Friday, August 31, 2012

Bark Out Loud - All Maxwell, All the Time


Long time ARRF and Senior Pooch alum, Maxwell, has gone home. 

Maxwell is a senior pekingese who has been shopping for his new forever home for over a year now and was one of the first dogs to grace SeniorPooch.com's Adoption Page

Per the Wikipedia Pekingese page Maxwell belongs to one of the oldest breeds of dogs, going all the way back centuries to the emperors of China. A regal little guy, Maxwell hasn't lost a step or his sense of humor (although we can't say the same for a few of his teeth.) 

Thanks again to Bernice Friedman and fosters for taking care of Maxwell so well for so long until the right family could be found.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book Review: Senior Dogs for Dummies

Lack of knowledge can lead to fear.

I suppose it was a good thing that I had no preconceptions when I adopted Boo Boo almost five years ago now. I chose to forgo putting any weight on his gray muzzle and instead looked deeper into the kindness of his soul and his need for a new start to make my decision to bring him home.

The first place that I went for information was to my vet, who were always available to talk about the options that I had before me at each important step in his life.

When he passed, I looked to make sure that I had done the right thing. One book that I've already reviewed was Good Old Dog by Nicholas Dodman, DVM. It's a great book that is incredibly easy to read. It provides the lay person with some great information on caring for senior dogs.

The other book that I leaned on is Senior Dogs For Dummies. The author, Susan McCullough, does a great job covering a variety of topics, but whereas Good Old Dog provides a great ongoing narrative, Senior Dogs for Dummies is structured better.

In my experience, senior dogs are not going to see all of the symptoms of every possible ailment at any given time. Senior Dogs for Dummies breaks it down in a much more digestable way than Dodman's book. If I could only chose one of these to read, I'd still choose both. Dodman's book tracked almost word for word with the recommendations that I got from my vet.  McCullough's book on the other hand allowed me to get to important information on prolonging the life of my current senior, Rusty, in the book's Part of Tens chapter. Each topic is covered with ten tips delivered in quick, easily accessible fashion. It's one of my favorite parts of The Dummies Series.

Chapters on preventative maintenance, common ailments, mobility, incontinence, dealing with loss of sight and hearing, and learning to let go are all done well in a very friendly tone. Pick up this one first, and then check out the Dodman book if you're interested in more of the detail. Both are solid reads.

Related links
Other SeniorPooch.com Book Reviews
Senior Dogs For Dummies (book)
Senior Dogs For Dummies (kindle ebook)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Let's Take It Easy on the Newbie (Dog Owners)

Take it from an older dog, they know what they're doing.
It's just a fact of life that puppies are going to get the bulk of the attention at the shelter. You'll find this to be true in the classified with the constant turnover of younger dogs, while the older pups can be there for weeks or months at a time.

Sure, puppies are cute and have a lot of energy, and they're just as worthy of being adopted as any other dog, but if you're a new owner are you ready?

Ready for what? (well I'm glad you asked)

Ready for potty training, of course. That and going through the stage where they chew everything up if they're not given all of your attention.

Yes, they sleep a lot, but that's once you've been playing with them all day. Of course, you might run through all these challenges pretty quickly if you're a trainer and/or have the time to work with your dog through these stages. Even folks who are long time dog owners might be able to get through these more quickly, but they'll find that it's still going to take a lot of energy.

If you're a new owner or haven't had a dog in a while, consider senior dogs. 

The senior dog has probably been around people before and is an old pro at breaking in new owners. They've been potty trained, or maybe only need some reminders and encouragement in a new setting. They almost certainly know how to tell you that they need to go out, if you're listening. They've already paid the price for chewing up items that aren't their's and aren't likely to start again now, especially not after being welcome in a new home after being locked up in a shelter for who knows how long.

Check out the online ads or ask the shelter personnel about the older dogs and which already know their basic commands. You'll be surprised at how many know the basics like: sit, stay, and come. I've found that even the most timid senior dog has some hidden trick that they're just itching to use given the chance to regain their confidence.

Older dogs bring a lot to the table for the new dog owner, letting both parties get to the important part of appreciating and loving one and it won't even cost anyone a new pair of shoes.

A new owner considering an older dog or want to learn why else you might prefer them?  Check out some other benefits.

Photo credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by gurdonark

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bark Out Loud and Take a Long Weekend


Another week in the books and you haven't found that perfect dog. Fortunately for you, Marty is a personal friend of mine, and he's ready to find his forever home. I met him a couple of weeks back. He's in fantastic shape, knows all his basic commands, is house-broken, and is extremely adaptable to different personalities and energy levels. Check him out on the Adoptions Page.

Maybe you've decided to take a senior dog, like Marty, home. Maybe you've decided on someone a bit younger at the shelter. Either way, might I recommend planning ahead and taking a long weekend to help get your new buddy or buddette accustom to you for an extra day or two?

The benefits go both ways. The dog gets to know you and your mannerisms, and you get some extra bonding time, as well as easing them into a routine. You're able to get out for short periods of time after some dedicated pooch-time to help build up their confidence that you're the one that will always come back home for them. If they've been in a shelter for more than a week or two, this is important to ease their jangled nerves.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You Can't Keep the Mall Dogs Down

A few weeks back I wrote several articles and posted interviews with Jessi Badami and Lili Chen from Mall Dogs, the Documentary for their Kickstarter campaign.

The Kickstarter campaign didn't work out exactly the way they planned, however it is helping to move things forward. This project is one that is near and dear to my heart having rescued several shelter dogs and recognizing the challenge that most shelter environments present to animals, shelter personnel, and prospective adoptive parents. Throughout the campaign Jessi and I had a couple of exchanges and when the Kickstarter ended without funding the movie, she asked if I would come on board in a more official capacity to help.

I jumped at the opportunity and I'm working diligently to help promote this project move forward.

Mall Dogs' new home is on the DogParent.com site and I'm looking forward to get this in front of more people than ever before.

Our challenge is getting the teaser trailer for the film in front of as many people as possible and then converting folks to donate a buck or five to help get it made. Jessi has been involved with creating a number of films and after talking with her about her plans for the final project, I can confirm her commitment to excellence is second to none.

If there's one thing that you do today play the video I've conveniently attached to this article.


Pretty cool stuff, right?

OK, now that I have your attention, share the video with a friend. You could post it on another website if you have one, but much easier is just pasting a link to this post in an email and send it out to that friend. Better make it three friends as the first two may be on vacation.

Next, if you're a blogger, you know as well as I do that you're always searching for something to write about. Pop me out a note and let me know if you're interested in getting more information on the project or would like to talk with any of the crew about their inspirations and how we intend on tackling this project.

Monday, August 20, 2012

All Shelter Dogs Deserve Forever Homes Regardless of their Age

Homeless puppies deserve love too.
A senior pooch in training
SeniorPooch.com has grown in ways that I could not have imagined in just over a year. I'm extraordinarily proud that my goal of bringing together senior dog lovers has been a booming success, evidenced by the variety of interviews that I've been able to pull together with organizations all over the globe.

Another goal is to get more older shelter or rescue pets adopted. I'm happy to say that there have been a number of folks that have reached out to me to let me know that the site has influenced their decision to adopt an older dog.

However there's been another side effect.

I've had a sizable number of folks that support the site reach out to me to say that they're going to get a shelter dog, but they hope I don't feel put off that they're going to get a younger dog. 

To this, my answer is simple: I don't feel bad about their decision at all.

At the end of the day, all homeless dogs deserve permanent homes whether they ran away from home or were otherwise unwanted by their former owners. Taking in a shelter or rescue pet means that there is one more opening for another, so you've saved two lives. 

I wish nothing, but fortune on those that adopt the homeless pooch and make sure that they continue to thrive in their senior years. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

You Can't Bark Out Loud When You're Smiling Like That!


Woody's a good old boy, who's quiet, and is usually wearing a smile from ear to ear. He's OK with other calm dogs, but he'd rather just be with his people. He's perfect for an older person or couple. If you already have a dog, I'd recommend that you call the San Diego North County Shelter first to see if it makes sense to bring your dog with you if you want to meet up with Woody. More details on him are available at the Adoptions Page.

This week I was lucky enough to have a short guest post called "Don't Look Away" appear in the Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego's newsletter and have another on rescue appearing on our friends at the San Jose Animal Advocates site in the coming weeks.  The SeniorPooch.com Facebook Page continues to grow by leaps and bounds with new people sharing stories on their older dogs more often.

The last few months have been exciting in participating for a number of events for The Dog Squad Rescue where I've joined as a board member.

Next week I'm excited to announce a new project that I'm joining. I'm not sure what day my announcement will come out yet, but stay tuned. I'm betting it'll change the way that everyone thinks about shelters.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Walking the Talk: Business and Life with Canine Business Owner Becky White

Becky Allen White, dog walker, senior dog owner, pet boarding
Becky White is either one of the smartest or luckiest people that I know in that she gets to do what she loves for a living. I think you'll agree with me after reading my interview with her that she's a lot of both.

SP: Tell us a little about yourself.
BW: I have been dog crazy my entire life. I think a strong "dog gene" was passed down from my dog-loving Grandmother. She would often have two or three in her home, with some of them being rescues. Childhood photos of myself are shown with dogs and all kinds of animals big or small. I have always been at ease around animals, and was blessed with parents who allowed a huge variety of pets to live in our home over the years. This truly was a gift learning to nurture and be responsible for others.

SP: How about the dogs that you currently have?
BW: I presently own two yellow labs, Abby (aged thirteen) and Ember (eight years of age). 

SP: Dog Walking and Boarding. I understanding how someone could quickly get into the dog walking business. It seems that there aren't a lot of folks who expand into a full on boarding business. How did you get started?
BW: I actually fell into the business when I hired a dog walker to walk Abby when I was working out of the home years ago. She and I became friends over time as I trusted her with our dog and the other dogs that she walked.  

She suggested I could board dogs on weekends as there was a need in our community for at home boarding. I had never heard of such a thing as this concept was fairly new ten years ago. Owners were boarding their dogs at their breeders, which often required a long drive, or relying on family members to pitch in and help. The other option was to board your dog at a kennel where dogs are often in runs and can be crated.

I gave it some thought and discussed it with our family, my husband and two daughters who were school aged. We decided to give it a go with only one dog coming to board with us at a time and only through referrals from my dog walker. This worked out nicely and slowly word got out that I boarded dogs in our home. I decided to quit my job that paid poorly and kept me away from our girls to try and build my business. This was a wonderful decision as I could be available for our daughters, work from home and be my own boss. Our community has a lot of dogs so I realized I was very fortunate and knew many people from the school yard and our church.

Today, I have my own dog walking and boarding business in Toronto, Ontario. 

SP: That's great. It sounds like it's a rewarding endeavor. Was there anything that you learned jumping in with both feet the way you did?
BW: Early on I learned many lessons which I will share with you. Always pre-screen a dog before a regular board. I request dogs spend 24 hours with us initially. The owners get to see our home, meet our family and our dogs. The visiting dog gets to know us, our routine, and a warm relationship begins (treats included to sweeten the deal!). I get to see how the dog walks on leash, how it responds to commands and if there are any red flags like counter surfers, leg lifters on furniture or on carpets, or if a dog is way too stressed while away from it's owner. I can judge how it is with other dogs and around people or if it has any quirks.

I have learned to have owners fill out a contract I have set up with vital information. Their personal information, emails, cell numbers and their vet. I have them fill in an amount they would pay at their vet if they could not be reached in an emergency situation if out of the country. Some say unlimited, others a fixed amount until they can reached personally. All dogs must be spayed or neutered and be non-aggressive. All shots must be up to date.

SP: What are some of the special requests that owners give you?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bark Out Loud Because There Are Brighter Days Ahead



Let's hear it for Griffie! Being an old dog, as well as one that is black puts two strikes against him in his chances to get adopted. Take a look at the Adoptions Page for more info and if you're in the Los Angeles area you may very well want to check this special guy out. He hasn't been in too long, but he's getting a bit stir crazy in there.

As far as I'm concerned the only bad luck that black dogs have is that they're difficult to get a good look of in most dimly lit shelters. Given a chance and the opportunity to strut their stuff outside of the bounds of their cage, I'll bet they surprise you with how they shine.

There's some good news this week coming out of Change.Org. If you recall a few months back there was a concern that some key provisions of the Hayden Law might be rolled back reducing the time shelters were required to hold stray dogs. After 65,000 people let their voices be heard, Governor Brown decided against changing the law. Kudos to Marla Tauscher who started the petition that helped keep the law as it is.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Doggie Artist Lili Chin Adds Her Talents to Mall Dogs

In addition to talking with Jessi Badami about her upcoming film, Mall Dogs, and also had the pleasure of hearing from the film's animator, Lili Chin on her connection to the project:

"When Jessi first told me about Mall Dogs and Lucky Paws, I knew I definitely wanted to be a part of this project. I am an animator and dog artist who donates a percentage of my profits to rescue groups from my website, www.doggiedrawings.net. I started in dog rescue 5 years ago as a foster mom, so the subject of dog rescue is one that is near and dear to my heart. Having experienced the challenges of caring for and finding forever homes for senior and special needs dogs, I know that Lucky Paws' success story would make a big difference to the way many people look at the pet adoption process. Mall Dogs will be a great documentary and I am honored to work with Jessi on this."

Based upon what I've seen in the Kickstarter video and Lili's website, I can tell she brings a lot to the table. The film's upbeat message and Lili's fun illustrations appear to be the right combination to reach viewers of all ages.

If you haven't contributed to this project and would like to see it made, time is running short. Check out the full description of the project, bios of other key crew members, and a video highlighting why and how it'll make an impact, check out the project's Kickstarter site.

Photo credit: Lili Chin

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Small Breed Rescue Making A Big Difference: Furever Dachshund Rescue

Laura Coulombe's Furever Dachshund Rescue may be all about saving a particular small breed dog, but they're growing like wild fire and making a real impact on finding homes for dogs on the East Coast (that's in the US for those International readers of SeniorPooch.com) I recently had a chance to ask her about how she got started, finding the right foster parents, and senior doxies:

SP: Tell me a little about yourself and how you got started with the rescue. How long has it been around and have you been involved. How many folks in your team? Where is your based of operations?
LC: My name is Laura Coulombe and I am a founding member and the Chair of Furever Dachshund Rescue. I started in rescue about 6 years ago when I purchased my first dog from a puppy store. I hadn’t researched the breed very well and began to have house training issues. I came across a rescue designated to the breed (Italian Greyhounds) and I called for more information. They were so helpful that I found myself eager to get involved and help people to learn what I learned the hard way. I still reside with my Italian Greyhounds and love the breed but I grew up with dachshunds so I felt the time had come to move onto another breed that I loved but that had more need for rescue. 

Furever Dachshund Rescue was officially started on March 1, 2011 and has grown immensely since. We currently have well over 200 volunteers in our organization from board members and fosters to volunteers and transporters. FDR is based in Rhode Island but our board members reside all over the US. Our presence in the rescue world is growing daily and we hope to one day be a major contributor to the end of pet overpopulation and abuse.

SP: How do you find the dogs that you wind up rescuing?
LC: Most of our dogs come from Southern United States but we do intake many dogs that come from all over the country. The dogs we take in are often found in “high kill” shelters which are shelters that have an incredibly high rate of euthanasia due to the excessive population of unaltered pets. Some of our dogs are owner surrenders that occur when a family member is no longer able to care for their pet.

Every so often we take in dogs with serious medical conditions that need massive amounts of vetting (i.e. dogs who have been hit by cars, abused etc.) that we find in shelters and vet hospitals. Dogs who are considered critical are often put to sleep because their owners can't afford the vet bills and after care. In these circumstances, a veterinarian might call and ask us if we are able to pull the dog into rescue and explain that the dog has a very good chance of survival. We do what we can and more often than not the outcome is good.

SP: What sorts of events or activities are you and the team involved with to help get animals adopted?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bark Out Loud - Add Up The Benefits


Juno is an adoptable Jack Russell Terrier in Upstate NY that is still looking for a home. Like so many senior dogs, she's house-trained and gets along with everyone. Being cute as a button is just an added perk you get if you can help her find her forever and ever home.  Where can you find out more about her?  Why the SeniorPooch.com Adoptions Page, of course!

The Mall Dogs Documentary that I've been helping to promote has been picking up steam, but still needs a lot of help to a sufficient funding level. To simplify it, they either get all of the funding if they reach their goal or they get none of it. None. Zero. Zilch. Check out the interview that I did with film maker Jessi Badami, look at the videos, and see if you can help get this film made. Funds will be used for renting the equipment and services required to make the movie, as well as getting it screened and distributed. I can't imagine a more important project to make happen this year. Next week, I'll be posting an interview with the film's animator, Lili Chin.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Get Your Aloha-Wear On with TikiPaws

Rusty-dog sporting his Aloha Bandanna
I'm a Hawaiian Shirt guy. I'll never apologize for that. My relatives try to find the most outrageous Hawaiian Shirt, I'm thinking in hopes that I'll be too embarrassed to wear them and give it up. It'll never happen. My dogs have all followed suit and get plenty of compliments. I, on the other hand, continue to buck all fashion trends according to conventional fashion standards. It's OK. Rusty and I are trendsetters.

TikiPaws has been a supporter of SeniorPooch.com since the beginning; reposting, liking, and otherwise sharing our posts to help get the word out. Recently I picked up a couple of things from them and couldn't be happier with the service. 

When I mentioned on Twitter donating a shirt they sent me that was a bit snug on Rusty, they immediately jumped in to let me know that I could send it back to them for credit or refund (check out their site for exact wording). I'm a customer service wonk, so this goes a long way for me when I'm deciding who to do business with online. To be fair, I figured it would be small for Rusty before picking it up. 

Every Monday is "Oh Poo, It's Monday" where you get a box of 50 poop bags with every order. For a poop bag, they're better than I'm used to with the generic brand that I pick up at the big box stores. 

Apparel is their big thing, but they also have costumes, toys, beds, and all natural treats. 20% of their collar and leash sales goes to Free Spirit Siberian Rescue and they have a number of other causes that they support throughout the year as well.

Great products, awesome service, and huge hearts. What's not to love about them. Check out their full catalog online.

Disclaimer: As of the time of this writing, SeniorPooch.com is a customer of TikiPaws.com. It's as simple as that. No other relationship other than the awesome service and friendship that they display to all in the animal advocacy community is what this review is based upon.