10 Animal Shelter Myths Debunked

Filed under: Dog Health,Dog Rescue — Tags: , , , mtest on January 24th, 2014

by Jamie Lynn Smith

Animal shelters are a huge asset to the communities they serve as well as surrounding residents – and, of course, to the animals. Unfortunately, their purpose and contribution to society are often misunderstood. Here, we explore some prevalent myths about animal shelters and the precious pets inside of them. Feel free to leave your comments or questions at the end.

1. All animal shelters are directly managed by larger organizations (e.g., ASPCA, HSUS).

False. In fact, according to Ayse Dunlap, Director of Operations for the Cleveland Animal Protective League (APL), which services about 16,000 animals a year, “this is entirely false…there’s no affiliation at all.” Dunlap adds that most rescues and shelters run solely on grants and donations from the surrounding communities, unless they are government facilities (like county rescues).

2. All shelter pets available for pet adoption are old.

False. It’s possible to find pets of all ages in shelters (i.e., puppies, adults, middle-aged, etc.). Ellen Quimper, Executive Director of the smaller rescue (intake about 1,000 a year) Love-A-Stray Cat Rescue in Avon, Ohio (LAS), says she currently has over 20 kittens available for adoption and adds that, on any given day, there are at least 10 kittens available as well as senior pets and ‘regular adult’ pets. Dunlap concurs, noting that the Cleveland APL has 40-50 kittens right now as well as several puppies. “It really depends on the season,” says Dunlap. “This time of year we’re heading into slower kitten season. Winter equals fewer kittens. ” Adding that, “the APL never discriminates for age – we have a 12-year-old dog on the floor as well as a two-month-old kitten. It really just depends on the time of year.” LAS also has pets of all ages as most rescues make it a rule to not play the age discrimination game – they’re hearts are too big.

3. Shelter personnel don’t know enough about pets.

False. According to Dunlap, “…a shelter’s workers are generally quite knowledgeable and often the shelter’s greatest resource. You can find people like veterinary technicians volunteering at shelters oftentimes, as well as actual veterinarians, behaviorists, and other animal specialists.” They know the pet’s personality, temperament, likes, dislikes, even the food that the pet prefers. In fact, once you determine which pet you’d like to adopt it’s best to ask what food he/she is currently being fed. Many shelters receive food donations by pet food companies and therefore are best left on the same food until you can consult a veterinarian.

4. Animal shelters only have dogs and cats.

False. Many rescues, including Cleveland APL, have small mammal adoptions and offer rabbits, guinea pigs and other small four-leggers like gerbils. You can even rescue birds like parrots!

5. Shelters don’t have any purebreds up for adoption.

False. According to Found Animals, 25% of the pets in shelters around the U.S. are purebred dogs and cats. And, of course, don’t rule out the existence of specific breed rescues as they are widespread and very reputable. For example, if you wanted a Golden Retriever you could easily find a Golden Retriever rescue group in the nearest big city as these types of shelters/rescues are abundant in numbers — even toy breed rescues.

6. Shelter pets are usually quite dirty.

False. They may come in looking like ragamuffins, but they shine with delight after they’re cleaned up and given medications, shots, and spay/neuter surgery, if needed. Some animal rescues even make it a habit to have regular grooming sessions for the pets they have. Volunteers are tasked with brushing, clipping nails and bathing the animals at shelters. And let’s keep in mind folks, these are animals – they naturally have a smell… so cut them a break. Cleveland APL, for instance, tries hard to groom most every dog that comes in – at least with a good bath and brushing!

7. Adoption fees are too expensive.

False. This one may be a bit subjective, but you must remember all that the animal shelter/rescue has done for the pet — they spent the time and money necessary to obtain him, house him, feed him, medicate him, spay/neuter him and properly vet him otherwise. That’s easily a $500 investment. You’re getting a STEAL at $250 (or sometimes less depending on the shelter or situation). Dunlap also says that most rescues and shelters give heartworm tests, flea preventatives, plus Rabies/Bordetella/Distemper vaccinations. That’s over $500 right there. You’d be hard-pressed to find a dog or cat from a breeder or pet store for anywhere near that price (plus, the reward that you are saving a life).

8. Shelter pets usually have behavioral problems or are imperfect.

False. “People think there is something wrong with the animals, i.e. the mentality of, ‘they wouldn’t be in a shelter if there wasn’t something wrong with them,’” says Dunlap. “Most of what comes into our shelter are wonderful family pets. Some dogs, yes, have training and behavioral issues because the first human owner didn’t properly work with them, but it’s rare.” Dunlap adds that – even from a breeder – you aren’t going to get a “perfect” pet and that every pet needs to be trained and properly vetted.

9. You won’t get to know your chosen shelter pet well enough before adopting.

False. Dunlap said that in many cases, the potential adopter is ready to proceed before the animal shelter is! Most rescues will allow home visits and encourage you to interact with the dog in a “Visiting Room” at the actual shelter before you move forward.

10. Animal shelters are sad places.

False. However, this also depends on how you look at the situation. Some go into an animal shelter and see confused faces looking back at them. But imagine if these faces were out on the cold, harsh street with nothing to eat and no friends. With no one to care for them. With no one to talk to them. These animals are being saved, and hence, you should look at the glass as half-full in every animal shelter’s case and in every animal’s case.

This article originally appeared on partner site

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How to Exercise with Your Dog

Filed under: Dog Health,Dog Life — Tags: , , , mtest on January 24th, 2014

by Jessica Remitz

Though it may seem like your four-legged friend loves nothing more than to nap on the couch, dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy just like people do. From long evening walks to a daily game of fetch, starting a fitness routine with your pup — combined with feeding them a well-balanced, nutritious diet — will keep them happy and healthy for years to come.

Benefits of Exercise

Similar to people, one of the main health risks associated with a lack of exercise in dogs is obesity, says Susan O’Bell, DVM at the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. Dr. O’Bell also notes that dogs that go without regular exercise may be prone to a variety of behavioral issues, including destructive behaviors like barking, digging or chewing. Aside from preventing these issues, providing your dog with regular exercise supports healthy aging by easing chronic symptoms and allows them to be social and explore their environment.

“Many dog owners report that their dogs seem to be better behaved when they receive adequate daily exercise,” according to Dr. O’Bell. “Additionally, at least one study has shown that dogs who have hip dysplasia show less lameness if they have longer duration of exercise throughout the day.”

When to Start Exercising Your Dog

While it’s important to have your dog exercise throughout his or her life, you’ll want to keep in mind their life stage and fitness level before starting an exercise routine. Puppies under the age of three months, for example, should have off-leash time on soft surfaces such as grass or carpeting; stairs, meanwhile, should only be used sparingly. In fact, Dr. O’Bell points out that retrospective studies have shown use of stairs by puppies at this age may be a risk factor for future development of hip dysplasia in certain breeds. She also recommends saving long runs with your pup until they’re a bit older — between 10 and 12 months of age — to ensure their growth plates have closed.

Finding the Right Exercise Routine for Your Dog

The best kind and amount of exercise for dogs will vary greatly, depending on the dog’s age, breed, and physical condition. Consult a veterinarian to devise the safest routine for your dog, especially with senior dogs, overweight dogs, or brachycephalic dog breeds like English Bulldogs, which are prone to overheating — particularly in warm weather.

There is, however, one type of exercise that both you and your dog can benefit from immediately: multiple walks outdoors every day. “Unless a veterinarian has told you otherwise,” Dr. O’Bell says, “pet owners shouldn’t underestimate the power of briskly paced walks throughout the day.”

Additional forms of daily activity can include swimming, a game of fetch and mental exercise such as food puzzles or basic obedience training. Agility training and competitive events can also be beneficial forms of exercise, but only if you’ve done your homework. “Owners should take time to educate themselves on what agility or other dog sports entail,” says Dr. O’Bell. “…and should participate in gradual training programs, as one would with any sport.”

Lastly, coordinate with a veterinarian on a balanced diet that is appropriate for the exercise routine your dog is about to undertake. This will help boost your dog’s energy level and, if weight loss is also a goal, assist in shedding the excess fat. Now get out there and start exercising with your dog.

This article originally appeared on partner site

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What to Do When You Find a Lost Pet

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Health,Dog Life,Dog Rescue,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , mtest on November 15th, 2013

by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell


For the past several weeks, it seems like a lot of people in my social media circles have been finding dogs.

Of course, they want to help reunite them with their families, but I find a lot of them aren’t aware that free listing sites pose dangers to not only people seeking to rehome pets, but also to pets found by well-intentioned people who are trying to get them safely home.

We’ve seen the extreme dangers of listing pets on free sites such as Craigslist with cases such as Puppy Doe, who was rehomed twice on Craigslist earlier this year and ended up in the wrong hands.

Recently, one friend posted two apparently well-cared for dogs on Facebook who she found running the streets of Kansas City, another friend advised her to post their pictures in the “found pets” section of Craigslist.

I advised her that people such as bunchers (who sell animals they’ve gotten for free to research labs) and dog fighters (who look for free bait dogs) troll sites such as this and sometimes claim animals are theirs when they’re not, she responded, “I had no idea!”

Even a friend who rescues animals posted way too much information that could allow someone with evil intent to claim a dog she had found.

The trick is posting enough information that the pet parent might recognize that you may have their beloved lost pet without posting too much information.

Based on my years of rescue and with help from the Humane Society of the United States’ tips, the following is what you should do if you find a pet and want to help get him back home, rather than take it to a shelter:

-After segregating the dog or cat from your pets, check the collar (if there is one) to make sure a name/phone number is not stamped on the inside of the collar). If there is a rabies tag, but no other information, call the vet listed. They keep records and will have the owner’s information under the rabies id. If there is no collar or tags, take the animal to a vet to see if there is a microchip.

-Knock on doors in the area where the pet was found and ask neighbors if they know where he may belong.

-Check “lost” ads in the local newspapers and Craigslist. If you find an ad that you think matches the animal you found, get in contact with them and ask them to describe their pet to you, including any unusual markings, collar color/design or quirky traits.

-Make flyers– you can include a photo of the pet, but do a “head shot” that doesn’t show other identifiable markings. If the pet had a collar, you can include that information in the ad, but do not include the collar description or color as this is something the owner should be able to identify when they get in touch with you. Also, if the pet has two different colored eyes or any other unusual markings, do not include this in the information. You can include the breed and sex of the pet, but don’t include specifics such as “male that is neutered.” Again, this is something the owner should be able to tell you to identify their pet. Post the flyers in the neighborhood and leave them with veterinarian offices and shelters in your town or city.

-If someone contacts you about the pet, ask them to describe it and listen for them to include the specific things you left out of the ad. Ask them to email or text you a photo of their pet.

Of course, there is always a chance that the poor animal was left on the side of the road and no one claims them. Several of our rescues that were dumped ended up as part of our family and we have also rehomed those we could not keep.

If you cannot keep the pet and cannot find a no-kill shelter that will take the pet, many rescues are willing to give you tips on how to find the pet a good, loving home, or go to the HSUS website, which gives tips on rehoming.

Have you ever thought about the possibility of people with bad intentions trolling the “found pet” ads?


This article originally appeared on

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Food, Shelter & Love: Making a Difference

Filed under: Ages & Stages,Dog Healthmtest on October 29th, 2013

Thousands and thousands of pets are currently waiting and hoping to find a forever home in a local shelter. Back in 2002, Hill’s Science Diet® recognized the need shelters have to feed the pets in their care, and they decided to do something about it.

In 2002 Hill’s created their Food, Shelter & LoveTM Program to donate Science Diet brand foods to shelters nationwide. For Hill’s, the goal of the program was simple: to provide dogs and cats with superior nutrition that will make them healthier, happier and more adoptable as they wait for their forever home. Healthy pets are more adoptable pets, and every pet deserves a forever home.

In the last 11 years the Food, Shelter & Love Program has donated over $240 million worth of Science Diet brand foods to nearly 1,000 shelters nationwide. It helps feed more than 100,000 homeless pets every single day. Not only do they donate to the shelters, but they also provide the food to the shelters at a significant discount to help shelters be able to provide for their pets on a regular basis. Part of the program also provides a free bad of Science Diet ® pet food or a $5 off coupon to the pet’s adopting family, along with a new pet parent site with tips and tools to giving their newest family member the best start in their new forever home.

Hill’s furthered their commitment to giving back in May, 2013, with the announcement of their National Disaster Relief Network to Help Pets During Emergencies. This is a network of nearly 100 shelters across the country that work with Hill’s during disaster events, and help to distribute emergency food supplies to the pets who need it most.

Hill’s shared a first-hand account in their May 8, 2013 press release, “I saw firsthand the tremendous work that Hill’s does when they supported my shelter during the wildfires in Colorado last year,” said Jan McHugh-Smith, President and CEO of the Humane Society of Pikes Peak Region in Colorado Springs. “It was remarkable how fast they were able to respond and how committed they were to making sure we had enough food for our shelters, including the temporary shelters that we set up (to) accommodate the influx of displaced animals.”

Hill’s program continues to grow and their commitment to supporting shelters and giving back grows with it. To request assistance during an emergency, shelters can contact Hill’s at

This post is sponsored by the Hill’s.

About the Author: Chloe DiVita is the COE, Chief of Everything, of BlogPaws, a Pet360 Media division. She is a blogging expert featured on the February 8th episode of Who Let The Dogs Out and writes for the BlogPaws Be The Change For Pets blog. When she’s not engaging on line, she is serving her two dogs, Twiggy the Greyhound and Onyx the Pit Bull Shih Tzu mix – figure that one out!

Dog Anxiety Causes and Treatment

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Healthmtest on September 18th, 2013

By: Marisa Dalessandro

BOOM! The thunder crashes and there goes Carlos, running as fast as he can to my side and digging under the blanket. This is typical behavior for Carlos when he hears a loud noise. The same thing happens when we’re in the car and a semi-truck pulls up besides us. Does this situation sound familiar to you? Where does this anxiety come from and what do we as concerned pet parents do about it?

Lacking Social Skills

Anxiety in dogs can be brought on by several different causes such as a lack of self-esteem. Dogs who lack proper socialization as puppies can grow up with little or no self-esteem; unsure how to act in various situations, their anxiety is almost constant as if they’re always on alert and ready to flee.

A dog suffering from anxiety because of lack of self-esteem needs you to challenge them both physically and mentally with different situations where the dog can receive positive feedback from other more confident dogs. This is a delicate process and confidence must be built slowly with small goals repeatedly accomplished. Every small success brings a little more confidence.

Anxiety Due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Traumatic events can also cause anxiety in dogs. Similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in humans, dogs have been shown to experience signs of PTSD following a traumatic situation. Cases of extreme stress can occur over a variety of different experiences such asnatural disasters, car accidents, physical or emotional trauma during an interaction, history of abandonment or significant change in home environment (like a death of a family member).  If your dog has been through an extremely stressful situation, he or she may require treatment if the severity and duration of the reaction seems persistent and excessive with no signs of improvement.

Exercise Does the Mind Good

Dogs with mild anxiety can benefit from exercise and counter-conditioning.  Prior to the onset of anxiety, take your dog for a rigorous walk or game of fetch. A tired, worn out pooch is less likely to panic and just like humans, your dog’s brain chemistry is positively affected by a good workout. Counter-conditioning works by changing your dog’s anxious state into a pleasant one. It works by associating the cause of the anxiety with something positive. Over time, the dog learns that whatever he or she is scared of predicts something good.

More Complex Treatment Options

More severe cases of anxiety require a more complex desensitization and counterconditioning program. Consult a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist to help you design and carry out the treatment plan. This plan starts with changing your routine. If your dog is anxious when you’re gone, you might start to see the onset of anxiety when you start your routine, like putting your coat and boots on and grabbing your keys. Teach your dog that those pre-departure cues don’t always mean you’re leaving. Put on your coat and sit down to watch TV for a bit. This will reduce your dog’s anxiety because those cues won’t always lead to your departure. Once you’ve mastered that, move on to leaving for short bursts of time, starting at 1 second, while building in counter-conditioning.  Based on your dog’s response, you may start to increase your time away leading all the way up to a full-work day. This process may take several weeks and it is vital to this treatment that once started, your dog cannot experience full-blown anxiety (in this case, cannot be left alone) until completed. If possible, take your dog to work during this time. In addition to this desensitization process, all hellos and goodbyes should be calm and low-key. Some severe cases of anxiety require the use of medication in combination with behavior modification treatment.

My Experience with Carlos

Carlos’ anxiety comes from his past experiences. When my fiancé, Louie, and I adopted him 3 years ago, the rescue organization said they found him wandering alone on the streets of Texas. The sounds of thunder or semi-truck take him back to a place where he was forced to brave the elements and survive alone.  It takes every ounce of will power that I have to ignore Carlos when he is anxious and not reward him with the attention he craves. My instinct is to coddle him, scoop him up in my arms and pet him. Unfortunately, that’s the exact opposite of what should be done. By ignoring him, I’m signifying that there is nothing to worry about because I’m not worried. Once he is calm, I give him attention. After I started this routine, his recovery time is a lot faster and I see so much progress to where I feel confident the anxiety will be eliminated all together very soon.

Do you have a dog that suffers from anxiety? I’d love to hear what treatment methods are working or not working for you.

This article was originally published on partner site

Yoga for the Dogs (Doga)

Filed under: Dog Health,Dog Lifemtest on August 15th, 2013

Yoga for Dogs

People have been practicing Yoga for thousands of years. But there are now even yoga classes for dogs!

The practice of Yoga has evolved over the centuries, passed on from one teacher to another, incorporating each individual’s unique experience and approach. The American Yoga Association estimates that there are over 100 different schools of Yoga. Yoga (the Sanskrit word for “union”) combines meditation, breathing, and exercise to improve physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.

Now dog lovers have their own school – Doga. Sometimes referred to as “Yoga for dogs,” Doga is really more than that. It is a way to incorporate our best friends into the practice of Yoga, creating a meaningful bonding experience for both humans and canines. And really, who could do “Downward Dog” better than, well, a dog?

So are you and your dog ready to give Doga a try? Here are a few things for prospective “Dogis” to consider:

Why Do Doga?

Doga is good for you.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the health benefits of Yoga include stress reduction, weight loss, and improved all-around fitness. It can also help manage chronic health conditions and reduce heart rate and blood pressure.

Doga is good for your dog.

San Francisco-based Doga instructor Anne Appleby notes that Doga can help calm down young, anxious dogs, and help with hip problems in older dogs. Her own 10-pound dog, Madison, “gets a message and calms down. It also helps to open her lungs.”

Doga stretches can help increase mobility and decrease stiffness in dogs with joint problems. A Doga class can provide great socialization for dogs, too, helping some of the shy ones to come out of their shell.

Doga is a fun bonding experience.

Appleby says, “Doga is a fabulous way to bond with your pet. There’s lots of expressive eye contact … my students and dogs come in all excited and leave in a Zen state.”

Brenda Bryan, author of Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi, agrees. “We get so busy with work and everything else, we don’t always take time to focus on our dogs,” she says. A Doga class is a great way to do just that, by stretching and massaging them, breathing with them, and letting everything go except your relationship with your dog.

Dogs are natural “Dogis.”

Since dogs are pack animals, they are innately suited for Yoga’s emphasis on unity and connection with others. They are also naturally flexible – what dog owner has not seen their dog comfortably snoozing while curled up like a pretzel?

That being said, Doga isn’t about forcing the dog into poses. Rather, the dog can be gently stretched and massaged by their person. They can also provide extra weight to help the human partner extend further in their own stretches.

Can My Dog Do Doga?

Yes! Dogs of any age and size can do Doga, although it may be easier to start when they’re younger. Small dogs work well, says Appleby, “because you can do more with them.” But don’t leave your Rottweiler at home! Appleby says, “big dogs can take you into a deep stretch, as you can use them as anchors.”

Do I Need Any Experience?

Opinions differ from instructor to instructor. Some, like Appleby, feel that a few introductory Doga classes for the owner are essential. Others, like Bryan, welcome novices and experienced Yogis alike. In fact, Bryan says, sometimes the more experienced students are so concerned with doing the poses perfectly, that they miss out on some of the joys of Doga.

How Do I Choose an Instructor?

One thing to keep in mind is that Doga instructors are not required to complete certification, so quality and content vary from class to class. The most important thing is to find a teacher that you like — after all, Doga should be a joyous time for you and your dog.

“It’s important to let go of any preconceptions and have fun,” says Bryan, who teaches Doga in Seattle, Washington. “Doga is different from Yoga. It’s a fun class and we laugh a lot.”

It may be easier to find classes in larger metropolitan areas. If there are no Doga classes in your area, or if you’re just nervous about going to your first class, a book like Bryan’s can help you get started with Doga exercises you can practice at home.

This article was originally published on partner site

Study Shows Dogs Yawn After Owners

Filed under: Ages & Stages,Dog Behavior,Dog Healthmtest on August 13th, 2013

by Courtney Temple

Have you ever noticed once someone yawns, you suddenly feel the urge to yawn, too? Better yet, have you ever noticed your dog yawning immediately after you do? If so, you’re not alone.

According to NBC News, a new study conducted by a research team at the University of Tokyo revealed that dogs tend to yawn after their owners. The study concluded that the dogs were more sensitive to yawns from their owners rather than from strangers.

The researchers tested a total of 25 dogs, including Pit Bulls, Papillons, and Poodles. Two cameras were used to record the responses of the dogs while their owners called the dog’s name followed by a yawn, or the owner yawned after making direct eye contact with their canine.

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The research team measured the heart rates of the yawning puppies and adults, and concluded that the heart rates were stable. The results showed that the yawning response from the dogs was a sign of empathy and not related to anxiety or distress.

“Our results show that the emotional bond between people and their dogs is reciprocal,” says Teresa Romero, an animal behavior researcher at the University of Tokyo who conducted the analysis.

This isn’t the first study that tested the yawning patterns in dogs. Back in 2008, biologists in Britain showed that yawns were contagious between humans and their canines.

This behavior trend has been observed in other animals, including chimpanzees, bonobo monkeys, and gelada baboons.

All we know for sure is that we can now say that our furry friends know exactly how we feel.

What do you think of this new study? Did you ever notice your dog yawning right after you? Please leave your comment in the section below.

This article was originally published on partner site

Sad Goodbye to a Senior Foster Dog

Filed under: Dog Health,Dog Lifemtest on August 13th, 2013

The following is a heartfelt letter from Pet360’s Community Manger, Rebecca Braglio, to her dog, Finn, who recently passed away.

Dear Finn,

This morning when I sat down on the couch to drink my morning coffee, I looked for you to pick you up and put you next to me, per our usual morning routine. To cuddle and snooze, with your belly full of breakfast while I drank my coffee and watched the morning news.

And then I remembered. You aren’t here anymore.

When I brought you home as my foster dog, I knew you were a senior dog with health issues. I knew our time together was limited. I just didn’t expect it to come so soon.

It happened too quickly and without any warning. You weren’t acting like yourself, but I didn’t attribute it to anything serious. When you collapsed at 4 am, it was the scariest and most awful thing I’ve ever seen. You laid there frozen, eyes open, and I felt for a heartbeat. I can’t get that image out of my head. Carrying you into the emergency room, my heart was pounding because I knew that I was unable to afford any significant testing or treatment that might be offered. Deep down in my heart, I knew that I would be going home alone.

When we said goodbye, I held you in my arms. I think it was the most you’d ever let me pet you. I made them take you away from me immediately, because I just couldn’t endure it any longer. Now, I regret not having held you a little longer and telling you this:

I made a promise to you when I took you in. You would never see a shelter again. You would never live on the street again. You would never go hungry or thirsty. You were going to find out just how amazing life could be.

And, in turn, you showed me how much love a senior pet could give. You showed me that just because you were elderly, you could still snuggle and play bow and give lots of tail wags. You taught me that aggression comes from fear and I will never judge a person with an aggressive pet ever again.

I will forever miss:

Your play bows.

Your raspy, incessant barks for breakfast or when you needed to tell me that the cats were getting into something.

Your snaggletooth (one of the 3 teeth that you had left).

How ridiculously excited you got over car rides.

How you would paw at me to pet you, and then try to bite me when I did.

How you would bark at every passing car and try to chase it down the street.

How your little legs would shake when you ate a frozen treat.

I hope the love and comfort that I gave you during our short time together was enough to make up for the years of neglect and abuse that you endured. I hope that, while you were with me, you wanted for nothing.

I love you Finn, and I hope that being with me made up for having suffered through a life not worth living.



Rest in Peace little guy.

Finn: August 1, 2013

This article was originally published on partner site

Six Reasons I Stopped Going to the Dog Park

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Health,Dog Lifemtest on August 5th, 2013

by Carol Bryant

I am a dog mom who likes to travel with her dog. I am not alone: According to‘s survey in 2011, 60 percent of respondents traveled with their dog.

My cross country travels have taken us from sea to shining sea, where many towns have rolled out the grassy welcome mat with dog parks. My dog, Dexter, has been socialized, is in possession of his Canine Good Citizen title, and yet on more than one occasion dog parks have completely left us both in knots. Here are six reasons why I stopped frequenting dog parks with Dexter:

Reason One

What I Want: A place to let my dog play, off leash, with other well-behaved dogs about his size.

What I Tend To Find: Pet parents who bring unruly and/or ill-mannered/less than properly socialized dogs to the dog park. I often wonder why an “enter at your own risk” sign is not clearly posted at the entrance to many dog parks. Some of the pet parents I’ve encountered at dog parks are clueless when it comes to dog park etiquette, behavior, and keeping their dog from inuring another. Rules are clearly posted, so I am clueless on why they are ignored.

“Oh look, they’re just playing,” may not be the case, especially at the dog park. Dog parks often have areas separate for larger dogs to play together, with small dogs having their own domain. Proceed with caution when larger dogs may hone in on a smaller dog as its prey. As a lover of all sizes and pedigrees of dogs, smaller dogs can bite just as much as larger ones. Know your dog’s body language and what is and is not “play.”

Reason Two

What I Want: A clean park.

What I Tend To Find: Despite proper Bordatella (kennel cough) vaccination, my dog acquired kennel cough at the dog park. Upon further investigation and using a little common sense,  it occurred to me that dog parks are pretty much open urinals. The earth is one big “pee-mail” for dogs (after all, where else can they go)? I just no longer want my dog exposed to disease and bacteria that lurks beneath.

Reason Three

What I Want: A gated environment.

What I Tend to Find: How hard is it to close at least one of the two dog gates secure entry to many dog parks across the country? Apparently, this is a difficult task for some. Most dog parks I’ve visited are equipped with a double gate. If Fido roams into one area, he can’t get very far. However, people who leave the gates open can be a dog’s biggest danger. I kid you not: The last time I frequented a dog park, at least three times in one hour did someone have to remind a dog parent to close the gate behind them. I no longer am willing to take the bolting risk.

Reason Four

What I Want: A kid-free zone.

What I Tend to Find: Not always, but there have been many instances where small children came to the dog park with their parents.  Why oh why would someone bring an infant to the dog park? I know that busy moms have their hands full and that giving Fluffy play time at the dog park is a noble gesture. Bringing a crying baby to a dog park is not in the best interest of anyone.

There are ways to acclimate dogs to babies, but in their space, at their domain and in an environment designed for frolic, freedom , and letting the dogs out, a baby does not belong.

Reason Five

What I Want: My dog to live

What I Fear: Note that I have not encountered this situation when at the dog park, but it has happened enough to run chills up my spine. Several years ago when a dog park opened in my area, imagine my glee: I felt like a dog mom in doggie Disneyland—the whole “finally, at last” feeling immersed me. That feeling is gone.

While playing at the dog park last year, a year-old Chihuahua was fatally attacked by three mixed-breed huskies (whom I encountered repeatedly by said owner who called them “part wolf”). The three dogs invaded the small dog area of the park when left unattended by their owner. Though his mom tried to free him, she too, was bitten almost two dozen times in trying to stop the attack.  This is a risk of going to a dog park and I one in which I will not partake.

This is not an isolated or exclusive tragedy: Google the words “dog park mauling” or “dog park fight;” astounding.

Reason Six

Want I Want: To play ball with my dog off leash without fear of issues.

What I Tend To Find: Bringing a toy of any sort to a dog park is a big no no. He who has the toy tends to be the one most dogs want to get to know—and from which they swipe the toy. My dog will give a ball away; many dogs will not. Bringing toys or treats to the dog park can cause problems.

As a compromise, my dog plays off leash in backyards I trust, are fenced in, and at get togethers and meet ups with other dogs we know.  While the socialization at a dog park is wonderful and a fun, integral part of a dog’s life and well being, for me it just is not worth the risk. So we walk the path less traveled, meet up with dogs in other pre-arranged ways, and I can breathe a lot easier for it.

I am not anti dog park and if your experiences have been good ones, I applaud you. It tends to be a people problem and not a dog problem in the first place. What I really want are rules followed, a fun environment, and fellow pet parents who feel the same way. I know I am not alone. How about you?

This article was originally published on

FURminator Grooms Shelter Dogs for Adoption

Filed under: Dog Healthmtest on July 9th, 2013

Some may believe that dogs and cats are in shelters because they behave badly or are sick. However, most pets that end up in shelters are there due to human problems such as landlord issues or lack of time or finances.

Animal shelters are full of many happy, healthy pets that have been vaccinated, spayed or neutered and evaluated for behavior to ensure that they’ll fit in with families.

FURminator knows that shelter animals that look better and feel better are much more likely to be adopted.

“We work closely with shelters to transform not-so-well-kept candidates for adoption into well-groomed, attractive pets,” says FURminator Director of Consumer Marketing Cathy Heimberger. “Proper grooming not only makes pets look great, but also helps them to be happier and healthier.”

If you are thinking about getting a pet companion, check out a shelter in your area. By adopting a dog or cat from a shelter, not only are you giving them a second chance, but you will also have a lifelong companion that will bring many years of love and devotion to your family.

There are pets of every size, shape and personality who are wagging their tails right now in hopes that you’ll select them to be part of your life!


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