Archive for the ‘Pet Health and Well-being’ Category

Last week I received a distressing email from a friend of mine who wrote to tell me that her friend’s dog was missing. “Lucy”, a 10 year-old American Husky mix, had disappeared from a boarding facility. Her “Mom” Ann was in Texas, when she received the call that no pet guardian ever wants to receive.

I immediately posted the alert on Tiny Growl’s Facebook page and hoped that the power of social networking would help spread the word.  Fortunately, this story has a happy ending.  Ann recounts the traumatic sequence of events on her beautifully written blog with such detail and includes such of a wealth of information, that I encourage everyone to read Lucy and Ann’s story.

An Emotional Reunion

I also encourage everyone to support The Missing Pet Partnership, an organization that I have blogged about a couple of times before. They do amazing work, have a wonderful website with specific and effective information on how to find lost pets (which Ann used in creating her plan to find Lucy) and are always struggling financially.

One piece of proactive information that I would like to add here is to remind everyone to follow the Missing Pet Partnership’s advice about keeping a sample of your dog’s scent and DNA on hand, just in case you ever need to hire one of their tracker teams to search for your dog. Here’s what they recommend:

Wearing a pair of rubber gloves, wipe your pet’s body with a sterile gauze pad – wipe its back, tummy, and mouth. Place in a ziplock bag. Write the date and your pet’s name on the bag. Along with the scent, you should collect a sample of DNA, in case it is needed for making a positive ID. Collect a whisker, some toenail clippings, and a few hairs that you have pulled from your pet, including the root. Shed hairs alone are no good, as you need the root, which contains the DNA. Add these to the ziplock bag and put it in your freezer. (If you have multiple pets, you will need separate bags for each.)  Recollect scent and DNA samples once a year.

And finally, make sure you have a really good picture of your buddy ready for copying, in case you ever need to post “Lost” posters, you don’t want to spend time searching for pictures, when you need to be searching for your dog. Let’s hope that you never have to go through what Lucy and Ann experienced.  But if you do, having learned what to do in advance will save time, help you to focus on putting together an action plan and help bring your Lucy home as quickly as possible.

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There has been an up-tick in the number of reported cases of leptospirosis in the Seattle area lately. However, this disease is found all across the country and since it usually on the rise in the spring, I thought it might be worth talking about.

Don't let your dog do this.

Lepto, which is carried by rats, mice, raccoons and other vermin, is a bacterial disease that can cause acute kidney shut down, liver failure, and death in dogs and cats. It is transmitted through contact with infected urine, so our pets are susceptible by exposure to contaminated water sources, food, or even bedding. Disease outbreaks often increase during periods of flooding. This disease can also be passed from animals to humans.

Early diagnosis is essential, so you need to know what to be on the lookout for.

Infection may present itself with fever, shivering, muscle tenderness and vomiting and increased thirst. Dogs may be reluctant to move due to muscle or kidney pain. While your dog may appear to have recovered from a simple, 24-hour ‘doggie flu,’ the disease may still be present. If the dog becomes ill a second time, in most cases about a week later, it may be too late.

A positive diagnosis is made through a blood test, but test results may show up as negative in the first 10 days after infection, so additional blood tests may be necessary for a positive diagnosis. If you suspect that your pet may have come in contact with possible contaminated sources, it is better to err on the side of caution.

Lepto is treated with antibiotics, which should be given right away. There are vaccines available, but there are many strains of Lepto and vaccinating against one strain does not protect against the other strains. Vaccinating your dog is also likely to cause a negative reaction itself.  If you are considering vaccination, talk with your vet to learn if the strain of Lepto in your area has a vaccine to match, and is worth the risk.

Remember, it is important to provide your pets with fresh water. If you keep a water dish outside, dump it out and refill it with fresh water daily, before you let your dog take a drink. It’s a good idea in general to not let your dog drink out of any source of water that you have not provided. Keep them out of areas of standing water or anywhere that you suspect where rats, mice or raccoons may have nested or urinated.

Remember, early diagnosis and treatment are key to keeping your pet healthy.


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Answer: When It’s From RescueChocolate.com

It’s the holiday season again, and as usual, most pet-related sites have been reminding us of all of those goodies that we love, but that can be a potential risk to our pets. Top among these is chocolate, but here’s a twist: the people at RescueChocolate.com while certainly not suggesting that you serve their chocolates to dogs, are donating 100% of their net profits to animal rescue organizations around the country.

I'm very happy that you will be supporting rescue dogs by buying some chocolates from RescueChocolate.com, but I'll be even happier if you don't give any to me.

Located in Brooklyn, NY, they manufacture  assorted flavors of 100% vegan chocolates including Peanut Butter Pit Bull and Foster-iffic Peppermint, all reasonably priced and all ready to make any of your animal-loving friends very happy this holiday season. (Chocolate is always a hit gift with me, but any product that also supports animal welfare is right in line with the philosophy behind my ScooPup Pockets.)

So remember, chocolate contains theobromine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean, which is highly toxic to dogs in sufficient quantities. While it does take a large amount of the stuff to cause a toxic reaction, you must always consider the animal’s size, the concentration of the chocolate and the individual animal’s sensitivity. For instance, 2 oz of bakers chocolate can be very toxic to a 15 lb dog, but the same amount of milk chocolate would most likely only cause digestive problems. If you suspect that you dog may have ingested chocolate, or any other toxic substance, call your vet or the ASPCA’s National Animal Poison Control at 888.426-4435.

For more great information about dogs and chocolate visit dogownersdigest.com. For a comprehensive list of 25 human foods that are toxic to dogs, visit the animalpetsandfriends website.

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It’s the final push here at the Seattle office of the 2 Million Dogs Puppy Up! Walk.  It doesn’t seem possible, but 48 hours from now, our Walk will be coming to a close.  I can’t take the time at this moment to tell you all about what an unbelievable rollercoaster ride this has been for me, but I promise to reflect and write a proper blog about my experience next week.

In the meantime, please watch this video that KPCQ reporter Brian Callanan put together.  It really says it all.

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Yesterday, Riley and I spent a few hours driving to those parts of Seattle that still hadn’t been covered with posters for the November 7th, 2 Million Dogs Puppy Up! Walk .  I’m not crazy about taking him with me when he’s not really getting any exercise as I drive from pet store to vet to pet store, but at least he’s not home alone and bored.

When we hit the road for long trips, I stuff a couple of pillows behind the front seats and put his blanket on top, which creates a nice little nest for him in the back seat. Of course, he’s also securely seat belted. I’m sure some people would look at us and think that he was pretty spoiled, or that I was a little over-protective, but I could care less what they think. He’s my boy, and I’m all about keeping him safe, comfortable and happy.

As we drove onto the West Seattle Bridge, I noticed a dog in the back of a pickup truck. He was excitedly moving all over the back of the truck bed, obviously not restrained in any way.

In my opinion not safe, but better than nothing.

The truck was going about 50 MPH. You can imagine how angry that made me. If they hadn’t headed toward the exit for the Alaskan Way Viaduct (a safety risk in its own right), I swear I was thinking about trying to pull them over to give them a piece of my mind.

I just don’t understand how some people can be so stupid. If this is so safe, why don’t we transport our children this way? I’ve blogged about this before, but I think this issue bears repeating. Currently, only California has legislation on this practice, but I would like to see the day when every state has a law in place that would subject anyone caught doing this to a hefty fine.

Once again, to me this practice only confirms the fact that while some of us treat our dogs like spoiled rotten kids, far too many people with dogs are truly “owners” who still consider their pets to be their property, rather than creatures to love, protect and care for.

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If you’ve ever wanted to find out what you were made of, try organizing a charity event. For the past few weeks, I have been working pretty much non-stop on the 2 Million Dogs Puppy Up! Walk, since  I volunteered to be the Seattle City Leader. My little company, Tiny Growl*, has been pretty much put on hold for the cause.  In case you hadn’t heard, 2 Million Dogs was formed with the singular aim of eradicating cancer in pets and people and it will work towards that end by educating people about and investing in comparative oncology studies.”

Even though everyone agrees that this is a wonderful cause and have expressed interest in joining the walk on November 7th, I’ve not been too lucky finding volunteers to help me organize the event.  I realized that if this walk was going to happen in Seattle, it was going to be up to me to put in the hours sending emails, making phone calls and hitting the bricks. It’s hard work, but considering that this organization sprang from Luke Robinson’s 2300 mile, two year walk from Austin to Boston, this is a piece of cake. Quite frankly, distributing the posters these past two days forced to take a much-needed break from my “home office”.  While I was happy to get away from the computer, I really had no idea what an undertaking this task was going to be in a city the size of Seattle.

To begin, I had to find every pet-related business in the area, this included: pet supply shops, pet groomers, veterinarians and veterinary hospitals, dog groomers, dog walkers, dog trainers, doggie day care, dog kennels, dog parks and dog-friendly restaurants and bars.  List in hand, it was time to plot the best way to efficiently drive from one part of town to the next, figuring in all of the road closures, one-way streets, rush hour traffic and the rest.

Fortunately, I had the luxury of having my significant other chauffeur me on Friday, so at least I didn’t have to worry about wasting time looking for parking spaces. I’d like to say that things went smoothly, but aside from a few customary fights between pilot and co-pilot, I was completely taken aback by the number of stores that weren’t willing to put our poster in their window! I’m not so much talking about the owner-operated shops, I’m talking about the major chains.  These days, it seems it’s all about image.  God forbid their “brand” might be muddied by hanging a poster in their window or at the counter with a dissimilar font or color scheme.  (Whatever Barnes & Noble.)

With three weeks to go and plenty of posters and postcards left to distribute, I will have the help of a couple of people this coming week.  November 7th is looming, and there’s still a lot that I need to focus on, not to mention figuring out what costume Riley should wear for Dog-O-Ween this year.  Hmmm, maybe he wouldn’t mind wearing a 2 Million Dogs Puppy Up! Walk sandwich board?

*From now through November 7th, Tiny Growl will donate $3 from every ScooPup Pocket sold to 2  Million Dogs.

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The life of Riley, that’s literally and figuratively what my dog leads. Luckily for him, he was adopted by a dog loving family with the time and the means to give him a wonderful life. Far too many shelter dogs aren’t so lucky. In fact, too many dogs in “good homes” are still treated as property, and not as the as living, feeling, wonderful creatures that they are.

It’s a commitment to have a dog in your life, but just what does it take to make a good life for your dog? They need exercise, a decent diet, good veterinary care, things to do to keep them from getting bored and above all, as much love as you can give them.

So much of my daily routine revolves around Riley, and vice versa. My day starts a bit earlier than his. Although I would love to, I can’t afford to embrace his penchant for occasionally sleeping until noon. Most days, I’ve already been working in Tiny Growl’s home office for a couple of hours before he emerges yawing from the bedroom. He’ll walk into the room, stretching as he goes and I’ll let him out to start his day.


11am: First kitty watch


His first job is to sniff around our patio to see if the neighbor’s cat spent the night on the loveseat again. Next, it’s on to inspect those spots that the raccoons have been known to frequent. Once those areas are secured, he flies down to the lower yard for a thorough sniff and check. After a while, I will hear the sound of his doorbell, an assume that all of his business is done and he’s ready for breakfast.

Riley is not one of those dogs who eats quickly. In fact, his eating habits could fill an entire blog, so I’ll save that for another day. After breakfast, he always gets a burst of energy and wherever I am, I can hear him fishing around in his toy bag, which makes a loud crinkly sound, as he looks for just the right toy to present to me. We usually run around the house for a bit playing keep away, and then he’s ready for his post-meal nap, while I get back to work.

The rest of his day follows its routine of naps, punctuated by intervals of kitty and squirrel watch, trips to the yard, barking to warn me of the imminent dangers of cars coming down the driveway and the worst of all possible interlopers, the UPS or Fedex truck!


Riley and Bailey



Riley and Sydney: What's she doing on my bed?"


Many days, Riley will have a visit from either his fiance´ Sydney, his god-daughter Bailey (Syd’s new little sister), or both. When the girls are here, the three of them have their own routines. As for me, on a rainy Seattle day, it’s hard to get a lot of work done, when I have to wipe 12 muddy paws every half-hour or so.

On days without the girls, if I’m caught up in my work, Riley will quietly woof to remind me that it’s time for our walk. Sometimes we walk in the hood, but if I feel the need, we will head to one of our favorite parks for a good long hike.

By the time we get back, Riley is ready for dinner, and I’m thinking about my first glass of wine. After dinner, it’s time for another round of games, or Riley will find one of his puzzle treat balls and quite literally chuck it at me. I may fill it once with a few treats, but he’s too good at getting them out, so I sometimes give him a homemade puzzle, which consists of a treat inside a box or a paper tube that is destined for the recycle bin. He loves to figure out the best way to tear into the paper to find his reward.

After a movie and some couch potato time for us, it’s time for “last outs” and bed. I have to admit, that while Riley has a wonderfully comfortable bed of his own, when usually chooses to sleep with me. Since my significant other is on the road quite a bit, having Riley next to me snoring away is comforting, not to mention, he makes a really good bed warmer. Most nights, he drifts off to sleep and dreams – making little growls and soft barking sounds, kicking his legs as he chases and actually catches those rotten squirrels who will, without a doubt, be back again to taunt him tomorrow.

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