Sunday, May 1, 2016

Weekend Fun With The Dogs

We started our weekend fun early with a nice long walk on Friday. 

I'm wearing my favorite hat, which isn't black & white....

I got my favorite pink hat when we met the stars of  the Animal Planet show TANKED, at a Pet Expo in Phoenix.

I'm jumping in on the weekly Black and White Sunday blog hop today as well - scroll down and join us on the hop!

The wonderful stars of TANKED, Brett Raymer and Wayde King, signed the hat for me and posed for photos with us.  Their Dad was with them and he signed it too!  Brett told me he once had a Husky name Ice, so of course he loved my Husky, Icy!  In an earlier blog post I wrote about meeting the TANKED stars at the Pet Expo and how their family run business creates exquisite fish tanks that stretch the imagination.  Brett and Wayde are so sweet, we love these guys!

What are you up to this weekend?  Leave us a comment & share!


Saturday, April 30, 2016

National Therapy Animal Day


National Therapy Animal Day is a day to celebrate Therapy Animals that bring comfort, support, and joy to so many people in need.

Therapy Animals help children improve their reading skills, visit patients in hospitals, and seniors in nursing homes.  A Therapy Animal can help ease the pain and anxiety of those who are hurting, bringing comfort and smiles to people who need it most.  Sometimes a visit from a Therapy Animal can transform a dark day into a ray of sunshine and hope!

As my regular readers know, Icy and I are a Therapy Dog team.  We participate in several programs in our community such as Children's Reading Programs,

and Stress Buster events at local colleges.

We visit seniors in nursing homes, and talk with kids about responsible pet ownership, kindness to animals, and how Therapy Dogs help people in our community.

Read more about the work Icy and I do in our community in the THERAPY DOGS tab on my blog's Home page.

My good friend Paulette and her amazing Therapy Dog Teebo make visits to a drug and alcohol addiction recovery center.  They bring comfort, compassion and smiles to people who are fighting to beat their addiction.  Hats off to this very special Therapy Dog team!

Therapy Animals can be Dogs, Cats, Rabbits, Horses, even Llamas!  There are many different kinds of animals that can provide emotional support, love, and comfort to people in need.  Learn more about Therapy Animals and becoming a Therapy Animal team with your pet on the Pet Partners or Therapy Dogs International (TDI) web sites.

As a proud supporter of Pet Partners VITABONE is helping spread awareness about the yummiest fundraiser of the year, Treats & Sweets Day. Throughout April, bakers across the country have shown their support by hosting bake sales and donation parties to raise money for Pet Partners, culminating on April 30, National Therapy Animal Day.  The sweetest part about it is that VITABONE has matched Treats & Sweets Day donations!  Click on this link to see why my dogs and I LOVE delicious Vitabone dog biscuits.

Is there a Therapy Animal that you'll be celebrating today?  Leave us a comment and tell us about it!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pups On My Coffe Mug

Am I the only one who's ever had mugs made with their pet's mug on them?

I had mugs custom made with my dogs' photo on them

I couldn't resist.  All my hot beverages taste better in the mug that has my dogs' mugs on it!


Monday, April 25, 2016

A Therapy Dog In Drug & Alcohol Rehab

I've written several blog posts about the amazing work Therapy Dogs do to help people in need.  Most of my posts are about the work I do with my Siberian Husky, Icy.  But today I want to share with you the work my good friend and fellow Therapy Dog handler Paulette does with her beautiful Keeshond, Teebo. 

Paulette and Teebo visit people struggling with substance abuse, offering love, support, and comfort as they fight to conquer addiction.

Therapy dog Teebo helping recovering substance abusers
Teebo, Paulette's beautiful Keeshond is a great therapy dog!
Paulette and Teebo participate in the children's reading program along with Icy and I.  In addition to the children's program, twice a month Paulette and Teebo visit residents at a drug and alcohol recovery facility.  Paulette graciously agreed to be interviewed for my blog and talk about the therapy dog visits she and Teebo have with recovering substance abusers. 

Paulette and I met for our interview at a cafĂ©.  Over cups of tea we talked for nearly two hours.  Before I get started on the interview, let me clarify something right off the bat: Teebo wasn't named after the football player, he's named after the Star Wars Ewok!  This is a common question Paulette gets about Teebo.  Now that we've cleared that up, let's get to the interview!

Therapy dogs help so many people; children, elderly, and recovering substance abusers
Paulette poses with Teebo (right) and my Siberian Husky, Icy at one of our library visits.
CATHY: Paulette, how did you get started in therapy dog work, and how did you know Teebo would make a great therapy dog?

During socialization and training, I noticed that Teebo loved everyone.  He didn't mind it when kids or other people crowded around him, he was so comfortable and so good with people.  When our PetSmart trainer Connie talked about doing a therapy dog class and asked if anyone was interested I thought "We can do that!" and signed up for the class.

CATHY: How did you find out about working with recovering substance abusers?

One of the other dog trainers was also a student, studying to be a social worker or counselor of some kind.  She had been doing an internship at a drug and alcohol recovery facility.  She thought therapy dogs would be great for the residents there and asked if Teebo and I might be interested.  I agreed to meet with her boss who managed the facility.  Initially, I met with him by myself, without Teebo. 

I didn't know what to expect, I had never been to a facility like that.  As I walked around with him, he explained what they do there and how residents go through the recovery process.  I didn't interact with any of the residents, who live at the facility during their recovery, we just toured the facility.  Afterwards he asked "Do you think you can do this?"  I said yes, I definitely could but I would have to see if Teebo would be ok with it.

They didn't have a therapy dog program at the facility, we would be the first therapy dog team to visit.  During our first visit, a Counselor was present to monitor the reactions of the patients and the team.  It went great and we've been visiting ever since!

CATHY: How is working as a therapy dog team with recovering substance abusers different than when you and Teebo work together in other programs, like the kids Reading program at the library?

It's a very different scenario.  When we arrive, we need to be let in and let out of each locked area of the facility.  When residents first arrive they are in detox for several days before moving on to other stages of rehab. 

Teebo doesn't have to stay in one place and sit still like he does at the library.  We can proactively move through the facility visiting people.  Residents may be sleeping in their rooms, in common areas, or in small groups around the facility.  Teebo instinctively knows who to approach and who not to approach!

Another big difference is that there is a drug sniffing German Shepherd named Draco.  He shows up at random times during the day or night to ensure no drugs are present where they shouldn't be.  He's a working dog so no one is permitted to touch or interact with him.  The residents often ask if it's ok to touch Teebo.  We always know when Draco has been there because Teebo becomes fixated on following Draco's scent from room to room!

Therapy dogs are Angels with Paws!
Handsome Teebo poses for the camera
CATHY: What is the most difficult part of working with recovering substance abusers?

One of the most difficult things is when they talk about their abuse, it can be pretty unsettling. 

Sometimes it's difficult because we often don't see the same people more than once or twice, it's new people all the time.  We only visit twice a month and the residents don't always complete their full recovery.  Although some residents will stay for a full 30 days, some will leave after their 5 day Detox period.  Others may have to leave early because their insurance won't cover any more time at the facility. 

CATHY: Is there a particular visit or story that sticks out in your mind that you can share with us?

One of the residents asked me "Why are you doing this for us, we're addicts!?" as though she felt they were not deserving of it.   Some of them seem to be so lost, and say they don't feel valuable to society.

A couple of the residents have said "Thank you so much for coming, it means so much to us."  when all we did was walk around and say hello!  It's interesting to see some of them be so grateful that you care. It's very rewarding when you can make them smile and provide a positive interaction in their day.  It's always nice when they can have a conversation with you about something other than why they are at the facility.

I try to be encouraging by saying things like "Look what you're doing for yourself by being here!"  I've shared the FAIL acronym with a few of the residents.  I tell them "FAIL is merely your First Attempt In Learning".

CATHY: What advice would you give to other animal therapy handlers who want to help make a difference by working with recovering substance abusers?

Be flexible, it's different every time we visit and you can't have expectations of how you think it should be.  Most importantly, Don't Judge!  You haven't walked in their shoes.

Be in tune with your dog to see how he or she is handling it.  There was one day where we had to cut our visit short.  For some reason, Teebo just didn't want to interact with anyone that day.  I'm not sure why, but I had to take him home after only a brief visit.

When you meet a patient, let them start talking first.  Often they'll say they miss their own dog and start asking questions about Teebo like what kind of dog he is and what training we needed to do to become a therapy dog team.  When they talk about missing their own dogs I'll say "Don't worry, your dog will be waiting for you when you get home!"

CATHY:  Paulette, thanks so much for sharing about the visits you and Teebo make to the rehab facility.  I really admire how you two are helping people as they struggle to recover from drug and alcohol addiction by offering comfort, love, and support!

I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it.  A big THANK YOU to Paulette and Teebo for giving us a glimpse into their therapy dog visits to the rehab facility.

"They say I gotta go to Rehab, I say NO, NO, NO!!"  
From the song "Rehab", by British singer-song writer Amy Winehouse who died tragically of alcohol intoxication in 2011 at age 27

If you enjoyed this interview, read about Paulette and my very first therapy dog encounter at a local mall.  Icy and Teebo were still in therapy dog training, but managed to give hope to a grieving young lady.

I think it's a great idea for therapy dogs to visit recovering substance abusers in rehab.  Who knows, perhaps having a dog like Teebo visiting them could potentially save someone's life one day.  Unconditional love, comfort, support, and the Power Of The Paw just might get them through their darkest moments of recovery.

What do you think about therapy dogs visiting rehab facilities?  Please, leave us a comment and share your thoughts.  We always love reading your comments!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

My Dog Is A Canine Good Citizen!

I'm so proud of my girl Phoebe, she graduated from her Advanced training class at PetSmart!  

Phoebe worked hard in class, she's such a little smarty-pants!  Oops, we had a bit of trouble getting her graduation hat to stay on straight, LOL!

The best part is that following the class, she also passed her Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluation!  We've sent off the paperwork to the AKC (American Kennel Club) and her AKC CGC certificate should arrive in a few weeks.

Getting her CGC means a lot to me.  When we first adopted Phoebe, she had some serious fear issues.  She was utterly terrified of men!  I didn't find that out until I brought her home from the shelter. 

My husband and I worked with her for many months to help her get over those fears.  She's come such a long way since then. 

I always hoped Phoebe might be able to become a Pet Partners THERAPY DOG like her sister Icy.  Getting her CGC is the first step in preparing to be a therapy dog.  She's got some additional training to do before being evaluated for therapy dog work, but I think she can do it!


Thanks to Dachshund Nola and Sugar the Golden Retriever for sponsoring the Sunday Black and White blog hop!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Microchipping Dogs Is Now Mandatory in the UK

As of April 6th, 2016 it is mandatory to microchip all dogs in the UK (United Kingdom; England, Scotland, and Wales).  Ireland has also adopted mandatory microchipping.  Could the U.S. be far behind in enacting similar legislation?

Microchipping of all dogs in the UK is now mandatory
Puppies in the UK must now be microchipped by 12 weeks of age
This legislation was spearheaded by the Microchipping Alliance, which includes the BVA (British Veterinary Association), The Kennel Club (of UK), the Dogs Trust, and the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

All puppies in the UK must now be microchipped and registered with an authorized microchip database by the time they are 8 weeks old, 12 weeks for certain working dogs.  Dog owners will be fined 500£, about $700 US, for non compliance if they fail to microchip their dogs! 

Dog owners are required to keep their dog's microchip information updated.  If someone sells or transfers ownership of their dog to someone else, they are responsible for making the updates on the transfer of their dog's ownership on the microchip database.

As of April, 2016 all puppies in the UK must be microchipped by the age of 12 weeks
By making microchipping mandatory for all dogs in the UK, the hope is that fewer dogs will end up in shelters
There are no standard exemptions for microchipping.  If a dog needs to be exempted from getting chipped for health reasons, their Veterinarian must submit a Certificate of Exemption Form.  The form must be submitted to DEFRA, the Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs.


** Increase the odds of lost or stolen dogs being returned home.

** Reduce the number of dogs in animal shelters by aiding in the return of lost or stolen dogs.

** Reduce the burden & cost borne by animal control and animal sheltering entities.

** Hold puppy breeders accountable for the puppies they produce, addressing the issue of Puppy Farming (Puppy Mills), in the UK.  Breeders must microchip puppies before transferring them to their first owner.

** Hold dog owners more accountable for the care they provide to their dogs.

** Help identify and trace animal cruelty offenders.

You may be wondering how the new microchip laws will be enforced and by whom?  Police and other local authorities will have microchip readers on hand in order to enforce microchip laws.  So if you're strolling around Trafalgar Square with your dog off leash, a police officer just might grab him and scan to ensure he's been chipped!

I'm microchipped!  Are you?
Microchipping isn't required by law in the U.S. like it is in the UK, but I'm microchipped
Some people worry about potential health issues due to microchipping.  Specifically, cancers developing at the site of chip injection.  We don't have mandatory reporting on microchipping incidents in the U.S.  There also don't seem to be valid medical or scientific studies, at least not that I could find, that either link microchips to cancer or dispel the notion that they can contribute to cancer or other serious conditions. 

There does seem to be agreement among several medical professionals on one case I read about, a French Bulldog named Leon.  It is believed Leon developed cancer at the site of his microchip installation.  When the tumor was removed, the chip was found embedded into it.

I recently read on PETMD, by Dr. Patty Khuly: "...with every medical implant, there's always a risk.  And the risk-benefit ratio must be weighed accordingly, with all the information at our disposal".  I think that makes sense, do you agree?

Veterinarians in the UK are required to report adverse reactions of microchips.  They must submit a Microchip Adverse Event Reporting Form to the VMD (Veterinary Medicines Directorate), a division of DEFRA. 

However, there doesn't seem to be any penalty to Veterinarians for not reporting on microchip failures, unless there are found to be repeated failures that go unreported by that Veterinarian.  The form lists microchip "Adverse Reaction" choices as; Reaction, Migration, or Failure. 

Microchipping helps get more lost dogs back home!
Huskies are hard wired to RUN! Icy is microchipped just in case the unthinkable should happen.  It can help her get back home to us.
Note: English, Scottish, and Welsh microchip legislation and processes have a couple of minor differences.  I've also learned that Ireland has enacted mandatory microchip law as well.

I'd love to hear from some of our British friends in the Comments.  How do you feel about this new law, are you happy about it or do you resent having a microchipping law imposed on you?  What do your friends and family with dogs think about it?  Please leave a comment and share your thoughts!

I'd like to hear from our American friends in the Comments as well.  Would you like to see dog microchipping become mandatory in the U.S.? Or would you oppose the microchipping of all dogs made mandatory?  How does your Veterinarian feel about microchipping? 

Please leave a comment with your thoughts.  We always love hearing from you!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy reading about how to Protect Your Dog Against HEARTWORM DISEASE  OR  How PROBIOTICS can help your dog's upset stomach.

Information SOURCES for this blog post:
Microchipping Fact Sheet from the Kennel Club (UK) provides a good overview of the new requirements.
You can read the detail of the UK's Microchipping Legislation here.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Which dog wore it better?

You may recall that my little sister Phoebe had a fabulous Spa Day at PetSmart a couple of weeks ago.  I'll admit, I was a little jealous.  OK, I was a lot jealous.  But Mom rectified the situation by taking me for my very own PetSmart Spa Day yesterday!

Who do you think wore their PetSmart bandana better, Icy or Phoebe?

I am super excited because now I look just as adorable as Phoebe.  Look how white my fur is!  It really shows off my blue eyes.  See??

And, our groomer Brittney gave me a beautiful PetSmart bandana too!  The design has two owls sittin' in a tree, how cute is that?!

I love that PetSmart gives my dog a pretty bandana at the grooming salon

Personally, I think I look even better in my bandana than Phoebe does in hers.  Don't you agree?

Phoebe is wearing her PetSmart Owly bandana from the PetSmart grooming salon

Pffft!! Oh please, in what universe do you look better than me??  Ugh! Huskies are so conceited!

If you missed it, check out Phoebe's incredible PetSmart Grooming Transformation.  I couldn't believe the difference, she looks like a different dog!

So, who do you think looks cuter in their PetSmart Owly bandana better, little Phoebe or Husky Icy?  Leave us a comment and tell us who you think wore it better!