Spring has finally arrived! This is my favourite time of year. It’s the time that I really appreciate spending time with Oliver, my one eyed Labrador. There is a certain excitement in the air – it feels like there are new pastures to explore, new beaches to find and new adventures to have.
So when James Wellbeloved, a pet food company based in rural Somerset, challenged me to take part in their ‘Reconnect with Nature’ campaign – of course I jumped at the chance (as did Oliver!).
The first part of the challenge was to visit the James Wellbeloved team at Crufts. My heart lifted the moment I spotted the six dogs I was due to meet. From a distance, it was clear these were a mixed bunch – different sizes, different ages and different personalities but all with their own special story to share. I quickly realised I wasn’t here to meet any fancy pedigrees, I was here to meet the James Wellbeloved ‘Scruffts’ finalists! ‘Scruffts’ is the largest nationwide competition for mixed blood dogs and out of the 1,800 dogs that entered, these were the six finalists and what an absolute pleasure it was to meet them.
Vinny was the ‘Golden Oldie’ finalist, a thirteen year old Jack Russell cross in fine nick for a gentleman of such vintage! Fleur was the ‘Best Rescue’ finalist, a collie cross brought over from Romania after being found on the street with her intestines protruding through a wound.
Then Ginny, a stunning Cavalier cross up for ‘Prettiest Bitch’ and the ‘Most Handsome Dog’ was King Tommy, the first ever Indian street dog to step foot in a Crufts arena! Bonnie was so gentle, the perfect example of a ‘Childs Best Friend’. Biscuit was the finalist for the ‘Good Citizen Dog Scheme’, a German Shepherd cross owned by 14 year old Joshua King and it was immediately clear that there was such a strong bond between Joshua and Biscuit. They really were an example to many and I was thrilled to see Biscuit crowned the ‘Scruffts Champion’!
The one thing uniting all these amazing dogs is that they are all cross breeds. As a vet, it is so refreshing to see a company like James Wellbeloved champion these mixed breed canine companions.
I should add – I am not ‘anti-pedigree’. My dog is a pedigree Labrador (I confess – he lost his looks before he came to us when, as a 6 week old puppy, he got attacked and lost an eye) but on paper he is a Kennel Club registered pedigree!
I am, however, against poor breeding and I am definitely against dogs being used as a throw away ‘fashion accessory’, a worrying trend we have seen grow through celebrity endorsement of certain toy breeds.
Dog ownership trends are changing. We have seen a huge surge in popularity of certain pedigree breeds, which has led to poor breeding standards and puppies being illegally imported from puppy farms overseas. It is time we raised the profile of the cross bred dogs, who often suffer far fewer health concerns than their pedigree cousins but make for equally wonderful companions. It is for this reason that I am whole-heartedly behind a campaign like ‘Scruffts’.
Keeping a dog healthy takes a lot of commitment. Dogs require exercise, mental stimulation, veterinary care and a good quality diet. They say ‘you are what you eat’ and I don’t believe it is any different for our canine friends. As a vet, I have seen plenty of dogs being fed a poor quality diet that go on to suffer from poor skin, bad guts and even behavioural problems (the additives and preservatives found in cheap dog food have the same effect on dogs as e-numbers do on children!). If you are going to feed only one type of food for the entire lifespan of your pet dog, you need to choose a high quality and balanced diet.
James Wellbeloved is a wholesome and naturally healthy food with simple, hypoallergenic ingredients. Unlike other pet foods, the protein is sourced from a single origin inspired by nature – if it says ‘lamb’ on the label, then it is 100 per cent lamb in the food and no other animal ingredients. That means if your dog is allergic to one type of protein, you can choose a suitable food from the James Wellbeloved range with confidence that there will be no ‘hidden ingredients’. In a nutshell, it has all the goodness your pet needs and nothing they don’t.
Oliver, my Labrador, has a surprisingly weak constitution! Labradors have a reputation for being ‘dustbins’ and whilst he will gladly accept any food on offer, unfortunately it rarely does him any favours in the ‘toilet department’.
After a lot of detective work – I eventually worked out it is in fact grain that he is allergic to. For the past 5 years he has maintained a grain free diet and he is so much better for it. However, the food I am currently feeding is an imported Canadian brand so for some time now I have been on the look out for a British equivalent. The perfect solution could lie within the James Wellbeloved grain free range. I am going to transition Oliver over to the grain free senior range over the next three months. Keep a look out as I will be posting regular updates on our progress as well as tales of our escapades into nature!
Bye for now,
James and Oliver
Ps…Look out for the new James Wellbeloved advert on TV (or watch it below!)