Friday, June 29, 2012

Bark Out Loud - Super Senior Edition


Amy (above) is a Super Senior.

What's a Super Senior? (Well I'm glad you asked.)
A Super Senior is any dog that lives well beyond their life expectancy. There's not a clear cut definition of how many years either absolute or relative to the dog's expected lifespan that this is, but at 21, Amy qualifies.

Her story is amazing. She was adopted 18 years ago and has been in the same home all along. Her owner recently became unable to care for her and so back she went to Penny Adams of San Diego.

Amy's available for adoption over at our Senior Pooch Adoptions site.

I've been spending some time over at Blue's Facebook page. If you remember, Blue is an older dog in Elephant Butte, NM whose town has rallied around him to allow him to remain leashless as an exception to the town's leash laws. Most recently it turns out that some yahoos have been harassing Blue when his supporters aren't around.

Although courts have ruled that he can be free inside the confines of an invisible fence and he's not bothering anyone, it appears that there are those that have made time to harass him to the point that the shop owner is taking him home to protect him and has installed cameras. I hope those perpetrators of such heinous activity can look in the mirror and convince their significant others that they do the right thing, because I ain't buying it.

Good luck to Blue and crew.

Another dog in the news this week is Lennox, whose story of Breed Specific Legislation has crossed the world, and who I provided the SeniorPooch position on during a post this week.

This weekend I attended my first adoption event as a member of The Dog Squad. The Dog Squad were the group that saved Boo Boo from a life behind bars some five years back. There was a lot of interest in the dogs. Although none went to their forever homes that day I'm hopeful that those families that showed interest, followed up with the shelter.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How BSL Propagates and the Fight for Lennox

In the 1988 film, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", Jessica Rabbit quips, "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Today we're in a similar situation. It's called BSL and it's no joke.

BSL, or Breed Specific Legislation, is comprised of local laws targeting specific breeds of dogs. By and large the breeds covered are Pitbulls and American Staffordshire Terrier-like canines. The penalty for being born into these breeds and finding your way to a jurisdiction that supports BSL is deportation, but more than likely death.

In case it's not clear, this is about discriminating based upon breed and assumed predispositions of some breeds to act in a particular way. It does not take into account that many dogs of these breeds are perfectly normal loving dogs in environments that you'd expect any dog to thrive. What drives people to come up with such ill-advised laws is that there are breeds that are going to cause more damage if they are not properly trained and socialized and they get into a situation where they are forced to mix it up.

Neglected, untrained, and abused dogs are not only on the streets as strays, but also tied up for hours or days on end in backyards in the world, and these don't even include those dogs trained to fight for their lives. Any dog in a bad situation is going to do what it needs to do to protect itself.

I've personally only seen smaller dogs get nervous and act out aggressively without warning.

My experience with larger dogs is different.

Yes, they can be aggressive towards one another, but in the few cases where I've witnessed it first hand it was because of food aggression or being overly competitive while playing. This is not to say that larger dogs are not likely to do something unexpected, but in all of the cases, the well cared for (including being trained and learning confidence) dog is going to get along much better than the skittish more protected/isolated dog regardless of size. My experience with owners of large dogs is they're less likely to put up with bad behavior out of concern with members of their community. More than a couple owners of smaller dogs think it's "cute" that their little dogs have "big" attitudes. What they don't understand is that the dog's attitude is that it's scared and needs to act out to protect itself or get attention. Those are not happy dogs. 

That's my opinion folks. Dogs are as unique as people and both are responsible for how they act in public.

Enter Lennox. A 7 year old dog who "LOOKS LIKE" a pitbull according to his detractors.

Looks like? That's the case against him?

Yes. According to Lennox's owner, who has DNA proof that he's not a pitbull, Lennox was taken into custody and is on death row because of his looks by the Belfast City Council.


Even if he is what they say he is, a "pitbull-like dog", this is a ridiculous situation given that the owners have done everything asked of them by the government to register Lennox and provided him with a perfectly healthy and happy living situation for years. It's been two years since they've been allowed to see him.

BSL is an illogical way at dealing with problem dogs and that it's being used against a dog that neither exhibited any of the behaviors that these laws are allegedly set up to prevent is preposterous. 

Support Lennox by reaching out to his jailers at the Belfast City Council and letting them know what you think about this at:
Email: dogwardens@belfastcity.gov.uk or complaints@belfastcity.gov.uk
Phone: (+44) 028 9027 0270

Also go to his family's website for him at www.savelennox.co.uk

Monday, June 25, 2012

Use the Promise of Special Moments to Drive You to Adopt a Senior Dog

Once upon a time, not so long ago I had my doubts about old dogs. I only made the leap because several people much smarter than myself explained the benefits and even then it took a few months into adopting my first dog as a senior that I really understood what they meant.

Andrea Portbury of the German Shepherd Rescue and Adoptions of North Carolina recently graced SeniorPooch.com with an interview and there was so much great knowledge in it, that it needed to be split so that everyone could digest as much of it as possible, even if that meant in two sittings.

Andrea's thoughts on why people have doubts about older dogs expands upon what I heard and was feeling prior to my first senior adoption:

"I think, in a nutshell, everyone is afraid of death, or of losing a loved one. That is completely understandable. But what people don't seem to understand is that youth is no guarantee of a long and happy life. Yes it would be nice to think that you had 10+ years to spend with your dog, but the reality of it is, you just never know. Part of the mission of our senior dog program is to change people's way of thinking of dog ownership. Rather than have people look way, way , way down the path of their imagined life with their dog, we want people to drop their eyes immediately down to the face of the dog beside them. Live in the moment. Take notice of the small things. Don't let an afternoon spent with your dog at a park, or even on the couch watching TV be taken for granted. Sometimes I think that the people who adopt senior dogs *see* their dogs better than the people who get younger dogs. Every day spent together is precious."

It's true and I'm lucky enough to have recognized this shortly after adopting my first senior. It's about focusing on what they have to offer and how even small gestures by you, their adoptive parents can help to make you old dog a very content and happy dog.

Her group's senior program is one of several that I've seen recently that are trying to change the way that people see their older dogs. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bark Out Loud - It's Summer


I've decided that BARK OUT LOUD will be the running title of the end of the week summary series.  I'll be headed back to the previous summaries and tagging them appropriately, so that they're easier to track down.

Our CP (Cover Pooch) this week is Lavergne. She's been in the foster system for many months now and asks nothing more than a nice soft spot on the couch to sit with you and follow you around.  Check out Senior Pooch Adoptions for more on Lavergne and lot of adoptable senior dogs. Several new dogs are being added today that urgently need you help.

This week we dove into how our friend, Ann-Marie Fleming is making life easier on older dogs and their parents with products she has designed at DogQuality.com. You'll really want to check out the videos on the site to understand just how much care and understanding go into her product lines.


Finally, I'm attending my first event as a volunteer with The Dog Squad at the Petco in San Marcos, California. Here are the details, including just a few of the adoptable dogs we're bringing with us. I'll have more on my experiences on this next week.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Domino Adopts a Family

Domino has found his forever home! 

Thanks to a lot of hard work by many rescue and foster folks who helped to get Domino pulled from the shelter and placed in a loving home. On behalf of Domino, I'd like to thank Alice who sent him here to SeniorPooch.com, as well as spending much time working on getting this old guy adopted.  Recognizing the potential of any dog, and in particular an older dog is no small feat and takes a combination of patience, understanding, and experience.

Alice reports that Domino has bonded with his new forever human family members. He and his two furry siblings are still working out the details, but are living together peacefully, which is an excellent first step to a long happy future!

Congratulations Domino! You deserve nothing but happiness!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Thoughtful Products from a Thoughtful Company: DogQuality.com

The first thing that you notice when you visit DogQuality.com is how much owner, Ann-Marie Fleming cares about older dogs. For a website dedicated to senior dog products, it's less about the sale and more about the solution, in terms of the practical information on products that can enhance your senior dog's quality of life.

I recently connected with Ann-Marie over on Twitter (where she goes by the handle: @dogquality to find out how she went about starting up her site.

"[I]t all began when my own dogs were having difficulty due to their age. Churchill my French Bulldog was struggling with rear leg weakness which was impairing his mobility and causing incontinence and my pug Mackenzie had arthritis so he was slowing down considerably. Both were
12 years old at the time. When I looked around for ways to help them I found very little and what I did find was not as effective as I believed they could be. I knew I could not be alone in my desire to make life better for my senior dogs and so I started Dog Quality to give people options."

While she started supporting other people's products, she quickly identified some gaps in the market that led her to manufacture:

The Dogger - A dog stroller for small to medium size dogs. Built with sturdy, light weight materials, the Dogger lets you get as much exercise as you'd like AND get allow you to bring your less than mobile dog to some of their favorite places. While the Dogger is cute, once I saw it in action in videos, practical and easy to maneuver where the first two thoughts that came to mind. It comes in a variety of colors and has a number of accessories available including, lights, therapeutic pad, and cup holder.

Washable Wonders - A line of diapers, wraps, and pads to help dogs with incontinence problems. As Ann-Marie points out, incontinence is a reason why some people wind up putting their dog to sleep, when all they may have is "a leaky bladder." She also points out that incontinence could be a sign of something more serious, but I can attest that some times it is just a due to a dog losing muscle mass, and therefore control, as they get older.

Even though Churchill and Mackenzie are no longer with us, Ann-Marie honors them by providing the tools that senior dogs owner need to enhance their older pals' quality of life. Watching any of her videos, you can't but feel how much of her passion is driven from these her, most important pooches and the desire to do right by all of their kind.

I'd highly recommend that you stop on by the DogQuality site and check out her testimonials page to hear what others have to say.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bark Out Loud

The Dog Wonder and myself had a lot of fun this week with some extra wrestling and training. This was one of those weeks where I like to take it a little easier on his old bones by not exercising him too strenuously. For us, that means substituting a shorter walk for a longer walk every couple of days. It works out pretty well and I've found that he has a bit more energy if I'm doing this every second or third week.

Above we have our friend, Maxwell, who is a long time foster looking for a new home. The great news is that he has an awesome home, but it could be better. Maxwell is more than ready to fine a forever home, which would hopefully mean that his foster parents would be able to take in an old timer in even more need than he.

An update from a story that I posted several weeks ago on Blue's Fight for Freedom: Blue of Elephant Butte, NM was granted his freedom given that he remains within the boundaries of an electronic fence. It appears that there are still details to be worked out on how this will be implemented and if it is in conflict with other laws in the town, but it looks like a pretty good deal for Blue.

This post will be the second weekly overview that I've done. I'm still working out some of the details including what sorts of things I'll chat about each week, a name for this post series, etc., so if you have any ideas, send them over.

Photo credit (Maxwell): Larry Abgarian

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Be the Difference for One Old Dog - Save Two Lives

Adopting an older dog saves at least two dogs' lives.

The most obvious life saved is the dog that was adopted. Even if that senior dog only has a year or two left, those years should count for something. They don't understand why they're being turned over to a shelter after living their entire lives with someone. Why make them suffer alone in a cold, dark cell for the rest of their days?

As pets that are often classified as "less adoptable," they are moved to the top of kill lists in some shelters to make room for more adopted (nee younger) pets. Keep in mind that for some shelters that are overcrowded, they're just looking to save as many animals as possible, but the concept is still a lot for a lot of animal lovers to grasp. If you love animals, this is something to consider when thinking about adopting a new pet.

The "other dog" is the one that gets that old dog's spot in the shelter, rescue, or foster and gets a chance to be seen by someone else instead of getting euthanized. Maybe the "other" is an older dog that the shelter staff took pity on. Maybe they're a younger ragged mutt that the staff can take some extra time to clean up and get adopted faster than if they were left sitting in their cell for a day or more just waiting to go out to relieve themselves.

"But I just want a puppy" is no excuse for checking out a shelter or considering an older dog. Buying from a breeder means another dog is being put down. I would encourage anyone in this situation to do the courageous thing and give the shelters and rescues a shot first.

Check out Petfinder or your local animal services websites and you'll find plenty of worthy dogs of every shape, size, and breed. Give it a try. I would venture to guess that given some very stringent requirement that you'd be able to find even the rarest breeds within 100 miles of where you live in the United States and many other countries around the world.

Support your local shelters. Give one old dog a couple of years of happiness. Be the difference.


Photo credit:
Attribution Some rights reserved by rikkis_refug

Monday, June 11, 2012

Clipping your Senior Dog's Attitude: Neutering Later In Life

I've got a big dog with a big dog attitude. Having been neutered later in life, I can confirm, firsthand that he still has a lot of energy, but I've been thinking lately about what/if any side effects that neutering had on him being "clipped" at roughly eight years old.

After a search of the web, it's hard to say that I found anything conclusive written by an authority (an actual vet or vet tech would have done fine, but none were quoted in the articles that I researched.) A number of people referenced their veterinary professionals as their sources.

What I found was a few common themes:

  • Neutering cuts down on aggressiveness when females are in heat - I'd expect that this would be the same as for any dog neutered when they were younger. Since most people don't live in a hermetically sealed bubble, a male is going to find some way to get to a female in heat whatever it takes. If you walk your dog, it's going to be that much tougher around others when this is going on. This leads to...
  • Males running away - Over, under, and through fences. I've seen all of the above. Pretty universally I've seen through my reading that...
  • Breeders are of the opinion that it's OK to not neuter your dog - The exceptions being for some that if a dog is ill, they're OK neutering it. That said with so many dogs in shelters, having unneutered or spayed pets around after their breeding years are behind them is a tough sell for me as a pet lover. Take the pressure off them and give them a few years where they're not worrying about how to get their next piece of tail.
  • Dog-on-dog Aggressiveness - Like a schoolyard bully, even the smallest dog is going to want to stake his claim on the local female population when another male is around. Unfortunately I've experienced this with a dog that's neutered, that has made a couple of unaltered smaller dogs feel pretty defensive, despite being very happy to meet them. (A snarling beagle has nothing to prove to an 80lb. shepherd-mix, so me and the big dog just stay clear of situations like this.)
  • Neutering reduces health concerns - There were a few folks out there who didn't agree with this, all were breeders, but the overwhelming majority spoke to a reduced chance of an enlarged prostrate as the big health concern.
  • Finally... Neutering later in life doesn't significantly change the dog's personality - During the time when females are in heat: Yes, I've listed the changes above. Some males who have been neutered don't have "the drive" anymore. This could translate to being a little slower, but since that's also a symptom of getting older, it's hard to say for sure that these are related. 
A dog neutered later in life will still have the good (and bad) habits that it learned earlier in life, including being aggressive to other dogs. Keep in mind that while it's not a panacea, neutering is not harmful to the dog and will take some of that extra pressure off him as he heads into his golden years. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Plenty of news from SeniorPooch.com!

There's plenty of good going on here at SeniorPooch.com that I wanted to share.

Right off the bat, there have been several new dogs placed on the Adoptions Page. Check out Sammy here who is a great dog that is looking for a forever home down here in Southern California:
Sammy, a mixed breed dog looking for a forever home in Southern CA

He gets along with everyone (people, cats, other dogs), so if you or someone you know is looking in Southern California for an easy going dog looking for someone to share walks in the park or just being parked in the backyard, check out the Adoptions Page for more information.



This morning I woke up to find that Max a senior beagle who has been on the site since March of this year was adopted. Not bad for a 14 year old gentleman with three legs. Kudos to Max, his foster parents, and his proud new parents for showing him the love that he deserves.




On the rescue front, I've been talking with Bernice Friedman of ARRF, a rescue in San Diego, CA, and SeniorPooch.com will be monitoring her ads and cross-posting her rescues' older members. There are a couple of long time rescues that you should look at in Shelbie and Maxwell who have been on Senior Pooch for some time, in addition to the newly adoptable Maple who was rescued from the North County Shelter.


Joining a rescue organization is something that I've considered for some time and recently I started volunteering with The Dog Squad here in San Diego. If you don't recall, The Dog Squad's Sue Barbato was the person who brought Boo Boo to the Petsmart event that I would find and adopt him. I'm working on touching up their website and will be attending my first adoption event as a volunteer later this month. I'll let you know where and when as soon as I have all the details.

Thanks once again to all of you who are part of the mission to save more senior dogs. I'm touched by your support and efforts. I'd like to give a special shout out to Andrea Portbury of The German Shepherd Rescue and Adoptions of North Carolina for a spectacular interview this week (one of the most popular on the site ever) and the fine folks at The Barkers Dozen for a nice box of treats to thank us for posting about their Dollars for Daffy event.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Shepherding the Cause of Senior German Shepherd Dogs in North Carolina


It was close to a year ago when I first heard about German Shepherd Rescues and Adoptions. Lady, an older GSD (that's German Shepherd Dog), had no sooner become available than a generous soul from North Carolina had spotted her on SeniorPooch.com and wanted to know about her, if she got along with cats, and what would it take to adopt her. Lady was just getting over a bout of kennel cough and her foster didn't think it would be fair to ship her across the country without knowing if the Lady was cat-friendly and seeing what kind of environment that she'd be relocating.

This is where I jumped in and did a quick search for "senior German shepherd North Carolina" and came up a link to: http://www.gsdrescue.org/ to forward to the person who contacted us. What impressed me the most was that they had a page especially set aside for Senior Adoptions, which not only includes adoptable pets, but also useful links that any senior dog owner would find helpful.

Shortly thereafter we connected on Twitter and when time came for me to reach out to the rescue community for an organization who has a very special place in their hearts for senior dogs, as you can read for yourself in the interview that follows:

SP: Why don't we start off by finding out a little about your role at German Shepherd Rescue and Adoptions?
AP: My name is Andrea Portbury and I am the co-Director of German Shepherd Rescue and Adoptions, NC. I have been volunteering with GSRA since 2000, but adopted my first dog (a senior!) from the rescue in 2008. I have been co-Director (I share the head honcho position with a wonderful woman by the name of Jennifer Hall and we are both part of a 9 member Board of Directors) since about 2008. GSRA itself has been around since 1992! The Mission statement of GSRA is, "German Shepherd Rescue and Adoptions(GSRA) is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit animal rescue organization based in Raleigh, North Carolina dedicated to saving the lives of homeless, abused and neglected German Shepherd Dogs and shepherd mixes (referred collectively hereafter as GSDs) as well as enhancing the public image of the breed." 

GSRA has about 150 volunteers and 45 foster homes spread throughout NC. We hold monthly adoption events where we invite approved adoption applicants and the public to come and mingle with our wonderful dogs. In order to be approved to adopt from GSRA you must fill out an online adoption application, submit to a phone interview and a home visit from an adoption counsellor, receive an excellent reference from your veterinarian and then be approved by the foster parent of the dog in which you are interested. GSRA is not interested in adopting out hundreds of dogs each year - we are instead focussed on ensuring that the dogs we DO adopt out land in the perfect home. It is very personal to us - because we can only rescue a handful of the GSDs in need in our area, we want to make sure that the dogs we do rescue end up living the life of princes and princesses in homes that understand the breed and will do whatever it takes to ensure the dog lives a long, happy, safe life.

SP: I really like that your group has a special place in your hearts for seniors. What percentage of your rescues would you say are 7 or older? Where do you find them?

Friday, June 1, 2012

One old dog, his town, and his fight for freedom

It reads like an old time western novel:

An old timer settled on his ways on a patch of land before the boundaries were rewritten by interlopers. 

In this case, it's one old dog: Blue of Elephant Butte, New Mexico and the town that has rallied around him to let him be the exception of the rule to the local leash law. Blue's an 11 year old Australian Shepherd who has been living there since before Elephant Butte was a town. A recent leash law passed is going to force Blue to be leashed, where all of his life he's spent his life lounging around one town business or another.

I believe local leash laws are there for a reason. That reason being the safety of dogs who may or may not be accustomed to other dogs who are not accustomed to others being off the leash. I've seen plenty of times where unleashed dogs cause havoc because their owners insist that they're "really good dogs" or "just want to say hi", but don't get the permission of other dog owners.

Blue's an exception to this rule in several ways:

  • He has never really been owned by anyone - Technically he was adopted by a town shop owner to represent him for his hearing on June 13, 2012.
  • Various people in the town have trained him how to interact with others - At his advanced age, he's picked up more than a trick or two from the community who has cared enough to not only feed him, but also give him several comfortable places to live and took the time to train him.
Blue won't be tied down to just one family, but the community has stepped up to donate enough that Blue has his own check account and not only pays his own vet bills, but also contributes to veterinary care of others. 

My take is: This isn't about abolishing leash laws. It's about showing that in outstanding instances that there are exceptions that should be considered. 

I'd encourage you all to check out the original article, share Blue's story, and drop him and the gentlefolk of Elephant Butte, New Mexico a word of encouragement.


Original article: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/05/new-law-may-tie-up-loveable-town-dog-blue/