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Twister’s New Home

posted June 21st, 2016 by
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What's in Your Dog Shampoo

Twister’s New Home

By Lauren Cavagnolo

Photos by Sirius Photography

 

Displaced after the Moore tornadoes, a dog finds his place at the Tulsa Boys’ Home

“A house just isn’t a home without a dog.”

It’s a statement to which many TulsaPets Magazine readers can relate. And now, so can the young men of the Tulsa Boys’ Home.

Though it is temporary, the campus is home for the boys, says Jeff Johnson, volunteer coordinator for the Tulsa Boys’ Home. And for many people, the idea of a home includes a dog.

So when the staff decided to adopt a young chocolate Lab named Twister a year and a half ago, the boys were thrilled.

“This is their shot at having a pet. When these kids look back on their life, and some-one says, ‘Did you have a pet growing up?’ this is going to be the one that 64 of these boys refer to,” Johnson says.

The boys living at the facility in Sands Springs range in age from 11 to 17 years old. The group provides assistance to those struggling with substance addiction, as well as boys who have become wards of the state for a variety of reasons including abuse and neglect. The length of stay can vary from six months to two years, depending on the program and needs of the boy.

Not unlike some of the boys residing there, Twister’s journey to the Tulsa Boys’ Home began with misfortune. On May 20, 2013, the town of Moore was struck by an EF5 tornado. Many pets, including Twister, were separated from their families in the destruction of the storm.

Oklahoma City-based organization A New Leash On Life, Inc., took in many of these animals, as residents tried to piece their homes and lives back together. 

“He was found, and we housed a lot of dogs here during the 30 days when their owners were looking for them. He is one that was never claimed,” says Barbara Lewis, CEO of A New Leash On Life, Inc.

A decision was made to enroll him in the Pen Pals Prison Program, a 10-week course that pairs inmates with shelter dogs. The inmates teach the dogs basic manners, obedience, and correct any behavioral problems.

Since they didn’t know his name, and he was a refugee of the Moore tornado, the inmates named him Twister, according to Lewis.

“About the time they were ready to graduate, we were contacted by the Tulsa Boys’ Home. They were looking for a resident dog, and I said, ‘I think I have just the dog for you,’” Lewis says.

 

Unconditional Love

‘The interaction with the boys and Twister is amazing to watch,” says Kaycee Aragon, manager of the Eagle Lodge on the Tulsa Boys’ Home campus. “Sometimes these boys will have the worst day ever, and they will come through these doors, and it’s a whole different demeanor when they see Twister. They go from being mad to happy.”

Johnson says most of the kids on campus have not been raised in a traditional family setting and don’t fully grasp the concepts of unconditional love and forgiveness.

“These things they can’t even relate to; you can’t even describe it to them because they don’t have a reference point,” Johnson says. “Now with this dog, they can see [he] loves them unconditionally. This dog does not care if they threw a radio through the window earlier; that dog is still going to love them. Most of them probably haven’t had someone who treats them that way.”

Stormy Bullard, youth and family counselor at the Tulsa Boys’ Home, says Twister is present for many of the therapy sessions, bringing with him a calming effect on the boys. He also provides a welcome dis-traction, helping the boys to open up about more difficult or uncomfortable topics.

 “He definitely helps them in ways that we probably don’t even realize,” Bullard says.

The benefits of having a canine on campus extend beyond the therapy sessions. “They learn how to be more empathetic, how they treat him and how that relates to their other relationships,” Bullard says.

Having Twister around also adds that homey element to the campus. “When they are having a bad day, they just want to hang out with him or snuggle with him,” Bullard says.

And when the boys need a playmate to let loose with, Twister is their perfect companion. “A lot of these boys have a lot of energy,” Johnson says. “That dog is not going to get tired. You can take him out to the pond with a stick and throw it all day long and wear these boys out one at a time.”

“There is so much more love around here now that we have a dog.” Johnson adds. “All of the other lodges want a dog. They all want the dog to live in their lodge.”

 

Twice the Fun

Through the support of an anonymous donor, A New Leash On Life, Inc., provides the Tulsa Boys’ Home with dog food each year. And when they made their yearly delivery in December, it was the perfect opportunity to let Lewis know they were ready for a second dog.

“I had a couple of dogs just show up on my porch and couldn’t find the owners,” Lewis says. “And I said if you don’t mind a three-legged dog, I have just the dog. And we let the boys name him, and they named him Captain Jack.

“When I delivered him, I told the boys, it’s going to be up to you guys to train him to come when he is called and sit and lie down and do all the basic stuff. That’s what they are doing.”

And the boys couldn’t be happier about it. Jacob Hardin, a resident of Tulsa Boys’ Home, helped train Captain as he affectionately calls him. Even though it is more responsibility and work, to Hardin it is worth it.

 “I’ve been a dog person for a long time, but moving around so much I never really had a dog to stay with. Now I actually get to be here with a dog  and help train him,” Hardin says.

Hardin says having the dogs on campus has encouraged the boys to be more active and gives them a reason to go outside and play. The dogs even help some of the boys get along better.

“Not many kids here get along with each other; he brought some kids back together,” Hardin says. “There are kids here who don’t have a friend but have Twister.”

Captain Jack, in particular, has been a companion to Hardin, hanging out in his room and listening to him practice guitar.

“When you don’t have someone to talk to, there you go; he’ll sit down and listen to you, every word, and he won’t go until you say you want to be alone,” Hardin says of Captain.

Johnson is equally pleased with the addition of Captain Jack to the Tulsa Boys’ Home campus.

“Once again, she hit a home run. Barbara understands this place,” Johnson says. “With the New Leash On Life program, they have been so supportive of us. They don’t just give us a dog and disappear. They are there to help us out and support us. They care about these dogs and want them to have a right fit.”

And as much as the dogs help the boys, the boys are just as important to the dogs.

“[Twister] lost his family,” Johnson says, “And so now, they can be his family.”

Viral Cuteness

posted June 15th, 2016 by
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Coconut Oil

Viral Cuteness – Spreading the love of a boy and his dog

By Anna Holton-Dean

Viral CutenessWhat’s cuter than a baby or a dog?

The answer can only be a baby and a dog.

Photographer Jarod Knoten thought so when he snapped a photo back in 2012 of his 2-month-old son Porter and rescue pooch Pixel, snuggling together.

Knoten was snapping photos of his newborn when Pixel jumped up on the bed and joined him. “Pixel was lying behind Porter, so I propped him up on her chest between her front and back legs,” he says. “After a couple of shots, Porter fell over on top of her front legs, and she pulled her leg out from underneath him and snuggled up with him. Of course, I started firing away.”

Knoten posted the photo to reddit.com (via imgur.com) with the caption, “Just my dog spooning my baby. Nothing to see here.” As the views kept growing, it became apparent he wasn’t the only one who found it adorable.

Since the photo’s original posting to reddit, and an updated posting by Knoten’s wife Claire with an additional photo, the  two photos combined on imgur have collected over 2 million views, reaching viral status. The photos have been featured on numerous sites including Animal Planet, Disney Family, Huffington Post, The Chive, BuzzFeed and the ASPCA.

For all the shares, reposts and love the original photo received, there was criticism and judgment. As with anything on social media, people can and will find something to criticize.

“The photo of Porter and Pixel got as much backlash as it did praise,” Knoten says. “A lot of people complained that we were putting our infant at risk by exposing him to our dog.

“Obviously, we would never put our child in a situation where he could be hurt. We knew when we got Pixel that it wouldn’t be too long before we thought about having children, so we did our research and trained her accordingly.

“We tried to play with her like a child would, playfully tugging on her ears, tail, etc. By the time Porter was born she was unfazed by getting tugged on and was prepared to handle how Porter may interact with her during their supervised interactions when he was very little. Porter turned 2 on Nov. 2, and they are best buds and partners in crime.”

As confirmation of their responsible parenting, Claire’s updated photo posting to reddit, stacked with the original of Porter and Pixel, displays the caption, “She’ll bite they said… 9 months later still only kisses.”

The original photo’s popularity hasn’t waned almost two years later. In February 2014, a representative from National Geo-graphic contacted Knoten about licensing the photo for use in a new book, “67 Reasons Why Cats Are Better Than Dogs.” The publication is a silly, witty take on the “age old battle: cat vs. dog.”

The photo’s caption in the book says, “Without the slightest hesitation, dogs will often abandon their own children for the first interesting looking human baby they come across, as this reprehensible photo demonstrates.”

It’s all in good fun, but truthfully, as far as they know, Pixel didn’t abandon anyone (or any puppies). She was found on a rural road as a small puppy by the Knotens’ friends while they were moving. The couple posted a photo of her on Facebook, looking for someone to take her in.

Already discussing the addition of another dog for a while, Knoten said to his wife, “Let’s go look at her,” to which she replied, “You never go to look at a puppy; you go to pick a puppy up.”

“She was the perfect size and sweet as  can be, but she was in pretty bad shape health-wise,” Knoten says.

Pixel had a range of ailments including mange, an infected tail wound, malnourishment and the “home run” of intestinal parasites, according to the veterinarian. But with a lot of love and a little time, she was on the mend, playing with the Knotens’ older Shih Tzu and making friends at the dog park. “Truly the perfect addition to our family,” Knoten says. 

When the photos went viral, commenters wanted to know Pixel’s breed. Their best guess is a Border Collie mix, “or in our opinion, the best mixed breed ever,” he says.

No stranger to viral photos, Knoten had a previous run with his work making the Internet rounds. Perhaps without even knowing it, you’ve seen Knoten’s “skeptical baby” photo, which he originally posted to his blog in 2011. It quickly turned into a popular meme (i.e., spread from person to person online) with various captions.         

Despite being a professional photo-grapher with a previous viral photo, Knoten says he never thought the photo of Porter and Pixel would be as popular as it has been; he just hoped someone would find it as cute as he did.

Today, 2-year-old Porter and Pixel (4 years) are still best buds who like to get into mis-chief together. One of Porter’s favorite things to do is fill his dump trucks with dog food and deliver it to her. “There’s the occasional sneaking food to the dog from the dinner table as well,” Knoten says.

Porter also recently learned to play fetch with her. They still snuggle, and “I imagine,” Knoten says, “when Porter is sleeping in a big kid bed, we will no longer be sharing our bed with Pixel.”

Undoubtedly, Knoten will capture it, and it will be just as cute as their early snuggle days. Until then, the Internet—and all of us—will be waiting for the photo.

“67 Reasons Why Cats Are Better Than Dogs” can be purchased on amazon.com.

Treating Your Pets

posted June 7th, 2016 by
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What's in Your Dog Shampoo

Treating Your Pets

By Kiley Roberson

 

Whether it’s your constant companion, best friend or first child, your pet is truly someone special. So when you treat them with a snack, it should be special, too. And what if that snack did more than just satisfy your pal’s taste buds… what if it also satisfied a need in your community? That’s the goal of Tulsa’s Bridges Barkery.

The Barkery is part of Tulsa’s Bridges Foundation, an organization that offers education like vocational training, employment opportunities, living skills and community resources to individuals with developmental disabilities.

“We showcase the strengths, capabilities and talents of each individual we serve,” explains Karie Jordan, President and CEO of the Bridges Foundation. “By assisting each person in the attainment of their individual goals, self-sufficiency increases, positively impacting the entire community landscape.”

Karie says her 4-year-old English Bulldog, Miss B, was the inspiration for the organization’s Barkery and is now their mascot and biggest fan.

“Miss B is our mascot, and we love her,” she says. “Baking dog treats was our way of sharing our joy and enthusiasm for her. We knew this would be a great way to give a healthy treat to our community pets and create an employment opportunity for our clients. After baking a few trays of treats,  the clients were in love with the idea and wanted to do more.”

Today, the Barkey is hard at work baking dozens of doggie treats a day, all under the careful eye of Miss B, of course. She goes to work with her owner every day.

“She likes to walk the halls, ensuring she is kept in the loop on all things happening,” Karie says. “Her favorite thing at the Barkery is when the clients bring her treats and spend time with her. She loves to have her back scratched after eating her treats, and then she’s off for a nap.”

Miss B is also the official taste tester for the Barkery and has so far settled on four yummy, all natural flavors of biscuits: beef, chicken, cheese and peanut butter. The baking takes place at the Barkery’s commercial kitchen located at the Brides North Campus. Bridges clients start by choosing a flavor to bake. Then they carefully identify and measure the ingredients into a large mixer. After a thorough mixing, they roll the dough, cut the biscuits, place them on the tray and bake for approximately 30 minutes. After a proper amount of cooling time, they proceed to the assembly and packaging of each bag.

“All of the biscuits are baked fresh daily and contain no preservatives or harmful ingredients,” explains Karie. “We only use human grade ingredients, so these treats are a healthy and delicious snack for your pets.”

But Karie says the entire baking process offers so much more than just great treats; it builds confidence and life skills for clients, too. And the Barkery’s Master Baker is a perfect example.

“When Ms. Chelsea began attending our training program at Bridges two years ago, she was shy and lacked confidence,” Karie says. “When Chelsea graduated from the training program, she was offered a position in the Barkery baking treats.

Over the last year, Chelsea has grown to be an independent, confident young lady and is now the Barkery’s Master Baker.”

The employment opportunity with the Barkery allowed Chelsea to continue working on her vocational skills, learning how to bake, cook and earn a paycheck. The Barkery gave her confidence to grow at her own pace and try new skills she could use at home with the assurance that she has all the support she needed to succeed in her goals.

“The Barkery is important for everyone involved,” Karie says. “It helps clients like Chelsea learn at their own speed, gives pet owners an opportunity to learn about the Bridges Foundation, and finally, you’re favorite four-legged friends get a tasty, healthy treat baked without preservatives and made with lots of love.”

You can find out more about the Bridges Foundation by checking out their website   at www.thebridgesfound.org. There, you can even buy a bag of their delicious treats through their online store.

Country Living Training Tips

posted May 30th, 2016 by
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Country Living Training Tips – Training 911

By Mary Green

I know lots of people who live on farms, ranches and other acreages. I think they are so lucky! I am pretty sure that my dogs would love to have some room to roam. The problem this presents, though, is dogs may roam off of the property. I am often asked how to teach the dogs to stay on the property.
Can dogs learn to respect and understand their boundaries? Can they be taught to stay home even when they are left loose?
The short answer is, as always, “that depends.” Some factors to consider:

• Intact dogs are more likely to roam than sterilized dogs.

• Dogs that lack human interaction are more likely to roam, so bring them inside!

• Dogs that are not bonded to people are more likely to roam.

• Dogs new to the household may be chased off by established family dogs.

• Owners must comply with leash laws in their area.

• No dog should ever be chained up.

• It takes time for a dog to learn boundaries. Never expect a new dog to stay put!

Many of my friends have dogs bred to work on the farm: the herders like Border Collies, Aussies, Heelers, and the guardian breeds like the Anatolians and the Pyrenees. These breeds or types of dogs have an innate sense of territory. They work with people. They have stock sense. They are more likely to stay close to the livestock, or hang out on the porch than perhaps a hunting dog would. They learn the territory in a natural manner by accompanying their owners, doing farm chores. It’s a natural evolution for many dogs.
Learning the ropes can be passed from older to younger dogs. The youngsters stick close by the elders who teach them what is allowed. They learn what to chase and not chase, what animals belong there, and what animals do not. They gain working knowledge of life on the property in an organic process.
If you don’t have a mentor dog, you can still train your dog to understand boundaries. Use a long line (like for tracking dogs) or a horse lunge line to allow your dog some freedom. You will hold on to one end as you would a leash, but you don’t reel it in or even pull on it. You call your dog and reward him for coming to you. Repetition is key to success in this. Over time, your dog will learn to stay close by. If you are one of the lucky folks who have property plus an ATV, you can teach your dog to ride on the vehicle with you, or run along with you as you do chores.
If you cannot be 100 percent sure that your dog will not roam off of your property when you are not present, then he must be confined in some manner. Failure to do so can result in his death. While it is unreasonable to expect someone to chain-link fence a 10-acre area, it is completely reasonable to expect someone to fence a suitable dog yard. At the very least, put up a chain-link dog run!
Not everyone without a fenced yard lives on a farm. I also know plenty of wonderful, responsible dog owners who live where fences are not allowed. There are ways to train dogs to stay on your property, even if you live on the golf course.
I am not a fan of the invisible fences where the dog has to wear a collar that delivers an unpleasant shock if he ventures out of bounds. These fences do nothing to prevent other animals from entering into your yard. There are also lots of dogs that charge out of dog doors, barking, lunging and snarling toward the barrier. The person, or dog, happening by has no idea that the dog will likely stop before the barrier. It’s pretty traumatic to that individual!
Even on a small unfenced property, you should teach your dog the boundaries in a positive manner. Make a routine of walking your dog along your boundary line. Walk every day, or several times daily, to help establish boundary understanding. All the reward, reinforcement and “good stuff” happens on your property.
Make it your habit to walk your dog on leash to your mailbox if it is at the curb. Practice your obedience training in your yard. Make that the place where all good things happen. Teach a solid come-when-called behavior, and practice it often with a really yummy reward.
My dogs get super excited when I say, “Do you want to go to Sharon’s?” because they know they will get to run in the meadow. They will smell all the favorite country aromas and forget for a little while they are city dogs. They would probably love to live on a farm… as long as they could be near me and sleep on my bed.

A Rewarding Week

posted May 28th, 2016 by
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Looking Back

A Rewarding Week

It’s been a rewarding week – – a week to look back, reflect and realize we are making a difference.  And, best of all, it’s the week Xavier went to his forever home.  He’d been with us a long, long time.

I had the privilege of telling our story to the Vinita Rotary Club on Wednesday. I gave them our year in review and the exciting new programs we now have – – –  there are no words to describe the feeling of acceptance and validation I received.

A Rewarding WeekIn a little more than one year, 800+ animals have been touched by PAAS in some way – – – adoption, out-of-state transport, low cost spay/neuter, feral cat Trap/Neuter/Release.  We’re making a difference – and people are taking notice.

Xavier has been with us for a year.  Smart dog, loves people, tolerates cats and accepts other dogs.  For some reason, people just kept walking past him – or not selecting him for transport.  Yes, he has a square face – yes pit bulls have square faces – but so do lots of other dogs.  Then, on Thursday, his new owner walked through our door – looked at our dogs and chose Xavier.  Picture is below.

Also on Thursday, we had our first graduates from the training program at Northeast Oklahoma Correctional Center.  The program is off to an excellent start and the next class will be 5 dogs – 10 inmates will be selected to work/train them.  The pictures show Xavier and his new Dad, and Jackson & George with their trainers.

Yes – – – it’s been a good week.

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

Xavier

Taming the Rude Greeter

posted May 21st, 2016 by
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What's in Your Dog Shampoo

Taming the Rude Greeter – Training 911

by Nancy Haddock

Imagine quietly relaxing on your sofa, enjoying a favorite TV program, when suddenly your peaceful evening is interrupted by a knock at the front door. Chaotic barking shatters the calm as Fido explodes into four alarm style while spinning and jumping as he prepares to spring onto your house guest with all the enthusiastic welcome four paws and a cold, wet nose can muster.

If this sounds familiar, do you long for a different scenario where your well-behaved pooch calmly and politely greets your house guests? 

Let us compare the above behavior with the sport of agility. Agility is a high-intensity sport in which dogs run through an obstacle course with adrenaline pumping through their veins. The dogs require an enormous amount of self control in the presence of heightened excitement. This is very similar to the heightened excitement many dogs experience when a visitor comes to the front door. You can use some of the same training techniques we use in agility training to teach your family pet to politely greet guests. 

Before we start, your dog must know how to sit on command. If you dog is inclined to bolt out the front door if it’s open, I suggest you start with a door to the backyard. 

Step One: 

Let’s begin by teaching the dog to sit while a door is opened and wait patiently for permission to go through that door. Position the dog two to four feet from the door. With the door closed, ask your dog to sit, and then reach for the door handle. If the dog moves, simply remove your hand from the door. Do not tell him “no” or “stay;” just simply remove your hand from the door knob. Wait until the dog is sitting still again and reach  for the door handle. If the dog moves, remove your hand from the door handle. If the dog holds still, start to open the door. As soon as he moves, shut the door. Continue repeating  this process until the dog remains seated      as you hold the handle. During this period, I absolutely say nothing to the dog, except “sit.” Most dogs catch on very quickly. If he sits still, I will reach for the handle and open the door, and if he moves, I shut the door in front of his face. 

Each time the dog remains sitting, open the door farther and farther, but always be prepared to shut it quickly as soon as he moves. When you can open the door to a width the dog can walk through, yet he shows self control by sitting politely, reward him by saying “OK” to verbally release him   to go out.  Next, call the dog back into the house and reward him with treats and           an enthusiastic round of petting and praise. Then, shut the door, ask your dog to sit and repeat the training process from the beginning.

This simple process presents the dog with stimulus (the door) and presence of a reward (going out the door). The dog must figure out which behavior earns him a reward. We have limited his behavior choices to simply either move forward or hold still. The dog should quickly conclude sitting politely still is what causes you to give him his reward of opening the door and allowing him to go outside. 

Step TWO: 

When your dog will sit still despite the open door, and not move until you verbally release him to go, you are ready to add more stimulus, such as the sound of knocking. I also add a food reward during this stage since previously the reward was being released to go out. Now your dog will not be released to go out but will be required to sit still. 

Knock on the door, and as the dog starts barking, ask him to sit near the front door and wait for him to quit barking. Then, immediately give him a treat. Reach out for the door handle; if he moves, remind him to sit and reward him. Knock on the door again and reward him if he remains seated. This is the exact same process of choice and reward we used before, only we have increased stimulus with knocking and switched the reward to food instead of permission to go out. However, even though I have shifted the reward to treats, on approximately every fourth successful attempt, I will release the dog to go. Alternating the reward increases his self control.

Step THREE: 

When your dog can successfully sit politely without moving through the knocking and opening of the door phase of training, we will increase stimulus by adding another person into the exercise. Employ the help of a friend or family member. Provide your helper with dog treats, such as a handful of kibble.  Instruct your helper to approach the door from the outside and knock. Ask your dog to sit and repeat the whole process above until your dog can successfully sit politely while you open the door as the helper stands quietly on the other side of the open door.  

Step FOUR: 

Finally, when your dog will remain seated as you open the door, instruct your helper to enter the house and immediately drop multiple pieces of kibble on the floor as he walks in. As your dog has almost finished all the kibble, your guest should drop several more pieces. As the dog finishes the kibble, quickly ask him to sit and reward him multiple times with treats. 

Dropping the kibble cleverly succeeds in two outcomes: no jumping and a guest calmly entering the house. By dropping the kibble on the floor, you have cunningly manipulated your dog’s behavior from rudely greeting a guest, to calmly welcoming a visitor. 

If step four does not go quite as smoothly as I have outlined above, simply send your helper back out the door and start over, just like you have done in steps one, two and three. This is a process, and it is vitally important your dog is successful with each step before moving on to the next. Also, if you live in a multi-dog household, only train one dog at a time. Place the other dogs outside or confine them to another room, so they are not distracting to the working dog.

Learning response time will differ with each dog. Just follow the plan and expect results!