Tuesday, May 24, 2011

• Tornadoes: Be Part of the Miracle

The devastation from recent tornadoes makes me feel sick. And helpless. I think the best I can do is pass along information that may help the displaced pets.

Social media stepped up to the plate for these pets. DogTipper has a list of Facebook pages—virtual “lost and found” bulletin boards—of displaced pets in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

Click on the “Found” photos. Each represents a miracle: a dog that lived through a tornado, found by someone willing to help it find its way home. And each represents a potential miracle: a pet that could be reunited with its family. There are hundreds more.

The connections cannot be made without you. Please take a minute and email the DogTipper list of lost and found tornado pets to everyone you know. Ask them to send it to everyone they know.

Be part of the miracle.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

• Leah Needs a Home

Meet Leah. This beagle mix is no spring chicken and she comes with—as they say in the singles ads—"a few extra pounds," but she's a sweet, friendly dog who deserves a loving home.

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue thinks Leah is between 8 and 10 years old, and suspects she was used as a breeder in a puppy mill. I volunteered as a handler at today's Lucky Dog event and felt lucky (so to speak) to care for her.

When people approached, Leah wagged her tail and arched forward, eager to be petted. When I stroked her, she practically melted into my hand. She especially liked children. Though stout, she trotted all around PetSmart, her nose twitching. (I brought a chair because one of my knees is bothering me, but I barely had a chance to sit!)

I was impressed with her temperament. She pretty much ignored other dogs sniffing her and yawned when one of the large males attempted to mount her. And she never made a sound.

I was disappointed that gentle Leah didn't find her "fur-ever" home, although 20—yes, 20!!!—dogs were adopted today. If you live in the D.C. area and are "kind of–not sure–maybe" thinking about getting a dog, go online to see photos and profiles of available Lucky Dog dogs (and cats).

P.S.: Two Leahs are online: "my" Leah and Leah the Lab.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

• Prevent Dog Bites

When I started pet sitting seven years ago, I thought I knew everything about animals. I loved animals. Animals loved me. What more did I need to know? As it turns out, a lot.

Dog bites, for instance. I never gave a thought about being bitten; dogs liked me. But recently a dog I was caring for nipped me—no bigger than a pinprick, but he broke the skin. Luckily, he had his rabies shot and the area healed in a few days.

But things don’t always turn out so well. More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year; about 800,000 warrant a trip to the hospital. Just this week, a dog ran onto a school bus in Clinton, Maryland, biting four students and sending them to the hospital.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is hosting National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 15–21, 2011 in an effort to help educate the public about safe dog practices, especially for parents and children. The AMVA web site has great resources.

DoggoneSafe also offers Tips for Parents, Kids and Dog Owners, including a quiz that tests your knowledge of dogs’ body language.

In Dogs Bite When Humans Greet Inappropriately, Dr. Sophia Yin gives what I think is great advice: “ . . . we’ve been told many times that you should greet a dog by letting him sniff your hand, but in reality, the best way to greet is to stay outside of the dog’s personal bubble and let the dog approach you at his own rate.”

On Saturday, May 21, Kahuna's K9 will host Teach a Child, Save a Dog, a free event for parents and dog owners to learn about how to protect children and dogs through education. Children are also welcome. It's at the North Beach Community Center, in Maryland.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

• Pups in the Ball Park

Major league baseball is going to the dogs—literally.Today the Washington Nationals hosted Pups in the Park. My friend Kathleen Ridgely, her best girl Gigi, a Jack Rusell/Beagle mix, and her sisters dog, Petie, a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix, took in the game. I asked Kathleen to write about the experience.

“Pups in the Park provided a great venue for dog lovers and dogs,” reported Kathleen. “Dogs met and played in a designated area. The park created a temporary lawn for pups to ‘get the business’ done between innings. Dogs even had their own seats! I was surprised that with the number of dogs, that everyone got along. Dogs really can go places with their families and blend in with the crowd!

“Gigi and Petie had a great time. They grabbed a couple bites of hot dog and are in for a good night's rest. I would definitely recommend Pups in the Park to anyone looking to have a good time for the whole family, including the waggy-tailed ones!”

The Washington Nationals offer two more Pups in the Park dates in 2011: Saturday, July 9, and Saturday, September 24. Owner tickets are $20 and a dog ticket is $5. One hundred percent of your dog’s ticket price goes to the Washington Humane Society.

For those not in D.C., here's a list of MLB 2011 "Dog Days" events in participating cities, courtesy of Paw Nation.

P.S. Kathleen, many thanks for the write-up and to you and fiancĂ©, Ed Negron, for photos. Hey—is there a flower girl costume in Gigi's future?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

• A "Lucky" Lucky Dog

Whew! Wow! I'm both tired and energized after volunteering at a Lucky Dog Animal Rescue adoption event.

My charge was Apple, a shy, Chihuahua-Rat Terrier mix. Apple's adoption was already in motion, and the young couple that had fallen in love with her picked her up during the event. How awesome it was to see Apple with her "forever family," nestled in her new mom's arms and sporting a pink collar and bib.

After Apple left, I talked to other volunteers. Lucky Dog had brought in a lot of dogs to the event, which was held at the Falls Church, Virginia, PetSmart. Several dogs were adopted, pending the approval process. Some got nibbles (pun intended) of interest.

I need to tell on myself. I was apprehensive about a few of the dogs. You know the ones: sort of a pit-bull-terrier-shepherd-type mix, built like a linebacker, with massive jaws and chest. But I petted every dog, and every single one—no matter the size or breed—was friendly. Some were energetic. Some were curious and eager. Some were shy. And all were sweet.

I watched a little boy, maybe three or four, march up to a dog with a squarish face and stocky, muscular body. The dog outweighed the kid two to one, but the boy never hesitated. He patted the dog on top of its head. That dog wiggled its rock-solid behind and gave the boy's arm a happy lick.

Sweet. And shame on me for presuming otherwise.

Lucky Dog has photos of dogs available for adoption on its web site and holds adoption events every weekend. So next weekend, you could get Lucky.