Friday, August 29, 2014

It's Back To School! Ease the Transition For Your Dog As Well As The Kids

When kids go back to school in the Fall, it can be a big change for the dog as well as for the kids.  There's a flutter of activity in the days before school starts, then the kids are suddenly gone for long periods of time every day.  Dogs can experience some anxiety during this major change within the household. 

Your dog may be missing the kids when they head back to school!
  • The dog may miss the kids
  • He may worry that the kids won't come back
  • He may get bored without the kids at home to play with
  • A dog may even try to get out of the house or yard so he can "look for" the missing kids
  • He knows something's different but doesn't understand what it is.  This may make him anxious.

What can you do to ease the Back To School transition for your dog?

Although Back To School time can be busy and hectic, try to spend more time with your dog  as the kids head back to school. 

Give your dog a new toy or something else he loves, to keep him occupied as the kids leave the house in the morning.

A nice long hike or walk will take your dog's mind off the kids being gone!

If your schedule permits, take the dog for a nice long walk or hike sometime during the morning to exercise and relieve anxiety or boredom and to let him know he's still impawtant!

In the first week or two of school keep a close eye on your dog to see if he's exhibiting anxiety or boredom, or developing any negative habits following the transition.  If you're lucky enough to be a stay at home parent and you have the time, consider trying a fun new activity with your dog.  A long walk or hike on a new trail, an agility class, or even a Doga (doggie yoga) class together!

Don't let your Furkids get lost in the shuffle once the insanity of Back to School starts!

Hey!  Where'd everybody go??

Have you experienced your dog's behavior changing when Back To School starts?  Please leave a comment and tell us about it.  We LOVE hearing from you!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: Dogs In Carts!

RIDING IN CARTS WITH GIRLS.......




IS IT BETTER THAN RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS??  WHAT WOULD DREW BARYMORE SAY?

I submitted this photo when I entered the Dogs With Carts contest (#DogsWithCarts) sponsored by Fidoseofreality and Stylishcanine!  This Instagram contest has been burning up IG lines!  It's still open until August 31st, so hurry & enter if you haven't already. Any kind of cart you can think of  to put your dog in or next to is eligible for your entry photo!  You can win really cool prizes (see below).  Find out all the details on Fidoseofreality or Stylishcanine.

1st Prize: A $100 Amazon Gift Card 
2nd Prize: Make your dog into a super hero with this custom Super Dog Cape from Stylish Canine. You could win a shiny, red super hero cape that is handmade just for your dog. Will your dog fly? You’ll find out! 
3rd Prize: A Fidose of Reality Prize Pack featuring limited edition Dexter the Cocker memorabilia!

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A Beautiful Hike RUINED By An, IRRESONSIBLE OWNER

The day started out so wonderful.  We woke up to beautiful weather with lots of sunshine and no rain in sight.  Around lunchtime we decided to take our dogs for a hike on the dog friendly Greenbelt trail.

Sounds great doesn't it?  Well it was great... until an irresponsible owner and her off leash dog appeared on the trail.    We stepped aside with Isis and Phoebe, who were leashed as they always are.  Of course the unleashed dog came running over to us.  I asked the owner to please call her dog.  Instead of calling her dog away, she replied "Oh he's friendly.  Just keep walking, he won't follow you".   She continued walking and yaking away on her cell phone.   We continued on but he did follow us, and after about 15 feet I yelled "Call Your Dog!".  She steadfastly refused to call her dog away and again told us to just keep walking.  At that point her dog was way too close for my comfort.  I stepped in front of Phoebe to block her and began yelling and waving my arms at the dog in an attempt to make him go away. My efforts were futile.  The dog wouldn't leave and the inconsiderate owner still did nothing.  We yelled that this is NOT an off leash trail and that her dog should be leashed.  She then proceed to curse us out and then say "everyone loves my dog!".   We couldn't believe she would make such a ridiculous, irrelevant statement.

Signs like this appear around the park area.  Excuse my crummy photograpy, the signs are actually very clear!
We finally got away from the dog.  The arrogance of individuals like her always shocks me.  She would not even acknowledge in any way that she did something wrong, that her dog was supposed to be leashed per park regulations.  She acted at though we were the culprits and had no right to ask her to call her dog away from us or to expect her dog to be leashed.  Why do selfish, irresponsible dog owners think they are above laws and regulations?  Why do they think it's OK for their dog to lunge at everyone else and their dogs without any boundaries whatsoever?  It's people like that who ruin it for everyone else and cause public parks and other areas to be off limits to dogs.

Most parks in Long Island, New York do not allow dogs at all so when we find one that does it's pretty special.  Long Islanders have had to work hard to gain access for dogs at any parks and beaches out here, so following the rules is especially important.  If we don't, it will be all too easy for our dogs' access to be yanked away.  The number one rule is always Clean Up After Your Dog, the number two rule is always Keep Your Dog ON LEASH in accordance with park regulations and local ordinance. Obviously, she had not intention of cleaning up after her dog either, she wasn't watching him at all.  For the most part, only secure dog parks/runs and a couple of other areas permit off leash dogs on Long Island.

I turned back to snap this photo of the offending owner,  still gabbing on her cell phone like nothing happened, her off leash dog still unattended
This Loser ruined our beautiful hike and in fact most of our day.  At this point, my husband doesn't want to ever go back to that wonderful hiking trail.  It stinks that our dogs have to suffer because of the woman's selfishness. 

What would you have done in this situation?  What do you think I should do, if anything, with the photo we took of her with her offleash dog; should we share it with the Long Island Greenbelt Association?  The local police?  Can anything be done about people like her who ruin it for everyone else?  If you have encountered this issue and have any advice to share, please post a comment, I'd appreciate hearing from you.  Thanks for letting me rant today, friends.

Friday, August 22, 2014

MY DOG THE THERAPIST: Why Children Should Read To Dogs

Last week I published the first My Dog The Therapist segment, where I talked about how Isis became a Therapy Dog.  This week I want to share with you one of the programs she participates in, a program where children read out loud to dogs!  Sounds weird, right?  Believe it or not, this helps improve a child's reading skills and is particularly beneficial to kids that struggle with reading.

Isis is resting after one of the children's reading program sessions at a local library.
I was always a book worm and loved reading as a child, so a reading program where kids read out loud to dogs to help improve their reading skills was right up my alley!  It sounded a little unconventional, but when I researched it more I learned that:

Reading aloud helps children improve their reading skills significantly.
 
Reading to dogs can help a child build confidence without fear of judgment or embarrassment by parents, teachers or other kids. 
 
The Dogs help motivate reluctant readers who don’t like to read, or are afraid they won’t read well. 
 
Reading programs can take place at libraries, schools, bookstores, hospitals, and homeless shelters.

Isis in the library Community Room, waiting for the kids reading program to start.  I don't include pics of the children in order to protect their privacy.
 
Here are some compelling facts about literacy in the U.S.:
 
Over 40 million adults in the U.S. don't read well enough to read a simple story to a child.
 
Nearly half of the nation's unemployed youth aged 16-21 are functional illiterate, and will have little to no job prospects.
 
Children who haven't developed basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 to 4 times more likely to drop out later.
 
60% of American prison inmates and 85% of juvenile offenders have  reading problems.
Fact Sources:  US Dept. of Education & US Dept. of Health & Human Services
 
Isis and I participate in reading programs in public libraries. Usually there are 3 Therapy Dogs. Over about an hour, each child gets 15 minutes to sit with the dog of their choice and read a book of their choosing. The kids love it and so do the dogs! Kids get a kick out of seeing a "snowdog" at the library.  They love when Isis licks their faces and when her expression shows that she's enjoying their reading and the book they chose to read to her!  Sometimes she even closes her eyes and dozes off a bit.  Some of the kids have never owned a dog, so it's a real treat to spend time with a dog.  The funniest thing is that sometimes the parents enjoy it even more than the kids, petting the dogs and asking questions about them while their kid is reading!   

Afterwards, I take Isis home and give her a nice big Kong bone filled with peanut butter! It's so much fun and so rewarding, we love the children reading to dogs program!

 "To learn to read is to light a fire;
every syllable that is spelled out is a spark"
- Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

What do you think about a reading program where kids read out loud to dogs?  Leave us a comment, we love hearing from you!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: The Legendary Billie Holiday's Beloved Dog


THE INCOMPARABLE BILLIE HOLIDAY WITH HER BELOVED PIT BULL, MISTER

Photo Source: The Pet Blog

"In the 70’s they blamed the Dobermans. 
In the 80’s they blamed the German Shepherds.
In the 90’s they blamed the Rottweilers. 
Now they blame the Pit Bulls.
When will they blame the humans?” 
- Cesar Millan

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Monday, August 18, 2014

What Should You Do If Your Pet Goes Missing?

According to the Humane Society it is estimated that 6 – 8 MM pets enter shelters each year.  Many of them are owner surrenders, but many of these pets have simply gotten lost for a variety of reasons.  It is estimated that 1 in 3 family pets will get lost in their lifetime.  In addition, according to Petfinder.com, as many as 2 million animals are stolen each year!

A beautiful Lab that ended up in our shelter

If the unthinkable should happen and your pet disappears, time is of the essence so act quickly.  Spend a couple of hours searching the area where your pet was last seen, but if you can’t find her, here are some steps you should take.

  • If your pet is micro-chipped contact the recovery service right away to alert them that she is missing.  They may be able to assist in recovery by alerting area shelters and vets.

  • You should have good quality updated photos of your pet, especially when traveling.  Photos should clearly show your pet's face and body and should be in color, a black and white photo isn’t very effective.   Create flyers with color photos, details of your pet, and contact information.  Pass them out to all the neighbors within 10 or 20 blocks.  That way neighbors will have the photo to refer to if they should see your pet.  Post them in grocery stores, area veterinary offices, and other central places near where your dog went missing. 

  • When you search the area check schools, malls, wooded areas, yards, and places with sheds  or barns they might use for shelter.  Check areas that may be appealing to a dog or cat to hide in or get fresh water, shade or warmth.  Try to think like your pet and check places or routes they may recognize.  As you search, call her name, use a favorite squeaky toy & make other familiar noises.

  • Go online and post quality color photos and details about your lost pet.  You can post on Petfinder.com, Craigslist, your local newspaper web site, Fidofinder.com, and other sites.  Do a “lost and found dogs or cats” search online to locate other sites you can post photos and details on.  Also check the Found Dog or Cat sections to see if someone has listed your pet as found.

A group of little dogs that ended up in our shelter

  • Use your social media network to communicate that your pet is lost on Facebook and other social media channels you use to connect with family and friends.  Get the kids and all their friends involved in this!

  • Check ALL the animal shelters in a the area, even those that are not closest to you.  You never know which shelter a pet may be brought to, it often depends on which shelter has the most available kennel space.  Pets sometimes get transferred to different shelters as space availability changes.  Post flyers on the shelter's Lost/Found wall and try to talk to staff and volunteers if possible.
 
  • Many fabulous shelter staff comb through lost pet sites online in an attempt to find an owner if there are no updated tags or microchip.  This usually works when your pet has unique attributes or is an uncommon breed.  There are likely many, many listings for lost Golden Retrievers that look very alike.  However, a listing for a lost Komondor would probably be very unique!

  • Post signs throughout the area, especially near stop signs and traffic lights.  Don’t use white 8.5” by 11” paper, most of us can’t see them from a car!  Buy larger pieces of oak tag in Bright or Neon colors.  Post a color photo of your pet with details and contact info in black magic marker in large print.  Don’t cheap out, have color photos printed!
Rudy, one of my foster dogs napping in the sun in our yard.  He came into the shelter in pretty bad shape.  You can read Rudy's Story here. 
It takes a village to find a lost dog or cat, so make sure you spread the word and enlist the help of everyone you can think of in your search!

Sharing is caring, so if you have additional tips for finding a lost pet, please share them by posting a comment!

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Friday, August 15, 2014

IT'S NATIONAL CHECK THE CHIP DAY, CHECK YOUR PET'S MICROCHIP!

August 15th is National Check The Chip Day, a day that reminds us to have our pet's microchip checked!  We should check our pet's microchip annually to ensure it's still working properly, and that it hasn't shifted away from the shoulder area of our pet's body where it's typically implanted and scanned.  It's also a reminder to update the information on the chip such as address and phone number if it's changed since you last updated it.


I never knew how critical a microchip as pet identification can be until I started volunteering at an animal shelter.  I microchipped my 15 year old cat after hearing all the stories of the bizarre ways in which pets go missing and how easily collars can break off or get wiggled out of.  

I could share countless shelter stories that illustrate the importance of microchipping your pet and of making sure the chip is updated as needed.  I have my dogs' microchips checked every time they go to the vet.  My vet thinks I'm a little neurotic, but who cares?  Here is one story I'd like to share with you.  Don't let this happen to your beloved pet.

At the shelter one day, I heard a lot of yelling in front of one of the kennels.  I walked over to find a customer yelling at a fellow volunteer, arguing about a gorgeous Rhodesian Ridgeback dog she thought she had just adopted.  Amazingly, the owner showed up to claim his dog at the precise time the woman was completing her adoption of his dog – what are the odds of that?!  Per shelter policy, the pet was to be given back to the owner and the adoption cancelled. 

Photo of a Rhodesian Ridgeback  Source: Wikipedia
The woman was furious, she wanted that purebred dog!  In her mind the owner was irresponsible and she was entitled to the dog because she filled out all the paperwork before he showed up. 

This beautiful dog had a family.  He had a Rhodesian Ridgeback sibling who missed him and a human family who loved him.  Needless to say, the dog hadn’t been microchipped and had somehow lost his collar.  The owner, a very nice young man, was overjoyed to find his beloved lost dog.  He explained that a crew of workmen in their home had been instructed to keep the front door closed, but a new guy joined the crew and wasn’t told about keeping the door closed.  He left the door open to get materials from the truck and both dogs ran out.  The other dog returned home soon after, but this one did not.  A good citizen found the dog on the street and brought him to the shelter.  The owner was lucky to have come to our particular shelter to search for his lost dog – in the nik of time!   Literally, 15 minutes later his dog would have been gone forever.  A microchip would have identified him as the owner immediately and his poor dog would not have had to go through the trauma of sitting in a shelter for days, being put through assessments and an adoption process, and nearly adopted by a total stranger.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback incident is one of those stories I often bring up when discussing the importance of microchipping pets and of ensuring the chip is working properly and is updated with current information.  It was pure luck that enabled this guy to find his dog at a shelter moments before the dog’s adoption to a stranger was FINALIZED.   
 
Let today be a reminder to Check Your Pet's Chip !

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