Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Disturbing news

TULSA, Okla. — A dog attacked and killed a 2-month old baby boy who was left unattended in a swing, police said Monday afternoon.

Officer Jason Willingham said the infant was mauled by either a Labrador puppy or a small pug at the boy's home and died at the scene.

Police are not sure what caused the mauling or which dog killed the boy. Both dogs were taken to the Tulsa Animal Shelter, where Manager Jean Letcher said the lab was euthanized at the request of Tulsa police.

Authorities will not release the child's name until Tuesday.

Willingham said the baby's mother and grandmother were home at the time, but nobody was in the room when the attack occurred.

"The child was left unattended in a swing," he said.

Police are unsure what caused the dog to attack.

The child's body was taken to the Medical Examiner's office. Police plan to forward their investigation to the district attorney, who will determine if any criminal charges are warranted in the case, he said.

"It's just a very tragic set of circumstances," he said. "It's a very hard situation to investigate."

It's hard for me to believe that a 6 week old puppy could maul a child. Puppies do have sharp teeth and can scratch and bite with those sharp teeth. It just seems very sad. The loss of the child left unattended and the loss of the puppy who undoubtedly was play biting and not attacking.

Friday, July 25, 2008

How many is enough?

I had a visit from a couple who have a great granddaughter of Tilly. They were telling me about their lab's dam and that she had been bred a number of times back to back. This has always been a controversial subject among breeders--how many times to breed and whether to breed back to back.

I would not consider breeding a bitch of mine unless she had her final hip and elbow clearances. And I have always thought that skipping a heat, especially if the bitch had a large litter or a C-section was good practice. However, there are reproductive specialists who indicate that doing back to back breedings is better for the bitch and the "production" of puppies. The contention is that the number of eggs produced declines with age and that the younger and more fit a bitch is, the better the whelping will go.

As far as number of litters, I would think that four is a plenty for a lifetime. All of my girls except Tilly (who had four litters) have had three or less litters. I just don't see the point in breeding them again and again.

Just like in anything that we do, there is my opinion and then there are others who have a different view.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Assistance Dogs

I received an email from the owner of Ch. Surry's Comfortably Numb. Zachary has sired several get who have been trained through the Assistance Dog Institute where they teach and certify the trainers for service dogs organizations.

The Assistance Dog Institute was founded in 1991 by Dr. Bonnie Bergin, the originator of the service dog concept, and founder of Canine Companions for Independence and the Assistance Dog United Campaign. The Institute is an educational and research institution concentrating on teaching and researching ways to “help dogs help people.” This approach differs significantly from that of Canine Companions for Independence and other assistance dog organizations whose mission is primarily that of producing and placing assistance dogs with individuals with disabilities.

One of the puppies that ADI has trained is Charlie Bear who has been used in a new program for autistic children. Charlie and his young autistic person, Patrick, just went through their final graduation.

Patrick and Charlie Bear will be on TV Sunday July 27 at 8 AM. It will be on the Discovery Health channel, "Pets and People- The Power of the Health Connection". It is interesting to read about the Assistance Dog Institute and to actually see what one of Zach's puppies has accomplished.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dog Days--Watch Out!

It's nearing the Dog Days of summer in Charleston. That means that dogs and people alike aren't wanting to stir about much. It's important for the dogs to stay cool in the heat. What that means is to make sure that your Labrador gets plenty of fresh water and stays out of the hot sun.

Leaving a Labrador in a car, even with the windows rolled down can cause a dog to overheat. If I'm traveling with the dogs, I make certain that I can stay in a dog friendly hotel and bring them inside where they can stay in air-conditioning.

Labradors don't like the heat and it can be deadly. Labs are built for cold weather and can overheat if the temperatures get over 80 F. I would never run my dogs in the heat but take them for a walk instead. And if you walk near a pond or on the beach, you'll find that they will want to submerge their bodies in order to cool down.

I've written before about the neat misting system we have. It helps to lower the temperature in the kennels and the dogs enjoy staying under the mist. Hosing down your dog with cool water is another way to make sure they stay cool.

If your Labrador should become overheated, it will be important to put cool/icy water on the abdomen, legs and head. Just remember to keep your dog cool in the heat and avoid heat stroke.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

How to deal with dogs that are fearful

Having rescued a few Labrador and now adopted a racing greyhound, I've found that dealing with dogs that are fearful takes patience. Luckily Hoffa wasn't abused but did come with some habits that required patience. For example, she evidently had to compete for food so for the first few months after her arrival, she would gobble her food and also growl if Tilly or Stella came near her. Now, she has gotten to be a picky eater and takes her sweet time finishing up her breakfast and dinner.

I don't know how common it is for racing greyhounds to be abused. Certainly there can be kennel workers who do not handle the dogs properly. Hopefully, kennel and dog owners immediately fire anyone caught abusing a racing dog.

These dogs are an investment for the owner and most owners probably want to make sure that they are cared for and that they like to run. From what I've read, abused dogs tend to not run. Or at least, they do not run well.

Having a greyhound has been a different experience from having Labradors. The Labradors don't suffer much anxiety about anything. And they always like to eat. Greyhounds, like all sighthounds, are keen to movement. Sudden movement that catches them unware will most certainly trigger one of two responses: fight or flight. Greyhounds by nature will usually choose to flee an uncertain situation.

And from what I've read, an abused dog really shouldn't be treated any differently than a un-abused dog. It's important to not force the dog into a situation that stresses it out. But it's also important to introduce the dog to different situations. I've found that it isn't a good idea to coddle dogs too much or to love on them when they are fearful. It is human nature to want to reassure the dog but to a dog, such reassurance can be viewed as a reward. It's best to remain calm and indicate that the stick or the car or stores aren't as frightening as the dog thinks they may be. If possible, make these activities fun for the dog and give praise when the dog doesn't react in a negative for fearful manner.

Acclimation for a rehomed dog can take as long as a year. I've gradually introduced Hoffa to all kinds of activities such as riding in the car, going to the beach and to doggy park. She now loves to go for rides, is the greeter at the dog park, and enjoys the beach. Patience wins out in the long run.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Socializing isn't just for puppies

Everyone probably knows how important it is to socialize puppies. But it's really important to continue to socialize your dog into adulthood. Puppies can be well-adjusted but without continued socialization can become fearful as they mature.

I've had puppies who were happy and outgoing. But at around 6-8 months of age, they have become less outgoing and almost shy. This became evident when they were taken to dog shows. They were fine being at home but didn't like the noise and the strange (to them) breeds that they encountered at dog shows.

Often times, dogs will be perfectly accepting of strangers and other dogs in their own environment. But when you take them out of that environment, they become less sure of themselves and can become intimidated.

One of the ways to prevent this type of behavior is to take your dog out to meet other people and dogs. Taking your dog to a dog friendly store or to the dog park is great socialization. There they will encounter different people and breeds in a pleasant setting.