Tag: Care2

Dogs bring out so much love in us!

One can never have too many examples of love in a life!

These are interesting times. If we took even a small percentage of what we read about or see in the news media to heart we would think that life is hardly worth living for. So stuff the bad news out of sight!

Now read this that was recently published on the Care2 website.

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Schoolchildren Raise Over $7,200 to Help Dog Hit by Car

3200486-largeBy: Laura Goldman, February 9, 2017
About Laura

 

Over 80 percent of the students who attend Los Amigos Elementary School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., are from socioeconomically disadvantaged families, but that didn’t stop them from doing everything they could to raise money to save an animal in need.

It began in early December, when a school employee found an injured black Lab mix hiding in bushes near the parking lot.

“There’s this really hurt dog,” Vice Principal Sharon Linville heard over a walkie-talkie, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. “I’m sure this dog is going to die, he’s in so much pain.” She and other employees brought the dog blankets and water, and contacted the Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care and Adoption Center.

The center’s staff veterinarian, Cynthia Servantez, visited the school a few days later to give the students a not-so-good update on the dog they’d named “Black Bart.” He’d been hit by a car and would probably survive, but he needed surgery that would cost about $3,000.

An X-ray had revealed that both of Bart’s hips were dislocated. As Dr. Servantez told the students, Bart’s “puzzle pieces had come undone.”

The schoolchildren immediately took action to help put those pieces back together. The school launched a “Pennies for Paws” campaign to collect spare change for Bart’s surgery.

Every single student made a donation. “They looked through sofa cushions, they gave up their allowance, some of them gave us IOUs,” Linville told KABC. “We have a bunch of Chuck E. Cheese coins that we got.”

One week later, the school gave the animal care center a check in the amount of $471.37.

Servantez told the Daily Bulletin it was the first time ever that anyone had offered to pay for the medical care of an injured stray dog.

The Los Amigos students continued their Pennies for Paws campaign and the momentum continued to build. Yvonne and Art Alvarez, owners of Doggie Couture in Rancho Cucamonga, were so impressed by the students’ efforts that they matched the funds that had been raised.

“We wanted them to know if they do something nice, it can make other people do it and then it becomes something big,” Yvonne Alvarez told the Daily Bulletin.

Several weeks after he’d been discovered at the school, “Who Let the Dogs Out” played over the speakers as Bart returned for a special guest appearance at a Jan. 23 rally in his honor.

Linville announced that the Los Amigos students had surpassed their $3,000 goal – by over $4,200. The extra money would be donated to the animal shelter to help other pets in need.

Veterinarian Victoria Impett, who accompanied Bart, told the schoolchildren to give themselves a pat on the back. Most of them complied. “It might not have seemed like big deal to go home and dig in the couch for a few pennies, but each and every one of you made a huge difference in someone’s life,” she told them.

Bart had no ID tag or microchip, and no one has come forward to claim him. He still needs surgery on his right hip. Once he recovers, he’ll be ready for adoption. “He’s starting to kind of blossom into a fabulous dog,” Impett said.

As Linville told the students, “This has been an incredible journey, and it’s really cool to be kind.”

Photo credit: YouTube

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I easily found this short video on YouTube.

Enjoy!

Small miracles

It’s not just the rescuing of people that matters.

Last Thursday, the 26th January, the BBC News website published a short video under the heading of: Italian avalanche survivors tell how they stayed alive.

Colleen Barry and Eldar Emric of Associated Press reported in US News:

A couple among the nine survivors of an Italian avalanche that devastated a mountain hotel say they survived nearly 58 hours buried beneath feet of snow by sucking on glass- and mud-filled ice, comforting each other and those nearby, and praying.

Now there’s no way I am belittling that survival; far from it. But 58 hours is a tad under 3 days.

Now read the following that was published on the Care2 site.

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Puppies Rescued 5 Days After Devastating Avalanche in Italy

3199461-largeBy: Laura Goldman    January 26, 2017

After an avalanche buried central Italy’s luxury Hotel Rigopiano and its guests Wednesday, Jan. 18, rescue workers spent days digging in the snow in a desperate attempt to locate any survivors.

About 120,000 tons of snow, 16 feet deep, slammed into the hotel at 60 miles per hour. It took a while for emergency operators to believe the avalanche had occurred. The first man who called to report it was told that everything was fine at the hotel.

When they finally realized a disaster had in fact happened, first responders had to ski to the hotel, which took 12 hours. It took another day until the roads could be cleared with snowplows so emergency vehicles could finally get through.

Despite these circumstances, 11 survivors, including three children, were somehow able to keep themselves alive for over 40 hours by using their cellphones as flashlights to find water. The children, trapped in a game room, ate packets of Nutella and drank bottled water.

By Monday, rescuers were only pulling bodies from the snow and rubble. Discouraged and depressed, they were ready to give up hope.

The rescuers were told there were three puppies at the hotel. They had no idea where they were until they heard a noise in a boiler room inside what remained of the building. It was the three fluffy, white Abruzzo sheepdog puppies, only six weeks old, who had miraculously managed to survive both the avalanche and being stranded for five days.

“They just started barking very softly,” said Sonia Marini, one of the rescuers. “In fact, it was hard to find them right away because they were hidden. Then we heard this very tiny bark and we saw them from a little hole the firefighters had opened in the wall. We expanded the hole and we pulled them out.”

The puppies, born Dec. 4, had survived in an air pocket by eating snow, Walter Milan, the spokesman for Italy’s elite Alpine rescue squad, told the Daily Beast. They are the offspring of Nuvola (Cloud) and Lupo (Wolf), who lived at the hotel and were popular with guests.

Like their lucky litter, Nuvola and Lupo also survived the avalanche, according to a Facebook post by Martina Rossi, who was a bartender at the hotel.

Lupo e Nuvola, i pastori abruzzesi nati e cresciuti all'Hotel Rigopiano, non so come, sono riusciti a raggiungere la mia contrada, una frazione di Farindola (Villa Cupoli) sani e salvi. Questo non può di certo colmare il vuoto e la distruzione che attraversa un paese in ginocchio ancora speranzoso, nell'attesa soltanto di notizie positive, me in prima persona. Ma questi due bellissimi cagnoloni, rivedendoli, di certo sono riusciti a farmi tornare a battere il cuore, almeno per qualche secondo, riportando la speranza.
Lupo e Nuvola, i pastori abruzzesi nati e cresciuti all’Hotel Rigopiano, non so come, sono riusciti a raggiungere la mia contrada, una frazione di Farindola (Villa Cupoli) sani e salvi.
Questo non può di certo colmare il vuoto e la distruzione che attraversa un paese in ginocchio ancora speranzoso, nell’attesa soltanto di notizie positive, me in prima persona.
Ma questi due bellissimi cagnoloni, rivedendoli, di certo sono riusciti a farmi tornare a battere il cuore, almeno per qualche secondo, riportando la speranza.

The three puppies raised the hopes and spirits of the rescuers. “If the puppies survived, humans could as well,” Milan told the Daily Beast. Firefighter Fabio Jerman agreed. “It’s an important sign of life, which gives us hope,” he said.

Sadly, no one else has been found alive. A week after the disaster, 24 bodies have been found and five people are still missing.

In addition to unusually heavy snowfall, the avalanche may have been caused by a series of earthquakes that struck the area the day before.

Last year, devastating quakes killed more than 300 people in Italy. Another fortunate four-legged survivor, a border collie pulled from the rubble two days after an earthquake struck in late October, is being trained to pay it forward as a rescue dog.

Photo credit: YouTube

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Well done the team, as in Walter Milan the spokesman, and the rest of Italy’s elite Alpine rescue squad!

Stories like this put a real smile on my face!

 

So what about chickens!

There’s more to chickens that we realise!

p1160876We have a rather run-down ‘home’ for our chickens close to the house. It was run-down before the snow fell and almost brought down the surrounding wire fence.

p1160875But, hopefully, this coming Thursday sees a new walk-in run being constructed for our birds so they are better protected.

So what has brought this topic to mind?

The answer is a recent item that appeared on the Care2 site about how badly we misunderstand chickens.

I thought you would enjoy reading it.

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6 Surprising Chicken Facts

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Written by Katherine Martinko

It’s time we started paying attention to chickens, one of the most misunderstood and ignored species on Earth.

There was a time when chickens were viewed as exotic, fascinating birds. Descendants of exotic Asian jungle fowl, they were revered for their ferocity and intelligence, and domesticated around 8,000 years ago, more for cockfighting than eating. But then, we humans began eating them in ever-larger quantities, until we reached the point where we are now, with 20 billion (mostly white) chickens living in dirty, crowded barns, awaiting slaughter.

Chickens have been a part of human lives for millennia, and yet they are one of the most misunderstood, if not ignored, species on Earth. Lori Marino, an American neuroscientist and animal intelligence researcher, wants to change this. She is intrigued by the fact that chickens are so rarely recognized for their cognitive abilities and frustrated that studies about birds almost always focus on other, less-domesticated species, like crows and parrots.

“Arguably even the scientific community has been influenced by public perceptions of chickens as cognitively simple… This asymmetry in the literature is likely a reflection of, as well as a contributor to, the disconnect scientists and the public have between chickens as commodities and who they actually are as individuals.”

Chickens deserve more attention, and here are some quirky, interesting facts to get you thinking about chickens less as food and more as fascinating co-inhabitants of our world. These come via Marino’s recent paper, “Thinking Chickens,” published online in Animal Cognition in January 2017.

1. Chickens are a sub-species of the red jungle fowl that hails from southeast Asia.

The red jungle fowl (galls gallus) inhabit the edges of fields, scrubland, and groves. Domestication was well established 8,000 years ago, but some records suggest it could have started as much as 58,000 years ago.

2. Domestic chickens are similar to their wild counterparts.

Despite the intense breeding and genetic manipulation of recent years, chickens have not been cognitively or behaviorally affected by domestication. This stands in contrast to dogs and wolves, for example, which have diverged significantly due to domestication. Nor have chickens become less aggressive toward predators through domestication, which is a common outcome; in fact, some chickens are more aggressive even than red jungle fowl.

3. A chicken’s beak is highly sensitive to touch.

The beak, with numerous nerve endings, is used to explore, detect, drink, preen, and defend. This also means that when a bird is de-beaked, as often happens in industrial farming, it experiences great pain, sometimes for months, which changes its behavior. Marino writes, “At the end of the beak is a specialized cluster of highly sensitive mechanoreceptors, called the bill tip organ, which allows chickens to make fine tactile discriminations.”

4. Chickens have finely tuned senses.

They can see long distance and close-up at the same time in different parts of their vision. They can see a broader range of colors than humans. They can hear at low and high frequencies at a variety of pressure levels. They possess well-developed senses of taste and smell. They can orient to magnetic fields, like many other birds.

5. Chickens are surprisingly good at math.

Three-day-old chicks are able to perform basic arithmetic and discriminate quantities, always opting to explore a set of balls with the greater number, even when an object was visibly transferred from one set to another. Five-day-old chicks have been found to track up to five objects.

“When they were presented with two sets of objects of different quantities disappearing behind two screens, they were able to successfully track which screen hid the larger number by apparently performing simple addition and subtraction.”

6. Chickens can exercise self-control.

In an experimental setting, chickens have been given the choice between 2-second delay with 6 seconds of access to food, versus a 6-second delay with 22-seconds of access to food. The hens waited for the longer reward, “demonstrating rational discrimination between different future outcomes while employing self-control to optimize those outcomes.” Self-control usually doesn’t appear in humans until four years of age.

These are just a few of the remarkable discoveries described in Marino’s study, a highly readable, entertaining paper. It’s an important reminder that chickens, arguably the most ubiquitous animals in our world, deserve far more respect than they currently receive. Hopefully this will lead to more people questioning the horrific conditions in which most of them are kept.

Photo Credit: robertsharp/Flickr

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It’s easy to fall into the trap of looking for a humourous way to close today’s post. But a more responsible approach would be to repeat the words from the start of the article to serve as a reminder of trying, wherever possible, to think about the food we eat, especially when animals and birds have to be slaughtered to provide us with that food.

…. we reached the point where we are now, with 20 billion (mostly white) chickens living in dirty, crowded barns, awaiting slaughter.

broilerBut please don’t leave this page until you have watched the following video.

Published on Dec 3, 2014

After 22 years of raising chickens for Perdue, one brave factory farmer Craig Watts was at his breaking point and did something no one has done before. He invited us, as farm animal welfare advocates, to his farm to film and tell his story. Ask your supermarket for Better Chicken at http://better-chicken.org.

You will adore this

We can never have too many heroes. Especially if they are dogs!

Just read this gorgeous story that appeared on the Care2 site on January 14th.

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Shelter Dog Nobody Wanted Alerts New Owners to Gas Leak

3198309-largeBy: Laura Goldman   January 14, 2017

When tensions rise.

For both humans and, in consequence, for those dogs close to us.

Effectively, the whole of the New Year has been a tad challenging here in Merlin, OR. For even before the snows arrived early on in January, leading to power outages and frozen pipes, the local weather service was warning of unusually severe storms. Indeed, more than once we have heard locals speaking of this looking like a one-hundred-year-storm.

So it was inevitable that there were some anxious periods. Plus the challenging weather may not be not fully behind us. For this is the current (Sunday 18:00 PST) weather warning:

HYDROLOGIC OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MEDFORD, OR
134 PM PST SUN JAN 15 2017

…Flood Potential Outlook for main stem river flooding, snow melt flooding, and quick rises on rivers and streams in the following counties…in California…Siskiyou…and in Oregon…Coos… Curry…Douglas…Jackson…Josephine…

A strong atmospheric river event is expected to arrive in Southern Oregon and Northern California by Wednesday. While models have trended towards a faster progression of the front, and therefore lesser rainfall amounts, this event may still produce high snow levels, periods of heavy rain, and significant melting of lower level snow-pack Wednesday and into Thursday. With the extensive snow-pack, saturated soils and high river levels, there is a potential for flooding and rapid rises along main stem rivers and small creeks and streams. Urban areas may also experience high water from blocked culverts and runoff.

Continue to monitor forecasts for any updates as this potentially hazardous situation develops.

Anyone who has a dog (or several) in their lives will know how our anxiety is so quickly picked up by our dogs. Ergo, looking after our dogs, as in keeping them relaxed, is really important.

Now read this article that was published over on the Care2 site. I am republishing here for all you good people.

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Eight Natural Remedies for Dog Anxiety

1279022-largeA Care2 favorite by Becky Striepe    About Becky

Loyalty, as only a dog can do it!

This is too wonderful.

Slowly getting back to normal although yesterday morning saw the water supply fail from the well. (Now restored!) Perhaps not surprising as overnight Thursday-through-Friday the outside temperature went down to 8.6 deg. F. or in ‘new money’ -13 deg. C.  (In fact I’m writing this at 10am yesterday waiting for the well engineer to arrive!)

On January 4th, the Care2 site published what has to be one of the most remarkable examples of the loyalty of a dog. This is about as perfect an example of what we humans can learn from our dogs as it gets!

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Loyal Dog Protects Buddy Stuck on Tracks From Speeding Train

3197731-largeBy: Laura Goldman   January 4, 2017

About Laura

If you’ve ever had the slightest doubt about just how loyal dogs can be – not only to people but to other dogs – a pup who’s been named Panda really proved it on Christmas Day.

Panda and his pal, now named Lucy, apparently escaped from their home in western Ukraine and somehow ended up on railroad tracks in the town of Uzhhorod. Lucy had an injury and was unable to stand or move. Panda remained right by her side, warming her with his body in the freezing cold.

A train engineer contacted a group of animal rescue volunteers including Denis Malafeyev, telling them he’d seen the dogs on the tracks for two days. Malafeyev and the others took off to try to save them.

“I saw a train approaching and felt sick,” he wrote on Facebook. “The male dog heard the sound of the approaching train, came close to the female dog and laid down next to her. Both of them pushed their heads toward the ground and let the train pass.”

A viral video Malafeyev posted shows the dogs being run over by the speeding train. It’s chilling to think that this wasn’t the first time this happened to the dogs.

The video is disturbing and difficult to watch, but amazingly, both dogs survived with just minor injuries. It may also seem disturbing that, knowing a train would be approaching, Malafeyev didn’t put down his camera and save the dogs. He wrote in his Facebook post that he and the group had tried, unsuccessfully, to move them, but Panda would bark at them and refuse to let them get close to Lucy.

“Think about it. He was keeping her warm,” Malafeyev wrote. ” I don’t know what to call this: instinct, love, friendship, loyalty? One thing I know for sure is that not all people would do the same as this dog!”

The video has been viewed more than 1.5 million times, with many commenters agreeing with Malafeyev that humans have a lot to learn from this dog.

15697205_1203415936406516_7707205456893868670_nFour days later, Malafeyev posted new videos of Panda and Lucy on Facebook. The dogs were taken to an animal shelter and have been reunited their owners, UPI reports. (There are conflicting reports that the dogs were adopted and given the names Panda and Lucy by their new owners. Either way, the two dogs are in a forever home together.)

(Note: there was another video on that Care2 page that I can’t find on YouTube.)

Lucy had no fractures, but only severe bruising, The Sun reports.

“Lucy lives in a house in a warm room! It’s really warm in here!” Malafeyev wrote. “The animals are on the mend!”

Hopefully Panda will be rewarded with treats for his heroic actions, and the owners will make their home more escape proof.

Photo credit: YouTube

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 I am going to close this post by including another YouTube video of this incredible act together with the text supporting this video.

Incredible Story of Devotion Dog! 2017

Published on Jan 4, 2017
Incredible Story of Devotion Dog! The dog two days guarded wounded friend on the rails!
On Sunday, December 25 near the village of Uzhgorod in the district of Tyyglash a touching story took place in Ukraine. Two dogs spent about two days on the tracks, one of them was injured, and the other kept the injured dog warmed and protected from the passing trains.
The story was posted on his page on facebook user Denis Malafeev. His friends noticed two dogs lying on the tracks, one of them was injured. Later, the man himself arrived on the scene.
Several attempts to remove the animal from the rails were in vain, because the dog strongly defended her friend from the people!
When the animals heard an approaching train, the healthy dog lay next to a wounded dog and together they were pressed to the ground between the rails. This moment Malafeev managed to capture on video.
The dog did it for two days in a row! Just think! He warmed it for two days, so that it did not freeze and put himself in danger every time! I do not know how to call it: the instinct, love, friendship, loyalty? It is instructive for us!
Together with his friends, they took dogs and took them to the shelter. The Post reports that they are now waiting for their owners.

P.S. Shortly after the publication in social networks there were dog owners. It was learned that the Pandas and Lucy – so call the animals – there are no serious injuries, only bruises and hematomas. I found out that shaggy live in the home side’s S. Tseglovka in Transcarpathia for several years and are committed to each other from puppyhood. Dogs run away from home when someone from the house forgot to close the door on the site. They searched all over the village. But when the owners heard the story of “Romeo and Juliet” on track – immediately rushed to pick up pets from the shelter. Now dogs are at home, and their life is not threatened.

For two days that one dog protected the other. It is beyond imagination to think how frightening a speeding train would have been for those two precious dogs. Not just once but numerous times before rescue came to them.

Such a privilege to be able to share this with you.

Yet another smile!

This “good news” theme is rather fun!

p1160817Overnight we had more snow, possibly something approaching 4 inches.

p1160820Now the challenge is seeing at what point we can drive out from the property to the main road. But leave that to worry about tomorrow.

It’s well-known that dogs love snow and are very curious about it. As Brandy is demonstrating below.

p1160822Plus the snowy conditions offer me a good introduction to an item recently published on the Care2 site.

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Daily Cute: Rescued Pit Bulls Enjoy a Snow Day

These pit bull pals are overjoyed to play in the snow!

See you all tomorrow!

Dogs, Goodness and People.

This makes my heart sing!

We woke yesterday on the first day of the New Year to a classic Winter’s scene: Snow!

Ben and Ranger enjoying a winter's breakfast.
Ben and Ranger enjoying a winter’s breakfast.

Not long after we were washed and dressed I let the dogs out. Typically, while all of them were quick to return to the warmth of the house, Brandy went off on one of his ‘walkabouts’. It was probably the first time he had seen snow.

Twenty minutes later, I started walking down our driveway (just visible in the photograph above running alongside the far tree line) because I knew that Brandy had walked down to the (closed) front gate to check everything out.

I saw Brandy coming back up the driveway and called to him. He looked up, wagged his tail, and I then crouched down holding my arms apart. Brandy started a wonderful, bouncy run that continued until he came right up to me and he then buried his wonderful, furry head between my thighs.

We walked together back to the house and went inside. As we walked together I was aware of a feeling of joyous happiness, a magic that was flowing from the way that Brandy chose to relate to me.

It really did make my heart sing and as I write these words some three hours later I hope you can pick up the gift of goodness that dogs, and so many other animals, offer us humans.

Plus, it couldn’t make a better introduction to a story that was published on the Care2 site on December 31st.

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Meet the Arizona Deputy Who Saved a Dog’s Life – Twice!

3197435-largeBy: Laura Goldman  December 31, 2016

 About Laura

On his way to a call Dec. 17, Deputy Brian Bowling came across a dog stumbling down the middle of an Arizona road.

The pit bull mix named Ginger had been shot in the head by a neighbor who said he felt threatened after the dog dug a hole under her backyard’s fence and wandered into his yard.

Ginger was alive, but not for long.

“She was bleeding profusely from her head and neck,” Bowling told ABC15. In addition to being a deputy with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Bowling also happens to be a trained paramedic and a veteran who served in Afghanistan. He knew he had to act quickly.

“I had a little flashback, because we had seen military working dogs over there who were blown up by IEDs and shot, and that’s what went through my head,” he told ABC15. “I thought I had to do anything to save its life.”

When he approached Ginger to move her out of traffic, Bowling wasn’t sure how the injured dog would react. “But instead of running away from me or trying to bite me, she ran right up to me and started wagging her tail,” he told FOX 10. She then tried to climb up into the driver’s seat of his patrol car.

Bowling applied combat gauze to her wound, helping to stop the bleeding, and rushed her to a local emergency animal hospital.

His quick actions saved Ginger’s life. She was also fortunate that the bullet bounced off her skull instead of penetrating it.

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Ginger and her hero, Deputy Brian Bowling. Photo credit: YouTube

Foster Mom Couldn’t Afford the Surgery

But Ginger’s luck seemed to be running out. When her foster mom, Hailey Miller, was told Ginger still needed surgery that would cost thousands of dollars, she made the difficult decision to have the dog euthanized. “If I had [the money], I wouldn’t even hesitate,” she told ABC 15.

Just as Bowling had saved Ginger from dying in the middle of the road, he decided he would save her from being put down.

“It just didn’t seem right for a dog that survived so much to die because the owner didn’t have the money to pay for it,” he told ABC15. He paid for her surgery himself, putting it on his credit card.

Miller, who runs the Miller Mutt Motel & Sanctuary pet rescue, was overwhelmed by the deputy’s generosity.

“If this man has this kind of empathy and love for a dog, imagine what he has for people and the rest of the world,” she told ABC 15. “There is such a lesson that can be learned from him.”

Ginger is recovering, Miller wrote on Facebook. She’s now able to walk and eat, and is “so sweet as usual.”

To reimburse Bowling, Miller has launched a GoFundMe campaign that has raised over $6,000.

“It is my Christmas wish that with the help of all animal lovers around the world, I can pay this deputy back,” Miller wrote. “Any remaining funds will go toward law enforcement charities, animal rescues and future rescue dogs that are always coming through my rotating door. Of course the officer will be involved in choosing these charities!”

With so many heartbreaking reports about police officers shooting pet dogs, it’s heartening to know there are compassionate law enforcement officers like Bowling out there who truly do care about animals.

Photo credit: YouTube

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Deputy Brian Bowling, I, and many, many others, salute you for the goodness you have in your heart.

Let 2017 be the year that promotes the goodness in people.

A Very Happy New Year

To all of you and your families and loved ones.

One week ago it was Christmas Day and in the blink of an eyelid it is now New Year’s Day.

Here we are on the first day of the year 2017.

Where is the year going to go? As in where is humanity heading over the next twelve months? Who knows and, frankly, guessing isn’t going to offer clear answers. As that silly saying goes: “I can predict anything except those things involving the future!

But what is certain is that the need to care for and love our dogs continues day after day. My introduction to an essay recently published over on the Care2 site.

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5 Simple New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Your Dog’s Life

1371934-largeCare2 favorite by Lisa Spector About Lisa

When we think of New Year’s resolutions, we often think of changes in our lives we’ve been trying to make for years. Often they are massive changes. But, in reality, sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference over time. The same can be said for changes we make in our pet’s lives. These five resolutions are simple and will be enjoyed by you just as much as Buster. And you will be improving both of your lives in the process.

1. Take a Sonic Inventory

Those of us who love our pets often assume that our environment is the best for our pets. However, sometimes it requires a different way of thinking. What works for us doesn’t always work best for our pets. Taking a sonic inventory of your environment is a good way to check for sounds in your house that may be causing stress to your pets. Sound is like air. We rarely notice these two common elements unless the air suddenly becomes polluted or the sound becomes chaotic.

The sonic inventory is one way of becoming aware of the noise in your pet’s environment. Simply sit on your sofa with pen and paper in hand. Jot down all of the sounds you hear and rate them from one to 10. Observe your pet’s response to these sounds. Ask yourself how you can make your home a calmer, more peaceful place, for yourself and for your pets. Often, just by listening, we become more sonically aware, an important first step.  Small changes made in your sound environment can often make a big difference in your pet’s behavior.

thinkstockphotos-475432976-443x3092. Enjoy a Silent Meditation Hike

Have you ever walked with your dog in total silence? It’s very interesting trying to observe the world from their point of view. Allow Buster to stop and sniff as much as he wants. Taking in the scents gives him all sorts of information and provides him with enrichment. Take a break with Buster. Just sit still without any verbal communication and enjoy all the sights and smells. You’ll be amazed how bonding time in nature is with your furry friend when you aren’t speaking any words.

thinkstockphotos-178752848-443x2973. Teach Your Dog a New Trick

No matter how young or old your dog, she will love learning new tricks. Learning new things provides them with much needed mental stimulation. Use a clicker and positive reinforcement training, and it will be just as fun for you as your pup.

thinkstockphotos-490988366-443x2354. Teach Him to Tug

Tug is great exercise for dogs and is often a great stress reliever. Pat Miller, training editor of The Whole Dog Journal, wrote about the benefits of playing tug with your dog (when they follow the rules). A good game of tug provides:

  • a legal outlet for roughhousing
  • strengthens bonds
  • builds healthy relationships
  • offers incredibly useful reinforcement potential
  • redirects inappropriate use of teeth
  • teaches self-control
  • creates a useful distraction
  • builds confidence

Just make sure that you teach a release word and randomly have him release the tug toy throughout your playtime together.

thinkstockphotos-176984527-443x2945. Give Her a Massage

Dogs reduce our stress. Canine massage is a way of giving back to them so that we can reduce theirs. Veterinarian Narda Robinson, Director at Colorado State University’s Center for Comparative and Integrative Pain Medicine, teaches classes on canine massage. She believes that administered with science knowledge, canine massage can help dogs recover from injuries, illness and stress.

Do you have new year’s resolutions for your pets? Thanks for sharing them in a comment below.

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 Please, all of you, have a very safe, peaceful and loving New Year.
Thank you for your companionship these last twelve months, and beyond.

Resolutions

In twenty-four hours time it will be January 1st, 2017.

I saw the following recently on the Care2 website and thought that at many levels it would make a wonderful closing post for 2016.

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Seven New Year’s Resolutions to Protect Animals in 2017

3197109-largeBy: s.e. smith December 29, 2016

We’re about to turn over a new leaf on a new year — something I think we’re all pretty excited about — and it’s a good time to sit back, take stock, and think about what we want to do for ourselves, and the world, in 2017.

New year’s resolutions don’t have to be big and fancy, and sometimes they work best when they’re small and manageable, so I rounded up seven totally free ways you can help animals next year, from something you can do weekly (like writing letters) to bigger projects (like fostering animals).

1) Keep an eagle eye on upcoming animal-related legislation.

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Photo credit: Anthony

Chances are that there’s some animal-related regulation coming your way in 2017 on the local, state and even federal level. This includes laws and ordinances as well as rules, regulations and executive orders. You can make a big difference by weighing in on these issues — sometimes, surprisingly few members of the public comment!

You can take advantage of resources for animal welfare groups and sites like Care2 to keep track of big upcoming government actions. You may want to call or write to support legislation, to ask that it be more robust, or to oppose it, depending on the contents. For legislation, you need to contact your elected official to explain how you feel and provide a concrete action to take, like “Please cosponsor this bill” or “please vote against this bill.” Rules and regulations are opened to public comment by the agencies making them, allowing you to speak at public meetings or submit written comments.

The Federal Register is a great place to search for upcoming regulations — it’s a little bit intimidating at first, but don’t let that put you off!

2) Don’t be sheepish — speak up about nonlethal solutions to predators and pests.

Photo credit: Lennart Tange
Photo credit: Lennart Tange

No matter where you live, there’s probably a battle brewing over feral cats, mountain lions, raccoons, coyotes, skunks, alligators, or someone else from the non-human world who’s getting squeezed by human incursion into its habitat. Historically, many areas have favored a lethal response to animals deemed “pests.” You can change that — and you already are, across the country. When you see animals on the agenda, speak up to request investigation into a nonlethal solution to a problem.

For example, maybe a feral cat colony is causing controversy in the community. You can talk about how responsible colony management should control numbers and limit annoying smells. You could also discuss how research shows that TNR can be more effective at long-term colony management than just trapping and removing cats — in Florida, they found that doing this just allowed other predators to move in, creating an even bigger headache!

Come backed with research and evidence, rather than emotion. You can look to advocacy groups for their data, but also explore scientific papers, and see how other municipalities are dealing with the same problem, because they may have tips to share.

3) Lend a paw at a local animal welfare organizations.

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Photo credit: Chris Perriman

Animal welfare groups can always use volunteer help. At the shelter, they don’t just need a hand with cuddling cats, walking dogs, and handling other species. They need all kinds of help, from more boring stuff like cleaning and filing to web design, social media management, legal counseling, accounting, event planning, and much more. Even something as simple as taking your camera (or your photography class) to the shelter once a week to photograph everyone who’s looking for a home can make a huge difference. It turns out that great shelter photos save lives!

Advocacy groups that don’t run shelters or don’t have one in your area also need help. Lots of mundane office stuff is time consuming, and volunteers can make it go more smoothly, whether you’re stuffing envelopes or answering phones. If you have special training or skills, offer those too, especially if you’re willing to get into a long-term relationship with the group. Pro-bono legal services, for example, are incredibly valuable. Your graphic design skills could help them relaunch an impressive, gorgeous website. You get the idea!

4) Don’t duck the issues — teach youth about animal welfare issues.

Photo credit: Danny Chapman
Photo credit: Danny Chapman

Many kids love animals, and the best time to hit people with humane messages is when they’re young. Some organizations actually offer humane educator training to help people learn about how to communicate with children about animal welfare issues. Humane educators can lead classes and mentor kids in the community, whether they’re taking people on bird walks and teaching them about ecology or working with kids who are learning to ride horses to teach them how to handle their mounts respectfully and kindly.

If you already are an educator, consider working humane topics into your curriculum. If you’re not, look into what might be required to teach classes at a community center, mentor students in programs like 4-H and FFA, lead educational sessions at a local museum (another great volunteer opportunity!), or come into classrooms with presentations. You may need some training and a background check to work with youth, but once you’re squared away, you can establish lasting relationships with teachers and schools to introduce humane coursework to the classroom and beyond.

5) You’ve goat mail — or at least, someone will after you write a letter on behalf of animals!

Photo credit: Holly Occhipinti
Photo credit: Holly Occhipinti

Once a week — or every two weeks, or once a month — resolve to sit down and write a letter. It doesn’t have to be an epic, and you can establish a template, but pick a specific person to target, and go to town. Maybe you want to write a letter-to-the-editor once a month about an animal issue in your community that you’re concerned about. Perhaps you want to write a letter to a corporation to ask them to stop, or start, a practice related to animals — like dropping animal testing, or introducing tougher humane standards to the supply chain.

Keep your letter concise, polite and actionable. Explain why you’re writing, the basis for your concern, the solution you’re recommending and why. You can appeal to issues like cost efficiency, making your town more attractive for visitors, compassion for animals (that’s why we’re here, after all!), falling in line with industry-wide practices, setting an example for others, or any number of other things. Present a clear case for what you’re arguing so that the person reading your letter is moved to act, and has something to bring to other people while trying to convince them to get involved.

6) Be a mother hen — foster somebody in need.

Photo credit: normanack
Photo credit: normanack

If you can’t adopt more animals or don’t have room for a full-time friend in your life, consider fostering. Fostering saves lives, getting animals who can’t handle shelter stress or who need a little extra care to a safe place where they can unwind and grow into themselves. Some shelters have foster programs, and many animal welfare groups do — some run almost entirely on fosters, in fact!

Generally, participants in a foster program are provided with food, medication and veterinary expenses to keep things low-key for you. If you have a spare room, fostering can be a great fit for your life, although watch out for foster fail! (When that kitten you swore you were just fostering is still lying on the living room rug ten years later, you are definitely a victim of foster fail.)

When fostering, be honest about what you can and cannot take on: For example, if you have a barn, you might be able to handle horses and sheep, but not notoriously mischievous and curious goats. You might not be able to take a kitten who needs constant feeding, or a dog that has aggression issues.

That said, if you can stretch your comfort zone, do. Some animals need a little extra care because they’ve had a hard life. That makes them vulnerable to euthanasia, and a foster can make all the difference. Things like giving animals fluids or medications, managing diapers, or handling other vet stuff might sound scary, but it’s pretty easy to get the hang of it.

7) Don’t have a cow — on your plate or anywhere else.

Photo credit: Nicolas Vigier
Photo credit: Nicolas Vigier

We saved the easiest for last, because chances are that you’re already well on your way with this one. When it comes to what you eat, consider cutting animal products — or at least meat — out of your life. You’ll save a ton of suffering, and also, a ton of money, if you’re trying to cut back in 2017.

If you can’t cut animal products out entirely, consider moderating: Meatless Mondays are popular, for example! Something else that really works for me is a soup exchange — a group of us make huge batches of vegan soup and share them out once a month, so there’s always a go-to vegan meal hanging out in my fridge or freezer when I need it!

While you’re at it, think about what you wear and use, too. Leather is an obvious source of animal suffering, but some people also like to avoid fibers like wool and cashmere (cashmere also comes with a big environmental price tag). You’d also be surprised by where animal products sneak in, from bodycare products to that goop you waterproof your shoes with. (No really. Go look.)

And, of course, cutting animal testing out of your life is valuable too. Growing numbers of cosmetics are produced without the use of animal testing, though it’s always a good idea to independently verify to see if a company is skirting labeling conventions. For example, some companies say “made without animal testing” because they don’t test ingredients on animals, but third party contractors do. Ugh!

If you take medication, you’re caught in the animal testing trap — but it’s worth writing the manufacturer, as well as the FDA, which governs drug testing, to push for alternatives to animal testing so that you have cruelty free options for your health care needs.

You can also make your preference for cruelty free medical supplies clear to your health care providers as well, as they may be able to recommend alternatives if they’re aware that this is a concern for you. (For example, some sutures are made from animal products, which is weird and creepy, and pig valves are used in some valve replacement surgeries. Gross, right?)

Photo credit: Tracy

ooOOoo

All that is required from me is to hope that every one of you has a peaceful and healthy New Year.