Friday, July 2, 2010

The Advocacy Blog Has Been Rehomed!

This blog has been moved to our new sister-site,, so please visit us there from now on.

The mission of Up For Pups is to inspire adoption and what I like to call "creative volunteerism" through presentations at high schools, colleges, churches, and other organizations around the country. Please check out the website and blog and contact us if you'd like us to come to a town near you! :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In Clover is a company that has always supported rescue. In fact, my first introduction to their products was at a local Labrador Retriever rescue party. When they told me they were relaunching their OptaGest product with new packaging, I was excited to catch up with the founder, Rebecca Rose, and find out more:

HTB: Rebecca, what prompted you to found In Clover?

RR: In Clover really found me. I was doing research with the National Institutes of Health and became interested in pet health. I found that there were no complete and natural options for the number one chronic condition in dogs and cats, joint disorder, so I developed Connectin. In 1996, we did a clinical trial to prove that Connectin is safe and effective and the told the people whose pets participated in the trial that we would provide them with product after the study ended. The response was overwhelming and In Clover was formed.

HTB: I understand you're coming out with new packaging for your OptaGest product. Tell me about it - what sort of ailments does this digestive supplement help?

RR: OptaGest is one of those products that if you just want an overall healthier pet, it will make a difference quickly. OptaGest is used for things like diarrhea, gas, stress resulting in digestive upset, food change and antibiotic use. Since 70% of a pet’s digestive system is located in the digestive tract, daily OptaGest use will support the pet’s immune system. Our new product format is a single serving stick that can be used for convenience when you are traveling with your pet or an easy way try the product.

HTB: Could this product be helpful for people with rescued dogs?

RR: OptaGest is great for rescued dogs. My rescue, Floyd, the furry one in the picture, came to us completely stressed out, starving, full of ticks and weary of living on the streets. I immediately put him on a good food and supplemented with OptaGest. I enjoy seeing him blossom into a happy, vibrant and lovely boy. His digestive and immune systems are healthy and strong. My vet said Floyd is a picture of health and he deserves it!

HTB: Where can people get OptaGest?

RR: OptaGest is available through independent pet stores, natural grocers, catalogs, vets and pet product e-tailers. Go to the In Clover website to find a retailer near you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Trainer Tip: Crate Training Calamity

At Happy Tails Books we've got some great training resources, and by golly, I'm going to use them! That means that you, our reader, can send in training questions through our website, and we'll post answers for you here. Look for the blog title "Trainer Tip" for training information.

Training Question:
Today's inquiry comes from Ginny who recently adopted an eight-year-old Yorkie named Lizzie. She says Lizzie is a great dog except when she needs to go out at 2:30am and 5:00am. She had taken up her food and water by 7pm to no avail. Lizzie likes to nap in her crate during the day but isn't too keen on being closed into the crate at night. Ginny really needs a good night's sleep!

Trainer Kathryn Segura writes:
Hi Ginny,
The first thing you should always do when you have a dog with potty issues is take her to the vet. The cause of the urination may be a urinary tract infection or other medical issue. If her nightly peeing turns out not to be related to a medical problem, it might be because wherever she lived before you, she was able to go potty whenever she wanted (maybe she had 24hr access to a dog door?).

She may not like it when you close the crate at night, but you can't give into her. Who's the boss here? You'll have to start closing the crate at night. You can even practice closing the crate door when she is in there during the day, perhaps closing it and then giving her a treat to make it fun. Just don't make a big deal about it and stay calm - dogs can feel your anxiety. At night, put her in the crate give her a treat, say good night, and walk away. She may not like it at first, but everyone needs their sleep!
Good luck!

So there it is. Lizzie will have to get used to the crate. It sounds like she doesn't have an aversion to it in general, so it's just the idea of shutting her in there at night that she'll have to get used to.

If you're interested in more training tips from Kathryn Segura, check out her book entitled Hollywood Barks available at

Monday, May 31, 2010

Information about

I received this impassioned email about puppy mills written by Anne Hyatt, a rescuer in Nebraska, and thought I would share. I absolutely agree with her, and would encourage you to check out the Mill Dog Manifesto, a free eBook available at,if you'd like to learn more.

I want everyone to know that when commercial breeding facilities (puppy mills) have "worn out dogs" or "dogs that are too old to breed" this is what happens to them. THEY GO TO AUCTION TO GET BOUGHT BY ANOTHER COMMERCIAL BREEDING FACILITY (puppy mill) TO BE USED FOR BREEDING AGAIN AND MAKING MORE PUPPIES SO THEY CAN BE SOLD FOR A PROFIT!!!!! The dogs that do not get sold are KILLED by their owners or returned to the breeding cycle. This is the cycle of breeding that puppy mill dogs go through until they are killed or die from an illness. Can you imagine this kind of life if you were one of these dogs. It would be like living in hell with no way out!!

Commercial breeders and back yard breeders (puppy mills) are also getting really smart. When they are told to get rid of a lot of their breeding stock by the State they will go to these auctions and buy back their breeding stock. This also has to stop!!

Below is a news clip of a dog auction in Ohio. The thought of dog auctions makes me as sick as commercial breeding facilities (puppy mills)!!!

THIS CYCLE MUST STOP!!! Shelters and rescues are already underfunded and over loaded with dogs that are thrown out by puppy mills or dogs that are unable to be sold in pet shops and online. Hundreds even thousands of dogs are euthanized each year because of over population due to puppy mills breeding TOO MANY DOGS.

Below is the link to the news clip. You will have to copy and paste this to view it.

Please, please pass this on to the people you know who are animal lovers. I want the world to know about dog auctions and puppy mills and how horrible they are and the inhumane treatment these innocent animals are subjected to.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart for passing this information on to others who need to be aware of this.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Our First Radio Show - recap

So... I spent an hour Thursday talking with my trainer, Mark Leon, during our first episode of "Trainer Talk" on We covered various topics regarding fearful dogs, like socialization, introduction to your home, and leash walking. We were off to a rocky start because the instructions to dial in weren't quite clear, so I had to call in from my cell phone and from my computer microphone. Then, for a while, I didn't realize I should mute my cell phone (hence the echo if you listen in). Aside from that, my only big problem was that my mouth was too far away from the microphone, so Mark came in loud and clear (good!) but I was difficult to hear (probably better that way anyway!). Oh, and I started out with the wrong theme music for a second...oops!

Next week promises better recording quality and a very interesting interview with Kathryn Segura, renown Hollywood studio wrangler (the person behind the camera who makes animals do what they do on stage) and author of Hollywood Barks! her memoirs and training tips. I hope you'll tune in at 6pm EST (3pm PST) on Thursday and check it out!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our First Radio Show is TONIGHT!

For weeks I've been kicking around ideas about how to help people who have adopted/fostered ex-mill dogs and other distressed dogs with socialization, confidence-building, and training. At first I thought we would do a series of webinars, but I wasn't impressed with the quality of the webcam I purchased. Then my trainer and I sat down and recorded a few segments, but I didn't like my hair... uh... I mean I thought we could do it better if we did a weekly radio show. We weren't actually showing any dog training anyway - we were just discussing different topics related to positive reinforcement training.

That brings me to today. What I'm going to try is a weekly radio show with various trainers who use positive-reinforcement techniques. If there is something that needs to be shown, we'll film it after the show and post it here and on our training page.

If you'd like to listen in tonight, we'll be broadcasting live at 4pm MST (6pm EST). Tune in at If you can't make it today, you can download the show and listen to it at a later date. The call-in number is (646) 381-4887 if you have any training or socialization questions you'd like us to discuss.

Blog Hop!

A great blog called "Life With Dogs" suggested I try this, so I will. It's called a Blog Hop, and it's a way to introduce new people to my blog. I hope the new people who pass through here read some of our older posts and continue to visit, because I think they'll enjoy the topics. Anyway, here goes. Below are the other blogs that are participating in the blog hop:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Trail Restrictions in Boulder

My advocacy focus has turned to home (Boulder, CO) today because I just received word that some people are lobbying to further restrict off-leash trail access to our nearby mountain trails. This is my response to the article, "Pooches Getting Screwed Again," which was published on Sunday in Boulder's Daily Camera:

A big grin and panting tongue. He looks up at you with those big, brown eyes, thanking you for such a great hike and much needed exercise before hopping into the car, and your heart melts.

Regarding the article “Pooches Getting Screwed Again,” I’d like to thank author Clay Evans for bringing the issue of OSMP further restricting dog access to public attention. I’m a person who hikes with my dog frequently, especially in areas like Sanitas (because we already seem so restricted in many other areas), and we would be devastated to lose that access or be required to be on-leash. My dog, like so many others in town, is impeccably trained not to approach dogs and people who don’t want a snorty “hello.” We’ve worked hard to make him a good off-leash canine “citizen” because he likes to walk at a different pace than I do, and allowing him the freedom to make decisions when I ask him to do things has immensely improved his confidence (he’s an ex-puppy mill dog) and strengthened our bond.

Even though I enjoy the exercise of hiking to stay fit, I'd go much less if I had to have my dog on-leash. Leashes get tangled around trees and trip people on the trail, making a more dangerous situation for other hikers and trail runners. Additionally, watching my dog romp around and enjoy himself after having lived in a cage for the first two years of his life is what often compels me to get up and go. As you can see, areas where we can hike off-leash are very important to me. Ask anyone else out hiking with their dogs, and you’ll find that our story is not unique.

As Clay said, the more you restrict hiking access for dogs, the more heavily worn the trails we can use will become. That’s not the best solution. A better idea would be to expand off-leash dog access to trails, so there would be a lesser concentration of dogs in each area. I have never seen a dog fight, a dog chasing wildlife, or a dog bite a human on the western trails. For the most part, the people I’ve encountered on these trails (with or without dogs) enjoy watching my dog’s joyful run, pet him, and walk away happier because they had the chance to meet him. Hiking with our dog is one of the reasons we live here, and I believe many “dog people” would agree that if dog-friendly trails are further restricted there will be a diminished appeal to living in Boulder.

Kyla Duffy

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rescue...chocolate? Yum!

I was so excited to come across the Rescue Chocolate website because I saw so many similarities between founder Sarah Gross' vision for her business and my own for Happy Tails Books. Learn all about her sweet idea in my interview with her below:

HTB: Sarah, tell us about your background with animals. Was there an event or animal in particular that inspired you to get involved with rescue?

SG: I have always had a soft spot for animals. Knowing that we are their voice, I feel that it is so important to work on animal issues in a variety of industries (factory farms, entertainment, and of course, 'animal control'). I began volunteering at my local animal shelter in Louisiana when I was about nine years old. Back then, I just loved petting the puppies and feeling like I was helping in some way.

HTB: How did you come up with the idea for Rescue Chocolate? How long ago did you start your company?

SG: I had the idea in December 2009, and just a few weeks after that, the company was born! I have felt like the impact I want to make on the world should be something big to improve the lives of animals, specifically homeless pets. When I was walking my dog (a rescued 'mini-pittie' named Mocha Bella) one cold December morning, the idea struck! I had eaten a great chocolate that morning and my mind was buzzing with creativity. "Rescue Chocolate" as a name just popped into my head, and I developed the idea from there.

HTB: Where can people buy rescue chocolate? How much do you donate back to rescues from each purchase, and to which rescues do you donate?

People can purchase directly from our website, and they can also consult our "Where to Buy" page for retail outlets. We are always looking for new stores (pet stores, groceries, even veterinary offices) to be carried in, so we invite all to send along the names of stores you would like to see Rescue Chocolate in.

SG: After our operating expenses, all net profits are donated to animal rescue organizations. When people buy directly from Rescue Chocolate, profits are donated to the rescue of the month, which for May is the No Kill Advocacy Center.
When a rescue organization sells the chocolate itself, they are able to raise awareness on these homeless pet issues and use all of the net profits from the sales for their programs. See our "Who We Help" page to view all of the organizations that are benefiting so far.

HTB: What advice would you give others who want to help animals in need but maybe aren't quite sure how?

SG: Whatever you enjoy doing, you can find a way to tie it into helping animals. If you have accounting skills for example, you could offer your time and skills to a rescue group. If you're a runner, shelter animals are always in need of good exercise. If you have any time on the weekend, you can volunteer at adoption events. The ways to help are limitless, find a group you're interested in, and ask what they need. They'll be grateful for anything you can offer.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Alternative Heartworm Treatment

My poor little foster, Max, has more problems than any other dog I've seen in a while, but despite his issues, his personality lights up a room. He's confined to a crate right now because he's going through the traditional heartworm treatment consisting of two shots of Immiticide, a month of being kept "quiet," and then another follow up shot to kill the smaller worms. As this is my first time with a heartworm-positive foster (we don't see much heartworm here in Colorado), I decided to educate myself about the disease. The best article I've seen about the tradition treatment is from Houston Sheltie Rescue, but I also received some very interesting information about an alternative heartworm treatment from Sharon, the president of DARE (Dachshund Adoption, Rescue, and Education).

I'm going to share Sharon's information with you here, but please note that that this is only meant to suggest that alternatives exist. We are not veterinarians and this is not professional advice. Before treating any dog with heartworm, you should consult with your veterinarian, as heartworm is a VERY serious disease.

For the first two weeks, Sharon administers Doxycycline. Dogs up to 10 pounds get 1/4 of 100mg tablet twice daily. Dogs up to 20 pounds get 1/2 of 100mg tablet twice daily. Twice daily she also gives .25ml of Wormwood and Black Walnut for dogs up to 20 pounds.

Dogs get a Heartguard pill the day after finishing this regimen. Then, the day after that they start taking three Multizyme capsules and three Zymex II capsules twice daily, one hour before food or two hours after. This is given twice daily for two or three weeks depending on how strongly heartworm positive the dog is. Sharon sometimes pours a little honey over the capsules to make them more appealing for the dogs.

Sharon prefers this treatment because it is less invasive and the pups don't have to be crated and confined. The wormwood and black walnut, and enzymes can be purchased at health food stores.

Sharon tells me her rescue has had very good success with this treatment. The dogs usually test Heartworm negative within six months to a year after completing the treatment, with some testing heartworm negative more quickly. This treatment is very low cost and the pups appear to not have any side effects. Consulting with a vet who is familiar with holistic procedures before trying this treatment is recommended. Traditional vets may look down on it because hey, they need to make a living, too, right?

Take my snide remark with a grain of salt as I've been spending a lot of money at vets lately, and I must admit I'm a little jaded. I'm very interested to try Sharon's remedy next time I get a heartworm positive dog because Max already went into cardiac arrest once, and I've been afraid to get out of bed in the morning and check his crate ever since. He has so many other things we need to conquer (damaged leg, neurological problems, cherry eye, neutering) that this treatment has really put a damper on getting him adopted any time soon. In my opinion, this alternative is definitely worth a discussion with a holistic vet.

For more information on Max or to read about my adventures in fostering, check out the Bill Blog!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

DARE to help Dachshunds

Kathy Zimmerman is an artist and animal advocate. I caught up with here recently to find out about her work with Dachshund Adoption, Rescue, and Education (DARE):

HTB: Kathy, how did you get involved with Dachshund rescue?

KZ: We had to have our 18-year-old Doxie, Smedlie, put to sleep. It was the hardest thing in my life to do, I wouldn’t let my husband go with me because I was afraid he would try and talk me out of it. She was having multiple organ failure and it was so hard to see her like that. Anyway, I went two long weeks before I thought about getting another dog. Just so happens Gulfport Rescue was having it’s rescue event, but my husband and I were out of town delivering furniture (my business is Snook Z Graphics, and I specialize in handpainted glassware, bisque, and furniture).

My girlfriend, Donna, and her husband, Gary, went to the event, so I asked her to be on the lookout for another Doxie. My husband is allergic to some dogs (takes allergy shots), but Doxies and Poodles are easier to tolerate. They saw Zoe (“Tia” at the time), shivering and in the arms of Kurt Smith, husband of Sharon Smith (the secretary now president of DARE). Donna texted me a picture, and of course, I immediately said, “That’s not a Doxie!” (Zoe is a Doxie/Chihuahua mix). I took the info and went on the DARE website Sunday night. I filled out the application, put down my references, and waited.

On Wednesday I met Sharon at the vet with three dogs. She handed me Tia’s leash and when that funny little dog looked up at me, I just knew she was the one! (Also knew we HAD to have a name change, so Zoe was it.) Sharon followed me home, did the house inspection, and the rest is history. That was three years ago this February. That night, I had a fancy dog bed for Zoe next to ours. We were ready to turn out the lights, but she whimpered and wanted to sleep with us. So she did that night and has every night since.

HTB: What have been the most rewarding things about being involved with rescue?

KZ: How much love and appreciation these dogs have for their “new families”! It’s truly unconditional.

HTB: What would you recommend to other people who might want to rescue a dog?

KZ: Go to the rescues! Those puppies need another chance, they have so much to give. Just like I knew when I met Zoe and knew she was the “one,” you’ll know when you find that perfect match.

HTB: I understand you illustrated the DARE cookbook. Tell us about that project and where people could pick up a cookbook if they'd like one.

KZ: I offered my services and was honored to illustrate their cookbook. Go to for info. Great recipes, great price and all for a great cause! I also illustrated their “Doxapalooza” poster art and tshirts. It’s a cause I believe in.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Getting Through Grief

Tricia Smith, known for "Thursday Night Suppers" in honor of her deceased Boston Terrier, Molly, has started a new blog to help people overcome pet loss grief. It's called "Farewell Furry Friend." I caught up with her this week to find out more:

HTB: Tricia, I know the loss of your Boston Terrier, Molly, hit your family very hard. What are three things that have helped you cope with the grief?

Tricia: This is something that owners who have just lost a pet aren't going to want to hear, but what has helped me the most is just the passage of time. It's been almost nine months since Molly died. I still miss her, and I still feel sad, but the difference is my feelings aren't as intense as they were right after her death. Because the intensity has diminished I have better control over my emotions.

The second thing that helped me deal with my grief was talking to our veterinarian and getting assurances from him that Mike (husband) and I didn't do anything to cause Molly's death and that we did everything we could, within reason, to try and save her. Don't underestimate the importance of your veterinarian during this time. He or she really is a valuable resource to help you come to terms with your grief.

Finally, I found a lot of peace from an interview I conducted with a pet bereavement counselor in Omaha. During our interview I asked her to describe the stages of grief. It was during her description of guilt that she said something I had never considered. She told me one of the ideas that her clients found helpful was reminding them that it was part of their job to handle end of life issues with love, dignity and respect. That it is part of the responsibility of pet ownership to do for our pets what they cannot do for themselves, often at the end of their lives.

HTB: What do you expect to accomplish with your new blog, "Farewell Furry Friend?"

Tricia: I hope "Farewell Furry Friend" will help grieving pet owners find a little comfort from their pain and realize they are not alone and that their emotions are valid. It is also important to me that my blog encompasses the wide range of issues pet owners face after losing their pet: getting another dog, pet adoption, canine medical conditions, introducing a new dog into the family, etc.

HTB: I noticed you are considering adopting a dog now. How long has it been since you lost Molly, and what would you advise people to consider before adopted a new dog after losing a beloved pet?

Tricia: As I mentioned above, it's been almost nine months since Molly died. I think the absolute most important thing to do before adopting another dog is to make sure you have fully grieved the lost of your dog. If you don't, you won't be able to handle the stress that comes with adding a new dog to your life, and you will consistently compare your new dog with the dog you've lost. You won't be able to love your new dog for the individual creature he or she is.

Also, I would tell people to listen to their inner voice. If a situation seems odd or too good to be true, it probably is. Let me give you an example: A couple of months after Molly died, Mike came across an ad for two French Bulldogs. The problem? The woman was only asking $300 - for both. $300 for one is a steal; $300 for both, well, there's got to be a catch. But being big fans of the Frenchie, Mike called the woman and set up a time to meet her at her house - in Springfield, MO, 3 1/2 hours from our home in Overland Park!

Let me tell you something about grief-it can and it will make you crazy. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines grief as a deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement. It also defines crazy as being out of the ordinary. Because of our deep and poignant distress, Mike and I were acting out of the ordinary. We were, for all intents and purposes, crazy, because let’s be honest, only crazy people would drive 3 1/2 hours in a severe rainstorm for a "too good to be true" deal. When we finally arrived at the woman's house, things went from fine to "there's something definitely wrong with this situation." The French Bulldog siblings were adorable. They looked healthy and happy. It was the woman who made us feel uneasy about the whole situation. We caught her in a couple of lies, she didn't have any papers for the dogs nor did she have any medical records, and she refused to give us the names, yes names, of her veterinarians, so that we could have their medical records faxed to our vet. Mike and I thanked her for her time and left without the Bulldogs.

Please, please listen to your inner voice, do your research and take your time.

HTB: What resources would you recommend for people who are grieving pet loss? Are there websites, support groups, books, etc. that might help?

Sometimes the best resources are right in front of you. As I mentioned before, your veterinarian can be a great asset. He or she can help clear up any questions you may have about your pet's death. Look to family members and friends who loved your pet. My mom has been invaluable to me. She always says how much she misses Molly and has the best Molly stories. I would also suggest contacting your local Humane Society to see if they hold a support group for pet owners who have lost a pet.

Below are a few websites that I found helpful in dealing with my grief. Veterinary Medicine Loss and Grief

-Provides links to many different categories dealing with pet loss: support hotlines, pet hospice, euthanasia, dealing with guilt - just to name a few.

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement

-The APLB is a nonprofit association that offers the services of volunteers who are professionally trained pet bereavement counselors. There is no cost for the APLB's services and membership is not required.

Pet Loss Support Page

-Provides links to other helpful websites and hotlines, tips on coping with pet loss and a guide to support groups and counselors.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pet News and Views

I recently interviewed Michele C. Hollow, an animal advocate who write a blog entitled "Pet News and Views." Her blog includes great articles about all sorts of animals, like how to help cats to get along, and information about what congress has to say about animal welfare. Here's what Michele had to say to us:

HTB: Michele, tells us about what inspired you to start your blog, Pet News and Views. How long have you been writing it?

MH: I have always loved animals. I studied zoology at the Bronx Zoo when I was a kid. They had a Friends of the Zoo study volunteer program. I just loved being around exotic animals, and at home, I was always around dogs and cats. My two dogs were given to us by people who no longer wanted them—one was a mutt and the other a miniature poodle. All of the cats in my life have found me. So when it came time to start blogging, I worked as a professional journalist for 15 plus years, I thought writing about animals would be a natural fit for me.

I also wrote a book, “The Everything Guide to Working with Animals,” (Adams Media). Researching and writing the book was such a joy because I loved listening to the stories from the experts. The people I interviewed for the book all work with animals, and they love their jobs.

I started Pet News and Views the first day of summer '09.

HTB: What are the main topics you cover on your blog?

MH: I write about people who work with animals, pet care, animal welfare, celebrities who use their status to help animals, and some travel to places where people can see animals in their natural habitat.

HTB: What do you see as the most effective ways people can advocate for
the fair treatment of animals?

MH: By being well informed and organized. There are so many good animal welfare agencies out there that are working so hard to end kill shelters, puppy mills, dog auctions, breed specific legislation, and I could go on and on. What I want to do with Pet News and Views is bring a lot of these issues to light, and to offer people a way to help. Not everyone can sign a huge check. People can contact their legislative leaders, and voice their opinions. We vote people into office and can easily vote them out of office. Many of my posts cover ways people can volunteer, make phone calls, write e-mails, and donate dollars.

I have been writing a lot about banning Ohio dog auctions. I live in NJ, and I want all of my readers to know that even if they live outside of Ohio, they can help end this awful practice of dogs being auctioned off to puppy mills. I often ask my readers to spread the word to their families and friends in Ohio.

The same goes with greyhound racing. I love posting stories about how greyhound racing has ended in MA and NH. I can’t wait to write that it no longer exists.

HTB: Do you know of any upcoming legislation that people should take action for?

MH: Yes. I wrote a story about Saving America’s Horses. The story is about Congress needing to enact a federal ban on horse slaughter. Some state legislatures have acted to stop horse slaughter, shuttering the last remaining foreign-owned horse slaughter plants in the United States in 2007. However, Congress has yet to enact a federal ban. This means that not only can horses continue to be exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, but more foreign-owned horse slaughter plants could try to set up shop in the U.S.

Fortunately, many members of Congress remain committed to horse protection. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), is the lead Senate sponsor of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (S. 727) to ban horse slaughter. Senator John Ensign (R-NV), Representative John Conyers (D-MI), and Representative Dan Burton (R-IN) join her in that fight as lead authors of S. 727/H.R 503. Voters can contact their state senator and let them know they are supporting these bills.

Another issue is banning Ohio dog auctions. The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions is working to collect 120,700 signatures needed—to put before state legislators. Residents of Ohio can sign the petition, and friends and family outside of Ohio can inform them about these issues. For the full story, go to my blog or check out the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions.

I am working on stories about breed specific legislation (where certain dogs, like pit bulls are banned in some states), declawing cat laws (yes, I’m not making this up), and other stories. I do post light stories too. I’m currently posting romance stories on getting past the first date and getting to know your partner’s pets.

HTB: If you could give three pieces of advice to animal lovers, what would they be?

MH: If you are going to purchase an animal, please go to your local animal shelter. If you prefer a purebred, you may be surprised to learn that many shelters have purebred dogs. You can also adopt from breed rescue clubs.

Spend quality time with your pets. If you have a pet or are planning on getting one, please understand that it takes a lot of work. Cats are easier than dogs, but both need attention—don’t we all? Even birds are social animals, and you need to talk to them, play with them, and care for them.

Make sure your pets are fit and healthy. Exercise your cat and dog. Walking a dog is great exercise for people and the dog. Cats need exercise too, and cat dancers are great ways to play with your cat to make sure he is getting exercise. Don’t over do it though. Just enjoy being around your pets.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Creative Nonfiction Animal Writing Contest

Here's an opportunity for all you writers out there to share information about animal experienced and win money! Entries must be postmarked by April 2nd, 2010. Further information is available at their website.

Creative Nonfiction's website says:

For an upcoming issue, we're seeking new essays about the bonds--emotional, ethical, biological, physical, or otherwise--between humans and animals. We're looking for stories that illustrate ways animals (wild and/or domestic) affect, enrich, or otherwise have an impact on our daily lives.

Essays must be vivid and dramatic; they should combine a strong and compelling narrative with a significant element of research or information, and reach for some universal or deeper meaning in personal experiences. We’re looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice.

Creative Nonfiction editors will award one $1000 prize for Best Essay and one $500 prize for runner-up.

Guidelines: Essays must be: unpublished, 5,000 words or less, postmarked by April 2, 2010, and clearly marked “Animals” on both the essay and the outside of the envelope. There is a $20 reading fee (or send a reading fee of $25 to include a 4-issue CNF subscription); multiple entries are welcome ($20/essay) as are entries from outside the U.S. (though subscription shipping costs do apply). Please send manuscript, accompanied by a cover letter with complete contact information, SASE and payment to:

Creative Nonfiction
Attn: Animals
5501 Walnut Street, Suite 202
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Fostering in The Big Apple

Sarah Oren is a foster parent in NYC who has a blog encouraging others to foster. She posts photos and descriptions of NYC shelter dogs in need, so if you're in that area, check it out. You might just feel compelled to take a dog or two into your home.

From personal experience I can tell you that fostering is one of the most rewarding things I've done in my life. Here's what Sarah has to say about her experiences:

HTB: How did you first find out about fostering and dog rescue? For how long have you been involved?

SO: After I moved to New York City a couple years ago, I felt a need to do something fulfilling with my days outside of my paid job. I had been a shelter volunteer and zoo employee during college, and have always felt a special bond with animals- especially dogs. I searched online for animal-related volunteer opportunities in Manhattan and came across Animal Care & Control’s “Safety Net” program, now called “Pets for Life NYC.” Their goal is to help prevent owners from surrendering their pets by providing temporary foster care for the animal in peril. Immediately, I was hooked.

HTB:Many people say, "I couldn't foster; I would keep them. It would be just too hard to give them up." What is your reply?

SO: So many people may see an adoptable dog and say, “I just don’t have the time or money right now,” to which I say “Do you have a few dollars, a bit of free time during the days/weekend, and a desire to make a difference in someone’s life?”

My foster doggie, Mocha, did not come with any personal items; I had to buy her food, collar, and leash. As a recent college grad in Manhattan, I had little extra money to burn, but all I needed for Mocha was a few dollars, some old towels to make a bed, and lastly, patience with house-training. Mocha was not always a piece of cake to care for, but my job was to help prepare her for a permanent home with some potty training and adjustment to living outside of a shelter cage. She soon adjusted, and became better every day.

As for those who worry about becoming attached to their foster dog, I feel your sentiments. I cried the entire journey home after dropping off my Mocha with her new owner. It’s tough not to be able to explain to the dog that they are going to a good home, and that it is all for the best. But the pain wore off for me once I began to receive photo emails of my foster girl in her new home. Since Mocha’s formal adoption in August 2009, she and I have had numerous reunions. That story is what I’d like potential foster parents to keep in mind; it might sting at first to give up your shelter dog to another owner, but it gives you an opportunity to see the dog thrive while you have the chance to save another dog’s life who may have died if not for your foster efforts.

HTB: Tell us about your blog. What inspired you to start it? How long ago? What do you hope to accomplish with it?

SO: After joining the Safety Net program at Animal Care & Control, I got an email from a volunteer asking if someone could foster a mini pittie who was to be euthanized the following morning. I jumped at the opportunity to foster, knowing full well that if I didn’t step forward, this dog might not make it through another day. I called the shelter volunteer, and we set up a meeting the following day. I took my new foster dog out of the shelter and into my home. She had been a “throwaway mom,” used as a breeding machine and had just recently given birth to a litter after arriving at the shelter. “Mocha” came to me completely malnourished and in need of some serious TLC. She turned out to be the sweetest, most loving mini pitti I could have asked for.

I learned so much about the need for increased promotion of shelter dogs, especially those at kill-shelters like AC&C, where the euthanasia rates are simply too high. So many dogs are put to sleep for various reasons, including bad behavior, illness, and lack of adopter interest; the sad part is, those three factors can be completely changed depending on the care that dog receives inside or outside of the shelter. THAT is where a foster owner comes into play!

Mocha had gotten lucky by having a pro-active volunteer on her side, but some dogs don’t get that same opportunity. I wanted to find a way to help other volunteers and fosters publicize their dog without having to walk around their entire city, hoping for a match! I spent weeks trying to get Mocha adopted, with plenty of people showing interest, but no one was coming forward to take her home. I knew I needed to create more widespread awareness of the amazing dogs currently in shelters in the NYC-area.

I started my blog, Foster Dogs in NYC, several months ago, updating it almost every day since its creation. Mocha was adopted almost immediately after my blog was created, thanks to some cross-posting around Facebook and Petfinder! She now lives with a fantastic owner on Brooklyn, who has since been inspired to create her own chocolate brand called “Rescue Chocolate” that donates proceeds to dog rescue groups. In a way, each of us is paying it forward. And that’s the overall goal!

HTB: NYC seems like a hard place to have a dog because most people live in apartments. If someone lives in an apartment and wants to get a dog, what are some things you would suggest they be aware of?

SO: I had a tiny studio apartment when I fostered my two dogs (each at separate times). Yes, it gets tight, but I’d recommend fostering dogs that are appropriately sized for one’s living space. I always made it a point to walk my foster do as many times as possible, not only to house-train her, but also to get her energy out. We took weekend runs and jogged around the neighborhood. Now I hear from her owner that she has tons of friends at her dog park and plays like there’s no tomorrow! Dog parks are a fantastic opportunity to get your dog’s energy out – and to get them properly socialized (as long as they are friendly!).

Small-spaced apartment living should not deter someone from fostering a dog, but be aware of certain lease agreements that restrict pet ownership.

HTB: To wrap this all up, please tell us your three favorite things about fostering.

SO: My favorite thing about fostering is feeling like I’ve made an enormous difference in a dog’s life-and possibly in some human beings’ lives as well!

Fostering also connects you with others who care about animals as much as you do! You become part of a wonderful community of animal activists.

Another wonderful thing about fostering is the awareness one creates for shelter dogs! By fostering one dog, you may have influenced dozens of others to consider adopting or fostering instead of heading to a pet store!

Friday, January 1, 2010

What's in a name?

The year is turning over like the pages of our books, and for many this month will be a time of reflection and new beginnings. And what better time is there to make some changes in our lives? I’m not talking resolutions, because they never seem to last. What I’m referring to is incrementally changing our behaviors to increase the quality of our lives and of those around us – including our furry friends.

One thing I’m going to do this year is make sure I never say words like “Labradoodle” (a mixed breed dog born from Labrador and Poodle parents) and “Bugg” (a mixed breed dog born from Boston Terrier and Pug parents). Before you get angry with me, hear me out. It’s not that I don’t like them. In fact, it’s because I love them and don’t want to see them suffer in puppy mills like purebred Bostons and Pugs do now that I will call them what they really are: Mutts.

Names are a powerful thing, and each time we give mutts a “designer” name they become susceptible to human greed. Think about it: nobody is going to keep several different types of dogs in small cages to breed them together in an effort to make a huge profit because the profit just isn’t there. Most people willing to have a mixed breed dog know they can get a great one from a shelter, without having to spend lots of money. However, the second someone calls that mutt a “Pomapoo” or “Schnoodle,” suddenly the “breed” has value. By instead calling them what they are, wonderful mutts that make up the essence of the truly “American dog” and not giving them some cutsie name, it is possible to save the mixed-breed dogs we love from horrific suffering so sadly experienced by many purebred dogs.

Okay, I know the suggestion of not using "designer dog" names is an idealistic and uphill battle, but how dog breeds end up in puppy mills is something everyone needs to understand.

I, too, struggle not to say “Labradoodle” when everyone around me is saying it, and I know most people will nod their heads when they read this while really thinking that I've gone off the deep end. I don’t care. The fact is that no dog should ever be holed up in a 2x2 chicken wire cage and bred for eight year. If all I have to do to prevent exacerbating that suffering is look crazy by suggesting people should call mixed-breed dogs mutts, then I'm going to do it. I hope you'll step up for these dogs with me by also calling them what they are, mutts, and when given the opportunity, explaining to others the reasoning behind NOT turning them into a designer "breed."