Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Tails! A Follow-up on the Ruff House Adoption Event

After a five-day adoption event at Desmond's previous home--Ruff House Rescue--all but ONE of the dogs have found placement, a foster home, or a forever home.

If I counted correctly on Facebook, 20 dogs were adopted between Wednesday and Sunday!

RHR had taken in a whole bunch of dogs they didn't really have room for--some of which were going to have to be brought back down South if they did not find homes and couldn't be placed either at RHR (due to space from other adoptions/fosters) or in the hands of another rescue.

There is now only one dog who needs placement in a home, foster or forever. His name is Achilles, and he's a sweetheart, but the shelter environment is hard on him and he's developed separation anxiety.

Here's his story in RHR's own words:
This is ever-so-precious Achilles. What an amazing dog he is. Achilles is a small guy, about 35 lbs. He loves loves loves people and he is great with cats too! Achilles is a people person and he really wants to be wherever you are. This very sad guy really needs our help. He was put in a kill shelter when his owner was evicted and then in foster where he would sometimes argue with the foster's other puppy, so he is with us in Oceanside at our kennel, but he is beyond miserable. Please please help us find this incredibly easy-going dog a home or foster. He is worthy of so much more than he is getting now. Please email me today at Hurry, Achilles is waiting!
If you know anyone who might be able to help him, please share. How can you resist that face??

(both photos are from RHR's Facebook page)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Adoptable Puppies & Dogs in Oceanside at Ruff House Rescue

After I wrote my Bloggers Unite for Dog Rescue post, I found out that Ruff House Rescue is having a big adoption event that started yesterday and runs through Sunday, 7/29.

Because I want to help RHR in any way I can, I did a write up for them on, which includes a slideshow of their newest arrivals.

I would be thrilled if you would take a look and pass along to anyone who might be interested in adopting or fostering a puppy or adult dog. Even if you don't live near Long Island, RHR would be happy to work with you on a doggie matchup.

Adoption event in Oceanside through Sunday
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Be the Change for Dog Rescue

Blog the Change
A week or so ago, Be the Change for Animals had one of its four annual Blog the Change days--and I totally missed it. Luckily, this time around that day was a save the date of sorts for today, which is Bloggers Unite for Dog Rescue day.

Approximately 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year in the U.S.--60 percent of the dogs at shelters never make it out.

Can we save them all? Probably not--at least not without some serious changes in the spay/neuter arena--but we can save so many more than we currently are able to, with just a little bit of effort from everyone who cares.

Dog rescue is something that means a lot to me, not just because of Desmond's ginormous effect on my life, but also because I have a soft spot for animals, especially dogs. I did not seem to inherit this same soft spot for any other living thing or cause, and while I maintain this means I came off a horribly mismanaged assembly line, it also means I have a lot of expendable energy for helping dogs. I only wish I had the matching resources.

But aren't we all in the same boat? You want to help a cause that matters to you; you have no time/money/ability, etc. Or you think what you do have to offer isn't worth offering. I assure you, it's all worth more than you think.

Images like this one have been floating around the web for a while, but the message doesn't get less important:

I am fortunate to be able to say I have hit almost every item on that list of ways to help--and in the fall I'll be participating in a fabulous program via Animal Behavior College that will benefit the rescue organization that brought Desmond to us: Ruff House Rescue.

Before you graduate from ABC and become a certified dog trainer, you're given the opportunity to participate in the shelter practicum, during which you volunteer at the shelter of your choice as a trainer.

Here's a little more about that, in ABC's own words:

ABC’s international campaign to improve shelter dog rehabilitation and called “Students Saving Lives” and was actualized from the personal quest of Ms. Debbie Kendrick, the Vice President of Animal Behavior College. As an ABC Student, you will be asked to a local animal shelter, humane society, or rescue organization of your choice.... This portion of the program is exciting for students as they are able to practice what they have learned while helping homeless dogs become better candidates for adoption.
I absolutely love this program and can't wait to get started working with the dogs at Ruff House--I'm even trying to wrangle an amateur-photographer friend to come with me and take pix of the lovely pups.

The folks who are involved at RHR are some of the most tireless people I've ever known. They seem to be constantly bringing in new dogs and managing to get enough of them fostered or adopted so that the shelter isn't over crowded.

Right now, RHR is having practically non-stop adoption events and the volunteers are the midst of a transporting effort to bring a bunch of ridiculously cute dogs up to Oceanside, NY, from the South.

You can see their current house guests on RHR's petfinder page, plus more pictures of all the dogs they have and are getting on their FB page, but I can't resist posting some of the photos of the newest pups--and en route pups--here. Because, seriously, they all make me want to become a hoarder, like, right this second.

OK, if you didn't just die seven times--that's once for each out-of-this-world face--you need to seek help. You probably also need a hug. From a cute puppy.

So go adopt one, or foster one, or walk one, or play with one, or give a bag of treats to one (not all at the same time, preferably).

And if you can't do any of those things, at least share these photos; you never know who might see them and fall in love with their new best friend.

This post is dedicated to Bloggers Unite for Dog Rescue, a special online global event held on July 23, 2012 stressing the importance of dog adoption. is proud to partner with Blog CatalogDog Rescue Success and YOU to harness a global online community to help save the lives of dogs in need.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dogs of Grand Bahama Island Make Me Think Too Much

You guys already know I have a hard time relaxing, but you know who doesn't?

This dog we saw walking along the beach when we got to the wedding reception:

Not that he is walking in this pic. Nope--he's chillin' out on the beach.
Legs splayed back and everything. He was so super cute.
Yes, doggie, that is a beautiful sunset you're about to witness.

You may be a little confused about those pictures, because of the big blue thing at the bottom of them, under the sand.

It's nothing weird though. It's just this here infinity pool that looked out over the beach:

Getting back to the doggie...

He seemed very calm and unaffected by anything going on around him. I mean, he was alert, to be sure, but not like some other dog we know...

We watched him for a while. He walked around and tried to get comfortable in a couple spots before settling down. Joey saw a couple walk past the dog and try to get him to approach them, but the dog didn't seem to care about them.

We kept wondering what this dog's deal was. Did he have a house? A family? Was he hungry? Was he safe? Where was he going to sleep?

We thought about going down to the beach to get a closer look and joked about bringing him food or having him join us at the wedding. If it made any sense at all for me to pack him up into my suitcase and bring him home, that would have been awesome. The dog didn't seem to mind his lot in life; I couldn't help but worry about him. (And be jealous of his ability to relax at the beach!)

I kept thinking about the dog after the wedding. And then we saw him again the next day, in another part of town. Just walking along a main road, like nothing was going on. The cab driver we made friends with filled us in on the fact that this dog is a neighborhood dog. He lives wherever. People feed him. He walks around. Simple as that.

No one, dog or human, seems to mind the arrangement.

That didn't make me worry any less about the pup. When Joey and I went to dinner on our last night there, we stashed some bread just in case we ran into the dog (yes, I realize that bread isn't the best option to feed a dog, but it's the easiest thing to haul around). But why was I so worried? Because I'm a crazy dog lady or because I'm a crazy dog lady from a big city? Is this an American thing? Or maybe it's just me specifically.

We saw various little villages while we were down there, and in each village we saw dogs--all looking very similar to the beach dog--that were kind of hanging around outside. No collars. No leashes. And no reactions whatsoever to us passing by. No barking. Just being chilled-out dogs. Some of the dogs appeared to belong to the households they were closest to and with others it was harder to tell.

That's the kind of thing I just don't see at home, and I'm not sure how far I'd have to travel from my house to find it. Meanwhile, it's probably much closer than I realize. It makes me wonder if we're not doing it wrong.

I bet those dogs have never had a day of obedience or manners training in their lives--but they're better behaved than Desmond. I doubt any of them need behavior modification. Then again, would they if they were brought here, into a different lifestyle with a different set of expectations?

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a house in East Branch, NY. This is a small, country village (population: 492). No one had a fenced-in property, but everyone had a tractor. The roads were not necessarily paved.

My grandparents' property consisted of a huge orchard and field. On the other side of it was a house where a gorgeous yellow lab named Lucy lived. She would randomly come around to the house or through the field, and we became friends this way.

After that, I could stand at the front of the orchard and yell out her name, and a few moments later, she would be busting through the shrubs between the two properties and galloping toward me. It was a long way, so I'd run out and meet her, and she thought it was the greatest thing ever, this exuberant greeting. She is to this day the sweetest dog I've ever known.

How much training do you think she had?

Lucy was trusted by everyone in the community--and she seemed to trust everyone right back. Her recall was perfect, even if it sometimes took her a minute to get to you or find you. She always responded, even if she were frolicking in the stream or sniffing something amazing in the woods. I cannot even get Desmond to come in from the damn yard half the time.

I could be making too much out of this, but all of these dogs really got me thinking about things, the expectations we push onto our pets.

Part of training is about what really matters for your lifestyle, and I think it's easy to forget that and to want them to be perfect. Not every dog has to pass the CGC test, and I would even venture so far as to say that you could live with simply managing a reactive dog if your location and lifestyle allowed such a thing (and it wasn't too much of a hardship on the dog, emotionally).

Here's what I mean:

If you don't care that your dog begs for food during dinner because 
you think it's cute, then that's your choice and your arm getting nudged 
by a wet nose every night. Your dinner guests may not like it, but 
maybe you don't care about that either. It's up to you. 

Have a teacup poodle that jumps during greetings? 
Maybe you'd rather work on her drop-its or her stays, because a 
single-digit-weight dog jumping on you is barely noticeable. 

Do you care more about a dog who can sit nicely at outdoor cafes than you do about anything else? Work on that. (Of course, a dog's mental and physical comfort zone is important, too. But that's not what I'm trying to get into here.)

It's always good to reassess what you want your dog to do versus what you need your dog to do--and to remember that letting dogs be dogs sometimes can go a long way.

Deep thoughts with Lauren & Desmond... (oh, please, like he contributed anything)

* * *

I'll end this longer-than-I-expected-it-to-be post on a lighter note.

I feel like no one will mind if I include some pix of this awesome bird we saw while walking through Lucayan National Park. He kept coming over to see if we had any crackers (folks are allowed to feed the wildlife, and there's usually a woman selling crackers). Alas, we did not. Poor birdie.

* * *

And just when you thought you had really reached the end...

Now, on a totally unrelated note, I just wanted to post a small follow-up to my leptospirosis post. I responded to comments but wanted to make sure I got this bit out there to everyone, so here goes:

We have been very lucky that Desmond hasn't had a bad reaction to a vaccine--and he's had many shots. We're especially lucky because he has gotten many of them all at the same time. We didn't know any better and thought it would be best to take as few trips to the vet as possible, because Desmond doesn't like it there and we are crazy busy.

When we asked about doing it this way, our vet was all for it.

When we went to our new vet and he looked at Desmond's records, he was not OK with the way the vaccines were done or how many Des was getting or how often Des was getting them. He promised us things would be different with him. I felt like a big ol' dummy but was glad we finally got ourselves over to this new vet, because I think I'd like to keep him.

I do have an update on Desmond's anxiety/vomit situation, but it's taking me a long time to write and I was waiting for some test results. I will post it eventually!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Leptospirosis: Do You Vaccinate Your Pup?

The other day, I got into a discussion about vaccinations with some friends of mine who are also sharing their lives with beings of the canine variety. It quickly evolved into four different takes on the subject, some of which were at near-complete opposition.

The debate over what vaccinations a puppy or adult dog should be getting, and how often, still rages on the regular far outside my little group chat.

Every website, every book, every vet, every trainer, every behaviorist, every dog person (professionals, amateurs, and all those in between) has his or her own strongly held opinions on the topic. Municipalities and their often out-of-date policies don't help matters in the least. Most studies don't seem to be definitive. Fanatics on the extreme sides of the issue often do more harm than good. No one appears to be fully on the same page as anyone else.

Should we all just agree to disagree? Is this too personal of a choice? Should we all butt out of each other's business? Or are our pets at enough of a risk, one way or the other, that this is something that really does need to be hashed out and decided upon for the dog community as a whole?

I honestly have no clue--my own ideas about vaccines have changed about three times since bringing Desmond into my home. I can't even win an argument with myself about vaccinations!

Part of me wishes there were hard & fast rules for each vaccination, but part of me worries I wouldn't like some of the rules.

The only thing I do know is that, regardless of everything else, we will continue to get Desmond vaccinated against leptospirosis every year, because he is a dog at risk. He's at risk because of where he lives and how he leads his life of luxury. And because he's at risk, we're at risk.

That does not sit well with me. We share pillows. This cannot be good for business.

Any bets on whose mom is more grossed out right now, mine or Joey's?

For a primer on leptospirosis, I invite you to take a look at my post Your dog may be at risk for Leptospirosis.

And tell me: Is your furry friend getting this vaccine? If he's not, did anything in that article make you think he should be? Or do you think this falls into the over-vaccination category?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Destination Wedding in the Bahamas

We are not really beach/pool people. I own three big floppy hats and wear sunblock every day. Just sitting around doing nothing makes us anxious. That's right: relaxing makes us antsy.

Not that we don't like the water--look at where we live--or swimming (I'm just coming off a hard campaign for a pool in our yard). We do; we just find ourselves getting bored with it fairly quickly in comparison to other, probably-more-normal folks.

We are not really touristy people. We try to stay away from crowds, tours, organized events, all-inclusives, Americanized anything, and the hot-spot parts of town (when it comes to lodging). Our #1 goal on all trips is to befriend a local ASAP and take advantage of their knowledge, so we can eat where they eat and hang out where they hang out.

That's not to say that if we went to Paris we wouldn't stand under the Eiffel Tower (many tourist attractions are attractions for a damn good reason), eating sub-par croissants we bought from a nearby vendor. Or that we wouldn't return to the U.S. with a bag of magnets, shot glasses, and key chains.

But it is to say we didn't have high hopes for a trip to the Bahamas, especially considering the fact that we had been there before and did not like it (yes, I realize how crazy that sounds to many of you).

However, we had been to Nassau/Paradise Island, and this time we were going to Grand Bahama Island (Freeport, specifically)--and it turns out those two parts of the Bahamas are alike mostly only in climate. GBI was awesomesauce! Getting to attend a fabulous wedding and see people we don't often get to spend time with made it even better.

I will not bore you with details of our trip (unless you're a travel geek like me and you really wanna know more. Hit me up in the comments.) but I will show you hundreds of pictures. Lucky for you, I used Picasa to make them into a collage, so you can see them, sort of, all at once!

There is a dog-related story from this trip, but I'll get to that next week. Oooh... cliffhanger... Try not to pass out from excitement.

You can click on this to see it larger, if you're so inclined.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Gorgeous "Dog Park"

Months ago, on a sunny winter day, we took Desmond to the grounds of Coindre Hall, a catering venue/chateau/historic mansion on the North Shore of LI that allows dogs to play on its ridiculously beautiful property.

You may have caught my post--A review of Coindre Hall's dog-friendly grounds--where I go into detail about the place, but if you haven't, feel free to click over and take a look for a description that will put these photos (and my quotation marks around the words dog park) into context.

And if you live on the Island or near it, I highly recommend you get your butt on over there, especially now that there are leaves on the trees! I hope to get back to Huntington this summer and in the fall. Unfortunately, we missed the boat on the spring bloom.

Possibly my favorite shot of the day. I asked Joey to go sit on that branch with Des for a nice photo, but the branch wasn't really into that idea. Desmond of course thought his dad was initiating a wrestle with him.
My attempts at a nice photo didn't work, either, because Des was too obsessed with the ball to care about me.
By the way, it was plenty warm for dogs and normal people; I'm just always freezing.

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