Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Recommended Documentaries

Vanishing of the Bees – (2011, runs 90 min.,

As honeybees continue to disappear at an alarming rate, filmmakers probe the political, economic, and ecological overtones of "Colony Collapse Disorder." The film illustrates the critical connection between the human race and the honeybee, and attempts not only to solve this disturbing mystery, but to provide us with suggestions for reversing it.

Forks Over Knives – (2011, runs 91 min.,

Pioneering researchers Dr T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn examine the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting all animal-based and processed foods.  What the movie lacks in excitement, it more than makes up for in eye-opening information.  It will definitely help motivate those who are interested in improving their diet.

Pedigree Dogs Exposed – (2008, runs 58 min., )

Pedigree Dogs Exposed: Three Years On – (2012, runs 60 min.)

A BBC investigative documentary which looks into the health and welfare issues facing pedigree dogs in the United Kingdom.  The Kennel Club is criticized for allowing standards and practices which favor appearances over health, and often result in sometimes painful genetic diseases.  The follow-up film to the original discusses the positive changes that have been made in the three years since the original aired. (The original can be viewed online.)

The Cove – (2009, runs 92 min., rated PG-13,

Academy Award winner in 2009 for Best Documentary.  Daring animal activists arrive with surveillance equipment at a scenic cove in Taijii, Japan, to capture footage of a secretive and heavily guarded operation run by the world's largest supplier of dolphins. As the group sets out to expose the horrifying truths behind the capture of dolphins for the lucrative tourist industry, they also uncover an environmental catastrophe.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Anatomy of a Playdate

We love playdates for Lily. While she enjoys her walks, there is just something about romping around the yard with friends - we get to see her joy during the play and we get to listen to her snore afterward.

This is my friend Lisa's beloved dog Josie.

As soon as she gets in the car, it's showing...her lids start to droop slightly.

And then her eyes close...

The head gets heavy...
And heavier...
So heavy, it takes the rest of the body with it...

Does your dog like playdates?

Friday, February 24, 2012

FUN Friday

It's FRIDAY! Time for some fun videos!

These are Sarah's dogs Bijou and Summer show off some of their tricks!

I just think it's adorable how vocal Bijou is.

How cute is this? The massage therapist is in!

Frog trying to eat off the screen - I kind of feel bad for him!

There are many drawbacks to having a big head!

Do you have any favorite videos?

Happy Friday - Have a GREAT weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Importance of Being Lily

It's really rough being Lily.  She has a lot of sleeping to do.

And itching after throwing herself down in the grass (usually followed by an army crawl across it).

And playing with her favorite dog friend.

It's important to Erik and I that we give Lily a good life.  We got her as a companion and have never had a single regret.  She brings us so much joy with her goofy antics.  She's loving and fun and gentle and sweet.

But she suffers.  We've had her on steroids for four years now.  That's far too long and the side effects can actually shorten her life.  After years of struggling with her itching, we decided at the end of last year that we had had enough of conventional veterinary medicine. 

We were lucky enough to get in with a very popular holistic vet.  Today was our first visit and we loved her.  Most importantly, she loved Lily.  After spending an entire hour with us, she has come up with a plan of attack for Lily's itchies that don't involve medicine or needles.  We have natural supplements to add to her raw food.  We're very excited to begin the next part of our journey with her.  A journey toward whole health that will give us another ten years with her.

Have you tried holostic medicine for your pet? If you have, did you view it as successful? What are your hesitations if you haven't? 

Monday, February 20, 2012

AngelDogs Foundation

I had the opportunity to interview Lisa Tipton from AngelDogs Foundation, one of our new FAVORITE organizations.  Their spay/neuter event (held in conjunction with Dogs on Death Row and K9 Compassion) fixed 50 pets on Saturday!  They are a great resource for the low income families in the areas that they serve.  So let's get to know more about Lisa and her wonderful non-profit...

How did AngelDogs come to be? 
We adopted our first dog, Curly, from the shelter in 1992. She is the dog on our logo. That was my first time in a municipal shelter, and it was an upsetting experience to only be able to take one dog, knowing that there were so many in need. We started to rescue in 2001, after becoming aware of how bad the pet overpopulation problem was. In 2004 I began to volunteer for Spay Days hosted by another rescue. That lit the spay and neuter fire, as it was clear to see that attacking the root of the problem was far more efficient and badly needed. I made a verbal wish to someday operate a mobile clinic in the areas where we live. When one became available in 2008, someone remembered my words, and suggested us as new operators. I left my career in the medical field to launch our spay and neuter program.

What services does the organization provide?
We provide high quality/high volume (HQHV) spay and neuter services, rescue all breeds of deaf dogs from all over the country, and also provide positive reinforcement dog training. Mark Tipton is a CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer).

What areas does Angel Dogs cover?
We cover a very wide geographic area! Our mobile clinic travels in excess of 1,000 miles per month, visiting some of the financially devastated communities in Southern and Central CA. Our regular locations include Lancaster, Palmdale, Littlerock, Tehachapi and Santa Clarita. We travel/have travelled to Compton, Lake Isabella, Lamont, Bakersfield, Oildale, Echo Park, Atwater Village, Pasadena, South Los Angeles, Ventura, Oxnard, Pinon Hills, Pearblossom, Llano, Lake Los Angeles, Mojave for special events.
The great part about being on wheels is that we can roll right into neighborhoods where the need is, making it very convenient for people and their pets to access service. Many low income pet owners lack transportation.

Why do you believe that spay/neuter is so important?
We love dog rescue, and DO rescue, but it’s the equivalent of sticking your finger in a hole to fix a leaky dam. We are not going to rescue our way out of this mess. The only thing that is going to have an effect on less pets without homes being impounded and killed at our shelters is going to be to stop the flow by making them unable to produce offspring.

How many dogs have you spayed/neutered so far?
We have now been on the road with our non-profit spay and neuter program for 35 months, and have fixed, vaccinated and micro-chipped over 15,000 dogs and cats in four counties. We have a high focus on quality and customer service.

What are your long term goals for the organization?
We hope to be able to provide more spay and neuter services in 2012, as we get busier and add more days on the road. One of the keys to our staying on the road is being able to stay self-supporting. This gets very difficult to do as costs rise, such as fuel and supplies, etc. We hope to bring in more donations and funding to be able to help more pet owners that can’t afford to fix their pets. We also hope to rescue many deserving deaf dogs this year, teach them how to be good family members, and to find them wonderful new homes.

To find out more about this wonderful organization, visit their website here.

Their schedule for 2012 is here.

To help them continue their mission, they have $3 Thursdays!  For $3, you can help provide spay/neuter to the community.  And you have a choice - you can do it once a month, you can do it one time, whatever works for you.  For less than a Starbucks grande Skinny Vanilla Latte, you can help cut down on the population of unwanted pets.  Click here.

Follow them on Facebook, here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wild Parrots

When we first moved to this neighborhood over four years ago, I was out walking the dog one afternoon and a flock of parrots flew overhead.  They landed in a large tree about half a block in front of us.  They were noisy, but it was fascinating to watch them.  The flock contained roughly twenty birds.  I told my husband about them later that evening, but he didn't believe me.  His faith in my ability to identify birds is...not what it should be.

Now, years later, the parrots of Burbank are making the news (click "news" to see the article).  This morning, we were entertained during our entire forty-five minute walk.  It was like we had an escort as the birds flew over us, squaking at each other in the tree for minutes before moving on to the next location.  I love when I see them.

How did they get there?  We frequently hear in the classroom, "I had a bird, but my dad let it go."  People don't realize how much work a bird like a parrot takes.  They're very social creatures who won't be content to live out their looooong lives (50+ years) in a small cage.  They want to bond with you.  They crave that interaction.  When they don't get it, they can become very loud with their protesting.  Many people think they can just let it go because it's a bird (side note:  we don't just hear about parents letting birds go - they let bunnies, cats, reptiles go when they get tired of taking care of them).  Luckily for these parrots, they've been able to find each other.  But what will become of the Burbank parrots when enough people complain about the noise?  Will they be captured and relocated?  Captured and killed?  Captured and sold?  I only hope that those of us most vocal about these magnificent birds are tolerant of them and their right to live here now that they've been set free.

Here is a video of our birds (so you can get an idea of size and noise level):

Do you have flocks of parrots in your area?  Would you be able to tolerate the noise level?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mandatory Spay/Neuter

When you bring up the topic, the debate can be heated.

Opinions usually fall under two categories:
A)  It works.
B)  It doesn't work and people are turning their animals in in record numbers because of it.

I pick answer C - neither is true in our experience. 

We passed mandatory spay/neuter here in Los Angeles in 2008.  What are my feelings about this?  It's not working.  I am in the schools every day in various neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles.  Neighborhoods that I know were the target of this law.  Guess what?  It's been almost five years and most people don't even know that it's a law.  We send flyers home - English and Spanish - and for most parents, it's the first they are hearing of it.  Those of us who volunteer in rescue and work in rescue knew about the law as it was ushered in with great fanfare.  The neighborhoods that it was designed to curb the constant flow of puppies in?  Not so much as a whisper.

I have heard it said that the Los Angeles shelter numbers are up because of this law, which always makes me chuckle.  Nope.  Shelter numbers are up because people aren't making commitments to their animals.  It's a convenient excuse to get rid of that outdoor dog when your home is in foreclosure and you're moving into an apartment.  We are an extremely pet friendly city.  There are more apartments that take dogs than ones that don't.  WAY more.  Easy to find.  For the first few years, several organizations were offering to pay that security deposit.  But no one wanted the money.  They just wanted to dump the dog.  When you offered them the money, they came up with other excuses - well, he's not housebroken (good news, we can help with free training), yes, but I'm allergic to him so even with free training and the housebreaking taken care, I really can't keep him; we can't afford to feed him (good news, here is a list of food banks and organizations that will give you FREE food and feed your pet for you to keep him in your home), yes, but we're moving and the apartment wants money for a deposit (good news, we can help you by paying the security deposit), yes, but he chews everything and I can't afford to have him chewing them furniture (good news, we have a trainer who is willing to help you), yes, but I'm not home enough and it really isn't fair to him to be alone so much...and so on and so on.  This is why the intake numbers are up.  Some people are just never going to make that lifetime commitment no matter how easy you make it on them, they're always going to find a reason to get rid of their pet.  The economy makes a good excuse for most of them right now. 

No one in these neighborhoods is giving up their pet because of mandatory spay/neuter.  They aren't doing that because they don't know about the law.  It isn't being enforced.  While the idea behind it may have been well meaning, it was completely unrealistic in a city this size.  Our programs got cut so the low cost and free spay/neuter became hard to come by - how can you make this mandatory if people can't pay for it?  We send handouts home with the kids letting parents know that it's now the law and pointing them toward the dwindling resources we have in this area.  But no one is knocking on their doors to make sure it is done and the local shelters still tell me that the main reason for giving up pet is 'MOVING'. 

While not everyone we encounter wants to fix their pets (some like the money that it brings them twice a year when the dog has puppies), the people who do don't know where to turn.  If you're struggling to feed your family, a four hundred spay bill for your fifty pound pit mix isn't going to be anywhere on your list of To Do items.  Low cost or free spay/neuter needs to be available and readily accessible.  People need to be educated - and then allowed to decide which choice is right for them and for their pet.