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Reactive Rover
Dream Dog Awakening

I wish there were more articles and stories like this one. I have a Boxer mix who, at about two years old (she’s just turned three) became leash reactive, or leash aggressive. We got her as a rescue at eight weeks and took her everywhere, doing everything we thought we should to socialize and train her. But the leash reactiveness happened anyway. Twice a week, she goes to doggie day care, where they say she is a complete angel; they love her to death and she’s never had a problem playing with the other dogs. We go to off-leash places (the dog park, the beach) where she plays like there are no issues whatsoever. But if she’s on a leash, she turns into Cujo, just like Saville’s dog. We don’t go for walks very often, which I miss. When we do, I’m armed with treats and patience. We don’t go to dog-friendly events where dogs have to be leashed, which I also miss. We attended a “Reactive Rover” class put on by our local humane society, and it gave us some great “homework,” which I practice as often as possible. It’s still hard to be walking my dog and encounter someone who does not understand the situation and acts as if I should not be out with my dog.

Thank you again for this article. As I said, I wish there were more, if for no other reason than to reassure myself that I am not alone, and that I am doing everything I possibly can for my sweet pea on the end of the leash.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Old Dogs Can Stray

My flashlight started to fail about halfway across the river. It was fairly new and fully charged but it bobbled weakly between the rushing water I was wading across and the dog lying on the far side. I picked my way closer in the inky blackness but it was a moonless night and icy water surged over the tops of my boots as the last of the light ebbed away leaving me in total darkness. The bummer was that I was crossing on a narrow concrete spillway and had a steep drop off of about 8 feet on my left and a lesser drop on my right. The water crashing over the dam made a huge racket and it was a strange feeling to be standing there alone in the dark, unable to see or hear anything but the roar of the water.

As an animal control officer I knew I really shouldn’t be doing this by myself and had called for a sheriff’s deputy to back me up before I even left the truck. Unfortunately I had been too antsy to wait. I was sick with worry that the dog lying on the far side would succumb before I could reach her and had headed through a wooded area and down to the water alone. Hopefully, if I waited long enough a deputy would find me but they didn’t know exactly where I was and I wouldn’t be able to hear my phone or radio over the roar of the water.

The call had come in around 9 p.m. A man stated that he had been at the river near dusk and noticed a sick or injured dog lying on the far side. He had to leave but gave me some sketchy directions to find her.  I was only vaguely familiar with the park but knew it to be somewhat of an afterhour’s hangout for shady characters. I didn’t technically have to go. It was nearly an hour from my house, I didn’t have anyone standing by and often the animal is either fine or long gone when we arrive. Still, I couldn’t bear the thought of a dog possibly in distress and had headed out.

As I stood there, afraid to move lest I tumble off the dam, I suddenly remembered that we had just been given tiny new flashlights for our belts. I hadn’t used mine yet and it was probably too small to help much but should be better than nothing. I fumbled with the holder and managed to pull it free and turn it on. To my delight it cut a strong swath of light across the water and lit the dog up like a spotlight.

I immediately slogged the rest of the way across and approached the dog. She didn’t even lift her head and I had to look close to see that she was breathing. She was an elderly German Shorthair Pointer and I called to her but got no response so I gently stroked her graying face. The milky eyes opened briefly and she shivered uncontrollably, but that was it. Her hind legs rested in the water and the rest of her was lying on the edge of the concrete dam.  

Holding the light in my teeth, I gently scooped her up, soaking my uniform in the process, and headed back across the black rushing water. She may have been old but she probably weighed 60 pounds or so and by the time I reached the steep bank on the far side I was out of breath. I struggled to the top and then set her gently on a picnic table for a moment while I caught my breath, shivering along with her in the night chill.

When I finely reached my truck, I examined her carefully. She appeared well cared for and was clean and soft with neatly trimmed nails. Nothing seemed broken and her gums were a healthy pink. She seemed to just be chilled and exhausted. I dried her off and settled her on a thick comforter and wrapped several blankets around her, tucking the edges in and leaving only her sweet face exposed. She wore a collar and tag but it was a rabies tag that couldn’t be traced after hours and she didn’t have a microchip. She looked at me briefly before sighing and closing her eyes.

The next morning found the dog feeling much better and her frantic owners at the shelter looking for her. A worker at their home had left a gate open and the old girl had gone exploring. Deaf and somewhat frail, she had wandered down to the river and been too weak and disoriented to climb back up the steep bank. Her owners had searched for her all evening to no avail.

It was such a joy to reunite this sweet old girl with her family and a good reminder to check your pets ID. Ideally dogs should wear a buckle caller with a personal ID tag with several phone numbers. A microchip is the perfect backup in case the caller gets lost. Tags also wear through periodically. Are your pets tags current and in good shape?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Post-Katrina Overpopulation Problem
New Orleans is still struggling to recover from the destruction

Hurricane Issac's recent flooding and destruction brought back painful memories of Katrina. Thankfully, this time changes were implemented to keep families and pets together. Animals were brought to a local church (and then to a shelter up North when the church flooded) to ride out Issac until they could be reunited with their families.

The new rescue programs aren't perfect, but they're a big improvement from having no plan back in 2005. These measures are particularly essential in light of the stray pet population that continues to plague the area. I was shocked to learn how the problem has grown.

It's been seven years since Katrina, and New Orleans' hardest hit areas are still recovering. In addition to the destroyed buildings and displaced families, over 600,000 animals were killed or stranded because of the disaster. According to the local SPCA, the abandoned pets turned into a significant stray pet problem. In the areas that haven't been rebuilt, homeless animals freely roam the streets and reproduce in empty houses.

Due to the increased crime levels, many of the remaining residents got watch dogs and most are tied outside to guard the land. Few are spayed or neutered, which further perpetuates the overpopulation problem.

Today, the SPCA is still fighting for FEMA assistance, like many other organizations. When their old headquarters was destroyed by six feet of water during Katrina, people all over the country (no doubt including many Bark readers) donated money for a new building. But the SPCA is overwhelmed by the current stray animal situation and desperately needs funding. They're hoping a combination of outreach and education programs, free spay/neuter services, and increased kennel capacity will help rein in the stray pet population for good.

Visit the Louisiana SPCA web site to donate to their fund.

News: Editors
Dexter Needs a New Home

Update 9/7/2012: Good news! Dexter has been adopted. Thanks for all your interest, hope you too find that perfect dog.

Dexter is one great dog—a Jack Russell Terrier, active, super intelligent and loving. He is two and a half years old, neutered, and weighs around 18 lbs. My friend, Carol, his human mom, died of a heart attack recently and he needs a new forever home. Another friend of his mom’s is now fostering him. She has three other dogs so it is difficult for her to provide him the amount of exercise he needs. He loves playing ball and she does take him to Pt. Isabel to play chuck-it, but only once a day. He needs two good exercise sessions a day (as most young dogs do).

Dexter was raised with two Huskies, and is getting along great in his foster home with two larger old dogs, positively loving the Keeshond. He has no problems with dogs at the dog park or while walking on leash and is fine with all adult humans he has met. He might be too active for young children but he hasn’t been tested yet with a child.

For a JRT, he is an obedient, happy little pup who just needs a lot more activity than his foster person can give him. He is housetrained, sits and walks like a prince on leash. He’s not destructive, travels well in cars and likes to give loads of kisses. But he is also a typical Terrier, so it is important that he goes to a home with someone familiar with this breed type.

If you like Terriers with their tenacious, loyal hearts and want a young and active happy dog to share your life, please email us. Dexter currently lives near Berkeley. Help us find him a great home!

 

Wellness: Health Care
DIY Physical Exam: An “owner’s manual” for your dog Part 2
Part 2 in 4 part guide

Hello again, Bark readers!  Welcome back for the second installment of the DIY physical exam.  We are going to start at the head today, continuing to move down the dog body over the next couple of weeks. 

NOSE: 

Normal:  

  • Smooth, soft and clean; it is a misconception that a dry, warm nose means illness; sometimes a normal nose can appear slightly dry as well as warm to the touch; a healthy nose should feel like soft, supple leather; it is not necessarily always cool, wet and moist.

Abnormal: 

  • Excessively dry and cracked.
  • Colored nasal discharge; a green, yellow, or white discharge generally indicates a bacterial infection (scant, clear, watery discharge can be normal) .
  • Bleeding

EYES:

Normal

  • Bright, moist, and clear.
  • Centered between the eyelid.
  • Pupils are equal in size.
  • Whites of the eye should not appear colored (such as red or yellow) and should have only a few visible blood vessels.
  • Pupils should shrink equally when a bright light is shined into either eye and enlarge equally when the eyes are held closed or the room darkened (this is known as a pupillary light reflex and is part of a neurological exam).

Abnormal

  • Dull, sunken eyes: this can indicate severe dehydration.
  • Eyes that appear dry and “bloodshot” can indicate conditions such as uveitis, KCS (“dry eye”), severe dehydration, or other systemic illnesses.
  • Thick discharge from eyes: a little grey “eye booger” in the morning is normal, just like in us people, but be concerned if you notice any discharge with green or yellow color to it.
  • One or both eyes not centered: this can indicate a tumor or infection behind the eye, as well as other pathology.
  • Pupils unequal in size: this can indicate head trauma, a possible tumor, other neurologic problems to name a few.
  • Squinting or tearing of the eyes: this can indicate an ulcer or scratch on the cornea, which is the layer of cells covering the eye.
  • Abnormal colors that indicate problems are yellow (jaundice), or red (bloodshot); pay close attention to the color of the whites of your pet’s eyes.
  • The appearance of blood in the eye (known as hyphema): this can indicate exposure to rat bait or other causes of your pet’s blood not being able to properly clot.
  • Pupils fail to respond, or respond differently from one another, when a bright light is shined into either eye.

EARS:

Chronic ear problems are common in pets, and are often a result of allergies to inhaled pollen (like hay fever in people) that are then complicated by secondary infections with bacteria or yeast. Ear infections can be painful and head shaking can lead to an accumulation of blood in the floppy part of the ear, known as an aural hematoma.

Normal

  • Skin smooth and without wounds.
  • Clean and dry.
  • Almost odor-free.
  • Typical carriage for breed.
  • Pain-free when you massage them, especially at the base of the ear.

Abnormal

  • Wounds, scabs, or any sign of rash.
  • Crust, moisture, or other discharge in ear canal.
  • Any strong odor.
  • Atypical carriage for breed; for example, a droopy ear in a breed with normally erect ears
  • Painful or swollen ears.

MOUTH:

Normal

  • Teeth are clean and white.
  • Gums are uniformly pink and moist to the touch (they should not feel dry or sticky).
  • Capillary refill time (CRT): to assess, press on the gum tissue with your finger or thumb and then release quickly; the part you just pushed on will turn white, and you will then watch the color return to the gums; this is a crude assessment of how well the heart and circulatory system are working as well as hydration status of you pet; a normal CRT is 1 to 1.5 seconds for the color to return; this can be a difficult test to interpret sometimes (for example, if your pet has dark or pigmented gums), and should not be relied upon as definitive evidence that your pet is sick or healthy.

Abnormal

  • Tartar accumulation around the base of the teeth.
  • The gums are red: this can indicate severe dehydration, shock, heat stroke, or sepsis (severe infection in the body).
  • Gums are bluish or purple: this indicates inadequate oxygen to the body; this can be noted with lung disease, heart disease, or any disease that impairs proper oxygen to the body.
  • Gums are pale: this is due to lack of blood or shock and possible causes are internal bleeding (such as a mass on a spleen that suddenly ruptures and bleeds- very common in older dogs), trauma or shock (such as when a dog has been hit by a car), and immune mediated diseases.
  • Gums that appear to have little bruises: this is known as petechiation and is generally seen with rat bait toxicity or other problems with the body’s ability to clot the blood
  • Gums are inflamed, “spongy” looking, or sore in appearance.
  • A sluggish CRT, or dry and sticky gums.

 

That completes the head!  Please feel free to ask any questions and see you next week as we discuss and learn about the chest area, known as the thorax. Check out DIY Physical Exam: Part 1 of this series if you missed it. Next, DIY Physical Exam: Part 3.

 

News: Letters
Lizzie, Another Real Dog
Dream Dog Awakening

The process Laurel Seville went through with Ainsley is so similar to mine with Lizzie that it’s eerie. Although Lizzie is not a rescue, she went from getting her CGC and therapy-dog certification right after her first birthday to barking and lunging at strangers, especially strange dogs, two years later. Although she never really enjoyed therapy visits, I pushed her because I wanted her to be good at it. My dream was for her to be a canine Mother Theresa. When it became obvious that she was not going to be, I too cried, got mad and tried to pretend I could manage it without really fixing it.

Somewhere along the way, I reread Suzanne Clothier’s Bones Would Rain from the Sky, then had my epiphany: she was what she was and would never be my dream dog, and I needed to accept that. It was hard to listen to family and friends, and have them give me “that look” when she acted out. Like, For this you go to training every week? I was the family’s dog-whisperer—how could I not have a well-behaved dog? Then I followed Seville’s route: I scoured the Internet, spent a fortune on training books and DVDs, bugged the heck out of my training buddies, and am still hooked on Yahoo dog forums. Basically, I made her worse before I started to make her better. Now, I never leave the house without a clicker and a pocketful of treats. My favorite line in the essay is “a dog who is trying hard to sit still and look for treats even though she wants to be Cujo.”

Perfect! I hope Saville contributes again to Bark.

News: Guest Posts
Conservation Pup In-Training: Part IV

 

It sure is HOT in Texas right now, and it’s not helping that Conservation Puppy-in-Training Ranger is on FIRE!! My little boy is growing up, and his potential is also growing in leaps and bounds. It is very important that our dogs are acclimated to the heat and humidity here in Texas, as it will be very useful later on when they are working in the field and make them less susceptible to heat related problems.

We take a lot of precautions to make sure our dogs are never at risk for heatstroke. Working during the heat of the day is nearly impossible for any length of time, so training right now is limited to mornings and evenings. Water is available at al times of course and here on the farm where Ranger is growing up there are several ponds that he is able to cool off in. We also started using these fantastic Swamp Coolers that Backcountry K9 generously donated to us (along with some life jackets!) which are nice to have on hand if necessary. The risks are very real for both people and animals, and all pet owners need to be extra careful right now.

Older animals do not tolerate the heat like their younger counterparts do, and in my household our oldest canine friend started going downhill these last few months. If you remember my very first blog, we lost one of our old Pointers, Kammo, in April, which left us with Purdy the geriatric Pointer-mix, Riley the Golden Retriever, Tank the Frenchie and of course, Ranger. Well, after saying for many years that Purdy was like the Energizer Bunny, she finally started to show her 15 years of age. She also developed a heart condition in the last month, and despite every effort to medicate, feed, and spoil, it was time for us to say goodbye to our Matriarch.

Many of you will sympathize with me and have had to say goodbye to a beloved animal or person. We knew we had only days left with Miss Purdy, and we tried to keep her comfortable and I took her on as many walks as her frail body could take. She always loved walking and swimming in the ponds, but more recently she started having problems swimming and had nearly drowned several times. By now she was content to just lie by the waters edge, her eyes having lost much of the sparkle they always had.

On Saturday morning we woke up and realized it was time to help Purdy cross the Rainbow Bridge. My husband, daughter and I all said our goodbyes, and I held her head and stroked her beautiful black fur while she fell asleep for the last time. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but there was never any doubt that it was the right time.

Purdy was born in South Africa and spent her glory days chasing monkeys and antelope through the forests. Her ashes will be traveling with me to South Africa in September, where my husband plans to sprinkle them in the same forest she used to run in.

My trip to South Africa for the whole month of September will be full of adventures. I will be visiting the highly esteemed Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia to see their Livestock Guardian Dog Program as well as some new cheetah scat detection dogs they have just acquired! I also hope to visit with Green Dogs Conservation based in South Africa to meet their Livestock Guardian Dogs and Conservation K9’s that are being trained for so many valuable jobs related to Wildlife Conservation… plus they have PUPPIES right now.)

My next blog will be full of great photos and adventures from my Africa trip, and I cannot wait to tell you all about it. In the meantime, please take some time to “like” us and share this wonderful cause on Facebook or check out our Website… we appreciate everyone’s support so far, particularly our wonderful sponsors and donors. This was a great month for us and we got some great gear for the dogs.

EzyDog donated us some awesome harnesses that will be great for working the dogs in the field. We also had a beautiful commissioned portrait of Conservation K9 “Bea” donated to us by Melissa King from Pawblo Picasso (great name right!) that we plan on using for various fundraising efforts! You can see the painting and read Melissa’s blog HERE.

News: Letters
Adopting Tucker
Dream Dog Awakening
Border Collie

Recently while waiting for my endodontist appointment, I picked up a copy of BARK magazine.  Thumbing through it, I spotted the Border Collie pictured with your story ("Waking Up From My Dream Dog" - Bark Jun/Aug 12).  So, I began to read it being the Border Collie person that I am.  Well, I couldn't believe what I was reading.  It was as if I had written it!  You were talking about my Tucker.  We rescued him at 8 months old.  He had been abused as a small puppy and had been through at least two foster homes.  I failed to mention that we adopted him because we lost our beloved 14 year old BC Abby 3 months earlier and couldn't get past the grief.  It just felt right taking in this poor little guy that given such a difficult puppyhood.

We had Tuck for a couple of months when, as you put it, the Cujo came out.  It seems that once he became comfortable with his new surroundings and owners, he completely changed.  We have worked with a couple of trainers and looked for any assistance we could find.  We also at one point considered sending him back to the rescue, but just couldn't do that to him, and ourselves.  He has no tolerance for other dogs (even though he lived with them in his foster homes), children, trucks and strangers until he gets to know them.  Well, like yourself, we have adjusted our lives to him.   He is the sweetest, loving, playful little guy with us but still has those issues that we continue to work on.

I still can't believe that I am writing this to you, but I felt such a strong bond with you after reading the story that I felt I had need to thank you for letting me know that we aren't the only BC parents out there with this issue.

Please give Ainsley a scratch behind the ears from us!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Pit Bull Chihuahua Cross
Unusual pairings happen

When I said that she looked like a Pit Bull Chihuahua cross, I didn’t really think that’s what she was.  Though our whole family thought that’s what she looked like when she showed up in our driveway, we also thought that such a mating was unlikely.

It didn’t matter much to us—we just enjoyed her for who she was—a delightful dog who was energetic, expressive, friendly, bouncy, and very licky. None of us cared that much about her heritage, but it’s always fun to guess what breeds are in a dog.

When we did ask her guardian if he knew what kind of dog she was, he replied. “You’re probably not going to believe this, but she’s a Pit Bull and Chihuahua.” They had neighbors who each bred one of the breeds, and she was from an accidental litter. (The Pit Bull was the female in case you were curious.)

Do you know of any particularly unexpected crosses, whether they were a result of a “whoops” litter or not?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Custody Over Abandoned Pup
Hiker wants dog back after leaving her behind to die

Earlier this month, Scott and Amanda Washburn were in Colorado hiking 13,500 feet above sea level when they found an injured German Shepherd. They tried to coax the poor pup out of the nook she was in, but her paws were completely raw and she was too weak to move. Unfortunately the injured dog weighed 100 pounds and was too heavy to carry down the mountain. So the Washburns used their first aid kit to patch up as many wounds as they could and left the dog with water until they could return.

Forest Rangers are only able to send out search parties for people, so the couple turned to the internet to find help. Two days later, Scott and eight volunteers returned to Mount Bierstadt and began a 9-hour rescue mission that included hiking through a full-blown snowstorm. Fortunately they got to the German Shepherd just in time. The bandaged wounds had reopened and there was blood all over nearby rocks.

Dubbed “the miracle dog of the century” by her veterinarian, the lucky pup is going to make a full recovery. Scott and Amanda were so enamored that they decided to adopt the brave German Shepherd.

But believe it or not, the Washburns are now involved in a custody battle with the man who abandoned the dog on the mountain.

Turns out the pup’s name is Missy and she was left behind by Anthony Ortolani when a storm hit the mountain. Three days later, Anthony assumed Missy died and made no attempt to rescue her.

This story makes me so upset on so many levels (besides the part about the amazing rescuers). First off, no one should bring their dog hiking on a 14,000+ foot mountain unless they’re sure that their pup is accustomed to the terrain. Second, anyone hiking long distances should monitor their pup carefully for signs of pad wear or other injuries. Missy’s paws should never have gotten that raw.

That being said, I understand these things can creep up to the best of us.  But not going back up the mountain? Unacceptable.

The Sherrif’s Office says that the custody decision could take months and, for now, Missy remains at the veterinarian. I hope that Missy doesn’t stay in limbo for too long and that her rescuers are able to give her a permanent loving home. 

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