Monthly Archives: April 2013

Paintings of Animal Heroes

Freddy

By Sue Hains

In the winter of 2009 – 2010, I was commissioned to paint a picture of Freddy, an FBI dog who had been killed in service. In preparation for working on the portrait, I was sent a photo of Freddy but required other pictures of Belgian Malinois, Freddy’s breed, since some details in his photo were unclear. Searching online, I began to learn about service animals and discovered that Belgian Malinois are often chosen to become Military Working Dogs and police dogs. As I painted, I received emails about Freddy’s life, death and memorial service, and thought more and more about the life of this heroic animal.

Freddy was born in 2007, and served with the FBI from September 8, 2008 to October 28, 2009. The FBI had raided a warehouse being used as a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, looking for several of its members who were wanted for a number of crimes. The Imam, who had a criminal record and refused to surrender, shot the FBI dog, Freddy, before the Imam himself was fatally shot by agents. Freddy was helicoptered to a veterinary hospital in Detroit, and although the doctors did everything they could to save his life, the wounds were fatal.

At his memorial service in Virginia, local police motorcycle officers escorted Freddy’s flag-draped casket to the FBI Academy, where the FBI Chaplain gave a moving invocation and where K-9 Police Officers and their dogs stood at attention behind a large crowd which included the veterinarians who tried to save his life. Other speakers followed and it was said that Freddy not only fit in with his team but also saw the humans as his pack!

The brass plaque added to the portrait I painted of Freddy reads:

FREDDY

February 17, 2007 – October 28, 2009
Then I heard the voice of the Lord
saying, “Whom shall I send?  And
who will go for us?”  And I said,
“Here am I.  Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8

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The Winning Pet Adoption Tales!

Rocky

We had a great time reading all the wonderful submissions for our Pet Adoption Tales Contest. It was so difficult to pick the four winners, because all of the stories were so heartwarming.

The truth is, every single one of the adoption tales we received is a winner, because they celebrate pets finding their furever homes. The stories spoke of the love between people and their pet(s), and it was clear that adopting them was the best thing for both the humans and the animals.

Nevertheless, we had to pick our favorites to award the awesome prizes – CANIDAE dog food and FELIDAE cat food. We thought you’d enjoy reading the winning tales too, so here they are:

Best DOG Adoption Tale:  Kara Michalec 

This starts a little sad because my 3 dogs had passed away within 2 weeks time. Milton (an American Bulldog/Pit mix), passed away January 31st, then Ale Capone (American Bully Pitbull) and Bedtime (retired Greyhound) passed away February 13th. I was completely LOST and devastated. I also lost my 9 year old retired Greyhound, Marla, in November. My pups have been my therapy and kept me from falling into depression these past 4½ years since I have become disabled and lost my career as a Fire Fighter/EMT of 12 years.

The night I walked into the Chicago Wolves game on Saturday February 16th, I was unaware it was an adopt-a-dog night. As soon as I saw the dogs, my eyes welled up with tears and I advised my niece that we had to “run” through the area and not to stop and look at any of the dogs. She understood and as we made our way through, I felt a nudge at my feet and it was Rocky.

Yes, I stopped and as I squatted down near the floor; the dog leaned on me, put his head on my chest and I started bawling… the man who was holding Rocky asked me if I was ok and I explained my story to him. He was heartbroken.

My niece and I went to our seats and I couldn’t stop thinking about Rocky and how he more or less “stopped” me. When the 1st period started, I couldn’t wait and risk someone else adopting him, I went to fill out paperwork and made him my “Rock!” The man who was holding Rocky said he was SO happy we came back for him because he really felt a bond between us.

Needless to say, it’s been 4 weeks now and Rocky and I have been inseparable! He’s really helped me through all my losses and while he most certainly isn’t a replacement for my pups who have crossed over the rainbow bridge, he definitely has filled the large paw prints left behind in my home. I have even started him in classes to become my certified therapy dog!

A HUGE Thank You to Darren Haydar #20, Right Wing Hockey Player, of the Chicago Wolves for partnering w/CACC (Chicago Animal Care & Control)… without his partnership I would not have found my “Rock.”

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How to Teach Your Dog to Play Frisbee

By Langley Cornwell

Watching super dog-athletes at events like the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is inspiring. The K9 Frisbee Dog Entertainment blows me away every year. Likewise, when I watch videos of dogs like Wallace, Bling Bling, Torch, Shiloh and Gracie performing amazing Disc Dog feats, I’m blown away. The way the canine athletes look at their handlers with such concentration and pure trust says it all. These dogs are focused on doing exactly what their person tells them to. At the risk of sounding corny or completely nuts, the look those dogs give their humans communicates the kind of love that can only come from a dog.

We play a very rudimentary version of Frisbee with one of our dogs. Our dog loves to chase the disc but rarely catches it in the air. Even so, she brings it right back so we’ll throw it again. She is a fine athlete; she’s very agile and can jump amazingly high. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I would take the time to teach her, she could learn to be a fine backyard Disc Dog.

Because the name “Frisbee” is a registered trademark, the sport is officially known as Disc Dog. Opinions vary on the specifics of training your pup to be a Disc Dog. It’s like all dog training; there are multiple paths to the same goal. Generally speaking, this method seems to be the most common:  

Use a disc specifically designed for dogs, because human Frisbees are not suitable for canine play.

Begin by introducing your dog to the disc. One of our dogs was interested in the toy immediately, but we had to take extra steps to entice our other dog. If your dog doesn’t take to it immediately, make the disc desirable somehow. Recommendations include waving the disc temptingly while talking in an excited voice, giving your dog a treat (and/or a click if you’ve clicker trained him) when he touches it, smearing peanut butter on the edges of the disc or rubbing a hotdog around the rim. Some people report using the disc as a food bowl and allowing the dog to eat out of it.

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Can Dogs Sense if Someone is Untrustworthy?

By Linda Cole

One reason people pick a specific dog breed is for home protection. Dogs bred as livestock guardians, like the German Shepherd or Anatolian Shepherd, have a natural instinct to protect their flock and family. Guardian dogs and breeds used as guard dogs tend to have a natural distrust of strangers. But being able to sense if someone is untrustworthy is something completely different. Do dogs have a sort of sixth sense about people?

My first dog was an American Eskimo named Jack. I took him with me pretty much everywhere I went and he was exposed to a lot of different people. Most of the time, Jack enjoyed being around other humans, but there were times he refused to allow someone to pet him, even though I saw nothing out of the ordinary from the people he pulled away from. However, his reaction to someone was something I noted because it was unusual behavior for him.

We know dogs can sense danger when it comes to certain health conditions. Trained medical dogs can smell changes in blood sugar levels. Dogs are trained to detect high blood pressure, a potential heart attack or an impending seizure, and they can smell different types of cancer. Even untrained dogs can pick up changes in our health. That has nothing to do with a sixth sense, but it does show how sensitive a dog’s sense of smell is. Scientific studies have shown that even humans can smell pheromones put out by other people which can give us signals about someone’s mood. If we can pick up someone’s pheromones, you know a dog has already processed that information.

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Tips for Involving Your Dog in Your Wedding

By Tamara McRill

Have you ever thought about how great it would be to have your dog prancing proudly down the aisle at your wedding? After all, the ceremony is supposed to be a gathering of friends and family. Shouldn’t your four-legged pals be there too?

Of course they can, although there are some considerations and practicalities to consider before you start fitting your dog for his tux. Once you have those sorted out, you can determine the best role your pet can have in your nuptials.

Is Your Dog Ceremony Ready?

What you should really consider before getting too excited about the idea of including your pet is if your dog is up to the task of being in your wedding. Is your dog calm around strangers? Will he tolerate wearing any extra adornments for the occasion? Carefully consider whether your dog would really prefer to be relaxing at home instead of at your wedding.

You can check my “Should You Bring a Non-Service Dog to a Wedding?” post for a full list of considerations before deciding to let your pooch participate on your wedding day. It covers everything from potential problems for guests to whether the venue even allows pets. Just remember that you will need someone your dog is comfortable with to be their “handler” during the ceremony. You will be a little busy getting hitched.

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Why Do Cats Shed Their Claws?

By Julia Williams

Cat owners are accustomed to discovering tufts of fur around their home. We will also find whiskers now and then, and some weird humans will even save those whiskers and tape them to the fridge as a sort of oddball kitty collage…ahem…no one I know does that, of course. But I digress.

If you have a cat, though, sooner or later you will find “the claw.” There it is, one of kitty’s claws stuck to the carpet or the scratching post. If you have multiple cats and they tend to scuffle, you might even find a claw jutting out from one of their foreheads, like a little “kitty unicorn horn” or a victory badge left behind by the cat who won. (Don’t laugh, that has happened to two of my cats!).

No matter where you find the claw, the first time it happens you might freak out a bit because you think something awful happened to your cat. “Oh no! Fluffy’s claw fell off!” you exclaim. “Is she sick or injured? Should I take her to the vet?” You might even examine her paws only to see all of the claws intact. Well, if Fluffy still has all of her claws, then what IS that thing you found?

Relax. It is a claw…sort of. Your cat still has all of her claws, but what you found is the nail sheath, which is the older, outer layer of the claw that “sheds” to expose a newer, sharper claw. This is perfectly natural and no cause for alarm.

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