Dog Spotlight: Sully

Former President George H.W. Bush passed away on November 30 at the age of 94. What you may not have known is that Mr. Bush had been matched with a service dog, Sully, earlier this year. One can only imagine what is going through Sully’s mind in this poignant photo:

Photo credit: America’s VetDogs/Facebook

Both Zoe the Seeing Eye Dog and The Washington Post have highlighted the importance of Sully’s service to former President Bush. By doing so, I hope this sheds light on the invaluable assistance that service dogs provide to their handlers and loved ones.

National Hug Your Hound Day

National Hug Your Hound Day was created by the author and canine behaviorist Ami Moore, the “Dog Whisperer of Chicago”. The holiday is observed annually on the second Sunday of September.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

National Hug Your Hound Day is about “truly observing your dog (from his point of view” in his environment and everyday life”. Like a number of other pet-themed holidays, it focuses on the happiness and health of your pet. Oh yeah, it might also be a perfect excuse to ensure your dog is sufficiently hugged!

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Photo courtesy of Pexels

National Dog Day

Today is National Dog Day! While I may have cats currently, I am in fact an equal opportunity pet enthusiast. For many years my family had Miniature Schnauzers and I still harbor an enormous soft spot for that breed. Dogs do so much for their humans, so it is only natural that we take some time today (and every day!) to celebrate and love our canine companions.

My parents now have two rescue dogs: Chiquita (aka Chica and Pretty Girl), a Kooikerhondje, and Chiya, a Tibetan Spaniel.

Look how cute they are! Chica is an extraordinarily good girl with great manners and an earnest, loving personality. Chiya is a sassy little diva. Both are highly snuggleable, as I can attest.

In addition to their two cats, my Aunt Rebecca and Uncle Jan have an unlikely trio of rescues: a Border Collie (Legend), a Great Pyrenees/Lab mix (Storm), and a Great Pyrenees (Kuma).

Legend is…enthusiastic to say the least. Who could resist that face?

Storm is a big, lovable galoot. His tail can clear a coffee table in one swipe. He thinks he’s Chiya’s size, which leads to hilarity.

Kuma (Japanese for “bear”) looks like a canine polar bear! Check out that fluff!

Do you have dogs? What do you love about them? Please share in the comments!

DOGust and Universal Birthday for Shelter Dogs

Happy DOGust everyone! And, whew, it is HOT. So obviously it’s time for indoor parties. Do you throw birthday parties for your pets? I have friends who celebrate their dogs’ birthdays. However, if you don’t always know your dog’s birthdate. Thanks to the efforts of the North Shore Animal League and the ASPCA, the month of DOGust and the Universal Birthday for Shelter and Rescue Dogs came into being!

Photo courtesy of Pexels

At a loss at how to throw a DOGust-worthy “pawty”? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. If you’re going to have any outdoor activities, do it early in the morning and in the shade. Dogs can get overheated and sun- or heatstroke.
  2. Offer lots of water to human and canine guests to keep them cool and comfortable.
  3. Don’t forget refreshments. Peanut butter treats would be a good idea, or, for the ambitious, a bone-shaped puppy cake.
  4. Provide splash time in a kiddie pool and lots of toys so everyone can play. If some want to play inside, that’s okay too.
  5. In lieu of presents for your pup, request that guests make a donation to a local shelter or rescue group. This can be cash, supplies, time, or skills!
  6. For party favors, all the canine attendees could get bandanas.
  7. Remember to take plenty of snazzy photos!
  8. Have fun!

Photo courtesy of The Dodo

Lyme Disease Awareness Month

As summer kicks off, many of us will be spending more time outside doing activities like hiking, camping, swimming, and traveling. (In Texas, I plan to stay out of the heat and NOT bake as much as possible.) One consequence of outdoor activity is exposure to insects and wildlife. One of these critters are ticks, which can transmit via biting a really nasty illness called Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis). This can affect both humans and animals and is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other tick-borne diseases can include anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Yuck!

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Naturally, since May kicks off the summer season, it has been designated as Lyme Disease Awareness Month. The best way to combat Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases is to take preventive measures. Here’s how you can protect your pets:

  1. Tick-preventive products. Ask your veterinarian which would be the best solution for your pet.
  2. Vaccination. Again, speak with your veterinarian whether your dog should be vaccinated against Lyme disease. This may depend on where you live, your pet’s lifestyle, overall health, and other factors.
  3. Signs. Know the common symptoms of Lyme disease such as fever, appetite loss, lack of energy, lameness, stiffness, discomfort, pain, and joint swelling. These symptoms can progress to kidney failure as well as cardiac and neurological issues. Check here for more information.
  4. Avoid. If possible, don’t go into areas where ticks are likely to be found such as tall grasses, leaf litter, marshes, and wooded areas. (Side note: velociraptors might be hiding in tall grass too!)
  5. Check. Once indoors, make sure that a tick has not hitched a ride on you or any of your animals.
  6. Fortification. Place a barrier of wood chips or gravel between your lawn, patio, play equipment, and wooded areas. By doing so, you will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  7. Sprays. Have a green industry professional inspect your property and spray the perimeter to reduce tick populations.
  8. Maintenance. Clear shrubbery and brush close to the house. Prune trees. Remove litter. Mow grass short. Let the lawn dry thoroughly between waterings.
  9. Removal. If you find a tick, use gloves and specialized tweezers, not your bare hands.

The American Veterinary Medical Association provides excellent information about Lyme disease and its effects on pets. You can also find information on flea and tick preventive products, disease precautions for outdoor enthusiasts and their animal buddies, and the CDC’s boatload of data pertaining to Lyme disease. To learn how to prevent Lyme disease in people, especially children, check out information from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

National Service Animal Eye Exam Month

I’ve mentioned service dogs before on Purry Home Companion, and I think it’s important for the public at large to understand and appreciate how critical the services these dogs do for their handlers. Service dogs help people with a wide range of disabilities and medical conditions, including visual impairments, hearing impairments, mobility impairments, mental disorders (such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder), autism, epilepsy, and diabetes. Because these working dogs are so indispensable to their handlers, much thought and care must be given to their health so they may continue to perform their duties as long as they have the will and ability to do so.

Photo courtesy of Service Dog Certifications

The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) initiated a campaign ten years ago to offer free eye-screening examinations for service dogs. The only condition is for the animal to be certified by certain national, regional, or local organizations and actively working. Isn’t that cool?

Photo courtesy of Service Dog Registration