26/04 – Do dogs have accents?

I am writing this from a comfy chair sat in the shade on a warm Sunday morning in Sydney. I know, life’s a bitch sometimes and this is going to be a very short post as I feel a snooze coming on!

We have just come back from a walk on the beach with the gorgeous Bentley (pictured above doing some crazy moves to catch his ball). And we got wondering.. do dogs have accents? We pretty quickly dismissed it as a stupid idea, but jet lag does some crazy things to your mind and I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I did some research!

It turns out that scientists have carried out a new study which suggests that dogs will develop a bark that is very similar to their owner’s regional accent. So, apparently dogs in Liverpool will bark with a higher pitch than other dogs, while in Scotland, dogs will have a lighter tone to their bark. It sounds silly, but when comparing pitch, tone and volume, it turns out that dogs will copy their owner. And not just in speech, but also in behaviour. Dogs who are brought up with young children can be a little crazy, while dogs who live with the elderly are much more sedate.

All sounds a bit crazy to me, but that didn’t stop me trying to hear if Bentley’s bark went up in tone at the end in an Australian fashion. Can’t say I noticed it, but he is certainly living the surfer dude lifestyle!

5 easy dog chew toys to make at home!

That’s it! Ivy has destroyed her last sock, chewed her last shoe, unravelled her last toilet roll.. enough is enough! She has plenty of chew toys, but a bit like when I look in my wardrobe and think “I’ve got nothing to wear”, she inspects her toy box and thinks “I’ve got nothing to chew!” And that’s when she starts looking for something new to chew on, usually something we would rather she left well alone.

So instead of spending bundles of money on expensive toys she is simply going to destroy because it’s fun, and in the spirit of recycling old stuff, I have decided I am going to make my own!

1. Denim knots

OK, let’s start easy peasy lemon squeezy. They don’t have to be made out of denim, in fact a variety of materials will give your pooch a different ‘chew’ experience. But I am starting with denim so that Ivy the Destroyer will be able to chew for longer. I am not going to insult your intelligence by describing how to make these – suffice to say, if it’s too old and scruffy for the charity shop, chop it up and tie a knot in it!

2. Ball’n’sock

Another winner.

You will need:

i. One sock – you’ve all got a pile of lonely, single socks that need a new lease of life.

ii. One tennis ball – if you’ve got a dog and you don’t have tennis balls scattered around the garden and the house, what’s wrong with you?!

Method:

Tie a knot in the sock, pop in the tennis ball and tie another knot. Voila!

Oops! Didn’t really need to describe that did I? Another simple chew toy that anyone can make. I promise not to do it again!

3. Octo-ball

Ivy loves to chase balls and nibble at anything with dangly bits, so this octopus-like toy made from fabric and a tennis ball is a real winner. No instructions necessary!

4. Tennis ball treat toy

This is a great one for any dog that is food/treat-driven (Ivy will do anything for a treat!). In fact, if she doesn’t come when I call her name, I just have to shout “treat!” and she is by my side! I digress… no instructions needed, but in the interest of health and safety, be careful with the very sharp knife you will need to cut the ball to avoid taking ‘raw’ feeding to another level!

5. Plastic fantastic


Use different types of fabric to wrap old plastic water bottles. The fabric itself provides a sensory experience and the crackle of the bottle when it’s chewed is very satisfying for your pooch (if a little grating on the ears for you!).

And there you have it! Five simple chew toys to stop your pooch destroying your house. I would say the more the merrier, but only put a few out at a time to maintain their interest. If you have any other ideas, we would love to hear them – comment them down below!

First groom.. that’s not my dog!

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Separated at birth? – Ivy and Rod Steward

Following the demise of a second pair of my tights at the claws of Ivy, I decided that perhaps it was time for a pedi (for her, not me!). I’m pretty comfortable cutting our cats’ claws, even if they’re not comfortable having it done, but Ivy is a different kettle of fish. Her claws are much thicker and she’s a bit of a wriggler, so I figured this might be one for the professionals.

So I took her down to my local pet store and since they had a first groom puppy package at 50% off, I decided to book her in for a shampoo too, just to get her used to it. The deal included trimming the fur on her paws, an ear clean, shampoo and a fringe trim. I pointed out that I didn’t think she needed her fringe trimming as it wasn’t in her eyes, and left her in the capable hands of the groomer.

One hour later I returned to pick her up. When I first clocked her, I wanted to cry! That was swiftly followed by an uncontrollable desire to laugh. Her fringe and the hair on top of her head had been trimmed.. she now bore a striking resemblance to Rod Stewart! The top was bouffant and a bit spiky (classic Rod) and her ears resembled his signature mullet! WTF!

Don’t get me wrong – I like a bit of Rod (I might have even once had a bit of a crush on him, shhhhh!). But never in a million years had I wanted my beautiful little Ivy Rose to resemble my childhood idol!

But it got worse. I picked her up to whisper some words of comfort in her ear and.. whoooaaaaaa! What is that smell?! She smelled like a tart’s parlour  – pungent cheap perfume wafting from my fur baby – not the delicious post-shampoo smell  I had heard spoken. “Oh yeah, we give them a bit of a spritz once they’re dry” said the groomer. Seriously?!

As she trotted out of the shop, the hair on her head and the rest of her body bobbed and swayed gently, like seaweed underwater – which finally pushed me over the edge of hysterical laughter.

I took my poor baby home to endure the hilarity of the rest of the family, so I supposed the whole experience was not without merit. The next day I took her out in the rain to sort out her ‘do’, but it took a good few days for her to start smelling of Ivy again!

We’d love to hear your dog grooming disasters!

Our family’s top 7 cat characters

Cats have featured heavily in books films and cartoons over the decades in all shapes, sizes and colours. And whether chasing mice, sauntering down the alley or destined for royalty, they remain firm favourites for family films and children’s books. We were discussing our favourite cat characters the other day, so I thought I would fill you in with our top 7. Why 7? Why not?!

Famous Cat Names1. Garfield

I asked sons Dylan and Noah who they thought wasthe most famous cat character and they both gave an emphatic ‘Garfield’! I am guessing this is probably a generational thing, because Garfield wouldn’t be my first guess. Garfield was originally a lazy, cynical orange comic strip cat created by cartoonist Jim Davis, before becoming an animation cartoon cat.

 

tom and jerry2. Tom

In husband Ollie’s opinion, Tom, most famous for his ongoing rivalry with mouse Jerry, is the most famous fictional cat and I am with him on that (though still not my favourite!). I must have watched dozens of episodes of Tom and Jerry in my childhood – an absolute classic that this generation of kids have missed out on.

 

aristocats cats3. Thomas O’Malley

Thomas O’Malley (the ginger one!) is my absolute favourite fictional cat. I loved the Aristocats as a child, in fact it was my first ever LP record and I sang along to it incessantly! My favourite song was Thomas O’Malley, which despite my atrocious memory, I can still sing verbatim!

 

 

4. Cat in the Hat

This Dr. Seuss character has iconic status among our litter of literary cats. His peculiar and oh-so familiar face will be a favourite for children for generations to come. I would read these books over and over as a child and it was with pleasure that I introduced these books to my boys as bedtime reading.

 

 

Screenshot 2019-01-02 at 18.48.54.png5. Top Cat

Another favourite of mine, I would watch episodes of Top Cat back to back and sing along to the opening jingle so eloquently I could have written it myself (well, at least that’s how I remember it!).

 

Famous Cat Names6. Sylvester

A treasured Looney Tunes character, and one of my favourites. I spent many an hour watching Sylvester torment Tweetie Pie and mimicking his spittle splattering lisp when he said “Sufferin’ Succotash!”

 

 

Famous Cat Names

6. Hello Kitty

More of a brand than a character, but Hello Kitty has taken the world by storm for more than 40 years and it doesn’t look like that’s slowing down anytime soon. She features on everything from T-shirts to tableware and her simple features are unmistakeable. Once the sole domain of young girls, she is now deemed ‘cool’ by teenagers and young adults. Now, where’s my Hello Kitty pencil case..?

 

 

Famous Cat Names

7. Cheshire Cat

The Cheshire Cat can be found lurking in the pages of the book Alice and Wonderland. I wouldn’t necessarily describe him as a favourite, but he has certainly stuck in my mind. He kind of gives me the creeps and has done since I was a child. But the shivery good kind of creeps rather than scary creeps!

And there you have it! Below are some more we thought of. I wonder if we have missed some out. We’d love to hear your comments on this – who are your favourite fictional felines? Get involved in the discussion below!

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7 top differences between cats and dogs

Most people would describe themselves as either a ‘dog person’ or a ‘cat person’. I used to be a ‘cat person’, but now,  I’m both! And most people who own a cat or a dog could tell you the real and perceived differences between the species – knowledge often gained from cartoons and lists shared on social media. Well I am here to tell you that most of those ‘perceived’ differences are actually true! So here are is what I have observed to be the most obvious differences between cats and dogs, from my scientific (ahem..) observations of Coco and Sadie (our cats) and Ivy (our dog)!

1. Emotions

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Dogs and cats show their emotions in very different ways. In fact, to be honest, cats don’t show much emotion in an obvious way at all. I know when Sadie and Coco are happy and content by their loud purrs when they come for a cuddle. I can also guess they are happy when they are stretched out blissfully in a sunny patch. But that’s about it. Their inscrutable stares don’t give much away. Dogs are different. Dogs put it all out there! Every morning when I come downstairs, Ivy greets me as if I have been away for a year! She jumps up and down, tail wagging frantically – her enthusiasm makes me feel like a superstar! She rolls over for tummy tickles, scampers after balls and barks with excitement at anything that moves. She even makes little satisfied noises when she’s asleep or when we give her a cuddle. Ivy is pretty much permanently happy, except when we leave the room, when she then lets us know her displeasure by continuous barking.

2. Unconditional love

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Dogs love their humans. Unconditionally. They love you if you are happy. They love you if you are sad. They love you when you are a bit cross with them. They love you when you are asleep. They love you when you are awake. They just LOVE you SO much! Ivy loves me so much she even growled at my husband this morning when he tried to kiss me goodbye! Cats? Well, they do show their love, but they also show their displeasure. And it doesn’t take much. If they are on your lap and you so much as sneeze.. whoosh! They are gone! They love you when you are doing exactly what they want to you to do and the way they want you to do it. Otherwise, they are having none of it! Sadie will ‘accept’ my attentions and even enjoy it, but one wrong move, one stroke of her fur in the wrong direction.. game over!

3. Personal hygiene

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Ivy loves mud. She also loves rubbish – discarded wrappers, half a sandwich, an orange peel, a squashed banana.. but most of all she loves mud. She will dig holes and then dash through soggy muddy puddles and rub her whole face in it just for good measure and to ensure maximum coverage. If she had her choice, life would be one great big mud bath! And when she is done, she feels no need to clean off the mud. One of her favourite pastimes is doing the pre-wash in our dishwasher. Open the door and she’s in, licking the plates and saucepans, cups and saucers, knives and forks. On New Year’s Eve we had sticky toffee pudding. It has taken me a week to get the toffee out of her fringe, because she didn’t seem bothered by it at all! Coco and Sadie however are fastidious with their cleanliness. They can spend hours licking and washing and preening themselves. One hair out of place or one bit of dust or moisture heralds thorough all over ablutions!

4. Licks for their humans

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Dog’s tongue smooth as silk. Cat’s tongue rough as sandpaper. That is all!

5. Toilet habits

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In the same way that cats are fastidious about their cleanliness, so they are equally careful with their toilet habits. I don’t think I have ever actually seen a Coco or Sadie poo (sorry neighbours!). But I am sure they are very careful to relieve themselves in a flower bed and bury the evidence immediately. And God forbid you ever catch them in action. Awkward! Our dog Ivy? Well, anything goes. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go and your human will pick up after you, so why bury it?

6. Training

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Dogs love to be trained. It keeps their brains active and they are every eager to please. And if there is a tasty reward at the end of it, all the better. However, training dogs can take time, since we don’t speak Dog and they don’t speak Human. However, eventually they get the hang of what every you are trying to teach them if you do it right. Cat’s on the other hand do what they want! It’s easy to think that you have trained your new kitten to use their litter tray, but they only use it because they want to and you have shown them where it is!

7. Independence

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I love Ivy and she loves me. But while I can cope if she goes into another room without me, Ivy does not feel the same. The minute I stand up, so does she. I imagine the word ‘Whats up?’ racing through her head when she hears my chair scrape back. And as I begin to climb the stairs, so I hear the pitter patter of her little feet as she follows me like a.. well, like a dog! Ivy is my little shadow, following me wherever I go. Coco and Sadie on the other hand consider themselves to be free agents. They have a cat flap and come and go as they please. Generally I don’t see much of them during the day, but come evening they will grace us with their presence.. or not!

And there you have it. My definitive, although not exhaustive guide to the difference between cats and dogs.