Samantha David is a freelance journalist and writes for various publications including BBC Online, the Sunday Times, the FT, Living France, everything France, and France Magazine

Samantha David, writer

Miscellaneous Animals - articles by Samantha David


Surfing for Dogs

You might think that your dog would prefer walkies to a session at the keyboard of a computer - and you may well be right.

On the other hand, there's enough doggy-stuff on the web to keep any dog-owner glued to the screen for a week. If you've never surfed the web, this list of web sites is just what you need to get started.

Persuade a child to show you how to get logged on, (and really, I promise you, it's easier than switching a video recorder on) or better still, go to an internet cafe where one of the staff will initiate you. (They won't say "Come on, Slowcoach!" or "Do you want me to do it, Mummy?")

Personally I think the main attraction of the canine web is information. Whatever you want to know, the answer is out there somewhere. Strange behaviours? Weird diseases? Your vet is stumped? Can't find the breed of puppy you want? Need a sweet photo of a Spinone? Want the address of Crufts? Can't find a bed to fit your Great Dane? Doggie footwear? Stronger lead? Lost your Poodle? Want to join the Labrador fan club?

It's all out there in virtual space. You just have to find it. You can also buy dog food, enrol on a dog-grooming course, look at photos of lost dogs, volunteer to help doggie charities, download and print out photos of dogs and other artwork. You can look at books, send messages to other dog-lovers, chat with like-minded people, post messages, take out small ads, subscribe to magazines and ask a doggie expert anything you want to - all for free.

How can all this be free? Well, the system works in roughly the same way as public commercial television. Internet sites make their money from advertising. They attract you to their site (tv channel) with a range of free services (some good programmes) and charge their advertisers according to how many people visit the site (watch the programmes). So in principle, the better the site, the more visitors it will get and the more the site can charge its advertisers. All good news for us, the surfers.

Here is a random selection of sites that I found last night. I am not recommending any particular shops or services. Just giving you a taster of what is out there. What I do recommend however, are charities' sites like The Battersea Dogs Home, which is wonderful.

The following is just to get you started. By clicking on the adverts and links which you'll find on almost everywhere on the web, you can easily find lots more sites. If you are looking for something specific, either use a search engine or go to:-

One of the most useful sites on the web - Jeeves will instantly answer the most bizarre of queries - if you are looking for something specific. Otherwise, have a look at these:

This Battersea Dogs Home site is marvellously packed with information including; lost and found dogs; their new kennels near Brands Hatch; the BBC; and how to help them.

The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals also gives masses of information, good links, and is looking for volunteers.

The National Canine Defence League has everything you need to know about looking after a dog, as well as information on their work and sections advising on how to adopt a dog.

The People and Dogs Society has a huge library of articles about dogs and dog care, for example "Are Two Dogs Better Than One?" and "Working with Dogs". Fascinating stuff.

The Kennel Club site is also enormous and has lots of helpful information about pedigree dogs.

The Grooming Centre, an extraordinary resource containing information on epilepsy, surgery, choosing a dog and almost anything else you can think of - as well as grooming, of course.

This is the home of Pedigree Chum; a fabulous site offering a wealth of pet-care information, links and veterinary advice.

The Discover Dogs exhibition is on 4th and 5th November 2000 at Earl's Court. Read all about it as well as surf onto their exhibitors' sites - who knows where you'll end up?

Here you can buy sports equipment for dogs, sort out a training programme, bone up (sorry!) on agility classes, flyball and dog show promotions.

A central and south London dog walking service which also offers dog-sitting, housesitting and has some useful links.

Sells custom-built kennels and runs.

Sells made-to-measure coats and rugs for dogs.

Exactly what it says it is: a bookshop specialising in pets.

The Quarantine Abolition Fighting Fund site has everything you need to know about quarantine, rabies and passports for pets. It also has lots of useful links to sites on the same subjects.

An American site for if the very worst happens. Here you can post messages, link up with other bereaved dog-owners and even organise your own virtual grave and headstone.

An internet service offering a system of reuniting lost dogs with their owners and approximately a million and one other things too. Amazing.

A great site, shopping, services, information, advice, of all sorts of things and one or two interesting links.

This just has to be link city - a treasure trove of info and services here.

101 suggestions for enjoying your dog. Links to everything and anything and some thoughtful words on gentle training methods. Great fun.

Royal and SunAlliance offers pet insurance here.

Offers luxury dog accommodation in a "dog hotel" ie a de-luxe kennels.

Yes, you can find anything on the web. I even found a nice picture of a Bichon Frise like my dog, Dolly. She's here now, patiently sitting on my lap as I'm typing. Ooops, now she's licking my face... all right! All right, Dolly. I'm coming.

Must go. Time for walkies...




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