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July 27, 2014

Great time at ‘Franks for your Business’ Doggie Cookout! Founder, Ernestine Hastings on Vaca, and Who are Shelter/ Rescue Dogs?

Franks for Your Business, Take 2!

On Friday, July 25th we gathered on Crate Escape Belmont’s front yard to celebrate our customers and their dogs. Great fun!!
In addition to Chef Nikkilee’s amazing hot dogs, special guests, Janice Zazinski, Massage Therapist, plus Brian Davis and Jocelyn Fasset, our friends from som|dog, contributed to the cookout’s fun and success. Kate, Paws Alliance, set up a table, that was all things rescue! We were lucky enough to score ‘Pupcakes’ from Gluteus Minimus, in Belmont.

Thanks to all who participated!

Ernestine,  Sharing her Dream!



Yup, that’s me and my Dad, Bradley, just hangin’ out on the ocean! It doesn’t get any better!

I did come off the beach long enough to read and share the article on ‘Adopting Shelter Dogs’.  As most of  you know, my 3 brothers and sister were all homeless dogs when adopted. They are not perfect, but dogs coming from breeders aren’t either. There is simply no stereotype.

I used to get really annoyed when educated, reasonable people talked negatively about rescuing dogs. It’s true that the general viewpoint 15 years ago, was that people had no idea who they were adopting, whether the dog was good with kids, other dogs, people. Genetics were also an issue. Huge strides have occured, so that shelters and rescues CAN tell you about the dog’s temperament and health. There will always be the trauma factor– many homeless dogs did not have a good life prior to being rescued. The article below addresses those issues.

I do not get as bothered as I used to, because it really comes down to education. Many of us exist in a dog world; we are up to date on improvements and growth. Many people are not. So, educating people about the homeless dog situation is a huge step in growing the acceptance of shelter/ rescue dogs. And, it’s an easy thing to do!

OK, that’s it for serious. Back to the beach!

Later,  Ernestine



Is Adopting Shelter Dogs Really a “Crapshoot”? The Facts Say No!

Dogster| Chris Hall

It’s hard enough to get people to go to the shelter to get a rescue dog instead of favoring the cute doggies in the pet store window, but it’s even more so when you have someone like Erin Auerbach around. In case you haven’t seen her latest column, the title should sum up the problem for you: “Why I’d Never Adopt a Shelter Dog Again“.

Auerbach has apparently had some bad luck with dogs from shelters, and on that count, my heart aches for her. The first one she describes is Yogi, who was diagnosed with cancer six months after she adopted him. Next came Clarence, who didn’t have cancer, but had epilepsy. The anti-convulsants caused liver deterioration, weight gain, and anxiety.

“Five years later,” she writes, “his seizures and pancreatitis got the best of him. Euthanizing him was a relief.”


Homeless Puppies

The third one is Mookie, whom Auerbach had even before Yogi. Mookie had been healthy for more than 10 years when he started to have a series of health problems, including seizures and senility. After two years of rushing him to the vet, she found a vet who would euthanize him at home.

It’s hard not to sympathize with this series of grief, pain, and loss. And of course, I absolutely do. But the conclusion that Auerbach draws — that she can avoid living through all of that sickness and pain by getting her future dogs from a breeder — is not only wrong, but potentially lethal to thousands of dogs.

Rescue and shelter dogs are a crapshoot. Although it’s hard to track down reliable statistics, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that about 3.9 million dogs go to shelters each year and 1.2 million are euthanized. Generally, these groups know only how an animal came into their possession. Behavior issues, illnesses or a high maintenance cost usually only rear their heads after adoption.


Dog in Shelter

The sad fact is, that no matter how much we love them, the animals and people in our lives will become sick and infirm and die, given enough time. That’s just an inevitable risk of love, rather than an argument for avoiding the shelter (or, in the case of people, OKCupid).

The flaw in Auerbach’s argument becomes apparent very quickly once you take a closer look at the history of her dogs. Mookie lived with her for more than 10 years, free of health problems, before his body started to get old and infirm and he died. How long would Mookie have had to live before she considered his life with her to be a good example of what you can get from adopting a shelter dog?

The fact is, there are a lot of risks to buying a dog from a breeder as well. The risk-free certainty that Auerbach craves just doesn’t exist. In fact, one of the problems with dog breeders is that decades of inbreeding is likely to magnify the risks of certain health problems by combining and recombining recessive traits, making them more likely to manifest than they would in a mutt. The examples of breed-related health problems are legion. Golden Retrievers, for example,have a 60 percent chance of dying of cancer, about twice that of other breeds. Bulldogs have respiratory problems because they’ve been bred to have very short snouts.

There have been many responses to Auerbach’s piece by dog lovers through social media and blogs. A quick survey of Twitter will show scores of people declaring that she should never own a dog again. What I consider one of the best responses comes from Lisa LaFontaine, president and CEO of the Washington Humane Society, who debunks Auerbach’s claims with reason and facts:

Reality, as reflected in research and hard data, simply doesn’t support her conclusions. When animals develop a medical condition the chances are good that singular genetic or environmental factors — or a combination of the two — are at play. This is true for dogs who are purebred, and those who are mutts. It is true for those who come from professional breeders, casual breeders, and shelters. There are no guarantees of long-term health for any animal. It’s a crapshoot all the way around.

Having seen the surrender of untold thousands of animals in my career, I can pull back the curtain on a little known fact: Many of the dogs who come through my shelter, and shelters across America, originally came from a breeder. Some of them are with us because of a health condition the owner no longer wished to deal with.

Husky in Shelter

Husky in Shelter


July 19, 2014

Franks for Your Business! On the Green at Belmont Crate Escape, July 25th! & Learn about Your Pooch’s Paws!

‘I had a dream… and it came true!


I am at the beach.  It is so freeing, like there is no inside and outside, or in and out of the car. We are just here, in the sun, chilling.  My brothers, Emmitt, jrt, and Sundance, chihuahua, are relaxing too, as much as they can. Emmitt always seems afraid of what is coming next, and Sunny has to continually remind all in his radar how BIG and FIERCE he is, just in case.  It is wonderful to see them calm(er). Hilda (bull mastiff) pretty much lopes around, trying to get the most of everybody’s attention. She is afraid of the waves; her stepdad, Bradley, walks her at the tide line every day to show her they don’t bite.

It is about family. We are together (canines outnumbering the adults 2 to 1!) celebrating our bond and easy/breezy beach life.


Later, Ernestine


Franks for Your Business  People/ Doggie Cookout! Friday, July 25th, 5pm – 7pm

‘On the Green’ at Crate Escape Belmont

franksforyour business

Serving HOT DOGS and BEER to show our appreciation!! Join us on the lawn at Crate Escape Belmont for our monthly Doggie Cookout!


A Doggie Massage Therapist will be there to show off her talents!

Fit Doggie and Me;  Dog and People exercising together, to the benefit of both!

Paws Alliance , our very own Kate Gallaher, is the founder of Paws Alliance and will be there to collect donations. Her table will also be the one with pup friendly treats!

All donations are distributed to non-profit animal organizations both locally and out of state. Check out their facebook page for many photos, stories, great articles, and more!


18 Things You Didn’t Know about Dog Paws

We all swoon for puppy-dog eyes, cocked ears and a wagging tail, but it would be a mistake to give your pup’s paws short shrift.

dog paw facts_0


While the eyes, ears and tails of your dog may get most of the attention for their expressiveness, don’t underestimate the power of paws! Aside from just being awfully sweet, the paws are wonderfully designed appendages that enable canines to perform their feats of doggie derring-do. Whether slender and elegant, bold and athletic, or floppy and furry, a dog’s trotters are a fascinating study in anatomy and adaptation.


 Consider the following:


 1. Of the 319 bones, on average, that comprise a dog’s skeleton, a handful of those (so to speak) are dedicated to the paws. Along with bones, dog feet include skin, tendons, ligaments, blood supply and connective tissue.

2. Paws are made up of the following five components:

3. The digital and metacarpal pads help work as shock absorbers and help protect the bones and joints in the foot. The carpal pads work like brakes, of sorts, and help the dog navigate slippery or steep slopes.
4. Paw pads have a thick layer of fatty tissue that insulates the inner foot tissues from extreme temperatures, as it doesn’t conduct cold as quickly. (Think whales and blubber.) Meanwhile, as the paw gets cold when it hits the ground, arteries transfer the chilled blood back to the body where it warms up again. Because of these traits, scientists believe that domestic dogs first evolved in colder environments before spreading out into other climates.
5. The pads also offer protection when walking on rough terrain. Dogs that are outside a lot and exposed to rough surfaces have thicker, rougher paw skin; dogs that stay in more and walk on smoother surfaces have softer pads. The pads also help the dog distinguish betweenn different types of terrain.
paw pads
6. The inner layer of skin on the paw has sweat glands that convey perspiration to the outer layer of skin, which helps cool a hot dog and keeps the pads from getting too dry. But paws can also exude moisture when a dog gets nervous or experiences stress; dogs get sweaty hands, just like we do!
7. Dogs are digitigrade animals, meaning that their digits — not their heels — take most of their weight when they walk. Because of this, dogs’ toe bones are very important.
8. Dog’s toes are equivalent to our fingers and toes, although they are unable to wiggle them with the ease that we do.
9. Dewclaws are thought to be vestiges of thumbs. (Imagine if dogs had evolved opposable thumbs? The world might be a very different place!) Dogs almost always have dewclaws on the front legs and occasionally on the back. Front dewclaws have bone and muscle in them, but in many breeds, the back dewclaws have little of either. (Because of this, dewclaws are often removed to prevent them from getting snagged. However, opinions on the necessity of this procedure are mixed.)
10. Although they don’t provide much function for traction and digging, dogs do use their dewclaws; for example, they help the dog get a better grip on bones and other things the dog may like to chew on.
11. That said, Great Pyrenees still use their rear dewclaws for stability on rough, uneven terrain and often have double dewclaws on the hind legs. Among show dogs, the Beauceron breed standard is for double rear dewclaws; the Pyrenean shepherd, briard and Spanish mastiff are other breeds that have double rear dewclaws listed for show standards as well.
newfoundland paws
12. Breeds from cold climes, like St. Bernards and Newfoundlands, have wonderfully large paws with greater surface areas. Their big, floppy paws are no accident; they help them better tread on snow and ice.
13. Newfoundlands have the longest toes of all breeds, and Labrador retrievers come in second. Both breeds also have webbed feet, which helps make them excellent swimmers. Other breeds with webbed feet include the Chesapeake Bay retriever, Portuguese water dog, field Spaniel and German wirehaired pointer.
14. Some breeds have what are called “cat feet.” These have a short third digital bone, resulting in a compact feline-like foot; this design uses less energy to lift and increases the dog’s endurance. You can tell by the dog’s paw print: cat feet prints are round and compact. Akita, Doberman pinscher, giant schnauzer, kuvasz, Newfoundland, Airedale terrier, bull terrier, keeshond, Finnish spitz, and old English sheepdog all have cat feet. (But don’t tell them that.)

hare feet

15. On the other hand — er, paw — some breeds have “hare feet,” which are elongated with the two middle toes longer than the outer toes. Breeds that enjoy hare feet include some toy breeds, as well as the Samoyed, Bedlington terrier, Skye terrier, borzoi and greyhound. Their paw prints are more slender and elongated.
16. And then there’s “Frito feet.” If you notice the distinct smell of corn chips emanating from the feet of your dog, resist salivating. Because when you find out that the source of the aroma is due to bacteria and fungi, you may become mightily grossed out. Generally this doesn’t lead to complications for the dog.
17. Do you love having your hands massaged? So does your pup! According to the ASPCA, a paw massage will relax your dog and promote better circulation. They recommend rubbing between the pads on the bottom of the paw, and then rubbing between each toe.
18. Although the exact etymology isn’t known for sure, the word “paw” appears to come from the Gallo-Roman root form “pauta,” which is related to late 14th century Old French “patin,” which means clog, as in the type of shoe. And with that in mind, we leave you with the following photo of a pup in boots (which we’re guessing he jumped out of immediately after the picture was taken):

dog in boots


 Whadya mean?

I’m not afraid of those waves!  (they do make me kind of tired though…)

Snooore,   Hilda



July 13, 2014

One Happy Icon JRT!! Interesting Characteristics Shared by Many Therapy Dogs, Helping Homeless Dogs from a Professional’s Point of View.

Ernestine’s Energy

It’s finally here!! Beach time. And THEY did keep it a secret from me until the last minute! I will visit the beach a lot in the next few weeks, and will be sure to share my escapades. Remember last year, surfing with my Dad, Bradley!  So exciting!

Ernie looking over marshes

Looking over the marshes.

Later,  Ernestine

 Therapy Dogs– Do dogs with 3 Physical Characteristics Pass the Test More Often?

On Saturday, July 12th, Crate Escape Charlestown participated in the ‘Spaulding FREE Health Promotion & Injury Prevention Fair,
Putting Prevention into Practice’. We shared a booth with D.O.G. B.O.N.E.S, a therapy dog organization.

A therapy dog Dad stopped by our booth and mentioned an article he read about three physical characteristics that a large percentage of therapy dogs have. The video is attached. Fascinating!!

Left Paw, Right Paw


ernie drawing from website1(Editorial comment: It is part of Crate Escape’s purpose and intention to help homeless dogs, by fostering, collecting donations, and educating people how they can help. Best Friends Animal Society is the largest animal sanctuary in the USA. They initiate many campaigns and suggestions to start local ‘No More Homeless Pets’ groups to spread the word. The post below is a blog from one of the founders.)

“For shelter pets, a Hurricane Katrina-scale disaster happens every week”

The U.S. is a nation of animal lovers. More than 82 million households (68 percent of the population) have at least one pet. The care that we provide for our animal companions parallels the care that we provide for our families and ourselves, whether it’s the quality of the food we buy for our dogs and cats, or the medical care that we give to them. In fact, this year we will spend around $15 billion on veterinary care alone out of a total of about $58 billion that we will invest in the care of the animals we have invited into our homes.

And yet, the tax dollars of these same animal lovers are being used to pay for the sanctioned killing of three to four million healthy pets every year in our nation’s shelters. That’s more than 9,000 healthy, adoptable dogs and cats every day; 9,000 lives, in the fullest sense of the word, are wasted every day. Caging and killing homeless pets is not only abusive and cruel to these animals who we value as a society, killing healthy, friendly pets is a soul-destroying activity that has a corrosive effect on our communities. This situation need not exist at all. No-kill is not only possible, it is the right thing to do and it has already been achieved in communities around the country.

More to the point, it is an essential step in our evolution as a moral society because elevating the value and status of those who are the weakest members of our communities elevates the status and value of all members.

Let me put the scope of this tragedy into perspective with a lesson from Hurricane Katrina.

In the aftermath of Katrina, tens of thousands of animals died, not because of flooding — that was only the mechanism — but as a result of the overarching public policy that did not include people’s pets in evacuation or rescue plans. They died because neither human emergency shelters nor state and federal evacuation teams allowed people to take their pets with them when evacuated. This policy was often enforced at gunpoint. Some New Orleans residents report being told to leave the dog or it will be shot before your eyes.

I was there, I spoke to people like this almost every day. For four months following the storm, I oversaw rescue and sheltering operations for at Best Friends Animal Association, at our emergency shelters in Tylertown, Mississippi, and in Metairie, Louisiana. It was an experience that forever changed my life and that of everyone there, whether a victim or a volunteer.

Katrina was on the news 24/7. Dogs and cats swimming in floodwaters, standing on roofs and on top of cars in the baking sun days and weeks into the disaster. The images tore at people’s heart.

The world was shocked by the images of animals in distress and thousands of people flocked to the Gulf Coast area to save stranded animals and millions more gave donations of cash and supplies.

And then Congress acted.

In response to the deaths of thousands of pets and the deaths of some human Gulf Coast residents who refused to be evacuated without their pets, Congress passed the ‘Pets Act’ (Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act), which requires local counties to have a pet evacuation plan in place in order to qualify for FEMA funding in the event of a disaster. Congress officially recognized the importance of people’s pets with passage of the PETS Act, and today, evacuation plans and shelters that accommodate the pets of evacuees are the norm.

As a consequence, in natural disasters subsequent to Katrina, such as Superstorm Sandy, the animal component of these events has been manageable locally and has been significantly smaller despite affecting much larger populations. That is a result of a change in public policy that reflected public values.

Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in U.S. history. No one knows how many animals died, but most estimates put the number in the tens of thousands — 50,000 to 70,000 dogs and cats dead across the Gulf Coast – an unprecedented disaster.

And yet, an animal disaster on the scale of the one that followed Hurricane Katrina is happening every week in our nation’s shelters, and it deserves the same urgency of response. Loving household pets, once and potentially future family members, are being killed.

And as with Katrina, we have the resources and practical know-how to put an end to this pointless killing in the foreseeable future, and that knowledge and know-how are what constitute the essentials of the no-kill movement.

We can Save Them All, but it’s a matter of prioritizing the lives of shelter animals. Changing public policy to reflect public values — as we did following Katrina, with lifesaving goals set by local city councils — would accelerate the lifesaving.

In communities (such as Austin, Los Angeles, Salt Lake County and West Valley City, Utah) where local civic leaders have set no-kill goals for local animal control agencies, no-kill has been or is being realized. In other cities — such as Reno, Nevada; Kansas City, Missouri; and Charlottesville, Virginia — lead sheltering and animal control agencies inaugurated successful no-kill campaigns on their own initiative.

If national news crews covered municipal animal shelters, as they covered the animals following Hurricane Katrina, no-kill policies would be the norm in a very short time.

We can Save Them All and we will be a better country for it when we do.


Francis Battista

Best Friends Animal Society

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