Friday, February 25, 2011

Bitchin' about Hitchin'

I've been meaning to write about this ever since I presented at the ASPCA's Spay Neuter Summit in New York way back in September. The day after my talk I had time to tool around town and visit a friend. On my way over I came upon this poor gal and of course waited awhile to see if her person showed up, and they didn't. So I took a couple photos with the idea of raising the topic of tying dogs out when I got back.

I'm quite certain this dog's owner is fond of their girl - she looks healthy, clean, and obviously is out on a walk...sort of. She likely perked up and tail-wagged when mom or dad finally came out, looking no worse for wear and who knows, maybe even went to the park afterwards and had a great time. But it doesn't take a pit whisperer to see how miserable this poor gal is in this situation. Sure, she's cold, but will warm up once she's moving again. Those pitiful ears are more telling though - all the way back and her head held low - trying to disappear since she's in a vulnerable position with no flight option should a bigass scary dog come along and pick a fight with her. Or for that matter, a littleass scary dog - you know, the kind who yaps and charges and yaps and charges. With nowhere to go our tied dog just might charge back and do considerable damage to said little dog. Or worse yet, break the flexi lead by running into the street away from a dog to be hit by a Yellow Cab.

Really, I've never been an alarmist and probably err on the side of not worrying about things when maybe I should, but when it comes to dogs in this situation I become concerned. This particular dog wouldn't even warm up to me and I've been known to win the favor of a dog or two. I immediately let her be though so she wouldn't feel worse, but then there are those who won't take no for an answer and might even insist on petting her to make her feel better, right before the fear bite breaks skin. Now the owner has a scared dog and a potential lawsuit on their hands. Then there is the person who does win the dog's favor and walks off with her because they don't like that she was left like that and now our girl has a new owner - maybe it's a nice owner, or maybe it's a person who wants a dog to guard their junkyard.

Please tell your friends not to tie their dogs to parking meters and walk away. It's so wrong for so many obvious reasons, most of which are spelled out right in these photos. - Tim

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fav Info Links .. All in one spot

For your Bookmarks:
Fostering Basics for Rescues and Shelters
(works for new adopters, too!):

  • Fostering: The Basics
  • Dog/Dog Intros - Take It Slow
  • Expert Help to Socialize Sassy Pups
  • In Praise of Tie Downs
  • Foster Dog Bootcamp!

    Sage Advice and Info:

  • Remedies for Skunks, Stings, etc.
  • Advice for Keeping Seniors Healthy
  • Great Advice for Landlords
  • Leash Work Basics
  • Know your rights, Protect your dog: Dog Law

  • Understanding Dog-Tolerance Levels: Dog/Dog
  • Living well with Multi Dogs
  • Tips for Socializing Your Dog
  • Ins and Outs for Monitoring Dog Play

  • Nothing in Life is Free... Oh so helpful.
  • Pet Harbor ... where proactive shelters post their strays.
  • Pet Finder ... available pet listings from rescues and shelters.

  • Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Does your shelter share their 'e-list?'

    ("e" as in: euthanasia)


    Many public shelters avoid sharing the list of dogs that are next up for euthanasia for fear that it would be unpopular or cause too much drama or delay. In some shelters, volunteers are specifically instructed not to ask staff about the disappearance of favorite dogs or cats. We've never been big fans of the don't-ask-don't-tell policy, especially when the main motivation for helping shelter animals comes from the heart. As it turns out, the regularly published "e-list" list has been working to move a lot of dogs - pit bulls especially - out of one shelter's kennels and into new lives.

    Berkeley Animal Care Services alerts several rescues and key volunteers whenever a dog can't handle the kennels anymore or when they get too full, which has been happening more than usual in recent weeks. We might be dealing with a new wave of foreclosures around here - not sure - but someone's been stuffing dogs into their night drop boxes and it's gotten crowded in this usually not-crowded shelter.

    The crowding invokes a ping pong tournament of emails which is pretty interesting to watch, as different personalities take different approaches to helping the dogs at risk. Some scramble to find sanctuaries, others post on facebook or craigslist. I can't say for sure, but some may even send out those infamous all-cap email alerts that scream "URGENT." (Confession: We usually delete mail that comes to us in all caps. Rescue is already too stressful to wade through screaming.) The go-getters get the at-risk dogs to Pit Ed class for obedience brush ups and/or shoot videos and photos that turn into wonderful posts on BACS's upbeat facebook page. The combination of all these approaches generally works and somehow, dogs get moved out rather than disappear.

    When a dog - ANY dog - is put to sleep, everyone knows about it. Some grieve, some shrug, some dive in deeper to help the new dogs in need. There's no mutiny or blame-gaming though because everyone gets advance warning and an opportunity to help. This policy makes a lot of sense and it attracts the commitment of some of the community's most motivated helpers, but unfortunately it's not often used in other shelters.

    BACS' recent call for help sent us walking through the kennels. We ended up taking one of the saddest dogs there. She may or may not find a home ... We don't know yet because she's been too depressed to show us who she is. But she's out of the shelter and cozied up in the barn now, and we'll do what we can to help her decompress so she can finally be herself. She seems happy to be out, and I'm just so darned glad that the shelter was willing to ask for help for her and others like her.

    Robin's Rock

    (this vury schpecial boy is available for adoption)

    Monday, February 07, 2011

    Training basics - From Pit Ed Class

    A little video from the first day of Pit Ed Class. It's amazing how much improvement a handler can make with just a few adjustments in how he holds the leash and the information he offers his dog through voice and body language. This beautiful dog is slightly leash reactive right now, but if her handler stays on track with this kind of relationship-building work, she'll come around quickly to good leash manners and better focus around bigger distractions. She seems to love the attention she's getting from this exercise, and we love watching the light bulb go on for both of them.