Tag: Care2

It seems like the blink of an eye.

How the years speed past us!

I have lost count of the times in the last year that I have said the following:

Thank goodness that when we were younger we really didn’t understand what it was to be old!

Now being old is to a great extent as much as a thing of the mind as it is of the body. As the saying goes: “One is only as old as you feel!” (Or as many men know it: One is only as old as the woman you feel.)

Moving swiftly on!

Dogs offer us many lessons including what it is to become old, then old and infirm, and then pass away. Which is why so many owners of their beloved dogs spend as much time and care on keeping their elderly dogs as fit as possible as they do on themselves; probably in many cases spending more care and attention on their dogs than on themselves.

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 10 Simple Tips for Keeping Your Old Dog Young

1396029-largeBy: Lisa Spector December 10, 2016

About Lisa

Those of us who love and have dogs know that senior years always approach too fast. Sanchez, my 13 1/2 year old yellow Lab, has had his health challenges this year, but now that he’s gained back his strength and has recovered from E. coli, he’s acting younger than he has in years. I’ve noticed this not only in his energy level, but also in his cognitive abilities and in his engagement with dogs and people around him. I cherish his golden years and am always looking for ways to keep his mind active and alert, and keep him connected with life.

sanchezginainbed-443x3311. Adopt a second, younger dog.

Admittedly, I’ve been a single dog person my entire life… up until five years ago. When it felt like I was agonizing on the decision to expand my canine household, my vet said to me, “Bringing a younger dog into your household will help keep Sanchez younger as he ages.” Sanchez was only seven at the time, and that perspective had never occurred to me. It’s shown itself to be true.

2. Give daily spoonfuls of coconut oil.

I’ve written about the benefits of coconut oil for pets, everything from fur conditioner to paw protection. But, I hadn’t realized that coconut oil helps with canine cognition until I read this Cambridge study. I’ve been giving both Sanchez and Gina a tablespoon of coconut oil nightly for a couple of months. Not only do they love the taste, but I have definitely noticed an improvement in Sanchez’s cognitive abilities.

3. Train him often. 

An old dog not only can learn new tricks, but also loves the attention and benefits from the mental stimulation as much as any age dog. Dogs love to learn, no matter their age. I still spend time training every night with Sanchez. As you can see in the video above, I’ve come up with ways to make his training less physical. But, he still gets rewarded for being involved and staying still. If it gets late, he starts whining and begging for his training time with me. The bonding time is precious and it stimulates him to keep learning and being challenged. He has no complaints about his yummy rewards either.

goldens-cat-sanchez-gina-443x3344. Mix it up.

Although dogs love consistency and build confidence through their routines, it’s sometimes good to mix up that routine as well. I recently was staying with friends and their three Golden Retrievers. While there, Sanchez loved the new smells in their backyard, neglected all of his daily naps and really enjoyed their multi-pet household, including the cats.  Our routine completely changed as my friends generally rise much earlier than me and their dogs are fed right away. I decided to allow my dogs the same privilege while we were there. Of course, Sanchez just loved it. I was surprised how quickly he reverted back to our normal routine when we got home. While he’s making up for his missed naps now, he really enjoyed the change of scenery, people, pets, and general surroundings.

5. Add variety to diet, and consider nutritional needs.

I also add variety to Sanchez’s dog food. While the base is the same (organic meat), the variety comes in the extras. Sometimes I add in canned sardines, other times it’s salmon oil. I alter between any of the following additions: sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, green beans, spinach, kale, apples, and bananas. He’s a Lab and LOVES his food. Surprising him adds to his olfactory delight as well.

6. Add environmental enrichment.

Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine defines environmental or behavior enrichment as “the process of manipulating an animal’s environment to increase physical activity & normal species typical behavior that satisfies the animal’s physical and psychological needs.” Music created for senior dogs, with their hearing sensitivities in mind, is a great way to provide auditory stimulation that engages their senses.

7. Incorporate nose work.

Dogs often lose hearing and sight in their senior years. But, as long as they can still smell, they can still find their way around. I’ve honestly met blind and deaf dogs that were still retrieving balls, and I barely noticed any impairment to their sight or hearing. Engage a dog’s nose, and you’ll keep him stimulated.

K9 Nose Work defines this sport as “the fun search and scenting activity for virtually all dogs and people. This easy to learn activity and sport builds confidence and focus in many dogs, and provides a safe way to keep dogs fit and healthy through mental and physical exercise.” I enrolled Sanchez in classes a couple of years ago, and now we play “find” games at home. I hide pieces of liver in boxes spread throughout the living room. He searches for the piece of liver and is rewarded with more liver in the box when he finds it. He LOVES this search game.

8. Play often.

No matter the age, dogs enjoy and benefit from playtime. Even if they don’t have the same physical abilities as their younger canine friends, they can still engage in play. Try a game of hide and seek. Actually, all training and nose-work games should also feel like play to them. Pretend you’re a kid again, and they’ll pick up on your energy and thank you for it.

9. Walk them in new areas.

Again, engaging their nose helps keep them stimulated and interested in their surroundings. Bringing them to a new area for a walk is another way to do that. Sanchez is still often with me in the car. So, once a week, I try and stop in a new area for him to explore.

10. Take time to smell the roses.

Walks may no longer be about physical activity. Move at his pace. Allow him to use his nose as much as he chooses. I’ve learned that it’s not only good for Sanchez, but it’s good for me. He’s teaching me the importance of taking time to slow down and enjoy nature. Honestly, does it ever get any better?

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Our wonderful Pharaoh is getting pretty old now; he was 13 1/2 years-old on December 3rd which is a grand age for a German Shepherd. When he was a young puppy I was advised to get a younger playmate for him when his years were building up. For two reasons. The first being that the younger dog keeps the elderly dog playing and interested in the world. The second reason being that the elder dog will teach the younger dog all the owner’s commands.

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

Cleo has proved both points. Pharaoh in living with so many dogs around him is most definitely kept engaged and despite his rear hips being so very fragile and weak he still doesn’t miss a turn in going out with the other dogs.

Just to underline how fantastic Pharaoh is doing, his age at the conversion ratio of 1 dog year to 8 human years makes him 108! Or 36 years my senior!

Golly, there are some great persons out there!

What a wonderful sequel to yesterday’s post!

I am always amazed at how things turn out. Call it serendipity or what!

Because, as much as I love publishing a daily post in this place, not infrequently I think what on earth am I going to find to write about; or republish!

As it was yesterday morning. Not only did I have a heap of things to do around the house but also other ‘office’ work that had to come first.

Then in my email in-box there was another story from Care2. It made a perfect follow-on to yesterday’s post about how rescued dogs go on to become rescue dogs.

Enjoy! (And many thanks Miss Serendipity!)

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Hero on Motorbike Delivers Food to Street Dogs and Cats

3194050-largeBy: Laura S. November 20, 2016

About Laura

Murat Şahin climbs onto his dusty motorbike and holds his breath as he turns the key, hoping the engine will start. His trip is important because he’s going to feed more than 100 dogs in the forest of Aydos in Istanbul, Turkey. Dozens of cats living along the rocky coastal walls are waiting for him too.

fullscreen-capture-11142016-55055-pm-e14792322639441Watch Murat Feed the Animals

Murat’s mission is important to him, it’s a spiritual calling in fact, and he is deeply devoted to serving the hungry animals as you will see in the uplifting video below.

Murat does take some animals to the veterinarian for spay/neuter, but it isn’t always feasible. Some of the animals are wild, and without a car, he can’t bring a trap or transport them easily. He also doesn’t have the funds to do sponsor spay/neuter on a wide scale on his own.

fullscreen-capture-11142016-55135-pm-e14792322398831“Murat has never asked for any help,” fellow volunteer Anna Efe explains. “He has always used his own money and collected food at a restaurant and a local canteen. Also, some butchers were giving him leftovers free of charge. But this year the situation has changed. The butchers stopped giving leftovers for free and, on top of that, Murat’s old motorbike was stolen. It was his only way to deliver food to the forest dogs.”

Though Murat did manage to find a very low-priced bike to replace the stolen one, the replacement bike frequently breaks down. In fact, it broke down immediately after the filming of the video on this page.

Better Days Ahead

fullscreen-capture-11142016-55807-pm-e14792322056231The Harmony Fund charity, based in the U.S., is working on a surprise for Murat. The group is attempting to raise funds to purchase a reliable, used car for Murat’s rescue work and would be shared by Murat and his fellow volunteers working together as an authorized rescue team in Turkey. The car would have several advantages over the bike including carrying larger quantities of food, transporting animals to the veterinarian and safer transportation during bad weather.

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If anyone reading this post can find it in their hearts to make a donation, then this link on the Harmony Fund website is the place to go. You can specifically nominate that your gift goes to Murat out in Turkey. (And Jean and I have made a modest donation to Harmony to be passed to Murat.)

Positive circles!

Or, what goes around, comes around!

Both with animals and with us humans we reap what we sow. Or as I am oft to put it: “Always play with a straight bat for bent bats are practically useless”.

So what has prompted this introspective start to today’s post?

Something that was published on the Care2 blogsite earlier in the month. It was a story about how ex-rescue dogs went on to become dogs that rescued others.  It certainly spoke to me and I feel sure that many of you will be inspired by the story.

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Puppy Rescued Day After Italy’s Latest Quake to Become a Rescue Dog

3193677-largeBy: Laura Goldman November 10, 2016

Among the survivors pulled from the rubble of Italy’s latest major earthquake (Oct. 29) was a border collie puppy who was trapped in the town of Norcia for two days.

The puppy was reunited with his owners, who were so grateful for his rescuers’ work that they decided to let the local fire service adopt him.

Now named Terremoto, which is Italian for – you guessed it – “earthquake,” the pup will be trained to pay it forward by becoming a search-and-rescue dog.

Volunteers from the nonprofit ENPA have been helping nearly 1,000 animals rescued after the earthquakes this year in Italy’s central region. ENPA, an acronym for Ente Nazionale Protezione Animali (National Animal Protection Agency), has been around since 1871. It is Italy’s oldest and largest animal rights organization.

 After the 6.6-magnitude Oct. 29 earthquake, at least 900 animals have received assistance from the organization, according to the ENPA website. Almost 160 of them required veterinary care, including 59 dogs, 63 cats, 13 chickens, 10 tortoises, four parrots, five canaries, two geese, one hedgehog and a hamster. Amazingly, only one animal died: a dog rescued from the rubble alive but in serious condition in the town of Nottoria.

So far, at least 78 animals have been reunited with their owners. Police in Perugia adopted two rescued puppies, The Local reports.

A video captured rescuers using their hands to dig out another dog, Ulysses, after they saw his legs sticking out of the rubble. Like Terremoto, Ulysses had been buried alive when the 6.5 earthquake struck. And, like Terremoto, despite his terrible ordeal, Ulysses was checked out by a veterinarian and found to be in good condition.

About 50 trained search-and-rescue dogs worked with more than 5,000 rescuers after a 6.2 earthquake struck the same region of Italy in August. Among the survivors the dogs sniffed out were two children who’d been stuck in the rubble at separate locations for about 15 hours.

Like these dogs, Terremoto will be trained to bark if he detects a survivor less than 7 feet below the rubble. The rescuers will then dig out the survivor by hand. If Terremoto or other search-and-rescue dogs do not bark, it indicates there are no survivors below. In these cases, heavy machinery is brought in to clear the debris, with care being taken in case there are bodies buried in it.

Search-and-rescue dogs usually stop barking about three days after a disaster like a major earthquake. The rescue efforts then become recovery efforts, since victims would not be able to survive that long without water.

Here in the United States, the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation trains rescued dogs to become search-and-rescue dogs. The dogs are saved from shelters and rescue groups across the country.

While I’d like to wish Terremoto a successful career as a search-and-rescue dog, I’m really hoping he never needs to put those skills to use.

Photo credit: ENPA

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I am going to close today’s post by republishing what you will read if you go across to the home page of the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation website:

From Rescued…to Rescuer

Founded in 1996, the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Santa Paula, California. Our mission is to strengthen disaster response in America by recruiting rescued dogs and partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters.

 

Selective hearing!

Dogs very quickly learn the system!

We have two dogs that are delightfully obedient, but with an over-rider; they choose whether to be responsive to the ‘requests’ from Jean and me.

Those two dogs are Oliver and Brandy.

Oliver sleeping in front of the wood-stove yesterday morning. (February 18th, 2015.)
Oliver sleeping in front of the wood-stove yesterday morning. (February 18th, 2015.)
Jean and Brandy at our local yard sale last weekend. (June 29th, 2016)
Jean and Brandy at our local yard sale last weekend. (June 29th, 2016)

It’s so easy to see each of them listening to a request from us and deciding whether or not to oblige us at that moment.

So when I came across a recent article over on the Care2 website about dogs deciding what are or are not valuable instructions from their human carers it really struck a chord with me. Read it below and I bet many of you will know exactly what I mean.

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Dogs Are Smart Enough to Know When to Ignore Useless Directions

1392529-largeBy: Elise Morea October 29, 2016

About Elise Follow Elise at @elisem0reau

Dogs are pretty smart, but they’re still pretty clueless enough that we’re able have a good laugh at their reactions to certain things every so often. Whether it’s confusion over a ball that was never thrown or fear of a strange looking photograph sitting on the fireplace mantel, dog brains definitely see and understand the world in a way that can be pretty amusing to us.

According to recent research from Yale University’s Canine Cognition Center, it turns out that dogs can learn to pick up on the uselessness of their owners’ orders or directions so that they can disregard them altogether. In fact, they’re even less likely to follow them than children.

Researchers gathered 40 dogs of different breeds and examined their behavior in some problem solving experiments to see whether they could differentiate between helpful and useless directions. A treat was placed inside of a clear puzzle box with a red lid that the dogs had to open to get their reward.

The dogs were shown how to solve the puzzle box, which had a lever attached to it that could be pushed. Although the lever step was shown in the demonstration, it was actually completely unnecessary and didn’t serve any purpose at all to help open the box. The dogs really only needed to lift the lid to get to their treat.

 The researchers left the room while the dogs worked on the puzzle to make sure they would actually try to solve it on their own rather than just follow orders from people. All of the dogs spent several rounds trying to figure out the puzzle to get to their treat, eventually figuring out that they didn’t need to do anything with the lever after all and that all they needed to do was lift the lid. By the end, the dogs were completely ignoring the lever.

The results suggest that dogs learn on an individual level as opposed to humans who imitate each other when trying to learn. The study was inspired by a previous study that involved observing children as they solved puzzles.

Unlike the dogs, the children didn’t stop to think about how the puzzle might be solved differently and more effectively from what was demonstrated, instead repeating what they were shown to do again and again. Even when the children raced to finish solving the puzzle, they still repeated all the unnecessary steps.

Researchers described the children’s problem solving as ”overimitation,” which may be a unique aspect of how humans learn. Dogs and humans are both very social, but dogs are clearly independent problem solvers while children are natural copycats. Children seem to find it instinctive to limit problem solving because they have so much to learn.

Regardless of whether you have a dog, children, or both, these findings give us the opportunity to notice and appreciate their unique learning styles. From a very young age, children will often start mimicking their parents behaviors whether it serves them as an independent human being or not, offering parents all the more reason to be extra conscious of their own behaviors.

Your dog, of course, might just figure out your trickery after falling for a few fake throws of his favorite toy or ball. Now you know that he’s his own kind of canine problem-solving genius!

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I think I need to be a bit more careful what I discuss in front of our dogs!

Falling for the Fall!

Thirty seconds of pure joy!

As seen recently on the Care2 site.

Published on Oct 12, 2016
If this dog doesn’t get you excited for fall, nothing will.
Video by: Maggie McCarthy
Video footage provided by: Jukin Media

Apologies for the brevity of the post; just wasn’t sure how long internet connectivity was going to last!

As the saying goes:

An apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Picture credit Don Kinzler's blog on Growing Together
Picture credit Don Kinzler’s blog on Growing Together

Read this very interesting item that was published on the Care2 site:

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10 Surprising Ways Apples Are Good for Your Health

A Care2 favorite by Michelle Schoffro Cook

About Michelle Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook

Martin Luther once said, “even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”  New research gives more reasons than ever to plant apple trees and enjoy their delicious and nutritious fruit.  Here are ten surprising reasons to sink your teeth into an apple today:

1. Research found that when healthy adults consumed an apple fifteen minutes before eating a meal, they ate 15 percent less at the meal.  This simple habit can result in weight loss for anyone looking for an easy and healthy way to lose weight.

2. In other studies, apples have been shown to significantly alter the amounts of the bacteria Clostridiales and Bacteroides in the large intestine, conferring gastrointestinal health benefits.

3. Thanks to their phytonutrient content, apples have been show to lower the risk of asthma and lung cancer in numerous studies.

4. In a study funded by the USDA, postmenopausal women who ate dried apples daily experienced a 23 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol (the one known as “bad cholesterol”) and a 4% increase in HDL cholesterol (“the good cholesterol”) within six months.

5. In a British study published in BMJ, researchers found that eating an apple a day was as effective as statin drugs to lower cholesterol levels, without the harmful side-effects.  They also found that if 70% of the British population simply ate an apple on a daily basis, 8500 lives would be spared every year from heart attacks or strokes.

6. Researchers at Tufts University found that catechin polyphenols found in apples speed abdominal fat loss by 77 percent and double weight loss in overweight individuals.  Catechins also improve the body’s ability to use insulin, thereby preventing wild blood sugar fluctuations that effect energy, mood, and cravings.

7. Apples contain flavonoids (including catechin polyphenols and quercetin), which have been shown to interfere with the development of cancer cells and preventing their ability to multiply.

8. Research in the journal Nutrition Reviews found that a diet that’s too low in magnesium increases the risk of cancer.  Apples are a good source of magnesium.

9. According to research in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules scientists found that apple oligosaccharides showed an ability to inhibit human colon cancer cells.  Oligosaccharides are complex carbohydrates.  The apple compound induced a process known as apoptosis, which is the body’s mechanism to kill damaged or cancerous cells. They also found that the apple oligosaccharide stopped the growth of new cancer cells. They concluded: “Apple oligosaccharide is a potential chemoprevention agent or anti-tumor agent and is worthy of further study.”

10. Apples contain a natural compound known as malic acid, which helps improve energy production in the body. It has been found to aid fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

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 Amazing what one reads and learns on ‘the internet’ these days. If it wasn’t such crap weather just now I would go outside and take a photograph of our three delicious apple trees! Trust me, Jean and I and the deer love to eat them!

Our smaller ones!

Are smaller dogs more difficult to care for?

Of the nine dogs that we have here at home two would be classified as small dogs: Sweeny and Pedy.

To my mind they are no more different from the other dogs than are our two German Shepherds; Pharaoh and Cleo.

But that still didn’t stop me from noting a recent article over on the Care2 site under the heading of Everyday Issues for People With Small Dog Breeds. Here it is for you good people.

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Everyday Issues for People With Small Dog Breeds

1391153-largeBy: Vetstreet.com October 10, 2016

About Vetstreet.com

I never thought of myself as a small-dog person. When I was growing up, I much preferred my dad’s German Shepherds to my stepmom’s Toy Poodles. The first dog I acquired as an adult was a retired racing Greyhound. But although Greyhounds are wonderful apartment and condo dogs, we have stairs, and it became difficult to get Savanna up and down them after she lost a leg to bone cancer.

The next dog, we decided, would be smaller. That’s how we ended up with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (and one Chihuahua mix). But although they are more portable, small dogs come with their own set of issues. If you are considering acquiring a small-breed dog because you think one will be easier to live with, here’s what you should know.

It Ain’t Easy Being Small

Small dogs are, well, small. It’s easy to step on them, no matter how careful you try to be. It’s not so bad with the larger Toy breeds such as Pugs and Cavaliers — at least, not once they reach adult size — but smaller dogs such as Chihuahuas, Papillons and Yorkies run the risk of getting stepped on or kicked not just by the humans in the home but also by other pets. We frequently joke about attaching a balloon on a long string to the collar of our Chihuahua mix so we’ll be more likely to notice where she is.

Other pets may bully them. Lots of small dogs rule the roost, but when they have a gentle personality, their size can work against them. Esmeralda, a Papillon, was stalked by her owner’s much larger cat, who seemed to view the small, fluffy dog as a toy at best, potential dinner at worst. It was a painful dilemma for the owner, who finally ended up placing her cat in a new home to save her dog’s life.

Little dogs can hurt themselves jumping on and off furniture. It’s an especially common problem with breeds such as Italian Greyhounds, who have long, thin legs, or Japanese Chin, who often enjoy being on high places such as the back of the sofa. This is more common in young dogs, who are not only still growing but also tend to be fearless, but any small dog can suffer a broken bone if he lands the wrong way jumping off the furniture, is stepped on by an errant guest or is dropped to the floor by a child.

For this reason, it is often necessary to buy steps so small dogs can get off furniture safely and easily (getting up on their own can be an issue, too). It’s better to teach them this habit at an early age than to risk a broken bone.

Tiny dogs often think they’re bigger than they actually are. In their head, they’re just as big and badass as that Rottweiler down the street. It’s not uncommon to see a Yorkshire Terrier, Chihuahua or Miniature Pinscher take his life in his hands by challenging a bigger dog. Owners must always be prepared to keep their small dogs out of harm’s way — especially when their dogs try to bring it on themselves.

Too Cute To Train?

Little dogs can be just as smart as big ones — sometimes more so. But people often don’t make the effort to train them. That’s a shame, because small dogs are just as much in need of manners as large ones.

There are a couple of issues with training small dogs. One is that they’re so low to the ground it can be difficult to get their attention or to reach down and reward them with treats.

Another is that some can be slow to learn house training. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As with any other dog, perseverance and consistency win the day.

By Kim Campbell Thornton | Vetstreet.com

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I’m not completely sure whether I totally agree with everything that Kim writes about: what do you think?

So far as me and Jean are concerned our Sweeny and Pedy are adorable and at this time of the year are most welcome as all-night sleepers on our bed!

Pedy in front of Sweeny. Picture taken yesterday afternoon.
Pedy in front of Sweeny. Picture taken yesterday afternoon.