I am very excited to be writing the tenth book in the Toby’s Tails series of children’s books. In this new book we will be featuring a very different type of animal, and we will be going to another farm to meet them. However, you will have to wait until the title of the book is announced before you discover what the animals are.

As I write, I also look for pictures and am finding myself reminiscing over all the animals who have come to live, and are living now at Fantasy Farm. It is strange to think that some of the animals were here even before our beloved Toby. For instance the baby goats and sheep.

These five were the basis for our herds and went on to have their own young, and even became grandparents, as readers of the series have discovered over the course of the previous nine books.

Of course by this time Toby had arrived at the farm and poor Lucky our aged Golden Retriever was very patient with the exuberant pup and became his mentor.

In fact it was when we arrived home with Toby that we discovered that we had had our very first birth at the farm, a baby lamb.

A year later the very first Toby’s Tails was published just after his first birthday.

Since then we have had chickens.

Guinea fowl, and rabbits.

Of course, over the years some of the animals are no longer with us, which is sad, however they have been replaced by others, and still hold special places in our hearts and live on through the Toby’s Tails stories.

In recent years I have also had my beautiful horse Marine, and her little Shetland companion Prudence.

Then, three years ago Domino, then a tiny kitten decided to invite himself into our house and is now firmly part of the family and Toby’s “brother by a different mother.” However, Cleo, who was one of the “Christmas Kittens” still remembers how they all used to curl up on Toby’s tail, and still does so at every opportunity.

These are just the domesticated animals of course, the stories feature many other wild creatures who live on and around our farm. However the star of the series will always be the handsome Toby Border Collie.

Bye for now…

Susan and Toby


Want to know more about the Toby’s Tails series of children’s books, it’s author, and the wonderful Border Collie Toby, well it’s all here on this YouTube interview by writer Irene Helenowski Ph.D.

Susan and Toby


At this time of the year this subject is rightly plastered over all the social media and so it should be. I for one make no apologies for bringing it up again, because if it reaches just one more person, and saves a dog’s life, then it has been worth it.

As I regularly say, our Border Collie Toby comes everywhere with us, however, not if we have an appointment at the hospital or similar, where he would have to sit in the car in hot weather. However sad he looks if we have to leave him, sleeping on the tiled floors is much better for him than sitting in the scorching sun, which quite frankly would kill him very quickly! You should never leave your dog in a car, not even for a couple of minutes in warm weather, not alone the very hot days we are having at the moment where already the temperatures have reached 35 – 40°. A vitally important point to remember is that the temperatures you see on your thermometer and feel are very different from the temperature your dog feels as you can see in the chart below.

Another important thing to remember are dogs pads, they might like their walk but when the temperatures are so high that the roads are melting and the council workmen are going around with gravel lorries trying to settle the tar, the pavements can get extremely hot. Think, would your feet be able to stand it without shoes? The answer would be no, so don’t walk your dog on hot surfaces or you will cause them terrible pain, and you will have to take them for a trip to the vets for treatment.

Water is vital to all creatures but especially in hot weather. The heat not only make us thirsty, but, it also dehydrates. We can turn a tap on, our pets rely on us to provide their water! If you can, it is also nice to keep a bowl of fresh clean water outside for wild animals and birds, everyone feels the heat you know.

So keep those pets in the cool and if they want to lay out in the sunshine like Toby is prone to do, then bring them in. Of course a paddle in a safe water source may be appreciated, if the option is available.


Bye for now Susan and Toby







With the hot weather already here in France and many months of summer to come, I thought I would discuss heat stroke, the signs and what you can do if your dog suffers from it.

Because of course, when it gets warmer we change our clothing for something lighter, but animals can’t. Admittedly, they do shed hair but even so they cannot shed it to that extent, even if it looks like it on your carpet. Also short nosed breeds of dogs are more prone to suffer from this like Bulldogs and Pekinese.

Signs of Heat Stroke

Probably the easiest to notice is excessive panting and/or laboured breathing.

Others include:

Dark or bright red gums and tongue.

The tongue and gums may be sticky or dry.

A high body temperature, 104-110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Your animal may stagger.

Suffer a seizure.

It may vomit or have bloody diarrhoea.

As the symptoms progress the animal may even go into a coma, stupor and may even die.


So what can you do?


As a responsible pet owner it is important to know how to take an animals temperature, and to take if you suspect anything is wrong.

It is wise to learn how to take your pet’s temperature in the event of an emergency. Here’s a video for guidance.

The best thing to do if you suspect your animal is suffering from heat stroke is to obtain veterinary help straight away.

Until this is possible you should:

Immediately get your pet out of the heat and into some shade and start to cool him/her down by:

Using cool NOT COLD water (very cold water will make the blood vessels constrict and stop cooling) put wet cloths on its feet and around its head. Be careful not to let the body temperature go the other way – below 103 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whilst travelling to the vets if possible offer the animal ice cubes to lick, or let it drink  a little cold water, but do not give it ice cold water.

If your pet appears alright still have the veterinarian check them over, the stroke could have caused internal problems not visible to an untrained eye.


Hopefully, the above will have given you pocket guide as to what to do, if your animal suffers heat stroke.

Susan and Toby

Now by companion animals I am not talking about animals as companions for humans, I am talking about animals as companions for each other. I have written this because when I look around me, all the different animals in the household are companions to each other irregardless of their species.

Of course over the years we have had some firm friends of the same species, like Marine my horse, and the lovely old Shetland pony Prudence who lived to the ripe old age of 34.

Also we have the wonderful ‘Christmas Kittens’ the stars of Toby’s Tails – The Christmas Kittens, who were a brother (Rammy a tabby) and two tortoiseshell sisters Cleo and Neffi. They very quickly formed a firm bond with Toby, their Dog-Father who mentored them through their young lives, and provided a fluffy body and tail to curl up into when they wanted to be cuddled.

This time for Toby with the ‘Christmas Kittens’ was to prove invaluable three years later when a tiny abandoned kitten arrived at the house one evening. Now, three years down the line, the little kitten Domino is a large, imposing confident cat thanks to his Dog-Father who spent long evenings in front of the log burner teaching him all he had to know.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that the traditional views of cats and dogs not getting on together are not necessarily true, there is no need to get another dog/cat to ‘keep the other one company. I have to say that our Toby, I know, would not enjoy a ‘canine companion,’ he is quite content with the cats which do their own thing most of the time, and then come inside for rubs and cuddles with him throughout the day. Besides on most of our walks we are joined with Cleo who stands and waits for us to return when we go too far from the house and always meets us every time we step outside the door so she can come back in with us.

We have found that our goats and sheep have always been okay with each other, except when the goats push the sheep onto the electric fence, but that’s another story… Suffice to say, the electric current doesn’t penetrate the sheeps wool, but the sheep do make good fence flatteners which enable the goats to easily jump out. Team work, I think they call it.

Animals, they make you laugh, they make you cry (sometimes) but I for one wouldn’t be without them.


Susan and Toby


Spring is in the air and unfortunately the hormones are rising in the amphibian world.

Fantasy Farm is located in a very quiet part of France far away from the madding crowd, however, despite there being very few neighbours, I am sad to see that there are quite a few dead toads on the little lane next to our house.

Why? I hear you say. Well…. you see a stream winds it’s way through the farm and under the little lane. On our side there are two water meadows and our neighbour has two lakes, and this is where the problem lies.

The wooded valley is ideal for their hibernation but when spring arrives they start their migration to the damper areas. This journey means sometimes they have to cross roads, and because they walk very slowly they are easy prey to cars.

Some places you may see signs like this one warning people to be careful and conscious of toads crossing.

However the most important thing to do is to raise awareness and educate. This is carried out by organisations like Amphibian and Reptile Conservation via their very informative website https://www.arc-trust.org/common-toad

So look down, drive carefully and keep our toads safe!


Susan and Toby


Here at Fantasy Farm we love all our animals, however today is a very special day. It is the day that Toby, the star of the series, my constant companion, loyal friend was born.

Toby at 8 weeks old.

I will never forget first seeing him as a tiny puppy when we took our very excited goat Molly to say hello to a nice boy goat. Toby was 8 weeks old and he was sitting quietly with his brother, sister, mum Penny and Dad Sam just inside the gates of  Le Chataignier or Chestnut Tree Farm.

As I watched him play, then fall asleep exhausted with his brother Spot who still lives at the farm (Toby is on the left) I just new we were destined to be together.

We had to wait until he had had his injections, but as soon as possible we brought him home with us and me met our wonderful old Golden Retriever Lucky.

Being born on a farm and coming to our smallholding with its goats, sheep, chickens, and guinea fowl Toby developed from a very young age an affinity and gentleness with all creatures. He was taught the command to ‘leave’ which meant to stop what he was doing, so if there is danger, like a snake about we are confident that however far away we are he will be safe.

Now on his 6th Pet passport our English Border Collie, born in France is a truly international traveller.

He was just over one year old when I wrote my first book, Toby’s Tails, and the words just flew onto the computer screen. During our walks we see lots of wildlife and I take hundreds of photos, many of which are in the books, along with information on the creatures in them.

Picking up any book from the series not only reminds me of how many things we have done together, but also how Toby has matured into the wonderful boy who is sitting at my feet as I write this.

Happy 10th Birthday Toby!

Love your human mum, Susan.


The Toby’s Tails series of children’s books are especially written for children who love animals. Not only do they tell a wonderful true tale about the adventures of Toby the Border Collie who lives at Fantasy Farm, but they also contain lots of information about pets, livestock and the natural world.

The books were born from my own love of animals and the strong bond which developed between myself and a tiny Border Collie puppy called Toby who has over the years become my best friend and companion.

I have always been aware that not all children have parents and grandparents who know so much about pets and wildlife, and some don’t have the opportunity to experience the natural world as much as I did growing up.


As a mum and nanny I know how vitally important it is to instil into children that there are ways to treat animals, and things you should and shouldn’t do. My own children were taught from a very early age that domestic pets are not toys, and that they have feelings just like we do, and feel emotions like happiness and sadness.

In the books children discover through Toby’s eyes about the natural world, from where wildlife like foxes and squirrels live, to how frog spawn turns into frogs. They also see what day to day life is like on a smallholding and where the livestock like chickens, goats, sheep and ponies live.

Christmas time is a wonderful time for most families and having kittens around is so much fun, even if they are naughty and enjoy practicing their climbing skills. However these kittens are especially precious as they were rescued.

Then last autumn we had another addition to our family a little abandoned kitten called Domino who arrived one evening. Shunned by the other cats he found a soul mate in Toby the Dog-Father and has settled down now, happy that he is in fact Toby’s son and really a Border Collie. Read his story in Toby’s Tails: A Kittens Tale.

Some of the books are especially about the farm animals who live here Billy and Daisy the goats, and Bubbles the hen whose chick teaches children a very important lesson about staying with their parents.

Two of the books have a percentage of their profit donated to cat charities, The Christmas Kittens and Toby Visits Chats du Quercy.

However with the joy of owning animals comes the sadness when they leave us for the Rainbow Bridge, and in a very special book Saying Goodbye to Lucky we pay tribute to Toby’s mentor a Golden Retriever who was a much loved family pet for many years. The book is healing in that it teaches children that those who we can on longer see in their normal form are watching over us as the brightest star in the sky.

Because we live in France, many of the books are also available in French and Spanish. The book links on this site http://www.tobys-tails.com/

On this link you will be automatically redirected to your own Amazon site, can see the book trailers, and have the opportunity to have a ‘sneak peek’ at any book you wish.



If you would like to have a book personalised please contact me via the ‘Comments’ box on the site or via the Toby’s Tails Facebook  Page https://www.facebook.com/TobysTailsChildrensBooks/





Toby’s Tails children’s books are pleased to announce that the first book in the series ‘Toby’s Tails’ is being serialised chapter by chapter on YouTube.

Here is the link for the first story which is accompanied by many pictures of Toby as a puppy, including these which are Toby with his mother Penny,

his father Sam,

and his brother Spot.



It is the beginning of his adventures and is suitable for children of all ages.


Please feel free to like, share, and comment.

We would love you to subscribe to our YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC2MApXe_0Rs467pjAh8UfQ


The book is available from Amazon in Paperback and Kindle format https://read.amazon.com/kp/kshare?asin=B00ZG6O874


Here is the book trailer.

Bye for now

Susan and Toby



European Roe Deer live in the forests around us in the Pays de la Loire, France. We are very lucky to be in  an extremely rural location with our property adjoining the beautiful Forêt de Bercé where seeing them is a daily pleasure as they wander around searching for fresh grass to eat.

Their coat is a reddish browny, grey and they have a tiny tail and white rump, as you can see from the picture below.



Males are similar colouring but they also have short antlers which usually have three tines.

The male deer, or stag, fight or rut to determine their territories in summer. Each male has two or more females. They mate in late July or early August.

This is the sound a male roe deer makes, it is called barking.

Below is a video of two male deer’s fighting over territory.


Mating in summer is not very convenient though because this means that their babies would naturally be born in December when the weather is bad a food scarce. So mother nature has made it that the female deer can delay implantation of the egg. The fertilised egg forms a blastocyst which remains inactive in her womb until the end of January when it develops into a baby deer, or fawn. This means that the fawn is born in May/june when the weather is better and there is plenty of young grass and other vegetation for them to feed on.

They usually have one fawn but sometimes there are two. Fawns are often left by their mothers in hidden grassy nests whilst they feed.

The deer are expert at hiding in shrub land, thickets and woods. Sometimes you can get quite close to them and may only discover they are there if they run from you.

bye, ’til next time


Susan and Toby





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