The DNA Results are In…

Actually, I knew the results before I posted.  But you all realized that if you read my original post.

C.J.

Since he was about 5 months of age, which is approximately how old he was when he came into our lives, C.J. has been classified as a Lab Mix. He looked like he might have some semblance of a bully in him too, and probably several other breed mixes. Labrador retriever was the primary, stand-out phenotype. Chompers, C.J.’s namesake, was half lab and C.J. looked like a spitting image of Chompers so we figured it must be so.

C.J. has been living a lie for the last 13 years of his life…

Here are C.J.’s Royal Canin GHA results:

CJ’s Genetic Health Analysis Report

A Labrador Retriever mix he is NOT!  There’s probably a tiny bit in there somewhere according to his “mixed breed” analysis.  C.J. is the poster child of what a Mutt is.  He is a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a dash of this, a sprinkle of that, and peppered with about a dozen other breeds.  The miniature poodle part though?  That gets me rolling!  It explains all of his “princess” moments.

How awesome is that report?  This Genetic Health Analysis screens for over 140 different hereditary conditions.  Not only do I now know that C.J. is a Pitweiler Choodle, but he also has tested clear of over 140 hereditary conditions.  That’s something that sets this pet owner’s mind at ease.

Esme

Then there’s Esme.  She was the reason I wanted to give the Royal Canin GHA a try.  Namely because she was so young, I was curious to find out what she really was because she had some really peculiar behaviors.  I suspected she had some bully in her due to her appearance and her personality, but she had something else that I just couldn’t figure out.

Well, you already know how good my intuition about dog breeds is knowing C.J.’s results. Lab mix.  Pshaw.

Esme is very stand-offish with most of the new people she meets.  She is fearful of others, and there’s no correlation to her fearful behavior (sex, nationality, age).  However, if she is allowed time to get to know someone, she then adores them whole-heartedly.  She is also the epitome of a snuggler.  She loves to be held in your lap, loves to lay next to and half-way on you when you’re laying down, and will curl up next to you while you’re chilling on the couch watching television or reading a book.  She has the appetite of a starving bear and will eat anything and everything she can get into her mouth, even if it’s not intended for ingestion.  And her tracking ability is amazing.  I really need to see if she’d be interested in Nosework because she can definitely sniff out any critter that has passed through our yard.

She was adopted to me as a Pointer mix.  I could buy that easily by appearance alone, but especially after getting to know her.  She has the personality of a pointer, always has to be busy doing something!  She gets bored easily and has all the energy in the world.  She also has pointed a few times.  Most pointers I’ve ever met have been very friendly and personable.  Esme, not so much.  Don’t get me wrong, she is friendly and personable, but she lacks trust in strangers.  She needs to spend a little time getting to know you before she’ll trust you.  But once you’ve earned her trust, she’s all yours.

So, what the heck is she?  Here are Esme’s Royal Canin GHA results:

Esme’s Genetic Health Analysis Report

So, there you have it.  Esme is mostly American Staffordshire Terrier (a pit bull) with a side of Wild Dog.  I’m beginning to understand her more and more!  Her trust issues?  Now it makes sense.  Her snuggaliciousness?  That’s all pit bull!

SIDE NOTE:  Pit Bull is a generic term for any of the bull terrier breeds.  It’s an umbrella term for a Staffordshire Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, etc.  The term “Pit Bull” comes from the fact that many of these breeds were used as pit fighting dogs.  Funny thing is, most of them were bred to be nannies.  Hence the cuddling.  They were bred to protect the young while the adults tended to the daily activities of the household.

Again, a neat thing about the Royal Canin Genetic Health Analysis is that it screens for 140+ genetic mutations/diseases.  Esme’s test came back with one copy of the craniomandibular osteopathy mutation.  I have learned that this is a dominant disorder, so only one copy is required to develop symptoms which means Esme could develop this disease.  Not all dogs with the mutation show clinical signs, but at least now my vet and I know what to watch out for.

How to get your dog tested

Check with your veterinarian to see if they offer the Royal Canin Genetic Health Analysis. The test requires a small blood sample and is reasonably priced compared to other DNA tests for dogs, and you get so much more than just what your dogs’ primary breeds are!  Even if you have a purebred dog, it’s worth it to have it screened for the 140+ genetic mutations.

If you have a:

  1. mixed breed dog
  2. dog that came to you as a stray
  3. rescue dog

I think you should seriously consider testing them.  Even if they appear to be a particular breed or breed mix, you might be surprised!  C.J. looked so much like a Labrador Retriever mix that I was certain he had to have some in him as a dominant breed.  His results just go to show that looks can be deceiving.  Just do it!  It’s kind of fun!

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We’ve finally found our niche, Part II … From Urban to Rural with dogs

If you haven’t already, check out Part I before continuing. Or not.

As we turned down our little Neck that would lead us to our new home, my eyes widened and my jaw may have dropped a little bit.  It looked like heaven.  A house here, a field there and there and there, another house here, a thick grove of trees on both sides of the road, a little house there, another field, and then we came upon our little bungalow.  It was, and still is, the cutest little place on a property that is magnificent!  I could hardly wait to let the dogs out to run in this wide open area!  They already had some of that at my parents’ house, but this was home!  They would get to run here every day.  But…

…crap!  There are deer all over the place.  Foxes.  Raccoons, opossums, muskrats (all things my dogs would love to chase!)…and TICKS.  I already knew there’d be fleas and was prepared for them.  But the ticks.  Yikes.

I arrived, with the dogs and cats, to our new home in early December.  The weather was cool here, with highs in the 50s & 60s and lows in the 40s and 30s.  It was really pretty nice considering what it was like when we left Northern Illinois.  There were deer everywhere.  In the midwest we contend with deer all year long.  In California, we didn’t have to deal with deer, or many other wild mammals for that matter, at all.  Those critters stayed in the mountains and foothills near the area we lived.  When we’d go hiking in the foothills we’d come across a jack rabbit here and there, maybe evidence of a coyote, but otherwise all of the wildlife we’d happen upon was avian, arachnid or reptilian.

Neither ticks nor fleas, or mosquitoes for that matter, were an issue for us in the desert.  Probably one of only 4 good things about living in the desert, in my opinion.  We didn’t have to worry about flea and tick prevention, and heartworm prevention was not a top priority either.  I would keep some Frontline Plus on hand to use if I knew we’d be making a trek up the mountains or to the East.  I’d have Heartgard Plus on hand to use if we would be traveling to the midwest.

After being on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for one entire week I learned that I had trained my dogs well in terms of their recall.  Nearly every single time we would let them out to eliminate or explore, there would be some critter worth investigating.  All it took was a “EH!” and they’d stop dead in their tracks.  So the wildlife issue was not an issue at all.  But the tick issue?  We were not only finding ticks on our dogs, but we were picking them of off ourselves every day.  Yikes!  Thank goodness I stocked up on some Frontline Plus before I left California.  It worked well.  I’d find a few well-fed ticks on Chompers and C.J. every now and again, but mostly they were dead or dying.  But they’re still just freaking gross.  Chris found one on him one day in a place that you would’t go searching for one.  It freaked him out so much that he had me shave his head shortly afterward, worried that there might be ticks hiding in his mane.  He had long hair for the majority of our time in CA, got a decent hair cut just prior to his interview here in VA, but he had never ever had a complete buzz cut.  Welcome to the boonies city boy!

Chris already had a job lined up prior to our relocation.  I had sent out resumes to all of the local veterinary clinics once I learned we’d be moving.  I had gotten a response from only one of 5 veterinary clinics on the Eastern Shore before I left CA.  They wanted me to fill out an application.  Chris went and picked one up for me, as I was still in CA and wouldn’t be leaving for a few weeks.  He filled it out to the best of his ability.  When I finally arrived on the Eastern Shore, I called and scheduled an interview at the animal hospital.

Just a few days after I arrived I visited the animal hospital that I had been in contact with.  I had a nice tour of the facility, met all the staff and then sat and chatted with the practice owner for a few minutes.  It all seemed promising, then I was told they didn’t have any positions open at that time but they would keep my application on file for 6 months.  I was a bit bummed, but I still had plenty of unpacking to do to keep me busy for a little while.    It really was a shame because the practice was less than 3 miles from where we were renting.  It would have been an ideal place for me to work!  Alas, I had to keep searching.

A month had gone by and, though I wasn’t desperately in need of employment, I was ready for a job.  I had settled into the house, unpacked what was unpackable for the short term that we’d be living there, learned to navigate my way from home to all of the important places:  DMV, grocery story, post office, hardware store, etc.  I figured out right away that I’d be spending a LOT of time shopping on Amazon.  I continued to look for work that I might be able to tolerate.  My heart and soul wanted to continue to work in the animal care field, but after having been ignored or denied employment at every veterinary facility and animal care facility (SPCA & Animal Control) I started to pick up applications for factory work and retail work. Then I received a call from the animal hospital that seemed interested in me from the beginning.

There was a recent and unexpected opening at the animal hospital and they hit me up because of my experience (ie:  I wouldn’t require much training).  I hadn’t had any other offers at that point so I took the position…as a Receptionist.  Did I want to be a receptionist?  No, because I’m a technical person, not a people-person.  But I did know how to field phone calls and triage patients at the front desk quite well, and I really needed a job so I took it.  The pay was okay, and it was more than the nothing I had been making, so I was all in!

Something was meant to be, because I was a receptionist there for maybe 6 months until I got repositioned as a veterinary assistant.  I double-dutied for the longest time, but now am able to keep to the technical stuff more, which makes me happy-er.  I am still willing to fill in on occasion when needed as a customer service specialist.  Truth is, whether you’re a receptionist, a vet assistant, a licensed vet tech, or a veterinarian…you’re still a customer service specialist!  I just prefer that title to be lower on my list of responsibilities, if you get my drift.  I went into animal science for the animals.

Again, I digress.  So I got a job!  And it was something that made me happy.  I am still there, if that tells you anything.

To be continued…

CJ and Esme … Guess the Breed(s)

A few months ago I decided to have both CJ & Esme DNA tested. I did it not just to learn their breed history, but also because this particular test screened for 140+ hereditary conditions. Royal Canin’s Genetic Health Analysis is a great addition to any dog’s health record.

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you may have already seen the results. If you haven’t seen the results, dare to venture a guess as to the top 2 breeds of CJ and Esme! I’ll let you all know what the results were in about 14 days. Let’s hope I don’t go on another blogging hiatus for months and months if the suspense is going to kill you. Here are some photos to go on in the meantime. First, CJ.

 

CJ LOVES the water!

 

CJ’s most favorite activity is fetching his aerobie. Aerobie is life for him. Even in his old age.

 

CJ and his aerobies. His most favorite toy on the planet!

Then Esme.

Esme’s first day in our home.  Esme on the left, CJ on the right.

 

Esme enjoys walks and exploring. She has a great nose and has tracked a fox or two in the back yard.

 

Here is Esme after being with us for a month. Still working on leash manners!

 

“Just look at these tonsils!” Esme has a big yawn, is a lover and wants to be friends with every dog she meets!!! People she’s a bit leary of.

Feel free to comment to ask about personality, habits, etc. CJ is very much a fetcher. Esme does not fetch. Esme is a cuddler! CJ not so much. CJ loves people and tolerates other animals. Esme likes other animals, especially other dogs, but is weird about certain people. CJ is smart! Esme is cute. CJ eats edible things! Esme eats things she shouldn’t. CJ is 13 years old and weighs about 54 pounds. Esme is about a year and a half and weighs 44 pounds.

We have a (relatively) NEW FAMILY MEMBER!

Many of you already know about her, but if you don’t follow me regularly…meet Esme!

We welcomed Esme into our home on December 5, 2018.  She is a former Rescue Dogs Rock alum (fka “Esmeralda”) that was being fostered by a friend of mine locally.  We weren’t really looking for another dog but, long story short, ever since I first learned about her I couldn’t stop thinking about her!  So after 2 months of no adoption interest we set up a meet-n-greet for Esme and C.J.  I would never bring another dog into the home if C.J. did not approve, so he was the decision maker.  You already know how this story ends…

The day Esme came to visit, she was rather timid but was quite interested in C.J.  She wanted to go wherever he went in the yard.  C.J. checked her out and she let him.  Then we tried to get her into the house.  She wouldn’t go in.  I called C.J. in and Esme then followed.  While we were standing in the kitchen talking about Esme and where she came from, what feats she’s made, her habits and such, C.J. came into the room and left his most prized possession (his aerobie) at her feet.  My heart melted and I knew he approved.  The next step was waiting for our adoption application to be approved.  What really took about 2 weeks felt like months!

Once we were approved on paper, we had to wait for a home check to finalize the adoption.  The rescue is located in New York City and most of the volunteers for the organization are located in or near NYC.  Not too many to be found here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia!  Thankfully they were able to find someone in Salisbury, MD that could come to our home for the home check.  Because of work schedules and the distance though, we still had to wait for days (which felt like weeks).  The waiting game was excruciating for me!  I’ve never had to go through this before.  Being in the profession I am, and have been for 25+ years, if I decided I wanted to take on a dog, I took it in that day!  If it was on a hold for any reason (ie:  found dog on an adoption hold for 10 days giving the owner time to claim), I would “foster” it until the hold was expired.

After 25 years (well, it sure felt like it) we finally got the word that we were approved!  Once the go-ahead was given we planned her arrival for the next day.

I have done rescue and fostering in the past and I know how difficult it can be to leave a foster with their new, forever home.  Dana, my friend who was fostering her, experienced this when she brought Esme to us after the adoption was finalized.  Esme was her first foster.  I felt for her and empathized with her, but also encouraged her to continue fostering.  The reward is worth it; knowing that you were a caring, nurturing transition for this pet and the primary catalyst in finding the pet his or her forever loving home.

Dana is currently fostering her 3rd RDR!  Keep it up Dana, the dogs are forever grateful to you, as are the adopters.

This is a picture of Esme & C.J. the day she came home to us…

Esme’s first day in our home

It’s been an adventure ever since…

Stay tuned for more “Adventures with Esme”… In the meantime look for her on IG with the tag #shewearspants

The Power of Positivity is Real

I’ve always been a believer in the Power of Positivity. This past week enhanced that belief a million-fold.

On Tuesday my 13 year old “Lab” mix, C.J., woke me up at 2AM to go outside. It was too dark for me to see what he was doing, but with his Noxgear Lighthound vest I could see that he was back in the trees where he would normally go to poop. I saw him stop for a few seconds, then went zooming from one side of the grove to the other. He’d pause again, then go back and forth again. This went on for a good 5 minutes or so. When he finally came back to the house, he was panting and went straight to the water bowl. I tried to go back to sleep.

When I woke up at about 4AM, I found a small pile of diarrhea on the rug next to the back door. Poor C.J. was having some stomach upset. He ate readily around 6AM and didn’t have any other bouts of the Big D.

I took him to work with me that day, as I typically do on Tuesdays anyway, and he seemed to be his normal self. Then one of the girls came to me to let me know he had explosive watery diarrhea. I was trying to figure out what it could be that was going on with him. I had a lightbulb moment while talking to a coworker about life-fails. She was telling me about how she spilled piping hot coffee on her over the weekend, and that sparked a memory of a jar of bone broth exploding all over my kitchen that Sunday. Before I could get it all cleaned up, C.J. was over there licking up what he could on the floor. It had to be dietary indiscretion or, worse (and I hoped not), pancreatitis. After talking with the veterinarian we decided to go conservative and treated for dietary indiscretion. That meant small and frequent meals of a bland diet.

By Wednesday morning, C.J. was still having watery diarrhea. He had a few accidents in the house. He was still with appetite and acting normal, with the exception of letting us know he had to go out frequently. He ate breakfast that morning, then vomited it up shortly thereafter. Back to work he went with me for monitoring and so that I could let him go outside to eliminate frequently. He seemed okay, but by midday he had vomited one more time. This time it was just phlegm. We gave him an antiemetic injection at that point and continued to treat for dietary indiscretion.

Thursday morning I woke up to the sound of C.J. pacing around the house. When I walked into the dining room there were about 6 or 7 piles of watery, bloody diarrhea on the floor. C.J. was also acting very puny, lethargic and was breathing rapidly with a rapid heart rate. I thought to myself, crap, it IS pancreatitis. I took him to the vet clinic before I went to teach my class at the YMCA that morning and let my coworkers know what was going on.

When I arrived at work that day the bloodwork had already been run on C.J. It was unremarkable. His pancreatic enzymes were normal, his liver values were normal, there was nothing really to indicate pancreatitis, or anything else for that matter. C.J. was definitely not feeling well and was dehydrated and still breathing fast as if he was severely uncomfortable. We placed an IV catheter and started him on IV fluids. Even though his bloodwork was normal, we proceeded to treat him supportively, as we would for pancreatitis or a viral infection like Parvovirus.

By lunch time C.J. had worsened. He would barely lift his head to acknowledge me when I went to check on him. I ended up spending most of my lunch hour in the kennel with him, loving on him and telling him he had to get better. That’s when the worst thoughts started going through my head. My heart started to sink and I couldn’t help but to start crying. I had this feeling that this was going to be the end. I was NOT ready for that!  I had my cell phone with me while I was hanging out with C.J. in the kennel and took a picture of the two of us.  I posted it on IG & FB to let friends and family know what was going on, and to plea for positive vibes to be sent his way.

The people I work with are amazing.  They discussed amongst each other what to do.  We could x-ray him and make sure there’s not something going on like a tumor hidden somewhere, an enlarged/shrunken/abnormal organ, etc.  They offered to help me get him ready for transport to a Veterinary Specialty facility that had a boarded internist, they would take care of Esme and Freddie Mercury until I returned, and would make sure my shift was covered at the animal hospital.  I decided to start with x-rays.  I was hoping to find something to validate my suspicions and to help us come up with a treatment plan for C.J.  We x-rayed his chest and his abdomen.  For a 13 year old large breed dog, that boy had some absolutely beautiful x-rays!  With the exception of some evidence of arthritis in his caudal spine, he was in pretty stellar shape.  Still no answer as to why C.J. was in the predicament he was.  I opted to continue to treat him supportively, at least over 24 hours to see if he’d improve.  If he didn’t, then I would either take him to the internist or make some other more final decisions.

Because it’s what I do and I am well-trained in animal nursing care, I was able to bring C.J. home with me to convalesce.

It’s not the first time I’ve had to “hospitalize” one of my pets at home on IV fluids and medications.  The first one was Chompers when he got into bread dough and I had to treat him for alcohol toxicity.  Yes, he got drunk!  Then there was Lazarus when he had his poop problems that set him into a downward spiral.  So far, my recovery rate was at 100%.  I really didn’t want to ruin my perfect record.

I set up my at home ICU, which is just a dog crate set up to be as comfortable as possible.  I borrowed an IV infusion pump from work to keep C.J.’s fluids in check.  I managed his IV catheter, monitored him constantly, administered all of his prescribed medications IV or orally, and spent the night with him.  He was confined to his Intensive Care Unit while I made myself as comfortable as I could on his dog bed just outside the facility.  It was a really long night … for me.  Every noise that came from him or his kennel alerted me.  If he sighed, I was wide awake, ready to reassess his respiratory and heart rates.  If he moved I was wide awake making sure he didn’t need to go out.

Friday morning C.J. seemed a little happier.  He acted like he might be interested in food.  I offered him some canned bland diet.  He turned his nose from it.  I snatched a sliver of turkey cold cut from Chris’ sandwich that he had prepared for lunch.  C.J. ate it without gusto.  I then offered him a venison jerky treat.  He ate it.  I started to wonder if he was having an aversion to the canned bland diet since that’s what he ate the last time just prior to his first bout of vomiting.  I decided to head to the grocery store to get some chicken breast and white rice.  I boiled the rice and the chicken breast (separately).  Once they were cooked and somewhat chilled, I shredded the chicken breast and offered C.J. a tiny bit of the chicken.  He ate it!  I mixed the rest of the chicken with the rice.  After an hour or so I offered C.J. a couple of tablespoons of the chicken and rice mixture.  He ate about half of it.  About an hour later I offered him another 2 tablespoons.  This time he ate all of it.  An hour later the same was offered, he ate most of it.  I continued to offer him a few tablespoons throughout the evening.

I had to work Saturday morning so I brought C.J. with me.  He was definitely improved by Saturday morning.  He was more alert and active, but not quite himself yet.  He ate a little bit of the chicken and rice for me in the morning.  Not as much as I would’ve liked, but he ate some.  He had not vomited since Wednesday, and I haven’t seen a bowel movement since Wednesday either.  I was anxiously awaiting a poop from C.J.

Yesterday (Saturday) afternoon C.J. pooped!  It wasn’t formed, but it wasn’t watery like it had been.  I call that “progress.”

This morning C.J. was ready eat like usual.  I am not ready to go all-out regular diet yet, so he had a mix of bland diet & his regular food this morning.  He ate all of it.  My heart is put back together.  I followed him out to the trees to see him poop.  He pooped and it was still soft, but formed!  Not liquid!  He is definitely on the mend!

I can’t help but believe that all of the positive vibes, prayers and well wishes that friends, family and acquaintances sent had something to do with C.J.’s recovery.  We still don’t know what exactly was going on, but we do know that he is better and that is all that matters.  Thank you to everyone who was looking out for him.  It is appreciated more than you may ever realize.

HOT TOPIC: Pets in Cars

Over the past 10+ years pet owners have been spending more time traveling with their pets, especially those with dogs.  There are numerous explanations for this, with the primary reasons being that 1) pets are becoming more a part of the family and 2) communities are becoming more pet friendly (to accommodate for reason 1).  Many restaurants now allow leashed, well-behaved canines in their outdoor areas (as allowable by law).  More and more hotels are becoming pet friendly which makes it easier to travel long distances with pet companions.  Many neighborhoods have Dogipot Stations available to make clean up easy and convenient (though I personally do not find carrying around a small thing of doggie doo doo bags to be cumbersome).  It’s easier than ever to let Fido jump in the backseat of the car for a ride-along!

We must always remember to be mindful of our surroundings at all times when we have our pets with us.  Are there other animals in the area that might not be friendly, or that my pet might like to chase?  Is there something dangerous along our walking path (broken glass, chemicals, delicious trash)?  Is the temperature suitable for my pet?  There are several things to take into consideration, just as there are when you travel with your children.  For this post we are going to focus on the temperature factor.

It’s that time of year when the sun rises high in the sky and sets well into the late evening hours. With increased sunlight hours comes increased outdoor temperatures. We have all kinds of options for keeping cool such dressing loosely, turning on a fan, going for a swim, or relaxing in the air conditioning.  More daylight hours also tends to lead to increased activity outdoors.

I don’t know about all of you, but when the weather’s nice I enjoy outdoor activities with my dog.  We enjoy running, frisbee fetching, spending time at the beach or the neighbor’s pool, visiting with friends, boating, kayaking, or just hanging out and relaxing at the park.  Sometimes when we are traveling with our pets we need to make a pit-stop.  The gas tank might be getting low, you realized you forgot to pack water for the adventure that lies ahead, we need ice to fill up the coolers, or we just need to run into the grocery store and grab a bag of chips to go with the sandwiches that we packed for the picnic.

In the event that you need to leave your pet in the car for a short period of time, be aware that the temperature within your vehicle will increase over time.  The following is a chart that shows how the temperature of the interior of an enclosed vehicle in the sun changes over time.

How the interior temperature of an enclosed vehicle increases in the sun over time

Once again, this is the temperature increase of an enclosed vehicle in the sun.  If you must leave your pet in the car to run into the store, please keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Park in a well shaded area.
  • Keep the windows down at a level that is safe for your pet.  If you have a dog that is likely to jump out of an open window, don’t leave the window down all the way!  If you have a cat that can squeeze through a cracked window, just crack it to a point at which your cat can’t escape.
  • Keep your vehicle running with the air conditioning on.
  • If your pet is in a carrier, or if you have a pet that is well-behaved on a leash, you can likely get by with taking your pet with you into the store.
  • Keep your pit-stops brief.
  • If you have a tendency to get side-tracked, have diarrhea of the mouth when you meet people in the store that you know (or are just meeting), or if your quest for 2 or 3 items often turns into a cart-full, I recommend you never make a pit-stop while your pet is with you.

It is safe for you to travel with your pet, even in the summer months.  Just be mindful and keep any time away from your pet to an absolute minimum.  After all, you wanted to spend time with your pet, didn’t you?  Then do just that!

A message to everyone; pet owners, pet lovers, PETA, HSUS, Animal Welfare Institutions, Animal Rescue Organizations, Animal Control Officers, etc.  I understand that there is a concern for pets that are left alone in vehicles, especially in the extreme temperature months.  Should they be left in vehicles unattended?  Probably not.  Can they be left unattended in vehicles safely?  Absolutely.

If you happen upon an unattended animal in a vehicle, look at the time on your watch/smartphone/car clock.  If the animal appears to be in distress, contact the local animal authorities ASAP!  NEVER take it upon yourself to break a car window or break into a vehicle with an animal in it.  For one, you don’t know that the animal inside isn’t dangerous toward strangers!  Also, you may have just pulled up beside the vehicle as the owner was just entering the store.  A barking, whining or panting dog does NOT indicate distress (at least in terms of temperature).  Perhaps that dog suffers from separation anxiety and it acts out whenever the owner is out of sight (hence why the owner takes it with her regularly).

Be aware of your pet’s comfort level.  If you have a bracheocephalic breed (bulldog, pug, boxer, shih tzu) or an obese pet that struggles to breathe in 70 degree temps at 60% humidity, don’t travel with it if you have to leave it alone in a car for even 5 minutes.  If you have a puppy under 4 months of age or a senior pet over 10 years of age, don’t travel with it if you have to leave it alone in a vehicle for more than 10 minutes.  If you have a dog with severe separation anxiety, talk to your veterinarian about what you can do to manage the behavior.

Once again, this is a topic open for discussion.  Please leave your constructive criticism or comments below.  It’s impossible to hit upon every possible scenario when it comes to pets in vehicles, so lets discuss it!

Seriously…I Mean it…Retractable Leashes should be BANNED

WARNING:  This is a RANT post!  Proceed with caution!  But do not hesitate to comment for constructive conversation/debate.

I cannot stress just how much I abhor the retractable leash. To recap, here’s my original post.

All too often I see countless dog owners walking with their dog or showing up to the vet office with their dog on a retractable leash.  The dog is 99.99999% of the time tugging at the leash (because a retractable leash teaches them to do so).  This is not a habit you want your dog to think is OK.  Especially if you have a very large, muscular breed dog.  All dogs should be taught proper leash manners.

Not only do these leashes teach a dog poor leash manners, the mechanisms in these types of leashes are NOT foolproof!  They fail more often than not.  Of all of the clients I deal with that come in to the animal hospital with a dog on a retractable leash, more than 50% of the time the locking mechanism of the leash is not working.  That potentially puts 1) the dog on that leash, 2) the other animals in the area, 3) the pet owners in the area and 4) the staff of the animal hospital at risk of injury.  It doesn’t matter how friendly or social your dog is, retractable leashes that are failing or unmonitored are tripping hazards!  Also, your dog might love cats, but that cat waiting in the lobby isn’t necessarily fond of your dog.

If you think that you are exempt because you never let your dog wander, your dog is well-behaved on the retractable leash, and you always make sure your leash is in good working order…my recommendation is…then why not just get a real, reliable, SAFE-for-everyone leash?!!