Archive for January, 2011

Dog Muzzles

In my book, 14000 Dogs Later, I have made it crystal clear how I feel regarding dogs that bite.  You can read my thoughts there.  Here’s statistics from various recent sources.

Over four and a half million people are bitten by dogs each year.  During the past ten years there has been an average of 26 deaths a year by dog bites.   It is estimated that dog bites send 44 people to the ER every hour.


ftentimes, by the time folks realize that their dog is a biter; it’s too late to turn him back in, give him up, or get your money back.  And besides that, you’ve already fallen in love.  Generally, these problem dogs are mixed breeds where the background is impossible to research, an older dog that someone is trying to find a home for, or a dog you find roaming the streets that tugs at your heart strings.  (At this point I am not including dogs breed with purposeful aggressive tendencies).



 get many calls from frantic dog owners after their dog has bitten another person or dog.  Generally, along with training I advise the use of a muzzle.  Which brings about another question:  “Where do we find a muzzle?”  Although many pet shops, and General Stores that sell pet supplies, offer muzzles, they do not provide education about that product.  So here are the two main factors that you need to know when purchasing a dog muzzle: does it provide ventilation and is it the proper size.  A mesh mussel that fits tight over a dogs mouth is okay for a short amount of time…but remember, a dog perspires through his mouth…so long term usage, especially in the summer, can cause him problems.  If you are in need of a muzzle for your dog there is an excellent site for you to review.  Go to  WOOF!      

Truth or Myth #3. Dogs lick your lips to show affection.

Yes…and no.  When a mother wolf returns to the den the pups lick her lips so they can eat what she regurgitates.  They also lick your lips for the taste of food left in your mouth.  Apparently, my Rat Terrier likes halitosis and ear wax ‘cause she wakes me in the morning licking my lips and ears.  Warning:  Allowing your dog to take a bone or other treat from your mouth is an imminent catastrophe.  A student of mine had extensive plastic surgery.  Shaking hands or rolling over is much safer.

 “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” James Thurber

Would You Choose Your Pet Over Your Partner?

This is an excellent article from Paw Nation.
by Josh Loposer (Subscribe to Josh Loposer’s posts)
Jan 27th 2011 @ 6:00AM Filed Under: Dogs

woman with dogUMBRELLA SHOT, Flickr

Many pet rescue and adoption advocates live by the motto “Pets are for life.” But what if your pet is unintentionally driving a wedge between you and your love life?

A new AP-Petside poll found that, when forced to choose, as many as 14 percent of current pet owners would tell their spouses or significant others to hit the road rather than ditch their pets. When it comes to unmarried pet owners, the numbers skew slightly more in favor of pets — 25 percent.

The majority of those surveyed in the AP-Petside poll agree with Montreal resident Sarah Licha, who would choose a partner first. Licha tells Paw Nation, “If one really questions the choice between a pet and a human being, he should seriously consider therapy!”

Still, throngs of pet lovers appear to value their relationships with pets over people. We asked Paw Nation readers what they thought, and after talking to a number of pet owners about this deeply philosophical question, we too found that a surprising number of people would unequivocally choose the company of Fido or Fluffy over the prospect of romantic fulfillment. However, their reasons may not be exactly what you think.

Love Me, Love My Pets
One common attitude we found during our unofficial survey was that for animal lovers, pets are an essential part of their lifestyle. Many people involved in rescue and foster organizations feel that pets are just part of who they are — and if a partner can’t accept that, then it just isn’t meant to be.

Pamela Epstein and her buddy Bowser.

Paw Nation Facebook friend Dorothy Baxter explains why it’s important for people to understand that she and her pets are a package deal. “I have five rescued dogs, and my babies are most important,” Baxter says. “If I spend my life without a significant other, so be it. My dogs come first. Plus they don’t cheat on me as the ex did! The only thing good about the ex was he didn’t chew on the couch.”

Unfailing Loyalty
Let’s face it, as Baxter points out, one of the most comforting aspects of pet ownership is the fact that your dog or cat is there for you when the going gets tough, no matter what. Pamela Epstein of Brooklyn, NY says she would choose her French bulldog, Bowser, because he “loves me unconditionally and is my best friend. He never judges me and is always there for me.

“Although, these attributes can hold true in a relationship,” Epstein tells Paw Nation. “Often times they don’t. The bond between Bowser and me is absolutely unbreakable.”

Attitudes Reveal a Great Deal
For pet owners like Linda Reilly, the way a person bonds (or fails to bond) with an animal says a lot about his or her character. Not to mention, many dog and cat owners put a lot of stock in their pets’ intuition.

“My rationale is simple,” Reilly tells Paw Nation. “If the person who wants to be with you is not going to put that same effort into getting to know and love your cats, it seems they may not put in the love needed to blossom a relationship. Your cat or dog, for that matter, can also be a good judge of character and weed out those people that are not animal lovers.”

Amber Imberi and her dog, Lord.

Pets Are Family
Though some trusted their cats’ abilities to judge a person’s intentions, others simply look at their animals as family and refuse to treat them as an optional part of their lives. Paw Nation Facebook friend Kristen Salgado puts it this way: “When I adopt an animal, I am committed to caring for it for the rest of its life. Many people view pets as objects they can just ‘buy’ and then throw out if need be. It’s not OK! People, if your significant other ever tells you to get rid of your pet(s) … they’re not good enough for you!”

In fact, dog lover Amber Imberi says she got her dog, Lord, in a breakup after attempting a sort of joint-custody agreement — a dog that her ex originally brought into the relationship! “We did the ‘I have him for a while and you get him for this week’ and so on,” Imberi tells Paw Nation. “But I ended up with him and have loved every minute of having my boy.”

Truth or Myth #2

Truth or Myth #2: Mutts are always healthier than purebred dogs.  This is not true. Both mutts and purebred dogs can be unhealthy. Both can have diseases, however, mutts generally do not have many of the genetic diseases common in purebred lines.  ALERT:  A mixed-breed analysis test is now available called the Wisdom Panel.  It detects the percentage of mixture that is in a mutt.

K-9 Dog stabbed

Comment from John:  Again, man’s best friend puts his life on the line.  Everyday, across this great nation of ours, dogs are working to save, rescue, protect, guard, patrol, seek out, and sound the alarm for your and I.   The following story is one such example.

UPDATE 1/21/11 @ 5:45 p.m.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSAZ) — Gallia County Sheriff Joseph Browning says the department’s K9 “Jeck” is in stable condition in a Columbus, Ohio veterinary hospital recovering from a knife wound to his neck.

Gallia County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Richard Harrison deployed his K-9 partner “Jeck” in attempt to track Kelly Krebs. During this track deputies believe that Krebs attacked or struggled with the dog and stabbed it in the neck area causing severe bleeding.

Sgt. Harrison says Jeck continued to track and had to be called off the track to get medical aid. Jeck was taken to a Gallia County area veterinarian and later by Gallia County EMS to the Ohio State University Veterinarian Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. K-9 Jeck was operated on and is currently stable.

Cops rescure girl…and dog

NY Cop Rescues Girl, 11, Who Fell Through Ice

Jan 18, 2011 – 10:03 AM

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Lisa FlamLisa Flam Contributor

She was up to her neck in the icy water, about 50 yards from shore.

Eleven-year-old Sarah Thalhammer was rescued by a police office who crawled out to where she had fallen through a partially frozen bay on New York’s Long Island. Sarah, a sixth-grader, went into the water when the neighbor’s dog she was walking broke free and pulled her onto the thin ice on Great South Bay in Sayville.

“I fell through, and I was screaming,” Sarah said, hours after her rescue near her home, according to Newsday. “I couldn’t get out. It was very cold.”

She said she was unable to get out of the 4-foot-deep water “because the ice was so slippery and the water was splashing out.”

A nearby resident heard her cries and called 911. Within minutes, Suffolk County police officer Matthew DeMatteo was there, crawling on his stomach to grab the panicking girl.

“I could see just her head sticking out of the water,” DeMatteo said, according to the New York Post. “I was nervous that we’d both go in, but I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing. When you see her in the water, you’re going to do whatever you can to help her.”

But after he got her out of the water and they headed for land, the ice gave way again, sending them both briefly into the frigid water.

Chris Gonzales, first assistant chief of Sayville Community Ambulance, threw them a rope and pulled them ashore. They were taken to a hospital for observation, though neither was seriously injured.

At a news conference at Stony Brook University Medical Center, Sarah and DeMatteo sat side by side in wheelchairs, both wrapped in gray blankets.

“I’m better, just my hands feel all tingly,” Sarah said, according to the New York Daily News.

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She pulled one hand out of her blanket to shake her rescuer’s hand. “Thank you,” she said, receiving a big smile back from DeMatteo.

“Thank God I was able to make it out to her and get her out in one swoop,” he said. “Honestly, it’s doing my job. You see someone in distress, you need to help them.”

The puppy, 1-year-old Ace Ventura, a poodle-Maltese mix, never went in the water and was grabbed from the ice by firefighter Chuck Hartman.

“The dog was shaking and scared,” Hartman said, the Post reported. “It was nice to save a life today.”

How do we know when it is time to let our dogs go?

For some unknown reason I have been getting this question from friends and family almost daily.  Here is how it is answered in my book, 14000 Dogs Later.

Obviously, your veterinarian is the person to turn too.  None of us wants our dogs to live in pain, and yet, we don’t want to be the decision-maker regarding life and death.  I had a friend who carried that guilt for many years because he felt he had made the wrong decision…even though his dog could hardly stand.

“Who am I,” he said to me, “to take the life of my friend?” his guilt evident by the streaming tears.

That’s not a question any of us can answer, nor is it a question we should try to answer.  “It’s the right thing to do.  Your pet is better off.  You’ll get over it soon.  At least you don’t have to watch him suffer anymore.”  All of those may be the right answer, but it’s the wrong time to voice them. 

“You helped your dog because you were his friend,” is the answer I used for my friend’s question.  But I did not voice that thought until after he had dealt with the grieving.

Through the years numerous pet owners with terminally sick pets have asked, “What would you do, John, if he were your dog?”

I have always answered their question with other questions.

  • Is he incontinent?
  • Is he in severe pain?
  • Can he still walk?
  • Can the pain be controlled?
  • Has he stopped eating and drinking?

The answers to these questions assist my friends in making up their own mind as to what is best for their dog.

 Please remember this:  If your dog must be put down, it is not a decision you are making.  Your dog is making the decision; you are only carrying that decision out for him.

14000 Dogs Later is available at  


Dog Poisoning

I have often written about dogs being poisoned…sometimes intentional, sometimes accidental, sometime because we humans don’t know our dog’s needs-versus-wants as well as we should.  This is an excellent “real-life” article written by Laurinda Morris, DVM, Danville  Veterinary Clinic, Danville  ,  OH

This is information for all of us to “digest”.

This week I had the first case history of raisin toxicity ever seen at MedVet. My patient was a 56-pound, 5 yr old male neutered lab mix that ate half a canister of raisins sometime between 7:30 AM and 4:30 PM on Tuesday.  He started with vomiting, diarrhea and shaking about 1 AM on Wednesday but the owner didn’t call my emergency service until 7 AM. 

I had heard somewhere about raisins AND grapes causing acute Renal failure but hadn’t seen any formal paper on the subject. We had her bring the dog in immediately. In the meantime, I called the ER service at MedVet, and the doctor there was like me – had heard something about it, but… Anyway, we contacted the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control   Center and they said to give IV fluids at 1 & 1/2 times maintenance and watch the kidney values for the next 48-72 hours.  The dog’s BUN (blood urea nitrogen level) was already at 32 (normal less than 27) and creatinine over 5 (1.9 is the high end of normal). Both are monitors of kidney function in the bloodstream. We placed an IV catheter and started the fluids. Rechecked the renal values at 5 PM and the BUN was over 40 and creatinine over 7 with no urine production after a liter of fluids.  At that point I felt the dog was in acute renal failure and sent him on to MedVet for a urinary catheter to monitor urine output overnight as well as overnight care. 

He started vomiting again overnight at MedVet and his renal values continued to increase daily. He produced urine when given lasix as a diuretic. He was on 3 different anti-vomiting medications and they still couldn’t control his vomiting. Today his urine output decreased again, his BUN was over 120, his creatinine was at 10, his phosphorus was very elevated and his blood pressure, which had been staying around 150, skyrocketed to 220 … He continued to vomit and the owners elected to Euthanize.
 This is a very sad case – great dog, great owners who had no idea raisins could be a toxin. Please alert everyone you know who has a dog of this very serious risk.

Poison control said as few as 7 raisins or grapes could be toxic. Many people I know give their dogs grapes or raisins as treats including our ex-handler. Any exposure should give rise to immediate concern.

Onions, chocolate, cocoa, avocadoes and macadamia nuts can

be fatal, too.  Even if you don’t have a dog, you might have friends who do. This is worth passing on to them.

Dog Parks


I’d be interested in your thoughts on Dog Parks.  I have to admit, I am somewhat reserved in my opinion.  NO ONE loves dogs more than I do…that’s obvious when I make statements like, “dogs are one of the reasons I believe in God.”  I have also said, “dogs are a special gift from God, placed here because they can do for man things that man cannot do for man.”  Here’s the rub.  I continue to see dogs in our city park that are under no direct control by their owners.  Dogs bolt at other dogs, at humans, at kids on bikes, etc.  I am concerned that all dogs are not up on their shots, that all dogs have not been socialized appropriately ( I do not consider a dog park as socialization) and such parks may be a stimulation for the instincts of prey, chase, and assault.  On the other hand, properly supervised, such a facility has benefits.  Anyway, I was just wondering about your impressions of Dog Parks?  Bring ‘em on!  WOOF!