Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"Fraidy Dog!!"

Dogs in general do not love holidays. New Years and Fourth of July…too loud. Memorial Day, Labor Day…boring. Thanksgiving… great smells, people and potential for scraps. Christmas…tree in the house (but big trouble if it gets peed on)…more smells, more people, high scrap potential, used wrapping paper is always fun. 

Then there’s Halloween with lots of strange objects that smell like cheap plastic. Some objects look like demented humans, some make noises and move without warning, some crawl and light up. Scary to a dog. Dogs like predictability but Halloween thrives on SURPRISE. As with most “scary” things in our world, desensitization is the key to a cure. If a little dog is scared of big dogs, let him hang out with a few. If he’s scared of the ocean, let him get his feet wet. If Halloween is a fright, show him it’s all for fun.

Our daycare fills the lobby every October with years of collected and cheesy, zombies, spiders, huge skulls, flying skeletons, bats, scary clowns and possessed children. You name it; we’ve probably accumulated it. At first, dogs (and humans) are “surprised” by the sudden change of our lobby from a happy place to a temple of horror. But the surprise doesn’t last and eventually both human and dog see it for what it is. By repeat exposure, desensitization steps in and what was once a fright, becomes a curiosity, then old news.

It’s natural to protect our “kids” from bad things, but exposing them to things outside their safety zone allows them the chance to explore the unusual and be more confident in the real world. A variety of experiences in your dogs life spices it up, creates memories, fortifies your bond, builds confidence and, if done in a gentle, safe and rewarding way, keeps your pup curious, stimulated and always ready to go on the next adventure with you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"My dog has warts?"

What do Witches, frogs and puppies have in common? The first two have an easy link, but when you throw puppies into the mix, it definitely gets a bit more challenging. The answer is: Warts.

Witches are supposed to have them on the end of their noses, old superstitions tell us that frogs and toads can give you warts (by the way, they can’t), but warts? Together with puppies?

Yes, well most of us call them warts but they are in fact called canine oral papillomavirus.  These “warts” are actually benign skin tumors.  They can appear inside of a dogs’ mouth on the gums, lips, tongue, and even outside of the mouth on the pups muzzle.  A lot of times they can go completely unnoticed both by your eyes and by your dogs lack on showing any symptoms of being ill.
Puppies are the most vulnerable to these papillomas because their immune systems aren’t strong enough yet to fight them off. They generally affect puppies and dogs up to about 2 years old. Once a dog gets them, they usually don’t get them again, but it has been known to happen.  The “wart” usually is round shaped and is rough across the surface, resembling the head of cauliflower.
These papillomas are not contagious to humans but they are from dog to dog, especially to puppies, so the dog should have limited socialization. They are transferred mostly by mouth to mouth contact, sharing toys, or even drinking from the same water bowl. The most important thing is to not worry too much.  We have been running Camp Run-A-Mutt for over 8 years and many dogs get them and they go away on their own. They are usually asymptomatic and require no treatment. They can be removed surgically or by “freezing” them off. They normally do not cause any problems unless they become infected or symptomatic, but it is always best to get your veterinarians opinion because these “warts” are tumors and they could possibly become cancerous.

For many of us, our dogs are “our kids” and like all kids, when they go out in the “real world”, they become exposed to many different things. Some of those things are good and some are bad, but only by exposure will they become stronger, more sociable, and better canine citizens.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Do dogs go to heaven?

There is nothing harder than losing a beloved pet. They occupy all five of our senses and our hearts. When they depart, our senses are robbed and our hearts are broken.

But what happens to them when they close their eyes for the final time?

The bible doesn’t have much to say about this, but does mention animals in heaven. That’s great but what about Bridgette, Andy, Tova, and Rocco…MY dogs? Surveys say 47% believe there are dogs in heaven, 35% say there aren’t. Hopefully, heaven believes to surveys.

Literature has given us The Rainbow Bridge by an unknown author. It describes a place where departed pets exist, forever young and healthy, waiting for their owner to cross, “never to be parted again”. This poem was a lifeline when Andy died and I’m counting on its accuracy.

Then there’s the episode of The Twilight Zone (The Hunt, January 26, 1962) where an old man and his dog (Rip) drown in a river.  The old man is compelled to follow a path and comes to a gate, but the gatekeeper won’t allow Rip to pass. The old man continues along the path, only to find a second gate. When asked if Rip can join him, the gatekeeper says, “of course, all creatures are welcome in heaven”. Turns out, the first gate led to hell.

So there you have it, if the Bible, literature and 60’s television can agree on something, it must be true. Andy, here I come.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Are adopted dogs more appreciative?

Bob is a five-year-old Frenchie who was purchased from a local breeder at 16 weeks of age. He’s lived the life of luxury: always a full belly, the best toys, lots of friends (dogs and humans) and the softest beds. He stars in a TV commercial and appears on a highway banner in Los Angeles. Nothing but the best for this guy. He’s grown to be handsome, smart, confident and independent.

Bear is an eight year (estimated) chocolate Cocker Spaniel. His first three years were pretty rough as he was abused, neglected and finally discovered tied to a tree and rescued. He went through three adopted homes because his fear and separation anxiety were misunderstood. We were his fourth and final home. Although the separation anxiety is gone, he still fears riding in the car and never lets me out of his sight. He’s not the brightest, which may have been mistaken for stubbornness, but he’s handsome, loyal, protective yet very co-dependent.

Is Bear more appreciative than Bob?

Car rides:
Bear pants and trembles, rarely relaxes. He has bad car memories.
Bob gazes out the window or sleeps.

Dad doing yard duties:
Bear never lets me out of his sight, gets beneath me or in front of me and protects me from the lizards.
Bob sleeps in the house.

Treat distribution:
            Bear is always appreciative.
            Bob looks as if he’s saying, “Is that it?”

Bear inhales his food as if it’s his last meal.
Bob takes his time and is occasionally finicky.

TV time:
Bear watches me, follows me into the kitchen or bathroom. He doesn’t ask for affection; just needs to be in the same room with me.
Bob sleeps, sometimes on me. This is the only time Bob demands my affection.

Meeting other dogs:
Bear loves all dogs.
Bob is too good for other dogs and let’s them know it.

Meeting humans:
Bear does not trust people, especially men.
Bob LOVES all humans, never met a bad one yet.

In conclusion: Dogs show appreciation by protecting and loving. My boys show both equally but different. Bear protects and loves out of fears from his past and fear of losing his new secure world. Bob protects and loves because HE owns ME and he’s the only one good enough for me. Either way, it’s equally wonderful being “dad” to these two, very different yet loving companions.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rattlesnakes Are NOT Your Dogs Best Friend

People are finding rattlesnakes on their property more than usual and, sometimes, for the first time. Rodents are looking for food, rattlesnakes are looking for rodents and with dry conditions, these rodents are coming closer to your house. It's like a follow-the-leader game with you and your dog caught in the middle.

How do you break this cycle? You can’t make it rain, but you can make your house less attractive to rodents by:
·      Keeping outside trash like food scraps, dog food or standing water to a minimum.
·      Rodents love fruit from your fruit trees so keep your premises clear of dropped fruit.
·      Rattlesnakes love the shade. Clear your property of anything that can be slithered under.

If you suspect you have a rattlesnake problem and you’ve done all the preventive measures, do this before letting the dogs loose:
·      Scan the premises first and do a visual inspection. Look under stuff and do not be afraid to make some noise. Make your presence known.
·      Rattlesnakes are very sensitive to vibrations. Stomp your feet or tap the ground with a heavy stick. They do not want confrontation and will leave as soon as you, the predator, arrives.
·      Rattlesnake classes are available that teach dogs to run away from rattlesnakes as opposed to being overly curious.

What if the worst happens?
If your dog finds a rattlesnake, you’ll know because of the exciting barking and/or the classic rattling sound. Your dog may go deaf to your calling because of this wonderful newly discovered “toy”. Snakes will usually try to get away, but if cornered, will strike. If a bite occurs, the good news is that it’s not usually fatal to a healthy dog IF the dog is taken to emergency right away. Do not cut the wound and suck the poison. Keep the dog calm and carry (if you can) him to the car. Keeping the dog calm will slow the progression of venom.

Remember, as always, your dog depends on you. Being proactive first but calm if the worst happens can save your dogs life.