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Crime Corner and more Pain

Today Winston took his first step into the world of crime fighting by finding and then returning some stolen property. From the first time I started to train Winston for searching, I have always praised him if he found any articles that had scent on them. He first found a childís toy that had dropped from the balcony of a restaurant and so I was able to return it to the family. Since then I keep being given a constant supply of balls, pens, lipstick, lighters etc all found by Winston who only wishes me to tell him he is a clever boy and to receive lots of praise,

Today we went on our daily expeditionary walk where I teach Winston to stay close to me by conditioning him to always keep me in sight other wise he will become lost. Separation from the leader is not a happy option for a dog so he learns to stay close. This way I do not have to keep calling or looking for him.

Whist we were working our way through the woods and I whilst I was trying to negotiate how to climb down one of those many terraces, Winston started whining at something in the undergrowth. I encouraged him to fetch it. When I could see more clearly I then guessed that what he had found was a stolen bag that criminals had discarded. In fact, once Winston had pulled it clear I found it was two bags one inside the other.

Fortunately, the thieves must have been opportunist as the bags still contained everything but money. For just the loss of a small amount of cash the owners were then subject to a long period of trying to cancel all the cards, passports etc as well as trying to obtain copies of these plus having to replace driving licences, medical cards, keys etc. Whilst credit cards are more easily replaced all the rest of the items are not. Not only did it contain important document but the bags also contained irreplaceable personal photos and mementoes. For the small amount of money stolen, the resulting cost it had created was annoyance even anger at so much wasted time.

Though the thieves could have obtained goods using the credit cards until cancelled the danger was had these bags been stolen by professional criminals they would have know the true worth of the contents. Each bag contained the identities of their victims so there was everything that someone else could use to clone these people.

Please do be careful about keeping passports, driving licences along with other valuable identity documents and cards all together. They maybe fine if you have a bag with such documents about your person but in your home or left in the car and stolen then it is possible for someone to clone your identity. Having another you living in Spain without any legal responsibilities and for you to undergo their blame is not worth thinking about so lets be careful out there.

In this particular case, these opportunist criminals have caused their victims a lot of inconvenience that fortunately Winston has been able to reduce. What is more interesting and amazing for me is that Winston found these bags interesting when they have lain there for five weeks.


Last week Rocky and Winston were in need of blood tests. I have been putting Winstonís off for long enough, as he did not like people examining him. Aware of this problem I have been trying to desensitise him for this. Rocky had the problem that he was terrified of what people were going to do to him.

I had taken Ambers cat into the vets and intended Alfredo Arriaga to meet Winston just as a test. As the blood test has been long over due we decided to make the attempt. What a struggle followed as Winston did not intend to let Alfredo examine him. I tried to weight him but he would not stand on the scales. I tried lifting him and taking our combined weighs but he struggled violently. In the end, Alfredo came up to him from behind and injected a sedative. Ten minuets later, he was more amenable and I could weight him and place him on the table where it was possible to take his blood. After checking his ears, Alfredo gave him the antidote and Winston was soon his normal self again.

Rocky was with Maia on assessment and asked if I would go along to help with the blood testing. Rocky was very happy to see me and to be able to play with Winston again. After twenty minutes, we walked Rocky to the surgery and fitted him with a muzzle just in case. I know Winston would not bite even though he did not like what was happening to him but Rocky does not know why people wish to hold him even if it was for his own good.

Once in the surgery, there was no problem with Rocky. The problem was trying to hold him down and to try to keep him still so the vet could take a blood sample from his rear leg. Rocky was terrified and Maia and I held him still but he continued to show aggression until it was all over and then he became his old friendly self again. This was a good sign as it showed this was only fearful aggression and the display only intended to try to stop what was happening to him.

Living and working with dogs in the UK I am not familiar with the need for these regular blood tests for dogs. I have only ever had to take my dogs in for the normal boosters and never had any problems with dogs showing any signs of fear. I wonder that after having seen both methods, which is the better to use, a sedative or to have to hold the dog.

Would Winston remember what happened so that next time he knew not to struggle? Similarly, would Rocky behave better next time as he could remember it would be over soon? I know of some dogs that for their blood tests simply walk in to the surgery and hold a paw up ready for the needle.

I have Winston able to lift a paw to ask for a titbit but I doubt he would hold it up long enough to insert a needle. I know I feel more comfortable at the dentists when I have an anaesthetic injection but is having to use a sedative each time on dogs such a good idea. I will keep training Winston to offer a paw and for people to play with it as if they were going to take blood but I cannot understand why Winston is such a fearful fidget.

Later on that week, Winston was due for his boosters. I thought this would be simple as it is an injection under the skin. Again, my trying to hold him still brought on a display of fearful aggression. I did not need a muzzle, as I know he will not bite me but he would not simply stand. In the end after all our exertions, we both stood still and Alfredo just walked up behind him, lifted his skin, and gave him the injection without Winston even noticing.

There is certainly a difference in having dogs from puppies than having older dogs. From puppies, we have already become use to the character of each dog and know how to help them through the trauma of the vetís surgery. As adult dogs, we do not know what fears they have built up so each new experience is a test in finding out the best approach.

Was there any real pain here or just the fear of what might happen? Maybe my trying to hold him still was the problem. Next time I will try to just feed Winston sausages while the vet injects him. As to the blood testing, I am now uncertain how to get him to just lift a paw. This must be a very common problem so does anyone have any useful suggestions from their past experience you can pass on?

I had an owner telephone me from Toriviejea to say her dog had symptoms of sickness and diarrhoea that contained blood. My first thought was, Parvo Virus but I know that the symptoms could also mean other problems so not to create needless worry I suggested three raw eggs to help settle the dogís tummy and to immediately take samples of the sickness and diarrhoea to the vet. This the owner did and Centracan gave the dog some injections and placed the dog on a special diet. This treatment had the dog back to its old self in no time.

In addition, this week more pain as I received an unhappy telephone call telling me that the pup that was bitten by two dogs some weeks ago and had come to meet Winston, Rocky and Ollie to regain its confidence was at the vets with possible Parvo virus. We were telephoning all possible contacts just in case but found all the dogs were fine.

Four days later, I received another telephone call from the owner of the pup to tell me her dog had suddenly died. The owner was obviously very upset and I believe we can all understand the pain and sadness here. I checked with the Vet who felt that this was not Parvo but could, because of the speed from the onset of the symptoms to death, suspected poisoning. A client of mine has just returned from Majorca nearly lost one of his dogs to poison left to kill cats in order to stop them catching and eating the baby rabbits that the farmers only wish to shoot when they are fully grown.

Leishmaniosis, Parvo Virus and poisoning are real killers here in Spain. If you wish to avoid the pain and suffering that these cause then the first two you can easily avoid by regular immunisation but the last one, even though it is illegal to use poison farmers still do it, so we must remain vigilant.

Just to let you know that both Winston and Rockyís blood tests were negative.


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