Calling Ohio Pups: Let’s Get BarkHappy!

If you’re anything like me, you love having your pets with you at all times.

Anyone who has adopted a dog knows all of the joy and love that they bring into your life. You want them with you as much as possible – whether it’s running errands, going to a friend’s house or taking an afternoon stroll. And, I’m willing to bet your dog loves being out and about with you as well, seeing new things and meeting new dogs and their humans. The founder of BarkHappy, Ninis Samuel, knew this feeling!

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He knew how much his dog Kerby enjoyed going places with him and wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to spend more time with their dogs – that’s why he created BarkHappy. 

“It’s all about having real experiences with your dog instead of always leaving them at home,” says Ninis. “Dogs are happiest when they are with you and meeting new friends just like us.  We want you to enjoy life with your dog and connect with the dog friendly world around you.”  

BarkHappy is on a mission to build an active, engaged community of dogs, their owners and a platform for dog-friendly businesses and events through real life experiences. Download the BarkHappy app to:

  • Search for dog-friendly restaurants, stores, hotels, parks and more; and see their pet policies and amenities.
  • See upcoming dog-friendly events and create/host your own group play dates with friends.
  • Connect with other dogs nearby to make new friends – send wags, messages and more!
  • Create lost or found reports and alert other users in that area with your dog’s photo and important information
  • Find special deals just for BarkHappy users on products for your pup.

According to BarkHappy.com, BarkHappy means “a state of overt enjoyment and happiness that leads to uncontrollable expression through barking. e.g. The dog was having so much fun at the dog park, he was getting BarkHappy.” It’s the feeling your pups will get when they are able to spend more time with you!

In addition to helping dogs be happier and live more active social lives, BarkHappy also actively supports charities across the country. BarkHappy helps its charity partners by hosting dog-friendly events and donating a portion of the proceeds to their partners. Rescue Me Ohio is lucky to be BarkHappy’s charity partner in Cleveland, and we have had several great events this summer!  

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Dog parents nationwide can download the app on their Apple iOS (8+) and Android devices!

Please note: BarkHappy is a charity partner of Rescue Me Ohio.

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Rescue Me Ohio Brings Community Together to Help Local Man Save His Beloved Dog

Rescue Me Ohio Brings Community Together to Help Local Man Save His Beloved Dog

After hearing about a Columbus-area man’s concern for his dog, who had a massive growth on his underbelly, Rescue Me Ohio raised over $600 to help him get the care he needed to save his dog. Read their story, below.

By Laurie Deerwester – Volunteer for Rescue Me Ohio

Overheard conversations.  Concern for another person.  Concern for an animal.  Caring about your neighbor and the goodness that we often don’t see in people.

I found out about Max third hand. After overhearing his story in a retail establishment, a concerned women shared it with her daughter, who brought me into the loop.  

The woman overheard Steve, the dog’s owner and a Columbus-area resident, talking about how concerned he was for his dog. Max is a 5-year-old, 138-pound Bull Mastiff who had a massive growth on his underbelly. As Steve spoke about Max, the woman could hear in his voice that we was not able to do for his dog what he wished he could (and provide the medical attention he needed). The woman who overheard Steve’s story later shared it with her daughter. The daughter called me once she was able to go to the store and verify the story with Steve.

I have been a volunteer for Rescue Me Ohio (RMO), a statewide education and advocacy organization, for almost four years. One of the most rewarding things about volunteering for Rescue Me Ohio is getting the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of companion animals and their humans.  When I heard Steve’s story, I thought RMO might be able to help him get Max the medical attention he needed and deserved. I didn’t know what I was getting us into!

I shared Max’s story, along with pictures, with our group and proposed a fundraiser to help Steve cover the costs of treatment. Shortly after, Steve updated me that the mass had begun to ooze – he was very concerned about the dog’s health and well-being while he was away at work. I told him that I was trying to figure out a solution.

After a short trip to the pet store, I headed over to Steve’s with the biggest cone they had to accommodate a dog of Max’s size. I took some pictures of Max and the mass dangling from under his ribcage, which was threatening to rupture. I left telling Steve that I would get back to him as soon as I knew more about whether Rescue Me Ohio would be able to assist.

Max with mass

Most in our group were shocked when I sent an update and pictures of the dog’s current condition. RMO’s Board of Directors agreed immediately that we needed to do something to help, and decided to host an online fundraiser to try to cover the expenses of getting Max’s mass removed. Rescue Me Ohio shared Max’s story and fundraising information  on our Facebook page and within our networks. Rescue Me Ohio raised about $625, and covered the remaining cost of Max’s surgery.

 

Getting the medical attention Max needed
I contacted Dr. Michelle Gonzales (Dr. G) of Rascal Animal Hospital and Rascal Unit to get her opinion of Max’s growth, and whether she would be willing to do the surgery. It turns out that the mass was not a lipoma – a benign tumor composed of fat – which is what Steve had been told previously. Instead, the mass was necrotic (meaning the tissue was dying) and needed to be removed as soon as possible.

Dr. G provided me with an estimate on the cost of the surgery, and agreed to perform it.

I immediately shared the good news with Steve and made arrangements to meet him to transfer Max.  On Sunday June 13th  I brought Max into Rascal Animal Hospital in Dublin; they had him in surgery that evening with Dr. Seiple, a veterinarian at the hospital.  The vet shared a very positive update that evening: Dr. Seiple removed the mass (which weighed 4.5lbs!). They medicated Max and put in a chest tube for drainage; the biopsy of the mass would be sent out for testing, which would take 5 to 7 business days.

The area affected by the surgery was quite extensive. Rascal Animal Hospital had to remove a lot of Max’s skin around the mass, because if it was cancer they would need to remove as much tissue as possible.

The recovery process
Max had some difficulty with the sutures – they didn’t want to heal. Being such a big dog – who is often taking people for walks (instead of vice versa) – it was challenging to keep him calm enough to allow the wound to heal.

Rascal Animal Hospital updated me on Max every day for 13 days. I passed the updates along to Steve so that he knew what was happening at every step of the way. On Saturday June 24th I was told that Max was ready to be released. However, he still had an open area on his chest that remained from removing the chest tube and that needed to be monitored for infection or tearing.

Eager to beat the crowd and get Max back to his dad as quickly as possible, I returned to the hospital early on Sunday morning. Rascal Animal Hospital provided medication and wound care instructions and we were ready to go. Max came bounding out of the back room – he had enough of being caged up and wanted to get home! He was very excited and strong, dragging me across the parking lot to my car. We hopped in and headed home so that he could be reunited with Steve.

Once at Steve’s, I reviewed all of the instructions from the hospital and the importance of keeping Max calm. I left them to get reacquainted, and told Steve to call me or the hospital if there were any problems.

Today, Max is doing well. He was diagnosed with cancer, but it is slow-growing and he is expected to live a long life.

Rescue Me Ohio would like to sincerely thank everyone who donated to Max’s cause!

Max post-surgery
Max was excited to get back home to his dad!

What You Need to Know About Spaying and Neutering Your Pets

What You Need to Know About Spaying and Neutering Your Pets

Spaying or neutering is one of the best things that can be done to benefit the lives of cats and dogs. In addition to helping to curb pet overpopulation, it can help make your pet healthier and help to reduce poor behavior. In an effort to spread the word about the benefits of spaying and neutering, the HSUS, the Humane Society International and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association runs its annual World Spay Day campaign.

Observed on the last Tuesday of February, World Spay Day brings awareness to the impact of affordable, accessible spay/neuter options to save the lives of companion animals, stray/feral cats, and stray dogs who may otherwise be put down in shelters or killed on the street. This year will be the 23rd annual World Spay Day, and will be observed on February 28, 2017.pexels-photo-133069

In honor of World Spay Day, we’re taking a look at some of the invaluable benefits that spaying and neutering your pets can bring:

Reduce the number of homeless pets killed – There are an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals entering shelters every day. Barely half of those animals get adopted. Unfortunately, more than 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year.

Improve your pet’s health – Pets who live in the states with the highest rates of spaying/neutering also live the longest, according to this USA today study. Neutered males dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered male dogs, and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than unspayed female dogs. The reduced lifespan for unaltered pets can be attributed, in part, to their increased urge to roam, exposing them to fights with other animals, running out into the roads and other mishaps.animal-cute-kitten-cat.jpg

Also to consider is the reduced risk of certain types of cancers. Unspayed female cats and dogs have a far greater risk of developing pyrometra (fatal uterine infection), uterine cancer and other cancers of the reproductive system. Male pets who are neutered eliminate their chances of developing testicular cancer.

Reduce poor behavior – Unneutered dogs are much more assertive and prone to urine-marking than neutered dogs. Although this behavior is most-commonly associated with male dogs, females can do it too. For cats, the urge to spray is extremely strong in an intact cat. The simplest solution is to have yours neutered or spayed by four months of age, before there’s even a problem.

Neutering solves 90 percent of all marking issues, even in cats that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize howling, the urge to roam, and fighting with other males. In both cats and dogs, the longer you wait, the greater risk you run of the surgery not doing the trick because the behavior is so ingrained.

Other behaviors that spaying and neutering can alleviate include:

  • Roaming, especially when females are “in heat”
  • Aggression; studies show that most dog bites involve dogs who are unaltered
  • Excessive barking, mounting or other dominance-related behaviors

And despite what many may think, while getting your pets spayed/neutered can help curb undesirable behaviors, it will not change their fundamental personality, like their protective instinct.

Given these reasons, it would seem that it doesn’t make sense to not have your pet spayed or neutered. But still, many pets are left unaltered. One of the most common reasons that people skip out on this critical part of their pet’s health is due to cost. What many may not consider, however, is the costs of caring for litters of puppies or kittens, medical costs for cancers of the reproductive system, and the medical costs associated with fights involving unneutered or unspayed pets. In the long run, having your pet spayed or neutered is more cost-effective.

If you or someone you know is looking for an affordable option to spay or neuter a pet, the Humane Society can help you identify low-cost options in your area.

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For more information on World Spay Day, visit http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/spay_day/

Will You Be My Valentine? 10 Reasons Why Pets Make The Best Valentines

This year, why not skip out on all of the fancy dinners, expensive wine and stress of planning the perfect evening? Here’s a fool-proof plan for the perfect Valentine’s Day: spend some quality time with your pet! Keep reading to learn 10 reasons why pets make the absolute best Valentines.

1. They are pretty cheap dates. Your pet won’t expect to eat at the fanciest restaurant in town, or to be given extravagant Valentine’s Day gifts. All they’re looking for is some of their favorite food and snuggles from you!dog.jpeg

2. They’ll let you pick the movie. As long as you’re snuggling on the couch right next to them, your pet doesn’t care what you guys watch. So, bring on the Rom-Coms!

3. No reservations required. Skip out on the hassle of making reservations, or dealing with overcrowded restaurants. Your pet is happy just hanging out at home with you or taking a stroll through the park!

4. Forget the fancy clothes. You don’t need to buy a new dress or put on the three piece suit to impress your furry friend – they won’t ever judge your outfit choice!

5. Pets are easy to shop for. If you want to surprise your pet with a little something, you won’t have to search high or low for the perfect gift. You know what your pet likes, but they will also love anything that you give them.

6. No need to share your chocolate. Actually, don’t share your chocolate with them! Chocolate poisoning is harmful for both dogs and cats, so you can keep that giant heart-shaped box of chocolates all for yourself.

7. There’s no way that you’ll feel awkward, or suffer through small talk. Unlike a blind date or new crush, your pet is your best friend. You’re totally comfortable together and hanging with them on Valentine’s Day is sure to be a stress free time.

8. They’re good for your health! Studies have shown that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels – all of which can help minimize your risk of having a heart attack down the road. Not to mention the impact your pets can have on your overall mood and happiness.

9. They give the BEST snuggles. Want to curl up on the couch and watch a season of your new TV addiction? There’s no one better to snuggle with than your furry friend.

10. They love you unconditionally. Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating the people (and animals) that you love. Pets will love you unconditionally (as I’m sure you love them), and what a good way to spend your Valentine’s day!

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So, put on your favorite pair of sweatpants, turn on a Rom-Com (or thriller, it’s up to you!), snuggle up with your pet and get ready for the best Valentine’s Day yet!

 

 

Advice from the Cookie Lady

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I hear it all the time, “My dog will do anything for you because you’re the cookie lady.” It’s true and it’s wonderful! I take pride in being a what Kathy Sdao calls “a good feeder.”

Let’s stop the shame game. There is no reason to be embarrassed for treating your dog for good behavior! I recall so many times walking through our local parks with my wonderful Pumpkin, happily heads up heeling by my side—his gorgeous amber eyes looking into mine as we passed a barking lunging dog. The owner of the other dog notice the treats I was delivering and shouted out, “I see your dog has you trained! How many treats does he eat?! That’s bribery” followed by derisive laughter. Well, laugh away I say. If I hadn’t been busy focusing on my gorgeous good dog I would have retorted, “It’s not a lure, it’s reward—big difference.” And I would have been happy to go into details had he been a willing listener. Instead I smiled, nodded and moved on. Now I have time to explain if you’re willing to listen.

Lures can sometimes be used initially to get a behavior started. With a lure, you are using the food (or toy) to manipulate the dog’s behavior. Common are pulling a treat above the head to get a “sit” and bringing a treat from the dog’s nose to yours to get eye contact or a “watch me” cue. Lures precede the behavior. They can get a behavior started but must be faded out quickly or the dog can become dependent on seeing the treat in order to perform the behavior. A reward on the other hand comes after the behavior is performed. Rewards too will be lessened in time, but perhaps never faded out. Before you panic– That wasn’t a typo. Let me explain.
If your employer stopped issuing you a paycheck, how long would you continue to work? Generally speaking, regardless of how much we enjoy our jobs we won’t work for free. Neither do dogs. Gasp! Yes I am saying dogs don’t work simply because they love us. Much of what we ask of dogs is completely unnatural and it is indeed work. Heeling, staying, leaving a treat on her paws and more—very unnatural. We all know how much work it is to modify our own behaviors such as eating healthfully, saving money, or quitting bad habits. Science tells us for humans and animals a reward system increases success in behavior modification programs. Look at your bank or credit card company. Does getting rewards increase your use of the card? Does your employer offer a gift for perfect attendance or safety records? We get tokens, points, and various other rewards for repeating certain behaviors. Dogs get treats and toys. There is no shame in rewarding good behavior! In time, we do put the rewards on a variable schedule so they will not be constant but that’s another topic.

Speaking of rewards, remember it should be something the dog wants. Not what you think is nice. Dry cookies are rarely motivating enough for any dog besides the biggest chow hounds. Having spent decades in human resources, I think of compensation scales. The more complex the work, the higher the pay. I apply the same to dogs. Sit at the door may equal a piece of kibble. Walking past another dog may equal a chunk of fresh chicken. Yes, fresh chicken—from the frig. I often chuckle that the same wonderfully caring clients who labor over reading labels and research the very best food to feed –insisting it have fresh human grade ingredients– are appalled at the thought of using “people food” as treats. Food is food. Fresh, healthy food is a nice reward and addition to your dog’s diet. Be a good feeder. Use food wisely. So often we give dogs table scraps or special treats just because we love them. While there’s nothing wrong with that, simply reserve them for extra special behavior!

A friend I see only seldom comments how her dog will do things for me that she does for no one else even though I may see her only twice a year. And I don’t have to give her treats. But as my friend points out, “she remembers you as the cookie lady.” Yep, she sure does. I have a history with this dog of being a good bet that she didn’t forget.

So my advice to you? BE THE COOKIE LADY!! Or COOKIE MAN! Enjoy the rewards YOU get—good behavior! 

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Positive reinforcement training. You hear it all the time. You know it’s a good thing. But what exactly is it?? Unfortunately it has become a marketing buzz word. This term is thrown around quite freely—and often quite inaccurately. You need to be in the know before you sign up with someone who claims to use positive reinforcement training. So let’s talk terms and get you caught up on the four quadrants of operant conditioning.

Here’s a short recap of the scientific terms you need to know:

Positive sounds, well positive, right? Happy, good!! Not necessarily! In scientific terms of operant conditioning, positive simply means something is ADDED.
There is positive reinforcement. After a behavior occurs, reinforcement (something the dog enjoys like food or play) is added. The dog sits, he gets a cookie. The dog comes, he plays tug. Reinforcing behaviors with something the dog enjoys increases the likelihood they will occur again. The dog WANTS to repeat the behavior on the chance of earning a treat or toy. This is what is meant by those of us who truly use positive reinforcement in training.

But positive doesn’t always mean good. Remember, positive means “adding” Another quad is positive punishment. After a behavior occurs, punishment (something the dog dislikes) is added. The dog barks, he gets squirt with water. The dog doesn’t come when called, he gets shocked with an electronic collar. Punishing behaviors with things the dog dislikes serves to decrease the behavior will occur again. The dog doesn’t want to repeat the behavior in order to avoid the unpleasant punishment. The side effects of punishment can be great and cause irreversible damage.

Now let’s get into the negatives. Negative reinforcement. It almost sounds contradictory doesn’t it? Remember in scientific terms of operant conditioning negative means to take something away. In this case, it is taking away something unpleasant that was put onto the dog. An example is choking the dog until he stops what is seen by the human as bad behavior. When the dog stops the behavior the choking is released—reinforcing him with something he likes—the absence of pain or normal breathing , for acting what we consider correctly. A human example we are all familiar with is the seat-belt. The annoying “ding ding ding ding” continues until you perform the proper behavior of buckling up. The last quad is negative punishment . Remember, negative means take away. Most “positive trainers” use some negative punishment as well. Here the dog is being punished by removing something the dog likes. An example is you are playing tug with the dog and his teeth hit your skin so you stop the game. You have just used negative punishment. You took away what the dog liked (play) thus punishing him for the behavior you did not like.

Bottom line, positive trainers primarily use positive reinforcement—rewarding the dog with something she likes. A good trainer always sets the dog up to succeed so this is the primary tool . But we do use punishment sometimes—in the form of taking away something the dog likes. Remember positive isn’t equivalent to permissive! But Never, ever do positive trainers add discomfort or pain to get the dog to comply.

Now you know! It is always wise to ask many questions and if possible audit (watch without your dog) a training class before you enroll.

Happy training!

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There is a great misunderstanding perpetuating—even from veterinarians—that “tough” dogs like Pits need harsh training. Nothing could be farther from the truth! All dogs deserve to be taught with patience and respect. Linking an animal’s physicality to his cognitive learning abilities is simply illogical. Should college students be sorted into separate classes based on the size and shape of their bodies? What about temperament you ask? If you’ve taken time to get to know any Pit you know most of these strong muscular bodied dogs have an ooey gooey sweet center. In fact, they are one of the highest scoring dogs in the American Temperament Test Society Inc’s rankings. The UKC description of heir characteristics reads: “the APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable.”

Positive reinforcement training is scientifically sound and successful for much larger and stronger animals that bully breeds! Lions, elephants, walruses, rhinos and more are all trained using positive reinforcement. Could you even imagine trying to put a training collar on a walrus & physically manipulating it?! How about trimming the nails of a 400+ pound male lion? The same nails that are his natural weaponry and could shred you in seconds? It is regularly done using positive reinforcement! Please don’t fool yourself that your bully breed or other “tough dog” needs a harsh hand.

Then the question is: do you want to physically punish your dog via pinch, choke, or shock your dog? Besides, physically you cannot control your dog when he is not wearing the aforementioned. Your dog is likely stronger & definitely faster than you. Always. Really.  So then what? What happens when your dog isn’t wearing the collar? You cannot correct him. In over a decade of training, I have heard countless people say “I don’t want to hurt my dog” The good news is you don’t have to, not even for your Pit Bull.

Rather than physical coercion, we want mental cooperation. We want a dog who is willing—downright happy to comply! That is achieved through working his mind. Pits are described in the UKC standard as “this breed does very well in performance events because of its high level of intelligence and its willingness to work. “

I will absolutely agree that physically strong dogs do make leash walking & manners more difficult. Though I’ve known many a small dog that can pull your shoulders out. While developing your working relationship and mental compliance with your dog, there are tools that can gently help you physically manage your strong dog on leash. Thankfully there are many no-pull harnesses on the market that work wonderfully.

Surfers ride with the wave, not against. Train with your dog’s intelligence, not against it! Rather than punishing your dog for doing something “bad” show them what they SHOULD be doing instead and reward the good behavior. Don’t want your dog to jump? Teach them to sit under distractions. Don’t want your dog to eat something or sniff something he sees? Teach him a “leave it” cue. Telling the dog what to do and rewarding his correct choice will yield you much greater results.

In the end, ask yourself one simple question: “how would I prefer to be taught?”  That is your answer.