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Is This Really My Dog?

Your Dog’s Got a Personality. Get Used to It!

You know how some parents want their kids to grow up to be doctors and they end up with musicians? The same kind of thing can happen with dog owners and their beloved pets. We sometimes hold our puppies to expectations that they can’t fulfill, nor should they. They, like children, manage best with acceptance. So do we.

 

Ringo is my first dog. I adopted him a year and a half ago, and he gives me tremendous joy. Through him, I’ve been given sense of loving purpose with which I’m sure many of you other packpeople out there have long been familiar, but to me, it’s still something new.

Once in a while, so is his behavior.

I can’t lie: when I adopted him, with his sweet little face and quiet disposition, I imagined he would change the world, one melted heart at a time. He seemed a perfect candidate for therapy dog training, and after he aced his first obedience course, he earned his American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen certification at the local dog club. He was on his way, I thought, to a career of healing, visiting local hospitals to spread his warm, magical fuzziness wherever it was needed.

Then he started growling.

About six months into our relationship, Ringo got comfortable enough to reveal his true self. He’s not that “into” people. He trusts only a few, shows affection to even fewer, ignores many and downright dislikes the rest (“grrrrr…”)

Sure, I was disappointed, but I’ve come to accept that he’s a living, thinking being, full of his own opinions and tastes. His behaviors I can train (treats have proved helpful in meeting new people), but his personality is his own. He’s “aloof.”

“That’s okay,” said one of his trainers. “He doesn’t have to like everybody; he’s just not that kind of dog.”

When he likes someone, however, he really shows it. That’s the kind of dog he is. He’s also the kind of dog who sits on command, leaves my things alone and never makes messes in the house. He may not be therapy dog material but in other ways, he’s a dream.

Nobody’s perfect, and the same goes for dogs. The best that we can do is encourage their best assets, despite the expectations we place on them.

If you’re new to dog ownership, take it from me. More likely than not, your dog’s behavior will change in some way during your first year together. That’s not necessarily bad, but character-building, for both of you. You’ll need to practice acceptance, discipline and the diligence to research the most effective ways to deal with negative behaviors. In doing so, you’ll see that your pet’s brightest traits and talents will truly shine.

Ringo may never be a therapy dog, but that’s okay. He may never be a doctor, either, but if he decides to take up a musical instrument, I’ll pay for lessons. What matters is that I encourage him to be the best Ringo he can be.

Good, Ringo! Good boy!

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Getting a Pet Can Improve Aging in place

In partnership with aginginplace.org, we would like to publish this great article today. You can find the original post on http://www.aginginplace.org/seniors-and-pets/

Are you wondering how you are going to care for your pet as you age in place? Are you wondering if you should adopt a pet as you age in place? This guide will help you decide on the best choice for you. Studies have shown that owning a pet can be physically and mentally beneficial for people of all ages. In the case of senior citizens, “just 15 minutes bonding with an animal sets off a chemical chain reaction in the brain, lowering levels of the fight-or-flight hormone, cortisol, and increasing production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. The result: heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels immediately drop. Over the long term, pet and human interactions can lower cholesterol levels, fight depression and may even help protect against heart disease and stroke” (Byrne, 2015).

If you are mostly immobile, a cat may be the best option because you don’t have to walk them. A small dog that uses pee pads or a caged animal may also be a good option. Senior dogs and cats are better for the elderly because they are more calm, quiet, and less maintenance. Be sure to have the pet checked out by a veterinarian. A pre-existing illness or disease could drain your bank account or make you sick. For those seniors who want a dog, there are many reasons to be wary of jumping into pet adoption too quickly. The lack of mobility and inability to drive to and from the vet, groomer, or pet store worries them. The initial costs are usually high. They also worry that if and when there comes a point when they can no longer care for the dog, that the dog might be taken to a shelter and eventually euthanized. Many seniors feel like their worsening health condition is a burden, and a pet might possibly add to that.

PETS_infographic_aginginPlace

Top 6 Reasons Seniors Should Adopt a Pet

There are numerous reasons for adopting a pet. From companionship to security, pets can provide seniors a better quality of life and improve aging in place. Finding the right pet for you or your family member is easy, and the benefits can be far-reaching

Matching Older Dogs with the Elderly

Pets for Seniors in Illinois created an adoption program that matches senior dogs and senior cats with senior citizens. They worked out solutions to the issues that seniors have with pet adoption, and the program is very successful. The program pays for most of the adoption fee, chooses calm and housebroken older dogs, and provides support every step of the way. If the animal is not a good fit, the organization will take back the pet and refund any fees. Other humane shelters around the nation are trying to replicate this model.

Pet Therapy for Seniors

Those who work caring for the elderly say that pets pull withdrawn seniors out of their shell, provide mild activity and cardio through walking and grooming the pet, and offer a way to feel needed and connect with the world. Pet therapy can also help with Alzheimer’s Sundowners Syndrome. Nighttime can be very confusing and disorienting for folks with Alzheimer’s disease. This is when some Alzheimer’s patients try to run away or leave their home. A pet can prevent this issue by keeping those with Alzheimer’s connected and occupied.

“Animals’ non-verbal communication and profound acceptance can be soothing for those with difficulty using language; some may even connect with memories of their own treasured pets”

“Animals’ non-verbal communication and profound acceptance can be soothing for those with difficulty using language; some may even connect with memories of their own treasured pets” (Byrne, 2015). Pet therapy has shown to improve appetite, social interaction, brain stimulation, and tactile activity. The unconditional love of a dog brings healing and meaning to a sometimes lonely stage in life. Ask your doctor, physical therapist, or social worker about any pet therapy programs in your community. Just because you give away a pet or choose not to take one into your home, it doesn’t mean that you can’t visit with other family pets or receive pet therapy. There are pet therapy home visit services all over the country. Alliance of Therapy Dogs and Therapy Dogs International are volunteer-run organizations with outposts all over the world. A local volunteer will come to your home and bring a trained service dog that is very well-behaved. The dog can play, cuddle, and perform commands during a half-hour or one-hour session.

Service Dogs for Seniors

For seniors with disabilities, a service dog might be the best option. “The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 2011 defines service dogs as those trained to do work directly related to a person’s disability.  Emotional support animals and dogs used as crime deterrents are excluded from this definition.  A service dog is expected to accompany a person with a disability at all times” (Wang, 2013). Service dogs go through extensive training to remain calm and help their owner with mobility issues.

Service dog skills include: opening doors with a strap, pushing doors closed, helping their handler dress and undress, helping those in wheelchairs sit up straight & place feet and arms on footrests and armrests, preventing falls, and retrieving wheelchairs and walkers. It’s amazing the tasks these dogs can do! In an emergency situation, service dogs are trained to perform life-saving tasks, like retrieving medication, calling 911, opening the door for EMT and first responders, running to get help or barking for help after identifying an emergency and laying down on their handler’s chest to help them a cough or breath better. For hearing impaired owners, service dogs are trained in alerting their handlers to the presence of other people or particular sounds, retrieving dropped objects, carrying messages, and warning that an unseen vehicle is approaching. For visually impaired owners, service dogs are trained in avoiding obstacles like moving vehicles, signaling a change in elevation, locating objects on command, and retrieving dropped objects.

Find the right service dog for you. Pets often increase the amount of exercise pet owners get versus non-pet owners. More exercise isn’t always a good thing for older people with injuries and susceptibility to falls. There are also some nonprofits in existence that will help elderly folks care for their pets when walking their dog multiple times a day or cleaning out the litter box is too burdensome. Look to see if there is one in your area.

If you want to learn more about 

  • The cost of Pet Ownership
  • The Risks and
  • How to Care for Your Pet While Aging in Place

Please visit http://www.aginginplace.org/seniors-and-pets/ and let us know what you think about this article. Thank you. 

 

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Toni Eakes and the truth about A wish for Animals rescue

Hello dear animal lovers and friends,

In  2012 I wrote an article about Toni Eakes and her rescue and she threatened to sue me and I had to take it down.

I left this short post up to let people know why I took the previous post down.

For whatever reason, maybe because the universe wants it, this post ranks #1 in google when you search for “Toni Eakes” and I receive countless emails, phone calls  and blog comments from people seeking help with all kind of issues revolving around Toni Eakes and her rescue “A wish for animals”

I never worked with her or met her, but due to this overwhelming flood of people and authorities looking for help or information about her, I felt the urge to publish some of the emails sent to me without publishing names.

You decide whether you want to work with her, adopt from her or volunteer for her. I’m just helping the public and the animals in sharing these emails.

  1. Hello, I tried reading your blog but looks like it was taken down. I fostered for Toni 2 years ago in October of 2013. It was the worst experience of my life. I was wondering what your blog had said. I’d love to know that I wasn’t the only one who got screwed by her then harassed and threatened Thanks

  2. Toni Eake’s facility is actually located at 5930 jasmine St in Riverside. Its a hell hole.

  3. I worked for her and stayed at her property. Animal control was there the day I took these pics and did nothing. I’ve called everyone and sent these pics. Police and animal control don’t seem to want to help. Dogs with mange ticks injuries and illness. What more do they need to see? The matted dog was aced and shaved by a volunteer. Toni asked me to do it and I told her to have him anesthetized and groomed by a vet. Instead she bought ace promazine and had a volunteer do it. The last pic is what he looked like before they attempted to do anything. He came to the kennel clean and developed the mats over months in her care. Last Tuesday the director of services,  Frank Corvina told me he sent officers to the property the previous day to check on a litter of five week old puppies that were dehydrated to the point where the volunteers were giving sub cutaneous fluids to them. A volunteer informed me AC never even came.

  4. I would like to get a copy of your article.  I have been in rescue for many years and known that she was bad but i need to show others occasionally .  Thanks

  5. Hi. Can you please tell me more about Toni Eakes? A Wish for Animals has been pulling dogs with high pledges from southern California shelters. And most recently one of the dogs was deemed aggressive. The foster can no longer keep the dog and the rescue isn’t cooperating in taking the dog back. Any insights would be much appreciated. Thank you.

  6. To whom it may concern,
    Good morning, my name is L. and I am a proud Pitty adopter for the second time. In doing research on google about a Wish for Animals I found your post about having to take down the article about Toni Eakes. I unfortunately made the mistake of adopting a rescue from her and it may turn into a legal issue. What should be a joyous and happy event has turned into one of the worst experiences I have ever had.  I was wondering if you could help with some information and or any help in dealing with this group. Thank you.
  7. Hello, a woman has asked us for help with a foster she has had that belongs to Toni Eakes. This woman has paid for EVERYTHING for this dog. Toni has given her $0 towards the dog. She has had him over a year now. She must move & contacted Toni.Toni won’t take the dog back. Toni told the foster that she is in breach & is abandoning the dog. I always thought the rescue is the owner!  When the foster said she would re home the dog Toni told her that’s illegal cos she owns the dog. Whatever! I need some info so I know what to do to help this foster.

  8. Hi, I hesitate to write to you because quite frankly, the woman scares me.  However, I couldn’t agree more that she shouldn’t be involved in animal welfare.  I have a long sorted story regarding my experience with her and since it isn’t over, I would rather not go into details about it in this email. In fact, I would be much more comfortable talking about it, than writing it since I want to avoid a retaliation from her.  Once my involvement with her is over, I would like to help in whatever way I can, as well as sharing my story on your comment board.  In the end, there needs to be a way to get the word out about her.

  9. Hi thank you for responding. I recently adopted a dog with Toni and it turned into a nightmare. The dog was nothing like the dog that they described when I adopted him. He was not neutered, vaccinated, or microchipped. I was told that’s what the $350 paid for but Toni never returned my calls when I tried to contact her about getting these things done. Toni never responded to any of my communications. He got aggressive around my 5 year old and all other dogs.  He also bit my parents docile elder dog on several occasions. When I contactedToni saying this wasn’t the right home for the dog she got so defensive that she turned it all around on me. Verbally attacked me and said I had made the dog act that way and that I had put the dog in danger. She insisted that I return him by the end of that day. She was unwilling to refund my $350 so I could adopt another dog. I I cannot believe she gets away with it. I have been told to take her to small claims court but not sure if I will win because she says what I paid was a donation to a non-profit organization. Very frustrating. Thank you for the info!

  10. Hi, I am very concerned and discouraged after working withToni on Saturday. I would appreciate a phone call or and email with any information that can be provided.

  11. Hi, Thank you for putting an article together about Ms. Toni Eakes. I thought her lawyer might have contacted you and that is why I could not read the article. I met Ms. Eakes two years ago and the experience was horrible. I have a dog that is now, in decent health this is of course spending over 15,000. The story is a long one and I ended up going on a mission because of her crueltyto animals to get her shut down and I had no luck. I appreciate you taking the time to write an article and hope one day she will be stopped.

  12. Thank you for sharing. I was the one that called animal control on her in 2010 for the place in Laguna Hills. I had a report on her from Orange County Animal Control over 500 pages. I followed her for a awhile and called animal control at her home which again, animal control stepped in. I also got threats from her lawyer and my lawyer wrote her letter then, I never heard from her again. I was lucky my lawyer is an animal advocate. I am sorry, that this behavior of Ms.Eakes has continued for so many years. It is truly sad for the animals involved and the community. My hope is that her cruelty someday stops.

  13. Thank you for emailing me back so quickly. On Saturday, my ten year old and I met Toni and several of her dogs at a Petsmart in RSM. I filled out paperwork, which I assumed was to foster a dog. Before we left she had me sign it. Since I have a King Charles at home, I asked about his vaccinations, worms and flea/tick medicine. She assured me everything was up to date. With all the excitement, I did not get a copy of what I signed. Huge mistake!!! In fact, I did not bring home one piece of paperwork. The next day (Sunday), I called her and asked for a copy of what I had signed and proof of his vaccinations. She was rude and said that I was only fostering and did not have rights to the vaccine records. She also informed me in an email later that night that what I signed was not a foster agreement, but an adoption agreement. She said she had crossed out adoption and put foster on the form (without my knowledge) and asked me to sign it. She still refuses to give me a copy or any records on the dog I brought home. She has been extremely unprofessional and is insisting I sign the foster agreement. The foster contract holds me liable for neutering (which was done by someone already) and that “I must provide proper care (proper food, water & shelter), including necessary medical care, regular checkups and vaccinations as necessary.” It also states that, “I promise and agree to be solely responsible for these animals and to indemnify and hold harmless A Wish for Animals from any and all claims of liability for the conduct of this animal while in my/our home and care. THIS IS A BINDING CONTRACT ENFORCEABLE BY CIVIL LAW.” I find this unacceptable, especially since I am being refused any of the records. I am happy to train, provide a good environment for him to grow in and am in a situation where this would benefit the dog. Her website says foster parents will receive everything from medical care to food at no cost. I found that contradicting and concerning. In addition, on Monday night, two nights after bringing him home with my son and King Charles, I found out the dog had tape worms and fleas. She told me it was easy to take care of and all available at Petsmart. I did not know it would cost me $91. It had only been two days since I had brought him home! I should not be responsible at such an early stage for those costs. When I emailed her (I do have copies of these emails if you want to see them) about reimbursement, and contract concerns, plus I gave her updates on the dog, she refused to pay for the de-worming and flea meds and said I should have waited until this coming Sunday (which would have been 7 days later.) She said she could not afford it. This of course was not an option with my other dog. I didn’t want fleas all over my home or risk getting worms. She didn’t answer any other questions concerning the contract and just stated I needed to sign it. When I brought the dog home she told me he was a lab mix. After researching online, I discovered he is a Rot/Pit Bull Terrier mix. She had no response about my questions on that either. I was informed after bringing him home that he was about 1 1/2 years old and was a shy dog. Then after speaking with her trainer I was told he was most likely a puppy mill dog and knew no life except a cage. Toni was so rude when I asked questions. The dog seemed fearful of people, sounds and cowered like he had been beat. Toni said he had never been beat or aggressive. She treated me like his behavior was my fault. She then very rudely proceeded to lecture me about what I had to do to care for the dog, including which collar I had to use (which slipped right off his head). Not once has she shown gratitude, compassion, appreciation or excitement about the progression of this dog. The trainer who was keeping him for two weeks left him in a large backyard with her 6 Mastiffs. The trainer said a week ago he could not even be pet or walked. When I brought him home, he was clueless what affection was, did not know how to play and still could not be walked. He was nervous about being pet. He has never been in a home environment and was scared to death when I showered and washed dishes. I have worked so hard with him. I hate to give him back to her, but I do not feel like I have a choice. This is a good dog that has an opportunity to grow and be trained, but he is not ready to go into any home. He needs time to learn what home life is and be appealing for adoption. I do not want to make this about me or her. I just am floored by the legal stand point, her demands and unprofessionalism. I fear in the end the dog is going to suffer. I do not know what you recommend. There is more to my story, but those are the main points. I also have the emails as proof. I am an honest, loving, moral divorced mother of 1. I hate drama and avoid it at all costs. This has had a huge impact on me because I have not seen anyone behave so irresponsible, controlling, unethical, dishonest and rude as she is. It is truly disturbing. I have made great progress with the dog. He walks on a leash very well, has learned how to play, smiles, is potty trained, affectionate and discovering what being loved feels like. The progression is unreal. All she seems to care about is herself and money. Thank you for any insight or support you can give. I am very discouraged right now. I also filed a complaint with the BBB. She has had 3 other complaints and her record is an F with them.

Please leave a comment! Thank you very much.

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Collar vs. Harness

The Competition Runs Neck-and-Neck.

So I’m talking with fellow packpeople David and Yurda about pertinent blog topics and the age-old issue of leashing dogs with collars vs. harnesses comes up. Naturally, there is no easy way to answer this – there are arguments for both and I’ll get into that in just a bit – but the funny thing is that no sooner had we discussed the topic than I discovered that Ringo (my 15 lb. mix of corgi, dachshund and possibly seal) needed a new harness. My neighbor Connie, who takes care of Ringo when I work late, had noticed redness on his chest, and the subsequent discovery of frayed, protruding stitching on his harness’ chest strap sent Ringo and I straight to the pet store.

Why does Ringo wear a harness? It’s this simple: when I adopted him, he was wearing one. He always wears a collar for ID as well as decorative purposes, but for leashing he and I are accustomed to the harness. I like the security of its hold over his torso, and as he’s a smallish dog, I’m more at ease knowing I won’t inadvertently hurt his somewhat delicate neck. Looking over the vast selection of collars and harnesses at our neighborhood pet supply store, however, it’s clear to see that there are countless options available, in styles ranging from eco-friendly hemp fiber to breathable nylon mesh to bright, bold and bejeweled.

Collars vs. harnesses. Everyone’s got an opinion, and you’re best to form one of your own, with expert guidance from your veterinarian. Here are some thoughts, though, that seem to recur in many dog care forums on the subject:

Basic collars, when fitted properly, are a comfortable choice for dogs without “pulling” tendencies. Some collars can be useful for training, with choke chains and prong collars providing methods of correction (and in these cases, it’s highly important that humans are trained for their safe and sensible use). Collars are also easy: easy on, easy off, and even if you opt for leashing your dog with a harness, the addition of a collar is more likely to accommodate pet ID tags with a characteristic metal D ring.

Leashing on a harness minimizes the risk of injury to a dog’s neck and back, particularly in smaller breeds. Simple nylon harnesses can be purchased, as well as specialty harnesses designed to provide the same corrective effectiveness as traditional training collars. Harnesses are also available which provide transportation safety, with designs that are compatible with automobile safety belts.

After about 30 minutes of walking back and forth and trying things on in the collar and harness aisle, Ringo and I settled on something new (for us, that is). Typically, he’s been wearing a simple nylon-strap harness, but this time we opted for a breathable mesh harness that covers more of his chest than his previous gear, allowing pressure to be more evenly distributed across his chest. It’s a Comfort Control Harness made by Four Paws Products, and we chose a fetching shade of royal blue because that’s all the store had left in the appropriate size, and also, we’re fancy. We walked around a bit in the store parking lot to “test drive” the item, and the change in attire suited us both. I felt no loss of control in guiding Ringo at my side and he seemed perfectly comfortable.

So I urge you to consider all your needs when choosing not only between a collar or harness but also which collar or harness. There are thousands of them out there. You might even choose more than one, for different applications. Take a look at fit, finish, materials and construction involved as well – Ringo’s reddened, irritated chest taught us both, the hard way, to examine details like stitching and seams for durability and comfort.

Then, adequately equipped, you’ll enjoy peace of mind and greater control over a safe and secure dog.

This way, Ringo. RINGO. THIS WAY. Good boy!

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To Treat or Not To Treat?

Treats for dogs

The dish on giving your dog “people food”

Our dogs can be so darned cute that it’s tempting to lavish them with the finest things possible… but remember: they’re dogs. What may be our idea of a delicious treat may not always be the healthiest option for our little friends… and the way we give it to them can affect their behavior more deeply than we might expect. Finally, before you give your pet a special treat, ask yourself exactly who you’re rewarding: your dog, or you?

“People foods” warrant really careful consideration. Know that certain foods, even in tiny amounts, can be toxic, even fatal, to dogs. Raisins, for instance, may cause kidney failure, and only a few macadamia nuts can cause muscular tremors or paralysis — a huge price to pay for a seemingly innocent snack. Before you decide to give your dog any food that isn’t expressly prepared for dogs, be sure you’ve done your homework and investigated a few educated opinions on the subject, by asking veterinary experts or studying online.

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30 miles/hour can kill you and your dog

Safety for your dog in the car.

I’m always shocked how careless and frivolous some people are with their dogs driving in cars. I see them jumping on the driver, licking the face and sitting on their laps. For responsible travel with a pet is to properly secure the animal. In an accident, an unrestrained dog becomes a projectile, risking serious injury to the animal and human passengers. For your, your family’s and dog’s safety, do not allow pets to ride in the front seat, no matter how much the pet enjoys it. Pets riding in the front seat can be thrown into the windshield if you have to make a sudden stop or your air backs can injure them, if they have to launch out. Dogs on the back seats are very dangerous too, if they are not secured.

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Tag your dog!

Importance of micro chipping and identifying your pet with a tag!

Every year a few hundred thousand dogs get lost under different circumstances in the U.S.  1 in 3 pets will get lost during their lifetime; 10 million pets get lost every year. Losing a household pet is losing a member of the family. Tragically, few are reunited with their owners. Many strays are lost pets who were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification in the U.S. or lost dogs end up in shelters where they are adopted out to new homes or even euthanized. It is relevant that your dog has identification at all times. It’s so important to start to microchip and tag your dog today if he or she is not already.

Every day I look at dog’s collars and harnesses and I’m always astonished how many dogs are running around without a name tag. If I ask handlers and owners, I always receive the same answers: “My dog is always with me” “I take care of my dog” “My dog doesn’t run away” ” I think the sound of the tag is annoying for my dog”. “I live around the corner”.  Here are two important things you really need to do.

Implant a microchip: A microchip is a transponder in the size of a rice grain. It can save your dog’s life and your dog can be identified if found by a shelter or veterinary office. Microchips are implanted by veterinarians between the dog’s shoulder blades under the skin and most dogs do not feel anything being implanted. Several brands are available. Every single chip has a unique numeric code, which can be detected by a hand held device. Do not forget to register your dog with the microchip company, otherwise your dog can not be traced back to you if found, and always update your contact information promptly when you move or get a new phone number. A microchip is effective in reuniting a lost pet with his owner only when the owner’s contact information in the microchip database is accurate.

Create a name tag: Keep current identification tags on your dog at all times, people can directly connect with you without taking the dog to a vet. The dog’s name and your current phone number and your address are a must on the tag. You can find tag machines at every pet store or on the internet.

Most dogs from animal shelters are already micro chipped and come with a name tag. Please be a responsible dog owner, protect your dog and cat and tag your pet, it is not expensive or complicated and can safe your pet’s life!

You can find more information about micro chipping here. Also, feel free to check Home Again‘s website.

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The perks of a pet – Great infographic

Perks of having a pet. If you’re a pet owner, chances are your Fluffy or Fido is one of your best friends in the world. Pets can definitely make your life a little bit sweeter, but what you may not realize is that they can also make your life a little bit healthier. If your health is important to you—and it probably is—then you might think about picking up a new furry best friend. Depending on your health needs, either a dog or a cat can prove equally beneficial in many ways. Need a little more exercise in your life? Dog owners walk, on average, nearly twice as far as non-dog owners do in a given week. Or if it’s a cat you crave, your feline friend can drastically reduce your stress levels. People who have owned pets in their lifetime actually tend to live longer than those who haven’t. If you’re pursuing a degree in healthcare, chances are that when you enter the field, you’ll be able to tell a difference between the states of health of people with pets and those without. The following infographic takes a look at just how having a furry friend makes life happier, healthier, and a whole lot better.

This graphic is provided by MastersInHealthcare.com

Perks of Pets Infographic

If you like this article, you may like our post about Dog’s improve your health.

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Lost Dogs: Hows, Whys and Lowering the Risk

A dog that loves you can still run away!

Barley, the German Shepherd next door, loves his owner. It’s not uncommon to see him jump on his daddy, give him a great big kiss, then sit dutifully at his side.

It’s also not uncommon to see Barley unattended, in the street; or as he was just three nights ago, wandering up our driveway.

“Barley!” I yelled out the window, driving very slowly into the carport. “What are you doing?”

He jumped on the side of my car, all 100 pounds of him, to say Hello. Fortunately, he’s friendly, so I was able to lead him up to our landing, where my neighbors and I were able to leash him and call his owner, who showed up minutes later. The talking-to we gently gave him about the frequency of this game is another matter, but the fact remains, Barley likes to run.

Dogs, given the slightest chance, will get lost. Yes, there are dastardly sorts out there who will steal dogs, abandon them, do anything but preserve their well-being, but aside from that (and I understand that’s a big “aside”), dogs are hard-wired to roam. They can be our most loyal, most loving friends, but it’s important to remember that even our most attentive dogs can be prone to exploring. It’s nothing personal. It’s instinct.

Walking around our neighborhood, Ringo and I see signs for “Lost Dogs” all the time. Here’s what else we see:

  • Dogs enjoying the outdoors – in inadequately fenced yards
  • Dogs without visible ID tags (to review a great post on the subject, read Tag your dog!)
  • Dogs walking alongside their owners – offleash (I don’t care what anyone says, I think this is a bad idea)
  • Dogs walking in and out of doors without supervision (there’s this one chihuahua that actually comes out into the street to bark at us whenever we walk by; to me, this is no different from letting a toddler walk outdoors at his own discretion)
  • Unaltered dogs – which increases the chance of wanderlust (literally!)

A break in a fence or a casually opened door is an invitation for a dog to go exploring, hunting, maybe even running if a dog gets scared for any reason. Remember, dogs are descended from wolves, who find great rewards in scouting away from their home base… and just like their ancestors, our dogs aren’t immune from getting distracted or even bored. There’s a whole world out there, and it’s tempting.

Talking about this to an online community of PackPeople, I realize I may be “preaching to the choir”… but there is no harm in overstating the obvious, even if only to share it outside of our circle, to get more people aware of the precautions they need to take with their little friends.

Maybe we can get those who are mere “dog owners” to start thinking about the attentions their dogs need, to get them to that next step of thinking about the relationships they have with their dogs.

Together, we can lead them to their packs… and help them stay together!

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Adoption Advocacy and Activism Animal Stories Articles Get informed and educated

When Animal Lovers become Animal Hoarders

Where is the fine line between the act of ‘loving animals and  ‘hoarding animals? When does a case become extreme?

The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC), defines an animal hoarder as someone who:

  • accumulates a large number of animals;
  • fails to provide minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation and veterinary care;
  • fails to act on the deteriorating condition of the animals (including disease, starvation and even death); and
  • fails to act on the deteriorating condition of the environment (severely overcrowded and unsanitary conditions), or the negative impact of the collection on their own health and well-being.

Legally you are allowed to have 3 dogs in one household in the city of Los Angeles. 3 dogs – I think that’s pretty fair. I don’t know many people who own more than 3 dogs and are able to responsibly take care of 3 or more dogs and full fill their needs. It’s very tough and challenging to organize 3 or more dogs in between work and daily errands.

I have a friend who owns 5 dogs and does a great job, the dogs are all happy and healthy and live a fulfilled life with him and his wife, who works from home. They own a huge yard, go on long hikes and work with their huskies. Of course, I would love to have a ranch, stay at home and have a bunch of dogs running around and offer them a healthy life of freedom and fun, but unfortunately that’s not the reality by common urban living standards. Most people are totally swamped with the needs of just 1 dog.

I have heard many stories about hoarders. A friend of mine is working on a smaller case, where a woman keeps 15 dogs and 12 cats in a 2 bedroom house with a small backyard. It is very difficult to convince these people – most of whom are suffering from a Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – to give some dogs or cats to the care of other rescuers or people. They harbor a fear that if they seek help the animals will be euthanized, my friend told me. Hoarders justify their behavior with the view that the animals are surrogate children and that no one else can care for them. Many of the hoarders begin on a mission to help animals that somehow gets out of control. After they become overwhelmed, they find they can’t stop, and they often don’t know what to do, so things continue to deteriorate. Some even pose as rescue groups or legitimate sanctuaries.

A so called “animal rescue/shelter” in Southern California. Photo taken by a former worker – over 150 dogs live in a warehouse type facility in Riverside.

As the number of animals in their care increases, they are unable to keep up with the care and veterinary attention needed.  Still, they often see themselves as the animals’ savior, even as the pets suffer. Individuals insist that all animals are happy and healthy—even when there are clear signs of distress and illness. According to Hartford Hospital, compulsive hoarding is a problem that often accompanies other mental disorders, including depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and certain anxiety disorders, among others. Hoarding is thought to be a subset of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Cats are the most hoarded animal, followed closely by dogs. Animal hoarders are usually well-intentioned and believe they are helping the animals in their care. They often cannot see the situation as it is and have a disconnect from the reality of their pets’ desperate need for basic care and medical attention. Approximately 72% of animal hoarders are women.

I don’t know if you have heard of the Victims Of Spindeltop Raid – where over three hundred pit bulls were seized by law enforcement on Tuesday, July 17, 2012, in an alleged animal hoarding case in Montgomery County, Texas.

If you suspect someone of hoarding animals, don’t hesitate to alert the local authorities to the situation. Because hoarded animals are usually in terrible condition, the sooner they can be rescued the greater their chances of recovery and survival, and of finding people who will care for them properly. The ASPCA recommends calling both a local animal rescue, shelter, or welfare group, as well as adult protective services or other government health agencies.

Have you had an experience with an animal hoarder, or do you know someone you want to help? Let us know.

If you see a typo, please let us know at info@packpeople.com. If you have a story idea that you would like to share, please drop us an email ~ Thank you.