Category Archives: canine good citizen

Responsible Dog Ownership

When you think of a responsible dog owner, what key characteristics come to mind?

For some, it’s waking up at 5am to let Fido out and fill his food bowl.  Others feel that they are responsible pet owners because they feed only the most expensive dog food and go for walks at the same time of day every day.  However you choose to define responsible dog ownership, there are a few basic ideas that fall under the category of “common courtesy” that you should always bear in mind.

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Pick up after your dog!  This is one of the most basic responsibilities of owning a dog.  As a courtesy to your neighbors and other members of your community, always pick up pet waste during walks and off-leash play.  There a few things worse than walking in your front door and realizing that you’ve brought a nice smelly surprise home with you.   Don’t be the guy who left that mess behind for someone to step in.

Don’t let your pooch roam the neighborhood unattended.  Okay, so maybe this doesn’t happen so often anymore, but this version of irresponsible pet ownership still exists.  No matter how friendly or well socialized your pup may be, it’s not cool to let him or her wander through the neighborhood.  Our pets are the best version of themselves when we are with them.  In your absence, it’s very likely that he is begging for food from the neighbors, leaving “gifts” in their yards, digging in their trash, or any number of other naughty canine behaviors.  Keep your pets next to you – they’re happier that way, anyway.

Remind your dog to mind his manners.  Everybody loves dogs (right?), but nobody likes a dog who knocks them down every time they visit.  Try to discourage your dog from jumping on people, begging your dinner guests for table scraps, and licking them to death.  We understand that these are friendly behaviors that really aren’t harming anyone, but it’s still a nuisance to guests in your home, and they will definitely not earn you the “Responsible Dog Parent of the Year” award.

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September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month (not to be confused with Responsible PET Ownership Month, which occurs in February).  This month of recognition was created by the American Veterinary Association as a way of celebrating the efforts of the dog moms and dog dads who make the world a better place for our canine companions.

To learn more about the American Veterinary Medical Association’s definition of responsible dog ownership, visit the AVMA’s Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership.

 

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The Joys of Adopting a Senior Pet

Veterinary medicine has made incredible strides over the last couple of decades, and as a result, our pets are living longer and fuller lives.  For those of us who have made a lifetime commitment to our furry family members, having them around longer is a joy and a blessing.

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However, there seems to be a significant number of families who have “outgrown” their aging pets.  At least, that’s the most logical conclusion that can be drawn from the growing trend of homelessness among senior pets.  Well, as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  If yours is among the thousands of families who are interested in adopting a new pet, we’d like to urge you to consider a senior.

Still need some convincing?  We’ve come prepared.

  1. They’re a lot less messy.  If you’ve ever been the proud parent of a brand new puppy, you know that all that playful affection comes along with its fair share of chores.  While we love puppies just the same, this high level of energy can be absolutely exhausting.  When you adopt a senior pet, you will most often find that they have already been housebroken.  They are also a lot less prone to chewing your baseboards and your favorite pair of shoes.  Of course, anything is possible, but most of the time with a senior pet, your wardrobe and home will be safe from harm.
  2. What you see is what you get.  When you adopt a senior pet, there’s no guesswork involved.  You will never have to wonder how big they will get or what sort of demeanor they will have.  They are already grown, and you can get a feel for their personality right away.
  3. Speaking of personality… Senior pets are often some of the most gentle and loving creatures you will ever meet.  They love to take it easy, and they’re never short on cuddles.  Don’t mistake that gentle nature for laziness, however.  If you’re looking for a dog to jog alongside you or a kitty to play chase with, senior pets can keep up with the best of them!  However, they always recognize when playtime is over, and they will be the best couch-cruising copilot you could ever ask for.
  4. They are generally well-adjusted and acclimate easily.  Once you’ve brought that old gem home, you’ll wonder how your family ever survived without him or her.  Generally speaking, older pets settle into new environments with greater ease than their younger counterparts.  They’ve also already learned how to coexist and function as part of the group.  They’ll slide right into your house and your heart in no time flat.
  5. They need you.  When they make their way into a shelter, it’s a shock to the system.  Trust us when we tell you that the family who rescues a senior pet from an animal shelter will be rewarded ten-fold.  If you don’t believe that these animals recognize the incredible act of kindness that you have performed for them, give it a shot.  We don’t need to convince you.  Your future best friend will spend the rest of his or her life doing that.

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In many American animal shelters, senior pets are considered to be among the least adoptable pets, and they are often the first candidates for unnecessary euthanasia.  We would love for that to change.  If you’re in the market for a new pet, consider a senior.  We can say with absolute conviction that you’ll be so glad you did.

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International Assistance Dog Week: August 3-9, 2014

As you know, our team loves to recognize animals doing great things for their human companions, and we place tremendous value on the countless ways that animals make our lives better.

International Assistance Dog Week was created to pay tribute to all of the devoted and hard-working dogs who spend their lives providing independence and security for individuals with disability-related limitations.  These dogs give people a quality of life that would otherwise be out of reach to them, and there is simply no amount of praise that is adequate for what these animals are doing.

The goals of International Assistance Dog Week include:

  • Recognize and honor assistance dogs
  • Raise awareness and educate the public about assistance dogs
  • Honor the people who raise and train puppies to become assistance dogs
  • Recognize heroic deeds performed by assistance dogs in our communities

For more information, visit the International Assistance Dog Week website.

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Therapy Dogs Change Lives!

The first ever documented therapy dog was a little female yorkie named “Smoky”.  She was found on the battlefield during World War II by Corporal William Wynn.  Smoky helped Corporal Wynn recover from his own illness and later became popular among other sick and injured soldiers.  The commanding officer at the time, Dr. Charles Mayo took Smoky along during hospital rounds and allowed her to sleep in Corporal Wynn’s hospital bed.  Yep, you guessed it.  Dr. Mayo later went on to establish the Mayo Clinic, along with his brother, William Mayo.

Smoky was later given the title “Angel from a Foxhole”.

Therapy dogs today are used for a variety of purposes, all of which involve enriching the lives of the people they work with.  They haven’t been trained for any special purpose, so they don’t enjoy the same rights as service dogs.  These dogs didn’t need to be taught, though, because they are naturally gentle and capable of giving affection to everyone they meet.  They can be any size or any breed.

In order to become a therapy dog, dogs must meet certain requirements, including:

  • They must have a gentle demeanor and do well around people and other animals.  They need to be comfortable with strangers petting them, and not become nervous around people who frequently lose their balance.
  • They must listen to their human and walk without pulling.  Therapy dogs don’t respond to unusual sounds, smells, or sudden movement.  They also know not to jump on people.
  • They must be at least one year old, have a negative fecal exam once per year, and be current on vaccines.

It’s not hard to become a therapy dog, and the list of benefits is a mile long!  Therapy dogs today provide companionship for patients in hospitals and nursing home, help ease the anxiety of natural disaster victims, and help to instill confidence in children who are having intellectual or emotional difficulties.  Watching these dogs work will truly make your heart melt.

If you’d like to help your dog make a positive impact on people in need, here are a few places to start:

The American Kennel Club Therapy Dog Program

Therapy Dogs International

Therapy Dogs, Inc.

Therapy Dogs United

Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy