News: Guest Posts
Seven years ago, only people were allowed in rescue boats
I cried today for three reasons. It is the seven-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is again getting battered by another hurricane, Isaac. And for the first time, I saw rescuers take people's pets into the boat with them.
This dramatic rescue video shows 70-year-old Fred Leslie and his four dogs being pulled out through a vent in the attic of his two-story home. He will never have to wonder what happened to his dogs, whether they drowned, starved or were rescued but difficult to trace.
After Katrina, many dog lovers took in abandoned dogs. Sadly, they assumed the worst about their owners. I got into many an Internet and group email battle with these well-intentioned yet ignorant folks.
If this had happened to Leslie seven years ago, his dogs would not have been allowed in the boat with him. You can be sure the rescuers would not have allowed him to stay, either. He would not have been given a choice.
Husky Puppy Practices His Howl
The other day a panda-loving friend shared this link with me of the San Diego’s newest panda baby. Besides being incredibly adorable, it does make one wonder how the panda evolved its distinctive circled-eyed appearance, and then I saw this video of a Husky pup learning to howl and found the resemblance sweetly surprising.
Rep. Jackie Speier calls for an investigation
Rep Jackie Speier (D-Calif) did something today that deserves a Bark call-out for a job well-done. It was reported in the SF Chronicle that she “ripped” into the National Park Service for using a Taser on a man who was running with his small dogs off-leash. When he was confronted by a ranger about the leash policy (which had been newly created in that area), he, allegedly, was uncooperative and would not provide her with his name. This happened back in January in a park within the Golden Gate Recreation Area in Northern California. When the man refused to give the ranger his information, she Tasered him in his back and arrested him! Speier noted that “Many of my constituents are understandably angered by what appears to be an excessive use of force by a park ranger.” She added, “From the information I have to date, it does not appear that the use of a taser was warranted.” Speier also requested information about training in taser usage for park rangers, including the appropriate utilization and risks of tasers. She also asked how the public was informed about dog policy changes at Rancho Corral de Tierra which now require all dogs to be leashed.
Speier suggested the appointment of an independent investigator to evaluate whether park regulations were violated and excessive force was utilized in the January 29 incident. You can read more about this. We certainly think the ranger used excessive force, do you agree?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
It’s an awkward social situation
A friend of mine was telling me that when her sister-in-law comes to visit, it can be very uncomfortable because that sister-in-law really hates dogs. She voices a lot of criticism of the cleanliness of houses with dogs and the fact that so much time is wasted cleaning up after dogs, which my friend naturally finds annoying. To her, the dogs are family and the extra effort to keep the house clean is worth it. (By the way, I have been in this friend’s house and I consider it immaculate! I’ve been in houses that have a little too much dog hair and eau de dog aroma even for my taste and this house is nothing like that.)
It’s perfectly reasonable to tell potential visitors that if they don’t want to be around dogs, they are more than welcome to stay in a hotel and that you’d be happy to help them find a conveniently located one that is to their liking. However, we all know that family dynamics can sometime make this option very sticky. Being asked to kennel your dogs or keep them locked in the backyard or in one room are all requests that have been received by various friends or colleagues of mine from assertive relatives.
The simple reply that the dogs are part of the family and as such as not shut away or sent away, no matter how tactfully stated, is likely to upset the sort of people who would make such demands in the first place. It’s hard to explain how much we value our dogs to someone who just doesn’t get it.
If you’ve faced a situation with visitors who don’t love dogs and expect you to remove your dogs from the situation, how have you handled it?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
New article sheds light on dogs in health research.
Earlier this month, genetics researcher Elaine Ostrander published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine to highlight the strides scientists are making in human disease research thanks to their work with canines. The best part is that dogs are also benefiting in the process.
Scientists have sequenced both the human and canine genomes, which makes it possible to compare genes between the two. Typically it's much easier to track down the genes associated with canine diseases than it is in humans.
Once researchers identify the gene responsible for a disorder in dogs, they can go back and see if the same holds true for humans. The following are some of the cases where canine research has benefited both dogs and people.
Unfortunately I know many dogs and people affected by cancer and epilepsy. I'm hoping that Elaine Ostrander's article will inspire more collaborations between veterinary and human medical research. There are many studies that show the health benefits we get from our pets, so it seems only fitting that canine health research is now informing cures for humans.
News: Guest Posts
LA is considering a ban on the sale of commercially-bred animals
Despite laws and regulations protecting companion animals, these magnificent beings still can be treated very abusively with little to no penalty to their human guardians (aka owners) because in the eyes of the law they and other nonhuman animals (animals) are considered to be mere property.
In an earlier essay I wrote about the staggering number of homeless animals who need a safe home and puppy mills are notorious for severely mistreating animals as breeding machines. Carol Bradley's excellent book Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills is an excellent read about Gracie's rescue from a Pennsylvania puppy mill and the horrors of puppy mills in general. Top of Form
I remain a hopeful optimist and now there's some good news on the horizon for homeless dogs, cats, and rabbits in Los Angeles. This week a Los Angeles City Council committee “approved a proposed ordinance that would require every dog, cat or rabbit sold for profit in the city to be obtained from a shelter or humane society.”
I know many people have rescued animals with whom they've shared their home and the human and nonhumans have had wonderful lives together. Jethro, who I rescued from the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, and I had a wonderful life together (he also rescued me) and he turned out to be a “love muffin” who saved the lives of other species.
On a recent trip to the give a talk for the Wisconsin Humane Society I met Maddy, who reminded me of Jethro, and had I been able to take her home with me I would have done so, along of course, with all of the other wonderful animals who lived in this remarkable facility. I was thrilled to learn that Maddy was adopted shortly after I was there.
The Los Angeles ordinance may be voted on soon so there's time to contact the Los Angeles City Council to voice your opinion. Please take the time to do so. Millions of animals will be grateful for your efforts and we can hope that other cities will follow up on this ordinance and other species will also be included.
There really is no reason to buy a commercially bred animal.
Wellness: Health Care
Part 1 in a 4 Part Guide
To identify an illness or abnormal situation, you must first be able to recognize what is normal for your dog. You know your dog better than anyone else and you will have to decide when an abnormal situation warrants professional help. Sometimes the condition is so serious it leaves no doubt. Frequently, however, the changes are subtle, or happen over a longer period of time, making noticing a problem more difficult.
Over the course of the following weeks, I will provide you with information on how to perform an at-home physical exam, helping to determine and establish what is normal for your pet. It is recommended that you occasionally perform this exam- while there is nothing wrong- so that you can begin to get used to what is normal. This practice will help allow for the early detection of changes in your dog’s health.
I will start with the basics this week: A good look, temperature, and how to obtain a heart rate. Next week will continue with a systems approach beginning with the head area, followed by the chest, and lastly, the abdomen. At the completion of these 4 blogs, you should have a complete home guide on how to perform a screening exam. Ready?!
First, before you start your hands-on exam, stand back and just simply look at your dog for a few minutes. The posture, breathing, activity level, and general appearance can really tell you a great deal. Get a good picture of your dog’s “normal” in its relaxed home environment—this mental snapshot will help you notice any subtle change.
Taking your dog’s temperature is an easy and important procedure. Use a digital rectal thermometer (the ear type is less reliable and mercury thermometers can break!). Lubricate the end with petroleum jelly and gently insert the thermometer into the rectum about 1 inch for small dogs and about 2 inches for larger ones. If it does not slide in easily, do not force it. And do not risk taking your pet’s temperature if you feel there is a risk of being bitten.
PULSE AND HEART RATE:
Learn to locate the pulse on your dog before a crisis. The best place on a dog is the femoral artery in the groin area (see picture).
Here’s how: place your fingers around the front of the hind leg and move upward until the back of your hand meets the abdominal wall. Move your fingertips back and forth on the inside of the thigh until you feel the “roll” of the artery and the pulsing sensation as the blood rushes through it. Count the number of pulses in 15 seconds and multiply by 4. This will give you the pulse rate in beats per minute. Pulse rate is a highly variable finding and can be affected by recent exercise, excitement or stress. Do not use the heart rate at the sole evidence that your pet is sick or healthy.
The heart rates that are listed are for healthy dogs at rest in their home, not for animals that are evaluated in a veterinary clinic where higher heart rates might be detected due to excitement, stress of a visit to the clinic, or disease.
Practice these essential skills and I’ll see you next week for all things head related, including the ears, eyes, nose, and mouth! See DIY Physical Exam: Part 2.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Boy seeks treats for his dying service dog
When eleven-year old Cole Hein found out that his Jack Russell Terrier had only weeks to live, he created the “Lick It List,” a canine bucket list to honor his pup Bingo. For five years, Bingo has been taking care of Cole, who has a medical condition that can stop his breathing. The thirteen-year old dog is trained to alert adults if the boy needs CPR.
In the first six months the two were together, Bingo saved Cole's life three times, leading to her induction into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame in 2010. Now it's Cole's turn to help Bingo make the most of her time left as the pup battles Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.
Here is Cole and Bingo's Lick It List:
1) Let Bingo "taste" the world by getting him dog treats from around the globe
2) Take Bingo for one last "public" outing to Ruckers (a favorite game-and-pizza place)
3) Walk around the block twice with Bingo
4) Do a photo shoot with just Bingo and Cole (which has already been arranged)
To help Cole achieve Bingo's Lick It List, he's asking people around the world to send treats. No monetary donations will be accepted (Bingo's medical care is taken care of). Any treats that Bingo can't consume will be donated to the local animal shelter. Likewise, if you're not able to send treats, Cole asks that you make a donation to your favorite animal rescue in Bingo's name.
Dog treats can be sent to:
Cole Hein/Bingo Hein
If my dogs had a bucket list, treats would certainly be number one! What would be on your dog's Lick It List?
News: Guest Posts
If London can do it, any dog can.
Before he turned six months of age, London lost the use of both front legs. It was not due to disease or an accident, but sickening abuse and negligence at the hands of his Northern California owners. A local shelter representative rescued him from the situation. Ultimately, he was placed in the care of Panda Paws Rescue (PPR), a nonprofit group in Vancouver, Washington, that focuses on special needs canines.
PPR founder Amanda Giese arranged for an evaluation with a surgeon Brandon Sherman, DVM, of Animal Care Clinic, who determined that both legs were shattered and required amputation. London had been suffering in this state for a month or longer. During that time, he had somehow managed to tolerate the pain and move using his hind legs and his face to serve as the third "leg."
On August 1, 2012, Dr. Sherman performed a successful surgery. As you can see in the video above, London is adjusting well and thriving in his foster home. He will be fitted with a wheelchair so he does not damage his spine or back.
Two weeks later, based on statements and evidence supporting that London was brutally beaten on two separate occasions, the Crescent City Police Department arrested multiple suspects who remain in custody and are being charged with felonies.
London's surgery was covered by donations totaling $5,000. This generosity lead Giese to start the Team London Scholarship, with a goal of raising $100,000 to help other special needs canines. PPR is an all-volunteer, nonprofit rescue, so all funds go directly to the animals it serves. To read more about London and his extraordinary spirit, go to We Are Team London.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Penn. pup suffocates from a potato chip bag
It’s well known that plastic bags pose a suffocation risk for both children and pets. Most packaging carries a warning as a reminder. However, I never considered that snack bags could also be dangerous.
Last month a Pennsylvania family came home to a heartbreaking scene. The Elwoods knew something was wrong when their 4-year old Pit Bull didn’t greet them at the door. Amid trash scattered around the house, they found Lucy with her head stuck in a potato chip bag she stole from the garbage can.
CPR was attempted, but sadly the poor pup had already suffocated. The Elwood family has now made it their mission to prevent this tragedy from happening again. The fliers they created advise people to either cut out the bottom of bags or tear them open completely before throwing them away. The Elwoods also contacted the Frito Lay company about adding a warning label to snack bags.
My dog, Nemo, is a perennial garbage raider, so I’ve always had to be careful about his access to trash cans. Considering Nemo’s habit, I’ll definitely be cutting any bags that I throw out. It’s a good safety measure in addition to keeping garbage cans out of reach.
Please spread the word in Lucy’s memory.
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