Tag: Care 2

Life and Dogs

Or more specifically living a long and healthy life assisted by our dogs!

Recently the Care 2 site published a wonderful item about the real benefits of having a dog in our life when we are the ‘wrong’ side of (fill in your own number!).

So here it is for all you good people. I know without a doubt that there will be many nodding heads out there as the article is being read.

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Owning a Dog May Help You Live Longer

According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 44 percent of Americans own a dog. That is a pretty significant number. In fact, dogs are easily the most popular pet among US pet owners—sorry cat lovers. But what is it that makes dogs so great? Well, they’re fun loving, energetic, make excellent companions and… may actually help you live longer.

A recent Swedish study suggested that owning a dog may be linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. According to the study, owning a dog was associated with a 20 percent reduced risk of overall death and a 23 percent reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. The study tracked 3.4 million people over the course of 12 years, including both dog owners and non-dog owners. Interestingly, the effects of dog ownership were most pronounced when subjects lived alone and were the sole caretakers for the dog, as they experienced a 33 percent reduced risk of death.

So what is it that makes dogs so beneficial to our health and our lives? Here are a few theories:

EXERCISE

Dogs need exercise as much as we do, but, oftentimes people prioritize their pup’s needs above their own. Many people would more readily take their dog on a walk than walk alone down the block to get some fresh air and take care of themselves. But lucky for us, exercising a dog means exercising yourself, too! It is well established that regular exercise reduces your likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. A dog may provide irrefutable motivation to get you off the couch and on a walk, which could be saving your life.

OUTDOOR TIME

Along the same lines, dogs encourage us to get outside more. Being outside reduces stress, can increase vitamin D levels and promotes happiness. It can be easy for us to get lazy and stay snuggled up inside when the weather is less than ideal, but dogs need regular outside access. Our pups encourage us to get outside on a regular basis, which can have a small but significantly healthful impact on overall mood and stress levels.

BENEFICIAL BACTERIA

Having a dog is essentially like consuming a powerful probiotic every single day. Dogs go out in nature, roll in mud and grass, chew on sticks, sniff all sorts of bacteria-ridden substances and then track little microscopic bits of this array of bacteria back into our homes. But that may actually be a good thing. According to the New York Times, “Epidemiological studies show that children who grow up in households with dogs have a lower risk for developing autoimmune illnesses like asthma and allergies — and it may be a result of the diversity of microbes that these animals bring inside our homes.” The wider the spectrum of bacteria we subject ourselves to, the more balanced our own microbiomes will become. Since the microbiome can affect all areas of our health, including the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, the long term health benefits of diverse bacterial populations should not be underestimated. Dogs, and other pets, do an incredible job of strengthening our microbiomes, which has a profound impact on our health.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

There is something to said for the emotional stability a dog provides. Chronic stress has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death, which makes it even more significant that dogs are great at reducing our stress and anxiety levels. They are like our little furry therapists—they are always there for us, through good times and bad, and they always love us indiscriminately. The companionship of a dog and a human is one of the purest, most mutually beneficial relationships one can have. It’s pretty powerful.

Of course, just giving your parents a dog doesn’t mean they will necessarily live longer—especially if they aren’t ‘dog people.’ But for those who are, next time you come home to a wagging tail and a wild tongue, be grateful to your pup pal for all the amazing things they bring to your life.

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Again and again one realises just how incredible it is to have a dog, or several!, in one’s life!

Beautiful animals!

Dream on my beautiful dog

Science shows that animals, including dogs, do dream!

I wanted to republish a recent and serious article written by George Monbiot but couldn’t bear to push back against the wonderful video of yesterday. Those loving ripples are still spreading across my consciousness and, I’m sure, that’s the same for you.

Consciousness, sleep, and dreaming are fascinating states of the mind. Previously thought exclusively the states of human minds. But not so!

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Do Animals Dream?

By: Care2 Causes Editors October 22, 2017

About Care2 Follow Care2 at @care2

Written by Sy Montgomery, coauthor of Tamed and Untamed: Close Encounters of the Animal Kind

The electric eel exhibit at the New England Aquarium has a feature that makes it a favorite. Whenever the eel is hunting or stunning prey, the charge powers a voltmeter above his tank. It lights up when the eel is using his electricity, and allows you to see the invisible—like magic.

One day I saw another magical thing happen in the tank. Thanks to the voltmeter, I was able to watch the eel dream.

It happened when I was standing in front of the exhibit with Scott Dowd, the lead aquarist for the freshwater gallery, watching the eel resting motionless at the bottom of the tank. “I think he’s asleep,” I said to my companion.

“Yes, that eel is catching some serious z’s,” he agreed.

Being hard-core fish enthusiasts, we continued to watch transfixed while the electric eel slept. And that’s when it happened: A big flash shot across the voltmeter display—and another and another.

Electric eels hunt while swimming forward, wagging their heads to and fro, sending out electric signals that bounce back to them, sort of like a dolphin’s echolocation. But he was still motionless. So what was the flash for?

“I thought the eel was asleep!” I said to Dowd.

“He is asleep,” he replied.

We realized at once what we were almost surely witnessing. The electric eel was dreaming.

“It would appear that not only do men dream,” Aristotle wrote in History of Animals, “but horses also, and dogs, and oxen; aye, and sheep and goats. . . .”

It was obvious: Like most of us, Aristotle had watched sleeping dogs twitch their ears, paddle their paws, and bark in their sleep. Surely other animals dreamed as well.

But since Aristotle’s day, more “modern” thinkers denied that animals could dream. Complex and mysterious, dreams were considered the exclusive province of so-called higher minds.

As brain research advanced, however, researchers were forced to concede that Aristotle was right. Animals do dream.

And now we are even able to glimpse what they dream about.

Since the 1960s scientists have understood that our dreams happen during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of the sleep cycle. During this time our muscles are normally paralyzed by the pons of the brain stem, so that we don’t act out our dreams. In 1965 researchers removed the pons from the brain stems of cats.* They discovered the cats would get up and walk around, move the head as if to follow prey, and pounce as if on invisible mice—all
while asleep.

By 2007 we would get an even more vivid picture of animals’ dreams. Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists Matthew Wilson and graduate student Kenway Louie recorded the activity of rats’ brains while the animals were running a maze. Neurons fire in distinct patterns while a rat in a maze performs particular tasks. The researchers repeatedly saw the exact same patterns reproduced while the rats slept—and they saw this so clearly they could tell what point in the maze the rat was dreaming about and whether an individual rat was running or walking in his dreams.

The rats’ dreams arose from the hippocampus, the same area in the brain that seems to drive humans’ dreams. It’s an area known to record and store memories, and that supports the notion that one important function of dreams is to help us remember what we have learned. Of course, it’s important to a lab rat to remember the right way to run a maze.

So if rats dream of running mazes, what do birds dream about? Singing.

University of Chicago professor Daniel Margoliash conducted experiments on zebra finches. Like most birds, zebra finches aren’t born knowing their songs; they learn them, and young birds spend much of their days learning and rehearsing the song of their species. While awake, neurons in the forebrain known as the robustus archistrialis fire when the bird sings particular notes. The researcher was able to determine the individual notes based on the firing pattern of the neurons. While the birds were asleep, their neurons fired in the same order—as if they were singing in their dreams.

Much less work has been done on fish than on mammals and birds. No one has found REM sleep in fish—yet. But that does not mean they don’t dream. Interestingly, no one has discovered REM sleep in whales, either. But whales almost surely dream. They are long-lived, social animals with very big brains much like our own, and for whom long-term memory consolidation is crucial.

And if you were looking for rapid eye movement in sleeping owls, you’d never see it—because owls’ eyes are fixed in their sockets. That’s why they need to turn their heads around, Exorcist-style. Yet owls’ brain waves show they dream, too.

Fish do sleep, however—that much is well known. It’s been carefully documented that if zebra fish are deprived of sleep (because pesky researchers keep waking them up), they have trouble swimming the next day—just as a person would have trouble concentrating after a dreamless night.

What might an electric eel dream about? The voltmeter at the New England Aquarium showed us the answer: hunting and shocking prey.

This excerpt is from Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas Tamed and Untamed: Close Encounters of the Animal Kind (Chelsea Green Publishing, October 2017) and is printed with permission from the publisher.

*Care2 stands firmly against animal testing and believes it to be a cruel and unnecessary practice for which there are viable alternatives, such as computer modeling.

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A young Pharaoh asleep, and dreaming?? September, 2003.

Life-giving water!

Funny how the world goes around!

Why do I write that?

Well during the last week I was referred by my local doctor to see a urologist in connection with a query regarding my ‘back end’. Dr. N, the urologist pointed out that the human body, especially the brain, places such demands on ensuring that water is readily available (non-scientific description!) that it will ‘steal’ water from the bowel. Ergo, when I do my bike rides in the morning I was told to drink the water that I carry with me but previously have not been consuming. For even my hour’s ride three times a week will cause sufficient perspiration that other parts of my body will remove water from my bowel.

All of which seems more than sufficient introduction to today’s post that I first read on the Care 2 site.

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Is Your Dog Drinking Enough Water?

By: Abigail Geer October 14, 2017

About Abigail

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on June 14, 2015. Enjoy!
Water makes up around 80 percent of a dog’s body. It’s essential for optimum health — for both humans and pets — but how much is enough for our pets? And is there such thing as too much water?

Looking after an animal is a major responsibility, since they depend on humans for their needs. We tend to assume that as long as we provide our dogs with a water bowl, they will drink the necessary amount, but unfortunately this is not always true.

Some dogs are under-hydrated, while others may drink too much. Here’s what every pet owner should know about hydration.

Water’s Vital Role in the Body

Water is the basis of life, as it hydrates, nourishes and cleanses the body. While your dog can survive for a long time without food, insufficient water consumption can seriously damage the body. In a relatively short period of time, just a 10 percent drop in hydration can be fatal.

From mental alertness and ease of breathing, to optimum digestion and bowel movements, every metabolic process in a dog’s body will be affected by its level of hydration.

Blood flow pumps oxygen through the body and removes toxins, but poor hydration can lead to a buildup of toxins in the muscles and organs, causing a huge array of health issues. Dogs regulate their heat by panting, and this heavy breath causes a lot of moisture to leave the body — especially on hot days or while exercising.

Lack of water can result in dehydration, organ failure and kidney stones or other urinary tract problems, but apart from these direct health issues, insufficient water intake can be an indicator of existing problems.

Water Consumption Can Be a Health Indicator

Dogs who are not drinking enough water or who have an insatiable thirst could be displaying signs of more serious health problems — and that’s why it’s essential to keep a close eye on their drinking habits.

Dogs with illnesses such as parvovirus, pancreatitis and leptospirois — as well as many others — do not tend to drink much water, so if you notice that your dog is barely drinking anything, it may be worth taking them for a check-up. On the flip side, dogs with bladder infections, diabetes and Cushing’s disease — among others — are often extremely thirsty and can be observed drinking excessive amounts of water.

While it’s important to monitor how much your dog is drinking, remember to keep things in perspective with their other behaviors, temperature conditions and so on, so that you don’t become overly concerned every time your dog has a big drink of water!

So How Much Water Does Your Dog Need?

A dog’s water needs vary from breed to breed, and they also depend on size, age, diet, activity level and environmental conditions.

The recommended water intake for a dog is approximately one ounce of water per pound of bodyweight, per day.

Your dog’s diet will play a big role in the amount of water that it needs to consume. For instance, dogs who solely eat dry biscuits or kibble will get significantly less hydration from their food than those on moisture-rich diets.

During the hot weather, if your dog is very thirsty after a long walk or play session, it’s a good idea to let him or her rehydrate over an extended period of time, rather than letting the dog guzzle down too much water at once.

If your dog finishes all the water in its bowl, wait for half an hour before refilling it, so that your pup has time to rest and digest. You can also help keep dogs hydrated during exercise by giving them access to water — little and often is best.

To test whether your dog may be dehydrated, you can lift the skin on the back of the neck and watch to see how quickly it returns to its normal position. If it forms a sort of tent, and doesn’t fall back into place immediately, then your dog may be dehydrated.

Nobody knows your dog better than you, and by keeping a close eye on your dog’s behavior you can tell if he or she is happy and healthy — or showing signs of dehydration or illness. Regularly monitoring water intake should become a habit, as it can tell you a lot about your dog’s health and wellness.

Photo Credit: ThePatronSaint

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Thus picking up on that recommended water intake, a 20lb dog should be drinking 20 oz of water a day. And for your reference:

USA system: 16 USA ounces to the USA pint
Imperial system (old British system): 20 imperial fluid ounces to the imperial pint

So Brandy, who weighs in at 140 lbs, should be drinking 8.75 US pints or more than 1 gallon of water a day!

Our Brandy!

Back to what you and I should be drinking? Sound advice in this Mayo Clinic article (that includes this):

So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:

  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women

These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food. About 20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks.

Cheers!

Too many dogs are being killed!

A plea to choose a shelter dog before other sources!

Of the six dogs that we have here at home only one, Cleo, came to us from a breeder. That was because we specifically wanted a GSD puppy to be a playmate for Pharaoh as he was getting into his final years.

Pharaoh demonstrating his benevolent status with puppy Cleo. April 2012.

The other five are all dogs that we took from rescue shelters or, in the case of Brandy, from a couple that couldn’t handle such a big dog despite him being the most placid and loving dog one could ever come across.

The Care2 blogsite recently published an article that hammered home the reasons why everyone should (nay, must!) consider a shelter dog first.

Please read and share this. For the sake of those thousands of dogs that never have the joy of loving owners in their lives.

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6 Common Myths About Shelter Animals (and the Truth About Them)

Adopting a dog doesn’t mean you’re inheriting someone else’s problem. Learn the truth and some common myths about shelter animals.

It’s a sad fact that each year approximately 670,000 dogs are euthanized in animal shelters across the United States. It happens because too many dogs enter the shelter and too few people consider adoption when it comes to getting a new pet. Many buy into one of the most common myths that when you adopt a dog from a shelter you are inheriting someone else’s problem.

The truth is that shelters and rescues are brimming with happy, healthy pets just waiting for someone to take them home. Most shelter pets are surrendered because of a human problem like a move or a divorce, not because the animals did anything wrong. Many are already housetrained and used to living with families.

“When you adopt a shelter dog you are most likely bringing home a dog who has good manners, is leash trained and knows some commands,” said Ellen Ribitzki, kennel manager for the Bloomingdale Regional Animal Shelter Society (B.A.S.S.) in New Jersey.  “In addition, shelter dogs are temperament tested so adopters will have an idea of a pet’s personality―whether he/she gets along with other dogs or with cats and young children.”

In late August the Herrera family visited B.A.S.S. to find a companion for their rescue dog, Charlie. The family had just lost their beloved Roxy, a 12-year-old boxer, and all of them―including Charlie―were mourning the loss.

“We started visiting our local shelters because we know what love rescue dogs can give,” Robin Herrera said.  “We knew that we didn’t want a puppy but we were looking for a dog young enough to be playful. We also knew that Charlie had to approve of the new dog.”

At B.A.S.S. they fell in love with Sophia, an 18-month-old German shorthair pointer mix, an energetic fun-loving and playful dog. Luckily Charlie approved and Sophia is now a much-loved addition to the family.

The Herrera family fell in love with Sophia, a German shorthaired pointer mix, for adoption at the Bloomingdale Regional Animal Shelter in NJ.
Image courtesy of the Robin Herrera

“Sophia and Charlie are constantly hunting for chipmunks in our yard,” Herrera said. “They love long walks together and enjoy snuggling with us at night.”

Ribitzki said that dogs are rarely returned to B.A.S.S., and when it does happens it’s because of health or life changes―for example, allergies or a job change―and not behavioral issues.

“The majority of dogs and cats are surrendered to B.A.S.S. by heartbroken owners in tears because they can no longer care for their beloved pet,” Ribitzki said. “Unfortunately, with the recent catastrophic hurricanes, there will be a lot more animals impacted and more demands on rescues and shelters.”

Shelter dog Sophia (standing) was recently adopted by the Herrera family in New Jersey and has become a loving member of the household.
Image courtesy: Bloomingdale Regional Animal Shelter

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and a perfect time to help dogs in shelters across the country find loving forever homes. If you’re thinking of adding a dog to the family, please consider adopting your next animal companion.

6 Common Myths about Shelter Animals

Myth #1: Dogs only end up in shelters because they have behavior problems or are sick.

Truth: Some dogs do end up in shelters and rescue groups because their owners can’t handle their perceived behavior problems (which may be as easy to fix as an older puppy reluctant to housebreaking), but most of them end up in shelters because of a combination of these reasons:

  • They were strays―either they never had a home or they ran away and their owners didn’t reclaim them.
  • The owner moved and couldn’t take his/her pet along.
  • Owners were too busy to take care of their pets, or couldn’t afford to due to job loss or medical emergencies.
  • Owners didn’t know how to train their pet to behave appropriately.
  • Owners got rid of their pet when their baby was born.
  • Owner or family members developed allergies to the pet.
  • The pet required a medical procedure that the owner couldn’t afford.
  • Owners and their family simply lost interest in the pet, this is especially true for older puppies.

Myth #2: You never know what you’re getting with a shelter or rescue pet.

Truth: When you deal with a reputable shelter or rescue group that gets all vetting done―spay/neuter, vaccinations, deworming and heartworm preventative―and temperament tests all of their adoptable pets, you do know what you’re getting!

Myth #3: You have to start the bonding process when your pet is a baby.

Truth: Rescued pets are often noted as being “grateful” for their new lease on life. Forming a bond with an animal whose life you saved comes naturally for most people. Dogs become attached to the people who take care of their basic needs, no matter when those people came into their lives.

Forming a bond with an animal whose life you saved comes naturally for most people.
Image credit: Thinkstock

Myth #4: Shelter animals are not as clean as pet store animals.

Truth: Not only is this untrue, but the conditions of many breeding facilities or puppy mills (which supply pet stores that sell dogs) are nothing short of horrific. Puppies born in puppy mills are usually removed from their mothers at just 6 weeks old and are housed in overcrowded and unsanitary wire-floored cages, without adequate veterinary care, food or water.

Myth #5: Adopting big or very strong dogs is a bad idea if you have little children.

Truth: There’s no evidence that big dogs are more likely than small dogs to harm children. A dog’s behavior is a function of many factors including breeding, socialization, training, environment and treatment by owners.

Myth #6: Getting animals from breeders is safer because the breeders know the animal’s bloodline and family history.

Truth: As a result of their breeding, purebred dogs very often have genetic disorders and medical issue predispositions, certainly no less often than shelter dogs. Also, while bloodlines and histories are useful tools to assess an animal’s value, they are limited in terms of predicting behavior. On the other hand, shelters are motivated to save lives and make strong matches. Some use science and sophisticated tools to appropriately pair up animals and owners and are happy to share everything they know about each animal.

Sources: Second Chance for Pets in Clinton, IL, and the ASPCA

The Humane Society of the United States offers the top reasons to adopt a pet.

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Did you notice that link on the very last line of this article, the one regarding The Humane Society offering the reasons why everyone should adopt? If that link was followed then one would read the most important reason to adopt a pet (my emphasis):

Because you’ll save a life.

Each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States, simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet.

The number of euthanized animals could be reduced dramatically if more people adopted pets instead of buying them. When you adopt, you save a loving animal by making them part of your family and open up shelter space for another animal who might desperately need it.

Because you will save a life!

Protecting our dogs from being stolen!

Can you imagine anything more awful!

I’m not sure if we are out and about with our dogs more frequently in the Summer but one would assume so.

But whatever the season, the number of people that do take their dogs with them when they are out is very significant.

So a recent article published by Care 2 about how thieves do steal dogs seemed timely.

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5 Ways Thieves Could Steal Your Dog

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on January 1, 2013. Enjoy!

Sergeant Kenneth Chambers was playing Frisbee with his dog in the parking lot of a Jacksonville, Florida, grocery store recently when lightning struck out of the clear blue sky. The young American veteran, in recovery for post traumatic stress disorder, rolled down the car windows and placed his Australian Shepard/Blue Heeler Mix inside the vehicle just briefly, while he went inside to help his mother with the bags. When he came out moments later, Adalida was gone.

Unfortunately for Sergeant Chambers, and for Adalida, the parking lot scenario placed them in two of the top five high-risk situations for pet theft. And while Sergeant Chamebers’ search continues for Adalida, there are measures that all of us can take to prevent a similar tragedy.

Here are five of the top high-risk pet theft scenarios to avoid: 

1. Dogs in cars

In the blink of an eye, a partially opened window can be forced down or smashed. It takes 20 seconds or less to abduct a dog, and by the time a pet owner returns to the car, their dog is long gone. The American Kennel Club reports a 70 percent rise in dog theft in 2012 and a 40 percent rise the year before. A weak economy has fueled financially motivated dog-napping — and a dog in a car is, quite simply, a sitting duck.

2. Highly prized breeds or dogs with special abilities

A purebred dog or a dog with special skills is a bit like a gold watch. Thieves see dollar signs, and that’s more than enough temptation. Any dog left unattended can be taken, but there is far greater motivation for criminals to walk off with a dog who can bring in a large sum of cash.

3. Pets left in fenced backyards

Everyone loves the convenience of a doggy door — especially criminals. Homeowners who let their pet explore the fenced yard without supervision maintain the illusion of safety, but police departments across the country will tell you that this isn’t enough.

In broad daylight on a single Saturday in November, Corning Animal Shelter Manager Debbie Eaglebarger documented the theft of four Dobermans, four Australian shepherds and two Rottweilers. One neighbor witnessed a man and a woman lure one of the dogs out of a backyard and into their vehicle. All dogs taken that day were purebred, but that is not always the case.

4. Pets left tied in front of businesses

This one may sound like a no-brainer, but particularly in urban areas where pets accompany their owners on errands, it’s not uncommon to find dogs tied up in front of a bank or grocery store. Typically, these are dogs with a gentle demeanor — and that makes them highly susceptible to the commands of a would-be thief.

“Leaving your dog tied up in front of a store is about as ludicrous as leaving your child out front and saying, ‘Wait right there, I’ll be back in 10 minutes,” explains Howard Simpson of Integrated Security and Communications in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts. “Do yourself a favor and realize that there are security risks in even the safest of neighborhoods. Being naive makes you a target.”

5 Strangers in the neighborhood

Any strangers on your property can be a risk to your pets. Whether they are invited contractors, deliverymen or political campaigners, visitors could easily grab a pet during a moment when the homeowner is distracted. In some cases, they are making a mental note of homes with valuable breeds or easy-to-subvert home security that will facilitate a quick dog-napping at a later time. It bears mentioning that it’s not uncommon for cats to jump into the back of truck beds for a snooze and to be unwittingly carried off at the end of the day.

Which breeds are most likely to be stolen?

According to the American Kennel Club, the most stolen dog of 2011 was the Yorkshire terrier, followed by the Pomeranian, Maltese and Boston terrier. Small breeds are targeted by thieves because of their size but also because of their value on the market — a single dog can fetch well over $1,000! Among the large breeds, Labrador retrievers are a frequent target, as well as pit bull terriers and pit bull mixes – perhaps for a much more sinister purpose.

Why do thieves target pets?

1. Bait dogs and laboratory dogs

This is every dog guardian’s worst nightmare. Indeed people involved in dog fighting will gather “bait” dogs to be used as training tools for fighting dogs. It happens in both urban and rural areas, and there has been no measurable decline in dog fighting in recent years. Despite some legislation intended to stop the sale of undocumented dogs to research laboratories, under-the-table sales continue — and, in some countries, these exchanges are not considered a crime.

2. Financially motivated theft

“For the first time ever we’ve seen a trend now where shelters are being broken into and purebred and mixed breed dogs are being stolen,” said Lisa Peterson, spokesperson for the American Kennel Club. In fact, any purebred dog, particularly puppies, is considered a high-value commodity. Even with a microchip, it’s often too late when a pet buyer discovers that they have purchased a stolen dog.  By then, the thief is long gone.

3. Emotionally driven theft

What’s often overlooked are the emotionally motivated crimes that rob dogs of their families. This can happen because the perpetrator feels that a dog is not being properly cared for. Some animal lovers will feel justified in stealing a dog that is tied in front of a store or who gets  loose one day. Other times it’s an act of revenge, and, in many cases, a former romantic partner is considered the prime suspect.

Whatever the scenario or the motivation, dog guardians can best protect their dogs with watchfulness. Never leave a dog unattended. Secure your home, including all doors and windows, to the best of your ability and budget. And be wary of strangers in your neighborhood at all times.

Brought to you by the Harmony Fund, an international animal rescue charity.

Desmond’s Law – more please!

Connecticut shows how it should be done.

Following on from yesterday’s post that highlighted how Switzerland is legally protecting the rights of animals.

Apologies for the brief introduction but our internet service was up and down yesterday and I didn’t know how long I had to get today’s post completed.

A republication of an item seen recently on the Care 2 site.

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Connecticut Gives Abused Animals Their Own Lawyers

By: Susan Bird June 12, 2017

About Susan Follow Susan at @ItsSusanBird

Abused animals in Connecticut now have a voice in court, thanks to a new law passed by the state in late 2016.

Connecticut lawmakers passed “Desmond’s Law” in response to the horrific death of a sweet shelter dog called Desmond in 2012. The man who adopted him, Alex Wullaert, reportedly rarely fed Desmond and often beat him.

Ultimately, Wullaert killed the dog by hanging him, after Desmond made the mistake of urinating on Wullaert’s leg. Then he dumped the body in a garbage bag and left it on the street.

When prosecuted for the crime, Wullaert admitted what he’d done. The prosecutor recommended that he spend time behind bars for this shocking offense. Despite this recommendation, the court gave him nothing more than Accelerated Rehabilitation. That meant upon successful completion of probation, Wullaert’s record would be wiped clean.

That result outraged the animal-loving citizens of Connecticut. And they enacted “Desmond’s Law” to ensure that court decisions offer a better measure of justice following animal-related crimes.

Seven attorneys, a law professor and her law students are part of the program statewide. The law authorizes qualified pro-bono lawyers and volunteer law students to:

[P]rovide investigative insight not readily available to the court, resulting in a more fair and efficient process and more meaningful outcomes in animal abuse cases. It is intended to shine a bright light on the full extent of crimes committed under the animal cruelty statute.

In a nutshell, these animal advocates help the prosecution or defense team with tasks it often has no time for, especially in animal cases. The volunteers investigate, research issues and conduct interviews with veterinarians and other witnesses. As official parties to the case, they also write briefs, make arguments in court and submit recommendations to the judge.

A judge has to approve the participation of the animal advocates, who must be requested by either the prosecution or defense.

“The hope [of the law] was that providing courts with an extra resource to help handle these cases, at no cost, [is] that the cases could be more thoroughly handled,” University of Connecticut law professor Jessica Rubin told the Hartford Courant.

Prosecutors in Connecticut already commend the animal advocates for helping them do a better job in these cases. Often, they barely have time to do much of this legwork for cases involving human victims. We all know that when time is precious, the human cases will take precedence over those involving animals. Now, with professionals in place solely for the animal cases, that won’t be a problem anymore.

“We hope with this law in place, we will start to see much better procedural outcomes [in animal abuse cases],” Annie Hornish,  director for the Humane Society of the United States in Connecticut, told the AP. “We are very excited that judges seem to be taking advantage of it.”

This is an incredible step forward for animal victims. In particular, it helps overburdened courts provide the same level of investigation and consideration to animal victims that they give to human victims.

Connecticut has given animals a legitimate, recognized voice in the state court system. Why can’t every other state do the same thing? From Maine to California, every state has animal-loving lawyers and law students who would be grateful and eager to volunteer their time as animal advocates.

Lawmakers from other states are reaching out to Rubin to request information on how they might be able to pass a similar law. There’s interest out there, and animal activists can help fan this flame.

It’s time for every jurisdiction to pass its own version of Desmond’s Law.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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Once again everyone: It’s time for every jurisdiction to pass its own version of Desmond’s Law.

Pet happiness in Switzerland.

Protecting the rights of animals.

In the vast majority of countries our pet animals have few, in any, legal rights.

Thus it was a wonderful reminder of another example of how the Swiss government sets the lead in so many ways to read on the Care 2 site how that country looks after their animals. Laura Burge offers the details in this republication of an essay on Care 2.

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10 Reasons Switzerland Is a Great Place to Be a Pet


By: Laura Burge June 10, 2017

About Laura Follow Laura at @literarylaura

Switzerland is a fairly small country, but it stills boasts an estimated seven million pets living there, not including the farm animals that dot the countryside. Although far from perfect, it has a long history of improving the working and living conditions for animals within the country, including landmark legislation in 1992 when it became the first country to include animal rights in their constitution. Specifically, it included a provision that allowed for the protection of animal dignity.

Then, in 2008, Switzerland introduced a bevy of new animal rights regulations that went even further. With that in mind, here are some of the more interesting laws that Switzerland has put in place to improve the lives of animals in their midst.

1. Guinea pigs must live with or have regular playdates with other members of their species. They can get lonely if they don’t have a companion. Since guinea pigs often don’t live the exact same amount of time, matchmaking services have sprouted up in the country to make sure they are not alone.

By Antoine Beauvillain via StockSnap.io

2. The Swiss have your cat’s social life in mind, too — if a cat doesn’t have a feline companion at home, he or she must be able to go outside to socialize with others, or at the very least, be able to see other cats from home.

3. Surprisingly, goldfish must also have friends to swim around with. The Swiss believe it is cruel to have them live alone in a small fish bowl, as they are actually social animals.

4. Rabbits’ enclosures must have a dark area that they can retreat to, if they feel the need. Rabbits are very particular about their space, and having a dark area of their enclosure helps ensure that bunnies are happy and less stressed.

5. Fish must live in aquariums that experience natural day and night cycles, and have at least one opaque side.

By Marvin Meyer via StockSnap.io

6. Before bringing a dog into a new home, a person must provide a certificate of competence demonstrating that they know how to deal with and treat dogs. If they can prove that they’ve already had a dog, though, they’re off the hook.

7. Dogs have to be exercised daily, according to what they need, and, as much as possible, off leash. Everyone knows that different dogs have different levels of energy, so whether someone has a lazy Great Dane who just wants to walk around the block, or a bouncing terrier who needs to run, the law accounts for it.

8. Dogs that are tied up must be able to run around freely for at least five hours a day, and the rest of the time, must be able to move around in at least 20 square meters of space. While this may not seem ideal, since dogs are still allowed to be tied up, it means that there’s a national law on the side of the pet if the owner is using a choke chain or the dog is not getting time to run around freely.

By Isaac Benhesed

9. Parrots, also considered social creatures, are required to have a companion to spend their days with. The legislation can be eye-opening in how many creatures need others of their own kind to have a relaxed and happy life as a companion to people.

10. Clipping the ears or tails of dogs is not allowed. It is considered undue pain and damage, and dogs get to live out their days with their natural floppy ears and wagging tails.

While Switzerland, like most other countries, are far from achieving perfect animal welfare laws and enforcement, they have made some good progress that other countries would do well to keep an eye on.

Photo credit: Laura Burge, author

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Did you spot that four out of those ten laws that were described in the article were for the well-being of dogs!

Fantastic!

And even better than that is a State in the USA that also comes to the rescue, legally, of abused animals. Tune in tomorrow for the full story.

Bonding that saves lives!

Again and again the power of our relationship with dogs is breathtakingly beautiful.

If I carried on writing about dogs and sharing articles with you for a thousand years, I still don’t think I would become immune to the joy and wonder of what dogs mean to us. (Luckily for your sake you won’t have to follow this blog for quite those many years!)

Turning to us, the measure of a compassionate and caring society is how it looks after those who, through circumstance and bad luck, are disadvantaged. While there are many in such a situation who are the wrong side of twenty-one there’s something especially important, critically so, in reaching out to help our youngsters.

So why this switch from dogs to disadvantaged young people?

Read on:

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Shelter Dogs and Special Needs Kids: A Match Made in Heaven

By: Vera Lawlor June 9, 2017

About Vera Follow Vera at @vtlawlor

Brook, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, was sitting in a high-kill shelter in Arizona with just two days to live when she was rescued by Janice Wolfe, founder and CEO of Merlin’s KIDS. The nonprofit organization rescues, rehabilitates and trains shelter dogs to work as service dogs for children with autism and special needs, as well as to assist disabled veterans. After extensive training Brook returned Wolfe’s kindness by transforming the life of Julie, 21, who is developmentally delayed due to a premature birth.

Wolfe describes Brook as a “rock star,” a calm sweet dog with the perfect temperament for working as an emotional support service dog. Julie’s mom, Ellen, couldn’t agree more.

“Brook has given Julie a greater sense of confidence,” Ellen said. “They are always together and Brook definitely knows that it’s her responsibility to take care of Julie.”

Before being paired with Brook, Julie was afraid to go outside the house on her own. Now she and Brook take walks down the block or sit together in the yard. Julie has become more outgoing and enjoys speaking or singing in front of people.

“Brook has become an emotional support for all of us,” Ellen said. “I can’t believe that they almost put her to sleep. She is the love of our lives!”

Julie takes a selfie with Brook as he smothers her with kisses.

Another Merlin’s KIDS graduate, Willow, was rescued from a beach in Aruba where she ran with a feral pack. She was so scared that nobody could touch her. With patience and love her foster family won her love and trust. Now after completing the training program, the 40-pound sweet-natured cunucu dog is ready to join three other Merlin’s Kids service dogs in the Animal Adaptive Therapy program at the Calais School for special needs children in New Jersey. Willow is a cortisol detection dog trained to detect stress signals in students and to alert the counseling team so that they can intervene before a problem escalates. She will also work with students to learn the social, emotional and behavioral skills they need to succeed in life.

Willow and Brook are just two of the 1,300 dogs that have been rescued, rehabilitated and trained as service dogs by Wolfe, a canine behavior rehabilitation specialist and author of “SHH HAPPENS! Dog Behavior 101.” In addition to Rhodesian Ridgebacks, the nonprofit organization has rescued and rehabilitated Labrador mixes, pointer mixes and coonhound mixes to work as service dogs. The goal of the organization is to ensure that service dogs are available to families in need regardless of financial circumstances. To fulfill this mission it depends on financial donations and sponsorships.

Wolfe said that Merlin’s KIDS service dogs are highly trained and highly specialized. They can do anything from keeping a special needs child from wandering away to opening doors or picking up pencils for children with disabilities to alerting before the onset of a seizure. It’s important, the trainer said, to make sure that the dogs are physically capable of doing the jobs being asked of them and that they have the right temperament.

“I’m very careful when placing dogs with autistic children because these kids can have such erratic behavior and the dogs have to be able to handle that,” Wolfe said. “Service dogs who will be tethered to a child have to be really chill and calm”

When it comes to autistic children Wolfe’s dogs are trained to serve the individual child. For example, dogs are trained to help children who are overstimulated by interrupting behavior patterns, and they can prevent children from opening a door and running out into the street. Some children need deep pressure to fall asleep so Wolfe and her team train service dogs to lay across their laps at night.

“We have a lot of autistic kids who had never slept in their own beds until they got a service dog,” Wolfe said. In addition to donations and sponsors, Merlin’s Kids is always in need of volunteers and foster families.

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This beautiful article was first seen on the Care2 site and, please, do drop across to that Merlin Kids website.

Easy does it!

Staying relaxed is so much better for us …..

…… and our dogs!

After almost twenty-four hours of very unreliable internet service from our provider, Outreach Internet, it was a relief to be back on line, albeit with some uncertainty as to whether we will stay ‘connected’.

So it was a treat when I was pondering on what to share with you good people to see an item published two days ago by Care 2 about the power of relaxation. Not just for us two-legged creatures but for our dogs as well.

It’s a great article.

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8 Natural Relaxation Techniques for Your Dog

By: Zoe Blarowski June 7, 2017

About Zoe

If your dog is acting out and having behavior problems, your first response might be to blame them and consider punishment. But poor behavior can often be a sign your pooch is feeling stressed or anxious about something.

Check with your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes first. Otherwise, your pet’s stress could be for many reasons, such as a change in your schedule, a move or noise pollution from a busy street nearby.

You might not be able to determine exactly what’s bothering them, but including more relaxation techniques throughout your day will go a long way towards helping your puppy relieve tension and get back on track.

1. Music

Classical music is shown to help calm canine moods. A study by the Scottish SPCA and the University of Glasgow played a variety of classical music to dogs in the SPCA’s kennels for one week. The music lowered the dogs’ heart rates and reduced stress-related behavior like standing and barking.

The researchers continued their investigation and found that dogs responded even better to reggae and soft rock. The Scottish SPCA now plans to install sound systems throughout their kennels to play Bob Marley and Jon Bon Jovi to their furry residents.

In addition, the musician Alianna Boone found that playing harp music to dogs at a Florida veterinary clinic lowered their anxiety.

2. Pheromones

You can buy various products that contain what are known as dog-appeasing pheromones. These are synthetic versions of the hormone nursing mothers make to calm their puppies. Dog-appeasing pheromones have been shown to calm dogs in many stressful situations, such as kenneling, veterinary visits, car travel, human separation and the introduction of puppies into a home.

3. Laughter

Many dog owners feel their animal friends can laugh when they’re having fun. But science has been slow to agree. Researchers put this to the test at a Spokane kennel, where they played recordings of what’s been identified as dog laughter to the other dogs.

Staff at the kennel were surprised how dramatically the dogs quieted and calmed down when listening to the laughter. Many workers have since learned how to imitate a dog’s laugh themselves. They find it really helps to settle anxious or agitated animals.

Curious what doggie laughter sounds like? Check out this video:

4. Exercise

Keeping your dog active is not only important for their health, it’s also known to prevent bad behavior that can result from boredom. Aim for 30-180 minutes of daily exercise. The Bark has a good breakdown of how much exercise is recommended for your particular dog’s breed. Also take your dog’s age, health and general temperament into account when planning their activities.

Whatever you do, make sure it’s something you and your dog both enjoy. Active play is a great time to bond with your puppy. Try throwing a ball or stick, have them run next to your bicycle, take them for a swim or go for a relaxing walk.

5. Mental Challenge

This is another great way to prevent boredom and acting out. Get creative with ways to engage your dog in thoughtful play. Take them to new places. Introduce them to new people and other pets. Get them a new toy, or simply keep your current toys on a rotation so your pooch doesn’t get bored with the same ones day after day.

You can also have lots of fun with food. Try hiding treats around your yard or home. Or buy a puzzle toy that has spaces to hide food inside. Another option is to enroll your dog in a training class. Professional dog trainers will give you plenty of ideas for tricks and different games you can teach your pet.

6. Massage

A large body of research has proven the benefits of massage for people, including pain and stress reduction, improving circulation, promoting flexibility and eliminating toxins. Very limited research has been done for animals, but it’s logical they would have similar benefits.

Giving your dog a massage is also an excellent way to spend some intimate time together and show them you care. To get started, Modern Dog Magazine has a helpful overview of how to massage your dog.

7. Lavender Essential Oil

Studies have shown that lavender essential oil can lower a dog’s heart rate and trigger a calming response in their nervous system. It’s also been found to help calm dogs with a history of travel anxiety before a car ride.

The best way to expose your dog to lavender oil is to drop some on their mat, blanket or other sleeping surface. Do not apply oil directly on their fur because it can be toxic if ingested.

8. Grooming

A nice brushing in the evening can be just the thing to help your pooch wind down for the day. It’s also a good chance for you to do a quick inspection for ticks, fleas or skin conditions that might be bothering them.

But for some dogs, grooming will only cause more anxiety and stress. If this is the case for your puppy, maybe try some extra snuggling, petting or other attention they enjoy.

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Strikes me that if there is ever another life, I might vote to come back as a dog!

P.S. When I was reading this post out to Jeannie yesterday evening, as I do with all posts, when that short video was played quite a few of the dogs, there were five in the same room, got very excited by the ‘laughing’!