I just spent $400 for an ultrasound on my rescue Shepherd mix, whom we’ve had for five of his six years. Last year, we had baseline lab tests run and discovered that he had slightly elevated liver enzymes. This year, when the tests were rerun, they showed higher enzyme levels and mild chronic liver and renal failure.
The vet and I narrowed the cause down to one culprit: the chicken jerky treats we fed him every day. Although the treats are labeled “Made in America,” they are actually made in China and lab-tested in America. The vet said to immediately stop giving him these treats; he also said they’ve seen a large increase in medical issues (up to and including death) due to these made-in-China treats.
I would like stores to stop carrying all food products made in China, although I know this isn’t possible. But at the very least, because companies seem to hide the place of manufacture in very small print, warnings should be printed on packages that explain the risks of feeding these treats to our pets.
Had we not had a wellness-panel run, our beloved dog would have succumbed to liver and renal failure. I now wonder if the same product didn’t contribute to the deaths of our last two rescue dogs.
Petfinder.com, which was actually owned by Discovery, was just purchased by Nestle Purina. What this means to this important online pet adoption service is anyone's guess. Hopefully, Purina will put more of its vast resources into improving its functionality, something that I had noticed needed some "fixing up" for quite some time. I have heard from a few rescue groups that the process to get "accepted" by Petfinder can be a very long process. Perhaps this might speed it up, which would be a good thing. But it will also be interestng to see how Petfinder's source of "metadata" might be used by this new parent company. What do you think of this?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Effective Jan. 1, pet stores will be on the hook for sick animals
Last weekend, Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation making Illinois the 21st state to have a "puppy lemon law." The original bill was sparked, in part, by a distemper outbreak that resulted in the deaths of several puppies in at least two Chicago area pet stores last year. Supporters hope that the law will encourage pet stores to maintain a higher standard of health and protect people who inadvertently buy sick animals. A secondary goal is to make selling puppy mill pets a less desirable business model, encouraging stores to stop selling animals. Illinois' law, which takes effect January 1st, will allow people to receive reimbursement for veterinary costs up to 21 days after purchase if the animal was sick at the time of sale and one year after purchase if a genetic condition is discovered. If a pet dies within 21 days, the store must provide a full refund of the purchase price. The law also requires pet stores to report disease outbreaks to the state Department of Agriculture and inform customers who purchased a dog or cat within two weeks of the outbreak. I think Illinois' new law, and other states' "puppy lemon laws" are a step in the right direction, however, the penalties are too limited to force pet stores or puppy mills to care about the health of their animals. Most states only cover veterinary costs up to the price of the pet (typically under $3,000, and we all know vet care can easily exceed that number). It's also common to allow stores to replace a sick animal with a healthy one. This doesn't make a lot of sense since no one wants to return a pet that they've already become attached to and no one would want to get another pet from a store with sick animals. This just highlights the struggle in dealing with stores that view animals as merchandise. I was happy to see Illinois' one year policy on genetic conditions. They are the only state with such a provision. Since many puppy mill dogs end up with genetic illnesses (though many develop after one year of age), I hope more states will follow suit.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
The Obamas welcome Sunny
If you’re famous, it’s news if you eat out, if you change your hairstyle and when you actually do something important. So, for the likes of Carrie Underwood, Tim Tebow, Hilary Swank and Mark Zuckerberg, acquiring new dogs has meant that stories and photos of their new dogs show up in the news. Barack Obama and his family are in the news all the time, of course, but there’s been a burst of activity about their dog since they welcomed Sunny into their family a few days ago.
Michelle Obama tweeted the news with a simple, “So excited to introduce the newest member of the Obama family—our puppy, Sunny!” Unlike Bo who truly was a puppy when he joined the Obama family, Sunny is technically an adolescent at 14-months of age, but I understand the general use of the term “puppy” for dogs of all ages. Both dogs are Portuguese Water Dogs.
Like Bo, Sunny was purchased from a breeder, which is a disappointment to many, including people at The Bark. The Obamas missed an opportunity to rescue or adopt a dog, which would likely have had a huge ripple affect and done so much to help many dogs find their way into the hearts and homes of loving families. As they did with Bo, they donated to a local Humane Society in honor of Sunny.
She’s a beautiful dog and I hope Sunny and Bo continue to entertain us with their joyful play sessions and tender moments with the Obama family. Personally, I am thrilled that they have each other for canine company, which I think is so valuable whether you’re living at The White House or not.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Boy, did I misread the situation!
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to be really wrong about something. I’m not someone who always needs to be right, which is lucky, because I was amusingly off the mark this time.
We have several different mail carriers for the route on which I live, including some regular substitutes. I recognize them all, though our interactions are limited to the hello, how-are-you, and thank you sort of exchanges. Then, a little while back, I noticed that one of the mailmen was acting a bit odd around me. He hesitated when he saw me, sometimes looked down avoiding eye contact, and generally seemed a bit uncomfortable. He sometimes seemed embarrassed, but he also seemed to be staring at me in his mirror if I came out to get the mail after he passed.
I tried to convince myself that I was imagining it, but that didn’t work. I’m a trained behaviorist as well as a very social member of society, and something just wasn’t quite right. He seemed more interested in me than was appropriate, and he certainly knew where I lived. It was making me feel very uncomfortable.
Finally, one day when I was outside cooling down after a run, he pulled the mail truck over by where I was, looked right at me, and said, “Karen, I have a question for you.” I waited, feeling sure that this would not be good.
Then, he said, “Do you work with dogs?” When I said that I was a behaviorist and trainer, he asked if I would mind if he asked me a question, to which I agreed. The question was about a dog in his family who was very friendly, but who jumped up a lot during greetings, especially when anybody came through the front door. We talked for a bit about what he could do to change the dog’s behavior, and in the next week or two, we checked in about the dog’s progress, which was rapid.
From the day he asked me about the dog, our interactions returned to being normal—friendly and relaxed. Here I thought something sinister was going on, when he simply wanted to ask me about his dog, but clearly felt unsure about whether he should. (It’s surely the case that because they see the sort of mail we receive, all of our mail carriers know way more about us than we know about them!)
He knew he needed help, but seemed unsure about asking for it from someone on his route. I love that he wanted to improve his dog’s behavior and I love that his dog is doing so well. Most of all, I love that I was so spectacularly wrong.
A Video Pick of the Week
I was rereading John Pilley’s Chaser, a must-read book about his dog, Chaser, the Border Collie who learned to distinguish over 1000 words. One of the aspects of the book I really enjoyed was his appreciation for Border Collie lore, with a nod to others, like Arthur Allen, the “grandfather of Border Collies,” who wrote the seminal Border Collies in America and went on to “star” in a 1955 Disney movie, Arizona Sheepdog. Pilley mentioned that it’s now available on YouTube, so I just watched it and want to recommend it to every dog lover. It’s my video “pick” of the week!
Granted it is a “staged” Disney film but what Nick and Rock, Allen’s dogs do on this film cannot be directed. It was stunning to see how Nick herds a Navajo child’s pet chipmunk and then goes on to rescue sheep that have fallen into a fast moving river. These are amazing dogs who demonstrate that not only can they problem solve without supervision but they also work cooperatively with each other. This short film is a testament to Allen who has said, “I like a dog that is an individualist; one who thinks for himself and will act without orders.” As the film narrator says, Allen had no doubt that Nick would do his job and bring the sheep back to their flock. That is what they expected he would do and he did it. See it for yourself and let me know what you think.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Unexpected help with cultural adjustment
I am so grateful for the help a couple of dogs recently gave me in the middle of a period of cultural adjustment. This week, my family traveled to Costa Rica, where we will spend the next four months. I love this country, having spent close to a year here over the course of five previous trips. I speak Spanish, but it does not feel at all like using my native language of English, which is effortless and easy. (Hopefully no editors who have ever worked with me will be surprised to read that I consider myself so proficient in English, but that’s a whole different issue.) After 36 hours of speaking Spanish and translating for my husband and kids who are learning Spanish but remain less comfortable with the language, I was exhausted.
We were outside speaking with our neighbor Eduardo when I realized my bilingual brain needed a break. Just then, a couple of dogs from the neighborhood started to play together, and we all paused to watch them. They are small dogs of about 15 pounds, very peppy and extremely playful. They were leaping on one another, playing chase, taking turns in their roles, pausing frequently, performing plenty of play bows and using other play signals, all while maintaining a low and constant level of arousal. It was the kind of beautifully appropriate play session that anyone who has ever taught a puppy class would be ecstatic to observe.
When the dogs came over to me, I was able to interact with them just as I do with dogs anywhere. They responded to the way my body leaned, the tone of my voice, my posture, my energy level, and the direction I moved. The familiarity and lack of uncertainty were exhilarating. I always enjoy meeting friendly new dogs, but in this case, there was an extra perk. I understood what was going on and it was easy to observe and react appropriately. My brain was not translating, and I was not guessing or using context to fill in gaps. I was simply interacting with some new friends.
I’m fond of saying that I understand dogs, but that “canine” is definitely not my first language, which simply means that I’m aware that only dogs can understand dogs as native speakers. And yet, in that moment, I felt more comfortable with the ease of communication with canines than with people in a language other than English. It was such a joy to be with dogs, with whom I am so comfortable and so familiar. It was a surprising gift that these dogs gave to me as I adjust to life in a foreign country. I often find that when I am tired, I am only truly able to converse with ease in my native language, but dog “language” is apparently an exception. Hallelujah for that!
Sometimes we know when dogs will help us feel better and we even expect it: When we are heartbroken but we know that they still love us. When we have a bad day at work and we get to come home to them. When we head out to walk them because it’s the right thing to do, but being out does us every bit as much good. Yet the unexpected times that dogs give us a little lift are some of the best simply because they blindside us. How have dogs unexpectedly helped make you feel better?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
LAX unleashes a program to destress passengers with canine kisses
San Diego International Airport may have a spiffy new canine bathroom, but Los Angeles World Airport (LAX) has a brand new therapy program. While researching the pet relief area in San Diego, I discovered a really cool program at another California airport--Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUPs) in Los Angeles. The program launched in April, around the same as San Diego's potty area, with a team of thirty therapy dogs tasked with making airport visits more pleasant.
While most dogs at the airport are looking for suspicious packages, these pups, which range from a long-haired Dalmatian to an Irish Wolfhound, are there to ease the stress of travel. The dogs at LAX have to go through an application and certification process to make sure they have good manners and are comfortable in a crowded, hectic environment. The handlers receive training to be mindful of people who may have fears or allergies.
I've never met an airport therapy pup, but apparently it's not a new concept. Mineta San Jose International Airport first introduced a non-official therapy dog in the days after September 11, 2001 when flights were grounded and passengers were stranded (California clearly loves their dogs!). After seeing how stressed and anxious people were, the volunteer airport chaplain got permission to bring his dog, Orion, to work. Orion made such a positive impact that the airport formalized the program and now has nine official therapy pups.
Miami International Airport also has a therapy Golden Retriever named Casey. She has a web site, receives fan mail, and even stars on the reality show Airport 24/7: Miami.
Handlers have found that the therapy dogs instantly put a smile on people's faces and cause stress levels to drop. The pups even help build human connections, encouraging strangers to start talking to each other over a common love of dogs.
I hope I'll meet one of these pups during my next trip to L.A.!
Iams and Eukanuba Brands are affecte
Editors note: Make sure you do not feed your dogs the food on the recall list and also make sure that the store you shop it pulls it from their shelves!
CINCINNATI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) has voluntarily recalled specific lots of dry pet food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. These lots were distributed in the United States and represent roughly one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of annual production. No Salmonella-related illnesses have been reported to date in association with these product lots.
Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.
Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
This issue is limited to the specific dry pet food lot codes listed below. This affects roughly one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of total annual production. The affected product was distributed to select retailers across the United States. These products were made during a 10-day window at a single manufacturing site. P&G’s routine testing determined that some products made during this timeframe have the potential for Salmonella contamination. As a precautionary measure, P&G is recalling the potentially impacted products made during this timeframe. No other dry dog food, dry cat food, dog or cat canned wet food, biscuits/treats or supplements are affected by this announcement.
P&G is retrieving these products as a precautionary measure. Consumers who purchased a product listed below should stop using the product and discard it and contact P&G toll-free at 800-208-0172 (Monday – Friday, 9 AM to 6 PM ET), or via website at www.iams.com or www.eukanuba.com.
Media Contact: Jason Taylor, 513-622-1111.
Products affected by this announcement:
Procter & Gamble
Link to Eukanuba Recall notification: http://www.eukanuba.com/en-US/SpecialAnnouncement.pdf
Link to Iams Dog Food Recall notification: http://www.iams.com/en_us/data_root/_pdf/8-14-13%20Iams%20Product%20Information%20Dog.pdf
Link to Iams Cat Food Recall notification: http://www.iams.com/en_us/data_root/_pdf/8-14-13%20Iams%20Product%20Information%20Cat.pdf
Pup Found Swimming in the SF Bay by Windsurfers
This is a lost pup story for the record books. On Monday evening a black Lab-Pit mix was found swimming in choppy, chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay about 2 miles from the shore. Windsurfers had spotted her and were trying to get help to bring her to shore, when a Berkeley man, Adam Cohen, came to rescue. Seems that Cohen has a nonconventional commute vehicle, he uses a motorized rubber boat to take him to his office at the Presidio in San Francisco from his home in North Berkeley.
He was at the evening leg of his commute when he had noticed a group of windsurfers clustered together, with their sails down. He was concerned that something was wrong and went closer to see if he could help. What he found was that one of the surfers had pulled a pup from the water, unto his board, and was trying to get help from the coast guard by calling from a two-way radio. Cohen maneuvered his boat in closer and, after phoning his wife, took the dog with him. The surfer said, “She was way out there. It looked like she was trying to swim to Angel Island.” Cohen noted that “the dog was shaking and seemed disoriented.” He then took her home, put her on a pad and wrapped her in a blanket. A couple of hours later, she seemed to be recovering, Cohen said. She looked healthy, was wearing a collar but was not microchipped.
Cohen’s wife, Lisa Grodin, picks up the rest of the story in this report from the Berkeley Patch:
“She just has the nicest, sweetest personality. She follows me everywhere.”
The couple is hoping to locate the dog’s owner but it they don’t “Grodin said she would like to adopt the puppy, though her husband thinks that having one dog is probably enough. They already live with a Lab mix named Zephyr, who seems disposed to peaceful co-existence with the new visitor ‘as long as she doesn’t get near his food bowl.”
So, if the dog's owner isn’t found, they will likely adopt her out “if we can find an adoption home that can be as loving as we would be,” Grodin said.
In the meantime, what do they call their new house guest?
“We’ve been calling her ‘Richard Parker,’ from The Life of Pi,” Grodin said, referring to the film about a boy stranded in a small boat at sea with a tiger named Richard Parker.
A remarkable story filled with a fleet of good Samaritans. Let’s hope the Cohen-Grodin family expand by one well-traveled new member. If not, I’m sure that all the publicity that this story has gathered will come up with the perfect home for her.
More news: This story keeps gettting better, we picked up this report about the windsurfers who valiantly rescued the dog:
This morning I had the opportunity to read the news story you wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle. As one of the windsurfers that came to the aid of the labrador yesterday off of Treasure Island, I thought I would share some of the facts, and to identify to you the person that I believe to be the “true hero” in all of this.
He is one of windsurfing community, and a incredibly compassionate man. He is Ed Coyne, of San Rafael, CA.
Ed and I were windsurfing together about a mile north of Treasure Island when Ed noticed the labrador (mix) swimming aimlessly in the bay. As is evident in the photograph, the winds were up in the bay and there were substantial waves which were breaking periodically over the head of the dog.
Ed was determined to come to the aid of the dog, and to do everything possible to ensure that the dog would not drown.. He sailed near the dog and tried to garner her attention with commands of “Come here”. Nevertheless, the dog kept swimming towards Alcatraz. Ed sailed out ahead of the dog to get in her path and then single handedly Ed secured her by the nape of her neck to place the dog on his windsurfing board. Ed hailed other windsurfers who then joined him to assist.
As most of us carry VHF radios, I hailed the Coast Guard to report the situation and to request Coast Guard assistance. Shortly after placing the distress call on Channel 16 to the Coast Guard, Mr. Cohen and his friend were motoring back towards the East Bay and the flotilla of windsurfers then assembled to assist Ed Coyne and the dog waived their arms to indicate that assistance was needed. At that point, Ed Coyne coordinated the transfer of the dog to Mr. Cohen’s boat with a request that he take the dog to the Berkeley Humane Society to attempt to find its rightful owner.
This is a wonderful story with a happy ending.
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