Tag Archives: dog

Make sure BACK-TO-SCHOOL isn’t BACK-TO-CRUEL for your dog

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

The end of summer’s carefree days and a return to classes, schedules and after-school activities is an adjustment for everyone in the family—including our dogs. Being left alone while their families go to school or work is especially difficult for dogs because they are highly social pack animals who need and thrive on companionship. But by doing our “homework” now, we can help our canine companions beat the back-to-school blues.

Dogs can become anxious, depressed or withdrawn if kept isolated from the people they love for very long. That’s why, no matter how crazy our schedules are, it’s important to prioritize quality time with our canine family members.

If back-to-school means that your dog will be left alone during the day, come home on your lunch break to give your friend some much-needed attention, exercise and a chance to relieve him- or herself. If that isn’t an option, consider hiring a dog walker or a trusted neighbor.

Daily walks are like recess for dogs. They’re essential to dogs’ health and happiness because they help them burn off pent-up energy, give them a chance to see new sights, sniff the “news” on the fire hydrants and socialize with other dogs and people. Games of fetch and opportunities to run, bark and dig in a safe, fenced-in area are also important to dogs’ well-being.

A sense of predictability and having things to look forward to help dogs feel secure and cope with changes, so maintain a consistent schedule for feedings, outdoor breaks (a minimum of four times a day), playtime and walks. Dogs’ active minds need something to do, so giving them “puzzle” toys – which require them to work to dislodge a treat — and a variety of chew toys will help fill the long hours until your return.

Whatever you do, please don’t ever lock your best friend in a crate. Forcing dogs to spend every day in a box is like detention that never ends, and it’s extremely harmful, both physically and psychologically. According to animal behaviorist Paul Loeb and Suzanne Hlavacek in their book Smarter Than You Think, “Your dog is a social creature and doesn’t want to be isolated in a box any more than you would want to be isolated in a box. You see, dogs want the same things that we want: love, attention, good company, and good food. Not solitary confinement.”

Many dogs who are “crate-trained” develop separation anxiety, depression, hyperactivity and other behavioral issues. 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.”

Some people lock up their pup in hopes of speeding up housetraining, but that’s like expecting a kindergartener to ace an algebra test on her first day of school—and then punishing her when she fails. Puppies can’t “hold it” for long because their bladders don’t fully develop until they are 4 to 6 months old, so accidents are inevitable. Dogs who repeatedly soil their crates often lose the urge to keep them clean, which prolongs the housetraining process. It’s much kinder (and more effective) to set puppies up for success by keeping a regular schedule of feedings, playtime and potty breaks and making sure that someone is there to let them out every few hours during the day.

Even if you haven’t been a perfect dog guardian in years past, it’s never too late to learn ways to take better care of your canine companion. By following this advice, you’ll be sure to ace Compassionate Dog Guardianship 101 this school year.

Sky blue Jett

By Rosalie Tirella

I named him after “JETT,” a Paul McCartney and Wings tune. Cuz my little husky mix (my vet said he had a smidgen of coyote in him!) was fast and streamlined, like a jet airplane. Cuz he had non-stop energy on our walks. Cuz when I’m with him, which is 90% of the time!, I feel kinda … high. Dogs can make you feel that way: pull you out of your safe human routine and plop you into in-the-moment fun, joyfulness, high-spirited high jinks. If they are young, they are ready for all sorts of tail thumping adventures. Every day is truly a new day, a rebirth, for young dogs. Young turks, even the girls, but especially the boys, so full of themselves, they are!

Then our dogs get older, all of a sudden, just hits you from behind! Like my beloved Jett. As I write this post, he’s by my side, lying down, but with his Husky head errect, at attention. I see, for the first time, my older Jett. My older dog. I want to cry.

He looks serious! And purposeful, like the middle aged fella he is. His teeth are good and strong but his canines are not their pearly white of yesteryears! He has no grey whiskers around his muzzle, but a few will pop out soon enough. And then his snout will become snowy gray, and I will caress the back of his ears and kiss the top of his head and call him my “sweet old boy.”

Jett’s my third dog. I’ve been down this wistful road before. I once cried to the Old Injun Fighter, as I watched my old retriever Bailey fight his cancer: WHY CAN’T DOGS LIVE AS LONG AS WE DO? WHY DO THEY HAVE TO LEAVE US SO SOON?! The OIF understood. He’s had 10 or so German Shepherds in his life. When they die, he has them cremated and put into an urn, which goes on his bedroom bureau, along with the other urns that contain the ashes of his other beloved German Shepherds. Somewhere amidst the dusty containers sits a small white vase with plastic flowers in it. He retires his late dogs’ collars, too, and never ever forgets the day on which they died, a solemn anniversary during which he stays subdued, quiet.

Looking at my calendar I see April is almost here. I adopted Jett from the rescue league four years ago, in April. He was a frisky eight months old when he entered my life. Now he is almost five. Five years old, for most dogs, is middle age. You notice the difference! They don’t run as fast. Their walks don’t need to be as long. They like sleeping by your side, little naps by their mommy or daddy! They don’t have the forgiving ways of puppies. They get set in their routines.

But here comes the great part: If you have even been a half-decent owner, THEY LOVE THEIR LIVES WITH YOU. You have become the loopy planet around which their pure, pure canine hearts revolve. They sing their doggie love song only to you. A love song sung to you in yips, yaps, laps, licks, snorts, snarls and farts. HEAVEN!!!!!

And then there are their eyes. They too will start to fade, even grow cloudly with cataracts, just the way it happens with us humans. But, if you look deeply into their gaze, the way I am looking into Jett’s eyes now – not too long cuz dogs interpret this as a power grab – you see the pup, or the memory of your young dog in his or her eyes. I look into Jett’s eyes – one is sky blue, the other chestnut brown. Two different colored eyes; it’s a fairly typical Siberian Husky trait and does not mean he is blind. I fell in love with Jett’s blue eye and brown eye almost four years ago! To me then – and to me now – they were so unique, so strange, so mysterious. Like a coyote slipping along the edge of the woods, just when the sky grows dark blue. A most beautiful blue …

Friends don’t shock ‘man’s best friend’!

By Karen Porreca

During the summer months, my dogs love visiting our local dog-friendly beach to run and romp, but lately I’ve begun to dread these outings. I’m seeing more and more dogs, even small dogs, puppies, completely normal and highly trainable dogs, sporting shock collars … oh, excuse me … e-collars. I’m not sure whether the “e” stands for “electronic”—or “excruciating.” It’s worth noting that anyone who uses a shock collar on a fellow human without permission will be arrested for torture, as did a Florida man last year, who used the collars on two young girls. So why are we using these devices on our “best friends”?

“Oh, it’s just a little tingle. It doesn’t hurt,” many people say. But could a “little tingle” really change a dog’s behavior so abruptly? Asking around, I learned that one of my coworkers, Amanda, had tried out a shock collar on herself, just out of curiosity. The one she tried was designed to stop dogs from barking, and it had six levels of intensity. She couldn’t get past level three.

“Level one was an unpleasant, scary shock,” Amanda told me. “Level two hurt and felt like something sharp was trying to stab into my neck. Level three felt like I actually was being stabbed in the neck, and I took the collar off right after that.”

She added: “I might use this collar on someone who kidnapped my child and refused to tell me where he was keeping her, but not on someone I love.”

Even without electricity, these collars look mighty uncomfortable. They come with a couple of prongs that poke into the dog’s neck just like a plug on an appliance goes into an outlet. Imagine having to wear a collar with prongs sticking into your neck the whole time you’re out exercising. I think that might take some of the fun out of it.

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a well-known canine behaviorist, says in his book The Well-Adjusted Dog, “I have seen deep ulcerating wounds develop in the necks of dogs fitted with e-type prong collars that are too tight or have been worn too long.”

Shock collars are illegal in Wales and in several Australian states, and the RSPCA and the British Kennel Club disapprove of them, too, because they are considered cruel and inhumane. Simple logic dictates that many problems can arise from trying to use shock to produce good behavior in a dog. Two recent studies in the U.K. by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs concluded that shock collars are not necessary for effective dog training and are detrimental to the welfare of dogs.

A previous study conducted at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands comparing the use of shock with other aversive training techniques (such as choke collars and even hitting) found that the shocked dogs learned to associate painful experiences with the presence of their guardians“even outside of the normal training context” and that “the welfare of these shocked dogs is at stake, at least in the presence of their owner.” So, just to be clear: Using shock collars on dogs is worse than choking or hitting them.

One final thought: Shock collars can erode the bond between dog guardians and their dogs. Dogs are not dumb. They know when their guardians are withholding love and camaraderie and empathy. Since it is impossible for humans to inflict painful shocks on their dogs with a loving heart, their dogs will know that they are being abused by the person they love. Instead of punishing our dogs for what they do “wrong,” let’s all vow to use positive training methods only—by redirecting bad behavior, encouraging good behavior and rewarding our dogs for what they do right.

So, you want to adopt/rescue a dog/pup?

By Deb Young

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to bring a furry four-footed pooch into your home, making you an instant hero to your kids.

But before you settle on a breed, there are important lifestyle considerations to weigh, as each breed brings its own personality and needs to the mix.

A dog is a dog right?

No… Choosing a dog that suits you and your families needs and lifestyle is important.

Things to think about…

Are you and your family willing to make a 10 – 15 year commitment to this Dog?

How much room do you have & what age and size of dog is best for you?

So you have big back yard, then you can choose a dog that needs space to run, or if you have a small apartment, maybe you should stick to one of the toy breeds; but trust me, exercise needs are not based only on size.

There are many small/medium size dogs that need lots of run around room. My Chihuahua is a good example, they may be the smallest breed, but, are they fast and they truly love to run!
They definitely don’t like being left alone, and will whine and cry, even if its only for short periods of time. They have voracious appetites for attention.

Toy dogs are fine-boned, touch-sensitive creatures that do not weather rough or clumsy handling well. They break relatively easily and are quicker to bite than their larger boned, mellower relatives.
While Saint Bernards are notably great with children, they may not be the best choice for families with small kids. The massive dog might knock over a child or even “smush them.”

And while some smaller breeds are terrific family dogs, others just aren’t, like Beagles can be snarky (but not all) and Labs and golden retrievers can be easygoing (but not always).

If there are youngsters in your household under seven years old, they are usually not developmentally suited for puppies 5 months old and under or toy-sized dogs of any age. Puppies have ultra sharp “milk teeth” and toenails and often teethe on and scratch children, resulting in unintentional injury to the child. The puppy then becomes something to be feared rather than loved.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, are there frail elderly or physically challenged individuals in the household? If so, strong vigorous adolescent dogs are not a wise idea. No aging hips or wrists are safe from a playful, jumping dog. . People who were one-breed fans throughout their lives may one day find that their favorite breed demands more than they can physically handle. The new dog must fit the current physical capabilities of his keepers with an eye toward what the next 10-15 years will bring.

An adult might be a better choice if you want to have a good idea of the true energy level, attitude, and temperament of your new dog

Senior Dogs should not be forgotten, Welcoming a senior dog into your home can be a wonderful way to bring joy to the golden years of a dog. Unfortunately, senior dogs are less likely to be adopted and often end up living out their lives in shelters or being euthanized. A senior dog can make a wonderful companion if you are looking for a lower energy dog.

Are allergies a concern?

Poodles and some terriers and schnauzers, for instance are best for people who are allergic to dog hair and dander.

Can you afford a dog?

Owners often underestimate the cost of pet ownership. It’s not just the adoption fee or where you’re getting it from … it’s visits to the vet, food, etc.

Choosing the family dog should include input from all family members with the cooler-headed, more experienced family members’ opinions carrying more weight.

Look at each breed you’re interested in and determine the exercise requirements, the grooming requirements, the temperament and trainability of each breed.

The military abuse video you haven’t heard about

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

Americans and Afghans alike are rightly outraged over a video circulating on the Internet that allegedly shows U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. Pentagon officials are scrambling to do damage control, fearing that the video will hinder peace talks, and military officials are promising that those involved will be punished to the highest extent. But another video that surfaced recently also merits outrage and action: It shows a soldier viciously beating a sheep with a baseball bat while other soldiers laugh and cheer.

Blow after metallic, stomach-churning blow rains down on the terrified sheep’s skull. The convulsing and kicking animal tries in vain to rise and flee, but the man with the bat just keeps swinging. A local boy in the background jumps up and down in apparent delight while the sheep struggles on the ground. Despite a letter and phone calls from PETA to high-ranking Army officials, no action has been taken on this case after more than a month.

Animals don’t start wars. They don’t have political views, militaries or weapons. Yet they are often the victims of cruelty in combat zones. In 2008, video surfaced of a smiling Marine who hurled a live puppy off a cliff while another Marine laughed. Thankfully, after a massive public outcry and pressure from PETA, the puppy-tossing Marine was expelled, and another Marine in the video faced disciplinary action.

The same year, video that was allegedly taken from a CD found in Baghdad’s Green Zone depicts what appear to be U.S. soldiers taunting and tormenting a dog whose back legs were apparently crippled. The laughing men threw rocks at the dog, who snarled and yelped in pain before making a desperate attempt to flee on two legs. One of the men in the video said the dog’s attempt to run was “the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Many other similar incidents of abuse have been recorded on video, and many more likely never see the light of day.

Whether the abuser is a military service member or a regular Joe, cruelty to animals isn’t “normal” behavior, and it must be taken seriously, for everyone’s safety. People who find pleasure or humor in harming animals aren’t just cruel; they’re also cowards because they target “easy victims” who don’t have any hope of fighting back.

Mental-health and law-enforcement professionals know that animal abusers’ disregard for life and indifference to suffering indicate a dangerous psychopathy that does not confine itself to animal victims. A history of cruelty to animals regularly shows up in the FBI records of serial rapists and murderers, and a study by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA found that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans. Violence is a fact of war, but the depravity shown by the sheep-beating soldier and the sick pleasure the onlookers seemed to derive from watching the beating are red flags.

All the students who have opened fire on their classmates have histories of cruelty to animals. “BTK” killer Dennis Rader, who was convicted of killing 10 people, admitted that he was cruel to animals as a child and apparently practiced strangling dogs and cats before moving on to human victims. Serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer tortured animals and impaled cats’ and dogs’ heads on sticks. The Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo, used arrows to shoot cats and dogs who were trapped inside crates.

Whether it occurs at home or in a war zone, there is never an excuse for harming animals. The stakes of cruelty to animals are far too high to ignore it, to excuse it or to let those who commit it go unpunished. It’s time for the military to treat acts of cruelty to animals with the seriousness that they deserve.

Dog trainer wanted: Control freaks need not apply

By Karen Porreca

I find it very difficult to write or even think about the topic of cruel dog-training techniques. In fact, it makes me feel lightheaded and sick to my stomach. Because of my close relationship to my dogs and my familiarity with their beautiful nature and endearing qualities, it’s incomprehensible to me that someone could purposely inflict pain on them while claiming to be teaching them. The only thing that dogs can learn from the infliction of physical pain is terror, which is the same thing that we would learn.

So it was especially disheartening to read about a dog trainer named Jeff Loy who was brought up on charges of severely beating a 6-pound shih tzu named Moby with an 18-inch piece of PVC pipe, as well as abusing the dog with a choke collar, slamming him to the floor and punching him in the chest with a clenched fist. The dog had to be rushed to the vet and was found to have sustained a broken rib, a bruised liver, a bruised bladder, profuse internal and external bleeding and ruptured blood vessels in his eyes. Continue reading Dog trainer wanted: Control freaks need not apply

Dog day morning!

By Rosalie Tirella

What a great day to own a dog! To ride with my new dog Jett in my car – he feeling full of himself (finally!) – me having a blast watching a once abused dog grow more confident. (In Kentucky, where Jett’s originally from, the men treated him rough.) Which is why I don’t make Jett heel – he can lead me anywhere on our walks! I feed him apple slices, too, and carress his little chest while cooing: “Oh, you’re a brave little man!”

I take Jett everywhere and he meets everyone! He is so tentative, but I know he will come around … .

“Here,” I tell a friend, giving her a dog treat, “give Jett a cookie!” And Jett gets his cookie! (she must throw it at his paws and look away the first time. A few times later and Jett walks up tp her and takes the treat from her hand)

“Look! Here’s a Worcester park! Let’s go!” I say to Jett, and I open the car door and out Jett pops, and we play tag in the park! Jett is running circles around me; I am pretending I wanna catch him! When I tire and sit on a park bench my little pal stops running, walks over and stares at me, as if to say: “Why are you sitting this game out?” Continue reading Dog day morning!

What a great day!

Took the dog to the vet this morning. The chemo drugs that he began taking last week are not adversely affecting his blood! In fact, he’s gained three pounds and looks better than ever! Funny, pushy and energetic … that’s my Bailey boy! Spring time – his time – for all time!

R. T.

So there HE is …

By Rosalie Tirella

the love of my life?

That’s what I thought to myself yesterday as I watched my boyfriend pat my dog Bailey’s head. I laughed when I saw “Mario” (he asked me to give him this silly pseudonym) tap, tap, tap Bailey’s skull, which has grown more pronounced in the past few weeks as he’s lost some weight. Mario didn’t stroke or smooch my big Nova Scotia hunting dog – something I do almost on an hourly basis since Bailey was diagnosed with a malignant nasal cancer. No, Mario, said it all with a few tap, tap, taps right above Bailey’s big, watery, brown eyes. A few minutes earlier he had paid the vet/oncologist more than $500 for chemo meds and a consultation. Just last week Mario – who is incredibly frugal – dropped another $500 or so at another vet’s office for head and chest x-rays for Bailey, plus the biopsy of the tumor which Bailey “sneezed” out the night before.

I had called Mario that night when Bailey began wheezing – and the blood began streaming from his left nostril. The little nose bleeds he had been happening for a half year I pretty much ignored. Knowing something was wrong I pretended nothing was wrong. I simply wiped Bailey’s pink nose with Kleenex, as if my guy had a little cold. But that night – well, the apartment looked like a murder scene Bailey was bleeding so profusely. When I woke up at 2 a.m. to Bailey’s incredible wheezing, there was blood smeared on the lower part of the front door. A trail of blood drops in the front hall. It seemed Bailey couldn’t breathe – as if this giagantic loogie was stuck in his nose and he just couldn’t get it out. Until he did. That’s when I saw this deep red, glistening thing near the bureau. “A blood clot,” I said to myself. “Bailey sneezed out a blood clot.” But when I bent down and picked it up with a sandwich baggie, it felt hard and knotty. A closer look: tangles of flesh. “A tumor,” I said.

Then I called Mario. “I don’t want to lose Bailey!” I cried. “He can’t breathe! There’s blood everywhere!” I reached over to my dog and kissed him and put my head up against his big chest.

“Do you want me to come over?” Mario said quietly. He always talks in hushed tones. People mistake his soft voice for softness in general – weakness. They couldn’t be more wrong. Mario is the toughest man I have ever met/known. And one of the smartest. A killer combo. I call him my Injun fighter because he looks like General Custer in those old Wild West posters – hair streaming in the wind, handsome, weather-beaten face. It’s guy’s like Mario who settled the West – men with brains, guts and guns. He is an anachronism. His love for rough justice, his moral code, which is hard, attracts me. When I look at him, I am still captivated.

But I digress. When Mario called, I told Mario I was OK, that I would take the dog to the vet tomorrow. I said I could not afford to pay for what I thought would be Bailey’s fate. Mario said nothing and then: Meet you at the vet tomorrow.

And he did. And he gave the secretary his credit card after a print out of the services (bill) was presented to us. (It was 3 pages long.) Mario did all this without fanfare – just like the light tap, tap, tap on Bailey’s old head. Nothing showy. Infact, the gesture could have been interpreted as LACK of affection, if you didn’t know him.  Then: I had an epiphany: Mario was always there for me – no matter how grisly the situation. Mario loved me. Mario loved Bailey. Mario loved my mom. He even loved my crazy little newspaper! Even when he once said to me, in utter exasperation: “I’m sick of going out with Clark Kent!”

“You mean Lois Lane!” I retorted. But I knew what he meant.

Sitting in the vet’s office the other day, with my dying dog, I saw Mario for what he was: a guy in love with me.

It felt great.