Author Archives: Steve

Petunia Pet Records App

posted November 13th, 2014 by
Petunia 2

PetuniaLouisville, Colo., USA (5 November 2014)—We are proud to announce the release of Petunia, the app that helps keep your pets safe, and their records close when it matters most.

Petunia is a freemium iPad app that saves your pet’s health history and personality quirks and makes it easy to share that information with your pet sitters and veterinarians. Want to make sure the pet sitter remembers that Fluffy likes her food warmed 12 seconds in the microwave? Petunia’s got that. Need to note when Fido did not eat his dinner? Don’t write it down on a napkin. Note it in Petunia where Fido’s information is backed-up and organized. Information is critical in the health-care equation. Make sure that your pet sitters know when to give Sparky his medications, and that your new vet knows the manufacturer of Sparky’s vaccinations.

The app is great for single pet households and multiple pet households. Pet owners can update each pet’s unique profile anytime and simply email or print it for a sitter or the vet. No need to fill out pet forms over and over again. Get it at

Petunia helps you with:
• Pet sitting: Minimize stress and reduce the risk of missing important health-information when leaving pets in someone else’s care. Petunia lets you share critical pet care details with pet sitters.
• Symptom tracking: Record when your cat threw up, or when Fido needs his heartworm pill. You’ll see trends that can keep your pets healthy and never forget details.
• Changing vets: When traveling, keep your pets’ medical records close and share them with new vets any time, even in emergencies.

Petunia’s free features:
• Record profiles, vet visits, and home care for all of your pets
• Share information about one pet, using email, within a single page PDF
• Automatically add dates, e.g., vet appointments, into calendar
• Graph weight history of pets
• Customize your pet’s photos on his or her profile page

Petunia’s paid features:
• Share information about all your pets in text format or multi-page PDF’s through email, Dropbox, and Google Drive. US$0.99/year, or US$4.99 for permanent use.
• Advertising removal. US$0.99/year, or US$4.99 permanently.

Petunia was developed by pet-loving folks at Spastic Muffin, LLC, a software development company in Louisville, Colorado, USA. Our pets inspired the idea for Petunia and helped with the testing.

Training 911

posted November 11th, 2014 by


by Khara Criswell, MA, CPDT-KSA, CNWI


Aroo, woof, woof, yelp, yelp… Oh my, you’re home!  Why won’t you feed me dinner now?

I don’t like that dog! Did you hear that sound? Stay away from my owner!

This is our house!  Every time the doorbell rings, I must tell my owner.


Aroo… when are you coming back?

This might be an interpretation of what your dog is saying when he barks. Did you know there are five different types of barking: 1) excitement barking, 2) frustration barking, 3) watchful barking, 4) learned barking, 5) separation anxiety barking. Telling the difference might take some record keeping, such as a barking chart.

In the barking chart, you can track: where you are and the date, time barking starts, time barking stops, how long it lasts, how the barking sounds, where the dog is located, what the dog is barking at, and what the dog is doing (movements, etc.) Once you get this data, you can interpret the type of bark and what your dog is trying to communicate.

Solving the barking can take different avenues. For the excitement barking and frustration barking, you will want to stay calm and not yell at the dog. When you raise your voice, the dog might think you are barking with them, so keep your voice a neutral tone or whisper.

Teach your dog to go to a place (go to a mat), to sit, fetch or play the “find-it” game. When the dog does another behavior, remember to mark it “good dog” with a reward, toy, praise, treat or anything else your dog finds fun.

Watchful barking can be solved by using your dog’s kibble or a high value reward, such as a treat or toy to come with the trigger. Scenario: I walk my dog on leash and another dog or skateboard is coming the other way. My dog is going nuts on leash. I would keep walking and say “good boy” and feed my dog treats as we walk by the other dog or skateboard.

During this scenario, I would give some distance between my dog and the other dog or skateboard. Eventually, I would pair this with a “watch me” or “touch,” then “good boy” and a treat. I’m teaching the dog that the thing is not that scary, and he does not need to be watchful for me.

Learned barking is something us humans have conditioned the dogs to do. Doorbells seem to be the best learned barking we teach our dogs. Solving the doorbell can be two-fold.

One way to solve it would be to desensitize your dog to the doorbell by going to your local hardware store and picking up a doorbell with two push buttons. Put one of them on your front door and the other one in the house with you. You will randomly hit the house button.

You have options: 1) do nothing while your dog is barking, and when the dog takes a breath say “good dog” and reward, using treats, toys, or your dog’s kibble; 2) you can say “thank you,” “who wants hot dogs?” or any other phrase and walk over to the back window or kitchen and give out treats; 3) you can say “go to your spot,” and when the dog goes to the spot, say “good dog” and reward on the spot, not from your hand.

Be consistent and your dog will learn that the doorbell means good things will come. You will eventually wean off the treats, but you will never wean off the marker “good boy” or reward of toy or praise.

Separation anxiety barking is when you leave the home or come home, and the dog starts talking. You should make a list of triggers, such as putting on shoes, getting the keys, etc.

As you put on the shoes, or grab the leash, just have a seat and do nothing. You are trying to teach the dog that just because things are occurring doesn’t mean you are always leaving.

Keep it up, and you will be on track to a quieter household!

Walk for a Dog iphone and android app

posted November 8th, 2014 by
Walk for a Dog 2

Walk for a Dog

GPRO Supporters,

We have a new fundraiser that we’re asking for your participation. Take your Walk for a Dog iphone and android app Supports

Great Pyrenees Rescue of OK & the other rescues networked with National Great Pyrenees Rescue simply by walking your dog! Use the app each time you grab for the leash. It’s healthy for you, your dog, and your favorite rescue. Go to and click “Get the App” at the top of the page, install the free Android or iPhone app, and start taking your Walk for a Dog every day. You can set the rescue you are walking for to National Great Pyrenees Rescue in the setup tab of the app for iPhone users, or in the settings menu for Android users. The more people walking for the rescue, the more donations earned.

Project Breathe

posted October 28th, 2014 by

Invisible Fence Brand providing pets a breath of fresh air.

Invisible Fence

By Anna Holton-Dean


An estimated 40,000 to 150,000 pets die each year in fires, according to industry sources, most succumbing to smoke inhalation. In many states, emergency responders are unequipped to deal with the crisis. The loss is devastating for families and heart-wrenching for firefighters also.  Because human oxygen masks do not fit pets, there’s not much first responders can do to reverse the effects of smoke inhalation.

But thanks to Invisible Fence Brand, providers of the original electronic pet containment system, 120 pets have been saved as of February 2014, through their Project Breathe campaign. Because the pet oxygen mask kits fit just right, animals can take advantage of oxygen flow, saving their lives.

Invisible Fence Brand has donated over 10,000 pet oxygen masks to fire stations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Locally, Invisible Fence of Oklahoma has donated animal oxygen masks to fire stations in Moore, Nichols Hill and The Village. They are now in the process of obtaining a kit for Mustang with Edmond as their next target area. And many of the masks given have already saved local pets’ lives.

Emily Shanbour, manager/operator of Invisible Fence of Oklahoma, says the Project Breathe campaign is a logical way for the company to help the local community.

“Invisible Fence’s motto is ‘keeping dogs safe at home.’ This takes what we are already doing one step further,” she says. “Anything that any corporation can do for a local community at no additional cost to that community is a good thing.”

The program not only saves the lives of pets, but eases the overall painful experience for their owners as well. “When a family suffers the tragedy of a fire, lives are turned upside down,” Albert Lee, director of Invisible Fence Brand, says. “Pets are valued family members, so we want families to know that their pets can be cared for if tragedy strikes.

“We realize that humans are the first priority, but in many cases, pets can be saved if firefighters have the right equipment. Our Project Breathe program is simply a way of giving firefighters the tools necessary to save pets’ lives, and we celebrate with the families and the emergency personnel each and every time a pet is rescued and saved.”

For more information on the Invisible Fence Brand Project Breathe donation program, visit or check out  .

OU lab being investigated after report of dog electrocution

posted October 22nd, 2014 by

As an OU alum, I am both horrified and disappointed at the news that one of its research labs is under federal investigation for a dog electrocution citation as well as other violations, according to

Other violations for the University of Oklahoma lab included not providing pain relief to animals during experimentation, improper sanitation and insufficient enrichment for a psychologically disturbed monkey, according to the KOCO article.

Director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now Michael A Budkie has led the push for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate further.

Budkie provided the report describing the citations to the Associated Press. According to the AP article:

“One citation was for an improper euthanasia method for dogs. The report states that the dogs were electrocuted using a 9-volt battery applied to the heart. Anesthesia was used at the time of euthanasia. However, the same report cites the facility for not using correct surgical anesthesia. The principal investigator used injectable anesthesia, which can wear off during surgery.”

Budkie says the occurrence of these two violations means that some of the dogs may have felt the pain of electrocution.

Properly done or not, I would like to know exactly what the lab was trying to accomplish by electrocuting dogs. Unquestionably this method, which has long been considered inhumane for people, is not appropriate for man’s best friend either. So, why the need to experiment with it?

Surely the University did not need the government and subsequent reaction on social media to know that this was just not right.

- Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

Creature Comforts

posted October 21st, 2014 by

Penny Nichols and her team of volunteers bring therapy animals to those in need across the Metro through the non-profit Creatures and Kids, Inc.

Creature Comforts

By Kayte Spillman


Penny Nichols took a professional calling to train animals and turned it into a passion to connect those animals with at-risk kids and others who would benefit from the kind touch of a gentle animal.


In 2001, Nichols began the work of starting the nonprofit Creatures and Kids, Inc., which trains animals and handlers to interact with children, youth and even adults in therapy settings. Now, nearly 13 years later, Nichols, who serves as director of operations , works with about 30 teams of animals and handlers in training and certifying dogs, cats and other animals to conduct therapy work.

She and her team of volunteers and animals also work with various other organizations to provide therapy animals for different programs.

“I wanted to see what animals could do for people,” Nichols said. “I wanted to see how utilizing therapy animals could help develop positive character qualities in youth.”

She wanted to start a training program in the community where she lives to impact the lives around her. And she is certainly accomplishing that goal. Recently, she took trained therapy dogs to a juvenile detention center to work with young men involved in the system. Purposefully, she took a dog that was a little shy and nervous to be around all the young people.

“I asked them what they thought about the dog, and they all said, ‘She looks scared,’” Nichols said. “And, I said, ‘You’re right; she is.’”

Nichols then proceeded to show the boys how to touch the dog and properly handle her, and before the session was over, the dog was happy and confident to be part of the group.

“And the young men were proud that they were able to help her,” she said. “She walked in with her tail down, but she left with her tail up. Any time you can have the animals help children by giving them that confidence, hope or a purpose like that, it is really something meaningful to them—and to me—to watch.”

The nonprofit supplies animals and trainers to different groups and events around town such as the VA hospital, schools, individual counseling and the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library System’s Reading with Dogs programs. She says she sees the animals making an impact in every area they are able to serve.

“I see differences all the time,” she said.

Kenny and LuGene Jones, along with their 2-and-a-half year-old Golden Retriever Maddy, went through Creatures and Kids training starting when Maddy was just 9 months old. Now, and for the last year and a half, they take their certified pooch to the VA hospital every Friday.

“It’s good for us; it’s good for her,” Kenny said. “We’ve had some emotional times with some of the vets. Maddy is very close to some of them. They love her, and they thank us for bringing her down and letting them see her. The whole back half of her starts wagging when they start talking to her.”

Every Tuesday, the team visits the Midwest City Library, and Maddy participates in their Reading with Dogs program.

“When the kids are reading to Maddy, she will just sit there for a little bit and then just lay down,” Kenny said. “Sometimes, she will get up close to them and nudge them if they aren’t petting her enough.”

Nichols said she sees the most change when children or adults with autism interact with therapy animals. She says it gives them a way to connect with people and the world around them that they didn’t know they could do before the animal arrived.

“It is amazing to see them grow because they are able to communicate in ways they’ve never been able to do,” Nichols said.

Marla Galbraith, who is the director at Speech Therapy Professionals in Edmond, works with Penny and Creatures and Kids and agrees that therapy animals can greatly impact special needs individuals. She, along with Josephine, a 10-year-old Bassett Hound, conducts therapy with a wide spectrum of children and adults, many with autism.

“I don’t know how they do it, but somehow these dogs know how to calm these kids down,” Galbraith said. “They will be having a meltdown, and Josephine will go and just lay by their tummy or foot or head, and she will bring them out of their meltdown. They will start to calm down and then begin to smile and pet her.”

She said she had a young boy who was    a client and, because of his autism, was terrified of dogs to the point of being a danger to himself if presented with an animal. Through therapy with Josephine—first through photos, then seeing her from a distance and finally through actual physical contact—the boy is so confident around dogs now that he has a dog of his own.

Creatures and Kids works to train and create certified Therapeutic Animal Interaction/Intervention teams, and they train more than just dogs. The group has had many different types of therapy animals—dogs, cats, miniature horses, llamas and alpacas, rabbits and even ducks.

“We’ve even got a chicken,” Kenny said.

Nichols said the training ensures both animal and handler are up to the challenge of therapy work.

“Training gets the human in the right mind and the dog in the right mind,” Nichols said. “It is a learning process for both of them.”

And it doesn’t take long for volunteers to see the benefits of their time.

“When you see that smile and see those changes that the people are making by spending time with your animal, it’s pretty rewarding,” Nichols said.

The need for therapy animals is great, she says, and Creatures and Kids is always looking for people interested in getting involved, whether they have an animal to train or not.

“If you have an animal or you have an interest, give us a call,” she said. “That’s what we need. If we don’t have the people and the animals, we don’t have anything we need to serve the people we serve.”

Even as popular as Josephine is with her clients—she has her own Facebook page—Galbraith is quick to clarify what is making Creatures and Kids so successful.

“If it wasn’t for Penny, none of this would be possible,” Galbraith said. “It just wouldn’t happen.”