Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Are dogs really dangerous or is it just the owners

Health Warning: This post is based on my own personal experience of dogs. I am not a qualified dog behaviorist. I am however, a dog owner with common sense.

The story of little Lexi killed by her family's dog is of course tragic. At this moment in time I cannot comprehend the heartache and torment her mother must be going through and for that my heart goes out to Lexi's family.

However as I read more and more facts about yet another dog attack I am more and more concerned about the growing ignorance and downright stupidity displayed by many dog owners and rescue centres/kennels. The facts as I know them from reading many news sources are:

  • The dog was previously a stray, re-homed in the last couple of months by Orchard Kennels and Cattery, in Barrow-upon-Soar. 
  • The kennels apparently told the family the dog was safe around children
  • The dog was known to have displayed questionable behaviour in the past,
  • It was a relatively large bulldog - I say relatively as according to the photos Lexi was tiny and in comparison the dog looks absolutely huge 
  • It was not classed as a dangerous dog under the Dangerous Dogs Act
  • The property Lexi and her mother lived in was a one-bed apartment where the tenancy agreement banned the keeping of dogs

First of all, what were the staff at the kennels in question thinking when they said the dog is safe with children? I don't care how "soft as butter" your dog is, no dog (mine included) is safe to be left unattended around children. All it takes is for a child to pull the animal's tail, look at it the wrong way or do something to startle the animal and you have a situation on your hands. Children are just as unpredictable as animals in their behaviour and to leave both alone together is a recipe for disaster. Additionally this dog had issues - issues that no doubt would have been overcome in time had it been given the chance, but after being re-homed only 2 months ago those issues would still be there. 

Secondly... what home checks were done by the kennels? By the sounds of things none. What the actual F***??????? What irresponsible idiot decided a relatively large dog was safe to be re-homed in a property that sounds barely big enough to swing a cat and that's even before I get into the subject of dogs being prohibited at that property? 

All this being said, the family should have displayed some common sense. Knowing your dog potentially has behaviour issues then leaving it unattended with your child is in my mind the height of stupidity. Knowing your tenancy agreement bans dogs, and adopting one anyway is in breach of contract. I could go on, but I think I have made my point.

Now I bet you are wondering, what do I know about this? Well, my oldest dog, Lilly, was a dog with issues when we re-homed her from a rescue 3 years ago. The rescue in question made us fully aware of this and worked with us to help her settle in. They also did a very thorough home check to ensure that the home was suitable for her and we were told we had to do things before we could re-home her.

Lilly had come from a very loving home but unfortunately had been attacked by another dog and as such quite rightly hated all dogs meaning her previous owners couldn't keep her with their other dogs. In the year following us adopting her, Lilly's survival instinct was very strong and as such there were minor altercations with other dogs because in her mind she attacked before she could be attacked. I should point out here that not once did she harm a human being. By building her trust in us those altercations have become less and less and we have now been able to rescue a puppy to keep her company. We have stayed in touch with people from the rescue we got her from so everyone has been able to see her amazing progress from what the media would call a "dangerous dog" to a placid soft as butter type. All that being said, I am still on my guard with with her and our puppy and would NEVER leave my future children and my dogs together unattended. As I said at the beginning, I am a dog owner with common sense.

In very stark terms another animal is dead because of questionable human behaviour and yet again the old argument about dangerous dogs raises its ugly head. I completely agree there must be protection when animals attack but the Dangerous Dogs Act is an absolute joke and in reality protects no one. Instead it promotes witch-hunt behaviour for certain dog breeds, allowing dangerous humans to get away with what can only be described as murder. 

How about focusing on the owners and other humans involved in these cases: no animal is born dangerous but they can learn to be that way due to the way they are treated.  In my view the kennels in question should be prosecuted for this attack but instead all that is heard is yet another attack by a dangerous dog. 

RIP to both souls lost

Monday, 4 November 2013

FMS 2013 Gift Exchange

Morning Campers... so I opened my inbox this morning and what should be there? They next installment of this years FMS Gift Exchange. I've never done anything like this before but really looking forward to it. It appeals to the stalker in me ;)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Numbers Game

After a 2 year gap since my last blog - mostly spent with my head in textbooks, I'm back with more than the majority of the alphabet after my name in academic speak, 3 and a half years of marriage under my belt, 4 extra legs in my house, but with 2 legs missing by their absence and carrying more than 7 stone in weight more than I should. 
So for those of you who don't know me, the gap in blog post proceedings has been largely due to completing my Masters degree - the MBA. I thought I could manage both but bearing in mind my ability to procrastinate with things I have to do, things I don't have to do were never going to get a look in. As usual I was disappointed with the result as I often have been in my life. I know many on my course and those that did complete would have been happy with the Merit I received, but unfortunately my own high standards don't agree. I am solely to blame - running away from my learning disorder didn't help, neither did my procrastination or the significant change in career which finally took me away from HR into the giddy world of "Operations Management". I should have known better - I know full well had I not spent too much time on a social life the first time round in the late 90s I would be the proud owner of at least a 2:1, rather than the 2:2 I did receive.

Anyway, this blog is not about self flagilation. Its about numbers...

The additional 4 legs in our household are that of a puppy. A rescued staffy cross by the name of Gnasher. My Facebook and Twitter friends are fortunate enough (here's hoping that's how they feel?) to receive regular updates as to his antics. Lilly - our adult staffy cross and also a rescue - brought life into our home, but Gnasher has brought in much laughter. It was a happy home anyway, but having a puppy bound around your house chasing nothing but his tail cannot do anything but bring a smile to your face. Lilly, the staffy who adores people but hates other dogs, loves Gnasher as her own. This is a surprise in itself, but a happy one, although I have my doubts when the noises they make play fighting sound like a re-enactment from The Exorcist.

Which brings me to the 2 legs and the source of the only real unhappiness in my life... It looks like my thyroid and weight are conspiring against me in such a way that after 2 years of seriously trying, I am still not pregnant. As each month goes by we go through the excitement and hope only for that to come crashing down around us. What makes this harder is that I was the girl who was never getting married and never having kids. Why do I need a piece of paper to tell the world I love someone...? I found out within seconds (I'm not exaggerating!) of meeting my now husband, that actually it doesn't quite work like that! Neither does spending a lifetime of saying "why would anyone bring kids into this shitty world" as this invariably turns into your luck running out when you do decide to take on that piece of paper and the potential of having that little bundle of joy. 

The next step is the quacks, and this is where the extra 7 stones comes in. While I am that overweight, all a doctor will say is "lose weight". So that's what I'm doing. I have good days and bad... in fact this year has been one long bad day in terms of diet. This week has been good though; the prospect of not having kids hasn't been a carrot before this week, but for some reason now it is and its driving me towards that weight loss. Even the prospect of my Saturdays off plan is over-shadowed by the potential patter of tiny feet.

So... wish me luck. I'm going to need it to maintain the willpower on the bad days when those hopes are dashed again. For those that are interested there may be updates, or I may keep that pain locked up and talk instead about how crappy the government and the weather is... who knows?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Its Time to Face Facts

I was reading the Telegraph online this morning and had a hallelujah moment. Finally, someone has had the gumption to voice an increasingly worrying issue.  The Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, has said what the politicians of this world have so far either been in denial regarding or have been too scared to say … the truth that even with decisive action in the global economy, there may be no way to avoid a second recession.

Now Mervyn is a bit of a hero to me and the decision by the then Chancellor, Gordon Brown (another hero of mine) and the Labour Government to make the Bank of England independent was to my mind inspired. Anything to wind up the Tories is a good thing anyway, but to take that decision making out of the Government’s hands is the only thing, in my opinion, that has so far stopped a double dip recession for the UK economy. It certainly has not been the actions of Cameron et al. King has remained calm in the face of mounting descent within the Monetary Policy Committee, insisting that interest rates should remain low and he was right. I strongly suspect that had interest rates remained within the Government’s control – in particular a Tory dominated Government - we would be looking at around 2-3% interest and possibly higher, rather than the record long time low of 0.5%

For savers such as my grandparents, this is catastrophic. However as someone with a very large mortgage, of course I would say the rate decisions made are a good thing. When I bought my house I was paying £600 a month in interest alone. Now this is £160 a month and I can’t deny is one reason we have kept our heads afloat in very tough times. How many other people are in the same situation as me and just how many more bankruptcies and repossessions would there have been? It would be interesting to be able to take inspiration from the film “Sliding Doors” and see just how the economy would have compared had interest rates risen in comparison with reality.

Much of the blame for the current global economic crisis MUST fall on both the politicians of this world and the banking sector generally, but we must also shoulder some of the blame. In terms of politicians, these are split into 2 camps – those who have not done enough for whatever reason (Obama, the Governments of Greece, Portugal, Spain and in general the governance of the EU) and those who have just gone too far the other way implementing austerity measures (UK). There is no denying something had to be done regarding the mounting debt crisis. In fact remaining in denial is one of the reasons the global stock markets have done a pretty good imitation of a roller coaster recently, but going too far with cutbacks like the UK government has done has done just as much damage. Growth is falling and unemployment rising. Keeping interest rates low was supposed to stimulate new business – allowing the budding entrepreneurs the confidence and ability to get investment for their ventures. Instead it appears the banks have sounded a resounding “no” – is this fear of creating another banking crisis or something more sinister?

This brings me on to why we, the general public should shoulder the blame. In my four days at university last week, the banking crisis was one of the subjects we covered. We discussed at length whether the banks really were at fault, or if all they were doing was supplying consumer demand? It was consumers around the world driving the demand for debt – at any point we could have turned round and said no to that $1million dollar house, the new car, the 5th credit card, but our global greed got in the way initially, then our need to maintain that level of spending compounded the issue. Whilst I was one of the first to voice my annoyance at the banks as early as 2006, as time has gone on I have increasingly accepted that maybe they were not wholly to blame. What business in its right mind would have turned round and said “I am sorry I am not accepting your business?” For the banks, it’s the manner in which it was done – the lack of responsibility, but that is true of us, the buying public too.

Only time will tell if our national government as well as global leaders come round to the same way of thinking as King. The longer they take in making that realisation, the harder it will be to come back from the inevitable double dip recession and the greater the risk of a global version of Japan’s “Lost Decade” happening.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Four Years On...

So 4 years after my last blog and I am back again. A lot has happened in those intervening years.

I am still battling the thyroid issues in my last blog to the point that in Mid-2010 I was seriously ill until my doctor doubled my medication. I have now been stable for a year which has given me time to deal with a new health issue – Irlen Syndrome, but more of that in a moment. 

Aside from that, the last 4 years has seen me be proposed to, get married, achieve a foundation degree, start a masters course and successfully complete my 1st year, be promoted 2 grades, nearly made redundant, headhunted, become a dog owner and I am now contemplating starting a family! Now, after a detour via the North West for a year, I am back in my Sheffield Office getting to grips with a totally new payroll system. What I do now isn’t a career decision, but a survival one in tough times and a chance to complete my MBA with the minimum of further stress on my health…Which brings me to Irlen Syndrome.

Many of my symptoms - tiredness, aching eyes, headaches, poor concentration and clumsiness - I had put down to my thyroid disorder, but this was blown out of the water a few months ago on hearing everything was stable - so what was wrong with me? A good friend of mine had been saying for years that I had "light sensitivity" but I constantly brushed it aside, not as nonsense as such, but more due to having enough to deal with already. Things came to a head a couple of months ago I was struggling to read not only for my MBA, but also for pleasure. This was heartbreaking as I have always been a big reader. This was followed by 5 consecutive days where I travelled home from work in severe distress and pain. Since then I have officially been diagnosed (more details here: and am now taking steps to resolve my issues by removing fluorescent lighting as much as I can and printing on blue instead of white paper as immediate changes to my environment.

It’s a struggle dealing with both the underactive thyroid and Irlen. Generally I am fit and well, I just tire slightly more easily and have to take steps to protect myself in certain environments. Additionally having both an illness and a disability that people can't see is stressful no least because of people’s perception. I have had my fair share of hypochondriac comments and "why didn't you sort this out sooner" remarks. The question is - in today's breakneck society, how do you know when something like this jumps up to bite you? How many people are walking around out there struggling with something they can't put their finger on as I have done for more years than I want to count?

So next time your friend/work colleague/family member says that for whatever reason they just don't feel right - listen to them as they may have a point...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

I'm Normal!!!

Originally posted 4th September 2007 on MySpace

So…. I thought it time to write a new blog.

Some of you may have noticed I've not been too vocal on myspace for a little while. Well there is a reason for this and it's not because I don't want to talk to you all lol…

For about 10 years I have not felt "right" for want of a better word. I have become increasingly tired and have put on weight without really knowing why. Although it was annoying, I could live with it until about 2 years ago when things started to get a whole lot worse. I started to forget things and slur my speech (and I don't even drink… much lol). I would have tremendous trouble concentrating to the point that it has affected my work at times. I also suffered from mild depression on and off, which along with the concentration problem made it very difficult for me to keep up with myspace and my other internet friends as I just didn't have the patience, the energy or the motivation. I would wake up with awful headaches that would sometimes last all day and would regularly lose my voice and fall over for no reason. Most frightening of all… about 2 months ago I developed a lump in my throat and a pain in my chest.

So… about 6 weeks ago I went to my doctor… He said the pain in my chest was most likely just a strained muscle as everything sounded ok, but he would do a full blood test just to make sure. So off I went to see the most evil nurse in Rotherham to have the test done (she practically impaled me!). The results were back within a couple of days so off I went back to the doctor… There was a 3 day gap between the surgery phoning me and me actually being able to get an appointment. In that time I went from thinking I'm probably just a bit run down, to thinking I maybe had something a bit more serious like a virus to finally thinking I had some sort of brain tumour!!!

Those 3 days felt like an eternity… I was even more tired because I wasn't sleeping because of the worry, which then made all the other symptoms worse as well. When I finally got the doctors Phil had to come with me because I was a gibbering wreck. So… I went in, sat down and was told that the reason I felt so tired and had all the other symptoms was because I had an under active thyroid. Nothing life threatening. It's not even really that much of an issue as long as there is a treatment plan in place. I then let rip at the doctor as there is no reason why when the surgery rang they couldn't have said that it's nothing life threatening at the very least and in fairness he apologised profusely for worrying me so much. He explained that the lump in my throat is because my thyroid has become enlarged and the chest pain was due to general muscle pains you get with an under active thyroid. The doctor said he wanted to do another blood test and an ECG to make absolutely sure, which came back and confirmed the diagnosis.

So I am now on a hormone called thyroxine. For those who are not medically inclined, an under active thyroid is basically where the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This has wide ranging effects on the body especially affecting my metabolism which is the reason I have put on weight. By taking thyroxine I am putting into my body the hormone my body cannot make on its own. It will take a little time for the tablets to work – 2 weeks minimum, but the lump in my throat already seems to be going down slightly and I do feel a bit more energetic. I am aware that this could be because psychologically it's what I expect the tablets to do though! Although I will now be on this medication for the rest of my life, I am only taking something my body should be making naturally and I am not taking a nasty cocktail of chemicals. This means apart from taking a tiny little tablet every day for the rest of my life, there should be no effect on the way I live. To me this is a very small price to pay to finally have an answer as to why I have felt the way I do for so long.

Thank you to you all, my dear myspace friends, for being so patient with me. If I had known there was something actually medically wrong with me I would have sorted this out some time ago but you feel a bit daft telling your doctor that you have gone to see him just because you feel tired! Well I did anyway lol. Some of you deserve a special mention for being so wonderfully supportive – Dave, J, Elaine, Nic and of course Phil who has been nothing short of an absolute diamond… but you have all helped me in your own special ways by just being my friend despite probably never realising anything was wrong!…. Thank you

If you are interested in knowing more about under active thyroids or thyroid problems in general, I have put some links below for you:

British Weather

Originally posted 26th June 2007 on MySpace

I don't know how many of you know what's happened with the weather in theYorkshire area so I thought I would blog my experiences….

First of all… I am ok. My house is high up on a hill and I am extremely lucky it hasn't been touched. As far as I know all my friends are ok, however a very dear friend of mine called me last night to say her house was ankle deep in water. She only moved there with her mother a matter of weeks ago and I just can't imagine how they are feeling this morning. I know there are others that I haven't been able to contact who are having the same problem. My thoughts are with you all...

In Hessle – just a couple of miles from where I used to live and where my parents still live -  a young man died in a drain while the emergency services fought for hours to rescue him. He was just trying to unblock it so his grandfathers house wouldn't flood. It's a terribly distressing image and something I just can't get out of my head this morning. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and the emergency services that tried so hard to rescue him this morning.

The drive home last night was just horrendous. I live just 6 miles from where I work yet the journey took over 3 hours. I had to drive through nearly a foot of water at one point all the time praying my car would just keep going (she did!!!). Phil, who delivers gas canisters to pubs, cafes and restaurants to carbonate the beer and soft drinks, had spent most of the day in an area of Rotherham called Parkgate, and also at Meadowhall. Within a couple of hours of him leaving, Parkgate was under 6 feet of water and the River Don at Meadowhall burst its banks turning all roads into rivers.

To be truthful I have never seen anything like it. This morning it's like something out of a disaster movie. My drive to work was nearby an area of Sheffield called Brightside which is virtually next to Meadowhall. The area was just one big river last night. This morning the waters have subsided enough to drive nearby but there are cars and debris everywhere. Cars have been driven into the most bizarre of places just so the owners could keep them out of the water. Cars have been left with doors hanging open, giving the appearance that their owners only had seconds to get out of the water's path.

So this morning… my heart goes out to all of you whose homes and possessions have been damaged by the floods and whose places of work have suffered the same fate. This is the 3rd time in 2 weeks this has happened, although this is the worst of the 3 times, and in a 1st world country it is just not acceptable. For the amount we all pay in Council Tax our local councils should be doing more than just taking our money – they should be out clearing drains on a regular basis rather than as a panic measure when the water is rising. They should be stopping developers building on the traditional flood planes as when the rains come there is no no-where for the water to go. Most of all… they should have known this was coming and done more about it. The weather forecasters had said heavy rains were on their way yet still the council seem to be in a state of shock at what has happened. It is pathetic and we deserve better!

I have attached some links below in case any of you are interested in reading more

These are general overviews of the picture just a mile or so from my house, with some terrifying pictures:

The story of the man in the drain

Please take care everyone and I'll talk soon