Some dogs are just naturals at searching for people who have become lost in the wilderness or buried under rubble or snow. In London during WW II, dogs that had never been trained in search and rescue (SAR) found people buried in debris after bombing raids destroyed their city. Dogs have been by our side for centuries helping us locate those in need. However, along with proper training, there are specific qualities a good SAR dog needs to reliably aid his human handler. Like people, some dogs aren’t suited for rescue work.
Last year, Suzanne Alicie introduced us to Scout, an avalanche rescue dog in the CANIDAE Special Achievers program. Like all search and rescue dogs, Scout has the training and qualities needed to locate his victims. Scout is a purebred Chocolate Labrador retriever, but a good search and rescue dog can be any breed – purebred or mixed breed. The pedigree of a dog isn’t important, but their character is.
Last month, Linda Cole wrote about Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet, a wonderful organization that helps U.S. servicemen and women by providing temporary foster homes for their pets while they’re deployed overseas. Today I want to tell you about another important nonprofit organization that not only helps our military veterans, but countless shelter animals too! The Pets for Vets program brings together two wounded souls, so each can have a second chance at life.
Pets for Vets is a nonprofit organization created by 27-year old animal trainer Clarissa Black, in connection with local Veterans Affairs Hospitals. Their stated mission is “to heal wounds through friendship.” They do this by placing homeless shelter pets with veterans who need the special love and companionship an animal can provide. The Pets for Vets program is a way to give back to those who serve our country, while also giving shelter pets the opportunity to live in a loving forever home. It’s a win-win situation for humans and animals alike!
Many veterans suffer from physical and emotional injuries that make it hard for them to return to civilian life after military duty. As a result of their time in a war zone, many returning soldiers struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, addiction, nightmares, anxiety, anger management and other ailments. Pets for Vets believes that companion animals can provide the life-saving “therapy” these men and women so desperately need to turn their life around. In return, the veterans provide the pets with the friendship, affection and permanent home environment they deserve. In essence, together they help each other heal!
Computer games have become a way of life for kids and adults alike. When it comes to pet-related games, do any of them actually teach skills or instill learning that will help a kid become a responsible pet owner? My own children have enjoyed computer games that involve caring for pets and while some are silly and useless entertainment, a few can actually introduce responsible pet care to children who have never owned a pet.
Pet Vet 3D: Animal Hospital
With this game, the player becomes a veterinarian who takes care of an assorted variety of animals – from horses and ponies, to cats, dogs, bunnies and even piglets. My daughter really enjoyed this game as she learned facts about the animals “she” was treating, and it piqued her interest to learn more about these animals and their care.
There are other similar computer games that allow the player to “become” a veterinarian and provide care for furry patients. There is Paws & Claws Pet Vet, Paws & Claws Pet Vet 2, Pet Vet 3D: Wild Animal Hospital, and Happy Tails: Animal Shelter which allows you to care for animals and find them a forever home.
When I first wrote about Surf Dog Ricochet early last year, I knew she was incredibly special and destined to do great work during her lifetime. CANIDAE knew it too, because not long after that article ran, they honored Ricochet with a coveted spot in their Special Achievers program. CANIDAE created this sponsorship program as a way to support exemplary pets and their owners, and Ricochet and her amazing “Mom” Judy, certainly qualify.
What makes these two so extraordinary in my eyes is not that Ricochet can surf (which is admittedly very cool) and that Judy found a unique way to use her dog’s talent and pawsome personality to help others. It’s not even that Surf Dog Ricochet has become a famous fundraising “Super Dog” who supports a variety of worthwhile causes for humans and animals alike, or that Ricochet received the AKC Award for Canine Excellence last year, a national award given to only five dogs every year.
Don’t get me wrong. All of those are inspiring accomplishments, and Ricochet and Judy deserve to be commended for all of the wonderful work they do. But what makes these two so special in my eyes is something not everyone has – the right attitude. Despite the disappointments, setbacks and challenges they encounter, Surf Dog Ricochet and Judy display great courage, heart, hopefulness, and a positive CAN DO attitude unlike any I’ve ever seen. And they never miss an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. Imagine what this world would be like, if everyone could embrace this philosophy!
Like us, dogs and cats have a variety of diseases and conditions we need to be on the lookout for. The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) says 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will show signs of periodontal disease by the time they turn three years old. Proper dental care is as important for our dogs and cats as it is for us. To bring awareness to the importance of dental care for pets, the AVDS has declared February as National Pet Dental Health Month. Periodontal disease is one of the most common for pets, and it can be a serious problem if left untreated.
What is periodontal disease?
It’s a buildup of tartar, also called calculus, and untreated gingivitis which causes damage to the ligaments and other tissue that holds the teeth in place. In the very early stages of the disease, cleaning the teeth and prevention will likely be enough to prevent more damage and save the teeth. By the time the disease has progressed to a moderate condition, however, permanent damage has already been done to the teeth. Periodontal disease isn’t always easy to see or diagnose, and even vets can miss it during regular checkups.
The word “periodontal” means the tissue (peri) around the tooth (dontal) that keeps the tooth in its socket. Periodontal disease can affect the ligaments and cementum (a layer of calcified tissue covering the root of a tooth) that hold the teeth in place, and if they are damaged by disease, then the tooth becomes loose and can fall out.
While many pet lovers choose to rescue an animal from the shelter, it is important to know certain things about the ones you are considering to ensure that you make a perfect match. Taking the time to select a perfectly matched pet will enable you to be sure you can provide a forever home with a pet that will fit into your family and schedule.
Strays and animals picked up by animal control will have less information provided, but after an examination by the vet and time spent at the shelter, the workers and volunteers will have a good idea about the behavior and personality of each animal. Animals that are turned in by their owners for whatever reason often have a lot of information for potential adopters. This may include notes such as “Scruffy loves other dogs but does not get along with cats.” Just a simple note such as that will help out in the decision making if you have a household with cats.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.