Growing up, I never missed an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. The program was pure hokum, but a tonic that was hugely popular during the unsettling times of 1960s America. Each week Andy dispensed wisdom and homilies to his young son Opie (played by a young Ron Howard) and a cast of characters named Aunt Bee, Barney Fife and Gomer Pyle. Griffith seemed born to play the part of the small town law officer, a role he developed from his popular monologues and a successful stage career. Griffith was so comfortable in the role, he never seemed to be acting. It wasn’t until much later that I gained a fuller appreciation of Griffith’s talent, watching his film debut in “A Face in the Crowd” directed by Elia Kazan. It’s a memorable performance, as complex and dark a character as his sheriff Andy was simple and sunny. In the fictional town of Mayberry, we saw how life could be, with good trumping bad, neighbor helping neighbor, and when Opie finds a stray dog—a lesson in humanity. See the full 1963 episode titled “Dogs, Dogs, Dogs.”
News: Guest Posts
A lesson in how not to catch a dog
Holiday traffic was tied up for an hour when a small mixed breed dog darted along the busy Stevenson Expressway in Chicago. State police troopers, road construction workers and passersby all attempted to catch the dog to no avail. It wasn't until he wore himself out and laid down on the grassy shoulder that nearby resident Jose Terriquez could grab him. In watching the video, I couldn't help but notice how the would-be rescuers were chasing him down, hoping to catch him. But anyone with a dog knows that most of them can easily outrun a clumsy, two-legged person, especially if the dog is scared. In an emergency, the best way to catch a dog is to run away from him. The motion grabs his attention in an instinctive way, an urge to chase prey. Unfortunately, our instinct is to give chase, which puts pressure on the dog and moves him away from us. To learn more about how to teach your dog to come every time, animal behaviorist Ian Dunbar, Ph.D., shares his emergency recall tips.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Bill seeks better treatment for war dogs
As we celebrate Independence Day, it's important to remember our veterans—both human and canine. The military has been slow in providing the care and respect that these working canines deserve. Retired war dogs were euthanized for decades before “Robby's Law” allowed these brave pups to be adopted. However, the military still has a long way to go in giving dogs proper treatment.
I was shocked to learn that the military classifies working canines as equipment. Because of this distinction, dogs that are retired overseas are considered excess equipment and are not transported home. They can be adopted, but the government doesn't provide any financial support.
U.S. Army Specialist Robert Mather Jr. couldn't afford to adopt the Belgian Malinois he worked with in Iraq and Germany. Fortunately Mather's community raised the money to bring Nouska back to N.J., but it's a disgrace that the military didn't pay for her safe return. Nouska served for 10 years and 4 tours of duty!
Representative Walter Jones and Senator Richard Blumenthal teamed up earlier this year to sponsor a bill that would make sure dogs like Nouska are safe. The Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act would allow the military to honor courageous canines, make sure that all dogs are flown back home, and set up a private fund for lifetime health care. The House of Representatives already passed the bill and the legislation is now in the Senate.
Seems like a no brainer for the furry pups who serve our country and protect our troops!
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
I’m not sure why I care
I am dogsitting again for Schultzie, an incredibly lovely dog about whom I have expressed my great love. There are so many wonderful qualities in this dog, but being photogenic is not among them. She is incredibly adorable in person, but her charm simply does not come across in pictures. This bums me out, but it’s hard to explain why it matters to me at all.
As a behaviorist, I know very well the value of a dog whose behavior makes her a joy to be around. What a dog looks like is not what’s most important to me. In fact, I’m a huge champion of choosing a dog whose behavior you like and then learning to love what that dog looks like. (This would probably not be a bad idea in our relationships with people either, but that’s a whole different can of worms.)
With Schultzie’s appearance not translating well to pictures, I’ve given a lot of thought to why I care. I think that the fact that Schultzie is not photogenic bothers me because I adore this dog and I want others to see her in the best possible light, and pictures that don’t do her justice fail in that attempt.
Do you have a dog who is not photogenic, and if so, how do you feel about that?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
One of the busiest times of the year for our emergency service is the Fourth of July holiday. While many people celebrate Independence Day with fireworks and BBQ’s, many others spend it waiting in the ER while their pet is treated for an array of holiday-induced emergencies, including serious laceration injuries from pets jumping through glass windows or doors, high rise fall injuries due to jumping from balconies, hit by car trauma as pets attempt to flee from noises, dietary indiscretions from our pets stealing post-picnic scraps, and cases of severe anxiety due to overwhelming stimulation. In addition to the trauma that we see, we also receive many phone calls from distressed owners trying to locate their lost pet, following it running away from home in a panicked state.
Follow these tips to help prevent injury and loss during this holiday:
It is hoped that these tips will help ensure a happy holiday celebration for your entire 2 and 4-legged family… one without any trips to the animal ER!
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Healthcare organizations partner with PAWS to bring in pets
I've never had to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time, but if I did I know that I'd miss my dogs. I can't imagine getting over an illness or injury without them there to cheer me up and make me laugh.
As studies document the healing power of pets, more healthcare organizations have started allowing animals into their facilities. My Sheltie, Nemo, and I visited patients at our local hospital through a therapy program. I could see people's faces light up when we entered the room. As the patients stroked Nemo's fur, they would open up and tell me about their own pets back at home.
Petting a dog can brighten up a dreary day in the hospital, but nothing can replace the joy of your own pets. An organization called PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support) realized that it was important to get people's animals into the hospital as part of the healing process. They've since convinced several hospitals across the country to adopt personal pet visitation policies.
After the program is in place, if a hospital worker hears that a patient has a pet at home, they can ask a doctor to approve a visit. Then PAWS checks that the animal is up to date on vaccinations and performs a “behavior check” to ensure the their temperament is suitable for a hospital environment. A volunteer will then accompany the pet to the patient's room.
I imagine that it's no easy feat to get health care facilities to create personal pet visitation policies. However, I'm glad that more hospitals are exploring alternative therapies. Any dog lover knows that our pets can be a powerful "medicine!"
News: Guest Posts
Terri Crisp again linked to fraudulent fundraising
Terri Crisp, an officer with SPCA International, is back in the news for charity mismanagement. According to CNN, SPCAI raised $27 million to help animals around the globe, but paid nearly all of it to a direct-mail company for fundraising. Nearly five years ago, I blogged about Terri Crisp's settlement with the state of California regarding her misuse of funds raised for animal victims of Hurricane Katrina ("Noah's Wish Settles Katrina Allegations," August 10, 2007). At that time, she agreed that she would not "serve as an officer, director or trustee, or in any position having the duties or responsibilities of an officer, director, or trustee, with any nonprofit organization for a period of five (5) years from the execution of this Settlement Agreement.” Yet, a 2011 document filed with the North Carolina secretary of state lists her among SPCAI's officers and directors, which would seem to violate that settlement. To ensure your donations go to animals, not advertising, check out your charity of choice through the American Institute of Philanthrophy's Charity Watch evalution and rating service.
FTC to Look at Pet Medications
Our office just received a notification from the Federal Trade Commission that they’ll be holding a public workshop on Oct. 2 that should be of interest to many of you—they’ll be exploring “competition and consumer protection issues related to the pet medications industry.” Basically they’ll be looking at the ways that pet medications are distributed to consumers, and to that end are also looking at how and to what extend consumers can obtain “portable” prescriptions for their pets’ meds that can be filled wherever the consumer wants, plus looking at the rationale for the high cost of these medications. At long last the feds might be getting to the bottom of why a tiny tube of eye medication for canine “red eye” should cost $40! I’m sure many of you have similar stories to tell and questions to ask.
This all sounds really interesting, and the FTC is seeking public comments from consumers, veterinarians, business representatives, economists, lawyers, academics, and other interested parties. Comments can be submitted in paper or electronic format through September 14, 2012, with full instructions available in the Federal Register notice. You can see their notification here.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Emergency evacuation shelters keep pets safe
Wildfires in Colorado have displaced tens of thousands of people and destroyed hundreds of acres of land, making it the most destructive fire in state history. The fast spreading disaster has also resulted in hundreds of animals with no place to go. Some are from evacuees needing temporary shelter for their pets and others are found lost or abandoned on the streets.
The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region has two emergency evacuation shelters set up to accommodate the influx of pets. They've also put together a web site to keep track of what donations and supplies local rescue and volunteer groups need.
It's heartbreaking to see entire neighborhoods flattened and countless lives changed in an instant. But I'm glad that the Humane Society has made it easy for people to evacuate knowing that their pets are safe.
Animal lovers around the world have been rallying to support these families and pets in need. Visit the Humane Society's web site or Facebook page to find out how you can help the rescue efforts.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Bark readers are by their very nature, responsible dog owners. We treat our dogs as family and many of us love to take them with us whenever possible. The fact that we include them in every aspect of our lives is an example of our commitment to them. We would never knowingly do anything to put our beloved friends in danger and yet leaving them in our cars, even just for a few minutes, can be fatal. As an animal control officer, I know the dangers better than most. I have witnessed the tragic results of people leaving dogs in the car “just to run in and get a gallon of milk.” Sadly, sometimes people get distracted, run into an old friend or the line is longer than expected. I have removed dead dogs from the owners vehicles and been haunted by the images in my dreams.
During the summer months our department responds to multiple dog-in-hot-car calls every day. Most of the time the vehicle is long gone when we arrive, or the dog is fine and the caller was just overly concerned. Occasionally the dog is truly in distress. I have a little portable thermometer that I put inside the vehicle (assuming that the window is cracked open) to measure the temperature. Often the owner comes back before the dog is in serious distress but when I show them the thermometer listing 90, 100 or more degrees, it makes an impact. Dogs vary tremendously in how much heat they can take. Short- faced or heavily coated dogs are far more susceptible to heat stroke than some others. In one case, the Husky puppy died in the vehicle, while a kitten was able to climb under the seats and survive. I won’t hesitate to break a window to save a dog’s life.
I remember one overcast day when an elderly couple drove a long distance to a hospital for a routine early morning appointment. They cracked the windows, parked in the shade and left their two dogs waiting in the car. The husband suffered a medical emergency during his visit and ended up being airlifted to another hospital. In the chaos of the day, the dogs were temporarily forgotten. The sun came out, the shade shifted and the dogs became distressed. I removed the dogs, placed them in my truck with the cooler on and water available and waited. Finally the panicked wife arrived, distraught with worry about her husband and suddenly remembering her dogs. The dogs recovered quickly but this is an extreme example of the kind of things that can come up, taking our attention away from our dogs.
I’m mortified to admit that I myself once put two puppies in danger in a hot vehicle. I was raising the orphaned pups on a bottle and had to attend an all day class in another city. No one was available to feed the babies so I took them with me, planning to feed them during the breaks from class. It was a very cold, overcast winter morning and I was actually worried about the pups being chilled.
Two hours later when I returned to feed the pups, it was still overcast but the sun was peeking through the clouds and beating straight in the windows. It was chilly outside but the inside was uncomfortably hot and the pups were panting and crying in distress. Horrified by what I had done, I was in tears as I quickly moved them into the building and found a place for them inside. The pups were fine after a few minutes but it made a lasting impact on me and reminded me how easily it can happen.
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