General Interest

‘The Lamp’ Lights The Way To Rescued Dog’s Movie Stardom

posted July 15th, 2011 by
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By Rusty Lang

Rescued by Tulsa dog trainer Beth Sharp, Cooper was a beat-up skinny Pit Bull mix who is now a movie star.
“He was about 1-year-old when he wandered onto our property eight years ago, wild and unruly, and I knew nothing about any kind of training at the time,” Sharp recalls.
“He showed up on the doorstep where we were (temporarily) staying in Bartlesville. He was too skinny, had grown into his collar which was getting tight, was covered in ticks, and had a lot of cuts along his back.” She spent about three weeks looking for his owners, then took him to the Washington County SPCA, but was concerned that because of his breed he might be euthanized.

“I found myself really missing him, frequently called to check on him, and even filled out a volunteer application so I could spend some time with him,” she notes.
After she found a permanent place to live, she called the SPCA: “I’m coming for that dog!”
He was a good guy for the first couple of weeks, then began attacking her older, well-adjusted Pit mix.
Heartbroken, she made arrangements for another foster home to take Cooper, but in the meantime she used some basic, simple training techniques (while keeping everyone safe, of course).
“In about a week, the situation gradually improved with the tension slowly dwindling, and now they are like brothers.” After a few classes and homework, five years ago he became a nationally registered therapy dog through Tulsa’s Karing K-9’s.
“Once I realized I wanted to do that with him, it didn’t take very long at all.
We only had to pass a short test and be observed during a few visits, then we were officially a therapy dog team,” Sharp explains.
Most well-adjusted, friendly dogs make good therapy dogs.
The test involves the dog’s friendly behavior around people, assurance that the handler has control, and the dog’s ability to remain calm around other dogs, wheelchairs, walkers, and sudden noises.
“It is a lot of fun for the dogs, the handlers, and of course the patients we visit,” Sharp says.
Cooper has twice received a Canine Good Citizen Award from the American Kennel Club and completed obedience classes at PetSmart.
Cooper and Sharp have also participated in agility and musical freestyle classes at Companion Dog School of Tulsa.
Recently, Cooper played a role with Academy Award-winner Lou Gossett Jr. in the film “The Lamp,” produced by Tulsa’s Trost Moving Pictures. Tulsan and nationally-noted author and inspirational speaker Jim Stovall wrote the novel of the same name upon which the film is based.
Also in the film is actor Jason London as Stanley Walter, who suffers from the loss of his only child and begins neglecting those he loves.
In what seems to be the final days of their already strained marriage, his wife is presented with a strange gift -an old oil lamp.
Canine Cooper plays Stanley’s pet, and the dog’s actions hint that he may be in on some of the curious events that begin to transform the lives of those around them.
Sharp explains how Cooper the dog became Cooper the dog in the film: “I am very fortunate in that I have an exciting job working for Jim Stovall at the Narrative Television Network.” Stovall, who is blind, founded the network which serves the visually impaired.
“Jim has gotten to know Cooper because on days when we have an evening therapy dog visit, I bring Cooper to the office with me.
“While adapting the script for ‘The Lamp’ from the original novel, Jim thought it would be a good idea to have a dog in the film. He’s familiar with some of Cooper’s tricks and cast him as the Walters’ pet.” Sharp uses a type of clicker training, teaching dogs to solve training puzzles.
The more the dog learns the more proficient the animal becomes at learning in general, according to Sharp.
“More importantly, it is fun for both pets and their owners. If anyone wants to see what a little positive training can do, premiere events (of ‘The Lamp’) will take place throughout the summer,” Sharp says.
DVDs will be on sale in all retail outlets and on this fall. The movie will also be available through Warner Brothers On-Demand via cable and dish.

Breaking The Cycle Of Chains

posted July 15th, 2011 by
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by Ruth Steinberger

Holly Lytle, a Tulsa-based animal advocate whose desire to help dogs that are living in dismal, dire circumstances, is the recently named Oklahoma representative for Dogs Deserve Better, a nationwide organization dedicated to eradicating the practice of chaining and penning dogs.
Dogs Deserve Better (DDB) was founded nine years ago by Tamira Ci Thayne to assist chained dogs through intervention, education and legislation and now has representatives in 38 states.
The national organization recently purchased the Virginia mansion formerly owned by convicted dog fighter Michael Vick.
The 16-acre estate will become the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.
Lytle says volunteering with DDB is her way “to make the biggest difference” for dogs.
“Basically, I was looking at getting into rescue, but through DDB, I realized that was the way I could have the greatest impact.
“If I rescue one dog, it helps that one dog. If a dog-owner releases a chained dog, he may go get another (dog which will be chained).
Our goal is not to have one dog simply replace the last one.
“By working with (the people in) homes with chained dogs to get them off the chain, into the home, and on walks, I can break a cycle at that home. Hopefully forever.
“When it comes to chained dogs, there is nowhere for the concerned people to turn to get help for them.
Unless there are laws specifically against chaining, if a chained dog has food, water and some type of shelter, people who are concerned about a dog are left to watch them suffer.
(There are no state or local regulations against chaining or penning dogs. Oklahoma cruelty statutes minimally require food, water, shelter.) “A dog house is not shelter. In the summer a dog house in the sun is hotter than the ambient air temperature outside,” she explains.
“Our goal is not to take the dog from the home. Our goal is to educate the people and to improve the life of the dog that is there.” Lytle helps people with needs that stretch beyond a lack of money for fencing. Food and funds for spays or neuters are tops on her wish list. She explains that taking the dog (to rescue) is a last resort.
She visits homes in impoverished communities to educate pet owners and bring them the resources needed to give the pets a better quality of life.
Sometimes that’s dog food, sometimes it’s a spay or neuter, and sometimes it’s more.
“Some of the owners truly care about their dogs, but are uneducated about pet care or simply don’t have the resources to do more.” Regardless of how the owners feel about their dogs, Lytle calls it a “disconnect” that enables people to live inside a home while a dependent animal is chained outside in extreme weather, often hungry and always in filth.
“Chaining and penning are prison sentences. There is a lack of socialization, they’re mentally and physically deprived and literally, every single chained dog I’ve worked with has had a filthy doghouse.
“The so-called shelter is horrid. They freeze in the winter; they suffer in the summer and they are at the prey of bigger dogs and even people who may steal them to use for fighting bait.” And Lytle points out that the outcome is not only an unnatural and unhappy life for the dog, but it’s a safety issue for the owners and the neighbors as well.
Chained dogs become territorial; they become aggressive about their limited piece of dirt and are three times more likely to bite than a dog not on a chain.
“Why would a person subject their dog to this,” Lytle comments.
Breaking this cycle of chaining and penning is the goal. “There are times you go to the home and the kids aren’t in school properly and things are in disarray and at other times it is people who were just dealt a rough hand in life and they need some help.”
Lytle is the lead technician at Spay Oklahoma South clinic in Bixby and, additionally, she works with rural, mobile spay/neuter clinics.
She says that if people would responsibly spay and neuter their animals, most of those she assists would not have become a chained dog.
“The (people in) homes I work with didn’t go to a shelter and get a dog; they didn’t go buy a dog.
They found one and took it home and it went on a chain. It really all comes down to the numbers.” In the meantime, Lytle will continue working to improve the welfare of those dogs whose lives have fallen between the cracks and who are victims of a very lonely lifestyle.
Many communities across the country have enacted or are considering city regulations or legislation to prevent dogs from spending their lives on chains.
Lytle says an education drive to move this issue forward in Oklahoma is long overdue, adding that even an ordinance which limits the number of hours a dog can be chained would be a starting place.
But, until that initiative gets underway, she’ll keep spreading the word that dogs which are a part of a family are safer and happier and that placing a dog on a chain is never a compassionate thing to do.

Little Piggies, Big Personalities

posted July 15th, 2011 by
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By Rusty Lang

They are cute as a kitten and cuddly as a puppy, but need only a portion of the attention. They squeal like a pig and fetch like a dog, but you don’t have to take them for a walk every day.
For years, the little guinea pig has been adored worldwide for its loving nature and easy care. They are often a child’s first pet.
But make no mistake, these tailless rodents, species Cavia porcellus, can keep you entertained for hours.
Longtime enthusiast Susi Eastin of the Tulsa area comments, “I’ve gone to a storm cellar more than once with my guinea pigs in tow – and they’re always the hit of the party!” OK, so here’s their resume: They aren’t from New Guinea but are native to South America. They aren’t pigs, but do squeal and grunt like the larger porkers.
Bigger than hamsters, but smaller than rabbits, guinea pigs can weigh a couple of pounds and generally live five to seven years, according to ASPCA.
Guinea pigs come in many colors such as black, brown, red, white or a combination. Their physical features are a large head, small ears, short legs, and a small, plump body.
They are social animals, so experts advise having more than one. Guinea pig fancier Eastin has 12: Teaser, Brighty, Siennie, Hoppy Roo, Lil’ Roni, Grizwald, Jiggie Dan, Maggie May, Fozzie Bear, Bambi June, De Bro, Chippie Wa.
She says they all have distinct personalities.
“Some are mild mannered and laid back, some are cuddly, some are very nosey, and either want to know what I’m doing all the time, or what the other pigs are doing. Some are more into the other pigs than people – too busy with their own affairs to have much time to spend being held or carried around.” Well, some have “it” more than others.
Take, for instance, Eastin’s Snowy, who earned quite a reputation worldwide through the Internet cavy network.
“She was also the one who enjoyed dressing up. She had a trunk full of costumes for different occasions, such as her pink tutu outfit she wore for Halloween, a hot pink muumuu, or the red lace bikini for trips to the lake or beach.”
The 2009 animated 3-D movie, “G-Force” boosted the fan factor of the perennially popular pet.
The story is about a team of trained secret agent guinea pigs that takes on a mission for the U.S. government.
However, Karen Peters, a cavy devotee from Owasso, rescued her sow, Daphne, after the pig was injured when a child thought guinea pigs could “fly” after seeing the movie.
Also adding to their allure, the sweeties are small, hardy, and their care is easy.
However, owners need to be educated on the care and handling of the creatures, Eastin says, a goal of the Green Country Cavy Club.
Piggy prices run from $20 to $35.
Tulsa small animal veterinarian Paul Welch advises when buying a guinea pig to look at all of them in the cage to see that they all look good – “bright-eyed, active, alert and looking fabulous.”
Eastin says maintenance costs are where the pets really pay off.
Their diet is about 90 percent hay, with about onefourth cup guinea pig pellets and a half to one cup of fresh treats (fruits, leafy lettuce, carrots, etc.).
“The annual expense will depend, in part, on where you get it, and how many animals you have,” she says.
“Buying a quality guinea pig food is definitely worth the small difference… and a bale of Bermuda will last a long time. I use the hay for bedding as well.” Depending on the quality of care the pets receive, vet expenses can be low, too.
A clean environment and healthy diet are important and you can count on about $10 for the occasional nail trim, which gives a veterinarian the chance to check the animal.
Welch says the cavies don’t have many issues and are not nippy.
“The goal is to stay clean and on a good diet, and not be around other sick ones.” By and large – or by and small in this case – these little critters come packaged with easy care and big personality.

Survey: Pets Win!

posted June 10th, 2011 by
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By Kristi Eaton.

A new survey reveals what many who own pets already know: they’d choose their beloved four-legged friend over money in a divorce.

90 percent of people who responded to the petMD survey said they would choose Fido over a big pay out.

Pets hold a similar appeal in the dating world. The survey found that 60 percent of people would be turned off or decline a second date if they found out the person they were dating did not like pets. Only 10 percent said they would be willing to give a second date a try despite the revelation, and another 30 percent said they would work to change the person’s mind to make them more pet friendly.

And many people would rather have their pet in their life over anyone else. 73 percent said they would choose their pet over a human if they could have only one friend.

“Pet owners are passionately loyal to their pets and they show it in every aspect of their lives,” said Nicolas Chereque, co-founder of PetMD, in a news release. “The petMD survey shows that, much like human relationships, pets are a mixture of love, worry, joy and frustration for their owners, who consistently look for ways to improve the quality of their pets’ lives.  A pet’s well-being is indelibly linked to that of its owner, and vice-versa.”

The survey, sponsored by petMD, a website focused on pet health and well being, polled 1,500 pet owners in the United States during the month of May.

Future politicians may want to take note of the survey, too. It found that 66 percent of people polled would not vote for a presidential candidate who is believed to not like pets. .

Joplin Disaster Donations

posted June 2nd, 2011 by
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Joe Station Logo


Volunteers and friends of Joe Station

The devastating tornado that hit Joplin not only affected the people there but also many of their animal companions.  I think a lot of people who have pets and did not lose

them were able to take them along with them to the shelters, but I am sure that the local (Joplin) shelters are full with pets that have not found their families yet and are in

need of many different items. 

This weekend, June 4th & 5th , Saturday & Sunday, from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM  Joe Station will have a collection area set up to receive donated items for those animals.

Items in need are dog food, adult and puppy; cat food; kitty litter; collars and leashes; blankets; crates; bottled water and maybe some extras like chew toys, rawhide chews, etc. 

Once these items are collected we will take them to a local vet. hospital which will send them on to the Humane Society in Joplin.

We appreciate your kindness and help.

– Peggy Boerstler

Summer Tips for Pets

posted May 24th, 2011 by
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by Kristi Eaton

The Humane Society of the United States has released tips on keeping your pets safe this summer ahead of the unofficial Memorial Day start:

  1. Never leave your pet unattended in a car on a hot day. Even with windows open or cracked, cars can heat up fast and hurt your animal.
  2. Keep your four-legged friend up to date on their vaccines. Dogs and cats experience a double whammy during summer months because it’s prime time for heartworms and fleas and ticks become more active.
  3. Keep in mind harmful gardening products. Cocoa mulch, pesticides and insecticides can be deadly if an animal ingests. Keep them out of reach.
  4. Take shorter walks with your dog on hot days. On especially warm days, substitute a midday walk with a morning or late evening walk to take advantage of cooler temperatures.
  5. Keep pet rabbits indoors. They don’t do well with warm weather.
  6. Don’t leave an animal chained up and unattended. Not only can they get dehydrated quickly in the hot weather, they are more susceptible to bites and heat stroke.
  7. Keep pets restrained while driving. Although it might seem like harmless fun to let Fido stick his head out the window, it’s safer for him and the driver to have him in a special seatbelt or secured carrier.