Sometimes It’s Hard To Make Lemonade

May 23rd, 2015 Comments off

A well-known cliché admonishes us to make lemonade if we are given lemons. In other words, when we are faced with a bad situation, we should work to make it better. Great solution for humans, but for our companion animals, that’s not an option. They have no voice; they have no choice; they are totally dependent on humans, and sadly, many humans value monetary gain more highly than the welfare of man’s best friends.

Iowa still ranks as the second worst state in the entire country for puppy mills, and puppy mills are certainly lemons…actually worse than lemons…as animal welfare groups and non- profit grass roots organizations such as Iowa Voters for Companion Animals, have discovered the last few years. (And if you don’t live in Iowa, a little research will probably reveal the existence of mills in your state).

What an irony it is that in our country where we spend BILLIONS of dollars on pets every year, a nation where more than half of us share our lives with companion animals, that millions of creatures that we claim to love are born and live in misery in shockingly squalid conditions where they are mass produced for profit each year. Some never survive, and the ones who do are usually scarred, emotionally and physically. The females are bred and bred and bred, over and over and over, to produce litter after litter after litter, resulting in hundreds of thousands of puppies churned out every year for sale at pet stores, over the internet, and through newspaper ads. This cruelty will stop only when people stop buying puppy mill puppies, and we pass better legislation to ensure better care. .

If you want a dog in your life, please understand these facts:

  • Reputable breeders care where their puppies go and interview potential adopters. They don’t sell through pet stores, and not through newspaper ads, Craig’s List, or internet sites without meeting and interviewing the prospective family.
  • “Purebred” documents aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Even the American Kennel Association admits that it “cannot guarantee the quality of health of the dogs in its registry.”
  • A “USDA inspected” breeder does not necessarily mean a good breeder. The USDA establishes only minimum standards, and many USDA licensed puppy mills operate under deplorable conditions with known violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
  • Puppy mill puppies often have medical problems, but pet retailers don’t care that poor breeding and lack of socialization may lead to behavior problems throughout the dogs’ lives. They count on the bond between families and their new puppies being so strong that the puppies won’t be returned.
  • Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop buying puppy mill dogs. The bottom line is money… If the mills don’t make money, they will close…so it is up to you and me!

One way to improve the plight of these dogs is to enact AND ENFORCE standards of care for the animals and standards of practice for their sale. Sometimes it seems that our government believes it is doing enough—it’s up to us—“We the people”—to become involved. Don’t close your eyes, and say, “It’s sad, but what can I do?” Animal welfare and rescue groups are struggling to pass better legislation, but if things are ever to really change for the animals that we claim to love so much, WE must ALL join the cause.

Canine victims suffer deprivation and death in nightmare puppy mills. That’s a fact. If life gives you a lemon, you can make lemonade, that’s a fact…BUT if the lemon is rotten, it’s best to just get rid of it…that’s a fact. Puppy mills are rotten… let’s get rid of them. If you live in Iowa, join Iowa Voters for Companion Animals to keep updated on current animal welfare legislation (mlahay@iowavca.org ) If you live elsewhere, find a grass roots animal welfare group that monitors legislation. Keep informed (and educate your friends and neighbors) concerning your legislators’ track records. Let them know your concerns. “WE THE PEOPLE” have the power, but we must use it.

 

Precautions to Prevent Dog Bites

May 18th, 2015 Comments off

An estimated several million people are bitten by dogs each year, and most of them are children. Now that school is out, the kids are spending more time outdoors, which increases the possibility of being nipped by a dog,, and it is important to understand that any dog can bite if pushed beyond his limits. Ian Dunbar, a respected animal behaviorist and veterinarian, is quoted for saying, “When dogs are upset or annoyed, they don’t call their lawyer… they bite.”

Dogs rarely bite without provocation, but when a well-meaning, excited, squealing child rushes up to a dog and tries to hug the animal, sometimes even a sweet-natured dog may snap. Although most bites do not cause serious injuries, they are frightening experiences, and the tragedy is that almost all bites can be prevented with proper education. Teach your children to never yell, poke or pull at a dog and to never interrupt a dog that is eating, eliminating or sleeping. Also show them how to stroke a dog from below his head. “Most kids pet from the top down, and they do it quickly, which violates the dog’s concept of personal space,” asserts Dunbar. To avoid dog bites, behaviorists offer these suggestions:

  1. Spay or neuter your dog. Statistics confirm that dogs who have not been altered are three times more likely to bite. Encourage family, friends, and neighbors to get their canine companions “fixed.”
  2. Properly socialize your dog. Safely introduce him to cars, bicycles, veterinarians, loud noises, other animals, toddlers, stairs, water, vacuum cleaners, and strange people and places. Dogs usually bite out of fear, and if they are not afraid (or in pain), they rarely bite.
  3. Teach your children to respect life. Show them how to properly touch and handle a dog. Young children should be discouraged from carrying dogs, because they lack the coordination to properly support the dog and keep him from falling. Children need to understand that dogs are living, breathing, loving creatures. There is a direct correlation between children who abuse animals and those kids, when grown up, abusing people.
  4. Never leave a young child unsupervised with a dog. Never, no matter how well trained you think the child is. If you have toddlers, create a safe place for your dog to go when she doesn’t want to be bothered. If she is not able to get away when she feels threatened, the unfortunate alternative is usually lip lifting, growling or biting. Give the dog a place to go where the child absolutely cannot follow.
  5. Don’t tease your dog or play mindless games that encourage the dog to become aggressive. Encourage your kids to put themselves in the dog’s “shoes” and treat him with the respect and love that he deserves.
  6. Don’t tie your dog out. Tied dogs are frustrated dogs and tend to become hyper and feisty. A child entering an area where a dog is or if a neighbor ties a dog out, teach your children to not go near the dog. It is an accident waiting to happen.
  7. Enroll your dog in obedience classes to establish productive behaviors that will discourage inappropriate actions. Involve the entire family in the classes, so that everyone follows the same rules.

Classes are usually good training for both humans and canines.

Our dogs play an important role in our lives, and they exert a powerful positive influence. They truly are our best friends, and they seldom bite without provocation… usually a human action triggers a negative reaction from the dog. They do not attack out of the blue, but we may not recognize the cause, and unfortunately the dog is usually blamed. Taking common sense precautions is the best way to keep all of us safe and allow us to continue that special human-canine relationship.

 

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

May 9th, 2015 Comments off

“Happy Mother’s Day!”

Americans spend millions of dollars every year buying gifts for their Mothers on this special occasion, but there is an old (but true) cliche that stresses ‘actions speak louder than words.’ The founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, was vehemently opposed to the commercialization of the holiday, but she certainly approved of random acts of kindness to express thankfulness to Moms. It doesn’t cost much to pamper her a little bit on her day, just as she pampers you all year round. Almost every mother would love a “Services Coupon Book.” There are many chores around the house that she would appreciate help with (Just be sure that you honor your promises when she decides to use a coupon).

While honoring our own moms, let’s speak out about the plight of mothers of a different species: dogs who spend their entire lives caged and neglected in puppy mills—mother dogs who are forced over and over again to produce puppies under conditions of unimaginable cruelty. Google the words, “Puppies for sale” and you will get MILLIONs of hits back, and although some of those listings are legitimate and caring breeders, the majority of the listings link to digital venues for puppy mills that use the internet to peddle their “products.” Using sophisticated, convincing tactics, they reach people who are totally unaware of the actual living conditions where little or no consideration is given for genetic defects, or the health and well-being of the mass produced animals. Documentation of puppy mills across the country reveals dogs living in rows of filthy wire cages in dilapidated facilities where the dogs lack adequate food, veterinary care, sanitation, and human interaction. The breeders’ goal? Make money!!! As we think “Happy Mother’s Day, it is important to become involved in the effort to shut down these places that certainly do not have a happy mother’s day or any other day.

  • Never buy a puppy over the Internet or from a pet store. Almost all puppies sold in pet stores are puppy mill dogs, regardless of what the store claims.
  • Use extreme caution with classified ads. INSIST on seeing where the adult dogs and puppies live—do not meet the seller at another location. And if you can’t see the mother and her living conditions, don’t walk away – RUN!
  • Consider adoption from a rescue organization or search carefully for responsible breeders.
  • Support legislation that regulates and reduces breeding of animals. Involve yourself in the legislative process to promote laws that make live better for our four-footed companions.
  • Remember: puppy mills will continue to thrive until people stop buying puppy mill dogs. Use every opportunity to educate people with the facts.
  • Mothers always have great advice, and here are a few reminders for dealing with both humans and canines (on Mother’s Day and Every Day!):
  • Every day is a new day. The opportunity to make a new start. Wipe the slate clean; begin anew.
  • Stand up for justice and practice compassion. One of the most powerful things we can do is to spread compassion toward both humans and animals. Let’s use our power!

HAPPY MOM’S DAY!!!

 

A Perfect Day to Celebrate

May 4th, 2015 Comments off

On Mother’s Day, we express our heartfelt thanks for our mothers’ unconditional love and guidance.

“Your mother is always with you… She is the cool hand on your brow when you are not feeling well, and the shoulder to lean on when life disappoints you. A mother shows through in every emotion—happiness, sadness, fear, jealousy, love, hate, anger, helplessness, excitement, joy, sorrow—and all the while hoping and praying you will know only the good feelings in life. She’s the place you came from, your first home, and she’s the map you follow with every step you take. She’s your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you. Not time, not space—not even death.”

– Temple Bailey wrote these words in 1933 for Good Housekeeping Magazine, but they ring as true today as they did then.

Mothers are special, and dog moms are especially special. Here are a few thoughts from a DOG mom:

  • Before I was a dog mom, I made and served homemade meals. There was never any dog hair in my dinners…or on my clothes. And now most of my homemade treats are dog biscuits.
  • I slept in on weekends, and never worried about how late I got to bed… there were no woofs or wags to wake me up to go outside at 6:00 A.M.
  • My house smelled fresh and clean, not like wet dog fur, and no one ever tripped over toys, stuffies, or chewies. I didn’t have to scoop poop, retrieve chewed up socks, or decapitated toys.
  • How could a furry, four-legged dog affect my heart so deeply? I didn’t even think I liked dogs much, until I held an innocent puppy mill rescue, and was reminded of the plight of mill babies, and the poor mother dogs who spend their entire lives caged and neglected, as they are bred over and over again to produce puppies for profit under conditions of unimaginable cruelty.
  • I didn’t realize that one little creature could make me feel so important. When I am on the verge of a meltdown, I can count on my canine companion for inspiration and comfort. I don’t need a psychiatrist when I have her by my side, and she is certainly better than any prescription tranquilizer.
  • I enjoy the warmth, the joy, the love, and wonderment of being owned by a dog. He has taught me so many things about what is really important in life. He has taught me that it is more important to seriously play than it is to play serious. He is a good listener, stress reliever, and empty nest filler, all in one furry package.
  • I have become better educated about the plight of animals, and am an advocate for the companion animals who have no voice, no choice. I now realize that if I see cruelty or wrong that I have the power to stop, and do nothing, I make myself a sharer in the guilt.
  • Being a dog mom has helped me to be a more loving, compassionate mother to my two-legged kids, and although I may say, “I’m not cut out for this job of motherhood”, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. As a mom, I have one of the highest salaried jobs… since the payment is pure love.

Mother’s Day (and every day) is the perfect time to celebrate the joys of having a mother, or mother figure in our lives. It is because of them that we have learned to embrace every day for what it is, and aspire to make it more. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

 

It’s Time to Get Serious

April 24th, 2015 Comments off

I recently reminded caregivers that pet parasites are alive and well…. Now it is time to get serious… REALLY serious. Often the small things in life create the biggest problems, and parasites may be small, but they can cause big problems for your dog. Humans have death and taxes…most dogs are afflicted with parasites at some point in their lives. Almost all puppies are born with roundworm infection, and roundworm is the most common internal parasite in any age dog simply because it is spread from the mother, or can be picked up in contaminated soil. Sometimes roundworms can be spotted in a dog’s stools, looking like wiggling pieces of spaghetti, but who looks at a dog’s bathroom deposits?

Yuk! Checking your dog’s feces is certainly not glamorous, but you can get valuable information about his health from the color, odor, consistency, contents, and amount of his poop. Usually a healthy poop is well-formed, firm but not hard, moist, and doesn’t fall apart when picked up. Various medical conditions can affect the stool, so if your dog’s poop strays from the norm for a day or two, it may not be serious, and even mucus or blood doesn’t mean that your dog is dying, but it definitely warrants a visit to the vet, and whether or not you see worms doesn’t mean that parasites are not infecting your dogs:

  • Hookworms can cause significant illness as they have sharp teeth that tear into the lining of the intestine, and they actually feed on the animal’s blood, which can cause anemia.
  • Whipworms are tough to diagnose because even a fecal exam may miss them since they do not come out in every stool, but intermittently.
  • Tapeworms can sometimes be seen by checking your pet’s bottom. Look for rice-shaped tapeworm segments squirming on the hair near the dog’s anus. Most pets that have tapeworms got them originally from infected fleas.
  • Heartworm is one of the most damaging of all parasites and heartworm larvae enters an animal through a mosquito bite, and the mosquitoes are already numerous, meaning that it’s likely to be a huge parasite infection this year!
  • Other parasites that are sometimes found in a fecal exam are protozoan parasites, coccidia, and giardia, a very insidious parasite that is found mostly in stagnant water, but it can pop up in lakes and ponds.

It’s time to get serious. Do not wait until you see a flea or find a tick. And yes, the ticks are already active! We removed ticks from a new rescue dog just this last week, and even if you see no evidence of worm infestation, regular fecal samples should be checked regularly to determine what, if any, parasite is present. Protecting your pet from internal parasites is a vital part of responsible pet care because, although they may be puny, they can wreak havoc on your dog’s health. We do not recommend buying over- the- counter wormers or flea and tick preventatives because many of the generic products are either too harsh or may be ineffective, and some are downright dangerous! Trust your vet to help you choose the products that will be most effective in eliminating any problems. Fleas, ticks and worms can all be defeated with preparation, vigilance, and treatment but you must be serious, really serious!

Don’t Panic – Protect & Prepare

April 12th, 2015 Comments off

Animal Welfare groups showcase the month of April as Pet First Aid Awareness month. Most responsible pet caregivers are prepared to handle minor problems with their dogs, but, according to Dr. Debra Primovac, many do not handle emergencies well. The three keys to managing a dog related crisis are:

  1. Don’t panic!
  2. Protect yourself from injury
  3. Prepare in advance

When faced with a severely ill or injured dog, the first thing to do is take a deep breath and assess the situation, to determine the best option for both you and the animal. Understanding how to approach an injured pet safely is vital, because even animals that know you well, and are docile and well behaved, may respond to pain and fear instinctively. Preventing a bite to yourself and any assistant should be your first objective, but in many situations, having done advance planning means the difference between life and death for your dog. Every pet caregiver should have a pet first aid-kit, kept in an accessible location….we actually suggest two kits: one for the home, and one for the car. Kits should include:

  • Phone numbers of your veterinarian and poison-control center or hotline.
  • A good pet first-aid book –Pet First Aid, a book developed through the combined effort of The American Red Cross and the HSUS, is an excellent book of emergency care procedures.
  • Bandage materials (do not use human adhesive bandages such as Band-Aids on pets) Include sterile gauze pads and rolls, and tape for securing wraps or bandages, cotton balls, and swabs. Roll gauze can be used for wrapping wounds or muzzling an injured animal. An ordinary ruler can be used if a splint is needed. Towels or strips of clean cloth can be used to control bleeding or protect wounds.
  • A blanket should be available: a compact thermal blanket is best, but a regular blanket is better than none.
  • Digital rectal thermometer—a dog’s temperature should be between 100 and 103 degrees.
  • Plastic eye dropper (or large syringe without needle) to give oral treatments or flush wounds;
  • Small scissors,
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • A leash to use if the dog is capable of walking without further injury.
  • Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, but contact your vet or poison control center BEFORE inducing vomiting or treating for poison. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used for cleaning minor wounds.
  • Antibiotic ointment for minor scrapes or cuts; betadine (iodine) and antiseptic lotion or spray.
  • Eye wipes, sterile eye wash to flush eyes, and a sterile eye ointment
  • Ear wipes and ear cleaning solution

Paper towels, a flashlight, and heavy gloves are often helpful. It is important to check your kits periodically, and update anything that needs replacement. Being prepared is important because your dog’s health is your responsibility, but sick, wounded, or otherwise stressed animals are unpredictable, so it is important to be cautious when treating pet injuries. Prevention is always the best medicine. Pet proof your home, keeping all cleaners, medications, and other hazardous items out of reach. Take your pet to the vet regularly, and in between visits, do regular home checks to find any health changes. When thinking of pet first aid, BE PREPARED, and contact your veterinarian before administering questionable treatment. Emergencies and accidents can’t always be prevented, but you can often positively influence the outcome by being prepared, and calmly reacting quickly, decisively, and correctly when misfortune strikes.

How We Say Hello Matters!

April 5th, 2015 Comments off

It’s spring, and both two-legs and four-legs are spending more time outdoors, enjoying the pleasant weather, and the four-legs are usually the attention getters, whether at the park, the pet store, or on daily walks. When someone appears with a dog it is almost mandatory for other dog lovers to fawn all over him, get right in his face, and talk to him in exited voices while reaching out to pet him, which sounds great, except for the fact that not all dogs are in love with every stranger they meet. Most dogs need time to process a stranger, and determine whether or not the new person meets with approval, but most people just gleefully dive right into the dog, kneeling, reaching, patting on the head, talking baby talk, staring… Actions that put many dogs into one of three states: fight, flight, or avoidance: All invitations to get nipped or even bitten.

The correct way to greet a strange dog is not at all…just ignore the dog. Yup… just ignore him completely, and greet the caregiver. As Cesar Milan stresses, “No touch, no talk, no eye contact is the advice I give for meeting a strange dog. Let him come to you to get to know your scent and sense your energy. Do not offer the dog affection until he shows calm, submissive energy. Once he decides that you are okay, you will notice the dog’s body posture relax, and maybe even a nudge into you for a scratch on the back. Don’t go overboard, even if the dog seems interested. No roughhousing, or loud vocalization. Push an insecure dog too fast, and he will act defensively. Stay calm and cool.”

If you see a lone, tethered dog, just leave him alone. If you feel he is being neglected, report him to the authorities, but don’t try to be Doctor Doolittle. More important, teach your children to do the same. Of the millions of reported dog bites in the U.S. every year, the majority of them involve children under the age of twelve, and are often due to adults encouraging them to greet the dog by touching him.

Lili Chin offers these specifics as how NOT to greet a dog:

  • Don’t lean over a dog and stick your hand in his face.
  • Don’t lean over the dog and stick your hand on top of his head
  • Don’t grab or hug him
  • Don’t stare him in the eye (dogs perceive this as an adversarial gesture)
  • Don’t squeal or shout in his face
  • Don’t grab his head and kiss him (this is an invasion of space).

Doing these things to a dog who doesn’t know you is like a perfect stranger rushing up to you to give you a great big hug and kiss…Wouldn’t that creep you out? And wouldn’t you have the right to defend yourself?

The correct way to greet a dog is to allow the dog to approach you in his own time, keeping either your side or back toward the dog. This will be perceived by the dog as a non-threatening posture.

When he approves you, stroke him on the side of his face or body, or on his back, not on the top of the head. (And if you have a treat in your pocket, now is the time to offer it!)

Think twice about letting your leashed dog greet unfamiliar dogs during walks, or in other public places, even if their caregivers assure you that their dog is friendly. Unless you are positive that the dogs interact well with other leashed dogs, don’t encourage contact. Aggression is usually triggered by inappropriate behavior of humans rather than the canines, but the dogs somehow always get the blame.

Respect your dog, and she will respect you. “I did what I knew how to do. When I knew better, I did better”—Maya Angelou

We recently found some awesome **FREE** dog posters online (also created by Lili Chin). These would make great handouts for those who serve schools or other educational events. Find more on her website: http://www.doggiedrawings.net/#!freeposters/ckm8

It’s Spring Fever for Internal Parasites

March 28th, 2015 Comments off

Mark Twain said, “It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” The rising temperatures, sunshine, and warm breezes make us all feel good —we truly do have spring fever. However, the warm weather brings more than just flowers. It signals the beginning of parasite season for our pets, and these parasites can rob your pets of needed nutrition and cause serious organ disease. Biting insects become more active, and they do know what they want…warm bodies, so it is important to take precautions to prevent and treat and protect your pets from parasites.

Heartworm disease is a life-threatening disease that is spread by mosquito bites, and spring brings a resurgence of these disease carrying insects. Mosquito bites cause more than itchy bumps; they can actually threaten your pet’s life by transmitting a very serious infectious illness caused by parasites named Dirofilaria immitis, which, in their immature stage, are carried by mosquitoes. They are injected into your pet while the mosquito is feeding, and these immature worms migrate through the body, eventually reaching the heart and lungs, where, in about six months, can grow as long as a foot in length. Every time your pet is bitten by a mosquito, there is the possibility that the animal is exposed to heartworms.

Dogs with heartworm disease may cough, lose weight, be weak, have trouble breathing, collapse and die. A simple blood test can identify heartworm disease, and treatment is expensive and potentially risky, so It is much easier and safer to keep your pets on effective preventatives that are available from your veterinarian. Do not use over-the-counter products, as some are not safe.

At the same time as your dog is tested for heartworm, he should also be screened for intestinal parasites including tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms, and protozoan parasites such as giardia. These parasites rob your dog of nutrition and can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal bleeding. Testing is simple and cheap…just take a fecal sample in to be checked. A little prevention will go a long way to keeping your pets healthy and happy.

Fleas and ticks can be present year-round, but their populations tend to increase drastically in the spring time, and carry various diseases including Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Fleas can also transmit diseases such as tapeworms, and by the time you see one flea, you can be sure that you are faced with an invasion!. Again prevention is better than cure!

Now back to spring fever, and, as Twain said, maybe you don’t quite know what you do want, but you can be sure your dog knows what she wants… your love, and maybe a homemade treat. Your dog’s “heart will ache” for these Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits:

  • 2 cups flour, preferably whole wheat, but white is okay
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 ¼ cups peanut butter
  • ¾ cup water (may need a little more)
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  1. Mix all ingredients together until they form a ball… using your hands is messy, but is the easiest method. If dough is too crumbly, add a bit more water.
  2. Break off small hunks and place on lightly greased baking sheet.
  3. Flatten with a fork (or your thumb) and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.
  4. It may take a few minutes longer, but watch that bottoms do not burn.

It’s Officially Spring

March 22nd, 2015 Comments off

The calendar declares that spring has arrived, and although some of us question whether or not it’s really here, we are hopeful. It has been a record breaker winter in many parts of the country but with the worst behind us, we feel the urge to get moving. Most of us paid the price for the bitter cold winter. We gained a couple of extra pounds, but rationalized that is only natural to put on a little layer of fat, and now that decent weather is here, it is time for both two-legs and four-legs to get out there and shape up. If you’ve packed on some extra weight during the winter, there’s a good chance your dog has too, so if he seems a little too padded, it is important to start some safe slimming strategies now, before a pleasantly plump pooch turns into a sausage dog.

According to the Veterinary Medical Association, obesity is the fourth leading cause of death among canines, and dogs carrying too much weight means extra stress on the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and other body organs, so overweight animals (and humans) are more likely to suffer from cardiac disease, respiratory problems, digestive disorders, and high blood pressure . Joints, ligaments, tendons, and bones suffer from excess wear and tear, so they endure arthritis, joint injuries, leg problems, and back ailments. Overheating, skin disease and reproductive problems are common complaints, and there is always a greater risk during anesthesia and surgery. An extra seven pounds on a dog that should weigh 35 pounds is equivalent to an extra 30 pounds on a human weighing 150.

Exercise needs be a part of both a human’s and a dog’s weight loss program, and a great way to shape up is to plan activities that combine a workout for both canine and human. Any weight loss program should include walking, but after a sedentary winter, start slowly and increase the frequency and intensity of exercise. Begin with just short walks around the block and then work toward a game of fetch, and maybe a walk through the woods or park, taking different routes to make the trip more enjoyable for both of you. Set aside time each day to exercise with your dog, so it becomes part of your routine, and not just something you do when you think of it or have the time.

Gradually work up to longer, more active sessions as your tolerance and your dog’s tolerance increases. Playing ball or hide and seek are options, and another great way to boost weight loss is to get involved with a canine sport such as agility which offers a variety of physical and mental activity, both for dog and caregiver.

You don’t have to shell out a lot of money to train your dog in agility. Backyard obstacle courses are a great way to provide exercise, build trust with your dog, and prevent boredom. Three common types of obstacles used in agility programs—jumps, tunnels, and weave poles, can be set up in your own yard. Jump obstacles can be built entirely out of inexpensive PVC pipes, and a flexible children’s play tunnel makes a great tunnel…they are usually lightweight, but also heavy enough so that they won’t move when your dog runs through them. . As for weave poles, avoid hard and immovable materials that could injure your dog if he misjudges the distance between poles. Orange traffic cones are bulkier than the weave poles used in agility competitions, but if you are just casually training your dog, they will work fine. Wherever you set up your agility course, ensure that there are no hidden dangers around the course, and that there is enough room for her to run around. As long as you put safety first, you can easily put together an obstacle course that is good for both of you.

Whatever weight loss program you choose, be consistent and persistent! With patience and a positive attitude, both you and your dog will have fun as the pounds drop away.

Millions Will Don Green & Celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day

March 15th, 2015 Comments off

The first thing most of us think about St. Patrick’s Day is people dressed in green and celebrating their Irish heritage (or becoming “Irish” for a day.) Legends and stories about Patrick abound, making it difficult to separate myth from fact, and according to Philip Freeman of Luther College in Iowa, the modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day really has almost nothing to do with the real man. One of the best known legends concerns his banishing snakes from Ireland… there are no snakes on the island today, and the fact that there probably never really were, doesn’t alter the fact that it makes a good story!,

Ironically, for almost its entire history, this day has been celebrated with greater fanfare in the United States than in Ireland, with marching bands, parades, and of course the wearing of green. In Ireland, the day was celebrated as a religious feast day, but the truth is that both the religious world and the secular world share a love of St. Patrick.

American Catholic Organization reminds us that Catholic saints are human people who lived extraordinary lives, honoring God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. “Legends about Patrick abound, but the truth is best served by recognizing two solid qualities in him: he was humble and he was courageous. The determination to accept both suffering and success with indifference guided his mission to win most of Ireland for Christ. What distinguishes him is the durability of his efforts. He was a humble, pious, gentle man, with total love and trust in God “

If you are interested in a factual account of St. Patrick, check out the book “The Confession of St. Patrick”, translated from Latin by John Skinner, which emphasizes his total commitment to God and compassion for others .

Sometimes we need a reminder that one of the most powerful things anyone can do is spread compassion …for humans and for animals. This is a “happy ending” story (we don’t know whether it’s factual or just an inspiring story, and the author was the elusive “anonymous”), and we hope it will bring joy to your heart, and maybe inspire you to get involved when you see injustices.

PATRICK

When our neighbors got a puppy at Christmas, we were surprised… they just didn’t seem to be the responsible type… didn’t mow the lawn, left junk lying all over, always yelling at someone. They didn’t socialize much with any of the neighbors, and we just felt that it was best to keep our distance from them. We didn’t see much of them or the puppy, until the school vacation was over and the kids went back to school.

We could hear hollering and the puppy barking, but “it was none of our business.” Then one day, the puppy was chained outside. When he scratched at the door, someone would come out with a broom. Sometimes he would get so tangled in the chain that he was unable to move… he would sit in his own excrement all day with no protection from the bitter cold. When they came out, they would kick him out of the way, but we “looked the other way.”

On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, we attended special church service where the priest talked about St. Patrick’s dedicated compassion and concern for others. We were given a sheet of notes with highlights of his life, with quotes credited to him, including these: “I cannot keep silent, nor would it be proper, so many favors and graces has the Lord deigned to bestow on me” and “Let anyone laugh and taunt if he so wishes. I am not keeping silent.” Father stressed that although St. Patrick suffered much opposition and mistreatment and was often criticized, he was a man of action, with a rock-like determination to do what he knew was right.

It was unusually cold with harsh north winds, and we were chilled to the bone by the time we got home from church. We noticed that it was dark and quiet at the neighbor’s house… but we could see the puppy huddled by the door. We called, but the dog didn’t move. We could no longer look the other way. Armed with blankets and left over chicken nuggets, we trespassed, and as we worked to untangle him, we realized how pitifully thin he was. We gathered him up and carried him home. He hardly moved and we were afraid he wouldn’t live through the night. We didn’t sleep much but by morning, he was able to stand and eat a little food. His body was covered with scabs and his eyes were so matted that he could hardly see, so we took him to the vet hospital where they recommended that he stay for a few days.

Our next stop at the neighbor’s house was not pleasant. Obscene threats of legal action were promised, but we had a rock-like determination, and we were not keeping silent. We would not return the dog, and would press animal cruelty charges if they tried to reclaim him. Their final response was “Good Riddance” and as they turned to go into the house, they tripped over the tangled chain and landed in dog poop. We never heard from them again, and it wasn’t long before they moved… we pray that they didn’t get another dog. OUR dog has both physical and emotional scars, but he realizes that no one will ever hurt him again… he is young and he doesn’t seem to hold grudges. He will spend the rest of his life completely adored by us. We named him Patrick and sometimes, because he is the best, most amazing dog ever, we call him St. Patrick.

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