Saturday, April 16, 2016


Thanks to The Week (April 22, 2016) for highlighting Lucca, a U.S. Marine dog that was awarded the Dickin Medal, Britain's top honor for military animals. A retired explosives dog that uncovered more than completed 400 patrols and uncovered dozens of explosive and insurgents, the German shepherd retired in 2012 after she lost a leg to an IED.
War hero 'Lucca'
As our loyal followers know, we're huge advocates of adopting rescue dogs and cats. After all, if mom and dad hadn't stepped up for me, who knows where (or even if) I'd be living right now. If that isn't enough to send you running to your local shelter, The Humane Society of the United States offers some additional food for thought. According to their numbers, between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats (most of them family pets surrendered because of "moving" or "landlord problems") end up in our nation's shelters each year. Of that staggering number, only half will not be adopted. When you factor in vaccinations, spay and neutering, and microchipping, the cost adopting a dog or cat from a shelter or rescue agency is typically less than for those purchased or gotten for free. If money doesn't move you, then consider the latest study on Human-Pet bonding. According to a roundup article by Valerie Burke, MSN for the website greenmedinfo.com
, bonding with pets offers a host of physical and emotional benefits, including better stress management, improved fitness levels, reduced risk for stroke, heart attack and cardiovascular ailments, pain relief from a host of chronic ailments, fewer allergies and a boost to the body's immune system. For children, living with pets has been shown to reduce allergies and boost EQ - empathy and compassion - a key predictor of future academic success.
Tanner sharing the love with our bro-in-law, Ernie, and nephew, Armand
Just because they're good for you,and a great bargain doesn't mean that every pet is right for every potential adopter. As we note in GIMME SHELTER, before you head out to the shelter, it might be wise to do some homework and take a personal financial and emotional inventory to assess 
your needs and abilities. 

  • Ask yourself what you want/need in a dog. Will the dog be your constant companion? Will it have to co-exist with young children? With other dogs or cats? Does your apartment, condo or co-op board have any size or breed restrictions?  
  • Spend some time researching the breed you are considering. Learn what it was bred for and the breed’s general temperament. If you live in a small apartment and aren’t big on outdoor exercise, you might want to avoid a dog that was bred for running. If you are away at work during the day and the dog will be indoors, you might want to consider a low-energy dog. A good resource is The ASPCA Complete Guide to DogsThe more knowledge you have, the better your chances for a successful pairing.
  • Decide how much time and energy you are willing to devote to the dog. Many people overestimate both. As a result, the dog gets shortchanged on exercise and affection, or becomes a burden to the owners, making a failed adoption more likely. Puppies and young dogs generally require more time and patience than older ones.  
  • Include all family members in the selection of the dog. Bringing home a new dog can be chaotic in the best of circumstances. Defining each member’s responsibilities before adoption will help lessen the chaos. Young children may be too physically aggressive for very young puppies or fragile toy breeds. A dog that growls, cowers, raises its hackles, runs from your children, or that is reluctant to be petted is probably not a good choice for families with children.  
  • Spend at least one hour getting to know the dog you are considering. Barring unforeseen events, this animal will be a member of your family for 12 or more years.
  • Find a local veterinarian and discuss canine nutrition and healthcare needs such a checkups and vaccinations. Medical emergencies can be expensive, so you might want to inquire about pet insurance.

Friday, April 1, 2016


Much as it pains our humans, we dogs don’t live and die on your every whim. That’s why we’ll refuse to ‘come’ when asked to leave the dog park (our 30-minute respite from domestic incarceration), or refuse to ‘stay’ when neighborhood squirrels invade our turf. According to Cesar Millan, a key step in getting us to do your bidding is training us to look at you. “If you can get your dog to focus on you instead of everything else going on around him, it will be easier to communicate with him and teach him other commands — not to mention getting him to ignore that taunting squirrel, far-off bark, or daily visit from the mailman. In addition, that look is also helping to build your relationship with your dog.” To make that happen, he suggests the following approach: Choose a word or phrase to focus your dog. Sit or stand near your dog and hold a treat close to your eyes. Say your attention word and, when the dog looks at you, reward him with the treat. Later on, you should add in a hand signal to accompany the word. Once your dog get the hang of it, begin phasing out the treats but not the affection for completing the task. Like with many things, practice is the key to mastery but don’t tire your dog and never punish him for failing. 
You have my attention, now where's my treat?
A few weeks back, we wrote about knowing when it’s time to say ‘goodbye’. In his recent newsletter, Cesar offers a practical guide to assessing your dog's quality of life and how it might impact the decision to euthanize or not. Among the categories to consider are Hurt, Hunger, Hydration Hygiene, Happiness and Mobility. If your best friend scores very low in most or all of them, then it might be time to say goodbye. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian. 
Connie & 'Ava'
Our friend and rescue volunteer Connie Kruse recently contacted us about Ava, a 6-year old stray pit bull mix from the Santa Barbara County (CA) shelter who she's trying to place. Ava was a stray recently suffered a stoke, but managed to bounce back nearly all the way. She still needs medication to control her condition but she's otherwise in good health. This pretty 90-lb. girl is playful and loving with people and potty-trained. They are looking for a foster or an adopter  who can love and care for her. If you are interested or know anyone who is, please contact STACY SILVA (stacy.silva@sbcphd.org) or call Connie Kruse at 805-878-8017. And please share this with your contacts. You stepped up big-time for Rex last year (3 tries before he found his forever home). Now we need to save Ava. It takes a village to save a dog!