Archive for July, 2008

Myths And Facts About Pit Bulls And Hounds
July 25, 2008

On today’s Lost & Pound segments you will meet two dogs – a  Pit Bull and a Treeing Walker Coonhound.  Now, immediately folks will be wary of the Pit Bull and have pre-conceived notions about this breed.  Here are some excerpts from a web site I found – Bad Rap : Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls   Feel free to click on the site to learn more about this breed.  Here are a few myths I found to be the most common about these dogs.

Aren’t Pit Bulls MEAN and VICIOUS?

No more vicious than golden retrievers, beagles or other popular dogs! In a recent study of 122 dog breeds by the American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS), pit bulls achieved a passing rate of 83.9%. That’s as good or better than beagles … 78.2%, and golden retrievers … 83.2%. How did your favorite breed do? See for yourself:

Don’t Pit Bulls have LOCKING JAWS?

No. A pit bull’s ability to “lock on” with it’s jaws is one WHOPPER of a myth that refuses to let go! The jaws of a pit bull are built just as any other dog’s jaw. There’s no ‘enzyme’, no special mechanism that would make a pitbull’s jaws ‘lock’. They’re DOGS, not alligators! What a pit bull does have is strength, tenacity, and determination. When he grasps something he wants to hang onto, his willpower is the glue.

Don’t pit bulls have to be TRAINED TO FIGHT?

NO! Pit bulls are terriers, and terriers tend to be scrappy with other animals if unsocialized, poorly managed or otherwise left to their own devices. Just as farmers have used Jack Russell Terriers to do battle with badgers, foxes and other animals, unscrupulous people have exploited the terrier drive in pit bulls against other dogs for ‘entertainment’ purposes. Like many breeds, pit bulls can run the gamut from very dog aggressive to exceptionally dog friendly, but each dog shares some potential to fight other dogs if mismanaged. Avoiding dog fights involves understanding terrier traits and basic canine behavior in general.

Will a pit bull that shows aggression towards other animals go after PEOPLE NEXT?

No. Aggression towards other animals and human aggression are two totally different things. We’ve heard this frightened quote, “He went after a dog (or cat) and our kids might be next!”. This is one big MONSTER of a myth that has generated a host of damaging anti-pit bull hysteria. It is perfectly ‘normal’ for a pit bull to be wonderfully affectionate and friendly with people, while at the same time not 100% trustworthy around other dogs. Like any breed of dog that we see in family homes today, a properly raised, well socialized, responsibly owned pit bull should never be human aggressive. Pit bulls that do show truly aggressive behavior towards humans are not typical of the breed and in some cases, should be humanely euthanized.


Now one of the other dogs you’ll meet is George, a Treeing Walker Coonhound.  Much to my surprise, most people I have met think hounds are the dogs that either lie on the porch and do nothing or constantly bay at nothing (or the moon)….   I found a web site with six myths about Basset Hounds but the same can be said for ANY hound.  The six myths came from  Top Six Myths about Basset Hounds 


I’ve taken out the word “Basset” and just left “hound”


1. Hounds are less intelligent than other dogs.

Hounds are very intelligent, but they also possess an independent nature and low desire to please their people. This blend of characteristics can make them frustrating to live with, but it also means that they’re a fascinating challenge to a dog trainer. Train your hound with lots of positive motivation—they respond especially well to food rewards—and you’ll see how smart they really are!


2 Hounds are medium-sized dogs.

Technically, but a sturdy male hound weighing upwards of seventy pounds might make you doubt that technicality. Hounds are strong, solid dogs who can really pull on their leashes; don’t underestimate them!


3. Hounds are short-haired dogs that don’t shed.              

Hounds shed a LOT despite their short coats. Regular brushings (especially with a currycomb or hound’s glove) help quite a bit, but be prepared to get to know your vacuum cleaner if you add a hound to your family. Luckily, hounds seem much less terrified of vacuum cleaners than do most other breeds!


4. Hounds are good companions to take on off-lead romps through the woods.

Hounds love to be taken on walks, but they always should be kept on a lead (a Flexi-Lead works well, since it gives your hound freedom but will still keep him under your control). When not leashed, a hound might decide to follow his nose and leave you without a thought, only realizing what he’s done when he’s miles away and unable to return home. Don’t take chances with the safety of your hound; either keep him on a leash or let him play within the confines of a fenced-in yard.


5. Hounds bond better with other dogs than they do with human beings.

Hounds were bred to exist companionably with other dogs in packs, and they DO tend to get along well with each other. But they also love people; very few breeds are as affectionate toward human beings as the hound. Most hounds bond very strongly with their people.


6. Hounds are couch potatoes who laze around all day barely breathing.

Perhaps some hounds are loafers, but I’ve never met them. Nearly all hounds are active, busy dogs who get into trouble regularly. Many chew and are destructive. Others regularly overturn garbage pails and shred paper. And, of course, any food within hound reach is fair game. Be prepared for anything with a hound!

So before you decide that you either like or dislike a dog based on its breed, why not read up on them?  Dispel some myths and you just might find yourself falling in love!


Vacationing With Your Pet?
July 18, 2008

This summer, families across CT will be going on vacation – Gas prices or not!  Now, when you DO go away, what do you do with the dog & cat?  Well, there are a few choices – We’ll go over them quickly here…..


Boarding is good but there are a few things to remember.  Boarding places require that your dog (or cat) be vaccinated for Rabies (this is also a State law)….  They also require that your dog be vaccinated against Kennel Cough.  Now, that’s all well and good but remember, it takes 30 days for the vaccination your dog receives to properly cover it against this virus.  SO if you vaccinate your dog the week before you put him / her in the kennel, there’s no guarantee he / she won’t come down with a cough.  So don’t blame the kennel! 


Now, how to pick a kennel?  Well, you can go with your veterinarian’s recommendation or the recommendation of a friend.  Or you can go check them out.  Just as you’d want to stay in a clean hotel, you’d want your baby to stay in a clean kennel!  Call around – the cheapest doesn’t mean the best.  Go visit!  See the place!!!  Make sure it’s clean and well ventilated – Does it have inside / outside access or is Fido going to be confined to a small kennel?  Can you bring blankets or Fido’s bed?  Do they have resting beds or is Fido going to be on a cement floor? Is there play time offered for Fido?  Nothing worse than a bored pooch.  Do they bathe your pets before you come pick them up?  Nothing worse than picking up a smelly pooch!!   Make sure you’d be comfortable with where your pooch is going to stay – Cats are different in that they LIKE smaller spaces but do make sure Fluffy will be ok there – Again, clean, ventilated, enough space for a litter box AND a resting area? Quiet?  Cats like quiet spots so if it’s screaming loud or you can hear dogs going nuts, steer clear.  If the kennel won’t let you see where your baby is going, walk out.  Really.  If you wouldn’t stay there, don’t have your pets stay there.


Option #2 – Have someone come and care for your pets at your home.  There are many pet sitting services offered – make sure you find a bonded one.  Ask for references.  CALL the references!  See how many times a day they’ll be over.   Dogs require at least 3 times a day – and see if they’ll walk the dog.  How much time do they plan on spending with Fido?  Have them meet Fido before-hand.  If your pooch isn’t comfortable with this person while you’re there, there WILL be issues while you’re gone! 


Option #3 – Have a relative stay at the house – This is the one I personally use.  I like it.  It keeps the stress to a minimum for everyone.  I know it’s tough for some to find someone to actually stay at their house, but see if you can!  Remember to leave emergency numbers!!


Option #4 – I’d LOVE to be able to do this but with so many critters here, it would be NUTS!  TAKE THEM WITH YOU!  Find a hotel that takes dogs!  Going camping?  Great!  Dogs LOVE to go camping (cats, not so much!)!!!  Just make sure you bring a few things – Water (remember the saying about drinking the water in Mexico?)… Fido will VERY much appreciate his OWN water from home.  If, however, you run out of home water, and there is an, um, issue,,,,,, get some Imodium…. It works.  OR call your vet ahead of time and ask for some anti-diarrhea meds for “just in case”…. Make sure Fido has identification on his collar – or write your CELL number ON his collar!  This way, IF he gets lost, they can find you!  Make sure you have something to tie him / her out with – and remember that dogs can chew through rope, so maybe one of those plastic covered wire runs?  Bring plenty of food as well – and plastic bags to pick up Fido’s droppings.  Always have a crate to keep Fido in, especially if you’re planning on staying at a hotel.  Cats will also need a crate – some hotels require it so check ahead (but it’s always a good idea to have one)…. Get a folding one – they’re GREAT and convenient.  Is Fido a barker?  Take a towel or blanket from home and put it OVER his crate when you’re not there.  The darkness and smell of you will be comforting.


So have a great vacation!  Whether you take Fido or Fluffy with you or not, you ALL can have a nice “time away” – Just remember to plan ahead and be comfortable with those plans!

I’m Thinking of Breeding My Dog… Is This a Good Idea?
July 11, 2008

Actually, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this question posed!  So here, in black and white, are some things to consider when making your decision.  Surprised to hear an animal rescuer NOT just say NO, YOU DON’T BREED!!!?  Well, it’s because I don’t want to put anyone off – I’m here to inform – not to preach.  So here we go….


In order to breed a healthy litter, you must first start with a healthy adult.  So you have to wait until your female is at least 2 years old.  She needs to be certified for her hips, eyes, elbows, etc., and it has to be done by a veterinarian.  The vet takes the results of the exam and sends them into a board.  The board then determines the level of passing.  This runs at least $300.00…


Ok so if she passes, you now need to find a male who has also passed OFA.  Stud fees can run up around $1500.00 depending on the OFA rating for him. 


Now, there is no guarantee that she’ll get pregnant the first try- So you will have to pay stud fees every time you try.  That’s every 6 months.  And you have to go through her going through a heat cycle which means she bleeds ALL OVER YOUR HOUSE.  It is the most AWFUL smell in the world, never mind the fact that you’ll have to clean it up every time she moves.  If you choose to keep her outside while she’s going through this she’ll be pregnant by a neighbor’s dog (or dogs) before she’s a year old.  Then she’s compromised physically as she’s just too young to support a healthy litter.


During her pregnancy, there will be several vet visits (cha-ching!).  Depending on her breed and condition, she may or may not be able to deliver normally.  I’ve had many rescue dogs deliver at my place and only ONE deliver without an issue.  One of ours was a c-section which ran about $1200.00…. And once they have one, they will not be able to deliver again without another c-section (and another $1200.00)…


When she does get close to delivery date, you’ll have to be with her.  Plan to take time off from work and plan on being with her for at least 12 hours straight during delivery.  Plan on helping her if she needs it – some dogs deliver up to 12 puppies and they get very tired after #5 or so.  Sometimes you have to tie chords, etc, and take the placentas away so she doesn’t eat them (can be too much for her). Hope you’re not squeamish!    When she’s done delivering or if she’s too tired to continue delivering, she might need a shot to get her cleaned out (cha-ching!)…


Once she’s delivered, you need to make sure she’s got enough milk and that she doesn’t develop mastitis which would make it impossible for her to feed them.  Then YOU get to do that, every two hours, around the clock.  Even with a healthy mom, stuff happens.  She’ll need to be watched for pyometria – an infection of the uterus which can kill her.

She’d have to have an emergency spay to save her life – BIG CHA-CHING!!!


Ok – so now the babies are 8 weeks old and ready for adoption.  Do you have homes for all of them? If not, you’ll have lots of babies to clean up after.  If you put them in a pound, there’s no guarantee they’ll be adopted – they might be euthanized.

So the long and short of it is – It’s your choice.  Personally, I’ve had the urge to breed a dog or two of mine – I wanted to have more just like them because their personality was so great.  But breeding a great dog doesn’t mean you’ll get great puppies.  I’m sure you’ve met human families with several kids and one of the kids is a real jerk?  Great parents, but one or two of those kids is a real brat.  Well, it’s the same with dogs.  Great parents don’t always produce great kids, or kids with out health issues.  It’s called genetics and they can be tricky.


If you’re breeding to improve the quality of the breed, that’s one thing.  That’s a very expensive one thing, but an understandable one.  Showing, competing and breeding all mesh together and trust me, it takes BIG BUCKS to be in that arena.


If you’re breeding because you think your kids would benefit from it (not sure why – my kids disappear REAL fast when Mom Dog starts pushing), think again. 

I know it’s really tempting.  So if you are (and here comes the part from the animal rescuer), remember that there are not enough homes for all the dogs and cats in this country.  Thousands are put to death every day because there are not enough homes.  It’s a sad thing but a real thing.  So use your brain and not your heart and you’ll benefit.


Hope that helps!

Food Banks Affected By Economy
July 4, 2008

Those were the headlines of an article in The Granby Drummer, a local paper, and they got me thinking.  Folks are having a hard time making ends meet for themselves…. I wonder how many folks are having a hard time making ends meet for their pets, as well.


Times are hard.  Gas prices are up.  Folks are having to sacrifice.  Ends don’t get met and everyone suffers.  Including the family pets.


In Granby, each month an average of 86 bags of food are given to residents needing some assistance.  I chatted with the folks at the Granby Food Bank and was told that lots of families won’t come for assistance because they’re too proud.  So I asked about pet foods.  Do people ever donate food for pets to the food banks?  Is there a need?  YES was the reply I got…


In California, someone, somewhere is setting up a food bank for pets.  I heard about that and thought what a great idea!  We, as a shelter, get donations of food all the time.  Some times we get TOO much and I’ve given it to retirement complexes or other shelters but never thought about giving it to a food bank.


So here’s the idea….Every town in the state of Connecticut has a food bank of some sort. Why not, when you’re out shopping at the store, pick up a bag of dog food, cat food, cat litter, bird food, etc., and bring it to your local food bank? 

Shelters all across America are getting in more and more pets because of family situations that are changing.  Bankruptcy, foreclosure or just the increased expense of owning a pet is prompting folks to have to give them up. This puts a burden on shelters who have to house these animals and, more often than not, euthanize them due to lack of space (which, by the way, all comes out of YOUR tax dollars)…  So maybe it’s time we became our brother’s keepers and helped out a bit.  It actually benefits all of us… and it feels good, too!