Tips

How to beat the heat with your dog this summer

It’s still only June and temperatures reached 44º last week, so it looks like it’s going to be a long, hot summer. This is our fourth summer in Madrid so even though we’re not quite used to it, we’ve picked up some tips along the way on how to keep cool.

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1. Change your routine

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On the really hot days, our dogs get walked at about 7am and 11pm with a quick toilet break at lunch time. Even with the earlier and later walks, it’s still hot, so we focus on a lot of sniffing and slow walking, rather than going for a run. The footpaths heat up quite a bit too, so we try to find grassy patches or walk in the shade. We’re lucky to have a fountain across the road from the flat, so every walk ends with a quick swim.

2. Too hot for paws?

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When you go outside, press the back of your hand to the ground for 5 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them. Even if it’s not extremely hot, you can still help to protect their paws with a wax paw balm or boots. Even baby socks or Vaseline will help.

3. Be safe, hydrate!

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Make sure there are plenty of water bowls available to your dog, in different areas of the house. When you go for a walk, even if it’s just a short one, make sure to bring water with you too. You can get some really great collapsible water bowls that are handy to carry, or water bottles with a bowl attached. Adding water to their food will also help to increase their water intake, as well as feeding boiled meat or tinned food rather than just dry kibble.

4. Bed time

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A lot of dogs who are struggling with the heat won’t enjoy sleeping in cosy, fluffy beds, and might choose the floor or bathroom tiles instead. I like to put a damp bath towel in the freezer for a few hours and then put it on the floor for the dogs to lie on. They go crazy for it! You can also buy cooling mats, but I’ve seen mixed reviews on them, with many people saying that their dog just chooses to ignore them and they can be quite expensive. Mats and cool towels are a better option than cooling vests because the dog can choose to use them, whereas with the vets they’re stuck with them whether they like it or not. Elevated beds are also a great choice for hot weather as they allow the air to circulate underneath. You can also put plastic ice blocks for picnic boxes in or under your dog’s bed, as long as they’re not a big chewer.

5. Frozen food

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Instead of feeding our dogs from bowls, I normally use interactive toys or Kongs. You can soak your dog’s kibble in water, then stuff the toy with it, then wrap it in cling film and and freeze it. These toys are great, because they can be stuffed with something that each individual dog loves. I like using tinned food, meat, tuna, cream cheese, peanut butter… Anything you can think of, really! The great part of this, is that not only does it keep your dog cool, but it keeps them occupied for hours and gives them a mental work out. Many dogs are inclined to eat less when they’re hot too, so this will give them a little encouragement.

6. Do more at home

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If you’re reducing your walks and physical exercise outside the house, it’s only fair to balance it out with more fun at home. If I order something online, or get some cardboard boxes, I like to create a little olfactory course for the dogs. It’s like an obstacle course, but for their noses! Make as much of a mess as possible with the boxes and paper, toys, and anything else you can get your hands on, then scatter food for them to find. To make it more interesting, mix up little pieces of chicken or cheese with the food before you scatter it. It’ll keep them busy for ages and they’ll want to sleep more afterwards.

7. Cave dwelling

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As much as I love big, open, bright windows, they’re a nightmare in the summer for letting the sun shine in. During the day, keeping the curtains drawn or the blinds closed will make a huge difference. We haven’t got air conditioning in our current flat, so it’s the little things like this that really help.

8. Paddling pools

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When Cailín was a pup, she had a habit of tipping over her water bowl to lie in it, so we bought a paddling pool for the terrace instead. Once they got used to it, we had two very happy dogs, and one very wet floor!

9. Ice, ice baby!

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10 Cats to Enjoy Ice Ball 丸い氷を楽しむ10匹の猫 YouTube

A great way to keep your pets refreshed and occupied is by filling a balloon with water, then freezing it. Cut it open and pop it in a bowl, and it’ll keep them occupied for hours. You can even place toys and treats inside the balloon.

10. Know what problems to look out for

It's alwaysSome breeds in particular are more prone to issues like heatstroke, dehydration and even water intoxication. On 9th July in Madrid, we’re holding a pet first aid course in English where we’ll be covering these two topics, alongside basic first aid that every pet owner should know. If you’re interested in attending, you can reserve your place by email.

What do you do to keep your dogs cool during the summer? Pop your suggestions in the comments below!

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Doctor Loulittle

Everything you need to know about owning a pet in Madrid

So you’ve decided to move to Madrid, and of course your furry friends are coming with you! If you’re not sure where to start, this guide will help you with travel, accommodation, and getting to know the city in a pet-friendly way.

Where to live: First of all, Madrid is quite a dog-friendly city. There are plenty of green spaces, dog-parks and even dog-friendly bars, restaurants and shops! If you want to live in the centre, but still want the best for your dog, Pácifico is my favourite location. It’s within walking distance of the centre, but is a much quieter barrio and has lots of green areas for your dog to play. It’s just beside the Retiro park and is a short walk to Parque Enrique Tierno Galván. There are a few other smaller parks in the area too. Both Retiro and Tierno Galván have fenced-in dog areas. There are so many dog owners in the area if you’re looking for a canine companion, and some great vets, groomers and pet-shops too. Many of the bars and restaurants have terraces so you can enjoy a caña sitting outside with your dog. Beside the Ayuntamiento is a huge water fountain where all the kids go to play during the summer, and during the quieter hours it’s the perfect spot to bring your dog to cool down. The area around it is always full of dogs playing too while their owners have a little chit-chat. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbours!

I’ve created a map with all the dog parks that I’ve found in the city. Get in touch if you know of any others! Aside from Pácifico, the Conde de Casal area and Madrid Río are great areas to own dogs, as they have a lot of open green space where your dogs can stretch their legs.

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12391805_10207104801312044_6277662034559554414_nGetting around: Metro Madrid recently changed their policy to allow dogs on the underground. Check out my article on dogs on the metro for more information. Dogs of all sizes are allowed to travel on Cercanía trains as long as they’re leashed and wearing a muzzle (I’ve never seen the muzzle rule enforced, but we always carry one just in case). You aren’t required to buy a ticket for the dog, but you can only carry one per person.
Small dogs and other animals can travel on the bus as long as they’re in a closed carrier.
Dogs can do on media-distancia trains, but they have to be under 10kg and they must be in a carrier too. You also have to buy a ticket for them, which costs about 1/4 of a regular ticket but the carrier isn’t allowed to be on a seat or in the aisles.
A lot of taxi drivers are ok with dogs but it completely depends on the individual.

If you’re planning on travelling a lot with your dog, getting them used to wearing a muzzle is a great idea. Check out our video on conditioning your dog to wear one without stressing them out.

How to find a home: A lot of pet-friendly houses don’t specify in their adverts that they are. Your best bet is to go and view the apartment or house, chat to the landlord, and then ask about pets. Some will ask for an additional pet-deposit, but others will be fine. When you’re signing your contract, take a look to see if there is any clause regarding pets or damage done by them, just in case you get caught out later. If you’ve previously rented with your pet, ask your last landlord to write you a reference. Idealista and Fotocasa are the two best websites for flat-hunting in Madrid.

Pet-proofing your pad: Before you move in to your home, take time to look around and check for any dangerous areas or places that your pets could escape from. Open windows and balconies are an accident waiting to happen, even for the most agile of cats. You can get transparent nets for balconies and terraces, or even wire reinforced ones if your cat’s a real Houdini. Mosquito nets with frames, or “mosquiteras” are great, because you can buy them to fit your windows, pop them in and your cat is safe, and your apartment is free from pesky bugs too. You don’t need any nails or hooks to keep them in place once they’re sized correctly. We bought ours in Leroy Merlin.

Finding a pet-sitter: I’ve used the website DogBuddy several times and can’t recommend it highly enough! All sitters have to provide photo ID and proof of address so it’s really safe and you know who exactly has your dog. Alternatively, feel free to post on the Madrid Pet Lovers Facebook group. Nuevavida Adopciones also has a pet-sitting service.

Finding a furry friend: There are hundreds of rescues all over Madrid and Spain that always need homes for animals of all shapes, sizes and breeds. If you’re considering adopting, please get in touch and we’ll find you your perfect furry friend.

Where to eat and drink: Madrid is full of pet-friendly bars and restaurants. The best resource to find places in your area is Sr. Perro.

The Madrid Pet Lovers group is a great resource for pet-owners all over Spain, it’s full of owners who have already done what you’re planning to do, so they can offer great advice. They’re a friendly bunch of people too!

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch on Facebook or Instagram.

News

Madrid updates their animal welfare laws, including the ban of prong, choke and shock collars

The-greatness-of-a-nation-and-its-moral-progress-can-be-judged-by-the-way-its-animals-are-treated-Mahatma-GandhiOn Wednesday, 10th August, the Comunidad de Madrid released a newsletter with updated laws regarding the treatment of animals in the province.

Among the list of prohibitions is included a ban on using choke, prong, or electric collars that can cause harm to an animal. The usage of these collars is seen as an “infracción grave” (serious offence) and if prosecuted, the owner or handler of the animal can receive fines between €3,001 and €9,000. In extreme cases, the animals can be taken from the owners, and in the case of establishments breaking the law, they can be closed down for up to five years in the case of a minor offence, and between five and ten years for more serious offences.

What will be interesting to see is if establishments like pet-shops and online stores will be allowed to continue selling the tools even though they’ve been made illegal, and if trainers will continue to use them.

The new laws aim to take into consideration the protection and wellbeing of pets and company animals, irregardless of their situation. They also hope to:

a)educate responsible ownership

b)reduce abandonment

c) encourage adoption

d) encourage castration and reduce over-population and abandonment by encouraging responsible purchase, sale and breeding of animals

e) promote educational activities about animal welfare

f) promote volunteering and collaboration between animal rescues and the public

g) educate people about the beneficial role of animals in society

h) encourage animal training

i) create specific dog-friendly areas in all parts of the comunidad, urging all municipalities to provide said spaces

j) allow access to animals in establishments, facilities, transport, and other appropriate spaces, under the control of their handler

k) implement inspections to ensure the compliance with the afore-mentioned laws

l) promote castration and microchipping campaigns, establishing necessary contacts with veterinarians.

Unfortunately, the laws will not apply to animals used in bullfighting spectacles, wildlife, farm animals, zoo animals, or those used for experimentation under specific legislation.

Also prohibited are the following activities: 

  1. killing an animal
  2. abusing an animal
  3. abandoning an animal
    1. the breeding and sale of animals for commercial reasons, without proper permissions
  4. mutilating an animal for any reason other than a medical issue, or for castration, or for future benefits to the animal’s health. In all of the above cases, the procedure must be carried out by a veterinarian. These permitted procedures do not include mutilation for aesthetic purposes (ear cropping, tail docking…)
  5. putting an animal through aggressive or violent training, or preparing them for fighting
  6. Involving animals in fights or any type of aggression, including the organisation of fights or inciting them; allowing or not stopping an animal from attaching a person or another pet.
  7. not giving an animal the basic needs for its wellbeing; feeding them inappropriately, or an inadequate diet, or food that is not authorised for consumption; keeping them in unhygienic or unsanitary conditions where they are not protected from the elements, that don’t provide enough space, or due to the distance or characteristics of the space don’t allow for adequate attention, control and supervision of the animal, at least once a day.
  8. administering substances that can alter the state of health or behaviour of the animal, except in cases covered by current legislation or under veterinary supervision.
  9. keeping an animal permanently tied-up or enclosed or for a time or in conditions that can harm the animal or cause suffering, or keep them isolated from human or animal contact, in the case of them being gregarious species.
  10. possessing an animal without adequately identifying them according to law.
  11. exhibiting animals in leisure premises.
  12. begging with animals.
  13. giving animals as compensation, prizes, or raffling them.
  14. using animals in carousels at fairs.
  15. using animals in fairs, exhibitions, competitions, shows, filming, photo sessions, or cinematography with the intention of publicity or any other similar activity without permission of the City Council in the municipality where the action is taking place.
  16. using animals for filming non-simulated scenes for cinema, television or internet, artistic or publicity reasons, that carry out cruelty, mistreatment, death or animal suffering.
  17. keeping more than 5 animals in one residence when they are cats, dogs, or any other species determined by regulation unless the corresponding City Council authorises it.
  18. keeping animals in stationary vehicles without adequate ventilation and temperature.
  19. permanently keeping an animal in a car.
  20. transporting animals in the boot of a car that has not been specifically designed for the purpose.
  21. transporting animals tied to a moving car.
  22. shooting or attacking animals with any form of a gun or weapon that may put their life at risk. The only exceptions are outlined in the original document in artículo 9.
  23. using choke, prong or electric collars that can cause damage to animals.
  24. keeping animals outlined in the Anexo of the document, except in registered zoos, or in areas specifically authorised by the Comunidad de Madrid.
  25. moving bound animals as a precautionary measure.
  26. using company animals for human or animal consumption.

The article outlines a lot more laws regarding identification, control of breeding and sale of animals, usage of animals etc… It’s definitely worth a look if you speak Spanish. You can find it here.

If the laws are actually implemented, this will be a huge step forward for Spain, a country which up until now has had a questionable past regarding animal rights. For now, let’s keep changing the world, one pawprint at a time.

Online finds

Pet-ccesories you never knew you needed (until now!)

At the Doctor Loulittle zoo, we’re constantly tripping over harnesses, collars, multi-function leashes, poop bags and fancy dispensers, hands-free running kits, cani-x gear, multi-purpose bowls, and a whole other range of *must-have* gadgets for the dogs and cats… Seriously, my bank balance hates me.

While browsing Etsy for a new collar for Cailín today (because she totally needs ANOTHER one), I came across some pet-ccessories that I never knew I needed, but now I totally do.

Here’s my top 10:

  1. Dog Harness with 6 Pack Holder: The essential accessory for man’s best friend. 

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2. Smiling Dog Muzzle: The muzzle that says, “I’m a nice guy, really!”

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3. Werewolf muzzle: The muzzle that says, “Come any closer and I’ll eat your soul. And your lunch”

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4. Weiner cat toy: For the cat-owner who’s not so fond of men. Ouch, kitty’s got claws!

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5. Dog frame: Every dog-house needs one of these. 

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6. Painted pet portrait on a stone: These are actually awesome, I bought one for my sister a few years ago. 

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7. Cremated pet jewellery: As creepy as this might seem at first, they’re oddly beautiful. I think I’m coming around to the idea- big time!

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8. Upcycled computer monitor cat bed: Perfect for any tech geeks!

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9. Oh f*ck, I’m lost! Dog tag: Bad Tags have an amazing selection of funny tags. Cailín wears her “I has toots in my butt” with pride.

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10: Couture dog dress with Swarovski Crystals: As we’re planning a wedding, and the dogs are going to be our flower-girls, I find myself searching for dog-themed wedding supplies quite a bit. Sorry girls, I’m not spending €5,533 on your dresses, as much as I love you. 

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What’s the craziest pet purchase you’ve ever made??

News

Doggy-date at Cinesa cinema!

To celebrate the release of “The Secret Life of Pets” or (“Mascotas” in Spanish) Cinesa cinemas, along with Fundación Affinity are holding a special pet-friendly screening of the film!

For the first time, dogs-owners will be allowed to attend the movie with their furry friends.  The screeningwill take place on Friday 5th August at 5:30 in the Sale Cinesa Proyecciones de Madrid, on Calle de Fuencarral, 136.

If the event is a success, Cinesa will consider allowing dogs in other screenings across the country too.

Will your four-legged friend be joining you?

News

Sleep tight, Sr Perro

This morning while scrolling through my newsfeed, I saw the heartbreaking news that Colega, the smiling schnauzer-cross whose little face and bow-tie grace the doors of so many establishments in Spain, went to sleep for the last time this morning.

After nine years with the loyal canine, Micaela said goodbye to him this morning. Most people know him as Sr Perro, but he was more than that to Micaela. In her heartfelt blog post, she describes him as “mi sombra y mi corazón” (my shadow and my heart). I’ve been lucky enough to meet Micaela and Colega a few times, and when we lived around Lavapiés, whenever you saw Micaela, Colega was sure to be following a few steps behind.

perrosbuenosFor anyone who wasn’t lucky enough to meet this handsome gent, you’d surely recognise his smiling face. His moniker became the symbol of dog-friendly establishments all over Spain, particularly in Madrid. In some spots, your pooch might even be lucky enough to get a refreshing bowl of water with his face on it.

The Sr Perro duo have truly changed the doggy world in Spain for the better, through educating the public and promoting dog-friendly establishments. As dog owners, we owe a lot of thanks to them. Whenever anyone in Madrid Pet Lovers has asked for recommendations on bars, restaurants, hotels, or even things to do in Madrid, we’ve always sent them straight to Sr Perro.

From Doctor Loulittle, and all my furry companions, we want to let Micaela know that we’re thinking of you, and Colega too. Run free over the rainbow bridge, little one.

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Mango’s always been Sr Perro’s #1 fan
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There’s something special about a schnauzer cross
Doctor Loulittle's Zoo

How the Doctor Loulittle Zoo came to be

10410788_10207164736930397_7066019292795481360_n𝟙𝕤𝕥 𝕔𝕒𝕥 (𝔹𝕖𝕒𝕥𝕣𝕚𝕔𝕖 𝕊𝕦𝕞𝕞𝕖𝕣):
Me- Babe, I really think it’s time for us to adopt a kitten. If our friends can do it, then we can! And we don’t have any plans to move anywhere soon…
 
(Fast forward to moving to Spain a year later and bringing an extremely irate cat on the plane.)
 
𝟚𝕟𝕕 (𝕡𝕖𝕣𝕞𝕒𝕟𝕖𝕟𝕥) 𝕔𝕒𝕥 (𝕄𝕣. 𝕄𝕚𝕝𝕦𝕔𝕙𝕠):
Me- Babe, I’ve seen this cat I’m thinking about fostering. I know you wanted to foster another kitten, but I’m sure once you see him, you’ll change your mind. OHMIGOD IT’S THE FLUFFIEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN! HE’S NEVER GOING ANYWHERE!
 
𝟙𝕤𝕥 𝕕𝕠𝕘 (𝕄𝕒𝕟𝕘𝕠):
Me – Babe, you know how I’ve always wanted a dog? Well, I think it’s about time we adopted one.
Jack – Ok, if you’re sure, we’ll get one after Christmas.
Me – (September) Ok, great, I found the puppy, she’s coming tomorrow.
Jack – Ok, fine, but that means no more fostering.
 
𝟚𝕟𝕕 𝕕𝕠𝕘 (ℂ𝕒𝕚𝕝í𝕟):
Me- Babe, let’s foster this puppy who’s only 4 weeks old, malnourished, covered in ticks, frightened of everything. She’s broken, so she’s staying.
Jack- Ok, fine, but that means no more fostering.
 
𝟛𝕣𝕕 𝕔𝕒𝕥 (𝔾𝕒𝕣𝕗𝕚𝕖𝕝𝕕):
Me- Babe, we were going to foster this little smushface cat, but I love him and he’s never going anywhere.
Jack- But he’s really unwell and is going to cost a fortune in vet bills, and is going to need a lot of work.
Me- Well, now I definitely can’t say no. He’s staying.
Jack- Ok, fine, but that means no more fostering.
 
𝟚 𝕔𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕔𝕙𝕚𝕝𝕝𝕒𝕤 (ℝ𝕠𝕔𝕜𝕪 & 𝔻𝕦𝕤𝕥𝕪):
Me- Babe, you know the way I’ve always wanted a chinchilla? Well, we’re fostering two. Oh, and by the way, they’re staying forever.
Jack- Ok, fine, but that means no more fostering.
 
I can’t resist the broken ones… (and the no-fostering rule didn’t last either…)
News

Madrid Metro to allow dogs from 6th July

Dogs will now be allowed to travel on the Madrid Metro from Wednesday 6th July.

Great news for dog owners in the city! In a statement on their website published today, 5th July, Metro de Madrid have said that they will now allow dogs to travel accompanied by an owner under the following conditions:

  • only one dog per person will be allowed
  • all dogs must wear a muzzle and a leash which is no longer than 50cm
  • dogs must be microchipped (as is a legal requirement)
  • dogs must travel in the last carriage of the train
  • dogs must not use the escalators, for safety reasons, but are allowed in the elevators and stairways
  • dogs will travel at no extra cost
  • the passenger will be responsible for the dog

12004753_10206543413717705_6029783400579627793_nThe rules will apply not only on the train, but in the stations too, until the passenger and dogs have exited. They also ask that passengers with dogs do not block exits or doors, and avoid extreme crowding for the dog’s sake as much as other passengers.

Dogs will not be allowed to travel during rush hours; Monday to Friday 7:30-9:30am, 2-4pm, 6-8pm. During the weekends, and on holidays, there are no time limitations.

It’s wonderful to see that Metro de Madrid has listened to the requests of their passengers and that Madrid is now climbing the dog-friendly city ladder like so many other cities including Barcelona, Brussels, London, Lisbon and Berlin.

Before this date, small pets were allowed to travel, but only in a “receptáculos idóneos” (suitable containers), a choice of wording which caused a lot of issues between pet-owners and Metro personnel as whether or not a carrier was deemed “suitable” appeared to be up to the discretion of the employee. Guide dogs were also allowed as long as they were wearing a harness or jacket which identified them as such.

 

News

Madrid to ban the sale of live animals in pet shops

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Puppies in a pet shop (Flickr)

The Asamblea de Madrid (Madrid government) have proposed banning the display of cats and dogs in pet shops in the province.

The change in the Law for Protection of Companion Animals in Madrid, which will be debated on the 14th July, proposes the ban, suggesting instead the sale of pets via a catalogue system or similar means. Pet shops will no longer be allowed to keep cats and dogs on display as is currently commonplace. This means the end of cages full of puppies and kittens prompting impulse buying and purchasing without researching decent breeders. In many pet shops, the heat in the glass cases can soar to unbearable temperatures, and animals are sometimes left without water. Last summer, in La Gavia’s HobbyZoo I told the shop assistant that I noticed the puppies in the window didn’t have any water. I was told that they had knocked over the bowl, and that they had to learn a lesson from it. I refused to leave the shop until the bowl was refilled.

Although the shops will not be banned from selling pets, the customer will have to go through the internet, or a catalogue system, which means that the dogs and cats don’t have to physically be kept in the shops.

The amendment was submitted for consideration by the Ciudadanos political party, and was supported by the PSOE and Podemos, and voted against by the PP. The details of the change are yet to be determined, as are the species to be banned from the shops. It’s unsure yet if the ban will stretch to chinchillas, ferrets, hamsters, birds, even fish, or if it will just apply to cats and dogs.

Although this is a step forward, we still have a long way to go. Hopefully without those begging eyes pleading through the glass, owners will be less likely to impulse buy, which will hopefully in turn reduce the rate of abandonment in the province as the pounds and rescues are already far beyond breaking-point. Many pet shops are supplied by puppy farms, and are notorious for selling sick puppies or puppies who are too young to be away from their mother and siblings which can lead to future problems with health, behaviour and socialisation issues. Buying from a pet shop also means that the puppy has no medical history, or confirmation of health tests undergone on the parents. Often, although the shops sell the dogs or cats as purebred, no pedigree is available, which means the parents and breeders are untraceable.

While I will never recommend buying a pet over adopting, here’s hoping that the law will encourage people to purchase responsibly from reliable breeders who put the animals’ welfare first.

 

Doctor Loulittle

Welcome to our Zoo ❤

Meet the resident furries:

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Beatrice Summer the Moggie

Bee was our first mistake. We adopted her when she was about 4 weeks old, from an abandoned feral litter of kittens. Little did we know of the havoc that she would wreak upon our lives. With us, she’s the cuddliest, sweetest little kitty, but once someone new arrives to the apartment, or she has to go to the vets, she lets us know that she’s not happy. Generally blood is drawn. Flying from Dublin-Frankfurt-Madrid with her was not fun.

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Mr. Milucho the Himalayan Persian

Mr. Milucho is an esteemed gentleman with a taste for the finer things in life. He abhors seafood and kittens, and enjoys serenading us with classical opera at 4am, and sharing his hairballs with us to find in unexpected places. He was adopted after his previous owners took him and his mum to the vet to have them put to sleep because they were getting divorced and neither of them wanted the cats. Their loss. He’s a model now.

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Mango the Mutt

Mango is a naughty old lady in a 5 kilo body. She likes to think she’s the boss. Mango has some identity issues, having grown up with the cats. She’s yet to “discover” herself. She’s a scruffy little mutt with an irresistible charm and a tendency to talk to herself when she thinks no one else is listening.

Poor little Manguito was abandoned in a cardboard box along with her mum and 5 siblings when they were only 2 days old, but luckily they were found and were given a second chance. She now lives a cushy life at the Doctor Loulittle zoo, helping to look after any foster animals that come our way.

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Cailín the Spanish Water Dog

Cailín (her name means girl in Irish) came to us pretty much by accident… She was one of a litter of 6, born to a mistreated mum on a farm, in horrible surroundings. We were supposed to foster her brother, but when the protectora (shelter) went to collect the pups, there were only two left. The rest had died or had been killed. Cailín came to stay with us instead, at 5 weeks old, and in a terrible state, covered in ticks and with really severe stomach problems which we thought were parvo. When we met her, we realised that she was going to need a lot of work and dedication, and we knew that we’d be able to give it to her, so she stayed with us. We’re proud failed fosterers!

She spent her first few months learning that not everyone is bad, but was terrified of everything. She just cried constantly for about 3 months. We’ve had some issues with her behaviour which have been quite challenging, but we’ve learned as much from her as she has from us, and we wouldn’t change a thing.

1292908_10207141193301821_2940048419979881177_oGarfield the Gingerbread Man

Garfi’s an Exotic Shorthair who came to us as a foster in December in a terrible condition, extremely underweight, with a severely matted coat so bad we thought we’d have to shave him. He had eye infections, chronic asthma and a respiratory infection as well as stomach problems.

Our plan was to keep him until he was well enough to rehome, but after a few months we realised that it was never going to happen. Months later he continues to have stomach and breathing issues and needs a lot of upkeep, including having his face and eyes cleaned twice a day, his ears cleaned, daily grooming to help him shed his problem coat as well as visits to the vet on a fortnightly or monthly basis. He often has problems with his asthma which means that we need to give him an inhaler twice a day.

The reality of Garfi’s situation is that a lot of people were interested in adopting him as he’s a purebred squish-face, but many people didn’t realise the time and money that his health issues would require, so in the end he stayed with us. He slotted right in with the family from day 1 and he’s been the most amazing foster daddy to our bottle-fed kittens and pups and is the most patient cat I’ve ever seen! We’re proud to call ourselves failed fosterers for him.

13062192_10208185438327294_9208353548342905208_n13124450_10208209397446257_2516205126871625355_nRocky & Dusty the Chinchillas

When I was in secondary school I longed for a chinchilla but knew it wasn’t practical. However, I got older and practicality went out the window! A few months ago a member of the Madrid Pet Lovers group donated a cage for any fosters that might need it. I took it and offered to foster from APAEToledo.

I had no idea how to look after chins when they arrived, but I soon learned that almost everything I new about them was wrong! A while after they arrived, we realised that they too were here to stay, and they got upgraded to a bigger cage, which the cheeky beggars figured out how to get out of, so we’ve had to invest in metal cable ties to stop them escaping at night. Luckily, after we got them, I spent a while getting the cats used to having them in the house, so on their nightly romps around the living room, no one was hurt! The only victim was a half-eaten paper lamp.

We’ve learned so much from our furry family, but most of all, “You don’t own a pet, you share your life with a companion.”