I hold my breath with conflicting reactions when a new dog movie comes to theatres. Beverly Hills Chihuahua opens this Friday, and I’m looking forward to seeing it because my family has a Chihuahua member – my brother’s dog. The movie looks like it will be pretty lame but what the heck! We can use some silliness in these stressful times. Unfortunately, the movie publicity creates a tsunami of demand for that kind of dog. It was 101 Dalmatians in 1961 and again in 1996. Beethoven bounded into theatres in 1992 and the St. Bernard was the have-to-have dog. With all of the hype and the cuteness shown in the movies, people want to run out and get that kind of dog to recreate the magic in the movie. Without doing the research on the traits and needs of the dog. When Snow Dogs and Eight Below came out, the popularity of Huskies soared.
After the initial flood of interest, animal shelters saw an increase in the numbers of these dogs surrendered to shelters after each of these movies. People simply did not understand the characteristics of the breeds and were unable to fulfill the dogs’ needs. I fear the same backlash with Beverly Hills Chihuahua. These dogs are depicted in the media by the likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as little toys that like to be carried around and pampered, just like they are! In reality, most Chihuahuas have the personality of a big dog in a very small package. They are usually not laid-back and cuddly. They are wary of strangers and don’t like to be grabbed – which is sooooo tempting when you see a little dog! They may challenge even the biggest dog with no regard to the consequences, and housetraining is often a problem. With early training and socialization, many of these problems can be avoided.
Here at the ARL, we frequently see quite a few Chihuahuas come in – strays and owner surrenders. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t see that inevitable surge in the coming months…
The Animal Rescue League’s first Carnival for the Animals on Sunday was a resounding success! Thank you to everyone who attended, and to those who exhibited and gave demonstrations. Of course, lots of people brought their dogs and they were a well-behaved representation of ARL alumni as well as dogs from other shelters and rescues. As a trainer, I am very aware of the way that people interact with their dogs in public. To my dismay, I witnessed lots of yanking on leashes to get dogs to stop pulling, pushing down on rear ends to get dogs to sit, and even some yelling to get the dogs to listen. Steve and Mary Jo from Awesome Dawgs provided a fantastic demonstration of agility and obedience early in the day at the Carnival. I wish that all attendees could have watched it. The experience of teaching your dog positive methods of obedience does so much for the bond between dog and human. Dogs learn quicker and are happier when gentle methods versus force-based or punishment techniques are used. Some people don’t even realize the importance of dog training! I like to call it “communications skills” because training teaches our dogs what our words mean. They need to learn our language.
I could go on and on forever about the merits of positive dog training. Let me hear your thoughts!
It’s going to be a beautiful weekend, so spend Sunday outside at the Animal Rescue League! We’re having our first annual Carnival for the Animals to celebrate Pennsylvania's Week for the Animals. There will be fun for everyone: games for kids, pet contests, exhibits, face painting, dog training demonstrations, pet photos, food, a silent auction, a dunk tank with local dignitaries, and a book signing. The festivities start at 11:00. Don’t miss the unveiling of the mural in our new lobby at 1:30. Painted by artist Terry Flannery, the mural shows our animal friends waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge. More information about the mural and opportunities to memorialize your pet in the mural are available at the shelter.
We hope to see you on the last day of summer at the Animal Rescue League – Sunday, September 21, 11:00-4:00!
We did it! The PA House of Representatives passed HB2532 unanimously, and HB2525 passed by a vote of 181 to 17. Now it's on to the Senate. Please be sure to contact your senators to keep the momentum to get these bills signed into law!
Thank you to everyone who helped!
Barrie Pease, president of the Board of Directors of the Animal Rescue League, and I had the pleasure of attending the rally in Harrisburg today, accompanied by Barrie’s shelter dog, Lily, to support passage of House Bills 2525 and 2532. When Barrie spoke to Rep. Caltagirone after the rally, he seemed optimistic that the bills would pass tomorrow. In session yesterday, most of the proposed amendments had been voted down. It looks like all of our hard work is finally paying off!
I was so happy to meet and chat with AnneMarie Lucas from the ASPCA and she shared with me some of the interesting forensics work that they are doing in New York. She even posed for a photo with Lily! What a wonderful lady she is; so down to earth and friendly. That's Bill Smith's dog, HB, with AnneMarie.
I was finally able to meet Helen Ebersole, president of United Against Puppy Mills. She called into the ARL’s BCTV program last night to speak about their work and the fundraiser they are having next month (check out Upcoming Events for more information!). Great job to all in her group, with special thanks to Liz McCauley for being on the show last night.
If these bills pass this week, it will be a great help for the dogs suffering in commercial kennels. But we still have a long way to go.
Please join us in Harrisburg on September 16 for the Puppy Mill Reform Rally from noon until 2:00pm at Soldiers Grove at the Capitol Complex to show support for House Bill 2525 and 2532. Speakers at the event include AnneMarie Lucas from the ASPCA and Jana Kohl, author of A Rare Breed of Love. After the rally, we are all encouraged to visit with our representatives to persuade them to vote for the bills' passage.
This is so important, folks. If you say you are an animal lover, then show up at this rally or call your representative to express your support for these bills. It's a highly politically-charged issue with very strong lobbyists working hard to see that the bills are not passed.
If these bills are not passed, it continues to make it very difficult for the Animal Rescue League to do its job of protecting the animals and charging the abusers. Under the current law, our hands are tied.
Let's join together and do it!
The Gulf Coast dodged a major hurricane last week as pet lovers watched to be sure that the animals were safe as well. With the passage of the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006 after the Hurricane Katrina debacle, we all wanted to see if the new regulations held up. They did. Shelters in the affected areas made provisions to allow pets.
Have you thought about your plan if you needed to evacuate with your pets? It’s not unheard of in our area to have a hurricane! I remember a few years ago when Hurricane Floyd came up the coast and dumped over 20 inches of rain. My neighborhood was without power for three days. Although I did not have flooding conditions and was able to stay in my home, there were others in the area who were flooded and had to evacuate.
I’m watching the weather forecast this week and Hurricane Hanna is looking too close for comfort. When a storm is predicted, ensure that you have everything you need for you and your pets: food, water, medications, identification and vaccination tags, flashlight and batteries, and a first aid kit just in case. Stock up today instead of waiting for the day before! I remember looking for bags of ice after Hurricane Floyd because the contents of my freezer were melting. No ice to be found anywhere! Plan today.