The snow and ice this week can make it difficult to walk your dog. Some dogs need more exercise than others, and will start to get bored or anxious if they don’t have enough exercise. Boredom and anxiety can lead to behavior problems. You can help reduce your dog’s boredom and anxiety by playing games inside with your dog. Mental exercise can be just as tiring as physical exercise and it gives your dog a job to do. I like to play hide and seek – get your dog to “stay” and go hide in another room or a closet. When your dog finds you, give a great big cheer! Another favorite game is “find it!” Have your dog “sit” and go into one or more rooms and hide small treats. Release your dog and tell him or her to “find it!” and give lots of happy praise when the treats are discovered. Or practice some obedience like sit, stay, down, come or other tricks. These activities give dogs something to learn and do, and helps to relieve boredom.
Please tune in to BCTV this Friday, January 30 at noon for the Animal Rescue League’s monthly show. Normally, our show is aired on the third Monday of the month, but this month it fell on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and BCTV had no live shows that day. BCTV was gracious enough to give us this special air time on Friday. My guests will be Christina Behr, the ARL’s Director of Development, and Marcy Tocker, a regular ARL volunteer. I asked Christina to visit the show to talk about a couple of upcoming fun events for the ARL. You may recognize Marcy Tocker – she’s a regular on the show - but I want her to tell everyone her experiences as a foster home for homeless animals. Maybe Marcy can convince you to be one too?
I hope you will watch and call in with questions or comments!
I’d like to pass along a message from Bill Smith of Main Line Animal Rescue. Please read this and contact the individuals mentioned. It’s very important for the welfare of our dog friends!
Six months ago, Governor Rendell announced that the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement planned to hire fourteen more people, including a state vet who would work exclusively with our state's kennel inspectors (dog wardens). In spite of the Governor's good intentions, a state vet has not been hired/named. There are sick and injured dogs in commercial breeding facilities across Pennsylvania and this position should have been filled a week after the Governor's press conference. A hiring freeze should not apply to the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. The Bureau is sustained by the public purchasing dog licenses. They have over $15,000,000 in a reserved account (replenished every year - licenses are mandatory in the Commonwealth) so there is no excuse not to hire a vet or additional kennel inspectors. They are not affected by the economy. We are urging Secretary Jesse Smith to do the right thing and hire the promised vet as soon as possible. She has had six months to do the right thing. Please contact Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff and ask him (politely) to hire a state vet as soon as possible. firstname.lastname@example.org Please email the Governor's office and ask him to look into the matter as well email@example.com If they tell you a vet was hired - ask them for his or her name and when they were hired.
Dog lovers seem to be divided in their opinions about Cesar Millan, also known on The National Geographic Channel as the Dog Whisperer, although a man named Paul Owens many years ago wrote an excellent book of the same name and therefore he really deserves the title. Many people are devoted followers, while others are appalled at some of his tactics. It’s no secret that I fall into the camp of Millan non-believers. I often am hired by people who have done some of Millan’s techniques to their dogs and have caused even worse problems for their dogs. Yup, then I’m supposed to fix them! Television Channel 4 in Seattle, Washington recently ran a piece called “Are the Dog Whisperer's methods harmful?” You can view it for yourself at this link: http://www.komonews.com/home/video/37440019.html?video=pop&t=a
This video quotes trainers and a behaviorist who point out that Millan uses some punishment-based methods which may backfire and create even worse aggression problems in some dogs. The dog training community is also divided about this issue: the positive reinforcement trainers vs. the trainers who use punishment techniques. This is an argument that never will be resolved because it’s possible to train dogs with results either way. However, some dogs respond better to positive methods and other dogs may require other techniques.
However, before employing punishment-based techniques when training your dog, it’s worth your time to investigate other methods. After all, your relationship with your dog should be based on love and respect, not fear.
In case you missed Taking the Initiative on TV60 last night, I was the special guest representing the Animal Rescue League. The show will be rebroadcast on Friday night at 8:30pm. It’s a half-hour show and in the first half, we talked about the ARL’s mission and services, coverage area, events, the new facility and spotlighted the Rainbow Bridge mural in our lobby. The second half of the show was about puppy mills. They showed a 7 minute clip of the film that I co-produced, Uncaged, Second Chances for Puppy Mill Breeder Dogs. The filmmaker, Ann Metcalf, joined us for the second half of the show to talk about how the film came about and our work with puppy mill survivors.
Please take time to watch.
I’m sure that most of you heard about the Pit Bull puppy who was dumped in a plastic pet carrier down the bank of the Schuykill River. She’s safely here at the shelter and has had the surgery on her leg. She suffered a broken femur and needed to have 2 pins inserted to stabilize the leg. She will require about a month of recovery time. Surprisingly and fortunately, she has no other injuries. And she wagged her tail happily at me this morning when I visited her in her kennel. She was obviously used as a bait dog for dog fighting because of the scars she has on her face. Let’s hope that she has no emotional scars from this ordeal. It's difficult to understand how someone could do such a thing to an innocent animal. Kudos to the boys who found her and led to her rescue. They are a role model for others in showing compassion.
With the twelfth day of Christmas yesterday and the Epiphany today, the holidays are officially over. The ARL received such a wonderful outpouring of donations, new volunteers and judicious adoptions during the holidays. We thank everyone and hope this trend lasts throughout the year. There’s one trend, however, that I hope does not continue. I hear that beginning in late January/early February, the ARL begins to see animals surrendered who were impulsively purchased over the holidays, or that cute puppy or kitten suddenly grows up and is no longer cute. Maybe this year, that won’t happen? One can only hope…
Will this be the year that people learn to treat animals compassionately? Every year, I vow to educate as many people as possible. What if all animal lovers make that kind of commitment? Put egos and competition aside and focus purely on helping the animals. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful world?