Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tips From the Pros

Mostly Mutts is blessed to have scores of volunteers  who generously give of their time to help our organization.  As you can imagine, working with the many dogs and kitties that come our way, we’ve gathered some pretty valuable learning experiences between us all.  So who better to pass along helpful hints to our blogosphere?  Some of these we’ve learned through trial and error, bad experiences, common sense or just because we had to.  What about you?  Do you have a helpful hint you can share?  Be sure to leave it at the bottom of the post in the comments section.  Thanks to all our tireless volunteers, foster parents, adoptive families and staff who took the time to pass along these great ideas!  (below is the opinion of non-professionals)

TOY BOX:  The one thing we can guarantee from that new puppy of yours is that it will chew.  NEVER correct a puppy for chewing…just teach it what he/she is allowed to chew on.  Find a box that can be used as a ‘toy box’ (wicker baskets not recommened J) and then purchase several different types of toys.  Add to this box a ball, a squeaky toy, a rope, a Nylabone type chewy, and several other types of toys.  When you purchase a new toy, always place it in the toy box instead of giving it directly to your dog.  It won’t be long before your dog learns that everything in that box is his/hers!  Pick up each toy before going to bed and they will all be like new the next day.  Or…rotate the toys in the toy box ever few days.  Adult dogs also like to chew, so make sure they have a toy box!  Toys are important in kennels too so leave your dog with a chew toy or a Kong. 

POTTY TRAINING:  Stay on a good routine, keep your dog confined to an area, and leash walk them to a particular area where you want them to potty.  It may take a week or two but the more consistent you are, the more consistent they will be.  Always bring a very special food reward to give to them after they potty.  Save this special reward for potty only and don’t give it to them any other time. 

When it comes to pet food, you do “get what you pay for’.  Feed the best food you can afford and look at the first five ingredients.  The first should be food and the others should be healthy. 
Dogs:   Use a huge water bowl so you don’t have to keep refilling it.  Use a very small food bowl so you don’t overfeed.
Cats:  Plastic bowls may cause "kitty acne."  Typically cats do not like to have their water bowl next to their food bowl.

The number one reason for bad behaviors is a lack of exercise.  For many dogs, a walk is just not enough.  They need to RUN!!   
Wear your dog out with a game of fetch BEFORE you go on your walk.  This is especially important for dogs that pull hard. 
The second reason dogs develop bad behaviors is because they are bored.  Dogs are pack animals and can be destructive if left alone.  They need another dog to play with or their family with them.  Use a doggy day care if your dog does not do well alone while you are working all day.  That will make them very happy (well, at least most dogs). 
Dogs that live in fenced yards may get exercise, but they may still get bored.  WALK your dog a minimum of once a day.
Dogs repeat behaviors that are rewarded.  Therefore, focus on your dog’s good behaviors and reward them when they do something you like . 

TREATS:  We don’t recommend pig ears or cow hooves as they may not be pasteurized and there have been reports of dogs getting sick. 
We recommend COMPRESSED bones over RAWHIDE bones (ask the store assistance to show you the difference). 

COLLARS/LEASHES:  Invest in is a good quality 6’ leather or nylon leash.  Retractable leashes are not used for training.  Nylon or leather collars are best. You should never use a choke chain unless you are trained to use one…they are for training only and not to be used as a collar.  TRAIN your dog to not pull when on a leash (sign up for a training class to learn how).  However, if your dog pulls and you must have more control immediately, here are some suggestions.  Prong collars (or pinch collars) may look bad but they offer the most control when walking a dog that pulls.  Halti and Gentle Leaders are great ways to walk a dog that pulls but the dog must get used to the head halter first.  No-pull harnesses are also successful. 

A tablespoon of yogurt will stop ear yeast infections and stop diarrhea due to antibiotics.

Turn on a radio or TV when your pet stays home alone. 

Bathing a dog in Dawn Dish Soap is an effective and inexpensive way to kill fleas.  It is safe for animals and kills fleas on contact.

Prescriptions are available for your pets at Target, Publix, Wal-Mart etc.  From one dog owner:  My dog has congestive heart failure and is on Lasix and Enalapril.  I can get both filled for $12 each (for a 100 for him).  Target periodically runs a coupon that if you bring in a new scrip you get a $10 gift card.  The pills by themselves are a great deal but coupled with the coupon, it’s incredible.

Remove a tick safely by applying a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball.  Cover  the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball  and swab it for a few seconds (15-20), the  tick will come out on its own and be stuck  to the cotton ball when you lift it away.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Why Mostly Mutts Promotes Spay/Neuter

Below is a letter we received this week from a family who wished to foster a dog through us but didn’t because of our sincere belief in the importance of spay/neuter.  This is not the first vocalization of disagreement with our policy but we wanted to share it with all our blog readers and future Mostly Mutts families as to why our policy is the way it is.

The letter reads as follows:

……We are hesitant to have our pug fixed because we want to be able to breed him in the future.  So it looks like we won't be able to foster or adopt through Mostly Mutts.  My intention was to foster for as little as a few days, and then proceed to the adoption.

I've heard from other friends with kind, loving homes that adopting a dog through a rescue agency is very difficult because of the stringent requirements of the agency, and I was hesitant to even apply for that very reason.  Our dogs are all happy, healthy and very much loved.  While I respect and appreciate your mission, I have to say that the risk of unwanted puppies in our case seems almost non-existent, as we have three male dogs and were asking to foster another male dog.  We've decided to adopt from a breeder rather than comply with your requirements.  The cost will be approximately the same as adopting from your agency, and we will have a dog to love, but we will all miss the benefit of helping a potentially homeless dog find a good home.

Our response:

We obviously have one thing in common and that is that we love dogs.  Let us share our perspective as to why we have the policies we have.  Maybe when you see this through the eyes of a rescuer, you may understand. 

Just yesterday we went to an animal control and rescued four dogs with a “white slip.”  The white slip means that they are on the euthanasia list for this morning.  Even though almost 50% of the dogs seen had white slips on their kennels, we could only take four because that’s all we had room for.  There were three litters of puppies there and they had ‘white slips’ on their kennels too.  We’re happy we rescued four but so sad that about fifty were euthanized just this morning at this one facility.  Animal control’s intake is approximately 30-50 dogs and cats (including many puppies and kittens) a DAY.  There is an epidemic out there that most people are unaware of. 

The problems is that our region, and pretty much all over the United States, has an overpopulation of puppies and kittens.  The reason for this overpopulation is that people allow their dogs and cats to breed…either accidentally or on purpose.  70,000 kittens and puppies are born EACH DAY.  It is impossible to place this many animals in homes therefore the majority of these animals end up as strays or at animal control centers or in the hands of abusive families. 

The most common statement I hear from dogs owners who have intact males or females is that “I have no intention in breeding, I just don’t believe in spaying or neutering animals”.  I can understand that the intention is not there but 100% of the litters I have rescued have been accidental.  Male dogs will do anything if they smell a female in heat (and they can from one mile away).  The sad part is that our rescue exhausts ourselves working at adoption events and we are thrilled when we adopt out ten dogs.  But then we realize that someone is at home with their female dog that just had ten puppies.  This defeats every ounce of our hard work.

We do require pets to be spay/neutered when fostering or adopting from us.  We want to adopt to families that see more than just ‘I want to own a new dog’.  We want them to support us and help with our cause.  The ONLY way for us to save ALL the dogs and cats in our community is to lower the pet population.  The ONLY way to do this is through spay/neuter.

That’s it from our perspective.  From a dog’s perspective, if they had a voice, they would let you know that they would prefer to be spay/neutered.  Males live a life of sexual frustration if not neutered (even if you breed occasionally) and this leads to behaviors such as marking, humping, aggressions, etc.  Females suffer from mammary tumors, pyometras (infected uterus) and hormonal issues due to their cycles. Ask your male friends if they would like to live sexually’s not fair to the dog! 

Please do me a favor and visit an animal control shelter before you run to a breeder to purchase a dog.  Also know that when you purchase a dog, breeders bring more dogs in to the world.  When you adopt a dog, you open up a kennel for another rescue dog so you save two dogs!

We are very sorry that we can’t work together but we are more involved with saving animals then just adoption.  We want to educate people as to the importance of spay/neuter.   It’s the responsible thing to do for your dog, for rescue dogs seeking a new home and for your community.