Month: August 2020

PPCT helps fund new van for Blue Cross rehoming unit

blue cross van newport

Petplan Charitable Trust has awarded several grants to Blue Cross in recent years. One was to help purchase and refit a brand new van for the charity’s Newport Rehoming and Advice Unit.

blue cross logoThe van is used for safely transferring dogs from the Newport rehoming unit to overnight kennels.

“Last year, the Newport unit saw over 100 dogs rehomed – using a small, old, borrowed van to transfer just a couple of the dogs each time,” explains Victoria Kingsman at Blue Cross. “It is expected that this new, larger, modified van will significantly increase efficiencies so that many more needy dogs can now be helped.”

Newport is an area noted for relatively high numbers of stray animals. The centre helps more than 300 pets a year.

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Meet rescue terrier Bilbo, our Pet Loss Blog cover star

Bilbo the terrier defies life expectancy at 17

Meet superstar senior Bilbo. This cheeky little chappie has defied life expectancy predictions for terriers and is looking forward to his 18th birthday in November.

birmingham dogs home logoThe wonderful photo was posted on the Trust’s facebook page by proud owner Jilly Rivers, Fundraising Co-ordinator at Birmingham Dogs’ Home.

Vet and pet loss expert, Caroline Hewson, knew immediately that she had the cover star for her latest blog post which looks at pet life expectancy. He has clearly ignored all the research that puts the typical terrier lifespan at around 13 to 14 years.

“Bilbo is fit as a fiddle!” says Jilly. ” I rehomed him from Birmingham Dogs’ Home as a 9-week-old puppy as his owners were moving abroad. It was love at first sight and I knew I had to take him home!”

So, what breed is he? “I had a DNA test carried out and it came back as x Jack Russell terrier/Parsons Jack Russell terrier,” she says.

“We actually forget how old Bilbo is”

“Health-wise, he’s only had 2 dentals, with no other issues. He is actually a very fit dog for his age. He hasn’t slowed up, still plays with toys and the other two dogs. We actually forget how old he is sometimes. We love him to bits and he has been with me for the majority of the years that I have worked at BDH. He is a big part of my life and a perfect example of what a fantastic little rescue you can rehome from Birmingham Dogs’ Home.”

Post a pic of your senior pet for a chance to feature!

Have you rescued an older pet? Or do you share your life with one? We are looking for more superstar senior pets to appear in the Pet Loss Blog. Post a pic on our facebook and instagram pages for a chance to feature.

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How old is your pet really…?

Bilbo the terrier defies life expectancy at 17

So much happens in our lives over the short period that our pets live with us. They are witnesses to it all; just having them there can be a great support. So, it’s lovely to support them as they age or need more help.

This blog is about the ins and outs of that time–planning ahead and having the right tools and facts to hand. “The path of least regret” can be a helpful idea.

dog walker tramps through boggy groundThat path is different for every case and, as we chart it, we need solid ground underfoot–honest facts to steady us in a sea of uncertainty. Otherwise we end up leaping desperately from boggy spot to boggy spot — making frantic guesses or being too upset to decide. Then, later, we can feel we were forced into things or made the wrong call. It happens…

The next few posts will try to indicate some “patches of solid ground”, starting with age.

We used to think that 1 year of life for a cat or dog was roughly the same as 7 years of human life. The calculation can seem correct, on paper. Unfortunately it’s not that simple, for two reasons. (Both reasons probably apply to cats. We don’t have as much research on their life expectancy as we do on dogs–it’s hard to keep track of nine lives…)

1. A pet’s age on the calendar says relatively little about their body’s actual, “biological” age.
  • The biological age depends on things like genetics, health and fitness.
  • Some giant breeds of dog typically live for ~8 years, whereas many small dogs and mixed-breeds typically live to 13 years or older.
  • Larger dogs that stay trim can live longer than small dogs that get overweight.
  • Some breeds have inbuilt problems that tend to make their lives quite short… For example, the VetCompass data show that, on average: Chihuahuas live for ~7 years whereas Miniature Poodles live for ~ 14 years. However, even life expectancy data are general; they are not a prediction. For example: based on the data, dogs like our cover star Bilbo typically live for 13-14 years. But he is a wonderful 17 year-old!
2. The relationship between human age and dog age is not constant over the dog’s life span.
  • It gets more complex as dogs get older, and it depends on the dog’s breed, body fat and health.

Life expectancy - an older ginger cat sits on bed with ownerJust in case: comparing pet and human ages may worry some younger children (~6 to ~10 years old) because they only understand death gradually. If you say that a pet is as old as grandpa or Ms Smith over the road, and the pet dies, some children may worry that older people (parents, grandparents) are just about to die too.

Bottom line? It’s fun to compare our pet’s age with ours. Does your cat or dog deserve a birthday telegram from the Queen?! However, the comparison is not a great basis for making plans and decisions. Better to use the typical life expectancy of different breeds. The VetCompass project gathers those data continuously, and your vet can advise you.

Our next post will look at solid ground for gauging older pets’ quality of life, including pain.

Caroline Hewson Author: Caroline Hewson MRCVS

Caroline is a vet and has a PhD in animal behaviour. She writes and gives talks that translate research relevant to pets’ end of life into points to keep in mind.

Bilbo terrier ppctMeet superstar senior ‘Bilbo’.

Our cover star was adopted by proud owner Jilly from Birmingham Dogs’ Home and is going to be 18 years young in November. Read more>

We’re looking for our next cover star!

Is your pet a superstar senior? Post a photo on our Facebook and/or Instagram pages for a chance to feature in future blogs.

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If you are facing the loss of a pet, or are recently bereaved, you may find our Bereavement page useful.