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March 20, 2012

Reflections from Ernestine; National and Local

I am SO excited I am taking over more and more of this blog each week! Everyone has always accepted that I am Alpha, everywhere! now they finally GET how smart I am.

DOGOpEd, by Ernestine
The dog world today is huge. Dogs are regarded and treated differently than ever before (mostly in a good way). The overall population is out of control, which has resulted in millions of dogs without homes. Some homeless dogs are safe in no-kill shelters; a staggering 4 million dogs will be euthanized this year. A large percentage of the homeless dogs are have good health and good temperament.
The good news is that the number of rescue organizations, shelters, volunteers, bloggers, etc., are wildly increasing as well. News/ magazine articles, documentaries, public support by famous people, the internet community, are all participating in a huge way to educate people about the basic problems; the truth about dogs and dogcare. So, I, Ernestine, a 20lb. JRT, having the elevated position of Roving Reporter and currently, Master Blogger, want to help.
It IS about education. I have watched the people around me grow to understand why spay/neuter programs are vital to address the heart of dog overpopulation; purchasing dogs from a pet store supports ‘puppy mills’ with deplorable conditions, where dogs live in cages their whole lives, misfed, mistreated, unloved, just breeding. And pit bulls. It is totally true that most people are scared of pit bulls. Even that trend is ever-so-slowly turning a corner towards acknowledgement that pit bulls were the favorite family dog in the 1960’s. Their unabused temperament is loving, kissing and lying in the sun. They are also strong and need to be trained; even more so because of the bad press and connection with dog fighting that has increased over the past 20 years.
Why all this when you have heard it before? I am asking you to help– educate other dog people. Find out about fostering, read about Best Friend’s Animal Sanctuary and the good they have done nationwide. I asked my staff to include some locally relevent articles in this blog.

Later, Ernestine

Life With Dogs » Dog News »
Pet Store Owner Says Business Booms After Switch from Sales to Adoptions
March 19, 2012
New England pet shop is no longer selling pets – it is saving them, and the store’s owner says it’s a welcome change. Judy Blackington, co-owner of Salem, NH retail outlet Discount Pets, said that at the end of February, she decided to stop selling dogs and instead, is now offering shelter dogs for adoption.

“Instead of buying our puppies off breeders, we decided to take puppies that are about to be killed,” she said. “We’ve saved seven puppies this week and get about 35 a month.”

The store has formed a partnership with Brookside Husky and Lab Rescue in Alton, Maine. Director Nicky Bowman says that after five years in animal rescue, this is her first time working with a retail outlet, and she claims the results are promising enough to warrant consideration of a national movement away from the retail sale of pets.

“We’ve never worked with a pet store like this,” Bowman said. “I think more pet stores ought to do this. I see every day the gruesome reality of puppy mills. We’re making a point to people that breeding really needs to stop because overpopulation is a problem.”

For Blackington, making the change from selling dogs to rescuing them is not only good for her conscience – it’s also been great for business.

“The breeder prices have gone up lately and the puppies haven’t been very healthy,” she said. “The customers don’t like paying $900 for a puppy and then have to spend more on the vet. These dogs are healthier than the ones we’ve gotten from breeders. I think it’s going to be better for the business, and people love it.”

Elizabeth Dobbins, director of the Salem Animal Rescue League, said she was surprised and encouraged to hear that Discount Pet had embraced the concept of promoting shelter animals.

“They’re a retail outfit and there’s a difference between rescue and retail,” Dobbins said, “Pet stores have kind of disappeared around here. Both Sea World and Debby’s Pet Land closed. That’s due to people’s awareness. They vote with their pocketbook and say I’d rather rescue a life than buy from a puppy mill.”

Dobbins said other pet store owners should pay attention, and that we may be witnessing a welcome change in the way pet retailers nationwide attract customers.

“If they are really legitimately trying to save lives, I commend them for that,” she said. “Sadly, there is no shortage of adoptable pets in this country. So there’s room for plenty of us. Maybe that’s a trend of the future, that pet stores would look to go out and rescue animals instead of buying from breeders.”

Potential owners are required to submit an application and allow for a home visit, making for better long-term matches than the typical cash sale. Blackington said that despite the vetting process adopters endure, the store has had no trouble finding families that prefer adoption – in fact, the phone won’t stop ringing.

“We’ve had more people come in than ever,” she said. “They love that we’re an adoption center now and not a puppy store.”

HelpUnchain Dogs in Massachusetts

Sponsored by: Alicia Graef
Chaining dogs is a practice that is considered cruel by many and is not only extremely detrimental to the physical and mental wellbeing of dogs, but also potentially dangerous for humans as chaining can lead to aggression.

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill, HB 2809, that would prevent dog owners from leaving their dogs tied up for more than eight hours at a time and will make it illegal to leave dogs “chained, tethered or confined” outside from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. and is supported by the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society.

The bill will also prohibit chaining dogs under 6 months old and put a stop to the use of logging chains, or other materials that are not specifically designed for dogs and require that they weigh no more than one-eighth of the dog’s weight. Language to protect dogs from “cruel conditions or inhumane chaining or tethering,” which includes leaving dogs in filthy conditions, leaving them exposed to being taunted and harassed, or leaving them at risk of attack by other animals.

Violations would result in a warning or minimum of a $50 fine for a first offense, a fine of up to $100 for a second offense and a fine of up to $300 and impoundment of dogs for a third offense.

Please sign the petition supporting legislation that will help chained dogs in Massachusetts.

March 7, 2012

Extra, Extra, Bark All About It!

News Updates from the Crates
The BIGGEST dog news is that we return from daylight savings this weekend! woohoo! Walk your pooches in more and more daylight every day! Also:

** GROOMER AT BIG CRATE OPEN ON SATURDAYS! : Hours: 9am – 5pm, Reservations made by Friday, please!

** Starting March 5th, we will not be offering free lunch service to dogs over the age of one. It is a medical fact that most dogs over the age of one do not need three meals a day. It is a Crate Escape fact that lots of lunches take lots of time (plus, we don’t have a dogateria). We will still provide free lunch service to dogs under 1 year old. If your dog is over one and you would like to continue lunch service, a $3 per day charge will be added. Any additional questions, comments or concerns, let us know!

** In the past few days we have seen several cases of kennel cough. Kennel cough is a highly contagious viral and bacterial ailment which spreads rapidly among dogs. It is much like human bronchitis. If you feel your companion is showing symptoms, consult your veterinarian, and don’t bring him/her to daycare! Generally, antibiotics and rest will lead your pooch back to good health in about a week.

** This one’s directly from Ernestine; Hi to my fans. I haven’t been feeling great, so yesterday we drove up to my Mom’s favorite vet in the universe, Dr. Regina Downey (Exeter N.H.). Dr. D. said that simply by walking around my yard, where coyotes, 20 turkeys at a time, foxes, etc. roam, I oontracted a parasite. So, yard-dogs, woods-walkers beware! There was not enough of a freeze this winter to erradicate parasites and they are easily transmitted by just walking where they have been.

Newsflash: Your Dog is NOT Trying to Dominate You
Ernie LOVED this article, and asked us to share. The blogger is a dog trainer who has done a lot of work with ‘Best Friends Animal Society’ and you know we love them!
Posted on March 5, 2012 by Fern

There is one word that is thrown around the world of the domestic dog way too much, with way too little understanding. The word, is dominance. Never in the history of the English language has one word been so widely misused and wrongly attributed than the word dominance.

Although most dog owners freely admit to not really knowing what dominance is or what it looks like, it certainly doesn’t stop them from labeling their family dog with it. Even veterinarians and other dog professionals use the word all the time, yet have no idea what dominance really means.

So, I’m here today to set the record straight, once and for all, regarding dominance. No matter what anyone tells you, your dog is not trying to dominate you.

Whenever I hear someone say that their dog is being dominant over them I picture the dog organizing this coordinated plot to take over control of the family likes some kind of revolutionary dictator. Their rally cry can be heard in dog parks everywhere as dogs compare strategies to overthrow their humans hosts. Let’s give a cheer for the canine freedom fighters!

Sounds ridiculous, and it is. Dogs have no desire to take over control of us in any way, shape or form. Our pooches are not power hungry punks looking to take over the world, they are part of our family units and are no more trying to take control of us than our children are. Do you think that just because your child disagrees with you, doesn’t want to do something you want him to, or takes something he’s not supposed to that he’s trying to dominate you and take your role as “leader?” Of course not. And neither are your furry kids.

What does dominance really mean?
Let me clear the air and give you a better understanding of what dominance really means in the dog world. Every dog is either dominant or submissive to every other dog in relation to resources. This means that if two dogs are presented with a single resource (like a bone, for example) the dominant dog will get the bone, while the submissive dog will allow him to take it. If two dogs are both pretty confident and feel that they are the more dominant dog, then they will get physical with each other until one dog eventually submits (which could be only after major damage has been inflicted).

That sounds kind of harsh but physical altercations are very rare. Don’t forget dog packs are not volatile groups filled with conflict, but actually harmonious family groups. The outdated belief that dog packs are competitive and confrontational has long been dismissed as inaccurate. Those early finding were based on captive wolf packs which consisted of wolves from a variety of different packs. Once we had the technology to effectively study wolf packs in the wild we discovered how different they were from the captive models. Wild wolf packs consist of family members and although they do have a social hierarchy (just like human family groups have), they are not based on conflict, but on mutual understanding of each others place and role in the pack.

Domestic dogs, although not identical to their wild cousins, do have many similarities to wolves, including a stable, non-confrontational group dynamic. There are reasons why they do the behaviors that they do, but dominance is not one of them – especially where we are concerned. Here are some common behaviors that I’ve seen been attributed to dominance.

1. Humping (other dog or maybe your leg – that’s always nice and embarrassing) – Most common reason: play and/or arousal. Dogs will mount all the time in play groups or when they are especially excited.

2. Not listening to you – Believe it or not, most of the time they don’t listen to you is that you never taught them the behavior or you’re not communicating properly. I can’t tell you how many people tell me that their dog won’t come when called, and when I ask them how they taught the dog to come they say, “what?” If you don’t teach your dog something, don’t expect him to do it. Also make sure you remember that dogs don’t know English (yes they can make word associations but not the language).

3. Possession over an object and/or food – This is a behavioral issue but it’s not dominance. Resource guarding dogs do so because of an anxiety (fear of losing the object) not because they trying to make a point of their superiority.

I could go on an on here, but you get the point: your dog is not trying to dominate you. If fact, let’s say that out loud together. “My dog is not trying to dominate me.”

Nice! I hope that clears up that very common misunderstanding. The thing to remember is that your dog is part of your family and should be treated as such. He needs rules, boundaries and limitations just like your kids do, and being a good leader to your dog is really just being a good parent.

Because of it’s misuse, I’ve actually thrown the word dominance out of my vocabulary (well, with the exception of this post) and I invite you to do the same. Both you and your pooch are better off without it.

Words from Ernestine, our Roving, Rover Reporter
I am beyond excited for two reasons. First, I hear that it is going to be lighter outside longer every day: and second, it’s getting warmer, which means the beach can’t be too far away! Oh yea and I have an important birthday coming up! Love you guys.

Later, Ernestine

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