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Doggie DNA Testing

“He wa’n’t no common dog, he wa’n’t no mongrel; he was a composite. A composite dog is a dog that is made up of all the valuable qualities that’s in the dog breed — kind of a syndicate; and a mongrel is made up of all riffraff that’s left over.”  …Mark Twain

(Many of yesterday’s Mutts are today’s Hybrid or Designer Dogs…)

Doggie DNA Testing

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Unknown Mixed Breeds

Through the marvels of DNA testing, some of the greatest mysteries of Mutt-dom are being revealed.

Dogs of vague or unrecognizable ancestry — whether fluffy white mongrels with Chihuahua ears and beagle-like voices or massive hounds that resemble nothing previously seen in nature — are being exposed for what they really are, genetically speaking.

DNA testing can disclose what breeds dominate their family trees. And thousands of people are happy to pay, about $60 to $170 depending on the method and company chosen, to end the what-do-you-suppose-he-is speculation of mixed-breed dog owners everywhere.

The first test was unveiled less than a year ago. Now, consumer interest is growing so fast that more companies are jumping into the doggie-identification business, websites are being enhanced, and additional breeds are being added to testing databases.

“Pure curiosity, getting the answer” is the reason most owners seek out the testing, says Neale Fretwell, head geneticist for Mars Veterinary, maker of the Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis. The analysis can determine which of 134 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club composes a dog’s genetic makeup.

And some of the answers are real stunners, not only for the owners but also for the veterinarians who have made their best guesses, Fretwell says.

The procedure requires an appointment with a veterinarian to draw a blood sample, and when analysis is completed in two or three weeks, a follow-up visit to discuss the findings. The pricing is set by individual veterinarians, $135 to $170.

Another reason owners go the testing route is to uncover possible explanations for behaviors that might be inherited, such as herding people and other pets or rooting around in chipmunk or mole holes.

Other owners want to know whether their dogs have a high proportion of a breed predisposed to a particular ailment or frailty, although experts caution that it’s impossible to know which traits, including propensity for disease or medical problems, a mongrel might inherit from any particular breed.

No one offering such tests suggests a mongrel assumes some sort of elevated status upon learning a purebred bloodhound or dachshund entered his ancestry generations ago.

Indeed, the companies celebrate the characteristics of mixed breeds, and some experts applaud “hybrid vigor,” the belief that mixing unrelated breeds can create a stronger, healthier dog than purebreds, which can pass on genetic conditions found in specific breeds.

Many clients are “very surprised” upon receiving word of what breeds populate their dog’s background, Fretwell says.

Meg Retinger, chief administrative officer of BioPet Vet Lab in Knoxville, Tenn., says: “Some people say, ‘That’s just exactly what I thought.’ “Others” have such preconceived notions about what their pet is they just won’t accept the results.”

In January, the lab began marketing its $59.95 DNA Breed Identification kit, which tests for 61 AKC breeds using cheek cells scraped by the owner.

But the signature appearance characteristics of a particular breed don’t always materialize, even when there’s a high proportion of that breed in a dog, Fretwell says.

A mongrel with a German shepherd parent or grandparent, for example, might not have the black and tan coloring, the saddle pattern on its back or even the long muzzle. Some could not show any shepherd characteristics.

Size, color and a host of physical features such as ear and muzzle shape and tail type are influenced by genetics, and when several breeds meld in one dog, it’s tough for even experts to eyeball a mutt and accurately assess what lies within.

Connie Steele of Colorado Springs learned that. This year she adopted a black-and-white dog that shelter personnel thought was mostly border collie and about 1½ years old. She soon discovered from her veterinarian that Ellie was still a puppy, probably less border collie than believed and almost certain to grow a lot more.

Steele had Ellie tested because, she jokes, she wanted “a bit of warning if I’m going to need to plan ahead for a larger house to accommodate a 2-year-old pony-sized dog.”

Upon receiving Ellie’s results, Steele did not begin house-shopping, though she was surprised by the breeds found in her background. Steele believes the information she now has about Ellie and also Kayla, another recently adopted shelter dog, offers clues about how to approach their training.

Most DNA tests show three or four different breeds in the mixed breeds’ ancestries, and many show five or six, experts say. Several more probably are in the mix, but the amounts have been so dissipated over the generations, they are merely weak traces, unlikely to influence a dog’s appearance or behavior.

And, yes, a few dogs comprise so many disparate breeds, the experts and their tests just can’t solve the puzzle.

“Even the best test can’t answer every question of biology,” says Dennis Fantin, chief of operations for MetaMorphix, a company in Beltsville, Md., that has done testing for the AKC for years. The company now offers a $119.95 mixed-breed cheek-swab kit. The Canine Heritage XL Breed Test can detect 108 breeds.

Sometimes, any pure DNA has become “so diluted” by encounters with mixed breeds over the generations that no answers emerge, Fantin says.

Their owners are told the mystery must remain.

From USA Today

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Chiweenies          &              Chorkies

Designer Breeds

“My name is Oprah Winfrey. I have a talk show. I’m single. I have eight dogs — five golden retrievers, two black labs, and a mongrel. I have four years of college.”  …Oprah Winfrey, when asked to describe herself during jury selection

Join Us At ‘Just One More… Pet’… in the Fight Against Unnecessary Pet Euthanization By Finding Loving Homes for Unwanted and Abandoned Pets

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December 18, 2009 Posted by | Adopt Just One More Pet, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Change Number of Pet Restrictive Laws. Ordinances and Rules, Just One More Pet, Pets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

15th Annual DAWG Walk & Pet Faire raised more than $12K for a great cause

15th Annual DAWG Walk & Pet Faire raised more than $12K for a great cause

When Andrea Horikawa rescued Vinny more than a year ago, the 3-year-old Chihuahua mix had “aggression” issues. The dog had been abandoned and abused. On Saturday, remnants of Vinny’s troubled past were no where to been seen as he wowed the crowd with his ability to walk backwards, do flips and speak in different tones on cue.

“It has taken a lot of work, but he is doing much better now,” Horikawa said before Vinny showed off his talents in the “Best K9 Trickster” contest.

The duo joined several others who gathered for the 15th Annual DAWG Walk & Pet Faire at the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center at the Village Green.

The event grossed $12,200, said Sharon Cody, president of DAWG, the Mission Viejo shelter’s nonprofit that raises funds for animals’ medical procedures. Proceeds will benefit the Mission Viejo Animal Services Center at 28095 Hillcrest.

The Mission Viejo Animal Services Center partnered with Dedicated Animal Welfare Group (DAWG) to host the fun-filled family event that included an impressive display of K9 Athletes in Action, pet contests, animal rescues, booths, entertainment, pet and wildlife exhibits and much more. The morning began with the singing of the National Anthem followed by a pristine 2-mile walk along Oso Creek Trail.

Dogs of all ages, breeds, shapes and sizes – many who had been adopted from the animal shelter – blanketed the park. Several pet owners spent the morning introducing their furry family members to new canine friends.

“I am excited to be here … this is a beautiful venue and a wonderful cause,” said Cindy Russell, who brought her Frisbee-loving dog, Cisco, along for some fun.

For more information about DAWG, visit www.DAWG.org. Information about the Mission Viejo Animal Shelter is available at www.cmvas.org or by calling 949-470-3045.

Posted:  Just One More Pet

July 1, 2009 Posted by | Just One More Pet, Pet Events, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pet Owner's Rights, Pets, Political Change, responsible pet ownership, Success Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Many of yesterday’s Mutts are today’s Hybrid or Designer Dogs…

“He wa’n’t no common dog, he wa’n’t no mongrel; he was a composite. A composite dog is a dog that is made up of all the valuable qualities that’s in the dog breed — kind of a syndicate; and a mongrel is made up of all riffraff that’s left over.”  …Mark Twain

(Many of yesterday’s Mutts are today’s Hybrid or Designer Dogs…)

Doggie DNA Testing

Big Family

 

Unknown Mixed Breeds

Cheech and Duke

Through the marvels of DNA testing, some of the greatest mysteries of Mutt-dom are being revealed.

Dogs of vague or unrecognizable ancestry — whether fluffy white mongrels with Chihuahua ears and beagle-like voices or massive hounds that resemble nothing previously seen in nature — are being exposed for what they really are, genetically speaking.

DNA testing can disclose what breeds dominate their family trees. And thousands of people are happy to pay, about $60 to $170 depending on the method and company chosen, to end the what-do-you-suppose-he-is speculation of mixed-breed dog owners everywhere.

The first test was unveiled less than a year ago. Now, consumer interest is growing so fast that more companies are jumping into the doggie-identification business, websites are being enhanced, and additional breeds are being added to testing databases.

“Pure curiosity, getting the answer” is the reason most owners seek out the testing, says Neale Fretwell, head geneticist for Mars Veterinary, maker of the Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis. The analysis can determine which of 134 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club composes a dog’s genetic makeup.

And some of the answers are real stunners, not only for the owners but also for the veterinarians who have made their best guesses, Fretwell says.

The procedure requires an appointment with a veterinarian to draw a blood sample, and when analysis is completed in two or three weeks, a follow-up visit to discuss the findings. The pricing is set by individual veterinarians, $135 to $170.

Another reason owners go the testing route is to uncover possible explanations for behaviors that might be inherited, such as herding people and other pets or rooting around in chipmunk or mole holes.

Other owners want to know whether their dogs have a high proportion of a breed predisposed to a particular ailment or frailty, although experts caution that it’s impossible to know which traits, including propensity for disease or medical problems, a mongrel might inherit from any particular breed.

No one offering such tests suggests a mongrel assumes some sort of elevated status upon learning a purebred bloodhound or dachshund entered his ancestry generations ago.

Indeed, the companies celebrate the characteristics of mixed breeds, and some experts applaud “hybrid vigor,” the belief that mixing unrelated breeds can create a stronger, healthier dog than purebreds, which can pass on genetic conditions found in specific breeds.

Many clients are “very surprised” upon receiving word of what breeds populate their dog’s background, Fretwell says.

Meg Retinger, chief administrative officer of BioPet Vet Lab in Knoxville, Tenn., says: “Some people say, ‘That’s just exactly what I thought.’ “Others” have such preconceived notions about what their pet is they just won’t accept the results.”

In January, the lab began marketing its $59.95 DNA Breed Identification kit, which tests for 61 AKC breeds using cheek cells scraped by the owner.

But the signature appearance characteristics of a particular breed don’t always materialize, even when there’s a high proportion of that breed in a dog, Fretwell says.

A mongrel with a German shepherd parent or grandparent, for example, might not have the black and tan coloring, the saddle pattern on its back or even the long muzzle. Some could not show any shepherd characteristics.

Size, color and a host of physical features such as ear and muzzle shape and tail type are influenced by genetics, and when several breeds meld in one dog, it’s tough for even experts to eyeball a mutt and accurately assess what lies within.

Connie Steele of Colorado Springs learned that. This year she adopted a black-and-white dog that shelter personnel thought was mostly border collie and about 1½ years old. She soon discovered from her veterinarian that Ellie was still a puppy, probably less border collie than believed and almost certain to grow a lot more.

Steele had Ellie tested because, she jokes, she wanted “a bit of warning if I’m going to need to plan ahead for a larger house to accommodate a 2-year-old pony-sized dog.”

Upon receiving Ellie’s results, Steele did not begin house-shopping, though she was surprised by the breeds found in her background. Steele believes the information she now has about Ellie and also Kayla, another recently adopted shelter dog, offers clues about how to approach their training.

Most DNA tests show three or four different breeds in the mixed breeds’ ancestries, and many show five or six, experts say. Several more probably are in the mix, but the amounts have been so dissipated over the generations, they are merely weak traces, unlikely to influence a dog’s appearance or behavior.

And, yes, a few dogs comprise so many disparate breeds, the experts and their tests just can’t solve the puzzle.

“Even the best test can’t answer every question of biology,” says Dennis Fantin, chief of operations for MetaMorphix, a company in Beltsville, Md., that has done testing for the AKC for years. The company now offers a $119.95 mixed-breed cheek-swab kit. The Canine Heritage XL Breed Test can detect 108 breeds.

Sometimes, any pure DNA has become “so diluted” by encounters with mixed breeds over the generations that no answers emerge, Fantin says.

Their owners are told the mystery must remain.

From USA Today

Chorkies           &              Chiweenies

Designer Breeds

“My name is Oprah Winfrey. I have a talk show. I’m single. I have eight dogs — five golden retrievers, two black labs, and a mongrel. I have four years of college.”  …Oprah Winfrey, when asked to describe herself during jury selection

50

Join Us At ‘Just One More… Pet’

…in the Fight Against Unnecessary Pet Euthanization By Finding Loving Homes for Unwanted and Abandoned Pets, by Adopting Just One More Pet and By Fighting Legislation That Restricts Pet Owners To Less Than a Combination of 4-Pets   

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, pet products, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Stop Euthenization, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mixed Breeds are Stars at Nuts for Mutts Dog Show

Non-profit animal rescue group New Leash on Life will host their 8th Annual Nuts for Mutts Dog Show and Pet Fair Sunday, May 17, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at Shepard Stadium at Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills.

Hundreds of mixed breed dogs are expected to compete before a panel of celebrity judges in categories such as, “Fastest Mutt,” “Most Ear-resistible Ears,” “Most Toy/Ball Crazy,” and, of course, “Best in Show.” 

This year’s fundraiser event will be emceed by MADtv’s Debra Wilson Skelton, and will feature pet adoptions, a silent auction, pet-related vendors, children activities, live music, and much more.

Scooble.com, the online resource for finding the best pet food and services, will join the festivities, and will be giving away goody bags of pet-friendly treats as well as raffling off two $75 TLC 4 Pets boarding and Catsaway Hotel gift certificates.

Mutt Reading“We wanted to do something special for the participants and attendees of Nuts for Mutts,” said Scooble.com’s Rob Chell. “What’s more special than a stay at a luxury pet hotel?”

To register your mutt, visit www.NutsForMutts.org. Your dog must be a mixed breed, non-aggressive, and be spayed or neutered.

Posted:  Just One More Pet

May 15, 2009 Posted by | animals, Just One More Pet, On The Lighter Side, Pet Events, pet fun, Pets | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shelters Full of Chihuahuas

By FIELDING BUCK
The Press-Enterprise
 

“Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” which earned $29 million over the weekend and topped the Inland box office, is alarming some animal advocates who fear it will lead to an upswing in abandonment.

“I’m appalled by this movie,” said Meredith Brittain, who runs a small pet-rescue operation in Devore.

Rescuers say they were already overrun with abandoned Chihuahuas because of the stalled economy’s impact on pet owners and media overexposure to the breed from Taco Bell commercials and Paris Hilton paparazzi shots.

The arrival of an eye-poppingly cute Disney picture filled with talking critters is the equivalent of one more bank closure, they say.

“It’s been the worst year ever,” said Ann Pollock, of a San Diego County Chihuahua rescue operation.

Experts urge people who may be thinking about getting a Chihuahua to adopt at a shelter or rescue agency instead of breeders, stores or online ads. People who have seen “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” say it may send a positive message about abandoned animals. The title character is homeless after being stolen.

      

Carrie Rosema / The Press-Enterprise
Shelter officials say people interested in adopting Chihuahuas do their research and don’t judge animals solely on looks.

Both its canine leads were adopted by the film’s animal trainer. Rusco, the male who plays Papi, was saved from Moreno Valley Animal Shelter in November 2006, after his owner refused to claim him.

“Fantastic movie! I loved it,” said Denise Raymond, office supervisor for animal services, who went over the weekend just to see Rusco’s big debut.

The fear, however, is that the film will cause a repeat of what happened in 1996 when Disney released its live-action “101 Dalmatians.” Filmgoers rushed out to purchase purebred puppies they quickly found they didn’t want.

Brittain said problems begin with buying instead of adopting.

“They buy puppies. They dump them when they turn into dogs.”

Brittain fears people will see “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” go out and buy a male and female and then try to sell the resulting litter at $50 a pup.

      

Experts urge people who may be thinking about getting a Chihuahua to adopt at a shelter or rescue agency instead of stores.

She said a “flood of unwanted dogs” has created gridlock in the rescue system. If potential owners are waiting, then rescuers can’t place the dogs.

“We’re doing this out of our grocery money, most of us,” Brittain added.

She said can she can only handle one or two dogs at a time and does not publicize her activities because if she did she would get eight to 10 calls a day.

There is a high percentage of Chihuahuas in the animal-rescue system, experts say.

Kathleen Summers, program assistant, for puppy mills with the Humane Society of the United States, said that when the organization heard about the “Beverly Hills Chihuahua, it did an informal survey of Southern California shelters.

“Almost all of them said they were the most common breed they rescue.” She said five had Chihuahuas come in on the day of the call.

Rescue Me… Please!
      

Carrie Rosema / The Press-Enterprise
Stacie Gendreaux, of the Riverside County Department of Animal Services, holds a Chihuahua.

Brian Cronin, division chief for San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control, said that on Monday there were 21 Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes and about 50 small-breed dogs out of 172 dogs in the shelter system and 297 animals total.

Among them are two “five-week-old guys” that had to be bottle-nursed in foster homes provided by staff.

John Welsh, spokesman for Riverside County Department of Animal Services, said that on Monday there were 94 Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes in the county’s four shelters.

Determination of breed is done by the staff. “None of our animals ever have papers,” Welsh said.

Teryn Hartnett, Riverside County’s senior animal behaviorist, said the region’s shelters see a lot of pit bulls and Chihuahuas because of “two different demographics”: the people who breed pit bulls for defense and the people who see paparazzi favorite Paris Hilton posing for photo ops with her pet, Tinkerbell.

A happy ending isn’t guaranteed animals that enter the shelter system. Welsh said Riverside County handles about 30,000 animals a year and about half have find homes. The rest are euthanized.

“It’s a statistic we’re always trying to improve.”

Cronin and Robert Miller, director of Riverside County Animal Services, took steps to neutralize the impact of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” They are on the board of California Animal Control Directors Association, which drafted a letter of Disney president and CEO Robert Igor.

Dated Aug. 8 and signed by board president Kathleen Brown, it states that in California shelters, one animal is euthanized every 63 seconds and that “Chihuahuas are small, easy to acquire and frequently abused in high-volume breeding operations.”

Cronin and Welsh said that Disney responded by including a pitch for responsible pet ownership in the film’s publicity.

Chihuahuas are high-energy dogs that require a high level of commitment. Hartnett said one factor to consider is whether you’ll enjoy taking them for regular walks.

Chihuahuas will be a companion for a long time. Small dogs can live up to 20 years, Hartnett said.

“That dog might be in their house longer than the children,” she observed.

She advises people who are thinking about adopting animals do their research on breeds and then bring their whole families to shelters to meet the animals. Don’t judge on looks or color, she said. Judge on temperament.

Summers advised people to be realistic in their expectations. “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.”

“They don’t understand the difference between a cute Chihuahua that jumps into your arms in the movie and a Chihuahua in your house.”

Riverside County: www.rcdas.org

San Bernardino County: www.sbcounty.gov/acc

Moreno Valley Animal Services: www.moreno-valley.ca.us/resident_services/animal/ index_animal.shtml

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October 10, 2008 Posted by | Animal Abandonement, Animal Rights And Awareness, Just One More Pet, Pet Abuse, Pets, Political Change, Stop Animal Cruelty, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Pet Therapy

“All over the world, major universities researching the therapeutic value of pets in our society and the number of hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental institutions are employing full-time pet therapists.”  …Betty White, American Actress, Animal Activist, and Author of Pet Love

Researchers are finding that pets truly have the power to heal their owners, especially the elderly. The most serious disease for older people is not cancer or heart disease, but loneliness.

Too often, people who live alone or are suddenly widowed die of broken hearts. Love is the most important medicine and pets are one of nature’s best sources of affection. Pets relax and calm. They take the human mind off loneliness, grief, pain, and fear. They cause laughter and offer a sense of security and protection. They encourage exercise and broaden the circle of one’s acquaintances.

Patients in hospitals and nursing homes who have regular visits from pets – whether their own or those brought in from various agencies – are more receptive to medical treatment and nourishment. Animals give the patient the will to live and in nursing homes, the medical staff is often surprised to see residents suddenly “become alive.” Animals have a calming effect on humans and benefit mental well-being, especially with children and the elderly.

In recent years, the experts have been relying on pet therapy as a valuable aid in reaching out to the elderly, the infirm, and to ill or abused children through-out the country. Therapy animals go to convalescent homes, hospitals, day care centers, juvenile halls, and prisons. These animals are trained to be calm, gentle and well-mannered, especially around rambunctious children. There are no breed requirements.

In fact, many therapy animals are mixed breeds. They come in all sizes and shapes. Cats and small dogs are good because they can be lifted easily and fit even on the smallest laps. A large dog makes a good companion for someone in a wheelchair, sitting patiently and allowing the occupant to stroke his fur.

Most important is that the therapy cats and dogs have a calm, gentle personality and are people-oriented. They must love attention and petting and not be shy. In addition, they need basic obedience training and should be conditioned to sudden noises. They provide an invaluable service to those who are lonely, abandoned, or ill; indeed, anyone who needs the miraculous healing that can arise from a hug and a gentle touch.

Children, especially those who are abused or neglected, are able to communicate with animals. A pet offers a safe place for a child with emotional problems. They give unconditional love, providing a security blanket.

A dog, cat, ferret or parrot can be the bond that glues a family together when upheaval, such as moving, death or divorce, occurs. Often, an animal can reach a child beyond an adult’s touch.

Mary Kelly, a child-life specialist at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, CA(USA), coordinates pet therapy sessions twice a month. She keeps a camera on hand to record the incredible connections that occur. “We’ve had very dramatic visits where a dog brought a child who has not spoken for months out of depression,” she states. “Most kids can relate to animals, so seeing and touching the pets brings them a sense of normalcy.”

Professionals in the field of pet-assisted therapy find that in addition to cats and dogs, fish, pot-bellied pigs, birds, reptiles, rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, horses and llamas are also valuable healers. They have also found pets lower blood pressure and stress levels, give the patient a reason to interact, offer a chance to exercise and a sense of security and/or intimacy, allow communication, and offer continuity in life.

The innocence of animals and their ability to love makes animals special. Human beings want to be part of their world, to connect with them in a mysterious and powerful way that will strengthen and nurture both humans and animals.

Allen Schoen, DVM says “In order to bond with animals, we have to step outside ourselves and learn to communicate on their terms.” During his years as a veterinarian, Dr. Schoen tells how love for our pets can literally save lives and how their love for us can be transforming in his bookLove, Miracles and Animal Healing.

That animals feel our pain, our joy, and our stress should come as no surprise for anyone who has a pet. Whether we recognize it or not, the emotional as well as the physical environment we humans create has a direct impact on the way our pets behave. Dr. Schoen explains that “…we emit energetic signals related to our deepest feelings that are picked up by those around us – especially our pets.” The emotional benefits from animals are difficult to measure, meaning that pets help humans without anyone knowing exactly why. What experts know, however, is that animals allow humans to focus, even for a short period of time, on something other than themselves.

Animals, especially small ones, have shown promise for many conditions, both social and physical:

  • Pets help Alzheimer’s patients by bringing them back to the present. Specially trained pups can also help alert others that an Alzheimer’s patient has wandered into harm’s way. “Pets can provide a measure of safety to people with the disease,” says Thomas Kirk, a vice president of a chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
  • Children who suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD) are able to focus on a pet, which helps them learn to concentrate.
  • Mentally ill patients, or those with emotional problems, share a common bond when a cat or dog enters the room. Instead of reacting negatively to one another, it boosts morale and fosters a positive environment.
  • Pets are an antidote to depression. Life in a care facility can be boring. A visit from a therapy cat or dog breaks the daily routine and stimulates interest in the world outside.
  • Pets provide social interaction. In a health care facility, people come out of their rooms to socialize with the animals and with each other.
  • Everyone has the need to touch. Many humans are uncomfortable hugging or touching strangers, even those close to them. Some people are alone and have no hands to hold, no bodies to hug. But rubbing the fur of a cat or dog can provide a stimulation that is sorely lacking. The nonverbal connection is invaluable in the healing process.
  • Pets are a source of expectation, hope and communication. Looking forward to a social call or getting home after time away gives that spark of anticipation all humans need to help feel alive. Pets can help start a conversation, and help one who is struggling against unusual difficulties in learning to speak for the first time or after a speech impairment such as a stroke.

Animals also provide healing outside domestic settings: dolphin and pet-assisted therapy, horseback riding, farm animal and wildlife interaction, and marine life activity.

The incredible abilities of pets are astounding:

Dogs sniff out deadly land mines in Bosnia and earthquakes worldwide, searching for victims. After the bombing in Oklahoma City, OK (USA), they crawled through twisted metal and broken glass in 12 hour shifts, searching for survivors. K-9 Corps dogs work with police and military personnel to uncover drugs, bombs and criminals. At airports, specially trained beagles scramble through cargo and baggage for illegal contraband, including foreign viruses. They aid the blind and assist the deaf and disabled. They have been used to detect cancerous lesions, long before they look suspicious. And we must never forget the combat dogs who served our countries, War Dogs – Dogs in Combat.

Cats are certainly the most curious and also the most psychic of pets. Throughout the ages, they have predicted earthquakes and other natural disasters, found missing persons and alerted their owners to danger. They can sense when a person needs help. Betty White relates the story of Handsome, a Persian cat who was taken to a nursing home and met Marie, a lonely senior with no friends and no family. She remained curled in a fetal position with no interest in living. She had sores on her legs from constant scratching. After Handsome became Marie’s roommate, whenever she tried to scratch herself, he would play with her hands or otherwise distract her. Within a month the sores had healed. But even more incredible, she was so fascinated with the cat that she asked the staff about his care. Before long, she was inviting other residents to come visit with her pet.

Even more dramatic is the story of Nina Sweeney fromLawrence, MA (USA). Her seven cats and dog saved her life one fateful night in January. The temperature was bitterly cold when she went to bed. During the night Nina was struck with a paralyzing illness that left her helpless. Unable to leave her bed, she listened as the fire in her stove sputtered and died. Outside, the thermometer registered below zero and the numbing chill seeped into the house. Nina prayed someone would find her as she shivered beneath her blankets. Two days passed before neighbors investigated. When they reached her, they found Nina alive and warm, one cat on either side of her, another draped like a fur on her neck. One was nestled on her chest and another under her arm. Beneath the covers were two other cats. Her dog lay across her stomach. Her pets had kept Nina from freezing to death.

A pet is an animal that is very beneficial to its owner. There’s even now a type of treatment called pet therapy. I myself have a pet dog and since having it, many things in my household have changed for the better. Below are 3 things why owning a pet will positively affect your life.

Firstly, a pet like any other animal needs to eat and shit. They have a daily schedule that needs to be attended to. Like for example, my pet dog eats 2 meals a day, once in the morning and once in the night. He gets his shower on Saturdays. So, caring for a pet actually encourages nurturance, responsibility and adherence to a daily schedule. This is especially a solid reason for you to convince your parent to get that pet you’ve been wanting.

Secondly, pets improve a person’s mood. No matter how angry, sad or stressed out you may be, spending time with your pet will put your focus and attention on it. There are actually 2 things that can suddenly improve your mood. One is a pet and the other is a baby. In this case, adopting a pet is easily more attainable than a baby.

Lastly, the third reason why you should own a pet is for accompaniment. This is especially beneficial to the elderly. Pets make you feel accepted every time. For example, my pet dog is usually left hanging around alone in the compound of my house. Even if you leave him alone the whole day, he will still come and lick me whenever I’m around. If that’s not love, then I don’t know what is. Pets are also good listeners. Sharing your burden with it helps to alleviate your mind and put you at peace.

Posted by:  Just One More Pet

Source:  True Health Is True Wealth

Permalink: https://justonemorepet.wordpress.com/2008/09/17/pet-therapy/

September 17, 2008 Posted by | animals, Just One More Pet, Pets, Success Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments