Giant Leaps for Canine Care

docjessOver the last few days we have all spent lots of time with family and friends, talking about the things that we are thankful for. Rick and I are thankful for the many blessings we have received from above. We are, of course, thankful for each other and our combined devotion to the mission here at the sanctuary. Our families and our health are also very high on that list, along with the many people that continue to help us keep our dream alive. We are forever in debt to Doc Jess for her devotion to our babies. And certainly not least of all the things we give thanks for are our babies, our entertaining companions, our dogs.

So I was thinking about what our dogs have to be thankful for. They show their thanks to us each day with lots of kisses, tail wags, and playful activities. Although they don’t realize it, I believe if they could tell us what is in their minds they would be thankful for Doc Jess, as well as everyone that helps pay the bills to keep them safe.

That brought me to what Doc Jess must be thankful for concerning her passion to save animals of all species. I have done a little research into the advancements she now has access to that help her do more for all the critters she cares for.

I personally have witnessed, and have heard Doc Jess talk about the huge progress in pain management for animals. At one time several decades ago it was believed by many that pain management was unproductive for dogs. It was thought that if they didn’t feel pain they would move around too soon, and that would hinder their recovery rather than enhance it. We now know that dogs feel pain just like humans, and relief from that pain is very important to their care. The many medicines (Ketoprofen and Tramadol) that are now available in that arena are first on my list of advancements in veterinary care.

MRI technology was developed to benefit the medical care of humans but has proven extremely beneficial in the diagnosis and care of dogs with neurological, cardiac, orthopedic, and soft tissue issues. One obvious drawback to the use of MRIs in veterinarian practice is the fact that the patient must remain very still during the procedure thus requiring anesthesia. An additional problem is the tremendous expense incurred for an MRI. Ultrasounds, while not as powerful, are helping to fill the gap when MRI technology is unavailable or unaffordable. The potential for ultrasounds to become universally adopted by vets is a very exciting move forward in the care of our dogs.

Another exciting adaptation from human health science to animal care is the use of Laparoscopic procedures. This process involves a camera and light to be inserted in the thoracic cavity to allow the veterinarian to see inside the animal’s body. This is obviously less invasive than exploratory surgeries, and provides more specific information for the diagnosis and treatment than is possible with x-rays.

Stem cell therapy, cancer vaccines (for melanoma), laser therapy, pet supplements, probiotics, Palladia (new drug for treatment of mass cell tumors), water therapy, herbal therapy, arthritis medicines, rattlesnake vaccine, prosthetics, joint replacements, acupuncture, and even aroma therapy provide many new exciting avenues of advanced care for our babies.

The benefits of all of these evolutionary improvements flow through our trusted veterinarians to our animals, and to all of us who love our pets like family. Therefore, the lists of things we all have to be thankful for is longer than I realized a few days ago!

Apples and Oranges?

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Apples and oranges are the same in that they are both fruit. Yet they are very different when you get under the skin. The same analogy applies to rescue groups and sanctuaries. The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary is a little bit apple, but mostly orange. By that I mean we are in fact rescuers, but we are more of a sanctuary than anything else. To explain what I mean I need to go back a bit.

In the beginning of the sanctuary in July of 2001 we did a lot of rescuing, and we adopted out a lot of dogs. We worked with different rescue groups across the state of Texas, and they helped us place our young, healthy, adoptable rescues. In turn we helped them out by taking their senior and special needs dogs that were unlikely to be adopted. We also had a large website with adoptable dogs presented to the public for adoption. This process continued for four years.

In August of 2005 when I became ill, we had to discontinue our official rescue status. We took down our beautiful web site and stopped taking in dogs from other rescue groups. At the time we had 31 permanent residents of the sanctuary. We cared for those dogs just like we always had. And as fate demanded we rescued other dogs here and there that we found on the streets, or pulled from a local shelter. We did not have a website or any other public access, so those dogs became part of our permanent pack. Sadly, we also lost some senior dogs during these years. We did not conduct any fund raising activities during that period of time. Rick worked hard to pay all the bills to care for our pack, and we managed just fine. I regained my health in 2008 and life was good for us all.

Right after Christmas 2015 I began to write my book, “The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary”. Then in February 2016 Rick lost his job when the oilfield in our area took a serious downturn. At that point we knew we needed to do something to help keep the sanctuary going. We were very blessed when so many wonderful people on Facebook helped finance the publishing of my book, purchased the book, and donated to our sanctuary.

We felt we had the wind at our backs, and we began to actively rescue again. We have adopted out quite a few dogs since then, and we have also added to the number of permanent residents at our sanctuary. As most of you are aware, we are averaging 40 – 43 dogs here now. The largest percentage of those dogs were already residents at the sanctuary before we resumed our official rescue status.

One of the most frequently asked questions in my email and messages is, “Why do you have so many dogs, but you only have a few available for adoption?” The answer is very simple; some of our dogs have been with us for over five years. We could never consider letting them go, and would never even dream of turning their world upside down by allowing them to leave the home they have come to love. We are bonded to them and they to us.

Regular rescue groups (apples) save many dogs across this country. They place every one of those dogs up for adoption and work miracles at placing them in homes. But once in awhile they come across a dog or a pair of bonded dogs that they cannot place. That is where the sanctuaries (oranges) come in. They provide a permanent home for these babies where they can be safe and secure to live out their lives in peace.

The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary is an orange with apple skin. On the surface, we rescue a few dogs here and there. We try our best to find wonderful homes for those dogs as well a few rescued by our friend, veterinarian, and supporter Doc Jess. But our purpose in the nationwide army of people that give their hearts, their efforts, their money, and their tears to saving dogs in need, is a to be a sanctuary. That is what we are best at, and that is what we feel we have been called to do.

A healthy diet will probably include apples and oranges. A successful rescue community will include rescuers, fosters, transporters, advocates, and sanctuaries. Rick and I rescue and transport as well as advocate for dogs in need. But what we really do is run a sanctuary, The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary.

Quilt Raffle

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We are raffling off this quilt during the Fall Open House to raise money for improvements to our sanctuary. The pattern is titled “Foreshadowing” and was designed by our daughter Jessica JE Smith. The quilt was pieced and quilted by me. It measures 68″ square and is made of the finest quilt fabrics. Tickets for the raffle are $10 each and can be purchased here on my blog thru the donate button, or by sending money to promisedlanddachshund@yahoo.com, or by sending check or money order to The Promised Land, PO Box 826, Gardendale, TX 79758.

The drawing is on Nov. 5th at 6pm so get your tickets purchased right away. Please make a note on your donation that you are purchasing quilt raffle tickets, and make sure I have a current address for you. I will post raffle #’s on our Facebook page under the Quilt Raffle thread that contains this picture of the quilt. We will also post a video of one of the kiddos at the Open House doing the drawing. You do not have to be present at the Open House to win. I will ship the quilt to the winner if need be.

Good luck everyone!!!

 

Who Speaks for the Dogs?

Over the years we have rescued quite a few dogs from backyard breeders and puppymills. I have written about the over-population of dogs in our country, and have advocated for spay and neuter programs nationwide. None of those efforts will curb the tide of over-population, however, because the breeders and the puppymills continue to produce millions of dogs each year.

I have talked with some backyard breeders that argue that their genetic line of dogs is superior to the “common” dogs of that breed, and therefore their breeding is actually good for the canine population. Some breeders claim that their dogs are the best dogs to train for companion and assist dogs. But I have witnessed many programs that pull dogs from shelters and train them to be excellent companion or assist dogs. And we have cared for many “common” pure bred dogs that were stunning in their conformation and coat. So the argument that breeders are good for the canine population falls on deaf ears where I am concerned.

So who regulates these breeders? The answer to that question surprised me. In at least ten states there are NO laws regarding the breeding of dogs. No license is required and no inspections of facilities are ever performed. In Texas, breeders are required to have a license. They are also required to undergo inspections every eighteen months. But I have seen with my own eyes how inadequate that regulation is.

Most of these breeders register their dogs with the AKC (American Kennel Club). So I did some research on the regulations required to register dogs with the AKC and I was horrified at what I found. The AKC has long billed itself as “The Dog’s Champion”. They have a committee that is tasked with inspecting large breeders and puppymills. But their inspections are kept private and are very sparse in nature. I read one report about a breeder in North Carolina that had passed their AKC inspection. But shortly after that they were busted and charged with animal cruelty because their dogs were either standing on 5 inches of packed feces, or stacked in wire crates where they urinated and defecated on the dogs below them.

I read a long list of proposed regulatory bills that the AKC fought hard to defeat. One example is a piece of legislation that requires puppy producers to adhere to basic care standards, such as regular feeding, cleaning, minimum space requirements, safe housing, and basic veterinarian care. One case involved an ordinance in Shelby County, Tennessee that would prevent dogs from being left in hot cars for more than an hour. The AKC article arguing against that ordinance called it unwarranted. A proposed USDA rule that would require breeders to provide six inches of space for a dog to turn around and lie down is being lobbied against by the AKC as being too burdensome. And they fought against a bill in three states that would prevent breeders from debarking their own dogs. We rescued a dog that had been debarked by its owner and he ended up with a broken jaw!

Why isn’t the AKC standing up for the welfare of our precious canine friends. The answer, as usual, is money. When they proposed in 1996 to put more restrictions on large breeders, many puppymills boycotted the AKC and started their own registries of purebred dogs. In 2011 the AKC revenue reached $59.5 million. $22.8 million of that came from registrations of litters and individual puppies. When the AKC saw their bank accounts decreasing they gave in to the puppymills. In fact they are now “platinum sponsors” of a group called the Missouri Pet Breeders Association, which is one of the organizations that boycotted the AKC for trying to crack down on puppymills.

So what exactly has the AKC done for the dogs registered with them. They have changed the criteria that make a beautiful dog a “winning” dog. They have established conformation standards that set a benchmark for traits that are extremely harmful to our dogs. These changes include shorter snouts on Pugs that produce dogs that can barely breath, smaller heads on Cavalier King Charles Spaniels that cause at least one third of that breed to suffer with syringomyelia which causes the dogs extreme pain because their brains don’t have enough room to grow. And we are all familiar with the double dapple Dachshund who carry beautiful coats but most often suffer with severe genetic problems.

I was asked a few days ago why I can’t report a breeder that is breeding nine year old females. My answer was that they were not doing anything against the law. And sadly, that is in fact the case across this country. The states that do regulate breeders don’t regulate things such as ages of breedable dogs. And now I know that the AKC, which I believed were advocates for dogs across this country, is only concerned about their bank accounts.

There are two answers to this situation in my mind. We must research and know what the laws for breeders are in our states, and we have to impress on our state representatives that we want this situation changed. And perhaps even more importantly we must spread the word that the AKC is not acting in the best interest of the dogs we all love. The public in general must be educated to stop seeing AKC papers as a sign of a “quality” dog. We all know what a quality dog is and it has nothing to do with any paperwork in our files!

 

Dangers in the Dark

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When Rick and I first moved to Gardendale in 1984 we loved so many things about our new country home. The brick fence around the backyard was one of our favorite features. It created a safe place for our dogs to enjoy the sunshine and country air. That fence has not only kept our dogs safe from wandering, it has kept them safe from predators. Last night that safety was breached for the first time in 32 years and the consequence was disastrous.

Everyone here at the sanctuary had enjoyed a quiet Saturday afternoon. We had a short rain shower and then a cool evening. The air was crisp, clean, and cool. Shortly before dark, as is my routine, I went out back and gathered everyone inside the porch and closed the door for the night. Of course our dogs have access to a doggy door to go in and out, but many of our seniors enjoy settling in on their favorite beds at dusk. They know I will be checking on each of them, straightening blankets and beds for the night, and covering up a few of the more fragile seniors. Last night that routine played out like every other night, and I began to make dinner and pass out the night time meds. Rick went about his evening chores which include putting his horses in the corral and spending some time with some of our larger dogs who live outside the perimeter of our back fence.

Around 8:00 pm the dogs all over the sanctuary began to bark. Nothing new there. Horses and their riders wander by, skunks can be detected in the breeze, and the rabbits get active in the pasture. All these things cause our pack to bark and pronounce their presence behind the safety of our fence. So we pay little attention to what has become the song of our existence around here. But something was different last night, and our dogs knew long before Rick and I did that danger was present.

When the barking didn’t calm down within a few minutes Rick and I began to check on everyone, and Rick drove the property shining his flash light into the darkness. I fussed about the front porch lights being burnt out and tried to calm my shepherds without being aware of what they were trying to tell me. Rick soon came through the front door and found me watching the dogs on the back porch barking with an unusual fervor. We both stepped out into the enclosed porch and found Max with blood on his back hip. Striker continued to raise his voice and charge at the closed back door.

So we took our flash lights out into the yard and Rick saw three large black shapes run behind our back fence. He screamed at them to scare them off and we immediately started to frantically count heads on the back porch. Everyone was there except for Ginger, Max’s mom. We checked under each blanket on the porch, and when we still could not locate Ginger we walked the yard. We found her lifeless body in the darkness of our previously safe yard.

Rick ran for his pistol and searched the area around our home and shop building while I wrapped Ginger in her blanket, and turned my attention to her son Max. I placed him in a feeding kennel and cleaned the blood off his back end. I found six puncture wounds and one tear in his hide about an inch long. He was obviously in shock and I began to administer first aid.

The next half hour or so are somewhat of a blur for us both but we managed to lock the doggie doors all over the sanctuary to insure everyone was secure within the confines of our home. We counted heads numerous times in an attempt to quell our fear. I gave Max something for pain and an antibiotic. I also sprayed his wounds with an antiseptic all the while trying to maintain a calmness that would benefit the dogs but was elusive to say the least.

Our night was long and full of grief for our sweet lady, Ginger. Max is doing as well as can be expected this morning and I have received instructions from Doc Jess on his care. Just within the last hour Rick’s brother who lives 1/2 mile from us had to fend off an attack from these dogs with a pipe. They also jumped on another dog down the road from him. Rick and his brother are tracking them now while we wait for the Sheriff and animal control. All of our sanctuary dogs are still locked safely within the walls of our home. There are actually four dogs in this roaming gang and we will not rest until they have been dealt with.

Rick and I have both spent the last sixteen hours trying to figure out how to restore the security that was shattered last night. Our dogs have all been as upset as we are, and no one got a good night’s sleep. Rick and I spent several hours on the back porch holding and loving on each of our babies. Finally around midnight they began to settle down, Rick and I did not fare as well.

In our 32 years here in this home we have NEVER had a predator get into our yard. We are now considering, very seriously, extending the height of our back fence by several feet. Money will no doubt be an issue as brick fences don’t come cheap, but the security of our fragile dogs will now take priority over everything else.

RIP sweet Ginger. You are now whole and without pain. Please know that we will care for your brave son to the best of our abilities. He, no doubt, tried to rescue you and was sadly unsuccessful. We will, however, succeed in returning our sanctuary to the fear free environment that we have worked so hard to achieve. We will miss you and we will never forget your sacrifice.

 

Don’t Eat That!

 

The latest statistics show that over 100,000 dogs each year are poisoned from common household items, foods, and medications. After doing some research I was amazed at some of the items that make the top ten list of substances that poison our babies.

The most common element of our everyday lives that can be fatal for our dogs is human prescription medications. They are often left on bedside tables to be easily accessible for us. Unfortunately that easy access applies to our dogs as well. Even small amounts of pain medications, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications can do irreparable damage to our canine friends. Dogs that are owned by the elderly are the most likely to fall victim to this type of poisoning.

In second place on the list of the most common toxic materials for our dogs is not a surprise. Insecticides can be quickly fatal. One of the most common used insecticides around our pets is the flea and tick prevention that many of us depend on to keep the pests off our babies. Apparently it is fairly common for large doses to be split between several small dogs and the danger is very real that the dose will be too high. I just recently learned that Dawn dish detergent is an excellent product to use to kill many of these pests. Doc Jess suggested I use it to bathe the Three Musketeers when they came to the sanctuary with ticks. It did the trick and did not dry out their skin. It also works great to spray your yard to kill ticks and fleas.

Over-the-counter medications come in third on this list. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and Advil are some of the most common over-the-counter medications that we all use. Herbal medications and joint supplements can also be deadly for canines. Most incidents of these type of poisoning occur when these medications are spilled or dropped on the ground. I know my babies will jump on anything that I drop thinking it might be a tasty morsel and will often eat it before they inspect it.

Medications such as dewormers and pain meds that are prescribed for our dogs are in fourth place on the list. While they are essential to the care of our little guys, they can be deadly in doses that exceed the prescribed amounts.

Fifth on the list is common household products. We all know that bleach, many cleaners, antifreeze, paint thinners, pool chemicals, etc., are dangerous to humans as well as dogs. I did not know that common fire logs also pose a huge risk for dogs. Chemical burns, depression, upset stomach, renal failure and death can be the result of even tiny exposure to ingestion of these substances.

Human foods can also be extremely dangerous for our dogs, and they are number six on the list. Alcohol, even in small amounts can cause vomiting, breathing problems, and irreversible coma. Avocados, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, bread dough, onions, and garlic are some of the more common foods that we all enjoy. They can be deadly for our dogs. I have noticed a new trend with dog owners to give their pets more and more human foods to supplement their dog food. Nothing is wrong with that as long as the owners are doing their homework to insure the foods they share with their dogs are safe. I have found with my dogs that the more human food they eat, the more they beg for human food. While Rick and I are aware of what they can and cannot have, they will carry that begging behavior over to any guests that might not be cognicent of the dangers. With the holiday season approaching we must be alert to these innocent situations that can cause grave damage to our little guys.

Chocolate is one thing that most of us know is dangerous for our dogs. It stands alone at number seven on the list of most common poisons. The darker more bitter chocolates that are common in our kitchens such as baking chocolate are the most dangerous because they contain the most methylxanthines such as caffeine. The size of the dog and the amount consumed will determine how lethal ingestion of chocolate can be. Years ago our beloved Christy managed to get on the kitchen table while we were gone. She consumed a corner of a slab of fudge before we came home and caught her. She vomited for several hours but thankfully recovered under Doc Jess’ care.

Many popular indoor and outdoor plants also pose a risk for our canine friends, and they occupy the eighth spot on the list. Azaleas, rhododendrons, tulips, daffodils, carnations, calla lillies, and begonias are only a few on this list of culprits. The bulbs and seeds of many plants are also killers for our babies.

Number nine is rodenticides. Living in the country we deal with mice on an ongoing basis. Years ago we had a little Scottish Terrier that made her way into my pantry cabinet and she not only ate a box of mouse poison, but she also ate the BOX! An IV of B12 saved her life. Needless to say we have not had any mouse poison on our property since. We were naive enough to to think that dogs would not eat those poisons. And we were unaware of how dangerous it can be for a mouse that has ingested those poisons and becomes crazy to wander out into the middle of a room where a dog could and would kill it. The poison inside the mouse will poison the dog as well. Needless to say, we now use traps instead of poison.

Last on the list is our many lawn and garden products we use to protect our expensive landscapes. We have a huge population of ants in our area and we have had several dogs fall prey to multiple bites from an ant bed that we were unaware of. I learned about ten years ago that corn meal will kill many different types of ants as well as most insects that play havoc in my vegetable garden. Such an easy, inexpensive solution to what can be an overwhelming problem.

If you ever find yourself in the situation where you feel your dog has been poisoned there are several steps to take immediately. Try to discover what they may have gotten into. Call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-213-6680. They can help keep you calm while the needs of your pet are evaluated. Don’t try to neutralize the toxin yourself.  Several home remedies that have been popular over the decades such as milk, salt, or aspirin can in fact cause more problems. Some cases will require the induction of vomiting, others will be more dangerous if the dog vomits. Your veterinarian is best equipped to make those determinations. Take samples, if possible, of any toxin in question, the packaging of that toxin, vomitus from your dog, or any stools produced after ingestion for examination and testing by your vet.

Basically making our environment safe for our dogs is the same as baby proofing our homes. We must all be aware of the dangers and be willing to investigate the risks of everything our smallest family members are exposed to.

 

 

 

Heroes For Today

Today as our nation remembers the tragedy of 9/11 we honor the many fallen, and we salute the first responders who risked their lives to do what they could for their fellow man. Those first responders included approximately 350 search and rescue dogs who enabled a torn country to retrieve their loved ones. All of those brave men, women, and canines deserve our never-ending respect. They deserve the statues and memorials that remind us of their great sacrifice for people they did not know. They loved those strangers enough to go forward into chaos while most of us would have run from the danger.

As I contemplate that love today I think of the many service animals that on a daily basis enable the people they love to live a happier, more fulfilling life. Service animals for the blind, the deaf, the disabled, the cancer patients, the PTSD sufferers, the autistic children, the diabetics, the children in hospitals all across this country, the paralyzed veterans, etc. This list could go on and on. These animals give so much more than we would have dreamed possible fifty years ago. No amount of praise is too much for their contribution to the lives they have grown to love and protect.

I read several articles this morning about dogs who have saved their families from fire, tornadoes, floods, attacking animals of many species including other dogs. For the families blessed with the devotion of these heroes, life will never be the same. So many of these brave dogs died in their selfless acts of courage, and some suffered disabilities for the remainder of their lives. Those families will pass the stories of their amazing dogs down through the generations and they will never be forgotten.

My own life has been touched by several gallant canines that will forever hold their place in my heart and in my family’s history. As a teenager my family loved a stray dog that became an icon to not only my family but the entire neighborhood. Bertha was a mixed breed that grew hair like a sheep waiting to be sheared. So she often appeared to be a big bundle of hairy matts that could never be brushed out. She walked the concrete fence in front of our home and the neighbors and visitors to the neighborhood soon came to expect to see her lounging on our brick wall. Twice during my late teenage years Bertha corralled my young sister and prevented her from running to the street by sitting on her or pinning her to the porch.

As an adult I loved a beautiful German Shepherd Dog that came between me and strangers that would not heed my request to leave our country property. She barked, she growled, and eventually she chased off the dangers that she knew frightened me. Sasha was my guardian for many years, and I loved her like one of my own children. Now I have Jake and his giant majestic appearance ensures my safety not only in my home but on walks around our neighborhood. He is truly a gentle giant until he senses my fear, then he becomes a force to be reckoned with that no one has felt confident in challenging.

Most of us have a story about a dog that showed amazing gallantry in our lives. These stories are told over and over and they mark that hero’s place in our lives. But what about the everyday routines of our lives that go untold? How many of us know a senior citizen that is saved everyday from loneliness by a faithful dog? How many of us know the comfort of coming home after a tough day to a happy dog that doesn’t care about the world outside? How many of us have a furry baby that lies at the end of our beds when we don’t feel well, or cuddles against us when we cry?

I listened this morning to Alan Jackson’s beautiful memorial song “Where Were You When  the World Stopped Turning?” He speaks of God’s gifts to us and how love is the greatest of those gifts. For me, and for so many people I speak with each day, that love comes in the form of a four-pawed “baby” that lights up our hearts each day with the unconditional love we all crave. On September 11, 2001 I was sitting on my bed, with my dogs cuddled close around me as the tears fell. I watched in horror the events of that morning and my babies comforted me with all the love they had. That love proved enough to help me get through that horrible day. Heroes indeed!