Friday, March 30, 2012

FUN Friday

Ever wonder what a day in the life of your dog is like? Take a look at things from a dog's POV!
Johnny Neon 'Hearts' from Dave Meinert on Vimeo.

This dog can put cheerleaders to shame with his backflips!

Who knew bobbing for ice cubes could be so adorable!?!  It's so funny watching them blow bubbles too.

Have a GREAT weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Life of a Dog

My dog, more specifically.

It hit me today as I was running all my errands...

1)  Holistic Vet to pick up two different kinds of probiotics.

2)  Pet store for beef treats (Grain Free, but must have ONLY beef as source of protein).

3)  2nd pet store for more treats (because they're so hard to find).

4)  Grocery store to buy grain fed, organic Angus Beef because they only had four acceptable treats to choose from, three of which she has had and may be getting sick of (with my husband whining that he doesn't even get fed that "good" stuff).

Home to find a package on the porch.

From my mom - YAY.

Upon closer inspection, the package was not for us.

It was for Lily.

Toys from her Grandma. (so even MY mom runs errands for her)

This is THE life.

Mom runs all over creation while Lily stays home and does this...

Don't feel bad for her.

Feel bad for me.

I went to make lunch and was out of my applesauce.

I don't suppose I'll be getting her to go to the grocery store for some more.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Easter Bunnies

With Easter fast approaching, we want to remind people to think before they add a bunny to the household. Rabbits make wonderful pets for the right family. As pet owners, it is our responsiblity to do our research and be sure that they any pet is the right fit for our household before we get the pet. This includes purchases for children around the holidays.

Bunnies are intelligent, loving animals. They are very social so they need a lot of love and attention from their owner. They don't make good Easter gifts, especially for small children who crave something that they can hold and cuddle. Rabbits can feel insecure when held or restrained. They prefer to be on the ground. Children quickly lose interest and the bunny ends up neglected in an outdoor hutch or dropped off at the shelter. (For reasons on why your bunny should live inside the house with you, click here for our article.)

Bunnies are not a low-maintenance pet. They grow quickly from that cute little bundle into a larger adolescent. If you don't spay or neuter them, they can urine mark just like a dog or cat. You have to bunny-proof your home so that they don't chew your cords, your books, and your furniture. Your bunny requires daily exercise and they can live for 10 years. They require as much work as a dog or cat.

If you are seriously considering adding a bunny to your family, we encourage you to read up on them. House Rabbit Society has a great starting point for you in your research here. We have more links on our website, here.  When you have decided that a bunny is the right match for your family, we encourage you to find a shelter or rescue in your area.

What about you - have you ever had a bunny?  Ever thought about adding one to your family?

Friday, March 23, 2012

FUN Friday

Let's head into the weekend with some FUN videos! This otter stops by to visit his dog friend every afternoon.

Surprise Kitty just never gets old!

We posted Jesse's first video on here a few months ago. He's back with another one!

Jesse was rescued from an animal shelter and his owner put in time and energy training him! He's a perfect of example of getting back what you put into your pet.

How well trained is your dog?  What cool tricks can he/she do?  Are you working on any new ones?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Favorite Recipes

Meredith and I would like to share a few of our favorite recipes with you today.  We both work on eating humanely. 

There are a few things we look for in our recipes:

1)  Easy - We like meals and snacks that we can knock quickly with minimal effort.

2)  Clean - We are into eating clean.

3)  Taste - It has to taste good.  My husband is an omnivore.  If I'm not going to put animal in it, it has to taste incredible or he won't eat it.  Well, he will eat it but there will be grumbling.

My favorite snack at the moment is a recipe that Meredith sent me.  My husband doesn't want store bought cookies anymore.  I have them in the oven right now. 

Banana & Peanut Butter Flaxseed Cookies 
I use vegan chocolate chips that I get at Sprouts and I can't tell the difference - they're mini chips by Enjoy Life.

On to actual meals -
Quinoa Salad with Black Beans & Mango
This is one of my favorite lunches.  It's very versatile.  If I need to get my greens in, I'll put it on salad.  If I'm in a bready mood, I'll stuff it into a pita.  It's also good rolled up in a wrap.

Crockpot Split Pea Soup
If you use Vegetable Broth, do NOT use the bullion cubes - it will come out too salty.  This feeds us for three nights.  I have a picky husband who won't eat anything more than two nights in a row so I freeze some right away for next week.

Mediterranean Salad
This is one of our faves during the summer.  I get all the ingredients at Trader Joe's, including their french bread.  We split half a loaf and eat it with the salad.  I don't layer it like the recipe suggests.  But that's best thing about this recipe - it's versatile.  It's also a nice, light dinner.

And speaking of summer...
Avocado Pesto Pasta
This will impress all of your friends.  It's easy, tasty and great for summer!

What about you - do you have any favorite recipes you want to share?  Do any of these look good to you?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Identity Problem

This is Lily's picture at the shelter.  I can't believe she was EVER that small.  Her breed was listed as American Staffordshire Terrier, her coloring as Blue Fawn.  We knew what we were getting and were looking specifically for any of the pittie breeds - AmStaff, APBT, or Staffie Bull.  When she came through the door, I called my husband and said, "We've got a dog."
There was never much doubt what her breed that they had gotten her breed right.  As she grew, she seemed to stay mostly true in looks.

My dad, however, pointed out all of her flaws and dubbed her "the abomination" (affectionately, of course).  She was 50 pounds at around 5 months.  She's got Lab or Weim or Mastiff, depending on th day.  But she's a good girl so we don't really care.  My guess is Mastiff based on her aloofness.  No one really calls her aloof but me because I know the breed and she isn't velcro like other pits I've had in the past.  She's never met a stranger, though, and if she meets you once, she spazzes out every time she sees you from then on (we're talking full on zoomies, she's so overjoyed at the sight of you).

So, there is AmStaff in there somewhere.  She's over 80 pounds so we know there are other breeds in there as well. 

This is Lily and her friend, Atlas (on the right).  Atlas was found in a park.  Our best guess on Atlas would be Staffie Bull.  She's short to the ground and 35 pounds of snuggle.  But looking at her face, there's something else in there. 
If Atlas came into the shelter, she would be labeled a Staffie Bull. 

If Lily came in, she'd be labeled an AmStaff.

They should be labeled as such because they are.  We don't want to hide behind "Lab Mix" labels if the breed is clear.

Once they have the label, their chances of ever making it out would be slim.  Even the people who love the breed and want to own one are usually limited.  If they don't have the income for private rentals or owning their own home, they are usually denied their favorite breed in housing.  Which is sad. 

Because of the prejudice, we cannot afford to label dogs with AmStaff or Staffie Bull or APBT or the general label "pit bull mix" if they are NOT.  I'm sure we're all in agreement on the above dogs. Clearly it's in there.

But what about this one?

The dog on the left is Lily's bestfriend and boyfriend, Bubba. 
Bubba came into the shelter and was labeled a "pit bull."  This is not an isolated case, I see it more often than I want to.  He doesn't even remotely resemble a "pit bull."  His owners had to fork over $30,000 in legal fees to clear him of that label and be able to keep him thanks to their Homeowners Association deciding to add an amendment to their by-laws six months after they moved in.

Bubba was lucky.  Other owners would have simply returned him to the shelter.  Where he would have been slapped with that label and likely would have died there.

It's a huge pet peeve of mine.  If you don't clearly see it, don't label it.  I laugh when certain people try to claim that we, as "experts", should be able to identify these dogs.

We can't.  Without a clear pedigree, it's difficult.

Dogs like Bubba, who DNA tested Border Collie and Greyhound (which fit perfectly with his size, speed and personality), are given a death sentence when they aren't even the breed that they are labeled as.  I write this post because I'm watching a clear Lab Mix without any pit in her dwindle down to her last few hours at the shelter.  She's not labeled a Lab.  She's labeled a "Pit Mix".  And she will die because of it.  She will die because she is being called something that she is NOT. 

I write this post because Meredith and I were just attending a meeting where we viewed a news video of a "Pit Mix" therapy dog - and promptly looked at each other to say "WHERE'S the pit???"  There wasn't any.  Shepherd, definitely.  Lab, maybe.  Pit, no way.

It's frustrating.

I have gotten many emails of owners wanting to share their wonderful "pit bull" with me.  Great with the kids, the neighborhood loves him/her, snuggles with the cats, a stellar example of the breed - and 8 out of 10 times, it's clearly got some form of "pit" in it.  But those other 2 times, it's clearly a Boxer, a Lab, an American Bulldog (no, they are NOT related even if you are desperately grasping at straws because you're phony "statistics" just aren't adding up to prove your "theory")...I have even opened pictures to find English Bulldogs staring out at me.  Quite entertaining, but not what their owners thought they were.

If we can't be sure, we shouldn't use the label.  Not right now.  Not when shelters are still killing.  Not when landlords are still under the false assumption that their insurance won't cover our dogs. 

Not when the dogs aren't. 

Only when they are.  When we are sure - when the personality fits, when the looks fit - then we label.  With Lily, it was clear.  With Atlas, it would be clear.

With Bubba?

NOT clear.

He could have paid the ultimate price.  Many dogs are.  Let's not add to the numbers unneccessarily.

What about you - are you sure about your dog's breed(s)?  Have you DNA tested?

Monday, March 12, 2012

English Bulldogs

Today, we bring you an interview with Debbie Millay, English Bulldog owner extraordinare!  Debbie works for both Animal Advocates Alliance and The Heigl Foundation.  With the popularity of English Bulldogs increasing, we thought it would be good to bring our Fans and Readers a blog post with some information about the breed from someone who has owned and loved the breed. 

What do you love the most about English Bulldogs? What draws you to the breed?

Bulldogs are adorable and they each have wonderful and unique personalities and little bit of an attitude which makes them very endearing… and a little frustrating!

How many bulldogs do you own?
I currently have 4 bulldogs.

What are some of the drawbacks to the breed?

Bulldogs are a medical disaster. The shape of their body, the lack of a snout and the folds of extra skin that make bulldogs so cute also makes them terribly unhealthy and prone to all types of medical issues and lifestyle limitations. They require a tremendous amount of medical maintenance.

Have you encountered these issues with your dogs? And what have you done to help them?
I’ve encountered many medical issues with my bulldogs over the years. Rarely does a week or two go by without having to visit a vet! Breathing/airway related problems, skin/allergy related problems, eye and ear issues, orthopedic issues- you name it!  

To help a bulldog stay healthy and avoid breed related health issues it is important to:

1.) acknowledge their sensitivity to heat/exercise. Make sure they don’t overheat by keeping them in a cool environment at all times (AC in the summer, limited sunbathing, etc.) and limited activity/exercise, especially in warmer weather.
2.) Feed them a high quality, limited ingredient, low allergen food and supplements like fish oil and probiotics to help keep their skin healthy and allergies under control and to keep their digestive system happy. 
3.) Clean the ears and face folds (wrinkles) and tail folds often to avoid yeast infections. Instill lubricating eyedrops to keep the eyes moist. Bathe frequently with a proper shampoo. If your bulldog has skin/allergy issues seek out a veterinary allergist/dermatologist, if your bulldog has eye issues seek out a veterinary ophthalmologist. Find a general practice veterinarian that is familiar with and experience with this breed.

Do you have any suggestions for someone thinking about getting an English Bulldog?
Anyone that is thinking about getting a bulldog should seriously think hard and do some research on the breed before making that decision. 

The first question is, can you afford a bulldog? Some lucky bulldog owners won’t experience too many expensive issues with their bulldog. But realistically you will likely experience health problems and have numerous unexpected vet bills. For example, because of their body structure bulldogs are prone to tearing the ACL (cruciate ligament) in their knees. I’ve had 8 bulldogs over the years and I’ve already had to do ACL repair on 6 knees. ACL surgery can cost up to $5,000 each. Bulldogs are prone to impacted tails (the tail basically grows back into the body in a corkscrew rather than growing out and away from the body.) In some cases the tail needs to be surgically removed because the area is inaccessible for cleaning and the dog experiences chronic, painful infections. I’ve had to do two tail amputations to the tune of $2,500 each. 

The second question is, is a bulldog really the kind of dog that you want? If you want a dog that can exercise with you then a bulldog is not the right dog for you. At best you will do a short slow walk around the block and play fetch in the yard. Bulldogs should not go jogging or hiking and if it’s hot out they shouldn’t even go out for walks. They spend the majority of their time being lazy and loving it! 

And the third question is, do you have the stomach for a bulldog? Bulldogs are pretty disgusting! They snore loudly, they fling slobber all over the house and they can clear a room with their gas! Having a bulldog means more housecleaning and laundry and if you are a light sleeper then you’re in for some rough nights! If you are a super clean person then a bulldog probably isn’t appropriate for you!

Where would you suggest they get one?
Anyone that wants a bulldog and has thoroughly researched the breed and can afford to have a bulldog should definitely get a bulldog from rescue. As with any breed, it is not necessary to buy a bulldog and support pet stores, puppy mills and breeders. There are breed specific rescue organizations for every breed. Although you won’t find 8 week old bulldog puppies in rescue often, by adopting a bulldog you know you are supporting a worthy cause, you are not supporting animals for profit and you are literally saving a life.

Do you have any comments for someone thinking about breeding their English Bulldog? 
Please don’t! This country has a terrible pet overpopulation problem. Until we are no longer killing millions of companion animals each year due to a lack of space/lack of homes, nobody should be breeding pets. Bulldogs have a terrible time with breeding, it is almost unnatural. Females generally can’t give birth on their own, it has to be done by c-section. If you insist on getting a bulldog from a breeder, find a responsible and reputable breeder that will let you meet the parents and see where the dogs are kept.

Southern California has two incredible bulldog rescue organizations, chock full of fantastic bulldogs just wanting to be adopted:

Southern California Bulldog Rescue:

San Diego Bulldog Rescue:

You can look at the Bulldog Club Rescue Network for rescued bulldogs available nationally:

Thanks so much for your time, Debbie!  We really appreciate it.

What about you, readers - do you have a favorite breed?  Is English Bulldog up there on your list?  If you have any questions for Debbie, feel free to post them here in the comments and we will get you answers!

Friday, March 9, 2012

FUN Friday

This dog really loves his toy mouse!
Does your dog have a favorite toy?

How much does your dog look forward to his/her walks?  As much as this dog?

I love watching kittens play. Oskar was born without formed eyes. Cats are so amazing - watch him play even though he can't see the ball!

This is my second favorite kittens at play video.

I hope these brought a smile to your face!  Have a GREAT weekend!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Can My Dog Say Hello?

Oh how I dread that question these days. When Lily was a puppy, I let her greet everything and everyone. I have an AmStaff, I thought, I need to make sure she's properly socialized! And she was! She had fun, playful romps on leash, got corrections (and rightly so) from older dogs for being too rambunctious, and was the neighborhood Greeter Dog. But as she started to grow, the little dogs weren't so fond of her anymore. Who could blame them? She was a massive, drooling beast compared to them. It took a few bites (TO her), one of them particularly nasty where I didn't think I was ever going to get the Yorkie OFF her cheek, when I finally decided that my dog does NOT need to say hello. I got really tired of hearing "My dog is friendly!" knowing by the body language that it wasn't.  This was shouted out to me as a small puppy ran toward us teeth bared three weeks ago and got her on the face. "If your dog bites, they are NOT friendly," I told the owner.  I've seen her shouting the same thing at other dog owners all with the same results.  So she still doesn't get it, which is unfortunate for both her and her dog.  The dog will be the one to pay the price when it bites a dog that isn't going to put up with it.

What I wasn't prepared for when telling people that my dog can't say hello - the nasty owners. God forbid you say 'no' to someone who wants their dogs to greet yours. The looks that I get! One woman on our walk yesterday actually huffed at me. I was worried people would think it was a breed issue so I started telling people she isn't allowed to greet on leash.

Here's how it goes:
Overenthusiasticmydogmustsayhellotoeveryoneperson: "Can he/she say hi?"
Me: "No. I don't let her greet on leash."
Nowpuzzledperson: "Isn't she friendly?"
Me: "She's friendly. I just don't let her greet on leash."
Cue nasty/confused look.

I have men run right up to me with their little white fluffy dogs at least once every other walk. It's like they need to prove their own dog is 'man' enough to not be scared of my 'pit bull'. Don't laugh. I'm convinced that's what it is. If I cross the street, they do too. It's crazy making stuff. I try so hard not to get annoyed, but what do you do when you just want to be left alone? I want a nice, quiet walk with my well behaved and friendly dog. She can greet people. She just cannot greet other dogs.  My rules.

Another aspect of it is the training issue. Walks are still training time. I want to be Lily's focus. If she's allowed to greet, it's like she's got ADHD and is hyperalert to every dog. She can't focus on me because she's too excited about the dog coming down the street that she's going to get to greet and maybe romp around with.  Since I stopped letting her greet, I am the sole focus. This is great for training. I like to throw in extra things, like running on walls, then jumping off to my command and performing a few tricks before moving on to the next wall. (I don't have an agility dog so we pretend - it makes Mama happy and it tuckers Lily out) It's nice to know that she's focused 100% on me and ignoring that barking dog at the end of the flexie leash!

A trainer once asked me, "Do you like every person you meet?" In light of my Living Humanely post on Monday, I feel terrible admitting that no, I do not like every person I meet. There are people in my own family that I'm not fond of. She followed my response with, "Then why should your dog like EVERY dog she meets?" Hmmmm, good point. "Do you say hello to every single person you see on your walk?" No, I gave that up a long time ago. Not many people say hello back. "Then why should your dog be expected to say hello to every single dog she sees?" Another good point. If only every other dog owner out there were to ponder those two questions! 

There is a wonderful new group now - Dogs In Need of Space (DINOs). You can find them on Facebook. Here is their take on the My Dog Is Friendly!

Is your dog friendly? Do you let him or her greet on walks? Or does your dog need space?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Living Humanely

What does it mean to live humanely? It differs from person to person. As a Humane Educator, I try to make a conscious effort to live as humanely as I can each day. I'm not going to lie - it's not always easy.

Let's start by defining "humane". According to Miriam-Webster, humane means:
1. Having or showing compassion or benevolence.
2. Inflicting the minimum of pain.

For me, living humanely starts with being kind to my husband in the morning. Don't laugh. I am NOT a morning person. I resent the alarm. Which can mean getting out of bed resenting everyone and everything. But I fight it. Before coffee (I know, shocking!). So, it may not sound like a big thing to you, but my husband is thankful for that commitment to starting the day humanely. (Side note: I am not always successful.)

It continues with my choice of breakfast (and all my daily meals and snacks). No meat, eggs or dairy. Living humanely to me means that I live #2 through my diet. For me, not eating meat is easy. For my husband, it is a constant struggle. Erik tries to make humane choices when he does eat meat or eggs, paying close attention to labels and picking the best possible source.

Driving in L.A. really tests the humane-ist person. I find that having an epic playlist helps. There are three that I'm currently rotating. Nothing puts a smile on my face like "Party Rock Anthem" or an old 80s favorite. When I am kind and tolerant, I find it makes my own drive more pleasant. Letting people over when they put their turn signal on (what a concept!) brings a thank you wave and puts a smile on my face. If you signal, I'm going to let you over. I don't need to race up and keep you out. What good does that do? We're driving. We'll both get there eventually. If you cut me off, I'm going to...well, some days I'm going to curse you and your kin under my breath and might even honk, but I try to make those times fewer. (Side note: I am not always successful)

I am very lucky to get to practice humane in my job. I love teaching Humane Education! Check out our presentation list here. Each day brings something different and the presentations always rotate. While I do hear many sad stories, I also hear uplifting ones. I get phonecalls from parents wanting numbers for low cost spay/neuter. I return to a school to find a 5th grader got their pet fixed thanks to the information I sent home with her as a 4th grader. You never know what is going to come out of a child's mouth! Last week during Dog Safety, I had a little girl tell me "Ms. Jennifer, you can't pet a goldfish. My fish doesn't like to be pet. You have to feed them everyday and I do. I feed my fish every afternoon as soon as I get home from school but I never, ever, ever pet him." She was so earnest. It was adorable.

Living humanely isn't always easy. We don't live in the most humane world. But if we each try to live as humanely as possible, as humanely as we are comfortable with, what a wonderful place this would be! Small humane gestures can speak volumes in lives and to this earth.

What about you - how do you try to live humanely?

Friday, March 2, 2012

FUN Friday

TGIF!  Let's have some FUN!

We love the use of shelter dogs in more commercials!  Have you seen this one yet from Chevy?

Love, love, love this video. What does a cat person look like? Are YOU a cat person? Why?

This is so adorable - kitty is meeting bunny for the first time. Kitty wants to play. Bunny wants to follow kitty around and sniff.

Hope you all have a great weekend!