Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Discovering New Dog Friendly Places!

We love discovering new dog friendly places with our dogs Icy and Phoebe!

The beautiful walking paths at dog friendly Dix Hills Park, Long Island NY  #dogs
We loved the beautiful walking paths at Dix Hills Park!

My dogs loved discovering this new dog friendly park in our town!  #dog
Peek A Boo, We See You Icy!

Dogs love all the wonderful new smells when you take them to a new place! #dogfriendlyparks
Phoebe's loving all those new SMELLS!!

We're so happy we discovered this local park that allows dogs on their beautiful walking paths!  Dog friendly Dix Hills Park is in Long Island, New York.

Are we following each other on Twitter and Facebook?  If not, Let's connect!


Monday, September 11, 2017

Dog Friendly Dix Hills Park, Long Island NY

I'm always complaining that Long Island, New York isn't dog friendly.  We joke that their "No Dogs Allowed" signs must be the official sign of Long Island.  We joke that the guy who makes these signs must be a mega-millionaire!   For the most part we still feel that way, but recently things have started to change.... slightly.

In August our township ruled that the majority of parks in our town would now allow dogs - Woo Hoo!!  Throw the confetti & start the parade!  Lest we get too giddy with glee however, it was noted that the beautiful little park one block away from my house is NOT on the list.  State parks are also excluded from this decree.  But hey, we're not greedy!  We'll bask in the glory of more access to most of our town's parks for now.

Our township has finally relaxed the No Dogs Allowed rules at many parks!  We're checking out Dix Hills Park in Long Island NY.  #dogfriendly
Icy and Phoebe can hardly contain their excitement over the new town rule, finally allowing (leashed) dogs in most of the parks!

In celebration of this small victory, we decided to check out a new park not far from where we live. Dix Hills Park is a lovely town park with a Golf Course, Pool, and shaded walking path.

New local rules in our town finally allow leashed dogs in the township of Huntington, NY.  Icy & Phoebe had a great time exploring this new park!  #dog
Look at this patch of moss I discovered!!  I'm going to ROLL in it before Mom tries to stop me - Ha, Ha!

Icy and Phoebe were so excited to explore a new park.  All those glorious new smells!!

Phoebe had a ball sniffing and exploring everything along the trail!

We enjoyed the beautiful, long, shaded walking trail with the dogs at Dix Hills Park

We had so much fun!  We are definitely keeping Dix Hills Park on our list of favorite walking trails!

There is an organization on Long Island that works to get more access to public recreational places for dogs.  They did a great job convincing our town to finally make many of it's parks dog friendly. I think their success in getting a large chunk of parks to allow dogs came because they focused on people as well as dogs.

When trying to get local officials to allow dogs in public recreational areas, most of the time the focus is on the dogs.  They focus on how important it is for DOGS to get out and walk, exercise, and enjoy public places. While that is certainly important, I think when you also focus on how important it is for PEOPLE to be able to enjoy these places along with their dogs, public officials take more notice.  Pointing out that dogs motivate people to get out and use public spaces more, and that doing so can positively impact a person's health, makes legislators see it as a benefit to the community.

The HABRI (Human Animal Bond Research Institute) has been touting this fact for years. HABRI calls it The Pet Effect.  They have conducted lots of research that shows how pets have a positive impact on human health in so many ways, both physically and mentally.

Dog friendly parks, beaches, and other recreational areas can have a positive impact on human health as well.  #dogfriendly
I'm a huge believer in pets having a positive impact on human health.  If it weren't for our dogs, we wouldn't walk and hike nearly as much as we do.  We get off our butts and do it for them more than for us!

The more people have an opportunity to get out and walk, hike, bike, or run with their dogs the more it can have a positive impact on their physical health.  Dogs motivate people to get out and MOVE!  Research also shows that pets are one of the reasons many people quit smoking.  They don't want to negatively impact the health of the pets with second hand smoke.

If you're working to get your local officials to provide more access for dogs in public recreational areas, include the benefits to people not just pets in making your case.  

Reference the research and Info-Graphics you'll find on HABRI's web site.  You can probably even contact them and ask for advice on materials you can share to help make your case.  You may have better results getting more access to public places by including the benefits to people as well as pets. 

Sharing is caring, if you enjoyed this post please Tweet, Pin, or share on Facebook!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy My Dogs Excellent Beach Adventure in Gardiner's Park & Beach.

Does your community allow dogs in most public parks and other public recreational places?  Leave us a comment and share!  We love hearing your thoughts.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Dogs Love Jumping On Stuff

Jumpin' Logs!

That was FUN!!  I jumped these logs on our way out of beautiful Gardiner's Park and Beach, where we had an Excellent Beach Adventure!


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fight Breed Discrimination, Not Dogs

I get so tired of people discriminating against what they know as "Pit Bull" dogs.  In my time as an animal shelter volunteer I came across so many loving Pit Bulls.  It broke my heart when people would pass over a dog if their Kennel Card said "Pit Bull/Mix" simply because they were afraid of that name, Pit Bull.

I learned a lot through my years of volunteering.  One of the things I learned was that the term "Pit Bull" actually refers to several breeds, there isn't any one specific breed that was created and called "Pit Bull".   That designation is given to dogs of various breeds or mix of breeds including:

> American Pit Bull Terrier
> American Stafforshire Terrier
> English Bull Terrier
> Staffordshire Bull Terrier

There is some debate about exactly which breeds comprise the designation of Pit Bull. It seems to me that virtually any dog with a square looking head and muscular body is assumed to be a Pit Bull!  

Awhile back, I won a terrific book about Pit Bulls on Alison Reder's blog, Sarcastic Dog. The book is called PIT BULL, by Bronwen Dickey.  As I started reading it, the book opened with a heart-wrenching story, one I remember all too well.  I wish I didn't, but it was all over the news in 2003 and I can't forget it.

Pit Bulls have unjustly been given a bad rap, there are so many loving Pit Bulls. The book Pit Bull busts many myths about these dogs.  #pitbull
In her book PIT BULL, Bronwen Dickey delves into how a once beloved dog became Public Enemy #1
 On the way home from a vacation, a family stopped for gas in Tennessee; a Father, Mother, Son and two dogs.  The father mistakenly left his wallet on the roof of the car, money flying out of it as they drove away.  Someone called 911 and somewhere along the line police got the impression that a robbery had occurred.  Their car was pulled over by police and the entire family forced to get on the ground.  They told police they had dogs in the car and begged them not to open the doors or they would run out.  The ending of this messed up incident resulted in their beautiful, friendly "Pit Bull/Boxer" mix family dog, Patton, being shot to death by police!  The Officer cited that the dog "looked like a Pit Bull"  and that he "felt threatened".  The entire family was devastated by this senseless tragedy.

Bronwen shares a lot of history and information about Pit Bull type dogs.  She also does a lot of myth busting about Pit Bulls.  She shares that prior to the 1970's, these dogs were a much loved and admired breed. There were many famous and beloved Pit Bulls in movies and television.  Anyone remember Petey from the Little Rascals?  Did you know that Helen Keller and Teddy Roosevelt both had Pit Bulls?  Then there was Pal the Wonder Dog, a Pit Bull who appeared in over 200 movies!  Pit Bulls were even used in posters for the U.S. military!

Fabulous "Fight Abuse Not Dogs" sweatshirt from New York Bully Crew.  #dogs #pitbulls
Fabulous hoodie with a great message.   Purchased from New York Bully Crew PitBull Dog Rescue 
Pit Bulls started being used in dog fighting, which gained popularity in the '70's and 80's in the U.S.. Bad breeding and abusive treatment of these fighting dogs helped to cast them as blood thirsty killers, and they were soon demonized by the media.  America's love affair with these majestic dogs had officially ended.  Here we are decades later, still trying to reverse the negative stigma on Pit Bull type dogs, a stigma that is not at all deserved.

New York Bullly Crew, a Pit Bull Dog Rescue working to change the negative perception of Pit Bulls #pitbull #dog
New York Bully Crew, a Pit Bull Dog Rescue working to change the negative perception
So many people have come to fear all Pit Bull type dogs.  It breaks my heart when I hear about cities that have chosen to ban Pit Bull type dogs, and euthanize them in shelters just to appease a terrified public.

In my time volunteering at the shelter I met so many wonderful, loving, Pit Bull type dogs that I came to love and defend these dogs.  One of my most heartbreaking days as an Adoption Counselor was when a family came in to adopt a dog.  They saw a beautiful black dog that looked just like a Labrador Retriever.  The family interacted with him and was just crazy about him.  I was overjoyed that this beautiful, sweet dog was getting adopted .... until the mother noticed the words "Pit Bull Mix" on the kennel card.  "I thought he was a Lab!" she exclaimed.  

I explained as best I could about the nose to tail point system the shelter used to estimate what a dog's breed was.  I told her he was a great dog that could be a mix of anything, including Labrador Retriever.  But because she saw those fateful words, Pit. Bull. Mix. she became fearful. She said she was worried for her children and decided Not to adopt him.  Despite protests from the kids, the family left the shelter without him.  I nearly cried as I stood by this beautiful, sweet dog's cage.  If only the Kennel Card had said "Lab Mix" he would have been on his way to a loving new home with kids to play with in a yard of his own.

It makes me angry that these wonderful dogs have such a stigma.  It makes me angry that many shelters simply label SO many dogs "Pit Bull Mix".  It infuriates me that some cities and towns have banned any dog with the words "Pit Bull" in their breed designation. 

BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) is inhumane, ineffective in reducing dog bites, and simply outrageous.  Every dog is an individual and every owner is an individual.  There truly are no bad dogs, but there are plenty of bad dog owners!  

A lonely Pit Bull who was stuck in the shelter for a long time  #animalsheltering
This Pit Bull dog was in the shelter for a long time.  I'm not sure if he ever got adopted, but I'm hoping he did.
A dog will be vicious if you train him to be vicious.  A dog will be fearful if you fail to socialize him by exposing him to people and dogs.  A dog will become agitated, frustrated, and likely aggressive if you leave him chained up outside all day and night. What kind of life is that for any living creature??

The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) does not support breed-specific laws, they favor a breed-neutral approach, holding dog owners accountable for their dog's aggression, regardless of breed.  Laws should focus on holding dog owners accountable, not the dogs themselves.  Here is a statement from the ASPCA posted on their web site:

"The ASPCA recognizes that dangerous dogs pose a community problem requiring serious attention. However, in light of the absence of scientific data indicating the efficacy [effectiveness] of breed-specific laws, and the unfair and inhumane targeting of responsible pet guardians and their dogs that inevitably results when these laws are enacted, the ASPCA instead favors effective enforcement of a combination of breed-neutral laws that hold reckless dog guardians accountable for their dogs’ aggressive behavior." 

Best Friends Animal Society does not support Breed Specific bans either, and stated that:

"...a peer review study found that nearly 85 percent of dog bite fatalities were from unneutered dogs. Other factors that contributed to bites were abuse or neglect, tethering for long periods of time, and lack of positive interaction with people and other animals."

Best Friends also stated that Some people assume some breeds of dogs are more prone to attacking and biting, though this is a misconception. BSL is often enacted to ease fears over public safety, but these laws are ineffective and very costly"

Oddly enough, I've been reading that Pit Bulls are BOTH one of the most frequently surrendered dog breed types AND one of the most popular breeds to adopt!  These two facts seem to contradict each other, don't they?  

Some experts in the field have hypothesized that due to bias against Pit Bull type dogs, it may be difficult for their owners to find housing that allows Pit Bull type dogs.  This could result in Pit Bulls being surrendered.  So many landlords (and some Home Owner's Association's too!) have restrictions on the size and breed of dogs they will allow in their rental units, if they allow dogs at all.  

A long time animal shelter resident at Bideawee in New York, Ice has been waiting for a home since early 2015! #pitbull #rescue #adoptabledogs
This beautiful girl has been at the Town Of Hempstead Animal Shelter in Wantagh Long Island, NY  since early 2015!  I think you'll agree, that is way too long to be waiting for a home with someone to love.
It's been suggested that higher homeowners insurance costs and the high energy and exercise needs of the breed (probably no different than a Husky's high energy requirements!) may also cause some owners to ultimately surrender their Pit Bull type dogs to a shelter.  

We can't ignore the fact that many people who adopt Pit Bull type dogs often do so for protection both of themselves personally and protection of their property.  When I volunteered in Phoenix, there were quite a few people who said they'd feel safer with a Pit Bull type dog and sought them out for that reason.  Many people in the rougher neighborhoods in our city had Pit Bull type dogs they left out in the yard for protection, and cute little Chihuahua's inside the house for companionship.  It's not a judgement, it's a fact of life in some of the city neighborhoods our shelter served.

A young woman came into the shelter with a friend to adopt a dog one day.  I was happy to see her drawn to the Pit Bull type dogs, she seemed to be looking for just that type of dog.  

She decided to adopt a fabulous, sweet Pit Bull girl.  As we finalized the adoption, she turned to her friend and said "No one's gonna mess with me walking down the street with THIS dog!"  I was a bit taken back, but she was so nice and affectionate to the dog, and seemed to genuinely like her a lot. I felt she would give her a good home.   

I assume the woman lived alone, perhaps in a lower socio-economic area.  If she didn't, I doubt she would be so concerned about safety in her neighborhood that she'd need what she perceived to be a tough looking dog to feel safe.  I have no actual facts to back up my assumptions about the woman, it was just my perception of her.  As long as she provided a loving home, that was fine by me.

Although dog fighting is illegal in every state in the U.S., it still goes on.  Sadly, Pit Bulls are often the fight dog of choice in this illegal and cruel activity.  Dog fighting is a horrific form of animal cruelty, with terrible consequences for the dogs, and for the community as well.


Dog Fighting hurts communities and it is a crime in all 50 states
Get Tough on Dog Fighting!

What are your thoughts about Pit Bull type dogs?  Have you ever owned or known a Pit Bull?  Please leave us a comment and share your thoughts!  We love when you bark back!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Dog's Excellent Beach Adventure!

This week's big adventure was a trip to dog friendly Gardiner County Park and Beach in Bay Shore, Long Island.  Bay Shore is also the town where you can take the ferry boats to Fire Island.  We love Gardiner's, it's a beautiful neighborhood park that allows dogs.  It's a real hidden gem for dog lovers on Long Island!

Taking the dogs on a road trip to Gardiner County Park and Beach in Long Island NY  #dogfriendly #dog
We're Off on an Adventure!
The park itself is lovely, with an open grassy field and several short trails to walk along, but the real draw of Gardiner Park for dogs and their people is the fabulous dog friendly beach at the end of it! 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Dog's Ode To Summer

Oh Summer, leaving us already??  Ah, the fun we had .....

My dog Icy enjoying the beach.  #dogsatthebeach

My dog Icy crusin' along the beach  #dogbeach #dogs

Phoebe enjoying the last of the Summer.  #dogs

Dogs enjoying Summer  #dog



Monday, August 21, 2017

Appearance on the Sibe Vibe Radio Show!

I was so honored to be a guest on the SIBE VIBE Radio Show on Dog Works Radio this weekend!  I felt particularly honored because it was the show's 5th Anniversary and their Back To School episode!  The SIBE VIBE focuses on Siberian Huskies, rescue stories, canine sports and events and much more!  

The SIBE VIBE Radio Show is hosted by award winning Author, Photographer, Photo Journalist, and Blogger at the FiveSibes blog, Dorothy Wills-Raftery.

On the show, Dorothy and I talked about Therapy Dogs and the attributes a dog needs to be a successful Therapy Dog. We talked about the process of becoming a Therapy Dog and we discussed some of the work Icy and I do together as a Therapy Dog team in our community.  

My interview on the Sibe Vibe radio show! #dogs #therapydog
Icy at one of the children's reading programs, posing with a copy of one of Dorothy's wonderful books, Getting Healthy With Harley

We talked about the Kids Read Aloud To Dogs programs Icy and I participate in and how it helps children improve their reading skills by reading out loud to dogs. It was a perfect Back To School topic!  

I mentioned our visits to the local High School as well, which help give students a sense of togetherness and helps relieve some of the daily stress they may feel at school.

The Sibe Vibe radio show invited us to join the show and discuss Therapy Dogs, Pet Travel, and more  #therapydogs
Icy at one of our library visits
Dorothy asked me what my top recommendations for U.S. dog friendly travel places to visit were. I shared some of my favorite dog friendly travel destinations, (Hint: Sedona, AZ is #1) and a few of my most important pet friendly travel tips. 

We ended our conversation by talking about how special it is to be a part of the pet blogging community and what that means to us.

If you missed our discussion on the SIBE VIBE radio show, you can listen to the Radio Show Replay here.
Thanks to Dorothy Wills-Raftery for inviting me to be a guest on the SIBE VIBE show, it was such a pleasure!

Are you ready for Back To School?  What are your plans for the first month of Back To School?  Leave us a comment and share, we Love hearing from our readers!