Dog Parkour (Barkour?)

Holy Cow – you know that crazy thing called Parkour where guys jump from building to building, taking crazy athletic risks in an urban obstacle course type activity? Check out this cutie pie dog in the Ukraine that does exactly that. I can’t help envisioning an ACL surgery at some point, but you have to admire the athletic ability and bravery of this dog as he navigates his crazy urban agility courses.

Update on the rescue of 48 dogs

Many of you that shop in our store have been following the story of 48 dogs that were seized near the Gorge from a “breeder” who was not giving them food or water. In a perfect example of why you should never buy a dog off the internet, this woman had a beautiful website showing glossy well muscled dogs, living in a family setting. In reality, a mixture of 48 dobermans, rottweilers and shepherds were living in a terribly neglected state, some living in such confinement that they couldn’t stand up or walk properly. They were emaciated and dying. There were injured lactating females with no puppies…
Our friend and longtime Green Dog customer, Bobbi,  has her own small dog rescue (recently becoming a nonprofit org), as well as being involved with Dogs of the Gorge, a small nonprofit that helps to support the efforts of the tiny shelter in Goldendale Wa. When these dogs were seized, they went to the Goldendale shelter, which comfortably houses about 15 dogs. With 48 more, in desperate shape, their situation was dire.

These animals could legally be fostered, but could not be adopted, or even transferred to other shelters as the seizure was involuntary and the court case had not yet been decided against her. We did the best we could to rally donations at our register and through Facebook and by trying to get the word out to other rescue groups that foster situations were badly needed (one of these organizations made a generous donation of $$ to have them all spayed and neutered). We donated more than 600 lbs of food and 20lbs biscuits, as well as a variety of donated items from our great customers who dug out old stainless steel bowls, beds, shampoo, etc to help out, and a few that donated bags of food.  I believe we raised over $1000 at the register (thank you to everyone that chucked your change in there – it really added up, combined with a very generous $500 donation from one of our regular customers!). Meanwhile, the owner had hired a lawyer to try and get the dogs back (!) and we eagerly awaited the decision. The good news is, the case was decided against her, so the dogs can now be adopted out.

Here’s an excellent update from our friend Bobbi:

In follow up to the 48 dog rescue…….. thanks to the outpouring of donations, due in large part to Green Dog’s connections, networking and their devoted customers, the dogs have received the care, food and attention that they so desperately needed.  Many of the dogs were placed in foster homes and most of those foster parents have adopted the dogs into their forever homes.  There are approximately a dozen dogs still available for adoption.

Of the 48, there were two more challenging dogs that I’ve brought into my pack at home, for rehabilitation.  There was a small white female shepherd, who upon arrival could barely walk, due to severe muscle atrophy of her hips/back leg….. I assume from a life spent crated.  She refused all human interaction, running and hiding in fear.  When a lead was placed, she would attempt to escape at all cost, even if it meant choking herself to pull away from the human.   After 24 hrs at my place,  with one of my “therapy” dogs, I discovered that this shepherd is a puppy, likely not more than 12-18mths old.  “Shimmer’s” been with us for 5 wks now, and is fully integrated into the pack.  She is a hilarious goof-ball…… full of play, personality, attention to her human and endearing affection.  She is entirely off lead now and acutely responsive to verbal ques.  While she is beauty from the inside out, gaining weight and pain free, she will need lifelong supplements to preserve her bone and cartilage integrity.  Her spine appears more level and aligned all the time, however there is obvious deficit that is noted when she runs…..the hind legs moving in unison, like a bunny hop.  It doesn’t slow her down nor infringe on her delight of being.

The second dog, a female doberman, between 2 & 3 yrs old, was labelled a “human aggressor” upon arrival and after a couple of weeks at the shelter, she was still considered a high bite risk and potential  liability.   I named her Angel, in an attempt to shed the negative connotations.  This dog struck me as a forgotten one, left behind who had withdrawn into fear and emotionally shut down.  After a couple of sessions with her at the shelter, she was accepting my touch, but with apprehension.   It was as if she’d lost consciousness with how to be in a body …. always statuesque, stiff and catatonic-like, when not cowering in a corner aggressing at human approach.  I transported her to my place for rehab approx 3-4wks ago.  It’s been a gift to gain this girl’s trust and watch her awareness open up and her life unfold.  She’s quite the athlete, hiking and running by my side.  Her internal battle between fear and courage was so tangible, as she’d waffle back and forth, but she made daily strides in her progress.  An unexpected derailment occurred in her rehab with me.  She’d been spayed on Monday, 8/23/10 and by the following Friday she was hemorrhaging to death internally, not from any surgical complication but from Von Willbrandt’s disease.  In simplistic terms, it is a congenital bleeding disorder, akin to hemophillia.  Dobermans have a propensity for this disease and it’s usually discovered when they have surgery (spay) or suffer trauma.  I live in the foothills of Mt Adams, so it became quickly apparent that a local veterinarian having the necessary supplies or surgical team if needed was out of the question at midnight.  I gave her fluids to buy us time, and drove her into Dove Lewis Emergency Hospital in Portland.  They suspected Von Willbrandt’s immediately, though were still not certain that they wouldn’t have to do surgery to find the source of the bleed.  They gave me two estimates:  $3000.00 at the least, and $7000.00 at the most.  They supported any decision, particularly since she’s a dog in rehab, that I’d only brought home a couple weeks earlier.  There was no decision…… she was my responsibility now, had given me her trust over the preceding weeks and up to this point, every human in her life had given up and quit on her in one way or another.  Learning from the veterinarian that beyond this crisis, she could lead a whole and healthy life, I asked them to proceed with transfusions of blood and clotting factor, and was grateful that I got approved for Care Credit as I waited in the hospital’s lobby.  She remained in ICU over the next 2 days and was discharged to me on day 3 with her blood counts holding.   Since this ordeal, Angel has broken through many barriers….. she’s tapped into relaxation and  joy, can’t get close enough to her human, has discovered toys and is learning to play with the pack.  While she still has a challenging  journey ahead in her on-going rehab, she’s been quite the inspiration, with amazing courage, and a sweet innocence.  As I can no longer put off the inevitable and apply for non-profit status for my own formal rescue, it’s name shall be “Angel Eyes Dog Rescue.”

What I want to express to you, by imparting Angel and Shimmer’s stories, is GRATITUDE.  Everyone who gifted these 48 dogs with food, money, treats, supplies, time or energy in any form is a part of their story, and a part of the turning point in each of their lives when humans no longer quit, but care.

Finally! We’ve found the Greenest way to dispose of pet waste!

Bokashicycle!petcyclette

We are very excited to introduce you to this product. The disposal of pet waste is one of the most difficult issues surrounding pet ownership, in an environmental sense. Up until now, there has been no good way.  Leaving waste on the ground of course isn’t acceptable – not only is it rude and gross, it rinses away with our plentiful rains straight into the street drains which empty ultimately into our rivers and streams.Poop in a landfill releases methane, and “biodegradable” plastic bags release their own methane when they break down anaerobically in the landfill, only adding to the problem. Compostable bags may not release methane, but the poop remains a methane producer.  We thought flushing the poop was a good idea for a while, but we realized that some pathogens, like toxplasmosis, are not killed by the treatment process and can remain in our water supply. (This has been an even bigger problem in California, where sea otters have been having a recent problem with toxoplasmosis, and they suspect the link lies in flushed cat poop). Finally, some have invested in an in-ground waste disposal device that claims to compost the poop, but this method doesn’t hold up on closer inspection – it is very debatable whether the enzymes have a chance to break down the poop quickly enough for it to be free of pathogens by the time it soaks into the soil. The system recommends a large amount of water which flushes the waste into the soil before the enzymes have a chance to work, and the location of the device never changes, guaranteeing that the natural microorganisms in the soil in that location are depleted of their power to help in this process. Pathogens such as salmonella, E. coli and toxoplasmosis can easily contaminate our water in this way.

Enter Bokashicycle! This is a system that uses closed containers and natural enzymes to ferment the waste, killing all pathogens and making it perfectly safe to bury in the soil, making your garden lush! No smell, no flies, and very easy. They also make a kitchen scrap Bokashicycler (we’re using one in the Green Dog kitchen now), and if you’d like it, just let us know and we’ll get it for you. We can also drop ship either of these to anywhere in the country – what a great Christmas present!

From Truth about Pet Food:”EPA document proves euthanized dogs and cats are rendered”

It’s a frustration that there is so little regulation as to what is allowed in pet foods, and so much regulation preventing better manufacturers from stating that the quality of their ingredients is sound. This means that companies using condemned meats are protected from having to reveal the content, source, or grade of their meats, even though the origins of these meats can be linked to very unethical sources and contain many chemical contaminants.

If you or someone you know is feeding a pet food that contains any of these ingredients: “Animal Fat”, “Meat and Bone Meal”, By-products”, or “Animal Digest”, it is likely that they are using 4D meats (animals that are not allowed to be used for human consumption as they are diseased, disabled, dying, or already dead. These meats are often “denatured”, meaning toxic chemicals are added to prevent them from being allowed back into the human food chain, treated with chemical preservatives to combat rancidity, and contain traces of the drugs used to euthanize the animals, like Pentobarbital (these chemicals do not “cook out”). Heres’ an article from The Truth About Pet Food website that further exposes some of the issues that some grocery store quality foods have.
http://truthaboutpetfood2.com/epa-document-proves-euthanized-dogs-and-cats-are-rendered

Exciting New Green Technologies Are Afoot

I know this isn’t pet related exactly, but it’s so exciting to see that brilliant ideas like this are being generated. Imagine if we could start building these sorts of roads right away! I know these sorts of things might be a ways off, but consider how much of an impact this plan could have. Real life Jetsons stuff!

Birds need stimulation – why not try training?

cortezMost of my posts are about cats and dogs of course, as that is our primary focus at Green Dog. But I know some of you have birds out there, and today I ran across a few videos about bird training that seemed to really have value – I thought I’d pass along a few to you. (and anyone that enjoys training any species at all can learn from these videos, as the concepts of positive reinforcement training are remarkably similar between species. I’ve trained a lot of animals, from orangutans to rhinos using these exact same techniques, and they work like a dream on dogs and even cats).

Though I wouldn’t personally choose to own a parrot, my work with parrots in the wildlife show/education dept at Zoo Atlanta taught me so much about the value and the mechanics of positive reinforcement training, and it made me respect the intelligence of parrots and especially their great need for mental stimulation.  Parrots don’t do very well with down time – they’ve evolved to live in very complex environments, and their diet is incredibly varied, seasonally fluctuating, spread out over great distances. Not only that, but items in their diet are often difficult to process once they find them (hard shells, fruits with varying rinds and spiny protections, seeds embedded in plants, etc). Sitting around and eating chopped foods out of a bowl is certainly not how parrots are wired, and many difficult behavioral problems are born out of this sort of boredom. At the zoo we used enrichment techniques to introduce variety in their lives when they had down time in their cages, but most importantly we utilized positive reinforcement training programs. This was not only to develop behaviors that would ultimately help us bring educational messages to the public about parrot conservation in the wild, but more importantly to challenge and stimulate the minds of the parrots in our care.

First a fun one: Here’s a video of someone who has taught their parrot a fantastic array of tricks using clicker training. I find the music a bit unfortunate and distracting, but the training is great. Even dog and cat trainers can use most of these tricks as inspirations for the types of behaviors you can train at home – pick up items and put them in specific places, position your body in unique ways, target objects, open and close doors,  even match colors (check out the one towards the end where the parrot has to put a ring on the post of the same color. I once met a trainer who had taught her dog to sort light and dark laundry into two different baskets):

Then the mechanics of it all. I stumbled upon this woman that seems to really have made some good basic videos that would help to get a person started.
First the dos:

and the don’ts:

Going to the You Tube link on the video will show you lots of great videos to get you started like this one on beginning target training. This is a great place to start, especially with a fearful animal or one that is hard to handle.

Training any animal is a perfect way to stimulate their minds and to develop a closer, more positive relationship with that animal. Animals with behavioral problems can truly be helped with positive reinforcement training, both indirectly by providing more stimulation, and directly by allowing you to address issues like handle-ability, food or object guarding, learning to choose calm behaviors over impulsive ones, etc.   If you want tips about clicker training, the internet is loaded with them, and we also have some great books at Green Dog that will help you get started.

Why low fat diets often don’t work to create weight loss in pets

I really do like many of Dr Karen Becker’s video tips on pet nutrition. Check out this great video on why lowfat dry pet foods often do not work to help pets lose weight.

We at Green Dog strongly believe that both dogs and cats do better physically with scheduled feedings as opposed to leaving food in the bowl all day. I know that many of you groan when we say this, as cats especially can be difficult to convince that this is an OK way to be fed. However, if you stick to a schedule (perhaps twice a day at the same time every day), pets will learn that it doesn’t work to complain at 2 pm if they always are fed at 8 am and 6pm (for example). Stick it out, and it will result in healthier, leaner pets. When there are multiple pets in the household, scheduled feedings with discreet portions that disappear after a short time helps to ensure that the fatter animals aren’t able to graze on the food the others leave behind. All of them will quickly learn that there is a window of opportunity available to them for each feeding, and if they don’t eat then, their opportunity vanishes until the next scheduled feeding. It’s perfectly OK and even desirable for carnivores to fast a bit in between meals.  In the wild, carnivores work to find and/or catch their food, their body spends time digesting it, and then a period of time might pass before they are able to secure their next meal. They’re not built as grazers, and constant small amounts of food constantly diverts energy to the digestive process.

Of course, if there is a geriatric animal in the home, or a pet who is underweight or suffering from a health issue, it may be advisable to separate them for additional feedings during the day. Just remember – like humans, weight loss can’t occur without portion control or additional exercise. Higher protein diets can help your pet feel more satiated (full and satisfied) in between meals. Combine this with a bit of extra exercise and you’ll see your pets get slimmer and have more energy!

It’s time for the 4th again!

fireworksHi – As fourth of July is coming up, I want to remind everyone of a few safety tips:
– under no circumstances should animals be left outdoors during that night – too many pets panic and do crazy things to get out. Many many animals wind up in shelters after the 4th for this reason, or worse, are injured or killed because they’re not thinking straight. I’ve also heard nightmare stories of cats and dogs teased or tortured with fireworks by cruel people
– make sure not to bring a dog to a fireworks display – it can be too overwhelming and the sounds can be damaging to their ears. You wouldn’t want to panic the dog and then be stuck in a big crowd that’s hard to get out of. Better to leave the dog at home. However:
– make sure to exercise your pets well in the evening before the noise starts, so some nervous energy can be burned off.
– Make sure they’re in a secure area, and draw the blinds
– You can turn the radio or TV on in a normal volume, but make sure that the station won’t be broadcasting a fireworks display that night! Maybe an ipod on shuffle is a better idea
– Products like Comfort Zone pheromones and mild herbal relaxants like Happy Traveler by Ark Naturals can help some animals to get through the night. We also have a good chewable calming chew for cats from Pet Naturals
– Make sure your animals have up to date info on their ID tags, in case they do get out.
– Animals with mild anxiety can often be jollied out of it – make sure not to reinforce their fears with your behavior – see if you can make it game-time, or give the lucky pet a treat each time there’s a loud one. Sometimes if dogs think you’re having fun, they can be convinced not to worry as much. Things for dogs to chew on can also help to alleviate anxiety for them.
Good Luck!

Have any tips that have worked for you? Share them here!