In the two years since I joined the staff of the ARL, we’ve lost a couple of regular characters in the barn: Rod Stewart the rooster and Mr. Swanson the turkey. I was so sad to see both of them go. But the most recent loss has me particularly saddened. Betty, the goat who has been a regular resident since her rescue from terrible conditions last year, passed away on Friday from unknown causes. The ARL staff and our veterinarian did everything possible, including a blood transfusion from a staff member’s own personal goat.
Betty was not a very social goat when she first arrived, most likely because she had little positive human interaction in her previous living quarters. But here at the ARL, people are constantly coming into the barn or stopping to see the animals. Betty grew more trusting as she realized we were there to give her all good things. Several of us liked to feed our girl Betty some special treats. When you called her name, she came running over to the fence, just like a dog responding to its name. She learned that we were her friends and she became our friend too. I always began and ended my days with visits to Betty, with a few breaks during the day too, because she was such a happy soul and she made me feel good.
The barnyard is not the same without Betty and her beh-ing. We’ll miss you, sweet girl.
Did anyone watch the show on Animal Planet last night about animal hoarders? It was fascinating yet very, very sad. The show is a six-week series depicting a couple of people each week. Last night showed a man who had too many cats. He was not your typical hoarder who intentionally took in stray animals. He had a couple of cats of his own and obtained another from a relative. His issue was that none of the cats were spayed and neutered. As you can imagine, his house quickly became overrun with cats. Once the home was so out of control, the man had no idea where to start to fix the problem.
The other person in the show was a very unhealthy, overweight woman who kept buying animals. She had numerous dogs but she never allowed them to go outside for fear that they would run away and get hit by a car. And the woman was so infirm that she was incapable of walking them. So…the dogs eliminated in the house – on the carpet. Ugh!
One thing I did not like about the show is that both of these people had very little income, thus representing hoarders as very poor people who cannot afford to care for themselves and the animals. There are a lot of hoarders who are not poor; they live in nice neighborhoods and live regular lives. Just last year, a hoarder was arrested in Jeffersonville (Montgomery County) in a very nice neighborhood. I hope that future Animal Planet shows about animal hoarders depict a cross-section of our society – hoarders come from all demographics.
I recently walked through the ARL’s lobby and saw a girl with a medium-sized dog. She was repeatedly yanking up on the leash and commanding the scared dog to “Sit!” The poor dog was already terrified just by being in the commotion of the strange place and probably had a sixth sense that this place was going to be his new residence. Most dogs will not sit under duress. I grabbed a treat and intervened, patiently showing the girl the proper way to teach a dog to sit. The sad dog was leery of me at first but after two tries, he sat! The girl was thrilled at this new, successful and very humane technique.
Just then, her mom saw what we were doing and asked my advice on how to house train a dog. It seemed obvious that the dog was being surrendered because of this issue. I tried to give her some tips but she was distracted by signing the surrender papers, plus she had a couple of children with her who required her attention.
I sadly thought that this poor little dog is now homeless because the family didn’t seek advice for training the dog. Is it because they didn’t know who or where to ask for this advice? Or could it have been that they thought they were doing everything right and it was the dog’s fault? Or maybe the reason for surrender was something completely different.
Whatever the reason, it feels that we aren’t doing enough to educate people. I try and try and try through this blog, with our monthly BCTV show and in our newsletters. The ARL offers dog training classes with Awesome Dawgs. But it’s not enough. How can we reach more people to educate them about how to care for pets? The homeless pet problem will not go away unless we approach it from many directions. Education and spay/neuter are two of the biggest ways.
Do you have a dog like mine who goes into a total panic at the sight of a dark cloud or the sound of the first raindrop? Maybe help is on the way! I’ve been hearing great things about a new product called a Thundershirt. It’s very similar to the Anxiety Wrap that came out several years ago but is easier to put on the dog (the Anxiety Wrap is very tight). The Thundershirt is a shirt for dogs but it’s made out of durable fabric that exerts constant pressure that has a calming effect on the dog. Read more on their web site: Thundershirt.
The ad on their web site says “no training” which is good because most people don’t want to take the time for extensive counter-conditioning routines. However, if you read more on the web site, some dogs may require further behavior modification along with the Thundershirt if the dog’s issues are complex. That would be my dog! He’s over-the-top phobic of thunderstorms.
The Thundershirt may be helpful for other-anxiety-related issues too, such as separation anxiety, nervousness with going to the vet, barking issues, and travelling in the car.
Check it out!
Many thanks to ARL friend Valerie for passing along this important recall information:
Merrick Pet Care, Inc. of Amarillo, Texas is recalling 86 cases of its 10oz “Beef Filet Squares for Dogs” pet treats (ITEM # 60016 LOT # 10084TL7 BEST BY MARCH 24, 2012) because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. People handling the treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the chews or any surfaces exposed to these products. Consumers should dispose of these products in a safe manner by securing them in a covered trash receptacle.
If you have Merrick Beef Filet Squares for Dogs that are covered by this recall, please stop feeding them to your pet immediately and return them to PSP for a complete refund. (Returned items should be double wrapped in plastic bags to avoid exposure to possibly contaminated product.) Also, if your pet has any unfinished Merrick Beef Filet Squares, be sure to remove them safely from your home, disposing of them so they cannot be eaten by wildlife. All surface areas that come into contact with any product suspected of being contaminated with Salmonella should be washed and disinfected. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling affected products. Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and anyone recovering from an illness should not handle products that may be contaminated with Salmonella.
People who handle these products can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with them or any surfaces exposed to these products. Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with the product should contact their healthcare providers.
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian immediately. The Beef Filet Squares were shipped to distributors and retailers throughout the US. These individuals have been notified and have activated their recall procedures. The treats are sold in 10oz plastic bags marked with “Lot # 10084TL7 Best By Mar 24, 2012” on the top of the bag and on a sticker applied to the bottom.No illnesses have been reported to date. FDA collected a surveillance sample of “Merrick Beef Filet Squares for Dogs” (lot #10084TL7) which were purchased from a retail store. The sample tested positive for Salmonella. Consumers who have purchased 10 ounce packages of “Beef Filet Squares for Dogs” are urged to return the unused portion to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-664-7387 M-F 8:00 – 5:00 CDT.
Everywhere I go, people ask me questions about various pet-related issues. A 4th of July party over the weekend was no exception. Someone asked my advice about what kind of puppy to buy for her family. Neither she nor her husband had ever had a dog so this would be a new experience for them. She said that a friend was breeding a Lab and was thinking about getting one of those puppies. But then she went on to say that she didn’t want a dog that sheds. And she was intending for the dog to be the responsibility of her two young children, ages 5 and 7. Wow, what a set up for me to provide tons of information!
Her dog of choice, a Lab, is not the best choice for her family. Labs shed a lot and most require a great deal of training and exercise. And that’s a very big dog to expect young children to care for. Without proper training, a Lab may knock down small children. And even with proper training, a playful, energetic Lab can be difficult to handle.
We discussed the issue of shedding and the size of the dog a little more. She began to see that a smaller or a medium-sized dog might be a better choice for them. Some of us suggested maybe a Bichon Frise, a miniature Poodle, a Schnauzer, or a Yorkie. And the woman piped in that she liked Cocker Spaniels or Cockapoos. Yes! We were now getting somewhere! I tried to impress upon her that mutts can be outstanding dogs. And very fortunately, someone arrived at the party with their 6-month-old mixed-breed pup that they had rescued from a shelter. The pup was so sweet and well-behaved, and everyone fell in love with him! I couldn’t have timed it better.
Finally, of course I coached her about where to not to get a puppy (no pet stores, not from the Internet, and to watch out for private homes/farms) and encouraged her to visit her local shelter or go to Petfinder.com and fall in love with a homeless dog.