Posted in Life

Northern Vegan Fair 2017 (and a hell-hound)

Northern Vegan Fair 2017 (and a hell-hound) Posted on 03/04/201715 Comments
Ahoy, hello! My name is Jenny. I am a thirty-something human female from Manchester in the north of England. I enjoy rainy days and sad songs, custard donuts and salt & pepper chips and beer, lentil dhal and fried okra, X-Files and Twin Peaks, fierce fat heroines and mental health advocates, dogs and cats and otters and a very special beirdo. To paraphrase Sylvia Plath: "I blog because there is a voice within me that insists on writing lots of ridiculous chuff".

My friends, this will be something of a weekend in pictures, as I feel quite weary on the inside right now.

My lovely friend Vicki and I went along to the Northern Vegan Fair, which has (very happily) now moved into a much more appropriate venue, meaning one can actually breathe as one navigates the stalls.

The savoury food offerings were not the greatest on the overall, but there were the usual tremendous burgers from Manchester locals Teatime Collective, and some fantastic pies from Scots Cool Jerk Vegan Pies.

Also of note were this very impressive ‘brie’, and the delicious ‘cream tea in a bag’ kits from The Afternoon Tea Co., whose scones are delightfully fluffy, and whose ‘cream’ is some of the best I’ve tasted.

Vulpe and I visited Heaton Park in Prestwich for the first time on Sunday. Parents of reactive dogs will know that any new situation is often an exercise in terror and/or peaking stress hormones (both for Vulpe and for me). This was really no different, and the exhaustion of mothering a highly reactive dog really hit me. After nearly 5 years and: numerous training classes, one-on-one positive reinforcement training, Thundershirts, Adaptil diffusers/tablets/collars, zyklene and other ‘calmers’, avoiding triggers, books (I’ve read Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell, Sophia Yin, Sarah Whitehead, Karen Pryor, Debbie Jacobs) etc., etc., (as well as plenty of abuse from passers-by) I am fully spent. (I’ve been worrying about this for 3 years at least…..)

The dog-parent-guilt is getting too strong, and having considered speaking to the vet about possible medications for a while now, this article really pushed me to make the decision to do it.

As a human being who relies on medication to stabilise my moods and maximise my mental health and well-being, I feel like I’m neglecting my duty now if I don’t do all that I can to help Vulpe live a calm and happy life. Ideally, I would like medication to stablise her moods enough for me to really put all the great training techniques I’ve learned to good use.

It’s a good job she’s such an absolute peach the rest of the time really. I do love her so, and will stick by her forevermore, but she can be very hard work and I just want to do the right thing <3

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  1. There is definitely no shame in getting Vulpe whatever help she needs. She really does look adorable enough to balance out whatever other grief she causes you, but I imagine it does get draining – especially the abuse from other pedestrians.

    The vegan festival looks amazing! I like the look of those pies and doughnuts. I’d love to get my hands on some vegan brie!

    1. Thank you! I have been considering it for quite a while, and I think I can safely say I’ve thoroughly explored all the alternatives now. I’m feeling hopeful that maybe the vet can help.

      Ahh the brie is actually quite tasty! It was my favourite cheese in my pre-vegan days so I was very excited to see it 🙂

  2. Oh man! Pedestrian opinions are the worst!! I have so many stories, from personal experience and friends, about strangers pressing their knowledge on our animal companions well being. It’s so rude. We have social norms around not telling people how to parent their children and yet people feel like they have a right to touch or educate us about our animal… children for lack of a better word. Aw I feel for you and Vulpe, that is incredibly stressful to care for a reactive dog. My biggest peeve was people who walk their dogs off leash and when the dog comes bounding up to Luka and I or now when I walk any of my siblings dogs on leash, the off leash dog person calls out from a distance ‘Oh s/he’s good’ and I’m trapped with ‘Well mine isn’t going to be!’ That happened a lot with Luka. She was mostly great but she was a dominant lady and if the other dog expressed any kind of a challenge, there would be blood. The caution coat and leash is smart, I’ve never seen that before. How old is Vulpe now? All the best to you two working through this <3 I want to tell you another story about a friends experience with her senior dog but I have to dash right now. I'll be back! And damn, whoa, those pies!

    1. Omg, I know that so well. When I pick Vulpe up…. “It’s alright, s/he’s fine!” and I’m like WELL MINE ISN’T SIR OR MADAM, PERHAPS THE COAT AND LEAD ARE A CLUE.

      Vulpe turns 5 in May and hasn’t really mellowed with age I’m sorry to say; it seems like she gets worse 🙁

      1. Ha, coming back to this I see how in my previous comment I was pretty triggered by your mentioning ‘as well as plenty of abuse from passers-by’ 😉 I third?fourth? other comments that a medication is a totally compassionate next step.

        1. Well, it’s actually really validating to have someone who knows what that’s like! Most recently I had a man scream FUCKING LUNATIC at me in the park on a nice Sunday morning walk. I’m looking forward to a little less of that 😐

          1. Ugh no kidding! that is absolutely terrible. You make progress diffusing the anxiety but people keep lobbing grenades at it 🙁

            Instead of the story about my friend’s dog, here’s a dog story that will hopefully make you laugh 🙂
            A few Christmas’s ago at my parents house, we were all in the living room hanging out and my sister goes into the kitchen where the cheese plate and snacks were. She comes running back in and frantically says ‘Some one ate the wheel of brie!’ And by ‘someone’ she means one of the five dogs and by wheel of brie, it was bigger than the one you picked up at the Fair. My three siblings and I all grabbed our dogs muzzles and sniffed and Luka burped a creamy, musky waft into my face! Lol! She amazingly didn’t get sick! I think she also tongued the blue cheese but left it all slobbery on the table.

            1. Aww Luka! I bet she enjoyed that 😀

              You’re right that the efforts of keeping anxiety low can really be sabotaged by other people. Sometimes I pick her up, caution jacket and all, and people still approach saying AWW IS SHE SCARED. O_O

  3. I mentioned this on IG too but we did the same thing with one of our cats. We worked every behavior angle possible for years (Feliway, Zylkene, increased vertical space, clicker training, positive reinforcement, separation from other cats, exercise, various calming treats, etc) and finally we broke down and put her on fluoxetine and it has helped her. She is still not great with our other cats (my cats moved into her space 5 years ago, after a long and slow introduction involving a screen door in our apartment) but she can be in the same room with them and walk past them and usually any spat is short-lived and not severe, the way it used to be.

    Good luck! I hope it works swiftly and provides some relief for both of you. <3

    1. Thank you! Yes, I’ve tried everything twice now, more or less. Any reduction in the intensity and frequency of her reactions would be amazing, and hopefully would mean that I can properly implement some training. I think it’s definitely worth talking to the vet about it, and I hope they’ll see the desperation in my eyes! I’m going to take a list of everything I’ve tried so they don’t think I’m just being a flake.

  4. I forgot Thundershirts, calming collars, calming sprays, reading every cat behavior piece out there re stress sprayers/fearful and aggressive cats. I feel like I’ve forgotten half of what we tried at this point.

  5. I just want to second the previous comment with regards to there not be any shame in medicating a troubled dog. I applaud you for being her advocate and taking such good care of her. As someone who has owned a very reactive dog, I can tell you from my experience the medication gave Tessa and me the space and time between her seeing/hearing the stimuli and reacting for be to start to be able to intervene with some behavioral training. Before that there was simply no time. And it wasn’t her fault or mine that it was necessary it was simply the way it was. And doing that was life altering for the two of us in the very best way. Good luck to you both.

    Oh I so wish I lived in a more veggie friendly place …..

    1. Thank you Jacquie! Yes, Vulpe goes from 0 to Reaction in no time at all. There is literally no time whatsoever to try and counter-condition her response, and that’s one thing I am hoping medication can offer.

  6. The food looks amazing! Those pies… are they huge?

    We have many of our kitty patients on medication for stress, and it can make such a huge positive impact for them and their families.
    Even my Dim Sim! She was started on an appetite stimulant awhile ago, which is used as an anti-anxiety medication in humans. And she has been so much more relaxed and happy since then. It is nice to see. I hope you will have similar relief with your kid.

    1. The pies were pretty big…. Deep fill 😀

      Thanks for the comment, I really trust your opinion on doggy meds so this makes me feel more resolute! I’m convinced it is a sensible next step, and I really want Vulpe to be able to enjoy life a bit more.

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