Monday, October 10, 2011
This month is also Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, the time in which animal welfare organizations promote the many wonderful dogs in need of new families. Adopting a shelter or rescue dog not only may save one more canine life, but also brings great satisfaction to the one adding the furry friend to the household. Numerous breed rescues and animal shelters across the country have been inundated the past few years with dog relinquishments as the downturn of the economy affects households across the nation. Yet, despite the numbers of pets let at shelter doors or turned into rescue organizations as abandoned, unwanted, neglected or simply "I can no longer afford to keep my pet" animals, the staff and volunteers with these animal welfare groups continue to persevere, hosting special adoption events and fundraisers in order to continue helping pets in need.
If you've ever considered adopting a dog, this is a great time to do so! Check out http://www.petfinder.com/ or visit your local shelter or rescue organization. Not all animals turned into these groups have behavioral problems; some simply are the result of a family's misfortune, such as a job loss or mortgage foreclosure. A great many furry friends are waiting for the right person or family to discover them and give them the loving, forever home they deserve.
If you cannot adopt a dog right now, there are other things you can do during Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. Volunteer with your local shelter or rescue group: walk dogs, help with fundraising events, or help transport a dog for a rescue group. Maybe you can be a foster parent, keeping a pet for a short amount of time while its waiting for its forever family. Perhaps you can donate products the group needs, such as pet food, cat litter or cleaning supplies. Or, maybe you can donate some funds for an animal's medical expenses. Whatever you can do will certainly be appreciated by the staff and volunteers!
I have had the good fortune to adopt my animals from various groups and to assist organizations as a volunteer. My current two dogs both came from animal shelters, and the dog before them was adopted from a shelter in 1989. What joy all three of these creatures have given me! What a blessing to my life and what a deep sense of satisfaction in keeping these beautiful dogs in my home, knowing they may have been disposed of for various reasons. My dogs have been an integral part of my life, and I am so thankful shelters and rescues are out there helping animals in need!
May each of us do something this month to help dogs during Adopt a Shelter Dog Month!
Monday, October 3, 2011
My two special dogs both come from shelters, one from Montana, the other from my community's Humane Society. Both dogs have brought great joy into my life and have taught me many valuable life lessons, such as loyalty, courage, perseverance, and love.
Dogs and people have held a special bond for thousands of years. Dogs have served humankind in many capacities, from protector to bearer of burdens. Native Americans, for example, used dogs to transport loads prior to obtaining the horse. Still today, dogs serve people in a variety of ways: herding and protecting flocks; finding fowl in the field; guiding the blind; assisting deaf and wheel-chair bound individuals; rescuing lost children; and bringing smiles to those in hospital beds.
Here are some special ways dogs help people:
- Assistance dogs are specially trained to help people manage physical or emotional disabilities. Guide dogs assist the blind, deaf assistance dogs alert people to the telephone or doorbell, and assistance dogs open refrigerators and building doors for people in wheelchairs. Some even detect cancer and epileptic seizures.
- Search and rescue dogs look for the lost. From hikers and skiers to victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, these hero dogs put their health and life in the balance in the line of duty.
- Military and police dogs also put their lives on the line. From sniffing for drugs or bombs to patrol duties, these dogs serve our country in the United States and abroad.
- Visiting hospitals and nursing homes, therapy dogs bring smiles to the faces of ill children and lonely senior citizens.
- Read-to-the-dog programs are popular in many libraries across the country and help children become better readers.
- Sporting dogs, including spaniels, retrievers and pointers, help bring home dinner in the form of ducks, pheasants, and grouse.
- Herding dogs, like the Australian Shepherd and the collie, have the genetic instinct to drive and gather livestock. Some of these dogs, such as Israel’s Canaan dog, have been used for several centuries.
- A variety of dogs, including the Siberian husky and German shepherd, are part of the working breed, transporting and protecting people.
Dogs help us in many ways, including the simple acts of helping us exercise, lowering our blood pressure, and getting us to laugh and smile more often. So, honor your special pooch for his loyalty and love with an extra ounce of kibble, a special hug, or a play-day outdoors in the field. And, if you’re thinking about adding a dog to your household, October is a great time to do so.
If you can’t have a dog right now, there are still things you can do to celebrate dogs, including showing kindness and compassion to animals in need and supporting your local pet rescue and shelter organizations with donations – there is always need not just for money, but also for supplies and volunteers.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Search and rescue teams from around the country converged on the site of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon within days of the attacks. In all, nearly 400 dogs were used to search for survivors and victims. Still today, search dogs and their handlers look for and find victims of hurricanes, mud slides, earthquakes and other disasters as well as hikers lost in the wilderness or skiers overtaken by an avalanche.
Here are the names of some of the heroic canines of September 11, 2001:
Roselle - Yellow lab who guided her blind owner safely from the falling Twin Towers
Abby – a black lab from California
Guinness – a yellow lab from California
Red – a black lab from Maryland
Bailey – a black lab from Tennessee
Tara – a black lab from Massachusetts
Bretagne – a golden from Texas
Jake – black lab from Utah
Ricky – rat terrier from Washington
Jenner – black lab from Colorado
Many of these dogs served during Hurricane Katrina and have conducted other rescues as well. They devoted their lives in service to people.
Dogs are a tremendous gift to humans. In addition to search and rescue, dogs are often used as therapy, visiting nursing homes, schools, libraries and hospitals. A program called America’s VetDogs provides therapy dogs to our nation’s wounded warriors recovering in military hospitals. Known as military therapy dogs, these comforting creatures provide mental, emotional and physical well-being to our wounded soldiers “Getting out and walking the dog is huge therapy,” says one doctor. Another part of the program is to provide guide and other service dogs to soldiers who have been blinded or confined to wheelchairs. The program matches dogs with soldiers. To learn more, visit http://www.vetdogs.org/
The last full week of September is known as National Dog Week. May we pay proper honor to the dog heroes of our day, from the 9-11 service dog, to the dogs used in pet therapy, to the K-9 dog keeping our community safe, to the special four-footed friend lying at our feet.
Monday, August 8, 2011
- August is known as the Dog Days of Summer, oftentimes bringing hot, dry days. With these “Dog Days” come unique safety concerns for our pets. Here are a few tips for keeping your pets safe in the weeks remaining of summertime:
Don’t leave pets unattended in your vehicle. Cars quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, especially on warm or sunny days, even with the windows slightly open.
- Ensure your pets’ vaccinations are up-to-date and that heartworm, flea and tick medications have been administered. Summer brings out rabies-carrying creatures, such as skunks and raccoons, and fleas and ticks are abundant this time of year as well. Protect your pets! Consult your veterinarian for more information on heartworm, Lyme disease, rabies and other life-threatening diseases.
- When planning your dog’s daily walk, seriously consider early morning or later in the evening when it’s cooler. If you have to walk mid-day, take a shorter route, and remember that sidewalks can burn the pads of a dog’s paws.
- If your dog spends time outdoors in a kennel, ensure he has plenty of fresh, cool water and shelter. Rain and thunderstorms can pop up quickly, particularly in the afternoon when you may be elsewhere, such as work. And, NEVER chain or tie your dog out – lightening striking a nearby tree, heat exhaustion, dehydration and numerous insect bites are just a few of hazards posed to tethered dogs.
- For your cat’s protection, keep her indoors. Cats can be purr-fectly content indoor pets – they just need is a bit of playtime, a cat tree and other enrichment. Keeping your kitty indoors protects her from death by car, rabies from roaming creatures, and other safety issues, such as other cats and roaming dogs.
- Pesticides, weedkiller and other chemicals pose dangerous risks to pets and may even result in death. Ensure your pet cannot get into any of these hazardous products, and highly consider using organic products for your garden and yard.
- If your pet travels with you, make sure his/her ID tags are on the collar – you might even consider microchipping your pet before traveling. Also, use a leash to walk your pet for its bathroom break. One of the worst ways to ruin your vacation is to lose your pet.
- Prior to traveling, look into accommodations that accept pets. Here are a few websites that can help you plan your pet-friendly vacation: http://www.petswelcome.com/ and http://www.petsonthego.com/.
- If you don’t take your pet on vacation with you, look into hiring a reliable pet sitter. Ask friends or your vet for recommendations.
- NEVER leave your pets home alone if you’re gone for an extended period of time. Even asking friends to “drop by” to feed and water isn’t enough. Things can happen if a pet is left alone for days – running out of water, yard and house destruction, incessant barking which can result in upset neighbors – and possibly a fine to you by animal control.
- Don’t let the dog bite! Summer is the peak season for dog bites because of the increased number of children and dogs playing outdoors. Training, socialization and spaying/ neutering your dog help reduce the risk of dog bites. Also, remember to teach your children good manners around pets. To learn more about dog bites and how to prevent them, visit http://www.dog-biteprevention.com/.
May you, your family, and your pets have a safe and enjoyable rest of the summer!
Friday, July 1, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Contrary to what many people think, not all dogs swim or swim well. Dogs can and do drown. Even the best of swimmers, like Labrador retrievers, can lose their life in the water, especially a swollen, fast-moving river or stream.
In the early part of May, when rain fell and snow melted in the Rocky Mountains, a lab fell into a creek near Salt Lake City, was swept away by the cruising current and drowned. Owners need to keep their dogs on a leash when walking near racing water and keep their dogs close at hand so the animal is not as apt to fall or jump in.
Like many people, most dogs enjoy a great swim – it’s good exercise and helps alleviate some of the summer heat. However, swimming is also dangerous, especially when the water is high as it has been this year. As snows continue to melt in the higher elevations, our state’s rivers and streams may continue to pose hazards to both people and pets. So, when you’re camping, hiking or fishing this summer, keep your dog close at hand and restrained so that you control how close s/he gets to that fast-moving water.
Lakes and ponds have their own dangers, including blue-green algae, chemicals and motor oil. Take special note if you see blue-green algae or chemical pollutants in the body of water and hose off your dog or bathe it when you get home. Boating with your dog can also cause concern. Just as people should have personal floatation devices (PFDs) [and remember, children are required to wear them while in the boat!] PFDs for dogs are also available.
According to outdoor gear specialists REI, the U.S. Coast Guard does not certify canine PFDs, however, these doggie life jackets can be life savers. The device should fit snugly so your dog cannot twist, step or swim out of it, and it should have easy-release buckles and a handle so you can lift your four-legged friend out of the water if necessary.
Pools are another area of concern. If you have a pool and own a pet, again, be cautious. Make sure your dog doesn’t swallow chlorine and make sure your dog knows how to get out of the pool – be sure there are steps into and out of the pool and that your dog knows where those steps are located. Cover your pool when no one is around to keep your dog (and your children) safe.
For more information and tips on dogs and water safety, visit
http://www.everydayhealth.com/pet-health/dog-and-water-safety.aspx or talk with your veterinarian.
Monday, June 13, 2011
·Young ones require training, such as housebreaking, and a great deal of patience. Older pets often come housebroken/litter box trained, and in many cases, adult dogs have some basic obedience training, such as knowing “sit”, “stay” and “come”.
·What you see is what you get when you adopt an adult – adopting a mature pet allows you to know more about its size and temperament, whereas adopting a puppy or kitten is sometimes a guessing game when it comes to the animal’s temperament and size.
·Older pets expend less energy – often, a simple walk around the neighborhood for an older dog is sufficient, and mature cats enjoy lounging in the sun more than chasing strings or feathers. So if you’re not terribly active, an older pet might suit your lifestyle.
If you are an active person, such as a hiker or runner, your best companion could be a 2- to 5-year-old dog who is just waiting for that energetic person to help HIM expend some energy! (plus, most likely, not in need of potty training!)
·Adopting an older pet is truly a selfless act. As an animal ages, its chances of adoption grow slimmer; by giving a mature pet a home, you’re showing great compassion and empathy – and gaining a wonderful furry friend in the process!
Monday, June 6, 2011
Donate time to walk and play with dogs.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Enjoy a safe holiday weekend and don't forget to include your pets -- and a good movie or book or two!
Saturday, May 21, 2011
· Don’t leave your dog constantly kenneled or tied up in the backyard, forlorn and forgotten. Dogs need interaction and socialization; why have a pet if it’s left alone outdoors all the time? Enjoy the companionship, the energy, the loyalty dogs have – relish the devotion and fun that is part of your dog’s makeup!
· Keep your cat indoors and play with her when she seeks your attention. Although cats are often more independent than dogs, they still need their owner’s companionship and care. And, keeping your cat indoors will protect her from roaming dogs and speeding cars.
· My community of Casper has several animal welfare organizations that care for homeless pets. Most communities have rescue groups and animal welfare organizations that help pets in need. Donating your time, talent and resources goes a long way to help care for your community’s thousands of animals still waiting for their forever home.
· Your donation doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – recycling and donating your aluminum cans and newspapers, for example, is a help for many of these organizations. If you already recycle cans and newspaper, why not recycle them to the Humane Society, thereby helping care for the animals in their care? And, if you don’t recycle these items, why not start and donate them to the Humane Society? They use newspapers to line cat cages and aluminum has monetary value that can go in the organization’s coffers to buy the items necessary to run the shelter. Simply recycling your newspapers and aluminum doesn’t cost you a dime and helps bring some or save some extra dimes to help homeless pets.
· Give of your time in some way to help animal rescue groups – volunteer! Perhaps you can help at a special event once or twice a year; perhaps you can sign up to walk dogs or brush cats once a week or twice a month; maybe you have carpentry or maintenance skills and can give a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to help the organization with repairs or clean-up; perhaps a few times a year you can transport a few dogs or cats to new locations for a rescue group. Contact your local animal welfare organizations, ask where they might need an extra hand, and extend that hand of kindness to the staff and the temporary 4-footed residents under their care.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Exercise is important for our dog’s health as it is for our own, and living with a dog can help us be more diligent in our daily exercise. Many dogs, especially those of the herding and hunting breeds, need activity to keep them not only physically healthy, but also from becoming bored. Without exercise and activity, a dog can become destructive, chewing on furniture or digging up the yard or carpet. Depending upon the type and personality of your dog, a romp in the park, a few throws of the ball, a couple of chases of the Frisbee, or even a meandering around the neighborhood all add up to a healthier, happier dog. Some dogs, like the toys breeds, don’t necessarily need lots of activity; a simple walk around the block will suffice. Either way, an hour or two of playing fetch or a short jaunt around the neighborhood, adds up to a more enjoyable day for your pooch – and for yourself!
Fresh air, sunshine, fragrances of tulips, lilacs and crabapples, listening to birds singing – the great outdoors is calling to us and our dogs! Allow your dog some extra time in your fenced backyard to drink in the sights, smells, and feelings of the new season. Spend time out in that yard with your dog, enjoying your pet’s company and tossing a toy around for amusement.
Walk your dog in the park or around your neighborhood. Walking is great exercise for both human and animal, and partaking of spring’s flavorful sights and sounds stimulates the mind as well as the muscles in both you and your dog. A simple stroll or a long, leisurely walk benefits your physical and emotional health – and your dog’s as well.
Perhaps running is more your sport. Many dogs, such as labs and border collies, also benefit from a jog or run. These types of dogs need more active exercise than a short walk around the block, and the companionship you’ll share on such an outing with your dog helps cement the dog-human bond. Hook your pet’s leash to your waist and head on out there!
Casper is fortunate to have wonderful walking and running paths and great parks for playing Frisbee or throwing a ball -- as are many communities, both large and small. Enjoy these special places with your four-footed friend this spring!
Cabin fever strikes us all, and the coming of spring helps alleviate some of that by providing extra daylight, extra sunshine, and extra-stimulating fragrances. So, get outdoors with your dog and help ring in the new season of spring – you’ll both feel better for it!
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Spring does seem to be coming now in the Rockies and Great Plains, and with that season often comes allergies for many people. If you or a loved one are allergic to your pets, there are things you can do to help alleviate your symptoms. First, visit with your doctor and even your veterinarian and learn their recommendations for dealing with your allergy. However, there are some simple things that you can do to reduce symptoms if your or a family member’s allergies are simply miserable and not life-threatening:
*Create an “allergy-free” zone in your home (such as the bedroom) and strictly prohibit your pet being in that room. Consider using impermeable covers for the mattress and pillows -- allergens brought into the room on clothes and other objects can accumulate on your mattress and pillows.
*Use a high-efficiency HEPA air cleaner in the bedroom.
*Use HEPA air cleaners throughout the rest of the home as well.
*Clean frequently and thoroughly to remove dust and dander, washing things such as couch covers and pillows, curtains, and pet beds.
*Use a “microfilter” bag in the vacuum cleaner to effectively catch allergens.
*Bath your pet regularly, even as often as once a week, and use a shampoo recommended by your vet.
*Consider getting rid of carpeting and having wood or tile floors as they are easier to keep clean; also carpet collects dust mites, another allergy trigger.
According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), studies show that approximately 15 percent of Americans are allergic to dogs or cats. An estimated one-third of people who are allergic to cats live with at least one cat in their household. In a study of 341 adults who were allergic to cats or dogs and had been advised by their physicians to give up their pets, only one out of five did so. What’s more, nearly half of those folks got another pet after a previous one died. It seems, for many owners, the benefits of pet companionship outweigh the drawbacks of pet allergies.
People can be more allergic to cats than dogs or vice-versa. Experts with HSUS state that, contrary to popular belief, there are no “non-allergenic” breeds of either dogs or cats -- even hairless breeds may affect a person’s allergies. However, some dogs such as poodles, may be less irritating to people with allergies, possibly because they are bathed and groomed more frequently.
If you have or develop allergies, don’t be hasty to blame your pet; ask your doctor to specifically test you or your family member for allergies to pet dander. Also keep in mind that many who suffer with allergies can be sensitive to more than one allergen, such as dust, pollen and cigarette smoke. Allergy shots can help your symptoms but cannot eliminate them completely.
A combination of ways to deal with allergies, including medical, good housecleaning methods, and frequent grooming and bathing of your pet, can help you enjoy a furry friend in your home even if you or someone in your family deals with allergies.
For further information on coping with pet allergies, talk with your doctor and your veterinarian. You can also find more information at the following websites: