General Interest

Catsy, an app for your cat!

posted August 27th, 2015 by
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Catsy

Louisville, Colo., USA (27 August 2015) — Spastic Muffin, LLC is happy to announce the launch of Catsy, a new cat toy mobile app on the Apple App Store. This cat toy app allows customization and sharing with others: New games can be created and sent to others via email. We made this app because one of our cats really liked another Apple game app, but that app seemed too complicated, kept asking you (or your cat!) to make purchases, and didn’t let you customize or share. Catsy is simple to use, and it is free.

Catsy animates an “Ugly Duckling” on the screen of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch (YouTube videos linked at http://GetCatsy.com). Your cat paws at the screen and when they hit the Ugly Duckling, the app makes a bird or cat sound. Humans use authoring mode to create new games, and share games with others via email. Catsy makes it easy to keep the screen locked with Apple Guided Access (see help in authoring mode), so your kitty can play without Tweeting or posting to Facebook!

Catsy can be downloaded from the Apple App store using this link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/catsy/id1008360836?mt=8&uo=4&ls=1

Did My Dog Just Cough?

posted August 2nd, 2015 by
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By NANCY GALLIMORE WERHANE, CPDT-KA

I just survived my first, and hopefully only, major cold of this winter season. It was a beauty. Cough, congestion, stuffy nose, laryngitis-the works. I did receive a good deal of sympathy for it, but nobody panicked. Nobody rushed me to the hospital. Now, give any one of those symptoms to a dog and stand back. Let a sweet-faced canine issue one wheeze and panic ensues. I am not making light of this phenomenon as I am as guilty as the rest of the dog moms and dads in this world.

So what is it that makes it so much worse when a dog comes down with a bug? Well, I think the first issue is that our dogs have a really hard time describing their symptoms and telling us where it hurts. That makes us all feel just a bit helpless because, well, our dogs depend on us to make everything ok. Then there’s the fear that if you ignore something now, it may well later-say midnight on any major holiday-turn into something that inspires a costly-though-we-wouldnever put-a-price-on-love trip to the emergency vet. And finally there are those darn puppy eyes. There is nothing more pitiful than seeing your normally bouncy, happy friend feeling anything less than bouncy and happy.

One of the most common ailments to strike our canine counterparts is often referred to as kennel cough. That name likely came about many years ago before our dogs had active social lives. Back when I was a kid, there were no dog parks or dog daycares (or cell phones or laptop computers, but that’s an entirely different story). If you did attend a group training class, it might be in the open air of the Fairgrounds parking lot and the dogs were not allowed to mingle.

Truth be told, the family dog rarely left home and if it did, it was probably for a trip to the vet, the groomer, or a stay at a boarding kennel. Since a boarding kennel was one of the few places where dogs came together, it was one of the primary places where dogs were exposed to germs. This is where most believe the name “kennel cough” was born.

Kennel cough, or today’s more “p.c.” term, canine cough, is most often characterized by a deep throated cough, which many dog owners describe as sounding as though the dog has something stuck in its throat. In print it looks something like this: Cough, cough, cough-hack. And the hack can include the expulsion of a foamy mucous. Words can paint such a pretty picture! The far harder to spell term your veterinarian will use is canine tracheitis or infectious tracheobronchitis. According to Dr. Lauren Johnson, of Southern Hills Veterinary Hospital in Tulsa, canine cough is a general term used to characterize a highly contagious cough that can be caused by one or several etiologic agents and can either be bacterial or viral.

Simply put, there isn’t just one cause for canine cough. Kennel cough, canine cough, infectious tracheobronchitis-whatever you decide to call it, the name is really an umbrella term used to cover a number of possible infectious agents.

Because today’s active canine has quite the social life compared to their ancestors from decades past -yes, even those distant 90s-exposure to other dogs and therefore challenges to the immune system happen on a far more regular basis. Dogs have play dates. They go to training schools, they visit dog daycare for group play and they go to the dog park. They play, they romp and they swap spit. There’s no way around it.

Just like kids going to school, germs go right along with them. Ask any teacher as a new semester of classes start up each fall and they’ll tell you they just brace for the new round of runny noses and sneezes to come. It’s basically inevitable. The price of socialization- which trainers and veterinarians will tell you is invaluable to the long term well-being of your dog-is possible exposure to disease. Of course this is why we vaccinate. We protect our dogs from contracting a lot of scary stuff. Parvovirus, distemper, rabies and other potentially devastating diseases are easily prevented with a proper series of vaccinations.

So for our social dogs there is the Bordetella vaccine, the one that stops canine cough. Problem solved, right? Well, yes and no. Go ahead, heave a collective sigh. The term Bordetella is derived from the name of a bacterium, Bordetella bronchiseptica, a chief causative agent in most cases of canine cough. “If you give your dog the Bordetella vaccine, either through nasal drops or injection, it will be protected from the particular strains in the vaccine itself, but not necessarily from all contagious coughs in general,” explains Dr. Johnson. “There are several things we don’t vaccinate for routinely that can cause the same contagious cough symptoms.”

“In addition, there are several variations of the Bordetella strains. Vaccines cannot include every strain. They can only contain the most common strains. Think about it like our flu vaccine. Some people receive this vaccine and still get sick.” So here’s how it goes, the infected dog sheds infectious bacteria and/or viruses in respiratory secretions. These secretions are then transmitted through the air via a cough or sneeze, or they are transmitted directly to another dog through nose-to-nose or mouthto mouth contact.

The tricky part for pet care professionals and owners alike is that a dog can have canine cough, but not yet be coughing or can even remain asymptomatic all together. That means a dog can come to the dog park, for example, play and act completely normal, but another dog may catch a bug from that dog and actually develop full symptoms.
So yes, your dog can be fully vaccinated and healthy as a horse, but still contract canine cough. Is this cause for panic? Should Fido live in a bubble? Well, of course not.

Take logical precautions. Do get the Bordetella vaccine. Even if it doesn’t totally protect your dog, it can help boost your dog’s immunity and hopefully lessen symptoms and duration of the infection if your dog does become ill.

If you plan to board your dog or take it to daycare, check the place out. You want to see plenty of space where there is good air circulation. You want to see that it is clean and you should feel free to ask about cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Still, with all the precautions in the world, a dog can still catch canine cough at any facility where it comes in close proximity with other dogs. This includes a visit to your veterinarian, a walk through the animal supply store and a spa day at the groomer. It is not just limited to kennels.

So what do you do if your dog does give a little cough? According to Dr. Johnson, you should first isolate the affected dog from other dogs. That means no walks, no trips to the groomer, no training class, no daycare or dog park play. A mild case of canine cough will often go away on its own within seven to 10 days.

Does your dog need to see the veterinarian? It is never wrong to play it safe by seeking a professional opinion. You may first want to see if your dog is running a temperature. This can be easily accomplished through the use of a rectal thermometer and a little petroleum jelly. Yes, you really can do this. A normal temperature for a dog should range between 100.5 to 102.5 degrees.

If your pet’s coughing is excessive, accompanied by a fever, loss of appetite or any nasal discharge, you should call your veterinarian right away to have your dog assessed and to determine the proper course of treatment.
Antibiotics are not always necessary in the treatment of canine cough, just as they are not generally used in treating a mild cold in humans. “If the patient is a healthy dog with a mild cough, it is possible to forgo antibiotics and just treat with supportive care such as cough suppressants or possibly a steroid to reduce inflammation,” advises Dr. Johnson.
“However, if the patient is extremely young with a naive immune system, elderly, sickly or at risk of the infection progressing into pneumonia, then antibiotics may be necessary.”

“Mild cases of classic kennel cough are most often self-limiting. However, owners are often frustrated by the coughing, which can escalate at night and frequently disrupts everyone’s sleep, so at a very minimum we try to relieve symptoms.” Dr. Johnson further counsels that ideally, the affected dog should stay quarantined at home for up to 10 days beyond that last cough to prevent spreading the infection to other dogs. The good news is that in healthy dogs with uncompromised immune systems, it appears that regular socialization helps to build natural immunity to many of the common strains of canine cough. Yes, interaction with other dogs is still a good thing.

At the end of the day, if your dog develops a little cough, but is otherwise healthy and normal, it should come through the ordeal just fine. Perhaps we, the doting humans involved, should take two aspirin and then call the veterinarian in the morning.

Nancy Gallimore Werhane is a certified professional dog trainer, co-owner of Pooches dog care facility, Dalmatian fancier and rescue group coordinator.

End-of-life care is not a topic to avoid

posted May 20th, 2015 by
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With five senior pets in my home (they are all 10 years and up!), end of life care is something that is very much front of mind. One dog has a heart tumor and has had heart surgery among a variety of other procedures. Another dog just started taking medication for arthritis. My three kitties are faring better at the moment but are the oldest animals in the house.

So, some recent articles that popped up in my Facebook feed on euthanasia for pets caught my eye. It’s a topic I really don’t want to think about, unfortunately it is one that will need to be addressed whether I stick my head in the sand or not.

I took a deep breath and clicked on the first link. “A Vet’s View of Home Euthanasia for Pets” actually provided some relief and presented an option I hadn’t considered because I hadn’t spent much time considering any options at all.

The idea of keeping my babies in the surroundings they are most comfortable and familiar surrounded by the family who loves them was comforting to me and would hopefully be a comfort to them. It would mean at a time they were most likely in pain, they would not have to take an uncomfortable car ride to a place that already causes them anxiety.

At my latest vet visit, I made sure to ask if this was a service that could be provided. I was relieved to hear that it absolutely is something that I can plan on for my babies when the time comes.

The second article that I noticed flipped the tables. A woman who died last November requested in her will that her healthy dog be put down, cremated and buried with her.

Currently, it appears that the euthanasia has been put on hold. But here was yet another topic that I had avoided instead of facing. What would happen to my animals if I died before they did?

While I would never consider having a healthy put euthanized just because I had died, what would happen to them if I didn’t make a plan? Would they potentially end up in a shelter and put down because of their old age? My love of animals came from my parents, who have a small menagerie of their own. If godparents for pets are a thing, I need to secure some.

Both articles have given me some things to think about and I definitely have some planning to do when it comes to end-of-life plans for my pets and myself. Not pleasant, but it is something that is important to prepare for.

Have you made decisions about how you will handle your pet’s last day? Or made plans for your pets in your will? Let me know in the comments below.

– Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]

Training 911 – Back to School

posted March 29th, 2015 by
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Training 911

Training 911

by Khara Criswell, MA, CPDT-KSA, CNWI

 

Back to School, Fall Activities

 

Since your kids have gone back to school, your pet might feel left out. Some pets experience anxiety and wander out of their yards to follow their little owners to school.

 

One helpful tip is to leave a T-shirt from your child in the bed where your pet sleeps at night. In the morning before you leave for work and kids leave for school, you can do some training with your pet. Practice waiting with the food bowl or at the door.

Wait at the Door

1.Stand in front of the door (any car door will work too) with your dog inside the house. Say, “Wait.”

  1. Start to slowly open the door. Whenyourdog moves forward, even just a tiny bit, quickly close the door, preventing him from going through it. You can use your body to block the dog from going farther .
  2. Good timing is important, so be sure to close the door the instant you seeyourdog start to move forward.
  3. If you close the door, start to slowly open the door again. Continue to quickly close the door whenyourdog moves forward until he stays put for a couple of seconds with the door open about a foot. When this happens, say, “yes!” and “good dog.” Then toss a treat in his direction.
  4. Next, say “free” or “ok” or whatever you wantyourrelease word to be to let your dog know his job is done. Open the door all the way and let your dog walk out of the door. (You want your verbal cue to release your dog from the wait position, not your body movement.)
  5. Restart the exercise from the beginning.

Also, provide plenty of enrichment activities, such as interactive toys you can place your pet’s kibble in—Kong, Nina Ottoman toys, Zane’s interactive toys, Squirrel Dude or Football Dude. Give your pet some chew toys because chewing reduces stress in a pet.

As fall parties begin, make sure to keep the human food away from your pet, especially candy and gum. Create a safe space for your pet to retreat to and relax when the house gets hectic. This is especially helpful during Halloween when the kids’ costumes can be scary to your pet. If your dog has a crate, make it into a fun place for him to hang out. You can teach your dog to go to his spot.

Mat Train

  1. With a treat in your hand, tell your pup, “Go to your mat,” in a cheerful tone of voice and point him toward the mat.
  2. Pause a second or two (one-one thousand, two-one thousand), then lure your dog onto his mat by putting the treat up to his nose and slowly moving it over the mat. If you move your hand too quickly or too far away from his mouth, he may give up and lose interest.
  3. As soon as your dog has four paws on the mat, give the treat.
  4. Tell your dog, “down/sit.” Give the hand signal or lure him if he needs helps. When he lies down, give him the treat. Continue to give treats to keep the dog on the mat. After a few seconds, tell your pup, “OK/free” and allow him to get up.

Repeat steps 1 through 4, gradually increasing the amount of time you ask him to stay on the mat.

Pick some time during the week that the family gets involved with your pet’s activities, like going for a walk during the evening, playing fetch, a game of “find it,” hide and seek (recall), or just getting petted on the couch will be enough to calm the dog and the kids down after a long day of school.

Two books/resources I recommend to my clients with kids or who are thinking of having kids are “Living with Kids and Dogs” by Colleen Pelar and “Happy Kids, Happy Dogs,” a paperback by Barbara Shumannfang.

With a little work, every family member including your pet will be adjusting well with the season’s change.

Take A Hike…And Take Your Dog With You!

posted March 22nd, 2015 by
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Take a Hike

Take A Hike…And Take Your Dog With You!

 

By Anna Holton-Dean

 

Crisp, cool fall months are the perfect time to enjoy some outdoor activities that were otherwise treacherous in the sweltering summer heat. Hiking is at the top of our fall must-do list, and the best part is many nearby hiking trails allow your dog to come along for the fun. On-leash, of course, it can be the perfect fall activity to enjoy with your pet.

However, before any activity, do your homework, ensuring your pet is ready for a hike. Considerations would include breed type, length and thickness of coat, age and endurance. A smashed face breed will overheat more quickly than a dog with a longer snout, as will a dog with a longer, thicker coat.

“Do check into your breed’s history and ask your veterinarian before taking your dog for a hike,” Nancy Gallimore, certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA), advises. “I had a guy who took his new shelter/rescue dog for a five-mile run, and the dog collapsed.” Just as a person must work up to that type of distance and endurance, so must a pet. Knowing your pet’s fitness level and limitations is a must.

Gallimore, co-owner of Pooches Place, has been hiking with dogs for over 12 years and training dogs for 20 years (professionally certified for seven years). She and Lawanna Smith, also a CPDT-KA and co-owner of Pooches Place, offer up some expert advice for anyone contemplating hiking with a pet:

Be sure to choose a dog-friendly trail, and do not take your dog to hike a trail if you are unfamiliar with it. This article includes  insight and advice on five area trails which allow dogs.

No matter where you choose to hike, keep your dog on a leash. “Even the best trained dogs may take off after a squirrel or deer,” Gallimore says.

If not hiking locally and traveling to a different region, consider the altitude difference and carry your dog’s vaccination records with you.

Fall temperatures should be pleasant, but always be aware of the temp. “Your dog does not sweat like you do,” Gallimore says. “So carry fresh water for your dog. If he starts to lag behind, stop. Learn the signs of heat exhaustion.”

In relation to fresh water, also do not let your dog drink from ponds or standing/ stagnant water for risk of parasites or bacteria. Also, supervise carefully that he doesn’t eat anything along the trail.

Buy dog-safe sunscreen if your pooch has thin hair and pink skin. Dogs can burn too!

Make sure your dog has flea/tick prevention, and check your dog for fleas/ ticks/stickers/burrs after a hike.

Pay attention to the trail’s surface. Make sure it won’t harm paws, and check the dog’s paws throughout the hike. “You get blisters, so can your dog,” Gallimore says. “Inspect pads and between pads carefully after a hike. If the temps are too hot or too cold, check the trail surface to be sure it’s not going to burn or be too cold on exposed paws.”

Do not hike in wilderness areas at dusk/ after dusk. “This is the time of day coyotes and other predators come out,” Gallimore says. “Your dog may attract the attention of predators.” Furthermore, “know the wildlife you may encounter in the area. Even deer can be aggressive during certain times of year. Raccoons, skunks, etc., can be a threat.”

Carry a first aid kit with you, asking your vet for advice on what to keep in it in case of injury, snake bite or allergic reaction to bug bites, etc.

Always carry your cell phone in case of emergency.

Area Pet-Friendly Hiking Trails

Kent Frates, co-author of “Oklahoma Hiking Trails” suggests Lake Thunderbird State Park in Norman and Arcadia Lake Trail near Edmond as dog-friendly hiking trails, in that the terrain and environment should be the most accommodating. These are the best options for hiking newbies, including pets new to hiking too.

Of course, Turkey Mountain in the heart of Tulsa is another good option. Frates cautions it is hilly but should be doable for most dogs. If your dog is up for some hills (no pun intended), he will probably enjoy the hike. Gallimore suggests early morning hikes to avoid bikers on Turkey Mountain who can appear in a flash, and you will have to quickly move your dog out of harm’s way.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Indiahoma also welcomes pets on-leash, but the terrain is a little rough. For dogs with hiking experience and endurance, this trail would offer a welcomed challenge.

The Trail at Keystone Lake allows dogs, but the terrain is rocky with some elevation, and you may encounter ticks or chiggers which could be a problem, Frates says. Should you accept this challenge, go prepared with the necessary items and plan.

More Oklahoma hiking trails we should know about? Let us know on our Facebook page or via Twitter @tulsapetsmag. For more hiking tips and info, check out  “Oklahoma Hiking Trails” by Kent Frates and Larry Floyd, available for purchase from Amazon.com.

While there are many considerations, hiking can be a great outdoor activity for you and your dog. A little homework and forethought can go a long way toward creating a new healthy hobby to benefit both person and pet.

Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program

posted March 15th, 2015 by
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Savannah

Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program

 

By Brianna Broersma

 

“It’d be the best thing they’d done in their life,” advises Sparky Prudhome to parents considering equine therapy for their children.

Sparky and his wife Hazel are parents to 8-year-old Jason Prudhome who receives therapy through Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program (SSTRP) in El Reno.

 

Sparky and Hazel adopted Jason when he was 4 years old. “He was behind,” says Sparky.  Jason had physical and cognitive delays and could barely walk. “He enjoys riding, and it helps him use his hands, arms and legs,” Prudhome adds. Jason is able to ride his horse, Tequila, about once a week during the riding season in order to receive these benefits.

SSTRP was founded in 2013 by a group of 16 individuals, including Dr. Velinda Baker. The purpose of SSTRP is to provide equine-assisted therapy for children with special challenges. Dr. Baker’s back-ground as a physical education teacher includes adapted physical education for students with special needs. She was first exposed to equine therapy through her work at      the University of Tulsa and the State Department of Education.

“When I was at the University of Tulsa, my students and I became volunteers for  Bit by Bit, a therapeutic riding program through Rogers State University,” Dr. Baker says. She eventually became the director of the program. After relocating to Yukon, Dr. Baker helped found SSTRP and is currently the program director.

SSTRP currently serves 16 children with a spectrum of special challenges, including muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, deaf-ness and brain damage.  “We work on cognitive, physical, behavioral and social needs of the child,” Dr. Baker says. “We don’t just ride; we do activities that challenge them mathematically and scientifically. We bring all types of things that you would see in a classroom in our classroom on horseback. Every single horse is matched to a child for their specific needs.”

For example, children with hyperactive tendencies need calm horses to help them quiet down.  Riding on the horses helps the children use muscles in their trunks, legs, arms and hands. Riding the horse in different positions, such as frontward vs. backward, can help the children engage different muscle groups. Riding also helps to improve the children’s focus.

One of these children is 9-year-old Savannah Davis. Savannah is non-verbal, non-mobile and shows symptoms of  spastic cerebral palsy, such as thrashing and biting. “Not only has the horse therapy allowed [Savannah] to learn how to sit up on her own, it has improved her trunk control beyond what her therapist thought she was capable of,” says Savannah’s mother,  Athena Captain, a founding member of the program.

“She’ll actually grab the reins of the horse and hold onto them without thrashing or putting them in her mouth, which takes enormous focus,” she  says. The therapy not only benefits the children, but also the parents. “There are a lot of sports I don’t get to watch her participate  in,” adds Captain “She’s up there, she’s moving around, interacting with other children.” For example, “They’ll put her on a horse and have another child blow bubbles, and she’ll try to grab the bubbles, so she’ll have social interaction, and I  get to watch all of that.”

While Savannah was the inspiration behind the name of the program, it also has a deeper meaning. “The word ‘savannah’ means an opening in the woods. We see this as symbolic of an opportunity for the kids who run into so many obstacles,” says Dr. Baker. “Also in Australia, a ‘station’ is where everyone meets.”

SSTRP operates out of Glenn Farm in El Reno.  Robin Glenn, owner and operator of Robin Glenn Pedigrees, was contacted by Dr. Baker and quickly offered use of her barn to house the program’s horses.  After watching the program’s horse show in June, Glenn made the following comments on their Facebook page:

“The program is a true non-profit. This    is the hardest-working bunch of people I have ever been around and not one person takes a salary, even the program director. They are utterly, unconditionally devoted  to both the children they teach and their horses. I saw how much more engaged these children are in their horseback learning experiences than they could ever be sitting in a chair in a classroom, and I saw how absolutely thrilled each one was to be on horseback. I saw their excitement when they were able to complete tasks like picking up a stuffed animal from a barrel top and throwing it into a bucket from the horses’ backs. I saw the pride in both the riders and their families when each was handed a trophy. And I saw tirelessly loving parents and family members smiling and cheering their kids on.”

SSTRP also runs satellite centers. “Instead of all the children coming to us, we haul our horses to specific centers” throughout the metro, says Dr. Baker. They currently have a three-horse trailer, which allows them to take three, out of the program’s nine total, horses to satellite centers. Dr. Baker hopes they can expand the availability of this program to more locations when the program is able to purchase a larger trailer.

SSTRP is a member of the Professional Association of Horsemanship International (PATH; www.pathintl.org). “They have very specific guidelines about how much horses can be used and how often,” says Dr. Baker. The program takes a six-week break during the summer to allow the horses rest and shelter from the summer heat. All horses are thoroughly vetted to ensure they are a good match for children with special needs. A horse must be with the program for at least 30 days, during which time its temperament is assessed, before it can be used in a therapy session.

SSTRP does not charge individuals or their families to participate in the program. “Raising a child is expensive,” Dr. Baker says. “The cost of raising a special needs child is huge.” In order to provide no- cost therapy to the families, SSTRP relies  on private, tax-deductible donations and fundraising. Their big yearly fundraiser is The Roundup, which will take place on Friday, October 3, at the Oklahoma City Farmers Public Market, 311 South Klein Avenue.

The event will feature a live country band, dancing, a live auction and a silent auction. Swadley’s will also cater a barbecue dinner. Doors open at 6 p.m., and tickets are $30. Companies and organizations can also sponsor a table, seating up to 10 people for $500; “event sponsors” receive two tables for a $1,000 donation.

Program operations and fundraising are coordinated by a board of directors, including Robert Reed, David Pletcher, John Branscum, Russ Nation and Dr. Kimberly Quigley. The board is already at work planning future fundraising events. Possible spring fundraisers might include a trail ride or pasture golf (golf on horseback.)

SSTRP also relies on a roster of 65 volunteers to make the program successful.  Of these, 36 are trained to be in the arena with the horses, helping to ensure the safety of the horses and the riders. A therapeutic riding session requires the volunteers to assist each child; the horse is led by one volunteer, with the other two flanking each side.

“Working with the horses is my therapy. I marvel at their understanding, intuition and patience,” Jonnie Booth, volunteer, says. No experience with horses is necessary to volunteer for the program. One-day training sessions are offered for interested parties.

For more information on participation as a volunteer or therapy student, or to purchase fundraiser tickets, contact Dr. Baker at (405) 651-2324.

You can also learn more via Facebook at

www.facebook.com/SavannahStationTherapeuticRidingProgram. The program website, savannahstation.org, will be available soon.