Archive for April, 2008

A Day at the Park
April 25, 2008

There seems to be a trend these days for more and more dog parks….I see them popping up everywhere and for every “pro” about building one, there is a “con” as well.  While they do provide great opportunity for exercise and dog-to-dog socialization when used properly, they can also have many problems when not used in the manner in which they were intended. 

Dog parks, like every other park, have rules of etiquette which must be followed if things are going to run smoothly…. With that in mind, I’ve taken note of a few issues and common sense rules that, for some reason, can get overlooked….  Here goes….

If your dog has any hostilities towards other dogs, do NOT bring your dog into the dog park while there are others there! Can we say… DUH?????  This is SO easy to figure out.

But SO commonly seen!  You, as a dog owner, are FINANCIALLY responsible for any damages your dog inflicts upon either another dog (or a person for that matter!)…  No need to say more, I hope.

If your dog has any contagious health issues, keep it home.  Germs and diseases (Giardia, parasites such as Tapeworms, Kennel Cough, Parvovirus, etc) are easily transmissible from dog to dog (Don’t tell me you have never seen a dog sniff another dog’s, um, remnants)…..

If you bring your dog’s toy into the park, and another dog tries to get it, chances are there will be an issue.  If an actual fight breaks out (see paragraph about hostile dogs!) never, EVER try to grab a dog near their head to break up the fight.  Grab a tail or a rump.  You may still get bitten but chances might be less!  This reminds me – You’d better have GOOD recall on your dog – Voice control is essential in cases where it looks like their might be trouble.  Better yet, leave the dog toys at home.

Keep a leash on your dog when entering or exiting the park area.  First, it will keep your dog from running off and possibly getting hit by a car.  Second, it will allow your dog (and the other dogs at the park) to adjust for a few seconds….  Let Fido take in who is there, etc., and the already established crew will be able to take in Fido’s presence as well… 

Be aware of any foreign objects in the area – glass (especially broken glass), plastic bottles, etc,…  Anything that can harm your dog should be removed.  Hey, it’s YOUR park – keep it clean!

Speaking of keeping it clean…… POOP.  You heard me!  POOP… There is nothing worse than dog poop being stepped on – either by you or by Fido….  YUCK!!!  This is one of the reasons why dog parks came into being in the first place!  People got sick and tired of dog poop on playing fields.  So PICK IT UP….  Jeeze….

Fill in the holes if your dog is a digger.  Unseen holes can cause extreme pain and injury to both other dogs and to people who step in them!  Besides, it looks better when it doesn’t look like a land mine area!

Keep your KIDS under control…. There is nothing worse than having to keep an eye on your dog AND someone else’s kids!  Some dogs are herding dogs by nature and kids running around just triggers that instinct.  Besides that, if I go to the dog park to play with my DOG, I really don’t want to have to be afraid that your child and my dog will have an issue.

Bringing puppies under five months old into a dog park is just not a good idea.  Dogs have germs.  Puppies have immune systems that aren’t strong yet.  Exposure to dog germs can be a great hazard to puppies.  Please keep puppies out!  And make SURE your adult dogs’ vaccinations are up to date!!!!

Don’t bring more dogs into a dog park than you can physically handle.  This means no more than two dogs with one owner.  I know that I can’t run in two different directions if there are problems – Betcha you can’t, either!

Ok, so the bottom line is this – Dog parks can be a wonderful way to exercise your pet.  BUT they can also be a nightmare.  Please, PLEASE use common sense.  Each park has rules and regulations and they should be posted in a prominent location.  By following those rules, dog owners (and dogs) can have the healthy, happy time they’re supposed to have at these places.  After all, they were designed with your pooch in mind!


Ahh, Ahhhhhh, Aaahh-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!
April 21, 2008

It happens every time, this time of year. They come down for breakfast or come in from outside and you can see it clear as day – The runny nose, watery, itching eyes, the sneezing….. Oh wait…. Did you think I was talking about my kids? Nooooo! I’m talking about my DOGS!!!

Every Spring it begins – The Allergy Season….. And it doesn’t just affect us as people. My Bloodhound has itchy, watery eyes. The get puffy and she starts to rub up against everything. My Shepherd starts to itch and scratch and my Lab, well, he just gets more grumpy.

Pets, much like people, suffer from allergies. Whether it’s from the tree pollen, the flowers, the emerging grass or even from the insecticides and fertilizers used on lawns, they become just as susceptible as we do. (I know a Yorkie who is allergic to grass – Gotta say, THAT has got to be an issue for such a tiny dog!!!).

Allergies can come in the form of inhaled or contact – Inhaled is obviously going to affect eyes (puffy, watery), and nasal passages (sneezing, runny nose)….Contact allergies show more in itching (or reddish, hot skin) or constant licking of pads or feet. We can’t really do much for inhalant allergies but we can do something about contact allergies.

When you do take your dog for a walk, please make sure to keep him / her off lawns. With all the spray on applications out there, chances are better than none that your dog’s feet will be affected (plus there is nothing more rude than letting your dog go poop on someone else’s lawn!). So when you do get back home, take a baby wipe or wash cloth with a mild detergent on it and wipe down feet and legs. Make sure to dry those toes well or you might end up with a fungal issue (much like Athlete’s Foot)…

You might also try giving the complete dog a quick wipe-down to get surface dust off. This will help with inhaled allergens as well.

For those with inhaled allergies, taking a walk on a dry, breezy day might stir up a lot of pollens so be aware of the weather forecast!

Your veterinarian can run a battery of tests to find out exactly what your dog is allergic to. As a result, they can prescribe what is needed to keep your pet more comfortable during this time of year.

Oh – one other thing….. Fleas!!! They’re baaaaaaaack! Don’t think that just because your dog is itching it must be fleas! It might actually be a flea allergy! Some dogs literally break into welts over one flea bite. So, again check with your vet over what to do to help keep your buddy comfortable.

Joey, Ashley Need Home Together
April 16, 2008

Joey: Male neutered hound mix, approx. 55 lbs., excellent with everyone, a real sweetheart.
Ashley: Female spayed shepherd mix, approx. 60 lbs., she is fine once she knows and trusts you, she will need some time and patience to adjust to a new home/surroundings/people. They are both housebroken, need a REAL fenced in yard and they are inseperable and must be placed together. They have been in the same foster home for many months and the foster home couple are retiring and moving. It will absolutely traumatize them almost to go into a cage and be boarded. They URGENTLY need an adult foster home with a real fenced in yard until the right matched home is found. They are both sweethearts and well behaved. Call Pet Protectors at 203-330-0255.

Meet Angelina, Minnie, Reeses
April 11, 2008




The Syndrome
April 11, 2008

You walk into a house and there, before you, is a litter of Labrador puppies.  They’re SO cute!  There are yellows, chocolates and blacks.  They’re bounding around you, trying to be the first to lick your face.  Oh, which one do you pick?  They’re all so cute but that one… That one over there.  That’s the one!  You reach over and pick up that tiny bundle of kisses and hold it close. 


Guess which colored Labrador puppy you picked up…..???


Well, if you’re like most folks, it was a yellow one.  Why?  Because as a rule, they are the ones who go first.  It’s called “Black Dog Syndrome”.  If given a choice of colors, folks will usually pick the lighter ones.  There are articles coming out now about this syndrome but I’ve watched it happen for years.  So has every other rescue organization.  We’re all thrilled that it’s getting attention at this point!

There are some rescue organizations who ONLY pick light colored dogs.  Why?  Because people want them…  Easy in, easy out.  The black or dark dogs sit and wait, taking up valuable room in shelters everywhere.


WHY!!!  Well, let’s take a look at it.  I used to think that only southern shelters were the only ones to have this issue but my personal research has shown that it’s a nation-wide trend.  People don’t like dark colored dogs!  It has absolutely nothing to do with their personalities or physical traits.  It’s that dark color.

Remember when cowboy pictures had the hero always wearing the white hat?  He was the “good guy”… The villan wore a black hat. 


Remember Old Yeller?  He was a YELLOW dog – the hero!  Think of any movie with a “bad” dog in it and it’s probably a dark dog (ok, Toto is the exception here although he DID get into trouble with that witchy neighbor!).  Think of those with “good” dogs (heroes) and they’re usually light in color (Benji, Annie’s dog, Sandy, Lassie).


We wear black for funerals and white for weddings.  Witches wear black and angels wear white.  It goes on and on.


So what’s the difference between light colored dogs and dark colored ones?  Dark colored dogs die more often in shelters across America.  They’re over-looked because you can’t easily see their eyes – something we all look into to see if this is the “right” dog for us.  They don’t photograph well.  They seem mysterious and, therefore, somehow not as “good” as the light dogs.  They are no different than their lighter counter-parts.  It’s time we gave these guys a second glance!  It may take more to look into those eyes, but it will be well worth the time.  It may even save a life.

Meet Biff and Meg
April 3, 2008

7-month-old Biff and Meg are brother and sister. Biff is a neutered male who looks similar to a Maine coon cat, with medium hair and grey, brown and white fur. Meg is a white and grey tiger with a fluffy tail. These 2 sweet cats were found when they were kittens, abandoned in the middle of the road near Foxwoods. The woman who took them in was living in an abusive situation herself and had to give up the kittens when she moved out. As Meg and Biff have gotten to know the volunteers at the shelter and begun to trust people, they have learned to be cuddled and love to sit on people’s laps. Biff is more outgoing and curious, while Meg can be a bit shy at first. They could both get used to other cats and possibly a dog and could live with children over the age of 8. They can be adopted together or separately. Biff and Meg have been waiting for their forever homes for a long time. They are wonderful kitties who deserv e a fresh start in life. They would make someone very happy. AFOC 860-721-1351.


Spring into Exercise!
April 3, 2008


As I sit here, back aching and hands blistered from over-doing on the yard work last weekend, I am reminded of the phrase “easy does it”….. Obviously, I ignored my own advice…


So here is some advice for every pet owner –EASY DOES IT!!!  I know it’s spring, and I know everyone has spring fever and that everyone wants to get out and DO, but please remember that you and your pets have been cooped up all winter.  Muscles aren’t that ready to be put to marathon use yet!  Trust me on that!


Pets, like people, need to gradually get back into shape after the long months of being inside.  Taking Fido for a five mile run or hike after not doing anything for the past few months is a recipe for a HUGE veterinary bill.  Blown knees or elbows, strained muscles, torn ligaments, cut pads and even broken bones are what a lot of veterinarians see every spring. 


Slowly building up to what you’d like to do (play Frisbee, run, hike, etc) is the key to success.  Take Fido for a walk around the block before you start running.  If he starts out pulling you but then ends up with you pulling HIM, it’s obviously too much, too soon.


Be careful about those pads, too – Dogs’ pads can get cut very, very easily – on rocks, on sharp breaks in the pavement, etc., and for the most part they can’t get stitched (and they bleed a LOT!).  I know some places sell a product called “Tough Pad” which actually coats the pad and makes it harder to cut.  Treat the pads for about a week before trying anything like hiking.  I know they also sell leather booties but I don’t know a self-respecting dog that would every actually wear them!


And PLEASE make sure your dogs’ toenails are short!  The longer the nails are, the more a dog is forced to walk on the backs of their feet (like you would have to walk on your heels or on your wrists).  This mis-aligns the hips and shoulders, causing pain in the hips,  elbows, shoulders and back.  Make sure your dogs’ nails are cut every 5 weeks so they can be maintained at a short length.  You would be amazed at how much of a difference it makes.  And longer nails are more likely to split up the middle, causing GREAT pain.  Keep them SHORT!  Your pooch will thank you!!!


So the long and short of it is this – slow down, enjoy easing into spring.  Your shoulders, back, hands AND your dog will thank you!!!