Appreciate Your Pet

While we always love and appreciate our pets, the Animal Welfare Association claims this as a special month to appreciate them even more, stressing that appreciation means love, understanding, paying extra attention to your pet, and doing something special. Here are just a few ideas for you to celebrate your pet this month.

  • Good old fashioned attention is always welcome…taking them to an extra long walk (maybe on a new route, with new sights and smells)…extra tummy rubs or ear massaging…. quality lounging time with your dog.
  • Nothing shows your appreciation more than making sure your pet is happy and healthy. It is important to stay up to date on necessary vaccinations, and have regular checkups. Many problems can be easily corrected if detected early. Sounds gross, but fecal checks are probably one of the first indicators of health problems. Usually a healthy poop is well-formed, firm but not hard, moist, and doesn’t fall apart when picked up. If your dog’s poop strays from the norm for a day or two, it may not be serious, and even blood doesn’t mean that your dog is dying, but it definitely warrants a visit to the vet, and just because you don’t see worms doesn’t mean that parasites are not infecting your dogs. A fecal sample should be taken to the vet for examination at least once a year, or if you detect a change in color, odor, consistency, contents, or amount of poop.
  • A couple new toys are a great way to appreciate your dog, but if your pooch already has an over-abundant supply of toys, have a “toy exchange party. Your dog-lover friends probably have the same situation. Toys that are in good condition can be washed and exchanged… toys that a friend’s dog is no longer interested in can become a “new” toy for yours! And it gives you an excuse to throw a party!
  • Volunteer at your local shelter or rescue…your opportunities are almost endless…writers, graphic artists, and photographers can help produce fliers, newsletters, or information packets; dog health professionals and groomers can offer free or discounted services….dog trainers can provide positive training methods….socializing or transporting the dogs …money, supplies and your time are always needed. Keep in mind that anything you do is appreciated.
  • According to research, dogs have the genetic potential to live 20 years, but humans often rob years from their lives by feeding low quality pet foods. Deciphering a pet food label may be confusing, so, an independent on-line site, ranks all the major dog foods. Click on BRAND and it will rate any specific food, or you may also review all brands A to Z. If you check the ranking of the dog food you are currently feeding, you may decide that it’s time to make a change. (Popular foods like Beneful, Iams, Kibbles and Bits, Pedigree, Purina, and Science Diet all rate law). It is also important what treats you are giving your dog. Most commercial treats are not healthy, and some are downright toxic. There are continual warnings about dog treats (and foods) that are potentially poisonous to your dog.

We recommend NO commercial treats, but especially avoid those that are imported from China. Make your own homemade treats for your companion animal. There are plenty of recipes that can be found online. Here is a very easy-to-make healthy treat:

  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 ½ cups flour (preferably wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup non fat dry milk powder
  • 6 tablespoons of margarine.

Mix ingredients and knead until the dough forms a ball Pinch off small bits and drop on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. (If you want to make fancy looking cookies, roll to ½ inch think and cut into dog bone shape… the dogs don’t care about their appearance, but if they are for gifts, they will look more impressive.)

“Dogs have given us their absolute all…We are the center of their universe….We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.
They serve us in return for scraps….It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made…they are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole” (Roger Caras) CELEBRATE PET APPRECIATION MONTH BY SHOWING YOUR DOG SOME EXTRA LOVE AND ATTENTION !


Scandals, Secrets and Lies

A headline in a recent major newspaper read “Stories of scandals, secrets, and lies” which focuses on various scandals that make us cringe. The past week I have been almost obsessively researching scandals, lies, and especially secrecy concerning dogs being used in the testing industry. We have accepted the fact that rats and mice are routinely used in laboratories for experimentation and research, but it has been a maze of scandals, secrets, and lies as I researched the use of dogs in testing. According to the California based Beagle Freedom Project, approximately 70,000 dogs are used in research lab experiments every year. However, accusations abound about the statistics presented by the BFP, and it is difficult to separate fact from fiction, as this is a practice that is intentionally hidden from the public, with testing taking place behind closed doors. Research institutions often purchase animals from “Class A” Licensed animal breeders who produce animals for the purpose of selling them for experimentation. Some research institutions purchase dogs from Class B dealers, licensed dealers who sell “random source dogs” obtained from animal shelters, dog pounds, auctions, or individual people. The United States Department of Agriculture admits that tens of thousands of dogs area used for “research, testing, teaching, or experimentation” in the U.S. every year by research facilities.

The Humane Society International claims that a large percentage of dog used in lab experiments are beagles, because the breed’s trusting and loving nature makes them easier for lab technicians to handle. I have personal knowledge of a lab facility within an hour’s drive from my home that used beagles….I know because I am friends with the designer who built the windowless. Soundproof facility….but the public never knew about it. (I do not know if the practice still continues in this facility, since it is under new ownership, but I KNOW that took place there, and that the dogs were routinely euthanized at the end of experiments. )

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), dogs have been especially popular for use in toxicology tests, which determine safe levels of an unknown substance for humans, and to evaluate the hazards of ingredients in consumer products. It is now evident that tests on animals do not necessarily predict outcomes in humans, and many non-animal methods are available and continue to be developed.

I was shocked to learn that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires pharmaceutical companies to conduct archaic and painful tests, even in instances where reliable non-animal tests exist. The FDA has acknowledged that data produced from such tests are not reliable. During a recent meeting about funding for research, Dr. Elias Zerhouni, former National Institutes of Health director, told his colleagues that “The problem is that animal testing hasn’t worked, and it’s time we stopped dancing around the problem. We need to refocus and adapt new methodologies. There are modern alternatives, including in vitro testing, computer modeling, tissue engineering, and microdosing , that take less time and money and do not inflict pain on animals.” Thankfully almost all medical schools across the U.S. have completely replaced animal testing with simulators and systems like TraumaMan which are more effective in imparting lifesaving skills than courses that require students to experiment on dogs.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel as more people become aware of the practice of lab testing on animals. Be a hero for dogs and tell your friends and family to demand that Congress help end animal testing. Ask the FDA to stop requiring cruel, unreliable tests on animals, and to accept data from humane, non-animal methods instead. Make personal choices by refusing to buy products that are tested on animals. Contact your favorite brands to determine whether the company does any animal tests on their products, realizing that they may be less than truthful. has an online shopping directory of companies that don’t test on animals, and the Beagle Freedom Project’s Cruelty-Cutter smartphone app. Allows you to simply scan an item in the store and you’ll get an immediate response about its animal testing status. Download it at

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Autumn Dangers Lurk

Cooler weather is setting in, and the leaves are changing colors. Autumn is a favorite time of year for many of us, but it can be a dangerous season for pets, with many potential health hazards.

Our lives are often so hectic that we yearn for an extra hour in the day, so losing an hour of daylight when Daylight Savings Time kicks in means that many of our daily activities take place when visibility is poor. We end up walking or exercising our canine companions in the darkness of early morning or evening. Reduced light makes it more challenging for drivers to see either humans or canines, resulting in injuries being suffered after being hit by a car during daybreak or twilight hours. Be sure your dogs wear up-to-date tags and reflective wear is helpful for both you and your dog. Maintain close observation and control with a short leash attached to his chest harness. I never recommend extendable leashes, but they are especially dangerous in low light situations.

Dogs love to play in piles of leaves, but leaf piles quickly accumulate moisture, which promotes mold and bacterial growth. If your dog ingests these microorganisms, the result can be digestive tract upset, and burning leaves can irritate your pet’s eye, nose, throat, and skin, so the best practice is to keep your pets restricted from your yard work.

Mushrooms abound all over this time of year, and fortunately most mushrooms are non-toxic. However, differentiating a toxic from a non-toxic mushroom is difficult for most of us, so it is best to prevent consumption of any mushroom. Poisonous mushrooms contain dangerous toxins, and can cause severe liver toxicity if ingested.

Cooler temperatures motivate rodents to search for shelter from the cold, and rodenticides are often used to deter vermin infestations, but these poisons also cause life-threatening toxicity to dogs. The active ingredient in D-Con and most common rodent poisons is Brodifacoum, and is an anti-coagulant that inhibits Vitamin K’s normal function in blood clotting, so within several days, blood fails to properly clot. Other mice and rat poisons contain Vitamin D3, which causes kidney and liver failure, failure, muscle weakness, seizures and death. If you use these products, put them in places that are totally inaccessible to your pets, and where you are sure that mice and rats cannot transport chucks of the poison to areas your pets can reach.

There are many fall blooming plants, such as the Chrysanthemums, Saffron, and Clematis that can trigger toxicity if ingested. Ingestion of these plants can result in stumbling, drooling, skin inflammation, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you are not sure what fall plants are the most poisonous, go to,

Many people begin preparing their vehicles for the colder weather, so be aware of any antifreeze or other coolant product that may have spilled onto the ground. These chemicals can be deadly to your dog if they are ingested.

Free standing heaters can be tipped over by rambunctious pets so be sure you close off doors on your fireplaces, and block off any fire pits. Be sure to turn off any portable heater in your home whenever you leave the house.

Fleas can be more prevalent in the fall than at any other time of the year, as they are seeking warm bodies to feed and exist, and ticks can survive very cold weather. Be diligent in the consistent use of flea, tick and heartworm prevention products.

Crisp mornings walking the dog as the sky blushes with russet light crisp days, walking the dog with leaves blowing in the wind, crisp evenings to get in some quality bonding with your dog. Keep safe and enjoy the sights and smells of autumn!


Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can!

September is National Preparedness Month, and Mother Nature has wreaked destruction throughout the South during the past month, with Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida. Officials continue to emphasize the importance of preparedness to help people and pets remain safe during severe weather events. Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can!

The first step when faced with any emergency is to keep informed. Pay attention to mass warning systems that inform on weather conditions, and remember that during a disaster, what’s good for you is good for your pet. Always keep a pet indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster…. Never leave him chained outdoors. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if at all possible, planning for the worst-case scenario. Even if you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that it could extend as long as several days or even weeks. If left behind, your pet may be lost, injured—or worse. According to Ready. Gov, plan options should include:

  • Create a buddy system in case you are not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your pets.
  • Find pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route, locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter, and keep a list in your pet’s emergency kit.
  • Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter in case your pet needs medical care.
  • Make sure all pets wear collars and ID tags with up-to-date identification. Microchipping will be a more permanent form of identification.

Basic disaster survival kits should be prepared with the following recommended items:

  • A one-week supply of the food your dog is accustomed to eating, and a one week supply of water. Include bowls for both water and food.
  • Pooper scooper, and plastic bags or other means of disposing your dog’s waste.
  • Paper towels, liquid soap for washing the bowls, and disinfectant for cleaning crates and carriers.
  • A crate or carrier is usually needed during an evacuation and afterword, especially if you will be staying somewhere for awhile. The crate should be large enough for the dog to lie down comfortably and allow room for a food and water dish.
  • An extra harness and leash.
  • A temporary identification tag that you can write your temporary location or in case the dog is separated from you. Current photos of your dog , preferably with you to prove ownership if you are separated. It will also allow others to assist you find your pet.
  • A two-week supply of any medications your dog is taking, and medical records including vaccination documents
  • Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.
  • A minimum first aid kit should include:
    • a basic first-aid guide book
    • cotton bandage rolls
    • bandage tape and scissors
    • antibiotic ointment
    • flea and tick prevention
    • latex gloves
    • isopropyl alcohol
    • saline solution.
  • A blanket
  • A flashlight

You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family including: batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.

Your pets are totally dependent on you for their safety and well being. … if it is not safe for you to stay in your home during an emergency, it is not safe for your pets either. Don’t wait for a disaster…have a plan…being prepared can save their lives as well as yours.


What’s Your Price?

There is a common saying, “Everyone has a price.” Confusion exists as to the origin of this saying, but it is recorded that Sir William Wyndham wrote in 1734, “It is an old maxim that every man has his price,” and the idea is at least as old as Epictetus, a Greek philosopher who lived AD50-135. (If you want to do a little research, the philosophy of this man is quite interesting!) Howard Hughes reportedly said, “Every man has his price, or a guy like me couldn’t exist.”

There is a price with every choice we make, even in the area of animal welfare. As Barbara Spencer points out, “It’s easy to spend thousands of dollars on an animal whom we love and have an attachment to. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: how much of our time and money are we willing to lay out for an animal to whom we have no ties and for whom we feel no personal responsibility? In other words, what is the price tag on compassion?

We agree that mistreatment and neglect of our animal companions is wrong; we claim to empathize with them because we understand our common ability to experience physical and emotional sensations, such as pleasure and pain, joy, fear, and sadness. We abhor puppy mills where animals live in squalid conditions, with dogs spending their entire lives with little or no human contact or medical attention, crammed into dirty cages where they are forced to breed until their bodies can no longer endure. We are disgusted that people “get rid” of their dog when he becomes an inconvenience. We care; we really do, but we have priorities….too many things to do and so little time. Are we paying too high a price in search of material possessions, or power, or prestige?

Epictetus discusses our ‘impulses to act and not to act’, and asserts that our pursuit of one set of objectives rather than others is in our power. It is a matter of choice, and it is in everyone’s power to do something to make a difference in the lives of needy dogs. We cannot save them all, but we can save some, and we can show compassion to all by walking the walk, not talking the talk….it is worth the price of giving up just a little for the dogs who willingly offer unconditional love, faith and trust.

  • Shelters rarely have enough volunteers to help walking, socializing, and providing basic training for shelter dogs. Writers, photographers, and graphic artists can help produce fliers, newsletters, or information packets. Staff members may also appreciate help when dealing with particularly challenging dogs. Call your local shelter to find specific ways you can help, and ask what they have on their “Wish List”….and monetary donations are always needed.
  • Familiarize yourself with local and state ordinances and legislation pertaining to dog welfare. Write a letter, or e-mail local and representatives expressing your views on puppy mills and basic dog welfare legislation.
  • Promote spaying and neutering…we have a crisis overpopulation of unwanted dogs, and this is the only way to lessen this problem. Spay or neuter your own animal, and encourage others by informing them of all the health benefits of this simple procedure.
  • Organize a fund raising event…it can be as simple as a bake sale or car wash, or as involved as a dog festival or black tie event. Have a party to help dogs!
  • Be alert for dogs that are too thin, consistently without food, water or adequate shelter, or appear sick. Call your local animal control office and continue to call authorities until the situation is resolved. Dogs can’t speak; be their voice.
  • Volunteer to foster a dog…Rescues can house only so many, so having foster homes is like having additional space, and a home environment is much less stressful to a dog in transition than a noisy shelter. Providing a calm, caring environment with basic training will increase the dog’s chances of finding a forever home, and remember: ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!.

Anything you do for a needy dog will be appreciated, and the rewards are priceless.

Keep Backpacks and School Supplies Out of Reach

“On my back I carry all my treasures…..crayons, ruler, scissors too. And yes, a little Elmer’s glue…pencils, paper, and sometimes Mom adds a note and a chocolate bar…. Yup, on my back a pack.., I carry in it, all my treasures.” The “back to school” season presents specific risks for pets, so it is important to keep back packs and school supplies out of reach of our curious four-footed friends. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, many of common school supplies have the potential for GI upset or even a blockage.

PetMD compiled a list of the l0 most commonly used school supplies that present a potential choking hazard to pets:

  • Erasers
  • Glue sticks/bottled glue
  • Coins
  • Action figures/small toys, especially those with batteries
  • Small bouncy balls
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Pencils (even small splinters can get lodged in the mouth and esophagus)
  • Pens and especially pen caps
  • Paper clips

The biggest danger if your pet eats a school supply item is the possibility of an intestinal blockage that can prevent your dog from digesting his food. If it’s large enough, it can actually cause the intestine to burst, resulting in a serious bacterial infection known as sepsis. If you know or suspect he has ingested a foreign object, it’s important to see your veterinarian or emergency animal center.

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) reported just this year that there are still school supplies on store shelves containing dangerous chemicals. Phthalates were banned in toys in the United States in 2008, but remain in some other items that fill children’s everyday lives, posing a threat not only to our dogs, but to our children. CHEJ sampled products including backpacks, binders, raincoats, and rain boots and found that many of them contained phthalates, chemicals that have been linked to birth defects, ADHD, asthma and other chronic health problems in children, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree that there are effects of phthalates, which are used to soften vinyl plastics, but the health effects of phthalate exposure are far from proven. Phthalates were banned from children’s toys and teething rings in 2009 because of their potential to leach out from plastic that’s chewed or sucked., but some experts say that theories about phthalate exposure from school supplies and rain gear don’t hold water.

Dr. Marcel Casavant, chief of pharmacology and toxicology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio asserts that “Presuming kids are not eating, sucking, licking or chewing on these products, I imagine the risk is pretty small.” However, dogs do eat, suck, lick and chew on just about anything, so keep the vinyl lunchboxes, backpacks and other supplies out of reach of curious pets.

A few general recommendations for safe school supplies….safe for both the two-legs and four-legs … offered by include:

  • Avoid PVC, phthalates, and vinyl school supplies. Avoid backpacks with the word PVC or “vinyl” on the label. Choose natural fiber or synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester.
  • Avoid solvent based, alcohol based and fragranced markers, as dogs seem to be attracted to them. Choose water based, unscented markers with an “AP” label.
  • Avoid plastic lunch boxes and water bottles which may contain the hormone-disrupting chemical BPA. Dogs love to chew on plastic boxes and water bottles!
  • Avoid colored paper clips –they are coated with PVC plastic, and keep ALL paper clips out of paws’ reach.

We have resources today that allow us to make informed choices for our children and our pets. Consumer awareness may result in some minor changes in your buying habits, but it is worth it for the welfare of your family.


The Power of Preventative Care

Benjamin Franklin’s axiom that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as true today as it was when he made the statement, and it certainly holds true when it comes to pet health. The cost of prevention is usually a fraction of the cost of treating a problem or disease once it has become more advanced.

Heartbreaking statistics confirm that millions of animals in the United States live without homes, and the only way to reduce pet overpopulation is through spaying and neutering. Homeless pets abound in every community, and although the number may vary from state to state, records show that the majority of animals that are euthanized in shelters are the offspring of accidental litters. Often the owners of a dog with puppies had intended to get the mother spayed, but just hadn’t gotten around to it, felt they couldn’t afford it, or “wanted to have just one litter”. PREVENTION of the birth of unwanted litters is the ONLY way to reduce the number of neglected animals. Millions of pet deaths each year are a needless tragedy, and PREVENTION— by spaying and neutering your pet, and encouraging others to do the same, you can be an important part of the solution to this tragic problem. Help raise awareness as to the importance of altering pets!

Pet identification is a must as a preventive measure for the return, in case your dog is one of the millions that goes missing each year. Sometimes an ID tag and collar are not enough. Microchipping your pet is a means of permanent identification, and is an excellent way to increase your chances of being reunited with her in the event that you are separated.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than eighty percent of all dogs older than age 3 show signs of inadequate dental care: yellow and brown tarter build-up, inflamed gums, and bad breath. Periodontal disease starts as bacteria and plaque on teeth and progresses into a disease that can cause tooth decay, tooth loss, swollen gums, and even damage to the heart and other internal organs. Prevention is your dog’s best defense against dental problems, and since a dog cannot brush his own teeth, it is important to do it for him. If you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth, you may need to have a professional cleaning, before starting a home regimen. Visit with your vet about proper procedure to use. Dental homecare for your dog means extra work, but the more you do, the healthier he will be….and the fewer professional cleanings he will need.

Core vaccinations can prevent diseases that are extremely common, and are often fatal or extremely difficult to treat effectively. Core vaccines include rabies, canine distemper, canine parvovirus, and canine adenovirus. Your veterinarian should make a risk assessment for non -core vaccinations such as leptospirosis, lyme disease, canine cough complex, and canine influenza , to determine what vaccinations should be added.

Taking precautionary measures diminishes the seriousness of disease or illness, and early diagnosis and treatment can slow common diseases in animals. Renal, periodontal, and osteoarthritis are just a few problems that preventative vet care can inhibit. Just because your dog looks healthy to you doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t see a vet regularly, and according to Veterinary News and Views, most veterinarians recommend a minimum of once a year physical exams which should cover vaccinations, parasites, breathing problems, nutrition, exercise, ears and eyes, coat and skin exam, and blood test which should include heartworm test.

Every aspect of your dog’s exam may prove revealing even if it seems unimportant at the time. Exams of the ears, eyes, and mouth are often very significant. Examination of his eyes may show infection, anemia, cataracts, high blood pressure, kidney problems, allergies, and sometimes even nutritional conditions. Regular ear cleaning will greatly lessen the likelihood of ear infections which are very painful. Complete exams will include vaccinations, fecal analysis, and heartworm testing. Key benefits of these exams include preventing disease, identifying potential problems and diseases in early stages, and provide the quality of life you wish to give your dog. Check ups allow your doctor to monitor your pet’s progressive health, and make recommendations regarding many different health related areas. It definitely takes far less effort and expense to prevent health problems than to cure them!


Kindness is ALWAYS in Fashion

This year has been a tough time, but lashing out, turning on our friends, hating others, or doing acts that are just plain mean are unacceptable, so let’s spread kindness….to two legged and four legged! We are blessed to live in the best country in the world! Americans will never agree on everything, or completely understand why some people have some points of view, but hateful and cruel acts are never productive, while kindness is always fashionable, and an act of kindness, no matter how small, is never wasted. From our economic crisis to our political chaos, the concept of making a difference can get lost in the enormity of it all, but the reality is that those who focus on reducing suffering and making individual communities better places to live are happier than those who spew discord and discontent. According to Steven Rowley, “Dogs can help to ground us and guide us to act in kindness rather than hatred. Dogs live in the present; dogs don’t hold grudges…. and dogs let go of all their anger daily, hourly, and never let it fester. They absolve and forgive with each passing minute. Every turn of a corner is the opportunity for a clean slate. Every bounce of a ball brings joy and the promise of a fresh chase. Perhaps if humans learned these lessons, lives would be enriched.” Dogs offer so much, asking so little in return, and by offering our time or money—or just sharing our love of animals—we can improve our world and make life better for both humans and animals. . We’ll feel better about ourselves too, and that’s a great deal.

Specific ways to get involved in the animal welfare cause include:

  • Promote spaying and neutering. Millions of adoptable dogs are euthanized every year, and by spaying and neutering your animals, you will make sure that you are not contributing to the already overpopulation problem.
  • Become involved in legislation to better the lives of our dogs. Help fight for the passage of strong anti-cruelty laws, and for the abolishment of puppy mills. Puppy mills need to be put out of business for good, and we need to complain enough and often until our message is taken seriously.
  • Schedule regular visits to your area shelter to socialize dogs to get them ready for adoption. Just by playing fetch and giving individual attention is a great way to help. Shelter dogs always appreciate a little walk!
  • If you can’t donate your time, you probably have plenty of useful supplies lying around. Contact your local shelter for specific needs. Blankets you may not need can still be used to keep pets warm and comfortable. Those squeaky toys, balls, and stuffed animals your kids no longer play with may provide entertainment for lonely dogs.
  • Volunteer your specialized skills or talents. If you have expertise in web design, grant writing, carpentry, or other areas, a shelter will certainly welcome your sharing it.
  • If you are planning a school, office or special occasion party, consider a dog drive. Each guest can bring pet food, toys, bedding, etc. to your party, all destined for the local shelter. In lieu of gift exchanges, consider donations in the name of your office or social group to your local animal welfare organization. Hold a community yard/bake sale and donate the proceeds to a shelter.
  • Companion animals play important roles in the loves of their caregivers, but sometimes the elderly or ill have trouble providing essential pet care. If you have a neighbor or friend in need, offer to assist by walking the dog, feeding him, driving him to the veterinarian, etc. These small acts of kindness will be appreciated.
  • You may not be able to end pet overpopulation or stop animal neglect, but every act of kindness will help reach those goals. Kindness always makes a difference—blessing the one who receives it, and blessing the giver. Everyone, human or canine, deserves to be treated with respect and kindness….period…no exceptions. Kindness is always fashionable and always appreciated

You can do something big or you can do something small, but whatever you do in kindness is better than doing nothing at all.


Why do dogs eat weird things?

Most dogs like to snuffle and dig in the dirt, and eating a few bites of dirt or even poop is probably not a problem, but if your dog continually eats weird things, he may be suffering from an issue identified as “pica” , and your first stop should be to the vet. Medical causes include many scary possibilities, but if you’ve been to the vet and your dog gets a clean bill of health and she’s still trying to swallow rocks, tennis balls, and your underwear, you need to consider possible reasons why.

Lonely dogs who don’t get enough physical or mental exercise may become lethargic, or they may look for things to do. Many dogs find it relaxing to chew, and if they have nothing appropriate to chew on, they may eat whatever is around, edible or not. Boredom, frustration, and anxiety are major causes for this problem, and you need to be sure she’s getting plenty of exercise and play time, as well as reward-based training to tire her active brain, help her relax, and lower her stress level.

Never punish your dog if he likes to eat his poop… as gross as that is, it is usually not harmful. Pick up after him immediately in order to remove the temptation. Ingesting feces from another animal can expose him to a number of different parasites, so it is important to keep him on parasite preventative, and have his stool checked regularly. Swallowing things like rocks, chalk, fabric, sand, string and plastic can lead to gastric upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and even worse—intestinal obstructions. The best way to prevent your dog from ingesting inappropriate things is to keep them out of reach, and make sure he has plenty of exercise and activity. It is sometimes helpful to spray reachable non-safe – items with a non toxic spray such as citrus, cinnamon, or eucalyptus in order to remove temptation.

For the past eleven years, Veterinary Practice News has recorded some of the strangest and craziest surgeries required because of pica. This documentation of pica cases is meant to serve as an educational tool for both veterinarians and caregivers. They stress the importance of getting your dog to the vet right away if you suspect he has ingested a foreign body. The longer you wait, the more damage is possible, the harder it can be to retrieve the item, and the more expensive the vet bill will probably be.

In 2016 recorded surgeries included:

  • Recovery of 23 baby pacifiers (mostly intact) one peach pit, multiple pieces of white plastic, and a black foam nipple. Strangely enough, the lab’s caregivers had no babies in their house, so they concluded that the dog had collected the pacifiers over multiple visits to a relative’s house.
  • Abdominal radiographs of Riley, a young boxer, showed a full stomach, and surgery revealed 75 small coffee creamer cups in the stomach. With the popularity of individual coffee brewing systems, this may become more and more of a problem. Keep the capsules, whether new or used, out of reach.
  • Corn cobs are not digestible, and are dangerous, and corn cobs with the skewer attached are certainly worse. At a family cookout, Spencer stole a corn cob with attached skewer right off grandma’s plate. Before anyone could react, he swallowed the whole thing, which required surgical removal.
  • A 48 pound, 9 year old mixed-breed dog who had a history of occasionally getting into the trash became ill, and the caregivers elected exploratory surgery. A 35 inch segment of a 60 inch plastic tape measure was removed.
  • Radiographs of a female boxer revealed a large object in the stomach, and the surgeon removed not one, but two, rubber yellow duck bath toys. Because the plastic showed no chew marks, the patient had apparently swallowed them whole.
  • A dog caregiver who kept his spare change in a Planters Peanut can came home to find the can on the floor, the plastic lid chewed up, and change scattered on the floor. Their 8 month old dog acted sluggish and was vomiting. When the owner found a couple of coins in his stool, they took him to the vet. 80 pennies, 14, nickels, l0 dimes and 5 quarters were removed.

The simplest (but not easy) way to prevent pica is to keep your yard and house picked up. Clean up feces daily from the yard. If your dog likes to eat socks, don’t leave socks lying around. Be aware of what items tempt your dog. Provide positive attention, adequate exercise, training, and play. Tired, socially tended dogs spend less time expressing oral energy than their wired, lonely counterparts do. Be alert for symptoms that suggest your dog has swallowed something that may form an indigestible mass that might block the intestines. When symptoms such as pain, lack of bowel movements, abdominal distention or bloat are present, immediate medical evaluation is needed, so it is important to do all you can to prevent serious problems and keep your dog’s digestive system free of foreign objects.


A Magnificent, Genuine Mutt

Dogs fall into one of two groups: mixed breeds and purebreds. Some people believe that purchasing a purebred means purchasing a guarantee of temperament and health, but the only thing that “official papers” from a purebred dog registry organization certifies is that the reported lineage and identity of the dog is recorded, and the fact is that many puppy mill dogs are registry certified. If you are looking for a loyal four-footed companion, it will not matter whether you choose a purebred or a mixed breed dog. Your health maintenance and training will modify the future of any dog, whether purebred or genuine mutt. In fact, there are advantages to getting mixed breeds that you may not even realize. A mixed breed will have the benefits of different breeds , and will be less prone to genetic imperfections common to some purebred dogs, and a mixed breed may have a less extreme temperament than some purebreds. With consistent, loving training, almost any kind of a dog will grow into a uniquely brilliant magnificent friend.

A GENUINE MUTT (with selections from Jim Willis)

Dudley wasn’t sure how many weeks he’d been in the animal shelter, but it seemed forever. Each day was the same as the one before, and he spent most of his time sitting on the palette in his pen. He heard some of the dogs barking a greeting to the old bloodhound Humphrey, mascot of the shelter, as he made morning rounds. Humphrey paused in front of Dudley’s pen , making Dudley uncomfortable. He hung his head a little lower, and avoided Humphrey’s stare.

“You, boy…look alive!” Humphrey ordered….”It’s opening time and the people will be coming.”

“Alive? Alive for what. Nobody wants me. “

“Harrumph!” grunted Humphrey. “Why you’re a fine specimen of a …well, anyone can see that you’re obviously a…um…”

“A mutt,” sighed Dudley. “Nobody wants us.”

“Just a mutt!” Humphrey sputtered. “Why there’s nothing better than a mutt. Mutts are healthy, intelligent and brave. Mutts are some of the most cherished members of the canine community, but it takes more than Mutt Status to get into the right home. Do you do any tricks?”

Dudley looked down again. “Not really. I can have a conniption fit…at least that’s what my former owner called it.”

Humphrey tried hard to not look at the concrete and wire that made up his world, where lace curtains and a comfortable couch used to be before his former owner had died. “You need to put your best paw forward, show your best qualities. You are brave, aren’t you? And honest and sincere? Now I hear some humans headed this way… Just remember that you are a uniquely brilliant , magnificent mutt…..chin up, chest out, show ‘em what you’ve got” and with that Humphrey went on down the hall.

The human couple seemed kindhearted, quietly discussing the various dogs as they walked down the aisle. They paused in front of Dudley’s pen to read the ID card. “Huh, he is rather cute, but he appears to be a mutt.”

Dudley’s ears pricked up for an instant…they were talking about him. “Yes!” he barked. “I am a magnificent mutt, and I’m intelligent and loyal and brave.” Dudley barked again, standing up to get their attention. I am uniquely brilliant and can jump, and chase my tail, and roll over, and dance on my hind legs, and….” he toppled over from the effort.

“What was that?” the man asked

“I believe that’s what my grandmother would have called a ‘conniption fit,” the woman laughed. “Isn’t he precious?”

“I think we’ve got ourselves a genuine mutt,” the man answered with a smile.

Dudley beamed with joy as his new humans filled out necessary paperwork, and danced as he went with them to the parking lot. Humphrey watched as the humans picked up the little dog, and gently loaded him into their car. He turned, trying to ignore his aching joints, and walked back down the bleak kennel aisle, pausing just long enough to wipe at his eyes with a paw, thankful that he had helped save another magnificent, genuine mutt.