03 August 2017 by Grace on Living with dogs

Animal Hoarding

What is animal hoarding? I deal with this question on probably a daily basis. Animal hoarding is not necessarily a person who has a large number of animals. An animal hoarder is a person who has a large number of animals and cannot properly care for them, while insisting that they can. According to the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium, these are the characteristics of an animal hoarder: • More than the typical number of companion animals • Inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care, with this neglect often resulting in starvation, illness and death • Denial of the inability to provide this minimum care and the impact of that failure on the animals, the household and human occupants of the dwelling Animal hoarders have compulsive disorders that lead to them obtaining the animals. They become deeply attached to each one of their animals and have a hard time letting them go. They believe that they are caring properly for their animals, which is a major distinction between hoarders and those that are cruel to animals. Unfortunately, hoarding is harmful to humans and animals. The conditions that …

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14 January 2017 by Grace on Living with dogs

They Live Here, You Don’t

There’s an email circulating around with a sign that a person posted on their front door. I chuckled when I received it in my inbox, as most pet parents that I know have suffered the complaints and eye-rolls of non-animal-loving guests at their home. Here’s the sign: TO ALL NON-PET OWNERS WHO VISIT AND LIKE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT OUR PETS: 1.) They live here. You don’t. 2.) If you don’t want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That’s why they call it ‘fur’-niture. 3.) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people. 4.) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours, and don’t speak clearly. Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they: 1) eat less, 2) don’t ask for money all the time, 3) are easier to train, 4) normally come when called, 5) never ask to drive the car, 6) don’t hang out with drug-using people, 7) don’t smoke or drink, 8) don’t want to wear …

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03 November 2016 by Grace on Living with dogs

Grieving the Loss of Your Pet

It’s been a year and a half and she is still missed. It’s hitting especially hard now because the holiday season was her time. The day after Thanksgiving was the day that all the Christmas decorations came out of the shed. She would jump around and act silly—nose-poking the box that held her stocking and her reindeer antlers (to this day I still don’t know how she knew which box it was). She would lie quietly on a blanket beside us while we opened each box and carefully extracted each ornament, her eyes lighting up when the angels and snow globes made their appearance. Then, when the last ornament went up on the tree, we would step back and look at our handy work... she was always beside us, body wagging as if to say, “Good job!” The decorations did not come out the day after Thanksgiving this year. We tried, but we just couldn’t. We kept thinking about her, our best friend, and we couldn’t. Christmas is just not the same without her. If you are reading this, you are a dog lover …

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24 November 2014 by Grace on Living with dogs

Head of Household: Man or Dog?

I am guilty of it. You have a cute, and I mean cute-make-you-change-your-voice-and-dance-around-cute, puppy. He’s so cute that you want to just cuddle with him all the time. He’s so adorable that he looks at you with those big, brown eyes and you give him the left over dinner on your plate. He’s so cuddly, you not only let him sleep on your bed, you give him your pillow. He’s just so precious that you… Yes, fill in the blank. The puppy now has you in his paw. The problem is, that cute little puppy grows up and sometimes becomes a big, unruly, disrespectful dog. As much as I hate to use the word “alpha” when speaking of a family member, in any group or household there has to be a leader. Even on our taxes, we have to declare whether we’re “Head of Household”; in other words, the leader. So even in your relationship with your pets, you must establish a “pack” leader. This can either be yourself or your dog. Your dog will look to you as provider, protector, and leader if you …

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16 October 2014 by Grace on Living with dogs

An Opportunity for Education

I have a confession: I daydream about dognapping my neighbor’s dog. I know it’s bad and it definitely sounds a lot worse saying it out loud, but hear me out. I want to dognap this dog because I think he deserves better. For 20 minutes today, I watched him sit nicely on the doorstep, waiting for his person to emerge. When my neighbor finally opened the door, he yelled, “Move!” and walked right by his faithful companion. Every day this dog greets his people when they get home. If he is recognized, he might get a pat on the head but most days, the child is complaining that the dog is licking her. Cold… heat… rain… wind… this dog is outside; he is never allowed in the house, so his ratty, little blanket is on the porch. When I approached my neighbor, his first response was defensive and insisted that the dog had food, water, and shelter. But when I pushed about the dog being outside, he had the “he’s just a dog” attitude. My knee jerk response to a situation like this is fury. How can …

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23 September 2014 by Grace on Living with dogs

How to Speak Dog – From a DoggyDoc Power User

*Here's what most likely happened the first time you tried try to Speak Dog * “Sit, sit, sit, SIT, SIT, SIT… I SAID, ‘SIT”…. Please sit. Come on sit. Sit, sit, sit, …” I’m sure you’ve all heard this type of interaction. I know many of us have even been guilty of it. Guess what? Dogs don’t speak English; they don’t speak German or Japanese either. I know you are probably sitting there thinking to yourself, “My dog does. When I tell him to sit, he sits.” Well, I hate to be a Debbie Downer but your dog still doesn’t speak English. What your dog does know is the cue for “sit”. Cues are words that describe the behaviors that you ask of your dog (sit, down, come, etc.). Just because you say a cue to your dog, does not mean that he will understand what you want him to do. With that said, it is extremely important to not confuse your dog and have him ignore you when you talk to him; if you use a cue and your dog does not know the behavior, then …

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16 September 2014 by Grace on Living with dogs

A Few of My Favorite Things, Part 1: For Your Dog

Christmas is just around the corner and here is the moment of truth: Do you buy your dog a present? Don’t be embarrassed—I most certainly do! For all of you that do buy your dog a gift, here’s a list of my favorite pet products. Food Delivery Toys I love these types of toys because it keeps my dog busy. So often I hear, “my dog has separation anxiety because he tore up the backyard.” Fortunately, a great deal of the time it is not separation anxiety (which many times leads to medication) but boredom. Give your dog a food delivery toy, and voila, puppy is busy and is getting rewarded for doing so. My favorite products on the market are: Kong- I throw some wet food in there, mixed with dry food and pop it in the freezer. When I go to work, I give him the frozen Kong and that equals hours of gnawing and chewing to get the yummy treats out. Kongs are great for dogs that like to chew on things. Buster Cube- It looks like a large dice. You put your dog’ …

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09 September 2014 by Grace on Living with dogs | Dog health

My Dog Eats Rocks

Okay, I admitted it. I, for months, have had a hard time grasping that perhaps my dog has rocks for brains because he eats grass, soil, dirt… anything, as a meal supplement. Every time I see him doing so, I stop him but I didn’t get really adamant about it until I saw him munching on rocks for his afternoon snack. This sort of activity is extremely dangerous, so I stopped him from doing so and took him in the house. The next day, I see him trying to fit his mouth around a rock the size of a softball. My dog is a still a puppy, so I am still ruling out a lot of behavioral issues such as boredom and anxiety; and also some nutritional issues. I have him on a high protein diet right now, so his stomach may not be able to handle it and he’s grazing on grass, dirt, and rocks to help his stomach settle. But in the back of my head I know that I need to fix this quick because his consumption of nonfood items has already developed into a …

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04 September 2014 by Grace on Living with dogs

A Little Help from Your Friends

According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, the top five reasons people relinquish their dogs to shelters are: moving, landlord issues, the cost of pet maintenance, no time for a pet, and inadequate facilities. I have worked in animal welfare for over 10 years now and I know that it takes the average pet owner eight months to decide to bring their dog to the shelter. Eight months! Most owners look shallowly for a way out, only to come back to the inevitable: they will have to turn their dog into the shelter. Most owners do not realize that there's a plethora of organizations that help financially with medical costs and spaying/neutering. Other groups help with finding pet friendly housing and assists military families with the relocation of their entire family, pets included. On the rise, are local humane societies and other animal welfare organizations that offer pet food banks and affordable vaccination clinics. Below are some great organizations that help pet owners in financial need: • United Animal Nation • The Pet Fund • Pet Network • In Memory of Magic • Red Rover And if you are looking …

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