What to expect – when your dog is expecting

What to expect – when your dog is expecting

I decided to breed my Lhasa Apso dog, Pippa, when advised by a vet that allowing one litter of puppies is usually healthy for a female dog – I also loved puppies and wanted more! From the process I learnt that behind all the cute puppy photos, there is a lot of hard work… But it is worth it!

Below is the stages of what to expect, if your dog is expecting puppies:
1. Finding a mate
First you have to find a suitable partner for your dog. Prepare for the awkwardness of setting up a dog date at the owner’s house, however it is quite funny. You have to pay a fee to the owner for the dogs’ time, usually this is the price you intend to sell one puppy at. In my case the owner wanted to keep a puppy from the litter so she got first pick.
2. The wait
Pregnancy in dogs is much shorter than a human span at only 9 weeks. You can even get a puppy scan at the vets, which determine the number of puppies. Poor Pippa had a very noticeable bump, she was very tired throughout which actually made her needier and almost childlike. (See below when she started stealing dummies from the house.) During this time it is important to ensure your dog receives extra attention, sleep and nutrients.EO13

Witnessing the strain pregnancy put on her, I only think dogs should be allowed to have one litter of puppies in their lifetime. It is unfair to think puppy farms put dogs through this sometimes twice in one year for financial gain.

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3. Be prepared
Preparation is essential. At around six weeks dogs start thinking about where to give birth, so prepare somewhere warm and enclosed with lots of blankets, and encourage your dog to start sleeping there.
4. The arrival
It is important that an owner is aware of their dogs’ due date – just like humans, dogs water breaks and they go into labour. House dogs generally do not have the wild instincts to cope with situations like this alone so it is important they are carefully monitored if anything was to go wrong.
Originally at Pippas puppy scan, the vet predicted she would have four puppies. To my surprise on the night, after the fourth, more just kept coming! It turns out she had six puppies!! I received regular updates from my parents who were on midwifery duty from 1am in the morning right up until 4am!

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5. How to look after six puppies
It is a challenging task. You have to ensure they are all fed regularly, therefore it is essential the mum bonds with them. Within the first two weeks it is advised not to handle the puppies, unless it is absolutely necessary as this may make the mother disown them.

At the start, the mother does the majority of the work as the puppies mostly sleep – this makes it an easy task of just admiring how cute they are!

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As they get older, the process gets more challenging. Once the puppies open their eyes at two weeks, they start running around more and crying earlier in the morning to go to the toilet or play. Be prepared for layering the floor with newspapers to avoid accidents, constantly cleaning up, cornering off areas and having eyes everywhere to prevent them running away!

The mother begins to actually run away from the puppies when she feels they can survive alone and is no longer up to the commitment of feeding them all. (See below Pippas look of despair from feeding and being followed everywhere by six puppies!)

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6. Finding suitable owners
Promoting puppies surprisingly takes a lot of effort – four people to be exact, to sit, pose and distract hyper puppies for the perfect photograph. After many failed attempts we eventually got the best photo and advertised them on Facebook.

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Failed photo attempt number 1 of many. (I don’t think they liked photos) 

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One of the final promotion photos.

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The best photo of all six puppies sitting still. 

Prepare to answer many queries and send additional information. We found genuine owners for all puppies within two days, ensuring all new owners visited their new puppy to make sure they had the right intentions before agreeing to sell.

7. Letting go
Puppies are ready for their new home within 8-12 weeks. Before they go to their new home, they have to be vet checked and wormed, so the expense is something to consider.
It is very sad letting puppies go when you grow attached to them. This can be hard on the mum and vets advise to separate the mother and puppies in advance to make the process easier. However, Pippa had got to the stage of wanting her own independence again and did not notice as she was running away from them.
Of course – I had to keep one! It is only fair for the mum and makes it a lot easier on everyone. I kept the ‘fatty’ of the litter and called her Peanut, who resembles a teddy bear! We still receive regular updates from the new owners and are reassured they all went to good loving homes.

I would advise anyone who is considering dog breeding to do their research and speak to their vet first, it is more challenging than it looks but it is so worth it!

Elizabeth Owens is a final year BSc Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @eowens12_ or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethowens32/ 

 

PR in the NHS

At a time when the five Health Trusts in Northern Ireland need to make combined savings of up to £70 million in their health care budgets, it is understandable that people question where the NHS money is spent. A common debate is the NHS’ spending on Public Relations.

PR is usually one of the areas that is attacked when it comes to NHS expenditure. For example, Jonathan Isaby, CEO of the Taxpayers Alliance stated in 2014, “Taxpayers expect the health budget to be spent on real doctors, not spin doctors.”

CIPR were quick to defend the role of Healthcare Communicators believing their role involves “Life changing and lifesaving work.” The NHS needs to engage with the public and tackle healthcare issues. This cannot be done without professional PR support, PR is not just about ‘spin’.

From my placement year, working as a Communications Intern in the South Eastern Trust, I learnt the importance of PR in the NHS and witnessed first-hand the misconceptions associated with working in PR.

For example, when I was seen attending events taking photographs or filming, people often said, “Your job seems so fun and easy taking photos and using Facebook.”

However, people do not realise the amount of time and effort put behind photographs: arranging large and often reluctant groups of people for a group photograph, gathering accurate information to accompany the photo in a press release, editing on Photoshop when necessary. Also, the time taken to film and direct original footage along with editing and gaining approval from the organiser before anything is released. There is a lot more effort, time and skill needed behind the scenes!

Below is a summary of what a NHS Press Officer Role entails, proving PR is not just about ‘spin’:

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Without Public relations staff in the NHS the following questions may arise:

1. Who would update the public on important issues?

Who is going to inform the public about the pressures on the Emergency Department this winter? If people are not aware of their own minor injuries unit open times or the self-help resources to use at home, they are most likely to visit busy A&E Departments and increase the pressure on staff.

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2. Who is going to recognise and promote staff’s achievements?

The NHS employs approximately 64,000 staff in Northern Ireland. Press Officers in the NHS source and publish good news stories on the fantastic work staff do. Recognising staff achievements creates a high moral and sense of appreciation among staff, which leads to a more passionate workforce who want to strive to work to these standards.

The PR team in the NHS also share patient’s positive experiences that may have otherwise not been printed by journalists who usually favour bad news stories that get more hits. Highlighting a patient’s positive experience can boost the Trusts reputation.

3. Who would keep employees and the public up to date on events and important information?

PR professionals in the NHS inform the public and staff of innovations within the trust through various communication channels. Without a PR, who would inform the local population of key decisions within the Trusts, such as the recent cost saving proposals?

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PR is also used to promote important health awareness campaigns such as cancer and stop smoking campaigns, raising awareness of signs and symptoms and the help available in the local area which can be lifesaving.

4. Who would manage Reputation?

Public Relations is all about managing reputation– protecting, maintaining, building and managing reputation.

A strong reputation is important for the NHS, considering the amount of bad publicity it usually receives. If the NHS did not hire PR professionals who would handle the 24-hour demand for news and answer the medias queries promptly and correctly? Certainly not front line staff would not have the time or experience to do this. PR professionals in the NHS help shield staff and patient’s identity from the media and some cases stop unethical stories being printed- helping to avoid a crisis.

It is especially important that the NHS has a good reputation as this attracts the right staff and builds good moral amongst the people that work there.

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As Bill Gates famously said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” This emphasises that even if money is low, it is crucial to keep investing in PR to ensure a large organisation such as the NHS is run effectively.

There are endless reasons why PR is central to achieving effective healthcare. The NHS needs the resources, both internal and external, to enable this.

So, is PR in the NHS a waste of money? Definitely not.

Elizabeth Owens is a final year BSc Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @eowens12_ or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethowens32/ 

Greggs Advent Calendar – Genius PR stunt or Risky move?

Greggs Advent Calendar – Genius PR stunt or Risky move?

Greggs recently caused a media frenzy by replacing baby Jesus with a sausage roll in the nativity scene in images to promote their £24 Christmas advent calendar. Each door in the advent calendar reveals festive scenes with a Greggs twist and a voucher to use in store.

This prompted outraged reactions from Christians who did not see the humorous side. See my mum’s reaction below as an example.

 

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Was it smart to replace ‘saviour’ with ‘savoury’ in the nativity scene? You could say the campaign worked well as my mum had previously not heard of Greggs but it got their name out there through increased media coverage. This is an example of how bad publicity can raise awareness of previously unknown brands. However, she is apparently now ‘boycotting Greggs’.

The advertisement was a risky move by Greggs, especially when religion is involved they may end up alienating a lot of customers. Jesus was Jewish, so replacing him with a sausage roll in the manger is inappropriate as Jews do not eat pork, therefore in that sense it is understandable why some may find it offensive. Would other religions, such as Islam be mocked publicly in the same way? Unlikely.

Greggs quickly apologised for the image and said in a statement, “We’re really sorry to have caused any offence, this was never our intention.”

It is often said in PR that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Greggs possibly knew this, as it is likely advisers in the company realised the risk and potential backlash from using this image, especially when religion and Christmas is involved. Could this be the reason why Greggs issued a statement to the backlash so quickly – was it just a planned controversial PR stunt to gain maximum publicity for Greggs?

I personally found the image funny and quite smart, especially for sausage roll lovers! With many of the main media outlets covering the story, there was reports that Greggs had apparently sold out of sausage rolls following the week of publicity it received. (13 November 2017).

On Twitter #greggsnativity trended for two days after the advertisement was released, giving them maximum unpaid-for publicity. This proves that sometimes provoking a reaction can gain maximum publicity for a brand.

The advertisement also made those who saw the funny side, get involved and create hilarious user generated content in the form of memes on the sausage roll, which was again maximising publicity for the brand.

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Considering Greggs released 500 calendars, only available from 17 stores in the UK, means they were limited and in high demand thanks to the publicity received.

 

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Time will tell how the sales went, however considering the increased demand for Greggs sausage rolls on the week it was released from the heavy amount of media coverage they received, shows that bad publicity, isn’t always a bad thing!

Elizabeth Owens is a final year BSc Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @eowens12_ or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethowens32/