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Sherry’s Corner

Cancer Diet, Tums, and Centrum, and Don’t Forget the Garlic and Olive Oil

Cancer research benefits both pets and people, whether the research is done by a veterinarian or a physician. Cancers such as osteosarcoma, melanoma and lymphoma are among those with common benefits. Dr. Max Lang, a Hershey Animal Research notable, used to call this “a two-way-street”; thus, it is not unusual to learn that drugs which help dog owners can also help their best friends.

Recently I read an article about a diet for dogs with cancer. The author is Jeff Grognet, DVM, who suggests adding a Centrum as a daily vitamin-mineral supplement and a Tums tablet to meet calcium requirements in daily diets. 

The ideal canine cancer diet should be low in carbohydrates, high in protein, and high in fat (and specifically omega-3 fatty acids). Grognet writes that commercial diets with these attributes are available but, alternatively, caregivers can prepare a home-cooked diet that meets these criteria. Centrum and Tums are the supplements in the home-cooked diets. (One Centrum tablet for every 20 pounds of weight with half a tablet for dogs under 20 pounds. A Tums tablet should be dosed at one for every 20 pounds body weight.)

Grognet recommends Hills Prescription Diet Canine n/d (moist) and Iams Eukanuba Maximum-Calorie/Canine (dry) as commercial diets for dogs with cancer. The home-cooked diet consists of 50 percent fish or poultry, 50 percent mixed frozen or fresh vegetables, olive oil for calories–one teaspoon per 20 pounds–Centrum and Tums. The ingredients should be mixed together and cooked in a crock-pot. Additional ingredients can be added for anti-tumor activity such as one capsule omega-3 fatty acid (300 milligrams)–inhibits tumor growth–for each l5 pounds of body weight as well as the spices garlic and tumeric. Also, antioxidants are considered to be essential supplements for cancer patients. These include vitamin C, vitamin E and the mineral selenium. 

There is a rule that you should be able to determine the breed of a dog by viewing his head alone. If you can’t determine the breed from the head alone, then the dog is not a recognizable breed. Some breeders also believe you should be able to determine the sex of the dog from the head. I have never found this to be reliable–either in people or pooches!

LESS STRESS AND ANXIETY. It has been determined that anxiety, as measured by a standard rating scale, dropped 24 percent for those visited by a dog in a nursing home compared to only 10 percent among patients visited only by a volunteer. Levels of epinephrine, a hormone the body makes when under stress, dropped about 17 percent in patients visited by a person and a dog and 2 percent in those visited by just a person. Heart pressure dropped 10 percent after the visit by the volunteer and dog and increased 3 percent when visited by a volunteer alone. Lung pressure declined 5 percent for those visited by a dog and a volunteer and rose when the dog was not present. 

It has been predicted that there will be a significant increase in death and illness after the meltdown of the nuclear reactors in Japan–not due to radiation, but to anxiety and stress.  More therapy dogs need to be trained and ready after a disaster to relieve anxiety and fear.  Therapy dogs today are undervalued compared to service dogs and they fill a vital and important function if we are to recover, to survive, and to progress. And, the difference between the service dog–who seems to be a headline maker–and the quieter but very effective working therapy dog needs to be drawn and appreciated.

 

Mar 14, 2012 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Lions and Tigers and Dogs and Cats–Oh My! Protecting Both Wild and Companion Animals

      Sales of a new premium postage stamp are helping support international wildlife conservation projects for tigers, great apes and other species.  The U.S.  postal service began offering Save Vanishing Species stamps last September.  An illustration of an Amur tiger cub is featured on the first stamp and costs 55 cents.  A commitment to the stamp will demonstrate that Americans really care about wildlife conservation.  KEEPING DOGS SAFE JUST GOT HARDER.  Due to problems with Novartis–which one veterinarian calls possible “sloppiness”–some of our most effective medications will be on back order.  These include Interceptor, Sentinel, Program, MitebMite and Deramaxx.  My veterinarian informed me that the company did not believe they would be back on the shelves until June.  He will dispense Heartguard instead. But, remember Heartguard contains Ivermectin which is fatal for some breeds.  Do discuss this situation with your veterinarian.  Some veterinarians are holding supplies back for in-need patients.  This year’s weather makes it imperative to protect against heartworm–and since there is a shortage of immiticide, the drug used in heartworm treatment, prevention must be seriously considered.  Also Clomicalm–another Novartis product–may have a packaging issue that could be dangerous.  Again, this is something to discuss with your veterinarian since Clomicalm is commonly prescribed in cases of separation anxiety.  All these precautions have given us a new word–PHARMACOVIGELANCE.  And do be cautious with spot-on flea and tick prevention products.  Use as directed.  The label has been changed to include the information that a product may be used only on dogs or only on cats or may be used on both.  A spot-on product could be an undetected killer accidentally or on purpose. 

      I sometimes wonder if we care for pet medications as efficiently and safely as possible.  Unused medications may be discarded in the trash where they may become a danger to both humans and animals.  Pharmaceutical drugs also have been turning up in the environment–even in drinking water.  Pet medicines should be part of community collection programs.  So many of us own pets and we have these medications in our homes.  And, in fact–some of the same medications such as Lasix are used to treat both owner and pet.    

      Why not communicate your questions and concerns with e-mail.  Many veterinarians give clients the option of e-mailing them with questions.  Perhaps this would be a good time to urge your veterinarian to make this service available.  But, remember–there have to be ground rules when e-mail is an option.  No instant messaging, but a one- to two-day turn-around should be expected.  No urgent matters and no “what is your diagnosis questions”.  And, definitely, no photos, jokes and cutesy messages.  

SHOULD WE BRING BACK THE DRAIZE TEST?  There was a time when animal testing of drugs and other products was the rule.  This was exemplified by white rabbits confined while suffering eye problems caused by various cosmetics and other products.  This disappeared and many products now contain a disclaimer that no live animal testing was used.  (I suspect some products are still tested on animals in countries that do not have such a ban.) But, perhaps live animal testing should be permitted until we can fund the FDA to make sure our products are safe for all living things and not just computers. 

 

 

 

 

Mar 02, 2012 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Westminster Thoughts

Those of you who watched the Best in Show judging saw the Pennsylvania Pekingese, Malachy, win with dignity and poise, showing his deliberate “I do it my way” attitude!  So where were you?  You could have seen Malachy up front and personal give the same winning performance last November on the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds in the Bald Eagle (Williamsport-based) kennel club show.  Parking and admission free! 

       And, of course, it didn’t take away from the moment to know that judge Cindy Vogel has a considerable Chinese judging experience.  She has seen many many Pekingese and would know a great one when she saw one! 

      The other moment of delight for me personally was Emily, the Irish Setter that won the Sporting Group to earn a place in the final competition.  I met Emily at another  Bloomsburg show.  Her handlers had allowed Emily to curl up on a bed perched high on a stack of crates.  She loved looking down on all the other dogs! “This working mother”, as David Frei dubbed her, had taken time out of the show world to have 9 puppies since I saw her.

      And, of course, Adan’s win of a Merit honor was a most exciting plus for this three-year-old.  It was a first–that is, the first show dog for Carol Dunn, the Bloomsburg resident and Geisinger nurse who spends her spare time rescuing Goldens.  Adan competed in a class of 32 other Goldens.  Now that he has tucked this Westminster in his repertoire he will no doubt return next year for a win and who knows perhaps be the very first Golden Retriever to go Best in Show there. 

WESTMINSTER JUDGING ARENA TO CHANGE IN 2013

      Next year the Westminster Show will make a historic move and allow dogs with major points, not necessarily champions, to compete.  Long ago dogs with “majors” were allowed the Westminster privilege and my first homebred English Springer, Hovals Christmas Knight, a grandson of the first Springer to win BIS there did show in this different format. At that time in Westminster history it was a smaller world.  One could see and speak to judges on their way to the rings.  I will never ever forget joking with the iconic Percy Roberts as we scurried up the stairs.

      The breed judging will move out of the hallowed Madison Square Garden to Piers 92/94 during the day to be brought together in the evenings for network televised group and BIS competition.  And, the number of dogs allowed to compete will increase to 3,200.  This and emphasis on the breeder/owner will make the Bloomsburg cluster and other smaller shows much more exciting as the place to be able to view the great in each breed.  Cheers to the Westminster Board of Directors.  The new plans should help guarantee that man’s best friend will remain true to its purpose and never become an endangered species!   

Feb 19, 2012 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

The Power of Dog Food

      According to an AP article in the New York Times, the Westminster Kennel Club has changed its sponsor from Pedigree to Purina because Pedigree insisted on using advertisements showing shelter dogs in cages.  “This is not the message we want sent in this Show,” David Frei is quoted as saying.  Now, wagging tails and happy, beautiful dogs will be the advertised theme.  Unfortunately, we in Pennsylvania know the puppy mill battle is not over and there is an epidemic of stray dogs needing homes.  It makes you wonder how much influence dog food producers and the Westminster Board believe that they have in governing our behavior with our best friends?  I am not going to suggest a protest by tuning out this event, but concerned dog owners should “message” Purina and Westminster.

      A former American Veterinary Medical Association president suggested increasing dog food prices by one cent to fund spay/neuter surgery.  That would make a significant difference.  Note:  The AVMA posts pet food recalls at www.avma.org/petfood/recalls.

WHEN A ROAD KILL DIET IS NEEDED? When pets stop eating we believe that this is a sign that death is near.  We ply them with all kinds of wonderfully non-typical dog and cat foods.  And, we fuss and even force.  I wonder if negative thoughts accompanying the food refusal do not play a significant role–give negative energy to our intentions. 

A friend who worked in dog food production told me that when testing new foods they usually lean toward the ones that look and smell the best.  If it looks like road kill and smells like road kill it is discarded–bacon is never road kill!  Unfortunately, he said this usually was the food the dogs liked best. I am not advocating road kill although I know a lady who fed her cats a diet gathered on the road.  Instead, I offer thoughts from three veterinarians who have helped me with eating problems when they have occurred. The first denounces the regular over processed food we buy for our pets.  She would have us add human food to the diet (table scraps are not only fashionable but good for them). Another veterinarian from Cornell told me that a hard-boiled egg was the perfect food.  My dogs have since enjoyed an egg a day either in their meal or perched on top the dish.  A third veterinarian told me to feed the organ that was not functioning. If it is the liver–give your pet liver, if kidneys, etc., try chicken gizzards.  And, try moistening the dog food with the broth from cooking and/or yogurt.  Other things you can do is switch from the regular dry food to canned or vice versa. Try warming the food in a microwave.  If you own a small- or medium-size dog try adding a small breed canned diet to the regular food.  It is balanced, but has more energy than all-breed diets.  And, finally not eating probably is a sign.  Discuss the problem with your veterinarian.  There are special prescription diets for ill and end-of-life situations and they don’t look like road kill.

Feb 13, 2012 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Scottish Winners Have Gone Maternal

WESTMINSTER UPDATES. Westminster issued a media alert this week.  Once again the Westminster host will be David Frei, assisted by Mary Carillo.  This year’s show will benefit the AKC Canine Health Foundation which funds research on everything from cancer to cataracts. The 2011 BIS winner, a Scottish Deerhound named Hickory, has given birth to 9 puppies and the BIS Scottish Terrier, Sadie, is also back in the litter box.  Hickory will not make an appearance this year, according to Frei, because it is hard to fit her into a taxi–and with 9 puppies!  And Purina has taken over the sponsorship from Pedigree. 

Interestingly, a sporting club for the very rich with Long Island estates  is searching Long Island to locate the burial place of the logo dog, Sensation.  Many of these now famous dogs of the field were born in barns, sharing stalls with  horses.  The kennel staff would pick through the straw to choose the most promising puppies.  One such litter was given Russian names.  Every dog in the litter became a champion.  Tolstoy was the most famous.

MR YUK AT 2012 FARM SHOW. At the recent farm show in Harrisburg Master Gardners instructed about pesticide safety using the MR YUK symbol.  Of course, MR YUK first appeared in the Danville area in a garden of poisonous plants planted outside the Geisinger emergency entrance.  It signaled a series of programs about poison safety aimed at children and the green face sticker was placed on containers.  Dr. Tom Royer led the effort, assisted by the late Lillian Edson, Benton.  Later, YUK had a dog named UGH DOG who was the symbol of the biting dog for children and people who can’t read English.  YUK was colored the green of the PennDOT vests while UGH dog was the orange of convicts–both colors chosen by the iconic Crayola.  Both have ties to Geisinger education.          

NEW AKC BREEDS. Five new breeds will make their appearance this year at Westminster: the Norwegian Lundehund, the American English Coonhound, the Finish Lapphund, the Cesky Terrier, and the Xololtzeuintil.   I think the most recent and interesting newcomer is the Boykin Spaniel.  Of late they have distinguished themselves by becoming turtle hunters.  In this pursuit (?) they have become avid helpers in the conservation of these endangered reptiles.

TRAINING TIPS AND SENIOR CITIZENS. Recently Karen Sabo, trainer, wrote about teaching dogs the “come” and “stay” commands in the home.  It makes sense, especially in homes of senior citizens.  Dog training clubs might consider this practice to aid senior owners keep their pets safe when they are in a recovery mode.  Club members could visit homes where this need would make life less stressful for all. Valli Rovenolt once taught her dogs to close open interior doors by pulling on a strap attached to a door knob.  The goal was to keep heat in the rooms. It was something to see!

Jan 30, 2012 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Bed Bugs in the Hen House

According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, bed bugs are small, flat, oval, wingless insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals.  They generally feed at night.  Recently, veterinarians were involved in a severe bed bug infestation affecting two chicken breeder houses–the impact was a 10% decrease in egg production.  Now poultry producers are being warned to be on the lookout for bedbugs.  Should we wonder about products with feathers?  Another interesting finding of recent interest is the suspicion that armadillos are a likely source of leprosy.  Interesting happenings in the animal world. 

IT WAS A TERRIER YEAR. The winner of the National Dog Show presented by Purina was a Wire Fox Terrier whose registered name is Ch. Steele Your Heart. We will see Eira at Westminster when she tries to become the third dog to win both this show and the New York fixture. The other two are the colored Bull Terrier, Rufus (now retired and doing therapy) and the Scottish Terrier, Sadie (she is in the whelping box). One of the  fastest terriers, a Toy Fox Terrier that lives in Bloomsburg (Jnyx), has been invited to compete in the national agility trial in Florida over the holidays.  Rumor has it he travels not only with other canine companions but a parrot named “Cuddles”.     

BEWARE DOGS WITH A SOUTHERN ACCENT. According to a recent article groups are taking advantage of natural disasters in the South to promote themselves and move dogs all over the country.  Not only do these dogs inflate national shelter totals, but they transport infection with them which affects local dogs and takes up space which should be reserved for local dogs in need.  (Yes, we do have heartworm in this part of Pennsylvania.) 

      This is always a problem at the holidays when demand is greatest for puppies and small breeds.  If we are urged to “Buy American” we should be advised to buy pets that were born and bred in Pennsylvania and have a local history.  Start with the veterinary record and talk to the hospital. Educate yourself and urge others to also advise those seeking a canine companion to ask questions before bringing the newcomer to the family.  You wouldn’t marry the first person you kissed under the mistletoe. 

And speaking of kissing –the usual holiday recall of pigs ears is in effect due to salmonella.  Yes, it is contagious.

HOLIDAY READING. The best books to give and to read are those written by veterinarian-author James Wight (James Herriot). If you have read them –re-read them. They are priceless and timeless.  ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL is the first of the four volumes.  When Dr. Fred Gunther (a former Danville Veterinarian) was president of the PA Veterinary Medical Association he invited Dr. Tristan Farnum, Herriot’s companion, to speak at the veterinary association meeting.  The Gunthers later visited James Herriot in England. 

      At the meeting retired Danville veterinarian Dr. George Leighow interviewed Farnum.  The interview is on tape and part of the Animal Crackers archives.  (As a new veterinarian Gunther practiced at the Leighow Hospital and it is rumored was a wicked chess player!)

AGRITAINMENT. The newest source of farming revenue is the increase in entertainment and educational activities on the family farm.  Activities include petting zoos, hay rides, fall festivals, dairy tours, etc.  (Perhaps they will take the place of the county fairs?)  Especially at this time of the year when we think of shepherds we look forward to herding activities becoming part of a farm.  As breeds follow function in form breeders might use flocks for education in herding trials in a working dog environment.  The farms might even offer a place for judges seminars and training. (Since chickens are easy to train and thus could be used to teach dog owners training skills, if we could find some hen houses without bed bugs we might turn them into training classes?)   

Dec 20, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

A Tongue-in-Cheek Blog, with Important Points

 This is a tongue in cheek “Sherry’s Corner” –with important points. 

In the BLOG we give veterinarians faces and bodies–and focus on the people who help our pets.  Too often we are so much into the pet problem we do not see beyond the white coat.  Under the white coat is a heart.       

My puppy Ben taught me this lesson.  He is clothes-conscious.  He knows when I am dressed for bed and when I am dressed to go out.  Red is his favorite color unless another color squeaks!  And, Ben is most interested in clothing worn below the waist–pants, shoes, and socks.  That is Ben’s main source of  information.  And so when he is at the vet’s office he sniffs the vet’s pants, shoes and socks.  And, at one time when his surgeon Dr. McBrien even appeared shoe-less in the reception area (having a vet sit down in the reception part of the hospital seems less threatening), Ben was thrilled (he is extraordinarily fond of shoes).  On this visit, the doctor had a spot of blood on his one shoe and so took it off–Ben found the socks much more informative! I have also had veterinarians sit on the floor beside my dog.  Again, they were putting the information on the pet’s level. It is more than what the dog (and owner) sees– it is really all about perception–how one processes what is seen. This influences what one hears, too.

I once observed a female veterinarian wear very high heels–this must have also been an interesting source of information as she knelt next to her clients on the floor in the reception area.  (She was more Julia Roberts than Oprah and I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had a mini skirt under her white coat.)  Most women veterinarians wear flat practical shoes.  I once had a Brad Pitt look-alike veterinarian whose practice was laboratory animals.  He loved to argue with his clients–I am sure the rats and rabbits adored him.  He was very protective of their welfare.  All vets need to be compassionate patient advocates as well as human whisperers!

An important triangle  defines the bond among veterinarian, owner and pet.  Communication is a vital part of this perception–the triangle with the dog at the top-most point!  Today, face-to-face is best, but many vets also use e-mail and phone calls. One of the more interesting things I have learned from the veterinarians I have met is that they usually eat soup.  I think it is because they need to be ready for the next emergency!  Facing a bloody cat on an empty stomach must be hard to do.

Anyway, Ben’s surgeon was almost as good-looking and charming as George Clooney and truly cared about what both Ben and I thought.  After he finished taking apart Ben’s leg and nailing, screwing and bolting the bones back together, Ben has some reservations about whether he liked him.  He likes his acupuncturist and talks to her openly when he is not trying to remove the pins.  Yes, she too is more Julia than Oprah.  As for his main veterinarian–she is a definite Diane Sawyer and he trusts her.  We don’t have a Lady GaGa on the team yet but I think Ben would like one.  The human Tony Bennett has said of Lady Ga Ga–”she is America’s Picasso of music.” Since Ben is now limping through rehabilitation he would like a Lady GaGa to give him his MSM and Baytril–not me. 


        

        

Dec 04, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

National Dog Show and Therapy Dog Honors

For those readers who would like to hear about something other than caring for Ben, post-surgery, I offer the following audio-conference highlights from a recent call on the upcoming National Dog Show.  Thanks to the sparkling wit of both David Frei (he has a new book out–ANGEL ON A LEASH) and Mary Costello, who noted that you just can’t stop smiling when you go to a dog show–it was a great hour.  I was thrilled to learn that a therapy dog was being honored at the National Dog Show Presented by Purina.  Eli is a Belgian Sheepdog who dog-counseled victims and first responders at 9/11.  He is from Allentown (owned by Sherry Hanley) and his smiling face is warm and friendly!  Few of our best friends who shared this horrific day with the nation are still alive today–those who are, are seniors who have never retired.  It is wonderful that they are still working their warm magic with us.  Eli, for example, today snuggles with young cancer victims at the Ronald MacDonald House in New York.  Frei told us that James, the therapy English Springer Spaniel and former Westminster champion, had passed this spring and is now probably helping on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.  I wonder if my Cagney is part of this therapy team?    

Here, please permit me to make two observations. First, I wonder why our listening and empathetic therapy dogs have not been used with child abuse victims like those now headlined in the Penn State tragedy? Dogs and children! Why not?

Second, there used to be a sharp line between the dog in the show ring and the dogs that did other things–the brainy dogs, the birdy dogs, the guard dogs.  Today, that is not the case.  When you watch the National Dog Show, which will be presented again by Purina, the majority of the winners will have a therapy dog degree and spend their off-camera time making lives happier and bringing smiles and comfort.  These dogs deserve part of our Thanksgiving Day.          

FLEA AND TICK TREATMENT NEWS. Frontline has developed a new flea- and tick-killing spot-on preventative called CERTIFECT.  Discuss the product with your veterinarian before purchasing.  Certifect is not a replacement for Frontline. 

ALERT DOGS. Dogs can be trained to alert and warn–acting as smoke alarms. Fires are the most feared disasters!

How to train your canine to perform this activity for you? The training device is a flowerpot turned upside down on a plate.  Begin by burning small twigs or leaves inside the pot and reward your dog when he barks at the smoke. Gradually increase the intensity of the smoke with pieces of fabric.  The dog is rewarded for barking; next, finding the owner is added to the training.  Since we usually reward a dog for not barking, this part of the training needs reinforcement–like a toy. 

CANINE GOOD CITIZEN EVACUATION BOOK. With all the new titles being published by the AKC, I’m surprised that no dog trainer has yet tackled the ways in which the public can ease evacuations by having canine companions trained to be Canine Good Citizens. We could call it the CGC-E and issue a wallet card with picture to those dogs who have passed the training in such a program–having this card will help with registration at the shelter.  With the future importance of pet sheltering in disasters it would seem only natural to emphasize CGC adaptability to distractions, ease in working with strangers and calmness with other dogs.  And, then of course, add the ability to have the CGC work in the Red Cross shelters with victims and you have a new therapy dog! 

Nov 13, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

The Reason for Fewer Columns This Summer

What was I doing this summer?  Going to veterinary hospitals and clinics with my puppy, Ben–forming a spiritual bond with my young Springer, one that has been forged from surgery and casts and screws, but most of all a unique and wonderful bond of spirit which is still growing.  Unfortunately, this bond has a hint of post-traumatic stress and even separation anxiety.

When surgery is necessary for your pet, a good surgeon is vital but from then on the rehabilitation process is uncharted ground.  Ben’s surgeon, Dr. Charles McBrien of Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital, was our surgeon and is our friend.  He keeps in touch through the phone and e-mails and has a close-to-home team to help monitor progress.  On our local team is Dr. Pat Kitchen, Leighow Veterinary Hospital, who not only changed bandages but has always been  available, and Dr. Kristin Edwards. Edwards specializes in acupuncture and has been there to help me psychologically and behaviorally with Ben. She has acted as the glue who has kept us all on the same mission. And, Deb Traugh, who does massage, helped with individual suggestions and home visits.

      “Night terrors” are a horrible result of medication and trauma.  As more and more people get them, I think we will find research which shows that dogs experience similar events.  After surgery Ben needed to have the lights on and me sleeping close by.  He was young–4 months.  He is now 14 months old and I have weaned him away from sleeping with a light on and out of his crate.  I am able to sleep in my own bed.  He checks on me before settling down for sleep and again in the morning.  He is gentle but needs a reassuring touch–or at least one of us does! 

      Ben is one of a litter whelped by my youngest daughter–I had pick of the litter.  Ben took one look at me and toddled off to a corner of the puppy pen and lay down.  After 40 years of sharing my life with Springers I knew he was the puppy for me.  Later on when Dr. McBrien met Ben he exclaimed, “ you can’t teach a puppy to be like Ben!”  Ben seemed to have been born mature and wise and yet full of puppy wonder which continues growing as his leg heals. Like Michael Jackson or perhaps puppy mill puppies  his childhood was abnormal. 

      In coming BLOGS I will tell you Ben’s story.  He has worn many plastic cone hats which I call “halos”.  He has endured lots of pins and screws and even a cast from age 4 months until now–he celebrated his first birthday last week.  We hope someday to earn our TDI and pass on the empathy.   

      Today Ben can run with joy or just relax in front of the TV on the couch.  He can be naughty like any puppy or silly–drinking cranberry juice and carrying Pepsi cans.  His field of vision now includes birds and rain drops.  And, although he still hops once in awhile, his leg seems to remember what it is supposed to do and he can use his healing leg just as if nothing had happened.

      At first it was thought that Ben’s problem was due to an injury.  Puppies are notorious for easy skeletal injury which becomes the basis for later-life arthritis. With the growing popularity of agility and emphasis on increasing speed and competition, injuries occur. The popular solution is a life-long monitoring of weight and Ben can’t pass a veterinary scale without trying it out.  We changed his diet to a prescription diet–r/d.  In Ben’s case, as he ages, if he needs a pain killer his diet can be changed to j/d which has been clinically proven to requires only 25% of the usual amount of most NSAIDS.     

      Deb Traugh, who in addition to providing massage is a registered nurse, therapist and communicator, is one of Ben’s friends.  She devised the massages he enjoys.  Deb stresses the healing effect of positive energy and this has been a vital part of the healing.  

      We need veterinarians trained in rehabilitation. We also need palliative care to manage both pain and fear.  For example, it would be helpful to provide instruction in how to help pets wear their halos and how to endure prolonged crate rest.  I hope to share what I learned with Ben so if you decide your pet will benefit from surgery you will be able to survive and perhaps enjoy the healing that seems to take so long.

Oct 30, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized

Disaster Planning and Pets

When one revisits the local history of floods and how they affect people and their pets, the story begins with “Agnes” and Helen Jones.  Jones won national prominence with her work for the S.P.C.A of Luzerne County in 1972.  Shelters across the state shipped food and funding to help the animal refugees of Wilkes-Barre stay fed and comfortable.  Jones was the model “little lady in white tennis shoes”.  The symbol of the disaster effort was the iconic picture of an elderly lady perched on a roof with her beloved cat, waiting for help.  The motto of the shelter was a “door wide enough for all who need human understanding and care; yet narrow enough to shut out cruelty and neglect.” In the 1970s animal welfare had not yet blurred with the animal rights movement and funds were met through volunteers and among members of the shelter community–each meeting another’s needs.  Thus Robert Hudson of the Women’s SPCA would pioneer in moving animals in need of homes from shelter to shelter wherever there was room. There were no lawsuits because of alleged misappropriation of funds as in the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) incident.

      This tradition continued in 1986 when the Luzerne County SPCA hosted a humane federation conference with canvas bag gifts that pictured an ark filled with creatures great and small, domesticated and wild. (As always it is wise to investigate what donations do for local pet needs.) 

      Since then there have been other floods and each has had stories of rescue–during “Emily”, pigs were rowed to safety by volunteers–school teachers and dentists–on the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds.  After TMI –a non-flood, but one remarkable for setting up an annex of shelters organized by veterinarian Tom Kowalchick of Berwick.  It was the area’s first step in stressing that pets had become family members that should not be left to drown chained to their coops in the flood waters or left to wander.  It was a list of temporary homes for these homeless refugees in local veterinary hospitals. Then, after Katrina disaster personnel recognized that 60% of evacuees who return to their home do so at risk of their own lives TO RECOVER A PET. 

      In Columbia County, led by retired veterinarian Dr. Larry Smith, the Columbia-Montour Animal Rescue Team (CART) formed. They trained. Del Monte donated green canvas evacuation bags that could be filled with toys, medicines, medical records, etc. CART members raised money for equipment. They held practice drills And, they set up “Annie”–a no-people, all-animal evacuation shelter for animals.   

      For the first time in 2011 the Susquehanna Valley marked the records of Hurrican Lee with a shelter set up for pets and animals. 

      Annie is located on the Bloomsburg University campus.  It is named Annie in memory of a Shih-tzu who belonged to the immediate past president Jessica Kozloff (Annie’s  ashes are scattered on campus).

      However, in all disasters large and small it is always people first and not the four-footed family member. YOUR PET is YOUR responsibility, just as you are his.  He is your first responder.  When the power fails there is a warm body watching over you while you sleep, keeping you safe.

     

Sep 11, 2011 | Comments are off | Uncategorized