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John Burns' Blog

Spaying bitches; puppy farming; ISAs; head for heights

Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spaying Bitches
I occasionally get asked for my opinion on whether or not bitches should be spayed as a routine. The arguments in favour and against are well-aired elsewhere so I won’t repeat them here.

Although I am in favour of the practice I didn’t have Lizzie, my Border Collie, spayed until she became ill at the age of 13. We thought it was a case of pyometra (literally ‘pus-in-the-womb’) but when she was opened up it was actually a splenic tumour which was removed and she was spayed at the same time.

Puppy Farming
Last night BBC Wales ran a programme about puppy farms in Wales. They didn’t seem to have much new on the subject. They did highlight one case where a breeder was banned from keeping dogs but was able to continue indefinitely until her appeal was decided.

The programme featured my old friend Mr Chris Laurence, Veterinary Director of the Dogs Trust who, as readers of this column may recall, wrote in the Guardian newspaper that dogs should be given the food they like best.  It’s hard to take him seriously after that.

ISAs
We are coming up to the end of the financial year which is the signal for finance service providers to make a push for savers to take out ISAs. Yesterday’s Independent had a four page spread on the subject, some of which I read.  The unequivocal message was that it was foolish not to invest as much as possible in an ISA because the interest was tax-free.

The articles seemed more like a plug for the financial services industry than unbiased journalism but I couldn’t see any indication that it was paid-for advertorial. Then at the front, at I saw it – a tiny icon – “in conjunction with Lloyds TSB.” 

The truth is that next-to-nothing tax free is still next-to-nothing. If you put the maximum allowed £5100 into an ISA at 3% you will save about £27 in tax in return for tying your money up for a year.

Head for Heights
We’re off to Florence for a week where the temperature is 11 degrees. It’s warmer here! Unlike most visitors to Florence I will not be touring the churches and art galleries. I’ve done that and once was enough for me. I’ve had enough “Madonna col (with) Bambino” to last me a lifetime. 

On the other hand I need to go back to the Duomo (Cathedral). Last time I failed to walk around the gallery landing at the base of the dome. I’m not good with heights and this was very high and scary. This time I’ve had 35 years to prepare myself.

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