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Perhaps the famous German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said it best when he said:

The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”

The week of June 17th marks the eighteenth Animal Rights Awareness Week (ARAW), which was called into life by the California animal rights group, In Defense of Animals.

ARAW is designated as celebration of our synergistic relationship with animals and to educate people about means to bring more awareness and compassion into our world.

It can no longer be denied that animal rights and human rights are complementary, not contradictory.

I do not begrudge anyone buying their puppy or kitty from a store for the simple reason that these pets need a home, too. But the sad truth behind that type of spontaneous purchase is that it has far reaching ramifications.

Excepting ethical, and regulated breeders, it is a fact that “pet stores” perpetuate an evil sequence of cruelty, suffering and slaughter; and the buying and selling of animals solely to amass profits is not only ethically wrong but it supports the puppy mill and backyard breeder’s assembly line of production.

Today, only a handful of States have some sort of anti animal-cruelty or anti puppy-mill legislation, but that’s just not enough.

As long as politicians like New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, decline the regulation of animal cruelty, the toxic status quo continues to spread, and endangers more animal lives.

Every person I know treats their own pets with kindness, love and compassion. In other words, they already view Fido or Kitty as “family” and treat them with the same tenderness as human children. Sadly, many people are still not aware of the conditions in puppy mills, pet shops, some shelters, labs, zoos and circuses.

Animals are not mere commodities to be bought, sold and discarded on whim.

As long as we view animals as our personal property this vicious cycle cannot be broken. But a small adjustment in our thinking that animals are commodities might help raise awareness and compassion.

We are not their owners; we are their caregivers, companions and guardians! Or have you ever met a mother claiming her child to be her property?

This simple change of mind can greatly benefit animals. It can potentially lead to an increase of shelter adoptions, fewer abandonings, and people might develop a deeper sense of respect and compassion for companion animals that are now part of their families.

Collectively, we must make it our goal to work toward elevating the status of animals as well as to help increase today’s animal protection movement.

We should spend more time evaluating the relationship with our own furry friend, and then use our compassion to convince others of the fact that animals enrich our lives in countless ways, and, subsequently, persuade humanity that kindness and respect is due to all sentient creatures.

T.R. Firrigno

Long, hot and humid days can get a little boring, even for our dogs.  So, why not grab “man’s best friend” and plan summer activities you can do and enjoy together.  I think you will love it, and your pup, too.  In fact, it could turn out the best summer you ever had 😉

200317607-001

Bored Dogs

FIRST THINGS FIRST 

Cool off

Our dogs can’t sweat like humans. Panting is Fido’s only way to really regulate his body temperature and to keep it from overheating.  So, it is always a good idea to check with a vet or groomer to see if a summer haircut is in order[1].

bull-dog-cooling-off

Bully Chillin’Activities

Fill up the kiddie pool. Even if you don’t have a backyard, you can still make sure you are both feeling “chill”.  Everybody has a sidewalk or a driveway, or maybe even a local park[2].  Pop out the pool, fill it about 1/3 with fresh water, and let your canine take a cooling dip while you dangle your feet in the water.  Et voilà, you both feel better right away.

Turn on the sprinklers

If you have a yard, turn on the water and give your entire family a chance to cool off, get some exercise, and develop an even deeper bond with your pup.

Shady places

Drape a tarp over an outside kennel or doghouse so your dog has a place to escape the sun’s glare. You can also freeze a few bottles of water to place in the kennel or nearby as cooling off blocks for play and rest.

Splish-splash

Swim together and enjoy practicing your dog paddle with your pal in a dog-friendly pool, safe lake, or at the beach. And, as always, supervise your canine friend closely around any body of water.

SNACKS

Giant Popsicle

Giant Popsicle

Make popsicles

A lot of dogs like frozen treats made with carrots or peanut butter. While I prefer broth[3], you can use either broth or plain water; freeze in ice cube trays or popsicle trays.

Fido friendly eatery

Today many establishments have patios where you and Fido can hang out, and it a fun chance for everyone to make new friends.

Don’t do the ice cream thing!

Our dogs cannot metabolize dairy products in the way their humans do.  Therefore, please don’t feed Fluffy our ice cream. Try a frozen treat made just for dogs or make your own (see above).

Dog & Ice Cream

Dog & Ice Cream

Part II will appear in the next blog issue.

[1] If your dog has a double-coat or undercoat, s/he won’t need a trim; their undercoat is their own personal air conditioner.

[2] Take along a gallon of water, or an empty gallon jug.  Parks have water fountains that you can use to fill up the jug.

[3] I make my own, or I use an organic, low sodium and fat free, free range chicken or vegetable broth.

Images and information curtesy of: PublixPaws; Joanne Osband; Dreamstime; examiner.com; dogfoodadvisor.com

The other day I had an annoying pebble in my shoe I wanted to get rid off.  So, I stepped out of my shoe and put my toes on the pavement –OUCH, the ground was so hot that I actually burnt my toes!  Ozzie sat next to me, happily, looking up at me with that loveable, huge grin that is so characteristic for him.  This made think:  if I burn my toes on the hot pavement, what about his little paws?  I figured I already knew the answer, but I did some research just to be sure.

egg-frying-on-sidewalk

Here is what I found out:

People think: Dog paws have protective calluses 
and won’t burn on hot pavement.

Not so: A dog’s paws can and will burn when exposed to extremely hot surfaces such as pavement, sand, concrete, asphalt and so forth.  Test the ground; hold your bare hand or, as in my case foot, on a sidewalk for 5 seconds. If it’s too hot for your skin to handle it is also too hot for your dog’s paws to handle.  In fact, Fido’s pads cannot only burn but blister, too.

People think: Oh, I have her winter booties; 
they should protect her from the hot ground when I take her for a walk.

Not so: If you put outright winter boots on your dog’s feet in the summer, chances are that he will sweat even more.  According to Thais Zoe, author of Lucky Duck Living, “dogs have the ability to cool their paws through the in-between of their pads”.  Heat rises from the ground up and gets trapped in the boots.

mainA much better alternative is Pawz boots (because they don’t trap the heat and the dog actually has traction, and, therefore, she can walk properly) or Musher’s Secret, which is a super dense wax that protects paw pads in extreme temperatures –hot or cold.

Musher's-S

 

 

 

I love this stuff, I use it on my arms when they are scratched-up
from the rose garden, or from playing with my cats and puppies,
I use it on my chapped hands and lips, I use it on Oskar’s nose and
pads, and I use it as a general heal-all remedy for minor surface
injuries.  Trust me, my husband thinks I’m nuts.
But hey, if it works, why not ;-)

The point is that it’s easy to misunderstand or overlook our pets’ discomfort.  We need to pay close attention to their body language as well as other signs.  Our French Bulldog, Oskar, always has a huge smile on his face, even when he’s panting like crazy.  So, if you can’t walk your pup in the shade, take preventive steps.

sick-cartoon-dog

As Dr. Patty Kuhl points out in her PetMD article If You Can’t Stand the Heat … On Burnt Pad Denial in Dogs,  “Your dog would probably follow you to the ends of the earth and never complain.”

Woof, woof & meow!

Images courtesy of: Dietmar Hoepfl, Musher’s Secret.net, Pawz.com

Why Do i Want a Puppy?

Dogs and all kinds of other pets surrounded me growing up, and many times my family made me take part of the responsibility for their care.

About seven years ago I felt that I was ready to raise my first puppy on my own.  But before I jumped into the joy of puppy parenthood, I asked myself a bunch of important questions:

  • Why do I want a dog?
  • What is my true level of experience and knowledge in handling a dog?
  • Do I want a puppy or an older dog?
  • Will I have the time, space, patience and money to care for and play with my pup?
  • What type of dog do I want, a mixed breed or a pure breed?
  • Which breed might best suit my own personality and lifestyle?
  • Where do I find the most accurate and reliable breed information?
  • Are there any good veterinarians in the area?
    • (In case of an emergency I wanted someone close by.  Sometimes the time it takes to get your pet to the right care can mean the difference between immediate help and long-term health affects!)
  • Where is the best place to get a puppy (breeder, rescue, pet store, etc.)?
  • What are my responsibilities in raising a well-rounded dog (grooming, socialization, nutrition, training, etc.)?
  • Is my neighborhood safe enough for walking my dog, is there a park nearby?
  • Will my cat tolerate a new pet, and vice versa?

I am probably forgetting a topic or two, but knowing the answers to these questions were the basis for bringing Oskar, my French Bulldog home!

Getting Ready for my Puppy!

I am a huge believer in pet adoption!  Alas, Oskar was a spur of the moment gift from my husband, a gift I have cherished every single day since we brought him home!

One day we strolled along Lexington Avenue and stopped by a pet store.  We had no intention of buying a dog (all babies are cute and you want to take all of them home!), but holding Oskar in my arms, he suddenly began nuzzling my neck and wouldn’t let go.  My husband sensed the immediate and deep bond between this dog and me, and the rest is history.  We both knew that adoption was the way to go, but we consoled ourselves in the simple fact that even pet store animals needed “rescue” and a home.

Bringing home Oskar was a most amazing thing.  But, there was also a huge drawback because aside from bringing home a new puppy, I ended up with over $800 worth of nonsense I didn’t need, including a $78 dog toy with a beating heart that Ozzie never even once looked at…yes; pet store staffers WILL prey on the emotions of a new pet owner!

When opened The Jumping Bulldog I promised that this was not something that would ever happen to my customers.  It’s simple, having a pet of any kind, a puppy especially, is expensive, and dollars spent on unessential items are better spent elsewhere.

So, here is my “Need versus Want” list to help you save money, and still have everything you need for a comfy home for your new addition:

  • Appropriately sized folding crate for crate training (read more about crate training in another post)
  • Puppy/ dog food that is appropriate for your type of dog
  • Wee-wee pads
  • A collar and a leash
    • (The collar is to get them used to having a restraint around their small necks.  If you want to walk your puppy around the house, it might be good to use a harness instead for a harness may prevent tracheal injury)
  • Tags with your and your vet’s phone number
  • A food bowl and a water bowl
  • A doggie bed
  • A grooming brush and puppy wipes
  • A baby gate (often cheaper than a doggie gate) to keep your puppy/ dog in one area
  • Two or three chew toys
    • (Too many toys all at once may be confusing to a new puppy.  If you want to buy more toys, it’s a good idea to rotate them to keep the puppy interested in its toys.)

Contrary to popular belief you do not need to begin feeding your 10 or 12 week old puppy treats right away, nor do you need to bathe him; so, that’s money you can spend a little later.  You also don’t need to buy clothes for your brand new puppy, even if you bring her home during the winter.  An old blanket or beach towel will suffice.

Once you know that you are bringing home a new pet, it is always a good idea to set up an appointment with your veterinarian of choice for an initial check-up and consultation.  The vet will tell you what you may need in addition to the items I mentioned above.

Having said that, happy pet parenthood, and relish in one of the greatest joys on God’s green earth 🙂

New Yorkers, Astorians especially, take their dogs seriously. Obviously, we expect businesses that provide pet care services to take our dogs seriously, too.

Handing our dog over to a dog walker is like entrusting a stranger with our kid, except in some ways it is more dangerous.

Customers always ask my opinion on dog walking services in our neighborhood and I am asked for referrals.  I have spoken to a number of well-known dog walking professionals I work with, and here is a list of things to keep in mind when searching for a pet care professional for your pet for the first time:

  • Dog walking in an unlicensed and unregulated profession.
  • There are no professional standards except your own.
  • You’re giving your keys to a stranger.
  • You’re asking a stranger to navigate an urban environment full of hazards with your most prized possession.

What you can do:

  • Anyone can call him/ herself a dog walker.  Ask friends and family, neighbors or a local vet or pet store, or even a fellow pet owner if they can recommend someone.
  • Ask for, and check references.
  • Make sure your dog walker provides a written service contract spelling out services and fees.
  • Make sure the dog walker can provide written proof that s/he has commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence).
  • Look for someone who has been in business for several years.
  • Inquire about specific training the dog walker has received to handle emergencies.
  • A good pet care professional is a dedicated individual, and s/he will generally try to accommodate your schedule, even it is difficult at times.
  • Make sure the dog walker records information about your pet, such as likes, dislikes, fears, habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines.  In other words, ask him/ her to establish a pet profile.
  • Make sure the dog walker is associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services, if your own vet is too far away.
  • Make sure that you know your dog walker’s back-up person, in case s/he gets sick, has car trouble, or goes on vacation.
  • Make sure you know who walks your dog at all times.  Sometimes dog walkers get too busy because they have taken on too many dogs to handle, and your pooch may be handed off to someone you didn’t even know existed.
  • Make sure your dog walker informs you that your dog has been returned to your home.  A good dog walker will send you text messages and/ or photos of your dog to assure you that your dog is safe.

Again, these are just the basics when choosing a dog walker.  To find out more please read this helpful piece from Inger Martens.  http://www.pawsforaminute.com/tag/how-to-find-a-good-dog-walker/

“Remember if you are happy with your dog walker the best way to show your appreciation is to recommend them to your friends, family, vet, pet store, and others you know who have pets or deal with the local pet care industry!”

woof, woof & meow!