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

National Specially-Abled Pets Day

Today’s holiday was created by animal advocate Colleen Page to educate the public about the importance of caring for disabled pets. Animals of all kinds can become disabled from injury or illness, or they may be born with a disability. This does not make them any less lovable or less deserving of their forever home!

Photo courtesy of Neatorama

Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine and new technologies, these animals can use support slings, dog carts, and other aids so that they can live their best lives! There is also plenty of useful information, advice, and support available for pets with any number of disabilities.

Check out this YouTube video of an owner using Australian Sign Language (Auslan) to communicate with his deaf dog Flop!

Remember that a disabled pet is more likely to be overlooked at a shelter. They need loving homes just as much as pets that hear, see, and walk with four paws.

Photo courtesy of Bored Panda

Meet Zeus! He is a blind Western Screen Owl that now lives at the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar, California. Aren’t his eyes amazing? You can also check out Zeus on Instagram!

National Purebred Dog Day

Growing up, my family’s pets were Miniature Schnauzers. My parents elected for the breed because, among other factors, they wanted a small dog that did not shed and got along well with children. Our Schnauzers made excellent family companions, jogging partners, foot watermers, house guardians, and general bundles of exuberance and bed beards. Over many years, we had four: Murphy, Mimi, Rabita, and Dottie.

We bred Rabita (Spanish for “little tail”, Rabi for short) once, resulting in six puppies, one of which we kept (Dottie). Although Rabi certainly chose my mother as her designated person, I have incredible fondness for her because she was such a character. Imagine a prim, fussy, utilitarian, uptight, and old-fashioned British nanny and put it in a Schnauzer. Basically Rabi was the canine version of Dame Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham from Downton Abbey (and I mean that in a good way). She positively brimmed with vibrant personality, especially when she scolded us in Schnauzerese when she caught anyone out of bed past what she considered bedtime. Plus she had Flying Nun ears and an incredibly smoochable head.

Photo courtesy of The Daily Shep

Dottie was a happy-go-lucky mama’s girl who thrived on being in the center of the action. She hopped (my family called it “bing-binging”) in the middle of a run and liked flaunting her belly to the world as she napped. One of Dottie’s favorite pastimes was charging into an enormous pile of leaves and temporarily hiding in the heap, smelling everything and having a grand adventure while doing so.

Photo courtesy of Greenfield Puppies

On National Purebred Dog Day, we should celebrate all dog breeds: herding, hunting, bird, gun, companion, hounds, pointers, scenthounds, setters, sighthounds, sled dogs, spaniels, spitz, terriers…the list goes on. The development of these breeds have fascinating histories. If you would prefer to adopt rather than purchase one from a reputable breeder, you can find many purebreds needing a home in animal shelters or through rescue groups.
How can you celebrate this holiday? Spend some quality time with your dog, whether it is a round of fetch, a long walk, a thorough belly rub, or kissysnuggles on the couch!

International Guide Dog Day

Today is International Guide Dog Day! To all guide and other assistance dogs out there, thank you for your service and life-changing work!
Guide or seeing-eye dogs are trained service animals that provide invaluable assistance to the blind and visually impaired. For example, they are trained to avoid obstacles, signal changes in elevation, retrieve dropped objects, and locate objects on command. These are just some of the many tasks a guide dog may do for his or her handler. There are formal training facilities, such as the Guide Dogs for the Blind, just for this purpose. Keep in mind that the handler and dog comprise a team. Be courteous and don’t distract the dog or the handler!

Photo courtesy of Southeastern Guide Dogs

There are many types of service dogs in addition to guide dogs. These include hearing, psychiatric, medical assistance, and mobility assistance. Here are some of the numerous tasks these marvelous animals are trained to do.

Photo courtesy of the American Kennel Club

Remember that the Americans with Disabilities Act distinguishes between service or assistance dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs. They are not the same thing, and only service dogs are protected by the ADA. If you have questions, check out these FAQs and handy infographic:

Infographic courtesy of Care2

Want to know more about guide dogs and how amazing they are? Check out Growing Up Guide Pup (website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel) and Zoe the Seeing Eye Dog!

Here are a few stories describing the astonishingly cool things that guide dog teams have accomplished! Guide dogs are true heroes!

Dog Spotlight: Seeing Eye Anniversary

On January 29, 1929, Morris Frank founded The Seeing Eye, the oldest guide dog school in the United States. This school is the founding member of the US Council of Guide Dog School as well as a fully accredited member of the International Guide Dog Federation. Today we celebrate the anniversary of the school’s founding and the importance of guide dogs everywhere (and by extension, service dogs in general).

What is a guide dog, or more generally a service animal? The Americans with Disabilities Act defines it as: any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Service animals are not the same as therapy animals or emotional support animals. Only service animals are protected by the ADA.

You may see service animals (dogs are the most common) working with their handlers. Remember that these dogs are working and must concentrate on what they need to do on behalf of their handlers. Don’t distract them. I know it’s tempting to want to pet such a well-behaved dog but be considerate. Some handlers are OK with people petting their dogs if their permission is asked for first; other handlers will decline and that’s fine too. Here are some additional etiquette guidelines as well as a few things that handlers want you to know.

If you’d like to learn more about service dogs, especially those assisting the blind, check out Growing Up Guide Pup and Zoe the Seeing Eye Dog.

One more thing to note: FAKE service dogs. Sometimes people try to pass off their pets, including emotional support animals, as service dogs so they can take their pet anywhere with them, enable their pet to fly for free, and avoid having to pay a pet deposit. This is a serious issue for service dogs and their handlers. Untrained pets in public areas, like planes and restaurants, can pose a big risk to those around them. Being able to spot a fake service dog and differentiate such from legitimate service animals is important. Most importantly, DO NOT misrepresent pets as service dogs. Don’t be that person. It’s not cool. Moreover, your actions can have significant consequences for those around you, especially working service dogs and their handlers.