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Posts from the ‘Dog Related Information’ Category

Dogs: Hospice Care

 

In a recent article, I learned about a wonderful hospice rescue for elderly dogs, which are not usually people’s first choice to choose to adopt when considering adopting a rescue dog.  Kim Skarritt is the owner of Silver Muzzle Cottage, a rescue and hospice for homeless old dogs.  It is the only type of hospice rescue located in Michigan and one of the few in the country.  Silver Muzzle Cottage takes dogs left being either by choice or by circumstance, as when a dog’s owner suddenly dies and nobody else claims their dog.  Skarritt began her rescue about two years ago, and she has taken in more than 70 dogs so far.  Almost all of them are old, many are sick, a lot of them are near death.  No matter how bad the dogs’ lives have been so far, Skarritt wants to make their last days wonderful.

“They don’t ask for much when they’re really old.  They want to be loved and cared for, they want food, and they just need a warm place to lay their head at night,” said Skarritt.  “At some point they were cared for, and then when they needed it most they’re not.  And that’s why they really need a place like ours,” according to Skarritt.

About five years ago, Skarritt purchased an empty tool and die shop on a remote industrial road and opened Bowers by the Bay, a dog fitness, rehabilitation and cage-free boarding center.  Her work was coordinated with local animal shelters where Skarritt became alarmed by a disturbing pattern.

“I kept seeing these 14-year-old dogs and 13-year-old dogs in shelters and needing homes, and I’m going, ‘What is that?  Who does that?'”

As a result, Skarritt telephoned several animal shelters throughout the state of Michigan and estimated there were approximately 900 senior dogs needing homes within a 500 mile radius of Elk Raids, Michigan, where the Silver Muzzle Cottage is located.

According to some local rescues and shelters, some people do not even bother bringing the old dog inside the shelter building.

“Sometimes they dump them down our road a little bit so it’s not right in front of our building.  But we do have cameras up,” said Tia Babera a kennel technician at the Cherryland Humane Society located in Traverse City, Michigan.

At the Otsego County Animal Shelter, people at times come in with a dog they claim was a stay they found, but it’s really their lifelong pet.  If the staff finds out the owner is lying, they’ll make them return and take their pet back, like the guy who recently brought in a tumor-riddled 15-year-old dog, pretending he found it.  It turned out to be his dog.

“They’re just looking for a scapegoat instead of taking responsibility,” said Christie Pratt, a 37-year-old animal control officer.  “We are a little bit harder here.  We will make them have a good reason to surrender their dog.”

These types of stories compelled Skarritt to purchase an empty storage building next door to her business, mentioned above, and opened Silver Muzzle Cottage as a nonprofit rescue solely for elderly dogs, which she defines as age 10 or older unless they’re terminally ill, in which case she’s take the dog at any age.

This is not a typical rescue — there is a large living room with couches and throw pillows, a fake fireplace with decorations atop the mantle, end tables with vases and a coffee table with a thick photo book about dogs atop it.  It is described as looking like a ‘normal house,’ except there is a bunch of dogs lounging on the couches.  “We wanted it to be a home,” Skarritt explained.

This is a home for her, too.  The dogs aren’t caged at night, which means someone has to be at the rescue at all times.  Since Skarritt could not afford to pay someone to do that, she moved into a small room at the corner of the house, with little more than a bathroom and a bed.

There are about 100 rotating volunteers to take the dogs for walks or car rides, or sit on the couches with the dogs and pet or play with them.

Most of the dogs get adopted, despite a short future, thanks to Skarritt’s persistence in spreading the world about the plight of old dogs.  But some are not adoptable as they have such little time remaining to live.

“For some people it’s too hard,” Skarritt said.  “They really can’t handle it.  But for those who can, they find it very rewarding.  We have to look at it in a positive light, otherwise it would be very depressing.  But it’s a win-win for us and it’s a win-win for the dogs.”

This is a wonderful project and I am hope more dog hospices develop around the country to help these elderly dogs that, inevitably and unfortunately, need a home in their final days.

You can read the article and view lovely images of the Silver Muzzle Cottage’s hospice and rescue here.

Additionally, Silver Muzzle Cottage is located at 201 EC Loomis Drive, Elk Rapids, Mich., 49629.  For information or to make a donation, call 231-264-8408 or see facebook.com/silvermuzzlecottage.

The above image is via Pinterest.

 

A First: Dogs will be welcome at the Interior Department

In a recent Washington Post article, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the start of “Doggy Days at Interior,” a program that will launch with test runs at the agency’s Washington headquarters on two Fridays in May and September.  This new policy makes the Interior Department the first federal agency to go dog-friendly.

Zinke said his dog policy’s primary goal is to boost morale at the Interior agency, which includes the National Park Service; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the Bureau of Land Management; and six other departments.

Zinke’s dog is an 18-month-old black and white Havanese dog, named Ragnar, pictured below.

“Opening the door each evening and seeing him [Ragnar] running at me is one of the highlights of my day,” according to Zinke.  “I can’t even count how many miles I’ve driven across Montana with Ragnar riding shotgun, or how many hikes and river floats Lola and I went on with the little guy.  But I can tell you it was always better to have him.”

The new policy is a first, as it has never been tried in the federal government.  Members of Congress have been bringing their dogs to the U.S. Capitol since the 19th center, but few other taxpayer-funded workplaces have gone dog-friendly.  Private companies, on the other hand, are increasingly promoting their dog-friendliness as an employee perk.

 

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s dog, Ragnar, is pictured at the Interior Department with a portrait former President Theodore Roosevelt.  (Photo Credit: Tami Heilemann)

 

However, there are obvious concerns about having dogs at the office, which is why the policy is launching slowly as a pilot, officials said.  Zinke’s staff has been consulting with agency attorneys in recent weeks to work out the parameters for the dogs, including whether the dogs will need to be leashed or be limited to a certain size.  It is likely the dogs will need to be fully housebroken, vaccinated, and have no history of aggression.

Other possible complications when dogs are welcomed to the Interior: Fleas, bites, people with allergies, and pets who may, in a new environment, relieve themselves indoors.  Zinke will permit employees to telework who would rather not interact with the dogs at work.

You can view a short video debuting the dog-friendly work program.

The federal government is large employer where we live.  It will be exciting to see if this pilot program catches on with other federal agencies!  (I think that our little Victory would prefer one of us to be home full-time teleworking versus her making trips to the office!)

National Dog Day: Victory

I feel like a neglectful dog mommy for not posting on National Dog Day.  Victory brings immeasurable joy to our little family and so much more.  And, importantly, she teaches me something every day about just being.  We are so very grateful for our fur girl!

Below is a short video of our little fur girl, Victory, sniffing around at the dog park!

Happy Friday!

 

 

Fun Dog Cards!

I love cards; and I recently learned of Henry Garrett, a Bristol artist, who makes cards containing hilarious cartoons of dogs sure to make anyone laugh, shown below!  Garrett’s drawings began during his philosophy finals to help him cope with anxiety while earning his PhD.  As a result, Drawings of Dogs was born.  Garrett’s muse, Billie, the Parson Russell Terrier, is a loyal companion who is always by his side!  You can purchase these cards here.

Happy Friday!

 

The above images are courtesy of Henry Garrett.

 

The Book of the Dog

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I recently learned about the book entitled, The Book of the Dog: Dogs in Art, by Angus Hyland and Kendra Wilson, which features various dogs – big, small, graceful, cute, and funny.  The Book of the Dog is a collection of dog art and illustration by artists around the world.  Weaved throughout the illustrations are brief narratives about the artists and different breeds, paying homage to man’s best friend.  I plan to order this book this weekend!  A few images of this book are shown below courtesy of Angus Hyland and Kendra Wilson.

 

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How Love Can Change Everything…

Since it is Heart Day week, I thought it would be appropriate to share how love not only changed one little dog’s life for our fur girl, Victory, but our lives have changed, too.  Shown in the image below, you can see the distinct physical differences that Victory has undergone in a little over three years.  The image on the left is the image that was sent to us from the rescue’s foster mom (who cared for Victory) just prior to us meeting Victory and taking her home after traveling to Michigan.  The image on the right was taken this past Valentine’s Day, earlier this week!  Victory has come into her own and she has a beautiful fur coat.  (We were not sure if she would have a thick fur coat come in when we initially met her).  To name a few other changes — she has more confidence; she explores her surroundings more; and she enjoys play time.  We once thought we could never love another sheltie as much as our Biscuit, but we found love again with our Victory, an integral family member who is included in our activities as much as possible, including our vacations!  Victory is also extremely loyal through the inevitable myriad of twists and turns in life.  Most of all, Doug and I are the beneficiaries of unconditional love from Victory, for which we are forever grateful.

Spring is around the corner, and it could be a perfect time to consider rescuing and adopting a furry companion, if that is at all on your radar.  We highly recommend it.  Your life will forever positively be changed by helping an animal who really needs love and care.  Love can change everything.

Happy Friday!

 

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Alaska: Pet animals’ well-being now considered in court

While custody battles typically treat pet animals as property, H.B. 0147 has set a new precedent in divorce court.  This makes Alaska the first state in the country to require courts to take “into consideration the well-being of the animal” and to explicitly empower judges to assign joint custody of pets.  (This law excludes fish).

According to the recent Washington Post article, the Animal Legal Defense Fund called the well-being provision “groundbreaking and unique.”

Also, according to David Favre, a Michigan State University law professor who specializes in animal law, stated, “For the first time, a state has specifically said that a companion animal has visibility in a divorce proceeding beyond that of property — that the court may award custody on the basis of what is best for the dog, not the human owners.”

The former representative Liz Vazquez and the late representative Max Gruenberg, a Democrat and family lawyer, sponsored the Alaska amendment.

“Our pets are members of our families,” Vazquez, who lost her bid for reelection in November, said in a statement last year.  “We have to remember that we’re sent here to Juneau to represent people; real human beings, many of whom have pets they love as much as their friends and family.”

It is exciting to see the well-being of pet animals being considered in these types of cases, which are life-changing for the pet animals, too.  It will be interesting to see if any other states, in the near future, follow suit.

 

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Second Chance Dogs Documentary

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) documentary, Second Chance Dogs, was recently released on Netflix.  The film follows the stories of six extremely fearful dogs rescued from cruelty and taken to the ASPCA’s Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, located in Madison, New Jersey, showcasing their heartwarming journey to finding a loving home.  Launched in 2013, the ASPCA’s Behavioral Rehabilitation Center is the first and only facility dedicated to rehabilitating dogs suffering from severe fear due to puppy mills, hoarding, and other cruelty.  You can view the trailer to Second Chance Dogs here.

Happy Monday!

 

 

 

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Service Dog Case Goes to the U.S. Supreme Court

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Have you heard about the recent U.S. Supreme Court case involving a young girl and her service dog named Wonder?  This past Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case involving Ehlena Fry, a young girl, and her service dog, Wonder, a hypoallergenic goldendoodle, and a school district that barred Wonder from its premises.

Ehlena, who was adopted by a couple in Michigan, was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that greatly limits her motor skills but not her cognitive ability.  When Ehlena was 5, her pediatrician recommended that her parents get a service dog to enable Ehlena to become more independent.  As a result, the Fry family raised the monies needed to obtain Wonder, a service dog, for Ehlena.

The Fry family talked to Ehlena’s school about the dog, but when Ehlena brought Wonder to class with her, she was told the service dog was not allowed.  Wonder was intended to help Ehlena perform more functions by herself to enable her to become more independent.  Wonder was trained to hit handicapped buttons for Ehlena; open and close doors; pick up items Ehlena dropped; and, most importantly, to stabilize Ehlena so that she could make transfers from her chair to her walks, or form a walker to a toilet seat.

Once the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) agreed to represent Ehlena, the school district allowed Wonder in school for a “trial period,” but it did not allow Ehlena to use him as a service dog.  In fact, Wonder was relegated to the back of the classroom and could not accompany Ehlena to recess, lunch, and other activities.  Then, at the end of the school year, the district said Wonder could not return in the fall.

Having a service dog for Ehlena, the Fry family maintains, is akin to having a service dog for a blind student instead of requiring the student to navigate the school by holding on to the arm of a teacher.

“One of our whole goals in getting Wonder for her was that eventually, the more she was able to use Wonder and navigate her environment, that she would need the aide less and less,” says Ehlena’s mother, Stacy Fry.

As a result, the Frys home-schooled Ehlena and then transferred her to another school district where Wonder was welcomed with open arms, a very different welcoming in contrast to the former school.  Wonder went to class and lunch with Ehlena; he was in the staff section of the yearbook; he had his own ID card; and he was in the class picture.  And, according to Ehlena’s mother, the relationship between dog and kid was integrated into the school seamlessly.

However, the school district has argued that if the Frys had simply followed the process under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), it would have likely been sorted out within months.

At the heart of the case is a legal question: whether the Frys were required to exhaust their options under the IDEA — which requires an administrative hearing and does not allow for monetary damages to be awarded prior to bringing a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as the Frys did.  In their claim, they requested unspecified damages and attorney fees, but U.S. District Court and the 6th Circuit ruled against them.  However, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear this case.

The Fry’s lawyers and the ACLU, which has been working with the Frys, argue that prohibiting the service dog, Wonder, was not an educational matter but one that denied Ehlena her “independence at school and constituted discrimination at a public facility” — which falls under the ADA.

The family can sue for damages under the ADA, but only if the eight-member Supreme Court agrees with their interpretation of the case, which extends back several years.  The Frys brought the case against the Napoleon Community Schools and the Jackson County Intermediate School District, located in Michigan, in 2012.

The ACLU says the ruling, which should be available this coming summer, could impact students with disabilities across the country, if it allows them to sue under the ADA without first exhausting administrative procedures under the IDEA, which may not even provide the relief they seek.

You can view a video of Ehlena and Wonder here, which is shown below.

 

*The above image is courtesy of the ACLU.

 

Sashi is Back for a Third Time!

Sashi is back for a third time!  I initially wrote about the first book in the Sashi Series entitled, Sashi, the Scared Little Sheltie!here; and I also wrote about the second book, Sashi Adopts a Brother, a continuation on the Sashi Series, here.  The author, Linda Greiner, recently contacted me and sent me her third book with illustrator, Morgan Spicer, entitled, Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl, a continuation in the Sashi Series, which is now available for purchase!  A portion of the sales are donated to help Shetland Sheepdogs in the New Jersey area.

As those who have been reading the blog know, we love shelties and we are strong proponents of dog rescue and dog fostering — and all of the books in the Sashi series speak to these important issues.  This newest book, in the Sashi Series, introduces the story of Cinnamon, puppy mill dog who becomes a foster dog — and you will have to read the book to find out the ending to Cinnamon’s story!  So if you are looking for a fun children’s book to teach about the positive implications of dog rescue and dog fostering, I highly recommend this book and the other books in the Sashi Series.  And, if you love shelties you will for sure love this book!  The illustrations are vivid and beautiful, which brings this true story to life.  (All of the books in the Sashi Series are based on true stories).

Below is an excerpt from the author about Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl:

“Anna and her mother love fostering Shelties through Shetland Sheepdog Rescue.  By taking care of rescued dogs, they help the dogs become ready to find a forever home.  They’ve already adopted two Shelties of their own, Sashi and Buddy, and their newest foster is a shy girl named Cinnamon who’s been rescued from a puppy mill.  Neglected and frightened, Cinnamon has a tough time settling into her new home at first but with help from Sashi and Buddy, Cinnamon realizes she doesn’t have to be afraid.  Now loved and cared for, Cinnamon learns to be happy and playful again and soon finds her forever home.  Based on the true story of Cinnamon, this tale addresses the reality of puppy mills while keeping the story light, warm, and accessible to young readers.”

 

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The above images are courtesy of Linda Greiner.

You can view a trailer of the book, Sahsi and the Puppy Mill Girl, here.