Sunday, November 21, 2010
We have an EXCELLENT program here in Los Angeles called Fixnation. What's so great about Fixnation, you ask?
They spay/neuter, deflea, provide shots for FREE to ferals. They will train you to use their traps, set you up and appointment and hold your hand through the process. They are, in a word, WONDERFUL. I had worked with them years ago with a feral colony in Studio City. The apartment building that I lived in bordered on two restaurants so we were crawling with cats when I moved in. We started with 37. Eight years later when I moved out, we were down to 3. Yes, I said 3. Thanks to Fixnation, I was able to trap, spay/neuter, deflea, treat infections and give these cats a much better quality of life until they passed on.
Tonight, my husband and I spent an hour trapping for Oscar. In an hour, we had four of the six cats. They are spending the night warm in my bathroom tonight, will be fixed tomorrow and rereleased on Tuesday. Oscar will continue to feed them and they will healthier, better quality lives all because he cared enough to feed them and reach out for help.
So next time you think, what can ONE person do? Remember that YOU can do a lot. You can change the life of an animal, make it better, just by caring enough to give a few hours of your time.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Last year, we had the pleasure of speaking with a man who was considering getting a dog. He went home with the following handouts:
Considering A Pet
Where To Get Your Pet
Why Is Training Important?
This year, he came back...with the dog he had adopted from a local rescue thanks to our handouts. He saved a life and that dog now has a great home. We happened to be at the right place at the right time to help educate this man and the dog gets to benefit from that education (as well as the man benefiting from having a well trained, well exercised, loving new family member).
It's always nice to see or hear about the fruits of our labor. Last week, I had three separate students in a 5th grade class tell me that their dogs had been spayed/neutered because of the handout we sent home with them in their activity packet. This is what drives us forward as an organization and as educators - knowing that what we are doing is truly making a difference in our community for dogs and people alike.
Thank you to everyone who came out for our 2nd Annual Paws and Trails Hike. We appreciate your continued support. Our success is YOUR success! Your funds help us reach adults and students in this community.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
High mortality rates
Depending on the species, reptiles are either bred from wild-caught parents or captured directly from the wild. Wild-caught reptiles are typically grabbed from their environment and put in a bag with many others like it. They are kept like this for quite some time with no care as they’re transported, and the process is so stressful that approximately 50% die in transit. Those that manage to survive often arrive at the pet store with injuries or a weakened immune system. They're then housed with other animals and are exposed to their diseases. Approximately 90% of the wild-caught reptiles die within 1 year of being kept as a pet. This is due to a combination of factors, including trauma from being captured, stress from an unnatural lifestyle, and poor care from inexperienced owners. Several species, like North American box turtles, are being caught at a faster rate than they are capable of reproducing, resulting in depleted and endangered populations.
NOT low maintenance pets
It is a myth, often perpetuated by unknowledgeable pet store employees, that reptiles are ideal for those looking for a low maintenance pet. Reptiles have very specific environmental and dietary needs that are extremely difficult to replicate in captivity, even when they are born to captive-bred parents. In the wild, reptiles can vary their diet as they crave different nutrients. The diets they're offered as pets are often too simple for long-term nutrition and growth, and as a result many suffer a slow death from nutritional deficiencies. It's unrealistic to think an aquarium can adequately replicate the natural conditions they're accustomed to experiencing, even with artificial lighting, heat lamps and water filters. Wild reptiles rarely come into contact with their feces and uneaten food, and this exposure in an aquarium makes them susceptible to infections. It's extremely difficult to tell when a reptile is sick, and many veterinarians have little or no experience caring for them. Crocodilians, like caimans and alligators, are commonly purchased as babies yet rarely survive to adulthood when kept as a pet. Few people realize that most lizards, frogs and snakes should live a minimum of 10 years with proper care, and many species live several decades.
For those reptiles fortunate enough to receive proper care, many species become dangerous or difficult to care for as an adult. Water turtles can live for several decades, and tortoises can live 100 + years, easily outliving their owners and requiring multiple dedicated caregivers throughout their lifetime. Iguanas can grow to be 5-6 feet long within 5 years, and pythons can grow over 15 feet and 150 pounds, capable of killing humans and especially small children.
As many as 90% of reptiles are natural carriers of Salmonella bacteria and don’t show sign of illness. It can be transmitted to humans through direct contact like handling, or indirect contact such as touching contaminated surfaces in the home. Young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those who are ill are especially susceptible to infection.
When owners find themselves unable or unwilling to care fortheir reptile any longer, it’s often very difficult to find them a new home. Most shelters are ill-equipped to handle the special care they require so they are often euthanized upon intake. Pet reptiles should never be released to the wild because they often die of starvation or exposure, and if they survive they can introduce new diseases and parasites to the native population and easily unbalance the local ecosystem.
Not recommended for beginners:
The following reptiles should not be considered by those with little experience due to a variety of factors including size, origin, potential for aggression, tendency to have parasites, or strict dietary and environmental needs.
Turtles & tortoises: ALL species, including Box turtles
Boas – Rainbow boas, red-tailed boas
Pythons - Burmese pythons, African Rock Pythons, reticulated pythons
wild-caught or captive hatched ball pythons
wild-caught garter, gopher and king snakes
Most lizards, including:
Dragons – mountain dragon, tree dragon, sailfin dragon
Iguanas – Green iguanas, spiny tailed iguanas, crested or helmeted iguanas
Crocodilians: caimans and alligators
While we strongly discourage keeping ANY reptile as a pet, if you choose to do so please consider adopting a homeless reptile from a rescue group. Do extensive research before making your decision. The following reptiles are generally recognized as needing the least specialized care:
Turtles & Tortoises: none
Snakes: captive bred Corn snakes, captive bred King snakes, captive bred Ball pythons
Lizards: Blue-tongue skinks, Leopard geckos, Bearded dragons
For Care Information:
Melissa Kaplan’s Herp Care Collection
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Growing up many of us had backyard dogs. Although the dogs slept outdoors, their days were spent in our company while gardening, hanging laundry, camping and playing with the children. However, times have changed. We spend much less time doing outdoor activities than we once did. Now it is common for both parents to work outside of the home. Children play video games and surf the internet rather than run for hours outside. The result is thousands of dogs that simply aren’t getting the "people time" they need.
Like wolves, dogs are social animals. From birth, dogs are part of a pack and are never left alone. When you adopt a dog, you and your family members become their new "pack" and separation from this pack is viewed by them as the worst form of punishment. Regular interaction with people is one of their basic needs just like food and water. When those needs aren’t met, it can have a negative psychological effect on that animal. Dogs forced to live outside often develop behavior problems due to stress and boredom.
Dogs need mental stimulation. While barking, digging and chewing are normal dog behaviors to a small degree, the boredom an outdoor dog experiences often makes these behaviors more extreme. In the absence of stimulation, they will create their own games. This can include destroying your garden with excessive digging, constant barking throughout the day and night or aggressively chasing away anyone or thing that wanders too close to your fence. While these are acceptable games for your dog, they are seldom acceptable to you.
Dogs that live outdoors on a farm get their mental stimulation and exercise in a variety of ways. They have wildlife to chase, scents to track and other animals to herd/protect. The average dog today has little of these things to stimulate him. They spend their time in a small, confined yard. Everything exciting is happening on the other side of the fence. It is a myth that dogs with yards get exercise. Outdoor dogs spend the majority of their time at the backdoor waiting for the owners to pay attention to them. No matter where a dog spends it’s time, a happy dog is one that gets daily exercise whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood or a fun game of fetch.
Some people get dogs for protection. A dog that spends time indoors with his family bonds with them and is more likely to be protective. If your dog is never allowed to come indoors, it may not know the difference between a burglar and Aunt Susana who drops by to say hello. Also, outdoor dogs tend to bark excessively whether someone is in their backyard or not. Like a car alarm, your dog barking isn’t going to alert anyone that something is wrong because you and your neighbors have learned to ignore it. Once the burglar is inside your home, there is nothing your outdoor dog can do about it, nor does he really want to. Dogs are protective of the areas they are kept in. As long as they aren’t stealing his lawn furniture, pool or grass, he’s fine with what happens inside your house. However, if the dog is allowed to spend time in the house, your things become his things. He will not tolerate a stranger coming inside and stealing your stuff. Installing a dog door is a simple way to allow your dog to spend his time where he chooses.
Although California has a mild climate, we still experience our share of inclement weather. The average dog feels the heat and cold as we do, but some breeds are even more susceptible to climate change. Small dogs and short-coated breeds such as Chihuahuas and Pit Bulls don’t tolerate cold weather very well even with an insulated shelter. Dogs with thick coats such as Akitas, Huskies, Malamutes and Chows as well as short-nosed breeds such as pugs and bulldogs can easily overheat even in mild temperatures. It is imperative that they have shade and cold, fresh water in the summer if they are going to be outdoors for even a short length of time. Some people feel that the garage provides adequate shelter. A garage becomes very hot during the summer and extremely cold during the winter. Pets can suffer and die from both heat exhaustion and exposure to the cold after being left in the garage. Garages often harbor other dangers as well. Sharp tools and poisonous chemicals are stored in the garage. A bored dog looking to fill his time may get injured investigating these things. Your dog could get loose when you open the garage door or you might accidentally run over him while parking your car.
You should never chain a dog in your backyard. It is against the law in the state of California to tether a dog for more than 3 hours in a 24 hour period. If you do so, you could end up with a hefty fine. The law also requires you to provide food, water and adequate shelter for your pet at all times. Chaining your dog creates insecurity and severely increases the likelihood of stress and boredom. It can also increase aggression. If the dog can’t retreat from what it perceives to be a threatening situation, it becomes fearful and is more likely to bite to protect itself.
Most dogs do enjoy spending some time outdoors. It is essential that time alone outdoors be balanced with time indoors with their "pack." They are happier, healthier and safer when they are indoor pets. The more time a dog spends outdoors, the less control you have over his behavior. It only takes a little time and training to teach your dog how to behave in the house. Then you will be able to enjoy your new companion and treat him as a member of the family.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
WHERE: Griffith Park
2800 East Observatory Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027 US
Please join us for a fun hike up the Mt. Hollywood Trail (aka Charlie Turner Trail) in Griffith Park. The entire trail has amazing views of Los Angeles all the way to the beach, including Downtown, the Observatory and the famous Hollywood sign. This event is open to everyone, including children, so bring a friend!
Ticket Info: Event tickets are $20 and include 3 raffle tickets and refreshments served at the top. They can be purchased through www.pawsandlearn.org or the day of the event. BONUS: If you buy your tickets by Oct. 21st, you will receive an extra 5 raffle tickets for free!
Raffle Info: Drawing will be held at 11am the day of the event. Prizes include tickets to Disneyland, San Diego Zoo and many more. For those unable to attend the hike, raffle tickets may be purchased separately for $3 each, or 2 for $5.
Trail Info: Hike at your own pace! Elevation climb is moderate (500 ft) and broken up with a few relatively flat stretches of trail. Total distance up and back is 3 miles, with an average time to the top taking 30-45 minutes. Dogs on leash are most welcome!
Paws and Learn is a volunteer-run nonprofit 501c3 dedicated to improving the lives of animals through education. Your donation is tax-deductible and 100% of the proceeds will go towards educational material. For more information on our organization, please visit www.pawsandlearn.org.
Directions to Trail:- 5 South to Los Feliz Blvd (head west)- Right on Hillhurst Ave (which becomes Vermont Canyon Rd)- Follow all signs to the Observatory (pass the Greek Theatre)- After the tunnel, go Left up the hill to Observatory parking lot- trailhead is across from the Observatory parking lot
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The school was kind enough to hold him for me until I was done teaching. Meanwhile, I was able to use his plight to illustrate to the 5th graders the importance of: collars, ID tags, microchips and keeping your dog inside the house as a family pet. I explained that this little guy was going to the shelter. If he didn't have a microchip, and chances were high that he didn't, he would be held for four days to give his owner a chance to find him. At the end of the hold period, he would go into general population to be up for adoption. Dogs aren't getting much of a chance to find homes at the moment in this economy. Shelters are overcrowded and their time there is limited. Some dogs are getting 72 hours to find a home before they are killed. Despite being a cute, friendly little guy, chances were good this dog was going to die in the shelter because someone was not responsible enough to put a collar and ID tag on him or have him microchipped.
The children were very sad for the dog. They all took notes throughout my presentation. Let me tell you that there is nothing cuter than 5th graders asking you to slow down because they are trying to write information as quickly as they can, knowing it might save their own dog's life. This dog made a difference in the lives of other dogs just by getting out of his yard. This irresponsible owner made a difference in the lives of the children's dogs by not doing what he/she should have done to make sure that their pet always made it back home. Meredith and I believe strongly in what we do. We are making a difference, shaping better adults. The next generation of pet owners are going to be fantastic ones - responsible, caring.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Start by having your pet spayed or neutered if they aren't already. Sterilized pets are calmer and more likely to behave. They also will have fewer health problems associated with their reproductive systems.
Next, you will want to review your dog's obedience training. Knowing commands like ‘down’, ‘stay’ and ‘leave it’ will be immensely helpful when the baby arrives. It's important to be sure he will reliably and consistently behave for you. Ideally, start addressing behavior problems as early into your pregnancy as possible to give yourself enough time to teach your dog some key commands. If your pet exhibits fear and anxiety, now is the time to get help from an animal behavior specialist while your life is still relatively uncomplicated.
The time and energy needed to care for a newborn leaves less time for your dog. When the baby comes home, your dog will no longer be receiving the same amount of attention he was accustomed to. Gradually reduce the amount of time your pet is spending with you. If your pet is particularly bonded to the expectant mother, another family member should start establishing a closer bond with him. Drastically decreasing attention or isolating your pet after the baby is born will only produce stress. Though you will be tired, it is still important to spend special quality time with your pet.
While it's important to maintain your dog's daily schedule, you can gradually adjust his timetable by making changes at least a month or so before the baby arrives. If his exercise routine will change from leash walks to backyard time, it is best to start making the change ahead of time. Put up baby gates so that your dog gets used to the restricted movement. Early and gradual changes in daily routines and physical environment can help make the adjustment easier for your pet once the baby comes home.
Sprinkle baby powder on your skin and/or a baby blanket. Leave the blanket around the house so that your dog becomes familiar with the scent. You can also use a baby doll to get your dog used to baby routines such as bathing and diaper changing. Put the doll in the stroller and take it on walks with you so that your dog gets used to both the stroller and its occupant. Purchase a CD of infants crying and play it at gradually increasing volume to get your dog acclimated to the sound. Make sure to give your dog calm, quiet praise during this time so that he associates all of these new sounds, smells and routines with positive things.
When you return from the hospital, your dog will be eager to greet you. Let someone else take the baby into another room while you give your dog a warm, calm welcome. After you are done with your greeting, you can bring your pet to sit next to the baby. Reward him with treats for appropriate behavior. You want your dog to have only positive experiences with your newest family member. Never force your pet to get near the baby. If you feel comfortable, allow him to sniff tiny feet and hands. Once his curiosity is satisfied, most dogs will ignore the newborn. For the sake of safety, even the most accepting and gentle dog should never be left alone with an infant, whether your baby is awake, sleeping, in a carrier, or on the floor.
For more information on introducing your family pet to your new infant, please visit the following websites:
Introducing Your Pet to a New Baby
Introducing an Infant to a Resident Dog
Introducing Your Pet and New Baby
"Bowser Meets Baby" or How to Introduce Your New Baby to the Family Dog
Introducing a New Baby
Monday, July 5, 2010
Toys are an easy way to enrich your cats environment. They come in many shapes and sizes, but there are two basic kinds of toys you can use to entertain them: self play and interactive. Self play toys are great for cats who are left home alone a lot. Some self play toys dispense food. Simply fill with dry kibble and treats to encourage your cat to play. Others contain cat nip, which is irresistable to most cats. You can also buy toys that hang from doorframes which will keep your cat occupied when you are too busy to play with them. If you don't have the money to buy toys, you can use things in your house to keep your cat entertained. Some suggestions include: tabs from milk bottles, plastic bottle tops, wadded up paper or foil balls, cardboard inserts from paper towels or toilet paper.
Interactive toys help strengthen the bond between you and your cat. There are numerous products on the market using sticks or wands that will encourage your cat's inner hunter. These allow interaction with your cat as you move the stick/wand around so your cat can stalk and chase the toy. Some cats enjoy chasing a laser light around the house. Others can find entertainment in yarn or shoelaces. It is imperitive that you pick all of these toys up and place them out of your cat's reach before leaving the house for your cat's safety. Cats are capable of eating almost any object, many of which can cause serious problems when ingested. You want to enrich your cat without endangering them.
Cats love to climb. High places make them feel secure. From a perch, they can watch the world around them - both inside and outside. Multiple perches and cat trees throughout your house or apartment are ideal. Cats feel vulnerable when they sleep and tend to prefer higher areas. Indoor cats need visual stimulation. They will enjoy looking out the window to watch birds, butterflies and other wild life. This can provide hours of entertainment and help your cat feel as though it is outdoors. Cat perches come in many sizes and shapes. They can be expensive, though. If you don't have the money in your budget to purchase one, clearing off the back of a couch or a chair and placing it next to the window can suffice. Adding a bird feeder or bird bath within view of the perch can increase your cat's enjoyment. Just be sure to place it high enough off the ground that the birds are safe from predators.
Scratching is a natural behavior for your cat. Cats lose the sheath of their nail by scratching rough surfaces. Scratching also helps your cat release pent up energy or emotional stress. Provide a variety of scratching posts - vertical and horizontal, sisal and cardboard. You will have to experiment a bit to find your cat's preference. Providing scratching posts for your cat to express their natural instinct is important to keep them from scratching inappropriate areas.
Providing your cat with an enriched environment will keep them happy and will also cut down on behavior problems. It is important for their well being that they have plenty of toys, perches, appropriate scratching places and opportunities to play. In addition to proper nutrition and regular vet visits, enrichment plays a necessary role in keeping your cat healthy and happy so they live a long life with you.
Friday, July 2, 2010
There is a misconception that cats can always find their way home. Sometimes cats get sick or injured. So what happens when your pet is too injured to make their way home to you? If they end up at a pet hospital or at the shelter, they will be scanned for a microchip. That microchip could mean the difference between life and death for your cat. Even if your cat wears a collar with ID Tags, collars can come off. They can fade over time. In case they aren't wearing their collar when they get lost, make sure that your pet is also microchipped. Every animal that winds up in an animal shelter is scanned for a microchip upon arrival. If chipped, they can immediately contact you so that you can retrieve your pet. Without any way of identifying your pet, the shelter is forced to either adopt your pet to someone else or euthanize it due to overcrowding. Microchipping is simple, safe and relatively inexpensive. The procedure only takes seconds - the chip is implanted between your pet's shoulder blades with a shot and lasts the lifetime of your pet.
Where can you get your pet microchipped? At your next vet appointment, ask your vet to implant one. If you don't want to wait for your next vet appointment, you can get one done at your local shelter for a small fee. Once you call the microchip company and activate the chip, you have peace of mind knowing that your pet will be returned to you if lost.
LISA AND AL REUNITED
AL'S BATTLE SCARS
MORE OF AL'S BATTLE SCARS
Thank you, Lisa, for sharing Al's story with us! And congratulations to Al on making his way home. Thanks also to the kind woman who found him and didn't just leave him there!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
When we started our search for a pet, I walked through row after row of these hopeful faces. All these wonderful dogs whose "owners" had failed them miserably. I vividly remember a woman bringing her two small boys in, dragging an older terrier mix behind her. The dog was in need of grooming and desperate for a kind word. She handed the leash to a shelter worker. "This dog is too old," she announced. "Um, okay," was the response because there really isn't any other response for logic like that. She then led her children into the shelter to look at the puppies and they picked one out as their "too old" dog was being pushed into a kennel run just down the row. This was a city shelter so they aren't allowed to say no to any adoption.
I couldn't let her leave without pointing out the message that she was teaching her children. Old means no good. "Don't be surprised," I told her, "when they put you in a home rather than taking care of you because you are too old. Kids learn from their parents." She didn't care. But she will care later in life when she is "too old" and her sons dump her the way she dumped that dog.
Every shelter across the country is overflowing at the moment with dogs like that poor, old terrier mix. Dogs like Harvey who didn't get good owners willing to make a lifetime commitment to them. There seems to be a misconception that their dog will find a home - they're purebred (big deal, that's one in every three dogs), they're well behaved, they're cute. The shelter is full of purebred, well behaved, cute dogs. So are the dumpsters in the back. Then there are the poor dogs whose owners failed them completely. They've lived their entire lives in the backyard with no socialization, no company, no training. These dogs have no hope of ever making it out. People don't want dogs like that. They gravitate towards the friendly, well trained, cute dogs. Even those dogs don't have a very good chance of getting out. Thrust into an unfamiliar environment, some dogs shut down completely, even well trained and well socialized ones. They shake at the back of their kennels and don't come out to see people. Those dogs have lost all hope. After all, the hope they did have left them.
Pets are a lifetime commitment. Moving is not a reason to give them up. We have an American Staffordshire Terrier. This breed is on most ban lists. When we move, we allow months to find a place to live WITH her. Our friends Molly and Anthony have moved several times with their American Pit Bull Terrier without trouble. If we can find rentals with our breeds, no one has an excuse to leave a pet behind. There are so many pet friendly rentals that no one should be dropping their dog or cat off at the shelter because they are "moving." You take the time to find a pet friendly rental and save the money to afford a pet deposit. When you don't, your pet becomes just another statistic like Harvey and so many other good dogs who were unlucky enough to be purchased or adopted by bad owners.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
'Pit Bull' is a general term used to describe 4 breeds of dogs: the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), the American Staffordshire Terrier (AmStaff), the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the Bull Terrier. All 4 breeds have a common ancestor, the Bull-and-Terrier. The Bull-and-Terrier and its descendants were all originally bred for bull-baiting and dog fighting as entertainment, even though it was illegal. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the Bull Terrier were developed first in the British Isles. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier was brought to the US in the late 1800s to fight, and became known as the pit bull terrier. Americans favored a slightly bigger dog than the English, and over time the two diverged. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes the Bull Terrier, the AmStaff, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The American Pit Bull Terrier is recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC). Although technically different breeds, the APBT, the AmStaff and the Staffordshire Bull terrier are essentially the same in both appearance and temperament. The Bull Terrier, however, has a much more distinct egg-shaped head.
Dog aggression and human aggression are two distinctly separate traits and should never be confused. Because of their history as a fighting dog, pit bulls are prone to dog aggression. However, care can and should be taken to modify this tendency since pit bulls can often learn how to be dog tolerant or even dog friendly. It is quite common for a pit bull to be wonderful with people, while at the same time not 100% trustworthy around other dogs. Human aggression, however, is not a normal trait in pit bulls and should not be taken lightly. The official UKC breed temperament standard is the following: "the essential characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier are strength, confidence, and zest for life. This breed is eager to please and brimming over with enthusiasm. APBTs make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their love of children. Because most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog… The APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable." If poorly bred, mishandled, abused, or unsocialized then a pit bull, like ANY other breed, can develop behavior problems or aggression that is atypical of the breed.
Due to misinformation and lack of education, certain breeds have been incorrectly labeled "dangerous." Dogs of all breeds can and will mature into well tempered adults if raised properly. A large part of raising any breed properly includes socializing and training them starting at a young age. If you're interested in learning more about whether a pit bull would be right for you, it's important to research the breed. The websites badrap.org and realpitbull.com have large amounts of quality information.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Obedience training is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your dog. It is essential to creating a healthy, happy relationship between you and your canine. Unfortunately, many owners don't realize the importance of training and behavior problems are now one of the most common reasons dogs are surrendered to shelters. Dogs aren't mind readers. They don't just instinctively know how their owners want them to act, or what the rules of the house are. Like children, they have to be taught what is appropriate and what is not. Owners who haven't bothered to teach their dogs the rules often find they end up with unruly dogs.
Things that are cute as a puppy, such as mouthing your hands and jumping up to play, are suddenly unacceptable when the dog is full grown. These are issues that could have been easily prevented had the owners taken the time to train their new family member in the first place. Even if you are adopting an adult dog who is past his puppy behaviors, training will help you establish yourself as the leader of your pack. Dogs are pack animals, and therefore social hierarchy is extremely important to them. If it isn't clear who the pack leader is, they will attempt to take charge of the household. This can lead to behavior problems like claiming resources such as the couch or your bed.c Most behavioral issues are often perfectly natural canine activities that are performed at the wrong time on the wrong things, such as chewing your shoes instead of a chew toy or going to the bathroom on your rug instead of outside on the lawn. Training teaches your dog the appropriate ways to exhibit his natural canine behaviors. Using physical dominance to achieve the status of pack leader is unnecessary. Your dog is showing his respect for you when he obeys even a simple command like "sit".
Dogs are a 10-20 year commitment, depending on the breed you choose. Time and effort put into training during the first few years will pay off in dividends later on in life. You can't enjoy being around your dog when you're constantly irritated at him. A well trained dog is fun and easy to live with. They know how to behave in public so they can be taken on more family outings. The dog can be trusted around children, strangers and other animals because he has been taught appropriate behavior. Friends and family will enjoy visiting your home rather than avoiding you because of your dog's rowdy behavior. By taking your dog to obedience training, you are creating a confident, happy dog who will get to live a fuller life. This improves your life as well as that of your pet.
If you can't afford training classes, click here for printable training pages that will teach you how to effectively communicate with your dog and teach him necessary commands. All you need are these training sheets and some treats. You can use turkey hot dogs, cheese, leftover chicken. Just cut it up into bite size pieces and you are ready to go!
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Food – 2 bags each (dog and cats)
Bowls (food, water)
First Aid Kit (which includes a booklet on first aid for companion animals)
Copy of all Medical Records
We always have two bags of food for the pets at all times. You want to have at least a week supply of food in case the pet stores aren’t open to get your pets food. We use one bag and keep the other for reserve. As we start to get to the bottom of the first bag, we immediately buy a new one. This way, we always have at least a bag and a half of food for our pets. We also keep wet food. Should anything happen and water be in short supply, canned food will give them some hydration. Canned food can keep outside of the refrigerator for 24 hours if stored properly (covered, in a cool location).
I included treats because Lily is food motivated. If we need her to be focused on us, the treats will help grab her attention immediately.
I have enough water in the earthquake kit that our four animals can drink half a gallon of water a day. We have supplies for seven days. Even though pets can drink from sources unsuitable for humans, we don’t know what kind of contaminants will be in our water supply. It’s not worth risking stomach and intestinal irritation when there won’t be a vet handy to treat our girls.
We picked up a first aid kit for animals at a sale that included a booklet on treating your pet’s injuries. You don’t have to purchase a complete kit, though. You can google pet first aid kits and simply make your own (shout out to Anthony and Molly who hike with one Anthony made himself that rivals ours!).
We have Lily’s medication in an easily accessible place where we can grab it in an emergency, throw it in the kit and go. We never let it get below a seven day supply. Better safe than sorry.
We have copies of the girl’s medical records in the kit. I put them in a plastic bag to keep them dry. Lily’s shot records, microchip information and registration are in hers. The cats have copies of their shot records in theirs. We also have a current picture of each of them in case we become separated.
Just because there has been an earthquake doesn’t mean we no longer have to clean up after our pets. This will be especially important for sanitation in the event of an earthquake. We have included biodegradable poop bags for Lily. We also have an extra litter box and some litter in the kit because we don’t know where we will end up with the girls. Some experts recommend using sand in an emergency, which is certainly doable, but you will need to include litter box liners with your kit if you plan to do this. We have relatives in San Diego, Arizona, Oregon and Washington that all have opened their doors to us in an emergency. Because we will be indoors, we won’t need to resort to sand.
We’ve included familiar blankets for our pets that we rotate with each laundry cycle. In the uncertainty of the situation, it will help them to have familiar things like blankets and toys around them. The cat carriers and extra leashes are kept together in our den. They are easily accessible should we need them.
If an earthquake does hit, do not try to pick your animals up during the shaking to comfort them. Animals will instinctively seek a place to hide in safety. Wait until the shaking has subsided to locate your pets in your house. Assess the damage and decide if it is safe to remain indoors or if you will be moving to another location. Remember that this is a traumatic event for your pets. Use caution in handling them. They will be upset from the trembling and the noise. Even a gentle pet can bite or scratch when scared.
Friday, April 16, 2010
I changed the life of a dog named Chica and I've never even met her. I was teaching a 2nd grade class Dog Bite Prevention when I first learned of Chica. This presentation starts by getting the kids to think about things our pets need that we need as well (food, water, exercise, doctor, love). We then move into feelings that we share with our pets (happy, sad, mad, scared). I ask the class "if our pets have the same feelings that we do, is it ever okay to hit an animal?" At this point, the whole class shouts "no" and I move into Dog Bite Prevention. This particular morning, a boy in the front row interrupted me. "Especially if you're trying to potty train them." Very astute for a 2nd grader. After agreeing with him, I asked him what he does with his dog. "When Chica starts to go, we clap our hands and say 'AH!' like a buzzer. She stops. We scoop her up, rush her out back and put her on the grass. When she goes potty, we say 'Good girl, Chica! You're such a good girl!' and Chica does a little happy dance." I was blown away that this was coming out of a 2nd grader. "That's very smart," I told him, impressed. "Who taught you that?" "You were in my sister's 5th grade class last week. She told you that Chica always goes potty in the house and my dad spanks her until she rolls over." I then remembered Chica and the pain in his sister's eyes as she told the class how sad it made her when their dad hit the chihuahua. For two years her father had been abusing her and for two years she continued to go to the bathroom in the house. "...because hitting an animal doesn't teach them anything except that you're a mean, painful person to spend time with." Desperate to ease her pain and anxious to help poor Chica, I instructed his sister the proper way of housebreaking. SHOW her where to go and praise her when she goes there. She didn't just listen, she went home and taught her family. "How is Chica doing?" I asked. "She hasn't gone to the bathroom inside since last Saturday. My dad said she must have finally learned her lesson, but my mom says it's because of what you taught my sister." Four days without being hit so hard she rolled over. Kids have the power to change the world, one chihuahua at a time!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Certain household items, like chemicals, are obviously poisonous to our pets if ingested. But many people are unaware of some common household items that are equally damaging when consumed. Here’s a short list to watch out for around our 4 legged family members:
grapes & raisins – most fruits and veggies are safe (and healthy!) to feed, but for some reason certain dogs experience bad reactions to this fruit, some even suffering from acute renal failure.
Chocolate – the theobromine and caffeine in chocolate is very dangerous, especially the darker the chocolate is and the smaller the animal is. Dogs have also been poisoned after eating the cocoa mulch used in some gardens.
Onions – the thiosulphate in onions can cause hemolytic anemia in dogs.
Xylitol – a common sweetener in gum, candy, mints and other products. It can cause vomiting and hypoglycemia. I recently met a woman whose Maltese was killed after ingesting 2 pieces of gum.
Macadamia nuts – in any form, these nuts can cause a range of symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea and hind-end weakness
Zinc - some dogs (like Labs) will eat anything that fits in their mouth, and many are prone to swallowing pennies or other items containing zinc. This causes zinc toxicity, resulting in hemolytic anemia, gastroenteritis and damage to the liver, kidney, and pancreas.
The ASPCA’s poison control hotline recently released their 2009 list of most common poisons. Top on their list of offenders was human medications, either snatched off counters or eaten off the floor. The second was the misapplication of spot-on flea and tick products, especially for cats. Inhaling household cleaners and nibbling on toxic house plants also made the list.
Keep the number of your vet and the ASPCA Poison Control Center on hand in case of an emergency. The ASPCA PCC hotline is: 888-426-4435.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
When we first got Lily from the shelter, we had already been told repeatedly "a good dog is a tired dog and a tired dog is a happy owner!" We had done research on the breed that was right for us and had been searching for an American Pit Bull Terrier to join our family. Erik and I are very active and enjoy being out in nature so we went with an active breed that would hike for miles with us on the weekends. We started out slow with Lily. The first trail we chose was only a few miles roundtrip and included a river so she would be able to drink and cool off. Our destination was a waterfall where we could rest before returning to the car. It was a 4 mile roundtrip hike and the pup was only about 4 months old. She loved it. Not only did she enjoy the scents of the trail and the sounds of the forest, she had fun greeting all the people and dogs we passed on the trail. When we got back to the car, she fell asleep on the backseat. She was out for the rest of the day!
WHY SHOULD I HIKE WITH MY DOG?
Dogs need a break from their normal, everyday walk. Trails offer different smells and terrain than your neighborhood. They bring a bit of excitement into your dogs life! This is my favorite time of year to hike Lily. The days are cool, sometimes overcast, so she does better and can go for longer distances. The rain draws new scents out of the ground so even a trail we have done before seems like a brand new one to her. It's hard to describe to someone how happy my dog is on the trail. If you hike with your dog, you have seen it as well. Her tail curves upward and wags frequently. She will turn and look me every few minutes with her big pit bull grin that seems to say "isn't this GREAT, Mom!" Lily just loves being out in nature. It's such good exercise for her, as well as great mental stimulation.
WHERE DO I START?
I recommend checking for trails in your area at http://www.localhikes.com. We have found many good ones listed on this website. They have reviews of the hikes, which can be very helpful especially when the initial description of the trail is a few years old and recent weather has changed the trail a bit. The hikes also clearly state whether or not you are allowed to hike with dogs. You can also see whether you will need to be on the lookout for mountain bikes and horses. Once you have decided on your trail, you will need to fill your backpack. We take water, snacks (for Lily too!) and a first aid kit incase she gets injured. We purchased one at the pet store and threw it in the pack, but you can also google Pet First Aid Kits and put together your own. Better safe than sorry.
Part of being a responsible owner is keeping your dog on leash in areas where there are leash laws and on trails you will be sharing with mountain bikes and horses. Not all horses like dogs no matter how charming your dog might be. We share the mountains with others so we need to be respectful of them. No one wants your dog rushing up to startle their horse and you certainly don't want your dog kicked or trampled. On most of the trails we travel, mountain bikers have no clue of etiquette. There are too many close calls with rude bikers so we recommend having your dog on a leash even when one isn't required in these areas. Bikes come racing down the mountain with little thought of anyone around them and we have seen so many tragic accidents, including one that resulted in the death of a horse, while we are out there. It's just not worth risking. (Note: the picture of Lily above was on a trail in a remote part of Northeastern Oregon where mountain bikers and horses are not allowed so we let her off leash for that hike since there isn't a leash law in the area)
Grab your dog, pick a trail, pack your backpack and get out there walking! It's good for you and great for your dog. The bond will increase between you and your pet as you strike out on new adventures!
Monday, February 15, 2010
There are approximately 77.5 million dogs and 93.6 million cats that currently have homes in the United States. Every year, 6-8 million enter the shelter system. Between 3-4 million dogs, cats, puppies and kittens won't make it out alive. We have entire litters of puppies and kittens that never know what it is like to live in a home and be loved. Roughly 7 animals are killed every minute. By the time you reach the end of this blog entry, 70 will be dead. Despite the number of animals dying in the shelters across the country, puppy mills and breeders continue to breed. There are laws being passed in cities and counties across the nation in an attempt to slow down this mass production of dogs and cats. Until those laws take affect, and are followed, we still have a very serious overpopulation problem. Purchasing an animal from a pet store or an unqualified breeder contributes directly to the problem. Your money encourages them to breed another litter and another and another to continue to make money all the while robbing puppies and kittens in the shelters of a home. When you adopt your pet from an animal shelter or rescue group, you are saving a life and not contributing to the breeding that has brought us to this point.
Many people have unintentional litters. They don't bother to spay or neuter their pet and end up with puppies or kittens. Even if they are responsible and line up homes for them, there will be fewer homes for the puppies and kittens currently in the shelters waiting for homes. Unintentional litters take homes away from animals already in the shelter system. Breeding directly takes the life of a shelter animal, contributing to the 3-4 million deaths occuring each year.
The overpopulation problem will not go away overnight. Not everyone is going to spay or neuter their pets today, this week, this month, this year. Dogs and cats aren't anywhere close to becoming extinct. Spaying and neutering your own pet will help stop the deaths occuring every minute in shelters across this country. What will fixing your pet do? It will keep them from getting certain kinds of cancer, make them less likely to bite, less likely to run away and less likely to fight with other animals. They will also live longer, healthier lives. For more information about low cost spay/neuter, please visit our website and click on Resources. If you aren't in the Los Angeles area, you can visit for a low cost option in your area.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
How can we be friends to man's best friend? It's a question, it seems, that a lot of people don't think about.
But Best Friends thought about it. Most definitely. The Puppies Aren't Products campaign, simply put, rocks. I'm especially proud to say I've joined in on the action. January 16th of '10 was my first day as an official volunteer, being at an educational tabling event at the Northridge Fashion Center. Our goal? Educate the public. Urge them to boycott the pet store in the mall because they get their dogs from puppymills, mass breeding facilities in which dogs are subjected to sickening conditions simply for the profit of their “greeders.” In fact, no good breeder would give their dogs to a pet store. Good breeders want to evaluate potential clients, not blindly pass their puppies out to strangers!
The pet store in question had a banner up: “HUGE SALE! Up to 50% off STOREWIDE.” We felt as though our campaign was getting to them. What made us laugh was the fact that their discounts may still not even compare to shelter dog prices. My dog? Twenty-three dollars at the city pound, house broken, microchipped, neutered, and ready to go. However, our pity was strong for the puppies in the store. Two German Shepherd puppies were growing rapidly in the small cells at the store. They barely had any mental stimulation or room to play. I wondered why people would help these businesses at all, even after seeing the deplorable conditions in the pet store itself. You cannot “rescue” a pet store dog by buying it, you're only giving more money to the source of the abuse and neglect.
As I sat at the table, I watched the oncoming people. Many stopped by with great interest, gathering our informational sheets enthusiastically, and asking questions. Some even told us they were looking for a dog, in turn receiving a list of local shelters and animal rescues they should consider; they were enthralled by the news. Others signed our petition, asking the store to go humane.
Stop selling puppymill puppies! The message rang strong and true. With confidence I can say the majority of our passers-by were positively affected by our signs and literature. For the nay-sayers that doubt the existence of puppy mills, we gave video links showing what some people found when they took undercover trips to mills. As gruesome as it sounds, it is true, and very, very sad.
It made me happy to see younger generations like myself come to the table. “What are puppymills? Where can I get a dog, then?” were among the myriad inquires we got. With a smile, we gave honest answers, and I'm sure the youth were satisfied to learn what happens behind closed doors, because they now know not to contribute to it in the future.
After a couple dirty looks, it was then I realized what a bad stereotype must be looming over animal welfare activists. They must be crazy. They must be out to brainwash our children to be crazy like them. But the truth is: We're not. We are normal people simply trying to spread the word of compassion towards animals.
I'm sure anyone with a heart would agree puppymills are a bad thing. No one profits but the “greeder” and pet store. All the buyer gets is an overpriced, poorly-bred dog, and a dead dog in the shelter. It's truly unfortunate.
I noticed that some parents would lead their children away from our booth, despite their kids' asking to see what we were all about. It's not propaganda. We don't bite! We're friendly! Honest! I wanted to tell them in response to their hesitant expressions. But I know they'll come around. Everyone eventually does. Or, I hope, at least most of them do.
After my two hour shift, a wave of satisfaction passed over me. I talked to people today. I can make a difference. We can all do our part to help animals, especially the pet store victims; it just takes one step, one voice, one message: STOP PUPPYMILLS!
Monday, January 11, 2010
It’s now been over 2 months since the dogs were purchased. The couple struggled for a long time over whether they could handle two puppies. They came seriously close to giving one up to a friend before finally committing to keep both. They’re still working on housetraining, and they’ve enrolled both dogs in obedience training and socialization classes.