Wellness: Healthy Living
Let’s start with some tough truths. “Non-allergic” or hypo-allergenic dogs do not exist (sorry, Bo Obama). You can’t eliminate dog’s allergens with special shampoos, topical sprays or oral agents. And there’s little evidence steam-cleaning carpets and upholstery helps control pet allergies.
That’s the myth-busting word from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). But all is not lost. ACAAI offers a few research-based suggestions for reducing pet allergen levels in the home.
Replace carpeting with hardwood, stone or tile. Carpeted floors act like big sponges that hold a hodgepodge of dust and allergens.
Limit or remove fabric-upholstered furniture and curtains. You want smooth surfaces from which you can wipe away allergens.
Wash bedding and curtains in one of three ways—in water at least 140°F with one rinse; at any temperature with two rinses; or in a steam-washing machine.
Use tightly woven protective coverings (with openings less than 4 microns) on mattresses, box springs and pillows.
Don’t groom pets in your home.
But before you do anything, be sure to accurately diagnose the problem. “I can’t tell you how many times I see patients who assume they’re allergic to a cat or dog and they get rid of it. Then we do the allergy testing and discover it wasn’t the animal,” says Dr. James L. Sublett, a practicing allergist in Louisville. “It’s unfortunate when you see that happen.”
Find a board-certified allergist at www.allergyandasthmarelief.org.
Dog's Life: Humane
In the lush green guatemalan countryside, near a village named Sumpango, a small shelter takes in injured, starving, sick and abandoned dogs, rehabilitates them and tries to find them homes. Operated by Animal Welfare Association: Rescue/Education (AWARE), the shelter—referred to as Hound Heights—perches on a ridge 7,500 feet above sea level, a peaceful location far removed from the teeming streets and garbage dumps from which many of the dogs are rescued.
AWARE—founded in 1998 by Xenii Nielsen, Gina Illescas and Pamela Hirst-Prins and now overseen by Nielsen and her husband,Martin Leadbitter—runs on a shoestring and is funded completely through private donations.With 250 resident dogs, many of whom will never find homes, the shelter does an amazingly good job of making sure the dogs are well fed and cared for. The shelter is also responsible for the spay/neuter of more than 2,000 animals in the past three years—quite a feat when you realize that its annual operating budget is less than $30,000. A donation to AWARE goes a long way; for instance, $100 will spay seven dogs or build a simple dog enclosure.
AWARE connects with a tight network of people in the U.S. and Guatemala who work tirelessly to get adoptable puppies out of the country—an “underground railroad” of sorts. They quarantine, inoculate, and spay/neuter the dogs; do the paperwork and get it approved by a vet and the American Embassy; and several times a year, buy a few lucky pups one-way plane tickets to a better life in the United States. This issue’s cover dog, Charlie, is one of those fortunate canines.
There might not be a perfect solution to the homeless dog problem in Guatemala, but dedicated people are working hard to save the country’s lost dogs. To learn more about AWARE and how to donate or volunteer, go to animalaware.org. Or email AnimalAwareUSA@yahoo.com for more information.
Notable second acts: Lydia Best
From corporate executive to dog walker is an unusual career trajectory, but Lydia Best doesn’t regret a moment of it. As director of recruiting for several IT consulting firms, Best logged thousands of miles of travel a year, which kept her from adding a dog to her life, as she and her husband— who was also a well-traveled citizen of corporate America— were so rarely home. Tired of being dogless, she changed jobs and adopted Daisy, an English Bulldog. When travel threatened in her new job, she decided it was time to quit altogether and consider what she wanted to do with her life. In 2000, she traded her Ann Taylor wardrobe for more casual wear—“You should have seen my husband’s face when I told him his six-figure-executive wife was going to pick up dog poop for a living”—and now, almost eight years later, her company, Everything and the Dog, coordinates the work of 78 independent contractors providing services to more than 1,600 active northern Virginia clients. Pet sitting and dog walking are on the menu, as are errandrunning (grocery store runs, dry cleaning drop-offs, etc.) and concierge assistance (reservations, vacation planning). Everything and the Dog is a family affair—Best’s mother is her office manager and her mother-in-law is one of the dog walkers. Completing the trifecta, her husband quit his corporate job and is now the company’s private chef, adding party planning and hosting as well as in-home chef services to the list. Best says she feels very fortunate that she gets to make a living doing something she loves, plus be with Daisy all day.
Dog's Life: Travel
Antlers, Vail, Colo. Known for its stunning scenery and miles of dog-friendly trails, the Rocky Mountains around Vail, Colo., come alive in fall with glorious views of golden aspen trees. Book a stay at the Antlers at Vail hotel, a dogwelcoming and noted “Green Business,” which is offering reduced-rate stays in condominium suites complete with kitchens, fireplaces and spacious amenities.
Recommended dog treks include ones to Wheeler and Pitkins Lakes. Area festivals include an Oktoberfest and Vail’s Restaurant Month (Sept. 20 – Oct. 17).
The Inn at Restful Paws, Sturbridge, Mass. This charming, doginviting inn, only 60 miles away from Boston, is situated on over 31 acres with amenities that include groomed walking trails and dog play areas located throughout the property. Dog guests might also enjoy doing laps at Rosie B’s bone-shaped indoor swimming spa.
Recommended treks include nearby Brimfield State Forest and Wells State Park for hiking and woodland adventures. Festivals include a Harvest Festival at Charlton Orchards Farm & Winery, founded in 1733.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Although once nearly eradicated in developed countries, bedbugs are on the rise. These tiny bloodsuckers don’t transmit diseases, but can leave itchy welts on you and your warm-blooded pets. It’s important to routinely check any place you or your pets sleep for the telltale dark stains of bedbug activity.
Dogs aren’t taking this bedbug business lying down, either. Some companies are training dogs to be the ultimate pest detectors. With their sensitive noses, dogs can sniff out a single bedbug, and even tell live bugs from harmless dead ones, helping pest control specialists work more quickly and use less pesticide.
If you suspect a bedbug infestation, contact your pest control specialist. Pets are especially at risk from the long-lasting pesticides used to kill bedbugs, but certain chemicals, such as pyrethrin, may be safe when used correctly, and a handful of companies do offer non-toxic solutions to the bedbug problem.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Kit’s Corner - Our resident canine tastemaker shares her latest delights.
A. The Canine Foot Bath makes cleaning Kit’s dainty paws a breeze: insert, swish, remove, dry and voila! $9.95
B. Water-wicking microfiber and gentle rubber massage bristles: what more could one dog ask for? Plus, a percentage of the Scrubby Towel’s purchase price goes to the ASPCA. $18.99
C. Baths are low on Kit’s priority list, so for a quick clean up, Opie & Dixie’s rosehips dry shampoo and conditioning mist does the trick. Certified organic plus 100% vegan. From $8.95
D. Early autumn picnics are warmer (and drier) with a Mambe waterproof pet blanket to roll around on great protection for beds and furniture too. From $49
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