Reasons to adopt an older dog

Portuguese PodengoPuppies are adorable. It is hard to resist puppy breath and puppy kisses, but they’re also a lot of work. If you’ve decided to start the new year with getting a pet and you want a puppy, think it through and make sure you really have the time and energy needed for raising a little dog through the puppy and teenage stages.

If you answer no to the 24-7 job of having a little one, consider visiting a local shelter or rescue and give an older dog a new chance on life. (There are often puppies there too, of course.)

Many dogs who end up in shelters and rescues are there through no fault of their own. In many cases the owner’s family, living situation, or financial situation changed, and the pet finds itself homeless. Older dogs are often the last to be adopted – and the first to be euthanized.

When you see a pet in a shelter, remember that the dog is stressed. Many shut down and become shy and unresponsive, others are hyper alert, ready for any chance to get away. The personality can change a little when you get home and your new pet settles in, and this process can take a couple of weeks until he or she figures out that they’re home and safe. Once the dog has settled in, you’ll have a devoted friend.

When you adopt a grown dog you know important things like their final size and grooming requirements. Older dogs are far less likely to be destructive chewers than younger dogs – and if they chew on something it’s a training problem and not a teething problem. Older dogs are also more likely to be house trained than puppies. If the older dog isn’t house trained or has accidents in the new home, they have the physical and mental ability to “get it” quickly while a young puppy just can’t hold it.

Older dogs require exercise just like younger dogs, but they might not have the super-explosve energy that wants you to play ball for five hours and then run a marathon. Seniors often like to chill out.

Many believe older dogs can’t learn new tricks. This isn’t true. Training is great mental exercise for your furry friend, and it helps build the bond between you.

To find your new best friend, visit local shelters or rescues, or check petfinder.com!

Lost dog returns home – after seven years

Almost eight years ago, Mike Nuane had a Shih Tzu puppy named Jordan. The little dog disappeared and was presumed stolen from the back yard in Denver. During the years since then life moved on, but Jordan was never forgotten.

Not long ago the Nuane family got a phone call from the Fulton County Animal Shelter in Atlanta, saying, “We’ve got a dog here that’s yours.”

All their dogs were accounted for, but the Atlanta stray’s microchip insisted he belonged to Mike Nuane. It was Jordan, turned in as a stray, many years later and several states away from his home!

Jordan was in pretty bad shape, but has gotten loving care from the shelter, and Nuane flew to Atlanta with leash, collar, food, and food bowls to pick up his lost friend.

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There’s still time to enter our fun contest!

contestThere’s still time to enter our fun contest, but it is only open for a few more weeks, so this is a good time to do it.

Here are some frequently asked questions we’ve been getting:

What can I win?

First prize is 1,000 pounds of dog food, with delivery. Runners up get Dunkin Donuts gift cards.

I don’t have a PlexiDor, can I still enter?

Absolutely. Submit your best photo of your pet using any pet door. If you don’t have a pet door at all, it’s okay to be creative.

My dogs eat raw food. Can I donate the prize?

This is a lot of dog food, and many dog owners stick to a certain brand or type of food. If you win first prize and want to donate the food to a rescue or shelter, just let us know and we will arrange it.

How do I enter?

Entering is easy. Just visit /contest-2014/ and fill out the form.

Can I see previous entries?

Yes. Visit /contest-2014-submissions/ to see previous entries.

 

Pet shelters step up efforts on keeping pets in their homes

According to the humane society, between three and four million pets are euthanized in shelters each year. It is a mind boggling number, but still an improvement – in the past the number was 20 million. The really sad part is that many of these cats and dogs aren’t strays; they are surrendered by their owners. These pets used to have a home, and for different reasons their owners can’t or won’t keep them.

Every person’s life is more complicated than it appears at first glance. Some things are easy or self evident to one person, and difficult to someone else. Situations change – many pets are given up because their owners can’t afford their vet bills, or even become homeless.

Shelters around the country are stepping up to the challenge, and many now try to work with owners to help them keep their pets. Some need education – they might honestly believe that their dog is happier on a chain in the back yard than in the house – others need practical help, financial support for vet care, help with a pet deposit on a rental, or help with boarding a pet for a shorter period of time.

If the pet is surrendered to the shelter, one of two things can happen: either the pet is killed, or the shelter pays for medical care, food, toys, and the effort to find it a new home. Helping the original owner keep the pet is a win for everyone.

Sunshine story: Joanie and Chachi

Joanie and Chachi
Image from the Huffington Post

A couple of weeks ago, animal control officers in Savannah, Georgia picked up an unusual pair. Joanie the pit bull carried Chachi the Chihuahua in her mouth. Joanie would put her friend down from time to time to lick the Chihuahua’s infected eye.

Animals can be be devoted, and Joanie carried her injured friend to safety. The dogs are so close the shelter staff call them soul mates.

Despite Joanie’s best efforts, veterinarians had to remove Chachi’s eye and the two had to live separated while he healed, but shelter staff made sure to give them together-time every day.  Neither of them care about other dogs; only each other.

Savannah police hoped the owners would come forward as the dogs got publicity. No one claimed them and the shelter put out pleas for an adopter, hoping the dogs could find a new home together.

The dream is coming true: the couple move to Florida some time this month. We love a story with a happy ending!

International Homeless Animals Day

Today is international homeless animals day and organizations around the world come together to inform about pet overpopulation. Today, you can count on seeing adopt-a-thons, spay/neuter clinics, microchip clinics, and many other activities. 

You might not think the situation is all that bad in the USA, but every year pet shelters are overrun by homeless cats and dogs. The sad consequence is that millions of pets are put down in shelters, often after just a couple of days. There are all sorts of pets in shelters. You can find pure bred dogs, mutts, cats, birds, rabbits, and even chickens. There are puppies and kittens as well as adult animals. Many are scared and confused, and don’t understand why their family isn’t there for them anymore.

If you’ve thought of adding a furry friend to your family, this might be a great day to do it. Go to your local shelter or visit petfinder.com to see available pets near you. Even if you don’t want or can’t commit to a pet, you can help by spreading information, sharing pets on social media, or bringing supplies to a local shelter or rescue.

Children reading to shelter pets is a win-win scenario

dog smallMany children have problems reading. The school environment can be intimidating, and it’s no fun to constantly be corrected. At the same time, shelters are overcrowded with pets yearning for some human affection. The connection between reading problems and shelter pets might not be perfectly clear, but bear with us. It’s there.

The children need practice and purpose in an environment that won’t judge them. The shelter pets need socialization and human interaction.

Turns out that children love to read to animals, and particularly cats are soothed by the rhythmic child voice.

Organizations around the country now offer programs where children are invited to read to animals. In many cases the same child comes back over and over again, and might even rehearse the story before presenting it to the pet.

These programs are particularly beneficial for many autistic children who find the animals a great source of support. Researchers at Tufts University claim the events lead to an increased use of language and improved social interactions.

How does a doggie DNA test work?

It is possible to ascertain a dog's breed through DNA analysisIt’s easy to know what breed a dog belongs to if it comes with a pedigree. Some shelter pets can show their heritage, but most are completely without papers, whether they’re purebreds or mutts. Many dog owners would still love to know what their dog is, and science has given us the doggie DNA test.

A canine DNA test starts with ordering a kit to take a cheek-swab from your dog. This sample is sent to a research-company where it is compared to a database with DNA samples from different breeds, and the answer comes back in a few weeks.

The DNA of the original dogs would have been pretty similar, but over time genetic mutations have given birth to the breeds we have today. The differences can be seen in DNA, and form the base of breed DNA testing.

The analysis is fairly accurate in mutts with a purebred parent or grandparent, but some purebred dogs can also be difficult to ascertain. Some breeds are closely related, and some breeds are derived from another still in existence.

Many DNA reports also give in-depth explanations of a dog’s unique behaviors, personality traits, and wellness needs.

Rescue dogs saves baby

There are many stories of rescue dogs repaying their families in unexpected ways. Duke was adopted six years ago, and his family says he is a perfect dog, meant to be theirs. They didn’t anticipate him becoming their hero in more ways than providing love and company.

Duke is normally calm and obedient, and looks like a cautious boy on the news video. No wonder his family was alarmed when he rushed into the bedroom and jumped up on the bed, shaking.

His behavior was so uncharacteristic that the family went to investigate, and found their baby not breathing. Thanks to Duke the child was discovered in time and could be saved.

The family hopes many will see the video and decide to adopt. You never know when the life you save may return the favor.

Seven ways you can help a shelter or rescue

Most Afghan Hounds do well with a Large PlexiDor Dog DoorMost people want to help homeless animals, but it can be hard to know where to begin. Not everyone can send money, and money itself doesn’t solve all problems. Here are some ideas on how to help a shelter or rescue – and being able to help save animals – without breaking the bank.

Volunteering is rewarding and appreciated. Many shelters need help with caring for the animals. Some need help with cleaning, others with socializing pets. There’s usually something to do. Contact your local shelter or rescue group and see if they need help.

Another great idea is donating your skills. Maybe you’re a great photographer, good with computers, or know how to edit videos. Good photos and videos of shelter pets help them get exposure, and can make the difference between a pet finding a new home or staying in the shelter.

Donate gently used items. Most shelters and rescues always need extra supplies. Contact them first to see what they need, and clean any supplies before taking them over. Many shelters and rescues ask for towels, blanket, pet beds, water and food bowls, toys, collars and leashes, and brushes.

Many shelters and rescues also ask for household items. Common items on the wish list include cleaning supplies, old newspapers, paper towels, and office supplies. Call and ask them what they need before going over.

Foster a cat or dog. Rescues are always looking for fosters. Some pets need a place to stay overnight, others for weeks or even months. It is a rewarding experience that saves a life.

You can also donate pet food and litter. Shelters and rescue groups go through enormous amounts of pet food and cat litter. You can actually enter to win 1,000 lbs of dog food right here, and donate to your favorite rescue – the contest is open until November 30, 2014.

If you’re throwing a big party, getting married, or have an upcoming birthday, you can donate part of your event registry. It is a rewarding experience that makes everyone feel good.

And naturally, if you’re thinking of adding a new friend to your home, consider adopting a shelter pets. There are all sorts of pets waiting for new homes. Petfinder.com lets you search for available pets in your area.

How to take good shelter photos

AidiAll shelters and rescues need photos of available pets. A few are fortunate enough to have professional photographers donate time to help, but the vast majority rely on volunteers. This photo can be the most important event in the life of a shelter pet – it is literally a matter of life and death.

The shelter photo will show the pet on the shelter’s website, on Petfinder, Facebook, and other online resources. It’s the pet’s lifeline, in many cases their only hope of finding a new home. At the same time, the animals are stressed, and you’re usually working with low-budget equipment.

Take your time

The shelter crew is often stressed, and it seems like a good idea to get photos of as many pets as possible in the shortest possible time. However, spending just a few minutes with each pet will make the photos so much better, and might very well decrease the amount of time the pet will have to spend at the shelter.

Spend at least 5-10 minutes with a dog, and even 15 with a cat. They need to transition mentally between being in the kennel and being with you.

Find a good spot

If at all possible, take photos of dogs outside. They’ll need a few minutes to explore before they’ll be willing to cooperate. If it’s bright and sunny, shoot in the shade. If you have to take photos indoors, try to find a good backdrop. Anything is better than the kennel. There might be a nice wall or something you can use.

Take many photos

With digital technology it’s possible to take many photos in a short period of time without extra cost. Pets are difficult to photograph because they move all the time. If you take many photos, the chance of one being great is much bigger than taking one and hoping it will be fantastic.

Don’t use the flash

Many good photos of dogs and cats have been ruined by using the flash. It can scare them, and the flash reflecting from their eyes or shiny coats can make them look like a pet belonging to Dracula. It’s also helpful not to hold the camera in front of your face. The pets will trust you more, and relax better, if they can see your face.

Talk to the pets

When it comes to dogs, you want to get them from “I’m in jail” to “This person likes me.” Talk to them in a cheerful voice. Shelter kitties can be skittish, and here a happy but soothing voice works better. Keep talking. If they can connect with you they might be able to relax a bit, and photo with happy ears or even a smile sells much better than a sad shape crouched in a corner.

 

“Rent a rescue dog” leads to adoptions

The Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah, has a new attraction. The Pound Puppy Hike matches guests with a local shelter dog for hiking and similar activities. The dogs come from the Aspen Animal Shelter that welcomes volunteers and loans dogs for a stroll through town or a daylong hike. 

These outings serve a double purpose. The dogs get exercise and socialization, and many are adopted.

Some of the pet-friendly Aspen hotels waive their pet fees for anyone who invites a shelter dog to spend the night. A couple of the hotels also provide shuttle service to and from the shelter.

Fairmount hotels have caught on, and at eight hotels around the country “canine ambassadors” greet guests and can be booked for walks or runs around town. The dogs are a bonus for younger guests and for travelers longing for their own pets.

Other hotels offer cats for company, or even fish.

Mutts are awesome!

The majority of dogs put down in shelters are mutts; mixed breeds of unknown origin. All dogs are awesome, but there are many reasons to adopt a mutt. For instance, mixed breeds are thought to adapt more easily than purebreds.

Purebred dogs adhere to standard when it comes to both appearance and temperament. A mutt is unique and you get a one-of-a-kind. That also means they’re not as strongly “programmed” as purebreds, and tend to be more flexible.

If you want a hunting dog or a herding dog, you probably want a purebred that is developed to perform these specific tasks. If you want someone to keep you company around the house, a mixed breed can be much easier to handle than say, a hyper-energetic Border Collie that wants to herd anything that moves.

Many mixed breeds make great service and therapy dogs; they often combine the best properties of their parents. They are also generally healthier than purebreds, because they’re not as prone to specific illnesses.

If you’re the competitive kind, your mixed breed might shine. Many excel in agility, dock diving, flyball, and similar. The UKC even has a special class for mixed breeds.

Dog Breeds
Rottweiler, Dalmatian, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Great Dane, and more

Black dogs and cats make great pets!

Black Russian TerrierWhile many cultures consider black cats and dogs to be good luck, many Americans shun them. The myths that black cats cause bad luck or black dogs are scary and dangerous sit deep in people’s minds, and black pets are euthanized at much higher rates than cats and dogs with other colors.

The ones who are adopted generally have to wait longer for their homes than pets with other colors.

To make matters worse for these hidden gems, their color makes them more difficult to catch on photos, and to see in shelters. Photos for websites such as PetFinder are generally taken by shelter volunteers, and while it is easy to get a good picture of a white, yellow, or brown cat or dog, even professional photographers can have problems catching  expressions on a black pet’s face.

Once potential adopters arrive to the shelter, darker-haired doggies gets lost in the shadows. Some shelters are training black dogs to sit in front of the kennels during visiting hours, so they’ll have a chance to be seen.

Whatever the mix of bias and bad luck might be, black dogs and cats make wonderful pets. If you’re thinking of adopting a new best friend, don’t forget to look for them!

If you have a  black pet, you can help other black pets by proudly demonstrating there’s nothing wrong with them. Show your love and tell people about the problems black cats and dogs encounter. The “black dog syndrome” is generally unconscious, and once people are aware of it, they move past it.

Innovative adoption campaign with 100 percent success rate

Many campaigns that raise awareness for shelter animals or attempt to influence adoption are utterly depressing. How many people have cried to the ASPCA commercials showing sad puppies and kittens in cages set to heartbreaking music? The Human Walking Program in Melbourne Australia tried the opposite approach.

Sad humans working all day clearly needed rescuing. Happy dogs came along, ready for funfilled walks in the park. The project put up posters around the city, showing sad humans in office environments. “For 9 hours a day he is kept in a tiny box. And ignored. He needs to go walkies.”

The result? Astounding success. The campaign led to a 100 percent adoption rate.

Adopted puppy saves family from gas leak

When the McLarty family decided to adopt a puppy from the Michigan Humane Society, they could never imagine how quickly the little dog would return the favor and save their lives.

The three-month old husky mix had only been with the family for two weeks when he woke the household up with his crying. His new human mom took him outside, but he kept on crying, and when they came in he ran circles in the hallway before leading her to the kitchen. There, he sat next to the stove until she looked at it.

One of the gas burners was on, without a flame, leaking gas into the house.

Bring your dog to work day

Bonnie inspects sliding tracks on a PlexiDor and points out that they should be white and not silver when mounted on a white frame.

June 20, 2014 is Bring your dog to work day. The event started in 1999 and was founded by Pet Sitters International as a means to promote pet adoptions. Participation has exploded; the first year less than 300 businesses took part, and this year over 300,000 visitors have looked at the website.

Bringing a pet along isn’t always possible. Some workplaces are poorly suited for four-footed friends, and in other places allergies might make it unsuitable. When it is possible,  bringing a dog gives benefits. Pets lower stress and blood pressure, create a focal point for conversation, inspire walks and exercise, and cheer people up.

Some companies encourage bringing pets all around the year, and some larger corporations provide doggie daycare to employees.

What do you think? Would you bring a pet if you could?

 

June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month

maine coon catJune is adopt a shelter cat month, and this is not a coincidence. During spring and summer, overwhelming numbers of homeless kitties arrive at shelters, and they all need homes.

The Watauga Humane Society has done some calculations, and one un-spayed female cat together with one un-neutered male cat can – together with their offspring – produce 420,000 kittens in just seven years. There are many cats needing home, and if you adopt one you don’t only get great company for yourself; you save a life.

So, what should you think about if you’re planning to adopt a cat?

Maybe you should take two?

If you’re considering adopting a cat, think about taking two. Cats are social, they need exercise, and they need mental stimulation. If you have two cats they’ll entertain each other. This makes it easier on you, and you get twice the purring, cuddling, and other kit tie benefits.

Consider the cat’s personality

Just like people, cats have different personalities, and it’s important that you match. Do you want an easygoing kitty, or an active one? Shelters and rescue groups have all kinds of cats. Do you want a playful and energetic kitten or a senior who’s happy to nap?

Make a budget and stock up on supplies

All pets cost money, and cats aren’t an exception. When you adopt, the cat might already be vaccinated, microchipped, spayed, or neutered, and  this is a great saving. But you still have to think about vet visits, litter box, cat litter, food, toys, scratching posts, bed, grooming, food bowl, and water bowl. It’s a great idea to have everything in place before kitty arrives, so he or she can feet welcome and at home.

Plan and kitty-proof your home

Cats are like children in many ways, and they get into stuff. It’s difficult to predict what will look like a great toy. You might want to put expensive decorations away for a while, until you and kitty get used to each other and figure things out. Make sure you don’t have loose things lying around the cat can accidentally swallow, keep food put away, and keep an eye on electrical cords. Kittens who don’t know better might try to play with them or even chew them.

Plan where you want to put the cat’s food and water bowls, and where to put the litter box. Many put it in a bathroom, closet, or laundry room, but that means that the door needs to be open all the time so the cat can get in and out. This isn’t always a feasible option, and we’ve seen some creative cat owners who put a PlexiDor cat door in the door to the laundry room or similar to allow kitty access while being able to close the human size door.

Take it slow

It will take your new furry friend a while to relax and settle in. Give him or her some time to get used to the new surroundings and new people.

 

Kitty cam success

KittensWhen John Bartlett set up a webcam to watch his foster kittens, he did not expect to become a worldwide phenomenon. His camera shows kittens eating, sleeping, rolling around, and other pretty uneventful stuff that cats do.

The camera has become a great success; the website komonews.com reports that Bartlett has hundreds of people watching sleeping cats for hours.

Watching the cats help people all around the world de-stress. People Magazine posted a link to his site, and and he now has over 20,000 regular viewers.

The cam has led to even more than that: cat lovers have started talking in chats while watching the footage, and recently a convention of cat fans from all around the globe met in Seattle. The web cam inspired people to come all the way from Australia to talk about cats.

Barlett fosters for Purrfect Pals, and his goal with the kitty cam is to get attention for the rescue and the important role fosters play in the lives of homeless pets. He says every cat that has been featured on the camera has been adopted, and he has found homes for nearly 200 kittens.

 

Massive ASPCA campaign to save California strays

Los Angeles is a city with millions of inhabitants, many very poor and far away from the Hollywood glamour associated with the area. There are also hundreds of thousands of stray cats and dogs. Approximately 173,000 animals enter LA shelters every year, and only half are adopted. The rest are killed.

These are grim numbers, and the ASPCA are determined to change the situation. The organization are rolling out a project where $25 million will be used to save these tens of thousands dogs and cats.

The project is already underway, and started with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a free spay and neuter clinic in South LA. The area is extremely poor and packs of stray dogs roam the streets. Hopes are that the clinic will sterilize over 4,000 dogs and cats during the remainder of 2014, and even more in upcoming years.

With $25 million, the ASPCA aims to get all dogs of Southern California neutered or spayed. They will also strive for increasing adoptions, helping rescue groups, and helping people keep their pets instead of giving them up. Another part of the project involves moving animals from the most overcrowded shelters to areas where they might find new homes.

The project will encompass Los Angeles city and county, Burbank, Pasadena, Long Beach, Upland, and parts of Downey.

This is one of the most extensive projects in the 148 year long history of the ASPCA. The money is budgeted to last for five years, but the project as a whole is estimated to take longer.