Those of us who care about the animals know that education is one important tool in solving the plethora of issues that plague our pets who depend on us: abuse, overpopulation, neglect. Reaching and teaching adults may be challenging because of ingrained cultural and familial patterns. So that means we need to get to children as young as possible before they establish detrimental habits. In the coming months, we hope to make more strides to engage educators for their help.
But it’s an uphill struggle. A recently published book called Smooch Your Pooch is a prime example of how an irresponsible or simply uninformed author is teaching children the wrong things. The book is aimed at very young children and is intended to be cute and entertaining, plus show the value of loving your dog. However, the author encourages practices that could be harmful to a child and to the dog.
First, the book encourages children to give the dog a hug “anytime, anywhere.” Yikes! Few dogs like to be hugged because it is not a natural activity in the dog world. In reality, most dogs will just tolerate it and some may bite when hugged. Many cases of dogs biting children are a result of the child and parent not recognizing the dog’s signals to back off. I worked with a client many years ago who told me that the dog loved their children. When I witnessed one of their children hugging the dog, the dog froze in place with her ears back, clear signs that she was not happy. But many people are not aware of these signs. And as for hugging a dog “anytime,” that would mean mealtime too which is often a very dangerous time to disturb a dog.
Next, the book says to let the child take the dog for a walk (unsupervised). I cringe to think of the many dangers of this practice: the dog could pull the child down (depending on the size of the dog), another dog could approach who is unfriendly, traffic hazards, the dog may try to chase a rabbit, etc.
Other “fun” activities encouraged by the book are to allow your dog to hang out the car window and to toss the dog a bone or feed him some pizza. All of these things are not at all recommended due to safety risks for the dog. Dogs who hang out of car windows are in danger of getting objects in their eyes or even falling out the window. Dogs should be either crated or secured with a pet safety belt. And as for feeding bones and pizza to dogs, most bones are either a choking hazard or could pierce the dog’s intestines. And pizza has a very high fat content which is known to cause pancreatitis in dogs, an often fatal inflammation of the pancreas.
Education starts early and if children read this book, it will be difficult to change their thinking. I plan on going on a hunt for children’s books that educate responsibly and I will review them in this blog.
Christmas Eve is tomorrow, beginning a weekend of celebration at many of our homes! Please remember that the holidays be a dangerous time for pets. Those presents under the tree are awfully tempting! If your pet is curious and may get into the presents, either keep your pets away from the presents or stash the presents somewhere safe. And speaking of the tree, cats may like to climb in it and dogs may like to crunch the decorations. When you cannot supervise your pets, keep them away from the decorations. Food and alcohol is also plentiful this time of year. Remember that alcohol and chocolate are toxic to pets, and encourage your guests not to feed your pets. No bones, dark meat turkey or turkey skin. Certain holiday plants can be toxic too – poinsettias and mistletoe should be kept away from pets.
Many of us like to burn candles especially at this time of year. Pets can either get burned by getting too close to them, or they may knock them over and start a fire. So keep candles safely away from pets.
Have a safe and merry Christmas!
Please tune in to watch the ARL's BCTV show tonight at 7:00pm. Because of viewer feedback from previous shows, tonight's program will be dedicated to showing adoptable pets. It should be a furry, frolicking good time!
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I know you love your pets. They are part of the family and most people will buy gifts for them for the holidays. In years past, the selection was limited to just a squeaky toy or a bone for your dog or a feather on a stick for your cat. Nowadays, retailers know how beloved our pets are to us and they have come up with a cornucopia of have-to-have gifts to show your love. With the availability of on-line stores, gift shopping is easy but don’t forget to shop locally too. Our neighbor in Mohnton, Godfrey’s Welcome to Dogdom, has a unique collection of pet toys and gifts for the pet lover too. Check out their wide selection of healthful dog treats from Wilderness, My Doggy™, Cloud Star Buddy Biscuits, Grandma Lucy's, California Natural, Fruitables, Nature Nosh and many others. Customize your dog’s collar with their name in rhinestones or treat your dog to spa products such as "Comfy Dog" oatmeal conditioning shampoo, “I Don't Stink So", "Dog Smog Remedy", "Bow-Wow Butter Balm" and "Safe Paw". Godfrey’s is having a holiday open house this weekend, so stop by to see more gift ideas. They have cat items too! Their web site is www.godfreysdogdom.com.
Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue in Reinholds has a huge on-line store, offering the coolest toys for dogs and can’t-find anywhere-else gift ideas for dog lovers. Busy Buddy Tug-a-Jug will keep your bored dog occupied, as will the Antler Long-Lasting Chew Treats. For all animal lovers, DVGRR is selling my book, Puppy Mill Dogs SPEAK! Happy Stories and Helpful Advice, inspirational stories of dogs rescued from puppy mills plus tons of training tips that all dog owners can use. DVGRR’s web site is www.dvgrr.org.
For those kitties in your life who, as we know, need to stay indoors but pine for the outside, how about a tree house?! Well, okay, the price tag for the one I found on-line is a bit hefty at $800 because it’s made from trees from sustainable forests, available at Hammacher Schlemmer (http://www.hammacher.com). Take a trip to your local Pet Supplies Plus or PetSMART and you can find an inexpensive climbing platform and make your own tree house from artificial trees found at craft stores. Cats also love window shelves. You can purchase them at your local pet stores or on-line. Amazon.com has a great selection of cat toys from the Silver Laser Mouse to your basic set of ping-pong balls (yes, cats love to chase them!).
And don’t forget to stop by the ARL! We have a nice selection of bandanas, collars and ARL shirts. How about giving the dog owner on your list a gift certificate to have your dog groomed at the ARL?
Happy last-minute shopping!
Someone recently told me that their friend bought a puppy, a Jug, from a reputable breeder and that the dog had papers proving that it was a pure bred. Hmm, really? I tried to tell this person the truth but he argued with me before I could say “puppy mill.” He was a dog know-it-all. Ever meet one of these people? They have had dogs in their lives and consequently they think they know everything there is to know about dogs. These are the people who I wish we could get through to about puppy mills, pet stores and positive dog training techniques. But I don’t think these people are reading this blog – because they already know it all!Back to the Jug. A Jug is the cross-breeding of a Jack Russell and a Pug. This is not a pure bred dog and it cannot have registered papers. Only pure bred dogs are qualified to be registered. However, a Jug does fall into the category of “designer dog” because it implies that the breeder purposefully bred these two kinds of dogs together to try to get a certain look or other characteristics. Most of these designer dogs command high price tags.
Another popular designer dog combination is anything mixed with a Poodle. Cock-a-poos have been around forever but newer combos are Malti-poos, Yorki-poos, Labradoodles and Golden Doodles to name just a few. People who sell these dogs claim that the dogs are hypo-allergenic because Poodles have hair (instead of fur) that does not shed much and have less dander than dogs who have fur. (FYI – dogs who have hair must be regularly groomed because the hair grows; fur does not grow past a certain length but sheds a great deal.)
What some people don’t know about the cross-breeding dogs is that the characteristics of these dogs are unpredictable. You really don’t know if that Labradoodle will have Poodle hair or Labrador fur! So if the seller claims the dog is hypo-allergenic, you cannot be certain. Pups can have varying looks – some may look more like a Poodle while others may be more Lab-like. You may have a litter of pups from the same parents that have completely different characteristics than the previous litter.
A pure bred dog will always look like that breed. That is how they qualify to be an acknowledged breed by the AKC. If you cannot find it on the AKC web site, it is not a pure bred dog.
I am particularly sensitive to the topic of designer dogs because I work in a shelter. We have mutts coming in here all of the time. They are great dogs! But nobody is calling them a designer dog. What’s the difference between a mutt and a designer dog? Nothing!!
If, perchance, you know of someone like Senor Know-It-All, could you please print this blog and give it to him/her? One way to stop puppy mills and encourage adoption of shelter pets is education.