Animals: Choose the perfect New Year’s resolution for your dog

Tuesday, 30 January 2018
Since we always feel the urge, or the guilt, to make a New Year’s Resolution, why shouldn’t our dogs follow suit? Making a New Year’s resolution is a great way to create a positive lifestyle change, and since our pets are like family, it seems only right that we help them improve their health and happiness too.

But what does a New Year’s resolution for a dog look like? Essentially, it should revolve around improving their health, bettering their lives and even helping others. Whether you want your pooch to get fit or think they could benefit from learning a new trick or two, these canine resolutions are sure to help your dog lead a better life in 2018.


Improve their exercise regime

Promising to get more exercise can help us get fitter and lose weight — and according to a ComRes report, becoming more active is the most popular New Year’s resolution for humans.

How do you help your dog with this resolution? Why not:

·       Pick a new, exciting dog-walking place every couple of weeks, like a wooded area or around a lake.
·       Treat them to new toys to make your daily walks more fun.
·       Spend an extra 15 minutes every day throwing a ball for them in the back garden.
·       Look for places that offer dog swimming sessions — one of the best forms of cardio that also strengthens and tones your dog’s muscles.

Arthritis, diabetes and obesity can all be kept at bay with improved exercise. So, increasing how much activity your dog does every day is a great canine resolution to help prolong their life.

Volunteer your dog for pet therapy sessions

Instead of looking just at resolutions that can help your dog lead a better life, why not consider one that helps other? If your dog loves people and has a good temperament, team up with them and join an animal therapy programme! It could even be a joint New Year’s resolution.

Many medical experts think that pet therapy is an extremely effective tactic when used to improve mental, emotional and physical recovery rates. Organisations, such as Pet Partners, help volunteers and their pets visit schools, hospitals and assisted-living facilities to improve lives through the human-animal bond. Some of the benefits include: lowering anxiety, lifting spirits, encouraging communication, increasing joint movement, decreasing blood pressure, and improving focus and self-confidence.

So, help your dog make a difference this year and sign them up to assist those in need.


Book more frequent grooming appointments

Long-haired dogs and particular breeds need regular grooming, but that doesn’t mean your short-haired, lower-maintenance pooch should go without frequent baths and brushes!

Ideally, your dog should enjoy a bath once a month, with a brushing regime of three times a week. You might not know it, but regular brushing offers a host of health benefits, including removing grease, aerating the fur to help it grow and improving blood circulation. The action is also thought to reduce stress levels in dogs and can prevent skin complaints (caused by matted hair). 

If your dog isn’t a fan of baths, this might be a tough resolution to stick to — for both of you! But considering it could save you money on professional grooming and help improve the health and comfort of your pet, it’s worth persevering.


Give them a better diet

Have you ever felt swamped by the huge range of dog food available at your local supermarket? In the UK, there are all kinds of dog food varieties, including types depending on size, breed, age, and special requirements. So, how do you know you’re making the right choice? If your pooch has put on weight recently, is lacking in energy or doesn’t have the same thick and shiny coat it once had; it could be down to their diet. 2018 should be your year to select the best dog food for them!

Carry out research to find out what’s available and which will work best for your dog. For example, options such as grain-free dog food can provide more energy than standard dog food. Plus, it can help your dog stay fuller for longer — a major advantage if you’re trying to help your dog lose weight as part of their canine resolution!

Nutrition is vital to improving your dog’s health and lifespan. According to the FEDIAF — the European Pet Food Industry Federation — dogs need 37 essential nutrients (including vitamins, fatty acids and amino acids) in their daily food intake. Promise that this year, you’ll choose healthy dog treats and not give your dog your leftovers. Also, try buying a measuring cup when filling their bowl to ensure you don’t overfeed them and remember the following foods are poisonous to dogs and should not be in their diet:

·       Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas.
·       Chocolate.
·       Onions.
·       Cheese and milk.


Help them learn something new

What’s that they say about old dogs and new tricks? Ignore it. This year is the year you and your pooch are going to learn a few new tricks. Dogs have the ability to get just as bored as we do, so they’re sure to be up for this canine resolution if it means spending more time with you while doing something productive.

Here, we’ve found a few of our favourite dog tricks for you to try with your pet:

·       High-five.
·       Putting away their own toys.
·       Tucking themselves in at night.
·       Opening doors by themselves.
·       Ringing bells when they want to go for a walk.

Learning new tricks is a great way to bond with your dog and keep them mentally active in 2018!

Pick one, two or more of these resolutions and make this a stand-out year for your dog.

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LIFESTYLE: Winter Wonderful

Sunday, 10 December 2017
If you asked me to describe the last part of this year, I would have to say that I feel like I'm in a snow globe (and not just because of the weather). There have been some huge changes in my life and I feel like someone has taken my life, shaken it up and now everything is just beautiful, just as a snow globe is. 

On the 1st November, just as the UK was getting colder, Matt and I flew to the Dominican Republic. The holiday almost didn't happen as the country had taken a battering with the devastating hurricane's this year, of course we would have been gutted, but what was more upsetting was seeing the devastation and all the people and animals who suffered in this. 
Little did I know that I was going to be coming home with more than just a tan from this holiday. I've been completely unaware that Matt had been planning to ask me the most amazing question I've ever been asked. And so, in the Dominican Republic, on the 4th November at around 9pm, I said "yes!".
We have been completely overwhelmed by the messages, cards and even gifts(!!) of congratulations, after nine years together it's just such an amazing feeling to be engaged. I still can't quite bring myself to look at wedding magazines yet though, and that's because last month (the day after we came back from holiday) four new paws were added to our household. 

Meet Marli

The week before we went on holiday we were approved to adopt Marli from Newport City Dogs Home. You don't have to have known me long to know that welcoming a dog into my home is one of my biggest dreams and even a few weeks on I still can't believe that I'm typing this with her asleep at my feet. 

Let us wind back about 7 weeks ago, a black poodle was found straying in the city of Newport and taken to the dogs home by a member of the public. The poodle was in a very bad way (I can't really look at the photos still), emaciated and fur so matted she could barely walk, the staff thought she was an elderly dog. 

The poor, sweet dog had to go under a general anaesthetic to be shaved down to her skin, freeing her body of the matted fur that caused her so much pain. Underneath was a very skinny, weak and frightened dog, but she was alive. 

I've volunteered for Friends of the Dogs Wales for nearly four years and this was the first standard poodle I'd ever seen in out pound. Due to Matt's allergies we have had to wait for a standard poodle to come in as we would both never want to buy a puppy. 

We knew this could be our chance of welcoming a dog into our lives and it all seemed to perfect. Our new house, I've always wanted a black leggy dog, Matt needed a poodle - so we spent the next week getting to know her and making sure we had the strongest application ever. 

 I'm not ashamed to admit I cried when we were told she was ours, in that moment I'd just heard the words I'd always wanted to hear "she's yours". This was before going on holiday so we had to wait 3 weeks before bringing her home, she was also still in season so couldn't leave the pound anyway!

There are now going to so many photo opportunities that I want to get printed and some made into canvases, like these, from this winter. Us walking up our local mountain, Marli curled up by the Christmas Tree and her first time seeing snow. I can't wait to start building all these memories. I'm 99% sure that next year all our family will be getting a 2019 Marli personalised calendar.....

*Collaborative post

LIFESTYLE: Good customer service #AtYourService

Friday, 24 November 2017
Customer Service can mean such a wide variety of things to different people. For some, it could simply mean someone just doing their job - what they are employed to do and nothing more, or those who go above and beyond.

I'd like to think that I fall into the latter, just as I want to receive good customer service - I want to be the one that provides it too. 

Usually people are filled with dread when they have to phone up their providers and either upgrade contracts or renew insurance. From the stereotypical being on hold for hours to a "computer says no" person, it's never usually a nice experience. However, my two favourite examples of good customer services are from both these providers and are both a similar story.

With both my providers it's really easy to get hold of a person. I don't have to wait for hours (or what seems like hours) on a menu list, endlessly pressing numbers until I find someone. When I do speak to them the person on the other end of the phone is really friendly and a great communicator. I've never left all call feeling confused or with more questions than when I started. Perfect! To top it all off, they are really prompt and I never feel like they are speaking from a script. Aside from the competitive prices, it's a real reason why I've been with both for a number of years. 

CCSN, a website where you can find any telephone number for providers you need to speak to (bloomin' handy if you ask me!), recently ran a survey all about good customer service and came up with the below infographic based on the results!

All too often these days bad customer service is shouted about, but no one seems to celebrate the good!


CARDIFF: Meet TV Antique Experts!

Sunday, 8 October 2017
* Charity Press Release

Antique experts and television personalities Tom Keane, Eric Knowles and Paul Hayes will be in Cardiff on Sunday 15 October staging a charity valuation in aid of Marie Curie.

Well known for their appearances on programmes such as The Antiques Road Show, Cash in the Attic and The Antiques Road Trip, the three experts will value prized possessions in return for a donation to the charity.

Held in the Great Hall, of Howell’s School, Llandaff, the experts will be on hand from 11am until 4pm. The event has been organised jointly by the Marie Curie Penarth Hospice Development Board and Howell’s School Llandaff, which recently raised £6,660 to pay for a day’s care at the hospice as part of the charity’s ‘Pay for a Day’ campaign.

Principal of Howell’s School Llandaff, Mrs Sally Davies, said that the school’s fundraising effort had been a huge success following a launch earlier this year.

 “From the three year olds in our nursery to our upper sixth students and staff, the whole school was involved in raising money for Marie Curie, which is such a worthwhile charity,” she said.

Entrance to the event is by a donation to Marie Curie (minimum of £5 per family) which will entitle you to bring as many items as you like for valuation.
Tom Keane said: “We are all looking forward to a great day at what will be our first charity valuation event in Cardiff.  There is no need to book in advance, but please remember that valuations will be on a ‘first come first served’ basis and that heavy furniture and very large items cannot be accepted.

“But, if you want to bring along a photo on your phone and a description of anything too big to carry, we’ll still do our best to value it.”  

BEAUTY: Storing hair extensions at home

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Confession, I don't look after my hair extensions at all. Well, that might be a bit extreme as I don't exactly trash them but they are one of the more difficult beauty products to store (and style, but more on that later). 

Until I was contacted by Easiweft, this is how my hair extensions were stored...
... shocking I know, but I have never really had a place to store them properly and the only solution I could find was to hang them up in the wardrobe, but my wardrobe space is limited and hanging extensions on clip hangers seems so damaging. In the flat I never really had a place to store them in their own space, there just wasn't the space to give them their own drawer, so bundled into a corner they went.
Then when it came to washing and drying them, I tried it once and got in such a pickle I haven't washed them in years. Gross right? It ended up with me using books to hold them off the edge of my dining room table to try and dry them but that wasn't sturdy enough to blow dry with a brush. Tangle city.
Let's talk about Easiweft, a simple idea that is just actually bloomin' brilliant. A creation from Nicola Wood designed after years of working with hair extensions in a her salon. You can tell this was designed by someone who uses hair extensions regularly because, well quite simply, it's just a brilliant product. 

Nicola has made a product that is not only suitable for salons, but also for home use where you might not want to have the Easiweft in one place at all times. You can find the full fitting instructions here, but there's a suction cup method for a mobile Easiweft great for the shower, to screwing them onto furniture. The hooks are also quite deep and all my extensions (and the weight of them) easily! 

Until my dressing room is properly ready, renovating a house takes a loooooong time, I've been using lots of blue tac to stick the Easiweft to my temporary dressing table, drawers and even a wall. I've done some Instagram stories showing just show strong it is and it easily holds the extensions whilst I plait them - I've started to hang them plaited and it leaves a really nice natural kink in them which helps blend them into my hair when I wear them. 

If, like me, you are fed up (and lazy!) when it comes to storing hair extensions, I highly recommend Easiweft!

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*Sent for review, but I absolutely love it!