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Discover Dogs in London

Discover Dogs in London

It’s no secret Cooper and I are passionate dog lovers. Our family members know not to be too upset when we say we miss our dog, Harry, more than anything. We pat unsuspecting (but generally enthusiastic) dogs whenever we get the chance – on the train, in a park, at the pub…

We were of course first in as the doors at Earl’s Court’s vast convention centre swung open for the annual Discover Dogs in London event, held each November (although a location change is in store for the 2015 event, I believe).

Discover Dogs in London

Discover Dogs in London

Discover Dogs in London is a two-day spectacular brimming with dog shows, agility demonstrations, over 200 breeds being showcased, and pet suppliers sharing their wares. We also got to meet awe-inspiring dogs who work in search and rescue, hospitals, and those dogs helping people who are sick and with special needs, everything ranging from sight and hearing loss to rare illnesses.

I was most moved by one pair of pups we met – a totally blind dog and his companion dog who basically mentors and guides him everywhere. So beautiful. Too bad more humans don’t behave like dogs, eh!

Additionally, I was amazed to happen across some VERY extraordinary dogs from Medical Detection Dogs UK. These dogs are recruited from all places including shelters and breeders. They are trained in a number of specialised ways – some are medical alert assistance dogs that help people with complex health conditions but who have no awareness of an impending life-threatening attack. Others are cancer detection dogs, increasingly being relied upon to assist scientists and medical professionals to detect and understand various forms of cancers. These dogs excel in such areas because of their heightened and honed sense of smell. Utterly fantastic – take a look at their website if this interests you too – medicaldetectiondogs.co.uk.

We love this event and highly recommend it if you’re a dog person and/or you want to introduce your family to the wonders of man’s (and woman’s) best friend. On again next year – more at discoverdogs.org.uk (admission fee does apply although children under 12 go free).



Why not adopt a pet?

Why not adopt a pet?

Cooper and I honestly couldn’t love Harry the dog any more than we do. He’s placid, friendly, funny and cuddly. And, he’s an adopted pup, definitely not from a pet store!

Sadly the Pedigree Adoption Drive Survey, conducted by Pure Profile in August 2013 in Australia, has presented a few disappointing findings. Despite Australians warming to the idea of adopting pets, with 70 per cent of surveyed dog owners considering it as an option, only 11 per cent actually source their pets from rescue organisations.



  • Younger Australians, aged 18 – 24 are the most inclined to consider adopting a dog in the future (83.75%) followed by those aged 25-34 (79.21%). Of those aged 55 – 64 years old, only 52.63% would consider adopting a dog in the future
  • Those in Australia Capital Territory are most inclined to adopt a dog, with 87.50% saying they would consider it in the future. New South Wales natives are least likely to adopt a dog with 67.88% saying they would consider it

Attitudes about dog adoption – those with adopted dogs

  • 76.82% were motivated to give the dog a home it might otherwise not have had
  • 13.91% were motivated because they were personally touched by a particular dog
  • 88.74% would consider adopting another dog in the future

Attitudes about dog adoption – Those without adopted dogs

  • 71.38% would consider adopting a dog in the future
  • 25.18% view adopted dogs as untrained or hard to train
  • 12.50% believe adopted dogs have poor social skills
  • 56.70% believe adopted dogs have had a tough former life
  • 41.85% believe adopted dogs are misunderstood
  • 40.04% believe adopted dogs are loveable

The dog adoption process

  • 47.26% don’t know much about the dog adoption process
  • 20.10% view the dog adoption process as similar to choosing a pet from a pet store or breeder
  • 23.48% view the dog adoption process as one with lots of flexibility and options

Pet dogs are part of the family

  • 42.59% revealed their dog eats at the same time they do
  • 33.53% admit their dog sleeps in their bed
  • 27.66% include their dogs in family portraits
  • 29.25% believe their dog shares their surname
  • 13.43% admit their dog has its own bedroom in the family home
  • 30.15% say they sign their dog’s name in family greeting cards

Favourite pastimes

  • 44.08% of dog owners take their dogs on family holidays
  • 53.03% say their favourite place to bring their dog is to the park
  • 27.26% say their favourite place to bring their dog is to the beach
  • 29.95% say if they had it their way, they would bring their dog to work
  • 21.19% say if they had it their way, they would bring their dog on a plane
  • 16.62% say if they had it their way, they would bring their dog to a restaurant for dinner
  • 13.43% say if they had it their way, they would bring their dog to the footy
  • 52.64% say if they had it their way, they would bring their dog on all holidays


The Pedigree Adoption Drive – on in Australia right now – is about celebrating the many families who love their pets, and aims to remove the myths associated with adopted dogs, with a view to increasing numbers of people adopting. The research found that more than 75 per cent of people who had adopted a dog did so to help the animal, and found more than 85 per cent of people who had adopted a dog said they would consider adopting another dog in the future, showing that adopted dogs are just as much a part of the family as any other beloved pet. More than 450,000 dogs are obtained from breeders, pet shops, and puppy farms in Australia each year. Figures from rescue organisations show the number of dogs in need of a loving home is increasing, which means it’s never been more important to recruit new Australians to consider dog adoption. People often think adopted dogs are troubled or believe breed and age options are limited, but the truth is thousands of beautiful, loving and friendly dogs of all different shapes and sizes come through Australian rescue organisations each year.

In Australia, the Pedigree Adoption Drive is shining a new light on these forgotten pooches across the coming couple of months, asking adopted-dog owners to show the world their dog is a much loved family member (therefore encouraging others to consider it) by displaying the free car sticker, available now at IGA super-stores, on Coles Online, within Woolworths Fresh Magazine, and by request via www.pedigreeadoptiondrive.com.au


Diary of a Europe cruise virgin: Day 4 into Palermo and Mondello in Sicily

Diary of a Europe cruise virgin: Day 4 into Palermo and Mondello in Sicily

This morning’s diary of a Europe cruise virgin begins with a romantic sunrise across the tip of Sicily. I adore the blend of architectural styles, shapes and colours dotted along mountainsides in this part of the world. I was looking forward to the excursion into the region today too. We could view Palermo (capital city of Sicily) from the ship, and it was lovely to take a closer look as we wandered around on foot and via the coach tour we’d later embark on.

Much of the city is ‘new’ (last 50 years), as a rebuild was necessary following World War II bombings. Rather than spending money to restore the old, at the time of re-design, the majority voted for constructing ‘modern’, hence the contemporary edge the city showcases via restaurants, shops, apartment blocks and public spaces. The bustling centre of this Mediterranean port city boats the usual cool high streets and luxury shopping typical of this corner of the world. Palermo even features a little ‘French’ flavour as the plans for some of the central boulevards were inspired by popular Parisian neighbourhoods.

Our ‘official’ day trip meant a short coach ride up the mountain which we’d also spotted first thing in the morning. The drive was spectacular, marked by steep hairpin turns and dramatic views overlooking Palermo, as we headed towards the grotto of Santa Rosalia, patron Saint of Palermo. According to legend, Rosalia was born to a noble family who wanted to marry her off. She refused to marry someone she didn’t love though, and decided it would be better to live alone. A feminist before feminism existed, perhaps? The story is a little sad, for someone we would otherwise look up to for standing her ground. You see, she retired to the hills around this area, and lived as a hermit in a cave on Mount Pellegrino where she died in 1166. Nothing was heard or known of Rosalia for centuries, and her remains were never found during her lifetime.

 [more travel videos on YouTube’s TheSarahBlinco channel]

In 1624 the plague reached Palermo’s peaceful shores, thanks to a ship that had arrived from where we’d just cruised from, Tunisia. Citizens were dying in droves, and as the story goes, it was during this hardship that Saint Rosalia appeared to a hunter in a dream, lead him to the location of her remains, and insisted that if her bones were carried in a procession through the city, the people would be saved. Being the religious bunch that they were, this went ahead, and it’s been recorded that indeed, people were healed and the plague disappeared. Ever since, the people of Palermo have been grateful, and pray to her to help with all manner of issues (including, apparently, wins in football – it is important here, after all).

Whether a believer or not, the story is charming because it’s brimming with faith and promise. Visiting the grotto (cave) where her bones were discovered, and a shrine has been built, was a lovely experience. It’s always nice to have something and someone to believe in, and I think this quaint little city is certainly lucky to have Rosalia looking over it. On a personal note, the adventure made me think of my sweet Auntie Rosalie – perhaps her parents had been inspired by Rosalia too?

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The rest of the afternoon was spent in Mondello, a delightful beach-side fishing village. In the summer this place is pumping with tourists from all over the UK and Europe. Being winter, it was somewhat quieter, but still we could appreciate the attraction. Bright buildings, smiling tradespeople and fisherman, market-wares for sale along the beach-side promenade, and dogs wandering around everywhere; gelato stands, cheap, delicious espresso and red wine sold in nearly every second bar/cafe/restaurant we walked by.

Quaint, charming, and very pretty. I can imagine it would be nice to hang out here with cool holiday-makers in the European summer. You’ll have to make friends with the ‘right people’ though; in these parts, traditionally families own various sections of the beach, and they rent the land out over summer, complete with cute beach huts.

One sweet note – we heard many mentions of ‘siestas’ in this part of the world (my kinda plan … nanna naps during the day)! Anyway, seems the dogs were in on it too, as we spotted loads of pooches taking a (presumably happy) nap during the afternoon, despite many tourists milling around them. Sadly, many dogs along the Mediterranean wouldn’t talk to us though – seems they don’t understand English so didn’t realise we were trying to get their attention ;-) Spot the sleepy Sicilian dogs in our 2-minute video journey (linked above).

Do you have a cruising story, or a Mediterranean travel tale to share? Let us know, tweet @sarahblinco or find us on Facebook. You can also read the rest of the stories in this series (more to come in coming days) HERE.