WHEN CHOOSING A DOG, CHOOSE WISELY!

Truer words were never spoken, because being an informed owner truly means being that dog’s true, best friend.

An alarming number of dogs are abandoned, surrendered, and euthanized each year in this country. The reasons are many, but one of the greatest contributing factors is the failure of too many potential owners to educate themselves fully BEFORE acquiring a dog.

The educated ones would know to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the breed they’re considering, including the breed’s physical description and personality, trainability and exercise requirements, health issues, and general care and grooming.

They would know there’s no such thing as TOO much information. The more informed they are, the more informed their decision.

They would know to choose a breed that fits in with their particular lifestyle, needs and expectations. Examples. No high shedding dogs in a home of allergy sufferers. No hyperactive or high energy dogs in a small apartment. No dogs who can’t get along with cats or any other family pets. No dogs in need of constant companionship if there is no one at home during the day.

They would know that, whatever the breed, raising a dog from puppy hood is, like raising a child, not a hobby or a sometime thing but a full time, fully committed responsibility.

They would know that puppies must be housetrained promptly and socialized early in order for them to develop into well-behaved and friendly dogs with good bite inhibition.

They would know to always be consistent, that discipline does NOT mean punishment, and that love, in and of itself, does NOT conquer all.

They would also know that certified trainers and supervised puppy classes can be of crucial help to them in raising calm and balanced dogs if they’re unable to manage on their own.

On the flip side are the uninformed and uneducated owners. The ones who, ruled by their hearts and not their heads, choose poorly from the start. The ones who, sadly and all too frequently, raise untrained, ill-mannered and often dangerous dogs.

These are the dogs who, over time, will prove too much for their ill-equipped and increasingly frustrated owners. These are the dogs who will eventually be abandoned in empty lots or left by the side of the road. These are the dogs who will be deposited outside a local pound or shelter or, if they’re lucky, surrendered to a rescue organization.

These are the dogs who will be adopted – and probably returned – by unsuspecting people intent on doing the right thing by not buying from a pet store or an unscrupulous breeder. These are the dogs who, more than likely, will be euthanized due to overcrowded facilities or because of their own people-biting or dog-aggressive behaviors.

These are the unfortunate innocents who will pay with their lives for their owners’ unfortunate ignorance. Thereby perpetuating an all-too-familiar and vicious cycle. And the only way to break this cycle is to turn every potential dog owner into an informed and educated dog owner.

Remember that the dog YOU ultimately choose is counting on you.

HAND-IN-PAW RESCUE, INC. H-I-P

It’s H-I-P To Adopt

Based in Louisville KY, Hand-In-Paw Rescue is a 501(c)3 non-profit rescue dedicated to pulling pregnant dogs, nursing Moms and her babies and orphaned pups. We save our dogs from local shelters in Jefferson County 
and surrounding counties. 
Our goal is to stop the cycle of unwanted litters and to educate the public on the importance of spaying and neutering.

DOGS AND SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD)

As the days grow darker and shorter, and the thermometer plummets, so does the mood of millions of people living in the Northern Hemisphere. But humans are not the only ones affected by what scientists refer to as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Our dogs – even the happiest, most active and energetic ones — can suffer the same dramatic downturn in mood.
In some veterinary studies, one third of the dog owners surveyed reported a steep plunge in their dogs’ otherwise happy and balanced personalities during the winter. According to them, nearly half of their dogs were less active, while half of them slept longer and were more difficult to rouse in the morning.
The British veterinary organization PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) recently listed some of the symptoms displayed by dogs suffering from SAD. They include aggressive behavior or soiling inappropriately, clawing at the furniture, either demanding more attention or appearing withdrawn, frequent barking, lethargy, less interest in going for walks or playing either with people, other dogs or toys, and reduced appetite accompanied by weight loss.
According to scientists, the reason for these behavioral changes in both humans and dogs appears to stem from the effect that light has on two significant hormones. The first is melatonin, produced in the pineal gland. The second is serotonin, produced in the brain.
Melatonin, often referred to as the “hormone of darkness”, plays a vital role in regulating the sleep cycle. The pineal gland is light sensitive, and because melatonin is usually secreted at night, the less light there is – as in the shorter, darker days of winter — the greater the production of melatonin. Key among its many, negative effects: lethargy, loss of appetite and sleepiness.
Serotonin, often referred to as the “feel good” substance in the brain also affects mood, appetite and sleep – but in an entirely different way. In this case, it’s sunlight that’s needed for the production of serotonin.
There are ways, however, to combat the effects of daylight’s diminishing hours on your dog’s mood before the full onset of winter. Begin by ensuring that his regular exercise regime is maintained and that his diet is well balanced. If your dog is already exhibiting signs of lethargy or withdrawal, talk constantly and comfortingly to him, and play games — such as hiding his favorite toys or tug-o-war — to keep him active and engaged. Studies show that dogs left alone most of the day are those who suffer the most. To rectify this, spend more time with your dog if possible. Otherwise, hire a dog walker or place him in doggy daycare.
Since the absence of bright light seems to be the major cause of SAD, the other solutions involve raising your dog’s direct exposure to as much light as possible. Place his bed close to a window or glass door. Change the schedule of his walks so that he is outside during the brightest portion of the day, and keep the lights on inside, particularly on the dullest days.
Ultimately, though, it’s the composition of the light that matters most. The more closely it resembles natural daylight, the more therapeutic it is. Just as there are specially designed “light boxes” for people with SAD, there are now similar light boxes for dogs. Owners opting for less expensive solutions need simply replace old, tungsten light bulbs with new, compact white fluorescent ones, labeled either “full spectrum” or “daylight.” Turn these lights on for at least an hour each day, then play with your dog to ensure his eyes are fully open and both retinas clearly exposed to the incoming light.
Hopefully, following all or some of these suggestions will spare both you and your beloved dog an unnecessary case of the winter blues.