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How Much is that Doggie on the Corner

posted July 15th, 2007 by
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Story by D. Faith Orlowski

If anyone drives down the 71st Street corridor, as well as numerous parking lots and flea markets around town, you can find person after person offering all variety of dogs and puppies for sale.  Many claim their animals are AKC registered, purebred or “papers available.”  Others rely on the “cuteness factor” – just about any puppy is cute.  Still others tout their “designer dogs.”  But is this any way to buy a dog?

Notwithstanding that these street vendors are almost always in violation of city ordinances, there are several reasons why street sales of dogs and cats should not be allowed.  First, one should question the quality of the animal itself.  Reputable breeders do not sell their animals out of the backs of trucks!  Good breeders ask a multitude of questions of the prospective buyer and they expect the buyer to also have numerous inquiries of them.  This exchange does not occur in street sales because the goal is to sell the dog not necessarily to find it a good home.  The fact that a dog is “registered” or “purebred” truly means nothing as far as obtaining a healthy, socialized companion animal.  The breeders that sell on the street may not have bad intentions but their goal is to obtain a profit period.  Low overhead and quantity sales are their priority – not the breeding of quality dogs.  “Quality” here has nothing to do with show quality but with understanding the genetic health traits that exist in many purebred dogs and then trying to breed animals that do not perpetuate these negative characteristics.

Often, backyard breeders have decided that selling “living property” is a good way to make money, so they have may have purchased or acquired a male and one or two females and then they let nature take its course as early in the dogs life and as often as possible.  Many of these breeders do not concern themselves with in-breeding or breeding closely-related animals.  As long as the dame and sire are registered, the offspring can be registered too – regardless of the fact that the parents may be mother and son, brother and sister or otherwise closely related.  In-breeding increases the possibility of health problems and undesirable traits.  Also, AKC registration is typically done through the mail and involves the honor system.  It does not guard against the unethical breeders who do not honestly complete the forms, nor does it indicate the quality of the dog.  To complicate matters, a female dog can be impregnated by more than one male dog during the fertility cycle.  Street sellers are not concerned with who purchases their puppies nor with maintaining any type of reputation so they are not there to guarantee the health of their “merchandise.”

Second, bringing a dog purchased off the street into your home with your family and other pets is a public health hazard.  The seller may tell you that the dog has had all or some of his shots or has been vaccinated, but how do you know?  I am unfamiliar with any sellers that I have observed in this situation handing out the information of the veterinarian who administered these preventatives.  Due to the transient nature of these vendors, facts and statistics are difficult to compile, but based on the citations written over the past three years, more than half of these vendors are not local individuals.  Many of these people operate “puppy mills” or other undesirable breeding situations, unsanitary and often inhumane, and if your new dog or puppy becomes ill, the “bargain” price you paid will seem like anything but.  If a person has other dogs in their household, they could be exposing all of them to illness.  Last year, a family bought a puppy from a street seller in Ft. Worth, only to find that it was infected with rabies and all members of the household had to go through a series of rabies shots.

Third is the fact that many of these purchases are “impulse buys.”  Passing a gauntlet of wide-eyed, bouncy puppies is near impossible for many of us to resist.  Especially if you have been thinking about getting Sarah or Johnny a puppy but had been agonizing about the several hundred dollar price tag and now, right in front of you, is an adorable lab puppy for only $50!  What a deal!  (See the “second” point above.)  Unfortunately, many people who buy from the street dealers do so with the attitude of “”Well, if it doesn’t work out, I can always take it to the shelter.  And this is the sad result for many of these animals.  And many times these dogs do not work out because these types of breeders fail to socialize the puppy and bad behavioral problems often lead owners to surrender their animal to the nearest shelter.  Sadly, the municipal shelter has the option to take owner surrenders immediately back to the euthanasia area without even giving the animal a chance to find a new home.

Finally, this entire process just perpetuates the pet overpopulation problem and the continued euthanasia of many good dogs and cats because there are not enough good homes in which to place these animals.  Shelters and rescues are literally overrun with many wonderful companions and often a large portion of these are purebred dogs.  Euthanasia is the single largest cause of death for dogs and cats in the United States – we spend over a billion dollars a year destroying “Mans Best Friend.” Street vendors, backyard breeders and puppy mills are only part of the problem – but they are a major part.  It is not logical to allow people to continue to profit from the breeding of animals when they do not contribute to the financial, emotional and ethical burden that results from overpopulation.  While I loathe to recommend additional legislation, several groups and individuals are investigating new ordinances that will impact the profitability of unfettered breeding, and such measures are necessary.  However, the overpopulation can only be effectively dealt with when coupled with a community-based aggressive spay and neuter campaign and public education regarding animal health and welfare.

Have a legal-related question for October?   Email [email protected]

Dog Training

posted July 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Mary Green

Q. How do I keep my 30 lb. dog from lumbering across my lap and trying to exit the car before I can get out first?  I get a mouth full of red dog fur, not to mention being squished.

A.  The quick solution is to have your dog secured in the car by using a car harness.  The harness attaches to the lap or shoulder seat belt.  Bolting through any open door, be it the front door, car door, or gate, can be a dangerous practice.  

Teach your dog to wait at openings and only proceed through when directed.  First, teach her to Sit and Wait to get a treat.  It’s easy!  Just instruct her to Sit, then tell her to Wait.  Use your hand like a stop sign showing her the palm of your hand to reinforce waiting.  After a couple of seconds, tell her good girl, and let her come to get the treat.  Gradually increase the length of time she has to wait.  

Over time, repeat the process at all the places she would be likely to bolt.  For the car, practice in the garage or another secure area, and make her wait while you gather your belongings, take the key out, open the car door – and finally get out.  She should not be invited out until you have control of her leash.


Q.  We have two Shih Tzu dogs.  One is 6 yrs. old and the other is 5 yrs. old.  They are house-trained, but when I’m at work during the day or when we are asleep in the night, they will sometimes wake me to go outside, and other times, they just pee.  I clean the carpets continually, but I always smell dog pee.  How in the world will I ever get them to stop?  Are they doing it to spite me?  I know they are capable of holding it for 8 hrs.

A.  There are many reasons why dogs eliminate in the wrong place, but they really don’t do it out of spite.  First, rule out any potential medical issues that could be masquerading as behavior problems.  If the dogs are male, and un-neutered, the behavior may be urine marking.  Neutering can help reduce marking.  If the dogs are spayed females, there may be a problem of a leaky bladder, which can be helped through medication.  A urinary tract infection can also cause a dog to have accidents.  

If there are no medical reasons for the misbehavior, you can address other causes.   First of all, going from a full bladder to an empty bladder feels very good to the dog – and becomes very self-rewarding!  If you need to go…go! It can be caused by bad habit and reinforced by lingering odor.  The next time you clean the carpets, rent or purchase a black light and thoroughly check for spots.  Clean with a good enzymatic cleaner, such as Nature’s Miracle or Simple Solution, and re-check with the black light.

Management such as crating or confining the dogs while you are gone can prevent accidents.  Perhaps you can install a doggie door so that they can go out as they need to.  You could teach them how to ring a dog doorbell to give them a clear way to indicate that they need to go out.  In the morning, and when you first come home from work, take them out to potty twice in a short period of time.  If they have been outside for a long period of time, let them know it’s Last Call.  Be sure they go potty before you let them in.  If they are sneaking off to go potty, use a baby gate to keep them in the bedroom at night.  Or put a jingle bell on their collar so you can hear them if they stir.  Do not allow them to tank up on a full bowl of water before bed time, or before you leave them for a long period.

Q.   I live in the Tulsa metro-area and I own a herding breed dog.  I would like to learn more about herding livestock and maybe earning herding titles with my dog.  Can you give me some ideas about the characteristics of a potential herding dog and how I can get started?

A.  It can be said that every dog needs a job.  But unemployed herding breeds, such as Border collies, cattle dogs (heelers), collies, and Australian shepherds, can get into a lot of trouble by practicing herding behavior on children, cats and cars.  If your dog has a keen instinct to chase things that move, or see if he can make things move, and has the drive to keep up the game, he may do well on stock.  Herding dogs must work closely under the direction of their handler, by verbal commands or whistle commands.  They are never allowed to endanger the stock.  In competitions, dogs may herd sheep, cattle, and even ducks!  There are several organizations that sponsor herding trials where you can earn titles with your dog.  I’m only familiar with the AKC.  There is a newly formed club, 4-Corners Herding Association which will offer herding clinics and trials.  Their website is www.4cornersherdingassociation.com.  A Google search of “getting started in herding” would be a good way to find more information.

Mary Green, Certified Pet Dog Trainer, is the owner of K9 Manners & More in Broken Arrow.  She is a consultant for the Tulsa SPCA, trainer for TheraPetics Service Dogs of OK, and is a monthly guest on the KOTV Noon News.   www.k9-manners.com

Have a training question for October?  Email [email protected].

 

Ask the Vet

posted July 15th, 2007 by
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This issue’s participating veterinarian:    Mark Shackelford, 15th Street Veterinary  Group, Tulsa

Q: I have a 15 year old lab female who’s in pretty good shape for her age.   Lately, though, she’s developed this “cough.”   She does it mainly in the mornings and recently it’s become more persistent.   Should she be checked for this?

A: Most definitely.  Coughing can be a symptom of several maladies, including heartworm disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allergic bronchitis, cardiomyopathy, congestive heart disease, lung cancer, and several other pathologies that can affect the upper and lower airways.  You should see your veterinarian for a full examination, which will probably include a chest radiograph and blood tests.

 

Q: My older dog has a nasty habit that could be medical-related.  After she goes out to do her “business,” she comes back in a “scoots” across the rug.   It’s especially embarrassing when guests are here.   Is there anything I can do about this?  

A: Your veterinarian can perform an examination to that area of your dog’s anatomy to rule out several causes of her scooting.  Among other things, anal sacs, which are located on either side of the anus, can become impacted and are usually easily emptied by a qualified professional.  Skin allergies can be another major cause of itching, which will cause the scooting.  You want to be sure that fleas are not a problem by using any one of the recommended topical and oral products that are available. 

Q: My old dog (13) is showing signs of cataracts.   How do I know when it’s time to remove them?

A: Cataracts, or an opacity of the lens of the eye, are fairly common in older animals.  Cataracts should not be confused with a more common condition in the older animal called lenticular sclerosis, which is a thickening of the lens of the eye.  This condition of the lens causes a gray color, but does not usually cause blindness.  Cataracts are a complete opacity of the lens, which means light cannot penetrate to the retina at the back of the eye.  This barrier to the retina results in blindness.  Other causes of cataracts are diabetes and trauma to the eye. Observing symptoms of blindness, such as running into walls or furniture, is the time to consider removing cataracts.  A qualified veterinary ophthalmologist can surgically remove cataracts, which can result in a significantly improved field of vision.

Have a question for October’s Ask the Vet Column?   Email [email protected].

Using Animals for Profit: Puppy Mills

posted July 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Sherri Goodall

 Three to four million cats and dogs are euthanized by U.S. animal shelters every year. Yet, nearly one third of the nation’s 11,000 pet stores continue to sell puppies.  Most come from puppy mills.

Everyone knows who is man’s best friend …but, what happens when these adoring pets are mass-produced without socialization skills? You get a frightened and nervous animal whose basic instincts have been reduced to simple fear.

Dogs need a pack…whether it’s another dog, or a human. They learn that positive behavior garners rewards, like food, praise, and most importantly, trust.

Dr. Mike Jones, DVM, used the example of Greyhounds. He worked with Dr. Ross Clark many years ago in rescuing Greyhounds. All they knew were crates and a running track. You put them in front of stairs, and they didn’t have a clue. It’s like putting a horse in front of a cattle bar…”

It’s the same thing with a puppy mill. The dogs are not used to human contact, so they’re mistrustful. What is play, what is a house, what is a yard, what is grass? Behaviorists tell us it takes two years for every year in a puppy mill to rehabilitate a dog.

What is a puppy mill?
 

Puppy mills exist for one reason—profit. Sell as many puppies as possible in order to make as much money as possible.

In the worst cases, conditions at these “kennels” are horrid. Dogs are stacked in wire cages. Waste drops to the lowest crate. Dogs aren’t exercised, many go “crate crazy,” turning in endless circles. Females are bred every time they come into heat. Most lose their hair and teeth from being bred so often. If there are several in a caged area, they must fight for food. Human contact is scarce. Those in concrete-floored kennels  get hosed down along with the waste. Puppies barely have time to bond with their exhausted mothers before they’re sold. 

Obviously, long-term psychological and physical problems abound that can cost thousands of dollars down the road.

 After the breeding dogs are no longer fertile, they are abandoned, taken to auctions, or sadly, killed. Their lives are short and desperate.

Who is the target market for puppy mills?

YOU, if you buy from pet stores, classified ads, internet breeders or “parking lot” breeders without checking them out. 

Dr. Jones, “There is no such thing as an ugly puppy. Impulse and convenience make it so easy to buy from that person with a box of puppies at a busy intersection, in a parking lot, or at a flea market. Usually these breeders will only take cash.” That is not to say that people with a litter of puppies can’t sell them. We’re talking about the mass producer. 

Petsmart and Petco DO NOT sell puppies. They both sponsor pet adoptions through local animal shelters. However, many independent pet stores still sell puppies. Where do they get them?   From puppy mills.   In many cases, puppy brokers act as a middle man to buy from puppy mills and sell them to pet stores.

Who is a reputable breeder?

Dr. Jones, “A reputable breeder breeds dogs for one reason—to keep the breed up to its highest standards. Most compete in confirmation trials where the breeds are judged on very strict breed standards. They will sell puppies, but only after certain conditions are met.”

 If you decide to choose a breeder:

  • Visit the premises (bona fide breeders do not meet in parking lots).
  • Check out the kennel conditions and the other dogs, especially the puppy’s parents.
  • Check references, other clients and vets.
  •  Breeder must provide you with AKC papers, a written contract, and health guarantee with provisions to take the puppy back if problems occur.
  •  (The American Kennel Club (AKC) is a licensing organization only. Anyone can get AKC  papers if they send in the fee. This does not guarantee breeding purity or practices).
  • Dogs should be at home in the house as well. They should be frisky, friendly, and          accustomed to humans. 
  • Breeder should ask you questions about your home, family and interest in breed. 
  • Expect fixed prices, no bargaining. 

Is there an organization that oversees puppy mills?

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the governing body of the Animal Welfare Act, and is charged with licensing and inspecting breeders, including puppy mills. Each state has its own laws regarding puppy mills. Many puppy breeders get around the laws by selling directly to the consumer or simply avoiding the few USDA inspectors that are on the job. If they are caught, many are happy to pay the fines and continue breeding.

Several states have passed consumer protection laws that specifically address puppies. These laws are called “puppy lemon laws” as in auto sales. If the puppy is defective in any way, the buyer is supposed to be able to return it or get a refund.

Seventeen states have consumer remedies when purchasing certain animals from commercial establishments. The consumer has between seven and twenty days to have the dog or cat checked out by a veterinarian. If the pet is “defective,” refunds or exchanges are the remedy.

Oklahoma is not one of the states. According to www.stoppuppymills.org, Oklahoma does not require licensing or inspection of puppy mills and no agency is charged with oversight.

 Dr. Jones concurs, “Oklahoma lags behind other states, in that it has no legislation at present.The Oklahoma Veterinarian Medical Assoc. (OVMA) is currently at work trying to get legislation passed.”

Dr. Jones, “We hope to do it right, once we do it, rather than pass easily neglected laws as in many states now. We saw what happened with cock fighting in Oklahoma. Certain counties would not stand behind the legislation, even though it was passed.”

According to Dr. Jones, one of the major problems in legislating breeding is how to differentiate between legitimate breeders and puppy mill breeders.

What can you do to help? 

Visit www.stoppuppymills.org

  • Visit your local animal shelters first
  • If you want a specific breed, find the breed-specific rescue group in your city/state. For example: Online, Labrador rescue. You’ll get group locations for each breed.
  • Neuter your pets. Many cities have neutering facilities that are free or very reasonabl
  • Deal with REPUTABLE breeders.
  • Avoid parking lot, classified ads or internet breeders unless they allow you to visit their facilities and investigate their breeding practices.
  • Call your local SPCA to report animal cruelty

Dr. Mike Jones, an OSU graduate, has been a veterinarian for 16 years with the Woodland Pet Care Family.    He’s a past president of the Oklahoma Veterinarian Medical Association (2006) and is currently Medical Director and co-owner of Woodland West Pet Care Facility.

Pawprints in the Office

posted July 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Pat Atkinson

Some area dogs and cats are at the top of their game, adding ‘fur-factor’ assets to the workplace.  A corporate bulldog, a Shih Tzu at school, and a couple of ‘flower children’ are on the job.

Pepper, the Great Pyrenees, and Ginger, the brown tabby, are the newest staff members at the year-old floral design shop in Broken Arrow.

True to the “flower child” lifestyle of the ‘60s, Pepper and Ginger are free-spirited and laid-back, living in the moment as they greet visitors.  They pretty much “do their own thing” while lounging, hunting, wagging, and adding the friendly, welcoming “pet-able” factor to the shop.  

As you’d expect, customers often enter and say “hello” to the big, furry white dog with dark gray markings before greeting the people.  It’s hard to overlook Pepper as she “decorates” the entry or is stretched out in the breezeway between the shop and work area where arrangements are created.

The flower shop is reminiscent of a European boutique tucked away on a peaceful cobblestone walkway in Amsterdam, an ambiance further enhanced by proprietors Janet and Johannes Lijs who came from the Netherlands – home to thousands of miles of tulips and other blooming bulbs.

Inside the white French doors topped by a bright red awning is an explosion of cheerful color from flowers to gifts. The shop is attached to Janet’s childhood home, so it’s a short commute to work on a footpath.

Both four-footed staff members were “signed on” when the couple visited an animal rescue group in search of a cat to adopt. 

“Ginger was adorable and we bonded with her right off,” Janet recalls.  While finishing paperwork for her to come home, they saw a “very large dog in a rather small cage,” went home with Ginger, thought about that big white dog, and returned the next day to adopt her.

Ginger’s brown tabby coat is accented with gold and orange and she greets visitors at the door or from rooftop perches. 

A sprinkling of dark spots characteristic of Pyrenees in Pepper’s coat contributed to her name, and the Lijs’ love of cooking inspired the spice-related names of both pets.

Janet says the pets are the shop’s “high earners with bonus rewards of toys, chew treats and even an occasional mouse!”  Pepper’s extra perk is sushi.  “She adores sushi and takes each piece apart and eats it one bit at a time.  Amazing for a huge dog, but she is quite accomplished.”

Pepper and Ginger’s job descriptions include greeting, wagging, sniffing, and submitting to petting from visitors of all ages.

“People are amazed that the pets respond to strangers so well, but that’s part of their job duties – to warm up and make welcome all newcomers.  They are both team players and make certain that Johannes and I are always sharp and ready for visitors,” Janet says.

During off-hours, Pepper shifts into guard mode and has a bark big enough to bring down the house, announcing any after-hours visitors.  She also loves to roam the trails of Turkey Mountain with her people or go on long car rides and picnics.  

In all, both pets have come a long way from being homeless and unwanted on the streets to starring roles promoting flower power on Broadway. Read the rest of this entry »

Jake. As In Rake.

posted July 15th, 2007 by
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Story by H. Mark Vanderlip

If someone told me a year ago I’d fall head over paws in love with a dog that would literally devour the trim on my car, my aging fence, puppy chew toys ad naseum, our socks and shoes, buried coaxial TV cable, my remote control, every bed we bought for him, half a dozen pillows, Grannie’s quilt, stuffed animals, a big orange Home Depot bucket, a BBQ grill cover, patio furniture, saplings, two big flower beds, scores of recyclables, garage stuff galore, plus half a cord of firewood, I would have raised one eyebrow and said, “Yeah sure, what have you been smoking?”

But Jake, our one-year old 75 lb. BlackLab-Huskie has made a believer out of me.  And he’s changed the lives of two Empty Nest parents, my wife Nancy and I.  

I blame all of this chaos on my daughters . . . my daughter Lauren and daughter-in-law Beth.  When my son married three years ago, he promised his fiancé she could have a puppy if she left a promising PR career and followed him to med school.  Beth chose a cute Dachshund/Huskie male.  About a year later, Beth felt her pup needed a companion dog during the day, as he was tearing up their home.  That should have tipped me off.  Duh?  

When my son Erik and his wife wanted to escape for a weekend, we volunteered to dog sit.  Soon after their pups left, my older dog, Star, a 12 year-old Black Lab/White Shepherd female, would mope around, looking for the puppies she never had and now missed.  My daughter noted this and persuaded me to get Star a puppy companion dog too.  I agreed to this madness, promising her that we would go to the Tulsa Animal Shelter.  I figured I could afford the $50 adoption fee.  Ignorance is bliss, huh?

We all made the trek to the city shelter, and chose this cute Black Lab mixed male with similar markings to our dog Star.  We got him home and fell instantly in love.  But by day three, he was lethargic with diarrhea and vomiting, and off to the vet the girls and Jake went.  Drs. Ken and Katherine Coldwell of VCA Veterinary Medical Center, 31st & Yale, looked him over.  After reviewing his paperwork from the shelter, they realized he didn’t get his second set of shots.  The verdict: dreaded Parvo.

My wife called, explained what Parvo was and that Jake had a 70-80% chance of survival, but it would take $1,200, nearly a week on an IV in intensive care, and that there were no guarantees.  But if he survived, there would be no lifelong disability.  

Of course, we could take him back to the Shelter and select another puppy.  Then my tearful daughter got on the phone, “Daddy, can we please save him?” she pleaded.  I could sense the mini-drama unfolding.  I could try to save Jake, or I could have my daughters and wife hate me forever.   They were totally Puppy Whipped by then.  

So was I.    

We sweated the next 48 hours as Jake fought to beat Parvo.  My first hint my life was changing forever was when Dr. Ken called and told my wife that Jake was “starting to eat something, that’s a good sign.”  Then he chuckled, saying we might want to change his name to Jaws.  At that time, very cute.  .

A week after Jake got home, our dog Star came down with kennel cough she got from Jake. That turned into pneumonia, back to the vet, another 3-4 day stay in ICU, and another $900.  So far, we’ve invested nearly $3,000 in our $50 shelter dog!

Today, Jake is the epitome of the Black Lab bad boy puppy.  But he’s also healthy, smart, strong as an ox, and quite HAPPY to be alive. The best description of a Lab’s personality came from a vet I once knew.  “They’re like drunk Russians,” he said.  “Very gregarious, always fun loving.”  

We weren’t sure of the other portion of Jake’s heritage until a couple of months ago during a regular check-up.  While discussing his pedigree with Dr. Kat  (as she’s known at the center) I mentioned his longish soft fur, his curled up “back over” monstrous tail, and I guessed there might be some Huskie blood in him.  Dr. Kat wasn’t so sure. Then I started laughing about how Jake would talk back when I disciplined him.  “Oh, yeah, talking back.  That’s certainly a Huskie thing,” she noted.  

One night this spring Jake got all wound up because nobody wanted to keep playing with him, and he was quite vocal about it.  I quickly disciplined him by putting him on his back, gently holding down his chest and calmly telling him to settle down.   After letting him up, Jake sat and frowned at me, then made a few purposeful squeals as he rolled his head from side to side.  My visiting mother-in-law commented from across the room, “ I do believe that dog is cussing you.”  

I just looked up and smiled.  “Yeah.  Jake always has to get the last word.”