A Scottish Terrier’s Unknown Journey with Cataracts, continued.

Diabetic induced cataracts can happen overnight in some dogs.

Our previous blog page began a story about the unknown journey of our beloved Scottish Terrier – Kara,  who became stricken with blindness caused by large white cataracts.  I tried to imagine what Kara was thinking , now that she could no longer see, and it wasn’t hard for Martine & I to make the decision : we had to try and help her. The omens for success were seen to be good.  Once Kara’s insulin levels had been corrected, following her diabetes diagnosis, she had responded quickly & regained her lost weight, and notwithstanding that she was now fully blind, she showed lots of determination to try and cope. We also knew from experience that Kara had responded well in the past to antibiotics, antibiotics being a critical factor in the success or otherwise of dog eye operations.

And so it was that we delivered Kara into the kind hands of Dr Steve Heap at the Veterinary Practice of McMaster & Heap, on Friday 6th March 2020. It was a long day…I mowed lawns and tried not to worry about our dear “girl” . Later that afternoon, Steve phoned to say that all went relatively well,  one eye was easier to do than the other, but that Kara was out of the anesthesia and responding well…so we then knew that the first hurdle had been crossed.

Later that evening both Martine and I travelled across the city to the veterinary clinic where our reunion with her was one of happiness. Even in her post operation condition, we could detect that she was feeling ok and glad to be back in the company of familar voices. But we had yet to determine the outcome of the operation.

However, as I  write this note – Sunday the 8th, and barely 48 hours since her diabetic induced cataracts were operated on, Kara is beginning to realize that she is no longer totally blind.  Some of her sight is definitely returning and a good indication  this morning came when I suggested to her that we go for a ride in the buggy( a 3 wheeler push chair).  She made a fast walk towards the door leading to the patio where the buggy is stored, and was more than happy to have a ride around the neighbourhood. Our first real concrete sign that her confidence is returning & she is happy, despite her dad religiously placing a variety of drops into her eyes every 4 hours .

10 year old Scottish Terrier post an operation to remove cataracts
Kara , now minus her diabetes induced cataracts

Tomorrow Kara has her 1st Post Operation check.

P.S. Kara is progressing well so far.


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A Scottish Terrier’s Unknown Journey with Cataracts

Here at Le Petit Hotel,  our dearly loved Scottish Terrier Kara ,  in less that 48 hours, undergoes a procedure to remove the cataracts that have blinded her in both eyes…to give her a better than a very good chance of seeing again. This blog page  is about our Scottish Terrier’s unknown journey with cataracts.

To say that it’s an unknown journey also for Martine & Bruce here at Le Petit Hotel, is the understatement of the year . We are having to learn each step as we walk with Kara.

This is when you just learn what the word stoic means…as Kara squats down when she hears the click click of Levenmir Flexpen being readied …and then steels herself for the involuntary flinch that comes when Bruce injects her twice daily dose of insulin to counter her diabetic condition.

With D.day looming on Friday this week , we are in a process now preparing her eyes with a number of meds including antibiotics, a necessity prior to the surgery.

Kara is 10 + years old, and while she has her ups and downs with health over the years, just as we do, the onset of diabetes crept up on her fast, albeit while our vet was looking for evidence of Cushings Disease as a cause for her thirst. But diabetes it was, and one night she went to sleep with normal eyesight, and in the morning she had no sight, just large white cataract saucers in front of her pupils. To say we were devastated is an understatement, particularly as we looked on and saw her doing her very best to negotiate in her new world of seeing nothing, and even more reliant on us both for love and care.

For both Martine & I,  there was no choice other than to do our very best for her, and become part of our Scottish Terrier’s unknown journey with Cataracts.

We have entrusted our beloved into the skilful and experienced hands of  Christchurch based Ophthalmologist – Dr Steve Heap.

Scottish Terrier's unknown journey with Cataracts
Do I have to wear this thing dad?
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A Scottish reason to stay at Le Petit Hotel Sumner.

A Reason to Stay at Le Petit Hotel

There are many reasons why travellers choose to stay at Le Petit Hotel, in Sumner,  and most of those relate to the genuine discrete French character and feel that Martine, my partner, has successfully imbued into the hotel’s seaside operation.

However, there is a genuine Scottish reason that many of our guests can relate to , and that is the presence of a  true Scottie dog….our beloved Kara who stepped into the big shoes of her kindred predecessor – Maggie,  10 years ago. In fact many of our return customers feel a connection with Kara as much as the hotel itself, its managers, and the French seaside accommodation offering.

But just as we humans have our own life health issues, Scottish Terriers have their share of troubles. It is very common for Scotties( and many other dog breeds) to be afflicted with cancer in one of its many forms, and so for the past couple of years we have been very focussed on her diet and also the use of what has now been globally proven to be a useful medication ( Denamarin) countering some of the by product (effects) of liver cancer.  We can also thank the antibiotic Clavaseptin  which we found to be very effective to dealing with pneumonia symptoms which hit her some months ago.

However , we are currently dealing with a sad development in that Kara is now diabetic and has become blind following the very rapid development of Cararacts in both eyes.  But we are looking at our options to try and help her.

It is at a time like this, I am reminded of the quote attributed to Anatole France: “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

It is just so true.

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The Changing Face of Hospitality

As the owner/operator of a small French Style Hotel providing a fully serviced bed and breakfast hospitality option to travellers, ( in New Zealand) we have seen considerable change in the accommodation environment, since we commenced operations.

Coming from the experience of nearly 15 years in the business here in Sumner, Christchurch, plus our regular sampling of similar hospitality offerings in both Europe and Asia, change is certainly afoot , and we believe largely driven by the global disruption generated by AirBnb.

But it’s not just AirBnB driving the changes. Travellers price and service expectations, their behaviours and attitudes to accommodation options, hosts, and services, are all evolving.  Also driving change within the industry is the behaviour of the historical booking channels most of which have been swallowed up by either Booking.com or Expedia.  While these 2  global operators contribute to the cash-flows of accommodation businesses large & small, is their insatiable drive to gather more and more cash profit for their conglomerant owners, largely at the expense of the smaller hospitality operators, that is also going to drive change in the industry.  Small operators are being forced to innovate and market themselves directly to travellers.

Certainly , as the hosts of Le Petit Hotel here in Sumner,  New Zealand,  we have seen a wide cross section of global travellers pass through our front doors. In one sense this is the interesting, lifestyle side to small hosting businesses like ourselves.

It’s also an unescapable reality that guests who have become accustomed to, or aligned themselves to  the typical AirBnB walk in walk out – largely carefree attitude to their accommodation choice, are of a different ilk to what were/have been traditional bed & breakfast guests .  Even large chain hotels are not immune to the fallout of the shifting attitudes of travellers,  and in many cases it is leading to higher maintenance costs, eg. stains on carpets etc.

As the shake-out continues between the largely unregulated AirBnB accommodation providers and the more traditional hotel operators – both large and small, there are growing signs that Front office service combined with an effective “personality” differentiator is increasingly the success factor for the latter operators.



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Christchurch 360 Trail, an environmental discovery adventure

Christchurch 360 Trail

The Christchurch 360 Trail offers a unique opportunity for visitors to decode the diverse environment that makes up Christchurch city and its surrounds.

The brain child of Dr Colin Meurk, noted ecologist, and exponent of applied conservation work,  the Christchurch 360 Trail is the culmination of more than 25 years of work by Dr Meurk , translating a concept into a unique experience that highlights what makes Christchurch such a unique place in the South Island, in both a Maori and early European settlers context.

Broken into 8 individual and easily walked trails, the various routes provide a showcase for discovery  of the extensive diversity in ecology, history, culture, and architecture,  that the city has on offer. The average walk being about 7 hours in duration.

The trails also provide a showcase for the diversity of recreational and outdoor activities that Christchurch offers. It’s open season for rock climbers, paragliders and mountain bikers on the hills surrounding the city, while the coastal areas provide for bird watching, surfing and all manner of sailing craft.

Newly created cycle lanes and pedestrian walkways within the city are now increasingly popular with both residents and visitors alike.

However for visitors staying in and around the city, a walk can be selected to suit your particular location. Suggested accommodation options can also be chosen from a list :

Le Petit Hotel , Sumner, is ideally located to cater for walkers who would like to walk both the Godley Cliffs and Estuary Marshes legs of the Christchurch 360 Trail.


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Dog Friendly Hotel

Le Petit Hotel Sumner, Christchurch, couldn’t be anything but dog friendly !  In fact the hotel since its inception back in 2005/2006, has always been the home of a beloved Scottish Terrier.

Currently resident in house is Kara, who will be 10 years this October . Maggie her predecessor was also well known , and before that was Hamish, 

Lately, many Sumner locals will have been surprised to see Martine & Bruce, Le Petit Hotel’s owners, giving Kara a ride in a 3 wheeled buggy.

Sadly we are giving her lots of TLC as she now cannot walk very far. However she absolutely enjoys being “pushed around”.

Dog friendly Le Petit Hotel's beloved Kara
I really like my taxi!


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Sumner’s Tram Track Archaeological Discovery

Sumner’s tram track

In the early 1900’s , the first of several important city tram services were inaugurated. Sumner’s tram track was one of the first to be completed.

Recently, as work progressed on the upgrade of Sumner’s roading and infrastructure, archaeologists working with the contractors uncovered historical evidence of Sumner’s old tram track.

Some of the original wooden sleepers used to support the tramway which originally linked the suburb to Christchurch Central, were exposed during the road excavations.

The extremely popular city to seaside tramway initially used horse drawn carriages in the late 1800’s , with the service being upgraded to electric trams in the 1900’s.

Uncovered during road reconstruction, wooden sleepers, that originally supported Sumner's tram track
Well preserved late 1800’s wooden tram line sleepers .
The old railway sleepers were discovered  close to the corner of Marriner Street and Burgess Street.
On the north western corner of this intersection, one of Sumner’s early Hotels, The Sumner Hotel , still stands, but it is rather derelict. 
Sumner's tram track ran past Geo Vincent's hotel establishment in its prime.
A well dressed gathering outside the old Sumner Hotel. Photo attributed to Steffano Webb, circa 1909.


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Dog Friendly Sumner Hotel Stay

Dog Friendly  Sumner Hotel is located in a community where many of the residents enjoy having a well loved dog in their family.  The  beach, and its esplanade perimeter walkway provide a great place for dog walking.  The coastal walkway currently under construction, will be connected with the Sumner Esplanade. Early morning risers in Sumner will also spot a lot of dogs accompanying their owners on their brisk pre-work exercise runs.

Nearby are several parks with loads of green space, suitable for exercising dogs. Barnett Park in Redcliffs and the Ferrymead Park at Heathcote being favourites for both Sumner, Redcliffs and city dog lovers.

Le Petit Hotel itself is the home of Kara, our 3rd “generational” Scottish Terrier, friendly and gentle with anyone. Hamish and Maggie came before her.

Kara ensures Le Petit Hotel maintains its dog friendly status
Just a couple of months old in this photo, Kara is now almost 10 .



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Le Petit Hotel, Ford Cars, and the Temuka Connection

Ford cars and the passing of Lee Iacocca…the noted designer of the American Mustang, was at the fore-front of the world automobile news this past week.

It reminded me of the reality that almost 100 years  ago…Canada/USA was  exporting Model T cars in a knocked – down fashion to New Zealand.  My father, Bill Whitfield worked for Hally Motors in Temuka, and Model T’s in wooden boxes were shipped to NZ, some of which eventually ended up in the Temuka Railway Station yard, where a manual crank winch ( see photo) was used to unload the boxes off the railway flat – wagons, for unpacking and assembly by garage staff on the spot.

The photo is interesting for the fact that while the location of Hally Motors ( Corner of King and Wood Streets), was not very far from the railway station, it was clearly seen easier to assemble the Ford Cars right there in the Railway yard, than try and remove the box to the Hally premises.

It’s worth noting, given the current stress about the perceived fairness of global trading, that one of the main issues surrounding trade to & from Canada  & the USA now , is simply one of the shipping costs, which even allowing for inflation over the years, places both countries at a disadvantage , compared to say shipping products to and from Asia.

W. Hally Temuka: Agency for Ford Cars
Early 1900’s , a genuine Ford Service Station, Temuka
Ford Cars (Model T's) railway yard assembly
Hally Motors Model T Ford car assembly line
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Le Petit Hotel management & Chinese Connections

Campanile Hotel Petit Déjeuner
Delicious Shanghai Croissants

Le Petit Hotel management are regular visitors to China.

China and France are connected by substantial trade ties. The effects of the historical political concession that resulted in an area of Shanghai being administered by France are still apparent. It is well worth the time doing the research to discover how this concession and others in Shanghai came about. While the French have long departed from the concession, with very little effort , any visitor can quickly recognise the influence they left behind .

Croissants, fresh breads, brioche and small delicate cakes are evidenced in hotel breakfasts, especially those that share a European breakfast menu with standard Chinese fare.


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