Tag Archives: Dogs

No… you can’t pet my dog — but thank you so much for asking…

Do you want to pet “all” the dogs? I do! Do you believe that all nice dogs love to be petted and approached if you approach them the right way? Have you always loved dogs and believe that all good dogs love you?

I confess. This was me until a couple of years ago. If you have read my previous blogs, you know that I have a young dog that I rescued 10/2015 that is currently leash-reactive. My hope is that she will not always be reactive on leash. I have been doing my very best to tackle every behavioral issue that crops up with my Betty. I have learned a lot since I brought her home. We have made some definite progress too. We have handled digging and nuisance barking. I train her daily. Lately, we have gotten to the point that we can train pretty close in proximity to distractions. I use the engaged/disengage game to desensitize her to stimulating distractions and she is getting to the point where she can watch a bicyclist ride by and she will look at me instead of lunging or barking at the bike. She does well at the park when we go to practice around kids too. I have grandchildren that are quite happy to go to the park so Betty can train. They are very helpful. I have been working very hard to help her learn how to be calm. But, you may be wondering, what does this have to do with petting dogs?

The short answer: everything… Many dogs are reactive, timid, or shy around new people. I love dogs and I do want to pet them all. They don’t all want me to pet them though. Some, like my Betty, get way to excited by the prospect of a new person. She is what the trainers call a “social butterfly”. She is also beautiful and fluffy. She looks very happy and sweet — and she is. More people want to meet Betty because she is especially pretty. But she is more than just a pretty face. She gets frustrated when someone new is petting her and they stop. She reacts by barking and lunging — which looks aggressive. One minute you are petting her and she is loving it. The next (when you pull away), she is barking like a crazy thing. It isn’t attractive at all. This started a few months ago. When I am prepared to practice greetings, I have treats handy. I keep the greetings very short. And, she is treated when the petting stops and she remains calm. We just started this because this problem just started… When we are not prepared (like the first potty break of the morning before I have had my coffee and I am stumbling around with my eyes barely open), it is easier to just have our walk and not greet people. She is in training so she is not proofed for greeting everybody all the time. She is also learning that she doesn’t get to greet everyone that she sees. Sometimes I am in a hurry and I have somewhere to go. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Our trainer told us to practice polite non-greetings and then we will graduate to polite greetings. When I am prepared and mindful, this dog does everything right. When I am not paying attention, have my hands full, or am in a hurry, that is when she misbehaves. I know that I can do better. With more training and time, I know she can do better too. Some dogs are very fearful of new people. Some have been horribly abused and may never want strangers walking up to them and petting them. It isn’t you. It is them. For others, it is just their personality. You can train them to accept greetings politely — but they may never really love it. Just like some people are more introverted than others, dogs do have varying degrees of sociability. Service dogs need to work for their owners and should never be bothered or touched by strangers. Okay, but what do you do if you still want to pet the dogs?

Ask. Please

The owners usually know their dog’s temperament and training level. If you ask to pet someone’s dog AND THEY SAY YES (this is also a prerequisite), then pet the dog. Don’t pet them too long. Don’t get in their faces or be rough. You are a total stranger to this animal. Animals need personal space to feel comfortable just like we do. Never. Never. Never just walk up to someone and start petting their dog. A perfectly calm dog can get freaked out in a matter of seconds if a stranger walks up to them and starts handling them. It seems like common sense to me now — but I have been the person that wanted to pet pretty dogs that I did not know.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

Maya Angelou


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

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What you are doing now and what to do instead if you are terrified of dogs

Are you, or is someone you know terrified of dogs? Do dogs single you out and bark at you? Lunge at you? Do you have kids that are afraid of dogs and want to help them know how to behave around dogs to be safer? People often say that dogs can smell fear. I don’t know about that. But, I do know that there are common things that people afraid of dogs do when approached by a dog that I can spot every time. These fearful movements trigger barking and lunging in many dogs.

I live in a crowded area that is very dog friendly. Even so, not every neighbor loves dogs. Some are visibly terrified of dogs. This body language is very clear to me and startling as well. I can only imagine how it seems to a dog that is much more attuned to pay attention to body language. This behavior scares many dogs. . Many children are also very fearful of dogs. Being aware of your own body language can really help improve how dogs react to you and your kids if you are afraid of dogs.

  1. When you see a dog on a leash, do you stop suddenly with a terrified look often accompanied by a sudden gasp for air and throwing your hands up while staring at the dog. People actually do this. Don’t. Instead, when you see a dog and you are startled or overcome with fear, turn around and go the other direction if the dog is leashed and walking with it’s owner. Or, if you have enough room to pass without the dog lunging at you, keep walking normally.
  2. If the dog is off-leash, back away without turning your back on the dog. If the dog approaches you off-leash, yell “no”, do not run. Do not turn your back on the dog. Teach your children to be a tree and to yell “no” to the dog. Breathe normally. Do not stare at the dog. Look away. Staring at a dog is aggressive as far as the dog is concerned. Create some distance from the dog if you can.
  3. Do not run or cycle closely by a dog from behind. You do not want to startle a dog. If you must pass a dog and dog owner, call out and let them know that you are passing (on the left is the standard side to pass). Give them as much room as possible. If you cannot pass at a safe distance, wait until you have enough distance to pass comfortably. Teach your children to not dart past dogs and teach them to give a safe distance.
  4. When you pass someone walking a dog, do you pass tentatively while staring? Tentative, abnormally slow walking while staring gets a dog’s attention. It is aggressive body language to dogs. Don’t move like you are stalking a dog. Keep moving normally. Don’t stare. Keep a safe distance. This happened to me during my morning walk this morning. A young boy came running around a corner and practically ran into us. I kept my dog calm. That was our first “win”. Then there boy jumped up the nearby stairs, stopped abruptly and leaned over the rails to stare at us. My dog tensed up immediately in response to his unusual movements. Don’t do this. Teach your kids how to be safe around dogs.
  5. Do you or your kids shriek when you see a dog? If you think about it, that is pretty scary to a dog. Please don’t shriek. I have been walking my dog minding my own business with a calm dog as someone saw us, got startled and started shrieking. Of course, my dog reacts to this with barking and lunging. If you or your kids are so scared that you want to scream, please cross the street or go far around us.
  6. Do you take small fearful children to the dog park? I see this happen. Don’t do it. Dog parks are for dogs. They are not for small children or people that are obviously afraid of dogs.
  7. If you see someone walking their dog on a retractable leash while texting, do not pass closely. Retractable leashes break and give a dog too much room. It can take too long to regain control of the dog. The owner may not have enough time to pull their dog back in if they are oblivious to their surroundings. This is common behavior with retractable leashes. About 1% of the people using them are safely doing so.

I believe that dog owners are responsible to keep their dogs under control and as well behaved as possible. Dogs should be leashed in public for their safety and the safety of others unless they are at an off-leash park, private property, or are a highly trained service dog that is working. But, dogs sometimes escape their yards or owners. They shouldn’t — but it does happen. If you are afraid and can be aware of the message that you send to dogs through your body language, you can help reduce the risk of being attacked with these tips.
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Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

Dear oblivious dog owner with the retractable leash…

I am a normal dog owner that also does pet sitting and dog walking for a living. I am doing the best I can with my dog. I am usually pretty good with dogs too. It seems like as soon as we get one thing under control, another issue pops up. I work with my dog every single day and often wish she gave me less to tackle. She is a smart, active, sensitive dog that I love. Some of my neighbors are making it really tough on us right now though and I am pretty frustrated.

Before I rant about my neighbors, let me share a little about my dog, Betty. When I first adopted Betty almost two years ago, she had no training except crate training and potty training from the rescue group. She was a digger, a nuisance barker, and a chaser of anything that ran or moved quickly. She has made huge progress. She doesn’t dig anymore. She is quiet most of the time. She is great with kids. She is wonderful with elderly people. She has always been good around other dogs. She is a sweetheart of a dog. We have completed group obedience classes and are at an intermediate level currently. We have had private sessions with a trainer as well. Two things happened at the same time that I think contributed to her current leash reactivity: she matured (maturation can sometimes have an effect on reactivity), and we moved from a quiet suburban neighborhood with lots of space to the city with crowds of people walking dogs everywhere at all hours. I am just going to say it. I hate retractable leashes. Hate them! They are a lazy way to walk your dog and give your dog too much room to get into trouble- which happens very quickly when you are not paying attention. They break. The locking mechanisms often fail. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked a dog and the retractable leash was broken. They make it hard to control your pet. They wrap around ankles and fingers and can cause injury and even amputation of fingers.

So, as I have already mentioned, right now I am working on leash reactivity that has gotten worse after moving to a crowded city. I have to walk my dog several times per day and neighbors with their dogs and retractable leashes seem to be oblivious to their effect on other people and other people’s dogs. Here is an example of what happens regularly here. Just this morning, I was walking out to my car to get something. Took my dog with me because I just woke up and she needed to go potty. Figured I would get both done at the same time. I’m working on loose leash walking and she is doing well. It is quiet. I am approaching the stairs to get to the parking area when I see a neighbor with a little dog. No problem, I will take Betty over in to the dirt area right before the stairs and this will give us about 10′ away from the passing dog on leash. I have been practicing with her daily so I know how much space we need before reaching her normal threshold of excitability. There is no exit from here -which was a big mistake on my part in retrospect. I am just trying to create some space while they pass. I have my treat pouch. I start to give Betty treats. She is staying quiet but is noticing the other dog. Then the other owner starts RUNNING straight for us. Uh oh. I wasn’t expecting that.. Now I don’t have time to turn around and go the other direction and my dog is definitely excited — but still quiet. I am loading her up with treats as I have no exit plan. The other owner and her dog on a retractable leash reach us and STOP. They don’t pass and continue with their business. THEY JUST STOP AND WATCH US! WTH??? Now, my dog cannot control her excitement anymore and she starts barking and lunging and acting nuts..I was as far away as I could get from this lunatic. Why? Would you run to a stranger with a strange larger dog and just stop and stare?? I really don’t get it. My 5 year old grand daughter knows you don’t run up to strange dogs and or people! This is typical behavior around here. It has been very hard to play engage/disengage here because they let their kids run up to us and kick dogs too. That happened to my mom and her chihuahua. The parent then told the girl to leave the “bad” dog alone. Bad dog? Seriously? If you run up to me and kick me, I would defend myself too!

Anyway, I am digressing. I have read everything that I can find to work on leash reactivity around other dogs. My dog is not aggressive. She regularly socializes with other dogs and never has a problem when off leash. Our problems occur on leash. She started out being reactive to everything while on leash (bicycles, cars, joggers, kids, cats, squirrels, bunnies, other people and other dogs). She is a border collie and her herding instincts are strong. Now, we are working on this last thing that she is reactive to: other dogs on leash. She can walk past many dogs when we are in a crowded setting. If a dog barks at her while on leash, she will bark and lunge. It is the most important issue that we are tackling now. Whenever I walk her and leash her up, I have treats on hand. We practice the engage/disengage game every single day. We create distance when we see other dogs. We turn around if we cannot create distance. Sometimes we turn around and their is another dog right behind us. So, we cross the street or look for a way to create distance. I sit out front with her and load her up with treats when she lets people walk by and is calm. She is improving slowly in spite of my neighbors. I don’t want to use punishment or e-collars in this case because she acts out of excitement. The current protocol for animal training according to the latest science on the subject discourages punishment except as a last resort because it can contribute to aggression. I don’t think I am there yet.

If you have a dog that will walk with you and mind it’s own business, that is wonderful and I am jealous. Please, please, please do not assume that all dogs can do that. I hope that mine will be like that very soon. But, she is not there yet. I walk dogs for a living and I will share that many dogs are not calm around other dogs or people on leash. It is a common issue. If you see someone turn around, cross the street, or walk off the path to give you space, please just walk past them calmly without causing any extra excitement They probably don’t want to meet you at that moment or have their dog petted. We will add polite greetings to our training once she can handle proximity on leash. It is a process. She is not a bad dog. She needs a little space.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

BASIC POTTY TRAINING FOR ANY AGE DOG

Do you have a dog that is potty trained “most” of the time? Maybe it “hides” accidents sometimes? Thinking about rescuing an older dog? Or do you have a new puppy and you want to potty train them correctly from the start?

Let me tell you a story about a relative of mine. She loves her dog. She takes care of him the best way that she know how to care for him. She would never do anything to intentionally harm him. She has sort of potty trained him to go on pee pads sometimes. He has some accidents — a lot of accidents. Sometimes she says it is because his stomach is upset. Or “he hardly ever does that. I just don’t know what got into him.” I do! HE ISN’T POTTY TRAINED. She has never had a dog that was completely potty trained and she doesn’t really know how or why. You can’t train a dog if you don’t know how. If you have a dog that is not quite trustworthy or even a dog that is not trained at all, the process of getting them trained is the same:

  1. Decide whether you want your dog to pee/poop inside the house or outside. If you want your dog to think it is okay to go potty inside the house, you can go ahead with pee pads. If you want your dog to go potty outside, DO NOT USE PEE PADS AT ALL. Pee pads teach a dog that it is okay to go potty indoors. Do not use pee pads as a drop cloth and hope you will figure out where the next mistake is going to occur. You can put down pee pads in every room and the dog will go somewhere else anyway. The dog I mentioned did just that. She had pee pads in every bedroom and the dog went poo SIX times in the dining room without letting anybody know that he even wanted out. It was normal poo. He was not sick. She cleaned it up and took him on a long walk. Then once they were home, he went in the dining room and did it again! Not once did he use a pee pad. I do not want my dog using any part of my house as a toilet so I will only include how to teach your dog how to go outside. This is not a judgement. It is your dog. You can teach it whichever way suits your lifestyle best. If you don’t mind having your dog poo and pee wherever and whenever he/she wants, then by all means, don’t bother potty training them. In the interest of full disclosure, I prefer dogs peeing and pooping outside so that is what I can share and help to teach. I have never taught a dog to go potty indoors. I feel that using pee pads some of the time is confusing to dogs if you want them to go potty outdoors most of the time. Don’t confuse your dog.
  2. Whenever you cannot monitor your dog, they need to be crated. Crate training will speed up the potty training process. I have covered crate training in a previous article.
  3. Tethering your dog to you will also speed up the process. You can easily tether your dog to you by fastening their leash to your waist or a belt loop. This is especially effective for dogs that seem to go unexpectedly or “right in front of you”. If your dog starts sniffing around, it is easier to notice if they are tethered to you. If your dog starts to sniff around, scoop it up and take it outside. If it starts to go potty, scoop it up and take it outside. Yes, this can be messy. Don’t wait for them to finish. Do not scold, yell, swat, or smack them. DO NOT RUB THEIR NOSE IN IT. NO ROLLED UP NEWSPAPER. Those old methods that our parents used have been proven to not be the most effective. You will end up with a dog that is frightened to go potty around you and they will be more likely to hide going potty under tables or they won’t want to go potty while with you on a walk. Don’t shame your dog. This is not their fault. It is your responsibility to train your dog to know how to behave. If you don’t know how, here is some help. Here is an article from UC Davis that talks about the negative effects of punishment on dogs and why positive methods yield better results.
  4. Clean up accidents with a good enzyme cleaner like Nature’s Miracle that removes the scent completely. Masking the scent is not enough. Do not make a big fuss when you are cleaning it up. Try to clean it up when the dog is not looking if possible. Ammonia based cleaners will attract more accidents. Vinegar is often recommended but I have had mixed results with using vinegar. Use a good enzyme cleaner for best results. Nature’s Miracle is a favorite of pet sitters and it is easy to find.
  5. Take your dog out frequently (every couple of hours at first) and take them where you want them to go potty. Praise them and give them treats when they go. Walk them long enough. Many people do everything right except they shorten the duration of the walks. Huge mistake. An extra 5 or 10 minutes can make all the difference.
  6. If you are going to just let your dog out in the backyard, will have to watch them carefully to make sure that they have gone potty and not just played around in the yard. I like to take mine out on a leash to the potty area first. I unleash them for play after I know they have gone potty when I am training them to go potty outside. That way I know that they have done their business.
  7. If your dog is trying to get your attention, do not assume that they want to play or are just restless. They may be trying to let you know that they need to use the toilet. I have made this mistake with my own dog. She often seems overly friendly when she has to go potty.
  8. If you want your dog to let you know that they need to go potty in a more obvious way, you can teach them toring a bell to go out.
  9. Be consistent and patient. Your dog’s success will be directly related to your willingness to be consistent.
  10. Don’t make excuses and live in denial. Either your dog is potty trained or they aren’t. If a dog is sick and can’t hold it, that is something that needs to be addressed. UTIs, parasites and upset stomachs happen. Always rule out medical conditions first.

If you have a puppy and are starting from scratch, this is not going to take very long. I have potty trained puppies in a few days. Older dogs that have been allowed to have accidents, have used pee pads, or have not been trained will take longer because they will have bad habits to overcome. The longer you wait and the more you let it slide, the longer it will take for your dog to learn the correct way to go potty. As long as the dog is healthy and has no medical or psychological conditions that cause incontinence, they can and will learn. They are not bad dogs. They just need proper effective training. Eddy, I am talking to you!!


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

Things dog trainers do with their dogs every day


Ever wonder what dog trainers do with their dogs every day? A trainer’s dog is their business card. How their dog behaves speaks much louder than anything they post on a web page or may speak. I asked several trainers what they do every day with their dogs and they all said almost exactly the same things. Many trainers have more than one dog. One is frequently a demo dog (this is the dog that goes to class and seems so very well behaved) and they often will also take on dogs with more behavioral issues (because they feel up to the challenge). Consistent daily routines are the key to well adjusted pets.

  1. Walks — Trainers walk their dogs. Most spend time on-leash. Many work off-leash as well. Trainers realize that there is a huge difference between letting a dog run around the backyard versus taking the dog on a walk. Walks are bonding and training opportunities. They incorporate sniff and focus exercises, heel, and loose leash walking. Walks are also used to desensitize reactive dogs.
  2. Training — Trainers train every day. Most only spend 5–10 minutes of formal training per day. But, that doesn’t mean that the dogs can do whatever they want the rest of the day. Training opportunities present themselves all day. Using the commands during daily life is why we train after all. Most dogs enjoy learning and training for short periods of time.
  3. Socializing — Trainers take their dogs as many safe places as possible. They go to class, run errands, visit family, and many go to dog parks a couple times a week.
  4. Play — Trainers play with their dogs every day. Play is fun and another opportunity to learn for dogs. Agility, flirt poles, nose work, fetch, tug, puzzles, and games like hide and seek all teach different things. Play is also another enjoyable way to bond with your dog.



Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

If you are having trouble with loose leash walking, you are probably doing this…


Getting a young active dog to stop pulling on walks can be challenging. Some dogs “get it” right away. I have never had one of those dogs though. I tend to like active breeds so I have had some major “pullers”. The most important thing that causes this is also the simplest.

Consistency is more important than the technique that you use to curb pulling. If you let your dog pull for the first 5–10 minutes of a walk to “let them burn off some steam first”, you are telling the dog that it is okay to pull some of the time. Since they want to pull naturally, they will be confused and constantly test you to see if this is one of those times that pulling is okay.


I have been guilty of this myself. Sometimes, I want to get to the car with my dog and not have to stop 50 times on the way to the car because my dog is pulling. I frequently take her to work with me and the car is about 5 minutes from the house. Sometimes if she is pulling, it can take 10 minutes. I don’t want to wait. I get impatient. Sometimes I am just tired and don’t feel like “training”. I just want to go for a nice walk. I got Betty to be my running partner and all the pulling was really frustrating in the beginning. After having her for a year, she was still pulling. I had to evaluate what I was doing to allow this to continue for so long. She is a very smart dog, so I know it isn’t because she can’t learn. I realized that I was not being 100% consistent. I let her pull sometimes. I didn’t stop EVERY time she pulled. I didn’t turn around EVERY time. I did it most of the time. It wasn’t good enough. There are a few different things that you can do to help teach a dog to stop pulling and walk on a loose leash. If you don’t do them every minute that you are walking your dog, your dog is not going to completely stop pulling. At least none of mine every did.

  • Here are some ways to help train your dog to stop pulling on a leash:
  • When they pull, stop walking. Do not start walking again until there is slack on the leash.
  • Turn around each and every time that your dog pulls. Yes, you will look crazy. Your dog will figure out that the only way to get going again is to pay attention to you.
  • Get a no-pull harness like a gentle leader or a halti front-clip harness. It makes a huge difference in training. You can’t substitute a harness for training. It will definitely speed up the process though.
  • Take regular daily walks. If you live in a house and are just letting your dog run around and go potty in the backyard, the pulling during walks is going to take a lot longer to remedy. Most dogs enjoy a couple of good walks per day or more. The more often you walk, the more practice you will get and your dog will learn faster. If your walk sporadically, it is going to take a lot longer.
  • Be patient and consistent — really consistent.

Once I got consistent, making to sure to not miss any walks, and required good manners the entire time, my dog got a lot better. It is amazing the results we can get when we examine what we, the owners, are doing.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

What to do when you want a dog or cat, -but can’t keep a pet long-term (that will save more lives)…

Lemonade
  • Do you want a dog or cat — but it isn’t the right time because you’re housing is temporary? Maybe you are a military family and you move every few years? –
  • Perhaps, you want a pet and you have the time to spend with them — but you aren’t really sure you can afford the pet (food, vet bills etc)?
  • Not sure how to pick a dog? You don’t really know what breed will be best for your family?
  • Maybe you have small children or a spouse and you are not sure how they will react and adjust around a pet and you don’t want to make a long-term commitment yet?

There is something that you can do. It is usually completely free and there is no long-term commitment…

Both of these dogs are purebred and rescue animals

You can foster dogs and cats. Pet rescue centers always need foster homes to save more animals. All ages, breeds and sizes end up in shelters and rescue centers. If you are not sure about breeds, you can foster different breeds to get a better idea about what different breeds are like. While breed plays a role in how a dog behaves, temperament and personalities will all be different. Training is extremely important in how well behaved a dog will ultimately be. Fostering a great way to get an idea of what it is like to bring a pet home without the commitment. As with anything related to live animals, there are always risks. Here are a few things to consider before signing up:

  • Animals that have been surrendered to shelters are often fearful because they do not understand why they just lost their families There is an adjustment period of days or weeks before you will see the animals true relaxed nature. Some have been abused or neglected and they will need extra care.
  • Many have received little to no training. Some may not be house-trained. You will probably want to do a little training to be able to enjoy having the dog in the house or go on a nice walk. You don’t have to be a trainer or have a lot of experience. When I adopted Betty, she was crate-trained and house-trained. She had a very sweet temperament but had not been exposed to many common things like bicycles, joggers, or ceiling fans. These things scared her at first. If you h ave trained pets previously, the training that you do with them can make them more adoptable and save them.
  • Most rescue organizations will provide food and medical care for the animals. Most will spay or neuter the animals. They usually also micro-chip the pets. These costs are usually covered by donations and the adoption fees of the people that adopt the animals.
  • The rescue group will have an idea regarding the pet’s temperament. If you are inexperienced, you can start with an “easy” foster pet. There are pets of all sizes and ages that need a safe place to stay while they are waiting for their forever people.
  • There are breed-specific rescue groups. If you have always wanted a certain breed — but have no experience with the breed, this is a wonderful way to get to know the breed while helping to save a life. I adopted my dog from a Border Collie Rescue group. Most breeds have similar groups nationwide within the United States.
  • Fostering may lead to adopting. You may foster an animal that captures your heart. This is your greatest risk. You may find one that you simply cannot give to someone else.

Fostering is a great way to have a pet temporarily. The more foster homes for animals in need, the more animals are saved.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

The Routine Thing That Your Dog Does Every Day That Could Be Fatal

It was a day like any other in the summer of 2007. I got home early (around 7;30) and was greeted by my dog with her same happy attitude that she always had. I loved coming home to her. I poured her dinner from the kibble bag and went to check the mailbox. Something odd caught my attention when I looked at my dog. She seemed uncomfortable and really BIG.

When did that happen? HOW did that happen. I was stunned for a second. Then, after shaking the confusion out of my head, I realized that she was in real trouble. I just didn’t know what had happened. I called the Vet. They were closed. I called the emergency dog clinic and described the very strange symptoms: Huge belly (like watermelon size), panting, whale eyes, obvious discomfort, pacing, and reddish gums. I was instructed to hang up and rush her to the clinic. She was 90 lbs and I was home alone with her. I hoped she could walk. She could — but barely. When I arrived, we we taken to the back immediately and I was asked to wait outside. I was told that she had Gastric-Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)-more commonly known as bloat. What was this? I had never heard of this before. Basically, it is when the stomach twists and can cut off circulation and kill the animal very painfully.They tubed her and were hoping for the best. Surgery during the night might be needed if the tubing didn’t work. They told me that the bill could be $3500 and she might not survive. Did I still want to proceed? I had a commission check in my purse for that exact amount. Yup. I wanted to take a chance and try to save her. So, I went home with a lot of anxiety and questions. I started trying to figure out what I did wrong. Here is what I discovered are the things that put your dog at risk for bloat:

  1. While bloat can occur in any dog, large deep chested dogs are more at risk for bloat. (Nikki was large and had a deep chest)
  2. Rapid eating or drinking. Have you ever had a Labrador that didn’t eat as fast as they could? They make puzzle bowls to slow them down. (Nikki always ate too fast)
  3. Eating one large meal per day. This was the accepted feeding recommendation for adult animals when I had Nikki. Most recommend twice per day feedings nowadays.
  4. A dry food only diet. (Her food was dry)
  5. Heavy exercise after a meal (she didn’t have time to run around after that meal)
  6. Anxious or stressed-out personality. (yup for Nikki)
  7. Abnormal gastric motility (genetics)
  8. Hormone secretions (genetics again)
  9. Male gender (My dog was a female and it still happened)
  10. Being underweight (My dog was not underweight)
  11. Advanced age (not in our case)

Nikki did not have all of these. She did have #1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. She could have had #7 and 8 without my knowledge.

I was lucky. The tube that they used to untwist her stomach worked. They did not need to do surgery. They warned me that once a dog has bloat, they are prone to have a repeat episode. Nikki never had another episode of bloat. We were very fortunate. I could afford her care at the time and she recovered. Many people cannot afford the vet bill and dogs die from this. I hope you never see what this looks like first-hand. Know the symptoms though. Take precautions where possible. Taking quick action can mean the difference between life and death to your dog. All of the pictures in this article were taken after Nikki recovered.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

The Great Gift That Rescue Groups Give Pet Owners


Nikki was a Labrador Retriever puppy that was brought home by my ex-husband one day while we were still married. She was about 8 weeks old and super cute. He brought her home as a surprise. I love dogs and we didn’t have a dog because we both had agreed that we moved too much because of his job. A co-worker had told him that if he didn’t find a home for her that day that he would hit her in the head with a shovel and bury her in the woods. Of course we kept her. She became my dog very quickly. I fed her and trained her. I walked her. When our marriage started falling apart several years later, she was my companion. When he would yell at me or get angry, she would sit at my feet between us. She was protective of me. I loved her. After my divorce, I moved to California to be closer to family.


Nikki came with me. My ex wanted nothing to do with her. I went through a seriously depressing period in my life during that first year after I divorced. I was running out of money and I had a job that I worked 14 hour days with one day off per week. Nikki had been a house dog. I took a job a few hours away from family and Nikki stayed with my very pregnant daughter while I found a house to rent. Nikki joined me after a few weeks. She was stressed out from being left behind and all the changes. While I was at work the first day, she ate the metal mini blinds in the living room of the home that I was renting. I figured this out when I came home at lunch to check on her and let her out. I didn’t have a crate back then. People were just starting to take their dogs to doggy-day cares — but I couldn’t afford it. I didn’t even know about crates. I couldn’t tie her outside. I didn’t have a kennel. The backyard was not fenced completely. The second day she tried to eat her way out of the front door and damaged much of the door frame. I tried putting her in the backyard next and she ran away two days in a row. I had to leave work to get her from the local pound — twice. I had a terrible boyfriend at the time that was completely wrong for me. Dating too soon after my divorce was just one of many bad choices I made that year. The job didn’t work out. The boyfriend left (thank goodness). I ran out of money and I couldn’t afford my rent. My son had just joined the Navy. My daughter had just had her first baby and had moved to Washington with her husband that had just joined the Navy too. I had no friends or family that could or would take Nikki. I didn’t know where I was going to live or work. If I could have thought of ANY way to keep that dog, I would have kept her. Looking back, I probably should have stayed in California. I ended up moving back eight years later anyway. I didn’t have the benefit of hindsight back then though. But, at the time, I felt like my best choice was to move back to Arkansas where I knew people in the car business (my line of work at the time), and could afford the cheaper cost of living (my rent went from 2000 per month to 800 per month). I knew I could work there and afford it. I also knew that I would be living out of a very cheap hotel for the first couple of months and dogs were not allowed back then. I made the choice to find my dog another home. I hated the idea. I couldn’t think of any other way though. I found a lab rescue group and they took my dog. A week later, they told me that they had found a retired couple living near the beach that wanted Nikki. I still miss that dog. I still feel guilty about having to give her up. My children were mad at me. I was mad at myself. It wasn’t a decision that I made lightly for a dog that had been there for me for 7 years. I received a very kind letter from them telling me what a great well behaved dog she was and how happy they were to have her with pictures of their grandchildren playing on the beach with Nikki. I know that Nikki had a better life with them than she would have had with me post-divorce. So, when I hear about someone that has to make that choice, I go a little easier on them. Many people are very quick to judge anyone that says that they need to re-home their pet. I have been that person. It was not my first choice. It was my last resort. It was a terrible decision for me. It was the right thing for my dog though. I hope I never have to make a decision like that again. I am glad that there was a rescue group to help me. Five years later, when my circumstances had changed, and I could be a good pet owner again, I chose a rescue group for this reason. I have been on both sides of the rescue process. I don’t judge Betty’s former owner for surrendering her. He did the best thing for her if he could not care for her. I am thankful.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

The Dark Side Of Being Buried With Your Pets

I wrote about estate planning yesterday. It started a conversation that I was not expecting. I did not realize that a growing trend is to be buried with your pet. In the last few years, laws have been changed in the UK and New York (among others) to allow the burial of cremated pet remains with human remains. Several articles have been written about this lately. On the surface, it seems like a sentimental notion. What is not mentioned is very dark in my opinion and was shared by friends that work in veterinarian offices across the country.

Do you know that people are putting directives in place to euthanize their healthy pets to be buried with them? Yes. You read that right. They are putting in their wills that when they die, to euthanize their pets so that they may be buried with their owners. Some of these people have older pets and believe that their animals are better off dead that with someone new. In fact, convenience euthanasia is common. Thankfully, not all veterinarians perform euthanasia on healthy pets. But, unfortunately, many do. The thinking is that if the owner wants their pets to die, at least they can die in peace rather than be possibly tortured and neglected by owners that are “stuck” with them. Animals are property by law in most areas. But, these stories are animal cruelty in my opinion. I have heard stories where a woman brought a cat to the office and was embarrassed that the cat had fleas so she requested euthanasia for the cat. Another had a puppy with a broken leg and couldn’t afford the medical bill so they requested euthanasia. It is no wonder that veterinarians have higher than average suicide rates.

Some veterinarians work with rescue groups and have the owners sign the pet over to them so they can coordinate with a rescue group to save the pet and place it with an adoptive family that can afford medical care. Many people refuse to place their pets up for adoption though. They would rather euthanize their pets than have them re-homed. I don’t understand this kind of “love”. I don’t want my pet killed so it can be buried with me. If I was unable to care for my pet and had no family or friends that could care for my pet, I would stipulate in my will that my pet be put up for adoption. Many seniors do not want a young active dog but would like to have a senior pet. I know when I get much older, I will not be able to handle a large active dog like I have now. I plan to have a dog in my family for as long as I can care for it properly. If the time ever comes that I cannot care for a dog in my home, I will find it another home. Things happen that are out of our control. We may have a dog that is aggressive or has behavior challenges that are beyond what we can handle. Thank goodness we have other options. There are trainers and rescue groups that are devoted to saving as many pet lives as possible. At some point, a pet may be too sick or injured to recover and euthanasia may be kinder and more merciful. If you can’t manage your pet or care for it, please try a rescue group before euthanasia if the pet is healthy. My birthday is this month. I am donating my birthday to Best Friend Animal Society. They are a group dedicated to saving the lives of as many animals as possible.

I don’t think that anyone gets a pet with the mindset of not being able to take care of the pet. Sometimes a pet turns out to be more than you can handle or dangerous. You can lose a job or home unexpectedly, get divorced, get sick or injured. Whatever the reason and in spite of good intentions, you may need to re-home a beloved pet. I don’t understand how you could have a healthy and balanced pet killed because you don’t want it to live with someone else though.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.