Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Renowned Veterinary Behaviorist has died
The name R.K. Anderson may not be universally known among dog lovers, but his ideas and innovations are. Anderson, who passed away yesterday at the age of 90, has promoted kindness with pets for decades, long before it was fashionable. Mocked as a “cookie pusher” a half century ago for his interest in using food instead of force to train dogs, he continued to work towards gentle treatment of companion animals throughout his career.
Perhaps the best known of his contributions is as co-inventor of the Gentle Leader® head collar, which was meant to be a replacement for choke collars and prong collars. He also helped design the Easy WalkTM harness, which similarly aims to provide people a humane way to control their dogs.
Anderson is also one of the founders of Animal Behavior Resources Institute, which provides education and resources about animal behavior in order to further its goal of improving human-animal relationships and the quality of life for people and animals. His idea to share videos on the internet for educational purposes predates YouTube.
R.K. was always as kind and caring with people as he was with dogs, and everybody loved to be around him for that reason as much as because they could learn from him. Like many other trainers and behaviorists as well as veterinarians, I had some fine conversations with him at conferences and gatherings over the years, and I will miss him.
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Controversy is guaranteed
When Michael Vick mentioned over the summer in an interview with Piers Morgan that he would like to have another dog someday, many people reacted with concern and even revulsion. (Vick served 18 months in federal prison on dog fighting charges. He was banned from having a dog during the three years of his probation that followed his release from prison, but that ban expired in July 2012.) Vick told Morgan that he would want another dog for the sake of his children, saying, “I can’t take that dream away from them. That’s selfish on my behalf . . . Got to find a way to make it right.”
Last week, Vick tweeted a picture with the caption “we workin’” of his daughter studying while he reviewed film of a recent game. On the table was a box of dog biscuits, which prompted speculation that he had a dog. Though he retweeted with a different photo and initially refused to talk about it, he has since released a statement through his publicist confirming that his family does, in fact, have a dog. The type, age, and sex of the dog were not revealed.
The statement says, “Our pet is well cared for and loved as a member of our family.” It also states that he will continue to work towards animal welfare and helping promote positive change. He acknowledged that he understands that his decision to have a dog will elicit strong emotions in many people. He has often noted that he knows many people will never forgive him for what he did during the time that he bankrolled and was actively involved in dog fighting. Like a typical statement by celebrity publicists, it comes off as attempt at damage control with the obvious effort to say all the right things.
As in any controversy, there’s more than one side. The perspective supportive of this development is that Vick is legally allowed to be a dog guardian after having paid his debt to society, he is certain to be heavily scrutinized with regard to his dog, and the kids are not paying for the sins of their father with regards to being dogless. The other perspective, the one not supportive of Vick being a dog guardian, is that it’s hard to know if he has changed and will do right by this dog, there is the risk that the dog will be mistreated, and that he seems to have kept it a secret, only slipping up with a photo that showed the biscuits. (Of course, it’s easy to see why he wasn’t eager to ignite more controversy, which could easily explain why he hadn’t gone public before.
I feel uneasy about Vick being a dog guardian, though I desperately hope that it will be a positive experience for the dog as well as his children. How do you feel about it?
Inspired by our own exclusive behind-the-scenes examination of the dogs of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Brian Williams’ “Rock Center” takes up on that story. Watch tonight as all our favorites, Kweli, Ally and Parker (and their humans too), and even more of their office dogs come out for the big time bright lights of TV. See how well everyone clicks into place and why we were so inspired by their humor and harmony. We’ve seen a preview clip so not sure if we’ll get to see Williams’ own dog make an appearance, he is, after all huge dog lover, same with Jon Stewart and his pair of French Bulldogs, hope we get to see them! Watch Rock Center tonight on NBC 10pm/9C. (And, nope, no The Bark there.)
Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
From the Philippines to California for surgery
A dog in need of surgery is about to travel from her home in the Philippines to the United States for the medical care that’s not available where she is. Kabang has had a life filled with more adventures than most dogs. Her name means “spotty” in her family’s native language, and though that probably refers to her appearance, it certainly applies to her luck as well.
She was found as an abandoned puppy two years ago by Rudy Bunggal. Since his family struggles to acquire enough food, there was a very real possibility that she would find her way to their dinner table. Instead, though the Bunggals continue to face food shortages, Kabang remains a cherished pet who is closely bonded to Rudy’s daughter Dina and his niece Princess, and protective of them as well.
Her protective tendencies made this dog a national hero when she charged in front of a motorcycle that nearly hit Dina and Princess. The girls and the motorcyclist were merely bruised in the incident, but Kabang was not so lucky. Her face was caught in the spokes of the motorcycle, causing her to sustain terrible injuries. The accident, which saved the lives of two members of her family, resulted in the loss of a large part of her face.
After the accident, Kabang disappeared and she was feared dead until she showed up weeks later at home. It was at this time that her story made national and international headlines. Local veterinarians offered to euthanize her, but the Bunggals refused to allow it. Although she is not believed to be in pain currently, her injuries leave her susceptible to infection, and surgery is necessary to keep her healthy.
Surgery is expensive, though, especially when the care she needs is not available locally. Having heard about Kabang, a woman in New York set up the site careforkabang.com in order to raise money, and also convinced Philippine Airlines to donate the ticket to fly the dog and his guardian to the United States. The goal to raise $20,000 was recently reached, and Kabang will soon be headed to UC Davis for surgery. The reconstruction is an attempt to regain enough function in Kabang’s face that she can continue to be a happy, healthy family pet. She will still look very different than she did before the accident, no matter how successful the surgery is.
The world joined in to help this dog. To Kabang and her family, the help of many strangers will make a world of difference.
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Puppies are named after them
After September 11, 2001, more explosives detection dogs were trained to work in airports and other areas of mass transportation all over the country. To honor those people who lost their lives on that day, the Transportation Security Administration began naming the dogs in their puppy program after them.
Lisa Dolan’s husband, U.S. Navy Captain Bob Dolan, was one of the people who died at the Pentagon. When Lisa met Dolan, a Labrador Retriever puppy named in his honor, she said that it felt like she was hugging her husband. He gave her great comfort. Can there be any nicer gift to give a widow?
And it was surely an emotional moment when the family of fallen firefighter Carl Asaro met the dog named Asaro. The two-year old dog was trained as a bomb-sniffing dog and was recently put up for adoption. His new guardian went to great lengths to meet Asaro’s wife and three sons.
Dolan was born over a year ago, and he was the 500th puppy in the program. A lot of people who died on September 11, 2001 have had a puppy named after them, but sadly, there are many more who have yet to be honored in this way.
Wellness: Health Care
Making the cost of pet care easier to swallow
In many veterinary practices, dispensing of prescription drugs, nutritional supplements and parasite prevention makes up 17 percent to 20 percent of practice revenue. Historically, selling these products has been a relatively passive revenue source for veterinary practices. In the past, there has been little competition for products, and consumers did not routinely “shop around” for medications. However, that landscape is rapidly changing.
There is new legislation that is currently being discussed in congress that, if passed, will mandate that veterinarians provide a written prescription, even if the prescription is filled on the premise. This legislation is called the “Fairness to Pet Owners Act of 2011,” or H.R. 1406, which will allow pet owners to go to their neighborhood pharmacy for prescriptions, or to have them filled online. The legislation was modeled after the Contact Lens Consumers Act, with the intent of giving pet owners a copy of the written prescription so they can shop around.
The legislation calls for new rules regarding veterinary prescriptions that include:
• Requires veterinarians to offer written disclosures about off-site pharmacy options for prescription dispensing;
Many veterinarians and medical associations feel this idea is a tough pill to swallow and here’s why:
• The American Veterinary Association believes this law is redundant and will cause undue regulatory and administrative burdens on veterinary practices. They feel it is burdensome and unnecessary to require a written prescription be provided, as well as a written notification that the prescription may be filled elsewhere, regardless of whether or not the client is having the prescription filled by the veterinarian.
• The provision that requires the vet to verify the prescription, regardless of whether the pharmacy is accredited or licensed, which places the veterinarian in both a legal and ethical dilemma. At the same time, it puts consumers at risk.
• Clients already have the flexibility to fill a prescription at their veterinary clinic or off-site at a pharmacy of their choice. The AVMA is supportive of a client's right to choose where they have their prescription filled.
I see both sides of the fence, and overall, I feel that the concept is an excellent one; I just hope it doesn’t get lost in translation. I feel pet parents have the same right to shop around for the best prices on the medications they buy for their pets, just as they do for products they buy for themselves.
While the various lobbyists continue the battle of semantics, did you know? Yes, it is true: most states already do require by law that a written prescription be provided to you, should you just ask. Did you realize that you most likely have this option available to you? What are your thoughts with this proposed legislature after hearing “both sides?”
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Reactions to the photo vary
The photo of Andy Murray’s Border Terriers on Twitter wearing his Olympic medals has met with different reactions. Some found it quite endearing that Murray wanted his dogs to be a part of the sweetest victories of his life. (Competing in his home country, the tennis star won a gold medal in singles and a silver medal in mixed doubles in the London 2012 Olympics.) My reaction was in this category—kind of an “Aww, look at that” response.
Many other people consider the photo further evidence that tennis players don’t value the Olympics enough since there are other events in their sport that have long been more prestigious. Those with this perspective think that putting them on his dogs degrades the medals or shows that Murray doesn’t care about them. It’s hard to imagine he doesn’t care after seeing his emotional reaction to winning the gold medal, and I just don’t ever think that dogs degrade events, because I think they enhance them. The photo suggests to me that Murray values his dogs, rather than that he doesn’t value his Olympic medals.
Of course, among the worldwide audience are many people who don’t view dogs as favorably as I do, so the difference in perceptions is hardly surprising. What is your response to this photo?
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
Spend any time in a city and you’ve seen it—am older man rummaging through a trash can for bottles or his next meal, a young puppy playfully at his side, or a dirty teenager clothes held together with patches asking passerby’s for change with a dog curled up on a blanket near her feet. The site of a dog living on the streets with a person experiencing homelessness tugs at the heartstrings of many, even people who are normally made uncomfortable by the site of homeless folks, and wouldn’t give a second glance to someone in the same circumstance who wasn’t accompanied by a dog. There are an estimated 3.5 million people who experience homeless in the United States on an annual basis, and like every other segment of our population many of them are dog lovers, and many of them (an estimated 5-10%) share their lives with companion animals, the reality of which often leaves dog lovers concerned about the welfare of the dog.
Although Rhode Island is expected to pass the nations first Homeless Bill Of Rights, which will formally ban discrimination against homeless individuals and grant them equal access to jobs, housing and services, there is a national trend where many cities legislating discrimination against homeless residents by outlawing behaviors like eating, sleeping, and panhandling in public spaces. While San Francisco is one of those cities that has in recent years passed what are commonly referred to as sit/lie ordinances criminalizing the daily survival activities for homeless residents, starting August 1st, the city is breaking new ground by taking a friendlier and fuzzier approach at decreasing behaviors associated with homelessness—specifically panhandling. Wonderful Opportunities for Occupants and Fidos, or WOOF as it is being called is a new program, the first in the nation that is pairing homeless individuals with difficult to place dogs in the shelter system. The individuals will receive financial incentives ($50-75 per week) to care for the dogs instead of panhandling. They will also receive vet care, dog training classes, leashes, toys and food for the dogs in their care courtesy of Animal Care and Control.
Program participants will go through an intensive screening process by the San Francisco Animal Care and Control program to assess stability and appropriate fit for the program. Individuals cannot be street-homeless and must be residents of a supportive housing program. They will also need to prove that they do not have a history of violence, aren’t in substance abuse treatment, and are not severely mentally ill. Additionally, because the program is specifically aimed at stopping panhandling in the city, program participants must commit to not panhandle while participating, and if caught doing so they will be removed from the program and the puppy returned to the shelter. WOOF will give difficult to place dogs the chance to have one-on-one human contact and exposure to living in a home, while giving the homeless participants an opportunity to gain animal-related skills that may be transferable into the job market.
WOOF is the newest in a growing trend of social service providers who are recognizing the unique and powerful bond between people and dogs and pairing individuals who are experiencing homelessness with dogs in order to foster a mutually beneficial relationship. Outside In a leading homeless youths service provider in Portland Oregon runs the groundbreaking Virginia Woof Doggie Daycare facility, which now has two locations in the Portland area. Virginia Woof is more than another daycare option in Portland, it is a job training program that hires homeless youth, giving them dog training and work experience in the ever-growing doggie daycare industry.
Virginia Woof and now WOOF are two examples of great programs that are working to pair individuals experiencing homelessness with dogs with the intent to develop workplace skills, but there are also an increasing number of programs that are working directly with homeless people who are the guardians of companion animals. UC Davis Veterinary School runs the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless, a student operated organization that offers free medical care through a monthly clinic for the pets of homeless people in the community. Others, like the nonprofit organization Pets of The Homeless works to provide pet food and veterinary medical care to the pets of those experiencing homelessness across the country.
Many dog lovers struggle with understanding why someone who is homeless would choose to have a dog, but think for a moment about the important role dogs play in so many of our lives, the unconditional love and nonjudgmental companionship. For many homeless people who have been thrown away or abandoned by families and communities a relationship to a dog is the most important and secure relationship they have in their life. It is unfortunately often those same vital relationships that keep people street homeless instead of homeless shelters, as most shelters do not permit people to bring animals with them. Thus, many people unwilling to be separated from their dogs live in their cars, or on the streets in order to remain with their dogs. There are however an increasing number of drop-in centers, especially targeted at youth who allow clients to bring their well-behaved companion animals into the center and not forcing them to choose between access to needed social services and their beloved dogs.
As an advocate for both human and animal rights, I applaud the steps being made by WOOF and other programs to work proactively with homeless communities and dogs. I also look forward to the day when amongst dog lovers talking about programs and support for individuals experiencing homelessness receives as many smiles and as much support as talking about of homeless dogs on the streets and in shelters.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Facebook to the rescue
Communication is critical when an animal or a child is lost or in danger. If more people know to be on the lookout for an individual in trouble, the likelihood of rescue increases. Such was the case for a stray dog with her head stuck inside a jug, a situation that can lead to suffocation, dehydration, hunger and many risks. When a picture of this animal and her predicament was posted on Facebook, a lot of people took notice, including a local TV station in Nashville.
Eventually, one of the volunteers out searching for the dog found her and people were able to remove the jug and take her to a veterinarian. Ecstatic that she survived an ordeal that could have ended less happily, the dog has been named Miracle.
Has Facebook helped a dog in need in your area?
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