Sunday, June 29, 2014

What If You Boarded Your Dog And They Told You She Ran Away, But Then You Found Out She Died?

Last night over 200 people gathered for a candle light vigil here in Phoenix, Arizona in memory of 20 dogs who died tragically at Green Acre, the boarding facility who was supposed to take care of them.  Here in Phoenix, a place I refer to as one of the most dog friendly cities in the country, this tragedy has shaken our city to it's core.  

Along with other dog parents in Phoenix, I'm still reeling from the horrific tragedy that occurred last week, right here in our own backyard.  Imagine going away for a fun vacation, leaving your dog in what you thought were capable hands and receiving a call saying that your dog "ran away".  Far worse, you later find out they lied, that in fact she did not run away as you were told, she is dead. 

That's what happened to the families of 20 beautiful dogs in Phoenix last week.  They boarded their dogs at the Green Acre kennel.  Each family had received a call explaining that their dog(s) had run away from the facility.  The families soon realized however, that their dogs did not run away as they were told, their dogs were dead.  One family boarded all 3 of their dogs at Green Acre, and all three of their dogs died in this tragedy! 

WHAT HAPPENED??  There were several theories as to what really happened at the Green Acre kennel last week and how 20 beautiful dogs met a tragic end;

  • Was it because a dog chewed through the power cord leading to the air conditioner and the dogs died due to excessive heat?
  • Did the dogs suffocate due to lack of air in the small room in which they were kept?
  • Did the dogs die from dehydration, not given enough water in this hot dry desert climate?
  • Were the dogs supposed to have outdoor access via a doggy door but the door was locked?
  • Was it accidental, was there foul play, was it sheer negligence?
Here is a video containing the 911 calls from distressed owners source AZCentral.com



How could 20 dogs be in extreme distress and no one at the facility knew until it was too late?  There are more questions than answers at this point, the story keeps changing. 

The greatest danger to both people and dogs here in the hot desert climate is extreme heat and dehydration.  The week this incident occurred, temps were just under 110 degrees most days. The Green Acre kennel is in a private home. Judging from the photos I've seen, the rooms in which the dogs were kept appeared to be a shed and a laundry room.  There was fencing in the area surrounding the property, where dogs could be taken outside.

Supposedly, there is still one dog unaccounted for that did run away, at least that's the story Green Acre has given.  The entire city is now searching for 2 year old Valor, hoping that unlike his canine sibling Remington, he may have escaped the tragedy.  But if it turns out Valor perished in the tragedy, the death toll will be 21.

This is Valor, the dog people hope escaped the tragedy.  His canine sibling Remington was a victim of the tragedy.
The incident has captured the attention of our Sheriff, Joe Arpaio.  Sheriff Joe ordered necropsies on the deceased dogs and has launched an all out investigation into this incident.  "I don't want to hear the word accident" he said, "We're investigating".  Sheriff Joe often ruffles some feathers with his hard line approach, but one thing I love about our Sheriff is that he loves dogs!  He even has his own shelter with  dogs he's rescued from euthanasia, at the county prison.  Although the investigation continues, the prevailing theory is that a dog did chew through the power cord to the air conditioner and the dogs died due to excessive heat.  Why wasn't someone watching them that evening?  How do 20 dogs suffer extreme heat exhaustion for hours and no one notices?  The proprietor of Green Acre had gone on vacation, leaving the dogs in the care of her daughter and son in law.

The A/C power cord supposedly chewed through by one of the dogs Source: ABC15.com

I'm betting dog owners everywhere are wondering "what if that were my dog"? 

Here's a video of the emotional candle light vigil held last night for the dogs who lost their lives in this tragedy.  Source ABC15 Arizona






I didn't realize until now that there are no regulations around pet boarding facilities, at least not in Arizona.  I'm so grateful we board our dogs at the PetSmart Pets Hotel.  I know they'll be safe there because they have a great staff of dog lovers and stringent policies and procedures.  In fact, we have to follow most of the same guidelines at the PetSmart Charities Everyday Adoption Center I volunteer at.

Arizonians want justice for the 20 dogs who lost their lives in this tragedy.   They're also calling for legislation to be put in place to regulate the pet boarding industry.  Our hearts go out to the families who lost their beloved canine family members.  I hugged Isis and Phoebe fiercely after hearing this story.  We happened to be in Seattle when it happened, thankfully with our dogs safely ensconced at the PetSmart pets hotel back home in Phoenix.

Click here for more details on the Green Acre incident.

Here are some tips to help you choose a safe reputable boarding facility for your pet:

  • Get recommendations from friends, family, or your vet.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau for unresolved complaints and read reviews on Yelp and other online review sites just as you would any other establishment you're considering.
  • Tour the facility: Does it look/smell clean?  Ask to see all areas your pet may be accessing.
  • Ensure there is sufficient room for all the pets being boarded, adequate ventilation and climate control.
  • Ask if someone will be there 24/7 and how often they check on pets.
  • How often is water provided, is it monitored throughout the day?
  • What are exercise and potty routines - are they safe and supervised?
  • Are there comfortable beds or are pets expected to sleep on concrete floors?
  • Find out what experience or credentials the staff has, ask if they background check employees prior to hiring them.  Do staff members know CPR and first aid for animals?
  • Are there smoke detectors and/or sprinklers? What is their procedure if a fire breaks out?
  • What is the procedure if there's a power outage; do they have backup power?
  • How secure is the area inside and surrounding the property?
  • Do they require pets to be current on Rabies, Bordatella, and other important vaccinations?

How are you feeling after learning about this tragedy?  Do you feel certain your pet is safe with whomever you've chosen to care for him in your absence?  Please post a comment, I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Inside a Pet Blogger's Head: The Writing Process Blog Tour

Welcome to my Writing Process Blog tour!  I was invited to join this writing Tour by Kim Gifford author of Pugs and Pics.  We met at this year’s BlogPaws conference and became fast friends.  It was my first BlogPaws conference, I didn’t know a soul that would be in attendance.  I was so happy to have quickly made a friend!  Kim is a writer, photographer and artist who likes to experiment with many different art forms. She lives in the New England area with her two pugs, Alfie and Waffles, who inspire her and her work.  Kim shares her artistry and her love of pugs on her blog Pugs and Pics.  She also offers writing workshops in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Kim J. Gifford with one of her Pugs
When Kim first invited me to join the #mywritingprocess blog tour, I was really excited.  I don’t exactly consider myself a writer in the author sense of the word but I love to write, especially about my 2 dogs; they are my inspiration and my muses.  Writing my blog is an expression of myself and how I feel about my dogs, and about animal welfare and advocacy.  It’s an expression of how rewarding life is with our dogs Isis and Phoebe and how I wish it could be that way for all dogs.  Every dog deserves a loving home in which they are an integral part of their family.  My hope is that my blog inspires other dog owners to feel the same way!

This Writing Process Blog Tour is a great opportunity to share our blogging experiences with each other.  Although we all have differences in our writing process, we face many of the same challenges, doubts, and ultimately, triumphs.  It’s interesting to see what inspires each of us to write, and the differences in our respective writing processes.
 
I love the freedom and flexibility of blogging as a writing medium.  For the most part, I write what I want, as frequently as I want, and in a style that reflects my own conversational voice.  No Editor is looming over my shoulder barking (all puns intended!) about deadlines or format, reviewing my content, or changing my words.  I especially love the interactive aspect of blogging, getting to know my readers on a personal level through their comments and being able to respond to those comments. Through my readers' comments I learn what matters to them, and what they want me to share on my blog.  I’ve made good friends through blogging, people who share my passion for animals and for writing about them. Through them I learn and grow, and hope I can offer something in return that may help them learn and grow as well.

What am I working on?
I have two works in progress right now.  The first one is beginning a series on the Therapy Dog volunteer work I do with my Siberian Husky, Isis.  I meant to start those posts much sooner but I think I want to do it justice so badly that it’s holding me up!  The photos I have for the first post are never good enough, I’m not happy with the first draft, etc.  I know I need to Just Do It already and start that first introductory post.  I want to write about my long time fascination with therapy dog work and how I knew from the moment I met Isis as a puppy that she was made for therapy dog work.  Getting started on this series is one of the challenges I'm facing right now.  Figuring out how to adequately express through words how incredibly rewarding our therapy dog work is, the amazing responses I see in both Isis and the people she helps is no easy task.  But I'm working on it!  Stay tuned.

The other project I'm working on is a series of blog posts I call 100 Places To See With Your Dog. We travel frequently cross country from Arizona to New York with our dogs and see some really beautiful places.  I want to capture the essence of those places and inspire others to include their dogs in vacations rather than leaving them home.  I have provided tips about traveling w/ dogs and published posts on our travels to Sedona and New Mexico.  We'll be traveling to some fun places this Summer, so these posts will continue.

Why do I write what I do?
I've been an animal shelter volunteer for the last 5 years or so.  I've learned so much about the various views people have about pets; some of them not so pretty.  There is still a lot of ignorance around how to properly treat and care for dogs, and the tragic impact of homeless pets.  Through my blog, I strive to educate people about animal welfare issues and about how to be better stewards of their own pet's well being.  I also write about the importance of fostering, how it literally saves lives and my experiences as a foster mom.  I want to write about the therapy dog work I do with Isis as well, sharing our experiences with the human-animal bond at work.  I love sharing the fun stuff we do with our dogs too, like hiking and traveling across the country and hope it inspires others to do the same with their own dogs.

How does my writing process work?
Oddly enough, I don’t run out of topics to blog about, at least I haven't yet!  My writing process is not terribly structured but I do keep a blog post schedule, basically a list of my blog post topics.  I estimate the month and date I’ll write and publish each one, but honestly it always evolves as new things inspire me.  News events about dogs, things that happen at the shelter, our travels, issues I face with my own dogs, a new idea that strikes me, and those dates begin to shift. 
 
I don’t keep regular hours for writing but I do try to keep to a schedule of 2-3 posts per week.  I then spend several hours reading and commenting on my favorite blogs, discovering new blogs, and marketing my own posts on social media channels.
 
I always have a notebook handy to jot down ideas as they come to me.  I try to have a camera ready most of the time as well to capture great images of Isis and Phoebe when the moment strikes; sounds easy but with two active dogs I can tell you it's not!  I go through lots of treats trying to get them to hold that pose for the camera!
 
Now that I've shared my blog writing process with you, I'd like to introduce you to 3 other pet bloggers whose blogs I greatly enjoy and whom I admire for their robust content, creativity, and passion. Meet these 3 fabulous pet bloggers!

Jenna Drady with two of her Huskies
Meet Jenna Drady, author of Love Is Being Owned By A Husky, one of the blogs I read daily.   Jenna lives in Canada (Brrrrr!) with her hubby, 4 children, 3 Siberian Huskies, and 3 cats.  That is one busy household!   Like me, Jenna has a passion for Huskies and for animal welfare.   She blogs about her own beautiful Huskies, their lovable antics and interesting adventures.  She also dedicates space on her blog to help other dogs looking for their furever homes.  Jenna provides lots of important pet tips and information as well as thoughtful, thorough product reviews that readers find very helpful.  She sells lovely pet inspired jewelry and hosts some pretty cool contests too!
 
Stacey Van Horn's Crazy Dog Life
Meet Stacey Van Horn author of Crazy Dog Life, another one of my favorite blogs.  Stacey lives in Florida with her family, which includes two pampered pooches, Nadie and Prince.    Her family has been involved in rescue for many years and at one time Stacey had as many as 24 rescue dogs – now THAT is a dog lover!   Her web site includes heartwarming stories about the many ways in which dogs can enrich our lives and the ups and downs we all have as dog owners.   In addition, Stacey blogs about topics such as personal branding and what it takes to monetize a blog, which are a great resource for other bloggers.  She also writes thorough product reviews and hosts contests!  As if that weren’t enough, Stacey is a web designer as well, offering services through Big Dog Designs which you can access directly on her site.  Her web site is always evolving, providing interesting useful content, keeping up with the topics pet parents and bloggers want to read about right now. 
 
Barking From the Bayou's M.K. Clinton
  Meet M.K. Clinton author of  another great blog, Barking From the Bayou.  As indicated by the title of her blog, M.K. is a Southern gal.  She lives with her Basset Hound Bently, Pierre the Westie, and her husband.  Bentley has the most soulful eyes!  M.K. is the author of The Returns series of books. The award winning The Returns is about dogs who arrive at the pearly gates before their time.  The Returns Department is tasked with sending these early arrivals back to earth, but not in their original canine bodies!  A rookie canine Guardian Angel plays a key role in the humorous story as well.  You'll find fun posts about Bently and Pierre, helpful tips and product reviews, and adoptable dogs on M.K.'s blog. 
 
I hope you've enjoyed peeking inside this pet blogger's head.  Jenna, Stacey, and M.K. will be posting their writing process blog tours in the next couple of weeks; be sure to check out their blogs often so you don't miss a chance to peek inside their heads! 
 
What inspires you to write?  Post a comment!  Inquiring blogger minds what to know!
 
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY - Hiking With My Dog

SUMMERTIME IS THE BEST TIME FOR HIKING!! 


ISIS IS READY FOR OUR HIKE IN PHOENIX NORTH MOUNTAIN

ISIS PRETENDS SHE'S A WOLF!

PHOEBE DECIDES TO SIT THIS ONE OUT & LOUNGE BY THE POOL!
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

HEALTHY DOG TREATS YOU ALREADY HAVE IN YOUR KITCHEN

We love to give our dogs special treats as a token of our love & affection, as a reward during training sessions, or maybe just because we're snacking in front of the TV and we want to share the fun!  For the most part, we've had two options; purchase expensive packaged dog treats or give our dog table food as treats.  But there is another option, right in the kitchen waiting to be discovered.

My Canine Crudites Platter filled with dog friendly snacks!

Healthy dog treats from your kitchen

Packaged dog treats from a pet store can get expensive.  In addition, they usually contain ingredients we may not want our dogs to have too much of, and some ingredients that sound downright scary.  Things like Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, phosphoric acid, sugar, salt, and starch are all things most of us don't want our dogs to eat.  Even so called healthy dog treats may contain ingredients like these.


Human Foods That Are Toxic To Dogs


Most table food is unhealthy at best and some can actually be toxic to dogs.  Chocolate tops the list of foods that are harmful to dogs.  Others include onion, garlic, grapes & raisins, macadamia nuts and alcohol.  Even if you are conscientious about not feeding your dog these foods directly, prepared foods may contain them.  Sauces, gravies, marinaded meats, dips, cookies, chips, muffins, and other dishes may contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs.

If you want to give your dog healthy treats without having to cook or bake them, just look in your kitchen pantry.  Most people already have on hand a myriad of healthy snacks their dogs would love.  Not only are these foods safe and healthy, but most dogs love them!  Step into your kitchen now, I bet you have several of these healthy treats already.  Your dog might even prefer these healthy snacks to some of those expensive treats you've been buying!


DOG FRIENDLY TREATS YOU PROBABLY HAVE IN YOUR KITCHEN


* Carrots
* Bananas
* Apples
* Sweet Potato
* Pumpkin
* Peas
* Pineapple
* Broccoli
* Organic applesauce
* Organic Peanut Butter
* Nonfat Yogurt
* Hard boiled eggs

Icy and Phoebe love boiled eggs, sweet potato and pumpkin.  I sometimes mix it with their dry dog food when Icy is being particularly finicky.  They'll both gobble up anything mixed with eggs, sweet potato or pumpkin!  Any of the above veggies or fruit with a drop of peanut butter or applesauce will make them do cartwheels!  When I have guests over, I prepare what I call my Canine Crudites Platter, pictured above.  This discourages guests from giving my dogs table food - you know how guests just love to feed our pets during parties!


Apples are one of the Healthy Dog Treats you probably have in your kitchen
Apples are one of the healthy treats Icy and Phoebe love!
These are healthy dog treats I always feel good about giving Icy and Phoebe.  They're inexpensive, super healthy and really easy.  No trip to the store needed and no baking.  Bon Appetit!

What healthy treats make your pets do cartwheels?  Post a comment, I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY - Wildlife In The 'Hood!

While driving through our neighborhood last week my husband and I spied a neighbor we hadn't met before.

 

This beautiful young coyote was just laying in the grass, catching some shade.  People were walking and driving by but he didn't seem to mind.  He must have come down from the nearby mountains to check out our neighborhood.  Perhaps he was hunting -  house hunting!

There are lots of Coyotes here in Arizona.  They are beautiful creatures, often mistaken for dogs since they look a lot like a dog at first glance.  But they are definitely not dogs, they are wild animals.



We hope neighbors were not feeding this little guy - feeding wildlife is always a bad thing.  Feeding wild animals causes them to think of humans as a food source, which usually ends up with the wild animal inadvertently injuring someone, destroying property, killing someone's pet, or getting hit by a car. 

Coyotes in Phoenix are known to hunt cats and small dogs when their food source is low or when they get a little too comfortable in residential areas.  There's a saying around here that goes like this: "There are no skinny Coyotes in Phoenix!"  Sadly, there's a lot of truth to that.  Smart pet owners are keep their cats and small dogs safe from coyotes, especially after dark!  Coyotes are fast, and they are skilled hunters.

I'm glad we weren't walking Isis and Phoebe at the time, I know Isis would have gone berserk at the sight of this fascinating creature!  Hmmm.... I guess I kind of ignored the wordless aspect of this week's Wordless Wednesday didn't I ?!


What wild animals have you encountered in your neighborhood?  Leave a comment, I'd love to hear your Wildlife in the 'Hood story!

 



Sunday, June 15, 2014

DOGS ANTICIPTATING HEALTHY TUNA ............

I never realized just how much dogs love fish!  Then one day my husband, who is seriously fond of tuna fish sandwiches, opened up a packet of Tuna and the smell made both Isis and Phoebe lose their minds!!

A friend of ours once brought expensive smoked salmon to our New Year's Eve party but no one wanted to eat it.  No one except Isis and Phoebe that is!  They kept circling the platter just waiting for a chance to snatch some up.  The next morning I mixed all that leftover smoked salmon in with their breakfast.... shhh! don't tell our friend we gave the salmon he brought us to the dogs!   They went wild for it, gobbling it all up in seconds flat. 

So that's how we learned that our dogs LOVE FISH! Being a Siberian Husky, I can understand Isis having a thing for fish because in the arctic fish would have been the main food source. But Phoebe, a Lhasa Apso mix, loves it too.  Who knew?!

Isis is licking her lips with anticipation, knowing the sweet taste of luscious tuna will soon be hers!

Now we look for dog food and treats that contain fish.  Fish, sweet potato, and pumpkin are Isis and Phoebe's favorite ingredients of all time!  Isis can be super finicky about food, but throw some salmon, tuna, or any other kind of fish into the mix and she'll scarf it right down.  Nature's Recipe and (Dick Van Patten's) Natural Balance both make high quality dog food and treats that contain fish and sweet potato.  Nature's Recipe has a Salmon, sweet potato, and pumpkin dog food that Isis and Phoebe love.

Bag of Nature's Recipe Salmon, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin dog food - YUM!
Fish is a great source of protein and essential Omega 3 fatty acids for dogs, and is low in saturated fat.  The anti inflammatory properties of fish oils are considered to be beneficial for joints.  Fish is also beneficial for a dog's immune system.

Delicious treats from actor Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance.  Phoebe's jumping up trying to get at the treats!

Because fish has such good health benefits, we don't feel guilty about giving Isis and Phoebe fresh tuna, salmon, or swordfish every now and then.  We make sure the fish is as fresh as possible, not salted or drowning in heavy seasoning, sauces or oils.  Beware of feeding your dog raw fish though, it could contain parasites and present a choking hazard.  Cooking fish properly will kill parasites.  Small bones found in raw fish could cause choking or gastrointestinal problems.

Isis polishing off what's left in the packet of tuna my husband gave her.
 
Do your dogs like fish?  If you treat your dog to fish, what kind do they like?  Let us know by posting a comment.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Husky Lends A Hand With Father's Day Home Improvement Project

ISIS LOVES TO LEND A HAND WITH DIY PROJECTS AROUND THE HOUSE.  NEEDLESS TO SAY, HER FAVORITE BRAND OF TOOL IS...... WAIT FOR IT...... HUSKY TOOLS!!
 
 
 


WHENEVER IT'S TIME TO BUY DAD A GIFT, TOOLS ARE USUALLY A GOOD OPTION.  HE'S ALWAYS TINKERING AROUND THE HOUSE.




TODAY I'M HELPING DADDY DEMO THE BATHROOM.  WON'T MOMMY BE SURPRISED!?  OK, ENOUGH JIBBER JABBERING, I GOTTA GET TO WORK!!



HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO ALL THE WONDERFUL DADS OUT THERE!!!
LOVE & BISCUITS,
ISIS

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

How To Stop Your Dog From JUMPING UP on people!!

My girl Isis is a Siberian Husky, so I know plenty about dogs jumping up!  It's a common trait of Huskies to jump up on people.  I'm not sure why, but like many breeds it's a known fact that Huskies have a habit of jumping up.  It's a friendly gesture, all in fun, but it can be really annoying and even frightening to many people.  It took a long time for me to train that bad habit out of Isis.  Even now, I have to be vigilant to prevent her from lapsing. 

Isis trying to jump up to grab a treat!

To begin training your dog not to jump up on everyone in the free world, follow these steps:

  • As soon as your dog starts to jump up on you, pull your arms in and Turn Around, turning your back on your dog.  If he runs around to face you again, repeat the process; pull your arms in and turn away from him.

  • If you're sitting down and your dog jumps on you, quickly stand up and turn your back on him.  If he runs around to face you again, pull your arms in and turn away from him. 

  • Ideally, your dog will stop jumping on you and sit down.  Sitting down is usually a dog's default position when they don't know what else they're supposed to do.

  • If your dog is super tenacious and continues to jump up even after you continually turn your back on him, then try walking away from him.  If he follows you and tries to jump up, turn your back on him and walk away again.  In some cases, you may even need to leave the room and close the door behind you to get the message across that jumping up will result in your dog being ignored. 

  • Don't try to push your dog away or yell at him to get off you.  The act of pushing your dog and him pushing back is a form of play to your dog.  It's actually fun for him and will probably encourage even more jumping up!  Instead of pushing your dog away or pushing him off you, simply turn your back on him.  If you yell at him you've given him attention, and although it's negative attention it's still attention from you, which is what he wants.

Once your dog realizes that he won't get any attention if he jumps on you, the jumping will cease to be rewarding for him.  In the eyes of a dog, one of the worst things is to be ignored!  Even yelling at a dog is a form of attention, and to your dog it's better than being ignored.

Another method to prevent jumping is to step on your dogs leash so that he cannot jump up.  If he tries to jump up while you're stepping on his leash it won't be very effective or pleasant for him.  This is a good method to use when you're out and about and your dog is meeting new people.  Make him sit first so he's calm and wait to greet the person.  Step on his leash as he greets the person to ensure he can't jump up on them. 

I learned this helpful technique to curtail jumping up from my friend Jenna at Love Is Being Owned By A Husky:
When your dogs jumps up, walk towards him as if you're walking right into him. If you're coming towards him he will instinctively get all four paws back on the floor so he can get out of your way!  I tried it, it's pretty effective!

Phoebe mid-jump!
The most important element of success in stopping your dog from jumping up is for everyone in the household, including guests, to consistently follow this process.  If one member of the family allows the dog to continually jump up on them, it will confuse your dog.  He may not comprehend that he can only jump up on one person, not everyone else.  Consistency and a little patience will bring success.

Hopefully these tips will encourage your dog to keep All Four On The Floor!


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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: At The Park With Dad!

WOO HOO!!  Isis spent the day at the park with Daddy!!



They went down the slide in the kids playground about 50 times.  She LOVED it and was thrilled to have her Daddy ALL to herself, without her sister Phoebe.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

THREE SIMPLE ACTS Will Stamp Out Pet Overpopulation and Homelessness

As an animal shelter volunteer I witness the heartbreak of the millions of homeless pets that end up in shelters every year in the U. S.  There are far more homeless pets entering shelters each day than there are homes to adopt them.   Herculean pet adoption efforts make a tremendous difference, but there are only so many homes available to adopt the 6 -8 million homeless dogs and cats entering U.S. shelters every year that desperately need a loving home.   (Source: Humane Society)


Eliminating pet overpopulation and the massive number of homeless pets entering shelters every day IS within our reach.  I believe that THREE SIMPLE ACTS will help us accomplish this goal. 

FIRST ACT:  ALWAYS WEAR A COLLAR & UPDATED TAGS:

The First Act is the simplest, and it's a no brainer.  Your pet should never be without a collar with updated tags.  The operative word being updated.  I don't need to elaborate on this one.

SECOND ACT:  SPAY AND NEUTER OUR DOGS AND CATS: 


I’m continually amazed that despite continued efforts to convince owners to spay and neuter their dogs and cats, so many people still refuse to do it.  Even though most shelters in the U.S. offer low cost, free, and even mobile spay/neuter services, many people will not do it.  Is it culture, religion, fear, or something else that causes this resistance?  I don’t have the answer.  All I know is that:

Spaying and neutering your dog or cat will prevent the enormous number of unwanted puppies and kittens that end up in shelters every day.   People always think they will find homes for all the puppies in all the litters their unspayed dog has.  They don’t.  They end up dumping the remaining unadopted  (or unsold) puppies at a shelter.  Even if a person finds homes for all the puppies or kittens in one litter, what about all the puppies and kittens subsequently born to all their offspring?    

According to the Humane Society of the U.S., the average female dog produces 2 litters per year, each litter containing 6 – 10 puppies.  If that dog remains unspayed and breeds for six years, that’s 72 – 120 puppies born!  If that dog’s offspring also remain unspayed that could produce tens of thousands of puppies over a 6 year period!   

Neutering reduces the desire to roam the neighborhood searching for a female in heat.  Roaming contributes to dogs getting lost, hit by cars, or attacked by strange dogs they may encounter.

Neutering will reduce or eliminate the desire to urine mark and claim territory.  I don’t need to elaborate on the benefits of that!

Neutering reduces unwarranted aggression in males.  Without the compelling desire to mark, roam, and mate, there is less need to compete with other males.   Dogs will still be protective of their home and family, so don’t worry about your dog turning into a pussy cat!

According to the Humane Society, spaying and neutering can reduce several kinds of canine and feline cancers.  A healthier pet means less illness for your beloved pet and fewer vet bills for you!

Sharing these cold hard facts with family, friends, on social media, and in organizations we participate in will eventually get through.  There are many myths around spaying and neutering; check out the Humane Society’s web site for a long list of myth-busters. 

 

THIRD ACT: MICRO CHIP OUR DOGS AND CATS:


If I had a buck for every dog and cat that came into the shelter without a microchip or a collar with updated tags I’d be a mega millionaire by now.   Recently, someone brought in a black and tan puppy they had found wondering around a shopping center.  No collar and tags, no micro chip.  The puppy may have slipped out of her collar, it’s easy for a collar to get lost or break off.   This woman’s first thought was to take the puppy to the nearest shelter.  I could see that the puppy was very young and the tattoo on her belly indicated she had been spayed.  We scanned her for a micro chip but there was none.  If that beautiful puppy had been micro chipped she would have been home with her family by dinnertime instead of sitting in the shelter waiting to be adopted by someone else.  I could recount hundreds of stories just like this one, but you get the point. 

Again, beyond ensuring that our own pets are micro chipped, spread the word to others broadly and often.    One more dog or cat whose owner can be identified means one less dog or cat in a shelter.  Micro chipping costs $20 or less at a shelter and approximately $50 at the vet.  It’s tiny and takes 2 seconds to inject underneath the skin.  It’s a lot like getting a vaccination.

I firmly believe that if these Three Simple Acts are performed by all dog and cat owners it will drastically reduce pet overpopulation and homelessness.  Like they say, it takes a village.  Together we can break the vicious cycle of pet overpopulation and overloaded shelters.   What am I doing to further this cause?  I help shelter animals find loving homes by volunteering.  I educate people about the importance of their dog always wearing a collar with updated tags, micro chipping, and spay/neuter.  And, I post information and stories like this one on my blog.

Needless to say, the fewer dogs and cats that end up in shelters, the fewer will end up being euthanized. 
 
 

Tell us how you help in the fight against pet overpopulation and homelessness?
 
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Saturday, June 7, 2014

7 DOG BREEDS THAT ARE GREAT FOR APARTMENT LIVING

When they’re ready to get a dog, most people make their selection based on size, looks, and friendliness of the dog.  However, one of the most important things to consider when choosing a dog is the breed of dog.  The breed will give you a good idea of the dog’s inherent characteristics and attributes.   This is even more important when you have limited living space in an apartment.

At the shelter, I help people find a dog that fits their lifestyle.  I ask questions about their living situation such as:  Do they live in a house or apartment?  Do they have a yard?  Do they want a dog they can run/hike/bike/cross country ski with?  This gives me an idea of the type of dog that will fit their lifestyle.  Even if you’re adopting a shelter dog, the main breed of the dog is usually identified.  It might be a Pit Bull mix, a Chihuahua mix, a Golden Retriever mix.  The majority breed characteristics can still be determined and should be considered when choosing a dog to adopt.

I lived in Manhattan apartments for a few years when I was younger (a LOT younger).  New York City is a very dog friendly city, but finding the right dog to cohabitate with you in a veritable shoebox of a home isn’t always obvious.  There are a couple of important things to consider when you and your dog are going to be apartment dwellers.
 
BARKING:  You want to be sure your dog isn’t going to bark his head off all day while you’re out.  You don’t want neighbors to complain about nuisance barking.  An energetic dog stuck in an apartment may become frustrated, causing him to bark and whine all day.   In addition, some breeds are more "yappy" than others; they like to bark or howl more than others.  If you choose a dog that is known to be very vocal it could become an issue when neighboring apartments are close and the walls are thin. 
 
ACTIVITY LEVEL:  A high energy dog with no outlet may go stir crazy in a small space if he’s not well exercised every day, especially in the morning before you leave the house.  You don’t want to come home from work to find that your high energy dog has gone nuts being cooped up all day and eaten your couch out of boredom and frustration.  Dogs that don’t have a high energy level don’t require tons of exercise and may be a better choice for apartment living.  However, if you’re an apartment dweller and you get out for vigorous exercise every day with your dog than a higher energy dog might be a good fit for you.  But you have to be very diligent about adequate exercise every day.  Lots of Manhattanites run with their dogs in Central Park every day all year long.  I was SO not one of those people!  All dogs need some exercise, but high energy breeds require a LOT of exercise on a daily basis.
 
SHEDDING:   Apartment dwellers may prefer a dog that doesn’t shed too much.  When you live in a small space, it can get dirty really fast.  When guests come over, everything is usually right out there front and center, there isn’t a lot of room to hide the mess.  Unless you don’t mind vacuuming a lot and have plenty of lint brushes on hand, a low shedding dog is a good choice for apartment living.  With Isis, it basically looks like it’s snowing 3 times a year inside our house!  Phoebe on the other hand, doesn’t shed one little bit.  Ever.  She’s a Lhasa Apso/Havanese mix, or something like it.

Here are some dog breeds that don’t have high energy requirements, shed very little or not at all, and tend not to bark much.  If you live in an apartment and want to get a dog, these are good dog breeds to consider.

Japanese Chin: Recently we had a 7 year old Japanese Chin in the shelter, which is rare.  We hardly ever see them at our shelter.  A lady was considering him for adoption.  When we told her that they are quiet dogs that bark very little, she gasped with excitement!  She lived in an apartment and was very concerned about getting a dog that might bark too much.  She adopted him on the spot!  A great little companion dog, the Japanese Chin originated in ancient….. China!   They are very quiet unless they’re alerting you, for example, to someone approaching the door.  In addition, they are not high energy dogs, and therefore don’t require a lot of exercise.  They do shed once a year, but not much. 
 
 
A beautiful little Japanese Chin
Source: Wikipedia


Lhasa Apso:  Lhasa Apso’s are an ancient breed that originated in Tibet.  They were bred to be indoor dogs, although they were also bred to be little guard dogs alerting their masters to approaching intruders.  They do not bark excessively and although their coat is somewhat dense, they don’t shed much.  They don’t require a lot of exercise either.  I had a friend years ago who had a delightful Lhasa Apso.  They lived together quite happily in their small Manhattan apartment.
 

My girl Phoebe.  We think she's a Lhasa Apso and Havanese mix.


 Shih Tzu: Another ancient breed believed to have originated in China, this adorable friendly companion dog is perfect for apartment living.    This small dog doesn’t shed, will bark mainly to alert their owners of an approaching stranger at the door, and doesn’t require a lot of exercise.
 
Havanese: This charming little dog originated in Cuba and is Cuba’s national dog.  They are sweet, mellow dogs that don’t shed.  They are not a yappy dog at all, overall they’re quiet unless alerting their owners to someone approaching.   Their exercise requirements are very low as well; play in the apartment and some leisurely walks are all they need.
 
I like Big Mutts and I cannot lie………..! (MY favorite twist on Sir Mix-A-Lot’s song!)   Having a dog in an apartment doesn’t mean it has to be a small dog, there are plenty of Big Mutts that would do just fine in an apartment.  Here are just a few of them.
 
Greyhound:  I know what you’re thinking, Greyhounds are racing dogs so they must be high energy and need tons of exercise.  Not so!  They can sprint really fast but they are actually very low key, low energy dogs.  They’re also quiet and don’t bark much.  Greyhounds are a wonderful dog to rescue as well.  They can race for only a few years and often get abandoned by thoughtless owners after they can no longer race them.  They do shed, but not very much.
 
English BullDog: There are several different varieties of the breed known as Bulldog; the English Bulldog, the smaller French Bulldog, and the larger American Bulldog.  The English Bulldog is a medium sized dog with a mellow temperament.  They are pretty low energy dogs that don’t require a lot of exercise and are considered to be good family dogs.  They are moderate shedders but their short smooth coat is easy to care for.  They are definitely not yappy dogs.

English Bulldog Puppy.  Source: WikiPedia
 Standard Poodle:   This isn’t the Pfoo-Pfoo kind of poodle, Standard Poodles are the largest variety of Poodle.  They are somewhat regal and fairly low energy, although they like to take walks.  Like their smaller brethren, they do not shed.  They are also not considered to be yappy dogs.  When I lived in New York City I had a neighbor living with a gorgeous apricot colored Standard Poodle in a nearby apartment.  She was an amazing, well behaved, friendly dog.  Everyone in the building loved her and was delighted to run into her in the elevator!
 
Remember that every dog is an individual.   Breed attributes are great guidelines for the behavior of a dog, but any dog can be a product of their environment.   This list is not a finite list, there are certainly other dog breeds that also make great apartment roomies.  The important thing is to be aware of the dog’s breed attributes so you have an idea of what type of behavior traits you can expect, especially energy level and tendency to bark or howl.  Be sure to check the rules of your apartment building to see if there are any size or breed restrictions in the building.  Check out my post on 8 questions to ask if you're adopting a new dog.
 
Whether it’s a puppy or adult, with any dog you bring into your home, basic potty training, obedience training, and socialization are critical.  Put in the time for training and socialization as soon as you bring your new dog home to get started on the right paw!
 
We Want to Hear From You!  Have you had an apartment dog experience you can share?  When you’ve brought a new canine BFF (Best FurFriend Forever) into your life, what was it about that dog that made you decide to add him or her to your family?   Tell us by leaving a comment. 
 
 
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