Care and Kindness Towards Animals

Care and Kindness Toward Animals
Care and Kindness Toward Animals

Rescue organizations have been around awhile, but the concept of care and kindness towards animals goes back quite a bit further, as evidenced by Proverbs 12:10: “The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the evil are cruel.”

The first legal code for animal protection in America was recorded in 1641. Sections 92-93 of the “Body of Liberties” prohibited “any Tirranny or Crueltie towards any bruite Creature which are usuallie kept for man’s use" and mandated periodic rest and refreshment for any “Cattel” being driven or led.

Abolitionists, temperance activists and ministers in the mid-19th century aggressively addressed the welfare of animals as a barometer for human morality, which led to the first animal welfare organization, founded in 1866. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) wanted legal protection for all animals. Within a year, they were successful. New York passed laws prohibited a blanket of definitions that were considered mistreatment of animals, including blood sports and abandonment. Uniformed officers were deputized to police and enforce the law.

Pennsylvanian Caroline Earle White wanted to take protection a step further. She was horrified by drivers of horse- or mule-drawn carriages who mercilessly beat their animals. Inspired by Henry Bergh’s success at founding the ASPCA, Caroline Earle White was instrumental in creating the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) as well as opening the first shelter (originally called a “refuge”) for lost and homeless dogs in 1869. The organization also worked to end dog- and cock fighting as well as one of most horrifying forms of “entertainment”: the practice of tying up animals so others could attack it.

As the concept of dogs and cats as pets gradually took hold, so did our perception of them and their right to protection from abuse and neglect. Today, there are more than 14,000 animal rescue organizations that have sheltered or fostered an estimated eight million animals. Although there is much progress to be made with our commitment to animals as sentient beings, it is important to appreciate how far we have come.

Animal Rescue, Hoarding or Cruelty?

As a dog lover, I have the utmost respect for most animal rescue organizations. They rely on foster families, which are always hard to find. They make sure the dogs are treated for any health problems and vaccinated before being put up for adoption.

Organizations like Peace of Mind Dog Rescue, CAPE (Center for Animal Protection and Education) or ASR (Animal Shelter Relief) are registered non-profits and rely on a diverse group of people and often a board of directors to keep true to their mission.

Animal Rescue
The CAPE mission is to works to save the lives of individual animals who are older or have special needs and to educate people about ways in which they can change their own lives to alleviate animal suffering.

Not All Are Rescuing

Unfortunately, there is a dark side to animal rescue. Dr. Randall Lockwood, ASPCA’s senior vice president of forensic sciences and anticruelty projects, reports that one-quarter of hoarding cases are with alleged rescue organizations and shelters.

Called “rescue hoarders,” they can be individuals with a savior complex who cannot stop finding and keeping animals they believe they can help. With hoarding tendencies, they then balk at adopting them out. Humane Society investigators discovered over 150 dogs living in deplorable conditions and almost 100 dead when they visited One More Chance Rescue and Adoption in Florida.

Lisa Bruno’s Tiger Ranch Cat Sanctuary took in more that 7,000 cats in a fourteen-month period but found only 23 homes. When it was finally raided, 391 were found mostly starved, ill and too weak to care for themselves. Another 106 dead and rotting carcasses were found and it was suspected thousands more were buried on her property. Astoundingly, volunteers enabled her and more than 700 people signed a petition to get the case dismissed.

Even worse are those who set up fake rescue organizations for the sole purpose of collecting donations and adoption fees.

What to Do

How can you tell a reputable organization from a hoarder or rip-off? How do you know which animal rescue organizations to support and which to be concerned about? This Daily Herald article provides guidelines to help you sleuth it out. If you suspect an organization is not reputable, refer to these Humane Society and ASPCA articles for step on how to reporting it. You can also contact your local animal control or police department.

The Ultimate Dog-Lover’s Picnic Basket

Who doesn’t love a picnic on the beach? Well, me, for one. Heat, sand flies, screaming kids? Nope, my idea of the ideal picnic is in a dimly lit room with my PB&J and the TV on. But most folks enjoy picnics, especially if they can bring their fur-baby along. Having done extensive research, I’ve come up with the Ultimate Dog-Lover’s Picnic Basket.

Days of Wine and Dogs

No summer outing would be complete without a bottle of wine. What better than a Chateau la Paws Merlot from Rosenblum Cellars? Described as a “medium-bodied, velvety wine brimming with ripe plum and juicy black cherry,” it not only has rave reviews, but this winery is wholeheartedly committed to animal welfare organizations around the country such as North Shore Animal League America, which states on its website that it is the largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization in the world.

Of course, you must have wineglasses. Stemware does not fare well on sand, so check out these stemless ones on Amazon inscribed with “Dogs and Wine Make Life Better.”

Add crackers, a robust cheddar and there you have it. When it’s time to fold up the tablecloth and put away the utensils, Cynthia Rowley-designed tea towels will help with clean-up. I need not add that a water bowl and plenty of water must be included.

Dog-Friendly Places

It goes without saying that this repast will only work on dog-friendly beaches. Those are few and far between in Santa Cruz county, so travel south about 45 miles to charming Carmel-by-the-Sea. This hamlet is probably one of the most dog-friendly towns on the central coast, if not all of California. Water bowls are stationed in front of most businesses and there is no shortage of eateries and lodging for you and your pup. The town’s dog-loving vibes might be because former movie star and lifelong animal welfare advocate, Doris Day, calls Carmel home. She founded the Doris Day Animal Foundation in 1978, whose mission is “to reduce the pain and suffering of non-human animals through legislative initiatives, education and programs to develop and enforce statutes and regulations protecting animals.” The organization also inspired “World Spay Day,” which has helped spay 1.5 million animals. Doris also owns the Cypress Inn (super dog-friendly, natch), where my late dog Oliver and I had enjoyed lunch a few times. Oliver was impressed that he got his very own menu.

Carmel’s beaches are leash-free and frolicking dogs add the perfect entertainment to a day well-spent. Whatever beach you decide on, I wish you an experience free of sand flies, unbearable heat and screaming kids.

Mystery Novels with Dogs

If you like your mysteries hard-boiled, you’ll love books by Andrew Vachss, Jim Thompson or James Ellroy. Readers with more sensitive souls turn to cozies, a mystery sub-genre that evokes a slight smile with a modicum of suspense. For cozy readers like us, there’s no better mystery than one that combines snoops and their pooches.

In Susan Conant’s A Dog Lover’s Mystery Series, malamutes Rowdy, Kimi and Sammy have saved the day (and their guardian Holly Winter’s life) in 19 books and counting. Holly writes for a dog magazine and her adventures always seem to find her at the scene of a murder which, of course, she solves by the end. (I have an affinity for Holly Winter as I also write articles for a dog magazine!)

Mystery Novels with Dogs
Novels like A Dog Lover’s Mystery Series feature canine protagonists.

Then we have the adventures of private investigator Bernie Little, narrated by his four-footed buddy, Chet. Author Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie mystery series have entertained and charmed readers through eight books so far. An animal narrator is a tricky act and Quinn doesn’t always pull it off. His series lean more towards noir than cozy but it’s always fun to read about murder in Los Angeles.

My sister votes for David Rosenfelt as her favorite author when it comes to dogs and detectives. As one who has owned golden retrievers for the last 30 years, perhaps it is because Tara, a beautiful golden, is the series star. She lives with her human, Andy Carpenter, a brash attorney who truly hates what he does for a living. His true passion is the Tara Foundation, a rescue operation that he started with a sizable inheritance. Every good mystery protagonist has to have that one friend who does the dirty work. He (or she) is usually the muscle; morally complicated and dangerous, but a loyal friend who is ready to do what it takes to bring down the bad guys. Ex-con Willie fills that role for Carpenter.

An Amazon search will yield dozens more dog-and-detective books, but what makes Conant, Quinn and Rosenfelt bestselling authors are the qualities that make great reading. First of all, great writing. The characters are fully developed and you feel like you know them intimately. Minute details transport you to the scene. You learn things and most importantly, there are dogs, dogs, dogs.

How to Train Your Dog

Is There An “Only” Way?

Ask any dog owner about how to train your dog and they’ll assure you they know the correct way, the only way to train your dog. To me, however, that sounds a lot like child rearing. One school of thought says to ignore a baby when it cries. Yet other parents find that barbaric and harmful to the infant’s growth. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” has long since evolved to a host of new ideas about child rearing. Should parents be permissive? Authoritative? Whatever style they follow, parents insist they are doing it the right way and their kids will grow up to be responsible, well-mannered adults. How owners teach their dogs manners aren’t terribly different.

positive reinforcement in dog training
Using Positive Reinforcement for Dog Training

Evolving History of Training

In years gone by, if your puppy peed in the house, you rubbed his nose in it. That’s was called housebreaking. Then along came a more refined version: dominance training and the belief that dog owners need to assert themselves as the alpha or pack leader. (By the way, the idea of alpha dogs has pretty much been disproved.) Dominance training’s most well-known proponent is Cesar Millan, who burst on the scene almost 15 years ago with his hit tv show, “The Dog Whisperer.” He was America’s darling, his methods impeccable, until the next correct way to train a dog began gaining traction: positive reinforcement.

Unlike dominance training, which corrects unwanted behavior, positive reinforcement is like it sounds. Bad behavior is ignored, good behavior rewarded. In the time-honored practice of adoring celebrities until the inevitable backlash that tears them down, we have done our part to eviscerate poor Cesar and label his methods cruel and ineffective. I don’t have a beef the Dog Whisperer. I think he has done enormous good in educating people to adopt, not buy their pups. And he has used his fame to promote the need to spay and neuter, and to quite good effect, it appears.

Millan was far from the first dog trainer to use television as a way to educate (and make money), by the way. “The Dog Whisperer” was long preceded by “Training Dogs the Woodhouse Way” a British show that first aired in 1980. Barbara Woodhouse will always be known for her signature command, “Walkies!” However, we can point to Millan for opening the floodgates to ever more experts on the air: “Lucky Dog” “Me or the Dog” and “At the End of My Leash” to name a few.

Now all you need to do is choose a method and then you, too, will know the “only” way to train a dog. (Check out our philosophy for how we care for our pup clients.)

HTF! (Heat, Ticks and Foxtails)

I’ll just say it: I despise summer. Mainly, it’s because I have Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder(The good news is now I get to join the majority of Californians who have some sort of disorder, syndrome or complicated issues). Most people slip into a deep funk when the days begin to shorten and cold and dark descend.  But that brilliant sun’s return, now shining an ungodly number of hours a day, hurts my eyes and anything over 73º grosses me out.

And for all of us dog owners, summer is not our friend; it limits our dogs’ safety and enjoyment in the great outdoors.

First, dogs left in cars. For fear of having their car stolen, most people only crack the windows when they leave their pooch and run out for “a few minutes.” But 70º in the sun means 90º inside within 10 minutes. Then you’ll have someone like me who comes to the rescue and shatters the window with her crowbar, which is legal in CaliforniaHowever, waiting with said crowbar for the idiot owner to return probably isn’t.

Next, there are ticks. We have already experienced a pretty bad tick season, but it will hit its zenith May through July, which means the risk of Lyme disease. Fortunately, only 5-10% of dogs exhibit symptoms such as swollen joints, difficulty breathing and in rare cases, kidney failure.

Foxtails: a summer concern for dog owners.

Lastly, the scourge of bristly foxtails (S. verticillata). Its spikelets create a weapon which, once embedded, slip smoothly into our dogs’ nostrils, ears and just about anywhere through the skin. While safely dormant during the winter, our lack of rain here on the West Coast from May through November desiccates foxtails and the tips fall off. Although I only walk my guests on paved surfaces, the little foxtail bastards still manage to launch their nuclear warheads in our path. Casually hitchhiking a ride with whatever poor doggie that happens along, foxtails are the bums, bullies and marauders of nature’s flora. And a pup-foxtail encounter can be expensive. They’re virtually impossible to remove without a visit to your vet and a sucker punch to your wallet.

So enjoy those hikes, vacations and beach visits with your dog and try not to think of the dangers that lurk nearby.

Dog Evolution: How a Wolf Ended Up on My Bed

Ever watch one of those nature shows about wolves, then look at your 10-pound fur baby and think “how did a wolf end up on my bed?” Your little fluff really doesn’t look a whole lot like its sleek, 100-pound ancestor. So, how did it get here?

There are competing theories and much academic infighting regarding the evolution of dogs. We actually don’t know exactly when, where and how Canis lupus morphed into the Canis familiaris we know today. It could be four, ten or as much as thirty thousand years ago. One theory even suggests that two different strains of dogs developed simultaneously: one in Europe and another in the Middle East.

Early Hunting Dogs
Early Hunting Dogs

What everyone does agree upon is that dogs were the first animals to be domesticated. Wolves began to resemble dogs within just a few generations: ears got floppier, muzzles shorter and paws became smaller. Early dogs also started to wag their tails. Along with physical traits we now value today, domesticated canines also developed the ability to read our gestures and facial expressions, which is helpful in training. Cave paintings from 9,000 BC indicate that dogs were trained as hunters, kept on leashes and the object of ceremonial burials.

Canaan Dog
Canaan Dog

Dog breeds are not a recent phenomenon. Archeologists believe the Canaan Dog is the result of selective breeding as early as 10,000 B.C.  Serious attention to creating the perfect dog began in the mid-19th century with the advent of dog breed clubs. To meet the demands of evolving breed standards, physical characteristics became ever more exaggerated and inbreeding was the only way to achieve this. Virtually every “purebred” dog today is the result of inbreeding.

While selective breeding has produced many desired traits, it also has resulted in some undesirable ones. Over 500 genetic abnormalities have been identified because of inbreeding, leading to pain and suffering for dogs and heartache for their owners. For example, 60% of golden retrievers die of cancer.  Twenty percent of German Shepherds develop hip dysplasia.  English bulldogs can no longer breed naturally and must rely on artificial insemination, and their lifespan has been reduced to only six to eight years.

Hopefully, the AKC and breed clubs will acknowledge the damage and change their standards. In the meantime, whether purebred or mutt, we can rejoice in the dog evolution. From the wild, to our backyard, to indoors and finally, to where they rightfully belong: on our bed.

Dog Names: A Rose By Any Other Name

Little Pup Lodger Rose
Fluffy little Rose is just as sweet by any name.

Shakespeare wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  He must have been talking about dogs, no matter their dog names.

As dogs became domesticated, 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, chances are that early homo sapiens didn’t use much of their limited brain power to think up names. But, who knows? Maybe cavemen whistled for Urg, Grunt or Arrgh to join them around the fire. 

What were some of the dog monikers throughout the millennia? We do know that dogs were bestowed names during the Roman Empire. Issa (Her Little Ladyship), Oresitrophos (Mountaineer), Skylax (Puppy) and Pamphagos  (Voracious) joined a long list. And Craugis (Yapper) was ahead of the trend sharing the bed with his owner.

Pet names like Ringwood, Nameless, Holdfast and Noisewise show up in historical records from medieval times

Seventeenth century names got really weird: Drunkard, Wanton and, in an early nod to Jay-Z, Rapper.

By the 19th century,  dogs kept as pets began to spread from royalty to the middle class.  They also responded to dog names we recognize today: Spot, Fido, Gunner and Nero.

Today, I could set the most delectable table with guests that have visited Little Pup Lodge. Soda, Cake, Cookie, Waffles, Oreo, Snickers, Coco, Candy, Hops (must have some ale) and Honey would attend. For a balanced diet, Fig and Zook (for Zucchini) would be there, too. Rose, Daisy, Lilly and Ivy would decorate the festivities. 

Little Pup Lodge has also seen its share of unusual dog names: Colona, Giggles, Luna and—perhaps my favorite—Robert-Short-For-Bob.

Whether a Little Pup Lodger has an unusual name or not, virtually every guest gets a nickname: Willy (Wonka), Sam (I Am), and Georgie (Porgie). Sometimes the nickname comes with a song: Duke (of Earl) and Finnegan (Begin Again). You get the drift.

Little Pup Lodger Finnegan
Finnegan, aka Begin Again, enjoys his custom nickname and listening to the related song.

Contact me to find out what your pup’s nickname and/or song is. It will be sweet, I promise.

The Difference Between Big Dogs and Small Dogs

Differences Between Big Dogs and Small Dogs
Big Dogs versus Small Dogs: The difference goes beyond size.

Everyone can see the obvious difference between big dogs and small dogs: their size.  But according to those who have owned both, the difference between big dogs and small dogs is more than size. Physical needs, personality and temperament all set little dogs apart from their hulking cousins.

Although no expert, I rely on what I’ve observed from close to a thousand different guests who have vacationed at Little Pup Lodge. My little guys don’t require the amount of exercise your basic Boxer or Labrador Retriever does. Most large dogs need room to run or plenty of long walks to stay healthy and sane. It especially saddens me to hear of owners who own working dogs like Border Collies and Australian shepherds, then leave them home all day. As my brother once said, “You need to give a working dog a job to do. Otherwise, they’ll create their own.” Like repurposing your drapes and pillows for chew toys.

Little Pup Lodge has a huge fenced yard for our guests to play in to their hearts’ content. We also include one or two walks a day whenever possible. For the most part however, they’re contented with being lapdogs, cuddling and begging for tummy rubs.

A difficult reality for many big dog owners is to accept that their companion will likely have a shorter life span than small dogs. Bull Mastiffs have an average lifespan of eight years and bulldogs only six, whereas a Chihuahua can live from 16 to 20 years. Fortunately, mixed-breeds large and small can be expected to live longer.

Stereotypes about small dogs’ behavior has been the subject of research studies and confirm what we already know. They’re generally more excitable, fearful, anxious, aggressive and harder to train than the big ones. I personally believe most of those qualities are because everyone and everything looks like a skyscraper or predator to them. As far as harder to train, do you really care if your Yorkie-poo pulls ahead of you? She or he is probably eight or nine pounds, not 80 or 90.  We believe dog walks should be where they can stop and smell the roses, not dragged behind. Otherwise, it’s a people-walk, determined by what the human wants.

And, yeah, they’re probably going to bark at big dogs that walk by. Remember, big guy predator, tiny guy prey. Given all that, we still know one thing for sure: Little Dogs Rock!

From Dogs to Humans: Zoonotic Diseases

zoonotic diseases transmitted from dogs to humans
Dogs can transmit diseases to their human companions.

Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be passed from animals to humans. When dog owners think of the types of disease that can spread from dogs to humans, the most terrifying virus comes to mind: rabies. This virus has a fascinating history, one well-documented in the book Rabid by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy. The authors note that in 300 B.C., Aristotle wrote about a disease we now refer to as rabies. Although early civilizations did not have a name for it and did not know about viruses, they recognized the connection between dog bites and the symptoms of rabies. Presenting themselves within a few days after being bitten, these symptoms included delirium, confusion, hallucinations and fear of water (hydrophobia), and proved virtually fatal to anyone infected. Since rabies vaccinations are required for all dogs in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control reports only one to three cases a year.

Rabies is not the only zoonotic disease that can spread from dogs (and other animals) to humans. They can also transmit ringworm, roundworm, Leptospirosis, Lyme disease and Giardia to name a few. The symptoms for Leptospirosis in humans, often contracted through a cut or abrasion, can be flu-like and can also be fatal. Lyme disease is not transmitted directly from dogs to humans, but dogs can bring disease-carrying ticks into the house, which then can find a human host.

The Leptospirosis and Lyme vaccines are not required for dogs, and are known to cause adverse reactions in some. Ask your veterinarian if these vaccinations are recommend and appropriate for yours. The best way to prevent zoonotic diseases is maintaining a regular vaccination schedule for your pup and maintaining good hygiene (e.g., washing your hands after handling your dog). You could also try not kissing your dog. Yeah, right.