We love a stowaway pet story, and here’s one that really bowled us over this week. As teen cricketer Tyler Ivey unpacked his bat and pads from his kitbag after arriving for an away game, he was stunned to hear his team-mates shouting about a “rat” running around in the changing room.
Tyler, 15, took one look at the rodent scampering across the floor and realised it was his pet hamster Gerbus. He had been asleep in his bag for the team’s two-hour journey from Holsworthy in Devon to Liskeard in Cornwall. Adventurous Gerbus had snuck into the bag while Tyler was cleaning out his cage that morning.
Tyler said: “Gerbus is quite lively and mischievous. On the morning of the match, I had to get up pretty early to clean out his cage before I went. But I forgot to put him back and when I got into the changing rooms he got out of the bag.”
Gerbus enjoyed the match as guest of honour, with the home team laying on cold towels to keep him cool, and a steady supply of carrots to snack on.
“He was loving life,” said Tyler. “He was quite pampered, to be honest, and was loving all the attention.”
Unfortunately for Gerbus, he is unlikely to get the star treatment again any time soon.
He didn’t turn out to be a lucky charm for Tyler’s team, Holsworthy Cricket Club, who lost the match.
My dog has no recall. How can I get him to come back to me?
You need to make sure you’re more fun than chasing that squirrel. Be confident that he knows his name, choose a word or signal for calling him back, and stick with it – perhaps “come”, “here” or a whistle.
Holding your arms open wide is great if he can’t hear you. Start training in a safe place with few distractions, such as your garden.
Get his attention by using his name, then use your recall cue and take a step away.
If he comes, make sure that you reward him with praise and a treat or play.
Gradually raise the distance between you both and add some distractions.
When you’re confident, use a long-line lead with a harness, never a collar, and practice in different places.
If he doesn’t respond, give him at least five seconds before calling again. Repeating the cue could teach him it’s OK not to come.
Reward your dog and ensure you shower him with praise when he returns. If he ignores you, stay calm and gently guide him back using the long-line or collect him. But don’t pull him because this may put him off coming to you.
Sam Felstead has good reason to give Billy an extra treat or two. She believes he saved her life by jumping on her chest in bed as she suffered a heart attack in her sleep. Sam, 42, woke to find she couldn’t move and had a shooting pain down her right side. She called out to mum Karen and was rushed to hospital where doctors confirmed her heart attack. The Nottingham medical receptionist said: “I woke in the early hours covered in sweat. Billy was on my chest and meowing loudly. I’m just glad he woke me up. Who knows if I would have got up without him?”