Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Anyone who lives or has lived with a dog knows we canines have heart. If you had your doubts, consider the case if 'Freeway Frida', a 5-year-old German Shepherd who survived for five weeks on a freeway median near Galt, CA,  after tumbling from the back of a truck. Thanks to Galt Police officer Sylvia Coelho and her counterparts from the CHP, the emaciated Frida was finally rescued and brought to the vet where she was treated for two broken bones and severe weight loss. According to the May 24 LA Times report by Daniel Serna, Frida managed to stay alive by sipping scant rainwater and foraging for plants and road scraps. What a lucky, plucky, dog. 
Freeway Frida
While we often tout the myriad virtues of pit bulls, many other breeds are equally amazing. This week's honors go to German Shepherds, specifically Haus, a 2-year-old shepherd who stepped into harm's way when an Eastern diamondback rattler menaced his family's 7-year-old daughter. As reported by ABC News, Haus sustained several bites, resulting in thousands of dollars in vet bills. Thanks to generous donors, a GoFundMe account to cover the expenses has already topped $35,000.
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
While most dogs 
will never encounter a venomous snake, knowing what to do could save your pup's life in the event it ever happens (from GIMME SHELTER, resource Howie Baker, DVM). "Most rattlesnake venom is “hemotoxic”, meaning that it compromises the integrity of blood vessels, causing swelling that impairs circulation and normal clotting, which can lead to uncontrolled bleeding, shock, and death. The venom of the Mojave rattler is “neurotoxic,” causing rapid paralysis of the respiratory system and suffocation. The seriousness of a bite depends on the type of snake, the size of the dog, and the amount of venom injected. Some bites are "dry" (no venom injected), and only a small percentage of bites are fatal, but all snakebites should be considered serious and treated as emergencies, even in vaccinated dogs. Facial bites are particularly serious, since swelling may block the throat or hinder the ability to breathe. Seek immediate veterinary attention and do not try to cut the bite wound open or suck out the poison. The treatment for a snake bite consists of the following:
  • IV Fluids. Since the most common cause of death from snakebites is circulatory failure, IV support (administration of fluids via catheter), and blood pressure monitoring are very important.
  • Antivenin. Antivenin can be very helpful in the inactivation of snake venom but there is a narrow window (approx. 4 hrs.) during which it must be used. It’s especially crucial with small dogs (and cats), since the amount of venom they receive per pound is much greater than with large dogs.
  • Antihistamines. Injected antihistamines may help with the inflammation from the actual bite and in preventing possible anaphylactic reaction to antivenin
To avoid the anxiety and expense consider investing in avoidance training and having your dog vaccinated. Through the use of a shock collar, the trainer applies a mild stimulus to teach the dog to avoid the sound, smell, and sight of defanged or muzzled reptiles. Check to see if your local Parks & Recreation Department offers avoidance training. In Malibu, group classes start at around $70.00. Rattlesnake vaccine offers protection against the venom of the Western Diamondback and the other rattlers except the Mojave Rattlesnake. Most dogs require two-three doses at a cost of approximately $30/dose. Vaccination offers protection equal to two vials of antivenin, which runs several hundred dollars per vial. 
If I Roll On the Bed and No One's There, Am I Still Bad?
Finally, w
hile some dogs are brave and resilient, we've all known a few that are crafty and disobedient, like this sly pit bull who thinks the coast is clear when his owner leaves the house. Why is it that forbidden fruit is always the sweetest? (watch the video)

Thursday, May 5, 2016


As proud supporters of Best Friends Animal Society and their No Kill L.A. campaign, we were thrilled to read the recent L.A. Times story by Veronica Rocha about an impressive drop in the kill rates at L.A. County shelters. According to the April 26 report, "The number of euthanizations performed at Los Angeles animal shelters dropped from 8,240 from July to March in 2014-15 to 6,214 for the same period so far this year, according to the latest Los Angeles Animal Services figures. The decrease is due mostly to the city’s partnership with Best Friends Animal Society, an organization leading the No-Kill Los Angeles initiative. “The goal is to transform the city of Los Angeles into no-kill, which means that 90% of the dogs/cats who need sheltering will have a positive outcome,” the agency’s spokeswoman Sara Ebrahimi said. In the past year, NKLA found homes for 27,000 dogs and cats.
Tanner & Eugenie: Thank You NKLA
Do animals think and feel the same way humans do? For centuries it was assumed they didn't, that they were just low levels beings, one step up from plants, that operated on natural instinct. In recent years, though, scientific research has revealed that they are far more sophisticated than first assumed. Books like Carl Safina's "Beyond Words: How Animals Think And Feel", and primatologist Frans De Waal's "Are WeSmart Enough To Know How Smart AnimalsAre" species mourn their dead, use tools, communicate emotions, and even surpass us at simple memory tests. To wit, consider the story of Inky the Octopus (The Week, April 29, 2016), who recently broke out of his tank at the National Aquarium of  New Zealand by squeezing through a gap in the tank, dropping to the floor, then hightailing to a drain pipe that emptied into the sea. Maybe the eight-legged lam-ster got lucky, or maybe he hatched a plan and pulled it off a la Oceans 8 (legs)? According to Waal, "maybe it's time evaluate other species on their own terms, and “stop looking at evolution as a contest,” with just one winner. The truth is that “we are not the only intelligent life on Earth.
Inky, fugitive mastermind of Oceans 8 (Legs)
In a recent Cesar's Way newsletter piece on dog emotions, writer Jon Bastian offers the following from psychologist Marc Bekoff, Ph.D, who suggests that “until the detailed research is conducted we don't really know” whether dogs can or cannot experience the [complex] emotions" but that " there is certainly evidence that other animals can experience complex emotions. Dolphins, elephants, and our non-human primate cousins have been seen to exhibit those complex emotions like shame, guilt, contempt — and pride. According to the story, "Bekoff further argues that we have determined that dogs have all of the same brain structures that we do, as well as the same hormones, both of which are critical to how we react emotionally to the world. Perhaps we haven’t been able to determine one way or another whether they feel complex emotions like pride only because we haven’t figured out how to test for it. Until we know for sure, it’s safest to not anthropomorphize our dogs too much and settle for a middle ground."