Blog about animals
Selected the best cow in Germany
Fishing ban proposed near Rockall after rare scientific finds
Life and death on the riverbank
Baboon shot dead after escaping from Knowsley Safari Park
Birdwatch: Peregrine falcon
Iceland's fin whales are endangered. Stop this bloody cull
The pitfalls of elderly dog insurance
Valley where Edward Carpenter, gay rights campaigner and socialist, walked
Green groups warn government of national parks hunting backlash
Demand for ivory destabilising central Africa
Dog walker found neighbour trampled by cows, inquest hears
Cat stands for election in Mexican city
I hear some hip cat's running for mayor in Mexico. That gives me an idea
Wader chick fever grips birds and spotters alike
Philippines destroys five tonnes of elephant tusks
The Dwyfor is surely one of the loveliest of Welsh rivers
New to nature No 107: Typhochlaena costae
How to beat the midges this summer
Controversial herring gull cull gets green light
Whaling's day in court is a sea change for conservation
Australia censures Japan for 'scientific' whaling
The young red deer stags were on their hind legs boxing, just like hares
Our garden's blackbirds started their nest-building early this year
UK wildlife and nature hit hard by erratic weather
  The hotel that only takes dogs
Holiday time coming up, but what do you do with the dog? I have a solution. Send it off on its own holiday. So my dog Violet's off to try out House of Mutt, Suffolk, a hotel for "dogs of distinction" where human "parents" are not allowed to overnight. This worries me a bit. Will it be too poncy for Violet, a white Boxer with rather glamorous brown eye patches? Is she distinctive in the right way? She's unused to playing with other dogs and can be crabby, especially with her sore paw and being half blind. But here we are anyway, in the gravelled yard of a rather lovely large, grey stone 18th-century rectory, being welcomed by Sarah Mountford, proprietor, and Cally, her assistant.

Really, I shouldn't be here. Ordinarily, dogs are picked up from home, driven here, and upon arrival go through an introductory routine, which Violet now does, while I hide in a corner, panicking quietly. Off comes her lead, and out come the other dog-guests, one at a time, until she's met all eight of them, successfully, with the customary greeting – some bottom sniffing. It's all pretty laidback, except for one small scuffle, but Mountford is on it in a flash. Without me hovering, Violet is a different dog.

Then off she goes into the garden, to play on a giant lawn with strange dogs . A thrilling new experience for us both. And beyond the lawn is a field, with horse jumps, more fields, horses, a stream and a small beach for dog-swimming. Dog paradise.

Can the indoor facilities be as heavenly? Yes. It's the perfect setup for dogs – rambling, spacious, dogs' beds, beanbags, big, fat cushions and sofas everywhere (dogs allowed on all of them), and a dogs' kitchen/cloakroom, with a row of dogs' lockers. One guest bought her party frock – a red and green number – but never wore it.

Then in comes Violet with her new chums, who disperse to play or snooze in various beds: there are three in front of the Raeburn, four "safe and cosy" under the kitchen surface, and in the snug lounge, with its open fire and telly, even a dog chaise-longue. In another living room are three huge plumped, striped-velvet sofas– almost Regency. Surely not for dogs? "I refuse to be precious about it," says Mountford. "It's home from home and the dogs fit in with the flow of family life. They're up at about seven, into the garden for a charge round and a wee, in with a bit of a whoosh, because it's breakfast time. They all watch together as we make breakfast, but know their places and go to them. They eat at different rates, so they're fed in separate groups: the Greedies, and the Littlies. One poodle's a picky eater. He eats separately. Then they relax while we have our breakfast. "

It's an individually tailored timetable – different walkies to suit babies, oldies, the super-energetic: "They're put into groups at night, according to who gets on with who." And all have just one biscuit each at bedtime.

"Owners tell us that their dogs come home slim, relaxed, healthy. [And with a collage of photos and notes about their stay, and training report.] We let the dogs be dogs. No pressure."

If this is a dog's life, I want it too.
'Wild' animals in travelling circuses benefit no one
The intoxicated world of the spotted flycatcher
Fishing quotas can be redistributed to favour smaller vessels – high court
Madagascar battling worst locust plague since 1950s
A broody sparrow meets his match
Climate change is happening too quickly for species to adapt
The weird and wonderful world of the naked mole rat
Australian woman seriously injured during Spanish bull run
Spain's endangered Iberian lynx brought back from brink of extinction
One man and his sniffer dog help tackle Germany's hidden drug problem
The hotel that only takes dogs
T rex tooth found embedded in prey, restoring dinosaur's reputation
Bog cotton covers the summer Peak District moors in snow
Lifelike after death: the intricacies of a taxidermist's craft
The six-spot burnet moths complete their transformation
Research on animals in UK rises by 8% to exceed 4m procedures
Animal testing – it's time to talk about it again
A pair of lithe animals are tumbling across the grass within feet of me
New to nature no 109: Anochetus hohenbergiae
England's ceremonial mayors eschew fur to support animal rights
Birdwatch: Corn bunting
Madrid declares war on plague of raccoon and parrot invaders
Snow leopards and wild yaks becoming 'fashion victims'
Horn seizure prompts rhinos warning
Threatened seabirds 'neglected' in plans for Scottish marine protected areas
Los Angeles campgrounds closed after plague-infected squirrel found
Only when I look down at the last second do I see it. I recoil instinctively
China's wine boom of little profit to giant pandas and small farmers
Let's not martyr the white-throated needletail to the anti-wind cause
Grasshopper breeder up for design award and educating western palates
Spanish national park could lose Unesco status over illegal boreholes
Dog mauls boy at primary school in Northern Ireland
Our dog walks are punctuated by the corn bunting's jingling ringtone
End in sight for painful branding of semi-wild moorland ponies
New to nature No 108: Carlia decora
Penguins support gorillas as biscuit makers respond to palm oil threat
Measuring carbon age in ivory could help combat poaching, study shows
How to survive a seagull attack
A walk by the river triggers memories of a bygone age
Whales flee from military sonar leading to mass strandings, research shows
Down among the grass stems, a ball of recently hatched orb-web spiderlings
Owen Paterson vows to rid England of bovine TB with badger culls
Gassing of badgers considered in plan to eradicate TB in cattle
Visitors to the Pamplona bull run have blood on their hands
Bats: they've never had it so good
These dew ponds have been on the Downs possibly since medieval times
Australian bushman claims to have footage of legendary night parrot
Secret badger shoots pose 'a risk to public safety'
Cheshire police seize dog believed to have killed Pomeranian
Whale watching season is back - but how close is too close?
Plan to ban wild animals in travelling circuses 'goes too far'
Morrissey donates Channel 4 payout to Peta campaign against foie gras
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