Category Archives: Blog

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

Protect Your Pet’s Heart This Month and EVERY Month!

According the American Heartworm Society, approximately one million dogs have heartworms today!  That is a huge number, especially considering how easy it is to protect your pets against heartworm disease.  April is National Heartworm Month in the United States, so there’s no better time to get your furry family members tested and caught up on heartworm prevention.  Remember that cats are not safe from this deadly parasite, either.  They need prevention too!

In the meantime, here are some interesting facts about heartworm disease:

  • Heartworms are spread through mosquito bites.
  • Almost 100% of dogs who are exposed to heartworms become infected.  There are no “close calls”.
  • According to a study performed by the University of North Carolina, approximately 25% of cats infected with heartworm disease were strictly indoor cats! 
  • After infection has occurred, heartworm treatment is very costly and most post serious health risks to your pet.
  • Heartworms can live up to about 7 years in dogs and 3 years in cats.  During that time, the parasite does irreparable damage to the heart, lungs, and other vital organs.

On a more positive note, research suggests that if everybody used prevention methods appropriately, we could eliminate heartworm disease altogether!  Do your part!  For the love of your pet, keep him or her protected from this parasite.  Prevention is so easy.

To read more about heartworm disease and how to protect your pet, visit the American Heartworm Society.

Keep Your Pets Safe This Easter Weekend!

Easter weekend is upon us, and keeping your pets safe should be a top priority.

According to this article, the Pet Poison Helpline receives a nearly 200 percent increase in calls concerning pet poisoning during Easter week. The simplest Easter goodies can be harmful, or even deadly to your cat or dog, so you’ll definitely want to check this out!

Visit www.news4jax.com : Easter Dangers for Your Pets

Checkers, We Salute You!

“There is one thing that I did get as a gift that I am not giving back…”

That was the beginning of a statement made by President Nixon during his infamous “Checkers Speech” on September 23, 1952.  He was referring to his beloved family dog, Checkers, a black and white cocker spaniel that had been given to his little girls as a gift.

Allegations had surfaced regarding possible gifts that had been received, but had not been accounted for in Nixon’s campaign fund.  He hoped that by giving this speech, he would garner enough support from the public to convince the Republican National Committee to keep him on the ticket.  Rather than deny or ignore the allegations made against him, Nixon gave this famous speech to millions of viewers across the United States.  He discussed, in great detail, his entire personal and professional financial status.

Approximately 60 million Americans pinned their ears back and listened as Nixon outlined sources of income, explained major expenses, and described his most valuable assets.  Among those items were the amounts of his two mortgages, his wife’s salary, and his precious dog, Checkers.

“There is one thing that I did get as a gift that I am not giving back… It was a little cocker spaniel dog in a crate that he’d sent all the way from Texas. Black and white spotted. And our little girl-Tricia, the 6-year old-named it Checkers. And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.”

Nixon’s speech saved his campaign and made Checkers one of the most famous dogs in American history, which is a status that Checkers still holds today.  Other cherished presidential pooches include King Tut Hoover, Miss Beazley Bush, and Bo Obama.

For more information about patriotic pets through history, check out:

 Presidential Pet Museum.

The Kit ‘n’ Caboodle of Safe Pet Travel

Spring and summer are season of freedom and fun!  Of course, that means plenty of travel for the whole family, including our pets.  As you’re packing for your pooch and planning for visits to sunny destinations, remember to keep his safety and well-being in mind.  We’ve provided some useful guidelines for you here.  Let us know if you have any suggestions to add!

  • If you plan to fly with your pet, always make sure to read up on your airline’s pet policies before purchasing your ticket.  These tend to vary by airline, so give yourself some time to make whatever arrangements they may call for.  Also, you never know when they will make last minute changes, so be sure to check back frequently for updates or change bulletins.  (If a flight is fully booked or overbooked, it’s entirely possible that this may happen.  Changes are more likely to occur during peak travel season, which is NOW.)
  • If you are travelling with your pet by car, make sure to have your air conditioner checked out during your pre-travel oil change.  Pets are very sensitive to high temperatures, even when the car is moving and the windows are down.
  • Regardless of your mode of transportation, make sure to plan ahead for normal routines.  For example:  Who will stay with the pet while you are inside a restaurant having a meal?  How often will you stop for bathroom breaks?  Bring travel bowls and plenty of bottled water, as well.  If your pet is on any medications, bring enough to cover TWICE the length of your stay in order to account for any unforeseen travel delays.
  • Always schedule a wellness exam with your pet’s veterinarian prior to travel.  If you are travelling across state lines, you will also need to speak with the veterinarian about obtaining a health certificate.  Regardless of the destination, always remember to bring a current copy of your pet’s rabies vaccination certificate.
  • Make sure that your pet is wearing identification at all times.  Make sure that the information on file with your microchip company is current.  Also check that the information on any tags or collars is current.  You want to be certain that if your pet is lost and found while you are on vacation, the finder is able to contact you.  So, a cell phone number is best.

Travelling with your pet can be a fun experience, but you want to make sure that you cover all your bases.  Oh!  A don’t forget to bring a favorite toy and a whole load of treats.  Your furry passenger will thank you!

Want a Little Kitty With That Coffee?

That’s exactly the idea behind the newest trend in coffeehouses around the world!  The concept behind cat cafes is that patrons can watch and play with a bevy of feline hosts and hostesses while they enjoy a cup of joe.  We’re not sure how that works around local health regulations, but that’s not really our concern.  We think this is a great idea!  This is a great way for people to be around cats when they are kitty-starved.  It is also a very clever way of allowing local shelter cats or friendly strays have contact with humans.  It really is a win-win!

In countries like Taiwan and Japan, there’s nothing new about cat cafes.  The first Taiwanese cat café opened in 1998.  In 2004, a Japanese café owner followed suit and opened one in Osaka.  (As a side note, Japan offers tons of options like this.  They think of it as a form of “pet rental”, since most Japanese apartment communities won’t allow urbanites to own pets.  Along these same lines, various Japanese cities offer bunny cafes, penguin bars, owl cafes, and squirrel gardens.)  The concept has become so popular that Japan is now home to about 40 different cat cafes.

So, now these cafes are cropping up all over the world.  You can finds cat cafes in places such as Austria, France, Hungary, Spain, Germany, and Canada.  The most exciting part?  Cat Cafes have officially come to the United States!

San Francisco will soon be welcoming its first cat café, “KitTea”, later this year.  “Cat Town Café” is also expected to open in Oakland, CA in 2014.  Both cafes are still in planning, but be sure to watch for their grand openings if you’re in the San Francisco Bay area!  Let’s make sure cat cafes are a hit in the United States!  (…because we want one in our town, too!)