Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lady, the badly burned pit bull, finds new home inspiring child burn victims

What a fantastic way for this story to end.
Lady, a pit bull mix, was set on fire in Detroit during the Halloween weekend. It appears as though someone doused her face in gasoline, then lit the fire. (Read the original post, Badly burned pit bull deserves a safe, loving home, as well as photos of her progress in Update on Lady, the badly burned pit bull)
There's also this video, previously posted by the Michigan Humane Society about Lady:

Now, the great news is that Lady found a seemingly beyond perfect home just days before the holiday. 
Lady, right, with her new family
Gretchen Kohsmann, a Lansing fire investigator, and her daughter Kassandra, adopted Lady into their two-dog home. 
The most perfect part of it all is that Gretchen is the director of the Great Lakes Burn Camp in Texas Township, a refuge for child burn survivors. 
Lady will take part in the camp, meeting and playing with humans who have suffered burn wounds.
"I hope that Lady's story of recovery will inspire these kids, just as she's inspired us here at MHS," said Michele Baxter, who is leading the investigation to discover who is responsible for Lady's abuse. 

$10,000 reward still offered for information on who set Lady on fire
Unfortunately, the people who set Lady on fire have not yet been caught. Donations from concerned citizens as well as the Humane Society for the United States have increased the reward being offered in her case to $10,000. 
Anyone with information can call the MHS' Cruelty Investigation hotline at 313-872-3401.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fundraiser for Animal Welfare Society at Biggby Coffee in Madison Heights on Thursday, Dec. 23

Check out some local entertainment, have a slice of pizza for a buck and do it all in the name of helping out a local animal shelter.
The event, coined "Santa Paws Java Jam" will be from 8 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 23, at Biggby Coffee, 31055 John R. Road in Madison Heights, and benefits the Animal Welfare Society of Southeastern Michigan.
Biggby Coffee will be donating a portion of their proceeds from the night to AWS and Mr. B's will be donating pizza. Pizza slices can be bought for $1 and all proceeds will benefit AWS.
People are also encouraged to bring something on AWS' wishlist as a donation. Items on that list include: dry dog and cat food, collars and leashes in puppy and adult dog sizes, bleach, paper towels, dog and cat toys, two-pocket folders, page protectors, hand sanitizer, gas cards and more. Monetary donations are also welcome.
Providing entertainment will be Channel 7 News Anchor Stephen Clark, who sings country music, and the local alternative rock band September On.
Find out more about the event by going to the Santa Paws Java Jam website.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dog sickened by recalled Old Yeller food from Kroger

Shadow was sickened by Old Yeller dog food
Rod and Donna Reinmann are struggling like so many families in today’s tough economy. That’s why they switched from Purina dog food to Old Yeller recently, and it’s also why when one of their dogs fell sick last week, they couldn’t afford the tests to determine what was making him sick.
And so, they continued feeding him and their other dogs the Old Yeller food — even going to Kroger yesterday and buying another bag.
After they got home, though, they heard about the recall on the food and it became clear that’s what had been making their 3-year-old Rottweiler and Chow Chow mix Shadow sick.
“He wasn’t eating with the rest of the dogs, he was lethargic, then he threw up and threw up again,” Rod said.
Shadow fell sick late at night and the Reinmanns’ drove him 90 miles through their state of Illinois to get him to an emergency veterinarian, but once there, they found out they couldn’t afford the testing to determine what was wrong with their dog.
“Our kids are all grown; we love our animals just like our kids,” Rod said. “My wife and I are pretty upset. There should have been more quality control.”
Rod said he’s been unemployed and his wife lost her job as a nurse for quite a while, though she just found a new job. Before switching from Purina to Old Yeller, he said he asked his veterinarian about it.
“The vets would tell me that all food companies that make dog food at least have to make certain requirements; that all dog food is pretty much safe,” Rod said.
Now, he’s mad and worried that his dogs — a total of five — may have long-term damage from eating the food.
“They almost ate 50 lbs. of this food before we discovered any harm,” Rod said. “We looked at the numbers and the bag has the dates and UPC codes (of the affected products).”
Long-term damage can be caused by the recalled food, which has the toxic fungus aflatoxin in it. Aflatoxin affects the liver and unfortunately, once the damage is done, it can’t be reversed. Aflatoxin poisoning can be fatal.
Dr. Stephen Steep, veterinarian and owner of the Oxford Veterinary Hospital in Oxford, said that by the time symptoms of liver damage occur, the liver is usually severely affected. Fortunately, most people and animals can function with only a small portion of the liver working.
“If I find out he’s got a damaged liver, I’m going to have a suit against Kroger,” Rod said.
Rod said his other dogs haven’t shown symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning and he thinks Shadow was the only one to become so ill because the amount of food he ate.
“He was always wanting to eat,” Rod said. “He eats the most dog food out of all the dogs we have.”
The couple plans to return the Old Yeller food they purchased yesterday and have stopped feeding the dogs out of the current bag. He worries that the other dogs, even though they haven’t shown symptoms, could have long-term health affects as well.
“If some food I ate made me sick like that, certainly there’d be recourse for me. It doesn’t seem like dogs have an advocate,” Rod said.

Read more about the Kroger pet food recall: 

Monday, December 20, 2010

UPDATED: Kroger recalls Old Yeller, Kroger brand pet food — you heard about the recall, but how do you know if your dog is sick?

Brands affected: Old Yeller Chunk Dog Food, Kroger Value Chunk Dog Food, as well as Pet Pride Cat Food Pet Pride Kitten Formula and Kroger Value Cat food.

Those products at risk of making your pet sick will have expiration dates between Oct. 23 and 24, 2011.
At issue here is a toxin called aflatoxin, which is a fungus.
(see below for my first post, this is an updated one with information from direct from my veterinarian).
“Aflatoxin is a fungus that can grow on crops such as corn, cottonseed and peanuts,” said Dr. Stephen Steep, owner of Oxford Veterinary Hospital in Oxford.
He added: “When dogs consume food contaminated with aflatoxin, their clinical signs will vary depending on the level of contamination, how much they eat, over what period of time they eat it, and how sensitive they are to the toxin.”
How do you know if your pet is affected? Look for gastrointestinal signs like vomiting, bloody diarrhea and loss of appetite. Because the toxin affects the liver, look for signs of that too — jaundice, a yellow coloration of skin and eyes, as well as neurological signs like weakness or seizures.
“This creates a challenge to diagnose as many dogs exhibit these signs for other reasons,” Steep said.
However, if you’ve been feeding your dog or cat the affected foods and notice these signs, let your veterinarian know.
“We test for aflatoxin toxicity with blood tests, urine tests and food analysis,” Steep said.
Unfortunately, there’s no real cure for a pet who has been exposed to this toxin. Once the damage is done, it’s done.
“If the damage is not excessive, we can stabilize and nurse them back to health,” Steep said.
In some cases, aflatoxin poisoning can be fatal. Younger and older pets or those with other health issues can be more sensitive to it.
“I’ve searched the veterinary information, and nobody’s reporting anything recently,” on aflatoxin poisoning, Steep said. “I have not seen any patients recently where I suspected (it).”
He added: “Hopefully, this is a situation where very small quantities were detected by the manufacturer and this is a precautionary recall.”
Steep recommends keeping pet foods in their original packaging, monitoring your pets for unusual symptoms and always contacting your veterinarian with questions.

Kroger recalls dog food — Old Yeller and Kroger brand — because of aflatoxin. What is aflatoxin and what health risks does it pose for my pet?

Did you buy Old Yeller Chunk Dog Food? Or maybe Kroger Value Chunk Dog Food?
If so, stop feeding it to your dog. Now.
Kroger is recalling these two brands as well as two brands of cat food. Those bags at risk of making your pet sick will have expiration dates between Oct. 23 and 24, 2011.
Read the full article, Kroger recalling select pet foods in 19 states, including Michigan.

What is aflatoxin?
So here’s the deal — the recalled food might have something called aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a fungus.
It might’ve grown on the food because it was stored too long and rodents were able to get into it, or because the food sources used in the first place were affected by the fungus.
I looked up aflatoxin this morning on the Cornell University Department of Animal Science website and found what I’m going to guess is the culprit — corn.
Which brings me to my next statement: Stop buying your pets food that contains corn. Corn gives many pets many problems, regardless of whether it’s affected by a fungus or perfectly normal. In fact, in may be a big reason why we’re seeing so many pets (like mine) develop allergies.
I recommend avoiding corn as much as possible, and that means giving up on traditional commercial diets like Purina and other popular brands. Just assume that corn = junk.
There’s some good alternatives out there. Personally, I’ll be trying a bag of Fromm pet food — a limited ingredient chicken and rice — for my allergic boy.
And if you want to avoid grains all together, you can even go with a brand like Orijen. I think Fromm has a grain-free line as well.
It’s still kibble. You can still scoop it out of the bag and into the bowl. But it is much, much healthier for your pet.

How do I know if my pet got sick from the recalled food? What are the symptoms?
The sickness caused by aflatoxin is called aflatoxicosis. According to the Cornell website, it causes liver damage and lowers immune function, making your pet more susceptible to infections.
It can be fatal.
Young pets are at the greatest risk.
In terms of symptoms, look for gastrointestinal dysfunction (I’d say this covers diarrhea, vomiting) less interest in food and jaundice (What is jaundice? It’s when the skin and whites of the eyes become more yellow in color)
Anemia can also be a result of aflatoxicosis, and some specific strands of aflatoxin are cancer-causing.

Last but not least, I have no idea when the photo above was shot, but I did notice the 50 lb. bag is marked $9.99. At $10, you weren't really expecting quality, were you?
I know times are tough. The budget in my household is no less difficult.
But really, at $10 for 50 lbs., you've got to realize you're not buying quality — not when commercial brands go on average for $30 for a 35 lb. bag and they're really not quality either.
The state of pet food in our country is disgusting. Though that's not saying the state of human food is all that much better, because it's not.

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Oakland County pet stores offer good health food, treats, toys and non-allergenic, grain free kibble diets: Healthy Pet in Lake Orion and The Pet Beastro in Madison Heights

Treats at Healthy Pet
For years now, Sensi — who is allergic to beef — hasn’t had a real bone to chew on.
I was determined to stop that this Christmas, especially since I’ve heard of local stores offering antlers as alternatives to bones for dogs with allergies like Sensi.
My original plan was to make the trip down to The Pet Beastro in Madison Heights. I started receiving press releases about this new pet store earlier this year and have been wanting to blog about it.
In one press release, it states the store sells everything from dehydrated bunny ears, beef or lamb tracheas, freeze dried chicken hearts, cheese treats, elk antlers and more eclectic items — many of which Sensi, despite all his allergies, would be able to have.
I mentioned this to my dog-loving aunt, who said: “What about that new store on M-24? I think they sell items like that.”
She piqued my curiosity, so last weekend, I stopped in at Healthy Pet, 1472 S. Lapeer Road in Lake Orion, to check it out and do some Christmas shopping.

Video from my trip to Healthy Pet

Christmas treats at Healthy Pet
Now, I’m happy to tell you that whether you live in the northern reaches of Oakland County, like myself, or in the southern part, you have a choice of stores to shop for healthy products for your dog — even if your dog has allergies. If you live north, check out Healthy Pet (248-690-7796). If you live south, check out The Pet Beastro (248-548-3448).
I was so impressed with the selection of kibble available at Healthy Pet that after I get through one more bag of Sensi’s prescription kibble, I’m going to start buying from Healthy Pet. I haven’t decided on a brand yet, but no matter what I choose, it’s going to be about $45 cheaper than the prescription food (we’re paying $95 for a 30 lb. bag).
Last weekend, I purchased Sensi a medium-sized antler for $12.95. You can pay up $25 for a monster elk antler too.
I also found some jerky sticks on the counter for $1 a piece — chicken and turkey, both safe for Sensi.
There’s a good selection of treats that are organic or natural. You can
Antlers available at Healthy Pet
even get a giant “Merry Christmas” baked cookie for your dog!
Baked Merry Christmas cookies at Healthy Pet
For those interested in raw food diets, there’s a refrigerator with those items too.
I also intend to try some of the supplement powders offered for allergenic dogs.
The owners of Healthy Pet, Mary Beth Darby and her husband Tom Peters, said the store grew out of their rapidly expanding online business, www.K9CriticalCare.com. Darby said the online business focused on foods and health supplements for sick dogs, like those with cancer.
By the way, there’s stuff for cat owners too, and even bird food. Sorry folks, but I didn’t spend a whole lot of time perusing those items.
If you’re thinking about checking it out, you absolutely must go this Saturday, Dec. 18. Healthy Pet is offering 10 percent off everything in their store, giving a free gift with purchases and you can walk a storefront down to get a free slice of Chicago Bros pizza after making your purchase.
And let me tell you something about Chicago Bros pizza — it’s the best, hands down, anywhere around. I will drive 20 minutes out of my way to pick up pizza from Chicago Bros. It’s the dough, in my opinion, that makes it so darn delicious. While you’re there, pick up an order of breadsticks. You’ll be hooked for life.
Dog and cat adoptions will also be available at Healthy Pet on Saturday, Dec. 18.
So if you’re thinking about checking it out, make time to go tomorrow!
Merry Christmas to all you dog owners out there — I hope you find the perfect gift for your pooch, allergies or not!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

So, Michael Vick wants a dog, but should he have one?

There’s lots of opinions on this, and I’m going to post here what people are telling me.
But first, what’s my opinion?
Well, in a non-Michael Vick related post called Dog ownership for dummies I wrote this:
“If your pit bull gets loose and kills a puppy or mauls a person, you should be banned from owning dogs. You had your shot at dog ownership and you did such an incredibly bad job that other people or living beings had to suffer as a result of your stupidity and/or irresponsibility.
“And if you’re caught dragging a dog behind your car, well ... I hope karma gives you back the pain you caused another living being tenfold.”
I think fighting and killing dogs (and yes folks, he was directly involved in this. Don’t believe me? Check out Jim Gorant's book, The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's dogs and their tale of rescue and redemption and my blog post, New book tells the tale of Michael Vick dogs) falls into that category too.
To recap: If you do something that horrible, you’ve had your shot and you did such an incredibly bad job that other living beings had to suffer as a result.
I think Twitter follower @AndrewPritchard speaks to this when he wrote with sarcasm: “Yes, while we’re at it, let’s allow child molesters to adopt!”
Here’s more of what you had to say about the topic:

From The Oakland Press Facebook fan page:
Bette Boling Haas: No way !!!!
Michelle Bennett: Would be a travesty for the poor dog that gets him for an owner.
Angela Kula Powers: No. Anyone who thinks otherwise should read the book The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption
Eve R. Pickman: Michael Vicks should be rotting in jail, where he can be someone elses b*tch.
Lauren Wells: noooooooooo!
Kevin Sandler: He should be made into dog food.
Kim Davis Eller: No!!! He gave up that right. No Humane Society would even consider him as dog worthy.
Wayne Reif: Why not? Drunk drivers are allowed to own cars.
Mark Steven: Why not? Vic paid his debt to society. Vic's an Eagle and he wants a Beagle!!
JoAnn Browning: absolutely not!
Joe Ogg: First of all mike Vick did rot in jail. And paid his debt to society. If he wants to have a pet he should be aloud to have a pet. I'm sure he is not the same person he was a few years ago. And he knows if he gets a dog all eyes will Be on him. It would go to show that everyone deserves a second chance and that people can change.

From Twitter:
@MsQuote: Sending a dog to Michael Vick would be like sending a kid to Neverland
@ColleenFKelly: NO NO NO! No dogs for M.V! I think it should take more than him “wanting” one, like counseling!! LOTS!
@AndrewPritchard: Yes! While we’re at it, let’s allow child molesters to adopt! sarcasm
@TotallyTypeA: Absolutely NOT!
@helenback54: Never let Michael Vick own a dog. They are not animals to him they are mearly $$ signs. He clearly has no remorse.

What do you think?
Leave me a comment or check out our story online: YOU TELL US: Vick says he hopes to own a dog as a pet someday. Should he be allowed?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pit bull problems in Pontiac

I really don't intend for every post to wind up being about pit bulls ...
But anyhow, I went along with the Animal Care Network in Pontiac last week as they made their rounds helping people care for their pets. (Read the full story: Oakland County Animal Control prepares for expanded services as communities tighten budgets)
Admittedly, I was only out on two stops with them.
In that time though, all of the dogs I saw were pits or pit mixes — a total of four dogs, to be specific.
Animal Care Network volunteers repair a dog house
For the entire time that I've worked here, year after year, a reporter has gone out with the Animal Care Network folks.
What I saw was nothing compared to what reporters have seen in the past. I remember when one of our reporters came back practically in tears after several pit bulls were found dead — frozen — and several more near dead.
I shot video of the Animal Care Network folks, talking to them about why they use straw for dogs rather than blankets (which is because blankets get wet and freeze, straw doesn't, and it tends to wick away any moisture from the dog's body). One of them said to me that pit bulls really aren't outside dogs because they don't have an undercoat.
That is true. They're not the only dog breed like that, but it certainly does seem like they're the dog of choice for most Pontiac residents. My impression is also that many pit bulls in Pontiac are kept outside.

I went home that night — Sensi must've sniffed me for a good half hour — and realized how good Sensi has it compared to some of the dogs I met in Pontiac.
A typical snooze for my dog
First off, with the weather as cold as it's been lately, Sensi only goes out for a quick moment and then barks like it's an emergency to let us know he NEEDS — not just wants, but NEEDS — back inside, right then!
He begged to get up on the couch that night — I had the blanket around me, and I swear, that dog starts begging the instant I lift the blanket up — and I told him no because I had paperwork all spread out around me.
Looking down at those beggin' eyes, I told him, "You just have no clue how lucky you are. All that sniffing you did and you couldn't tell how cold those dogs were?"
He, of course, didn't understand and sighed in a rather pouty fashion as he went to lie down by the fire.

There's lots of problems with pit bulls in Pontiac. Pit bulls that freeze in their owner's backyards may be the least concerning of those problems to some people, but it makes me just as angry as all the violence these dogs are used for and the reckless disregard for safety that many pit bull owners display.

I spoke with Mike Zehnder, who oversees Oakland County's Animal Control Division, for that story as well. We spoke about the issues in Pontiac and he promised that if Oakland County began servicing Pontiac's animal control needs, all those issues would "come to a screeching halt."
I certainly hope to be a witness to just that.

The day before I went out with the Animal Care Network, allegations were made by a Pontiac resident that Animal Care Network volunteers impersonated police officers to intimidate her into taking better care of her pit bulls. The Animal Care Network denies this is true, and when I was out with them, I didn't talk to a single person along the way who believed they'd do something like that.
Either way, I'm just wondering how it feels to complain that someone did something ethically and legally wrong in order to get you to do something ethically and legally right. Just a touch of irony, it seems.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sterling Heights weighs breed specific legislation putting tough restrictions on pit bulls

And there goes another community I won't ever be living in ...
Sterling Heights is looking at some tough new restrictions on pit bulls in the city. Pit bull owners would be required to liability insurance of $250,000, embed a microchip in their dog, accompany the dog in their yard and spay or neuter it, unless there are plans to breed, and there may also be some requirements in terms of fencing.
(Read the story: Sterling Heights residents speak up for, against pit bull proposal)

All things considered, it's a whole lot better than flat out banning the breed — a route most communities take when the pit bull panic reaches pandemonium.
But even so, I'm just not in favor of these restrictions.
I look at it from my point of view. I have a pit bull and I'm definitely among the most responsible dog owners in my neighborhood.
Pit bull owner sits at the Sterling Heights meeting.
I can't afford to build a fence right now, so we use a long cable when letting our dog out to go potty. If he barks, we respond immediately (barking dogs are a huge pet peeve of mine). But to think I need to venture outside every time my dog needs a potty break is ridiculous.
He goes out there, does his business as quickly as possible and lets out a single "Woof!" to let us know he's ready to come back in. In really cold weather, he makes that bark a bit more urgent by saying "Ah-woo-woof!" in this anxious tone of voice.
The cable itself is rated for 300 pounds and the hook on the end of it is rated for 350 pounds. He has enough range to give him lots of choices in where to potty, but he stays squarely in our yard.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm doing a lot more than most dog owners who take the attitude that their dogs should be able to "run."
I won't live in a community that bans pit bulls. I won't live in a community that forces me to purchase expensive insurance, build expensive fences and be by my dog's side whenever it's outside on property that I OWN.
I will be a responsible dog owner. I will take dog ownership seriously. I will view my role as a pit bull owner as an opportunity to change the stereotype the breed has.
But I won't allow a government to discriminate specifically against me when the person down the street who owns a lab or a mutt is spared from having to be equally responsible — especially when so many of those dog owners get away with making the irresponsible decision of letting their dogs "run" and defend the choice as if it's their dog's God given right.
Letting your dog, any dog, loose is risking your dog's life each and every time you do it, and yet I don't see anyone getting passionate about that — unless it's to defend a dog's right to 'run free.'

Here are my reasons:
  1. Very rare is a dog that is a natural born leader, meaning your dog likely looks to you for leadership. When you let a dog run, you are forcing it to put itself in a leadership position and it will, though it probably won't like it and won't be very good at it. This means your friendly dog may not be so friendly while out "running" and cause trouble for strangers and other peoples' pets.
  2. Along the same lines, your dog may make the ill-advised decision to enter the yard of a protective or aggressive pet — dangerous for your pet, for obvious reasons. 
  3. Cars. Do I really need to say more?
  4. Wild animals — from coyotes to cougars, they're around here and they can threaten your pets.
  5. Dead animals and other dangerous but enticing finds — I knew a dog once that died from eating a rotting deer carcass. What else might your dog get into while out on its "run"? 
  6. Lost. Yes, your dog could get lost and who knows what will happen from there. 
  7. Respect for your neighbors. Lots of people like to let their dogs "run" so they don't have to pick up dog poop in your own yard, but come on folks, how do you think your neighbors feel about picking up after your dog? It's not cool. 

So I say, if we want to get serious about making people responsible for their dogs, let's start there. We've got lots of good reasons to do so.

Monday, December 6, 2010

QUICK HITS: Good news for dog lovers

A few items today — I'll start off with the hard news first.

Two men brought to justice for burning pit bull
Unfortunately, these men weren't the guys responsible for burning Lady, the pit bull who had gasoline thrown on her face and was lit on fire over Halloween.
But they did burn another dog, and they were caught.
Decarlos Young, 23, was given 17 months to 8 years in prison under a plea deal, and Kristian Jackson, 20, will serve 13 months to 8 years for setting fire to an adult pit bull terrier mix near Puritan Street in Detroit. These disgusting individuals recorded the torture on a cellphone video, which was ultimately used by Michigan Humane Society investigators to prosecute the case.
MHS investigators are still looking for the person responsible for burning Lady, who continues to recover and receive treatments at the MHS office. A December 3 update from the website says Lady recently got to meet and make friends with Scarlett, a mother dog with 10 puppies who was rescued and brought to the shelter.
A $10,000 reward is being offered to anyone who can provide information leading to an arrest in Lady's case.
Meanwhile, let's be thankful that two other men who committed a similar, atrocious crime have been caught.

Winter sports lovers rejoice!
Dog lover at Boyne Mountain
Anyone who loves winter sports in Michigan has probably visited or wanted to visit Boyne Highlands or Boyne Mountain, up north resorts that are favorites among many of my own relatives. 
This year, if you're planning a trip to the resort, you can bring your dog with you! 
Pet friendly rooms and suites are now available in the Bartley House and Main Lodge at Boyne Highlands as well as the Clock Tower Lodge at Boyne Mountain. 
Daycare services will also be offered in the Harbor Springs area, where your pets can join others for play. 
A pet fee of $25 for the first night and $20 for subsequent nights will be charged. The resorts are also offering designated areas for your pet's potty, play and exercise needs. 
Call 1-800-GO-BOYNE or click here to visit their website.

Sara Hardig walks her dog, Ginger, at the Birmingham park.
New dog park opens in Birmingham
Dog owners from Birmingham and beyond can check out a new dog park opened by the city at the Lincoln Hills Golf Course.
I recommend checking it out before spring because entry will be free at least until then.
Once spring hits, the city will take a look at whether to institute some sort of dog park pass in order to use the park.
It's 0.85 acres and mostly a grassy, fenced-in area, so don't expect to find a mini Orion Oaks. But for those who live closer to Birmingham than Orion Oaks, it'll be a great place to stop in and get your dog some off-leash social time.
Let me repeat, too, that it is open to residents of Birmingham and other Oakland County communities, so even if you're not a Birmingham resident, you can go check it out.
Read a full story about the park by clicking here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Trimming Bubba's nails WITH VIDEOS

Bubba, an 8-year-old Boxer, belongs to my sister and her husband, Michelle and Craig Dickinson.
Here is his story, and it's one that has a lesson for all:
Michelle uses food to get Bubba in a comfy position on the couch
Bubba was always a rambunctious dog. He'd spend hours on the brick patio, pouncing on a Frisbee or running around, chasing a toy.
All this activity on the bricks kept his nails insanely short. I've never seen shorter nails on a dog, in fact. I was so jealous of Michelle and Craig — they never had to trim his nails and yet, he had the shortest nails in town!
But then, like all dogs do, he got old. He's got arthritis and he doesn't get around so well anymore.
Needless to say, there's no more pouncing on Frisbees or chasing wildly after toys.
And so, after 8 years on this Earth, his nails are growing, and growing, and growing. But the dog had ever seen nail trimmers before. In fact, he wasn't even used to having his paws grasped by human hands.
"Karen, can you bring your nail trimmers on Thanksgiving?" my sister asked me beforehand.
Touching the paws before we got started
"Of course," I said. "We'll get those nails under control."
I have the heavy-duty clippers and brought them with me. Before dinner, I worked on touching his paws and introducing the clippers. He slowly came around to the idea that this was a pretty easy game.
Unfortunately, it doesn't stay easy.
After dinner, we went downstairs — away from the distractions of the little kids — and set about trimming those long nails.
It became apparent quickly that the heavy-duty manual clippers weren't going to work. As you watch those videos, you can see that I get three clips at those monster nails. What you don't see is that each one of those clips is only taking off an angled portion of the nail — i.e., a little off the top, an angled portion from the bottom.
That's because his nails were so thick in diameter that I couldn't actually fit the clippers around the entire nail.
Getting started with the manual trimmers
That, coupled with Bubba's desire to get away from the clippers, made it clear that trimming his nails the manual way was going to take a long time — like, all night.
I wasn't going to leave that night without having that dog's nails trimmed. And so, as often happens in dog training, you have to modify your plan.
The manual trimmers weren't working. We switched to the Dremel.
Craig had a Dremel in his toolbox and I asked him to bring it down. In the end, we got Bubba comfortable on a couch — laying with his head in my sister's lap, where she could keep his attention on treats, and I had good access to his nails by sitting on the floor next to the couch.
It still took about an hour to get all the nails trimmed, but when everything was said and done, about a half-inch or more was taken off each nail.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the vein in Bubba's nails hadn't grown out, meaning I could really pare back those nails, all the way back to their former shortness.
The Dremel tool worked really well. We used the high-powered, plug-in variety, a standard round sanding head, and I got it up to power level 2. The other power levels were just too powerful.
Fair warning, though: using the Dremel makes it a stinky job. It smells like burning nails, because that's pretty much what's going on. I recommend using goggles and a mask for those faint at heart.
The funniest thing, and what I'm sorry I didn't get video of, was how Bubba reacted after the nail trimming was all done. He walked around highstepping, picking up each paw extra high as though he was wearing boots or something. It was really cute.
Close-up view of the nail trim using the Dremel.
Anyhow, the lesson here is this:
Even if your dog doesn't need his nails trimmed because he's like Bubba used to be, running around and wearing them down himself, you should still make an effort to get him used to it.
One day, that dog will get old and you'll have a nail problem, and a dog who has no idea how to handle the situation.
I'm happy that Bubba accepted the process as well as he did — certainly, the turkey and mashed potatoes had a lot to do with it!
Ah, the power of treats!

And now, for the videos!  


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Touch those paws!

This is first in a series about trimming a dog's nails.

My rule of thumb with dogs is this — if they haven't experienced it often and from an early age, don't expect them to like it.
"It" applies to anything and everything you can possibly imagine — from being around kids to getting a bath, and not in the least, having their nails trimmed.
In fact, even just having their paws handled passes as an "it."
After all, paws are essential to a dog. Without paws, they have no mobility. So we can't be surprised that dogs put a lot of importance on those darling little paws.
From the day you bring your dog home — whether it's an adult from a shelter or a puppy — touch those paws. A lot.

If it's a puppy, just touch them all the time. If you're carrying the puppy around, hold a paw for a little while. When he lays down, pet his paws. When you're playing, gently find a way to touch the paw for a moment without interrupting the game. And pay attention to all the paws, not just one.
Add in some brief training sessions of the simplest sort too — just ask the dog to sit or lay down, touch a paw with one hand and feed a treat with the other, simultaneously. Eventually, as your puppy begins to realize he gets a treat simply because you are touching his paw, reward for good behavior only — when he's sitting nice and quiet and not struggling or trying to make a game of it. Then up the ante by holding each paw, touching between the toes and under the pads for a treat. The goal is to get the dog to behave nicely and remain still while you're handling his paws.
Don't waste any time introducing those clippers either — but don't introduce them to use them right away.
Bring out the clippers, set them on the floor, put some treats on them and around them and encourage the dog to check them out and eat the treats. Do this every day for at least a week. This teaches your dog that clippers equal good things for dogs.
In week two (and by now, you've also done all the handling techniques described above) start picking up the clippers and rewarding the dog with treats when you have the clippers in your hands. This teaches the dog that clippers in human hands equal good things for dogs.
Then, start touching the clippers to your dog's nails and giving a food reward simultaneously. Now, the dog is learning that clippers in human hands touching dog nails equals good things for dogs.
When you do clip nails for the first time, give the dog a treat after each nail that gets clipped. Up the ante again by making that food reward out of the ordinary and extra special — I like small squares of peanut butter on bread, a little lunchmeat or cooked chicken pieces.
Eventually, begin selecting those rewards for only the best behavior — while the dog is sitting nicely and being still.
I still, after all these years and despite my dog's impeccable tolerance for having his nails clipped, give him treats after the first set of paws are clipped and after all four are done. I simply want to make sure he gets rewarded for good behavior. It's only fair, right?

Retraining an adult dog
If you bring home an adult shelter dog, it's really unknown how that dog may perceive having his nails clipped.
Do the same steps as for a puppy, but use rewards for every time you touch a paw right from the start. Depending on how the dog reacts to the first touch, you may need to go really slowly and use lots of really awesome treats.
If the dog displays that he doesn't like his paws touched, slow down the whole process until the dog realizes that despite his past experiences or lack of experiences, having his paws touched now, by you and your family members, is indeed a good thing.
You absolutely can retrain an adult dog using positive reward methods — it just may take more time, patience and lots of really fantastic rewards.

The work, however, is easy and always worth the time and effort invested.

Still to come
  1. I celebrated Thanksgiving at my sister's house. She has an aging Boxer who is not very used to having his nails clipped. When he was younger, he spent so much time pouncing on a Frisbee on their brick patio that he kept his nails incredibly short. Now, he's got hip problems and doesn't pounce anymore, allowing his nails to grow and grow and grow. I promised I'd bring my clippers and give it a shot as long as my sister would take the video camera and tape the whole ordeal for my blog. The post, with videos, will be up tomorrow!
  2. It wasn't that long ago that I trimmed Sensi's nails, so he's not due for another clipping for about a week or so. I do want to show you his good behavior as motivation for what good nail training can accomplish with a dog, even a pit bull! There will be a video in this blog's future!
  3. Alternative methods to trim a dog's nails. We've all seen those commercials for the electric sanders that file a dog's nails. I bought a Dremel tool for Sensi last year, but have avoided using it due to a lack of good treats (thanks, food allergies) to train him with. I'll talk about what type of electric sander is good for what size of dog and the important steps you need to take to familiarize your dog with the sander, as well as the pros and cons of traditional clippers vs. sanders.
  4. Got an energetic dog who wants to make a game of everything and acts like sitting still for even a second is literally painful? I'll talk about the importance of training a down-stay to help your dog prepare for situations like nail trims (and to give him a better quality of life, period!).
  5. General tips — How to find the vein on a black nail, what to do if you accidentally cut it, dealing with your fears of trimming those nails, picking out a good clipper, etc.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wolves in Michigan

I finally made good on a promise from an earlier post about updating folks on the status of wolves in Michigan, particularly here in the Lower Peninsula.
Rather than just a blog post, I dedicated an entire (and lengthy) article to the subject. It published this weekend and I encourage you all to check it out by clicking here.
Wolves are here in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, there's about six of them living in a pack in the three northernmost counties of the Lower Peninsula.
The photo here is of one of that pack's pups, captured earlier this summer while MDNRE officials were trying to get the adult wolves to put radio collars on them.
Unfortunately, the adult wolves got away and this pup was too young to be radio collared. But they did snap this photo before letting him on his way.
Look at those eyes on this guy. He looks mad.
Think about what a puppy would do in a situation like this. A domestic dog pup, even if raised wild and caught in the same fashion, would be terrified — his eyes flickering away from the human faces, perhaps a little squirming here and there before complete submission and surrender.
This is not the impression I get from this wolf pup. It looks to me as those he's staring down his captors defiantly, challenging them by locking eye contact.
It's exemplifies why we must remind ourselves that wolves are wild and domestic dogs are not. Wolves are meant to be in the wild, not in our homes.
As much as the species may be an icon for us, and as admired as wolves may be by us dog lovers, we cannot liken wolves to dogs.
Going by research I think is most appropriate, dogs have been domesticated (or co-evolved, the term I prefer) over a period of 140,000 years. Let me repeat that — ONE HUNDRED FORTY THOUSAND YEARS.
It's hard to even fathom how much time that is; how many generations of dogs came after the genetic changes brought on via domestication (or co-evolution, I say).
If anyone needs a reminder of the differences between wolves and dogs, check out a recent post that will lead you to an eye-opening television program by PBS.
As a side note here, I want to add that ONE HUNDRED FORTY THOUSAND YEARS of dogs being different from wolves makes me particularly suspicious of the popular push for raw food diets right now. If genetic changes caused a dog's physical features and behavior to change, why should we assume dogs are still working with an digestive system identical to a wolves? I just think it's an illogical conclusion to draw.
But I don't want to get you raw food proponents all riled up, so I'll leave it at that.

What's the lesson in all of this, folks? Dog lovers need to stick to owning dogs. Leave wolves where they belong — in the wild.

Wolves in Oakland County?
I have gotten some feedback from the article — the most interesting of which was a message from a Davisburg resident who said he saw a wolf on his 20 acre property.
I haven't called the MDNRE to follow up on this, but my instincts are telling me they won't confirm it — probably that there's no evidence they can use to be sure and that most likely, it was a large coyote.
To the guy's credit, he was rather adamant in saying he knows what a coyote looks like and this wasn't a coyote.
Perhaps I'll give the MDNRE a call and see what they have to say.
As for the article, I was told wolves won't take up shop in Oakland County simply because there's too many roads.
On the other hand, I was also told that the distance between Michigan and Minnesota is only a couple days' walk for a wolf, so is it possible that some lone wolf went a walkin' and passed on through Davisburg? I'd say anything is possible.

Either way, please give my article a read. I worked really hard on it! One more time, here's the link:
Michigan wolf pack surpasses requirement for endangered species, yet they remain on list

Making good on other promises
I promised a video of trimming dog nails and by golly, it's coming.
On Thanksgiving, I spent about an hour trimming my sister's dog's nails with a Dremel tool. Give me a little time to edit the video and that post will be up — my goal is later this week. I'll let you know when it's ready.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Update on Lady, the badly burned pit bull

The good news is, Lady is doing well.
I'm posting some pictures from the Michigan Humane Society — it's an update to what they'd previously sent when she first reached their offices.
You can follow her progress online at the Michigan Humane Society's website, and don't forget, there's a $10,000 reward being offered for information leading to her arrest.

What is too graphic?
I'd love to have a discussion in this space about what is too graphic to post (a big thanks to Lynn to answering my question in my previous post!).
Here's my position — I have a hard time determining what is graphic anymore. I watch too much Animal Cops, I've seen too many horrible things, both in the animal world and beyond. Nothing seems to surprise me anymore.
Part of me thinks that it takes some graphic images to really stir people. That same part of me wonders if I could've accurately conveyed how horrible Lady's burning was without using the photos.
From the newspaper's standpoint, it's a little different. Our print newspaper can be lying on the counter top, kitchen table or a coffee table in anyone's household, totally accessible to anyone of any age in that household. That means that when our editors discuss what should and shouldn't be used in the paper, they're thinking about the children running around in the households of our readers and trying to prevent an innocent child from picking up the paper and seeing an offensive image.
But what about this blog?
Sure, the reading material may not geared toward little kids. Thinking back to when I was 10- or 11-years-old, though, I might've been a bit mature for my age, but I certainly could've seen myself reading a blog similar to the one I'm writing now.
On the other hand, there's much more offensive stuff out there online.

So, what is too graphic for this space? When it comes right down to it, I want to know what you, my readers, think.

Were the photos I posted of Lady in my original post about her too graphic? Should I take them down? Is it a moot point to take them down now?

And, is there some sort of rule of thumb I can make for myself going forward?

I'm not just asking for your input, I'm begging for it.
Thank you!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

QUICK HITS: News briefs from the dog world

Hi everyone, I've got a bunch of stuff to catch you up on today, so I'm doing a quick-and-dirty (OK, maybe not dirty, per se) type of post.

Bad news first
Did you hear about that poor old dog in Wixom shot six times in the head with a pellet gun and then dumped, still alive, in a Dumpster behind an apartment complex? The dog had tumors around its neck, leading some to think that perhaps whoever was responsible for the cruel act was actually trying to euthanize the dog.
Euthanize, however, is a term that refers to killing an animal humanely. This dog was not killed, and even it had been, it certainly would NOT have been humane.
The saddest part of it all? If someone was trying to put the dog out of its misery, they were wrong about the misery part. The tumors were not life threatening.
Such a shame.
The dog was later euthanized by a veterinarian after its pellet gun injuries proved to severe to fix.
We have a photo of the dead dog. Because it depicts a dead animal, we thought it was too graphic to use in the paper.
On the other hand, using it could have helped someone identify who owned the dog.
What do you think? Should I post the photo here, or leave it be?

Some good news
The same day I wrote about the Wixom dog, I also learned that the Humane Society of the United States upped the reward for Lady's assailant — the friendly pit mix who someone poured gasoline on and lit on fire — to $10,000.
It's a pretty penny and I hope it encourages someone to come forward and start pointing fingers.
Lady, by the way, continues to improve.
Though not a dog, the Humane Society of the United States is also posting a reward for the cat found with an arrow shot through it in Brandon Township earlier this month. That reward is now $2,500 and unfortunately, the cat had to be euthanized due to the severity of its injuries.

OK, this is definitely good news
Whew, finally on to something that's not about animal cruelty.
This weekend, Victoria Stilwell — the dog trainer who stars in Animal Planet's show It's Me or The Dog — will be in Novi for a pet expo.
Read all it about and learn more by clicking here.

Wolf article coming soon
Those who remember a post earlier this summer about wolves in Michigan may recall a promise I made to follow-up to the process of delisting wolves from the endangered species list in Michigan, and the confirmed presence of wolves in the lower peninsula. Well, it's been a long time coming, but I'm finally putting together a big article on this. It should be published in the next two weeks and I'll be sure to let you all know!

Also coming: series on trimming a dog's nails
I also promised to give tips and tricks on trimming a dog's nails, following a story about a pit bull who died after a groomer muzzled and sat on the dog.
I've begun writing about it and surprised myself with how much information there is to share!
I'll post the first in a series later this week. Your patience is appreciated while I work on putting some videos together with my own dog too!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Precious, precious pound puppies

I was at the Oakland County Pet Adoption center yesterday and took some more videos of the dogs there.
The two tall hound mixes were still there, much to my chagrin. I’d predicted that with their good looks, they’d have been adopted out right away.
I didn’t see the large, old black dog that tugged on my heart strings, though. I hope he found a happy home.
This time, the two dogs that stuck out to me were Boxer mixes — they’re the ones in the photos here (and in the video too!). The photo of the one brown Boxer mix doesn’t do him justice — the dog is a giant! He looks like a Boxer and Bullmastiff mix to me. His energy was very calm. As he stretched out in his cage, I could just see how badly he wanted a nice comfy sofa to stretch out and nap on. He was a calm boy and I hope he finds a home quickly.
The other Boxer mix I found in a line of cages containing pit bulls. You might be surprised to know that of all the dogs in there yesterday, the pit bulls were the only ones who kept their room quiet and laid nicely in their cages.
I can’t promise that all the dogs you’ll see in this video are ready for adoption — I kind of lost track of which room I went into and what the sign on the door said. But, I think it’s safe to say that most of the dogs are ready for adoption or will be ready soon. So if you see a doggie that interests you, please do inquire.
Inquiries about adoptable dogs can be made by calling 248-391-4102. You can also check out adoptable dogs online by clicking here, and download adoption forms by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Worth a watch: PBS’ Dogs Decoded

Did you know that 99.8 percent of a dog’s genetic make-up is identical to that of a gray wolf?
Or that scientists have mapped the Boxer’s genome, found the marker that makes Boxer’s prone to cardiomyopathy and expect the research will help cure human diseases?
Perhaps most interesting of all, do you know there are studies going on proving that dogs read our facial expressions to help them communicate emotionally with us, and that humans are rather adept at figuring out what different dog barks mean?
Considering wolves rarely bark, except as a warning, the fact that our dogs have such variety in their vocal cords really speaks to the changes that have occurred during our co-evolution (most refer to this as ‘domestication.’ I take issue with that term. Read why here and here.)
All this information and lots more was presented in last night’s airing of Nova: Dogs Decoded on PBS.
I encourage all dog owners to check out the program. The DVD costs about $25 (order here) or you can check out the program posted on the website (click here).
It takes a look at where dogs came from, when their partnership with us formed, how the process of evolution changed wolves into dogs and had a heavy emphasis on showcasing all sorts of really cool research being done around the world.
For instance, there’s a study going on in Russia that’s been taking place for about 50 years now. The study is whether silver foxes can be ‘domesticated.’ What the researchers have found is that the answer is yes, but it’s purely a genetic thing — nature, not nurture.
By selecting the foxes with the most tame temperaments and only letting those foxes breed, they noticed in three generations a difference in the behavior of the foxes — they began showing affection toward humans, giving more eye contact, etc.
And those same foxes also began showing some very unexpected physical changes — as the generations of foxes became tamer, they also began having different colorings, curled tails and even floppy ears.
So if you’re wondering how we got from a Gray Wolf to a Chihuahua, there’s a big hint. Breed for behavior and physical changes shall follow.
I don’t know what was more interesting to me — the ‘domestication’ piece, or the piece on research being done that proves humans and dogs can communicate with eachother.
Don’t think you know what your dog’s bark means? Well, don’t sell yourself short. Most people can read a dog’s emotions in its bark — anxiety, playfulness, fear, etc. You can test yourself by clicking here.
The show also features a border collie who is incredibly smart. The dog can actually look at the picture of a toy and understand she is supposed to go get the actual toy and bring it to the person holding the picture. How amazing is that?
It warms my heart to see shows like this being produced because it presents our dogs as wonderful, interesting, smart creatures in their own right, as dogs. Our society needs more shows like this and less shows that present the dog as little humans in furry suits.
The more we can respect and enjoy our dogs for being dogs, and the more we understand what makes them a dog, the more we’ll be able to truly enjoy one anothers' companionship.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Badly burned dog deserves a safe, loving home

“My father is outraged about the burned dog,” said one of my coworkers upon entering the newsroom this morning.
I think we all are. Only a very sick individual wouldn’t be.
You can read the full story I wrote by clicking here, but the basics are this:
Some awful, sick person poured gasoline on the head of a friendly pit bull in Detroit during Halloween weekend and set it on fire.
The owners of the dog thought at first that the burns weren’t so bad and could be dealt with at home. They kept the dog for a week, trying home remedies.
This is something I find disturbing as well, but I think it’s indicative of a difference in approaches to dog ownership. While most of us think of our dogs as family members, there are folks out there who don’t see it that way — folks who are stuck in the old attitude of, “A dog is a dog — keep it outside, feed it scraps and let it be a dog.”
But as the days passed, the dog's burns worsened and worsened. The owners finally called the Michigan Humane Society and gave the dog — her name is Lady, by the way — to them. Whew.
Lady is now in good hands and incredibly, she’s described as a happy-go-lucky girl who loves being scratched under her chin.
While she appears to be doing well, such horrific burns can be complicated to heal. Infections are a huge threat to recovery, as there’s no skin barrier keeping all that bacteria out.
But if she does make a complete recovery, she’ll go up for temperament testing. If does well there, she’ll probably be adopted.
I’ve got my fingers crossed.
All dogs deserve a second chance, but when you hear a story like this, it’s hard to imagine anything else happening.
Who knows what Lady’s life was like at her Detroit home. And then, to have someone pour gasoline on you and light you on fire — it’s hard to imagine the terror she must’ve felt.
Despite it all, she’s giving people a second chance — loving on the MHS staff, enjoying under-the-chin scratches and proving herself to be a friendly, bright dog.
I would be absolutely dismayed to hear she failed some part of a temperament test and was euthanized. That would be a horrible ending to this story.
I want to hear that regardless of her temperament test, she lands herself in a loving home where she spends her days lounging on a sofa and chewing on rawhides. I want to hear that her caring new family members are investing the time to teach her all sorts of stuff about being a good ambassador for pit bulls; to show that resilient and forgiving spirit pit bulls are known for.
Please join me in hoping for a good outcome for a great dog who has endured the worst of humankind’s cruelty. Let’s show her that people can be a lot better than that.
Video from WXYZ

Similar story ends with happiness for another dog
This isn’t the first time The Oakland Press has written about a badly burned dog from Detroit.
In 2007, a barely 4-pound pit bull puppy was set on fire with the rest of her littermates in an abandoned home in Detroit. The lone survivor, she was brought to Oakland Veterinary Referral Services in Bloomfield Hills.
Now named Madison, the little girl is deformed but able to enjoy a good quality of life — running, swimming and living a life full with love from her humans. And she’s in incredibly capable human hands.
Madison was adopted by one of the surgeons at OVRS and, as of my last report, was still a constant fixture in the clinic that saved her life.
I hope that Lady’s outcome is as good as Madison’s.
Read the full story about Madison by clicking here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Help shape Oakland County dog parks with your opinion

OK, we all know that Oakland County’s dog parks rock.
But is there something you’d change? Add? How do you feel about paying for dog park access?
Well, now is the time to make your voice heard.
Oakland County is seeking feedback on their dog parks with the “Bring in the Bark” online survey available now by clicking here.
I just took the survey — it takes just a couple minutes, gathers some information about dog park users and most importantly, offers space for you give advice and make recommendations.
Those of you who follow this blog know that Sensi is far from being dog park quality — he’s fearful, reactive and doesn’t do well around strangers and some other dogs (big dogs, male dogs, any dog that might possibly be capable of posing a threat to him).
Even though I can’t take him to the dog park, I’ve been to the beautiful Orion Oaks on several occasions and thoroughly enjoyed each visit.
But I love the idea of having small, private yards available for rent. We don’t have a fence at our house, so we use a cable to keep Sensi in the yard. This means he doesn’t get much off-leash time.
If I could rent a yard for perhaps $5 for a half hour or $10 to $15 for an hour, I’d be there every weekend. Maybe twice a week. I’d round up Sensi’s doggie friends, pile them all in the Jeep, grab some fetch toys and head out for some fun.
Oh, how I wish something like that existed!
And the yard doesn’t have to be dog-park-sized-large. All he needs is a little space to run around and do some zoomies in. Please Oakland County, hear my pleas! See the revenue opportunity that exists for something like that and make it happen!
After all, think about all the people out there with less than perfectly tempered dogs. Think about all the folks who live in apartments with no yards, or condos, or like me — people who have a yard that’s not fenced in and can’t afford to make that happen, but desperately want a space for their dog to just run around off-leash and chase freely after a ball.
Needless to say, I’m just thrilled that they’ve posted this survey and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for my wish to come true.
Do you have a wish? Make it known. Take the survey!

Check out some dancin’ dogs
Speaking of Oakland County, they’re hosting the “Awesome Pawsome Freestyle Dog Dance Competition” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this weekend, Nov. 6 and Nov. 7, at Springfield Oaks County Park Activity Center, 12451 Andersonville Road in Davisburg.
The event is free and open to the public, but spectators can’t bring their own dogs.
Even so, the dog dancing competitions are pretty cool to watch. You’ve got to have some respect for any dog/owner combination that invests so much time in training!

Way to go Waterhouse!
Waterhouse Photography in downtown Auburn Hills has been busy this year collecting food for the Michigan Animal Rescue League. The most recent fundraisers were in the last couple of weeks of October, where pet owners received a photo session for their pets for a donation of $20 and a bag of dry dog or cat food.
More than 65 pets participated and more than 1,600 pounds of food was collected.
“We were so happy about the enormous response we received from pet parents traveling from as far as Port Huron to participate and more than touched by the stories (of) under what conditions some of the pets we photographed were rescued,” said Karla Waterhouse, owner of the studio. “All of the pets were so loveable, from the cute cats to the six-pound Miniature Poodle and the 100 pound Newfoundlander.”
Kudos to Karla and the Waterhouse staff for all they’ve done to help homeless animals!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween: Gone to the dogs

Is it a surprise at all that Halloween costumes for dogs seem to be as abundant these days as Halloween costumes for people? I think not.

The only thing cuter than a dog in costume is, perhaps, a really cute kid in a really cute costume.

Enjoy these photos of decked-out dogs hitting the town over the weekend to celebrate Halloween.

Most of the photos are from Howl-O-Ween, which may become an annual event in downtown Clarkston.

Jamie Gootee, (left) of Clarkston and her dog Cleo, dressed as a Clarkston cheerleader, receives a dog treat from Joan Donnay, owner of Essence On Main store, during Howl-O-Ween activities in downtown Clarkston. (Oakland Press Photo/Vaughn Gurganian)

Peanut, a dashund, is dressed as a hot dog while walking through downtown Clarkston during Howl-O-Ween activities. (Oakland Press Photo/Vaughn Gurganian)

Keri Mitchell, of Clarkston, dressed as Little Bo Peep and her dog Samson walk through downtown Clarkston during Howl-O-Ween activities. (Oakland Press Photo/Vaughn Gurganian)

Nurse Nina walks through downtown Clarkston during Howl-O-Ween activities. (Oakland Press Photo/Vaughn Gurganian)

Sadie (left), Newfoundland Sunnie (middle) and Golden Retriever Riley won "most humorous" for their Three Musketeers costume during Clarkston's Howl-O-Ween event on Saturday. The dogs are owned by Cory and Robyn Johnston, who coined their pack, "The Royal Guard of the Kingdom of the City of the Village of Clarkston."

Jackie Bowen, public relations director for the Greyheart Greyhound Rescue and Adoption, sent these photos of Eddie, Barney and Katie dressed for Halloween. Adorable!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nails and eyeballs

OK, there’s a couple things on my list today. One’s a bit of a rant.

Has everyone heard the story of Gooch the pit bull who died while having his nails trimmed? My co-worker, Jerry Wolffe, broke this story over the weekend (read the first story by clicking here) and wrote a follow-up today (click here).
Let’s make one thing clear — no dog should ever have to die because it needs it’s nails clipped.
A necropsy of the dog showed it died of suffocation and internal injuries. The woman clipping the dog’s nails apparently used a prong collar, a secondary collar and then a third leash wrapped around the dog’s muzzle to tie its mouth shut. She and a man then sat on the dog, I assume to keep the dog still, while they trimmed the nails.
Bad idea — they wanted the dog to be still for a while, but they made it still forever. Just squished the life right out of it.
One of two things prompted such extreme measures to be taken for a nail clipping: 1) The dog was so strong, unruly and opposed to the nail trimming that it was extremely difficult to get the dog to settle down, or 2) The people performing the nail trim stereotyped the dog because it was a pit bull and took unnecessary and dangerous measures because of it.
I wasn’t there and I don’t know which it was. Perhaps it was a bit of both. Either way, the dog should not have died.
I was reading through the comments people left under the first story and came across one from a woman who basically said it was the pit bull’s fault because it was a pit bull and all pit bulls behave this way for nail trims and that’s why they should just be banned from everywhere.
What a load of crap.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be putting together a series of blog posts on nail trims. In one of them, you’ll get to see for yourself how at least one pit bull — mine — behaves during a nail clipping. And trust me, when you see my dog get his nails clipped, you’ll be asking yourself how you can get your dog to be so good and calm. And I’ll tell you how.
For now, I’ll leave you with this: Touch your dog’s paws often and from an early age. I’ll expound more on this in later posts.

My coworker, Political Reporter Charlie Crumm, and I often trade stories about our dogs. He has Tyson, an perpetually healthy, 12-year-old mix between a Boxer, German Shepherd and Chow Chow.
He tells me how healthy and youthful his dog is after I lament about how unhealthy and old my dog (who happens to be years younger than Tyson) is.
Except for yesterday, when he called to say he’d be late to work because Tyson needed to go to the vet.
Charlie said it looked like Tyson maybe got poked in the eye with a stick, perhaps while chasing a squirrel up a tree, and the eye was looking infected. And it wasn’t getting better.
He wound up being recommended to Oakland Veterinary Referral Services, where a specialist could really determine what was going on.
The news appears to be this: Tyson, despite his youthful looks, is indeed getting old. And with age you’re just bound to stumble across some health issues.
It looks like Tyson’s eyes just aren’t producing tears the way they used to, meaning his eyes are drying out and getting very itchy. The dog doesn’t understand, of course, that scratching his eyes only worsens the issue.
To keep those paws away, he’ll be wearing the Elizabethan collar for at least a week.
If it’s not a dry eye problem, it’s something worse. But since the eye is responding to treatment after just one day, my money’s on it being a dry eye problem.
This will mean Charlie will have to give the dog eyedrops daily for the rest of his life, but it’s better than the alternative — having his eye removed due to some other issue, like a damaged cornea or even cancer.
Charlie said Tyson is doing increasingly better with the eyedrops. In fact, after a bout of trying to scratch his eye last night (and instead making a racket while his paws hit the hard plastic of the collar), Charlie said the eyedrops seemed to calm him down.
“I think he knows that, ‘Hey, this stuff makes my eyes feel better,’” Charlie said.
I bet that’s true.