On Wednesday  October 28, Boston’s Pawsh Dog Boutique held a Halloween Bash to die for. It was no surprise when characters like Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Batdog, Princess Thatcher, and Bea the Chef strutted in wagging their tails. According to the boutique’s website , the yapping party raised more than $300 for the Animal Rescue League of Boston . The best part, according to our four-legged secret source, was the costume contest. The judges had some tough choices to make amongst all the adorable contestants, but the votes were cast and the winners were fairly chosen. Continue reading

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We all love Halloween: silly costumes, loud parties, yummy candy, creepy jack-o’-lanterns, and spooky stories included (seriously, what’s not to love?!). Just because we humans enjoy the thrills and chills that come with the Autumn season doesn’t mean Fido feels the same way. The 31st can be downright stressful for our four-legged companions. To make sure everyone enjoys the spooky festivities, read the following precautions offered by yours truly:

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Over at Dogster , they have posted a list of tips for those dog-lovers who are photographically inclined. The results seem to speak for themselves! Here is their list of tips:

"1) Change angles

Most pet photos are taken from the perspective of a human being looking down while the pet looks up. Bor-rinnnnnng! Try something different and get down at their level or, if they’re moving, pan with them as you take the shot.

2) Stick with natural light. Turn off or cover the on-camera flash

On-camera flashes are evil. They flatten everything out, cast harsh shadows and are the source of the infamous glowing green pet eyes. If you have to use a flash go with an off-camera one and bounce the light off a ceiling or wall.

3) Stay out of direct sun and shoot in the morning or late afternoon

Contrary to popular belief, bright sunlight is not a photographers friend. It wreaks havoc with your exposure and you typically end up with lots of nasty shadows in places you don’t want them.  I avoid photographing subjects outside in direct light except first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon before sunset when the light is angled low.

4) Don’t wait for the perfect moment and don’t be afraid to take lots of shots but…

Most of us are shooting digital these days so you can essentially take as many pictures as you want. With pets, unpredictability is the rule of law. You never know how a shoot is going to go. All you can do is be there and hope you catch the moment. This requires taking a lot of shots in quick sequence and culling through them later for the best one.

5) …make sure you edit yourself

Some of the most important work happens after you shoot. It sounds cliche but less is more. It’s easy to become enamored of the 100 pictures you took of Spot playing with his new ball but chances are your friends won’t feel the same way. Limit what you show people to only the very best."

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DEBORAH. I’m here with Spencer the dog. I was wondering, Spencer, what kind of things do you like to do during the summer?

SPENCER. I love to go swimming. In fact, one of my favorite activities is trail running. When we’re trail running in the summer, I make sure to jump in all the bodies of water, whether it’s a muddy hole or a large reservoir. I’m constantly cooling myself off while I’m running. One thing I don’t like is biting flies. We didn’t have them very badly this summer, but a couple summers ago, swarms of flies would follow us. I’d go on an hour and a half run and there would be a whole pack of flies following us the entire way, biting us. We didn’t have very bad ticks this year – I don’t like ticks, either.

SPENCER. So, I like to run, as long as it’s not too humid. If it’s real humid outside, I may not go for a run, and because I need a lot of exercise, I get kind of frustrated, so I resort to using my “binky,” which is a pacifier. Well, it’s a head cover for a golf club, and I suck and chew on them to pacify myself. But on a really hot day, what I’ll probably do is go to the beach. I try to go running and to the beach in the same day, but I don’t always have time. Once I’m at the beach, I love to swim. If there’s no other dogs around, I’ll fetch my “wubba ” – a “wubba” is toy made by Kong and it floats in the water; it looks kind of like an octopus, it’s yellow. I love to fetch my “wubba” and bring it back and forth, back and forth. You throw it out in the water, I bring it back.

SPENCER. If I happen to see other dogs in the water, that’s when my herding mentality kicks in. I’m a herding dog – specifically, an Australian Cattle Dog mix. I have created a new sport that I call “swerding.” What it entails is herding – usually Labradors and Golden Retrievers who are fetching balls in the ocean – and swimming. I herd them on the sand, and as they go into the ocean to fetch their tennis balls, I follow them out, and I swim next to them, and I herd them back in – hence, swimming and herding, “swerding.” That’s probably my favorite activity at the beach. Now, most people don’t mind it. But there are certain dog people that get a little annoyed with me, saying, “What is he doing? Get him away. He’s really annoying.” You have to explain to them that I’m a working dog and that it’s my natural instinct to herd.

DEBORAH. Have you ever gone boating?

SPENCER. Well, you should know. But no, I’ve never gone boating. But there are a lot of dogs who do go boating, and – you know,  dogs, like humans, can drown. Dogs can’t swim indefinitely and some dogs don’t make good swimmers. Dog owners should make sure that their dogs wear life vests if you take them on a boat. And of course, dogs can get sunburned, just like humans. So any part of their body which is exposed to the sun, like their nose, or their pads, you ought to put sunscreen on there if the dog will be getting a lot of sun exposure.

DEBORAH. What are some other activities that you like to do?

SPENCER. I like to go to the dog park. Again, I’m going to herd. I like to go early in the morning or in the evening in the summer time. When I go to the dog park, I’m mainly herding other dogs who are chasing tennis balls.

SPENCER. At the beach, though, I’ve had some unfortunate experiences. There are just some people who aren’t very tolerant of me, and they tell me to go away, because they don’t want to have their Labrador Retrievers herded. So they say, “Can’t you make your dog stop? Can’t you make your dog go away?” It’s very unpleasant for me and I usually end up leaving. One day, it was a warm day at the beach – now, in Cohasset, dogs are allowed on the beach from Labor Day to Memorial Day, and then after that there’s a curfew, so I have to leave at 8:30 in the morning and I can’t come back until 7:30 at night. So there’s a dedicated group of dog people who usually show up in the morning and in the evening. But this was in September, it was past Labor Day, and it was a very warm day so there were a lot of people at the beach. You and I walked over to the ice cream truck and we were coming back in the parking lot, and a lady got out of her car with her dog and said to me, “Oh, no. Not you again.” My feelings were very hurt. I decided to leave.

DEBORAH. Thank you very much Spencer. Good dog. That’s some good advice for playing with dogs in the summer time.

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The summer can be a fun season for companion animal and owner alike, but it can also be dangerous. Leaving animals in an enclosed environment such as a car is inhumane and can lead to injury or death. The temperature inside an enclosed area can easily reach twenty to forty degrees above the temperature outside, turning an fine eighty degree day into a sweltering one hundred twenty degree trap.

Some tips on keeping your dog safe in hot weather:

“If you must leave your dog alone, make sure they have plenty of cold water and shaded space. If possible, leave a fan on for them or even the air conditioning, even if you keep it on low.”

“Only engage in active play when it is cool out. While it’s tempting on a hot day to go for a run or toss a disc around, sometimes it’s too much for your dog. You can still enjoy these activities – just after the sun starts to go down or before it’s highest in the sky.”

“Always have cold water on hand. You wouldn’t deprive yourself of water, would you? Your dog is just as thirsty.”

There are also products, such as the Canine Cooler Bed, designed to keep dogs and other companion animals cool when it is warm outside.

Some tips on keeping cats and rabbits safe in hot weather:

“Cats, of course, need plenty of cool water during hot weather. White cats can become sunburned if they lay in the sun too long. Even they’re indoor cats, they can get sunburned through a sunny window.”

“To control the temperature of their environment and to keep them safe from predators, rabbits should be kept inside. The temperature inside their houses should not drop below 60 or go above 75 degrees. Heat stroke can occur in a rabbit at 80 degrees.”

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The Telegraph reports,

Black and white hound Clyde is totally blind and relies on his partner and fellow collie Bonnie to guide him everywhere.

When they are together five-year-old Clyde seems as capable as a fully-sighted dog, but he refuses to move unless two-year-old Bonnie is nearby to guide him.

[...]

Bonnie and Clyde were rescued after being abandoned on a street in the middle of a storm three weeks ago.

A member of the public spotted them running though the rain in Blundeston, Norfolk, and when she opened her car door they jumped straight in.

Waveney District Council placed the dogs, who have no identifying collars or chips, with the rescue centre but no owners have come forward to claim them.

Cherie described the dogs as "typical high-spirited collies" and said they would make ideal pets in a home with a large, secure garden away from busy roads.

[...]

Sue Cootes, 59, who runs the rescue centre with her daughter Cherie, said it was incredible to see how Bonnie took care of Clyde.

She said: "She’s a little darling and he just follows her everywhere.

"It’s just instinctive with them to help each other and it’s marvellous to see animals doing this together.

"We get them outside and on walks as much as possible because Clyde may be blind but Bonnie certainly isn’t. We have large paddocks and they potter around together out there.

"Without Bonnie Clyde would be lost. They can’t be separated, we need someone to take them both on."

The Cootes family took over the rescue centre five years ago and now look after 45 abandoned dogs.

Two thoughts:

If only more people followed Cootes example, animal abuse wouldn’t be nearly as much of a problem. And if Bonnie and Clyde are instinctually motivated to take care of each other, and human breeders don’t feel the same empathy, what does that say about them?

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On July 16th, Deborah Howard, founder and president of the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) participated in a one-hour teleseminar interview (click to listen) with Susan Daffron of the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals.

Among the topics discussed were the difficulty of shutting down puppy mills and the role of the USDA in the regulation of puppy mills, as well as their complicity in keeping abusive mills open. Under the current law, there has to be proof of “abhorrent” conditions in these facilities before law enforcement can even get involved. Because enforcement from the USDA is so lax, and because local law enforcement will often shift responsibility to the USDA, it is only through the efforts of watchdog organizations like CAPS  that abuses are even discovered.

As Howard said of the USDA, “The USDA is the most frustrating agency. [. . .] It’s a cultural mindset of failure. They don’t want this problem. They have less funding than any other program — it’s not a highly funded program. We don’t have a contentious relationship with them at all; it’s just that they’re indifferent.”

Howard also discussed the activist origins of CAPS. “[After visiting an Dockor Pet Center (a chain of 300 stores) in late 1989 in which there were puppies with open wounds and cages filled with bloody diarrhea], I found out where the dogs came from and decided to take it on myself — I have a political activist background — to organize a protest against as many Docktor Pet Centers as I could. I got a grassroots list and we had a protest in 30 cities on the weekend before Christmas. They thought it was PETA. It was very effective. I went to ’20/20,’ who had been thinking about doing a story, and I knew a young man who was an activist and who worked for Docktor Pet because he wanted to help the animals. We set him up with a video camera, and he would go in early in the mornings. Every morning there would be dogs dead from parvo — it was horrible — there were bodies in the freezer. So this was all used on ’20/20,’ and then we started gathering pet shop complaints.”

On the NAPRP blog, Daffron offered the following post-interview analysis:

One of the last questions I asked was essentially, “how do you keep doing this work without getting completely discouraged?” Her answer consisted of three main points, which I thought might help everyone:

1. She doesn’t let herself feel sorry for herself and knows she’s doing the best that she can. Although she used to cry about things more easily, now she just moves forward knowing that the work is vital and she is helping.

2. When things don’t go the way she wants, she finds a new plan. She doesn’t give up easily. She only lets herself feel discouraged about setbacks for about a day and then moves forward and thinks up ways to attack a problem from a different direction.

3. She has a support network. None of us can do this work alone. You need to involve other people not only to help with the work, but also so you can share ideas.

Homeless animals and puppy mills are huge problems. Neither will be solved by just one person. Know that you aren’t alone. Take advantage of opportunities to get together with other people to share both the successes and the failures. You need to take time to take care of yourself, in order to continue to help the animals. What you do is important, but so are you!

As always, thank you for all you do to help the animals ;-)

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Last Wednesday, Cesar Millan, the dog behavior specialist from the hit TV show “The Dog Whisperer,” teamed up with the pet advocacy group Last Chance for Animals (LCA) to educate audiences about the horrors behind puppy mills. The press conference took place in Pets Delight, a pet shop located in Covina, California where owner Shannon Anderson stopped selling puppy mill animals after learning about the appalling conditions that thrived in such breeding facilities.

During the event, Millan announced his new show “The Dog Whisperer: Inside Puppy Mills,” which will air on the National Geographic Channel on May 8 at 9 p.m. Eastern. According to the National Geographic website, the episode will include footage from a recent LCA investigation of Los Angeles county kennels. Viewers will also get a chance to see Millan work with 11 traumatized dogs considered worthless by their breeders.

The LCA was founded in 1984 by Chris DeRose and gradually became an advocacy group and organization which investigates all manners regarding animal abuse.

Millan’s new focus and his partnership with LCA will surely spotlight the abuses many animals endure in mass breeding facilities. Hopefully, the show will educate viewers about the wrong doings taking place in puppy mills nationwide and their link to pet shops and unsuspecting buyers.

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Imagine traveling in the cargo area of a Boeing747. Your seat is a dusty cushion inside a wooden crate with a few holes for ventilation. All you can do is take a sip of water and maybe munch on some stale snacks (and you thought the pretzels were bad!). You can hear the engines roar as if they were right there sitting next to you and the air is growing staler by the minute. You quickly start to feel claustrophobic and afraid you won’t make it to your final destination.

Does it sound like your usual flight experience? Probably not. Unfortunately, that is the kind of ordeal some pets have to endure when they travel on commercial airlines. A study by the San Francisco SPCA revealed that an estimated 5,000 pets of the two million transported in cargo holds are injured in transit. Would you get in a plane if you knew that one in every 400 passengers could get hurt, considering that most commercial flights on average have around 200 to 500 people?

Fortunately, a new airline decided to offer a unique service: safe and comfortable pet air travel. Last Thursday, the aptly named Pet Airways started to take reservations. The response was so overwhelming their website crashed, even though the flights are set to begin in July. For now, they will only fly to and from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Denver. The reported cost comes up to $149 per trip (without the applicable taxes).

The perks of flying your animal companion with Pet Airways seem too good to be true. Your four-legged friend, big or small, gets to be in the main cabin with temperature control and plenty of fresh air. The airline announced it would keep the pets in special lounges until shortly after takeoff. They also mentioned the employees would walk the dogs to the airplane, giving them a last chance to stretch their legs before the trip. The pets will travel in crates (for safety) and each flight will have an attendant to oversee your companion’s comfort and needs throughout the flight.

The concept is extremely appealing to pet owners and the airline seems to have a sound business plan. Limiting their service to once a week and only to a few cities gives them a chance to test the waters. In these tough economic times, starting a new airline with a completely new concept takes a lot of courage. Hopefully, the company will hit off so that fewer pets have to go through the traumatic experience of traveling with your luggage.

Right now the website for Pet Airways is over capacity, but they are encouraging folks to check out their Facebook Fan Page , follow them on Twitter (@petairways ) and inquire about reservations by e-mail at reservations@petairways.com.

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Last week, Honda came out with a dog-friendly version of the Element SUV . Dog lovers across the US will soon be able to buy the spiffy, new ride fitted with a cushioned, dog bed in the trunk, a built-in water bowl, and a ramp for those short-legged canines in need of a booster.

The Japanese automaker clearly did its homework when designing the vehicle, keeping close tabs on pet safety and comfort while adding stress relief for concerned owners. The small pet haven includes easy to wash covers and a fitted dog bed with restraints (think seat belt for dogs!).

The price tag for the dog-friendly version of the Element is yet to be determined by Honda. The current model starts at $20,175 and can go up to $26,000 with all the features included.

Honda recruited the help of Sammy , a two-year-old mix-breed rescue dog, to unveil the latest automobile trend and warm the hearts of onlookers during the New York Auto Show last Thursday. The company offered Sammy’s human companion, Heather Cammisa of the Humane Society of the United States, the well-equipped ride for a two week test run.

Sammy actually needs a ramp. Before I adopted him he ended up at a shelter having been hit by a car and he needs that ramp,” said Cammisa to Reuters , “Otherwise I lift him to get into my car.”

The SUV targets what Honda spokesman Sage Marie calls the “dog-crazy consumers” who reportedly spend $41 billion a year on their pets. Since the figure is poised to rise up to $52 billion in two years, Honda is trying to stay ahead of the curve and tap into that market before competitors start figuring out the statistics.

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