Rocky is a Medical Alert Assistance Dog and a fantastic companion for 7 year old Josh who has unexplained hypoglycemia and Epilepsy and has had many hospital stays since he was born. Rocky has been trained by the Medical Detection Dogs charity to alert Josh’s family when his blood sugars drop dangerously low and could trigger a seizure.
We spoke to Josh’s mum Paula to find our more about this delightful friendship!
What type of dog is Rocky? He’s a Cockapoo
How old is he? He’ll be 2 on the 28th September. He joined our family when he was 9 weeks old.
What does Rocky do to help Josh on a daily basis? Rocky spends all his time with Josh and alerts us when his blood sugars drop too low by sense of smell. Josh has unexplained hypoglycemia along with epilepsy and his seizures can be triggered by low blood sugar. We test Josh’s blood sugar numerous times a day but are extremely lucky to have Rocky with us who has alerted us many times when his blood sugars drop to a dangerous level which has fortunately stopped things escalating to a medical emergency. Rocky sleeps in Josh’s room and we are confident he will come and wake us if he ever senses a problem.
If Rocky wants to alert Josh, he stands on his back legs and puts his paws on Josh’s shoulder and licks his face. If Josh is asleep he comes to find me and licks my hands to wake me.
Did the Medical Detection Dog Charity advise you about what type of dog to get? We had spoken with the charity prior to buying Rocky and knew what to look for when looking for a puppy to give us the best possible chance of buying a puppy that we may be able to train successfully. Obviously we knew there were no guarantees on this and also looked for a puppy we thought would be the ‘best fit’ as our new family member.
Did you have to crate train him or was he already crate trained when you got him? We chose to crate train. He was used to a crate from being with Mum so it was very straight forward. He took his blanket in with him and was always happy. The training we did with Rocky with the crate was very easy, primarily due to him already being used to one.
During Rocky’s Medical Detection Dog training did you have to attend lots of classes? Rocky and I used to have one to one training on a weekly basis. Josh attended the training whenever possible. I would also send off any records of alerting behaviours along with all of Josh’s blood sugar recordings.
What did the training include? Where was the training held? The training was held at a variety of places. It included public access, off lead walking, heal work, distraction work etc etc. We had a train trip, a bus trip, taxi ride, public access – so inside shops, supermarkets etc, in school, busy places and quieter places, all to see how Rocky would react. And of course, a vet visit.
How long did the training take from start to finish? Rocky qualified at 18 months of age. The youngest possible age to qualify. We were training with him from the moment he came home at 9 weeks of age.
Do you have to go for additional training even now he has qualified? We have a first post qualification check 6 months from qualification and then every 12 months after. If we come across any problems at all at any point, we are fully encouraged to speak with MDD for full support wherever it is needed. We will also attend regular refresher training to ensure Rocky maintains his high standard of behaviour and alerting.
What type of treats do you feed Rocky as a reward? Rocky always has the same reward, dehydrated hotdog sausage – his absolute favourite!
Is Rocky allowed to go everywhere with Josh?
Yes he is. Rocky has to wear his ‘Medical Alert Assistance Dog’ tabbard whenever we are out in public and is allowed in all public access areas including shops, restaurants, beaches and cinemas.
Rocky and Josh are best friends. Josh trusts Rocky completely and understands that he helps to keep him safe. Rocky is simply a life changing member of our family.
A school in Italy, ‘Agrinido e Agriasilo Montessoriano Al Nido dell’Aquila’ has recently bought an Eglu Cube and Eglu Classic Chicken Coop for their educational programme on nature and pet caring.
We spoke with Mr Colombo’s about their new exciting project.
“Our farm with vegetable garden area produces fruit and vegetable and has recently added a nursery and a kindergarten following the Montessori method.
According to the Montessori method, the outside space needs to be prepared and organised as well as the classrooms inside the building. Therefore, we created and equipped an area
of our farm for the purpose of having children grow and care for the vegetables and also the pets (chickens and tortoises).
We wanted our little students to care for their own chickens for different reasons: firstly, to teach them how to care for another living being, and secondly, for the daily exiting reward of
getting delicious fresh eggs. Moreover, chicken- and pet-keeping has been a valuable starting point to teach numbers to the children, not to mention that the eggs were perfect to
paint and use as Easter decorations!
In order to assure that our students had the best and most educational experience, we needed something practical, clean and safe. In addition, it has to fit in the 55sqm we dedicated to the project. We decided to choose an Eglu Chicken Coop as, compared to regular wooden coops, plastic was easy to clean, highly hygienic, wouldn’t rot and would last for a very long time.
We decided to opt for Omlet’s Eglu Cube, as we valued the possibility to move the coop regularly. We move our Eglu every Saturday, in order to allow our chickens to enjoy new fresh grass every week. We were pleased to discover that one person can easily move such a big coop alone thanks to the wheels.
The size of the coop was also essential: it has to be accessible by small children. The Eglu Cube features a lateral door for easy access to the nest and eggs which is at the perfect height even for 2-year-old children. Thanks to this, our students can easily collect eggs in complete autonomy.
After a year, we wanted to expand the program and we bought another coop, the Eglu Classic, which we use to keep chicks. Keeping chicks helps children learning about time flowing and the phases of life from the egg incubation, to hatching and growing, and the patience necessary to wait for all these changes to happen.”
A few weeks ago the Springfield Sanctuary in Banbury gained a few extra guests. Two broods of ducklings arrived at the sanctuary a week apart. We’ve spoken to Joanne, the owner of the sanctuary to find out more about them and to see how they are getting on in their new Omlet Walk In Run!
When did the ducklings arrive?
The first group of 12 came in on 26th April from a village near Witney. The residents had been keeping an eye on them all day as there was no parent in sight. Apparently they were knocked about in the road, went in and out of the brook and got waterlogged, and then ended up in a garden! To keep them out of trouble one of the residents popped them in a recycling box in her garden, hoping mum would come for them. By evening they were cold and limp and there was still no sign of mum so they were brought all the way to Banbury for us to care for.
Less than a week later, on 1st May, we got a call from a house not far from us. This mum duck had laid her eggs under some decking (unbeknown to the homeowner!) and they all appeared one morning! The garden had no exit for the ducklings and so mum could not lead them to water. Mum left them and by evening hadn’t returned. So the ten little humbugs came to us too. So we then had 22 ducklings!
How old do you think they are now?
We think they were around 2 days old when they came in so the older ones are nearly 7 weeks and the younger ones are 6 weeks old now.
When are you hoping to release them?
They should be ready for release at around 8-9 weeks old, so we’re very close now! We are just waiting for their flight feathers to grow so they have the best chance at getting away from predators when they are released.
The younger ones are going to Swalcliffe School but we have not yet decided about the big kids. We will separate them into smaller groups to avoid over populating any area.
Have you named them?
We have named the groups but not individuals. The older ducks are the Big Kids and the younger are the Little Ones! There are only two we can tell apart from the others because the Little Ones are actually Hybrid and two of the ducklings are paler! Down by the canal in Banbury there are a couple of white pekin ducks which I’ve seen a few times. We think these ducklings came from this area and so are hybrid, mallard x pekin.
What do you feed them?
They are fed much like chicken chicks. They start on chick crumb for the first 3 weeks then they move onto Growers Pellets. In the last week or so we have added some duck and goose mix to the growers for variety prior to release. We will need to go and feed them for at least a week after release (gradually reducing the amount) to make sure they are finding their own food.
They love playing with the hose when I clean them! Ducks are ridiculously dirty and we have to clean them every 3 days. When we clean the pen it makes a lovely slurry of what we have called ‘Duck Poo Soup’ (it’s as pleasant as it sounds). The ducks have clean water in drinkers all the time but as soon as you get the hose out they start drinking. So I spend a lot of time sweeping up duck poo soup, dodging drinking ducks, and getting filthy! They also like to get in the paddling pool before it’s filled and paddle around playing in the hose spray.
Have you introduced them to the chickens or any other animals that you have at the sanctuary?
We have set up our Omlet Walk in Run as two runs which share a wall. The little ones are in one side and our rooster chicks Rodger and Mike are next door (Roger and Mike hatched at a school on 21st March and came to us with their sister as the school didn’t want them to go back to the farm to join the food chain!!). The boys were fascinated but the ducklings seemed completely oblivious. The boys have recently found their voices and crow if we are seeing to the ducks and not giving them any attention!!
We love the walk in run. We have another large run but we lost one of the big kids to a fox who managed break the ties and get under the chicken wire. The Omlet Walk in runs are much sturdier. We love that they are modular so I can add length to the run and link runs together to save space. They will be fantastic for introducing rabbits for the first time when we need to pair up lone rabbits, as they will be able to meet with a barrier between them. The size will allow the rabbits to be rabbits! Jumping, hopping, flopping and binkying with lots of space for a pair of bonded rabbits. With the amount of cleaning we have to do the height is ideal as we can stand tall while we sweep up. The stable door is great for putting feed and water in without little animals escaping! It’s also a great width so I can get in with a bucket and brooms. Having a cheaper run we can see the difference in quality and I would definitely change the large run for an Omlet one in a heartbeat! No sharp edges or chicken wire, plenty of headroom so no stooping, nice wide door and fox resistant. Everything I need for the wide variety of animals we get in.
The runs are earmarked for our pheasant chick when he is big enough to go out. His name is Pippin and he has a best friend called Hobble who is a Pekin Bantam chick with a dodgy leg! They will hopefully go out into our Omlet run once the ducks have been released.
To continue reading about the ducklings as they get ready to be released, please follow the
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We’ve been in touch with Niki from Jasper’s Bunny Hotel who offer luxurious glamping breaks for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs in our world famous Eglu Rabbit Hutches!!
Their website informs customers that holiday homes are all standard with daily room service, full menu of fresh food including fruit and vegetables for guinea pigs and rabbits, cool fresh water and a selection of toys for activities. Plus plenty of fresh grass and safe outdoor play areas for those who like a little exercise.
It sounds delightful….. so we decided to find out more about this fantastic bunny hotel…..
How long has Jasper’s Bunny Hotel been running?
We originally opened for bunny holidays back in December 2014, the idea was to have some large hutches for bunnies to have holidays rather than using breeding stacks of hutches. This initial idea worked well for a few bunnies who like to live indoors but we did spend a lot of time transporting them outside to wooden runs on the grass and then trying to catch them again to put them away! I was always concerned about predators, I used to peg the runs down with tent pegs and pile bricks around the outside to stop the foxes from digging in – but I was still always worried and had to spend all my time checking that all was well.
When did you get your first Eglu ?
Prior to moving to our current property we had bought an Omlet Eglu Cube and kept some chickens and so I thought about looking on the website for something similar for bunnies and guinea pigs. We now have 12 Eglu’s and one of the large walk-in runs.
How many Rabbit’s and Guinea Pigs can you look after at any one time?
This summer when I was at full capacity, I had 7 rabbits from the same family sharing a 4m Eglu and between 2 and 3 rabbits in each other Eglu, as well as some indoor bunnies, so we had around 44 bunnies and 30 guinea pigs in our care.
Why do you like Eglu’s
I love them because they can be jetwashed for hygiene, the bunnies and guinea pigs are safe and in a natural environment – we move them around at least weekly and certainly every time a new bunny or piggy arrives – they are colourful and almost indestructible – we only have one that’s been slightly chewed but the others look pretty much good as new!
Many of my customers have gone on to ditch their wooden hutches and replace them with Eglus once they have seen how brilliant they are and how much freedom the bunnies and piggies have.
What is the longest time that a rabbit has ‘glamped’ with you?
The longest time that we have had a bunny with us was three months – we have regular customers that come back to us three or four times per year and say that they wouldn’t go anywhere else.
Do rabbits travel far and wide to visit Jasper’s Bunny Hotel?
People book with us up to a year in advance and travel from 20-30 miles away for their bunny holidays.
Interested in updating your Rabbit Hutch to an Eglu?
The hutch is easy to clean and insulated and comes complete with under floor mesh, making it perfect for all-year use and rabbits will love being able to hop in and out of the fox-resistant run as they please. Click her to find out more!
For more information about Jasper’s Bunny Hotel please visit their website – http://www.jaspersbunnyhotel.co.uk/
We’ve been in touch with Sarah from Sussex Garden Poultry who has told us about a fantastic service that they offer to hens when their owners go on holiday…
How many Chicken Coops do you have?
I have at the moment 10 x mark 1 Eglu cubes & 8 x Eglu classic that I use for hen holidays. An Eglu Go & an old Eglu Classic with 1 mtr run I use as a broody coop
When did you get your first Coop?? Which type of Eglu was it?
The first Eglu I bought was a 2nd hand classic, I’d asked about & people said they’d owned them for 10 years with no problem & they look as good as new.
Why do you like Eglu Chicken Coops?
I like the Eglu for ease of cleaning, I love the varieties of colour, I try to have one of each, (I’m still hunting a pink cube), i also like the flexibility of being able to add to the runs length.
Please tell us more about the Chicken Holidays
I started the chicken holidays because I had potential customers who’d say ‘I’d love chickens, but what do I do when I go on holiday?’ So I said bring them back & i’ll board them for you. No one was offering this service locally so it made sense to offer hen holidays.
What is the most chickens you’ve looked after at any one time?
Difficult to say! We are usually fully booked over the summer holidays & Christmas to new year, but I have some birds of my own too, they take up 4/5 cubes, so I’ve the potential to accommodate over 100 holiday hens.
What is the longest time that a Chicken has stayed with you?
We had a trio of light Sussex that stayed about 3 months as their owner was sailing Around the Mediterranean & her progress was weather dependent!
I imagine the service is very popular…… Do you get fully booked up?
We like to take bookings a few months in advance especially for summer & Christmas, I don’t like to turn people away but each coop houses hens belonging to one family, we never mix flocks. If I’m out of space, then I’m out of space!
What is the furthest distance a customer has travelled to bring their chickens to you?
People do come a long way, but we are not that far from Gatwick airport so some drop off en route, its funny when the chickens take up more space in the car than the luggage.
What do prices start at?
Eglu classic & Go are £5 per night & take a max of 3 hens, Eglu cubes are £8 a night & take 4-8 hens. Feed included.
To find out more about Hen Holidays please view the Sussex Garden Poultry Website: http://www.sussexgardenpoultry.co.uk/home
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Omlet are delighted to announce the global launch of the new Eglu Cube chicken coop.
The design of the new Eglu Cube was focused on just one thing, creating the ultimate chicken coop. Made with advanced manufacturing technology, this coop is extremely strong and durable yet surprisingly light, making it effortlessly manoeuverable. Aesthetically pleasing, the clean, functional lines not only look great but also make cleaning the coop a breeze.
The new Eglu Cube is also the safest chicken coop on the market. It has a patented locking mechanism that will outfox any predators and includes a steel weld mesh run, complete with Omlet’s unique anti-tunnel skirt, designed to keep any unwanted visitors at bay.
Comfier, more discreet and easier to clean – the Eglu Cube makes light work of a large flock. Inside the Eglu Cube, chickens will find a spacious roosting area with contoured bars to provide plenty of perching opportunities. The nest box, complete with sliding door, is discreetly positioned off to one side for privacy during the crucial egg laying moment.
With space for up to 10 hens you could be collecting a staggering 60 eggs a week. Your family will enjoy an abundance of cakes, quiches and dippy eggs galore!
Omlet’s Head of Product Design Simon Nicholls said “With the new Eglu Cube we really wanted to push the boundaries of what a chicken coop could be. This is definitely the most advanced chicken house we have ever designed, it’s safer for your hens, more comfortable and even easier to clean. It really is the ultimate hen house.”
Whether you live in a town or the countryside, are a first time chicken keeper or an experienced breeder the new Eglu Cube will delight owners and their hens alike.