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News: Guest Posts
Dogs Provide Unique Comfort to Hospice Patients
Therapy dog Sophie on the terrace outside Gosnell Memorial Hospice House with (from left) Stefanie Fairchild, Hospice of Southern Maine Volunteer Coordinator; Nan Butterfield, PawPrints volunteer and Sophie’s handler; and Kelli Pattie, Hospice Southern Maine Director of Volunteer Services.

The sensation of fur between the fingers. The sound of toenails tip-tapping across the floor. The ability to offer love and acceptance without uttering a single word… For patients facing the end of life, the sheer presence of a dog can provide comfort and reassurance like nothing else.

Perhaps that’s why Hospice of Southern Maine has introduced PawPrints, a new program that brings trained therapy dogs bedside to visit patients receiving end-of-life care in their facility. Such programs are part of a growing trend around the country, and it’s easy to understand why. According to studies cited by the National Center for Health Research, companion animals can alleviate loneliness, anxiety, and depression in a way that humans — and even modern medicine — simply aren’t able to do.

 

Sophie comforts a patient at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough, Maine.

 

 “Hospice care is all about making the most of the time we have when dealing with end of life,” said Hospice of Southern Maine CEO Daryl Cady. “For our patients, connecting with trained therapy dogs can help normalize and reduce the anxiety of being away from home.”

That’s no surprise to dog lovers. And as these types of programs become more common, animals may take on greater and more esteemed roles in institutions that were once reserved for imperfect two-leggers. 

News: Guest Posts
Dangers to Dogs Hiking in Heat
Prompt park officials in Arizona to ban dogs

The city of Phoenix is now banning dogs from hiking trails when it hits 100 degrees at the parks.

Under the pilot program, which went into effect July 1 and runs through Sept. 1, someone who disobeys the rule could be cited for a Class One misdemeanor, be fined up to $2,500 and receive up to six months jail time. Phoenix officials say they are emphasizing the educational aspect of the program and not the punitive measures.

Phoenix has some of the largest municipal parks in the country with 15-mile trails that cut through desert that is beautiful but shadeless during the summer.

Summertime temps in the metro Phoenix area can easily reach 110 during the day and stay warm throughout the night, hovering around the mid to upper 80s.  In 2015, there were 88 days when daytime temperatures were 100 degrees or higher.

Although the parks open at sunrise, it is not uncommon for runners, hikers and cyclists to be on the trails even during the hottest parts of the day.  Already this year, six people have died on area trails and there have been reports of dog deaths but no statistics are kept in that area. Frequently, dogs who are overtaken by the heat are taken to nearby vets or emergency-animal clinics for care.

In 2011, three dogs died on trails in the nearby city of Glendale. The only way the city knew about those deaths was because its fire department was called to help the dogs. “For everyone incident reported, we believe there are dozens of animal fatalities that we don’t hear about,’’ said Sue Breding, Glendale spokeswoman.

Kristen Nelson, DVM, a Phoenix area veterinarian, said one Labrador recently came into her clinic with a temperature of over 107. The dog’s owners had taken him hiking at 2 p.m. during the day when it was over 100 degrees outside. The dog had collapsed on the trail and died two days later after many of his organs gave out.

 In many southwestern cities like in Phoenix, dogs can overheat at any time of the year, says Aaron Franko, DVM, at BluePearl Veterinary Partners.

At end of February, he had a Labrador mixed breed dog come in who was suffering heat stroke. “It was a very warm day,’’ Franko said.

 “People don’t realize how fast dogs can get overheated and into trouble,’’ he added.

All dogs can be bothered by the heat but some types are pre-disposed to problems, Franko said. Those types include short-nosed breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers as well as dogs with underlying heart disease, older dogs and those with thicker coats.

If it is warm outside, people need to bring water for their dogs and if it is hot, they need to avoid taking them out at all, Franko said.

He estimates that his central Phoenix emergency clinic sees five or more heat-stressed dogs a week. “And we are just one emergency clinic here.’’

Many veterinarians say that the summertime heat danger to dogs can’t be emphasized enough to people with pets. The Arizona Humane Society says it can easily receive up to 50 a calls a day during the summer for animal rescues and investigations. Up to half of those involve animals who don’t have enough water or shade to deal with the heat.

Phoenix city officials believe this may be one of the few times municipal trails have been closed to dogs because of heat. Many U.S. national parks prohibit even leashed dogs on trails because the dogs may endanger themselves or area wildlife.  Parks from Portland, Ore. to Maine have closed dog-friendly trails for various reasons including protecting the ecosystem and safeguarding nearby livestock.

Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Photographs of Old Dogs
The most beautiful images of all
Champ, 9, South Dakota

Photographer Nancy Levine sees beauty in old dogs, and in her new book, Senior Dogs Across America, the rest of us can, too. Levine photographed her own dogs constantly, and as they aged, she was inspired by the grace and dignity of their changing bodies. Having developed an interest in such dogs, she spent over a decade seeking out elderly dogs to photograph.

Levine traveled around the United States asking friends, veterinarians, rescue groups and sanctuaries about old dogs she could photograph. Her goal was loftier than a book of adorable pictures of dogs. She wanted to compile photos that showed dogs’ individuality and emotional expression. Avoiding close-ups, she chose to photograph dogs in their environment, whether that was out in the fields of South Dakota and Oklahoma, or on the streets of Manhattan and Baltimore.

Some of Levine’s subjects were stiff and had trouble moving, but others at the same stage of life still ran energetically. The beauty of these dogs is in their uniqueness, which comes down to their personality, expression and behavior as well as their physical appearance.

Levine’s has a special love for older dogs, and all her images, from the cover photo all the way through the book, reveal it.

Cecilia, 12, Baltimore

Murphy, 10, Connecticut

Red, 12, Connecticut

Lolli, 15, San Francisco

Bottom to top: Phyllis, 12, Logan County Rescue; Englebert, 9, Denver Dumb Friends League; Loretta, 12, Denver County Shelter; Eeoyore, 14, Denver Dumb Friends League; Enoch, 5, Denver.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Fourth of July Aftermath
The annual fireworks tradition doesn't mix well with pets.

Fireworks are a favorite summer ritual, but for those of us with dogs, these light shows can result in traumatized pets. We just passed the peak time for fireworks, Fourth of July, but shelters around the country are still dealing with the aftermath. The week after the holiday is a busy time for animal shelters. San Diego area shelters alone reported 90 dogs that came into their shelters on Monday night, many of which are still waiting to be claimed.

It's our responsibility to make sure our dogs are safe, and that means making sure that they're secure if they might be afraid of loud noises. I was viewing a fireworks show last weekend and was surprised to see so many people who brought their dogs. As it turned out, one pup ended up panicking and ran very close to the area where the fireworks were being lit. It didn't look like the workers could see him, so they didn't stop. Fortunately the dog was not hurt, but it really underscores how dangerous this situation could be.

This week in Atlanta, Georgia, a man was charged with animal cruelty when a video surfaced online of him lighting fireworks close to his dog. Even if it wasn't intentional (which is still being debated), it's important to know where your pets and kids are if you choose to light fireworks.

These light shows will continue throughout the summer, so it's important to be careful and keep our dogs safe.

Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Olympic Trials Runners and Their Dogs
Canines take their share of the spotlight

Watching the US Olympic Trials in track and field is filling much of my recreational time this week, but my thoughts are never far from the world of dogs. More and more often, announcers comment on competitors’ dogs, as do the athletes themselves. When discussing that Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix has had a rough year, the broadcast team spoke of two issues. One problem was an injured ankle that leads to pain with every step and the other was the death of her beloved Yorkshire Terrier, Chloe. Chloe is well known to fans of Felix, who often tweeted about Chloe. Felix has said that Skyping with Chloe when she traveled to races helped her to settle her mind and to feel in touch with home. The two even appeared in a commercial together.
 

 

The importance of dogs also came up in an interview with Brenda Martinez. Martinez was expected to qualify for the Olympics in the 800 m event, but that dream slipped away when she was tripped up by another runner near the end of the race. When asked how she put that disappointment behind her in order to focus on her upcoming 1500 m race, she emphasized the role her dogs played. She said that she and her husband had brought all four of their dogs with them and that being with them made her happy and helped her move on emotionally. She visibly relaxed when she spoke of her dogs despite the high pressure situation she is in.
 

Few of us face pressure as intense as what these athletes are dealing with this week, but many of us still rely on our dogs for relief from the stresses of life. Do you?

News: Guest Posts
Researchers Find Reason Dogs Detect Diabetes

Reason number I’ve-lost-count that dogs are better than pretty much everything else: They’re sniffing out health disasters waiting to happen — and once again proving they are true lifesavers.

Studies out of Cambridge University and the University of Oxford have revealed new findings about a chemical called isoprene. It seems levels of isoprene rise when blood sugar levels fall, and its scent can be detected by dogs on human breath. Which is excellent news for Type 1 diabetics and for parents of children with diabetes.

Diabetics are particularly susceptible to experiencing life-threateningly low levels of blood sugar while they sleep. But Diabetic Alert Dogs, as they’re called, are trained to watch over diabetic kids during the night. If a dog detects the smell of isoprene, she’ll first try to wake the child. If there’s no response, the dog is trained to then go alert the parents.

According to a report in the Endocrinology Advisor, the new role for humans’ best friend is proving incredibly valuable: “Diabetic alert dog owners as a whole have expressed high satisfaction and confidence in their canine guardians.”

So now, in addition to lowering blood pressure and sniffing out certain types of cancer, preventing hypoglycemic episodes can be added to the list of dogs’ health-preserving abilities. Indeed, their noses remain a step ahead of science. Pretty amazing for a species who asks for so little from their human partners.

News: Guest Posts
Secret Life of Pets

An ever moving screen, action packed perfect for our video gaming generation, but also very familiar (if you have or have ever had a pet), and completely heart embracing film.  This colorful cartoon, laced with a whimsical score, and wonderfully designed backdrops, stars a little brown and white dog named Max (Louis C.K.) who becomes a lost dog along with his new brother/roommate, Duke (Eric Stonestreet), after they accidentally escape from the sight of their NYC dog walker. On their adventure to find home, Max and Duke come across a dark and comical band of abandoned pets of the underground with Snowball the bunny (Kevin Hart) leading the pack. The cast is exceptional including the likes of Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Albert Brooks, and Dana Carvey.

Max and Duke bring forth our pets’ psyche with such delightful humor and adorable innocence. The directing duo, Yarrow Cheney and Chris Renaud of Despicable Me, and the actors have brilliantly captured and depicted our very own beloved pets, you can’t help but think of them throughout the film.

Secret Life of Pets is a burst of color and flashy imagery in every moment, if you have a headache skip the movie until it subsides.  It’ll be an easy score with the kids and adults will have a lot to appreciate too.

Driving home, I couldn’t wait to reunite with my pets. My chocolate Lab, Caleb, was right behind my door as I opened it and my Betta fish, Koufax, swimming around in his tank to greet me. As Max says, “It’s the best part of the day.”

Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Not So Secret Life of Pets
Real dogs just as funny as movie versions

I was quick to roll my eyes and grumble that the makers of the film “The Secret Life of Pets” went for cheap laughs over more believable depictions of our pets. I had to eat my words, though, when I saw this ad showing dogs acting just like their movie counterparts. Some crazy things that I’ve never see in the real world include a dog turning on the music and then rocking out to it, and a Dachshund taking advantage of electric beaters to get a back massage.

 

In what way does your dog act like the dogs in the clip?

News: Editors
W San Francisco Hosts Summer "Yappy Hour" for People and Dogs

W San Francisco invites all dogs and their two-legged friends to join the hotel’s first Yappy Hour of the season from 5:30 pm-7 pm on Thursday, July 7. The summer party, taking place at Hunt Lane, an outdoor space adjacent to W San Francisco, will feature specialty cocktails and treats for both dogs and owners, a photo station and more pawsome fun. The signature W pink carpet will be rolled out for all guests, and star-studded pups Little Cooper Bear and Sailor the Doodle, Hula & Bean Sprout, Boe The Bear Coat and Sneakers the Doodle will be in attendance.

The world-class W San Francisco is pet-friendly hotel and welcomes dogs and cats to the property through its P.A.W. (“PETS ARE WELCOME”) program. The hotel enhances animals’ stay with dog-walking and grooming services. At check-in, guests receive pet toys, pet treats, a W Hotels pet tag, clean-up bags, details about pet services available through the Concierge team and items available through Whatever/ Whenever® service. Pet stays also include a custom W Hotels pet bed, food and water bowl with floor mat, a pet-in-room door sign, an in-room dining dog menu featuring 8 oz. pan roasted natural beef and grilled natural beef patty, and a special treat at turndown.

To RSVP for W San Francisco’s Yappy Hour, please email rsvpwsfevents@whotels.com

WHEN: Thursday, July 7, 5:30 pm-7 pm WHERE: Hunt Lane at W San Francisco 181 3rd Street San Francisco, CA 94103 COST: Cocktails: $13-15, Complimentary hors-d’oeuvres
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
A Dogs Grief

When Malachi was first captured and brought to Dogwood Animal Rescue Project, he was a feral wolfdog who had been living wild and on his own for some time. He was terrified of people but he bonded tightly and immediately with our rescued Great Dane, Tyra. Tyra was frail and struggling with Wobblers Disease and other health problems but Malachi adored her.

Tyra was incredibly helpful in being a stable role model for Malachi’s interactions with people. Although he’s still somewhat feral, he’s made a lot of improvement and would come inside the house, lie near us and even greet us, just to be near her. As Tyra’s health worsened she fell often and Malachi would always rush to be with her and hover around her frantically as she waited for me to help her up. While the other dogs loved Tyra, they never seemed to notice her struggles. Malachi however was so distressed by her falls that he would get as close as he could, lick and kiss her mouth, curve his body around her and all but pat her back. At 120 pounds it was always a challenge to get Tyra up and as soon as she was on her feet again, Malachi would bound around her in delight, so happy to see his great love out of distress.

Tyra continued to decline and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy for Malachi to lose her. He had lots of other dog friends in the other permanent canine residents as well as endless fosters and visitors and he played with them by the hour but Tyra had his heart. Finally the day came where we couldn’t keep her comfortable any longer and my own heart was breaking as the vet came to the house to help us say good-bye.

The other dogs were out of the room as Tyra slipped away gently in my arms with my tears bathing her sweet face. She was in her favorite bed in the living room and a cat purred quietly on my lap as I sat with her for a few moments after the vet left. Finally I got up and let the other dogs in. In the past my dogs have shown a variety of reactions to the body of one of their companions ranging from intense fascination to little interest. But those dogs were more tightly bonded to me and Malachi was bonded to Tyra. She was his everything.

I was surprised to see the other dogs bounce into the room happily and carefree as ever. They literally leapt over Tyra’s body as they raced to grab their favorite toys or the most comfy spot on the couch.  Malachi who is so hyper-sensitive to every mood and nuance of behavior didn’t seem to notice a thing. After a few minutes of play he went over and lay in the bed next to Tyra but he seemed relaxed and happy. He flopped over near her and even wormed his way a bit closer. In the past she would have corrected him for getting in her space and he acted as if he were getting away with something when she didn’t. A few minutes later he was fast asleep next to her.

The dogs weren’t present when I buried Tyra and a couple of days went by where all seemed normal. I was thrilled that Malachi seemed to be coping so well. A few nights later Malachi refused to come back inside after the last potty break at bedtime. That’s not unusual as he occasionally prefers to sleep outside instead of in the bedroom with us. But the next morning when I let the other dogs out he wasn’t on the back porch waiting to greet them. Our property has a spacious fenced area so I assumed he was just distracted by something. As I went into the kitchen to make my coffee I glanced out the window. To my surprise, Malachi was in another of our yards, frantic and upset, running the fence. In my sleepy state I had trouble processing what I was seeing. How did he get in there? Had I left a gate open? I walked out to the gate and let him back into the regular dog yard. There was a huge hole under the fence where he had dug under, but why?  As I walked back to the house I glanced over at Tyra’s grave. To my horror, the dirt was pulled away and I could see a flash of black fur. I turned away, sick to my stomach. The shock of seeing my girl’s body again was so painful that I felt nauseous. I had buried her tightly wrapped in a sheet, lay flowers on top and covered her thoroughly.

After a moment or two I pulled myself together and walked over to the grave. Tyra’s body itself was undisturbed but the sheet had been ripped away until her shiny black coat was visible. In the soft dirt next to her was the imprint of Malachi’s body where he had lay next to her. I stood there for a long time with the tears slipping down my face and a lump in my throat. I was so saddened and touched by Malachi’s devotion to her. It must have taken half the night to dig a hole big enough for his 100 pound body to fit through and then another to reach his love.

I blocked access to the grave itself and made it so he could lay nearby but the next day when I was at work he ripped the back porch steps off and tunneled under the house toward the grave. He spend days under there and rarely came out. Eventually he stopped trying to get to Tyra but he grew more and more skittish and depressed as the days passed. Grieving is an important process and we wanted to honor his pain while helping him cope but it was hard as he didn’t allow us to comfort him. We brought his favorite dog friends to play each day and for a while he would seem joyful and carefree but afterwards he would go into a depression again.

We tried medication and herbal remedies to help him but didn’t see much improvement. People suggested getting him a puppy but we have endless puppies. We are a rescue and it’s rare that we don’t have puppies here to play with along with half a dozen or more dogs in need. Malachi loves other dogs but just as we cannot just replace a loved one, neither can Malachi. He has lots of playmates but Tyra was more of a mother figure, leader and teacher all in one and Malachi worshipped her like no other.

As time goes on Malachi seems to be happier again although like the rest of us it’s up and down. At times Malachi seeks attention and cuddles close as I massage him from his face all the way down to his tail and other times I can’t get anywhere near, let alone touch him. A friend reminds me to be more like Tyra in my interaction with him. Tyra wouldn’t have felt sorry for him, or herself. Tyra would have led him firmly and gently guided him through the pain. I’m hopeful that, with time, I will be able to take a role similar to Tyra’s in Malachi’s life. 

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