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Bad News and Good News.

The first bad news was reading that the current warm weather we are enjoying is a good indicator of the possibility of a Gota Fria heading our way. One side effect of this warmth is it is waking up those pesky little Processionary caterpillars to begin their long winding journey. They travel down from their cotton wool nests in young pine trees to find a hole in the ground where they can pupate into a moth, so starting their life cycle all over again.

These caterpillars are not as we were use to as children. Do you remember putting them into jam jars with leaves hoping they would turn into Cabbage White or Red Admiral butterflies. These Processionary caterpillars really do hurt, but they can prove fatal to our pets. Their hairs are worse than fibreglass strands and for humans can cause a really bad and irritating rash that varies from person to person. If your dog or cat should lick them, their throats can swell up enough to suffocate them. Some vets have even had to amputate chunks off an animalís tongue.

The good news is you can kill them. If you spray these cotton wool nests with Raid Max or Bloom insecticide until it is soaked, it effectively kills all of the nests residents. In an hour, most of them are dead and within a few days, those that were safely in the middle of the nest die too. Personally, I leave them on the tree as I see from those I killed last year, simply rotted away. Disposing of the nests is an irritant and toxic hazard. I am informed that 50/50 bleach to water kills and disolves them better than Raid or Bloom.

If you do wish to dispose of them, do use gloves. Do not touch the branches that you cut off without wearing them. If you place the branches in a big plastic bin liner, do not close the neck of the bag because as the air squashes out, it can blow hairs into your face. Do have a hot fire ready into which you can place the nests. Also be aware of the wind direction as anyone living down wind may come rushing out of their houses as even the smoke is toxic. When you are finished take both gloves off together and do not touch them with unprotected hands, then throw them onto the fire.

Other bad news is if the rains come, then you could be seeing a lot more toads in your garden. They range from the size of small frogs to some that can be nine inches across. If your dog or cat should lick these, they could also have a toxic reaction, like being sick or if a dog should eat one of the smaller ones, it could die as a result.

The good news is if you wear gloves, you can place them in a box and successfully give them a new home in some unpopulated area. After a while, you should clear your garden of their presents.

Other bad news is that it appears our Mediterranean summers are increasingly becoming hotter. Even the United Kingdom is finding both winters and summers are progressively warmer. This means that our pets here in Spain, need to find more ways of keeping cool.

The good news is there is a pet bed. It looks like strong green netting stretched over a metal four-legged frame. Years ago, my hunting dog would persist in lying on concrete so developing protective sacks on his elbows. My vet Bruce suggested a wooden pallet as he said as the air blows through underneath, it keeps a dog cool. I did purchase one, but all the other dogs liked it so much, I had to buy one for each of them.

This bed works just the same way. In March last year, I received one for Winston to see if he liked it. At the height of the summer, it was always in use, if not by Winston, by any other dog that was stopping here.

All I can say is that all the dogs loved it, so if you would like to help your dogs keep cool next summer, these beds do seem to work.

One other method is to purchase some wicker fencing material. Form this into a tunnelled arch so that you can place your dogs or cats bed inside. They are then shaded and as the wind blows through; it is also very cooling for them.

More bad news is you may have read that you can now end up with a criminal record for having an obese pet. Many United Kingdom owners with overweight pets are now worried that they could be next in line.

I have seen many dogs and cats that look like barrels with four legs, one at each corner. To have our pets in such a state is cruel, yet many owners do not think like this. Some will blame the pet as having a weight problem that they cannot control.

Due to an illness over the past year, I have been unable to walk very far so Winston had not been getting his normal walks. Though he has a garden and two fields to play in, it is still not enough exercise for him. A German shepherd sized dog needs about twenty kilometres of running free a day. Because he was not getting enough exercise, I should have reduced his food intake. Because of these two problems, Winston began to put on more weight and became well rounded. He also became more lethargic.

The good news is it has taken me four months of a reduced food intake, which has gradually brought him back to looking like his younger self. He is certainly running round like a two year old again.

Other bad news is that many people ring me in the hope I will give dog-training classes in areas other than Benitachell. Here at the Centre I have two secure fields where dogs can run free and socialise, so the answer at this time is unfortunately no.

The good news is many of these people are living in the Torrevieja area. In December, I was very honoured to accept an invitation to attend Roy Rogersís presentation evening at El Pinar de Campoverde. He has been dog training there for seven years and I am pleased to see he has a large enthusiastic number of members. So if you are interested in training your dog then do give Roy a call on 966762265.

Other good news for those of you dog owners who do live near me. If you wish to keep your dog and yourself fit whilst having fun at the same time, Jan Davis is now taking agility training classes here at the centre. Jan competes both here and in the United Kingdom, so if you are interested in competing in agility or just wish to do this for fun, then do give her a call on 966473267.

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