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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dog Dish Saves The Day
Woman uses it to escape fire

Susan Garcia was trapped in her basement during a house fire and used her dog’s dish to break out. She said it was the only metal thing she could find, and she used it to break a tiny window that is impossible to open. At the time, her husband was outside breaking windows trying to get to Susan, and screaming for her.

  After Susan broke the window with her impromptu tool, she removed the glass shards and then tossed her dog out the window. She said, “I am not going to lose my dog.” Only after her dog was out, did she escape by crawling out with the help of her husband, who heard her as he came around to that side of the house.   There are so many stories of dogs and people saving each other in fires, but this is the first time I’ve heard of the dog dish having its role to play in the happy ending.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Counterfeit Meds
Unregulated companies sell repackaged pet health products

The internet is my favorite place to shop because of the unbeatable deals on everything from books to pet supplies. The trade-off is that you don’t get to see the products you’re buying in person and the companies selling these products are largely unregulated.

For years, the sale of counterfeit pet medicine has been a problem, leading the FDA to advise only buying pet medication from reputable companies. Misleading claims, false packaging and inauthentic medicine can lead to improper use and even health complications. 

This week retailer, Petspace LLC, agreed to pay a penalty to the United States to settle allegations that it sold repackaged Frontline Plus on eBay. The online sale of the non-prescription flea and tick preventative has become so popular that the EPA has guidelines on how to spot counterfeit packaging on its website.

I buy all of my prescription medicine through my veterinarian (or at my local pharmacy), but I do buy Frontline Plus online. Since the topical medication is applied year round, in a multiple dog household, the cost adds up fast.

Where do you buy your pets’ medicine?

News: Guest Posts
Rabies in Africa
Help here, change there

Earlier this week, JoAnna Lou wrote about an effort to curb rabies in Bali, a fairly new challenge on that island. Now, we’re talking Africa, where an estimated 25,000 people (often children) die from rabies each year. It’s not a huge number but it is unnecessary, since we have to tools and technology to eliminate human and dog rabies. 

  Timed to mark World Rabies Day early this week, I learned about the “Help Here, Change There” campaign, which targets domestic dogs in the Serengeti region of Tanzania. Domestic dogs are responsible for 84.2 percent of cases of the deadly disease in that region, according to the campaign.   The initiative works like this, for every cat or dog to receive certain designated vaccinations in the United States from now through Dec. 31, 2010, U.S. Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health will donate a dose of canine rabies vaccine to Afya Serengeti, a rabies control project, up to 150,000 doses.   It's a good cause and I like creative promotions, but I am sort of weirded-out by tying vaccines here to vaccines there. Would they do the same for human vaccinations? I guess, if you are already planning to get a Nobivac Lyme or Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8 vaccine anyway, you might as well make it count for people and their pets in Tanzania. There are also opportunities to donate directly or drive donations by clicking through at afya.org.

 

News: Guest Posts
Meet Calendar Firefighters...
... and help dogs, Oct. 2, Miami

You know how the classic image of a burly fireman rescuing a frightened kitten from a tree is so familiar, it’s a cliché. Well, a crew of shirtless Southern Florida firefighters are breathing new life into the old idea by coming to the aid of animals in need.

  All thanks to radio/television personality Jade Alexander, who decided to think outside the box and connect two charities with whom she’s been involved over the years, often as an emcee at their events. She asked Lieutenant Luis Espinosa, who created the calendar, to include Friends Forever Rescue (a Florida not-for-profit working to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome homeless and unwanted dogs), as one of the charities to benefit from the sales of the calendar.   “Luis and Dee Chess (of Friends Forever Rescue) work tirelessly in helping the community in their individual efforts and I thought it would be a marriage made in heaven,” Alexander says. “Besides, can you imagine the cuteness factor of a firefighter holding a homeless dog? Of course, there’s the whole other audience that can’t resist a bunch of shirtless firefighters in bunker gear! Bottom line, the more calendars that are sold the more money we raise for abandoned and abused dogs.”   Details: Meet the South Florida Firefighters Calendar Men, Saturday, Oct. 2, from 11 am–3 pm at Petsmart, 13621 S Dixie Highway, Miami.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Be Prepared
Plan ahead for emergencies

After attending a canine emergency seminar last year, I put together a first aid kit that included Elizabethan collars, bandages, eye wash, antibacterial ointment and contact information for the emergency vet. I was feeling pretty prepared, though, of course, I hoped that I’d never have to use any of it.

Unfortunately, earlier this week, my dog, Nemo, crashed into our coffee table, injuring his eye. With the first aid kit on hand, I quickly slipped on his Elizabethan collar and drove to the emergency vet. I was horrified when it dawned on me that Nemo had never worn an Elizabethan collar before. So his first experience with the collar involved a frantic car ride, getting prodded at the vet and a thunderstorm that erupted en route to the hospital. I couldn’t even feed him treats just in case they needed to do surgery the next day.

Fortunately Nemo only seemed slightly annoyed, but this situation could have easily been prevented had I taken the time to get him used to the collar beforehand.

The next day at the ophthalmologist’s office, I saw someone struggling to get their dog to stay still on the scale. It was a simple behavior that would have been a piece of cake if they had trained a nose touch or stand.

It got me thinking that there are many behaviors we can teach our pups to help in these situations, such as swallowing pills, wearing a muzzle and opening their mouth for a check-up. Kathy Sdao’s Husbandry Training for Dog Owners article is a good place to start for ideas on teaching some of these helpful behaviors.

Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in a serious emergency, but a little prep will help make them less stressful for both you and your dog.

News: Editors
Dogs Help Children to be More Active
Improving fitness plus being best friend

As dog lovers we know that our dogs are important to both our mental and physical health—our dogs with their daily “walkathon” needs induce us to be more active, for one. In 2009, researchers from the University of Missouri found that walking dogs makes people not only more consistent about regular exercise but those who walk with a dog showed greater overall improvement in fitness than those who simply walk with two-legged companions! Another study found that dog owners actually take 25 percent more steps per day than do those without dogs. Both studies looked at adults, excluding the younger family members.

  So recently, researchers in the UK set out to discover if dogs also increase the level of physical activity in children. They based their study on 9- to 10-year-olds, from 78 schools across the UK. The young participants wore activity monitors for a week (a small instrument that was worn over the left hip on an elasticized belt). Only 10 percent of the kids had a family dog—but they recorded the most “overall activity count, counts per minute, and steps compared with non-dog owners.”   The authors of this study acknowledged the limitations of their study group, most from a less affluent urban population. Additionally, even though the dog-owning segment proved 4 percent more active, it’s far from the 25 percent recorded in the Canadian adult study. Nonetheless, their findings are important to our understanding of just how important dogs can be to all members of the family.   How has having a dog affected your exercise patterns? And parents, can you really get your kids to walk or play with the dog?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Just For Fun
Tricks for kicks

A lot of training is simply teaching our dogs to be polite members of both human and canine society. Walking nicely on a leash, proper greetings, coming when called, doing sits, downs and stays on cue and letting children eat ice cream cones without helping are all useful skills that make any dog more pleasant to be around.

  Yet, it’s the fun things we teach our dogs that give many of us the most joy. Even simple tricks such as beg, crawl and rollover provide loads of fun both when we spend the time with our dogs to train them and when we get to show off their tricks to other people.   Some tricks are timeless, taught to each generation of dogs. Other tricks cycle in and out of favor, with certain tricks being popular right now. Among the “in” tricks to train dogs lately are the following:   “Aaachoo!” The dog retrieves a tissue when you sneeze.   “Leg up” To lift a leg as though urinating, but without really doing so.   “Stop, drop, roll and crawl to safety.” To stop, lie down, rollover and then crawl as a demonstration of the fire safety behavior   “Tidy up!” To put each toy into the toy box.   Does your dog have a favorite trick? Is it your favorite as well?
News: Guest Posts
Hachi Debuts on Hallmark
Story of epic canine loyalty

From what I hear and read, it appears people either love the movie Hachi: A Dog’s Tale or, well, hate it. I’ve surprised myself by falling in with the fans. First, it’s hard not to swoon over the beautiful dogs portraying Hachi through the years—with their profound eyes and noble carriage. But more than that, I was impressed by the simple story, the slow pace and an unexplained melancholy that hangs over the small Rhode Island town, even when times are good.

  The film relocates the story of Hachiko, an Akita born in Odate, Japan, in 1923, to Rhode Island sometime close to today. The real Hachiko walked his human, a professor at Tokyo Univeristy, to and from the Shibuya train station every day for a couple years. One day, the professor died suddenly at the university and did not come home on the train. Hachi returned to the station and waited for the professor’s return every day for nine years. There is now a bronze statue at the station in his honor.   Knowing the story and that the film was heading for a Hallmark Channel premiere (Sunday, September 26), I worried it would be teeth-achingly saccharine. While I cry at the drop of the hat, I don’t enjoy being played, and I think director Lasse Hallström avoided that. Casting Joan Allen was probably one reason; she plays the professor’s wife/widow as a little hard and unsentimental. It also helps that the score features lots of piano that wanders rather than paces the story. Some of the train station folks—a bookseller, a food cart vendor, and Jason Alexander as the crusty stationmaster—are less convincing types.   Still, I happily bawled into my tissues watching scene after scene of Hachi waiting patiently through sun, wind, rains, snow and dark. When it was all over, I hugged my dogs and asked: “Would you wait nine years for me?” They held their tongues, but I figure I’d get a day, maybe two, tops.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Beating Rabies
Bali to implement a humane rabies control program

Earlier this week I attended a panel discussion on dogs at Barnard College and was shocked to learn that 55,000 people die each year of rabies. Ninety-five percent of those deaths occur in Asia and Africa. Because only one to three of those deaths occur in the United States, I didn’t realize rabies fatalities were such a big problem. Developed countries are lucky to have measures in place to control rabies, it’s something we often take for granted.

In Asia and Africa, mass canine killings are common following outbreaks, even though it’s not an effective way to curtail rabies. Fortunately for dogs and humans in Bali, the government approved a new humane rabies control program on Tuesday. The goal is to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the island’s dogs within six months and implement a public education initiative.

Unlike other areas in Asia, rabies is actually a fairly recent problem in Bali. The country was considered rabies free until 2008 when unvaccinated stray dogs caused an outbreak. The rapid spread of disease was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Balinese followed by mass dog killings.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) are now working with the Balinese government to organize vaccination teams, train local authorities, and implement public education initiatives.

This humane approach to controlling rabies is a win-win for both humans and canines. The Balinese will be protected from rabies and an estimated 400,000 dogs will be saved.

News: Guest Posts
Watch Out, Poachers!
Detection dogs stop smugglers

If dogs can sniff out drugs or explosives, why not ivory or rhino horn? The South African Police Service is training detection dogs in an effort to thwart poachers and protect endangered animals such as elephants and rhinos. Thanks to a partnership with South African company Mechem, which created its Explosive and Drug Detection System, new technology will enable the police dogs to work more safely and efficiently. Watch contraband-detection dogs in action. 

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