Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saluting Service Dogs

The 10th anniversaray of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks approaches us. Most of us know where we were on that day, at that hour and we won't forget the sights, scenes, smells and stories that came from that awful day. Neither will those who handled search and rescue dogs at the scenes in New York City and the Pentagon.

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

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

Dog Days of Summer

  • 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: and

  • 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

May you, your family, and your pets have a safe and enjoyable rest of the summer!