Growing up, our dogs never had any issues. Or so that I remember. Then, I grow up , have a dog of my own and we’ve taken more trips to the vet and had more reactions to shots, allergies, treats, etc. than I can remember.
No one ever said Lola was low-maintenance and she constantly proves that…
Every spring and fall Lola’s allergies start up. It starts with red bumps in between her paw pads that then swell and grow. She constantly is trying to lick her paws.
The first year we immediately made a vet appointment thinking it was a yeast infection as she also developed some darkening around the tip of her nail. $200 later it was not a yeast infection and rather, an allergic reaction that became infected.
Live and learn, we now are able to keep them under control with a few different things that we keep around the house.
Here are some tips on treatments and at home remedies that have worked best for us.
1. Skin spray.
It’s called Richard’s Organics Skin Spray. This stuff is great, it has tea tree oil, coconut oil, witch hazel and other goodness packaged inside this spray bottle. We purchased this for about $9 at Chuck & Don’s pet outlet in Minnesota.
Spray it on clean paws and make sure they don’t lick it off (at least let it sit for a little while).
2. Dog booties.
I know it’s a pain, but come this time of year, we slip these little socks (called Pawks) on Lola’s feet before going outside. I recommend these or the balloon-looking shoes known as Pawz.
3. Coconut oil (virgin).
Coconut-everything is sooo popular right now, but for good reason. It has many uses and remedies. We put a scoop on their food, I rub it on Lola’s paws and in between her pads, then put it on my hair. Really. Just not in that order.
4. Epsom salts.
1 cup salts + 1 gallon of water + Lola’s feet. Two times a day.
5. Self-adhesive wrap
Four bucks at Walgreens and this is one of my favorites. The booties work well for quick trips outside, but if we’re going out for a longer walk, I wrap her paws with this as it is more comfortable and natural for her to walk, plus it stays on incredibly well.
6. Benadryl (25mg)
Lola is a tiny little pocket pittie at about 35-40 lbs and I give her half a tablet a day if her reaction worsens.
Does your dog have allergies?! What do you do for them?
It hit me the other day when I was talking to someone who wasn’t a “dog nerd” (yes, I’m categorizing myself as a dog nerd) that not everyone is sure how animal rescues operate. So while this may be common sense to many of my friends, I think there are many people that can benefit from this little inside scoop. Just as I’ve learned with everything in life, you can never assume. Plus, I figure the more information we can get out there about rescuing and adoption animals – the better.
Much of this information I’ve learned from volunteering and fostering with a rescue in Minnesota, Secondhand Hounds, and I’ve also consulted with another friend of mine who is a director of an animal rescue.
So here’s the low down:
What does an animal rescue do exactly?
Animal rescues are essentially the ‘middle man’ for dogs, cats, and other animals that for whatever reason, do not have a home. They network the animals and find them temporary (foster) homes until they are adopted into a permanent home. Some rescues have limited shelter space for a small number of animals if they cannot find a foster immediately.
Is there something wrong with the animals that are in rescue? Why are they in rescue?
Dogs do not always end up in a shelter or rescue because they have some kind of freakish disease and no one wants them (yes, I’ve been asked this). So no, not necessarily. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. They are just like any dog you buy or adopt. You may not always know their past and you may want to get a DNA test done if you are concerned about the breed, but being in rescue does NOT automatically indicate that there is anything ‘wrong’ with the animal – their lives just didn’t have as fortunate of a start as others.
Are these animals “put” in rescue because there is something wrong with them? No, they did not choose to be in rescue, they’ve just somehow ended up there because of one of the following: they were abandoned, they were surrendered by their original owner, they were lost and their owner never came to claim them from the shelter, they were seized from a hoarding situation, they came from a breeder that was shut down, they were saved from a dog fighting operation, etc. These are just a handful of the reasons that a dog may have come to be in rescue.
Shelters and rescues have a great selection of adult dogs, puppies, and even purebreds for adoption. According to ArfDogs.org, on average, purebreds account for about 25 to 30 percent of a shelter’s dog population. And the fees are usually much less than the purchase price from a pet store or breeder. Plus your dog comes vaccinated and spayed or neutered.
Where do rescues get their animals from?
Rescues have animals come in from many different places. Here are just a few:
– Animal shelters
– Owner surrenders
– Craigslist or other online sites (There are many dangers of ‘selling’ a dog for a small re-homing fee online)
What is the difference between an animal shelter & a rescue?
An animal rescue makes sure that the animal finds a family to adopt the animal. Rescues do not euthanize a dog in order to make room for another (however they may put down a dog that is seriously ill). These rescues have very limited space as most of the animals are kept in private foster homes (just like yours and mine) and are supported primarily by grants and donations.
Shelters handle the stray dogs within the community and receive animals affected by state cruelty and neglect laws. They also receive pets that are dropped off by their owners for various reasons. There are two types of shelters:
No-kill shelters: accept animals on a voluntary or space available basis. A no kill shelter does not euthanize animals who can be adopted or when the shelter is full. They may euthanize animals who are terminally ill or considered dangerous.
Traditional/open admission shelters:accepts any and all companion animals regardless of health, temperament, or space available, with no limitation. These shelters have high euthanasia rates to make room for incoming animals.
Why does it cost so much to adopt a dog?!
It doesn’t. I can tell you first hand that it is actually A LOT less expensive to adopt a dog than buy one elsewhere (or even be given a dog). Lola did not technically come from an organized rescue group (rather we intercepted her before she ended up in one or somewhere else) and the first year we had her, we spent over $1,000 in vet bills. Mind you, this was just your basic vaccinations, deworming, blood tests, spay, etc.
This illustration below shows a rescue dogs true cost:
How do I find a dog that is with a rescue group?
Dogs that are available for adoption within a rescue are often found on Petfinder.com, public adoption events, social media sites, or on the rescue group’s website. You can do a Google search for rescues in your area and then follow them on Facebook – trust me, you’ll soon find yourself involved.
Why do I have to go through an adoption process? Why can’t I just go and see the dog I want to adopt?
Most rescues do not have a physical location where they keep the dogs. The dogs are kept in individual foster homes, sometimes very far away. Also, since these animals are already very likely on their second (or more) home, there is a screening process. A potential adopter must fill out an application to meet the animal and the rescue will then (most commonly) distribute the applications to the adopter who will then arrange a ‘meet and greet’ with the interested adopter and the rescue dog. This may take place over one or more meetings. Typically we have just met with the potential adopters once and we then both decide if it went well and if we would like to proceed and fill out the adoption paperwork.
Quite often though, rescues have adoption events where the fosters and volunteers will bring the dogs to a central public location for the public to meet the dogs.
What is required of a foster? How do I get involved?
A foster provides in-home care for animals in need until they are adopted. To become a foster, you first fill out an application with the rescue group and the rescue will then make sure that you have a safe home for the animal – that’s it. This is usually a very fast process as rescues are very short on foster homes. Oh yeah, and it’s free with most rescues. Yep – that’s right, the rescue pays for the vet bills of the animal, the food and even the crates/toys/etc. You just provide the shelter, care and love!
Once an animal is placed with a rescue group, they will stay in the foster home until they find a home. Sometimes this takes years. Sometimes the dog is transferred to a new foster home. While the dog is in rescue, the rescue group is responsible for all the costs of owning a dog – as you can imagine, this can get very expensive with as many animals as rescues have!
In these next couple questions I’ve consulted with Darren, who is the director of a local rescue in Minnesota, Across America Boxer Rescue.
How do the rescues learn of the dogs that are out of state that need rescue?
“This varies by rescue and how involved they are in social media. Most rescues get info from their members/friends/acquaintances or cross-posters (this is the most prevalent one) tagging them, posting to their page or individual pages as well as emailing them of available dogs. These dogs can be in a shelter or on Craigslist.
Most rescues also have several shelters they either work with or have a relationship with. Those shelters then know what breeds they pull and will give them heads up when they have a dog come that is in need. For instance, our rescue has a great working relationship with Indiana Animal Control (IACC) and Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC), two VERY large Midwest ACC’s that many dogs go to and thankfully many get saved!” – Darren Alick, Across America Boxer Rescue
Who do the rescues work with to transport dogs from state to state?Are they all volunteers or are there people whose job is just to transport?
“It depends on who you are using and where the dogs are being transported from and to. I personally do not know of a rescue in our area that uses paid transports. There are three main transporters for the southeast, south and midwest that I know of. I have worked alongside of two of them when they transport for my rescue and rescues I also volunteer for. All three are volunteers who fully coordinate a transport form start to finish. Meaning they layout out the distances, the stops, arrange for overnight homes as well as ensure all drops-offs go smoothly and everyone is sticking to the schedule. Each segment or “leg” of a run is calculated for distance and time to help everyone keep to that schedule. The drivers within that pool and who drive each leg are also volunteers, doing it for the love of knowing they’re contributing to saving dogs from otherwise terrible situations and euthanasia. Lori Weese, who transports for our rescue, also runs dogs for several other rescues within that same transport. Sometimes the dogs may be going to several different rescues, the transporter is just responsible for that portion of the rescue process.” – Darren Alick, Across America Boxer Rescue
Do you have any questions about animal rescue? Ask away!
Dogfighting. It’s everywhere. It’s sad to think about, it’s downright sickening, but it’s happening and right under our noses. The ASPCA has dedicated April 8th as National Dog Fighting Awareness Day, so a few bloggers and I have got together to help spread the awareness. #NDFAD
So…how can you help!?
If you see a dog on Craigslist or posted anywhere on the internet (especially for “free”) – notify local animal rescues that may be able to help. Rio was a CL puppy who was pulled off of the site by a local rescue. Bullies on Craigslist = no bueno.
If you come across a profile or account on Facebook/Instagram/etc. that is clearly a red flag, DO NOT report the page or add your own comments. Save the photos, the information and contact local authorities. Banning the page/reporting the person does nothing but make it disappear from your eyes however many miles away on the internet. The evidence given to the right people can do a heck of a lot more. Dog fighting is a very secretive enterprise that is hard for law enforcement and investigators to infiltrate.
If you know of or have suspicions that someone might be involved in dog fighting, report it to officials.
Remember: dog fighting can be taking place anywhere. Whether in a basement, a remote area, a planned location, your neighbor’s house. Anywhere. Also, the dogs used are not necessarily all kept in the same location. They come from houses, apartments, condos…And large operations travel across the U.S.
Look out for heavy scarring on a dog. Fighting scars are typically found on the face, front legs, hind end and thighs, and can include puncture wounds, torn/mangled ears, and facial swelling.
Things to remember:
– There are many breeds of dogs used for fighting worldwide. Breeds include: Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino, the Tosa Inu and the Presa Canario. The dog of choice for fighting in America? The American Pit Bull Terrier and other pit bull type dogs. But this doesn’t mean that other breeds or mixes are exempt. Other breeds, even non pit bull type dogs may be used in street fights or as the “bait” dog which is used to train the fighting dogs. Often these dogs are stolen (or ‘found’ online – see above). M.K. Clinton is all too familiar with this. Dog fighting is rampant in her city and she suspects that her dog from college was stolen and used as a bait dog.
According to the ASPCA, law enforcement has divided the most common types of dog fighting into three categories: street fighting, hobbyist fighting and professional dogfighting*:
Street fighters engage in dog fights that are informal street corner, back alley and playground activities.
Hobbyist fighters are more organized, with one or more dogs participating in several organized fights a year as a sideline for both entertainment and to attempt to supplement income.
Professional dogfighters often have large numbers of animals (50+) and earn money from breeding, selling and fighting dogs at a central location and on the road.
– Not all dog fighters treat their dogs the same; street fighters may starve their dogs to increase aggression, unlike many professional fighters who invest a lot of time and money in conditioning their animals. The dogs are commonly given quality nutrition, steroids and muscle supplements. Narcotic drugs are also commonly used to increase aggression and mask pain or fear during a fight.
We packed up our stuff and I walked Lola outside to the car, both of our feet crunching down the ice and snow in the parking lot. She hopped in the back and I got in the front seat. I turned on the engine and just sat there for a minute, thinking, pondering. I was disappointed. I was somewhat disappointed in myself and in Lola. Were my expectations of her too high? How come she did not listen as well as I thought she would? What went wrong? How could it have been different? I thought I had done a great job of exposing her to different situations and settings. Is it my fault for even bringing her to this event, was I being selfish?
Which brought me to the question I was asking myself, “Can a dog be too food motivated”?
Earlier that month, I had brought Lola to an audition. A dog modeling audition to be exact (more on how we got into that will be brought up in another post). I thought to myself, “How cool is this, it seems unreal”?! I was excited and I thought it was worth a shot, the experience can’t hurt and what the heck…it’s not like she’ll be picked anways.
The audition went great. Lola sat there like the little model she was for the (short) moment and wasn’t bothered one bit by the bright flash, equipment and people surrounding her. I only had to correct her once when she broke her stay, but overall she rocked it. I was so proud of her. All the ‘sit-stays’ and ‘down-stays’ we have been practicing were paying off.
Three weeks later I received the phone call – Lola was chosen.
They wanted LOLA for the photo shoot! My heart raced with joy and excitement.
I raced to pick up Lola, she jumped in the back of the car and drove up to the photo studio. The setup was very familiar to the one from the audition a few short weeks ago, only this time it was for real.
We arrived at the large, warehouse-type studio and waited for a short period of time before it was our turn. Lola was doing fine and was sitting calmly next to me. Since the shoot was for dog costumes, we tried a costume on her to make sure it was the right size. Everything was going fine. I had my training treats and she was staying focused. I expected her actions to follow our previous experience at the audition.
Once it was our turn, I was told to stand off to the side and the photographer was the one handling her (may have also contributed). They then brought out HAM and CHEESE! I’m sure Lola was thinking, “Wow! This is awesome.”. And then everything went down hill. She started losing focus, trying to sniff out that bowl of ham and became very anxious to receive the reward. She held her ‘sit-stay’ for about a minute and then began to lose focus yet again, becoming a little too interested in that strong aroma coming out of that bowl! At one point, she even ran off the set and over to a duffle bag. Well, this was a duffle bag chock-FULL of treats. This was not normal and I couldn’t help but continue to go back to my question.
So what exactly do I mean, “Can a dog be too food motivated?” Can a dog value food too much so that it begins to negatively effect your results when training. Can they begin to lose focus if they are too interested in the reward and not performing what you are asking of them?
My immediate response was yes. I believe that had the situation been handled different, the results would have followed. I kept going through what could have been done differently. I would have taken away the ham, cheese, and other meat that was left open in a bowl. I would’ve used lower value treats in either a plastic bag or treat bag like we typically do. However, I am not an expert so I consulted with Lori Nanan, one of the trainers behind Your Pit Bull and You and owner of La Dolce Doggie.
Here is what Lori had to say, along with tips if you have experienced a similar issue:
“If a dog appears to be overly-interested in getting to the food without having done the work to do so, it’s possible there are a few things going on. One is that the dog has learned that the preparation of food, the putting on of the bait pouch and the moving to a specific location predicts training is about to begin and so becomes very excited. To address this issue, you can teach the dog that all of those things predict nothing and vary your food prep time, wear your bait pouch all the time and vary the locations and times that you train.
Another is that the smell of the food is very salient and therefore overshadows everything else, so the dog is unable to focus on anything other than that smell. In that case, placing food in a baggie inside a bait pouch can be helpful, or use a food that is a little less stinky. Making sure that you don’t reach for the food until the dog has completed the behavior is important and this is where a clicker or marker word can be helpful, because they buy you time to get the primary reinforcer to the dog. You always want to be sure to mark (or click) and then reach for the food (or have a stash in your other hand behind your back.) The dog is generally in more of a rush to get to the reinforcer than we are, so by marking the behavior, we are letting the dog know that it’s coming.
If food is consistently an issue, one could “close the economy” to some extent, which means that the dog earns part of his daily rations via training. By doing this, the food becomes more valuable to the dog and this generally increases motivation. You can also audition other classes of reinforcers, such as toys, play and simple praise.” – Lori Nanan, CTC, CPDT-KA
I immediately associated what had happened with the smell overshadowing everything else going on. Lola was unable to focus on anything and quite frankly began to lose her mind over that smell.
Have you ever ran into this issue with a dog?
Typically, I use this food reward continuum from Your Pit Bull and You below but I believe in this specific case, the treats used were actually too high of value.
Many of you may already be familiar with the Yellow Dog movement as it has made it’s way around social media. But in case you aren’t, here’s a little more information:
The Yellow Dog Project is a movement created for dogs that need space. By tying a yellow ribbon or something similar to the dog’s leash you are indicating that this dog needs space, for whatever reason (or perhaps the human walking the dog… either way).
However, there has been much debate with this whole ‘yellow ribbon please ignore us’ movement. What do you think? Can you see the downsides? Are people taking it too far? Are we assuming the worst if a dog is wearing this ribbon on their leash?
I know, I know, Valentine’s Day is one of those ‘Hallmark’ holidays out to target your pocket book. But guess what – it works with some 60 gagillion dollars spent every year. Oh yeah and it’s my birthday, so that makes it kind of a big deal around here. So why not include the pups in the fun *wink*?! So with that, I bring you: 5 Valentine Gifts For Your Dog
1. Let them eat cake!
This cake is from a local DOG Bakery right here in the Minneapolis area. Heck yes. Ernie Cakesis where it’s at. They ship everywhere and have a great website where you can place your order and check out all the other goodies (dog cupcakes, too!).
As you can see, Rio was all over this cake. I don’t really blame him, it smelled fabulous, I was ready to dig in myself.
We invited Tater and Amaya over so Tater could join in the fun. If you aren’t familiar with Tater Tot, he is Lola’s boyfuriend. Yes, Lola has a boyFURiend. And now I know where to get their wedding cake (and by now, you are all realizing how crazy I truly am).
(2015 update: Ernie Cakes is no longer in business)
2. If the Collar Fits…
I’m slightly obsessed with dog collars. Maybe it’s because there are SO many talented individuals out there making them, but here are a few of my fav’s:
I think obedience classes are a great investment! They are a great bonding experience and are well worth their cost. If you cannot afford or find a trainer in your area, here are a few online resources that are free and/or inexpensive:
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day when I came across something very disturbing to me. There was a photo of a young boy. For privacy, I will refer to the characters in this story as Buddy and Matthew. Matthew was being held in his mother’s arms and had several stitches across his chin and lip with the caption, “I can’t believe this happened…”.
Naturally, the following comments entailed remarks such as:
OMG? Is he ok?!
Text me, I’m here for you…
Then there was the reply that everyone was anticipating, “Buddy bit Matthew”.
I was scrolling through the comments and most of them were replies with concerns of the boy’s health and one that stood out to me, “May I ask, how did this happen with Buddy?”. I did not expect a reply but shortly thereafter the mom said, “Oh you know, Matthew was up in Buddy’s face barking and growling at him”.
My heart sunk. I was irritated, disappointed, annoyed, sad, frustrated. So many emotions ran through my head. I had to hold myself back when thinking about commenting. Because what would I say? How would I not come across as a total B!?
Soon after the initial Facebook post, the mom followed up with the post that brought tears to my eyes, “RIP Buddy, our hearts are heavy we will always love and miss u and never imagined anything like this happening”.
Buddy was a family dog of seven years who bit Matthew after being provoked. As mentioned above, I will not go into details about the family nor the dog. Many of you are probably wondering – was he a pit bull? And no, he was not.
Looking back, I believe this situation could have been prevented. I realize, “Matthew probably always played with Buddy like this and nothing had ever happened before”. But I believe that it is a parents responsibility to teach their kids to respect animals and not to taunt or tease them. Even though a dog may tolerate the treatment, does not mean that they enjoy it and does not ensure that they will continue to tolerate it.
This issue is a very sensitive subject with us and Lola. When Lola was very young we brought her over to an extended family member’s house. There were several little children there who immediately ran up to Lola reaching for her face and then started tugging on her tail and ears. We politely asked them not to do that and they stopped for a moment and then when the next opportunity came along, they were right back at it. Lola was literally clawing at my leg for me to pick her up. At this point it was becoming irritating that the parents were not doing a whole lot besides at best, “oh, stop that please…”. I then just held Lola in my lap and we soon removed ourselves from the situation. Looking back on the scenario, I would have done things differently…(isn’t that always the case?).
Currently, we are still working on rehabilitating Lola’s fear of toddlers and small children. It certainly left a lasting impression on her.
These posters from Sophia Yin are a great illustration of how dogs and children should interact. (You can even print a large poster-size version from her site.)
There are plenty of resources out there – use them, share them. Even if an adult notices the signs, a child may not. That’s how accidents happen. Even if your dog and child have been raised together, it only takes once. PLEASE, teach your children respect and how to properly treat a dog. Even though your dog may tolerate it, every dog has a breaking point.
If you have a treadmill, you can also work with your dog on treadmill training for a great exercise program.
2. Make feeding time a challenge.
Try hiding their food somewhere in the house and make your dog search for it. Tip: you can leave a trail of food for them to make it easier! You can also use toys such as the Kong Wobbler. I’ll admit it, I’m guilty – frozen peanut butter Kongs.
3. Use interactive feeders/dog puzzles.
These are great because they encourage your dog to figure out the puzzle, even if they get it within a few minutes. We have this one below and Lola and Rio LOVE it. The only problem is that Lola has began to eat the actual game. Lola’s motto: If you can’t easily get to it, just eat your way through whatever is in the way.
Our house gets a little crazy, but luckily we have a straight shot from the living room through the kitchen and into the dining room – this has now become Lola’s running path.
5. Hide & Seek!
Lola absolutely loves this game and she totally rocks at it, to. She’s pretty much got us figured out. And it’s HILARIOUS when she finds us. She begins barking and jumping around, she gets so ticked that we hide from her! Rio on the other hand – he’s still a rookie and it takes him a few minutes to find us in fairly obvious places (i.e. behind a door). We’re slowly working up to more difficult hiding places, but Lola usually rats us out.
*If you’ve done all of that and still run out of ideas (or have a very high-strung dog, ex: Lola), many cities have indoor dog parks or doggy daycare providers (we go to Camp Bow Wow). Many of them even offer half-days for a minimal fee and they are guaranteed to be tuckered out after playing with all the other dogs!
*Oh and add sleeping to that list because let’s face it, we all like to cuddle up on these cold days.
1. Make their crate a comfortable place and create positive memories in it!
If a dog only goes into their crate when they are in trouble or for long periods of time, of course they are going to dread going into it. Also, associate their crate with comfort and safety, after all this is their own little room. We keep our dogs blankets in there and also give them a toy that is safe to play with and a treat when they are first learning to go in. If you are having issues, you can even feed your dog his or her meals in it.
*At night, we cover Rio’s crate with a large blanket – this has completely stopped his whining in the early a.m. (likely caused by the sunrise).
2. Reward your dog or puppy for going into his crate.
You can do this with a treat or what we do is prepare a peanut butter-filled Kong for your dog whenever they are going in for a long period of time (3-5 hours). Just something to entertain them. Now, our dogs run to their crates when they see the peanut butter come out!
3. Play music while your dog is crated.
We actually have a dog DVD – filled with animal noises, outdoors, etc. This was free from a rescue that we volunteer at but you can also purchase them online or at book stores for a reasonable price. Otherwise, there is Dog TV now, but I believe it is $5 a month through your cable subscriber. But simply having the TV or music playing is comforting to your dog.
4. Don’t isolate your dog’s crate.
Keep the dog crate in an area where you spend a lot of time! I wouldn’t want to sleep in a dark dungeon that is only entered when it is for punishment or sleeping either. Both of our dog’s crates are in the living room.
5. Whining does not mean your dog gets out.
If you let your dog out of the crate every time he starts to whine, he will learn very quickly that when he whines, he gets rewarded. We were very lucky with both Lola and Rio as neither of them were major whiners, but if they would initially whine when put into their crate at night, they were ignored. We did not yell at them to “shut up”, we simply ignored them. Now if you think they truly have to go to bathroom, take them outside and immediately bring them back in. On that note, we always take our dogs out immediately prior to going to bed, or “nigh-night” as they know. 😉
6. Make sure your crate is big enough.
I can’t stand a crate that is borderline too small for a dog. I like our dogs to have enough room to stand up, turn around and be able to take a few steps around inside.
7. Leave the crate door open all the time.
This allows your dog to go in and out as they please. We find ours napping in there from time to time!
*If the dog is only in their crate for very long periods of time, try putting them in the crate and then returning after a very short period of time (10-15 minutes) then let them out and praise them for their good behavior.
-I am not a professional dog trainer, but these are just several tips that we follow and have worked fabulous for us. –
Do you crate your dog?! We have loved it and it made potty training a breeze. Lola only ever peed in her crate a couple times and Rio has NEVER. I guess I can’t blame him, I wouldn’t like to sleep in that either.