Prevent the Repeal of Critical Provisions of the Hayden Law

The Petition

Back in 1997, Governor Wilson of California signed the Hayden Law (SB 1785) into law and now key portions of it are in danger of being overturned.

In the name of saving money for the state, Governor Brown is trying to change the law in the following ways:

  • Reduce the number of days of holding a pet in a shelter before it is euthanized to 72 hours
  • Eliminating the requirement to provide veterinary care to shelter animals
  • Severely downgrading how animals brought in are documented
All of these increase the chance that if you lose your pet, that it'll be put down or remain in an injured state longer should it be "lucky" enough to find it's way to a shelter in California under Governor Brown's changes. 

An appalling number of senior pets already spend their last days waiting for someone to find them in a shelter.

I'd like each of you to consider this and if you find it in your heart, sign The Petition.

Related Link:

Training and the Senior Pooch, a discussion with Canine Coach, Eugenia Vogel

The more I learned about dogs, the more I realize what complex creatures they are, each with their own personalities. I've learned plenty on my own through trial and error, but I felt it was important to get the perspective of a professional to help round out our knowledge about the potential of senior dogs, as well as understand what motivates our canine counterparts.  Lucky for us, Canine Coach Eugenia Vogel, a trainer for the past 20 years, agreed to share some of her knowledge on training in the interview that follows:

SP: How did you get started in training?
EV: My dad trained dogs in the military, and he showed me how to train our Doberman when I was eight years old.  He was using the much outdated and irrelevant information from decades ago, where it was common practice to wait until a dog was six months old before beginning training, then use a choke chain.  (There are so many reasons this isn’t appropriate for dogs – but that’s another interview!)  Fortunately, my dad’s training modeled for me some key things -  training with respect, be clear in what you want, and enjoy your dog.  He showed me a bunch of tricks to teach our dog, and we all had a lot of fun with training.

SP: When working with older shelter dogs is there anything special that you do to learn what behaviors they already have learned?
EV: No.  Because their history is longer than a younger dog, they may have acquired more good or bad habits, and behaviors have been set very firmly over years.  But dogs from adolescence to old age have in common the survival tactic of kind of “laying low”, not showing their true personality, for a few weeks, until they’ve surmised the safety of their environment and new roommates.  Any dog coming from a shelter should be evaluated at least two or three times by a trainer or behavior specialist for safety factors – dog/dog or dog/people aggression, resource guarding, any behavior that will need environmental management and training.

SP: The old saying goes "You can't teach an old dog new tricks", which I know is far from true. Are there different steps that you take when training older dogs vs. let's say their younger counterparts?

Mix it up with toys: keeping your dog mentally engaged

You've brought your senior dog home, he or she is well adjusted, and without warning they start to act out.

Maybe it's some additional barking or getting anxious. The first thing I think of is: What has changed?

Dogs are sensitive creatures, so quite often some change will trigger the change, but sometimes the cause is more subtle than that. Sometimes its the things that you aren't doing that are affecting your dog.

Consider that each day the dog lives its life according to your rules. When you are available to walk them. What kind of food they eat. How their environment is set up.

Dogs, like people learn through repetition and reinforcement, however they also can get bored, and when they're bored, like us, they're looking to fill their time with more exciting activities, including things like barking or chewing up a book or pair of shoes that get our attention and get us, as members of their pack, re-engaged with them.

So as to not make changes always about what new type of treat you can give them, it's good to change up their toys from time to time. Take toys out of rotation for a few months and take the time to show them how much fun it is to play with new toys.

There is an upcoming post with trainer, Eugenia Vogel, that reinforces some of these ideas to help you understand how to live with a happy senior dog.

Senior Pooch Challenge 2: The Ups and Downs of Stair Climbing for Senior Dogs

As your dog gets older it may very well be that the first time feeling their age right along with them  is when they're climbing stairs.

Avoiding stairs, moving more slowly up or down, and  dropping their belly's closer to the stairs from not having the strength to push their weight up at odd angles are some of the indications you might have.

Through my research and experience I've learned that there are a couple of contributing factors:

1. Joint wear, arthritis, and hip dyslplasia - Let's face it, some of our senior pooches, best jumping and climbing days are behind them because of  the common wear and tear of a lifetime of such activities. Depending upon breed and other genetic factors your dog may develop arthritis and/or hip dysplasia.

2. Muscle atrophy - Part of the aging process is that dogs lose some of their muscle mass as they get older. A change in weight is a good indication of this.

First and foremost, I can't stress enough how important enough it is to take your senior dog to the vet more than the prerequisite once per year. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian. They have the knowledge and tools that can assess the seriousness of the situation. There are other reasons why a dog may suddenly have trouble getting up and down the stairs, and you want to make sure that you're taking the right steps to address the issue.


Adoption Update January 2011 and intro to Southern California Dachshund Relief

Sometimes old dogs need to have patience. In December there were no new adoptions, however we were lucky enough to connect with Southern California Dachshund Relief, who  have been rescuing dachshunds since 1994 personally, and via their organization in 1998. 

Last month, Buddy, was featured on He's still available for adoption and since one of his foster sisters' Millie (Buddy's the white chap, Millie in tan with white highlights) has an adoption pending, it would be great to be able to give him the same after holiday gift.  If you're in Southern California, give them a call. They have many great dogs, more than a few of whom are seniors.

How Old is Your Senior Pooch?

The results are back in from the first ever poll.  Back in November I asked how old is the oldest senior pooch that you've owned. Here are the results:

25 of you responded.

 4%  - 9 to 10 years old
20% - 11-12 years old
40% - 13-15 years old
36% - Older than 15 years old

On behalf of all of your old dogs I'd like to thank all of you for working to give them a high quality of life for as long as you have. I continue to meet more and more people who care about senior dogs as much as all of you and recognize their unique benefits, so I'm happy to see such a large percent of the survey trending towards the higher end.

Of course this doesn't speak to the size and health of the dogs referenced in the survey, which are important factors, but that just leaves us with areas to explore in future polls.

If you didn't get a chance top respond or would like to talk about your senior pooch, I encourage you to do so, as always, in the comments attached to this post and others.

Paying the cost to be the boss

... or as I like to call it, "My adventures with a strong willed dog."

It's a good reminder for anyone who has a dog that think's he's the boss, that consistency is both you and your dog's best friend.

A dog that's been around the block a time or two, like our friend to the right, likes things just a particular way, and when I change things up, he tries to restore order in his way.

I find on those days when I'm lax in making sure that he's heeling and in general walking with or behind me, he'll get a little ornery the rest of the day when he doesn't get his way. He's not angry, he's just a bit of a talker, and in the picture above, he's letting me know that I better get in gear.

Senior Pooch Challenge 1: Justifying the short stay

In the last few months, I've been lucky enough to connect with many great folks involved with rescuing and advocating for dogs of various ages, however this post is for those of you looking to adopt a dog, but might be concerned about adopting one so old.

It's important for me to write about the challenges for two reasons:

First, to help you understand what you're getting yourself into, and second, because not so long I was just like you, unsure if I was willing to take on a senior dog.

I'll be the first to admit, before adopting my last dog, age was one of my criteria. Who wants to get attached to a pet, only to have to endure what I call "the short stay." If this sounds like you, this is perfectly normal thinking. If you're an animal lover, you don't want to see any pet uncomfortable, and you'd love to give your new companion a great home for as many years as you can.

Maybe you're thinking that most old dogs' best days are behind them. 

Unfortunately, for lots of the old dogs in shelters out there that is not the case. Given up because they don't have that same sparkle in their eye or spring in their step. Those older pooches that wind up in a no-kill shelter can spend a year or more waiting for someone to adopt them, all the time hoping that their owners will return. Many are deemed "unadoptable" only by virtue of their age.

How do I justify the short stay?

I do it because whether it's four months or four years, I able to give another living creature a second chance that it wouldn't otherwise have. If you're in the market for a new canine companion, I hope that something here has touched you and you're considering being a superhero to an old one too.

Related link: Check out all of the benefits of adopting a senior dog

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