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Moving to Muskogee? You Don’t Have to Give Up That Cat!

posted July 15th, 2008 by
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Job transfers, marriage, divorce, and other life changes often entail a change of address. 

Companion animals, like dependent children, require an added measure of provision to ensure a smooth move, be it down the street, across country, or abroad. Sadly, animals are sometimes given less consideration than Aunt Zelda’s bulky old armoire, which must remain in the family at any cost. The cat, the dog, the hamster … well, they’ll find a new home. What happens to pets left behind seldom has a happy ending. 

Like hand-me-downs, companion animals passed on from one home to another tend to be given away yet again, losing value to each consecutive guardian or owner. The net result is that these animals become progressively “disposable” and may suffer premature deaths, or worse, a life of neglect and even cruel treatment.  

Moving is the leading reason given for owner-surrendered animals at shelters and humane societies. Some people cry when they leave (i.e., “abandon to their fate”) their bewildered pet at the shelter, but do it nonetheless. Others surrender the gift-kitten they cooed about last Christmas, or the arthritic dog who has been loyal to the family for 10 years with no more concern than dumping a bag of old clothes at a collection bin. Regardless of their state of mind, both types of people are breaking the implicit commitment, the ethical obligation, the promise that comes with adopting, purchasing, inheriting, or accepting a living, feeling creature: To care for him or her for the rest of its natural life.

There are times, however, when taking pets along is truly impossible –e.g. tour of duty in the Armed Forces, moving to a healthcare facility, a ban on the dog breed at the point of destination, etc.—and the pet owner has no alternative but to entrust their temporary care to someone else. The ideal solution in such cases is finding a foster-home arrangement with a capable friend, relative, or pet nanny until pet and owner can be reunited. Boarding in a reputable kennel can be expensive, but sometimes is the only way to ensure proper care of the animal in the owner’s absence. In any case, even with friends and relatives, the owner should offer compensation proportional to the cost of food, medical care, and other expenses to ensure that the favor doesn’t turn into a burden.

Too many people think that coping with pets in a move is hard to handle. Not so and no more than coping with children or personal possessions in such cases. Changing residence in town is easy, and yet some people see barriers that don’t exist. “They don’t allow pets in the new apartment,” they say, ignoring the availability of pet-friendly quality rentals anywhere in the continental United States. “The new house has white carpet…” having never considered hardwood, tile flooring, or a sensible carpet print. And the pinnacle of poor choices: “My new room-mate (partner, spouse) ‘won’t allow’ pets…” and pity the person who will agree to such demands.  In fact, when a pet means so little to the owner, it is in the pet’s best interest to find better people to live with. 

Moving within the United States (with the exception of Hawaii) poses no special problems for pet owners.  Real estate agencies are familiar with pet-friendly rental and lease properties. Some landlords may be swayed to accept pets if the renter offers a higher deposit or agrees to replacement conditions. 

While looking for a permanent residence, pet owners have at least three options: (1) live in temporary pet-friendly accommodations with their pet, (2) board the pet, or (3) ask friends or relatives in the new or in the former location to keep the pet until a permanent residence can be found. In the latter case, there should be no arm-twisting; the provisional caregivers should be willing and able to provide properly for the pet in a safe environment –e.g., strong fence, no vicious children to torment it, etc. In all fairness, provisional custody of a pet should never be an open-ended proposition, and the caregiver should be given a timeframe within which the pet will be retrieved by the owner. The caregiver should also receive money to cover pet food and other expenses.

International transfers present greater challenges, but in most cases are possible. The first step is to check with the Embassy of the destination country as to their pet importation laws. A listing of foreign embassies and consulates is available on the Department of State’s website at http://www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/dpl/32122.htm.  Fortunately, most countries have reasonable requirements for importing companion animals. The Embassy of the country of destination, the air carrier, and a USDA accredited veterinarian must be involved from the start. It helps to create a schedule with requirements, deadlines, reminders … and follow it through.  

Some countries, however, have strict quarantines on agriculture and wildlife, and customs requirements and prohibitions. There may also be bans on breeds considered dangerous such as Staffordshire (Pit) Bull Terrier, Akita, Presa Canario, and others, but these differ from country to country. In such cases, the owner should find a suitable new home, preferably among people he knows and who are capable to handle a high-performance breed. That failing, it is necessary to contact a breed-specific rescue group which will place the animal only with those who can handle the breed. Also, when the importation of an exotic species is banned, there are dedicated sanctuaries that may take the animal in exchange for a usually tax-deductible donation. Petting or road-side zoos are no place for any animal. The credential of the sanctuary or shelter must be carefully checked.

The second, and essential step, is to contact the airlines that service the country of destination to find out the pet-friendliest (KLM hands down). Air carriers have their own regulations concerning a (1) a certificate of health from a USDA accredited veterinarian within 10 days of any travel date; (2) a summer pet embargo when temperatures are forecasted to be above 85F/29.5C at any point on the itinerary (origin, transfer, or final destination); 75F/24C for snub-nose animals; (3) limits on the number of service animals and small pets allowed as carry-on luggage in cabin on a flight, (4) specific air kennel dimensions and strength to ensure the comfort and safety of the animal, and others.

Horses deserve special mention. To move them internationally is generally too expensive. Finding someone willing to buy or adopt a horse and “put it in the pasture” is easy; finding someone physically, mentally, and financially capable of caring for a horse is not. Beware of anyone who wants a horse “for the kids to ride,” because it will be re-sold as quickly as children lose interest. Horses are often victims of neglect and abuse when they fail to meet people’s unreasonable expectations. The owner of a horse should carefully check the potential adopter/buyer’s animal record, his financial ability to support it, and personally tour the stable and check the other horses. When in doubt, the horse is better off taken to a horse-rescue organization or SPCA (with a generous donation) where he or she will be safe until a good home is found.

I have moved multiple pets locally, nationally, and internationally without a single problem. The latest and most challenging experience was to Saudi Arabia. The first obstacle was the country’s limit of two pets per expatriate family; I had 12 at the time. I chose to take the two dogs, because they would be happy anywhere as long as I’m there; my cats, on the other hand, would be better off staying in their familiar Tulsa home, provided I could find a reliable caregiver. Luckily, I was able to strike a deal with a young, responsible woman, who would move into my house (with her own two cats and dog) to care for my cats in exchange for living there free of rent. A special account was created from which she paid all animal expenses. This solution turned out to be a success: The cats thrived under her care; she was able to start saving by not paying rent; and I had the peace of mind of knowing that my pets back in Tulsa were not suffering from my decision and I could enjoy their company anytime I went back. 

The two large dogs I took to Saudi Arabia required Veterinary Health Certificates, rabies boosters and other inoculations. The bureaucratic maze was considerable: The certificates had to be authenticated by the Department of Agriculture and by the State Department Authentication Division. Incidentally, the cover letters accompanying each authenticated certificate were signed by the US Secretary of State herself, Condoleezza Rice! Then the Consular Section of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia had to certify the certificate … You probably guessed it already: Some countries create an obstacle course to discourage the importation of pets. So you proceed to beat them at their game. 

At the end of the trip, when the dog, the cat, the parrot … your loving, trusting companion, comes out of the carrier and you are there to meet him or her, there is no better feeling, knowing they are safely with you because you have honored the lifelong commitment; you kept the promise. 

Story by Dolores Probasta

The Lucky Ones

posted July 15th, 2008 by
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Story by Camille Hulen

When the floods came to Coffeyville last year, a lady had a pregnant cat named Pantera.   

It is unfortunate that the cat had not been spayed, but, at least, she was loved.  Although homeless herself, the woman found shelter for her cat.  Pantera was a Lucky One.

  Two weeks after she was given shelter, Pantera gave birth to five lucky kittens. The birth occurred within one hour early on a Saturday morning.  Pantera knew just what to do: cleaning all of the kittens and herself to be presentable to the world in less than four hours.  For the first two days, she rarely left their side, nursing and cleaning constantly.

By Tuesday, Pantera would leave the kittens briefly, only to feed herself and use the litter box.  Although a litter box was in the cage with her, she chose not to use it, but to wait until she could go to one further away.  Perhaps this is instinctive behavior to protect kittens from predators who might detect the scent.

On Wednesday, one eye of one kitten peaked open!  This was sooner than I ever imagined.

By Thursday, mama cat had become a little restless, and moved the kittens within the cage.  I would move them back to their soft nest, and she would move them again.  Once more, this is probably instinct, to keep them safe from predators.  Pantera never considered me a predator, but kept a watchful eye if one of the kittens squealed as I held it.

Kittens certainly grow quickly!  At the age of one week, they had doubled in size.  They were no longer little wieners: they were big fat sausages!  At one week, they were no longer constantly at mom’s nipples and began to feed individually and mill about more.  Most had their eyes squinting open.

By the following Wednesday (ten days from birth), they began to get curious and tumble about, almost playing with one another.  A couple of days later, they were wrestling, vying for position to feed.  One would even hiss when startled. They continued to gain strength and by the age of two weeks, they were attempting to climb from their nest.  A clumsy attempt it was, for they could still not focus their eyes.

Then, at three weeks, the world was theirs!  They began to focus their eyes, and displayed their baby teeth.  They wanted to investigate everything.  Pantera would leave them, but be back at the slightest whimper.

At one month, they began to eat solid kitten food occasionally and use the litter box.  Both of these behaviors they learned from imitating mama cat.  At that point, although they did not physically need mom, they purred contently whenever she was near.    The experience of witnessing a mother cat’s love and care was truly remarkable.  

How does one duplicate this care as a foster mom?  What do you do when you find kittens in a dumpster, thrown away like yesterday’s trash?  This was the case of the four beautiful orphans in this picture. 

They came to me flea-ridden from their dumpster environment.  Since they were too young for chemical flea  products, the only remedy was bathing, lots of bathing. Two of these kittens came to be known as Duncan, (because we dunked him so often), and Dipsy, as we dipped her equally frequently.  

The orphans were hungry, very hungry.  One thing you appreciate quickly is that mama cat can feed all of her babies at once, continually, but as a human you must feed them one at a time, while the others clamor for their share.  You haven’t lived until you have had 80 little claws, sharp as needles, climbing your legs!  As a foster mom to tiny babies, one does not get much sleep, for they must be fed every four hours, night and day.  If they are newborn, it is every two hours. The reward is little purrs, for bottle-fed babies purr in response to their human “mom,” just as normal kittens purr contentedly next to mama cat.  And, believe it or not, the little ones also need to be burped, just like a human baby.  

On the other end, Mama licks kittens to stimulate them to urinate and defecate, then keeps them clean all in one action, so what does the human do?  Rub their little bottoms with warm wash cloths to stimulate them and then use lots of tissue.  When old enough, kittens follow mom to the litter box.  Fortunately, orphans, too, will use the litter box quite naturally, when they are old enough to stumble into it. It takes a while, though, for them to learn to clean themselves, so foster mom must bathe them.

Although they still enjoy the comfort of nursing, curiosity causes kittens to follow mama cat to food and water. However, bottle-fed kittens do not learn so quickly.  It takes a lot of coaxing to convince them to drink from a saucer or to even try moist food.  A messy process it is, so that means more baths!   Guess what?  Kittens like this learn to love water, which carries into adulthood, when they try to take a bath with you.  No spray bottles for discipline with these guys either: water is fun.

So it was, with patience and love, and a lot of fun, over the course of three weeks, the “dumpster babies” grew and flourished.  They were ready for their permanent homes, and, like Pantera’s kittens, they were the Lucky Ones.

Now in the heart of “kitten season” again, we can only ask, “What will happen to the many kittens abandoned in a park or thrown from a car on a country road?  Will they be among the Lucky Ones?”




 






   

Dog Training 411

posted July 15th, 2008 by
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Story by Mary Green

Q: I have a Great Dane who is 15 months old.  He is fairly well behaved.  He has the sit, stay, lie down, shake hands, and basic commands down fairly well.  I have problems with getting him to come.  Sometimes he will even look at me quite obstinately and go on with what he is doing.  This makes me feel like he knows what I mean.  I always praise him when he obeys, but if he does not feel like coming to me, he will not!  Any ideas?

A: It seems as though you have done a nice job teaching your Dane some basic skills.  By rewarding his good behavior, you greatly increase the chance that he will repeat this behavior.  The problem with getting a dog to come when you call him is that whatever he is already doing (sniffing, digging, and running away) is inherently more rewarding to him than whatever you may offer.  His obstinate look and his return to whatever he was doing is probably because he knows if he comes to you it is “The End of Fun for The Dog.”  So the challenge is to change his mind about that! 

Teaching your dog a reliable recall may be the single most important skill he ever learns.  It could one day save his life.  

First of all, to begin teaching your dog to come when you call him, you must be prepared to reward him every time he comes to you.  The reward needs to be of very high value to the dog; something he really likes.  It may be food, it may be a belly rub, or a favorite toy.  If you are using food as a reinforcer, it needs to be something extraordinary.  Save the usual treats for reinforcing other behavior.  

You may find that changing your command from “come” to something else like “here” will speed him up.  If “come” means to him “The End of Fun for The Dog,” “here” could mean “cookie party!”

At first start indoors, or in a relatively distraction-free area.  Say his name in a happy voice followed by your new command (make it a happy “hee-year”) and praise him for any effort to pay attention to you.  Pet him, feed him his treat slowly, and let him go again.  He will soon learn that checking in with you may mean cookie party plus more freedom!  

When you practice outdoors in a fenced area, you may want to have a light weight drag line attached to his collar.  If he does not come when you call him, you can step on the line and prevent him from going further away.  Walk up the line a bit and try again a little closer.

Never stop randomly rewarding (reinforcing) your dog for coming when called.  Even if you have practiced 2,000 times, it might be the 2,001st time that is an emergency.

Q: I have a seven week old Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix puppy.  He seems to be impossible to potty train.  I take him outside and we could sit for an hour and he does nothing but stand between my legs shivering, then the second we get inside he attempts to do it on the carpet.  I take him right back outside and he does the same thing for another 30 minutes.  That’s when I give up and put him in the bathroom with a puppy pad and he does his business on the tile.  I’m starting to wonder if he’ll come around.

A: Let’s drop back and regroup.  At seven weeks old, your little guy should probably still be with his mom and littermates.  Since he’s not, I suspect that he did not have any early experience with house training.  Standing shivering between your legs is clearly a sign that he is stressed – if not terrified.  Staying outdoors longer isn’t going to help.  And it is wrong to punish a puppy for having an accident.  It is up to the owner to establish good house training management.

The ideal setup for such a small dog would be a crate (for short-term confinement) placed inside of a puppy pen (for long-term confinement).  The puppy pen would contain the crate, a water bowl, chew toys and a puppy pad.  The puppy pad would be placed as far away from the crate as possible.  At eight weeks, a puppy’s bladder capacity is only about one hour.  By confining him to his pen for the long-term (for example while you are off to work) he can learn to sleep in his crate and eliminate on the pad.  The crate door is left open so he can choose to get a drink, go potty, chew his chew toys or go take a rest.

When you are home, you can confine him short-term in the crate, and take him outdoors every hour to go potty.  Even if you are playing with him, or training him, he needs to go outdoors every hour. A young puppy will generally urinate soon after waking up, so instead of waiting for your puppy to wake up, wake him up and take him directly outdoors.  Give him only a short time (less than five minutes) to do his business, and take him back indoors.  Be sure that you give him treats for eliminating outdoors.

As he gets older, he will have a greater bladder capacity (about two hours at 18 weeks of age) and you may be able to do away with the puppy pen and continue to use the crate.a

Bekah’s Helping Paw Fund

posted July 15th, 2008 by
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Saving lives with the help of the Tulsa Community Foundation’s “Charity of Choice” 

A couple of years ago, Andrew and Tracy Turner lost their beloved Bekah, a four-year-old German Shepherd, when tragedy struck.  The absence of Bekah’s presence within their daily lives inspired the Turners to take action in order that other individuals might be spared the devastating loss of a loved pet.  As their first project, they are providing local fire departments with pet rescue oxygen masks to help pets suffering from smoke inhalation in house fires.

Nearly every house fire involves smoke inhalation.  The best treatment for smoke inhalation is the quick and efficient delivery of oxygen.  Since nearly every home also includes pets, many pet lives can be saved when oxygen can be effectively delivered.  Saving pets’ lives in house fires is not only good for the pets and their owners, but it also improves fire fighter morale.  However, oxygen masks for pets generally retail at $200 per set and are extra equipment which many fire departments simply cannot fund.  

The Turners herein recognized a noble cause which could give some measure of meaning to Bekah’s untimely loss.

Desiring to create a non-profit charity, the Turners contacted Tulsa Community Foundation, an organization that is involved in charitable giving at every level of the community as well as working with individuals and families.  Andrew and Tracy created and funded Bekah’s Helping Paw Fund personally but have since held fundraising events and received charitable donations to expand the reach of the charitable activities of their Donor Advised Fund.  

The Turners next found an animal oxygen mask distributor in Florida who would sell them the reusable flexible-flange mask sets, which come in three sizes for small snouts to large snouts, for a non-profit price of $75 per set (www.helpanimalsinc.org).  These masks fit a large range of animals from all sizes of dogs and cats, to birds and other exotics as well.  Bekah’s Helping Paw Fund has subsequently provided the masks to all the Tulsa County Fire Departments, the Owasso Fire Department, Bixby Fire Department, Northwestern Rogers County Fire Protection District (in Oologah), and all the fire departments in Pittsburg County (through a grant of equipment to the Pets Are Working Saints, PAWS, group in McAlester) and they are currently working with Stillwater, Broken Arrow, and Sand Springs.  

The Owasso Fire Department put their masks to use within the first few days when they were called to a mid-morning house fire where all the humans were gone from the home and several pets suffered smoke inhalation.  Owasso Fire Chief Brad Clark states that the rescue of a small dog at that residence allowed firefighters to experience a positive outcome in an otherwise awkward situation.  Just one week prior, the fire fighters had responded to the overnight fire at the One Stop Pet Shop where a number of animals died of smoke inhalation when an over-night fire had gone undetected and self-extinguished when the aquarium burst.  The damage was discovered by the store manager upon opening the following morning and he immediately called for fire department assistance.

Chief Clark states, “The Owasso Fire Department now has the tools necessary to sustain life until the victim can reach professional care and that is very cool.  We are well-equipped to manage human traumas but animals require a different level of support and equipment is very expensive.  This project deserves recognition for their genuinely right intentions.  Saving pets who are also members of a family is pretty big and certainly one thing that cannot be replaced.”  Likewise, Dr. Chris Kelley of the Small Animal Hospital of Owasso and who also treated many of the One Stop Pet Shop animals, states, “We are very excited about the oxygen masks being provided by Bekah’s Helping Paw Fund to local fire departments.  These masks give animals suffering from smoke inhalation a much greater chance of survival.”

Bekah’s Helping Paw Fund is the first entity in the Tulsa area working to provide pet rescue oxygen masks free of cost to local fire departments.  The Turners hope to get the oxygen masks in the equipment lockers of every fire department in Northeastern Oklahoma and in doing so, hope to encourage other communities across the country to do the same.  Donations can be made to:  Bekah’s Helping Paw Fund, c/o Tulsa Community Foundation, 7030 South Yale Avenue, Suite 600, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74136.  All donations are tax-deductible.  For more information please email:  [email protected] or [email protected] 

In addition to Bekah’s Helping Paw Fund, Tulsa Community Foundation (TCF) donors have made grants throughout Oklahoma and other parts of the United States to assist various animal welfare organizations.  Over the past 12 months, TCF has supported organizations such as Best Friends Animal Society, H.E.L.P. Animals, Inc., Washington County SPCA, Humane Society of the United States, Animal Aid of Tulsa, Tulsa SPCA, Morris Animal Foundation, Forrest and Jenny’s Place, Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center, Humane Society of Tulsa, Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, Spay Oklahoma, Inc., Animal Rescue and Kare, Developmental Wings and its partnership with a therapeutic riding center near Sallisaw, Oklahoma, and the American Therapeutic Riding Center in Sand Springs, which has a marvelous center for children, youth and adults with disabilities.  In particular, the therapeutic riding is a win-win, with the horses assisting children and families while the riders in turn give the horses a sense of pride and purpose.

Recognizing that we can all do more working together than is possible individually, Tulsa Community Foundation maintains a goal to assist donors to accomplish their charitable objectives in the most effective and efficient manner.  TCF is a tax-exempt, public charity organized in 1998 to be a recognized, community-owned organization that initiates, teaches and encourages personal and corporate charitable giving today to ensure that the philanthropic needs of Oklahomans can be met for all generations.  Tulsa Community Foundation is the largest community foundation in America.  Please visit their website at www.tulsacf.org for more information.

Story by Carolyn Arkison

   

Publisher’s Letter

posted July 15th, 2008 by
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20080715 1
 

Nancy, Spamela, Sherri & Marilyn

Story by Marilyn King

Bonejour, Tulsa pet lovers, and welcome to my summer issue. Though the dog days of summer are fast upon us, spirits in our local pet world are higher, with serious talk on the street of a dog park, an increased focus on the Tulsa animal shelter, and overall more attention on local pet issues. I especially wish to mention a heartfelt thank you to Mayor Kathy Taylor for her positive and active role to better the future of our homeless Tulsa pets.  

I finally had the pleasure of meeting Spamela Anderson as featured in my last issue.  I was joined by Sherri Goodall, author of the Spamela article, and Spamela’s “Mom” Nancy Werhane, who was gracious enough to let us come meet the famous pink babe in the flesh. When we arrived “Spammy” was asleep in a small shed (Nancy said she does like her beauty sleep), but as we walked through the pasture Nancy shook a bucket of piggy treats and we yelled her name, and pretty soon here she came, all 500 pounds of her.  She’s quite a gal – very well-behaved, and really very cute. One thing I immediately noticed was her “hair.”  It was like a brillo pad, stiff as a steel brush.  Nancy says that it grows in for the winter, and in the spring she sheds it and returns to her regular pink skin.   Another pig tidbit I didn’t know was that if she’s feeling good, and she likes you, her tail is curly. If she doesn’t feel well, or if she doesn’t like you, her tail is flat!   Fortunately, during our visit her piggy tail remained curled tight.

I must say I’ve never been quite so moved as when I met Riley, as featured on page 34, and to witness the care that Tiffany Talley, Riley’s Mom, gives him. It’s a very time-consuming procedure to equip Riley in his wheels and supervise him. Add to that the significant amount of time spent on his extensive therapies and the expense for his care.  Most people would just throw in the towel and have Riley put down, but not Tiffany. Her spirit is incredible and it’s truly gratifying to see them together.  In my book, she is voted paws down one of the World’s Best Dog Moms, and she deserves a big medal in the Dalmatian wing of doggie heaven!

I visited the Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter on May 31 for my Shelter Report page, and was so encouraged to see it crowded with families walking the aisles looking for a new best friend, and with dogs actually being adopted and going out the front door!  It was a wonderful sight to see and I left uplifted rather than totally depressed crying all the way home as times before.   

Please remember to encourage adoption from local rescue groups and shelters, and sing the words Spay & Neuter far and wide. We’re all in this together, and together I do believe we can make a better world at least for our local pets. Thank you to all, and bless all of our pets, past, present, and future.  

Livin’ Large – Gentle Giants Aren’t Just Dogs, They Are a Lifestyle

posted July 15th, 2008 by
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Working as a veterinary assistant, I was always amazed by the giant dog breeds.  One particular giant – a Great Dane – eclipsed the tiny exam room, and I had to ask his owner, “Just where does he sleep?”  She winked at me and said, “Anywhere he wants.”  Later, when I saw pictures of the sway-backed couch he’d commandeered, I realized these gentle giants aren’t just dogs – they are a lifestyle. 

From Irish Wolfhounds and Saint Bernards, to Newfoundlands and Rottweilers, the giant breeds hold a special place in their owners’ hearts . . . not to mention carving out a significant space on their beds and couches.  

In spite of their sweet disposition and simply having more dog to love, “They’re not for everyone,” says Dr. Robert Poteet of Cedarwood Veterinary Clinic.  “Large dogs present challenges in several areas: housing, transportation, feeding and grooming.  Some giant breeds are even difficult to bathe.  A 150-pound Saint Bernard or Great Pyrenees doesn’t fit too well inside a bathtub, and it’s a bigger job when it comes to poop-scooping.”  

If you’re considering a giant breed, says Poteet, you really need to think hard about living space.  “Large dogs require a lot of exercise.  While a little dog can run around the house and get adequate exercise, large dogs need a big yard, or they need to be walked regularly.”  

Also, is the owner physically capable of walking a large animal?  “A 90-pound grandma probably shouldn’t think about getting a Rottweiler,” said Poteet.  “Believe it or not, your own physical health can make a difference.”    

There are also concerns about lifespan.  “Generally, larger dogs have a significantly shorter lifespan,” said Poteet.  “The Great Dane is geriatric at eight years of age, though some will live to 12.  There is also higher incidence of hip dysplasia [a condition affecting the hip joint] among the bigger breeds.”  

If you have small children, you might want to reconsider bringing Goliath into your home.  “I would stay away from Rottweilers, American Bull Terriers and American Bulldogs if you have small kids, unless you know the breed well,” said Poteet.  “They may have great personalities, but they are often strong enough to cause damage and not even realize it.”  


 

Bishop Daniels

(owned by Magnolia and Eugene Daniels)


Bishop & Eugene Daniels

Bishop Don Juan Daniels may weigh 160 pounds, but he’s still a puppy in his own mind.  The two-and-a-half-year-old English Mastiff will put a paw on Magnolia’s lap to signal that he wants up, but that’s pretty unlikely, given his size.  

“He wasn’t even five pounds when we got him, and you could easily hold him in two hands,” said Magnolia.  Those days are long gone, but Magnolia and her husband, Eugene, had a good idea what they were getting into.  

“I wanted a calm dog,” said Eugene, “and Bull Mastiffs tend to be more aggressive, so we settled on the English Mastiff.  We knew we needed a house with a lot of space, and a lot of outdoor space, so we waited until we were ready.”  

Bishop feels right at home today, where he’s always eager to chew on golf balls or play with Bad Cuz, his favorite squeeze toy.  He also has a preference for durable Kong toys.  “He gets a new one every two to three months because he’s so hard on them,” said Magnolia.  “We just exchange it at PetSmart because they come with a lifetime guarantee, which Bishop more than puts to the test.”  

Bishop is primarily an indoor dog, but he loves to play fetch.  “I walk him on occasion, probably not as much as I need to,” said Eugene, “but he knows where the leash is and goes to find it when he’s ready.”  He’s a pretty aggressive walker with a big stride, so Eugene has a choke collar on him to slow things down.  “Bishop can run a long way, but he does get tired.  You can tell when he’s ready to go home.  After a run, he spreads out all over the floor, and he’s ready to cool down.  He’ll lay there for at least an hour, trying to cool off.”    

For such a big boy, Bishop is a bit of a ’fraidy-cat.  “He doesn’t like large trucks, pots and pans or loud noises,” said Magnolia.  “During storms, he takes off and hides.”  Ordinarily, he sleeps in a blanket in the couple’s bedroom, but sometimes he sleeps in their 18-year-old son Raymond’s room.  Bishop also has his own plywood-reinforced couch in the theater room.  “When he wants time out, he just goes in there and climbs on his couch,” said Magnolia.  “That’s his breakaway from everything.”  

Keeping Bishop in kibble is no small feat.  “He goes through two 50-pound bags a month,” said Eugene, “plus we give him canned food as a treat.”  They used to slip him people food every once in a while, but had to cut that out due to allergies that caused him to break out.  

The bills do add up quickly, but there’s always money in the budget for life’s little luxuries.  “Our big baby gets a pampered bath once a month,” said Magnolia.  “They love him where he goes.  He always gets an ‘A’ on his report card after his bath.”  

Bishop enjoys kids, and frequently runs down the street to play.  “One day he ran off, and we hadn’t seen him for a while,” said Magnolia.  “It wasn’t long, and the little neighbor boy brought him home, all excited: ‘Bishop ran away, and he came to play with us.’”  

The couple said they would like a companion for Bishop.  But there’s always the issue of space.  

Maybe the Daniels just need to surrender another couch.  


Stanley

(owned by Robert Cooper)


Stanley & Robert Cooper

Stanley is a stately, statuesque Great Dane, and more than once he’s been mistaken for just that . . . a statue.  A fixture at Harvard Liquor, 1113 S. Harvard, sitting in his customary position near the cash register, Stanley is probably more co-owner than employee.  Since Robert Cooper adopted him four years ago, Stanley’s been coming into the store daily from the time he wakes up until 9 p.m., except Sundays.  

Weighing in at 165 pounds, Stanley is “seven-ish,” and the third in a line of Great Danes that Robert has adopted.  A beautiful faun brindle with black face, Stanley’s a little on the small side.  “I had a harlequin male that weighed 250 pounds once,” said Robert.  “All three of my dogs lived to be about 12-and-a-half, which is really, really old for the breed.”  

Stanley is known to surprise customers now and then, many of whom are taken aback by his large size, or the fact that he’s a living and breathing dog and not a statue adorning an Egyptian tomb.  

Stanley doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, but the dog is a great “visual deterrent,” according to his owner, thwarting potential thieves.  “Between him and me behind the counter, if they were even thinking about doing something, his presence makes them stop and think about it first.”

In spite of the advantages of having a large dog on the premises, not every customer takes kindly to Stanley.  “I literally had a guy walk up to the door last week, put his hand on the doorknob and wouldn’t come in the store when he saw Stanley.  I feel bad about that, because the guy probably has a phobia of dogs.”  

Robert first started bringing his pets to work with Stanley’s predecessors.  “When I first opened the liquor store, I worked 12 hours a day, and it wasn’t fair to my pets, leaving them at home alone all day.  That’s when I started bringing them to work in the morning and leaving them with the staff.”    

Stanley is deeply in tune with Robert’s comings and goings and even knows the sound of his car.  “Within a few months of getting him, he was definitely my dog,” said Robert.  “He doesn’t need a lead, and he’s never more than five feet away from me.”  

Though Stanley may seem shy and reserved, he’s not that way once you get to know him.  “He’s pretty mellow, but you can get him wound up a little just by messing with him.  If you act like you’re going to take his bone away from him or say, ‘I’m gonna get ya, Stanley, I’m gonna get ya,’ that gets him going.”  Stanley may playfully go on the attack, but he would never bite, Robert says.  

Great Danes generally don’t like water, and Stanley’s no exception.  “He’s afraid of water, and he doesn’t like water bottles,” said Robert.  “Great Danes don’t like to swim.  They’ll get their feet wet, but they don’t want to swim.”  Stanley’s also averse to weather extremes.  “He won’t go outside if it’s raining or too cold.  If it’s really hot outside, he won’t stay outside.”    

Stanley’s customary spot is on a rubber mat next to the cash register.  He knows that’s where he’s supposed to stay when he’s on the job.  “Hard floors and linoleum are hard for him to sit on.  They make his front legs stick out straight, so the mat makes him more comfortable.”

Generally, Stanley prefers to be on the ground.  “We can’t find beds big enough for him,” said Robert.  “He has a comforter folded in half that he uses for a bed.  He digs in it and makes it lumpy and hard before he lies down.  He’s a real couch potato.”

Robert says Great Danes are not typically a dog you would jog with.  “He tires quickly.  Basically, you go for a walk with him, and he’ll sleep for an hour afterwards.  Especially after about three to four years of age, Great Danes really begin to mellow.”  

While Stanley likes to play with a rubber ball and a rope bone, his #1 toy is a plush dog called Pound Puppy and was given to him by a store customer who recently passed away.  “Stanley went to her house for a visit and brought back this little puppy.  It used to be pink, and he carries it around the house like he is a mama dog.”  After removing the squeaker, Stanley has otherwise been very gentle with his “baby.”  

Aside from a brief bout with melanoma on his ear, Stanley has had a pretty uneventful life.  While they had to remove about two-thirds of his ear, Stanley has taken it all in stride and appears to be doing fine.  It does make his right ear stand up on one side, giving him a perpetually puzzled look, but it’s really quite endearing.  

Like other giant dogs, Stanley puts a sizeable dent in the food budget.  “We go through a little over one 40-pound bag a month,” said Robert, “but he doesn’t overeat.”  

Baths and clean-up are easy with Great Danes.  “They’re not a dirty dog, being short-haired,” said Robert.  “In the summertime, I wash him off outside.  We have both hot and cold water outside, and he’s comfortable.”  

So the next time you visit Harvard Liquor and that statue near the register moves, don’t worry.  It’s just Stanley.  

  

Duke

(owned by Karen and Paul Sherwood)


Duke (aka Marula’s True Grit) Sherwood is named for “the Duke” himself, John Wayne, and the name is appropriate.  The handsome four-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback walks with a certain amount of swagger that would do the Duke proud.  Weighing in at 95 pounds, he is a strong, muscular dog with a stunning red wheaten color and matching eyes.  

The one distinguishing characteristic of this South African breed – the prominent ridge on the back formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat – is the one thing Duke is missing.  

“Every breed has its imperfections, and we knew we didn’t want a show dog,” said Karen Sherwood, Duke’s mommy.  “We didn’t want to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for him.  It was more important for us to find the dog with the right personality.”  

Karen and her husband, Paul, did extensive research on the breed.  “We did the research online – quizzes you can take to see which breeds best fit your household,” said Karen.  “We looked at some books and both realized we wanted a big dog.  Paul and I had both grown up with smaller dogs.  This time, I wanted a Marmaduke dog, a ‘Scooby.’”  

The Sherwoods quickly enrolled Duke in Doggie Kindergarten at the Tulsa Dog Training Club to speed up his socialization skills.  “It’s important that big dogs behave when they’re around people who don’t know them.  Little dogs can get away with more, where a big dog’s bad behavior is so much more visible.”  

Karen said it’s important to develop a bond in the first nine months and quickly establish your authority as pack leader.  “They will become pack leader if you haven’t trained them in that length of time.  Then you’re left trying to fight a dog who is in excess of 80 pounds and you can’t make them do anything.”   

Duke has no such issues, however.  He is mild-mannered and kid-friendly, responding well to neighbors, family and friends.  Karen says the breed is loving, caring, low maintenance and wash-and-go.  “They are shorthaired, so there’s not a lot of shedding, and he doesn’t drool.  The breed is typically a one-person dog, but Paul and I split things 50/50 with Duke, so he hasn’t picked a favorite.”  

Duke has a healthy appetite, eating about seven cups of chow a day (and a few snacks), but he’s not an overeater.  He has a fondness for playing with his stuffed squirrel, six-foot snake and big green octopus, and he loves bath time, submerging rubber ducks in the bathtub and getting all excited when they pop back up.  Oddly enough, he doesn’t like it when it rains on him, but a guy’s got to have a few foibles, right?  

“I have to go outside with him to ensure he goes potty if it’s raining,” said Karen.  “He’ll do two paws off the porch and two on. They are very clean dogs and don’t want to be dirty.”  

Duke has such a gentle, caring heart that the couple has trained him to do therapeutic visits to retirement homes, assisted living centers and hospitals.  “A big dog is great, because they are at wheelchair and hospital bed height – there’s no bending or stooping required.”  

In spite of the extensive training and certification process, Duke can still be intimidating because of his size.  “I always ask the person we’re visiting, ‘Would you like to see my dog?’  I’ve had people in the nursing home say, “I can see him from here.’  It’s the responsibility of the large dog owner not to push them on people.”    

Karen said she and Duke enjoy the visits where he often entertains with his obedience and agility training.  Alzheimer’s patients, particularly, have strong reactions to therapeutic visits.  “Bringing dogs in may be the only thing that elicits a reaction from them that day.  It may cause them to talk about the dogs they had to give up to come to assisted living.  It’s a nice time for them, getting to talk about their own dogs.”  

Story by Chris Payne