Monthly Archives: July 2013

Que bella faccia Sophia!

Who can't see their soul in those eyes?

Who can’t see their soul in those eyes?

On Saturdays you can usually find me at our local PetSmart taking pictures of the dogs available for adoptions through the rescue group I volunteer with, Mostly Mutts (www.mostlymutts.org).  One of the volunteers had just been to the Cobb County Animal Shelter and picked up several dogs including this small brindle beauty they named Sophia.  At the time, I had Rocky as my foster but I knew he was getting adopted that day.  Since I was about to go out of town I didn’t want to foster until I got back the following week.  My husband tolerates the fostering — he loves on the dogs once they are at my house — but I am the doer of all things doggy!

Since I have four girl dogs in my pack already, I usually sign up for the boy fosters but as I was on my way to pick up this little boy boxer mix pup, I got a text message that he was adopted.  When I got to the adoption event I asked who I should bring home for my foster and every volunteer said, “Oh take Sophia – she is so sweet!”  I remembered Sophia from last week’s intake and she was such an unusual looking dog.  She’s about 29 lbs and we think some sort of Greyhound mix or maybe whippet mix.  She’s had a bought of doggie bronchitis and a runny nose but we have her on some super antibiotics that are making her feel better every day.

I’ve had her almost a week now and she’s not had an accident in the house.  She hasn’t made a single noise — even with my pack of crazy barking hounds reaping havoc around her.  She is totally non-reactive to their nonsense.  I want to call her Bella because she is so beautiful plus since I have a Sophie, it is very difficult to work on her knowing her name if I’m calling to Sophie and not Sophia!

Yesterday we did a fashion shoot while she was lounging on the bed surrounded by toys (which she hasn’t played with).  Here are a few samples from her fashion book!

What do you do with these things?

What do you do with these things?

Do I wear them on my head?

Do I wear them on my head?

I like the fuzzy sweater!

I like the fuzzy sweater!

Now this is more like it!

Now this is more like it!

I'm ready for my close up!

I’m ready for my close up!

Wednesday Test Drive – Premier Easy Walk and Bergan EZ Steps Stretch Couplers

This week, I have some new clients — Hemi and Precious Spoodle. Their owners hoped I could work on some basic obedience with Hemi and to get him to not pull so hard on the leash. Hemi is actually their “grand dog” but their son, Hemi’s dad, is out of town this summer on an internship. Hemi’s about 11 months old of unknown breed. Precious Spoodle is about seven years old and has always walked on a flexi lead. Both owners have said that they don’t go for walks because the dogs stop and smell everything!

The first day I walked Hemi and Precious, I used their own leashes and I thought my shoulder was going to pop out of the joint! Hemi is a strong dog and quite a puller. He wears a regular web collar attached to a six foot lead. Precious wore a web collar attached to a 12 foot flexi which she often utilized to its full length. Once that flexi is fully extended, it is quite difficult to get her to keep moving!

The next day, I decided to test drive a new no pull harness I got at PetSmart. It is pink and a size medium. I told Hemi, named after a really big engine in a truck, that no one would see him in pink and he shouldn’t worry about it being an affront to his manhood. He has nothing to worry about, he doesn’t even lift a leg while peeing!

premier Easy Walk

XS, S, M, L and XL — prices vary

The harness was very easy to figure out and there are two clips for easy on and off although I kept the clip on the shoulder clipped and had the dog step into the arm holes. Then I fastened the strap around his under chest. Before attempting to put this on Hemi, I let him sniff it and gave him a treat. I also lengthened all the straps as I wasn’t sure this would fit him. He’s not yet fully developed but he is on the larger side. This particular harness was a size medium. It fit him but left no room for growth. If I were buying this for him, I would go with a size large.

Next was the leash situation. For my personal dogs, I use a Bergan EZ Steps stretch couplers I purchased from keepdoggiessafe.com. I purchased as a three-lead. I removed one of the leads and set it up for Hemi and Precious. What I love about this lead is the handle. It reminds me of a waterski rope handle but much more comfortable. The grip is a soft, rubber handle that really helps when the dogs are pulling. It gives you something smooshy to hold on to and keep your leverage.

Also, the couplers themselves are made with a reinforced core to prevent leash snapping — something I’ve been a victim of with flexis far too many times! The EZ stretch coupler also easily converts to a single lead or multiple leads. I have three leads on mine when I walk my dogs. The leads are long enough to let each dog do their own thing but the unique way they attach to the handle prevents tangling.

stretch-two-dog-couplerI was very pleased with both of these products and how the dogs reacted to them. We were able to go for a nice, long walk without too much stopping. Hemi did not pull wearing the Premier harness and even though Hemi is bigger than Precious, the EZ Steps stretch coupler let them do their own sniffing. Overall, I think it was a better experience for both the dogs.

For Premier Easy Walk, we give it 4 out 5 paws! My only criticism of the harness was that one of the clip buckles was hard to undo. For the Bergan EZ Steps Stretch Couplers, we give it 4 out 5 paws! Nearly perfect with exception of not having the option of putting your wrist through an additional loop. If you don’t have a good grip capacity with your hand, it may be hard to use this leash.

 

How Do You Choose Your Next Family Member?

Did you know that we are genetically wired to think babies are cute? We go ga-ga for the giant eyes of a baby of any species — human, dog or cat! But the best matches when choosing your next family member occur when you’ve done your homework to see what are the best breeds, temperaments, activity levels and grooming commitments are to match your family’s lifestyle. Of course, breeds are just another guide we have and not all members of a breed will perfectly match the description.Image

When you think about bringing a new furbaby into your family, this is a long-term commitment! If you have a brand new puppy like Gizmo, you are looking at the next 10 – 15 years! So you want to look at the breed’s general attributes to see if they are a match for your family. For example, Gizmo is a rescue from a local shelter and we really don’t have any information on his make up but by looking at his features, we are pretty confident he is a boxer mix. I know he’s going to be a pretty active guy and will want to engage in some brain stimulating activities so I’m going to look for some interactive toys for him. I’m also going to engage him right away in some basic obedience training.

Some general things to keep in mind when choosing a dog are the following:

  • What size dog do you want, and is this size compatible with your living quarters?
  • How much time can you spend exercising/training/playing with a dog?
  • What types of activities will you enjoy with your dog? Is your lifestyle active or sedentary?
  • How much can you afford to budget for a good brand of dog food?
  • Do you have a yard or access to a nearby park where your dog can play?
  • How much time and effort can you devote to grooming your dog?

There are many applications available to help you decide what breeds you may be interested in a pet. My favorite resource for information on breeds is Animal Planet. They have an application for choosing the right cat breed or dog breed. Not only do they have some great information on line but also some great shows to give you info on breeds (Dogs 101, Cats 101) and Training (It’s Me or the Dog, My Cat from Hell).

One of the most important ones is your lifestyle. If you have a really high energy dog and a low energy lifestyle, that is not going to be a match made in heaven! I have a friend with a great boxer, Dax. That boy has energy galore! Not only is he in doggy daycare on a daily basis but she also gives him very long walks. On the weekend, I’m always seeing pictures of these five plus mile hikes they go on together. But if Kristen didn’t do everything in her power to exercise her boy, they would not have such a wonderful relationship!

Based on Gizmo’s looks, I bet he’s going to be a really high energy fellow! That should work out well in my home as I have a couple of high energy dogs, and a couple of low energy dogs. We will do what we can to make sure he’s tuckered out before he can cause puppy mischief! I will work with him on general manners and make him ready for his furever home. Lots of walks and exercise in his future!

If you are getting ready to add a new member to your family, I urge you to take all the factors into consideration. Our shelters are filled with adolescent puppies and young adult dogs that are a result of poor planning and owners not understanding what they were signing up for. Don’t just go for the cute factor. Getting a puppy or kitten means that in a few months you have a young dog or cat! Do your research and look for the best fit for your family!

I Want It Now Daddy!

Sometimes I feel like Veruca Salt from the movie Willie Wonka when I get around our rescue animals at Mostly Mutts (www.mostlymutts.org) when she sees the Oompa Loompas and she wants one.  I see our dogs and puppies we have rescued at Mostly Mutts and I want them now!  So instead of becoming a horrible pet hoarder, I became a foster parent.  I thought about this long and hard.  When my husband Andy and I first lived together we rescued a lovely chocolate lab girl named Duchess and we renamed Murphy.  Murphy loved other dogs and she especially loved kittens and cats.  We fostered many kittens for Murphy and were able to get them adopted.  This was when we lived in New Jersey.

Our next foray into fostering came after we had moved to Georgia.  We worked for a large technology company and they had just built a building in a very undeveloped area just northwest of Atlanta.  It seemed that this was a common dumping ground for dogs when people just didn’t want them anymore.  There were a number of dogs who hung around the building, digging in the garbage looking for foood.  Of course I would bring food and water, along with some other colleagues, and try to catch these poor babies who had forgotten that humans can be kind and caring.  One day I sat on the hot tar road for a good 20-30 minutes trying to coax this black dog to me.  I had water and it was hot.  I had food and she was hungry.  Finally she came to me and collapsed in my lap.  She was a medium build but so skinny I could pick her up with one hand.

We took her to the animal shelter but within a day I got a phone call from them that she would be put down because she tested positive for heart worm.  Of course I could not let that happen so I went to the shelter and collected her with the intention of curing her heart worms and finding her a loving home.  She was like a little stuffed animal.  So darn cute!  But Beatrice was not an overly friendly dog.  We had several inquiries about her but all the families had small children.  I could just see this dog who had been fending for herself for so long resist taking a cookie out of a toddlers hand when the first night we had her she stole chicken right off a dinner plate!

After having Beatrice (who the neighborhood kids called Beastrice and ran screaming if she ever got loose from our yard!) for about six months, I woke up on our Anniversary day and Andy had put a big red bow on Beatrice’s neck.  She was the best anniversary present ever!

Riley, Beatrice and Murphy "behind the line" waiting to be released for dinner

The Wrecking Crew: Riley, Beatrice and Murphy “behind the line” waiting to be released for dinner

So now we are kind of 50/50 on the fostering scale.  We didn’t attempt to foster for quite some time as Beatrice was a bit of a problem child — not people friendly, not dog friendly — really she only liked us and her space on the couch.

Fast forward about eight years and my Wrecking Crew had all gone to Rainbow Bridge within six months of each other.  Beatrice was first with a large, inoperable cancerous tumor on the back of her tongue.  Murphy second after a long bout with diabetes.  She was 14 1/2 when we put her down.  Last my big boy Riley, who we got for Murphy when we moved to Georgia.  He had mega-esophagus that was causing him to have chronic pneumonia as the food and water would get stuck in his esophagus causing the infection.  Riley passed on a Saturday with me holding his his paw.  He could not breath on his own.

After we lost Beatrice I was trolling the animal shelter.  Three was a good number of dogs to have.  I could still walk three.  There was room on the bed.  One day I found a little black puppy that looked like Beatrice.  I took her home that day and named her Bailey.  The chocos, Murphy and Riley were still around when Bailey came home.  Riley was so good with the puppy.  He would lie on his back and let her jump all over him.  So suddenly when Bailey was by herself, and we were down to just one dog, we jumped into the foster arena again.  This time with Mostly Mutts.

Her name was Viola and Andy found her the day that Riley passed.  He took a picture of her on his phone.  He had the duty to go to PetSmart after we put Riley down because we still had Bailey at home and she needed supplies.  He didn’t mention her to me when he came home.  We were heart-broken about Riley.  Then through other strange circumstances we found ourselves with a young yellow lab the same age as Bailey.  Andy then told me about Viola and we took Bailey and Phoebe to see her at the Kennesaw PetSmart.  We agreed to foster her and came home with her that day.  We never brought her back for adoptions and the next week we paid the adoption fee and she was ours.

Now, I’m really not doing well in the fostering area!  I’ve got a 75% failure rate…meaning that we keep!  But three is my comfort number.  I like a three-dog household.

A few years passed and I dodged bringing home any more fosters until my work friend tells me about this little Jackahuahua that her son and his wife had that they don’t want now that they have a baby. I was sure that they would come to their senses and understand that they could have a baby and a dog at the same time so I offered to “hold” the little dog until they could figure things out.  Well for me and my husband it was love at first sight and after a week, Andy said, “We’re not giving her back, are we?”  This moves my failed fostering rate up to about 80% failure!

Roc coming home from meeting potential adopters

Roc coming home from meeting potential adopters

So when I recently talked to Andy about fostering again he was an adamant NO!  And I can’t blame him based on my record but I was determined to make this one a success!  So little Roc (I call him Rocky) came home to Litt’s Puppy Palace of Love.  He has been a joy.  I post many pictures of him on Facebook looking for someone to adopt him.  He hates adoption day at PetSmart.  He’s a chihuahua and doesn’t really like people sticking their face into his crate or sticking their fingers in through the grates.  He likes to be introduced to people.  Since he is so small, our Mostly Mutts volunteers like to hold him.  He tolerates it and goes into what we affectionately call his “dead squirrel” mode with his little legs held out stiffly in front of him.

But today is Adoption Day for Roc and my foster failure rate goes down a little!  His new family asked, “Don’t you want to keep him?”  Well, yes, of course I do!  But if I can see him into a new home, then I can help another dog find a new home. If I just kept this little boy, then Adrienne (my friend) would not find her Rocky!

Don’t get me wrong, foster failure is not a bad thing!  It means that a dog or a cat has found a furever home. I just want to be able to help more animals find that so I’m a reformed failed foster!  So, I get to indulge my Veruca Salt a little bit when I bring home a new foster.  It feels good to want something now because you can help people find their best friends later.

Twinkle in her Eye

I love taking pictures of my clients…they are all special! I used a special lens system called Lensbaby. That’s how I got the light in her eyes to throw the twinkle using a creative aperture disc. I love lensbaby and can be very creative with it!

Keep Your Pet Safe on the 4th of July

I read a lot of articles on pet health and safety.  This was one of the best information pieces I’ve seen on keeping our pets safe during the 4th of July season from the PetAmberAlert.com folks.  I know that my dogs are extremely nervous during the Fourth and I’ll be taking some extra precautions.

fireworks

Whether the neighborhood teens are throwing firecrackers on your street… or your entire community is enjoying “the exuberant splendor” of a big fireworks display, your pet can become frantic and run away, trying to find a safe haven. More pets go missing around the 4th of July than any other time of year, and noisy fireworks are to blame. According to national statistics, animal control officials across the country see a 30-60% increase in lost pets each year between July 4th and 6th. In fact, July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for shelters.

Mark Jakubczak, Certified Pet Detective and Founder, PetAmberAlert™, is committed to increasing the chance of beloved lost pets returning home. He said, “Sadly, only 14% of lost pets are returned to their owners, according to nationwide statistics. And worse, 30-60% of lost pets are euthanized because they cannot be properly identified and returned to their owners. That’s why we’re hoping to reach more pet owners and reduce these trends with our infographic.” PetAmberAlert’s July 4th Lost Pets Infographic called “Afraid on the 4th – Keeps Pets Safe” puts a spotlight on the alarming statistics and provides tips on how pet owners can protect their pets.

Here are 4 simple tips on how to keep pets safe… plus a bonus tip on how pet owners can have a better chance of finding a lost pet.

1) Stay inside: Try to keep your pet indoors at all times during holiday celebrations. Ideally, someone stays home with your pet. Also keep your dog leashed when going out for walks.

2) Make them feel safe: Comfort your pets with petting, hugging, talking to them in a soothing voice, providing a treat and staying nearby if possible. Make sure they can access their crate or “safe place.” Also ask your veterinarian or local pet retailer about natural calming products, anxiety wraps and other products that can help.

3) Avoid the noise. Try to drown out the fireworks sounds as much as possible by closing windows, playing music or turning on the TV.

4) Act normal! Your pet takes cues from your and your family’s actions. It will help if you go about your normal routine as much as possible, talking and playing with your pet as usual.

5) Protect your pet before the fireworks begin. There are a number of lost-pet devices and services available today, and it’s wise to be proactive in case your pet gets lost. Among the various pet-finder services available, the Pet Amber Alert ID Tag/Pet GPS combines Amber Alert technology with a QR Code and pet GPS to help MORE lost dogs, cats and even birds return home safely.

By following these tips, hopefully fewer families will face the heartbreak of losing a pet during the July 4th holiday.

Keeping Your Pets Safe On The 4th of July From PetAmberAlert.com