase as the pregnancy progresses.

Cats are usually very self-sufficient, but they too need regular small meals later in pregnancy, along with plenty of fresh water.

A dog should have moderate exercise throughout pregnancy and this will help her keep supple and flexible for the birth. It is a good idea to keep your cat indoors during the last two weeks of pregnancy as she may discover what she feels is a suitable place to give birth in your neighbour’s tool shed.

You need to make preparations around three weeks before the litter is due and a whelping box is the safest for both the mother and puppies. The puppies or kittens need to be clustered as closely as possible together, for both warmth and safety, but the mother should be able to lie outstretched to enable her to nurse them comfortably.

If you are building the whelping box yourself it should have sides between 4 and 8 inches high, depending on the breed of your dog. Encourage her to sleep in it up to the birth so that she is used to it. Use shredded newspapers as bedding, or smooth sheets that can be washed easily. Place the box in a quiet place away from the family and noise so that your dog associates it with a safe place to deliver and keep her babies.

Cats like a slightly higher whelping box with sides about 6 to 10 inches high and they too like a secluded corner where they can nurse in safety. Cats may turn their noses up at your efforts and find their own haven – usually in inconvenient places such as the airing cupboard or under your bed – but you will have to leave her alone at least for the first ten days to avoid stressing her unnecessarily. They usually like their boxes to be covered with a towel or something similar so that it is dark as well as quiet.

Signs of impending labour

The mammary glands in both dogs and cats will engorge in the last two or three weeks and milk will become available in the last two to three days and is a good sign that they are about to begin labour. If you are brave enough (my dog likes to try and rip the arm off the vet at the sight of a thermometer) take your dog’s temperature once the milk appears and you will see that it drops to 99F within 10 to 24 hours of labour starting.

If you are not planning on having the vet assist at the birth, which to be honest is unlikely for most domestic pets, then be prepared to help out if necessary. Usually you will come down in the morning and find a proud mother with her litter tucked up and already nursing.

Both dogs and cats will begin to exhibit nesting or nursing behaviour and I have seen dogs and cats start to mother anything from an old slipper to a hairbrush. The maternal instinct is very strong and it is not a good idea to fuss around them unless they come to you specifically for comfort.

This stage lasts from 6 to 24 hours and they will eventually seek seclusion, either in the whelping box they have become used to or their chosen spot. They will start to have contractions and their cervix will dilate as during a human birth but it will not be visible to you.

During labour

Contractions will become stronger and will be accompanied by abdominal contractions pushing out the puppies or kittens. If you are present during the birth you will notice a small, green sac visible at the vulva before the puppy or kitten arrives. The placenta will follow each individual birth and the mother will lick and bite the sac to release the baby before cleaning it and biting the umbilical cord.

With an inexperienced mother, you may need to help nature along by gently rubbing the kitten or puppy with a towel to stimulate its breathing. This may also happen if the mother begins the contractions for the next member of the litter immediately following the birth of the last one.

There a number of things that you need to look out for during the last stages of pregnancy, and during labour, that might signal that your pet is having difficulties.

If the mother has been having strong contractions for longer than ten min-Utes and it looks as though the kitten or puppy is lodged in the birth canal, gently grasp it around the shoulders with a thin towel and gently rock back and forth. Without grabbing the legs pull towards you carefully until it is freed.

After the birth, if the mother does not sever the umbilical cord then tie a piece of strong cotton around the cord about an inch from the body and then cut on the side of the knot away from the baby. Dip the end in a little iodine to prevent infection.

Usually there is a ten to thirty minute rest between individual births – but this might vary, particularly with cats.

When to call the vet

  • You should have taken your pet to the vet for a check-up during the pregnancy so they will be expecting to be called out it there are problems.
  • If the pregnancy lasts more than the usual 65 days or 71 days in the case of a dog then take them to the vet to be checked.
  • If after the stronger contractions begin and the mother is having abdominal contractions but no births then you need to call the vet.
  • If there is a lapse of more than two hours between puppies, or four hours between kittens, and you are sure that labour is still in progress then you will need help.
  • If after gently moving the kitten or puppy in the birth canal you still cannot deliver it then you again will need assistance.
  • If the mother has been in labour for over three hours and develops a greenish/black discharge but no babies there is a problem.
  • Sometimes a placenta is not delivered for each individual birth and leaving it inside the mother is dangerous and needs to be dealt with.


Having new kittens or puppies in the house is as miraculous as human birth and if you have helped your pet through the process it makes it even more meaningful.

And then perhaps you might get something like this

Smorgasbord Pet Health – House training – reward not punishment for you or your dog.

There is nothing more endearing than a young puppy gambolling around the house and garden and bringing a great deal of fun and laughter into our lives.

When I first brought Sam home, when he was just 8 weeks old, it ended 18 years without a pet in the house. I had made the decision that I had to be working part-time before I got a dog, as I feel that it is not kind to leave them on their own for hours at a time.

This is especially the case with puppies – they not only have a very short attention span and get bored very easily but also have very small bladders.

I can remember some advice that I received when I had my first puppy in my twenties and I had not followed it then and I didn’t with Sam. The method of rubbing your dog’s face in any accident they might have had in the house is both cruel and unnecessary. Particularly if it is several minutes or even hours after the event. Puppies are like babies and do not necessarily have all the social graces at first but unlike babies they learn very quickly and can be house trained simply and kindly.

We were very lucky in as much as we had a very useful utility room, next to the back door which was the right size to accommodate both bedroom and prepared toilet areas.

Dogs do not foul their own beds so a clear definition needs to be made. Place some waterproof material under lots of newspaper by the door as far as possible away from its bed and drinking water, and leave the puppy in this small play area when you are either out of the house or cannot watch over them.

I put a gate up across the door between the utility room and the kitchen and Sam could watch us when we were cooking dinner, which is not a good time to have a puppy under foot. The first night we walked him in the garden late and got up early the next morning and discovered that he had just had a pee on the paper by the door. We took him out immediately and began a routine, which I will explain in a moment.

The next morning at the same time, we found Sam with both legs and eyes crossed hanging on for dear life. He made it outside to the garden and stood for about 40 seconds with a glazed look on his face.

He was a bright puppy and no one had house trained him in the previous 8 weeks, because he lived outside in a shed on straw. He instinctively knew that he should not soil his living area and that extended to the rest of the house as he gained more access. To this day the only accidents he has had in the house have been if he was unwell and it was unavoidable. He always asks to go out and you have to learn to understand the difference between pestering for attention and food and the absolute necessity your dog has to go out and relieve himself.

Here are some tips for house training your new dog. I am not a keen advocate of cages and crates that seem to be the modern approach to house training, as I believe them to be too confining. Yes a dog needs a safe place to retire to when they feel they wish that, but you can provide that in a quiet and safe room away from the main living areas.  To be honest, the dogs I have owned, have always wanted to be where we were, and it was usually a sign that they might be unwell that prompted them to remove themselves. What is very useful is a playpen with a solid washable floor that you can put newspaper down on, and small wheels – you can safely leave your puppy with suitable chew toys for entertainment and also where you can limit access to other areas of the house. With the wheels it means you can take the pen to the various rooms you are in easily and without accidents. It is much bigger than a crate and despite having to top will serve to give the dog a sense of security..

Tips for house-training your pet.

1. As with humans there are certain functions that stimulate the need to go to the loo and although it is an excellent idea to take a new puppy out every one or two hours there are certain times that you should try and stick to.

  1. Immediately your puppy wakes up in the morning or from one of their frequent naps.
  2. Last thing at night.
  3. Shortly after their meals.
  4. Before greeting sessions with visitors (otherwise they will go during in excitement)
  5. After a session of playing.
  6. Every hour for a few minutes.
  7. When training your puppy you need to establish both routine and also purpose. Keep toilet and play times separate so that when you go out on the hour or every two hours you are not distracting the dog from going to the toilet, going back inside and then pestering you five minutes later because they have a full bladder.
  8. Take the puppy out on a lead to a specific area of the garden, this will encourage the dog to know that when on the lead he is working and will help when you begin to walk him off your property on the street.
  9. Make sure that you keep the designated area clean, from a hygiene perspective but also because dogs do not like soiling over previous poops and will look for somewhere else.
  10. Develop a word for the puppy for the process that you will continue to use as they get older.
  11. Stay with the puppy as it will prevent him getting distracted from the task in hand.
  12. Reward him when he has either peed or pooped with your chosen word and telling him he is a good boy etc. You can also give him a small treat like a piece of cheese so that he begins to associate the action with the reward.
  13. Then spend a few minutes with the puppy off the lead having a game or taking them for a walk around the garden. If he has had vaccinations then you can take him out, which in itself will be a reward.
  14. Learn to interpret your puppy’s body language and vocal patterns so that you know when he needs to go out. If your puppy suddenly starts sniffing the ground and running around it usually means that he is looking for a place to go to the toilet. If you are not quick enough to get to him then distract him with clapping hands or  a word loudly in a non-aggressive manner (no point in scaring him into an accident). Pick him up swiftly and take to the designated place in the garden (not right at the bottom, as you may not get there unscathed). Place him on the ground and praise him thoroughly when he has finished doing what he needs to.

What happens if the puppy has accidents in the house?

You will be very lucky indeed to get away without any accidents during the lifetime of a dog but certainly make allowances for puppies at night. If you have given them more access to the house they will not always be in reach of their usual paper in their sleeping area so be prepared to clean up after them.

Do not use ammonia-based products as this will smell like pee to your puppy and he may decide to use this spot as a designated toilet area. Clean thoroughly with hot soapy water and there are some pet safe disinfectants that you should buy at the same time as you buy all your new puppies accessories.

It is likely at first that your puppy will have accidents at night and of course if he is in the utility room he is unable to attract your attention. Playpens are great for keeping in your bedroom at night so that the puppy can alert you with his cries. He will do so, and if you are prepared for a few sleepless nights then this is one option. I personally prefer a utility room or bathroom with a specific area for accidents and make sure that the puppy is walked as late as possible at night and as early as possible in the morning, even if it means going back to bed for a couple of hours.

We all know the discomfort caused by the need to desperately go to the loo without a toilet nearby and dogs are no exception, they will let you know and you will need to learn to understand their language and be patient with them and yourself.


Smorgasbord Round Weekly Round Up – Sir Tom Jones, King Arthur, Brussel Sprouts and Author Media Training

Welcome to the weekly round up where I share my posts from the week and also those of my guests. Those guests are providing a much valued different perspective on topics that I might not cover normally and I thank them so much for their work and time that they spend creating their posts.

Also news of some new ways to promote your books and blog this week and tomorrow the start of the new Sunday Interview show… The Ultimate Bucket List and to show you how it will look… our foodie guest writer Carol Taylor volunteered to be the first victim guest……going out just after midnight.

Resident musical director – William Price King is back with a new music series… the every youthful and dynamic Sir Tom Jones, and this week in the early years, William shares some of his early influences and hits.

Paul Andruss tackles the legend of King Arthur this week which is not an easy thing to do. As you will read, Arthur has been a pawn in other Kings and Emperor’s claims to their position and there might have been a few pretenders along the way too.

Julie Lawford has been with us over the summer with some excellent posts on lifestyle and weight loss and I hope that in the future she will find time to donate some of her archived posts again. This week Julie shares some useful links to healthy living sites and some videos that are worth watching.

Carol Taylor has been adding her special blend of spices and love of fresh produce to the foods that I have showcased in the past as being particularly healthy.. Sally and Carol’s Cook from Scratch is going from strength to strength and we are grateful for you likes, shares and comments. This week the little powerhouse of nutrition… Brussel sprouts.



And in the new series of Posts from your Archives, Pete Johnson from Beetley Pete starts a four week series on posts from his stash. In this post you will also find out how you can participate by giving posts that you would like to share with a new audience a showcase. Look forward to hearing from you.

Milestones along the Way by Geoff Cronin

Last weekend we came to the end of my late father-in-law Geoff’s books with the love story of how Geoff and Joan, his wife of 50 years met.  All his stories are in the directory for you to revisit.

Odd Jobs and Characters – Public House Landlady my host Chris the Story Reading Ape.

This week some challenges in my role as landlady of a pub in Cowes on the Isle of Wight with rather over the top customers courtesy of the ‘booze cruises’ on Saturday nights – Read all about it:

New Series – Media Training for Authors.

I have been an Indie author for 20 years and without a massive budget behind me to get noticed, I had to push open a few doors myself. For most of it is very hard to self-promote, even for someone like myself, who have a background in public speaking at conferences and major events.

We have a tendency to think global with our marketing because we have access to the world via the Internet. But I have always sold more books, especially print books by creating a market in my local environment. When I first began marketing my books there was no Amazon, worldwide web or global readership to the same extent and we relied on local media picking up the story. This sometimes led to nationals then taking an interest. That is how it worked with my first book Size Matters and I enjoyed both local and national coverage. The same applied to my family health book – Just Food for Health that sold well at book fairs, health events and summer fetes.

Most authors that I speak to are seeking international recognition for their work and to become a bestseller. But, there is no harm in getting some much needed experience locally first, before stepping onto the worldwide stage. One reason being, that most national radio stations and media, will be looking to interview authors who have had some experience of being behind a microphone or in front of a camera.  I have adapted my media training course to focus on authors and book marketing.

Here are the first two posts with more tomorrow and next weekend.

Book Promotions

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update

Air Your Reviews – share your most recent rave review with everyone..

Thomas the Rhymer Paul Andruss

Blog Promotions – The Blogger Daily now on hold for next week (writing break)

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily

Smorgasbord Health 2017

Smorgasbord Pet Health


Personal Stuff

I underwent a procedure this week that was long overdue.. the process prompted a poem!

Thank you very much for dropping in this week and as always very grateful to see you and get your feedback. Enjoy the rest of the weekend… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Pet Health – Allergies, fleas and benefits of raw food diets for dogs and cats.

In this day and age it is not unusual for our pets to suffer from the same types of allergies that we do ourselves. Most of the allergies in dogs and cats come from fleas but assuming that you keep your cat treated for these then the next likely culprit is environmental including house dust, mites, mould and pollen. However, these aside food allergies count for many of the digestive and some of the skin problems with our pets.

Our own dog, Sam developed a lick granuloma, which is a skin lesion usually located around the elbow or wrist area of a front leg. He was only about a year old and it was shortly after he had moved to an adult food and I was using treats to train him.

A lick granuloma is a thickened, oval and hairless red area of skin, which the dog will continually lick making the condition worse until it can become ulcerated. Although the condition has been linked to boredom and stress in dogs it can also be a result of an allergy.

It took several months and a number of different tactics for me to isolate the culprit. In Sam’s case he was allergic to something in his training treats. The majority of dogs may have no problem with this particular brand which happened to be Markies, but like humans animals are very individual and ‘one dog’s meat is another dog’s poison’.

For some animals it can be any number of chemicals in grooming products and flea prevention concoctions including the collars.

When I talk to my parent’s generation and ask them about what they fed their dogs you will find that their healthy and allergy free pets were fed on scraps from the table. Whatever was good enough for the family was good enough for the dog or cat. It is only in the last forty years or so that pet food has become such a huge business.

Home cooking.

In the end I cooked food each week for Sam and his lick granuloma cleared up and he always had bright eyes and a glossy coat he then moved onto a higher raw food diet. It is a bit of chore but to be honest if you make it a once a week job and freeze portions it is probably less time than going to the supermarket for it. He ate all sorts of offal from the butchers including a heart which lasted a couple of weeks for about £2 – he loved the smell of Basmati rice (of course he did) and he also had some vegetables – carrots were his favourite. In addition he would have cut up sausage for his treats, pigs ears, calcium chews and the one thing he would walk over burning coals for – extra mature cheddar! Oh and he inherited my love for ice-cream but only had occasionally to his disgust as milk for dogs is not recommended.

On the subject of rice and dogs.

There are two main standards of rice – Human grade and feed grade which is what is usually put in commercial dog food. The feed grade is what is left over after human rice products are manufactured and usually has picked up chemicals and toxins during the process. Arsnic being one of the toxins that can be found it this grade.

If you use a high quality rice, and Basmati is actually more flavoursome than normal rice and has a distinctive aroma (attractive to dogs) due to 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline in amounts around 12 times more than normal white rice. Rice and chicken is used also for dogs who have suffered stomach upsets as it helps absorb the moisture in the intestine.

This is another reason why I would not use dry pet food and here is couple of articles that might clarify that opinion.

Dr. Becker – Raw food vs. Industrial pet food

Dr. Becker on millet and grains in industrial pet food

The debate about dried pet food should really be a lesson for us all when we look at our levels of processed foods and the solution is the same for your pet as for us when we have an allergy problem except we can be a little more rigid with a pet.

Some of the symptoms of an allergy.

If you dog or cat is exhibiting some of these symptoms such as scratching, frequent vomiting, stomach upset, and urinary tract infections (evident by very frequent peeing and whining as it burns) then you need to look at the food you are providing them with, including tinned and dried.

If you have eliminated other reasons for the problem such as fleas then you can start your pet on a hypoallergenic rotational diet. Like us your pet could be reacting to the preservatives in dried food or to the most common allergens such as beef, dairy products (cats can be prone) chicken, wheat, corn and flavoured vitamins. Most of these are common ingredients of dried and canned foods.

Use a protein that your dog or cat does not normally eat. Lamb is expensive but is the least likely to cause an allergy. You can serve raw with some boiled rice if your dog is particularly active. Keep to the lamb only with rice for at least 12 weeks (even if your pet gets fed up and wants a change) and monitor improvements. Make sure the pet has plenty of water to flush out their system. After that initial period re-introduce other proteins such as raw chicken and beef, individually for 5 to 7 days at a time and see if one of these causes a reaction. If none occurs then re-introduce any dry food that you were using and monitor the response.

Typically when I conducted this elimination diet for Sam it was the last thing on the list that I re-introduced that had been the problem and it caused a reaction within three days.

Ideally your pet, dog or cat will be safe eating the much the same food as you do but raw (although I tended to freeze offal in meal sizes as it can get a little smelly, particularly the hearts). Moderate carbohydrate such as rice, protein and some vegetables .. there are a few things that a dog should not eat in great quanitities if at all and that includes wheat, milk, (although Sam did eat some cheese) cooked bones are not healthy and as you will see from the link at the end of the post.. onions and grapes.

And a very important message is, please do not feed your dog chocolate. It contains a poison to dogs called theobromine and in large quantities it is toxic to a dog’s central nervous system. Dark chocolate contains more than milk chocolate but both can cause possible fatal harm to your pet.

Follow the money!

Some interesting statistics show how the eating habits of our pets have changed over the last thirty years or so. The pet food industry in 2012 in the United States was worth $7 billion and in the UK about £2.8 billion!

Sixty years ago when the majority of pets were fed from the table and with scraps the expenditure on pet food was virtually zero.

Let me pose a question since Africa is such a food starved continent. If we all fed our pets in the same way that our parents did that $10 billion or so would feed an incredible amount of people and our pets might well be somewhat healthier.

More information on Fleas

On the subject of fleas – over the counter products can be loaded with chemicals that can cause an adverse reaction in your pet that can be fatal. I used organic and natural products and Sam had a garlic tablet in his dinner each day and if his breath was anything to go by it was largely effective!

Here is an interesting article about the life cycle of the flea – both male and female and there are a few surprises such as the female laying eggs not on the pet but in the cracks in your floorboards!  Also some tips on natural and organic products.

And on the subject of a more holistic approach to feeding and treating our dogs… you might find this site very interesting.

I hope you have found the post interesting and please feel free to share.. thanks Sally.




A strange encounter this morning that brought a smile to my face. #Cats

I woke up early this morning and decided to get on with some writing. I got to the bottom of the stairs, and thought I was seeing double.

Some years ago I bought a rather regal black cat figure for my mother, which resided on the fire surround, and seemed to watch us wherever we were in the room.

When my mother died we took the cat back to Madrid with us where he went on to star in Tales from the Garden. When we returned to Ireland he came with us, and is now inside our hall, by the front door, as a welcome to visitors. He is tucked into a corner, with just his face visible through the glass surround.

However, this morning, he had company.


When we first moved in to the house last June, and were decorating, we would leave the front door open to air the place out. One day a black cat walked in, and as we stood watching carefully, he or she, inspected the downstairs of the house, and then left again. As it left, it looked at us both as if to say ‘You’ll do’!  Since then I have seen him (he is quite big and beefy) a few times, but he has run off into the bushes if I have approached him. However, from time to time I catch him checking us out.  A few weeks ago I looked out of my office window to see him sitting watching me through the glass for several minutes before wandering off. He looks well fed but my guess is that he has been feral for a long time, and well able to catch his own dinner in the farmland around us.

Clearly he had caught sight of my stone cat and was checking it out, probably for gender! I slowly moved my boy around to face the window, and went off and collected my camera from the office. I returned and sat on the bottom step of the stairs and watched to see what would happen.

I took several snaps of the two of them and then decided to try my own luck with our visitor. I went and got a saucer of warm milk, opening the front door carefully, only to see him darting under the car. However, once I was back inside and had resumed my seat he crept back out, and emboldened by his new friend, finished the offering with much relish and licking of whiskers. I think it has been a long time since he had enjoyed that delicacy.



I believe black cats are lucky, and in fact I like all cats. David is allergic to them so we have not enjoyed the company of a house feline. However, over the years, a number of feral cats have seemed to find me, and in our last house in Ireland, I discovered a dying cat under a bush in my garden. He was Henry who starred in Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story, and went on to father two kittens with a young floozy who turned up in the garden one day.

Henry and Sam were great pals but the cat would never come into the house, preferring to sit on my lap in the sunshine having a brush or lying on the sunbed with me. He was completely feral and would disappear when strangers arrived and bless him, he did have a particularly pungent aroma.

Sam checking out Henry’s grooming (or lack of) habits.. ‘Mate, you need a bath’

Sam and Henry taking advantage of the Irish sunshine

The black and white Floozy and Henry’s offspring.

The Floozy would not let me touch her, but when I arrived home one day from work, I found her two kittens, who were a few weeks old at the time, on the front door mat. They both had their eyes caked shut with infection, and I looked around to find their mother under a bush watching carefully. I picked both the kittens up (with strong gardening gloves as they were spitting and scratching hellions) and with Sam overseeing the operation, I gently washed their eyes with warm, lightly salty water. I then put them back out on the mat and she collected them.  This went on for a week until one day there was just one kitten who still had a minor infection. His mother and sister watched from under the bush until I put him back down again and he was collected. The next day there was no kitten for me to tend to but they would follow me around the garden at a distance as my guard of honour.

As you can see from the photograph they lived to grow into strapping and healthy cats. We lived on a couple of acres down a farm lane and there was an abundance of rats which provided them with plenty to eat. I did however supplement with scraps and also popped in some anti-parasitic herbs and worming tablets regularly. They would often leave me a gift on the doormat. Usually a very dead and large rat and I was not sure if I was supposed to cook it for them or for me!

I usually rewarded this gift with their favourite treat which was raw liver…

Anyway, I will be interested to see where my relationship with the black cat develops, but I will keep our stone cat facing outwards, and I suspect that he might be back to visit his new friend, and for a saucer of milk again tomorrow.

©images sallycronin


Smorgasbord Pet Health – Cars and Dogs – Are you breaking UK driving laws?

We have all seen the funny videos of dogs in cars with their heads out the windows or through the sunroof, but in the UK there is a driving law that states that a driver must restrain all animals in a vehicle appropriately.

I know that not all of us have an estate car or hatchback but even if we do, a small dog can be flung from the back into the back passenger seats and even front seats with enough force to kill someone. Which is why it is important that you install some form of dog barrier across that area. If your dog is travelling in the back seat of the car then you can buy a harness that slips around their body and through a seat belt. This is not just to protect them if there should be an accident but for you safety too.

Tavelling with even a small dog on your lap can be potentially fatal for the dog especially if it is between you and the force of an air bag.. It is much safe for dogs to be restrained in the back passenger seats in my opinion rather than the hatch back when on long journeys where you are more likely to be at risk of high impact crashes.. the middle of the car is cushioned and there are plenty of ways to protect the seating with waterproof covers and towels etc. Buying a seat belt harness for you dog may save its life and yours.

Anyway.. here is an article that all dog owners should read, especially in the UK where is it law that your pets be suitably restrained in a vehicle.

In the Eastern Daily Press and contributed by The Dog’s Trust

Is Your Dog Wearing a Seatbelt – If not you may be breaking the law

Many of us would never dream of setting off on a long Bank Holiday car journey before making sure our children and loved ones are safely strapped in.

But today the Dogs Trust warns that even though our pets are much-loved family members, more than one in five dog owners in East Anglia regularly travel with their pooch unrestrained in the car.

Some drivers, according to the Dogs Trust – which has a rehoming centre in Snetterton, near Attleborough – even daringly drive with their dogs on their laps while they try to control the car at the wheel.

As many families set off on long Bank Holiday car journeys, the charity is today launching a dog safety awareness campaign to ensure people stick to the law and ensure their pets are properly strapped in.

Dr Rachel Casey, director of canine behaviour and research for Dogs Trust, said: “Dogs are such an important part of people’s lives, so it’s understandable that owners want to take them out and about with them.

“However, our survey shows many people don’t know the safest way to travel with their dogs and some are even unwittingly breaking the law by letting their dogs roam around the car whilst they are on the move.”

What the law says

Rule 57 of the Highway Code states: “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.

“A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

Read the rest of the article and even if it is not law yet in your country it is something you need to think carefully about as it might mean the difference of life or death for you and your pet: