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Archive for August 2008

Could your dog make the grade?

If you've ever thought your dog had the talent to at least make it into The X Factor boot camp, then that dream could just be about to become a reality. After a lengthy audition process, a lucky group of canines are about to make a bid to bid to sing their way into the nation's hearts. So if you've always believed Fido was a potential Frank Sinatra, read on for some tips on how to realise his full potential...

A new canine choir will record and perform a novelty record called 'A Song for Jack', a tribute to legendary dog Swansea Jack, who received national fame after saving drowning swimmers off the Swansea docks in the 1940's. Dogs were auditioned earlier in the year by a group of experts at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea in a rigorous selection process that is set to see a choir finalised shortly.

The project is the realisation of a dream for Cardiff-based artist Richard Higlett, who plans to record the song in September before performing it at concert in October. The story of Swansea Jack is inspirational to residents in the city, where a monument acknowledges the black retriever's courageous efforts in saving 27 people from drowning over a period of seven years. Christmas number one? It might well be worth a bet!

This story's a load of rubbish

A tortoise has miraculously survived after being buried under 50 tonnes of rubbish. How did the tortoise get into this filthy mess? His owners accidentally threw him out!


Thirty year old Fred the tortoise is recovering after sneaking into a bin liner looking for somewhere to hibernate, according to reports in The Daily Telegraph.

Fred’s owner Jane Deslandes innocently picked up the rubbish sack and left it out for binmen – a decision that resulted in Fred experiencing a 20-mile journey from the family home in Margate to a landfill site at Canterbury, Kent .

Mother of six Jane said: "It was absolutely horrendous when we realised what had happened - I knew what had happened straight away because we put the bags out in the garden before collection day.

"And it's the time of year when he's looking for nice warm places to hibernate. But we panicked because we didn't know where the rubbish goes so we had to phone the council to find out."

After a long, grimy search, Fred was eventually found underneath a stack of household waste, just minutes before the day’s rubbish was due for burial.

Jane added: "We were overjoyed - words can't describe how happy we were. He was a bit dishevelled looking and had a couple of chips on his shell. But otherwise he was okay."

Black bear a modern day Robin Hood

A bear has caused quite a stir at a safari park in Luton, with some antics that aren't dissimilar to the story of Robin Hood. The story takes place at Woburn Safari Park in Luton.

Azra Noonari, 39, had experienced a nightmare few weeks, having had her hubcaps stolen at home in Luton just weeks before deciding on the family excursion. The mother of two was on a day trip to the Bedfordshire park with her family, reports the Daily Telegraph.

What she experienced next was a little out of the ordinary to say the least. As she drove through the park, a black bear took a remarkable course of action that left it a day to the remember for the whole family. She revealed:

"I was driving us to the bear and wolf area when I saw a car stop right in front of me. There was a bear in front of it, so I stopped too and started taking pictures. I saw it take a hubcap off the car then start walking towards us. I locked all the doors quickly, we didn't know what it would do.

"It put the hubcap down and then banged on the window, as if it was trying to get my attention. It was almost like it wanted to give me the wheel cap. Maybe the bear thought I needed the hubcap.

"My little boy was crying but my daughter was enjoying it. She was saying, 'Oh my God mummy, look what he's doing." Rumours that a black bear is set to replace Kevin Costner in a sequel to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves have so far proved to be unfounded...

A romantic fairytale

It's always nice to come across a story that warms the heart. And this one certainly pulls at the heartstrings...

A disabled tortoise in Israel has found love after being given her own set of wheels. Arava, a relatively new arrival at the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem was given a new lease of life after staff realised her rear legs were paralysed. Weighing in at 25kg, ten year old Arava just didn't have the strength to move herself using only her front legs.

To counteract the problem, staff designed a surfboard wheelchair that straps to the tortoise's stomach. Zookeepers have been watching Arava's progress with interest and believe she's never been happier. And finally, they've even noted that she's attracted the attention of an amorous male - and the pair have now begun mating. Love, it's a beautiful thing...

Duo set for a big discovery?

Excitement is reaching fever pitch among conspiracy theorists with the exciting news that the hunt to uncover the legendary Big Foot could finally be at an end.


Two Americans obsessed with the mysterious creature claim that they have found overwhelming evidence that will reveal the big fella really does exist. Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer claim they discovered remains of the animal in woods in northern Georgia and that they have spotted several similar creatures still alive.

The pair are vowing to unveil photographic and DNA evidence of their find at a press conference in Palo Alto, California, at 7pm British time tonight - in conjunction with a group called Searching for Bigfoot Inc.

According to details released on the group's website,, the creature is male; looks half-man, half-ape; is 7-feet, 7-inches tall; weighs more than 35 stones; and has reddish hair. A grainy photograph on the website has stoked up interest in the timeless story, and here at VivaPets, we wait with baited breath to see whether this is just another flawed case in a long line of hoax findings. For now though, we’re going to put any cynicism to one side in the hope that these plucky explorers’ years of hard graft have finally paid off.

Pets the big winners from credit crunch?

Research from America suggests not everyone is feeling the heat of the credit crunch; in fact pets are still sitting pretty despite the difficult economic climate.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, some 63 per cent of Americans own pets and they’re not afraid to splash the cash on them. It’s even more staggering once you crunch the numbers to find that an amazing $43.4 billion dollars (some £22 billion) will be spent on pets in 2008.

Lemurus Fawltypythonius?

We’ve heard of children being named after their parents’ favourite celebrities – shown by the amount of Brad and Angelina’s coming into the world right now – but could we shortly see a whole new version of that craze, with animals being named after the rich and famous? One of Britain ’s comedy legends has now revealed his desire to leave his legacy on this world through one of his favourite animals.

Monty Python star John Cleese revealed he would rather have a lemur species named after him than receive a knighthood or peerage.

The comic actor recently visited Bristol Zoo Gardens to discuss conservation, as well as his love for the cute critters.

Speaking at the zoo, Cleese - who declined a CBE in 1996 - revealed: "I would rather have that than a knighthood or peerage. They're the sweetest little creatures. They never snatch food from you.”

Move over Fireman Sam, there's a new hero in town...

A rabbit has become an unlikely hero after rescuing his owners from a ferocious house fire.

According to The Metro, the quick-thinking rabbit alerted his blissfully unaware, sleeping 'parents', who quickly detected the seriousness of the situation and succesfully evacuated the family from the house.

Police revealed the people inside the house may not have survived had it not been for the intervention of the family pet. Metropolitan Fire Brigade commander Mick Swift revealed: "The rabbit saved the couple from injury."

Although the house received substantial damage, the owners probably won't mind too much - it could have been much worse without the brave actions of one very special pet.

If you have any tales of heroism from your pet, then we'd love to hear from you...

Tired doggy or human nature?

A new study has thrown up some exciting new findings (don't they all!). It's been a well known fact for years now that yawning in humans is infectious, and now it seems our canine friends have caught the bug as well.

Fresh research from Birbeck College at the University of London has unveiled that dogs too can follow the human yawning 'cue'.

Science bods tested 29 dogs by creating two conditions, each five minutes long, in which a person - unknown to the dog - was sat in front of it and asked to call its name. For the first test, the stranger yawned once the dogs had made eye contact with them.

"We gave the dogs everything: visual and auditory stimulus to induce them to yawn," Birkbeck's Dr Atsushi Senju said.

The same procedure was followed in the second test, but this time the stranger opened and closed their mouth without yawning - a method of ensuring that dogs weren't just responding to an open mouth.

In the study, the team found that 21 out of 29 dogs yawned when the stranger in front of them had first. Perhaps more relevant is the fact no dogs yawned during the test where the person did not yawn.

It seems, then, that man's best friend is much closer to us than we ever previously thought...

Lassie Come Home 2: In cinemas soon?

Here at VivaPets we do love a good tale of pet heroism and bravery. That’s why we found the following story so heart-warming.

A Jack Russell called Jarvis got separated from his owner on a walk around picturesque Mount Edgcumbe in Torpoint. After several hours of searching for her beloved pet in vain, Jarvis’ mortified owner Vivienne Parry had given up all hope of finding her canine companion. But it seems Jarvis had other ideas, and hours later a crew on the nearby Cremyll Ferry called her to report a sprightly Jack Russell had somehow managed to climb aboard the boat. After verifying that the dog was in fact Jarvis, a relieved Vivienne received a call from her husband Tony to find to her amazement that the dog had arrived home, only two miles from the ferryport, before her.

Jarvis the Jack Russell, with owner Vivienne

A stunned Vivienne told The Sun newspaper: “I thought we'd lost him forever. But there he was, sitting in the window, wagging his tail as if nothing had happened.

"The staff on the ferry said he made several trips back and forth before hopping off on the Devon side. It's a big journey for a little dog."

In the dog house........

We all know dogs have the ability to behave badly sometimes, but a story from India reaches us that takes the (dog) biscuit.



 The dog in question has been summoned to court. The charge? Breaching the peace. Police in the state of Biha have demanded severe action for the dog, called Chhotu, after a repeated list of offences, most for biting a string of people. The beleaguered pooch was even sentenced to death in 2003, but thankfully the decision was overturned after pressure from several quarters.



 In the latest court proceedings, it is reported that Chhotu’s behaviour has been impeccable as the prosecution delivers its version of events, something that the dog’s lawyers believe will be a decisive factor in the trial. "Despite the presence of so many people in the courtroom the dog did not bite or bark at anyone," the canine's lawyer Dilip Kumar Deepak said in defence of his client. The case continues.

Here at VivaPets we say dogs in court - whatever next? A cat to become Prime Minister? Actually...

Chip K


Team Vitalise!

One of Vivapets team members is competing at this years London triathlon!

On the 10th August Kate will be competing a 1500m swim in the London docks, followed by a 40km cycle around Central London and finish with a gruelling 10km run alond the South bank.

Kate will be raising money for the Vitalise charity, a charity that provides holidays for the disabled and their carers.

Vitalise charity


You can sponsor Kate through her Just Giving Sponsorship page


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