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Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Dog Befriends Boy with Down Syndrome

Animal Planet – h/t to Holy Cuteness: Little Hernán from Buenos Aires, who has Down Syndrome, doesn’t like to be touched. But Himalaya the Labrador is very patient but persistent and eventually manages to befriend the little boy…

Video: Dog Befriends Boy with Down Syndrome

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December 9, 2013 Posted by | Adopt Just One More Pet, Animal and Pet Photos, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , | 2 Comments

Being Overweight Shaves Nearly a Year from Your Dog’s Life, Especially in These 5 Breeds

Story at-a-glance

  • Recent research suggests that dogs that are overweight at middle age may not live as long as dogs of normal weight.
  • A study of approximately 5,500 dogs from 10 different breeds showed that those who are overweight at middle age can have their lives cut short by up to 10 months. This is especially prevalent in certain breeds, including Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Beagles and Shih Tzus.
  • Overweight dogs can also suffer from a long list of costly obesity-related conditions that can compromise their mobility and quality of life.
  • Orthopedic problems are occurring in ever-younger pets, and with greater severity, due to obesity. Dogs that are nearly immobile from a combination of weight and joint or bone problems are becoming commonplace.
  • Helping your dog achieve and maintain a healthy weight involves a combination of feeding species-appropriate nutrition in portion-controlled meals, and insuring your pet is getting plenty of regular exercise.

Overweight Dog

By Dr. Becker

If your dog is overweight or obese, you now have another huge incentive to help him slim down. According to recent research conducted by scientists from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition in collaboration with Banfield Pet Hospital, being overweight shortens a dog’s lifespan.

Information was collected from veterinarians on approximately 5,500 pet dogs across 10 popular breeds throughout the U.S., using body condition scores for neutered male and spayed female dogs between 6.5 and 8.5 years of age.

The study results show that dogs that are overweight at middle age may not be around as long as those at a healthy weight. The research suggests that being too heavy can shave up to 10 months off a dog’s life, and this is particularly apparent in five breeds: the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, American Cocker Spaniel, Beagle and the Shih Tzu.

Overweight Dogs Also Acquire Devastating Obesity-Related Diseases

One thing the Waltham Centre study does not address is the quality of life of overweight and obese pets, many of which suffer from mobility problems and other obesity-related conditions for the final months of their lives.

Because so many pets are overweight these days, it’s common for veterinarians to see animals suffering from health conditions secondary to their obesity, including arthritis, hip dysplasia, diabetes, hypertension, respiratory problems, and kidney disease.

According to Petplan USA, in 2011, insurance claims for pets with diabetes increased over 250 percent from the prior year. Claims for heart disease rose over 30 percent, and for arthritic pets, nearly 350 percent. Orthopedic conditions are occurring in younger and younger pets, and with greater severity, because so many animals are overweight. Dogs that are nearly immobile from a combination of weight and joint or bone problems are becoming commonplace. Otherwise alert, healthy dogs are being euthanized because they simply can’t get around anymore, which destroys their quality of life.

How to Help a Heavy Dog Reach and Maintain His Ideal Weight

Excess weight on the relatively small sized body of a dog has serious and more immediate consequences than added weight on a human body. Couple that with the already short average lifespan of canines, and it’s easy to see how quickly and completely a dog’s life can be devastated by obesity.

If your dog is too heavy, isn’t it time to get him safely down to a healthy weight, so you can have him around as long as possible, and with a good quality of life?

My top three recommendations for helping an overweight pet lose weight:

  • Feed a balanced, species-appropriate diet. Regardless of his weight, your dog still needs the right nutrition for his species, which means food that is high in animal protein and moisture, with low or no grain content.
  • Practice portion control — usually a morning and evening meal, carefully measured. A high protein, low carb diet with the right amount of calories for weight loss, controlled through the portions you feed, is what will take the weight off your dog. And don’t forget to factor in any calories from treats.
  • Regularly exercise your pet. Daily exercise, including at least 20 minutes of consistent aerobic activity, will help your pet burn fat and increase muscle tone.

For more information: "How to Help Your Chunky Dog Release Excess Pounds." 

Sharing Thanksgiving With Your Pets

November 27, 2013 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, Holidays With Pets, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Mistake That Can Wreak Havoc on Your Dog’s Skeleton

Story at-a-glance

  • Osteochondrosis is one of a variety of developmental orthopedic diseases that occur in young, fast-growing dogs, typically large and giant breeds. The most common form of osteochondrosis in dogs is osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), which can cause angular limb deformities in long bones, and cartilage damage in shoulders, elbows, knees and hocks.
  • Inappropriate nutrition has been identified as an important factor in the development of bone disease in big puppies. Free-feeding, overfeeding, and improper feeding of energy-dense diets, excessive calcium and mineral intake, and an imbalance of vitamin D metabolites present significant risks to growing large and giant breed puppies.
  • The diets of big puppies should be carefully managed to help prevent developmental orthopedic disease. The problem in today’s young, growing dogs is not one of dietary deficiency, but rather one of “over-nutrition” caused by overfeeding and inappropriate supplementation of certain nutrients.
  • To avoid “overgrowing” a large or giant breed puppy, the first step is to feed portion-controlled meals rather than free-feeding. Puppies should be maintained in optimal body condition, not maximal body condition.
  • The best diet for a large breed puppy is designed to meet the nutrient requirements for growth in large breeds, contains the proper amount of calories to avoid rapid growth, and also the appropriate levels of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D, and the correct calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.

Large Dog Breed

By Dr. Becker

Osteochondrosis is one of several developmental orthopedic diseases that occur in young, fast-growing dogs, especially large and giant breeds like the Doberman Pinscher, the Labrador Retriever, Great Danes and Newfoundlands.

The most common form of osteochondrosis in dogs is called osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), which is a defect in bone development at the extremity of a bone. The problem is thought to be a disruption in the manufacture of bone tissue that results in injury to growth cartilage. These injuries can cause angular limb deformities in long bones, as well as damage to the cartilage in the shoulder, stifle (knee joint), hock (the joint in the rear leg below the knee), and the elbow.

Inflammatory joint disease often follows osteochondrosis, ultimately leading to degenerative joint disease.

Developmental orthopedic diseases occur during the early stages of bone growth, before the growth plates close. This crucial period (the first year of life) is when a puppy’s skeletal system is most vulnerable to physical, nutritional and metabolic damage due to increased metabolic activity. The reason large and giant breeds are at higher risk is because genetics cause their bodies to grow very rapidly. Another predisposing factor is whether a puppy’s parents developed osteochondrosis.

Nutrition Can Be a Significant Risk Factor for Bone Disease

Studies of nutritional risk factors involved in osteochondrosis have identified free-feeding and overfeeding – especially of high-energy foods designed for rapid growth – as contributors. Energy-dense diets can promote increased levels of growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor, insulin and thyroid hormones. Other dietary influences include excessive calcium intake, excessive mineral intake, and an imbalance of vitamin D metabolites.

For optimal bone development in puppies, diets must include appropriate and balanced amounts of nutrients. Excessive calcium and energy (calories), plus rapid growth predispose dogs to developing osteochondrosis. When a growing dog — especially a large or giant breed — is overfed and overweight, the bones are stressed by both static and dynamic forces that can cause damage to the skeleton.

In one study, Great Dane puppies that were free-fed a diet high in energy and minerals, or a diet high in calcium, developed osteochondrosis with clearly visible symptoms.

Studies have also shown that large breed puppies fed diets with high calcium content or high calcium and phosphorus content also acquired developmental orthopedic disease.

This is because puppies aren’t able to control or limit absorption of dietary calcium and certain other minerals. Absorption occurs through the intestines, and the higher the calcium and mineral content of the diet, the greater the level of absorption and assimilation into developing bone structure. This can disturb the natural process of bone growth and result in lesions in the skeleton and joints.

Even when highly palatable, energy-dense diets are well-balanced, when free-fed to large and giant breed puppies, the risk of OCD and other orthopedic diseases is increased. This is one of many reasons I don’t recommend free-feeding any pet. Most dogs and cats will overeat if free-fed, and as you can see, this is especially hazardous to the health of growing large and giant breed puppies.

To date, no studies have found protein intake to be a factor in the development of osteochondrosis.

Large Breed Puppy Diets Should Be Carefully Managed

Careful management of the diets of large and giant breed dogs won’t eliminate every instance of developmental bone disease, but it’s a crucial step in decreasing risk factors. The problem in today’s young, growing dogs is not one of dietary deficiency, but rather one of “overnutrition” caused by overfeeding and over-supplementation.

Young large breed dogs are at higher risk of developing skeletal problems than small breed dogs, even when both are fed diets with too little or too much calcium. Even when calcium intake is optimal, big dogs have more growth-related skeletal issues than smaller breeds.

To help prevent disease, we must make every effort to control the rate at which big dogs grow by feeding only the amount of calories needed to keep their bodies lean while they develop. The first step is to feed portion-controlled meals rather than free-feeding. We want to help dogs maintain optimal body condition, not maximal body condition.

Diets should not be extremely high in calories. Many super premium dog foods on the market are highly energy-dense. By contrast, large-breed puppy foods have reduced caloric density, calcium and phosphorus levels compared with other canine growth diets.

Switching a big puppy to an adult diet to try to control growth rate is not recommended. Adult diets don’t have the calories per serving that big puppies require, so they can end up eating more food and taking in excessive levels of other nutrients, which can be risky.

The Right Way to Feed a Large or Giant Breed Puppy

The ideal diet for a large breed puppy is designed to meet the nutrient requirements for growth in large breeds, contains the proper amount of calories to avoid rapid growth, and also the appropriate levels of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D, and the correct calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. Large and giant breed puppies continue to grow until about 18 months of age, so they should be kept on a specially designed growth diet until they are fully grown.

The goal in feeding a large or giant breed puppy is to keep him lean, with controlled growth. A healthy, large or giant breed puppy will thrive on a portion-controlled, balanced, species-appropriate diet. You can feed an ideally balanced homemade diet or an excellent quality commercially available food.

What about those large breed puppy foods? Traditional puppy foods often provide much higher calorie content than large breed puppies require, causing them to gain too much weight too quickly. This is why pet food manufacturers began producing formulas specifically for large breed puppies.

These are typically diets lower in calorie density (the number of calories per cup or gram of food) than a regular puppy diet. They’re also usually lower in calcium on an energy basis.

These are two very important factors for reducing too-rapid growth in big puppies. Some adult foods may also be low calorically, but often they have high calcium content on an energy basis, which is not what you want for a growing large or giant breed pup.

If you’re going to feed kibble to a large breed puppy, I recommend you look for special large breed puppy formulas or a formula (preferably a balanced, raw food diet) that is "Approved for all life stages." This means the food is appropriate for growing puppies or adult dogs.

I do not recommend feeding a traditional (high growth) puppy food to large breed puppies.

June 3, 2013 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Your Gun Dog Says About You

Five breeds of dogs that tell the world what kind of hunter, and person, you really are

What Your Gun Dog Says About You

By Brian Lyn

Like your chosen rifle, the dog you opt to share your home and time afield with reflects the personality and vigor with which you tackle life and hunting season. Without saying a word, your fellow hunters will peg you by the four-legged hound at your side.

The Everyman
Breed of Dog: Labrador Retriever
The most popular American Kennel Club registered breed of dog in the United States for the past 20 years, the Lab can do it all—hunt the uplands for quail or pheasants, retrieve ducks from backwoods marshes or geese from big open water and then lay contentedly by the fire while your children climb all over him. Willing to learn and desiring to please, the Lab matures quickly and can make even the amateur trainer look like a dog-whispering Cesar Millan.

Your Personality: You’re an all around good guy; a family man who loves to work hard and play harder. As a staple in middle-class neighborhoods, you’re a balanced and upstanding member of society and aren’t prone to raising hell in a bar every weekend (although you might enjoy an occasional night on the town). When not in the field, you spend time with friends and family and make new acquaintances easily, but you are more than capable of defending yourself and loved ones if the need arises.

The Loyalist
Breed of Dog: Chesapeake Bay Retriever
An all-American retriever and the official state breed of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay retriever served a dual purpose during the height of the market-hunting days: that of guard dog and game retriever. Originating in the cradle of our country’s waterfowling heritage, the breed retrieved ducks and geese by day and protected punt guns, boats and bags of decoys while their masters hit dockside saloons at night. The hardiest of the retrievers, no water is too cold or too big for a Chessie. Retaining more than a sliver of their guarding genetics, the breed has a reputation for being a one-man dog, protective of family and turf and stubborn during training.

Your Personality: You’re hardcore in the field, as well as in life, and you know it. While you can accomplish high-level tasks, it takes someone that understands your sometimes surly disposition to motivate you. You’re not trusting of strangers or new acquaintances, and Heaven have mercy on anyone who tries to push you into a corner because you’d just as-soon throw a punch for a perceived insult as ignore it. Aloof and somewhat willful, you often seek contemplative solitude so as to avoid the mindless chatter of society. You love your family and friends dearly and surround yourself with them. You also possess a concealed-carry permit and sleep with a gun in the nightstand so as to best protect those closest to you.

The Dandy Gentleman
Breed of Dog: English Springer Spaniel
Springers shine in the upland fields. Able to quarter and make finds with the best of bird dogs, these small liver-and-white or black-and-white dogs can also pull double duty and retrieve waterfowl more than passably. Only their small stature and thin skin keep them from tackling the biggest of geese and roughest or coldest of waters. 

Your Personality: Happy and willing to please, Springer owners approach life with a proverbial bounce in their step. This gay approach to life might leave coworkers and hunting buddies under the impression that you’re a little soft but you don’t care—nothing can deter your enthusiasm. Vanity often plagues Springer owners; they must always look the part by sporting brand name and matching attire, a delicately engraved firearm (nothing less than a Caesar Guerini will do) and a coifed hairdo are just some of the quirks necessary to be considered part of the Springer glitterati. While your enthusiasm allows you to pull double duty in the marshes, cold turbulent waters aren’t your strong suit. No, you’re most happy frolicking through the dry upland fields of life in pursuit of love and happiness—perhaps you’d make a fine outdoor writer.

The Caring Clown
Breed of Dog: Golden Retriever
Perhaps the softest, most needy of all the gun dog breeds, the Golden retriever, with its long flowing locks of amber-tinted hair, is a clown that loves to perform and make its owners, and any guest or passerby, laugh. Heavy doses of show lines have hurt the breed’s hunting ability in general, but those dogs bred for the field willingly burrow through the nastiest of upland fields or take the plunge for waterfowl under any conditions. A soft disposition, plenty of positive reinforcement and a light hand are required during training.

Your Personality: As a golden owner you are eternally optimistic, and just a tad bit goofy. The likeable nerd when you were in school, you see the good in all people and all things. In social settings if you’re not acting as the center of attention, you’re the one stuck in the corner with someone crying on your shoulder. You love to make people feel better and it sometimes attracts the crazies in life, but you don’t mind. While it’s sometimes hard for you to focus on field work, what with all the socializing and shoulder-sobbing demands you must fulfill, when you do get out to hunt its generally a few weekends a year. Just as you sometimes adorn your golden in various colors of bandanas, you often wear unnecessary accessories, like Orvis waders when fishing a no-wading zone.

The Driven Loner
Breed of Dog: Pointer
Hard charging and energetic, pointers have a one-track mind and it’s all focused on finding birds. Their genetic disposition to course a field in search of feathers tends to make them bigger runners than other breeds of upland dogs. These are the elitist of athletes and at best are one-man dogs; but if that man can’t put him on birds, a pointer might not show any inclination to acknowledge the two-legged being in his life except during meal time. These hardy dogs can tackle the most difficult of terrain and will answer the call day after day during the season.

Your Personality: Like your chosen breed, you’re a hard-charging loner who’s driven to succeed. To you, second place is the first-place loser. You’re a fast thinker on your feet and love to tackle new challenges. Energetic and unable to sit still very long, you probably have more than a borderline case of Attention Deficit Disorder. With your somewhat addictive personality, you approach hunting season and life similarly, with a conquer-all attitude and nearly obsessive desire to be in the thick of either a quail-filled briar patch or pitching a board of directors on your newest entrepreneurial endeavor. 

March 2, 2011 Posted by | animal behavior, animals, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pets, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Dogs For Kids

Over the last few years I’ve had the chance to interact with many different dog breeds and have found there are many different breeds that I would consider good dogs for kids.  In fact, a couple years ago I was so interested in dogs good with children I wrote a two part article about the top 10 dogs good with children based on information gathered from the internet and my own opinion.

Since then I’ve received many comments on the article suggesting other breeds be included in my top 10 list.  I definitely agree that dogs that are good with children shouldn’t be narrowed to only a list of 10 dog breeds.   However, that is the main reason why I wrote the article and left the comment section open to our readers.  I wanted our readers input on their experiences with dogs and their thoughts on what dog are good with children.

Good Dogs For Kids

Some might think a giant breed dog might not be good for kids.  After all a giant breed might be clumsy and knock over children or might get overly excited and play to rough possibly hurting kids.

A couple days ago I came across this video of a Great Dane playing with a very young child.  Take a look:

Big Dog Tickling Baby

Maybe I should include the Great Dane as one of my top 10 family dogs!  That is an adorable video and I love seeing how gentle a dog as large as a Great Dane can be with a young child.

What do you think?  Have you found the perfect dog for your family?  What dog breeds would you consider good dogs for kids?

Top Ten Dogs Good With Kids:

Number 10 – Bulldog

Number 9 – German Shepherd

Number 8 – Brittany Spaniel

Number 7 – Miniature Schnauzer

Number 6 – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Number 5 – Vizsla

Number 4 – Pembrooke Welsh Corgi

Number 3 – Poodle

Number 2 – Labrador Retriever

Number 1 – Golden Retriever

Source: Puppy in Training

Posted:  Just One More Pet

April 9, 2010 Posted by | Adopt Just One More Pet, animal behavior, Fostering and Rescue, Just One More Pet, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Labrador Retriever – Still America’s Favorite Dog

1990s & 2000s: Labrador Retrievers

Bill Clinton’s Chocolate Lab, Buddy, remained his buddy even during the dark days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Despite being portrayed as rambunctious in the book and film “Marley & Me,” the Lab remains the most popular dog in America today.

Because of their even temperament, they excel as guide dogs for the blind, as part of search-and-rescue teams, and with law enforcement.

Black Lab.mediumchocolate_lab

Chasing Juneau

A non-theological note on a very theological dog (He literally devoured the New Testament and several writings by Sproul). Juneau was killed when he ran under the prop of an airplane on August 21st, 2009.

Let me begin by saying the dog dies at the end of the story. I always read stories about dogs with hesitation, because I so dislike falling in love with the antics of the animal, only to finish the piece in tears when the dog peacefully falls asleep at its owner’s feet. Or, behind the woodstove in the case of Jack in “Little House in the Prairie.” There is no peaceful falling asleep here; it was violent and horrible. And yet I’m writing about it, trying to make some sense out of a “Life just happens…” event.

I despise clichés, but it is easiest explained to say I am walking through some very muddy waters in areas of my life right now. I am trying to let Christ carry me though them, but just like you probably do on occasion, I spend hours trying to get my own boots out of the muck instead of letting The One Who Isn’t Encumbered By Muck carry me. When I have been stuck (waist deep and refusing help) there has always been Juneau, swimming around me in the bog, trying to bark and carry someone else’s stolen shoe at the same time. He was a friend, a family member, and a picture of what I wished I could be a bit more like. Yes, I know he was “just” a dog, but he was a constant reminder to me to laugh, to play, to go riding on the ATV if for nothing but the pleasure of that great, black head resting on my shoulder as we checked fence lines.

Juneau - the black lab Juneau’s days were spent chasing hawks and vultures as they soared over the cliffs by our home. He loved it when Sam pulled out the blower, because it meant chasing the leaves and stirred-up grass. His tail provided him with endless hours of pleasure – the toy that was always available to pursue if the hawks were sleeping in. Any work done around the house was made better by his company – changing the oil, mowing the lawn, doing school. He tore into the basement with anticipation of what he could destroy – in one day alone, he happily devoured a two pound Costco bag of chocolate truffles, a map of Wales, an airport approach book, and both a paper plate and the cookies that were on it. He did not eat the wax paper covering the cookies, but he gave it the old college try. I could write pages about the silly things he did – riding on the ATV, playing with his puppies, but it can be said most succinctly in this – Juneau was joy itself poured into a black coat.

When I read The Last Battle, CS Lewis’s picture of heaven made sense to me. Where a hundred theological statements had failed to paint eternity, Lewis broke through my foggy understanding with a mouse and Aslan. I suppose Christ’s creation just makes more sense to me through that portion he spent the first part of the sixth day on. Reepicheep was just a mouse – a vivid analogy of courage and faith. Remember when he gnawed away the cords that bound Aslan? Did you cheer when he challenged the dragon? And didn’t your heart go over the edge with him when he sailed away in his little coracle to Aslan’s Country? And didn’t you know you were going to have fun when you drove up to my house and Juneau ran to you, eyes merry, carrying something he had stolen from someone else to give you as a gift? Again, Juneau was “just” a dog. But like Lewis’s portrayal of Christ as the Lion, I was daily reminded of God’s gift to us of joy – a fruit of the spirit made flesh in a bumbling, magnificent Labrador Retriever.

I am sure to be making little sense as I write this, and I am also sure to offend many by drawing a comparison of a dog to something holy. It is difficult to type while crying, and even more difficult to share how much one dog can mean. No, I don’t worship animals – although I did live in Eugene long enough to see some pretty strange things. And I am not putting my dog on the level of a human, with his value more than, or even equal to, my husband or children. There will still be larger-than life moments in my world – a solo for one of the kids in a play, a ribbon from the State Fair, a special dinner to celebrate many years spent together. But I’m trying to imagine a night out on the deck without his 80-pound body wedging itself between David and me, and I’m not succeeding very well. How do you laugh at joy destroyed?
When I covered Juneau’s mangled body with a blanket, I understood the expression “He’s not with us anymore.” Animals, like people, seem smaller when they’ve died. Like the area the soul occupied is void – the balloon has popped, and there are wrinkles where the space was occupied by something larger than the lining. I’m not suggesting dogs have souls – why would they need them? They never questioned the One. If even the rocks would cry out and worship, where do you think dogs would be? At the front of the chorus, I am sure. I have no desire to debate whether animals go to heaven. I only know on that day when I face Christ, when He who died for my sins runs to embrace me, He will be missing his right sandal. And Juneau will be right behind him, carrying it in his big smiling mouth.

Source:  Justlabradors.com/MSN

Dogwise, All Things Dog! Monthly Feature: BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS IN DOGS

Marley & Me

Marley

Tales from a Dog Catcher

Posted:  Just One More Pet

September 20, 2009 Posted by | animal behavior, Just One More Pet, Pets | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Dog Story

Long, but worth it…………………………..

********************************************************************************************
They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie as I looked at him lying in his pen. black-lab The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly.

I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open.  Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.

But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt.  Give me someone to talk to.

And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news.  The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant.  They must’ve thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner.  See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home.  We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home).  Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.  Maybe we were too much alike.

For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls – he wouldn’t go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes.  I guess I didn’t really think he’d need all his old stuff, that I’d get him new things once he settled in. But it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn’t going to.

I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like “sit” and “stay” and “come” and “heel,” and he’d follow them – when he felt like it.  He never really seemed to listen when I called his name – sure, he’d look in my direction after the fourth of fifth time I said it, but then he’d just go back to doing whatever.  When I’d ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.

This just wasn’t going to work.  He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes.  I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell.

The friction got so bad that I couldn’t wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cell phone amid all of my unpacked stuff.  I
remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the “damn dog probably hid it on me.”

Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter’s number, I also found his pad and other toys from the shelter..  I tossed the pad in Reggie’s direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm I’d seen since bringing him home.  But then I called, “Hey, Reggie, you like that?  Come here and I’ll give you a treat.”  Instead, he sort of glanced in my direction – maybe “glared” is more accurate – and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down with his back to me.

Well, that’s not going to do it either, I thought.  And I punched the shelter phone number. But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope.  I had completely forgotten about that, too. “Okay, Reggie,”  I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”………
_______________________________________
To Whoever Gets My Dog:

Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it.  if you’re reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter.  He knew something was different.  I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time… it’s like he knew something was wrong.  And something is wrong… which is why I have to go to try to make it right.

So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.

First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier.  Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hordes them.  He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there.

Hasn’t done it yet.  Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after it, so be careful – really don’t do it by any roads.  I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.

Next, commands.  Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I’ll go over them
again:  Reggie knows the obvious ones – “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.”

He knows hand signals: “back” to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and “over” if you put your hand out right or left.  “Shake” for shaking water off, and “paw” for a high-five.

He does “down” when he feels like lying down – I bet you could work on that with him some more.  He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.

I trained Reggie with small food treats.  Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of
hot dog..

Feeding schedule:  twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six in the evening.  Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

He’s up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with yours; they’ll make sure to send you reminders for when he’s due.

Be forewarned:  Reggie hates the vet.  Good luck getting him in the car –  I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.

Finally, give him some time. I’ve never been married, so it’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can.  He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain.  He just loves to be around people, and me most especially. Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new.

And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you….

His name is not Reggie.

I don’t know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie.  He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt.  but I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name.  For me to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I’d never see him again.  And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything’s fine.  But if someone else is reading it, well… well it means that his new owner should know his real name. It’ll help you bond with him.  Who knows, maybe you’ll even notice a change in his demeanor if he’s been giving you problems.

His real name is Tank. Because that is what I drive.

Again, if you’re reading this and you’re from the area, maybe my name has been on the news.  I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander.  See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with… and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call the the shelter… in the “event”… to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.

Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed.  He said he’d do it personally.  And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.

Well, this letter is getting to downright depressing, even though, frankly, I’m just writing it for my dog.  I couldn’t imagine if I was writing it for a wife  and kids and family.  But still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.

That unconditional love from a dog is what I took with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things… and to keep those terrible people from coming over here.  If I had to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so..  He was my example of service and of love.  I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at
the shelter.  I don’t think I’ll say another good-bye to Tank, though.  I cried too much the first time.  Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

Good luck with Tank.  Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.

Thank you,
Paul Mallory
_____________________________________
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope.  Sure I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me.  Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies.  Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.

“Hey, Tank,” I said quietly.

The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes brightened.

“C’mere boy.”

He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor.

He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months.

“Tank,” I whispered.

His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him.  I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.

“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me.. Your old pal gave you to me.”

Tank reached up and licked my cheek.  “So whatdaya say we play some ball?  His ears perked again. “Yeah?  Ball?  You like that? Ball?”  Tank tore from my hands and disappeared in the next room. And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

by DaisyDoyle – AARP Dog Blog Group

Posted:  Just One More Pet

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August 16, 2009 Posted by | animal behavior, animals, Fostering and Rescue, Just One More Pet, Pet Adoption, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Success Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New First Pooch Is Arriving Soon

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Warren Harding with Laddie Boy Library Of Congress / Getty ENLARGE + Print EmailShare ReprintsRelated

During the dog days of last summer, perhaps the most important looming decision facing Barack Obama was choosing a dog for his girls.  Way back, as he set out on this quest for the Presidency, he made the one campaign promise he absolutely could not break: that when it was all over, whatever the outcome, his daughters could get a dog.  And if they ended up at Pennsylvannia Avenue the pup would certainly not be the first dog or pet in the White House so would have a long legacy of presidential pets to follow and live up to.

Things have changed since the days when George Washington could name his hounds Drunkard, Tipler and Tipsy. Warren Harding’s Airedale Laddie Boy had a valet and occupied a hand-carved chair at Cabinet meetings. Ulysses S. Grant told his White House staff that if anything happened to his son’s beloved Newfoundland, they’d all be fired. Teddy Roosevelt had, along with a badger, a toad, some snakes and a pig, a bull terrier named Pete who once ripped the pants of a French ambassador. Cousin Franklin’s dog Fala had a press secretary, starred in a movie and was named an honorary private in the Army. George H.W. Bush’s springer spaniel Millie wrote a book, which sold more copies than the President’s autobiography. And then, of course, there was Checkers. Harry Truman supposedly once said, You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog. ( By Nancy Gibbs/TIME)

It’s hard enough to pick the right dog.  But adding the fact that you may be the First Family and need a hypoallergenic breed increases the difficulty of the process.  So the American Kennel Club (AKC), hoping to help ensure the 23rd purebred dog into the White House, conducted a survey. The public could even vote online for the type of dog they thought the Obamas should get for the AKC survey, and other groups sponsored similar surveys. Since first daughter Malia has allergies, the AKC limited the ballot choice to five hypoallergenic breeds. It suggested the bichon frise with its history as a companion to French noblemen implying qualification of the breed for the White House. But perhaps it was not the exact image the Obamas were looking for. It recommended the miniature schnauzer as an excellent watchdog, for a little added security (although probably not needed), and the soft-coated wheaten terrior with its sweet-temperament as a positive goodwill ambassador, though it “must be handled firmly and with consistency,” which also may not have been the ideal characteristic choice for the candidate of Change.

The AKC’s preference for purebreds, however, missed the obvious stellar opportunity for the Obamapup. Surely a self-proclaimed postpartisan reformer, who promised to ‘reach across the aisle’,  would lean toward some stunningly blended mutt, a rescued shelter dog or at least one of the American Canine Hybrid Club’s 500 plus registered hybrids. Afterall, the hybrid pooch or designer dog was bred to give you the best of both breeds: a Labradoodle, a Peke-a-Poo, a Bagle (half basset, half beagle) or a Chiweenie (half chihuahua, half dachshund). A bully pulpit seeking candidate might like the Bullypit (a bulldog-pit-bull mix), or he could go for a Sharmatian–part Chinese Shar-Pei, part Dalmatian–and get the whole East-and-West, black-and-white thing going in one single pooch.

There was even a suggestion during the campaign, that their decision for a type of dog, if not actually getting one before the election,  should be moved up, given the competition from the ‘McCainines’. An AP–Yahoo News poll last June (2008) found that pet owners favored John McCain over Obama, 42% to 37%, with an even bigger margin among dog owners. One participant explained that it “tells you that they’re responsible at least for something, for the care of something.” Or, in the McCains’ case, “many somethings”:  their menagerie includes a slew of fish, some parakeets, turtles Cuff and Link, Oreo the cat and four dogs, including terriers Lucy and Desi. Obama could take comfort in his 14-point lead among non–pet owners, except that they form a definate minority of U.S. households.

The Obamas were pre-warned, that although a good one, they were definitely looking at another major life change by getting a dog for the first time. “A dog was never an option in the apartment where I grew up”, said Obama, “and my daughters knew that training the dog they so desperately wanted was nothing compared with training me to accept one”.

portuguese_water_dogWell it is now two and a half months into the presidency and still no first dog, and it seems like the whole world, at least the pet loving world, is waiting for their choice and the arrival of the first pooch.  The word from First Lady Michelle is April, after their Spring Break family vacation, and possibly a Portuguese Water Dog…  and not a puppy (which could mean that in the end the AKC got their next purebred into the White House afterall).  Senator Ted Kennedy, whose neice Caroline got a pony while in the White House, highly recommended the breed.  He has two.  Their coat is a single layer and does not shed. In most cases, these dogs are hypo- allergenic, making them a good choice for those that have allergies.

So, there will be a new pooch frolicking on the South Lawn by the end of this month.

The next obvious question for speculation, of course, is the perfect name for the next first dog. Some suggest the Obamas should just get two, one for each of the girls, and call them Hope and Change.  Of course there are others that suggest getting two dogs but calling them Smoke and Mirror or Fear and “Quo”, for Status Quo, would be the best call, but that would be a subject for another type of blog or article.

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By Marion Algier/Ask Marion – Posted – Just One More Pet

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Rescues, Just One More Pet, Pets, Political Change, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments