Category Archives: Animals

St. Thomas Happy Endings

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Dec. 11, 2010

It’s been a good week in St. Thomas for happy endings to harrowing animal tales.  First was a stranded Canada Goose in a city park.

Kathi Baslaugh fed the apparently injured goose she named Sweetie for several weeks.  When I first read about it in the Times-Journal (no longer online), I realized I had seen her and Sweetie when at Waterworks Park with the dogs one day.  I had wondered why a goose was just sitting there, not moving.  But I was concerned with keeping the dogs from investigating the matter for themselves.  I saw a woman head to the goose with a container of food.

The cold weather make Kathi realize something had to be done or Sweetie was a goner.  So she put out an appeal for help and many people responded.  They rounded up the goose and took him to Beaver Creek Animal Hospital where it was discovered he had arthritis in one wing.  Who knew geese got arthritis!  From there, he went to the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary in Kingsville Ontario where he’ll live safely with lots of bird friends.

happy endings Yarmouth Crane operator lifting cat over top of hydro poleThen appeared in the paper a photograph of an orange and white cat atop a hydro pole.  He couldn’t get down and had been up there for four days.  A neighbour named Bob Walker, a Korean War veteran, took on the mission – Saving Private Kitty.  He paid over $400 to the power company to shut off the lines and booked a crane and operator. He would have paid for that too, but the people at Yarmouth Crane declined to accept payment for their services.

The cat, newly named Sky or perhaps Bob’s Pest, also went to Beaver Creek Animal Hospital where he’s recovering just fine from his ordeal.  Other people in town and elsewhere have been calling for contributions to offset the Walkers’ expenditure.  But Mr. and Mrs. Walker say they’ve got it covered and if anyone wants to donate, give it to the Salvation Army for the good work that group does at Christmas and year around.

It’s so nice to hear about individuals like these who saw a problem and decided to solve it, as well as all the others who rallied to help them.  Included in those others are the staff of the Times-Journal who decided that stories about a cat up a pole and a wild goose were worth reporting and following up on in subsequent days.  Thanks to all.  Indeed it warms the cockles.

Animal Testing

Cover Girl, one of the biggest cosmetic lines, has stopped all animal testing of their products. This is such good news. There are still some caveats to think about, but hurray!

One caveat is “except where required by law” – which means China. But if they are putting pressure on China to change their policy – well, they’re a really big company capable of a lot of pressure.

Second caveat is the parent company Coty has not ceased animal testing in its other lines. But they say they are working toward it. That’s hopeful. So buy Cover Girl again? Maybe. If it shows them that their decision is one their potential customers want them to make. Then wait and see if they follow through with their other brands. If not, it’s time to stop buying and start writing letters.

fb-7-nov-18-coty animal testing statement
Click/tap to read Coty’s statement on animal testing

Below is a post I wrote for my St. Thomas Dog Blog in 2010. I have removed most discussion of specific cosmetic companies, including Cover Girl, because it is now outdated. For all brands, it’s best to google for information on current practice and changes in ownership.

Animal Testing (Oct. 14, 2010)

It’s very hard to buy products that are not tested on animals or made by companies that test on animals in at least some of their product lines.  In this, I am not talking about government-mandated animal testing on pharmaceuticals and medical products. I’m talking about cosmetics, hair products and household cleaning products.

I knew that L’Oreal still used animal testing for their cosmetics and hair products.  That made the news when L’Oreal bought The Body Shop, a company that prided itself on natural and cruelty-free products.  So even though the Body Shop did not test on animals, its new parent company did. So it too went on the animal testing boycott list.

I looked online then to try to find products that were not tested on animals.  The majority I found were brand names I’d never heard of or seemed to be available only in the US or online.  But I want to just go into a drugstore and buy what I want. Not so easy.  Physicians Formula is reliable for not testing on animals, but isn’t available in all stores.

But what about toothpaste, cleaning products or anything outside cosmetics and hair stuff? The biggies – that test on animals and make almost everything you have in your cupboards – are Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson.  P&G alone, just in cosmetics and skin care, owns Cover Girl, Max Factor (both bought by Coty) and Olay.  Crest and Colgate toothpastes are made by P&G and J&J.

Parent and source companies

The issue isn’t as simple does a company do it or not.  Some don’t do animal testing on some of their lines but do on others.  For example, P&G owns Clairol which makes Herbal Essences hair care products.  That line is not tested on animals, but others sold under the Clairol name are, as are products made and sold by the parent company P&G.  So while bunnies’ eyes are not burned out if you buy Herbal Essences, they’re being used to test other Clairol and P&G products.  And P&G isn’t losing your money due to their continued use of unnecessary animal testing. (P&G sold Clairol to Coty in 2015)

Also, some companies do not themselves use animals for testing their products, but they rely on research from companies that do.  So while their hands are technically clean, they are still supporting the use of animal testing.  At this point, product scientific research and formulation is pretty well-established.  All the animals that needed to be blinded or have their hair fall out have given their lives for our safe beautification.  Technology exists which can safely test products for human use without asking for animal sacrifice.

Who doesn’t do animal testing?

You can find a pretty comprehensive list of companies and brand that don’t use animal testing and those that do at caringconsumer.com.  It’s part of the PETA site and has well-organized lists of companies and product names.  I printed out the ones I needed and will be doing more animal-friendly shopping.

Also see my Make-up Trade Oct. 30/13 and Santa Bunny Dec. 6/12.

The black and white photo of the rabbit comes from P & G Kills, which provides good background on the company’s history of animal testing (available through Scribd).

The second photo used to be on the Wikipedia article on Animal Testing in the toxicity testing section. That has long relied on the Draize eye test.  In a nutshell, it means putting a substance in an animal’s eyes and waiting to see what happens.

Dog Park Groupies

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Sept. 24, 2010

three dogs by tree in dog parkThe St. Thomas Dog Owners Association is having its first annual general meeting in November.  All members are welcome – indeed urged to attend and become involved.  The Lions Club Dog Park needs ongoing involvement and commitment not just from the dogs who use it, but from their people too.

When I began going to the Hamilton Road dog park in London several years ago, I never thought about how it came to be.  It was just there, placed for my convenience and my dog’s entertainment.  I saw, and read, the rules.  But even the sign didn’t really make me think about who devised the rules, who put up the fencing, who kept the park clean.  Like the natural world, the dog park was just there.

Eventually I realized there was a London Dog Owners Association involved with the dog parks.  Even then, I didn’t put that fact together with the existence of the parks and their maintenance.  Not being a group person myself, I just thought some people just have to have something to join don’t they?

A St. Thomas Dog Park?

Now, at the same time as I started going to London’s dog park, I’d been thinking about how nice it would be if we had one in St. Thomas.  Indeed, a friend and I talked to City officials about it.  We were told it was possible if we raised money to contribute to the cost.  We also were told many other people had approached the City before for a dog park. So we got names of some of them. Then we thought about fund- and interest-raising efforts.  We printed flyers and collected names of interested people.   The names and dollars we raised became our small investment in a future dog park.

Then priorities changed for both my friend and me.  Our dogs got sick in the same year.  They were about the same age.  Wendy’s Doberman succumbed to a congenital heart problem.  My German Shepherd died a couple months later.  So during that year, a dog park was the last thing in our minds.

Lions Club St. Thomas Dog Park With her new Dobie pup, my friend met a group of people in town whose dogs liked to play together.  We also all had seen a petition around shops and on-line asking for a dog park.  When I again had dogs, I met all these people – those of the petition and those who met up.  Then I learned why there was a London Dog Owners Association.  Someone has to lobby and get approval for dog parks and get them constructed.

St. Thomas Dog Owners Association

In St. Thomas, our loose group of people who liked to hang out together with our dogs became the St. Thomas Dog Owners Association.  Lobbying, fund-raising, site selection, dog park needs – we learned a lot fast.  And we succeeded.  A year ago, City Council and dog owners approved a ravine site at the west end of St. Thomas as a fenced dog park.  But the construction of the dog park wasn’t the end of the need for a dog owners association.

There has to be monitoring of the park and its amenities, landscaping improvements, negotiation and resolution of disputes and improvement of facilities.  Money is always needed, for small things like poop bags and large things like lights.

Dog Park Community

What I learned from watching our dog park from its inception to operation is that a dog park is not just a fenced field where dogs run loose.  It’s a community.  And, like all communities, it works best with involvement and commitment to its well-being by all its members.  Some dogs become best friends, some don’t like each other, some are territorial about what they consider “their” park, others are happy to see newcomers so they can make new friends.  Pretty much the same can be said about the people.

I no longer am really a member of our dog park community.  My one dog eats poop, so taking him there is like letting a druggie loose in the pharmacy.  My other dog really just wants to run by himself in “his” field: he doesn’t play well with others.  So, other than through the STDOA, we have little involvement with the park.  It’s unfortunate, at least for me.  I enjoy the people, the dogs, the atmosphere.  It’s nice to see friends, both four- and two-legged.

field at bottom of hillIf you and your dog enjoy the dog park, please join the STDOA, stand for office, vote, volunteer to help out where and when you can.  As I found out, dog parks don’t run themselves.

The next regular meeting of the STDOA is Oct. 30, 2018. Go to stdoa.ca for details. Also see Luanne Demers, Founding President for my tribute to our group’s driving force.

They shouldn’t have pets

You may hear people say “people who need help from food banks shouldn’t have pets.” If you can’t afford to feed your animal/your kids/yourself you can’t afford a pet. Easy to say. You could, however, also say if you can’t afford to feed your kids, you shouldn’t have them.girl and cat closeup wikicommons

You may have decided to have kids when things were going well in your life, you had a partner, you had a job, money. Then you lost the job, you lost your partner. You can’t afford to house or feed those kids properly anymore. What do you do with them then?

Depending on the age of your kids and how well behaved they are, you probably could find homes for them. You may not find one person to take them all, but if you split them up, you might find enough homes. If they’re too old, not cute enough or badly behaved, well, you could be in a pickle. Maybe in a year’s time you’ll have a new job and be back on your feet and can afford the kids again. But what do you do during that time?

This isn’t likely to happen, or be expected, for kids. There’s welfare and child benefits. There are food banks – aid that started within communities because governmental help often didn’t adequately meet the need to keep body and soul together.US Navy help at food banks - commons.wikimedia.org

What if they got a dog when they were doing well? Should they have to get rid of their pet? Where is that dog going to go if they do? Killing (“euthanasia”) is a legal option for getting rid of healthy happy pets, but not a desirable one. The pound? Shelters? At least maybe the animals live, but it’s a high emotional and financial cost for all involved.

Help from food banks for kids and pets

Then a year later when those people are back on track financially, what do they do then? Probably go out and get another dog. Why not help them keep that first dog during the bleak time? Anyone who ever had a pet – even a goldfish – as a child knows how Mitten tree Carroll Co. Public Schools Marylandimportant that animal was to their young life. So even if you don’t care about animals or about adults who can’t make ends meet, think, as they say, about the children. The trauma of losing a beloved pet in any way in childhood is never forgotten.

We don’t bat an eyelid at people needing help feeding their children. When we shop, we buy an extra can of tuna for the food bank bin. We enjoy making up parcels to donate to Christmas Care. We buy for toy drives and mitten trees. So why would we begrudge a family a can of cat food or a pack of dog treats?

As a whole, we believe it is in society’s best interests – politically, socially and financially – to keep families intact. Those families may well include pets – indeed maybe should.

Pets are more than extra mouths to feed. They provide comfort, therapy, exercise and a reason to greet the day. We, individually and as a society, owe them as much as they owe us.

Obamas with Bo, White House lawn, commons.wikipedia.orgJobs and relationships can come and go, but the love of your dog or cat is steadfast. That is a lesson many of us learn as children. But some of us forget it. It’s worth remembering. So too, when thinking about someone needing help feeding their kids and pets, it’s worth remembering, “there but for the grace of God, go I.”

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog on Sept. 23, 2011.

Can’t keep your pet?

I took this from Facebook and shortened it some. Be warned: it is a chilling story. If you haven’t got time or money for a pet, don’t get one. But if you do have, please consider adopting one – or another one. (From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Apr. 10, 2011.)

St. Thomas Times-Journal ad for animals at City Shelter, Apr 7/11 shelter manager

You can’t keep your pet? Really? By A Shelter Director (Everywhere)

Edited by MuttShack.org (Click title for the entire Facebook post)

As a shelter manager, I am going to share a view from the inside. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would stop flagging the ads on craigslist and help these animals find homes. That puppy you just bought will most likely end up in my shelter when it’s not a cute little puppy anymore.

They always tell me “We just don’t want to have to stress about finding a place for her. We know she’ll get adopted, she’s a good dog.” There’s a 90% chance she won’t leave the shelter alive. Purebred or not! About 25% of “owner surrenders” or “strays” that come into a shelter are purebred dogs.

72 hours

Your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn’t full and your dog stays completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies.

Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don’t, your pet won’t get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose.

Big, black or Bully breed

Black_dog_looks_up_at_the_camera_17-08-2004-Andre-Engels-wikicommonsIf your dog is big, black or any of the “Bully” breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc.) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don’t get adopted, no matter how ‘sweet’ or ‘well behaved’ they are.

If your dog doesn’t get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn’t full and your dog is good enough and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long.

Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles, chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because the shelter gets paid a fee to euthanize each animal and making money is better than spending money to take this animal to the vet.

Euthanasia 101

Here’s a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being “put-down”. First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to “The Room”, every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there. It’s strange, but it happens with every one of them.

Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 shelter workers depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a shelter worker who we call a euthanasia tech (not a vet) finds a vein in the front leg and injects a lethal dose of the “pink stuff”. Hopefully your pet doesn’t panic and jerk. I’ve seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don’t just “go to sleep”, sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves.

No money for tranquilizers

Shelters are trying to make money to pay employees and don’t forget the board of directors needs to be paid too. So we don’t spend our funds to tranquilize the animal before injecting them with the lethal drug. We just put the burning lethal drug in the vein and let them suffer until dead. If it were not a “making money issue” and we had a licensed vet do this procedure, the animal would be sedated and then euthanized. But this would cost more so we do not follow what is right for the animal. We just follow what is the fastest way we can make a dollar. Even if it takes our employee 50 pokes with a needle and 3 hours to get the vein, that is what we do. Making money is the issue here not losing money.

Stacked like firewood

When it all ends, your pet’s corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer with all of the other animals that were killed. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? Or used for the schools to dissect and experiment on? You’ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right?

I hate my job

I deal with this every day. I hate my job; I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless people make some changes. Do your homework, and know exactly what you are getting into before getting a pet.

A_lost_dog-28-Apr-2010-Beverly-and-Pack-wikicommons
“This girl was once loved and lived in a home with a couple, even sleeping with them in their bed. The woman discovered she was pregnant and they dumped the dog at the pound, stating they did not care what happened to her. This beautiful girl’s name is Bryndelyn.” – Beverly & Pack, Wikimedia Commons

Animal shelters are an easy way out when you get tired of your dog or cat. Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I just hope I maybe changed one person’s mind about taking their dog to a shelter, a humane society, or buying a dog. Please repost this to at least one other craiglist in another city/state. Let’s see if we can get this all around the US and have an impact.

Angel in a Foxhole

Writer Dave Tabar wants to make a movie called Angel in a Foxhole – about Smoky, the Yorkshire Terrier war dog. Until July 4th, Blackpool Records will match all contributions. Here is Dave’s email.

angel in a foxhole - smoky facebook pageSmoky the WWII Dog – Short Film Project Update

96 year old WWII Veteran Bill Wynne needs your help! He has a Yorkie story that must be told –  the incredible and inspirational TRUE story of “Smoky”, his 4 lb. Yorkshire Terrier, who literally became the tiniest Hero of WWII!

dave-tabar-bill-wynne-my-smoky
Dave Tabar and Bill Wynne with Yorkie and Smoky photo

Little Smoky was stuck in a foxhole in New Guinea when she was rescued by Bill Wynne’s army regiment.  With Bill by her side, Smoky went on to win an army mascot competition, grace the cover of the GI newspaper, Yank Magazine, become the first-ever Therapy Dog and literally save lives and planes during the war.

Her heart-warming story shows how much our four-legged friends can accomplish and the powerful impact they have on others’ lives, even when they’re only 4 lbs. Little Smoky did not stop there! After the war, she became a celebrity in Cleveland, Ohio and had her own local TV show [WXEL’s Castles in the Air].

smoky-and-bill-wynne-1946
Smoky and Bill Wynne 1946

Help us share her charming place in history as a movie! Please check out our Indiegogo campaign and donate whatever you can – no amount is too small. With your help, 3-time Emmy Award-Winning Director Dean Love can create a memorable short film that will touch all of our hearts and help us convince Hollywood to turn this into a blockbuster feature. Let’s put Smoky’s name in lights and make 96 year old Veteran Bill Wynne’s dream come true!

Hear the story and contribute to the film campaign at Indiegogo – Smoky film.

To all who have helped fund the “Angel in a Foxhole: Smoky the WWII Therapy Dog” short film / Indiegogo campaign: Thank you for your support!

Blackpool Records matches funds until July 4th

We are writing to inform you that we have received a generous offer from Blackpool Records to match all personal donations received during the final days of the campaign, beginning today, to assure that we reach our minimum $25,000 campaign goal!

John_Purdy-and_Yorkie_Eventbrite
John Purdy will play Bill Wynne

Please consider a contribution, no matter how small, to take advantage of this offer. Otherwise, please forward this message to friends, family and others, as the current campaign ends on Wednesday, July 4th. Today we reached 50% of our minimum goal of $25,000 to produce the film that will put “Smoky” on the big screen at selected 2019 short film festivals, as we continue to work toward achieving a full feature film!

STUDIO A FILMS (Cleveland) and DEAN LOVE FILMS (NYC)

Angel in a Foxhole perks, and more about Smoky

wardogs_smoky_wynnephotoCheck out Indiegogo for great perks you get with your donation! If you want to know more about Smoky, see my review of Mr. Wynne’s book Yorkie Doodle Dandy. I also posted about the tribute Australia paid to her, as well as an email I received from Bill Wynne in 2015.

Of course, she is in the Dogs in War post written by Jim Stewart. Smoky’s Facebook page will keep you up to date on the film’s progress as will her website Smoky War Dog.

Royal Corgis

A week ago, the death of an elderly dog made headlines. A pet’s death is always momentous for his or her loved ones. But it’s usually not world news.  Willow, who died April 15th, was Queen Elizabeth’s pet, however, and her last link to Susan, matriarch of the Royal Corgis.

star-weekly-toronto-p-1-may-23-1953
Queen Elizabeth with her pet Corgi terrier Susan, at Balmoral Castle. Photo by Lida Sheridan

Willow is a 14th generation descendant of the Queen’s first Corgi, Hickathrift Pippa, known as Susan. Susan was born in 1944 and died in 1959. King George VI gave the two-month old pup to his daughter Elizabeth on her 18th birthday, 74 years ago.

Corgis in the York family

Susan wasn’t the first Corgi in the royal household. In 1933, the Queen’s father bought a pup from Corgi breeder Thelma Evans Gray. The pup’s name was Dookie (Rozavel Golden Eagle). Three years later, a female pup called Jane (Rozavel Lady Jane) joined the family.

Royals and Corgis 1940 Star Weekly May 30 1953 Unbeknownst to the then Duke of York, he and Thelma had discussed dogs before. When Thelma was 9, her dog was killed by a car – the Duke’s car. He wrote to Thelma’s parents, offering to buy her another dog. Thanks but no, they replied, Thelma’s grief was too great. Thelma, however, wrote to him that she would happily accept. He told her that they must abide by her parents’ wishes.

Thelma grew up and established Rozavel Kennels. When the Duke bought the Corgi pups from her in the 1930s, he didn’t make the connection to the child Thelma. And she never told him.

The Susan Lineage

Susan was the Queen’s first dog of her own. Susan had pups and they had pups. So through the decades, there were always Royal Corgis of Susan’s line. But several years ago, the Queen said no more. She didn’t want to leave any young dogs behind.

007 Buckingham Palace Newspix International people.comWillow, Monty and Holly were the last three Susan descendants. Monty died in September 2012, soon after the Corgis starred in the London Olympics “007” video with the Queen and Daniel Craig. Monty was named for Monty Roberts, the “Horse Whisperer” and friend and advisor of the Queen. Holly passed away in 2016.

The Queen’s Pembroke Welsh Corgis were of the best stock. She put the same care into their pedigree that she does for her horses. But they were her pets, her friends. Unlike her horses, the Queen has never entered her dogs in competition.

Windsor Loyal Subject welshcorgi-news.ch
Windsor Loyal Subject aka Edward, b 1971

Only one royal Corgi ever competed in dog shows. The Queen gave Windsor Loyal Subject, aka Edward, to Thelma Gray, along with permission to show him. He won twice at Crufts dog show in the 1970s.

The Queen still has her Dorgis. They started from an unsanctioned Princess Elizabeth with dogs Star Weekly March 1 1952dalliance between one of the Corgis and Princess Margaret’s Dachshund. She also has one elderly Corgi. The Queen took Whisper home after his owner died in 2017. Bill Fenwick, her retired gamekeeper, and his late wife Nancy looked after the Royal Corgis for many years.

So a Corgi is still with the Queen. But no Corgis of Susan, a lineage that has accompanied the Queen for longer than even Prince Philip.

Best in Show

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, January 23, 2011. The 2018 Elgin County Kennel Club dog show will be in October. Lots of other dog, and cat, shows too. To get in the mood, watch Cat Walk, a cat show documentary, Sunday, April 1st on CBC 9 pm ET.

Poodle getting final groomingThe Elgin County Kennel Club dog show this weekend at the Western Fairgrounds was great. So many beautiful dogs. I took a gazillion pictures and petted a gazillion dogs. So did everybody else there, at least the audience.

Poodle pup playing while waiting for classThe handlers had other things on their minds, and so did the dogs. However some of them, like the poodle pups, still found time to act silly outside the show ring.

For the second year now, the London rescue group ARF was there. They said they’d been warmly received. That’s good. There’s too long been a disconnect between the dog show world and the dog rescue world. That’s unfortunate because as any rescue group can attest, especially maybe breed specific rescues, any dog can end up in bad straits – even dogs with the best pedigree. Many breeders are active in rescue work through their breed associations or breed-specific rescue groups. ARF works mainly with mongrels and it was nice to see the two ends of the dog fancy world under the same roof.

Dogs and people wait backstage at dog showThere were lots of vendors there, selling grooming supplies and other dog products. One man I talked to had beautiful handmade leather leashes and collars (The Wag, Inc. London ON). His magnificent young German-bred German Shepherd was with him, not taking part in the show just modeling the leatherwear.

Inclusive Breed Surveys

While we talked about German Shepherds, Tibor told me about  German show and breeding standards for working dogs. There’s a breed survey that all dogs must undergo. In addition to the basic conformation standards that apply to physical appearance and health, it is an assessment of a dog’s character and temperament. The dog’s actions and reactions when in “protection” situations, for example, are measured.

A dog passes or fails and, in Germany, the tests determine what grade for showing and breeding that dog and its offspring will be given. Pups from a parent that passed the tests will be given the highest classification. They, therefore, can be sold for higher prices for breeding and showing. Dogs who fail the tests cannot be used for breeding.

Judging non-sporting classTesting like this seems to me to be a good way to help ensure continuation of good bloodlines. This is important not only for looks but also for physical health and temperament.

Responsible breeders test for genetic problems such as hip dysplasia in order to get rid of the problem. Breeding without such concern caused many of the breed-specific ailments in the first place. Temperament problems – too excitable, Photography Best Puppy winnertoo nervous, too aggressive – can be caused by too much emphasis on looks in breeding choices. Good breeders pay attention to all aspects of dogs’ health. And a dog show gives the chance to strut their stuff.

Also see my Cat Show for ‘strutting their stuff’, cat style.

Acts of kindness

Amazon link #BeccaToldMeTo
Click for Amazon

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Feb. 3, 2012. Reposted in honour of Rebecca Schofield of #BeccaToldMeTo acts of kindness renown.

Ms. Schofield, of Riverview NB, passed away Feb. 17, 2018. She wanted to make the world a better place, she said. Becca, you did. Visit BeccaToldMeTo and you too can see just how much she achieved.

This week, I stopped at Elgin Animal Hospital to check their Caring Pet Cupboard donation bin. There was a bag of cat kibble in it, high-quality food sold by the clinic. There’s usually a bag cat and kitten eating side by side - acts of kindnessor two of it in the bin and it’s never past its expiry date. It’s always that same kind. So it didn’t seem likely it was excess stock the clinic wanted to clear out. It is always unopened, so it didn’t come from someone whose cat didn’t like it or had passed away.  It being there with such regularity made me wonder who provided it. But I hadn’t asked.

This day, the receptionist looked at the bag in my hands and smiled, “Mrs. [–] was in.” She explained when she saw my puzzlement. “That food comes from her.” All the way home, I felt good knowing there’s a lady out there who makes a point of coming in and buying a bag, sometimes two, of this food for other people’s cats. She’s probably got cats of her own to feed. With rebagging one of her bags, she’s also feeding 8 other cats for a week.

A Day for Acts of Kindness

farm cats investigate dog and cat food deliveryLast Wednesday Feb. 1st was “Random Act of Kindness Day” here in St. Thomas/Elgin. It was designated in honour of the late Laurie Houston. Her family had suggested that everyone do what she had done throughout her life: something nice for someone – just because.

Caring Pet Cupboard

In the past year, with the Caring Pet Cupboard, we’ve been seeing a lot of those acts from kind people. The lady who buys the cat food for our bin at Elgin Animal Hospital is one. The lady who always buys a couple extra cans of cat food at Pet Valu “for the poor cats” is another. She buys in bulk, they told me, for her own cats and the neighbourhood strays and ferals. But she always puts a few cans in our bin as well. Two boys who buy a box of dog treats for our bin when they come with their mother to buy food for their own dog.

German Shepherd waiting to eat his dinnerThe people who think of our bins or the animal shelter when their pet passes away. Partial bags of special diet food along with cat toys never played with, geriatric care dog food. Sometimes you can piece the story together just from the kind of food. I want to give those people my condolences on their loss, but I don’t know who they are. Still I thank them. Another cat or dog with kidney problems or diabetes is going to have the special food they need because of the thoughtfulness of those bereaved people.

The stores who give us their unsold or extra food and supplies. “It’s better than throwing it out,” they say. The pet food companies that take their corporate citizen role seriously and make donations of food to us and to animal shelters. Also department stores that donate pet food directly to the food banks.

dogs watching cat eat - are you done yet?From the small bag of kibble you hoped would tempt finicky Fluffy but didn’t, the extra can you bought for the donation bin, all the way to skids of food straight from the manufacturer – it’s added up. In this past year over 5 tons of kibble, nearly 600 cans and lots of treats have gone to people who need help providing food for their pets and to rescue groups. Random or not, all these are acts of kindness. Thank you.

Druggie Pets

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, 3 Nov. 2010.

Filmmaker Patrick Reed was on CBC Radio’s Q, talking about his new film, Pet Pharm. (It is no longer online, but Hye’s Musings has a good post about the film.) It is about the booming business in pharmaceuticals – for pets.

The pharmaceuticals for people industry is already huge, and increasingly so for pets. Michael Schaffer, in his book One Nation Under Dog, has a chapter on it (see Fur Babies post.)

Drugs are possibly a big part of the $47 billion that Americans will spend on their pets in the next year (that figure comes from a trivia question on freekibble.com). Maybe it is money that would be better spent on starving children in the world, as Patrick Reid obliquely suggests.

And maybe that’s a comparison that is really beside the point. Maybe the money spent each year on psychoactive drugs, big screen tvs, Xboxes, running shoes and high-end jeans for North American adults and children would also be better used feeding and healing malnourished children.

Cat Drugs

cat stress-licking photo d stewartI have had a bit of experience with psychoactive drugs for cats lately. One cat has been picked on by another ever since she was a tiny kitten. As a result, she developed obsessive-compulsive licking to the point of open, bleeding wounds. Her veterinarian thought at first it was mites or allergies so she had some tests and strict diet control. We tried a drug for allergies that worked a bit. Then more open sores. I became convinced it was stress, maybe compounded by skin sensitivity. We then tried a dog and cat “tricyclic antidepressant” called Clomicalm. It worked for a while. Made her very sleepy, but when she was sleeping she couldn’t lick herself. Then the calming effect of it started to wear off. She needed more and more of it. There’s only so much you can safely give.

Cat's belly photo d stewartI saw no cure short of a change of home for one or other of them. But that didn’t seem a likely option. Finding a home for any adult cat is difficult. But a ten year old not awfully pleasant one? Or a formerly feral cat scared of anyone except us? Euthanasia for one or other of them? I considered it. Life for the young one was not good, but another home likely wouldn’t be an improvement for her. The old one had less life ahead of her, but did she deserve to die because she doesn’t like other cats? No. But the stress of one cat licking herself raw and the other hissing, spitting and attacking was making me want to stress-lick or tranquilize myself.

Bottled Happy Cat

In desperation, I called my vet. “Give me drugs – the strongest you’ve got. Some for me while you’re at it. I don’t care if we’re all comatose as long as this stops.”  “Well, there is something new we’ve got,” she said. “It’s called Feliway and it’s like a room air-freshener.” “I’m on my way.” She said it’s essentially the pheromone that cats exude when they’re happy, put in a bottle. There’s also a dog version, D.A.P., advertised in Pets Magazine, a good Canadian magazine you can get free at vet clinics.

Cat reaching up for a treat, not drugsFor a year now, I’ve kept a Feliway diffuser in the hallway. It works. The fights haven’t stopped, the stress-licking still happens. But, overall, there’s peace in the valley. There are tricks to using the Feliway effectively, and when things go wrong, they go very wrong very quickly.  (For example, don’t put it close to their water or food.)

Happier Cat

When the little cat went for her shots this year, the vet was distressed to see the raw welts on her belly. She’d forgotten how bad she looked before. I told her I wasn’t worried because her belly and her attitude were so much better than before. Both the cat and I could live with some sores. She probably will have them for as long as the old cat is alive. And knowing that cat, I imagine it will be a good few years more.

So do I think giving psychoactive drugs to pets is bad, wasteful or the lazy way out of behavioural problems? No, not if that is the only solution aside from euthanasia and if a better home for the animal isn’t a viable option. It shouldn’t be the first method tried and it shouldn’t be seen as “normal”, any more than having every kid hopped up on Ritalin should be seen as a normal response to over-exuberance.