Dog's Life: Lifestyle
A judge to decide the fate of a pup caught up in a divorce
Shannon Louise Travis and Trisha Bridget Murray are getting a divorce, but there's only one thing they really care about--their Dachshund, Joey. The former couple is about to go to court over who gets to keep the 2-year old pup--New York's first matrimonial pet custody case.
Shannon and Trisha's ordeal is becoming more common as pets shfit in our culture to being true members of the family. New York City Justice Matthew Cooper summed up the predicament saying, "People who love their dogs almost always love them forever. But with divorce rates at record highs, the same cannot always be said for those who marry."
According to Judge Cooper, New York lags behind other states in the legal standing of pets. In a city with canine concierges and dedicated pet taxis, it's surprising that this hasn't come up before (there have been non-divorce custody cases). But Joey will not be treated like property. In the hearing, Judge Cooper will be looking to see who was responsible for Joey's needs and will ask questions similar to those used in child custody cases.
Judge Cooper will have a difficult decision to make as the outcome of this case will certainly influence future pet custody cases. But it sounds like they have the right person for the job.
Judge Cooper said, "If judicial resources can be devoted to such matters as which party gets to use the Escalade as opposed to the Ferrari, or who gets to stay in the Hamptons house instead of the Aspen chalet, there is certainly room to give real consideration to a case involving a treasured pet."
Judge Cooper is a dog lover himself and his 12-year old rescue, Peaches, gives him a special interest in making sure this case gets the attention it deserves.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
People don’t see the dog you love
There are so many drawbacks to living with and loving an aggressive dog. You have to manage or prevent any situations that cause your dog to behave aggressively. That may include feeding time, the arrival of visitors, or seeing other dogs. There’s the constant concern of an incident happening despite your best efforts at prevention. It may be impossible, or at least challenging, to join others for group walks, journeys to the park or to visit family over the holidays. But sometimes the worst part about having an aggressive dog is that other people don’t see the dog you love.
They only see the dog going crazy, barking at the delivery guy or lunging at every dog in the neighborhood. The creature they see is a snarling, growling, snapping dog who exhibits little behavior that makes getting to know him seem remotely appealing. They don’t see the sweet dog who cuddles with you at night and makes you smile when he tosses his toy in the air himself and tries to catch it with amusing, but largely unsuccessful, acrobatic moves. They don’t have the opportunity to see the dog who does a down stay all through dinner, who comes when called perfectly at home and performs any number of charming tricks on cue.
After years of working with them, I can assure you that most dogs with aggression issues are lovely to be around in most situations, however badly they may behave in others. Almost every client whose dog is aggressive makes some comment to me along the lines of “Other than when he’s biting (or lunging, barking, growling) he’s such an angel!” and I believe them. Many aggressive dogs are not at their best when out in public around strangers or other dogs, but are kind and lovable around the family, including small kids and even the cat. When you have a dog like that, it hurts when other people don’t see the good side of your dog, even though that’s what you see most of the time.
If you have an angel who is all too often an angel in disguise, what do you wish other people could see in your dog that you see every day?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
The world said good-bye to one of Michael Vicks former fighting dogs this week as she succumbed to age related illness. Georgia became quite a celebrity after her rescue and left her mark on all who knew her. While I never had the opportunity to meet her, I’ve been told that Georgia was delightful and unforgettable.
I have to confess that when I first heard that some rescue groups were going to see if any of Michael Vicks fighting dogs could be saved, I disagreed. It didn’t make sense to me try and save dogs who had been bred and trained specifically for fighting when friendly, healthy dogs who had never been trained to fight were being euthanized all over the country every day. I love the breed, and was broken hearted by what they had been through, but I still thought it safest to let them go.
In the years since that terrible event, I have had the good fortune of meeting several of Vicks former dogs and I fell completely in love. The dogs I met were affectionate, happy, typical dogs who loved people and wanted to play with other dogs. Saving the Vick dogs ended up being a fabulous choice on so many levels. It is a reminder that all dogs deserve to be judged on their own merits, not by breed or history. It also brought a great deal of attention to all canine victims of dog fighting and gave some wonderful animals the love and happiness all dogs deserve.
Georgia was heavily scarred from fighting and was one of those who could not live with other dogs but she had a vast number of human friends who adored her. Georgia and the other Vick dogs were originally rescued by the amazing BAD RAP (Bay Area Dog-lovers Responsible About Pit-Bulls) rescue group. They traveled across the country hoping that a small number of the dogs could be saved. Instead they found that very few of the dogs were aggressive and many even enjoyed other dogs. BAD RAP evaluated the dogs, helped care for them and facilitated their eventual rescue and placement.
Some of the dogs that were unable to be adopted at that time were sent to foster homes and sanctuaries. Georgia went to Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, where she received much needed attention and training. She eventually passed her Canine Good Citizen test and was adopted into a loving home.
Georgia spent the last two years of her life as the beloved companion all dogs should be. When I think of Georgia, I try to remember one of the best lessons of dogs, which is to live in the moment. Georgia didn’t dwell on the past but lived joyfully in the moment. She was described as exuberant, confident and full of life.
Sweet Dreams Georgia and a huge thank you to all who helped her and the other Vick dogs get a second chance.
News: Guest Posts
Some dogs seem oblivious to music, while others feel compelled to join in, singing harmony. This dog in the Ukraine clearly enjoyed accompanying a street musician as he played his clarinet. The dog’s presence delighted those passing by, likely increasing the donations received by the musician.
One of my dogs asked to go outside whenever I started playing piano. The others would curl up nearby and wait for the concert to end. Everyone’s a critic!
Do you have a musical dog?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
United tries to cover up a dog with heat stroke
When Janet Sinclair moved from San Diego to Boston with her Greyhound, Sedona, and her cat, Alika, she chose United Airlines' PetSafe program because of their amenities and good track record. PetSafe advertises that four-legged passengers will receive personal handling in climate-controlled vehicles, a necessity for travel in July. Janet also paid extra for a comfort stop at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, a layover almost killed her pets.
According to Janet, as she sat in her window seat looking out onto the tarmac, she saw a cargo employee kick Sedona's crate six times to shove it under the shade of the plane's wing. According to the National Weather Service, the high in Houston that day was 94 degrees and her pets were left outside, without the temperature-controlled vehicle that was promised. Urged by a fellow passenger, Janet began videoing the events on her cell phone.
By the time they got to Boston, Sedona was barely alive. The poor pup required three days in intensive care for heat stroke, a urinary tract infection, and liver problems.The vet believes that the medical conditions were due to hyperthermia suffered during the flight and not due to underlying disease. This is contrary to United Airlines' claim that Sedona had a pre-existing health condition, despite the fact that both of Janet's pets received a clean bill of health from their vet in San Diego prior to their departure.
United Airlines agreed to reimburse Janet's vet fees, but only if she remained silent and signed a nondisclosure agreement. Janet refused and has since been on a mission to spread the word about the ordeal through the Facebook page, United Airlines Almost Killed My Greyhound.
By law airlines must report when a pet is hurt, gets lost, or dies on a trip within 45 days of the incident. As of November, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has no record of Sedona's injuries.
When NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit looked into the case, they uncovered more than 300 pets that have died, been injured, or been lost in the care of airlines over the last year. This number is significantly less than what has been reported by the DOT.
This means that airlines are covering up incidents affecting our pets. Having used this data to identify the "safer" airlines, it's horrifying and unacceptable that the data is inaccurate. Under reporting will also affect future regulations if politicians can't see the full picture.
I think we owe it to all of the pets missing from the DOT statistics to spread the word and hopefully one day improve flight conditions for our pups.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
A relationship-building activity
For dogs who love it, being brushed is such an enjoyable experience that it has the power to create good feelings towards whoever is doing the brushing. That’s one of the reasons I love to have kids brush dogs. It’s pretty sweet to watch a dog surrender to the loving care of children.
Because so many dogs find being brushed so pleasurable, it can be a great component of building a strong relationship between kids and dogs. It’s great for kids to play with dogs, but some quiet time together has value, too.
Kids and dogs can have a strong bond, but promoting it means avoiding troublesome interactions of all kinds between them. Obviously, if a dog dislikes being brushed, kids should not ever brush the dog. Equally obviously, kids need to be heavily supervised during this activity.
Of course, it’s critical that the kids are mature enough to be gentle and that they have the ability to be careful. They need to be capable of noticing if a dog flinches even the tiniest amount in response to a tender spot or perhaps a knot. It’s essential that they react by easing up or moving to a new area.
I love that brushing dogs, especially with proper supervision, teaches kids to treat dogs with tenderness. Learning how to take care of dogs and be kind to them involves playing with them, taking them out for walks, and taking care of their bodies, too. If kids love to brush, and the dog loves to be brushed, it’s a win-win that helps build and maintain one of life’s most beautiful relationships.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs gather in D.C. to support the Pets on Trains Act
Last week dozens of dogs joined politicians at Washington D.C.'s Union Station to support the Pets on Trains Act, which is currently being debated in the House of Representatives. The canine crew was joined by Rep. Steve Cohen's (D-Tenn.) French Bulldog, Lily, and Rep. Michael Grimm's (R-N.Y.) Yorkie, Sebastian.
Currently Amtrak only allows service animals on board. This limitation means that dogs must travel long distances by plane if their families aren't up for the road trip by car. Rep. Cohen has a personal investment in the Pets on Trains Act as Lily travels regularly with him between Tennessee and California, currently by plane.
The bi-partisan bill, sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), and Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), would require Amtrak to submit a proposal for at least one "pet car" per passenger train, where dogs and cats could ride in kennels with the carry-on luggage, and a cargo option for larger pets. A companion bill, S.B. 1710, has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
Given the risks of flying with dogs, particularly large pups who have to ride in cargo, I would love to see Amtrak become pet friendly. I'd also hope that for the big guys, train cargo would be safer than airline cargo. If you'd like to see the bill pass, now is the time to contact your representative to let them know you support the legislation.
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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs raised in the program have a higher success rate
After writing about the challenges seeing eye dog organizations are facing, I was happy to see that Leader Dogs for the Blind recently received an award for establishing a program that helps inmates while increasing success rates for their puppies.
The Michigan based group was awarded one of Mutual of America's Community Partnership Awards for their Prison Puppy Raiser program. The initiative pairs inmates in state prisons with a puppy to work on everything from socialization to teaching basic behaviors.
The program's benefits have been two fold. Not only are inmates more successful in staying out of trouble once released, the dogs in this program have a higher success rate compared to pups raised in private homes.
The Prison Puppy Raiser program was launched in 2002 by Leader Dogs for the Blind and the North Central Correctional Facility in Calhoun County, Iowa. Seeing the program's success, other prisons started joining and local Lions Clubs and schools began sponsoring puppies. Volunteers also visit the prisons to distribute supplies and provide guidance to the new puppy raisers.
The program now places nearly 100 puppies each year at six minimum-security prisons across four states. There was stiff competition from many nonprofits for the award, but Mutual of America chose the Prison Puppy Raiser program because of the number of partnerships that came together to make this endeavor a success.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
It will put dogs at risk
Wolf-hunting season is in progress in Wisconsin, which may soon become the only state that allows the use of dogs to hunt wolves. As of January 2012, wolves are no longer considered endangered in Wisconsin. The wolf population there has recovered naturally without any reintroductions and is now a healthy size, which is why wolves can be hunted.
At the beginning of December 2013, dogs may be legally permitted to be a part of those hunts. Right now, there is a temporary injunction that has the matter on hold. That is a result of a lawsuit against the Department of Natural Resources that was brought by humane societies in the state, groups that support animal welfare and individuals who oppose the use of dogs in wolf hunting. The basis of the lawsuit is that the state did not have sufficient rules to protect the safety of the dogs.
Restrictions about the use of dogs in the hunts do little to protect them. Dogs cannot be used at night in hunts and the maximum number of dogs that can be used at once is six. There are no other limitations.
There are obvious dangers to dogs who are in the territories of wolves. So far this year, more than 20 dogs have been killed by wolves in this state. All of them were dogs who were participating in bear hunts. Veterinarians typically treat many dogs each year who have been seriously or even fatally wounded by wolves while hunting bear.
More dogs in Wisconsin die while bear hunting than in Michigan, which may be because Wisconsin law allows people to be financially compensated to the tune of up to $2500 if their dogs are killed while engaged in this activity. The financial compensation provides an incentive for hunters to put their dogs at risk, or at least a disincentive to protect them from harm. Guardians of dogs killed by wolves while wolf hunting will not be eligible for compensation.
Proponents of the use of dogs to hunt wolves say that dogs will be kept safe by being trained to stop on command when they spot a wolf and that they will only go after single wolves. Scientists who are knowledgeable about wolves and wolf behavior have said unambiguously that the presence of dogs in wolf territories is dangerous for the dogs and puts them at great risk of injury and death.
The wolf hunt in Wisconsin this year has resulted in many kills so far, which means the hunt may not run through the end of February as planned. Five of the six zones in the state have been closed to wolf hunting for the season because quotas have been met. The state’s goal is 251 wolves, and as of November 26, 2013, hunters have come within 38 wolves of reaching it. If the total is reached before December 2, the season will close before dogs are permitted to be part of the hunt no matter what happens in court, although that does not prevent their use in future years.
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