Tag Archives: dog care

Dogs hate crates!

The Free and Easy crowd:

Lilac! pics: R.T.


Cece is growing up every day and looking oh so elegant!

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

If there were ever any doubt that dogs hate crates, a clever pup in China cleared that up last month. Security camera footage shows the determined dog unlatching the door to his crate using his tongue and teeth. After freeing himself, he used the same technique to release two other dogs who were confined to crates in the same room. News headlines referred to his escape as a “prison break” — and they were right.

Some people will retort, “My dog loves his crate!” But that’s about as absurd as claiming that inmates enjoy being put in solitary confinement. Sure, some dogs may like napping in a crate — as long as the door is open and they can come and go as they please. No animal “loves” to be locked up with no escape.

People sometimes mistakenly assume that their dogs “love” their crate because they keep returning to it, but what they may really be witnessing is a kind of Stockholm syndrome. Dogs who’ve spent much of their lives trapped in extreme confinement and isolation (i.e., crated) often develop an affinity for their crate instead of bonding with their human family.

Outside the crate, they lack confidence and are sometimes even terrified. This is because dogs can only learn how to get along in their world by interacting with their environment. Every hour spent crated is an hour of life in a kind of “suspended animation” in which their social development is stunted.

It’s not uncommon for people who crate their dogs to keep them locked up for 18 hours or more every day: Nine or so hours while at work (including commute time), another eight hours overnight, plus whenever they go out in the evening or on the weekend and leave the dog alone. All that confinement has disastrous effects on dogs’ health and happiness.

Crating prevents dogs from fulfilling their most basic needs, including walking around, relieving themselves and stretching. According to veterinarian Dr. Michael W. Fox, dogs who are crated are at risk for “multiple health issues related to retention of urine and feces and lack of exercise.”

Muscle atrophy is a concern, too. “In extreme cases, resulting from being caged from puppyhood,” he writes, “dogs can have limb deformities and become permanently crippled.”

And don’t be misled. Crating does not speed up the housetraining process. It can actually prolong it, because puppies can’t “hold it” for long (generally, only one hour for each month of age), and being forced to sit in the inevitable puddles that result can make puppies lose their instinct to keep their surroundings clean.

Crating also frustrates dogs’ innate need for companionship. Dogs are highly social animals; when kept in solitary confinement, many become severely depressed and withdrawn and can suffer from separation anxiety. As Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist at Tufts University, explains, “For [some dogs with separation anxiety] crates are an imposition, a misery, and an obstacle to be overcome at the expense of broken teeth and fractured claws. Owners return home to find these dogs bug-eyed, in a frenzy, and salivating profusely, and may even come home to find the crate splattered with urine, feces, and/or blood.”

Hyperactivity and behavioral issues are other common consequences of crating. Driven to despair and near-madness from constant confinement, some dogs self-mutilate, chewing or licking themselves compulsively. Others wear down or break their teeth by chewing on their cage bars. Some bark and cry incessantly; others slump dejectedly, resigning themselves to their helpless state. And of course, crated dogs have no hope of escape if the house catches on fire or a natural disaster strikes while no one else is home—some have been burned to death or drowned, trapped inside their cages.

Dogs don’t love being locked up. They love their guardians, and they want to be a part of the family, which is why storing them away like a pair of old shoes is especially cruel. As Dr. Fox says, “People who claim to love their dogs and cage or crate them all day may not fully understand the nature of love or the love of dogs. Perhaps they should not have gotten a dog in the first place.”


By Rosalie Tirella

I was shooting for the stars: a purebred German Shepherd (gorgeous! majestic!) puppy (trainable, no bad habits/baggage) – a rescue (fixed, vaccinated, relatively inexpensive compared to a GSD pup from a breeder) who looked like the Old Injun Fighter’s vicious German Shepherd, Sparky (my dog would be the squirrely love tunnel back into the heart of the ex-beau I WILL NEVER EVER GET OVER) but acted like Rin Tin Tin (brave, loyal, serious, smart – just the ticket for my rough, crime-ridden Worcester inner-city neighborhood) ….but some how, like it always happens with me in life, love and dogs … I ended up with the POLAR OPPOSITE of my expectations! I ended up with Lilac!

A jingly jangly, wicked smart (plott?)hound-collie-shepherd-(coon?)hound mutt from Tennessee who runs circles around this old lady’s heart! She’s ALL Star American athlete while my other dog, 7-year-old Husky-mix Jett, and I wallow in middle age. She is strong and sure-footed while Jett and I sometimes miss a beat and stumble during our afternoon walks. She is silly and high-spirited – Jett and I are more serious, wise … philosophical.

She is spring. Jett and I are autumn.

She climbs trees! That’s the coon hound in her! Have you ever seen a dog pursuing a squirrel so relentlessly, so “doggedly” that she chases it right up the tree and climbs into the tree after it? It’s a wild sight! Lilac, just 9 months old, but three times as strong as Jett, with all her muscular grace bounding up to the tree, then her paws “running up” the tree trunk, four paws off the ground … and she’s all ecstasy, all fearlessness, no distracting thoughts, despite my yells of COME LILAC! COME! as she clambers up that tree trunk, in the most insane, ungainly way! Beautiful!

I have never hung out with such a natural hunter. My first dog, Grace, was a greyhound mix, and her prey drive was sky-high. But all she could do was run amazingly fast after rabbits, squirrels and deer (yes, Grace was a deer hunter!). But she didn’t like to swim – she would stop short in a pond or stream once the water reached her chest. But Lilac is super aquatic! She doggy paddles in various and sundry bodies of water with childlike abandon! Did I mention she can swim, run, climb, hop! hop! as in all four of her paws go off the ground in Tigger-like joyfulness, leap, scamper, lope and bound in pursuit of prey? She does all this with magnificent ease and sometimes grace, with a compact strength that’s overwhelmed me, once knocked me to the ground, left me squirming and crying in pain with a sprained ankle … watching Lilac glide on by, a loose, canine smile spread across her long face, her tongue lolling merrily, as if to say: See ya later, Mommy!

LILAC!!!! I yell as the college kids are lifting me up and gingerly placing me in my car … LILAC!! I scream in agony. But I do not – will not – leave the field until a tuckered-out, panting, chest-heaving Lilac finally notices me from a great distance, finally heeds the call and comes racing back to me, bounding into the car, splattering me and Jett (he never leaves my side these days) with mud and fetid water (Lilac took the scenic route and swam in the little pond) making us all one unholy mess!

Once home, I am busy wrapping my ankle with an ace bandage and popping Advil like PEZ, Jett is sitting on my bed, visibly upset (we had such a nice routine when it was just we two! he seems to say to me), Lilac is sleeping on a mat on the hardwood floor, sleeping a heavy sleep punctuated with sighs and deep moans, as if still chasing that damned squirrel in a dream. …or maybe it’s a wily raccoon in her home state of Tennessee. She is all wet and smelly from her jaunt over fields, through woods, under water, but I want her on the bed with Jett, I want her to feel his equal, build her self-confidence. I go to the linen drawer and pull out an old sheet, fold it in half and spread it over the foot of my bed. LILAC! UP! LILAC! UP! I say to my little athlete, tapping the bed with my the palm of my hand. Lilac rouses, sits up and stretches all the way back, yawning, like a little bathing beauty. She looks so pretty and soft – even with muddy underbelly and paw pads. Then she lopes over to my bed and with the slightest effort (like the true athlete she is) is lying next to Jett, curled up in a ball, in two seconds. Lilac plops down and plops down hard whenever she goes to rest. She never merely lies down. This makes her seem more raw-boned and “country” to me! Which I love! But her long tail always looks slightly feathery and oh so elegant!

We are home.

Jett is annoyed.

I am in pain. I will go to urgent care tomorrow – my ankle has swelled up to grape-fruit size and is KILLING me. I’ll have it x-rayed. Could it be broken?

But Princess Lilac, the little abused puppy who was dumped outside the Animal Control building in a Worcester County town … pretty, dreamy Lilac with limpid brown eyes and white feathery chest … pretty, sensitive Lilac who was kept caged in a too small puppy crate for hours at a time and S-T-R-T-C-H-E-D O-U-T on floor, mat, bed when I first brought her home, pretty collie Lilac who seems to read my mind when I am lonely and comes up to me and plops down hard against my side and rests her head on my chest or stomach and makes me feel warm, safe and, yes, loved, pretty not-so-little-any-more Lilac who drops her wet, chewed up doggy toys in my face when I’m lying on the sofa and talking on the phone with a friend (she does this to grab my attention), the lovely Lilac who takes Jett’s leash in her mouth and tries to lead him where she wants to go, smart Lilac who carries her empty water bowl to my bed and flicks it onto the comforter as if to say: FILL ‘ER UP! PRONTO! I’M THIRSTY, MA! has totally, absolutely won my heart.

… What German Shepherd puppy?????

Lilac, resting in Rose’s bed

From an InCity Times reader: My little Sweetpea!

Rescued: Sweet Sweetpea!!!

Last May while looking at the plights of homeless and abused animals on facebook, we saw a pair of little white adorable pitbull mix puppies that had been rescued by Second Chance Rescue in New York City.

We contacted them with questions about the dogs, who looked very thin and lost – and were sad to hear they had been rescued from irresponsible kids who were selling them on craigslist at only 2 weeks of age, and they were both very ill with pneumonia and other serious health issues.

After 6 weeks in the Animal Clinic of Harris Court in Flushing, NY, only one puppy was healthy enough to be adopted.

Their wonderful Kelcy agreed to meet us halfway in Wallingford in mid-June to pick up the sweet little “Sugar,” about 10 weeks old, who we then named “Sweetpea.” She is now a year and a half years old and is incredibly sweet, super friendly and extremely affectionate.

She comes to work with us every day, meets lots of people (and dogs) and absolutely LOVES everyone!  She has incredible energy and is very playful and healthy .

From now on, she will only know love, comfort and kindness.

Kathy Lewis

Keep pets safe by observing “Check the Chip” day this Saturday! The Worcester Animal Rescue League micro-chips!


Jett and Lilac were micro-chipped at the Worcester Animal Rescue League on Holden Street, Worcester, for not a lot of $!

Saturday is National Check the Chip day, and veterinarians are urging owners to take the opportunity to ensure their pets are properly microchipped.

Loose or unclaimed pets are frequently brought to animal shelters and hospitals by good Samaritans or law enforcement officers. Some locations see five or more strays each week.

The chances of those pets being successfully reunited with their owners  depends largely on whether they have a microchip and if the chip is properly registered.

There are few things more heartbreaking than losing a beloved pet. Getting your pet microchipped – and keeping the registration information up-to-date – is one of the quickest and easiest steps you can take to ensure your pet’s safety.

Microchipping is also an important safeguard against pet theft, which is on the rise in the United States. More than 637 dogs were stolen in 2014, a 4.5 increase from the previous year, according to the American Kennel Club’s national pet theft database.

National Check the Chip Day is this Saturday, August 15.

It was created by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as a reminder to pet owners to check and update microchip registration information.

Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are encoded with a unique ID number assigned to each pet.  The chips are injected in the loose skin between a pet’s shoulder blades.

If your pet does not have a microchip, ask your family veterinarian to implant one. To register the chip, complete the paperwork that comes with it and send it to the registry. You may also be able to complete this step online, depending on the manufacturer.

You can check if the chip’s information is outdated by contacting the manufacturer or using online tools, such as the one provided by the AAHA  at petmicrochiplookup.org.

If you don’t remember your chip number or manufacturer, have it scanned by your family veterinarian.

Be aware: Don’t risk your dog’s life in the summer heat


Lilac and April chilling out in the ac in Rosalie’s bedroom today – a sweltering summer day!

For people who love dogs and the outdoors, nothing is more fun than going out to run, walk or play with their beloved and eager pets.

But this summer’s heat already has proved deadly for dogs – and we’re not just talking about the tragic stories of pets locked in hot cars.

In various cases around the country this summer, dogs have died while on hikes with their owners or while left in the yard.

To protect your dog, it helps to learn more about how the heat affects them:

Dogs don’t have the same kind of sweat glands that humans have. In humans, the skin gets covered with sweat and the moisture evaporates, which has a cooling effect. Dogs don’t sweat, so there’s no cooling effect.

The main way dogs cool off is by panting — breathing in air rapidly to cool down. But on hot, humid days, dogs are sucking in hot, humid air, which doesn’t cool them down as well.

Some dogs pant better than others. Certain breeds such as pugs and English bulldogs, with very short snouts, don’t cool down nearly as efficiently with their panting, and are therefore at even greater risk in the heat.

Don’t be fooled when your dog seems so happy to go outside – this doesn’t mean they’re safe. Dogs love to play with their owners, and will follow them right up to the moment they collapse.

So how hot is too hot for your dog to spend time outside? There is no one answer. But it would be wise to consult the National Weather Service heat index, which shows conditions that require caution for humans. Generally speaking, if it’s hot for humans, it’s really hot for dogs.

Here are a few tips for keeping dogs safe in the hottest summer months:

Consider exercising your dog indoors during the worst months of summer.

At very least, find the coolest time of day possible if you choose to walk, run or play outside with your dog. This might be as the sun is rising or setting. Choose a place with water for your pet to drink, and shade.

Be all the more cautious if you live in a hot, southern state such as Florida, Georgia or Texas where cool times of day are hard to find. But don’t be complacent if you’re in a northern state such as New York, Minnesota or Michigan — mid-afternoon in August can be just as brutal.

If your dogs have labored breathing to begin with, they shouldn’t be exercising outside in the heat because they are even less able to cool down through panting. Be especially cautious if your veterinarian has said your dog suffers from laryngeal paralysis.

If your dog is overheating, you can hose her off with cool water. Never use ice water, which can actually make the problem worse. Your dog may be suffering from heat stroke if she lies down and won’t get up, is not alert and won’t stop panting. If this happens, put her in your car with the air conditioning on and drive to the nearest animal emergency hospital.

As always, it’s best to make regular visits to your family veterinarian for ongoing advice on the care of your pet.

Lilac is too cute!!!

And puppy makes three!

By Maureen Schwab

This month, two of the year’s most important award shows will be televised across the planet. If you are more excited about the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (2/11-13) than you are about the Academy Awards (2/24), then you are a true dog lover. By the numbers, however, the movie lovers at 40 million make the 3 million viewers with a pooch penchant the underdogs.

I have only recently become a dog lover, owing this conversion to simply having to learn to like a family member’s dogs. Growing up in Green Island in the fifties and sixties, our family never owned a dog, nor did many of my neighbors. In those days, dogs roamed freely through the streets of Green Island, and at times presented the residents with a frightening encounter to deal with. My younger brother was bitten by a neighbor’s dog, and another brother tells tales of outrunning a stray or two. Over time, the strays have all but disappeared, and the only unleashed dogs are those found frolicking at Crompton Park with owners in close proximity.

The dog that led to my conversion is a troubled terrier mix that I adopted from a relative and now own. Since the day I took him in last March, he has been a good boy with me, and a loyal companion to my other dog, who was purchased at a pet shop in 2009. If the tea leaves had predicted that I would own two dogs some day, I would have laughed and declared fraud, but here I am; happy and in love with these two damn dogs!

Michael Schaffer, author of One Nation Under Dog (2009) , credits social trends that have developed over the past 30-40 years for reasons why Americans are in love with their dogs. Two career couples that marry later, divorce more frequently as well as longer work hours and commute times occurred at the same time dog ownership began to increase. Schaffer speculates that people are leaning on pets to fill the gap in social support mechanisms that might have otherwise come from families or the community. Some even promote their pets the status of honorary child…..”fur babies”.
Dog behaviorist and psychologist Sarah Wilson also points out that dogs are some of the longest relationships we have, our pets often outlast our marriages and/or romantic relationships! Consider me guilty on all counts; I know I am “ Mama” to my two boys, and these are the longest relationships I have had so far, with the exception of my children, immediate family, and dear friends of 50+ years.

Social science aside, people who love their dogs often do so for very simple reasons; dogs are always happy to see you, they help us not to be alone in the world, and accept us in spite of our flaws and faults. In some cases they give us courage and a reason to get up in the morning. You can tell them any and every secret and never be betrayed . A dog can even help you stay in shape with long walks, and games of fetch and last but not least…..can even help you make new human friends.
I would not discourage anyone from watching the Academy Awards this year, especially since the film based on local author Matthew Quick’s book Silver Linings Playbook (2008), has been nominated in several categories. I’ll be watching the dog show instead, rooting for the schnauzers and terriers with my little loves ( a.k.a those two damn dogs!) by my side.