Friday, 16 February 2018

Year of the Dog!

Our 2018 New Year's celebrations may seem like a long time ago now, but Chinese New Year starts today, with a 15-day-long celebration for those in China to mark the occasion. Here, at H&H HQ, we have even more reason to celebrate, as it's the Year of the Dog!

Legend foretells that the Jade Emperor wanted animals to be incorporated into the calendar, and that the dog was asked to be included for his wisdom. The choice of animals is of great significance: the ox, horse, goat, rooster, pig, and dog are six of the main domestic animals raised by the Chinese, whereas the rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, and monkey are all loved by the Chinese. The Zodiac cycles every twelve years, with the dog being the 11th animal. On top of this, each animal is associated with one of the five elements: gold/metal, wood, water, fire, and earth; these elements cycle every sixty years. 2018 sees the Year of the Earth Dog, meaning that those born this year or in 1958 will have characteristics such as being communicative, serious, and responsible in work.

Those born in the Year of the Dog will share a lot of personality traits with our four-legged friends. Attributes include: loyalty and honesty, amiable and kind, cautious and prudent, and due to their unwavering loyalty, they will do everything for the most important person in their life. Dogs are independent, sincere, and decisive, and they aren't afraid of difficulties in life. They enjoy harmonious relationships with those around them, much like Man's Best Friend!

Fancy joining in with the celebrations? A number of cities in the UK are hosting their own Chinese New Year festivities, including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Newcastle. From craft workshops to food markets, acrobatics to lion dancing, there is something for everyone to help ring in the Chinese New Year.

Whatever your plans may be for the Lunar New Year – and whatever Zodiac sign you may be – from all of us here at Hubble & Hattie, we wish you a happy and healthy Year of the Dog!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The strays of Istanbul

I had the good fortune to spend new year 2017 in Kadiköy, in the Asian part of Turkey. It was amazing – the coffee, the exotic-sounding language, and the plaintive and incomparable call to prayer, ringing out every few hours from the mosques.

It was especially impressive hearing the Iman calling from Istanbul's fabulous Blue Mosque, which is quite magnificent, both inside and out, and it reminded me of the time I spent in Northern Cyprus some years ago.

Turkey was just as I expected and more besides. What I hadn't expected to find, here in Istanbul and Kadiköy, were the numerous stray cats and dogs who populate the streets, apparently living in harmony alongside the people of Turkey. There are a huge number of these animals – unwanted by some but not unloved, it seems – and a scheme has been implemented whereby strays are taken in by resuce centres; checked over, vaccinated against rabies and other diseases, neutered, tagged and then returned to the streets, where local people (and a great many tourists) ensure their day-to-day living is taken care of. It's quite common to see both dogs and cats sleeping peacefully on the floor inside shops, cafes, and bars, oblivious to the coming and going of customers. It is hoped that this regime will mean an eventual reduction in the number of strays, which should, in theory, be the case.

I was both heartened and humbled to experience how Turkey is trying to accommodate these animals (who are, by the way, beautiful, and very affectionate by nature), who have become strays through no fault of their own. Far, far preferable is this to America's kill policy so enthusiastically implemented ... it could learn a lesson from Turkey's example.

Friday, 12 January 2018

You old dog!

After Christmas, there is always a focus on new or young dogs – how to look after them, what to feed them, etc – but what about older dogs? They require just as much care and attention as a new furry friend in the home!

Just like us, dogs are living longer, which has led to the need for a greater understanding of what is ideal in terms of care, exercise, food, physical and emotional support. Signs of ageing are similar to those in humans – grey hair, slower movement, tiring more often. Quite when a dog is considered 'senior' varies dependent on breed, but most tend to start showing signs of slowing down from the age of seven. Things to be mindful of include:

Mobility We are all prone to aching joints as time goes on, but there are a number of ways in which we can help ease our dog into a slower pace of life. Keep a consistent daily routine that either involves short walks, or garden activities, to keep him moving. 
You can teach an old dog new tricks, and he will thank you for it, as it can help to make him feel 'younger.' An added bonus is that older dogs have a better attention span than younger pups, so training them will be easier for you too.

Creature comforts Your dog may need to rest more, and that's fine! Make sure that everything he can possibly need throughout the day is close to hand for him, and that there are minimal obstructions to hinder him. 
Hard floors can prove tricky for senior dogs, so try a non-slip rug underfoot to give him more traction. 
It's also a good idea to revise the way in which he eats, as some older dogs find it difficult standing for prolonged periods of time.
They may also suffer from separation anxiety, so try not to leave an older dog alone for extended periods.

Warmth With thinning fur, it's a good idea to invest in a nice coat for those brisk, and often wet, winter walks. When back at home, be mindful of draughts in the house, and make sure that his bed is situated somewhere cosy.

Bodily functions Incontinence, loss of sight, and being hard of hearing are all unfortunate side-affects of old age in almost every animal, but that doesn't mean it has to prevent a normal way of life! Help re-train your pooch to use an indoor litter tray if he can't make it through the night without a visit outside. Have patience when your dog doesn't seem to respond to you – he probably just didn't hear you, or is having trouble focusing his vision!

A dog's diet is a crucial aspect at any age, but there are a number of different things to consider now your faithful companion is getting on in years. It is important to maintain a balanced diet in order to combat obesity and diabetes. Dinner with Rover and Dog cookies are two books that can help inspire you to creat fun and nutritional dishes for dogs of all ages!

There are some key areas where a change in diet can improve your dog's general health:

Gut-love Digestion becomes tricker with age, so including highly digestible ingredients, in particular proteins, will help with the efficiency of the gut. Fibre is a good ingredient to keep a steady, and healthy, gut transit.

Organs The higher the quality, the higher the nutrients! This will mean fewer waste products for the kidneys to dispose of. Maintaining a balance of minerals is another way to help protect the kidneys, whilst some diets contain specific essential fatty acid supplements that can not only protect the kidneys, but the heart as well.

Weighing-in on the situation Keeping a close eye on your dog's weight in his senior years is key to retaining mobility. It's ideal to feed your dog food that is lower in fat and calories to reflect a slower metabolism, and reduced exercise.

Grey matter We are all prone to senior moments, and dogs are no exception! The brain and immune system may not be what they once were, but a balance of vitamins and minerals can help to increase the effectiveness of the immune system as Fido ages. An increased intake of antioxidants will also benefit immunity, as well as having the added bonus of protecting against brain ageing!

Word of mouth Appetite decreases with age, and senior diets are structured around this; kibbles are generally smaller for ease of eating. Some kibbles may include a dental formula to help clean your dog's teeth while he chews. 

Aside from the obvious needs of an elderly dog, there are a great number of reasons why they make the perfect pet! Every dog deserves a loving home, but younger dogs are more favoured for adoption than their elders. Just think of how much you'll be appreciated if you take home an older dog instead – not to mention the brownie points you will gain emotionally, knowing you have saved a dog from possible euthanasia. Older dogs also have a more mellow temperament, and can be easier to form a bond with than younger dogs, and are generally easier to get along with, as most are content just being in their owner's company!

For a great guide on caring for your senior pooch, why not pick up a copy of Living with an older dog, available from Hubble & Hattie? It covers a wide range of aspects that you are likely to encounter whilst caring for your furry friend, and will be invaluable to you and your dog during his golden years. Always remember to consult your vet if there are any changes in your companion that concern you.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Worzel says hello to the SCBWI!

We've told you all about Worzel and Catherine Pickles' latest book, Worzel says hello! Will you be my friend? as we can't get enough of it! 

All of those involved with this book have been hard at work spreading this incredible message, and recently, Worzel illustrator Chantel Bourgonje took the charming book to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) British Isle Conference.

The SCBWI was founded in 1971, and is an international non-profit organisation that acts as a network for the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, and many others who are involved in children's book making and creating.

During the last weekend in November, the British Isle region of the SCBWI held its annual conference. This year's theme was humour, with the Seriously Funny Party and Mass Book Launch closing off the Saturday. This event was to celebrate all children's books by members of the SCBWI over the course of 2017.

Chantal says: "In groups of 5 all writers and illustrators were called to the stage and 'honoured' and everybody got a few moments in the limelight. It was nice to get public recognition for the work you've done. Having the opportunity to chat with other writers and illustrators was great. We're often experiencing similar things and it was good to share experiences and make new contacts with people who do the same job."

To top it off, they had an amazing cake decorated with a marzipan cover of all the books that were celebrated that evening. See if you can spot Worzel!

What a great way to round off what has been a truly fabumazing year for team Worzel!

Friday, 15 December 2017

The weather outside is frightful!

With the recent bout of arctic weather, there's no denying that winter is well and truly here! Whilst we can easily bundle up in coats, scarves, and woolly hats, spare a thought for your pets, as they can't bundle up as easily! Luckily, we have a few tips and tricks to help keep your furry loved ones just as warm – and safe – this winter. 

Out and about

It may be hard to motivate yourself to get up and take your dog for a walk when it's freezing outside, but as they need regular exercise, they'll thank you for it! Certain pooches, such as small dogs, elderly dogs, and breeds with fine hair, will benefit from their own doggy coat when you both venture outside.

Although it may look like fun to them, keep your dog away from frozen lakes and other bodies of water, as there is no way to determine how strong the ice is until it's too late – better to be safe than sorry!

With shorter daylight hours, tendencies for fog, and the odd snow fall, visibility can be severely reduced. In order to combat this, good recall is key, and using an LED collar or collar attachment is a great idea.

Your cat should never be left outside for long periods of time during winter, even if he does have his own thick winter coat! If their fur gets wet, cats will be at a greater risk of contracting hypothermia. Long, dark evenings and adverse weather conditions will also make them harder for drivers to see, so keep your kitty safe inside once night draws in.

During the colder months, bang on the hood of your car before turning on the engine; this will alert any cats that may have taken refuge under the car due to the previous night's warm engine. It's also a good idea to provide cats with an alternative place to take cover, enticing them away from the shelter of the car. It doesn't have to be anything fancy; a shed with a cat flap, and an upturned box lined with straw will suffice.

Just like us, our furry friends can hate the cold. Shivering, an unwillingness to go outside, and slow, clumsy movements are signs that your pet has become too cold. Hypothermia is the more extreme end of "being cold," and the signs of this are notable and intense. If you are worried that your pet may have become too cold, make sure they are indoors and wrapped up in warm blankets. Contact a vet to assess your pet for any possible long-term effects.

With the nights drawing in early, it's an ideal time to check that your pet's microchip details are up-to-date, to ensure a safe and speedy return should they go missing. You can do this by contacting your microchip database provider.

At home

After your dog walk, make sure to dry and check your pooch's paws thoroughly. Grains of sand or grit used to de-ice the roads have a nasty habit of getting lodged in-between toes, which can cause serious harm and discomfort. Long-haired breeds are especially prone to this.

The same goes for cats! Always check paws for grit or ice, and make sure they are thoroughly dried.

Aim to provide your feline with fresh water, especially if they normally drink from an outside water source. This means that they are always able to quench their thirst, even if their outside water source freezes over. It's also good to provide an indoor litter tray, so they can do their business inside if they wish.

It's also a good idea to have your pet's bed located somewhere warm and cosy, away from any draughts. Heated pet mats are a great way to help offset the chill from outside.

Alternative, indoor exercise

Some dogs may be as reluctant as you are to leave the warmth of indoors. If that is the case, don't force them to go out for a walk. Instead, have plenty of toys to hand and devise a variety of games to encourage regular exercise. Books such as Dog Games – Stimulating play to entertain your dog, Exercising your puppy – a gentle & natural approach and No walks? No worries! provide useful ideas to keep your dog active when going outside is not a viable option. Just remember to adjust your dog's diet in accordance with the decrease in exercise, to avoid unnecessary weight gain!

There are a great many ways to keep your cat entertained indoors, too. We all know how much cats love a cardboard box, chasing ping pong balls, or just darting about the house. Check out Fun and games for cats! for more fun, indoor activities. Again, you should adjust your cat's diet to avoid weight gain.

Toxic substances

Antifreeze contains the chemical compound ethylene glycol, and is one of the biggest winter hazards for cats and dogs. It can be found in a number of car-related items, such as de-icer, screen wash, and car radiators. Make sure to keep these well away from your pet, and if any does happen to spill, clean it up straight away. It only takes a small amount ingested to be fatal, so if you suspect that they have lapped some up, contact your vet immediately as prompt attention is essential.

Christmas cautions

As it's Christmas time, there are bound to be other toxins present in your home. Here's a handy little list of what to look out for:

  • Chocolate: try not to leave chocolate – whether it be a selection box, advent calendar or tree decorations – unattended. Dogs in particular can scoff a lot in a small amount of time, and this can affect the heart and nervous system, sometimes fatally! 
  • Pudding and pie: Mince pies, Christmas pud, or any other raisin/current/sultana/grape-based treat can cause kidney failure in pets. Clear away any uneaten treats out of harm's way.
  • Onions: Stuffing and a Boxing Day turkey curry may be an integral part of the festive season, but these contain onions, which can lead to anaemia. Don't be tempted into placing food scrapes in their food bowls!
  • Leftovers in general: Dogs often have no qualms when it comes to eating food that may be past its best, leading them to develop gastric problems. Clean up throughly after every meal. 
  • Alcohol: Just as we feel the effects of a tipple, pets can, too – although it takes a much smaller amount before it can become dangerous. Be vigilant about unattended glasses, and keep them out of paws reach!
  • Flora and fauna: Poinsettia, holly, and mistletoe may be Christmas staples, but are a hazard to your pet if they get their paws on some! These plants may cause vomiting if eaten, and holly is particularly nasty due to the prickly nature of the leaves.

Here's wishing you a warm Yuletide filled with festive – and safe – fun for all!

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Have yourself a Merry Little Hubble & Hattie Christmas!

Can you believe that 2017 is nearly at an end? Neither can we! Before we know it, good old Saint Nick will be doing his rounds, delivering joy in the form of presents under the tree. However, it's not too late to write your letter to the big guy, and we have ten books and deals that you may like to add ... 'Yule' not regret it!

Get all three 'Quite Very Actual' Worzel books for just £19.99 (+p&p) – a whopping saving of £9.98!

First off, we have a Hubble & Hattie favourite. Taken in by Hounds First Sighthounds Rescue, and then adopted into his forever home by Catherine Pickles and famberly, Worzel sees it as his very himportant duty to be an ambassador for rescue pups. The Quite Very Actual Adventures of Worzel Wooface, Worzel Wooface – The Quite Very Actual Terribibble Twos, and Three Quite Very Actual Cheers for Worzel Wooface! detail the first three years of Worzel in his forever home, and are packed full of hilarious stories to keep you entertained, long after Christmas. And now, you can buy all three books for just £19.99 (+p&p)! What a fabumazing offer!

Worzel says hello! Will you be my friend?

This children's book featuring everyone's favourite literary lurcher will teach your little one about how to approach a dog, from Worzel's point of view. Including gorgeous illustrations from the hugely talented Chantal Bourgonje, Worzel says hello! Will you be my friend? is a true delight that will enchant any child this festive season!

The supposedly enlightened person's guide to raising a dog

Having only previously been a cat owner, Kac Young never imagined having a dog, until she met Talulah; sometimes, the dog chooses you! Having consulted Lisa Tenzin-Dolma on all-things dog-related from the start, it is only natural that Kac's anecdotes should be followed by Lisa's observations and guidance. Combined, Kac and Lisa wrote The supposedly enlightened person's guide to raising a dog, providing vital insight into the best way to establish a loving and trusting relationship between you and your dog. Great for novice and experienced dog owners alike!

For the love of Scout – promises to a small dog

Adopting a rescue dog can be a journey into the unknown, but when Scout entered the lives of Tracey and Paul, he turned them upside down with his own brand of charismatic charm that melted not only their hearts, but those of everyone he met. Discover how Scout's carers learned to build on the unconditional trust and devotion that came from this clumsy, flat-footed, loveable Lurcher. And maybe – just maybe – For the love of Scout will answer the real question: who rescued who?

Ollie & Nina and ... Daft Doggy Doings!
A delightful book about two very silly doggies. Ollie and Nina's daft Dad has taken the liberty of recording their silly goings-on in an hilarious and insightful cartoon strip. Packed full with lots of colourful illustrations, and laugh-out-loud stories, Ollie and Nina and ... Daft Doggy Doings! will make the perfect gift for those who love to giggle!

Hounds who heal
The desire for human connection is a fundamental need. For some, however, the closest they come to this connection begins with a dog. This is the story of six abandoned dogs, who ended up living together and inspiring the development of the unique K9 Project. It's also the story of the people they met, the ones they helped, and the one's they couldn't ... An inspirational book full of true tales, Hounds who heal is life-enhancing. 

Gods, ghosts and black dogs
A rich collection of folklore, mythology and tall tales concerning dogs, providing a fascinating insight into the way we think about dogs, and our emotional bond with them. Spooky, funny, sad, and inspiring stories – some of which engage that part of our brain we use when reading detective stories – trying to figure out what's going to happen next ... Gods, ghosts and black dogs is the ideal bedtime book for any dog lover! 

Unleashing the healing power of animals

Written by Dale Preece-Kelly, an animal-assisted therapy practitioner, and founder of Critterish Allsorts, Unleashing the healing power of animals takes you on ten journeys with ten animals  – nine non-humans and one human – where, in each case, an animal in need of rescue overcomes their issues, and goes on to help people overcome theirs. Heartwarming tales for this heartwarming time of year!

Buy Mike& Scrabble and Mike&ScrabbleToo, and receive a Mike&Scrabble 2018 Calendar absolutely FREE!

Another Hubble & Hattie favourite, Mike&Scrabble is an often funny, sometimes melancholy, and occasionally accurate guide to understanding the relationship between a dog and a human. A picture book for adults that grew out of one human trying to remember why he ended up with a dog, and sharing his thoughts as pictures on social media. And, Mike&ScrabbleToo is Scrabble's further attempt at helping dogs the world over train their humans. As an added bonus, when you buy both of these books – or any two or more Hubble & Hattie titles – you'll receive a copy of the fabulous Mike&Scrabble2018 Calendar, absolutely FREE!

Mike&Scrabble 2018 Calendar with FREE UK postage!

If you're already an avid fan of Mike&Scrabble, and have the two books, you can opt for just the calendar, and get FREE postage (UK only)! Packed with seasonal illustrations the Mike&Scrabble 2018 Calendar will be sure to keep you smiling long after the January blues have come and gone!

From all of us here at Hubble & Hattie, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! We'll see you in 2018, when we'll have lots of new and exciting titles heading your way ... 

Friday, 24 November 2017

Hero hound has his day!

November is the month for remembrance, and giving thanks to all those who have served our country – including our four-legged friends! So, it's fitting that today we bring you this story: Mali, receiver of the Dickin medal!

Dogs who help rescue others in any capacity are truly wonderful – just see our post on Frida from the beginning of last month – but Mali is a member of the armed forces who has gone above and beyond in the line of duty. Awarded the Dickin medal for saving the lives of Special Boat Service troops during an military operation in 2012, the accolade has been likened to the Victoria Cross – which is the UK's highest hour for gallantry – for stature. The PDSA has described Mali, a Belgian Malinois, as an "incredibly worthy recipient" of the medal, as it recognises the vital role he played within the force that day.

Photo: PDSA
The story is incredible. Mali was sent through direct fire twice – with two explosions causing injuries to his chest and legs – and was hoisted up outside of the multi-storey building several times to gain entry, in order to assist the British troops in securing this enemy stronghold. A third explosion detonated close to his face, causing him to lose one of his front teeth and suffer damage to his ear. But this didn't stop Mali, as he pushed forward, and was able to determine the locations of enemy fighters, giving the British forces time to react in close-quarters combat.

Lt Col Abby DuBaree, from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) to which Mali is attached, says the medal, which was first introduced by PDSA founder Maria Dickin in 1943, is "extremely well deserved" in Mali's case, and that stories similar to his are "sobering to read and help to demonstrate the key role that animals continue to play in our armed forces."

"As long as we've had soldiers, we've had animals, and I think we always will have them," says Brig Roly Walker, colonel commandant of the RAVC. He goes on to add that the award was in recognition of the unique bond that soldiers have with service animals. And it's true: all bonds with animals should be recognised and celebrated, whether they are domestic or service, each animal's bond with a human is something to be cherished. And treating animals as our equals is something close to our hearts here at Hubble and Hattie, so you can see why this story is such a hit with us!

"Mali has displayed a truly awesome ability and determination to seek out explosives and insurgents during a key operation," says PDSA director general Jan McLouhlin. "To achieve this while exposed to close combat and such intense enemy attack, makes him an incredibly worthy recipient of the PDSA Dickin medal."

If ever there was a dog worthy of the Dickin medal, I can think of none more deserving than Mali! Maybe this post has whetted your appetite for more heroic pet stores, if so, make sure you check out our book Partners – everyday working dogs being heroes every day, by Nan Walton.