What is HELP FIDO?

Humane Education Leads to Progress
For Informed Dog Owners

Vision Statement: We envision a society free from discrimination, where responsibility, education, love and compassion allow humans to fully respect and understand man's best friend.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Unconditional Love

I am having a crappy day at work. Heck - I am having a crappy year.
As with most folks - it impacts how the rest of my life goes. It affects my relations with my husband, my family and my friends. However, it really doesn't impact how my relationship is with my dogs. A friend recently gave me some words of wisdom . . . "You cannot control how others treat you. But you can control how you react to their treatment of you."
Dogs have this luxurious capacity to dwell in the present tense. They are happy you are finally home. They are happy you are feeding them. They are happy you are taking them outside. They are really happy you are talking to them in a strange voice that they don't understand but sounds good.
Their eyes and their tails belie this happiness. The warmth of their bodies are comforting when your world sucks.
I have read many an article, as I am sure you have too, about abused, neglected dogs who are rescued from the clutches of certain death . . . and sometimes from a situation worse than death. And yet, the dogs do not turn on their rescuers. They express happiness in a new found friend. Certainly there are those who have issues moving past what they have experienced. But far and away most dogs respond to the love and compassion that is bestowed upon them by returning it with equal measure. This is no more obvious than in the rehabilitation of the Vick dogs and the wonderful accomplishments they have made. Proof positive (or is that pawsitive?) that even in the "worst" of cases you can drill down to that original depth of emotions in the dog.
And so today when I return home from my awful Monday, bitter and stressed, I know that Sasha and Sparky will be just as happy to see me as when I return at the end of a good day. They will relate their happiness solely to the fact that I am home. In their eyes why shouldn't I be happy too? And when I look into their eyes I will have a hard time remaining bitter and stressed. I will seek comfort in their warm wiggly bodies. I will find humor in their actions and peace in their kisses. I will remember why I go to work...to earn more money for kibble and chew toys :-)
And I will lay my head down tonight and go to work tomorrow with renewed vigor and vitality.
Unconditional love.

World Rabies Day - September 28th

Meant to post this earlier, but yesterday was World Rabies Day. Amazingly, 55,000 die worldwide every year. More information can be found on AVMA's website. Another page has some great information about rabies prevention and what to do if you are bitten by a dog or your dog bite's someone else.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another senseless death

When are people going to wake up and become responsible? In 2007, Youngstown, Ohio passed an ill-planned breed ban which has never been enforced. The ban was put in place to ensure that another child wasn't harmed by a dog with the appearance of a pit bull. Bravo Youngstown. You chose to focus your efforts on one type of dog rather than focusing on the total pet owning population. When you could have been educating and enacting preventative measures, you instead chose to spend your efforts on a witch hunt.

Yesterday a 3 day old baby paid the price. The three day old infant was left alone in a bassinet while the father went to another room. While the father was out of the room the family's Husky grabbed the infant, inflicting multiple bites to the head and neck. The baby was dead at the scene.

Please people, do NOT leave a child alone with an animal....EVER. Why is this such a difficult concept for people to grasp?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dogs and their routines

I was reading a post on the Happy Pit Bull blog - about her dog Dozer and how he was depressed when they were packing suitcases for a trip. That got me thinking about all the dogs I've ever had and how they so quickly fall into a routine. For example, every night, without fail, our two dogs get up at 10 PM - looking for their last meal of the day. They could both be crashed out, twitching with their doggie chasing rabbits dreams at 9:58 but two minutes later, at 10, they're both up looking for food. How do they know??? Cracks me up. Likewise, Sasha simply knows when we are leaving - before even heading to the door, just getting ready to leave at a certain time of day and she gets in her crate. It's both sad and funny at the same time. Sparky's usually completely oblivious but that's a whole other story :) Anyway, what about your dogs - do they do anything like that? I'm sure they do, let's hear 'em.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Just do it - get involved!

I know it's sometimes difficult, when facing a large problem such as dog and cat overpopulation or irresponsible dog ownership, to get frustrated and overwhelmed - not knowing where to start.  I've definitely felt that way at times in our work starting up HELP FIDO and other issues in the past (both animal related and non-animal related).  However, everyone in HF has come to realize that the key is to simply get started.  For example, we had been talking for a couple months about having a low-cost microchip clinic in Whitehall Ohio.  After Anna sat in on teleconference with Ken Foster (the author of "Dogs I Have Met" and other books) we followed his advice to "just do it" and went ahead and set a date of September 13th to have a microchip clinic in Whitehall.  Some members of HF had done this in the past but we hadn't as a group, so the logistics of everything were a bit intimidating at first.  But, with a deadline in place, we had no choice but to make it happen.  And the result? A rousing success!  We microchipped 44 dogs (just about every breed under the sun) at $10 a piece and everything went off without a hitch; we also were able to talk to people about the importance of spay/neuter and other issues.  BTW - if anyone else out there is thinking of doing something like this, feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to give you some advice on things we learned. 

Likewise, we've also found that the key to getting involved in your local communities and working to influence citizens, City Council, State Legislatures and Congress is really simple - go to meetings, stay after, talk to your respresentatives, call or email their offices (calls are more effective).  Thanks to Brent Toellner, Michelle Davis and others for that piece of advice. Honestly, most people will listen to you and are receptive - not all, but most.  Just by doing these things, HF has already accomplished so much in a short period of time and we look forward to doing more.  

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Memory of K-9 Officer Marty Martin

Today has been a difficult day. First, today is the 7th Anniversary of September 11th. This brings to mind many images for all Americans. We should always remember the bravery shown that day by the first responders, police officers, fire fighters, medics and other personnel as well as the people that lost their lives that day. Also, we should always remember the Search and Rescue dogs that served in both Washington and New York City in the days following 9/11, searching for survivors.
Today has been difficult for another reason - a great Deputy Sheriff, Certified Police Dog Instructor, husband, father and friend - Marty M. Martin - died in the line of duty this past Saturday. Marty's funeral was earlier today. There were over 1,000 attendees including hundreds of officers from around Ohio and the country. Marty started a Police Dog kennel along with his wife and some friends a few years ago and some of the K-9 Police Dogs were at the funeral as well - simply amazing animals. Marty's wife, Jody, and Anna (another HELP FIDO board member), are both breast cancer survivors and met a few years ago through work with the Young Survival Coalition. So Marty's death, coupled with what Jody and the rest of Marty's family is going through right now, really hit home for Anna and me. Please keep Marty, Jody, their 6 year old son Kyle, their special dogs ~ Bul, his retired K-9 Unit dog, Charly his competition sport dog, Sydney, Tess, Tak, Tigra and Brita, and many Liberty Hoeve Kennel canines ~ and all of their friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.
On this day of days - a heartfelt thank you to both Marty and Jody for the bravery they have shown in their work and in battling cancer, and being such great people.
**If you would like to read more or for ways to help Jody - you can see Anna's blog.**

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Be Part of the SOLUTION!

Hey all, Dr. Mandi here again saying that if you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. There are an overwhelming amount of puppies and kittens, dogs and cats across this country without a roof over their heads. There are strays roaming the streets with no shelter or food and no place to call home. The solution to this sad state of affairs? Spay and neuter your pets. Owning a pet is, in my humble opinion, a privilege and comes with certain responsibilities. Spaying and neutering not only benefits you and your family, but your pet and your community.

How does it benefit you?
Spaying and neutering can eliminate or reduce the incidence of a number of serious health problems for your pet that can difficult and expensive to treat.

Spaying and neutering can make pets better companions for you and your family.

Neutering can make it less likely for dogs to mark their territory with strong, foul smelling urine not only outside but also inside of your home.

Spaying a dog (or cat) prevents her from having a heat cycle. Estrus (heat) lasts an average of 6-12 days, often twice a year in dogs. Dogs in heat may appear nervous, can be edgy and sometimes aggressive and can attract unwanted male dogs to your home.

Neutering can make pets less likely to roam, run away, get into fights with other dogs and get hit by a car.

Unsterilized animals often exhibit more behavior and temperament problems than those that have not been spayed or neutered.

Neutering may make dogs less likely to bite.

How does it benefit your pet?
Spaying and neutering helps cats and dogs live longer, healthier lives.

Spaying females eliminates the possibility of uterine and ovarian cancer, and greatly reduces the incidence of breast cancer, especially when your pet is spayed before her first heat cycle.

Spaying can prevent various reproductive tract disorders, such as pyometra. Pyometra is an infection of the uterus that many times requires your pet to be spayed as an emergency procedure. Performing surgery when an animal has a pyometra can be risky and the condition itself can be deadly.

Neutering eliminates testicular cancer and decreases the incidence of prostate problems like benign prostate disease.

How does it benefit your community?
An estimated 8-10 million animals are taken in by animal shelters each year.

An estimated 4-5 million animals are euthanized (put to sleep) in shelters each year.

Tax-payers spend millions of dollars each year to control the unwanted animal population.

Animal shelters are many times filled to capacity and overburdened with surplus animals.

Stray pets and homeless animals may get in to trash containers, defecate in public areas or on private lawns and can spread disease that could potentially make humans ill. They can also frighten or anger people who have no understanding of their needs or misery.

MYTH: It is NOT "healthier" for your dog to have a litter or go through a heat cycle before they are spayed. The opposite is actually true. For each heat cycle your dog has, the chances of her developing breast cancer INCREASES significantly.

MYTH: Your dog is not "missing something" by not breeding or having a litter. They are not sexually motivated in the same way humans are. Guys...your dog does not miss his testicles.

So please people...spay and neuter. I know this sounds like a Bob Barker, Price is Right public announcement, but seriously it is important. As a veterinarian I see the effects of what NOT spaying and neutering can do to a family pet. I recently had to anesthetize a 15 year old dog to spay her due to a pyometra and cystic ovaries. It was a very difficult procedure for her and it took a very long time for her to recover from the anesthesia. I have had patients pass away from pyometra, testicular cancer and breast cancer. These are things that can be prevented. Also, remember that the older your pet is the more difficult the procedure is for them, so by spaying and neutering them at a young age you can save their lives.

That's all for now folks and remember..."People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Discrimination during hurricane rescue efforts

Ms. Donna at BAD RAP has a great post up about the discrimination against "pit bulls" in New Orleans as part of hurricane Gustav rescue efforts. While I certainly applaud the rescue efforts of the SPCA of Texas, it's shameful that they would leave any dog behind simply based on what it looks like (btw - see here about breed identification, that's a whole other story). If a dog is aggressive and cannot be safely rescued during a hurricane or other natural disaster, it's absolutely acceptable and probably unavoidable to leave some dogs behind. But if a dog or dogs really are being left behind simply because they may be a pit bull or look like a pit bull, that's a disgrace. Thankfully, the aftermath of Gustav has been a far cry from Katrina for both our 2-legged and 4-legged friends. Speaking of Katrina, if you haven't already seen this, please check it out - Michelle Davis from KC Dog Advocates posted about their rescue efforts following Katrina in 2005.

These are the dogs of HELP FIDO...our dogs...this is why we are here...