Month: May 2014

Weddings Are Going to the Dogs!

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Wedding season is upon us!

Including a four-legged groomsman, ring bearer, maid of honor, or furry flower girl as part of your wedding? Many couples consider their dog part of the family, so it’s not surprising that Fido is often part of the wedding celebrations too. And having a dog in a wedding will surely make for some great photos!

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As a bride and groom you want to look your best on this important day and you want your dog to look stylish too. The Classy Dog has beautiful handmade wedding apparel for your dog. Have your own design ideas? Our designers can custom make a one-of-a-kind dress or vest.

Here are some helpful tips on including your dog in your wedding celebration:

  •  Check that your venue is dog friendly.
  • Bring your dog to the rehearsal to do a practice run (including dress rehearsal).
  • Make sure you decide on a particular role for your dog.
  • Your dog should get plenty of exercise before the ceremony so that he is calm.
  • Entrust someone to handle your dog throughout the event. Consider having a pet sitter who will act as your dog’s guide and watch him during the reception. That way you won’t need to worry about who might be feeding him human food (or keeping him away from the wedding cake).
  • Have handler take him out for periodic breaks as it might become a bit overwhelming for him. If he is a little skittish consider having someone carry him or letting him ride in a wagon. If he is easily distracted, be sure to use a leash.
  • Have treats handy to keep your pooch entertained as well as water to keep him hydrated.
  • Make sure any flowers or plants being used at your wedding are not toxic to pets.
  • The photographer you hire should be comfortable working with dogs.
  • Arrange for a quiet room where your dog can rest in his crate if he needs a nap.

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Guest Blogger, Denise Fleck –

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First Aide for your Dog

By Denise Fleck,

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One Summer morning, two Dachshund pups were playfully exploring their fenced yard when Rudy caught Abigail off guard and bounded at her from behind the rose bushes. As Abby took a tumble landing dazed and confused, a bumble bee buzzed passed her. The twosome, quickly distracted by this new found fun, attempted to play a game of pounce with the tiny buzzing creature. Fun did ensue for a few moments, but it then turned nasty as the bee planted his stinger right onto the tip of Rudy’s nose! The pup pawed furiously at his face, and as it began to swell, Rudy started looking more like a Bulldog than a Doxie.


Generally dogs paw at and remove the insect’s stinger, but should you see one through your pet’s fur coat (or on his nose, lip, paw or elsewhere), scrape it away with a credit card, popsicle stick or similar stiff object. Pulling the stinger with fingers or tweezers could rupture the poison sac allowing the toxin to enter your pet’s body. Administer 1 mg Benadryl per pound of your dog’s body weight, and apply a cold pack (a bag of frozen peas works well) to any swelling. Should severe swelling or any breathing difficulties develop, get to your Veterinarian at once.


Black Widow Spiders terrify us all with their distinctive red hour-glass marking, but rarely are they fatal. Small dogs sometimes have bigger issues with the venom due to their size. Treat bites with ice and Benadryl as you would for a bee sting, and should your dog develop unusual redness, pain, difficulty breathing or paralysis…get to the Vet ASAP.

Brown Recluse Spiders tend to hide in dark, secluded areas and their venom is known to destroy tissue surrounding the bite. Approximately 1/2 inch to 2 inches long, the Brown Recluse can be identified by a distinctive fiddle-shaped mark on its back. When bitten, most dogs do not realize it, but after a while redness occurs. Clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexidine or povidone iodine. If your dog appears lethargic, develops a rash, fever, chills, vomiting or diarrhea or if the wound becomes larger or persistent drainage occurs, seek Veterinary assistance.


Another danger to our dogs comes in the form of venomous snakes. In California the eight species of Rattlesnakes are active year round. Their physical appearance varies, but all can be identified by a broad, triangular head, vertical pupils as opposed to round ones (though hopefully you won’t be close enough to evaluate this), and heat-sensing “pits” between the eyes and nostrils which help them locate prey.

Prevention is the best medicine! While out walking, your best safety device is keeping control of your dog on a leash. Stay on open paths, and don’t allow your dog to explore holes or dig under logs or rocks where snakes hide (yeah, right — but doing so can prevent much pain, suffering and even death).

Keep pets away from areas covered in ivy and wood piles where snake food (mice) hide.

If your pet gets bitten, assume it is a poisonous bite. Even if it isn’t, non-venomous snakes transmit bacteria (remember…they eat rodents and don’t brush their teeth) making Veterinary Care vital!

Baby snakes can be just as dangerous as their full-grown counterparts. They are born with fangs and venom and generally give all they’ve got with each and every bite!

Snake Bite Vaccine can buy you time, but you’ll still need to get to your Veterinarian quickly if your dog is bitten. Vaccinated dogs typically develop protection comparable to a couple vials of anti-venin.


  • Keep the wound at or below the level of the heart.
  • Keep your dog or cat calm and carry him if possible. Increasing your pet’s pulse and respiration also increases the absorption of the venom.
  • Immediately call your Animal Emergency Center to make sure they have anti-venin and let them know you’re on the way so that they will start mixing it – it takes 30 minutes to prepare. Ask if you should administer Benadryl® (usual dose for snake bites is 2 mg per pound of pet’s body weight).
  • If possible, identify the type of snake or be able to describe it, but do not get near it.
  • DO NOT cut over the fang marks or try to suck out the poison.
  • DO NOT move the animal any more than needed.
  • DO NOT place an ice pack over the bite which could result in the limb having to be amputated. Venom is caustic and immediately breaks down tissue and blood cells, so as much as don’t want it traveling to the vital organs, you also do not want the concentration of toxin frozen in one place.

Do you know where your nearest Animal Emergency Hospital is? Don’t wait until it is too late to find out!


Denise founded Sunny-dog Ink in 1999 to help people help their pets. She has developed the curriculum for her Pet First-Aid & CPCR (yes, there’s now a second “C”) classes as well as for the high school Animal Care program she teaches in conjunction with the Burbank Unified School District and Animal Shelter. She recently won Children’s Book of the Year from the Dog Writers Association of America for “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover,” and has a new book out entitled “Pet First Aid for Kids,” with three more books coming in 2014. Learn more at

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20 Dog Facts to Share with Kids

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Bringing a dog into your family is a huge decision, and here are some things about man’s best four-legged friend that are sure to be of interest to children (and some adults):

1. An adult dog has 42 teeth.

2. A dog’s sense of smell is more than 1 million times stronger than that of a person.

3. More than 1 in 3 families in the United States owns a dog.

4. Spaying or neutering your dog can help prevent certain types of cancer.

5. If never spayed or neutered, a pair of dogs can produce 66,000 puppies in 6 years.

6. A dog’s sense of hearing is more than 10 times more accurate than that of a person.

7. The average dog can run about 19 miles per hour at full speed.

8. Dogs are mentioned 14 times in the Bible.

9. A dog’s nose print is one of a kind, very similar to a person’s fingerprint.

10. The average body temperature for a dog is 101.2.

11. With an average lifespan of just over 11 years, the typical dog costs $13,500.

12. The only sweat glands a dog has are between its toes.

13. Dogs are omnivorous; they need to eat more than just meat.

14. Dogs have twice as many ear muscles as people.

15. Dogs will be submissive to anyone they feel is higher up in the pack.

16. People have been keeping dogs for pets for 12,000 years.

17. A female dog carries her puppies for about 60 days before they are born.

18. It is a myth dogs are color blind; they actually see color, just not as vividly as a person.

19. Obesity is the number-one health problem in dogs.

20. Seventy percent of people sign their pets name on greeting/holiday cards.

What else do YOU know about dogs?


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Guest Blogger, Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

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A Dialogue Between A Jewish Vegetarian Activist and a Rabbi

For a long time, I have been trying to start a respectful dialogue in the Jewish community. Because I have had very little success, I am presenting the fictional dialogue below. I hope that many readers will use it as the basis of similar dialogues with local rabbis, educators, and community leaders.

Jewish Vegetarian Activist: Shalom rabbi.

Rabbi: Shalom. Good to see you.

JVA: Rabbi, I have been meaning to speak to you for some time about an issue, but I have hesitated because I know how busy you are, but I think this issue is very important.

Rabbi: Well, that sounds interesting. I am never too busy to consider important issues. What do you have in mind?

JVA: I have been reading a lot recently about the impacts of our diets on our health and the environment and about Jewish teachings related to our diets. I wonder if I can discuss the issues with you and perhaps it can be put on the synagogue’s agenda for further consideration.

Rabbi: I would be happy to discuss this with you. But, I hope that you are aware that Judaism does permit the eating of meat. Some scholars feel that it is obligatory to eat meat on Shabbat and holidays.

JVA: Yes, I recognize that Judaism permits people to eat meat. Jewish vegetarians do not argue that Jews must be vegetarians. We recognize that people have a choice, but we feel that this choice should consider basic Jewish teachings and how animal-based diets and modern intensive livestock agriculture impinge on these teachings. For example, we should recognize the current and increasing tension between the permission to consume animals for human benefit and the extremely cruel treatment they now receive in preparation for such consumption on factory farms, which have become more prevalent in response to population increase and efficiency and cost concerns. With regard to eating meat on Shabbat and holidays, according to the Talmud (T. B. Pesachim 109a), since the destruction of the Temple, Jews are not required to eat meat in order to rejoice on sacred occasions. This view is reinforced in the works Reshit Chochmah and Kerem Shlomo and Rabbi Chizkiah Medini’s Sdei Chemed, which cites many classical sources on the subject. Several Israeli chief rabbis, including Shlomo Goren, late Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel, and Shear Yashuv Cohen, Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Haifa, have been or are vegetarians. Also, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom is a vegetarian, as is Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland.

Rabbi: we also should recognize that there is much in the Torah and the Talmud about which animals are kosher and about the proper way to slaughter animals. So eating meat is certainly not foreign to Judaism.

VJA: Yes, that is certainly true. But, there is also much in the Torah and our other sacred writings that point to vegetarianism as the ideal Jewish diet. For example, as the Torah verse below indicates, God’s initial intention was that people be vegetarians.

And God said: “Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit — to you it shall be for food.” Genesis 1:29

The foremost Jewish Torah commentator, Rashi, states the following about God’s first dietary plan: “God did not permit Adam and his wife to kill a creature to eat its flesh. Only every green herb were they to all eat together.” Most Torah commentators, including Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra, Maimonides, Nachmanides, and Rabbi Joseph Albo, agree with Rashi.

In addition, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel and a major Jewish 20th century writer and philosopher, believed that the messianic period would also be vegetarian. He based this on Isaiah’s powerful prophecy that “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, … the lion shall eat straw like the ox…. and no one shall hurt nor destroy in all of God’s holy mountain… (Isaiah 11:6-9). Hence the two idea times in Jewish thought – the Garden of Eden and the messianic period – are vegetarian.

Rabbi: I have to tell you one thing that concerns me. Jews historically have had many problems with some animal rights groups, which have often opposed shechita (ritual slaughter) and advocated its abolishment. Some have even made outrageous comparisons between the Holocaust and the slaughter of animals for food.

JVA: Jews should consider switching to vegetarianism not because of the views of animal rights groups, whether they are hostile to Judaism or not, but because it is the diet most consistent with Jewish teachings. It is the Torah, not animal rights groups, which is the basis for observing how far current animal treatment has strayed from fundamental Jewish values. As Samson Raphael Hirsch stated: “Here you are faced with God’s teaching, which obliges you not only to refrain from inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal, but to help and, when you can, to lessen the pain whenever you see an animal suffering, even through no fault of yours.”

Rabbi: Another concern is with two teachings in Genesis: The Torah teaches that humans are granted dominion over animals (Genesis 1:26) and that only people are created in the Divine Image (Genesis 1:26, 5:1). I fear that vegetarians are promoting a philosophy inconsistent with these Torah teachings, hence potentially reducing the sacredness of human life and the dignity of human beings.

JVA: I think that if we explain how Judaism interprets these important verses, we can go a long way to reduce this potential problem. As you know, Jewish tradition interprets “dominion” as guardianship, or stewardship: we are called upon to be co-workers with God in improving the world. Dominion does not mean that people have the right to wantonly exploit animals, and it certainly does not permit us to breed animals and treat them as machines designed solely to meet human needs. This view is reinforced by the fact that immediately after God gave humankind dominion over animals, He prescribed vegetarian foods as the diet for humans (Genesis 1:29). While the Torah states that only human beings are created “in the Divine Image,” animals are also God’s creatures, possessing sensitivity and the capacity for feeling pain. God is concerned that they are protected and treated with compassion and justice. In fact, the Jewish sages state that to be “created in the Divine Image,” means that people have the capacity to emulate the Divine compassion for all creatures. “As God is compassionate,” they teach, “so you should be compassionate.”

Rabbi: Yes, these are good points, but some vegetarians elevate animals to a level equal to or greater than that of people. This is certainly inconsistent with Judaism.

JVA: Vegetarians’ concern for animals and their refusal to treat them cruelly does not mean that vegetarians regard animals as being equal to people. There are many reasons for being vegetarian other than consideration for animals, including concerns about human health, ecological threats, and the plight of hungry people. Because humans are capable of imagination, rationality, empathy, compassion, and moral choice, we should strive to end the unbelievably cruel conditions under which farm animals are currently raised. This is an issue of sensitivity, not an assertion of equality with the animal kingdom.

Rabbi: Another issue to be considered is that, with all the problems facing humanity today, can we devote much time to consider animals and which diets we should have?

JVA: Vegetarian diets are not beneficial only to animals. They improve human health, help conserve food and other resources, and put less strain on endangered ecosystems. In view of the many threats caused or worsened by today’s intensive livestock agriculture (such as deforestation, global climate change, and rapid species extinction), working to promote vegetarianism may be the most important action that one can take for global sustainability. In addition, a switch toward vegetarianism would reduce the epidemic of heart disease, various types of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases that have been strongly linked to the consumption of animal products.

Rabbi: Perhaps I am playing the devil’s advocate here, but by putting vegetarian values ahead of Jewish teachings, aren’t vegetarians, in effect, creating a new religion with values contrary to Jewish teachings.

JVA: Jewish vegetarians are not placing so-called ‘vegetarian values’ above Torah principles but are challenging the Jewish community to apply Judaism’s splendid teachings at every level of our daily lives. Vegetarians argue that Jewish teachings about treating animals with compassion, guarding our health, sharing with hungry people, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, and seeking peace, are all best applied through vegetarian diets.

Rabbi: What about the Torah teachings about animal sacrifices and that Jews have to eat korban Pesach (the Passover sacrifice) and parts of other animal sacrifices?

JVA: The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides believed that God permitted sacrifices as a concession to the common mode of worship in Biblical times. It was felt that had Moses not instituted the sacrifices, his mission would have failed and Judaism might have disappeared. The Jewish philosopher Abarbanel reinforced Maimonides’ position by citing a midrash (rabbinic teaching) that indicates God tolerated the sacrifices because the Israelites had become accustomed to sacrifices in Egypt, but that He commanded they be offered only in one central sanctuary in order to wean the Jews from idolatrous practices. Rav Kook and others believed that in the Messianic period, human conduct will have improved to such a degree that animal sacrifices will not be necessary to atone for sins. There will only be non-animal sacrifices to express thanks to God.

Rabbi: You have correctly pointed out that Jews must treat animals with compassion. However, the restrictions of shechita minimize the pain to animals in the slaughtering process, and thus fulfill Jewish laws on proper treatment of animals.

JVA: Yes, but can we ignore the cruel treatment of animals on “factory farms” in the many months prior to slaughter. Can we ignore the force-feeding of huge amounts of grain to ducks and geese to produce foie gras, the removal of calves from their mothers shortly after birth to raise them for veal, the killing of over 250 million male chicks immediately after birth at egg-laying hatcheries in the U.S. annually, the placing of hens in cages so small that they can’t raise even one wing, and the many other horrors of modern factory farming?

Rabbi: As a rabbi, I feel that I must point out that if Jews do not eat meat, they will be deprived of the opportunity to fulfill many mitzvot (commandments).

JVA: By not eating meat, Jews are actually fulfilling many mitzvot: showing compassion to animals, protecting health, conserving resources, helping to feed the hungry, and preserving the earth. And by abstaining from meat, Jews reduce the chance of accidentally violating several prohibitions of the Torah, such as mixing meat and milk, eating non-kosher animals, and eating forbidden fats or blood. There are other cases where Torah laws regulate things that God would prefer people not do at all. For example, God wishes people to live in peace, but he provides commandments relating to war, knowing that human beings will quarrel and seek victories over others. Similarly, the Torah laws that restrict taking female captives in wartime are a concession to human weakness. Indeed, the sages go to great lengths to deter people from taking advantage of such dispensations.

Rabbi: Judaism teaches that it is wrong not to take advantage of the pleasurable things that God has put on the earth. Since He put animals on the earth, and it is pleasurable to eat them, is it not wrong to refrain from eating meat?

JVA: Can eating meat be pleasurable to a sensitive person when he or she knows that, as a result, their health is endangered, grain is wasted, the environment is damaged, and animals are being cruelly treated? One can indulge in pleasure without doing harm to living creatures. There are many other cases in Judaism where actions that people may consider pleasurable are forbidden or discouraged – such as the use of tobacco, drinking liquor to excess, having sexual relations out of wedlock, and hunting.

Rabbi: As you know the laws of kashrut (dietary laws) are very important in Judaism. But, a movement by Jews toward vegetarianism would lead to less emphasis on kashrut, and eventually possibly a disregard of these laws.

JVA: I believe that there would be just the opposite effect. In many ways, becoming a vegetarian makes it easier and less expensive to observe the laws of kashrut. This might attract many new adherents to keeping kosher, and eventually to other important Jewish practices. As a vegetarian, one need not be concerned with mixing milchigs (dairy products) with fleichigs (meat products), waiting three or six hours after eating meat before being allowed to eat dairy products, storing four complete sets of dishes (two for regular use and two for Passover use), extra silverware, pots, pans, etc., and many other considerations incumbent upon the non-vegetarian who wishes to observe kashrut.

Rabbi: I must express a concern for the livelihood of some of my congregants and other Jews. If everyone became vegetarian, butchers, shochtim (slaughterers), and others dependent for a living on the consumption of meat would lack work.

JVA: There could be a shift from the production of animal products to that of nutritious vegetarian dishes. In England during World War II, when there was a shortage of meat, butchers relied mainly on the sale of fruits and vegetables. Today, new businesses could sell tofu, miso, felafel, soy burgers, and vegetarian cholent (Sabbath hot dish). Besides, the shift toward vegetarianism will be gradual, providing time for a transition to other jobs. The same kind of question can be asked about other moral issues. What would happen to arms merchants if we had universal peace? What would happen to some doctors and nurses if people took better care of themselves, stopped smoking, improved their diets, and so on? Immoral or inefficient practices should not be supported because some people earn a living in the process.

Rabbi: If vegetarianism solves some problems, doesn’t it create others. For example, if everyone became vegetarian, wouldn’t animals overrun the earth?

JVA: Respectfully, this concern is based on an insufficient understanding of animal behavior. For example, there are millions of turkeys around at Thanksgiving not because they want to help celebrate the holiday, but because farmers breed them for the dinner table. Dairy cows are artificially inseminated annually so that they will constantly produce milk. Before the establishment of modern intensive livestock agriculture, food supply and demand kept animal populations relatively steady. An end to the manipulation of animals’ reproductive tendencies to suit our needs would lead to a decrease, rather than an increase, in the number of animals. We are not overrun by animals that we do not eat, such as lions, elephants, and crocodiles.

Rabbi: Instead of advocating vegetarianism, shouldn’t we alleviate the evils of factory farming so that animals are treated better, less grain is wasted, and less health-harming chemicals are used.

JVA: The breeding of animals is “big business”. Animals are raised the way they are today because it is very profitable. Improving conditions, as suggested by this assertion, would certainly be a step in the right direction, but it has been strongly resisted by the meat industry since it would greatly increase already high prices. Why not abstain from eating meat as a protest against present policies while trying to improve them? Even under the best of conditions, why take the life of a creature of God, “whose tender mercies are over all His creatures” (Psalms 145:9), when it is not necessary for proper nutrition?

Rabbi: If vegetarian diets were best for health, wouldn’t doctors recommend them?

JVA: Unfortunately, while doctors are devoted to the well-being of their patients, many lack information about the basic relationship between food and health, because nutrition is not sufficiently taught at most medical schools. Also, many patients are resistant to making dietary changes. The accepted approach today seems to be to prescribe medications first and, perhaps, recommend a diet change as an afterthought. However, there now seems to be increasing awareness on the part of doctors about the importance of proper nutrition, but the financial power of the beef and dairy lobbies and other groups who gain from the status quo prevents rapid changes. Experts on nutrition, including the American and Canadian dietetic associations stress the many health benefits of plant-centered diets.

Rabbi: some of my congregants would respond: I enjoy eating meat. Why should I give it up?

JVA: If one is solely motivated by what will bring pleasure, perhaps no answer to this question would be acceptable. But, as you well know, Judaism wishes us to be motivated by far more: doing mitzvot, performing good deeds and acts of charity, sanctifying ourselves in the realm of the permissible, helping to feed the hungry, pursuing justice and peace, etc. Even if one is primarily motivated by considerations of pleasure and convenience, the negative health effects of animal-centered diets should be taken into account. One cannot enjoy life when one is not in good health.

Rabbi: Well, I am sure that there are other questions that should be addressed. But I think that you have made the case for at least having a broad discussion of the Jewish and universal issues related to our diets. Why don’t you form a committee with members of different viewpoints and set up a forum at which all of the issues related to our diets can be discussed.

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island
Author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, Mathematics and Global Survival, and Who Stole My Religion? Revitalizing Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet, and 200 articles at
President Emeritus, Jewish Vegetarians of North America (; President, Society Of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV):
Associate producer of A SACRED DUTY (;
“Like” JVNA on Facebook at

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Can Blind Pets Lead Happy Lives?

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Fortunately most eye diseases are successfully treated with medication or surgery. However, in some cases vision is irreversibly lost. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and Glaucoma are two common causes of permanent blindness.

Veterinarians are often asked whether a blind dog or cat can lead a happy life.

The answer is an unequivocal “YES!”

While there are certainly some things that they may be unable to do, most of the activities that are important to our pets are still possible. A blind dog or cat will behave remarkably normally in their own home. Animals that lose vision gradually appear to adjust better than those that lose vision rapidly. In both cases, with a bit of patience, we have found that almost every pet can make this adjustment. They will remember where their food and water are and rarely bump into things in the home. Try not to rearrange the furniture and you will be amazed at how well your pet will remember the floor plan — even going up and down stairs. They will still play with toys and may prefer a ball with a bell or a squeak toy. They will enjoy interacting with their human family in most all of the same ways as they did before they lost vision. A blind pet can continue in every way in their primary role as a loving companion.

It is important to recognize that, while vision is important to dogs and cats, they have many other senses that help them adjust to the lose of this one. Their senses of hearing and smell are much more sensitive than ours — dogs would think our normal senses a handicap! Loss of vision does not represent the same hardship for our pets as it would for us. For us, blindness would mean an inability to read or drive a car and a loss of independence. Our pets are already (happily) dependent on us.

A blind pet does have some special needs, including a protected environment. This is particularly important because they behave so normally that you may forget that they are handicapped. Hazards for a blind pet include swimming pools, traffic and balconies. A blind dog should always be kept on a leash when outside of a fenced yard; you may find a harness works better than a collar for guiding your pet on walks outdoors. There are tools available to help you keep your pet safe while still allowing some freedom. For example, there is an alarm you can attach to your pets collar to alert you if they fall in the swimming pool.

Here is an inspirational article written by one of our clients who continued to train her agility dog after she began to go blind.

If you have a pet that has lost vision, you may appreciate some of the web sites available on this subject:

There are also two very good books by Caroline Levin, RN: “Living With Blind Dogs: A Resource Book and Training Guide for the Owners of Blind and Low-Vision Dogs” and “Blind Dogs Stories: Tales of Triumph, Humor, and Heroism” They are available from Lantern Publications.

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Guest Blogger, Melissa Prescott – DARL (Animal Rescue)

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When it comes to Animal Cruelty Awareness, there are so many issues that we all could go on about. Today I want to talk about Pitbull & Animal Cruelty Awareness in Massachusetts, and how my Animal Rescue helps our community better understand these beautiful animals. I will add educational tips that you can pass on to your friends and community along with information on how you can recognize and report animal cruelty/dog fighting. The issues I am presenting are global, however I am focusing your attention on my home state – Massachusetts. Yes, it ALL happens here too.

Pitbulls in Massachusetts are no different from Pitbulls any other state or country. If you don’t already know this, Pitbull is not a breed of dog at all! Pitbull is a crossbreed between a bulldog and a terrier. Other breeds that are ‘labeled’ as pit bulls are the French Bulldog and Boston Terrier just to name two. You will hear some say “it’s a pitbull” because it has certain physical characteristics such as a square shaped head or bulky body type. Whatever you want to call these beautiful animals, remember they are dogs, not monsters.

How did such a beautiful specimen of intelligence, strength, loyalty, athleticism, energy, love and caring become known as monster and danger to MA society?

Pitbulls are not born to attack or fight. Because of their eagerness to please their humans, pitbulls are easy to train.  When put in the hands irresponsible owners or trainers they are molded into a dangerous weapon used against people or other dogs. This is all human training and doing. I’m not saying that all pitbulls never have behavioral issues; I’d be a liar. ALL BREEDS CAN HAVE ISSUES. But, we as humans have the ability to control the behavior of the animal. Responsible owners understand when to correct a bad behavior and what precautions need to be made in any event. Criminals and animal abusers thrive on the bad behavior for entertainment-dogfighting and the thrill of having a powerful weapon-trained animals to attack people.

This is what we read about. Pitbull Attacks. These headlines are the main cause of these animals being banned from certain areas, insurance companies discriminating against the breed, and for some of the abuse to Pitbulls from animal abusers who in their mind think that these animals deserve it and no one cares. We care! You should too.

Pitbulls are being bred, sold and raised by criminals in MA as you read this blog.  In August 2013, Puppy Doe, the pitbull puppy that was tortured and starved was found in Quincy.  Just in March 2014 a Dorchester man was arrested for operating a dog-fighting ring.

What can you do to help?

  • Educate yourself and others. Start with reading about Dog-fighting with this article here!!
  • Never report dog-fighting or animal abuse videos or social media pages/websites to the internet companies hosting these sites. Why? Because if these criminals get one clue or tip that they are noticed, they will run and move to another location. If that happens they are harder to find. Instead report to your local Animal Control Officer, Police Department and to Norred & Associates (refer to www.just-do-something’s other Guest Blog post on this.)
  • You can anonymously report suspected cases of animal cruelty by phone 1.877.215.2250. A reward of up to $5,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest or conviction of a dog fighter.

Always remember not every dog that is trained to fight is a pitbull type dog nor are they always the fighting dog. Bait dogs or bait animals (cats) are not used for fighting – they are use to get the fighting dogs in an aggressive ‘primal’ state of mind. These animals can be stolen from (examples) families or shelters, and/or found on FREE ANIMAL sites like Craigs List. FREE is NOT GOOD!

How does DARL help?

  • We offer educational workshops,and  information packets to those who want to know more about how to help stop Animal Cruelty and Dog-fighting in our community.

Our rescue is involved in helping these animals get medical attention, training and a chance to get into a caring home that is suitable for their needs. Our rescue joins community events to help spread the awareness to thousands of people every year. Public speaking, writing letters, and fundraising is all volunteer work. Most of these animals would not do well in a shelter situation so we provide a limited foster care program for these animals.

You can help us!

* Volunteer

* Foster

* Help spread the word

Our information:

DARL_Daisy’sAnimalRescueLeague , Sterling, MA






Come say “hi” at the Whisker Walk on June 8th in Lancaster, MA! Bring your dog!


– Melissa Lee Prescott -Animal Advocate, President of DARL_Daisy’sAnimalRescueLeague, Representative for ADFC(Anti-Dogfighting Campaign) of MA, ABCDT(Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer) certified in several fields of FEMA and a proud owner of 2 beautiful Pitbull/mixes Zan and Angie who are DARL’s mascots.


Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You

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Make Changes to Accommodate Your Aging Dog

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At first you notice more grey around their muzzle. They eyes have lost that sparkle and appear to have sunk a bit deeper.

For most owners, the process begins with their dog appearing less interested in the activities they once thrived on. They are no longer interested in chasing a ball or Frisbee for what seemed to you, like hours! They hesitate before jumping into or out of the car. It takes a little longer for them to get to you when called.

dog arthritis


Basic routines are becoming more strenuous. They have to go out more often, or have “accidents” in the house. Walks are slower and shorter. They may begin to limp more. They get out of breath quicker. Their breathing, even when resting, is more labored. They are more prone to injuries.

You notice they now eat to live, rather than how they were jokingly known to live to eat. They have lost their taste for certain foods.

They appear to have lost their “sense of humor.” Some are less tolerant of other animals and children. They growl or retreat to a private space more often. They appear depressed.

There are a number of easy and inexpensive ways to help your dog pass through this critical stage of their life, with less pain and more dignity. They include:

  • First, take them to your veterinarian for a check up and assessment of their current condition. Your vet may recommend supplements that will help relieve pain.
  • To manage arthritis in dogs, veterinarians recommend controlling the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis with medication. This should also be accompanied by a suitable diet and exercise and supplements.
  • Get a ramp, so they can get into and out of the car on their own.
  • Raise their food and water bowl, so they do not have to bend down to far to eat or drink comfortably.
  • Change their diet. Their sense of smell may no longer be as keen. This often makes food seem less appealing or palatable.
  • If they are having problems with their teeth, switch to smaller kibbles or softer food.
  • Feed less, but more often.
  • Soak their food in salt-free broths.
  • If you allow your dog on the sofa or bed, there are “stairs” available in pet stores and on line, to help them get up and down, without causing pain.
  • Get them a softer bed. Tile and wood floors are tough on their old bone.
  • Keep physically stressful activities short, but interesting and fun.
  • Have a short new adventure together every now and them. Go some place different! Try something different. Many dog owners have found, the canine social interaction from joining a dog training class, often piques their dog’s interest in life again.
  • Take them out more often. Give them more time to take care of “business.”
  • If they are losing their hearing, get a whistle, to get their attention.
  • If their vision is failing, they may be nervous going outside alone in the dark. Keep them company…light up the yard, or carry a flashlight.
  • Be tolerant of “accidents.” They may not have the bladder or bowel control they once had. Don’t expect them to be able to “hold it” as long as they once could.
  • Keep the walks short, but do it more often.
  • Give them a private place to retreat to…and respect it.
  • If there are other dogs in the house, do not tolerate bullying. It often happens as a senior alpha dog transitions to a lower pack status.
  • Massage your dog, or have them professionally massaged. It makes a huge difference!
  • Be patient if they appear “needy.” They cannot explain it to you, but something physical may be happening, and they feel safer with you.
  • Expect less from them. Appreciate and praise any efforts they make. Positive reinforcement is an amazing motivator!

Bottom line: Your dog may no longer be what they once were. Nonetheless, that doesn’t change how much they love, respect, and need you. Make this ultimate stage of their life as vital as possible. Give them the dignity they have earned and deserve. You owe it to them.


By Karen A. Soukiasian

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Guest Blogger, Billy Howard –

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Let’s End Dog Fighting Together

Many people are not aware of what dog fighting really is, or are aware of the possible signs of a dog fighting operation.

Dog fighting is extremely inhumane and cruel, and the things these dogs are forced to endure are unimaginable.

Do a quick search on the internet and you will learn how dogs are treated and what they are forced to do to fight or be the “bait” dog.

Dogs are stolen from shelters and domestic homes for dog fighting purposes, or raised just for this purpose.

Dog fighting is no “sport”, contrary to those who treat it as a sporting event.

Here in the Alabama area, dog fighting areas and operations usually present signs of multiple dogs (usually pitbull mixes) living outside in 55 gallon barrel drums chained with logging chain (10 feet long).  Surrounding that area are usually ropes and chains hanging from trees, with springs attached to those ropes and chains.  We see a number of tread mills in the area.  And the dogs that are used to fight have scars and/or fresh wounds on their faces and bodies.

Sadly, dog fighting is prevalent is ALL countries.  Did you know that within the Unites States, almost every county in every state has dog fighting organizations?

Our organization is, and we go ANYWHERE in the United States for FREE when it comes to investigating and stopped dog fighting operations.  There is up to a $5,000.00 Reward for valid information, and we encourage people to reach out to us if they have any reason to suspect, or have information about, dog fighting.  Call 1-877-215-2250.

Dog fighters are not stupid.  They are very aware of what they are doing is illegal and inhumane, so they are very careful to conduct these operations in secret and without bringing too much attention to the dogs they are using for dog fighting.

In addition, please visit my own personal endeavor at  I do ALL rescuing and website maintenance by myself, without any volunteers because where we are located in Alabama it is quite rural and it’s difficult to get interested people to want to help.  Anyone wanting to help my dog rescue here, 90% are Death Row Rescued!  You can call my local Farmers Co-op at 256-357-4743 and order dog food by phone or through pay-pal listed under my e mail account through Yahoo.

My additional contact information is listed on my website.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and share it.
Thank you to for helping me share my story and spread awareness on this important issue.

Please, do what you can, where and when you can.

– Billy Howard
Alabama Investigator

Thank you to our Guest Blogger


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There’s nothing cute about the Puppy Trade – UK

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From our friends across the water!

FOUR PAWS recent media coverage in the Daily Mail  has highlighted the growing problem of pedigree puppy farming across Eastern Europe to supply the UK market. The expose shines a spotlight on the conditions in these breeding farms for both the breeding dogs and their puppies.

 On puppy farms, breeding bitches will often spend their entire lives in poor living conditions, being used as breeding machines to produce litter after litter for profit. They are kept in dark sheds, basements, outbuildings, confined in small pens and fed on poor diets. Production costs are kept low to ensure that both the breeders and dealers make big profits. Puppies are torn away from their mothers at a young age, often as young as 4 weeks old. This early separation makes the puppies prone to both behavioural and health problems. The puppies are then transported hundreds of miles across Europe with fake health and passport documents. They are either sold direct over the internet or onto UK dealers who collect the puppies from car parks near the port or motorway and sell them on as homebred.

 FOUR PAWS launched an online platform in order to raise awareness about illegal puppy trade and to offer a contact point for concerned members of the public who wish to report a suspected illegal puppy trader. Besides providing useful information on the issue, the website offers a tool for duped buyers who wish to share their experience. FOUR PAWS is calling for tighter import regulations and for EU wide regulations for the registration, vaccination and identification of all dogs by microchip.

 Take action

Get in touch with us if you have any information or are concerned about a breeder:

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