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When words trump actions

posted November 24th, 2015 by
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Looking Back

When Words TrumpWhen words trump actions

This blog will be read by most people around the Thanksgiving holidays.  Trust me – I’m not going to write about family get-togethers, discussions, or traditions. This is about rescue.

Over the years I’ve frequently had “frying pan” experiences – where suddenly I just knew something.  One of my most memorable – and one that has stood the test of time is:  How do I want to be remembered?”.  There have been times I spoke up and, more often, times I zipped my lips.

I never forget that the dogs and cats who enter our lives do not care who we are – they’re just grateful we’ve saved them.  Those actions trump words every time.  The challenge, however, is too many passionate people who’re involved in rescue have no filter, or a really bad filter, on what they say and when they say it.  If you lose sight of saving the animals, the words that come out of their mouths will trump their actions.  When that happens, it’s the animals who pay the price – and they do not have a voice.

What puzzles me is why someone would want to be remembered not for the good they’ve done in rescue; but for the obnoxious, unprofessional, words that have spilled out of their mouths.  All too often those words derail a rescue, cause undue hardship, and create challenges for future collaboration.

At this time of year, if I had the power to give a gift to those in rescue, it would be the following:  Work together, zip the lip, and save lives.

Kukur Tihar

posted November 17th, 2015 by
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Kukur Tihar

From http://themindunleashed.org/

There is an entire day during a festival in Nepal dedicated solely to thanking dogs for their loyalty and friendship. The time itself is called “Diwali” celebrated by Hindus, and is a ‘festival of lights’ celebrated by millions every year in the fall, in india, nepal and elsewhere.

Specific to Nepal, there is a day during this celebration dedicated to all the Dogs, called Kukur Tihar, specifically to thank our 4-legged companions for always being our loyal friends.

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Image source: imgur

Tihar is a five day Hindu festival, but the second day is reserved for our loyal companions.

It is called Kukur Tihar or Kukur Puja (worship of the dogs).

festival for dogs
Image source: Imgur

People offer garlands, tika (a mark worn on the forehead), and delicious food to dogs, and acknowledge the cherished relationship between humans and dogs.

festival for dogs

The garlands are a sign of respect for the animals.

Because dogs are the best people.

festival for dogs
Image source: imgur.com
festival for dogs
Inage source: imgur

The images honoring these animals are truly breathtaking.

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Image source

The thought of this beautiful festival is lightening the heavy hearts of dog lovers everywhere, amid horrendous news bites from another kind of festival in Yulin, China, recently.

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Image source: Rebloggy

With red powder, the dogs are marked on their foreheads as a sign of sacredness.

I really love this.

Turkey Dogs

posted November 15th, 2015 by
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Turkey Dogs

Turkey Dogs

Turkey DogsTurkey Dogs are coming!  Get ready to welcome our first group of Goldens arriving from Istanbul, Turkey just in time for Thanksgiving!
SGRR has partnered with Gold Ribbon Rescue in Austin to participate in the rescue of eighteen Golden Retrievers from shelters in and around Istanbul, Turkey. These Goldens are set to arrive later this month in Houston, TX and SGRR and GRR-TX volunteers will be there to welcome them to their new homeland. SGRR will bring four of these needy souls back to Oklahoma to start their new lives as spoiled house Goldens.

How Can You Help?

FOSTER a Turkey Dog!
We are looking for four families interested in fostering these Goldens when they arrive in Oklahoma from Houston. If you are interested in becoming a temporary foster home for one of the Turkey Dogs, please email us at adoptions[email protected] or call the GoldenLine at 405-749-5700 and leave your contact information. Please consider fostering a Turkey Dog!
DONATE to Support the Turkey Dog Mission!
As you can imagine, the costs associated with rescuing these forgotten Goldens is substantial so your financial support is critical to this and any future Turkey Dog operations. SGRR’s participation in this project will NOT jeopardize our ability to assist any local Goldens in need in our normal service area. Any participation in future Turkey Dog missions will depend on the financial support we receive from our supporters for this effort. You can donate through PayPal at our website: www.sgrr.org; or you can mail your check to: SGRR, PO Box 57139, OKC, OK 73157-7139. All donations are tax deductible.

Why Turkey Dog Rescues?

Istanbul’s struggle with a large population of stray animals dates back more than 100 years. Some people estimate that the number of stray dogs on the city’s streets exceeds 50,000 – not including the dogs that live in the city’s 30-plus animal shelters.

The ownership of purebred dogs has always been seen as a status symbol in the western parts of Istanbul. About 10 years ago, golden retrievers were the most sought after breed. They were becoming very popular in Hungary, Italy and Germany and initially, only those of means could afford to get one. When pet stores in Turkey began importing lots of puppies, more and more people purchased them and, becoming “common,” they lost their standing as a status symbol and were no longer valued.

When owners could no longer take care of the dogs or when they no longer wanted them, these dogs ended up in the forests surrounding the city or on the streets, abandoned and left to fend for themselves. The most common route to life on the street was a call to the local authorities who would pick up the dog and bring it to a shelter (there are 32 in Istanbul). Once at the shelter, volunteers would take the dogs to the vets to spay or neuter the dog, administer a rabies shot, tattoo or tag the ear to show it had received this care, and then let out the door to live on the street. The most unlucky ones are those let go, either by municipality authorities or their owners, in the forests around Istanbul where they usually fall prey to the feral dog packs that roam the areas. A very few lucky ones spend years in the shelters – that is as good as their life will ever get. Over the years, since being abandoned and set loose, the golden retrievers have gotten good at surviving on the streets of Istanbul, however, the life of a stray is not easy and food is not always forthcoming, shelter hard to find, and abuse at human hands is far too common.

There is no hope for these dogs in Istanbul. There is no adoption there. Without help from a rescue, they will live the remainder of their lives roaming the streets and begging to survive. All of these dogs are young – they do not live to see the “senior years.” We estimate that there are approximately 800+ purebred goldens living in the streets/forests/shelters in Istanbul…. A small percentage of the 50,000 which is why you don’t see many on the streets but those 800 are precious to us.

How did SGRR Get Involved?

A concerned American living in Istanbul saw these roaming dogs and contacted Adopt a Golden Atlanta [www.adoptagoldenatlanta.com] asking for help. After an exhaustive four month process, AGA brought the first thirty-six Goldens to American soil earlier this year. Since then, with support from AGA, other Golden rescue groups across the country have partnered to rescue a total of more than 150 Goldens to date.

SGRR heard of this need and our Board decided that we must join this national effort. This mission is supported by the Golden Retriever Club of America – National Rescue Committee. One by one, Golden by Golden, we make a difference.

Vaccinations

posted November 8th, 2015 by
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Looking Back

Vaccinations

VaccinationsVaccinations for children are certainly a controversy.  Trust me, there’s an equal controversy about the reality of vaccinations for dogs.  Every week we see the results of those who do not believe in vaccinations for their dogs – and the dogs have heart worms or ehrlichia.  For the most part, dog owners, get it with rabies vaccinations – in large part due to municipal ordinances and the actual reality that humans are at risk if bitten by a rabid animal.

Every year many people get the flu shot – especially if they didn’t one year and caught the flu.  Well, in dogs ehrlichia can make a dog feel as though it has the flu.  If you don’t want to feel lousy – then care enough to get you dog the monthly medication  so they do not test positive for ehrlichia.

Now – the big challenge.  Heartworms.  True confession, I grew up in rural Wyoming – it freezes every winter and all the mosquitos die.  Heartworm is not the problem it is in this area.  They’re preventable with one tablet per month – the treatment if they have heartworm is expensive and the dog must be kept quiet.  What’s so sad for too many municipal shelters is the raw fact that they do not have the funds to treat heartworm.  You know the rest of the story.

And then there’s fleas – – lots and lots of fleas.  Yes, they itch – and when they’re bad enough they cause hair loss.  Dorothy (pictured below) is a visual example of a sweet little Chihuahua who was covered (yes covered)  in fleas so badly her hair had fallen out.  The second picture is Dorothy in her pink Sunday outfit – designed to keep her warm until her hair grows back.  I can only imagine how awful she felt before treatment.  Fleas itch – – they really, really do. You can prevent fleas on your dogs and cats and in your home by treating the animals on a monthly basis.  Simple, effective and guaranteed to give your animals and you an itchy/scratchy free life.

Vaccinate, Immunize, get the shots – it’s a simple solution

Kay Stout, Director   PAAS Vinita  [email protected]  918-256-7227

Rehabilitate, stop animal abuse

posted November 7th, 2015 by
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Anicare of Oklahoma

Working to rehabilitate, stop animal abuse

By Wilhelm Murg

 

Studies have shown a correlation between animal abuse and other social problems, including child abuse, spousal abuse and other violent behaviors.  Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have mandated or recommend that judges order treatment for anyone convicted of animal cruelty in order to stop it before it spreads. Local teacher and activist, Martha Brown, has started a grassroots campaign in Tulsa to help Oklahoma adopt such a policy. Her newly formed organization is Anicare of Oklahoma.

The name comes from the Anicare Program designed by the Animals and Society Institute, an independent think tank based in Ann Arbor, Mich. The group is dedicated to stopping the cycle of violence between animal cruelty and human abuse, promoting new, stricter animal protection laws, and further studying the relationships between humans and animals.

The Anicare program, under the umbrella of the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, is a combination of assessment and treatment for animal abusers built around the concepts of “accountability, respect/freedom, reciprocity, accommodation, empathy, attachment and nurturance,” according to the Institute’s literature. Brown is currently working out the details for a seminar to be held 2015 in Tulsa where the program would be taught to education, psychological and law enforcement professionals.

Brown says she was associated with a group, Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which transformed into ASI over the years. “It’s mostly an academic group that publishes papers on issues of animals and human problems and relationships, but they started talking about Anicare as this program they had developed for intervention in cases of animal abuse, [rehabbing] the perpetrators, which could be anyone from small children to adults,” she says.

The program is structured to concentrate on the attitude of the perpetrator. “It’s a matter of getting the abusers to accept the fact that what they have done is wrong, and to learn how to take responsibility for it,” Brown says. “Also, the counselors are encouraged to notice whether these people have been abused as children because there is a very real connection between people who have been abused who go on to abuse animals as they get older. People in their own households may have abused animals; sometimes parents hurt the pets as punishment when the kids have done something wrong, so the children are often encouraged or grow up thinking it is OK to abuse animals. They’ve wrongly learned through their families that animals have no value independently of what we can get out of them.  These attitudes are often ingrained into the people.”

Getting both children and adults to take responsibility for their actions is another one of the main goals of the program, which is actually split into two parts parts—one for children and young people and one for adults. “Very often abusers will not take responsibility for what they have done, so there is a whole series of questions, not to make them feel guilty, but to try to show them other ways of looking at their behavior and also at animals,” Brown says. “The hope is that if they change their ways of thinking and feeling about animals, they may also change their behavior toward them. It uses applied principals that are already established in psychology and psychiatric intervention to this specific problem.”

Brown pointed out that animal abuse is often connected to other problems within families so there are scenarios where the program calls for getting the abusers’ families involved with the therapy. “You have to really concentrate on some of these things because the people in therapy are quite clever at trying to change the subject or keeping away from acknowledging any kind of wrongdoing, or that they could have done something differently,” Brown says. “You have to be pretty persistent in dealing with them, and   I imagine this is true with other kinds of problems as well; if you are too accusative, then the kids tend to be defensive of what the parents have done. Often, the parents have been abusive to them as well.”

Brown does not see this as a very expensive process, but she says it does need a lot of organization and volunteers. “We have financing for training workshops, and eventually we’ll need a little more money, but probably not a great deal,” she says. “What we really need is publicity, so people know there’s somewhere to go in cases when there is suspected animal abuse. We have a list of people who are interested; we have a list of organizations that we think will be  useful in referring people, and we are putting a presentation  together so we can talk to representatives of these groups because a lot of it will be voluntary.

“There are examples in the materials of children that have been referred by school counselors or their parents who have just   noticed what was happening, so publicity is one of the main things we will need.  We’ll need the help of some judges, some lawyers,   and some psychologists that are in practice, and any counseling groups, any therapy groups. I know that in some cases, judges in places like Chicago, Kansas City and Denver have been sentencing people who have been charged with animal abuse to complete the program as part of their treatment. We know there are programs in those places that are working well, and there’s no reason we can’t do the same thing here.”

The Tulsa seminars are scheduled for Feb. 27 and 28, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at College Hill Presbyterian Church. “The seminars are training mostly for psychologists, but the first part is for anybody    in the criminal justice system or school counselors, anyone involved in the counseling and therapy communities, for talking about the general ideas and their approach to intervention in the case of animal abuse,” Brown says.  “That would be the first morning of the two-day workshop, and the rest of the time is more technical training for people who would be doing the intervention.”

With the community’s help, Brown sees her program as a step toward building a stronger, healthier Oklahoma.

For more information on the Anicare program, visit the Animals & Society Institute website: www.animalsandsociety.org. To stay updated on upcoming seminars, volunteer opportunities and more, visit the Facebook page, Anicare of Oklahoma: Stopping Animal Abuse, or call Martha Brown at (918) 583-3652.

Who Trained The Trainer?

posted October 31st, 2015 by
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How to Select a Qualified Dog Trainer

By Nancy Gallimore, CPDT-KA

 

On two different occasions, I have been chatting with friends about dog training, and in the course of casual conversation, both people mentioned how stubborn their dogs were. I immediately questioned why they felt their dogs were being stubborn.

The answers were almost identical. “Because the moment my dog sees our trainer, he hides behind me. He’s just being stubborn and trying to avoid training.”

And this is the point where my heart falls to the floor. If your dog is not thrilled to the point of doing a happy dance to see your trainer, then something is wrong. If your dog does not see training as an opportunity to have fun with humans, again, something is very wrong.

Every dog is an individual training puzzle to be solved, and there are numerous techniques for training dogs. Modern training techniques should (and that is a huge “should”) focus on humane methods, positive motivation and teamwork between dog and handler. Nothing about training should make a dog want to be “stubborn.” And I’m here to tell you that when I’m presented with a “stubborn” dog, I can almost always replace that adjective with afraid, nervous, confused, stressed or frustrated.

Obviously, all dog trainers do not bring the same level of experience, skills and methods to the table. Dog training has evolved significantly over the past few decades to embrace positive, dog-friendly, motivation-based methods versus correction-based techniques. This transition has had a profound effect on not only training but on relationships between humans and their dogs.

Positive reinforcement training found its roots among exotic animal and marine mammal trainers. Think about it… If you can train a large predator, such as a killer whale or a tiger, by focusing on capturing and rewarding desired behaviors, there is no reason you can’t do the same with your dog.

This is especially important to consider when working with dogs demonstrating fear or aggression issues. As knowledge of animal behavior is strengthened through scientific research, the findings reveal that using aversive training methods when working with fearful or aggressive dogs can actually lead to worse behaviors. Meanwhile, the studies also show focusing on rewarding the animal during moments of appropriate behavior can alleviate fears and anxieties, boost confidence and help create more well-adjusted dogs.

This article, however, is not really about how to train your dog as much as it is about how to select someone to help you train your dog. Truth be told, anyone can hang out a shingle, claiming to be a professional dog trainer. This industry is not regulated, so it falls on the shoulders of dog owners to do their homework and do background checks.

For the dog owner looking in from the outside, it can be quite confusing to figure out which dog trainer will be the right match, which dog trainer has valid skills and ability to properly read a dog and construct a sound training plan. You look at websites; you talk with friends; perhaps your veterinarian has a recommendation.

What it boils down to is this: don’t be afraid to ask questions. You wouldn’t hire a babysitter without background information. You wouldn’t select a contractor to remodel your home without doing some research. The same diligence should hold true when selecting a dog trainer.

The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) is a professional organization for people who are committed to becoming better trainers through education. The organization also offers great public information about different training methods, as well as suggestions for how to find responsible, reputable trainers.

According to APDT, it’s a good idea to use open-ended questions so that trainers can explain their personal experiences, methods, and philosophies to you in depth. Here is a list of questions you can use as an interview guide, some from APDT, some suggested by certified trainers in the Tulsa area:

How long have you been a professional dog trainer?

How/why did you become a dog trainer.

How long have you been training your own dogs? What types of things do you do with your own dogs? Have you achieved any titles through competing with your dogs in obedience, agility or other events?

What is your educational background in the area of dog training and behavior?

Have you recently participated in any continuing education or attended conferences or workshops?

What methods of training do you endorse?

If you teach group classes, may I come observe a class?

What type of equipment or training aids do you typically use?

Can you provide a list of references? (Clients and veterinarian references would be ideal.)

What professional associations do you belong to? If none, why?

What are your credentials, and do you have any certifications? If yes, through what organization? What are the requirements

for certification? (For example, the letters CPDT-KA following a trainer’s name stand for Certified Professional Dog Trainer -Knowledge Assessed, a certification through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.)

The answers to these questions can help you find a trainer who will help you achieve your goals with your dog, whether you just want a well-mannered companion, or whether you are having issues with your dog that need to be resolved.

Your dog is an important part of your family and your life. The guidance of a good trainer can help you understand the learning process from the dog’s point-of-view, so you can avoid the “stubborn dog” pitfalls and work toward nurturing a mutually-rewarding relationship.

Above all, remember that training with your dog should be fun for everyone involved. Listen to your gut. If you have a trainer asking you to do things that make you and/or your dog uncomfortable, perhaps it’s time to find a new trainer.