Monday, March 28, 2016

Human Pain Meds Are Not For Dogs

In today’s world, accessing a vast array of information is extremely easy.  Ask a question on the internet and you will receive at least a hundred answers.  Discerning whether the information provided is correct, personal opinion or simply a tool to promote a particular product is not as simple.  A perfect example would be pet medications, among which are NSAIDs, medications to relieve pain in dogs.

NSAID’s are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that help reduce swelling, stiffness, and joint pain in humans.  Our over-the counter products are known, generically, as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Aspirin, whose familiar manufactured names are Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Ecotrin, Ascriptin, and Bayer.  A number of prescription NSAIDs for humans are sold under the names:  Anaprox, Celebrex, Daypro, Feldene, Indocin, Naprosyn, Vimovo and Voltaren.

NSAIDs can also reduce swelling, ease stiffness, and alleviate joint pain in dogs.  But dogs are not human, and those NSAIDs in your medicine cabinet can actually do more harm than good.  There are a number of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs available just for dogs.  Some are Carprofen (Rimadyl, Novox, Vetprofen Carprieve, Quellin, Carprofen), Deracoxib (Deramaxx), Firocoxib (Previcox), and Meloxicam (Metacam, Loxicom, Orocam, Meloxidyl, Meloxicam).

When a guardian observes their dog showing signs of pain, I am sure some have considered giving their pet one of their own over-the-counter pain relievers.  Even though an NSAID may be safe and effective for humans, it may not be safe for dogs because it may last longer in the body, have a higher absorption rate in the stomach and small intestine, and can attain high blood levels.  These differences can cause toxicity resulting in severe liver and kidney damage and gastrointestinal problems for your companion.  Even veterinary drug products approved for one species, such as dogs, may be toxic to another species, such as cats.  Therefore, it is always advisable to consult with your veterinarian before giving any medication to your pet.

Aspirin may be one over-the-counter NSAID that your veterinarian might suggest giving to your dog for a limited period, but usually only if he has an injury or another short-term condition.  It is not recommended for long-term usage because of the greater potential of side effects.  Again, discuss usage with your veterinarian and follow any recommendations regarding dosage and frequency of administration.

There is no denying that the cost of medications for both humans and pets can be quite expensive and, for those on limited budgets, purchasing discount drugs with no prescription necessary through the internet may be quite enticing.  While there are sites that are reputable pharmacies, there are many more companies that sell counterfeit products, expired drugs, or make fraudulent claims.  If a pharmacy claims that one of its veterinarians will "evaluate" the pet after reading a form completed by the pets’ guardian, and will then prescribe a drug, it should be a “Red Flag” warning to you.  One of the best ways to purchase pet medication online is to order from an internet pharmacy service recommended by your veterinarian.  These licensed services work directly with the veterinarian, and require prescriptions be written by him.  They actively support your veterinarian- patient relationship.  In addition, do not hesitate to ask your vet if the medication can be purchased inexpensively through a regular “human” pharmacy in its generic form.

It is also important to realize there are many pet healthcare sites that freely give out incorrect and possibly harmful information.  When researching information, I would advise sticking to veterinary colleges and associations. 
Examples are The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) (, and Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine (  If you do find an article on a medication that applies to your pet, be sure to check it out with your veterinarian.  What works for one animal may not actually help, or can potentially harm, another.  Incorrect dosage for size or breed, other drug interactions, your pet’s anatomy and physiology, and any chronic health issues play an important role on the ultimate well-being of your dog when giving medications. 

We are used to treating ourselves with over-the-counter (OTC) medications.  We should then be able to do the same with our pets, you might think.  Unfortunately, pet metabolism and physiology is different from ours, thus making it difficult, at best, to extrapolate from our own experiences.  Any OTC med, even if deemed “safe” for pet use, can have the possibility to do harm.  If you would not give yourself a potentially fatal or damaging drug without consulting a physician then, please, give your beloved friend the same consideration.  

Tips For People Adopting A Dog

Imagine being brought to a foreign country where customs and people are unfamiliar, and you cannot speak the language.  The experience would be not only stressful, but terrifying, too.  When you adopt a dog from the shelter, that scenario is similar to what he will feel when he goes home with you.  Understand that the dog that you just adopted is landing in territory that is alien, filled with strangers and customs he either does not know or does not comprehend.  He will be confused and stressed.  He will require some time to adjust.  The solution for him to smoothly transition into your home is to be prepared, patient, and consistent in your actions.

Before you bring your dog home, determine where he will initially be spending most of his time and make it dog-friendly.  Move all items out of reach that he might find appealing to chew, remove any hazardous items, and have plenty of appropriate dog toys available.  If you plan on crate-training, be sure to it set-up.  A crate can be a place where the dog feels safe and secure during the transition period, and also during those times you are absent.  Never use a crate as a punishment.  If you prefer not to crate but still want to confine, try baby gates in the kitchen or another area that can be easily accessed and cleaned.  It is important to remember that each time you leave your dog he should know that he has done nothing wrong when being confined in a crate or restricted to a particular area.

When you bring your new pet home, leash-walk him, even in fenced yards, until he relieves himself.  Start getting him used to the area by sniffing and becoming acquainted with all the smells.  Allow plenty of opportunity for elimination.  If you have a special area you want him to regularly use, go to it and praise or reward when he does.  If your new pet is a male, he will most likely want to mark territory, especially if he detects other dogs.  Understand that he may accidentally mark inappropriate items when coming into your home, so it is best to keep him on leash when entering the first time.  If he starts to lift his leg, immediately walk him to his spot outside.  Be sure to always praise or reward appropriate outside bathroom behavior.  Keep in mind that if he does have a few accidents, it might be because he is nervous and stressed.

Some dogs experience stomach upset and may throw up or experience diarrhea due to dietary changes.  When you adopt your dog, ask what brand of food was given and what time he usually ate.  In the beginning, try to duplicate both.  If you wish to switch to a different brand, do so for about a week by adding one part of the new food to three parts of the previous kibble for a few days; then switch to equal parts of each, and finally decreasing to one part old to three parts new.  This should assist in avoiding any gastric issues.  However, if symptoms persist after a couple of days, or actually worsen within the 48 hours, or if his energy or appetite diminish, it is definitely time to see the veterinarian.

Take time to create a vocabulary of commands that everyone in your home will unfailingly use when giving direction.  This will help alleviate any confusion on the animal’s part and help him learn more quickly.

For the first few days, try minimize excitement.  Give him time to acclimate to you and your family before introducing him to any strangers.  Teach children how to properly behave around him, and never allow harassment or mistreatment.  Also, be sure never to leave young or inexperienced children around the dog without supervision.

After passing his health exam by the veterinarian, enroll the both of you in training classes.  Even if you are not a new dog owner, training can be quite valuable.  Be sure to involve all family members in the training process to maintain uniformity.  Establishing a regular routine will provide the dog security and is invaluable in speeding up the adjustment process.  This includes feeding times, exercise and play times, bedtime, and when it is time to go outside to relieve himself.  

Dogs are resilient, and with a bit of preparation, some patience, and consistency in routine and direction you can shape your relationship with your newly adopted shelter dog into something that truly gets better each day.

Living With an Adopted Shelter Dog

I recently read an article in HSUS’s Animal Sheltering magazine, by Courtney Thomas.  In it, the author discusses what it is like to live with an adopted shelter dog, who is and has been a challenge since he became a part of her family.  On a personal level, my husband and I also adopted a dog who has challenged us on many occasions and, as she gets older, caring for her has taxed our patience levels at times.  However, like the author, I love her “to the moon and back”. 

A common mantra among those of us who strive to improve the lives of homeless animals is "saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal”.  What we fail to add is that it also changes our world.  In more ways than we could express, it is for the better.  However, as with many of life’s occurrences, there are times we wish things were different.

Are all shelter dogs difficult?  The short answer is a resounding, “No!”  Adopting an animal from a shelter is no different than beginning any new relationship.  There is always risk involved and you never truly know how everything will eventually turn out.  Unfortunately, for the animals that end up at the shelter, it is often because their guardians’ expectations and the reality of the situation do not agree.  The reasons they become wards of the county are as innumerable as the types, sizes, and colors of the animals, themselves.  The shelter is filled with dogs that have relatively minor behavioral issues, most of which could have been prevented through a bit of forethought, some training and patience.  Other explanations often given for surrendering to a shelter are, “We do not have enough time”, “ It’s too expensive”, “We are moving, having a baby, changing jobs, etc.”, all of which are human foibles and not the animals’.

Regardless of the reason, understand, when you adopt, that many of these animals have been through hell.  In addition, they have had their previous world, whether good or bad, turned upside down.  They are scared, confused, and stressed.  They will not immediately comprehend that the new home you are bringing them into is their salvation.  For some, a few days or weeks may be all the adjustment time they need.  For others you may, throughout the rest of their lives, deal with a result from earlier history.  Our past plays a significant role in the way we think and feel.  Why, then, would we even consider that an animal’s past has no bearing on the way it responds to various current situations.

For example, one of the most common complaints of guardians is that their dog becomes unruly or destructive when separated from them.  A behavioral condition called “separation anxiety” is one where the animal is so distressed by being left alone that he will destroy the house, barks incessantly, or urinates or defecates inappropriately.  Both my husband and I know this behavior well.  Even after being in a safe, loving home for almost five years, with a regular schedule, plenty of training, counter-conditioning and every other suggestion offered, as soon as we begin to think about leaving, Noel, goes ballistic (for lack of a better word).  Apparently, something in her past traumatized her to the point that she may never get over the fear of us being gone.  At times, her conduct is mildly frustrating, at other times it takes every bit of self-control not to get angry at her behaviors.  Would I ever give her up because of the baggage she brought with her?  It isn’t even a consideration for she is, as I call her, “my princess”.

Every animal I have adopted, or have come in contact with at the shelter, has been extraordinary in its own unique way.  They give unconditional love when there is no reason for them to do so.  They show us how to live with gentleness and joy in the midst of adversity.  They teach us about how precious all life is.  So, do not be put off about adopting a shelter pet.  Any relationship takes work and, just like any other relationship, adopting a shelter dog requires caring and commitment.  If you are patient, the rewards of sharing your life with one of these wonderful companions far outweighs, in my opinion, any initial challenges faced.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Many items inside and outside our home can have potentially lethal consequences for our pets.  As responsible pet guardians, our duty is to insure that risks to the well-being of our beloved companions are minimized.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, in 2012 43% of all calls had to do with the animal ingesting human medications.  It is extremely important to keep all prescription and over-the-counter medications, even those in childproof bottles, out of harm’s way.  Closed cabinets, not easily accessed by prying paws, are the best for storage.  Drugs containing acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®), NSAIDs (e.g. Advil®, Aleve® and Motrin) and antidepressants such as Prozac and Paxil, are examples that can be lethal, even in small quantities.  Pets can also incur Vitamin toxicity, especially with iron, Vitamin D, and alpha-lipoic acid.  Supervise anyone who may require assistance taking medications, in order to prevent pills from being dropped on the floor and easily accessed by pets.  As a last note, do not think it is cute to get your pet “stoned”.  Narcotics, including marijuana, can create a life-threatening risk to your pet.

Common household cleaning products can be equally dangerous.  The key to safety lies in following the directions for proper use and storage.  If the label warns, “keep pets and children away from area until dry”, follow the guidelines.  Products containing bleach can disinfect surfaces when used correctly, but can cause stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea or severe burns if swallowed, and respiratory tract irritation if inhaled.  In addition, skin contact with concentrated solutions can produce serious chemical burns.  Mothballs, potpourri oils, fabric softener sheets, dishwashing detergent, batteries, cigarettes, and hand and foot warmers are also potentially deadly to pets.

Automotive products such as gasoline, oil, and antifreeze should always be secured away from inquisitive mouths.  Antifreeze in any amount is lethal to dogs and cats.  If any is spilled, immediately clean it up.  While antifreeze products containing propylene glycol are less toxic than those containing ethylene glycol, they can still be quite hazardous to pets.  In addition to antifreeze, other substances typically stored in the garage include insecticides, fertilizers, and weed killers, which can threaten your pet’s health if ingested.  In fact, certain types such as organophosphates (like those found in rose-care products), can be life threatening when ingested in even small amounts.  When applying the agents outside, be sure to keep your pet away for the manufacturer’s recommended time.  If they are exposed to chemicals or granules that adhere to their body, they may lick it them, resulting in stomach upset or even more serious problems.

If a pet ingests rat poison, life-threatening illness can result.  When using any rodenticide, it is important to place the poison in areas completely inaccessible to pets.  Only one type of mouse poison (anticoagulant or blood thinner) has an antidote to counteract the effects of the poison.  The rest, unfortunately, have no antidote and are much more difficult to treat.  Remember, too, that a poisoned rodent carcass is a serious hazard, as well.

Certain foods can be potentially deadly to pets.  I recommend that you commit the following list to memory:  alcoholic drinks, avocados, chocolate, coffee grounds, any fatty foods, tea, macadamia nuts, moldy or spoiled foods, onions, garlic, raisins and grapes, salt, yeast-based  dough, and  any food product containing xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener.

Have fleas?  Always read the label first before using any flea-control product on or around your pet.  When these products are misused, vomiting or diarrhea can result.  Some of the more serious effects such as difficulty breathing, muscle tremors, and seizures can also occur.  Never use a dog flea-control formula on your cat, or vice versa.  There are multitudes of flea products for dogs that contain permethrin, which can be life threatening to cats.

They may be pretty, but many house and yard plants can be poisonous to your pets.  Some of the most common that should be kept away from pets include: certain types of lilies, Lily of the Valley, oleander, yew, foxglove, kalanchoe, sago palms, azaleas, rhododendrons, tulip/narcissus bulbs, castor bean,  cyclamen, amaryllis, chrysanthemums, pothos, English ivy, philodendron, corn plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, hibiscus, hydrangea, rhubarb leaves and certain varieties of mushrooms.

Additional information regarding poisonous substances can be located at the Pet Poison Helpline ( and the ASPCA (

Accidents will happen.  It is best to be prepared.  Keep your local veterinarian’s telephone number easily accessible, plus the following numbers for the ASPCA Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) and the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661).   

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


All these Bully- bunnies want you to know-

“You're no bunny until some bunny loves you
You're no bunny till some bunny cares…
Just as sure as the stars shine above,
You’re no bunny until some bunny comes and loves you,
So find yourself some bunny to love !!!!

They all want you to Hop on down as quickly as you can, to the at the Tehama County Animal Care Center, at 1830 Walnut St., Red Bluff, CA (530-527-3439) this week to find yourself some-bunny to LOVE !

Starting Monday, February 29 through Saturday, March 5, all Bully-Bunnys will be $45.00 or less AND EVERY ADOPTION, will come with a set of Bully-Bunny Ears!

Bunnies can't find homes on their own, so they are asking you to keep on sharing and reposting them!!! If you have any questions... PLEASE contact the Tehama County Animal Care Center.

Everyone needs some bunny to LOVE and we are just the ones to give it to you !!!!

Bro-Bunny RESCUED 2/29/16
Dutch -Bunny
Jerry-Bunny ADOPTED 2/27/16
Rocco-Bunny ADOPTED 2/29/16
Tanner-Bunny ADOPTED 2/27/16
Venus-Bunny ADOPTED 2/29/16







Saturday, February 6, 2016


A comic strip called MUTTS delves into the special bond between animals and guardians, while advocating for various animal issues.  Last year, the MUTTS team created a Manifesto, to encourage compassion with animals, humans, and the planet.  The first point on it is “To Be Kind”.

I wondered, isn’t being kind what all humans should be?  Unfortunately, acts of kindness are not the typical headlines dominating the news. A kind person often appears as the exception, rather than the rule.  In today’s society, it is a sad commentary.  So, how do we change the status quo?  We start by setting an example and treating not only our own pets, but all animals with the respect and compassion they deserve.

Humans do have a moral obligation to animals because, if for no other reason, we and they are not as disparate as we believe.  According to the July 3, 2014  New York Times article ‘Zoo Animals and Their Discontents’, by Alex Halberstadt,  “A profusion of recent studies has shown animals to be far closer to us than we previously believed — it turns out that common shore crabs feel and remember pain, zebra finches experience REM sleep, fruit-fly brothers cooperate, dolphins and elephants recognize themselves in mirrors, chimpanzees assist one another without expecting favors in return and dogs really do feel elation in their owners’ presence.”  If we pay attention to the scientific data that indicates animals have emotion and are self-aware, then it is a valid argument that we should also reconsider our treatment of them. 

Science is not our only source to aid us in reaching the conclusion that animals should be treated with respect.  All of the world’s major religions recognize the value of animal life and the need to avoid animal suffering.  Judaism embraces the Hebrew concept of tsa'ar ba'alei hayim – a principle which bans inflicting unnecessary pain on animals.  Evidence of caring attitudes towards animals can be found in the Bible, an example being: ‘A righteous man regardeth the life of the beast’ (Proverbs 12.10).  With Hinduism and Buddhism, nature is held sacred and humans are not any more significant than any other living thing.  The prophet Mohammed said, "It behooves you to treat the animals gently".  Native American traditions and beliefs vary extensively, but the common premise is all of Nature is sacred.

According to the National PTA Congress, “Children trained to extend justice, kindness, and mercy to animals become more just, kind, and considerate in their relations to each other. “ What that tells us is, when children learn to treat animals kindly, even the least adored, they are also learning how to treat fellow members of society.  Learning about compassion in the formative years aids in helping reduce instances of violence to all living beings. 

It is believed that Mahatma Ghandi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”  If this is true, then the ethical standards of the community are weakened by the acceptance of inhumane treatment of animals.  If we can discount and ignore the well-being of animals, then it becomes much easier for us to ignore the welfare of other humans.  Our capacity to understand another person's condition from their perspective becomes diminished.  We find that we are no longer empathetic and our ability to look beyond our own self-absorbed interests to help others is decreased.  Teaching kindness and respect for animals is a good first step in teaching empathy.

On another note, research documents the importance of the human-animal bond in child development, elderly care, mental and physical illness, dementia, abuse, and trauma recovery, and the rehabilitation of the incarcerated.  By cultivating our compassion for all living creatures, we can consequently improve our own physical and mental health. 

In the 1975 book, ‘Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals’, author Peter Singer states “
The animals themselves are incapable of demanding their own liberation, or of protesting against their condition …Human beings have the power to continue to oppress other species forever … Will our tyranny continue… Or will we rise to the challenge and prove our capacity for genuine altruism by ending our ruthless exploitation of the species in our power ?… The way in which we answer this question depends on the way in which each one of us, individually, answers.” 

We can answer with compassion, respect, and kindness to animals.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Teaching Children How To Be Safe Around Dogs

Check that it's sweet, before you meet!  This is sound advice for either a child or adult.  Always ask permission from the dog’s guardian before approaching any dog.   The guardian can let you know whether the animal is friendly and enjoys being petted, or prefers not to be touched.  When approaching the animal use caution, because you never know if, that day, the dog is not in the mood for a meet and greet.

To understand, they sniff your hand!  Dogs truly rule when it comes to their sense of smell.  According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), a dog's sense of smell is approximately 1,000 times more sensitive than that of humans, and they use it to get to know those around them.  When initially meeting a dog, let him sniff the back of your hand.  This will keep your fingers out of the way and will not appear threatening to the dog. 

Chin or chest, that's the best!  Once the guardian has given permission, and the dog seems agreeable to being touched, gently stroke under his chin, on his chest or along its side for a few seconds. Pause and see what occurs. If the animal moves closer, nudges your hand, or interacts in a social way, he is letting you know that being touched is okay.  If he stiffens, moves away, or does not show any favorable body language, stop stroking.  Dogs, like us, do not like to be patted on the top of their heads.  Not only is it uncomfortable, but even a small hand approaching from above can feel threatening to a dog.

To meet a pup, ask a grown-up!  Always ask the adult guardian before picking up and nuzzling any puppy.  The puppy’s mother may be quite protective and might snap if a stranger approaches her puppies.  Even if the mother is not present, puppies can also bite and scratch like their more mature counterparts. 

If a dog has a snack, keep well back!  Approaching a dog while he is eating or chewing a bone might cause him to think you want to take his food or treasure away.  This may cause the dog to protect what it has by initially growling, then possibly snapping and biting.
Keep your face out of their space!  It is common sense to keep any face, whether child or adult, away from a dog’s mouth.  Even if the animal does not want to bite, he could nip accidently.

If you run and shout, it freaks us out!  Dogs react to the way we behave.  Screaming, shouting, or swinging arms wildly and running around are more likely to cause any dog to chase or attack.  Even more affected by rowdy children are shy or nervous dogs.  Being calm around such dogs can help them feel more secure.

A dog is not a toy, do not tease and annoy!  Never tease, hurt, or annoy a dog by its taking toys or by pretending to hit or kick him.  In addition, teach children not to yank on a dog’s tail, pull its fur, poke its eyes, or try to climb on its back and ride it.  Dogs cannot say in words that they want you to stop horrid behavior, but they can definitely growl and bite.

Quiet and slow is the way to go!  It is important that children be taught not to stare when confronted by an aggressive type dog and to move quietly and slowly away.  Direct eye contact is interpreted by dogs as aggression.  It is also imperative to tell them to “be a tree” and stand quietly, keeping their head down, with their hands low and clasped in front of them if a dog goes after them.  If they are knocked down, teach them to immediately cover their head and neck with their arms, and curl into a ball and “be like a rock”.

We know that children are the most common victims of dog bites.  Teaching children a few simple rules on how to be gentle, how to respect a dog’s space, and on what to do with unfamiliar dogs can go a long way in keeping children safer.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Start your new year on the right foot by walking your dog!

If you were like me, you did too much sitting, too much eating and not enough moving around this past holiday season.  But, it just so happens that January is National Walk Your Dog Month.  What a perfect time for both you and Fido to get off the sofa and get some overdue exercise, the benefits of which for the both of you are wonderful.  Not only will you have a reason to get out and enjoy some fresh air and maybe lose some of those extra holiday pounds, but you will also have a faithful companion to do it with.  What a perfect way to reinforce the bond between the two of you.

Healthy dogs are energetic and, unless they have constructive outlets for that pent-up energy, bad behaviors can ensue.  If the animal is bored and has nothing else to do, be prepared for the possibility of destructive chewing, barking for no reason, or him being uncontrollable and uncooperative.  Taking Fido for a walk helps to give him something positive to do instead.  Just as we need physical and mental stimulation to function well, so do our dogs.  Exploring the world with him by your side helps to provide it.  In addition, you will have a multitude of opportunities to teach him new things.  He could learn to “sit” before crossing a road, to “lie down” quietly while you rest, and to “drop it” when he gets into something he shouldn’t.  The more you share time with your dog, the stronger your relationship becomes.

Socialization is equally important, especially in the early stages, for a well-behaved, confident animal.  Walking provides exposure to a wide variety of situations, such as loud noises, other animals, unfamiliar people, and noxious smells.  Dogs without varied exposure can become fearful or, worse, territorially aggressive.  When puppies learn how to interact and communicate with people, other canines, and other species they will become less likely to show aggressive behavior when they reach adulthood. 

While walking is the perfect opportunity to do some training, there is no reason it cannot be fun and pleasurable for you both.  Before heading out be sure to prepare adequately for your jaunt.  Always carry disposable bags for picking up your dog’s feces.  Leaving dog waste is not only a health hazard, but also extremely inconsiderate to others who may be enjoying a relaxing stroll.  If you would not like to step in a pile of dog dung, why would you then consider that anyone else would like it?  Be sure to carry water for yourself and your dog to hydrate, especially in warm weather.  There are easy to carry, collapsible water bowls available, or you can always have the animal lap the water from your cupped hands.  You will also need to have some of the dog’s favorite bite-sized treats, easily eaten, for rewards as you train good behavior.

According to Tehama County Animal regulations, anytime you and your dog leave your property, the dog must be restrained by a leash and under your physical control.  It is important to be aware that, if the dog is loose and does any damage, you as the owner can be held liable for any costs incurred.  There are many types of leashes available to meet the need, so pick one that is comfortable to hold.  However, I would recommend that you avoid using a retractable lead, especially if the dog has not been properly trained to walk on a regular leash. 

It is also important to remember that, until your dog learns to walk politely on loose leash, all walks the both of you take are training walks, because good leash skills are mandatory for both you and your dog’s safety.  Even a small dog can cause injury to you and himself if he pulls too hard, wanders back and forth in front of you, or jerks you around.  When properly trained, your dog should walk steadily beside you with the leash slack (loose leash).  Initially, especially with puppies, it is also advisable to keep walks frequent, short in duration, and positive for your dog.  Until he has mastered leash walking, you may have to find additional means to exercise the dog since the training sessions might be too short to provide the necessary exercise.  

So celebrate National Walk Your Dog Month, by grabbing a leash and walking with your furry friend.  Fido will not be the only one benefiting from the exercise.  You can be sure you will, too! 

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Another year ends in a few short days.  For many of us, as the New Year begins, it signifies the hope of a better tomorrow and provides us with a fresh opportunity to change and, perhaps, make a difference.  If animals could vocalize, I truly believe they would say that they also hope their tomorrows are better.  Regrettably, they do not have the ability to improve their lives without our assistance or our voice. 

In 2002, Jane Goodall and Marc Bekoff published a book called “The Ten Trusts: What We Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love”.  In it, they listed what we can do to help preserve and care for the animals in this world. 

The simple directives are, “Rejoice that we are part of the animal kingdom.  Respect all life.  Open our minds to animals and learn from them.  Teach our children to respect and love nature.  Be wise stewards of life on earth.  Value and help preserve the sounds of nature.  Refrain from harming life in order to learn from it.  Have the courage of our convictions.  Praise and help those who work for animals and the natural world.  Act knowing we are not alone and live with hope.”  Even if you never make a New Year’s resolution, it cannot hurt any of us to try to make the world a better place for us, and the animals with which we share it.

Whether we like to admit it or not, as humans we do not stand apart from the animal kingdom.  There are many similarities humans and animals share, both biologically and emotionally.  When we fail to understand the mutually beneficial relationships between us, we can lose not only our compassion, but also the joy experienced from the associations between us. 

We should respect all life.  Life has value and every animal deserves to be free from intentional harm and abuse.  It has been established that cruelty to animals eventually leads to cruelty to humans.  Then, could the reverse also be true?  If we show more compassion and empathy towards the animals we have contact with, perhaps the way we treat our fellow-man will also become more compassionate and empathetic.

We can open our minds and learn.  The more we know, the better equipped we will be to help the animals and those around us.  Not only do we become better pet guardians, but we also become valuable advocates for all animals.  You do not need to attend a class to become informed.  Reading a book, watching a documentary or following news-worthy animal-related topics also increases knowledge.

Let us value and try to preserve what we love in nature.  As part of us caring for animals, we must also respect the environments in which they live.  Can you imagine a world without an animal in it?  It is truly a frightening prospect.  You, I, and our children may never experience that scenario but, unless all of us are diligent now, the possibility can exist for future generations.  If we are to insure a more positive future, then we must tread lightly in the existing environments.  Let us all become more eco-friendly and conscious of harmful actions in the natural world.

Have the courage to be a voice for change.  Our actions can make a difference.  Yes, you as an individual can speak up for those who do not have a voice.  We have already seen how public pressure has been responsible for many changes in animal welfare.  If you witness cruelty and neglect, inform the authorities.  Spread awareness about animal-related issues through social media, letters to the editor or your own blog.  If a specific area of focus interests you, like feral cats, find a local organization who supports it and get involved.

It is easy to feel any singular effort is futile.  To believe that one person in a world of billions can do anything to change the status quo may seem ridiculous.  Yet, each individual holds a vital key to the future welfare of animals.  Every positive action taken, no matter how small, or seemingly insignificant, does join with another and then another, until constructive change occurs.  All I ask this New Year is that you join us in trying to make the world a better place for us, and the animals with which we share it.  We will all benefit.