|Posted by saskatoondogrescue on March 16, 2015 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
Their bodies may be imperfect, but their spirit remains intact.
So it is said about the special needs dog. Although caring for one can be challenging, more and more people are opening their hearts and their homes and adopting them. For this reason, more and more dogs who might otherwise be euthanized are being given a new “leash” on life.
Experts stress the importance of not viewing special needs dogs as “handicapped.” Although they have certain limitations (including partial paralysis, three leggedness, blindness or deafness), they’re not “aware” of them, and can be as active and affectionate as any other dog.
Adopters of special needs dogs insist the rewards outweigh the work. Many use social media to share their experiences, to interact with owners like them, and to encourage others to adopt. They don’t see these dogs’ medical or physical problems as a shortcoming, and don’t believe it makes them any less of a dog.
Those interested in adopting a special needs dog should first fully inform themselves about that dog’s condition, limitations, and maintenance. This includes meeting with their vet, requesting a tutorial on administering medications, and asking if they will make house calls. If not, they should ask to be referred to someone who will.
The quality of life for special needs dogs has been greatly enhanced by the growing number of products available to their owners. There are pet diapers, no-slip boots, orthotic braces, prosthetics, and front, back, combination and amputee harnesses. Ramps, pet steps, pet stairs and pet carts. Adjustable pet wheelchairs that can accommodate dogs weighing up to 180 pounds. And because partially paralyzed pets frequently get carpet burns when out of their chairs, there are washable, heavy-duty “drag bags” to protect their back ends.
Sadly, dogs who are blind or deaf have been characterized as aggressive, unpredictable, untrainable, prone to other health issues, and even a shorter life span. Studies, however, have proven otherwise. They have shown that despite their obvious deficiencies, these dogs are generally quite healthy and capable of living long, otherwise normal lives. And that, whether blind or deaf, they are no more aggressive, unpredictable or untrainable than sighted or hearing dogs.
Blind dogs are trained through the use of both sound and scent cues. By relying on their highly developed sense of smell, their noses let them know where and what things are, and when combined with their owners’ reassuring voice and touch, helps them live as normally and comfortably as possible.
They quickly learn and “map out” their surroundings, and for added protection, have their own “go to” place, created by putting their food and water bowls, doggie bed, kennel, and several favorite toys (squeaky toys or ones with bells inside are best) on a distinctive mat, and never moved. A carpeted runner or large area rug provides them with safe play area because the traction is good and the edges clearly discernible.
Sharp edges on furniture can be padded with bubble-wrap or foam pipe insulation to help prevent injury. Any stairways should be baby-gated, and a textured mat laid before each one to alert the dog to the gates’ proximity. And all outside activities, from pottying to playing, should be done either in a securely fenced yard or securely on leash.
Deaf or hard-of-hearing dogs are trained through the use of sign language or hand signals with treats as reinforcement. Vibrations are also used, such as walking with a “heavy foot” if their attention is elsewhere, and stomping close to their bed or near their head to waken them rather than touching and startling them. Lights can also be used as a teaching tool to get their attention, but, of course, this works best as night.
Since they bond instantly with their owners, placing their trust and safekeeping in their hands, deaf dogs always look to them for guidance and follow where their owner leads. As with blind dogs, all outside activities, from pottying to playing, should be done either in a securely fenced yard or securely on leash.
Because there is nothing inherently “wrong” with them, deaf dogs can do almost anything hearing dogs do. Many of them excel at agility and obedience, and make excellent therapy dogs.
As the owners of special needs dogs readily agree, their own lives have been irrevocably changed. By the sweetness and determination of the animals they adopted. By the smiles they elicit and the kisses they distribute. And most importantly, by the inspiration these dogs provide, not only for them, but for everyone around them.
Article written by Nomi Berger
|Posted by saskatoondogrescue on February 9, 2015 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
Imagine handing out treats and name tags at the front door of your home for your new dog and your resident pets. Imagine happy munches and friendly woofs (and/or meows) as they blend and bond instantly and forever.
Then blink twice and remember that you are living in the world of reality and not in an ideal parallel universe. But armed with a set of realistic expectations, your reality may ultimately be just as ideal.
Introducing your new dog to the pets already in your home is a process. To succeed, you must start with a plan and a promise – to yourself -- to be patient. The process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (and in extreme cases, a few months).
To improve your chances of a happy blending of old and new, choose a dog as close as possible in temperament and activity level to the pets you already have. Dogs and cats are creatures of habit, and most dislike any disruptions in their daily lives and routines.
Some dogs are naturally more relaxed and more social than others. Some are more territorial and don't enjoy sharing at all. Unhappy with the arrival of a newcomer, they may demonstrate their disapproval by fighting with the perceived “intruder” or by marking.
Allow your new dog to adjust to you and to his/her new surroundings by keeping him/her in a separate room with his/her bed, food, water and toys for several days. Spend as much quality, comforting time with your new arrival as possible.
Maintain your other pets’ regular routines – from feeding and pottying to exercising, playing and together times – to reassure them that nothing has changed.
Since smells are of utmost importance to animals, get them used to each other’s scent as soon as possible. One way is through that most reliable standby: food. Feed your resident pets and your new dog on either side of the door to his/her room, encouraging them to associate something pleasurable with one another’s smell.
Once this has been successfully accomplished, walk your new dog slowly through your home, room by room, allowing him/her to become familiar with its sights, sounds and smells. Keep your other pets behind the closed door of his/her room to allow your new dog a sense of safety and privacy, while promoting a further exchange of scents between them. Repeat this several times a day for a few days.
Next, use two doorstoppers to keep the door to your new dog’s room propped open just enough for all of the animals to see each other. Repeat this several times a day for a few days.
BUT remember! Every time you leave your home, leave your new dog in his/her room with the door closed.
Hopefully, when you’re ready to make the “formal” introductions, your patience and your animals’ pre-preparations will have paid off. And they will not only recognize, but also start to accept one another by what they see and smell.
Armed with the tastiest treats and most tempting toys, you can expect sniffing, approaching and walking away. Reward good behavior with praise and treats, but discourage bad behavior by promptly separating the offending parties and gently, but firmly correcting them.
Once again, patience is key. This too is a process, which may take time until the blending is successful, and your family is calmly and contentedly one.
If, however, certain problems persist, speak to your vet or consult a recommended animal behaviorist.
Article written by Nomi Berger
|Posted by saskatoondogrescue on December 1, 2014 at 2:00 PM||comments (0)|
With the approach of the holidays, everyone’s thoughts turn naturally to the happy chore of gift giving. While most people opt for the tried and true, hoping another gift certificate isn’t too impersonal or another scarf or bottle of perfume isn’t too predictable, they’re much safer choices than those being considered by some this season: the purchase of a pet.
The gift of a dog or puppy is not the same as the gift of a large, stuffed plush toy. More often than not, wrapping a red ribbon and bow around the neck of a living, breathing dog signals only one thing: trouble. Dogs are NOT toys, and should never be anyone’s holiday surprise. Unlike other holiday purchases, there are no refunds or exchanges on dogs. Only serious, possibly dire consequences. Although the idea of a dog as a gift may sound thoughtful, it is, in reality, thoughtless.
Why? Because the gift OF a dog means accepting the responsibility FOR that dog. It must be more than a well-meant whim, the desire to be different. It must be a carefully considered choice. An informed decision made by everyone involved in what may ultimately be a 10 to 15 year commitment.
Such decisions require homework and due diligence. Research into dog breeds most appropriate for your family, your lifestyle and your environment; house, condo or apartment; fenced yard or no yard. Intelligent questions asked of owners of those particular breeds and of a knowledgeable veterinarian.
Does anyone in your family suffer from allergies? Does everyone even WANT a dog? Do they understand what it means to share in the training, feeding and raising of a dog? Because adding a dog to your family not only involves time and money, it means providing that same dog with a loving and stable home.
Children should NEVER be presented with a puppy at any time of the year. Typically, they will be charmed by such a furry, little plaything that leaps and yips, squeals and nips, and rolls over onto its back for tummy rubs. For the first few days. Until the novelty wears off and reality sets in. The reality of helping care for their cute, squirming little gift. Puppies are not so cute when they have to be trained to potty outside or walked outdoors in the rain and snow.
Those well-intentioned gift givers – the parents – will now be that puppy’s full time caregivers, and, sadly, many of them weren’t prepared for this eventuality. The result: one more puppy either abandoned by the side of the road, dropped off at a pound, or surrendered to a shelter. Probably to be euthanized. Neither respectable breeders nor responsible rescue groups will either sell or adopt out a puppy or a dog as a holiday gift. They are all too familiar with the heartbreaking results of such dangerous impulse buys.
Never purchase a puppy or a dog for someone else – whether it’s a close relative or an even closer friend. The same rules apply. Only doubly so. What you consider an act of generosity may, unfortunately, be seen as an imposition. If any of them want a dog, it’s up to them to make that choice. That same, carefully considered choice and intelligent, informed decision.
To ensure that your holidays are happy, ensure that your gifts do NOT include pets.
Article by Nomi Berger
|Posted by saskatoondogrescue on November 18, 2014 at 11:20 AM||comments (0)|
Be an informed adopter and make your new dog’s entry into your world as pleasurable as possible.
If this is your first dog, establish yourself with a vet or register your new dog with your established vet. Then apply for the appropriate licenses, etc., required in your area.
Remember that a dog’s true personality may not reveal itself for several weeks. Therefore, these first few weeks require an atmosphere of calm and patience, not anger or punishment.
Knowing your new dog’s established schedules for meals, pottying, walking and exercise beforehand are essential to maintaining his/her sense of continuity.
Once you arrive home, bring your new dog to his/her designated pottying place.
Spend time letting your new dog get accustomed to the place, and if he/she potties, reward him/her with praise and a treat.
Repeat this (whether your dog potties or not) to reinforce it, but be prepared for accidents. Even a housebroken dog will be nervous in, and curious about, new surroundings.
Your new dog may also pant or pace excessively, suffer from stomach upsets or have no appetite at all due to the sudden changes in his/her life.
Give your new dog the same food that he/she ate before.
After 30 minutes, remove the food whether it’s been eaten or not. Do not allow your new dog to “graze.”
(If you want to switch brands, wait a week. Begin by adding one part new food to three parts of the old for several days. Then add half new to half old for several more days, followed by one part old to three parts new until it’s all new food and the transition is complete).
Learn the commands your new dog already knows and don’t attempt to teach him/her any new ones for awhile.
Walk your new dog slowly through your home allowing him/her plenty of time to sniff around and become familiar with all of its sights and smells.
If needed, teach your new dog proper house manners from the start -- calmly and patiently. Reward good behavior with praise and treats for positive reinforcement.
Introduce your new dog to the other members of your household one by one. Unless you know that the dog enjoys approaching new people, instruct everyone to sit, silent and still, on a couch or chair and ignore him/her.
Allow your new dog to approach them, sniffing, whether it takes several seconds or several minutes. Only when he/she is relaxed should they begin to pet him/her lightly and gently.
Children in particular should be closely supervised to ensure that they follow these same guidelines.
Show your new dog his/her place to sleep and place a few treats around the area as added incentives.
Give your new dog some quiet, alone time to get used to his/her space while you remain in the room for reassurance.
For the first few days, remain calm and quiet around your new dog, allowing him/her to settle in comfortably while you become familiar with his/her likes and dislikes, quirks and habits.
Begin the routine you want to establish (according to your own lifestyle) for your new dog’s pottying, eating, walking, playing and alone times, and maintain it -- calmly but firmly.
Initial resistance is to be expected, but remain firm – without impatience or anger – while your new dog gradually becomes accustomed to his/her new schedule.
To make the process as pleasant and reassuring as possible, spend quality time with your new dog, stroking him/her or brushing his/her coat, while talking gently and soothingly to strengthen the bond and trust between you.
If you want to change your new dog’s name, begin by saying his/her new name and giving him/her an especially good treat (chicken works well) or a belly rub. This will teach your new dog to love the sound and respond to it. Repeating this numerous times a day will speed up the process.
Limit your new dog’s activities to your home, potty and exercise areas, keeping away from neighbors and other dogs, public places and dog parks.
Invite a relative or friend over to meet your new dog. Hand them treats and tell them to be calm and gentle in their approach unless your new dog calmly approaches them first.
Gradually accustom your new dog to being alone by leaving your home briefly then returning, repeating this several times over a period of a day or two and gradually increasing the alone time from a few minutes to a half hour to an hour. This way he/she won’t feel abandoned. When you return, walk in calmly and don’t fuss over your dog until he/she has settled down.
If your new dog whines or cries, don’t cuddle or console him/her. It only reinforces this behavior. Instead give him/her attention and praise for good behavior, such as resting quietly or chewing on a toy instead. And treats always work wonders.
Slowly begin introducing your new dog to your neighbors and other dogs, closely monitoring his/her reactions, especially towards the dogs.
Bring your new dog to the vet to introduce them to each other, address any health or behavioral concerns, and get a new rabies certificate. For any behavioral issues you can’t resolve on your own, ask your vet for the name of a professional.
Remember that making your new dog the newest member of your family is a process, and that consistency is the key.
Your reward? A loving and happy companion, and the satisfaction of knowing that you have saved his/her life.
Article written by Nomi Berger.
- Nomi is the best selling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry and hundreds of articles. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her adopted Maltese, Mini, and now devotes all of her time volunteering her writing skills to animal rescue organizations throughout Canada and the USA.