Friday, May 21, 2010

"Fur" a Good Cause

Recently I participated in the collection of dirty dog hair. We brushed shelter dogs, collected shavings from surgeries and hit up local grooming facilities. My car was full with stinky bags all for a good cause.
You see, apparently hair (dog and human alike) is being used to help soak up the oil spill in the Gulf. At first this made no sense to me, until I saw a demonstration. Why do we wash our hair? Because it collects oil! Now all the pieces were coming together!

The organization that makes the mats is called A Matter of Trust, based out of San Francisco, CA. People all over the country are mailing them their dogs sheddings and they are being turned into giant oil sucking mats. Genius. Finally a practical use for all that dog hair floating around my house!

The shelter dogs, and my own, were happy to do their part, and they all look and feel the better for it.

It is incredibly easy to do, and so I encourage all of you out there to do the same. Your dogs, the ocean and your floors will thank you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A New Challenge

When you work with dogs, a new challenge is always waiting right around the corner. My latest endeavor is a dog named Otis.

Otis was surrendered to the shelter a couple of weeks ago, and I noticed him immediately. He is beautiful! All white with blue eyes. My first thought was that he wouldn't be around long, but then I noticed he eyes looked a

Turns out not only is Otis blind, but he is deaf as well.
Oh boy. I've done deaf, I've done blind, but I had never done both on the same dog before.

Luckily for me a trainer friend of mine recently raised a blind and deaf puppy. She was able to give me some wonderful advice.

Normally for a deaf dog I would use hand signals to teach commands, for a blind one words. For Otis, he would have to learn by touch.

Touch his rear and lure him into a sit. (He still learned the same, with a cookie on his nose, he could follow the scent.) For down, you touch his shoulders and lure him down.
But, manners would not be the most important thing for Otis to master.

Otis first needed to learn how to walk on a leash. You see, every time you went to put the slip lead over his head, he would bite and chew it. He would pull and tug, and bite higher and higher until he was almost at your hand. Bitter Apple wasn't doing anything to deter him either.
The simplest, quickest solution was to put him on a harness. What a difference! I think the harness helps him to feel more secure.

His next biggest problem was his mouthing. I can't blame him, he only has so many senses left!
Just removing all attention from him when ever he did it worked for that.
It is amazing how he can smell you when you arrive. He knows you are there, and can find you. He learns his boundaries quickly and is a very smart boy.

My next concern was who would adopt him? I knew there were plenty of people who's hearts would go out to him, who would feel sorry for him, but these were not the right people for Otis. Otis needs to be treated just like a regular dog. This is not a pity case, this is a life style changing project. Whomever adopts this dog will need certain resources. Time, patience and understanding.

Lucky for Otis and his new adopter (who ever they turn out to be) things are looking up.
My friend owns and operates a local dog training/day care/boarding facility and we reached an agreement to where Otis and his adopters will receive free behavior counseling and may even get free day care or training!

So, for now, Otis sits and waits for the right person to come for him.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Good news/Bad News Game

The other day I received some very good news about Pit Bulls here in Florida. The bill to repeal the ban on BSL died in the senate. Whew, another 'safe' year for the pits of the state.
Then today, I got a call bearing some not so good news. It seems one of our local county animal facilities has a 'no adopt' policy when it comes to Pit Bulls. This disturbs me greatly for many reasons.

First is the obvious, it's just not fair. The sheriff who made the rule said it was due to too many 'bite cases' but most of the dogs that enter their facility have no bite history at all and are healthy and happy family pets.

This was brought to my attention when a family wanted to adopt a pit that was found outside of their business and brought to this facility. Oh, who am I protecting here it's Polk County Animal Services. They were told they could not have the dog. Only rescue groups are allowed to take pits.

This baffles my mind...they would rather euthanize this dog than give it to a willing adoptive family?!

The next thing that really gets me is I can't quite figure out how this is legal except for the fact that it isn't technically illegal. I understand how a private SPCA or Humane Society could implement this rule, but a public shelter? I just don't know.
There is no county or city ordnance against the breed, yet the government run facility is denying it's tax paying citizens their right to own the dog of their choice...?

Just doesn't sit right...

We have extended an invitation for them to attend one of our pit bull education classes and have even offered to take it on the road to them.
This will not be an over night change but I feel up to the challenge.
In the mean time I am trying to get the word out to rescue organizations in the area.

God Bless the Pit Bull, never has any dog been so hated and misunderstood.