Home
JoAnna Lou

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Anatolian Shepherd Transforms a U.K. Boy's Life
Kid and dog help each other through their special bond

When Will Howkins adopted Haatchi, a three-legged dog, he had no idea the impact the Anatolian Shepherd would have on his family. Will's son Owen has Schwartz-Jampel syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes his muscles to be constantly tense. When it was time for Owen to start school, he quickly realized that he was different from the other kids and became scared to leave the house and afraid to talk to other people.

Haatchi also had a rough start to life. The poor pup had his leg and tail amputated after being tied to a railway line and hit by a train. The RSPCA and UK German Shepherd Rescue struggled to find the handicapped dog a new home, but Will came to the rescue after reading about Haatchi's plight on Facebook.

As soon as Haatchi came home, Owen and the dog were inseparable. Even more, Owen went from being scared of strangers to wanting to talk to everyone about Haatchi. He even wanted to leave the house all the time to attend pet shows. Owen also feels differently about his syndrome after seeing Haatchi take his “medicine,” a mix of honey, salmon oil, and supplements.

Haatchi's positive influence on Owen earned him the Animal of the Year award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Now the Anatolian Shepherd will be sharing his gift with others. Haatchi just completed his therapy dog certification and the family plans to bring him to visit amputee soldiers and terminally-ill children.  

It's such an amazing story that Owen's father was willing to adopt a three-legged dog and is now sharing Haatchi's gift with others in need.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Tagging Cars for Lost Pets
Lost Dogs Illinois comes up with a creative way to get the word out

When a dog is lost, there are only so many places where you can post fliers to get the word out. That conundrum is exactly what makes Lost Dogs Illinois' latest idea particularly brilliant. Some of the organization's members have been "tagging" their cars by using paint pens to write lost pet information on the windows, similar to what students do to celebrate graduation or homecoming events.

It's the perfect way to reach a wide audience to help get a lot dog home.  The paint pens can be purchased at most big box stores, like Walmart, or craft stores.

Instead of car tagging, you can also post a flier on the inside of the back windows or affix a sign to the car itself using tape or magnets. Whichever method you choose, be sure to check with your local police department because writing on car windows or hanging signs is illegal in some areas.

Do you have any creative ideas for getting the word out about lost pets?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Magazine Features Rescue Pups
Town & Country includes twelve shelter dogs in their fashion spread

Last week I wrote about the increasing popularity of pet adoption, with homeless dogs regularly featured on television and increasing numbers of celebrities promoting rescue. Now highbrow magazine Town & Country is joining the cause. Their November issue features models posing with twelve rescue dogs from the Humane Society of New York. The fashion spread, shot by famed photographer Elliott Erwitt in Manhattan’s Central Park, highlights a variety of dogs from a tiny Wirehaired Dachshund mix named Hope to a oversized Great Dane named Bellini.

Elliott was the perfect photographer for the job, having photographed many humans and dogs over the years. He's also supplied the pictures to fill four canine photography books.  

I love that this fashion spread worked towards a positive outcome on multiple levels. Not only does Town & Country's November issue create widespread awareness for adoption, but all twelve featured pups have already found forever homes!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Double Leash Tangles Lost Dogs
Golden Retriever breaks free and leads the way to his brother

I've been fortunate that none of my pets have ever run away from home.  I would be unbelievably panicked if one dog was lost, so I can only imagine the heart attack Penny Blackwell was having when both of her Golden Retrievers disappeared from her yard last month in Sandwich, Mass.  Complicating matters, the two dogs were attached together by a double leash, making it harder to escape any danger they might encounter.

Penny plastered the neighborhood with fliers, organized group searches, and spread alerts on Facebook, but Bailey and Baxter were nowhere to be found.  After two weeks, Penny was just about to give up hope when a friend found Bailey after seeing her Facebook post.

Once Baxter and Penny were reunited, Baxter led her into the woods and directly back to Bailey, who was tangled in the forest.  Bailey was so excited to see Penny that she could barely get him free.  It turns out that the double leash  became intertwined in the brush, trapping the dogs for weeks.  Thankfully Baxter was eventually able to break out to get help and is certainly a hero for going back to find Bailey.  Miraculously both were in good condition despite losing nearly 10 pounds.

In the past I've been tempted to get something like a double leash that would make it easier to walk both of my dogs tangle free.  But after hearing about Bailey and Baxter, I think I'll just stick with two regular leashes.  It wasn't clear from the story whether the two Goldens were supervised when they escaped, but there's always the potential to drop a leash by accident.  Any lead or collar can get stuck on something, but a double leash would definitely make it harder to navigate busy roads or outrun a predator.  

What has been your experience with double leashes? 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
New Royal Rescue
The Duchess of Cornwall adopts her second Jack Russell

I always knew that rescue dogs were special and, having recently added my first shelter pup to the family, I've become more aware of the joys of adopting. Rescuing animals has become more popular and mainstream in recent years, perhaps due in part to the many celebrities who've done a great job of promoting pet adoption.  

In the U.K., Queen Elizabeth is well known for her pedigreed Corgis, but I was delighted to learn about some of the royal pups with more humble beginnings.  

Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, just adopted her second Jack Russell Terrier earlier this month. 9-week old Bluebell joins 1-year old Beth, a dog that Camilla also rescued as a puppy from the Battersea Dogs and Cat Home in England.    

Bluebell was found by the rescue group in a local park, scared and suffering from a severe skin condition. Now the puppy is healthy and happy in her new home at the Clarence House, also the former residence of Queen Elizabeth and her Corgis.

I love that Bluebell found a loving home and that Camilla chose to go the rescue route for a second time. I'm sure her choice will influence others in England to adopt!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Strong Bond Takes a Pup Miles from Home
Husky travels over two miles to find his person at the hospital
When John Dolan was admitted to New York's Good Samaritan Medical Center earlier this month, his Husky, Zander, started whining and moping around the house. After a few days, the 7-year old dog went missing. It wasn't unusual for the furry escape artist to slip out the back door unnoticed, but John's family was shocked to find Zander at the hospital.

Incredibly, the Husky traveled over two miles, under a major road and across a four-lane highway to find John, in an area of town the dog had never visited. A hospital employee found Zander across the street from the hospital and informed a very surprised John. The dog has been like a child to John ever since he adopted the pup five years ago from a local shelter. This adventure clearly shows the special relationship that they have.

Every now and then I hear about these amazing dogs who find their families, miles away from home. We may never know how these brave pups do it, but it's certainly a testament to the human canine bond.

I'm also glad that Zander wasn't hurt making such a dangerous journey. Back in July I wrote about hospitals that allow patients' pets to visit. If the Good Samaritan Medical Center added a similar program, Zander wouldn't have had to escape in order to see John. It would certainly make many happy canines and humans!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Mirror Method Comes to the U.S.
The trainer behind the viral videos opens a school in Texas

In 2010, two videos featuring a group of Hungarian dogs decorating a Christmas tree and setting up a beach scene took the internet by storm. These impressive pups not only wowed us with their abilities, but they also introduced the world to the Mirror Method.

The idea behind this approach is that our pets are a reflection of us—our training abilities and the relationship we have with them. So often the dogs get blamed for behavioral problems when it’s our job to us to teach them.

There are three parts of the Mirror Method—leadership (being a “parent” figure and setting rules), training (using reinforcement based methods), and lifestyle (providing enough physical and mental exercise). None of it is necessarily groundbreaking on its own, but put together the Mirror Method is a powerful way of looking at training—not just solving a single behavior problem, but looking at the whole picture.

After the videos made the internet rounds, many people wondered how they could train their dogs using the same techniques.

Fortunately (or at least for some lucky pups in Texas), the lead trainer behind the videos is bringing the training philosophy to the United States. Nora Vamosi-Nagy just opened the Mirror Method’s first school in Athens, Texas, which will begin classes later this month.

One of the most interesting things about Mirror Method classes is that they’re all conducted off leash. Nora believes that the dog’s behavior, without restrictions, provides immediate feedback on the relationship and respect between the dogs and people in the room.

Should be an unique experience for the first U.S. Mirror Method graduates… if only I lives a little closer to Texas!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Facebook Dogs
Increase in animal lovers creating social media accounts for their pets

Although a lot of people complain about Facebook, I don’t know what I’d do without the infamous social networking web site. It lets me connect with busy friends, keep up with family across the world, and stay up-to-date on my dog sport pals’ latest accomplishments. Both of my pups even have their own Facebook profiles, which I use to tag them in photos and post tongue-in-cheek updates about eating Kongs and traveling to agility class.

While pet profiles aren’t technically allowed, I figure, if my friends’ babies can have profiles, why can’t my dogs. After all, they are my children! However, my pups’ online jaunts may soon come to an end. Now that Facebook is publicly traded, the company is cracking down on millions of non-human accounts.

Nonetheless, a study by pet insurer Petplan found that seven percent of British dog people set up a Facebook page for their pups, a 36 percent increase from last year.

The ban doesn’t mean that Facebook is not animal friendly. People can set up pet pages in the form of a fan page, which is what Mark Zuckerberg set up for his Puli, Beast, who is “liked” by over one million Facebook users.

If you want to be proactive about your pets’ profiles, Facebook has instructions on how to convert them to a fan page.

Does your pup have a social media account?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Postponing Their Wedding to Save a Dog
Couple gives up their nuptials to pay for their pup’s medical bills

Recently my Sheltie, Nemo, had to get three emergency surgeries in the span of one week. Needless to say, he is lucky to be alive and I am amazed at the advances in veterinary technology. The operations also left me with quite the veterinary bill. I was fortunate to have the money saved, but it really left me thinking of how important it is to be financially prepared for these kinds of emergency.

So I felt complete sympathy when I heard about a Florida couple who postponed their wedding for a second time to use the money for their dog’s life-saving operation. Melanie Cannon and Eddie Hanna adopted Koda, a Pit Bull mix, just six months ago from the Halifax Humane Society in Volusia County, Florida. But last month they found out that Koda had a liver shunt, the worst their veterinarian had ever seen.

Melanie and Eddie had pet insurance for Koda, but after their claim was rejected, the couple forfeited their wedding deposits and used the money saved to pay for Koda’s medical care. This was actually the second time the couple had to postpone their wedding. Last October, Melanie’s grandmother passed away a week before their wedding date. None of the vendors refunded their money, so Melanie and Eddie were forced to save up for a second time.

When the Halifax Humane Society heard about what Melanie and Eddie did for Koda, they were determined to put on a wedding for the couple. The animal shelter approached local companies and soon had a catering company, reception hall, music, and flowers lined up for the special day.  

Even better, Koda made a full recovery and attended the wedding held earlier this month.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Groupon Helps a Dog in Need
Popular deal web site raises money to buy prosthetic boots for a pup

Deal web site Groupon revolutionized how people save money and find new local businesses to try. I’ve used these vouchers on frozen yogurt, pet supplies, and even a horseback ride. Although people go to Groupon to get more for their money, a new initiative called Groupon Grassroots is getting deal buyers to donate money to a good cause.

One of the latest Grassroots deals raised money to buy Pirelli, a 7-month old Golden Retriever/Labrador mix, a set of prosthetic boots. The poor pup was born without a back left paw and will continue to need new boots as he grows. Eventually the goal is to give Pirelli a surgically implanted prosthesis.

Users were given the opportunity to donate $10 to Pirelli and Canine Assistants with donation matching. Over 340 deals were purchased, raising over $7,000.

Pirelli is training to be the spokesdog for Canine Assistants, which trains and places service dogs. Pirelli will visit schools and teach children about disabilities. I’m always inspired by the enthusiasm animals have, living life to the fullest no matter what comes their way. Pirelli will surely have a positive impact on every kid he meets.  

Pages