Monday, October 31

Happy Halloween!


If you are dressing your dog up for Halloween and still need an idea, maybe these dressed up pooches will inspire you.  They certainly made me smile!

No matter what your plans are for the evening, remember to keep your pooches safe.  Just because you enjoy big crowds or don't mind multiple kids or people coming to your door constantly, doesn't mean your dog is on the same page.  Give them what they need to feel safe, secure and happy.

For my past Halloween safety tips bark here or here.

Friday, October 28

More Halloween Safety Tips!

Halloween is Monday, but I know all through the weekend there will be parties and other Halloween festivities, so I thought I would give you one more set of Safety Tips for your pets from the ASPCA.
I have a couple of suggestions of my own that I will throw in at the end.

No Scaredy Cats This Halloween: Top 10 Safety Tips for Pet Parents

Attention, animal lovers, it's almost the spookiest night of the year! The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet saying "trick or treat!" all the way to November 1.
1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.
3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.
5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal's movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.
7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.
9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside.
10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

In addition to these great tips, I would like to add:
  • Crate your dog during the peak trick-or-treat period or for parties if your dog is crate trained.
  • Have a bowl of dog or cat treats too, for your own pets or any trick-or-treaters that may arrive.
  • Though this is an exciting time for us, it could be boring, frightening or aggravating to our pets, so give them something to do, a bone for dogs or some other chew toy and a new cat mouse toy for your cat.  Something along those lines.
  • Don't forget the attention!  The way to show this is not a bad night is to give lots of love and attention to your pets when you can.  In between trick-or-treaters or several times through out the party, check in on your pets and have a little interaction with them.  Play with the mouse toy or chew toy or give some pets and love.
Beyond those tips... have fun and be safe!

Happy (Early) Halloween and have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, October 27

Horse Rescue In Need Of Help

I know, this blog is suppose to be about dogs and downtown, but every so often I come across a story that tugs at my heart strings from my other animal passion... horses.  I grew up on a farm where each family member had their own horse and even had a pony before I was born, so literally, I've been riding horses my whole life.  To me they were never just animals, they were my shoulder to cry on, amazing listening ears and above all loyal friends.  Much like my dogs.  So equally, when I hear of horses being mistreated, it sends me over the edge with anger and I want to do something to stop it.

When I saw this article, I was immediately furious that anyone could be so cruel to these amazing animals.  That fury soon left as I saw the rescue efforts put forth by The Grace Foundation, then came the overwhelming sense that I needed to try to help.  So I turn to you my loyal readers to help this horse rescue continue their good work.  Please watch the video below to hear their story, but for those of you that don't want to watch the graphic images, let explain the situation.

In April, after discovering the horrific conditions at the Whispering Pines Ranch in Lassen County where there were the carcasses of 25 horses that littered the property, many just the skeletal remains,  The Grace Foundation was able to rescue 56 horses.  Of that 56, they found that 18 of the mares were also pregnant.  Now, after nursing the horses back to health, the foundation is tight on cash and asking the community to help.  Their goal is to adopt all the horses out, but there aren’t enough people with the means and interest in giving the horses a good home.  So, their only option is to care for the horses and the soon to be foals and that will take a lot of hands and money.

You may want to know what happened to the owner of these horses.  He was arrested and charged with 30 counts of animal cruelty.

The video explains this all in greater detail, but be warned that there are some graphic images at the beginning.

To donate to The Grace Foundation or help in another way, bark on the link:  Bark!

To watch the news video, bark on the link:  Bark!

Wednesday, October 26

Halloween Mutt Mingle

I was finally able to attend a Mutt Mingle put on by Pussy & Pooch last night!  I think this was the perfect one to introduce Neville to, it was a Halloween themed event so the whole staff and most of the pooches were dressed up in their best costumes.  Even my special guy had a costume, just the sweater he is wearing in the picture above.  But there were some really cute costumes there, everything from a dog dressed as a rocket to a dog in hot pants!  You will all have to check out the pictures from the event when they post them... watch their website, facebook and twitter.

We had a great time meeting a lot of new people and many dogs.  Such a great event to bring the dog community together.  I was so happy to get to be a part of the give away, one of the prizes was a free admission to our upcoming Fall For Your Dog Pooch Parade.

By the end, Neville was going up to greet strangers and as always saying hello to each dog.  I couldn't have been more proud.  But it was a lot for him to take, so we did have to leave before we got to hear the winners of the prizes.  I do look forward to lucky winner of the Pooch Parade!

If you live Downtown or nearby, you should try to get your dog to one of these.  They put them on each month and it is great time with your dog!

If you want to sign up for the Fall For Your Dog Pooch Parade, bark on the link:  Bark!

Monday, October 24

Halloween Safety Tips For Dog Owners

Halloween is just around the corner and I know a lot of us will start the celebrations this week.  Tomorrow I will be taking my dog to a special Halloween event at Pussy & Pooch and I know they will have treats appropriate for him, but that is not always the case when you go to a Halloween event or take your pooch to one.  Below are a few tips published by on what to do if your dog gets into your treats instead of theirs.

 Halloween is a time for everyone to have fun, feel like a kid, and eat a little extra candy. Most dogs will eat anything, and chocolate candy is no exception. The difference is, chocolate is poisonous to dogs, and if they eat enough of it, it can kill them.
Methylxanthines—the chemicals in chocolate that are dangerous—are similar to caffeine and appear in higher concentrations the darker the chocolate. Just 2-3 ounces of baker's chocolate can make a 50 pound dog very ill.
What happens when dogs eat chocolate? The chemical toxicity results in vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, inflammation of the pancreas, an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and sometimes, even death. In smaller dogs, even the wrappers from candy can result in a secondary obstruction in the stomach or intestines. Remember, it's the dose that makes the poison. Dogs that ingest a few M&Ms or 1-2 bites of a chocolate chip cookie are unlikely to develop chocolate poisoning, but smaller dogs are more sensitive than larger ones.
Common sense tells you to keep your Halloween goodies out of the reach of pets, but sometimes accidents happen. The Pet Poison Helpline reported that in 2010, the number of calls of dogs having ingested chocolate during the week of Halloween increased 209% over a typical week. Signs of mild chocolate poisoning can include vomiting and diarrhoea. Larger ingestions can cause severe agitation, tachycardia (elevated heart rate), abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures and collapse.
Raisins, sometimes appearing in Halloween sweets/candy or just handed out instead of candy, are also extremely poisonous to dogs and can cause kidney failure. If your dog has eaten any amount of raisins, grapes, or currants, you should treat it as a potentially toxic situation and immediately call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline. The poison in raisins is more concentrated than in grapes, so no amount of raisins is too small for you to make a phone call.
In addition, if your dog gets into your treat stash and gobbles it down, consult your veterinarian even if it wasn't chocolate. Large amounts of high sugar, high fat sugary food is bad for your dog's system and can result in pancreatitis. Signs include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, and potentially kidney failure. Be sure to consult your veterinarian immediately if any of these signs occur. The Pet Poison Helpline is available at 1.800.213.6680 or (for United States only).
The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) is the only statewide professional organization of over 2,200 veterinarians from across the Commonwealth. The association, which was established in 1883, strives to advance animal welfare and human health while ensuring the vitality of the veterinary profession. PVMA's website is available at .
Always keep your vet's emergency number on hand should your dog ever gobble down licit food.

Still looking for a vet?  Give me a bark, I have a great vet to refer! Bark!

Friday, October 21

Fun Friday

Happy Friday Everyone!  To kick off your weekend I wanted to share with you videos of three very talented dogs.  Last week I showed you one of them, Gabe the Bulldog.  They were the three finalist in the Good Morning America "My Dog's Better Than Your Dog" contest.  So starting with 3rd place and working up to 1st, here they are.

Taking the Bronze is Ruger!

The Silver went to Hallie!  (You get a bonus on this one, you see the dog Hallie beat to get into the finals!)

and last but not least is Gabe the Bulldog taking the GOLD!  You saw this one last week, but I personally didn't mind seeing one more time.

Have a safe and fun weekend!  Don't forget to do something fun with your pooch!

Thursday, October 20

Why Do Dogs Yawn?

I believe that once you understand basic dog behavior or you are able to understand/read a dog's body language you have a major advantage in being able to relate with your own dog or avoid a tense situation with a strange dog.  Take yawning for instance.  Most people assume it means your dog is tired, this may or may not be the case.  It also could mean a few other things. 

I found a great article on about why dogs yawn.  I found it to be filled with great information for any dog owner or dog lover.  Below is the article, enjoy the read.

Understanding Why Dogs Yawn – Hint…It's Not ALWAYS Because They're Tired!

There is no doubt that a dog is really man's best friend. These adorable furry creatures are loving, loyal and never cease to provide their human family with endless joy and companionship. The pet will stick with you through thick and thin. Dogs are known to ape what their masters do. It is really quite amusing to see that a dog will empathize with the master even with yawning. A master coming in from the office very tired will yawn; the dog can be seen yawning too.
A misconception that dogs yawn because they're tired, as we would do, can actually lead to problematic encounters. Because a dog yawn can actually be a precursor to something much more serious in the way of anxiety, fear and even a bite.

People yawn when they are bored, sleepy and fatigued. Interestingly, fetuses that are 12 weeks old are seen yawning. Yawning in dogs however, has no definitive reason. When we see our pets yawn we take it for granted that their reason for yawning is pretty much the same as the reason why we do.
Scientists have theorized that dogs yawn when they are bored. If you are an observant pet owner you will see at once that the pet is bored. Most often the dog will look at you with imploring eyes, yawn and then flop to the ground. The dog is telling you "come on, play with me".
A yawning dog with a tense and rigidly held body is a sign that the dog is nervous. This reaction is often seen in obedience classes where the dog is pressured. The dog wants to please the master but does not know how. If you are training your dog and you noticed him yawning, you better let up. Proceeding with the training will not have positive results anyway. Let the dog rest for a while and encourage with verbal praises.
Excitement is another reason why dogs yawn. Dogs in agility competitions are often noted yawning. This is the dogs way of coping with the excitement. A dog in the starting line is ready and raring to go to scale the obstacle. By yawning, the dog is preparing its body for the action. The deep breaths fill the lungs and boost the flow of oxygen to the brain. This also increases the heart rate. Really quite amazing how the dog will cope with situations such as this!
Commonly, dogs yawn because they are tired and sleepy. Yawning is precursor to sleeping. Dogs like cats sleep a lot so it will not be an extraordinary thing to see your pet yawning.
Studies have proven that yawning is contagious. If you yawn, somebody else will yawn too. Dog handlers have used the fact that yawning can energize, calm and relax a dog. By yawning, they can induce the pet to yawn too.
Understanding dog yawns can also be crucial in potentially avoiding being attacked by a dog.
As yawning can be such a visual display of stress or anxiety, if you happen to notice a dog is constantly yawning when you approach it or even petting it (especially on the head), this could be a stress signal coming from the dog.
A guide to canine mouth signals:
1. Mouth relaxed and slightly open, tongue may be slightly visible or even slightly draped over the lower teeth: This is the dog equivalent of the human smile. It means "I am happy and relaxed."
2. Yawn: While it is usually interpreted by humans as meaning fatigue or boredom, it can actually be a stress-related signal, best interpreted as "I am tense or anxious."
3. Lips curled to expose some teeth, mouth still mostly closed: "You are annoying me!" This is the first sign of menace or threat.
4. Lips curled up to show major teeth, some wrinkling of the area above the nose, mouth partly open: "If you do something that I might interpret as a threat, I may bite." This is the next stage of threat but may also indicate fearfulness. Pressing a dog at this stage may lead to an aggressive attack.
5. Lips curled up to expose not only all of the teeth but also the gums above the front teeth, visible wrinkles above the nose: "Back off!" This is the full threat display that indicates a dog is ready to release a violent attack. If you are ever confronted with this display, you should not turn and run: the level of arousal is so high that your movement will probably produce a pursuit-and-attack response. Instead, cast your gaze slightly down (a slightly submissive eye position), open your mouth a bit (a bit of a counter-threat), and back off slowly.
Understanding dog body language can be incredibly useful when it comes to gaining a better understanding of why our dogs do the things they do.
If you would like to know more about dog body language, give me a bark:  Bark!

Wednesday, October 19

Top 200 Dog Friendly Places has published their top 200 dog friendly places.  It is really great because they have it broken down into category's, so if you are looking for the best beaches in a specific region of the country, you can find it very quickly and easily.

Now they are not saying these are the only dog friendly places, just the highest ranking based on their standards.  But with how many there are, I am sure you will find a perfect place for a quick weekend get-away with your pooch or a full family vacation and this is the perfect resource if you are just looking for something to do in Los Angeles (or surrounding area) on a Saturday afternoon.  

Some of the highlights in California are:  Big Bear Lake for RV Park and Camping, Downtown L.A. had quite a few hotels that are dog friendly, Long Beach Dog Beach made the list (my personal favorite), and many restaurants all over Los Angeles have pet friendly patios.  There are so many more, this is just a few of our local spots.

To access this great resource, just bark on the link:  Bark!

Tuesday, October 18

Fall For Your Dog Pooch Parade!

Get your doggie out!  Let's sniff & stroll through Dontown's Autumn air... Nothing says Fall like a date with your pooch!   It brings me great pleasure to announce Bark & Clark's Fall Pooch Parade! Fall For Your Dog Pooch Parade on November 15th @ 7pm.  The night will kick off with the excitement and lights of LA Live, then a romp around the South Park District will follow with special to-go treats from Pussy & Pooch to give your doggies along the way. Finally the evening will conclude with a chance for the humans to sit down and unwind with adult treats and  wonderful conversation on the dog friendly patio of Big Wangs.

Besides the obvious fun you will have, this is a great chance to learn about how to handle your dog downtown and in general with other dogs and humans.  This workshop's focus is on basic obedience to help your dog focus on you - not all the distractions. We'll also work  on manners specific to the city, such as sitting at all intersections before crossing; sitting for introductions and the proper way to greet other dogs.  Last but certainly not least, we address the ongoing battle of teaching owners the proper places to potty their dog and how to clean it up!

We teach uptown manners for Downtown dogs! This class is so fun, it's more like an outing... So let's take a stroll through the city and focus on doggy's ability to deal with the public, the lively city and all the other pooches out and about.

I am so excited about this Pooch Parade, I hope I will see you there!  If you can't make it, please help me spread the word and tell a couple of friends.  Be sure to RSVP by November 10th because space is limited. 

To sign up for our next Pooch Parade, give us a bark:  Bark!

Or you can RSVP by emailing me at

Friday, October 14

My Dog's Better Than Your Dog!

All week on Good Morning America they have been previewing videos sent in by viewers for a new contest, "My Dog's Better Than Your Dog!".  There have been some cute videos, but today's was a Bulldog on a rocking horse.  I decided I should look for this talented Bulldog, I had a suspicion he would be on YouTube, and I was right!  His name is Gabe and he is quite a helper and entertainer!  Not to mention pretty good at Agility!  Here is a YouTube video highlighting his talents.

If you have a talented dog you would like to highlight on GMA, bark on the link:  Bark!

Thursday, October 13

The Curse Of Having A Cute Dog

I read this great article yesterday on, it is something we all can relate to no matter what dog you have.  The author, Dorri Old, is so easy to relate to and the humor had me laughing out loud!  I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did.

I reached for my iPhone right-handed while holding Buddy's leash in my left. It was my best friend, Maddy.  I launched into a tirade. "If one more person asks me what kind of dog Buddy is I'm going to scream."
"I've walked one block and four people…"
"It's because he's so cute."
I imitated passersby in falsetto, "'Oooh, what's his name? How old is he? Where did you get him?' When they ask what breed he is I have to say, 'Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.' It's a mouthful and they never get it. 'What kind?' After three or four times I get so sick of chewing my cabbage twice I start barking, 'He's a MUTT!'"
"I think they're just being friendly."
"I don't want friendly. I want to be left alone. For Pete's sake, I work twelve-hour days. When I take a break I need peace and quiet."
"Peace and quiet? You live in New York City! Maybe you need to work less so you won't be so cranky."
"Cranky? CRANKY?"
* * *
Buddy came into my life seven years ago, right after a devastating split. I'd found out the guy was married and the breakup nearly broke me. I felt splintered, defective, and out-of-order. Depression yanked me down and that's where I stayed, wallowing.
One day, still telling everyone who'd listen how doomed I was, I ran into a neighbor who said. "You need a puppy. It'll change everything." I looked down at her dog. "He's a Blenheim Cavalier King Charles Spaniel," she said proudly."
He had soft white fur with cow-like patches of auburn brown. His ears flopped like a beagle. He looked about the size of a cocker spaniel, but shrunken like a T-shirt in a dryer. His long lashes and dark eyes made him look like Bambi. When I smiled at him his tail wagged frantically and rhythmically like a windshield wiper.
I mulled over my neighbor's suggestion. I called Maddy to discuss. "Puppies are a huge responsibility. You have to be home all the time." I said.
"You're home all the time anyway!"
Hmm, she had a point. I work at my Mac in my living room. My only commute is to trek to the kitchen for snacks. I began to weigh the pros and cons of getting a dog. I thought about my ex and how much I'd wanted a baby with him. I ruminated. Pets are expensive—con. The cost of a dog pales in comparison to raising a kid. There'd be no braces—pro. No college tuition—Pro. He'd never wreck a car—Pro! Pro!
The next time I ran into my neighbor I asked her where she'd gotten her dog. She raved about a high quality breeder.
Instead of What to Expect When You're Expecting, I read How to Raise Your Cavalier and The Owner's Guide to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I read both books in two days and decided to name the dog after my Uncle Buddy. I was nervous and excited and hopeful, like I'd felt before my first date with my no-good ex.
Preparing for this new pup made life joyful. Sort of—when any couple walked by I still seethed with envy.
My big day arrived. I went to pick up my doggie. The gates were down. I peered in the window and saw a teeny-tiny Cavalier the size of a Beanie Baby. The second our eyes met I knew he was mine. He looked scared and vulnerable and all I wanted to do was keep him safe. The owner pulled up the gate and I bee-lined to the crate. Buddy was placed in my arms. I held him to my chest cradling his itty-bitty head.
I carted him around in my purse and smuggled him into movies. This warm bundle challenged my sulking. On Saturday nights, when loneliness descended like a shroud over my living room, I played with my pup, reconciled to becoming one of those single old ladies who "married" her pet.
Buddy became a balm that soothed. He slept pressed against me and I'd lie awake to listen to his puppy snores.
Sharing him with someone even for an instant, especially a stranger in the street, felt like a band-aid yanked off a burn.
I was accosted when I walked him, like stars and their paparazzi.
"Oh, he's so cute."
"Can I pet him?"
"Where did you get him?"
"What kind of dog is that?"
I couldn't stand all the questions. Sometimes I spoke Russian-sounding gibberish, 'I g'no shpeak Eenglish.'
Other times I pointed to my mouth like I couldn't talk because I was eating. People ogled. I snapped, "Move, can't you see I'm walking here?"
Then one day, for the millionth time, somebody tried to pet my dog. I didn't even look up. Just yanked Buddy closer to me and grumbled, "Leave us alone, we're busy."

As I was walking away I heard the guy mutter, "Geez, I'm busy too. I just wanted to say hello."
I stopped. Suddenly I saw who I'd become and felt ashamed. I turned to apologize to the man but he was already crossing the street. I watched this handsome man walk away in his tasteful suit and could've kicked myself. I'd whined to my friend, Maddy, the day before, "I'll never meet a man." Her response now reverberated in my head. "It would be much easier to meet a guy if you weren't walking around pissed off and in a hurry."
Buddy and I strolled to Madison Square Park and a breeze went through my hair. I decided that I didn't want to end up a bitter, irascible, curmudgeon. As we walked toward the dog-run Buddy tugged excitedly toward a nice looking dude with a pooch. My anger and disappointment with the world lifted for a moment. I smiled and found myself saying, "Excuse me, what kind of dog is that?"

Wednesday, October 12

Best Doggie Halloween Costume!

Halloween is in the air and all I can think about is what costume to put my dog in!  You would think with his fear issues he wouldn't like wearing things... but that is not the case.  You can put a t-shirt on him and watch out, he becomes a super model working the runway!  So, I got very inspired when I saw this hit Facebook and Dogster.  It is the cutest thing. 

Below are the steps that the owner of this cutie (Bones) took to craft this amazing costume.  Enjoy and I hope you are as inspired as I am!

“This is an early shot of the foam form I made for fitting purposes. It was made to minimize the fittings on Bones the actual dog. He is patient, but there are limits.”

 “Here is Bones in his speed suit. This is two pieces, body and head, and is completely open underneath. I patterned it after some pajamas that he wears at night.”

“I am holding the body of the vehicle on bones to check the fit. I was taking too long to get his picture and he was ready to be done. I made the body all out of foam sheet which was 1/4 inch thick with “fun foam” foam sheets on top. It hardly weighs anything.”

“Here is the body suit once it is painted. The feet are just slid on to the model. The round disks at the joints snap on to the suit so it is more comfortable and easier to get on and off.”  (* tip- yogurt cups for feet)

Finished Product!  I am amazed at the creativity!

Friday, October 7

Harper The Wonder Pup!

Last Friday I highlighted an inspiring Pit Bull named Dolly.  As mentioned in the story, her owner started a foundation in her name called Dolly's Foundation.  The organization rescues and rehabilitates homeless, neglected and abused American Pit Bull Terriers and other bully breed dogs, and it has plenty of puppies and dogs available for adoption.  So it is no surprise that Dolly's Foundation rescued this amazing and inspiring puppy named Harper.  Here is her story.

Have a happy weekend and don't forget to do something special with your pup!

For more on Harper's story, bark on the link:  Bark!

Thursday, October 6

Service Dog Denied From Working In Classroom

As a huge supporter and believer in service dogs, I read this story from yesterday and was greatly disturbed.  In Mississippi, a teacher who is a Type 1 Diabetic, has been denied repeatedly to bring her Diabetic Alert Dog into the classroom with her.  
 The teacher, 29-year-old Christina McCurdy, uses her female boxer, Jinx, as a Diabetic Alert service dog. The dog is trained to alert McCurdy when her blood sugar is dropping, something she says she cannot tell the majority of the time. The huge swings in McCurdy's blood sugar levels could lead to seizures, organ damage and even death.
As a result of her condition, McCurdy has continuously lobbied her school district to allow her to bring her pup Jinx into the classroom. She's been denied repeatedly, and she still has not received an answer as to why.
In McCurdy's estimation, her dog Jinx is purely a service dog in the same fashion that a seeing-eye dog is. While dogs have been helping the blind for many years, diabetic alert dogs are a relatively new trend. They rely on scent to sense when blood sugar is dropping.
I think this is just wrong and to even suggest that these "types" of  service dogs are not "real" service dogs is ridiculous.  Though it has taken humans a while to figure out exactly what our four-legged friends can help us with, dogs have been alerting people on dropping blood sugar levels, cancer, epileptic seizures and many other things for a long time.  Their noses can do things ours simply cannot.  Trained bomb dogs can go into a huge warehouse and find the slightest scent of bomb materials, that is a pretty impressive nose!  

This story is disappointing to me and I think the school board that is denying the dog to work in the classroom should at the very least fully explain why they continue to deny it.  Otherwise, one is left to believe this is pure ignorance in play or some sort of discrimination.

To read the full original story, bark on the link:  Bark!

Wednesday, October 5

How To Help Pups With Arthritis

K9 Magazine's online newsletter had some great tips for puppies or dogs that have arthritis.  Since this is a problem that effects so many, I wanted to share this information with you.  There is also a video at the end that I really found helpful as well.  Please remember that this publication is out of the UK, so some of the facts quoted are from there, but they are similar to the US. 

It is quite common for puppies to have genetically acquired hip dysplasia and/or elbow dysplasia. Unfortunately, these are the results of improper breeding, and with the huge amount of puppies being born each year from people that are not dog breeding professionals, you may come across a puppy with these conditions often.
Elbow and hip dysplasia are essentially the same thing, except where the problem occurs, one being in the hip joint and the other being in the elbow joint. In normal dog growth, the femur head is supposed to grow into the joint socket and then be able to rotate freely around as a puppy moves. Dysplasia occurs when the femoral head grows outward and when the bone thickens, there is a gap left in the front. This gap unfortunately causes slight falls in motion, which induces high levels of discomfort and makes a dog’s walking and running unstable.

If your puppy has been diagnosed as having hip or elbow dysplasia, there are a few ways in which you can make his life a lot more comfortable. Below are some pointers to help guide you along:
1. For starters, look to the future and avoid passing this genetic disorder on. This can be accomplished with the simple procedure of neutering your dog.
2. Clinical Nutritionist and A Walk in the Park expert, Marge Chandler says, “Establishing a healthy diet with your dog while it is a growing puppy is the key to decreasing the risk or delaying the onset of osteoarthritis. It’s important that you don’t allow puppies to become overweight or grow too rapidly. To help achieve this feed a complete and balanced diet without giving additional calcium supplements.”
3. Feeding your dog too much food in high amounts of calories may cause him to grow at a faster rate. This can cause the disorder to become highly aggravated. Simply feed your dog a balanced diet and try to avoid inducing growth spurts with too much food and protein.
4. Help cushion your dog’s walking by laying carpet in your house and in as many areas as you can. By adding a layer of softness to hard floors, the pain your dog feels will be diminished significantly.
5. Do not encourage fast pace running or jogging from your dog. Although hitting the great outdoors and taking long strides through nature can be a fun way to bond with your pet, you are only doing him a disservice when the disorder of hip dysplasia is prevalent. His joints can become inflamed and induce pain and irritability

Tuesday, October 4

Dog Park Etiquette

It is no secret that I am not a fan of dog parks.  I simply think that way too many people go with dogs that shouldn't be there.  They want to work out their issues and that is the wrong place to do it.  The dogs in a dog park should be trained, well-mannered and completely socialized.  It would be such a different experience.  But, just because I don't agree with them doesn't mean that they readers of this blog and some clients of mine aren't taking their dogs.  So, if you are going to take your dog, you should have some rules to live by. 

When I find articles or stories that express my feelings and opinions just as well as I do, I have to share them with you.  Dogster published a dog park do's and don'ts list from guest blogger Casey Lomonaco, a trainer that has my respect and support.  Everything I have read from Lomonaco suggests our training philosophies are very similar.  This is all sound advice and if everyone followed these etiquette rules, dog park life would be much different.  Please read and take it in and share this with everyone you know that takes their dog to a dog park.
Dog parks are popular places for owners to try to address their dogs’ needs for social interaction with other dogs alongside physical exercise in a safe, off-leash environment. While my feelings on dog parks are very mixed, if you and your dog enjoy using them, you should set firm rules to ensure everyone has a fun, safe time.

Here are a few suggested dos and don’ts to help you set a positive (and safe!) example for other dog park attendees.
The DOs:
Do exercise your dog well before you go to the dog park. Dogs arriving with an overabundance of energy, many having had no exercise whatsoever since last week’s visit, tend to come in like freight trains and either cause or be on the receiving end of dog park drama.
Do leave kids at home. The dog park is a park for dogs. Bring your children to the playground separately — small children at the dog park are often a danger, or in danger.
Do leave your dog in the car for a minute while you scope out the scene — while you may visit this park daily or weekly, there may be times when the arousal level of play is too high for your comfort level, or when you notice the dogs are bullying or playing in a manner that would make your dog uncomfortable. If it doesn’t look like the kind of play your dog would enjoy, consider going for a walk instead and trying the park another day.
Do educate yourself on the signs of healthy play and how to read dog body language. If you can observe and respond effectively to gradually increasing signs of arousal, you will be well-equipped to intervene and keep your dog safe before things get out of control.
Do remove your dog’s leash upon entering the park, and keep it with you while you are there.
Do leave your cellphone and other distractions in the car — you should focus on your dog the entire time you are at the park. If you want to chat to a friend at the park, keep at least one eye on your dog and do not allow him to get so far away that you cannot intervene and control the situation when necessary.
Do interrupt play frequently with short and fun training sessions. Dog park time should never be a free-for-all. Practice calling your dog to you (provided you have established good foundation response skills), rewarding him, and releasing him to play again immediately. If you call your dog only when he is over-aroused, chances are your recall signal will not work and he will learn that ignoring you has big-time payoffs when it comes to fun!
Do clean up! I think the ultimate dog park etiquette is that if you see a pile, you pick it up. It doesn’t matter which irresponsible owner neglected her obligation to clean up: Taking initiative to keep the park clean will increase the likelihood that the park stays open and protect both your dog and all other attending dogs from communicable illnesses. Bring more poop bags than you think you’ll need, just in case!
Do bring your own water and water bowl, leaving them in the car. Removing your dog from the park frequently for mini-breaks is a great idea, and I worry about the safety of community water bowls and their potential as vehicles for illness transmission (and resource guarding, especially on hot days when there are far more thirsty dogs than there are bowls of cool water!). Better to be safe than sorry — bring your own water and bowl.
Do think carefully about your decision to bring your dog’s favorite treats or toys to the park. It is best to use them only when there is plenty of distance between your dog and other dogs. Be aware that the risk for possession aggression is high, which is why treats are banned in many parks.
Do a brief physical warm-up before and after. Because play at the park can be very strenuous, a 5-to-10-minute walk before and after can reduce the risk of injuries to your dog when enjoying the park.
Do keep your small dog in the small dog section, even if he likes playing with big dogs. Small dogs in the large dog section of the park can easily be injured even in regular play, but are also susceptible to a seldom-seen but dangerous type of interaction known as predatory drift that can quickly become deadly.
Don’t allow your dog to drag you into the park. Entrance to the park, for dogs that enjoy the experience, should always be a reward for desirable behavior and should never reward pushiness, lunging, barking, or other demand behaviors. This is a great chance to practice loose-leash walking and focus techniques with real-life reinforcement.
Don’t allow your dog to bully other dogs or be bullied by others. Be proactive, and remember your job is to be your dog’s advocate. If another dog is bullying your dog, ask the owner to control it so you can remove yours to safety. Similarly, do not be offended if another owner asks you to temporarily restrain your dog so that she may remove her own.
Don’t allow your dog to enter the park with a collar, unless it is a breakaway one. Collars can get caught in teeth or on fencing and cause choking incidents — a breakaway collar or harness that does not fasten around the neck are safer bets for dog park attire.
Don’t bring an intact female in heat to the dog park, no matter how well socialized she is. You’d think this would be common sense, but I’ve seen it! This is dangerous for both the dog in heat and all other dogs at the park.
Don’t feed anyone else’s dog or allow your dog to take food from strangers. Food aggression and potential allergies are just two reasons these situations can cause problems.
Don’t expect the dogs to “work it out.” It is always better to intervene first — humans are responsible for maintaining peace and order at the dog park.
Don’t bring your dog to the park if he is suffering from any sort of communicable illness. Find other ways to provide your dog with exercise until he is no longer contagious.
Don’t think of the dog park as a great place to socialize a dog with “issues” (reactivity, aggression, fear, etc.) toward other dogs or people. One of my biggest gripes about dog parks is that they’re actually much more popular than they should be — they should be for well-trained, well-socialized, tolerant, and savvy dogs. Don’t assume that the dog park is fun for all or even most dogs — if you study up on canine body language, you will be better able to determine if the dog park is enjoyable or a scary, overwhelming, stressful experience for your dog.
Know your dog’s play style. Does your dog like to chase and be chased? Does he like to play “bitey face” with other dogs? Does he enjoy rough, physical, high-contact wrestling play, or does that make him uncomfortable? Encourage interaction with dogs with similar play styles, and remove your dog from the situation if there are no compatible playmates.
About the Author: Casey Lomonaco graduated with distinction from the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior, and is a member of the following professional organizations: APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers), CGC evaluator — AKC (American Kennel Club), TDF (Truly Dog Friendly), and the No-Shock Collar Coalition.

I really love the overall message here, it is what I preach at all my clients.  If you go to the dog park, don't just release your dog and check out.  You as their owner/human parent/advocate, however you see yourself, need to stay engaged and present just in case they get in trouble, not to mention to continue to interact with them for breaks and training.  I also love the point of educating yourself on dogs play style and reading body language.  If more owners understood what their dog was doing or saying, so much could be prevented.

I hope you all got as much out of this as I did.  Great advice!  If you go to dog parks, please follow these rules, it will keep your dog safe!

Monday, October 3

Guide Dog Attacked By Two Dogs

I was watching the 11 o'clock news last night when I saw this story out of Sacramento where a guide dog was attacked by two Rottweilers and I new I had to blog about it this morning.  This makes me so angry on one hand but it also completely warms my heart on another. 

On Saturday morning Frank Lopez, a teacher who is legally blind, took his guide dog Nolan for a walk.  During this normal walk Lopez says he heard the dogs approach behind them, "I could hear the nails from his paws running on the concrete and then I heard Nolan whimper."  Lopez then tried to get in between the Nolan and the first Rottweiler, but then the second dog came into the attack.  It wasn't until a bystander and the dog's owner came out to intervene that the attack on Nolan ended. 

"I could feel he was bleeding really badly," said Lopez, who was also injured when he fell during the attack.
Nolan was taken to the El Camino Animal Hospital, where doctors immediately operated on his ears - a surgery that had an upfront cost of $1,400. In the surgery room, the veterinarian said his injuries were not life threatening, but it was unclear if Nolan could resume work immediately as a guide dog.
"He didn't leave me. He didn't even try to run away during the attack," said Lopez. "He just stayed by my side the whole time and didn't even think about protecting himself."
Nolan is a 3 year-old yellow lab from Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael. Lopez has had Nolan for two years.
"I had to use my cane for the first time in two years," said Lopez. "I'm really fortunate to have Nolan. I depend on him for a lot of things. I kinda feel naked without him."
I am left feeling completely appalled at the owner of the Rottweilers!  You know if your dog is at that level of aggression with other dogs.  To be willing to track down a dog and attack them with no reason is awful.  Let me be clear, I am NOT saying all Rottweilers are this way, this has nothing to do with the breed, everything to do with what the specific dogs did.  But even with that, I don't blame the dogs fully, I blame the owners.  Those dogs should not have been allowed to get to the street and run freely.  I do understand dogs escape now and then, but if your dogs are aggressive like that, you can't take that chance and it is YOUR responsibility as an owner to keep your dogs from harming other dogs, humans or themselves.

On the other hand, I am left feeling completely in awe of Nolan that stood by his owner and continued to do his job.  I wish Nolan well and hope he is back to work soon.

For the complete story, bark on the link:  Bark!