This blog is a tribute to Belle, and all the dogs who have come before and after. They are my friends, my companions, my teachers and my students. They bring me both joy and heartache, laughter and tears. There is nothing as sweet as the smell of puppy breathe, and nothing as sad as the final goodbye.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Please Include Your Pets

Taken from Eleventh Hour Rescue

Taken from Eleventh Hour Rescue. Thank you for the great advise-

With Hurricane Sandy on a course to hit us in the northeast early next week please make sure that you include your pets in your emergency planning...
When disaster strikes, the same rules that apply for people apply for pets: Preparation ma
kes all the difference. Take a few minutes to make a plan, and assemble an emergency kit for you and your pet.

A good disaster plan will increase the chances you and your pets will make it through events from hurricanes and wildfires to tornadoes and chemical spills.

See the disaster and pets checklist below to get started.


1 Start getting ready now
ID your pet
Put together your disaster kit
Find a safe place to stay ahead of time
2 If you evacuate, take your pet
3 If you stay home, do it safely
4 Keep taking care even after the disaster
5 Be ready for everyday emergencies

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Keep Cats Indoors on Halloween

Halloween Dangers!!

This next blog was taken straight from The Pet Poison Hotline's webpage ( I wanted to share it because it brought up many important dangers that your pet may encounter this Halloween. So enjoy the holiday but please be careful with your pets!!!



The Most Prevalent Toxic Substances

A record-setting 70 percent of Americans celebrated Halloween in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Unfortunately, it was also a very busy time at Pet Poison Helpline. During the week surrounding Halloween in 2011, call volumes increased by 21 percent, making it one of the call center’s busiest weeks on record. Pet Poison Helpline is a 24-hour animal poison control service that assists pet owners, veterinarians and veterinary technicians who are treating potentially poisoned pets.
“Every year during the week of Halloween our call center gets busy, but never at the levels we experienced in 2011,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline. “Many of the cases we handled were for dogs that ingested Halloween candy – the most common denominator being chocolate. By being cognizant of potential hazards, pet owners can help reduce the likelihood of pet poisonings this Halloween.”
The most common Halloween hazards for pets are chocolate, candy overindulgence, raisins, candy wrappers, glow sticks and jewelry and candles.


ChocolateOf all candies, chocolate poses the biggest Halloween “threat” to dogs. Many dogs are attracted to the smell of chocolate, making it a significant threat for massive ingestion. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more poisonous it is. Methylxanthines are the chemicals in chocolate that are dangerous to pets, and they are more concentrated in darker chocolates. A single ounce of Baker’s chocolate can make a 50-pound dog very sick. Milk chocolate and white chocolate are less dangerous, but should still be kept out of the reach of pets.  If you think your dog may have ingested chocolate, signs to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy,  agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures.

Candy and sweets overindulgence

Candy and other sweet foods – especially those containing poisonous xylitol – can also be poisonous to pets. Large ingestions of sugary, high-fat candy and sweets can lead to pancreatitis in pets. Potentially fatal, pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas and very painful. Pet owners should be aware that clinical signs of pancreatitis may not present for several days after ingestion. Signs include a decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, and potentially, kidney or organ damage.


RaisinsMini-boxes of raisins can be a healthy treat for trick-or-treaters, but they are extremely poisonous to dogs! Raisins are so dangerous that they deserve the same pet-proofing treatment as chocolate – stored in secure containers far from their reach. Dogs can experience kidney failure after ingesting very small amounts of raisins (including similar products with grapes and currants too). For this reason, any ingestion should be treated as a potential poisoning. Signs of raisin or grape poisoning include vomiting, nausea, decreased appetite, lethargy, abdominal pain, excessive or decreased thirst and urination, bad breath, and rapid onset kidney failure.

Candy wrappers

When pets get into candy, they can eat the wrappers too. Ingestion of foil and cellophane wrappers can sometimes cause a life-threatening bowel obstruction, which may require surgery to correct. Watch for vomiting, decreased appetite, not defecating, straining to defecate, or lethargy. X-rays or even ultrasound may be necessary to diagnose this problem.

Glow sticks and glow jewelry

Due to their curious nature, cats often accidentally ingest glow sticks and jewelry because they are bright and fun to chew. While not usually life-threatening, the contents can cause mouth pain and irritation, as well as profuse drooling and foaming. If your cat chews on glow jewelry, offer a tasty snack to help remove the product from the mouth. Bathing the chemical off the fur is important too, as grooming can contribute to further poisoning.


If you put a costume on your pet, make sure it doesn’t impair his vision, movement or air intake. If it has metallic beads, snaps or other small pieces, be aware that these pieces, especially those that contain zinc and lead, can result in serious poisoning if ingested. Also, before thinking about dying or coloring your pet’s fur, consult with your veterinarian, as some products can be very harmful to pets, even if it’s labeled non-toxic to humans.


Curious noses and wagging tails have a way of finding lit candles. Keep candles out of your pet’s reach to prevent accidental thermal injury or burns.

End of Article.


If you think that your pet may have ingested something toxic this Halloween or any other time for that matter, PLEASE KEEP THIS NUMBER ON HAND. Of course CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN FIRST, but this is a good number to have close by just in case you are having trouble reaching your doctor. 
1-800-213-6680 (They are open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Charges may apply.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

What Dogs See

Dog Park Etiquette

I am not a fan of dog parks. I have seen more out of control dogs and clueless owners at dog parks then I care to remember. I did not always feel this way. Years ago I took advantage of them, often bringing the labs to a few local parks to engage in some intense and strenuous tennis ball retrieving. They loved it and so did I.
I often recommended dog parks to my clients with high-energy dogs. I believed dog parks were a great place for dogs and older pups to go for canine socialization, especially on Long Island, where most dogs live in isolation, confined to their backyards. Many of those dogs grew up to be fearful of new environments and new experiences. I thought dog parks, while not ideal, at least provided for some of their needs.
Then things began to change. I saw owners standing around coffee klotching while their dogs were bullied. I saw owners interpreting aggression as play. I saw a golden mauled by the pack shortly after entering the park. (I ran over to help the owner break it up, the owners of the other dogs…they never noticed). The final straw for me was when a dog that had just entered the park attacked my sweet Belle, who was lying next to me. I had to punch that dog to get him to release her. The owner said he always attacked when he entered, but calmed down after a while. He offered to pay for vetting. Others told me this happened regularly with this dog and that some of his victims required stitches. And yet the owner continued to bring his dog to the park.
I was lucky that I had alternative places to go with my dogs. If you decide to use a dog park, (I am sure not all are bad), the “Tips for enjoying the dog park”, provided by WOOF – Worthington Organized Off-leash friends, offers some good, practical advise for pro-active dog owners. While these tips were written for the dog park that WOOF was instrumental in developing in Worthington, OH, they are applicable for all dog park users everywhere, and for wherever unleashed dogs congregate.
Tips for enjoying the dog park
1.          Recognize that your dog may not get along with ALL other dogs, and that some combinations simply don't work.
2.               Educate yourself on dog body language and canine communication so you can recognize the difference between safe play and aggressive play. 
3.           Safe play is a “give and take” between dogs - not one dog continually pushing, jumping on or mouthing the other dog If your dog is doing this to another dog, go get him, or call him to you and get him under control.
4.            Make sure your own dog is actually playing with another dog, and not just responding in a defensive, deflective way. Call your dog to you, and when you release him to go back to "play," see if he indeed does return to engage with the same dog(s).
5.            Be willing to leave a dog park if you feel that your dog is either being a bully or being bullied, the play is getting too rough or your dog is just not having fun.
6.          Break up loose packs.  Packs of dogs will gang up on weaker dogs and may even physically attack them.
7.         Be sure to take your dog’s temperament into consideration and don’t assume your dog is having a good time – watch your dog’s demeanor and make an informed judgment about how happy s/he is to be there.  Some dogs will have no desire to play, yet will love to sniff all the bushes and trees; other dogs will be thrilled to race from one end of the park to the other.  Both can benefit from the dog park – they just enjoy it in different ways.
8.         Call your dog to you frequently, not just when it's time to leave. By calling him over to you frequently, praising him and then releasing him back to play, you can avoid the difficulty many dog park users experience: the dog who can't be caught when it's time to leave.
9.       Turn your cell phone off, or don’t take calls or text, unless it's an emergency. This is a good time for you and your dog to be together, and doesn't your dog deserve your undivided attention?
10.      Keep Moving!  Don’t allow yourself to be part of stationary group of people, which could result in too many dogs gathering in one place. Move around so your dog knows it will need to keep an eye on you.  It’s a big park, why not explore it with your dog!
11.       Small dogs (under 25 lbs.) should use the small dog area and should absolutely not be in the large dog area. Even if you’re small dog is used to playing with larger dogs, not every large dog is used to playing with small dogs. It’s so easy for a little guy to get overwhelmed or bowled over by larger dogs. The large dogs may not mean to hurt the smaller dogs, but play may be too rough, or they may see the small dog as a prey animal, pick it up and shake it, which can be fatal.
12.   Check out the entrance before entering to make sure dogs aren’t congregating there. If they are, try the other entrance. 
13.      Leave if you start to feel concerned about anything going on. Help to resolve the situation if you can, but your first responsibility is to keep both you and your dog safe.

Monday, October 1, 2012

If you lose your pet

Reprinted from the LA Times

L.A. at Home

Lost-pet poster: Six tips for a more effective sign
June7,2012| 8:43am

I returned home Saturday to two discoveries: Both of my dogs were gone from the yard. And worse:
One dog’s collar had slipped off and was lying by the fence.

Wally returned home on his own, but with Daisy still missing -- and lacking any identification -- I had only two likely ways of seeing her again. Someone would have to catch her, drive her to an animal shelter and have her scanned for a microchip containing my contact information. Or someone would have to see her on a lost-dog poster.

It’s good I didn’t know the odds. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, a nonprofit organization whose members include the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Veterinary Medical Assn., less than 2% of lost cats and less than 20% of lost dogs are returned to their owners — and that’s if the animal has a tag, a microchip or both.

I poured my energy into the posters, but making an effective lost-pet flier proved to be art unto itself, a fact that I learned the hard way. Only after I had posted dozens of fliers around my neighborhood did I realize all of the mistakes I had made in the one pictured above. Here are six things I would have done differently:

1. Photo selection. I thought I was smart by making a photo of Daisy so prominent -- taking up half of the 8.5-by-11-inch paper. But as I taped up the flier alongside other lost-dog posters on a lamppost, I realized someone else's sign was more effective: It also used a large photo, but one that showed only the dog’s distinctive face -- not the whole body. As I drove from intersection to intersection, Daisy's photo was hard to make out, but that close-up shot of another's dog face grabbed my attention and prompted passersby to stop and read the signs. Even though my signs were color, the black-and-white fliers with the face in detail were better: graphic, easy to see from afar and emotionally compelling. If Daisy had distinctive body markings or a memorable shape, the full-body photo would have been wise. But she didn't. I should have emphasized her face in the photo, then let words convey her size.

2. Text selection. The words on my posters were brief, as they should have been. But I made two key errors: I used a serif font (Times Roman), when a sans- serif font (such as Arial or Helvetica) would have allowed for bolder letters that were easier to read from a passing car. I also made the largest words on my flier “LOST DOG.” Everyone could tell that these fliers were for a lost pet, even if the text had been in a foreign language. A more effective strategy would have been to put key visual descriptions in the biggest type: “BLACK LAB,” or “TERRIER PUPPY” or “3-LEGGED CAT” or whatever the case may be. These key words might resonate immediately with passersby and stick in their heads as they travel through the neighborhood.

3. Sign locations. As I madly taped fliers to streetlights and utility poles, I worried that they would be pulled off within a day or two -- perhaps by city workers just doing their job. Had I to do it over again, I would have made some larger signs -- poster board, not paper -- and asked homeowners on key streets if they would have allowed me to stake those signs in their yards, perhaps near a sidewalk or intersection. Others who had lost pets later recommended using fluorescent poster board, either as the sign itself or simply as an eye-grabbing backdrop. Just glue an 8.5-by-11 flier to a larger piece of colorful poster board.

4. Number of copies. I underestimated the number of fliers to make at the copy center. How? I guessed how many I might put on street lights, but I didn't consider how many I might hand out to people. As I searched for Daisy by foot, I encountered neighbors and dog walkers who were sympathetic and vowed to keep an eye out. I gave a flier to them all, and they essentially expanded my search team. I initially printed 75 copies, but I probably should have made 150, maybe 200.

5. Preparedness. As soon as I found that collar in the yard, time felt unbelievably crucial. With every passing minute, I imagined Daisy wandering farther from home -- and farther from where I would be posting fliers. Superstitious pet owners may think I’m crazy, but I’m convinced I now should approach a missing dog like an earthquake: Get the kit ready in advance. Create a flier now, include the best photo and update it every year. Put the design in multiple places, including a flash drive stored with a big roll of sturdy tape and a staple gun. I wasted two hours calling my partner (who had the laptop where all of our photos are stored) in vain, then madly searching for a decent print of Daisy, then writing a flier, then running to the copy center and then buying tape at CVS because the copy center was sold out. Those were two agonizing hours that I just wanted to be searching for my dog.

6. Hope. Don’t lose it. Because I was looking for a dog that had no identification, no penchant to come when called by name and no spectacular sense of direction or intelligence (love her, but let’s be honest), I was fairly certain that I would never see Daisy again. As night fell of the day of her disappearance, a dog walker in the neighborhood told me to keep my chin up. She lost her springer spaniel, and two months later it was found at a park miles away, she said. Indeed, SPCALA has an “Animal Finder” advice sheet that said: “A lost pet can wander the streets for weeks or months and people who find lost pets may keep them for several weeks before taking them to a shelter.” My local city and Humane Society shelters said the same thing, encouraging me to check their websites daily and to walk their kennels regularly, just in case.

I didn’t need to, I’m happy to report. A dog lover corralled Daisy and drove her to a city shelter, which scanned her microchip and called at night to say my girl was waiting to be bailed out. I don’t know anything about the good Samaritan other than she told a shelter employee that Daisy “seemed like a nice dog.” Daisy has been reunited with Wally, and my fence has been mended. And now I’ve got a lost dog flier on a flash drive ready to go, garden stakes in the garage and a roll of tape stashed in the den, just in case.