Wednesday, June 26

Having Dogs is Like Having Kids!

Dogster published an article this morning about a study that was recently done that showed having dogs is like having children.  This is something that I did not need a study to explain to me, it is something I have been saying for a long time.  When I became a dog trainer and started discussing techniques of dog training with my sister and we realized a lot of the techniques work exactly like those of child rearing.  Further, as a dog owner that does not plan to have children, my dog is the closest relationship to that of a small child.  The attention they need, the way you care for them, how you need to encourage and stimulate their mind and the love you share.  It is all very similar.  Below is the full article, enjoy.
Those who consider themselves "dog parents" have some solid ammunition to bring to the Thanksgivng table next year, as a new study shows that the relationship between dogs and their owners is similar to the relationship between that of children and their parents. 
And it's similar in one of the main duties of parenting: the ability to nurture. According to a new study in the news, dogs and children share the same mental response to dependency, called the “secure base effect," in which dogs as well as children rely on a nurturing figure to interact with the world. The parents are a sort of "home base," a place of comfort that dog and child can easily return to while going on mini-adventures, exploring the world. 

(Dog with bottle by Shutterstock.)
The results came about when Lisa Horn of Vetmeduni’s Messerli Research Institute set out to study dog-owner dynamics, and she headed an experiment conducted at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.
The experiment tested three types of owners of dogs: “absent owners,” “silent owners,” and “encouraging owners." The owners were matched with dogs who were encouraged to play with interactive toys for treats.
When the owners were absent, the dogs were the least likely to work for their treats. But their motivation level skyrocketed when encouraging owners were present -- even if the owners were silent. 
When an owner was replaced with a stranger, the dogs weren't interested in earning their treats. The scientists put this down as a dog lacking the security it needed to face the world and tackle the food reward tasks.
In short, a good owner gives a dog confidence. We think that's worth an extra treat for the both of you.  

(Little girl with dog by Shutterstock.) 
"One of the things that really surprised us is that adult dogs behave toward their caregivers like human children do," said Horn. "It will be really interesting to try to find out how this behavior evolved in the dogs with direct comparisons."

Monday, June 24

Last Remaining Seats All About Eve!

Summer is my favorite time of year Downtown, mainly because of all the amazing things to do.  Among my favorite is the Last Remaining Seats series that the L.A. Conservancy presents.  This past Wednesday I went to All About Eve at the Los Angeles Theatre.  This was my first time in the theatre, I was not disappointed!

As I walked in I was greeted with this beautiful lobby and breath taking chandeliers, the most amazing at the end top of the stairs in the form of a waterfall.  I had to stand and take notice for a few moments to just take it all in.

As we moved through the theatre going into each level, I became more and more impressed with the detail of the theatre.  The design of the stage, the detail in the wood work on the walls, the mural on the ceiling, and the general layout.  We found perfect seats on the third floor overlooking the entire theatre.  Just a perfect view.

The night was a little warm, but otherwise it was a perfect evening.  Watching some of the greats on the big screen, enjoying the humor and wonderful acting of actresses I have adored my entire life.  To feel like you have been transplanted back in time to 1950 watching the film for the first time in a theatre as it was released is part of the fun the L.A. Conservancy gives us.

I had a wonderful evening and I am so thankful that I finally got to see this wonderful theatre!  This Saturday I will be going to Casablanca and I can't wait! 

Wednesday, June 19

Natura Pet Products Recall!

Early this morning there was another dog food recall announced!  Please be sure to check your food and if this affects you, get new food ASAP.  Below are all the details of the recall.

Pet Food Recall: Dog, Cat Food Contaminated With Salmonella

Natura Pet Products today recalled six different brands of dog and cat food over potential Salmonella contamination.
The recall was made after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) test returned positive for Salmonella on a single sample. The products being were all packaged in the same production facility as the positive sample.
Natura Pet Products manufactures pet food and treats markeded as “natural” and “holistic.” The recall includes dry dog food, dry cat food, and pet biscuits/bars/treats branded Innova, EVO, California Natural, Healthwise, Karma, and Mother Nature with expiration dates prior to June 10, 2014.
The company has released a statement through its website apologizing and stating that additional testing procedures have been implemented for its products. The statement, in full:
Dear Natura Family,
We have some sad news to share. We are announcing today a voluntary recall of all Innova, California Natural, EVO, Healthwise, Mother Nature and Karma branded dry pet food and biscuit/bar/treat products with expiration dates prior to June 10, 2014.
We made this decision in part due to a single positive Salmonella test by the FDA on product manufactured April 3. Normally, this would have resulted in retrieval of product manufactured over just a few days. However, we are taking the additional precautionary measure to recall all products in the marketplace. Our first priority is the wellbeing of the pets we serve.
Our decision allows us to ensure that all products available in the marketplace were produced after June 10, the date when we implemented additional finished product testing procedures with the guidance of industry experts.
Below this message you will find instructions on how to request a replacement voucher or refund. If you have any further questions, please contact us at or (800) 224-6123.
We are truly sorry. We know this news disappoints you; we are disappointed too. Natura will always focus on high-quality ingredients, product safety and innovation in pet nutrition. We remain committed to making products you can trust.
Employees of Natura Pet Products
Customers can download a form through the Innova website to request a refund for recalled products.

Tuesday, June 18

High Tech Devices Entering The Dog Walking World

Are you a dog owner and into high tech gear?  Or do you just want to be able to track your dog's walks, poop and get pictures too?  Either way, Swifto is here to help.  Dogster brought us the story, read all about it.

Silicon Valley and the tech industry is involved in a burgeoning love affair with dogs, pouring money into it, and we've starting covering the new gizmos to hit the market for canines. 
We've got a new one: Swifto, based in New York City. The startup raised $2.5 million from Benchmark Capital last year and is poised to disrupt the world of dog walkers, which is dominated by small operators.
The problem with dog walkers, such that there is one, is that you rely on the word of the dog walker to walk the dog, which can be a gamble. Enter Swifto, a dog-walking service currently in New York City. Its walkers are fully vetted and interviewed, each completing a test and ... enough about that. That's not what makes Swifto cool. 
It's this: When one of Swifto's walkers takes your pup out on the streets, you get a text message. Then, you can track the walk on a live map on your mobile phone, via GPS tracking. Imagine: You can watch your dog on a walk, heading down streets, taking a right here, and a left there, then stopping at the dog park, then heading for home. Swifto will also send you photos of your dog on the walks. 
Here's what might be the best part, for a certain sort of person: When your dog poops, you will get a "poop alert," along with a text message that says, "Your dog has just pooped." 
Who wouldn't love getting a text like that? 
The service also offers other neat things. If your dog needs to be run and not walked, Swifto can calculate the dog’s average speed down to fractions of a mile per hour, for example.
The New York Times recently took Swifto on a test run and reported a positive experience. The dog walker assigned to the writer, Meredith, said she never sent pictures of a dog's poop, but she has done other things: “When a dog has been sick, I have sent pictures of vomit. The owner found it very helpful.”
The Times says the cost of Swifto is line with the industry -- $20 per half-hour walk if you sign up with the service. According to an article by TechCrunch, sales are expected to reach $1 million this year, and the company plans to expand to Boston by the end of the year as well as Chicago and San Francisco in 2014.

I know there is already technology here in SoCal that allows dog walkers to essentially check in electronically when they get to your home and check out as they leave.  Each swipe will send a text to you, so you know when your dog is being tended to.

I can't wait to see how the technology evolves around this ever-growing industry.

Monday, June 17

Spring Street Park Opens!

Today is a good day for the residents of the Historical Core District!  This morning there was a ribbon cutting and announcement of the opening of Spring Street Park.  This is a much wanted and anticipated green space for the neighborhood.

Us dog owners are doing flips to have one more area to walk our dogs and enjoy the green with them.  Parents are excited about the play space for their kids. The rest of the neighborhood is buzzing about more chill space to sit, picnic or just enjoy the open air and DTLA views.

This little park will have a big impact on this community!  So happy it is finally open and I will be trying it out for the first time this afternoon!

Wednesday, June 12

Kabang's Homecoming!

The BBC covered the homecoming of our favorite hero dog Kabang.  I couldn't help but shed a tear or six as I read the story and remembered her journey.  The thought of what a true hero this little dog is for saving her human "sisters" and then the journey to simply recover has been long and should have been traumatic, but I have never read about any fear, distress or terror.  This dog is so brave, so trusting and so absolutely remarkable!  Below is the story of her reuniting with her owners and how the community honored her.

A dog that lost half her face saving two girls from an oncoming motorcycle has returned to the Philippines after eight months of treatment in the US.
The mixed-breed dog, Kabang, lost her snout and upper jaw in the incident in December 2011.
Kabang attracted worldwide support because of her injuries, with donations from the Philippines and abroad covering her $27,000 treatment costs.
A parade is planned in Kabang's honour in Zamboanga City on Sunday.
The hero dog jumped into the path of a motorcycle, stopping it from hitting her owner's daughter and niece in the southern city two years ago.
The accident left a gaping hole in the two-year old dog's face.
Kabang's heroic tale prompted an outpouring of sympathy, with fundraising campaigns set up on Facebook and Twitter.
Veterinary surgeon Anton Lim, who accompanied the dog to the US, said they received donations from 45 countries, covering the full cost of treatment.
"This is the first time in the history of the Philippines that we've seen such support for a dog," said Ed Unson, another Filipino vet and one of Kabang's handlers.
Doctors at the University of California operated on Kabang's wounds, and treated her for a tumour and heartworm.
While they could not reconstruct the dog's jaw or snout, they took skin grafts from her cheeks, neck and forehead to cover up sensitive areas exposed on her face, University of California Professor Frank Verstraete explained.
Despite the disfigurement, Kabang can still chew her food using her two remaining molars, and smell well enough to recognise her owner and handlers, Mr Lim told reporters on Saturday.
The dog was greeted by a crowd of well-wishers at Manila airport and later reunited with her owner, Rudy Bunggal, in Zamboanga.
Kabang, we wish you well!  Enjoy your family and enjoy your modest but very rich life.  You are an amazing dog that fill us all with hope and inspiration that odds can be beaten.

Thursday, June 6

Arthritis in Senior Dogs

As a trainer I see dogs of all ages and one thing I am asked about a lot is what can be done for Arthritis.  I suggest seeing your veterinarian and working out a good treatment plan with them.  But, The Bark put out a great article on this very topic that has some very helpful tips and suggestions.  Please remember, you should ask your vet what is best for your dog.  All the suggestions below are suggestions to treat arthritis in a general case, this of course is not taking your dog's specific health into consideration.

As our pets age, you may begin to notice subtle changes in their movement, such as having a little difficulty going up or down the stairs, or seemingly slow to rise from a comfortable laying position.  These can be early signs of arthritis, and early intervention is critical to slowing progression of the disease.  I am currently experiencing this “slow down” with my 11 year old Dobie, and I thought it would be good to share some suggestions that you, too, can consider if you have a pet that is living with some degree of arthritis.
Like any lifestyle change, one of the most important things to do first is to ensure that there are no other causes for the changes you are seeing in your pet. An intermittent and subtle slow down can be caused by many things, such as a low thyroid level or even a slowly bleeding tumor on the spleen. X-rays, a urine sample and blood work are important to ensure the overall health of your pet before starting any treatment plan.   
Today, there are a number of effective pain medications that are available to our pets, and a multi-modal approach to pain management is the best way to go.  By using pain medications that address various pain pathways, you get more complete and synergistic pain management while actually using lower doses of medications.  A cornerstone of arthritis management is a non-steroidal anti inflammatory, or NSAID. This provides excellent pain management in the early stages of arthritis, and then as the disease progresses, additional “layers” of pain management can be “added on.” These medications include such options as gabapentin, tramadol, and amantadine, with each one working to enhance the other.
Adequan is another medication that has been used in pets with degenerative joint disease or traumatic events such as a torn cruciate ligament. It works to help slow down the rate of decay of cartilage as well as stimulate new collagen and hyaluronic acid, a lubricant in joints. This is an injectable product that can be taught to be given at home underneath the skin and is initially given twice weekly for three to four weeks and then, once monthly. By the fifth or sixth injection, most pet parents usually see a more comfortable and agile pet.
Supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin and omega-3 fish oils are good additions to managing arthritis changes. These supplements provide your pet's joints with building materials to help rebuild their cartilage and decrease the inflammation in the joints. Supplements are not an overnight fix, and they generally take at least six weeks before improvements can be seen. Products can be purchased over-the-counter and do not need to be labeled specifically for pets.  However, not all nutrapharmaceutical products are FDA regulated, and there is quite a bit of discussion with regards to bioavailability between various brands; this is a case where cheaper is not always better and I would recommend purchasing only high quality and trusted brands.  Your veterinarian can make recommendations for you. The standard dose for glucosamine/chondroitin is approximately 10 mg per pound of body weight once a day, for which you can round up or down to make tablet division or multiplying easiest.  For example, a 20-pound dog could take half of a 500 mg tablet daily (250 mg), even though its “recommended” dose is 200 mg. Also, when you are considering fish oil, you want to be sure to base it on the omega-3 concentration of EPA. The dose is 20 mg EPA for every pound of body weight once daily, and for example, our 20-pound dog would need 400 mg EPA daily.
Another area of extreme importance is your pet’s body weight.  I have to admit, I am a little guilty of letting this area slip and my boy and I recently went through a five-pound weight reduction program (I couldn’t let him “suffer” alone). How can you tell if your pet is a little too chubby? You should be able to easily feel your pet's ribs and backbone beneath the skin; if you cannot, then your pet may be overweight. Excessive weight is an added burden for already compromised joints, and you may be amazed how much better your dog will feel simply by shedding a few pounds. I can already see a difference in the way Bauer prances around.
Continued activity is also important—the old adage, “if you don’t use it, you loose it,” holds true for our pets, too. Working to keep up your pet’s muscle mass through activity can help provide stability and flexibility to joints.  Low-impact exercise is best, such as long walks and swimming, and both are highly encouraged. 
There are also newer concepts of arthritis management. One such treatment is known as Stem Cell Therapy. This is a procedure in which adult stem cells are injected into the arthritic joints, or into damaged ligaments and tendons, to aid in healing and repair. While continued studies are still needed, there are many reports of pets responding well and this therapy holds promise.  Joint replacement is a surgical therapy and has been proven to be very successful. As an example, 95% of canine patients with hip replacement can return to normal function. There has also been the development of dedicated rehabilitation centers for pets, which are becoming more widely available as the demand for options grows.
Trained professionals can offer additional treatments such as hydrotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, physical therapy, cold laser therapy, and pulsed signal therapy. Complementary treatments can offer your pet a complete approach to management of its arthritis, and many of these singular modalities, such as acupuncture, are often offered by veterinarians in general practice. These newer approaches to arthritis management are areas that I can discuss in greater detail in another blog, if there is any interest.  Let me know!

Wednesday, June 5

Breed Discrimination

I have talked about this many times before, breed discrimination in dogs.  I'm sure you have all seen it's ugliness or heard it and for some reason in the last two weeks it has presented itself to me vividly, so I needed to address it here.  Breed discrimination is just as ugly as any other form of discrimination or prejudice, it is just directed towards dogs.

About two weeks ago I was on a walk with my dog when I passed another man and his little dog and there was a Pitbull walking toward us.  This Pit was not doing anything, just walking.  Honestly, better than my dog was walking.  But the man said nothing to me about my dog, rather, he said "Better be careful of that dog, he is one of those that will get you."  I responded with " He looks in control, I think we are fine, but thank you."  I passed the dog with no problem, neither of our dogs even seemed to care about the other.  I put that incident out of my mind thinking maybe he had a bad encounter with that dog or a dog that looked like that one.

But then in the next 7-10 days following that, I have been out with my dog, out with Pit clients or Shepherd clients, heard clients grievances and overheard things as I walk through the city that made my skin crawl.  While with clients I've heard everything from "Don't EVER put a harness on a pit!  Are you trying to kill someone?" to "Get that man eating filth out of our neighborhood.".  My clients that own Pits have told me about all the harassment they go through on a day to day basis, the scared looks, hateful comments, people standing next to a building until they pass and so on.  It is ridiculous!

Meanwhile, you have Chihuahuas that are extremely aggressive getting laughed at, small terriers that literally nip ankles and other dogs faces and the typical white dog from the shelter that is barking at every moving thing, but nothing is said to them.  It is just cute or people feel sorry for them.

This makes no sense to me!  This has to STOP!!

First of all, there is no reason a Pit cannot have a harness on!  Second, none of these dogs should be call man eaters unless in fact they have committed that crime, and none of the PETS I work with have!  Third, just because a dog is a certain breed, does not mean you have the right to harass their owner.  And Fourth, when you see a dog walking toward you, no matter the breed, there is no need to clear a path in any other fashion than to make room for dog and owner to pass.

Hate breeds hate!  For all the people that have issues with the Pit breed specifically, try to understand that they have a bad wrap.  That doesn't mean they are all friendly and without problems, but then again, there is no breed I can say that about.  ALL BREEDS have dogs that have aggression and fear problems with both people and dogs.  This is NOT THEIR FAULT!  It is due to an abuse, mistreatment, neglect or an unfortunate life of no exposure to anything in the world.  Why on earth would anyone equate that to bad, to me it is sad and calls for further understanding.

All dog breeds have the ability to love unconditionally, give loyal friendship and undying companionship.  So the next time you pass a dog you think is "mean" or a "bad" breed, try to remember the love, loyalty and companionship they are giving their owner.  Maybe you can see them differently.  If we become a world of love and acceptance, think about what we could do.  Not just with dogs, but with humans too.

Tuesday, June 4

Update on Kabang!

We have been following the story of Kabang the Hero Dog from the Philippines for quite awhile (Kabang 1, Kabang 2, Kabang 3) .  Today Dogster posted a fantastic update, Kabang gets to go home!  The last update I brought to you was that enough money was raised to get her to UC Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital to get her the help she needed.  After 8 long months, she is much better and going home infection free.  The whole update is below brought to us by Dogster.

We've been following the story of Kabang, the hero dog who lost her snout when she jumped in front of a motorcycle and saved two little girls in the Philippines, for a long while now.  
Finally, it's over. Kabang has been successfully treated and is heading back to her family in the Philippines. She doesn't have a new snout -- that was never part of the plan -- but she's had a bunch of work done to give her a good life, free of infection and pain. 
(Kabang, after treatment. Photo by Don Preisler, UC Davis)
You'll recall that after losing her snout, Kabang's online fame grew, allowing an international effort dubbed Project Kabang to raise the money to bring the dog to the United States back in October. Unfortunately, after Kabang finally arrived at UC Davis' famed Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, vets discovered she was suffering from heartworm and a type of infectious cancer, known as a transmissible venereal tumor.
A team of vets -- specializing in oncology; infectious diseases; dental, oral and soft-tissue surgery; internal medicine; and outpatient care -- went to work on Kabang with multi-pronged approach, completing a series of treatments one after another for nearly eight months. 
(Kabang in December. Photo by Don Preisler, UC Davis)
“Kabang’s care at the teaching hospital was a great example of the synergistic approach we have toward veterinary medicine at UC Davis,” said professor Frank Verstraete, chief of the dentistry and oral surgery service at the school’s William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
“We were able to treat all of the complications that arose with the best specialists available,” he said.
In February, heartworm and cancer treatments were completed. On March 5, vets performed the first oral surgery to remove two of the Kabang's upper teeth and reconstruct one eyelid. 
Then, on March 27, Kabang underwent a five-hour surgery to close her facial wound with skin flaps, reconstruct nasal openings, and insert stents in those passages that would allow two new permanent nostrils to form.
(After treatment. Photo by Don Preisler, UC Davis)
“The surgery was long but went just as planned, in large part due to the collaborative nature of Kabang’s veterinary team,” said veterinary surgeons Boaz Arzi. 
(The team at UC Davis. Photo by Don Preisler, UC Davis)
Outfitting Kabang with a new snout is beyond vet science at this point, but the dog has been cleared for an active, infection-free life back in the Philippines with her family. We wish her the best. 
Congratulations to the team at UC Davis on remarkable work!  Good Luck Kabang!  We are so happy you were able to get the help you needed and you are now on your way home to join the family you were willing to give your life for!  You truly are a hero dog.

Monday, June 3

Blind Doberman Miracle

Dogster now has "Monday Miracles" and today's was too good not to share.  I love stories about dogs that inspire and show the true spirit of a dog.  This one does just that.  Misfit is a very cool dog and indeed a miracle!

"Love is blind."
Many times this refers to the way we see our objects of affection as perfect, despite the flaws others may notice. For Misfit, however, this happens in a very literal sense. The nine-month-old Doberman was born blind -- and he wasn't the only one in his litter born without sight. However, Misfit was the only one to survive.
This is where things might have ended tragically for Misfit, who not only has special needs but an often-misunderstood (and feared) breed as well. Fortunately, Misfit was adopted by two human moms, and he lives happily in Maryland with his family, which also includes a cat named Willis (whom Misfit loves to chase).

Okay, this is adorable. 

What a face! 

Willis is the most patient cat ever -- not only does he not mind being bothered by Misfit, he seems to be okay with wearing a leash as well. 
It took some special care and attention to help Misfit learn the layout of his new home, but with perseverance, Misfit now navigates the place like a champ. According to his Facebook page, Misfit visits the dog park, plays with his toys, eats poop out of the litter box, and loves his human friends ... just like any other canine. Unlike other canines, however, Misfit has a fondness for hopping around the backyard "like a bunny." (Um, how cute is that?)

Very handsome! 

Misfit can play like the rest of them. 

No sight? No problem. 
While some might view Misfit's blindness as a handicap, the young Doberman does not -- as his impairment allows him to "see with his heart." It's that sort of kindness in the face of adversity that makes Misfit a Monday Miracle.

Thank you Dogster for this story and for showing the true beauty of a dog... not to mention the soft side of a breed that is often feared.