Slug Shock!, It’s Good to Talk, Blessed Pets & Curry Flavour

Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 7th October 2017 Leaf_Para_DividerSlug Shock!

Until last week, I was amongst the 94 % that hadn’t heard of lungworm infections in dogs, and as a gardener, was horrified to learn that it is spread by slugs and snails – and possibly even their slime.  

Caused by the parasite Angiostrongylus vasorum, it is being called ‘an emerging disease’, and is spreading through the UK. According to vets, 180 cases of the parasite have been reported within around 50 miles of Cardiff, 120 cases were found within the same distance of Swansea, with 177 found within around 50 miles of Newport. A total of 16 cases were reported within around 50 miles of Bangor.

A recent nationwide survey of UK vets has revealed that over 25 per cent of those questioned had either confirmed or suspected a case of this potentially fatal condition, yet as few as six per cent of dog owners had even heard of the disease.

Dogs can become infected with the lungworm through eating slugs and snails, which carry the larvae of the parasite and if left untreated, can be fatal.

Dogs known to eat slugs and snails are obviously at most risk, but others may do so by accident; when a slug or snail is sitting on a bone or a favourite toy that’s been left outdoors (like a lot of Yogi’s are), or when drinking from a puddle or outdoor water bowl, for example.

There are many signs to be aware of, although an infected dog may appear totally healthy. Coughing, reluctance to exercise, depression, weight loss, fits, vomiting, diarrhoea and persistent bleeding from even minor cuts are all possible signs. On a positive note, early diagnosis by a vet, followed by appropriate treatment, will usually lead to a full recovery and increased awareness amongst vets means they are well placed to manage the disease. And your vet can also perform a relatively simple test that can help determine whether your dog is infected.

It’s Good to Talk

Whenever I meet someone new and they ask, “What do you do?’ I always smile and reply, “Which day are you interested in?” As no two days are ever the same. Last week was particularly varied and included an invite to give an ‘inspirational’ talk to the staff at Melin Homes in Pontypool to celebrate their 10th Anniversary.

Melin Homes is a not for profit Housing Association providing homes for everyone covering Blaenau-Gwent, Powys, Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Newport. They don’t just build homes but get involved in a whole host of activities within the communities. They also care about the health and wellbeing of their staff and have formed a Group with representatives from each Department, obtaining not only the Gold but also Platinum Corporate Health Standard.

I love being able to share the many reasons I have found to keep putting one foot in front of the other, especially through the darkest of times, and as I reminded them, to ‘inspire’ also means to breathe in, so actually each and everyone of us are inspiring every day!

Blessed Pets

And then on the 1st October, Yogi had a personal invitation to the Annual Pet Blessing at St Michael’s Church in Llanvihangel Crucorney. And I went along with her. What an absolute joy that was, seeing the church full of cheerful pets and their proud owners and hearing the dogs howl along to the hymns!

I am proud to be an Ambassador of World Animal Day, which is held annually on the 4th October, the anniversary of the Feast of St Francis of Assisi who is remembered for his love for animals and nature. 

But as I remind people, being kind and respectful to animals is important every day, not just on a celebratory day. Marilyn Monroe once said, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” All I can say is that she obviously never had a dog!

Curry Flavour

A planting scheme I created for a new client recently included a border of silver foliage plants, so I included Helichrysum italicum, commonly known as the curry plant because of the strong curry aroma of it’s foliage. Yogi often comes in smelling of a korma if she has been mooching under the large curry plant at the cottage – it’s quite strong.

Anyway, my client asked if she could cook with the leaves and the answer is ‘no’; the common name purely refers to the scent and not any culinary potential. My client then reminded me that it was National Curry Week this week and, knowing I’m vegan, gave me this fabulous recipe, which uses peanut butter instead of coconut cream, for a thick sauce.

  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp thinly chopped ginger
  • 3 heaped tsp curry powder
  • 150 g chopped broccoli
  • 150 g chopped cauliflower
  • 750 ml boiling water
  • 5 Tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp salt or ‘to taste’

Heat up a thick-bottomed pot, add oil and chopped onion and cook for a couple of minutes. Add chopped garlic and ginger and cook for a minute. Add curry powder and cook for another minute. Add broccoli, cauliflower and boiling water. Let it boil on a medium heat, until the veggies are soft. It will take about 10-15 minutes. Add tomato sauce, peanut butter and salt. Stir and let it boil for a couple of minutes. Dish up and devour!  

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