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. 


Back to school can be a challenging time for pets.  Here's how to make it easier.
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 feel some separation anxiety.

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


^ 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.  If your days are packed, extra evening walks will be appreciated by your pup!


Back to school time can be difficult for dogs too.  They may feel anxious or lonely when the kids are no longer home all day.  #backtoschool #back2school #dogs
Puzzle toys are mentally stimulating.  They help keep dogs occupied and can burn off some energy & anxiety

^ 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 puzzle toy or other interactive toy is a great distraction, and very mentally stimulating.


Keep your pets' occupied when back to school starts to prevent unwanted behaviors
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 a hike sometime during the morning to exercise and relieve anxiety or boredom and to let him know he's still an important family member!

^ 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 work from home or be a stay at home parent and you have the time, consider trying a fun new activity with your dog.  Discover a new walking or hiking trail, sign up for lunchtime agility classes, or even take some Doga (doggie yoga) classes together!

^ If extra time with the dog isn't an option, you can hire a trusted dog walker or pet sitter to give the dog some extra attention and exercise during the day.

^ Another option is to schedule some time at doggie day camp.  We have taken our dogs to PetSmart doggie day cam many times. The dogs love playing all day and they burn loads of energy!

^ Have a special treat ready for your dog or cat to give just after the kids leave the house.  Make it extra delicious, and one they only get at that time.  They'll quickly realize that the kids leaving means Treat Time!

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


When the kids are off for Back to school time it can be difficult for the family pet too!
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!


Wednesday, August 27, 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!

THIS IS A BLOGPAWS WORDLESS WEDNESDAY BLOG HOP!



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Beautiful Hike RUINED By An, IRRESONSIBLE OWNER

This post is being updated on 11/13/14 and a Blog Hop has been added:
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 no 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.
THIS IS A BLOG HOP!

Friday, August 22, 2014

MY DOG THE THERAPIST: Why Children Should Read To Dogs

Previously I published the first My Dog The Therapist segment, where I talked about How Icy Became a Therapy Dog.  Now I'll 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.

Icy 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 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.

Icy in the library Community Room, waiting for the kids reading program to start. 
 
Here are some compelling and disturbing 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.  How shocking is that?!
 
> 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.  That is a pretty scary statistic!
Fact Sources:  US Dept. of Education & US Dept. of Health & Human Services
 
Icy 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 Icy 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 Icy home and give her a nice big Kong bone filled with peanut butter or a special chew stick! 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!


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

THIS IS A WORDLESS WEDNESDAY BLOG HOP, HOSTED BY BLOGPAWS!!!

 

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!

*** THIS IS A MISCHIEF MONDAY BLOG HOP!! ***


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 !

THIS IS THE CHECK YOUR CHIP DAY BLOG HOP!!!  LYNC UP & JOIN US IN SHARING THIS IMPORTANT REMINDER!!





Thursday, August 14, 2014

MY DOG THE THERAPIST - A Therapy Dog's Tale

Have you ever wondered if your dog would make a good Therapy Dog?  Right from the start Icy had that rare gentle, sweet disposition that made her ideally suited for the Therapy Dog role she would have 2 years later.  The key attributes of a successful therapy dog are a gentle temperament, being well socialized, and solid basic obedience skills.  She inherently possessed the first quality, it was up to me to help her develop the socialization and obedience skills she would need as a Therapy Dog. 

Icy in front of the Christmas Tree at a local Nursing Home where she visits residents weekly.  I don't show photos of the residents to respect their privacy
A Therapy Dog is not a Service Dog.  Their job is mainly to offer comfort, emotional support, and smiles!  Icy just knows how to make people smile, even people who aren’t “dog people” are drawn to her.  I knew early on that becoming a therapy dog was somehow her calling, and I wanted to help her achieve that.  Dogs must be at least a year old to become a therapy dog, so when she was 18 months old Icy and I enrolled in a class to prepare us for the challenging requirements of the Pet Partners Therapy Dog evaluation.  My friend Paulette also enrolled in the class with her beautiful Keeshond, Tebow. 

Icy at a mall during her training, curiously checking out a Carousel
One day we took the dogs to an outdoor mall to practice our skills.  No sooner had we arrived at the mall when people started approaching us, asking to pet the dogs.  “Of course!” we’d say.  The dogs solicited smiles, laughter, and lots of pet parent stories in the people who stopped to visit with them.

A sad looking woman approached Icy and quietly asked to pet her.  As she stroked Icy, she began to talk about her German Shepherd, who had recently died.  As she talked, it was apparent that the loss of her dog was traumatic and she was having a terrible time dealing with it.  After petting Icy for awhile, she suddenly grabbed her and hugged her closely.  Tears rolled down the woman’s face as she spoke about how much her dog had meant to her and how terribly she missed him.  She was letting her tears and emotions out, allowing herself to be comforted by Icy.  It was truly an amazing thing to witness.  
 
She left after about 20 minutes, smiling and thanking us for letting her pet our dogs.  Paulette and I looked at each other, shocked at the sudden change in this woman’s mood from sad to bright and cheerful.  “I think we just did Therapy Dog work” I said "and we're still in training!"  It was such a great feeling knowing that interacting with our therapy-dogs-in-training helped lift this woman’s sadness, even if only for awhile.

After that, Icy laid down, emotionally drained by the experience.  Paulette and I decided it was time to take our “Therapists” home. 

Icy walking through a crowded Apple computer store during her training

Any breed or type of dog can become a therapy dog, it's really about their individual temperament and personality.  If you're interesting in learning more about becoming an animal therapy team visit the Pet Partners web site.  Therapy Dogs International (TDI) is another organization through which your pet can become a therapy animal.

Icy at a Stress Busters event at a local college where students took a break from finals to visit Therapy Dogs and unwind.  I obtained permission from the students to post event photos.
Please visit my blog post on the children’s reading programs Icy participates in and how Therapy Dogs can help children improve their reading skills!

Did you know some Puppies are Being Raised in Prison for a life of service?

Is your dog a therapy dog?  If so, please share how your dog helps people in need, by leaving a comment.  I’d love to connect with other therapy dog handlers, and organizations who utilize therapy dogs as well so please share your blog URL in a comment and let’s connect!

THIS IS A BLOG HOP!!!  HOSTED BY OUR FRIENDS RUCKUS THE ESKIE AND LOVE IS BEING OWNED BY A HUSKY

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Apparently Dogs Can Climb Trees!

In the park one day, Isis had a brilliant and daring idea.....

I THINK I CAN....

I THINK I CAN....



I'M PRETTY SURE I CAN......


I KNOW I CAN!!  I DID IT, I CAN CLIMB A TREE!!


Yippi!! You did it Isis, you are an inspirational doggie, indeed.

THIS IS A BLOG HOP, HOSTED BY OUR FRIENDS AT BLOGPAWS!!!
 
 



Monday, August 11, 2014

The Funniest Dog Video EVER Made

For today's post, I thought I'd help you start your week off with what I think is one of the funniest dog videos ever made!  The guy who created this YouTube video is so talented - and so is the dog for that matter.

The video came out a couple of years ago, but if you've never seen it before you are in for a treat and a lot of laughs!
 
I hope you enjoy The Ultimate Tease dog video!


 
 
*** THIS IS A BLOG HOP!! ***
 HOSTED BY ALFIE'S BLOG AND MY BROWN NEWFIES
 
 



Friday, August 8, 2014

Why You Should Consider Adopting A Senior Dog

**** IT's SENIOR DOG MONTH!!!  ****
I'm re-issuing this post in November, 2014 because it's Adopt A Senior Dog Month!  There are so many benefits to adopting a senior dog.

August has been designated Senior Dog month.  It's a sad fact that at shelters, as a cat or dog's age increases, the likelihood of them being adopted decreases.

One of these cuties is much older than the other one, and will likely take a lot longer to find a home.
Once they pass around 5 years of age, many potential adopters think twice about adopting a dog or cat.  Why?  There are a number of misconceptions adopters have, here are a few I have heard in my 5 years as a shelter volunteer:

She's 5 years old, she probably has health issues and her family didn't want to pay the vet bills
 
She's older already, if she doesn't have health problems now she probably will soon
 
We won't get many more years with her.  It's not worth it
 
He's too old to train, I want a dog I can train
 
He probably won't be able to love me as much as his first family, he was with them for so long
 
We really want a puppy!  We don't want an old dog
 
We want an active dog that can play with the kids in the yard.  This one won't have enough energy
 
We don't want a dog that's more than 3 years old.  I don't know, anything over 3 just seems old!

The list goes on, but you get the idea.  If a dog is more than 7 years old, we have an even more difficult time adopting them.  Not many people want to adopt a senior dog.  The 10 year old dogs we've had.... well, it's a special person that will open their home to a 10 year old dog. 

One of my absolute favorite adoptions was a 10 year old blind Daschund.  I was so worried that no one would take him.  One morning a man showed up at the shelter, he was an older military Veteran.  He had driven all the way from a city about 50 miles North of Phoenix just to adopt this dog.  He'd seen him online and said that he and his wife felt the dog "deserved to live out the last years of his life in comfort".  He didn't mind that the dog was blind, he had researched tips on living with a blind dog and how to make things easier for the dog in the home.  He didn't mind that there might be veterinary bills.  They loved Daschund's and wanted this sweet, beautiful little dog to join their Doxie pack and spend his last years with their family.  I could have KISSED that wonderful man!!  My eyes are tearing up now just thinking about that great adoption.  I'll never forget it.

My darling girl, Phoebe.  She was about 6 years old when we adopted her.  She's brought us so much joy! I can't imagine our family without her!
Don't make assumptions!   Senior shelter dogs can be the best pets!
 
Senior shelter dogs are often already house trained
 
They may be well trained in general, and possibly easier to teach new things
 
They are usually much calmer than a puppy or 1 to 3 year old, but still have plenty of energy for walks, hikes, and playtime!
 
An older shelter dog is probably just as healthy as your own dog of the same age.  Don't assume they have health problems
 
Your senior shelter dog just might outlive that shelter puppy or 1 year old dog.  You can never tell how long a dog will live.  Just like people, a dog's health is as individual as he is!
 
Senior shelter dogs are often Owner Surrenders due to divorce, death or failing health of the owner. 
 
Sometimes pets are surrendered due to extreme financial issues in their family.  We saw a lot of that during the economic downturn these last few years.  It's heartbreaking.

People sometimes forget that puppies are a TON of work, and that they are only puppies for a few months.  An older dog will bring your family just as much joy and love as a puppy.  One thing is for certain, when you adopt a senior dog you SAVE A LIFE!!

Have you adopted an older dog?  Please leave a comment and share your Senior dog's story with us!


How The LEAVE IT! Command Can Restore Harmony In Your Home

Sometimes I listen to people describe life with pets in their household and it sounds like pure chaos!  They go to great lengths to keep the dog away from the cat, the toddler, the hamster, the guests, and who knows what else, skillfully orchestrating mealtime, walks, and family time like a stealth mission.

Does this sounds like your household, or the home of someone you know?  Want to get back some sanity?  Well, let me introduce you to the all powerful LEAVE IT! command. 

The Leave It! command restored harmony in our home and enabled Isis and Maggie to co-exist peacefully
When we first got Icy she was about 14 weeks old.  She was your typical rambunctious puppy, getting into everything and curious about everything and everyone.  The everyone included Maggie, our senior cat.  Maggie was 14 years old at the time and the only pet in our home, when this bull-in-a-china-shop puppy came barreling into her peaceful life.  Needless to say, Maggie was NOT amused.

Icy was enthralled with Maggie from the moment she laid eyes on her.  All she wanted was to play with the little furry toy that  moved all by itself!  She wouldn't leave poor Maggie alone.  Icy was getting bigger by the day and things quickly spiraled out of control.  They couldn't be in the same room without Isis desperately trying to chase after Maggie and Maggie running away from her like a bat out of hell. 

All we wanted was for Icy and Maggie to co-exist peacefully.  We wanted to watch TV in the family room together without Icy bothering Maggie.  Was that too much to ask?  Our PetSmart trainer, Ricky, introduced us to the Leave It! command and it changed our lives!  It took time and effort, but we finally got to the point where Icy would leave Maggie alone.  The first time we all sat in the living room together watching TV, with Maggie on the couch and Icy laying peacefully on the floor beneath her was a joyous moment indeed!  From then on we all lived happily & peacefully together.  What a relief!

The Leave It! command can useful in getting your dog to leave another pet alone, such as a cat or hamster, leave your children alone, and not lunge at guests when they enter your home.   It's useful when food drops on the floor, if your dog spies something unsavory in the street, or if they spot a squirrel or other animal in the yard or another dog on a walk.  There are so many reasons to teach your dog to Leave It!  This is what makes Leave It! one of my favorite and most useful obedience commands.

Tell us how the Leave It! command has helped your dog.  If you haven't taught it to your dog yet, could the Leave It! command help you restore some peace in your home?  Leave us a comment, we always want to know what you think!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dog, You're Hired!!

Apparently, Isis has gotten a job at PetSmart.  Now she can contribute some money towards all those expensive treats she like so much!


Isis wants to work at PetSmart, one of her favorite places!
We were dropping Isis off at PetSmart for daycamp one day, when she just up & ran behind the counter like she worked there!  We quickly snapped this photo.

*** THIS IS A BLOGPAWS BLOG HOP!!! ***

Monday, August 4, 2014

DOG TRAINING TIP: An Emergency Recall Can Save Your Dog's Life

How many times a day do you call your dog?  "Here, Phoebe!"  "Phoebe, come!"  You call them when it's mealtime, you call them to go for a walk or get in the car, you call them back to you when they're off leash, you call them to stop tip toeing through your flowers or to come sit with you on the couch.  "Phoebe come back here, get away from those flowers!"


After awhile your everyday recall command may lose it's sense of urgency.  In an urgent scenario, your daily "Come" command may not be strong enough.  Let's say an irresistible squirrel is perched on your front lawn, taunting your poor dog.  As you open the door to retrieve the mail, your dog door dashes and lays chase!  The offending squirrel then dashes across the street with your precious pooch in hot pursuit, just as a car is careening down your street!  You call him to you frantically, but your dog has tuned you and your boring "Come!" command out.  It's a disaster in the making.

For situations like that, it's critical to have an Emergency Recall Command in addition to your everyday Come! recall command.  The difference is that your Emergency Recall Command is a command reserved for more extreme situations like a speeding car or a vicious dog approaching.  My Emergency Recall Command for Icy and Phoebe is  "DANGER, DANGER!!".  Whatever my dogs are doing, wherever they happen to be they stop and immediately come running.  Why?  Because they know that along with those two magical words comes delicious.... BACON!  It is the only time my dogs ever get bacon or bacon flavored anything.   That makes bacon their most highly valued treat.   They come running because they never know when they might ever get that delicious bacon again.

video

Icy is enthralled with whatever lurks behind the garage.  Don't ask me why, personally I think it's kind of gross back there.  She is always reluctant to come out, and sometimes I need to call her a couple of times before she'll emerge.  It's a great opportunity to practice our Emergency Recall Command.  In this video, watch how she responds to my Emergency Recall.

I never use the Emergency Recall Command unless I'm reinforcing that training, and of course if there's an urgent situation.  Thankfully, I only had an urgent situation once, when Icy got loose as I dropped her off for boarding.  In a nano-second, she ran and was barreling towards the door and the parking lot!  I quickly yelled "DANGER, DANGER!!", stopping Icy in her tracks, sending her running back toward me. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and nearly bit off the head of the poor employee for letting her slip out of his grasp.

Training your dog to respond to an Emergency Recall Command is just like teaching any other command.  Find one thing you can use as a super high value reward that you will only use for Emergency Recall. A treat, a toy, whatever will seriously float your dog's boat

A solid Emergency Recall command could save your dog's life some day. #dogtraining

Your command can be anything at all.  Just make it a unique word or phrase you won't use for anything else, and one your dog isn't likely to hear from other people.  It should be short, one or two words.  Say your Emergency Recall Command and immediately reward your dog with the high value reward you've chosen.  Do this a number of times until your dog gets it.  Continue practicing in various places where there are distractions.  Once it's solid, continue to reinforce it every now and then to ensure he remembers it.  Don't practice too often, keep it special and unique.

Does your dog have an Emergency Recall Command? What do you think about having an Emergency Recall Command, separate from your daily Come command?  Leave us a comment, we always want to hear your thoughts!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Offering Incentives For Adoptions; Great Idea or Potential Disaster?

Lately I've been hearing about shelters offering incentives to staff and volunteers based on the number of adoptions they make.  Could this be a great way to find homes for more shelter animals, or would it foster unhealthy competition among shelter workers?

Here's my take on it.  As a shelter volunteer my main role is adoption counseling.  READ: Adoption Counseling.  I endeavor to make a good match between a homeless dog or cat and a potential adopter. It doesn't need to be the most perfect match, I'm not sure perfect matches even exist.  But a good match, a responsible match, can and should be made for the good of the animal and the adopter.

Isis playing ball.  Believe me, Siberian Huskies are NOT for everyone! The few times we've had them at the shelter, I've thoroughly discussed the challenges with potential adopters!
Personally, I don't need "incentives" to do the right thing by the cats and dogs in my care.  I worry that if incentives are offered based on the number of adoptions made, some shelter staff or volunteers will feel compelled to become pushy with adopters in an attempt to rack up adoptions.  In doing so they may lose site of the need to make a good match between pet and adopter.  Pet adoption should not be about pushing dogs and cats out the door like cattle.  The attributes and lifestyle needs of both the animal and the potential adopter should be considered.

Shelters are increasingly under pressure from the communities they serve to increase adoptions and eliminate euthanasia.  These are worthy goals, but when shelters start thinking about finding homes for the animals in their care as largely a numbers game it concerns me.  If a shelter Director pulls her staff and volunteers together for a meeting and talks about how she wants everyone to increase their weekly adoptions, then offers incentives for doing so, that is worrisome.  What's  next, adoption quotas?  Doesn't it remind you of the sleazy used car salesman cliché?

Phoebe doing her movie star pose.  I adopted her from the shelter I volunteer at.  If an adopter is looking for a dog to go running with, lazy Phoebe would NOT be a good choice!
Poor adoption matches are likely to result in more pets being returned.  In my experience, once the Kennel card shows "Returned" as an animal's status, it often frightens people away.  They assume the dog or cat was returned to the shelter because of some horrible infraction they must have committed in their new home.   In addition, making a poor adoption match can cause a shelter to lose that person's trust.  If you lose their trust you lose them as a supporter of the shelter and as a future adopter.  One bad adoption experience will travel far by word of mouth.  Add social media to that and it will travel exponentially further and could damage the positive public opinion a shelter worked hard to earn.

This gorgeous, friendly dog was Big, Powerful, and super Energetic!  He'd be a great dog for many individuals or families, but may not be the best choice for every lifestyle.
As for me, I would not agree to play a numbers game.  The canine and feline lives entrusted to us are far too precious to let statistics get in the way of finding them a good, loving home.  The right home.

What is your opinion on shelters offering incentives to staff or volunteers based on the number of adoptions they make?  Has anyone experienced this type of model in a shelter or rescue, and if so what was the impact on adoptions, returns, and public opinion?  Please leave a comment and weigh in on this concept, I'd like to know what you all think!

********* THIS IS A BLOG HOP!!!  *******