Tuesday, January 31, 2012

P is for Pneumonia

Pawing through the Alphabet

P is for Pneumonia

...and that is because I'm not able to write a regular blog post today because I'm spending time with my husband who is in the hospital with pneumonia and as of yet undiagnosed respiratory conditions. I haven't been able to be around to visit your blogs either and I miss you!

How about today YOU tell Me what P is for? Pets? Puppies? anything else?? 

Monday, January 30, 2012

O is for On the Go

Pawing through the Alphabet

O is for On the Go

I thought it would be fun to ask a question and see what kind of answers we get:
Where is the most unusual place you've taken your pet?

For me, we took our dalmatian puppy with us on our honeymoon!
My mom took her little lamb with her to church!
What about you? I can't wait to hear!

I also wanted to talk about products that we use when traveling with our pets, and tell you about this pet carrier, Sturdi Bag. I was lucky enough to be sent a sample of Sturdi Bag to check out and see what I think. I have nothing but good things to say!

Sturdi Products makes quality carriers, pop-up shelters and cool products for traveling pets and their people. The Sturdi Bag is really well made, attractive, and full of helpful features.

Although Kelly is too big to fit in the Large Sturdi Bag we were provided with, we both inspected it thoroughly. Some of the features we noted:
* It holds its shape
*Super thick padded mat in the bottom. Any dog would appreciate that.
*Tether for securing your pet
*Lots of zippers so you can customize to your needs--screen windows, pockets, doors...you name it!
*Screen windows for ventilation all over the place!
*Extra comfy padded shoulder strap
*Seatbelt safety straps

 While the website indicates that the large can safely carry 40 lbs, it also states that it is most suitable for all cats and dogs up to 25 pounds. Take this seriously, because Kelly is about 35 pounds and she couldn't fit in the Large. Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large Sturdi Bags are available, as well as many colors and designs.

We give the Sturdi Bag 4 paws up! It's light and durable, attractive, and full of features for any pet on the go.

* Full disclosure: I was provided one Sturdi Bag in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

N is for Nose for News

Pawing through the Alphabet

N is for Nose for News

Today Kelly and I are sniffing around to bring you some pawsome dog news!

****First, the winner of contest for a copy of the book In a Dog's Heart , chosen by random drawing, is DIANNE. Congratulations! Contact me with your mailing address!

* Hamster hoarder surrenders 94 pets to authorities.

* Missing feral cat colony in Fort Worth, Texas.

* Westminster introduces 6 new dog breeds: the Entlebucher mountain dog, the Norwegian Lundehund, the American English coonhound, the Finnish Lapphund, the Cesky terrier and the Xoloitzcuintli.

*Cyrano the 20-lb cat gets a new knee.

What have you sniffed up lately?!

Friday, January 27, 2012

M is for Movies

Kelly taking her seat to watch a good movie
Pawing through the Alphabet

M is for Movies

Take your Brad Pitt, take your George Clooney. Give me a movie with an adorable dog in it, and I'm hooked. It doesn't hurt to have Brad Pitt also, but just be sure there's a dog! When it comes to movies, dogs--and cats, horses, elephants, penguins--steal the show.

Last year, my mother and I put on a DVD of Benji movies. Wow, they were bad. Trite, poorly acted, melodramatic. But, Benji was adorable, and so clever--real dog tricks that were fun to watch (and made Kelly look like quite the slouch.) It didn't make up for the contrived plots, but I've sat through worse entertainment. I'm just saying.

When it comes to great dog movies, I can't forget Old Yeller, Sounder, and Lassie. (But it's been so long since I've watched them.) Here are some more of my favorite animal movies:

The Incredible Journey (the 1963 version). Here's one with dog and cat actors. I watched this first in school, and was so embarrassed when the teacher turned the classroom lights back on and I had tears running down my cheeks. But I needn't have worried--I wasn't the only one!

My very own Marley, Hudson
Marley and Me-- Say what you will about the story line, or whatever. I love Marley the puppy, Marley running on the beach, Marley chasing people and kids around. This movie got to me. For many reasons, and not only because I had a yellow lab and sat holding him as he crossed the rainbow bridge. 

Lady and the Tramp-- Oh my gosh, the scene with the spaghetti...sweeeeet! There couldn't be any cuter dogs and (Spoiler Alert for the one person who has never seen the movie!) the Lady/Tramp puppies at the end. Even if they are animated.

Eight Below-- This movie wins points for the relationship between the sled dogs and handler, the dogs' will to survive, and of course the tearful reunion.

Born Free-- Okay, so it's not about domestic cats, but this movie goes down as my all-time favorite animal movie. For most of my childhood, I wanted to be Joy Adamson.

A couple honorable mentions:

Hachi-- The movie itself wasn't great, but the devotion of Hachi still tears me up. Reminds me of a book I read, Greyfriar's Bobbie.

To Dance with the White Dog-- I think this was a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie, but I remember liking it. The man thinks the white dog is his deceased wife, come back with a message.

Ring of Bright Water-- I don't know if this one holds up over time, but I remember loving it when I was a kid. It was about an otter, and the neighbor man with a shovel, and there were tears...but I'm sure it ended happy.

Another animated dog I really like is Disney's Doug from Up!

So what about you? What are your favorite animal movies?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

L is for Leash

Stop taking pictures and get on with the walk!
Pawing through the alphabet

L is for Leash

Okay, all I can say is one dog: one leash. Right? Maybe two. But seriously, is this too much?! 

Over the years Kelly has acquired many leashes. Some have been prizes! This is her favorite.

Some of the options when choosing a leash:

1. Length-- A standard leash is about 6 foot long, but you can get them anywhere from 4 to 8 foot long. I like to give Kelly enough slack while walking so that she can sniff around, but not so long that I can't reel it up and put her at a heel if people pass by on the sidewalk. Kelly really likes it if she sees the super-long leash come out.

This one is 25 foot long, and it means we're either going to go outside and practice our recall (which amounts to a game for her!) or she's going to get a lot more freedom and the ability to run around and have fun (without the fear of her running off).

2. Material--leashes come in leather, nylon web, cotton, hemp and probably some other materials, but I don't happen to have anything else. I like cotton. This hemp leash by Planet Dog has a cool feature:

A cozy, warm fleece-lined handle. See it? Now that's thinking of the dog and the dog walker!

3. Function-- You might want different types and lengths of leash depending upon what you are using them for, like Kelly's shorter leash for walking and longer for running and playing. I won this cool-looking leash by Pet Zen and couldn't really figure out what it was for until I looked it up.

Turns out this Dog to Go HitchN Leash allows you to clip the leash around any object, and separate the clips so that you don't have to unhitch the leash from the collar in order to clip the dog to something, say a tree, or a post if you are out in public with your pooch.

4. Color/Design--You want your dog stylin' when you go on a walk? No problem there. I don't suppose you could count the number of colors and designs to choose from!

Now, to neatly store all our leashes, we got this neat hook, which we installed on our front porch.

Of course, we also have a lot of cool collars to go with all those leashes. And also, these cute hooks for collars!

 What features do you look for in a leash? What makes your favorite leash your favorite?

** This just in!! Need a new leash? Check out Go Pet Friendly's Colossal Dog Leash Trial and Giveaway today!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

K is for K9Kamp

C'mon, Join us!
Pawing through the Alphabet.

K is for K9Kamp

Only a few short months ago (it seems like forever ago!) Kelly, Koly from Kol's Notes, and a gang of blogger friends joined together for Koly and Kelly's K9Kamp. We had so much fun, worked on some fitness challenges, and gave away a ton of prizes too! I thought I'd take this time to answer some of your questions.

Q: Wait a minute! What is Koly and Kelly's K9Kamp?
K9kamp is a participatory blogging project involving fitness challenges, healthy recipes, weight loss tips, prizes, and more. Our goal is to celebrate the bond between pets and pet parents by getting fit together. The Kamp ran for 6 weeks this past September.

Q: Will there be another one?
 You bet! We had so much fun last year, we couldn't wait to do it again! We thought what better time to run K9Kamp than spring, so we can all get in nice shape by summer. So look for Koly and Kelly's K9Kamp this May.

Q: What kind of challenges am I in store for?
Some of our most popular challenges last year were "Fetch it Yourself" and "Tug and Tone." The challenges involve walking, jumping, chasing, and simple steps you can easily learn and do along with your dog.

Q: I'm not in very good shape. Will this be too difficult for me?
All the challenges can be adapted to fit any fitness level. We'll suggest adaptations, or you can alter challenges yourself to meet your needs.

Q: My dog and I already work out, eat healthy and are in great shape. What's in it for me?
Even those who are already fit will enjoy the opportunities to vary your routine and have fun bonding with your dog!

Q: Prizes? Did I hear prizes?
Absolutely! Last year we gave away DVDs, collars, leashes, fetching sticks, a copy of Dieting with my Dog, e-subscription to FIDO Friendly magazine, ID tags and much more! Not to mention the final pawsome GRAND PRIZE package!

Q: What's new at k9kamp this year?
We'll have all new challenges! More exciting prizes! And a new, easier to follow organization with fewer challenges and more time to participate. What stays the same is the fun!

Q: How can I get involved?
Keep watching here and on Kol's Notes for updates. In April, you can decide whether you want to be one of our Featured Bloggers and commit to participating in every challenge, or drop by and participate as you can. Then, in May, the fun begins!

And now, here is your chance to give us your input. If you participated last year, what did you think worked well, and what needed tweaking? If you weren't involved last year, what would you like to see in k9kamp? How can we help motivate you and your dog to get fit together? We'd love to hear your ideas!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

J is for Jobs for Dogs

Pawing through the Alphabet

J is for Jobs for Dogs

I love the way that dogs help people in so many ways. That's why I decided that for the letter J, I would reprint this post from my column, Pawsitively Pets.

Dogs hold many jobs. Police Dog. Guide Dog. Therapy Dog. Kelly works with me in my home office. There are many ways dog help people, each and every day.
Here are five great jobs that your dog can do:

1. Alarm Clock
Just try and sleep late on a Saturday morning. Your pup won’t let you forget that it’s wake-y time! Some dogs like to jump up on the bed and lick your face. Others tug the covers. The only trouble with these models is that there are no snooze buttons.

2. Personal Trainer
Taking your dog on a walk is great for physical fitness. So is retrieving the sticks he won’t fetch…chasing her around the house to reclaim your slipper…wrestling him into the tub for a bath…Who needs a gym membership?

3. Body Guard
Your dog won’t let anything happen to you. If she hears a noise late out night, she’ll bark. Although sometimes she’ll also bark at a shadow or a buzzing housefly. Such security!  

4. Maid
What dog doesn’t make a great vacuum cleaner, scarfing up the crumbs left on the kitchen floor or under the dining room table? And, his tongue would gladly take a swipe at washing those dishes, if you’d let him.

5. Psychiatrist
You can tell your dog your worries. She will always listen and never tell anyone. She knows when you’re sad and puts her head in your lap. Just knowing she is there somehow makes you feel better. She cuddles up beside you and stays for as long as you need. This is the greatest job of all.

Which jobs does your dog hold?

*This column first appeared on Guideposts website, Pawsitively Pets, June 2010.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I is for In a Dog's Heart

Pawing through the Alphabet

I is for In a Dog's Heart

This book by Jennifer Arnold is subtitled "What our dogs need, want and deserve--and the gifts we can expect in return." Really, is there much else you want to know about dogs?

I absolutely love this book, and I wish everyone could read it! So mush so, that I'm giving away a free copy at the end of the blog post today. So keep reading for your chance to win!

Jennifer Arnold is founder and executive director of Canine Assistants, a service-dog school in Georgia. In order to run such a successful organization, Jennifer really understands dogs and the relationship between pet and pet parent. She sees herself as "a relataionship expert who improves communication between humans and dogs in the process, betters the quality of life for both." 

One thing In a Dog's Heart helps us to understand is the very destructive nature of negative training methods some people use. Jennifer's organization never teaches using fear or force. She's developed a positive training methodology called Choice Teaching, which "lends to calm, well-mannered dogs who respect their human partners and enjoy doing as asked."

The book advocates building a strong bond with your pet which will give you the patience to "guide your dog through life on Planet Human, when he doesn't speak the language or understand the customs." Some of the steps the author explains are:
* Try to see the world through your dog's eyes
*Understand that your dog's perspective is quite different from your own
*Listen to your dog
*Be your dog's advocate

There is a wealth of information in this book about how to keep your dog safe and healthy, and how to deal with various behavioral problems. 

So what do dogs want? According to Jennifer, "dogs simply want to be happy, and they want us to be happy with them." And what does a pet parent want? This book!

In a Dog's Heart is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore! Also available is NYTimes bestseller, Through a Dog's Eyes.

Enter to win one copy of In a Dog's Heart by Jennifer Arnold
To enter: Leave a comment below saying why you'd like to win a copy of "In a Dog's Heart." For an extra entry, tweet a link to this contest, or share about the contest on your FB page, and leave another comment here telling me that you did so. 
One winner will be chosen at random. Please be sure to leave a way to contact you.
Contest limited to the U.S. and Canada. (Canadian winners may have to answer a knowledge-based question.)
Good luck!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

H is for Happy

Join me as I continue Pawing through the Alphabet. Today, for the Pet Blogger Hop,

H is for Happy!

I'm smiling as I'm writing this, because it is probably the most pleasant and personal subject I will ever blog about. Let me introduce you to Happy.

 Happy was my childhood dog. We got him when I was in first grade, and he lived until I was a freshman in highschool. So he was pretty much my best friend all of my youth. A family friend found Happy in the woods, skinny and muddy, and traded him to us for a pile of wood. I'm sure we got the best end of the trade. Part beagle/part black lab, he embodied the best qualities of both breeds. I always felt that Happy was grateful to us for rescuing him because he could never stop thanking us. He did everything he could to please us. The only thing bad I recall that he did was to sneak up onto the dining room table late at night and lick all the sugar out of the sugar bowl. That was an offense for which my brothers and I got blamed for many years.

Happy was mostly my dog. I lived in a small suburb in Vermont, and at the time dogs were commonly let out in the morning, wandered around loose all day, and came home for dinner. Happy followed me everywhere. When I walked to my friend's house, he'd follow me and wait on the doorstep until I was done playing, and then follow me home. Not even a thunderstorm, that he was so afraid of, would cause him to leave that doorstep.

One of our favorite things to do together was to play in the puddles. After a summer rain we'd go outside and splash and dance in that shallow muddy water. To this day I can't look at a rain puddle without feeling happy inside.

 The best thing about Happy was that I could tell him all my secrets, from playground slights to teenage crushes. Happy always understood. Happy never tired of listening, either. He also got along great with my cat, and my bunny, and in fact, everyone--except for men in uniform.
I'm not going to go into the day he died, but I remember ever second of it in detail. Mostly when I think about Happy, I think about that once in a lifetime dog, the one who understands you like no one else, the one who personifies devotion. And that's Happy.


Friday, January 20, 2012

G is for Gibson

Pawing through the Alphabet

G is for Gibson

Do you know Gibson? He's one of the beautiful Siberian Huskies over at Five Sibes blog. And Gibson has a very special message. Gibson has a children's book, written by his mom, Dorothy Wills-Raferty. And it's all about him and a serious condition affecting some dogs. And we're excited to be joining in with the Five Sibes Book Release Blog Tour!
Here's a description of the book:

A FiveSibes Tale-- What's Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy

by Dorothy Wills-Raferty

Welcome to the world of the FiveSibes! They are five energetic Siberian Huskies who spend all their days playing and learning together. In What's Wrong With Gibson?, one day while playing, Gibson has a seizure. It is a beautifully illustrated short story of the pups learning about what Canine Epilepsy is and how they can help their big brother. The FiveSibe Tales are stories that children and adults of all ages will enjoy.

Today Dorothy joins us to answer some questions about Gibson, k9 epilepsy, and writing the book.

1. When did you first know that Gibson had k9 epilepsy?
It was three years ago, shortly after Gibson's third birthday.

2. How many dogs are affected by k9 epilepsy? What are some of the symptoms?
That's a really good question...large numbers of dogs worldwide experience seizures or are diagnosed as Epileptic Dogs or Epi-Dogs everyday. While there is no actual tracked number of dogs with Canine Epilepsy that I know of, there are quite a few valuable resources with information available to Epi-Dog parents worldwide. Canine Epilepsy Resources (www.Canine-Epilepsy.com), who is the non-profit center that a percentage of proceeds of "What's Wrong With Gibson" will benefit,  is a center that not only has information, but also is home of the Epil-K list, a place where Epi-Dog parents can connect. There are other great resources listed on my blog and in this posting from National Epilepsy Awareness Month that may be of interest to Epi-Dog parents (http://www.canineepilepsy.co.uk/default.htm).
3. Why did you decide to write this book? 
Ever since Gibson had his first seizure, which scared me more than anything I've ever experienced with my dogs, I carry his experiences around with me. As an Epi-Dog parent, you always are listening, watching, waiting, and hoping another seizure will never come. It keeps you on alert. It was very hard for me to talk about it at first and I just concentrated on learning everything I could to help Gibson live the best and healthiest life he could. I am a photojournalist by trade, so when Gibson first seized, I turned to social networking and met a fabulous lady from Texas who walked me through it all in the early days as one of her dogs is an epileptic also. I then shared my journal entries of Gibson's seizures online in hopes of helping others. To pay it forward, if you will. I've worked in the educational field for 19 years and knew I wanted to write about it in the format of a children's book. There are children out there who have epilepsy themselves, or have a family member, friend, or pet who has it. It was my hope that by writing this book, children could have something they could relate to, help them understand, and...if one child remembers to get "a bag of frozen peas" to put on their pet during a seizure, then they've helped! Canine Epilepsy is very scary, and through this illustrated story, I hope to remove some of the fear for children and let people know that it's OK for a pet to have epilepsy and, with a regiment of medicine, vitamins, diet, and exercise - still be able to live a happy and healthy life. A reader told me the only course of action for her Epi-Dog 20 years ago was euthanasia - that is not, thankfully, the case today.
4. What does the book tell us about how we can help dogs with epilepsy? 
 There are hints throughout the tale, such as getting a first aid kit (very important - all Epi-Dog household should have one); getting an ice pack or bag of frozen peas (to bring down the dog's body temperature) - when Gibson seized, I did not have ice packs in my freezer, so I actually used a bag of frozen peas and a loaf of frozen Italian bread! I also have the pups get a hose for water, as a dog needs a drink post-seizure. They see Harley jot notes in a journal (which is key for parents of epileptic pets to mark down details of seizure). They also have ice cream at the end, which is what you can give the dog post-seizure to help raise the sugar levels back up. There are all little helpful, true tips throughout the book.
5. How is Gibson doing now? 
Gibson is doing well! As any Epi-Dog parent can tell you, when things are going good, you don't even like to say it! He is on a good regiment that is has been successful for him for the past three years. I pray it continues. The one thing about Canine Epilepsy is that even if your dog is successfully medicated, there is no guarantee that a seizure won't happen again. We just do the best we can. Gibson has some mild effects from the meds - lethargy, voracious appetite, and occasional stomach upset. I have his blood levels tested every six months to check on his liver as one of the medicines can affect it long range. I do give him a vitamin supplement - Milk Thistle - to help cleanse the liver. I was extremely overprotective of him for the first couple years. I still keep a very close eye on him and always will, but finally I let him pretty much do what he feels like, i.e. running, playing, etc. My vet gave me the best advice ever. She said, "Let him live his life." And now, I do.

If anyone would like to order a copy, they may do so through the ArcticHouse Publishing website,(www.ArcticHousePublishing.com).

 I think this book would be a wonderful to share with any child, to give them a better understanding of our canine friends and a disease that can affect people, as well as our pets. Plus, a percentage of the proceeds are donated to Canine Epilepsy Resources. 

Thank you Dorothy for joining us today, and here's a big hug for Gibson, and all the Sibes! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

F is for Fat Cat

My friend Becky's cat Pepe
Pawing my way through the alphabet

F is for Fat Cat

 * Fat Cat. Remember Walter the fat cat, who tipped the scales at more than 28lbs? He's lost 3lbs and is being adopted, which is good. Find out why he's now being instructed to GAIN weight.

* Fat Cats... AND Dogs...AND people - The Wall Street Journal reports on a new project, Project Slim Down, which combines a program of weight management food for pets, and Jenny Craig program for people. You can register for the project and find some handy tools for getting fit. (What a perfect combination for Dieting with my Dog, too!)

F is also for Friends

* Friends- The Daily News reports on a Great Dane who threw himself in front of his owner as she was being beaten with a hammer by her boyfriend. The Dane absorbed most of the blows, probably saving the woman's life. The two are now fighting for rights for pets to stay in shelters for battered women.

* Friends- This Boxer saved Shih-tzu friend from an owl attack!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

E is for Ears

Pawing through the Alphabet

E is for Ears

What's that I hear? There are names for all those different size and shape ears! For some reason I find this fascinating. Without names, I'd just describe ears as droopy, pointy or furry. Now...I can call them by name. 
Bat Ears-- large and upright

Round tipped ears-- large, upright and rounded tips
Button ears-- upright and folded over at the top
Prick ears --upright, pointed
Cocked ears-- prick ear, folded at the tip
Drop ears-- hang down
Folded ears--drop ears that hang in folds
Hooded ears-- curve inward on the edges
Rose ears-- small drop ear that folds backwards

Chart via Caninest.com


To add to the fun (hey! It's fun to me!) leave a note in the comments and let me know which type of ears your dog has. I want to see which type of ear is the most common...at least, the most common reader of this blog!

Monday, January 16, 2012

D is for Diet, and a bonus

Photo from Dieting with my Dog
Pawing Through the Alphabet 
(**Frankie keep reading...I won't let you down.)

D is for Diet

Many of you already know that Kelly and I have been dieting together. I don't want to be redundant, and I won't tell you here about good nutrition or exercise. What I want to talk about is the struggle--the frustrating, continual challenge--of keeping up a habit like dieting. Just because my book, Dieting with my Dog, is out and at the end of the book Kelly and I reached our goals (I lost 41 lbs and Kelly lost 6 lbs!) doesn't mean we can stop dieting.

I don't think I'm giving away anything when I post this section from near the end of my book. I'm looking around my daughter's old bedroom, which I'd refused to change since she'd gone away to college.

     "What are you doing in here?" (my husband) asked.
     "Picturing this room a little different," I replied.
     "You mean, a change?" Mike grinned.
     I ran my hand across the dresser again. "Could be." No way around it; things changed. The trick was to accept, even welcome it. Like losing weight, it was a lifetime challenge.

Yup, losing weight is a lifetime challenge. I've succumbed to oreo truffles and cheesecake over the holidays. Some days Kelly and I couldn't convince each other to get outside in the bitter cold to take our walk. Many times we abandoned the good habits we established in favor of a yummy treat or a lazy snuggle together on the couch. And a few pounds found their way back for both of us.

I know that if I want to keep myself--and my dog--in nice shape, and most importantly healthy, I have to keep in practice all those good habits that we started when we set out on our journey: Turning down extra sweets. Resisting feeding Kelly table scraps. Keeping up with exercise even when we're feeling lazy. Measuring Kelly's food and being accountable for how much I'm eating. And all that isn't always easy.

So I'm here to encourage you all who have strayed a bit from your diets, or have a dog who needs to shed a few pounds, or who find it difficult to get out and walk the dog when the sun is hiding...you can do it! Join us on our Facebook page and we'll support each other.
Just take a step today. If you will, we will too.

Now...for the bonus.
D is also for Dachshund!
Kelly is part long haired dachshund--see the resemblance (especially those ears)? And very proud of it. And is also very very lucky to have so many dachshund bloggy buddies: 
Frankie Furter and Ernie
Puddles, Albert and Whitney (but mostly Puddles, right?!)
Amber and Max
Frankie the Walk 'n Roll Dog
Dachies with Moxie
So today we can also celebrate dachshunds!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blog the Change- Canine Assistants

Photo courtesy of Canine Assistants

Pulling a wheelchair, turning on a light switch, retrieving a dropped object...these are just a few of the tasks dogs can perform to help the disabled and increase independence. Some dogs even offer support that people--and even medical science--can't provide.

Recently I was researching an article and had the pleasure of speaking with Jennifer Arnold, bestselling author of Through a Dog's Eyes, and In a Dog's Heart, and founder of Canine Assistants. Instantly I knew that Canine Assistants was the cause I would highlight for Blog the Change.
Jennifer Arnold

Located in Georgia, Canine Assistants is a non-profit organization which trains and provides service dogs, seizure response dogs, and companion dogs for children and adults with physical disabilities and other special needs. About 1,000 dogs, mainly golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers and goldendoodles, have been placed since the organization began in 1991. 

In addition to physical assistance, the dogs can provide emotional support. Often a dog is able to get through to a person in a way that no other human can.

Seizure response dogs provide assistance after a person has a seizure by laying next to the person, retrieving a cordless phone, or even pressing a medic alert button.

Another type of service dog, seizure alert dogs, sense an oncoming seizure and can alert a person before it happens. Because at this point no one really understands what the dogs are sensing, that behavior can't be trained. But Jennifer explained that after a strong bond is developed, 87% of her seizure response dogs were able to alert their partners in this way.

Photo courtesy of Canine Assistants

Choice Teaching
Jennifer uses only positive training methods. The methodology she developed is called Choice Teaching, and involves rewards for positive behavior. This leads to "calm, well-mannered dogs who respect their human partner and enjoy doing as asked."  Throughout our conversation, I could easily sense Jennifer's dedication, respect and love for the dogs she works with.

There is no charge for a dog through Canine Assistants. Recipients attend a two week training class in Georgia to learn how to work with their dog, and for the dog to learn about them. The waiting list for Canine Assistants dogs is from 1 to 5 years.

I wanted to tell you all about this inspiring organization and hope if you might check out their website, or Facebook, and if you know anyone who could benefit from their wonderful work, you might spread the word.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

C is for Curl

Pawing Through from A to Z

C is for Curl

I bet you didn't expect that, did you? There are many good options for "C"--cats, cookies, cuddles... But I knew I just had to pick "curl" because it describes one of my favorite features of Kelly.

If you're really really old like me (haha) or if your mother and grandmother liked to recite old rhymes, you might remember this one:
There was a little girl
with a little curl
right in the middle of her forehead
and when she was good
she was very, very good
but when she was bad
she was horrid.

Well that rhyme kind of relates to Kelly. Because she has this lock of hair, I guess it's technically not really curly, and it hangs down right in the middle of her forehead! Of course, Kelly is always really, really good and she's never bad! ;)

Kelly also has a mustache of sorts, that sticks out above her nose. The funny thing about it, sometimes it's long, and then sometimes it's short. It grows and then apparently the hairs fall out and it starts over again. I can't really figure it all out.

Kelly's bad hair day is part of what makes her so endearing to us!
Does your dog have any funny, cute and unusual physical features---that you just absolutely love?

Friday, January 13, 2012

B is for Book

Welcome to my new blogging challenge, Pawing Along from A to Z.  If you read yesterday, you learned that A is for Adoption. Today, join us for

B is for Book

I love Books. Reading them. Writing them. Stacking them up in a pile. Underlining beautiful phrases inside them. Alphabetizing them on a shelf. And reviewing them!

Recently I was asked to review two books, published by Hubble & Hattie (those great publishers who brought you Dieting with my Dog!). One of the things I like best about Hubble & Hattie books is that they are useful and helpful--books on subjects such as animal grief, dog massage, dog arthritis, and fun and games for cats. Here are two great books:

Clever Dog: Life Lessons from the world's most successful animal by Ryan O'Meara
ISBN 978-1-845843-45-8  Hubble & Hattie $19.95

The subtitle of this book interested me right away. Most successful animal? Cool! How did dogs accomplish that? What makes them so successful?

Inside this book I found the answers to those questions, and much more. Why people love dogs. How dogs benefit human health. How dogs communicate. How dogs solve problems. It is truly a wealth of information, starting with wolves and the domestication of dogs, to working dogs and the ways dogs help humans. There are even tips for handling puppies, dogs with separation anxiety, and canine conflict. There is so much information, it is almost overwhelming. Ultimately, the book's aim is to examine how the dog achieved the epithet "man's best friend" and how we might emulate his talents in order to enjoy the same fortune and fulfillment in our lives. The only quibble I have with the book is that the type is very small, with no photos, illustrations or charts to break up the text, and a bit taxing to read.

Living with an older dog 
by David Alderton and Derek Hall
ISBN: 978-1-845844-07-3  Hubble & Hattie $24.95

I love senior dogs. They seem to have a wisdom and nobility that melts my heart. At nearly 10, Kelly is considered a senior dog, although really the only thing that gives it away is a bit of graying on the muzzle.

If you have a senior dog and are looking for ways to help your dog live comfortably and happily in his golden years, this book is for you. It offers tips such as recognizing physical symptoms, using an adjustable stand to position food and water bowls at the most comfortable height for your dog, and providing games for mind stimulation. The book also discusses physical changes and other common consequences of aging, such as noise phobia, disorientation, and anxiety.

What I like best is that the book is filled with photographs of beautiful, happy, romping, engaged older dogs who are enjoying life.

*Full Disclosure: I was provided these books to review and asked for my honest opinions. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.