Sunday, December 20, 2009

HOTLR and Barnes and Noble Team Up for the Holidays!!

So here we are, T-minus 5 days....is your holiday shopping done? Well, if not, here is a last minute idea for you. How about heading to the nearest Barnes and Noble. Chances are not only will you be able to find a gift for everyone left on your Christmas list, but you'll probably run into a HOTLR Lab or two as well.

For the past few years, Barnes and Noble has been kind enough to invite HOTLR to participate in the charity gift wrapping event. Several of the stores in the Austin area have HOTLR dogs and people volunteer to wrap your Christmas presents. In the meantime, you get to watch someone else figure out how much paper you really need to wrap that book, watch someone else trim the edges when they figure out they have too much paper and watch someone else fold, crease and crinkle trying to get that book adequately covered. All the while, you stand back and chat with other Lab lovers or volunteers with a big smile on your face getting a dose of Labrador love from the participating Labassadors for good measure. How relaxing can gift giving get?

So come on and join us. Stop in and say "hi" and even if you don't have any presents for wrapping, be sure to stop by for a chat and a Labrador pat. There are always volunteers available to answer your questions about HOTLR or get you signed up to become a foster or a volunteer yourself. Listed below are the dates and locations where you can see us:

Barnes and Noble Brodie Lane location:
December20, 2009 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM
December22, 2009 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Barnes and Noble La Frontera, Round Rock location:
December 20, 2009 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM
December 21, 2009 6:00 PM
- 11:00 PM
December 22, 2009 6:00 PM - 11:00 PM
December 23, 2009 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM
December 24, 2009 9:00 AM - 1:00PM

Barnes and Noble Westlake location:
December 20, 2009 2:00 PM - 6:00PM
December 21, 2009 5:00 PM - 10:00PM


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Step Out and Fetch a Chewy Shoe for your Christmas Dog

Still trying if figure out what to get that difficult dog on your Christmas list? If your dog has been more nice than naughty this year, you might try stuffing their stockings with a Dogtags Chewy Shoe. The Chewy Shoe is 100% made in the USA and manufactured in conjunction by Fetchdog, a Portland based dog supply company, and by Vibram, a rubber soling company that makes the majority of boots used by the US military. Constructed from non-toxic rubber in patriotic red, white and blue, the toy resembles the sole of a boot. A tough, hiking style cord is threaded through the middle toe area of the toy, allowing for easy tossing and encouraging games of fetch, hide and seek and tug of war.

You can feel good about giving this toy too. The Chewy Shoe retails for $16.75, but $2 of the proceeds spent on this unique toy goes to the Puppies Behind Bars program sponsored by DogTags. This program utilizes inmates to train Labrador and Golden Retriever service dogs for disabled war veterans. Puppies live with their incarcerated trainers and grow into well-disciplined well-loved dogs aiding in the rehabilitation of their trainers as well. To learn more about Puppies Behind Bars, click on this link: puppiesbehindbars.com.

Wonder if your dog will play with this toy? When the toy first arrived at my house, I laid it on the floor in the middle of the living room. Soon, Rio went over to check it out. She sniffed it and looked at us. Of course, we have taught her that chewing on shoes is a "no-no", so she asked us for approval before picking it up. With our encouragement she was soon running around the house with it in her mouth, although she prefers carrying it by the rope as opposed to the sole. Here is the only drawback I find with the design - some dogs may be encouraged to chew on/play with real shoes due to their similarity to the toy, especially flip flops. So, as always keep a close eye on your pup and make sure they play with toys especially made for them. With supervision, this will be a great toy for you and your dog to play with together. Check out this video footage and pictures of Rio having a good time with the Chewy Shoe.


To purchase the Chewy Shoe and other goodies on your dog's Christmas list, be sure to check out Fetchdog. Along with the $2 donation from the Chewy Shoe, Fetchdog donates 6% of its total sales to the Puppies Behind Bars program. Currently, Fetchdog is offering free shipping on every purchase. To shop online at Fetchdog, click here: Fetchdog.com.

All of us at Heart of Texas Lab Rescue wish you a peaceful and Labby holiday.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

HOTLR says, "Oh Baby, Baby!!! We've Been Busy!!"

Whew!!! HOTLR has had a busy last couple of weeks. A very successful wine tasting/silent auction at the historic San Antonio Fairmont Hotel had us pretty busy during the beginning of November....but what a blast!!! Check out the pics from this event. Click on the link below:

Heart Of Texas Lab Evening Of Giving

Thanks to all of you who had a chance to attend!!! Look for this to become an annual event with a tentative date for 2010 to be scheduled during the October/November timeframe. More details to follow.

Since the auction, we've had another very important job to do. That's to find homes for 21 HOTLR puppies. We can hardly believe that our babies are ready to go. Juno and Eden proved to be fabulous moms along with lots of help from Aunties HOTLR president Margaret Huston and HOTLR rescue Miss Millie, but these puppies are ready to find their forever families. To help us find the right homes, HOTLR board member Jo Albertson and HOTLR volunteer Mimi Studley have been hard at work reviewing adopter applications, organizing phone interviews and performing home studies. We have some great families taking home our pups thanks to their hard work and that of other HOTLR volunteers.

After all the administrative details were completed, the real fun began - the puppy party!!! We held our first party on November 22nd. Check out the pics from this awesome event.

PuppyParty November 22, 2009

Seven of our babies started their new lives with their forever families that day. Our second puppy party is December 6th with 8 more families scheduled to visit with pups. Stay tuned for more pics of puppies, puppies, puppies....But don't worry, you haven't missed all the fun. If you are interested in adopting a new baby or know someone who is, check out our website for all the details on how to get your hands on one of these beautiful bundles of joy. Of course, if the thought of raising a puppy is a little scary to you, we have plenty of wonderful older dogs who would love to be in a new home as well. Not sure you are ready to commit, think about fostering for HOTLR. It's an incredibly rewarding experience. Check out our website for more info:

http://hotlabrescue.org/hotlab/index.jsp

Finally, as we rush head on into the crazy holiday season, HOTLR would like to take a moment to thank all of you for your support and interest in our group. It's because of our donors, adopters and volunteers that we can continue to save the lives of so many deserving Labradors. We wish you peace, love and Labs during this holiday season and into 2010.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trail Running with Your Dog - Part II

You may remember that Rio and I decided to sign up for Trail Running with Your Dog. So, last Sunday was the first meeting that Rio and I attended. Looks like the workshop will be held once a month during Austin's "cool weather" months. We arrived at the Hill Country Running Company on South Lamar and were led through the store to an outdoor area in the back. Sheri Elkins, Lead Trainer of the Lee Mannix Center for Canine Behavior led our class. There were around 7 or 8 other dogs there of all shapes and sizes. Shari explained that we'd be doing our trail work over on Town Lake trail about one half block from the store.

Before starting an exercise program like this with your dog, a visit to your veterinarian is a good idea. Discuss with him/her your plans and make sure your dog is up to starting an exercise program. Decide with your vet, the duration of time your first exercise session will be and how many times per week he/she recommends for the exercise sessions. After you and your dog become comfortable with your starting point, Sheri recommends increasing the length of time you exercise by 10% each week.

Sheri first explained the equipment we would need for trail running. She prefers using a Martingale collar, a 4-6 foot leash and your dogs favorite treats. She also explained that feeding your dog a big meal prior to running was not advisable. Also, not a good idea is allowing your dog to drink a great deal prior to your run. (Imagine how you might feel running immediately after finishing Thanksgiving Dinner or after drinking a Route 44 cherry limeade from Sonic). Shari also told us, that dogs that are running regularly and doing long distances may need to have their diets changed or increased based on their metabolism and the increased calories they are burning during exercise. She recommended a product called Zuke's Power Bones for dogs doing long distance. These treats can be given periodically throughout the course of a long run. They are organic "power bars" made by a company called Zukes based in Durango, CO. Corn and wheat free, they are made up of simple and complex carbs easily broken down by doggy athletes. They are also excellent for dogs doing any type of high endurance exercise such as agility, hunting, hiking, swimming, etc. You can read more about them at Zukes.com .

She also stressed the need for proper hydration for your dog as well as yourself. If you run on a warmer day, she recommended allowing your dog a dip in the pool or lake prior to a run, so that his body is cool when you start . Additionally, allow him to stop along the way for another dip to remain cool. She talked about how to tell if your dog is getting overheated by checking the shape of their tongue when they are panting. Dogs who are getting overheated will have tongues that widen at the end as opposed to tongues that are the same width from top to bottom. Finally, as one might expect, poop bags are in order as the dogs body functions become stimulated during exercise. She recommended a short walk prior to beginning the run to encourage the dog to void prior to the run.

With that information we started on our way. We went to a place on the trail that wasn't as heavily used as the main trail and did a few exercises. These included how to loose leash run with your dog. Should your dog want to stop to sniff or investigate during a run, Sheri recommended gently pulling on the leash downwards and forwards at the same time so as to minimize pressure on the dog's neck. She also recommended utilizing a key phrase such as "Let's go", "Come on", or "Leave it" so that the dog recognizes this phrase to mean "run now, sniff later". Should your dog begin to pull on the leash, Sheri recommended immediately reversing direction. This shows the dog that you are in charge and that the dog is going where you want to go instead of vice versa.

Finally, we were running. Just a short distance up the trail and back so the dogs and owners could familiarize themselves with a pace that would be comfortable for them both. Sheri coached us to run with our dogs on our right sides. This is so the dog is always on the outside of the trail, thereby placing the human runner in between other dogs or people coming the opposite direction on the trail. This was a challenge at first for Rio and me, because I usually walk her on my left side as I walk against traffic in my neighborhood and this keeps Rio on the outside of the road. After a few tries, Rio quickly picked up running on my other side and seemed to really be enjoying the exercise.

It was a warm humid day though, and soon I looked around and realized what Sheri meant about the width of a dog's tongue changing when a dog became overheated. The tongues of several of the larger, more heavy dogs definitely had become wider near the end of the tongue then they were near the base. I had never noticed that before. As,we gave the dogs a water break, Sheri explained to us how to pass others on the trail. It was a little awkward and something that Rio and I will have to work on. Basically, you encourage the dog to pass behind you to move to your other side, in order to keep yourself between your dog and the person you are passing on the trail. You encourage the dog with a treat, by first showing the dog the treat and allowing the dog to sniff it. You do not release the treat to the dog until he passes onto your other side, encouraged by and following the hand holding the treat. Easier said the done. Once again, you employ a key phrase, such as "Pass" or "Other side" so the dog recognizes this as the time to move to your other side. Rio and I will definitely have to practice this trick.

Finally, nearing the end of class time, we gathered in the grass under a tree. This is my favorite part of a run-the cool down phase. Sheri shared with us tips on canine massage. She demonstrated a few different areas to massage on your dog post run and had us practice with our dogs. She also recommended a wonderful book, Getting in T-Touch with Your Dog: an Easy Gentle Way to Better Health and Behavior by Linda Tellington-Jones. Check it out on Amazon

As the class broke up, Sheri reminded us that the class would meet again next month and she also handed us a flier on an upcoming multi-distance running/walking event that benefits the Schrodi Memorial Training Fund on December 5th. For more info, check it out: Active.com.

Hmmm, maybe Rio and I will sign up. At the end of the day, the class was well worth the $20 spent. The joy of interacting with my dog on a gorgeous November Sunday in one of the coolest cities in the country.....priceless.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Can I Get H1N1 From My Dog?


So you could have knocked me over with a feather last week when I heard a news report on a cat from Iowa that was diagnosed with H1N1. As I sat with my face inches away from my Lab leaning in for a quick kiss on the nose, I stopped in mid-smack. If a cat could get H1N1, could my cuddley, kissable, sometimes sneezes on my food pooch come down with the disease and give it to me?

Lucky for me, I work for a veterinarian. He also doubles as a columnist for our neighborhood newspaper, the Four Points News. His article this week, "Can My Dog Catch the Flu?" is reprinted below in its entirety, with Dr. Ray Bouloy's permission, of course.

Can My Dog Catch the Flu?

H1N1 is making its way across Central Texas and the United States. Several of my clients have asked, “is it possible for my dog contract the flu?” The answer is “no” and “yes”.

Thus far, H1N1 or the “swine flu” has not been reported in dogs. Last week, however, H1N1 was confirmed in a cat in Iowa. The cat contracted H1N1 from a person in the household with H1N1. The cat survived with medical care. Two ferrets have been reported to have contracted H1N1 from a positive individual in a home and both ferrets died.

Dogs can get a different strain of influenza called H3N8. This strain is not contagious to humans and is only rarely reported at this time. The virus first appeared in 2004 in racing greyhounds in Florida and a number of dogs died in this outbreak. There have been isolated outbreaks across the country, but the canine influenza doesn’t appear to be a threat at this time.

Veterinarians see many cases of flu like symptoms in dogs and cats almost every day. Most of these cases are the common forms of “kennel cough” in dogs and feline upper respiratory complex in cats. Most of these animals have been exposed to viruses or bacteria in shelters, boarding kennels, dog parks or other places animal congregate. “Kennel cough” is very common and is caused by a bacteria called Bordetella bronchoseptica. This bacteria often partners with a virus called parainfluenza to cause a “hacking” cough. The cough often sounds like your dog has a “chicken bone caught in his throat”. The dog is usually eating and not running a fever unless the bacteria moves into the lungs and causes pneumonia. Young puppies are usually most severely affected with this bacterial upper respiratory infection.

There is an effective vaccine for “kennel cough” that can be given as a spray in the nose or as an injection. I would recommend giving this vaccine prior to boarding and prior to a dog event such as a dog show or if you like to take your dog to dog parks or day care. Some vaccines are approved for once a year and some are only approved for 6 months. See your veterinarian for recommendations. If your dog contracts “kennel cough”, antibiotics may be prescribed along with medication to decrease the intensity of the cough. This bacteria is highly contagious and often other dogs that come into contact with the infected dog will contract the infection. Cats can also contract bordetella but this is not commonly diagnosed. People are not susceptible to this form of bordetella.

The canine influenza virus, or H3N8, may become more of a threat to dogs. It is reported to have a 5-8 % mortality rate. At this time, most veterinarians don’t recognize an immediate threat to our canine patients because outbreaks have been very isolated. There is a newly released vaccine for this strain of influenza for dogs and your veterinarian will be able to discuss the value of this vaccine. The vaccine is not considered a “cure” vaccine. I would consider giving to dogs traveling to large dog shows or any event with large numbers of participating dogs. Recommendations may change if the virus does start to effect larger number of dogs. There are several laboratories in the United States where samples can be sent to identify if a suspect patient has H3N8 virus.

If your dog or cat develops symptoms such as coughing, sneezing or discharge from the eyes and nose, see your veterinarian. If a fever is present or if your dog or cat is not eating, a thorough medical work-up is in order. Let’s get through this cold and flu season and say “good riddance” once and for all to H1N1.

Raymond P. Bouloy, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (canine / feline)

Hiway 620 Animal Hospital

www.620vet.com

Thanks to Dr. Bouloy for sharing his article and remember, should you suspect that your dog is sick, please seek medical attention from your family veterinarian.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Trail Run with your Dog!!

So, I think I'm going to try it...I'm going to try trail running with my Lab. I tried running with one of my dogs once before. Often I pictured myself and Cayman, running the streets of my neighborhood, everyone admiring my athletic fitness and that of my dog. So one day, I laced up my running shoes and strapped on Cayman's halter and leash and we were off.

Unfortunately, I forgot that part of the joy of walking for a dog is stopping.....frequently..... Oh the smells that await a young Labrador's nose, oh the aromas. And, of course, there is the grass and the fact they are hunting dogs. A trail must be left behind to mark where they've been and warn others that this is their new territory claimed by squatter's rights. I spent the first 10 minutes looking as if I was hooked up to a bungee cord - me at one end, Cayman on the other, ping-ponging from roadside to grass and back again.

Did I mention that Cayman suffers from chronic colitis? That means he's been on a high fiber low fat diet all of his life. You know what that kind of diet does for a dog? It keeps his colon happy....and clean. So after a good liquid dousing of every bush and plant along the roadside, Cayman found just the right spot and he proceeded to unload right on the side of the road. He's a 90lb dog. I assume no pictures are necessary. There was no hiding that mound or pretending a "wild animal" had dropped it. So far, the only sweat I'd broken was from lifting the plastic bag containing the remains of Cayman's previous night's dinner. This was not going well.

But I'm ready to try it again. This time with Rio (pictured above practicing her trail running skills. Cayman has since retired from running due to two ACL repairs. He has taken up swimming instead.) Rio, on the other hand is the perfect size. She is a svelte 64lbs and a little easier to manage. She has healthy knees. She isn't on a high fiber diet and genuinely seems more interested in the act of movement (rather than that of investigation) when on a walk.

So a friend of mine sent me a flier - How to Run with Your Dog (and not be dragged down the trail by you pup) sponsored by Texas Iron Events* and led by Shari Elkins. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant. Sounds like the perfect class for Rio and me.

The class is Sunday, November 15th at 2pm and will last for 1.5 hours. The cost is $20. The class meets at Hill Country Running Company located at 215 South Lamar Blvd., Suite E, Austin, TX 78704. Look for the Bridges Condo building, across from Scholtsky's Deli. HCRC is located on the first floor. There is free parking in the first floor garage next to LIFT cafe. Wanna join us?

Here's the info: http://www.texasiron.net/TxIronNews.htm. Once you've entered the link, scroll down to see the Trail Running class info.

Hope to see you there!!!!

*Texas Iron's mission is to provide quality training and coaching in a safe and positive environment. Our coaches are hands on, and are considered the top in their field. We strive to make fitness and health a priority in one's life thru fun and exciting training programs and we like to add in a variety of options for athletes. We believe that training and competing should be viewed as a happy addition to one's hobbies!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Macadamia Nut Toxicity - Merlin's Story

So here we are again. Summer's over. Fall is in full swing, and the holidays are quickly approaching. Along with the holidays comes all that special food, much of which our canine companions are as excited to eat as we are. We all know that should we choose to overindulge in all the holiday goodies, we will wake up January 2nd wondering how that spare tire got into bed with us and contemplating how best to get rid of it while experiencing as little physical pain as possible. For our pooches, although they too can come away from the holidays a few pounds heavier, some of those holiday treats can have more serious side effects.


Most of us dog owners now know that chocolate is a big no-no, especially baking chocolate. But how many of you know that macadamia nuts can also mean big trouble for your pet? Christa Marshall, a long-time volunteer with HOTLR relates the following story:

"Although I had read about it, I had forgotten about macadamia nuts being toxic for dogs, and my husband didn't know. Our 43lb. terrier mix, Merlin ate about 4 oz of raw mac nuts and within 8 hours suffered from inability to stand, ataxia (walking wobbly), and possibly depression, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), weakness, and an elevated heart rate. Luckily, he did not suffer from vomiting or muscle tremors.

Until I remembered about mac nuts, we were scared by the rapid rate of change in his symptoms over the course of just 2 hours. After reading that it was too late to induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal to reduce absorption, we decided he was healthy enough for us to just wait it out overnight. For the next 18 hours or so, he suffered while I tried not to feel too guilty. He was restless, didn't sleep well, and was very thirsty. We had to help him drink and reassure him every few hours.

We all slept in the living room and kept an ear open all night. As suddenly as it came, the symptoms improved dramatically in one hour. Several hours later he was back to normal, although a bit more tired than usual with a slightly upset tummy. If one person can read this and remember before having to experience it for themselves, I would be thrilled to have saved a little needless suffering.”

According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control website (http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/people-foods.html) along with chocolate and macadamia nuts, there are several other "people" food items better left to humans. They include grapes, raisins, avocados, certain citrus fruits, salt, onions, garlic, chives, caffeine, coffee, milk, xylitol (used as a sweetner in many food products) and salt. For a complete list and more details on how these items might affect your pet, check out their webpage. Also, remember, should you suspect your pet has eaten a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian or the nearest emergency hospital for advice and treatment options. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center even has a hotline manned by a veterinarian (24 hours a day 365 days a year)that for a $50 fee will take your calls, and recommend treatment options for your pet. You can contact them toll-free at (888) 426-4435.

Just keep in mind when looking into your pet's soulful eyes begging for that last tiny morsel on your plate, that what might be okay for you, may be harmful to your pet.








Tuesday, October 6, 2009

HOTLR says Sit Down and Vote!!

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue needs your help. The Animal Rescue site along with Petfinder.com is offering 73 grants of $1,000 and a $20,000 grand prize to the rescue/shelter that simply accumulates the most votes!! The contest started on Sept 14th and ends December 20th. Each week a $1000 prize winner is named. On December 20th, the animal shelter/rescue group with the most votes accumulated over the entire voting period will win $20,000.


How can you help HOTLR? All you have to do, is go to the Animal Rescue site's $100,000 Rescue/Shelter challenge link and vote for HOTLR.
Simply type in Heart of Texas Lab Rescue, push the purple vote key and your vote will count. It's fast, easy and costs you nothing. You can vote every day, but only once per day.

Your vote really does make a difference. Less than one week ago, HOTLR was in 175th place in Texas and 3,138th overall. With a little publicity and help from our Facebook fans and Twitter followers, we have advanced to 80th place in Texas and 1458th overall.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Cartoon Canines....Do You Have One?

So you think your dog is pretty special? I sure think mine are....Think you dog is special enough to inspire a cartoon? I think I might have one. In fact, many times I have referred to my 11 year old yellow Lab as a "living cartoon".

Well, if you're looking for a little fame for your friend, then check out: http://drawthedog.com. This website is dedicated to making all the funny little crazy things your dog does into cartoons. Each day (except Sunday when he rests) Jim George draws a cartoon depicting a crazy dog story that an owner has sent him. Jim George is an ex-animator for Disney, so you know the cartoon of your dog will be top notch and expertly drawn.

And to make things better, October 9 will be the first week when all of Mr. George's cartoons will be dedicated to one breed. Can you guess the breed? Only our favorite....the Labrador. So get on over to Mr. George's website. Tell him a funny story about your bundle of Lab love, and share the canine cartoon character in your life with the world.....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Special HOTLR Delivery in Lampasas, Texas!!


HOTLR is pleased to announce the arrival of a special addition to its rescue family. Ms. Juno rescued just last week from Town Lake Animal Shelter gave birth last night to a litter of 11 little wiggly puppies.

Juno, a pretty yellow girl who is probably around 2 years old went into labor around 10pm last night. Her first baby was a pretty little girl just like her mamma. Then every 30 minutes or so, another beautiful baby was born.

We lost track of boys vs. girls, but we do know that there are 8 yellows, one chocolate, and 2 black babies. Of course, we cannot be sure who the father was, but we do know that the babies are at least 50% Lab. As of now, Juno, her babies, and Juno's foster mom (Margaret Huston, president of HOTLR) are all tired, but doing fine . Stay tuned to learn more about the babies and see them grow.

Keep up with their progress at our Facebook site http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/HOTLab.




Sunday, September 13, 2009

Look Out Hollywood, Here Comes Asia!!


Now, we'll be the first to admit that we have lots of great dogs in the HOTLR program. In fact, we think all of them are pretty darn special. But now, we have a real star in the making. Check out Miss Asia with Ray Hebert, HOTLR's Fundraising Coordinator, on Good Day Austin's Pet of the Week segment.

Asia came to us from a shelter in Waco with a cancerous tumor on her side. But not to worry, Asia had the tumor removed with clean margins, and she is now cancer free. She is 100 percent healthy and waiting to be adopted. And Asia is no diva. The way she is on television is the way she is in real life, sweet, warm and full of affection. She will sit be your side forever soaking in love and attention. You can see how Joe Bickett, the host of Good Day Austin, falls instantly in love.

Just before going on Asia was dancing with two of the stars of the Musical Ballroom with a Twist. She met them in the Green room.

Now a piece of "behind the scenes" info. After the segment was completed, Mr. Bickett commented on how Asia was probably one of the most well-mannered pets they'd ever had on the show. He seemed pleasantly surprised.....we weren't. That's how wonderful ALL the dogs at HOTLR are.

Fill out an application today to adopt one of our great dogs. We are always looking for foster families and volunteers too - very rewarding ways to get some love and attention all for yourself!!! Check us out at our website: http://www.hotlabrescue.org/.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Party in the Park with Your Pooch - Saturday September 12

Looking for something fun to do this weekend??? How about a little outing with the dogs? Austin Pet Alliance is sponsoring Pets in the Park/Cirque du Pawrade 2009 at the Cedar Park Regional Medical Center campus (1401 Medical Parkway - just east of the 183A toll road and 1431) from 11am - 4pm on Saturday, September 12th. Of course, your canine friends are welcome and there will be lots of fun and activities including a costume contest, a pet parade, live demonstrations, food, and music. Five different circus rings will be set up for your entertainment including a Children's Ring with storytime and bow wow art projects, a Trainer's Ring, a Dog Olympics Ring, a Rescue and Adoption Ring, and a Dog Sport Demonstration Ring. What could be more fun on a Saturday afternoon? The weather may even cooperate as rumor has it a "cold" front is predicted for the weekend.

Make sure to look for the Heart of Texas Lab Rescue booth in the Adoption & Rescue Ring where we will have some of our Heart of Texas Labassadors, both former rescues. Toby is a sweet, handsome, yellow, counter surfing extraordinaire sure to give free tips on how to get an easy snack and Susie, always the charmer, is blessed with the best wiggle-butt this side of the Mississippi, but may be better known as the Queen of "Chillin' ".
Pedicures for your pups will be offered by veterinary technicians from Hiway 620 Animal Hospital for $10 donations. But the pampering won't be just for your canine friends. While your pet gets his pedi, take advantage of our chair massage therapists just waiting to offer you a bit of relaxation. There is truly something for everyone and every pet at this event. HOTLR hopes to see you there!! For more information, check out this link: http://austindogalliance.org/PawsInThePark09.htm

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

HOTLR's Maris Gets New Home & New Job



It is hard to describe the happiness the Heart of Texas Lab volunteers feel each time one of our rescues is placed in their new forever home. While sometimes foster parents have a hard time letting go of a lost soul they helped to heal, the joy on the faces of a rescue's new family the day they get their new dog helps erase the sense of loss.

Maris, a pretty eight year old yellow girl, recently scored big with a new family of 15, and the happiness on the faces of her forever family was priceless. Maris is the newest resident of The Summit at Lakeway's Clare Bridge wing. The Summit at Lakeway is a Brookdale senior assisted living facility and yes, that's right, Maris has a whole wing all to herself. Maris (whose new name is Clare) is the test pilot for a new program that places Labradors in assisted living facilities for senior citizens. Clare lives at the facility 24/7 in a special wing dedicated to residents with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The residents voted to make her a permanent resident agreeing that a yellow Labrador was the best color choice as she would be easier to see at night than a chocolate or black Lab.

Most of Clare's time will be spent working as social director of the Clare Bridge wing. Her job duties include socializing with all 15 residents and their human and animal guests, as well as making herself available for naps and overnights in the resident's rooms. She will also assist the nursing staff with visits to residents who may be under the weather and unable to attend the regular activities held daily throughout the wing. Clare is welcome in all areas of the wing including the residents' rooms, the den/library where seniors watch television or read, and participate in physical activites, as well as the courtyard outside. The only place that is considered off limits is the dining area where Clare may be tempted by too many good treats and soft hearts. Clare will also act as official mascot and resident monitor accompanying residents on trips outside of the facility.


Of course every hard-working employee deserves some time off and Clare will be treated no differently. Should Clare need a break in her duties, she has her own bed under a desk at the nurse's station where she has also stashed a couple of her favorite toys. She will also take occassional "weekend vacations" where she will overnight at the homes of the some of the facilities' employees. All in all, Clare is thrilled with her new home and her new occupation.


HOTLR would like to thank Paul Yanez, director of the Clare Bridge wing at the Summit at Lakeway and brainchild of this special program. We are hopeful that Clare's successful participation will open door's at other Brookdale assisted living facilities in the central Texas area and lead to more rescued Labradors joining these very special large families. To learn more about the Summit at Lakeway, please click here: http://www.brookdaleliving.com/the-summit-at-lakeway.aspx and to learn more about the Clare Bridge program, please click here: http://www.brookdaleliving.com/clare-bridge-alzheimers-dementia-care.aspx .

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Huck has Hounds Howling with Happiness!!!

How many tennis balls have you bought over the lifetime of your retriever? I, for one, was buying my tennis balls in bulk at Costco. I have no idea over the last 11 years how much money I have spent on the yellow furry balls, but its probably enough to purchase a sporting goods store of my own. Unfortunately, tennis balls are not the most durable dog toy ever invented. And as I learned from my veterinarian, chewing on tennis balls is not good for a dog's teeth as the yellow furry stuff actually acts like sand paper causing grooves in the dog's teeth that can trap bacteria and actually wear down the tooth enamel and the tooth itself.

So I set out on a quest and searched high and low for the perfect ball for a retriever. One that would last a long time, resist destruction and float. I discovered the Huck ball designed by West Paw products in a local pet store. We have had the Huck ball for over three years and as long as we don't lose it, I don't think we'll ever need another ball. Its made from an extremely durable one of a kind eco friendly material and comes with a one time replacement guarantee against doggy destruction.

Other unique features of the ball include grooves in its design causing it to bounce unpredictably. The grooves also allow the dog with a smaller mouth to grab it in just the right spot. The other cool feature of the Huck ball is that although its made of heavy duty material, the ball totally floats. It makes a great water retrieving toy as well. Our dog Rio knows its "her" ball and has no desire to touch a tennis ball.

It also comes in two sizes, large which I purchased for my Lab, and small. The smaller size is nearly the same size as a tennis ball and according to the company "is compatible with toys that throw tennis balls". Although the Huck costs about $8.50 for the small ball and $12.50 for the larger version, the money I am saving by not buying tennis balls has paid for the Huck over and over.

Reviews of the ball on the company's website while mostly favorable, did occasionally contain a negative comment that the ball was not suitable for super aggressive chewers. However, I've not experienced any problems with the ball even when it was given to a nine month old Lab puppy. Of course, it is always recommended to not leave your pet unattended with any toy, and the Huck is no different.

Should you decide to transition your dog from tennis balls to the Huck, I recommend picking up all tennis balls and allowing your dog no choice but to play with the Huck. Shortly, he should begin chasing the Huck like its the only ball he's ever known. And you will never have to buy another tennis ball again.

West Paw design also carries other toys for dogs and cats as well as dog beds and blankets. They use only high quality non-toxic environmentally friendly materials and manufacture their products right in the USA in Bozeman, Montana. Their mission is to provide high quality durable products for your pet while making as little environmental impact as possible. To check out their other cool stuff and learn more about the company, visit their website: http://www.westpawdesign.com/.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hot Dogs Keep Cool in Canine Cool Vests

So, here we are again... Another summer day, another 100 degrees. Will it ever end? And what about your dogs? Are they wondering if there will ever be another opportunity to go for a walk or chase a ball? I've tried explaining the dangers of heat stroke to my pups. I've told them that they cannot sweat except through their footpads and nose. And that the only other way they can cool themselves is through panting. Sometimes (like during current weather conditions) this is not enough to keep their bodies cool. If their internal body temperature reaches 106 degrees, they will experience damage to the body's cellular structure and damage to their organs that is IRREVERSIBLE. According to About.Com:Dog, signs of heat stroke are extreme heavy panting, dark red gums, tacky or sticky mucous membranes specific to the gums, heavy thick saliva, rectal body temperature exceeding 104 degrees (106 degrees is a dire emergency), lying down with refusal to get up, disorientation, dizziness and collapse and loss of consciousness. This is a serious medical condition that can lead to death and requires the immediate attention of your veterinarian. For more information go to:http://dogs.about.com/od/dogandpuppyhealth/qt/heatstroke.htm.

But the pleading look in the eyes of my dogs doesn't change. They don't understand what I am telling them or why. They really, really want some exercise. One solution may be for them to wear a canine cooling vest. Invented for military dogs working in Iraq and Afghanistan, the vests are also available for purchase for companion animals. How do they work? The vest sold by helpingudders.com uses packs of non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, environmentally friendly cooling gel that hold a constant temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 hours in 100 degree heat. These packs are placed in the vest that the dog wears. The packs are also easy to "recharge" simply by submerging the cooling packs in ice water for 20 minutes or placing the packs in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. The vests cost from around $99 to $129 depending on the size you need. You can also purchase additional cooling packs, so you always have one set in the refrigerator. Here is the website that carries canine cooling vests and where you can get more information: http://www.helpingudders.com/CoolingVests.htm This is a rescue friendly site where 10-50% of the proceeds of their sales go to rescue groups (unfortunately HOTLR is not one of them).
Another seller of the dog vests uses slightly different technology. They utilize a cool pad that slips into the vest and stays at a constant temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This keeps dogs cool in warm temperatures and warm in cold temperatures. While 80 degrees seems warm, keep in mind that a dog's average body temperature is around 100 degrees and the 20 degree difference that the cool pad provides is enough to keep the dog's core body temperature at a safe level. Recharging the cooling pad works the same as for the packs described above. You can find these vests at http://www.50degree.com/custom/index.cfm?ID=42464. They are slightly more expensive running anywhere from $129 to $149 depending on the size ordered.
So, get back outside and give the canine cooling vest a try. (You can even buy a cooling vest for yourself) . Remember to limit exercise to early mornings or late evenings when the intensity of the temperature and sun is less. And of course, keep plenty of water available.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

An Evening of Giving, Texas Style





Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue
is thrilled to present

An Evening of Giving, Texas Style






Heart of Texas Lab Rescue is proud to invite you to a special event called An Evening of Giving, Texas Style on November 7th from 5pm-9pm at the historic Fairmount Hotel in San Antonio.

Sample Exotic Wines, wild Root Beer, Delightful Beer, wonderful Iced Tea and snack on amazing delectables. Tickets are $25 at the door. Amazing room rates at The Fairmount are available for those who want to spend the night. Details on all this and more can be found by reading on.

Oh and did we mention that each ticket gets you a wonderful Wine Glass emblazoned with the Heart of Texas Lab Rescue logo?

The Fairmount:

If you have never heard of The Fairmount, built in 1906, it is the world's largest brick building ever moved from one location to another. Its architectural style is reminiscent of the Victorian era and all 37 rooms in the hotel have been recently redecorated, each unique in their design.

Equally unique is the hotel's official greeter Labrador Luke. A rescue dog himself, Luke now boasts his own business card, email address, and comfy bed in the middle of the hotel lobby and is actually a permanent resident of the hotel. The timing of the event is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the cooler weather and the early evening hours make it convenient for attendees from Austin, Houston, San Antonio and other central Texas areas to attend. If you'd like to extend your stay at The Fairmount after the event, they have graciously provided a special room rate package (see details at the bottom of the page).



The Fairmount offers a wonderful courtyard in which to mingle and meet new friends, as well as lots of inside areas with cozy nooks and comfy chairs to simply relax and chat with your friends.


HOTLR will offer a wonderful Apple iPhone as a raffle prizes and you won't want to miss great silent auction items from some of the best artists around, including Sheila Wedegis, Stephen Hamrick, Russel Crewe, and Stephen Huneck. But that's not all. Silent auction items will be offered from a number of Austin and San Antonio businesses, including Austin City Limits and others.

Silent Auction items will need to be paid for with Check, Cash or PayPal (will have computer setup at event)

Sheila Wedegis will also be attending so you can meet one of the premier artists of our time. She is a wonderful person as well as a great painter, and a generous supporter of Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue. Visit her website at http://www.labradorretrieverart.com to get a taste of her beautiful and moving work.

Sample some great beverages available from companies in Texas, including wineries, breweries, root beer and other products. Tasty cheese and other wonderful snacks will also be available for nibbling. We also want to feature and introduce you to other wonderful items that are available right here in Texas that we hope will become favorites in your own home.

Great sponsors:
Cape Classics Wines -- Wine
Free Tail Brewing -- Beer
Blue Sky Brewery -- Root Beer
Sweet Leaf Tea -- Iced Tea
Cowgirl Granola -- Granola to make you wonder what you have been eating all these year ;)
Whole Foods -- Snacks
Trulucks -- Fine Dining
Scenic Loop Cafe -- Fine Dining


Limited Tickets Available:

This will be an evening that you won't want to miss. But we are only offering a limited number of tickets, so reserve today. Tickets are $25 when purchased ahead of time and $35 at the door. And if you purchase a Fairmount room package it will include two tickets to the event. Each ticket will get you a custom wine glass with the Heart of Texas Lab logo emblazoned on it. So take advantage of the lower ticket price, and sign up today!!!!

For your convenience you can utilize the handy PayPal button on www.hotlabrescue.org home page, just put in Fairmount in the description so we know.

If you would like to send a check please send it to:
Heart of Texas Lab Rescue, Inc.
P.O. Box 81821
Austin, TX 78708-1821
(also send an email hotlabrescue@gmail.com if possible letting us know that you are sending a check so we can have added confirmation)

Special Room Rates:
The Fairmount will have special room packages that include the room (of course), 2 tickets to An Evening of Giving, Texas Style and 2 complimentary breakfasts in the morning. You must contact Lani Fulgencio directly at 877-229-8808 to reserve your room. (The Fairmount is donating a portion of the room rate to Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue, so its important that you contact Lani Fulgencio directly.)

If you have any questions please feel free to send an email to hotlabrescue@gmail.com this will go right to Ray Hebert our event coordinator.

So reserve November 7 on your calendar and join us for a wonderful evening of friendship and fun while enjoying wonderful Texas products and donating to a worthwhile cause. Hope to see you there!!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pet Pawsengers are Top Dawgs at Pet Airways

How 'bout this heat??? Ready to travel somewhere for relief but don't know what to do with your Lab? Well, now you can take him with you. You may have heard that there is now an airline dedicated to pet "pawsengers". Dan and Alysa Binder found it difficult to travel with their Jack Russell Terrier, Zoe. Too big to fit under the seat in front of them, Zoe would be relegated to the cargo hold in the belly of the plane. Dan and Alysa did not consider their pet "cargo" and decided to do something about their dilemma. That was how Pet Airways was born.

Flying your pet on Pet Airways works much the same way as flying works for humans. First, pets are dropped off at the Pet Lounge. Less than two hours before flight time, your pet is given a potty break. Then your pet boards the plane. The pets transported by Pet Airways always ride in the climate controlled main cabin of the plane and are never stuck in the cargo area. While you cannot travel with your pets on the Pet Airways planes, a pet attendent travels with your pet ensuring his or her safety, security and comfort. All pets travel in carriers which Pet Airways provides and upon arrival, your pet is given another potty break and then waits for you to pick him up in the Pet Lounge. If flights are delayed for any reason, a pet attendent stays with your pet until the flight is ready for take off. Pet Airways maintains that pets are never left alone.

Prices can be as low as $149 and are dependent on the size of crate your pet comfortably fits in as well as the distance your pet will travel. This price compares very favorably with other human airlines. (Check out the price comparison list on the Pet Airways website for more details:http://petairways.com/content/pet-airways-air-fares) Currently, pets can fly to and from the following inaugural cities: Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Washington DC/Baltimore area, and New York.

Pet Airways has also partnered with two hotel chains - Kimpton Hotels & LaQuinta- that offer discounts for members of the Pet Airways MyPAWs club. Other benefits of MyPAWs club include discounts at the Pet Airways online store that features products from well known pet companies such as Kong and Nylabone. Sign up for the MyPAWs Club at the Pet Airways website and check out other benefits such as discounted pet insurance and receive the Pet Airways newsletter.

So fret no more about leaving your Lab behind to swelter while you flee the heat. Log on or call Pet Airways and book your travel plans now for a nice relaxing break for the whole family!!! For more information, log on to the Pet Airways website: http://petairways.com/

Monday, August 3, 2009

Internet Pharmacies - For Better or Worse

Many of us have seen Ms Betty White, long time television actress, discuss the ease of ordering pet medications online. But what are online pet pharmacies, where do they get their medications and the authority to sell the drugs? Are they really cheaper than buying medication at your own veterinarian?

If you choose to begin using an online pharmacy, make sure you research the pharmacy to determine its legitimacy. Also, be prepared to do some paperwork to get your pet's medications. Online pharmacies cannot fill prescriptions without the consent of your pet's veterinarian. In all cases, the veterinarian will have had to seen the pet within at least the last year (and sometimes more frequently depending on the medication) to approve the prescription refill. So, the online pharmacy will have to first contact your veterinarian (or you will have to fax a prescription written by your veterinarian) to fill your prescription. The online pharmacy will then get approval for the prescription, "process" the prescription and then mail it to you. This process could take up to 5 - 7 days or longer. Also, many medications are sensitive to heat. During this time of record breaking heat, having your pet's medication sit around in a mail truck or in your mailbox waiting for you to get home is probably not the best storage option. Obviously, the turnaround time is much quicker if you use your local vet's pharmacy.

If you do receive a medication from an online pharmacy, it is important that you check the packaging of the medication carefully. Some of the medication may not be exactly what you would receive from your vet. Medication purchased online may have been purchased outside of the United States. Make sure to check the expiration date and check the label carefully to ensure that the medication you received is the actual medication and strength prescribed by your vet. Medications ordered from your veterinarian will have a sticker from the FDA that states "Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to be used by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian." Make sure that this sticker also appears on the medication received from the online pharmacy.

Many medications that are prescribed by and purchased from your pet's veterinarian are guaranteed by the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the drug. For instance, there have been a small number of cases reported in which dogs that have consistently taken heartworm preventative have come up positive for heartworms when tested. Often in these cases, the company whose heartworm preventative the dog was on at the time will pay for heartworm treatment when the client can provide proof that the dog consistently took the monthly preventative. When your medication is purchased through an online pharmacy this is not the case as many pharmaceutical companies are unable to trace from where the products that the online pharmacy carries are coming and therefore cannot guarantee the authenticity of the product.

Last, a report done by Boston's ABC affiliate WCVB Channel 5 News compared several medications ordered online versus from a veterinarian and found, "in all but one case, the medication purchased from the veterinarian was less expensive." Furthermore, your veterinarian will often pass along incentives and coupons for medications purchased frequently that may not be offered by the online pharmacy. It may be that the use of an online pharmacy can be more expensive than using your local vet pharmacy.

So, before deciding to order medication from an online pharmacy, be sure to investigate the online pharmacy that you wish to use to ensure it is an ethical business, research the medication you will be ordering and make sure it is exactly the same medication prescribed by your veterinarian and make sure that the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the medication will guarantee the medication if it does not perform the way its supposed to for your pet, and finally be sure to do a price comparison to determine if indeed the medication you order after shipping fees, etc. is cheaper than getting it from your local veterinarian pharmacy.

This information was obtained from the brochure entitled Pet Internet Pharmacies - What You Need to Know by Phil Winters Marketing Communications. To view the entire brochure please go to the following link: http://pharmacybrochure.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/pharmacy.8284708.pdf

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sago Palm - a Deadly Decoration

If you are a Lab lover than you know that one of a Labrador's favorite past times is eating. That's why we owners are forever removing things from their mouths. Whether you currently own a Lab or are considering adding one to the family, it is important to be familiar with plants, medications and human food that may put your dog in peril.



One example of a toxic plant is the Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta). The Sago Palm is a popular ornamental plant in the central Texas area found in many homeowners yards (as well as indoors in cooler climates). All parts of the Sago Palm are poisonous and can make your Labrador very sick. For younger dogs or dogs that spend a great deal of time outdoors, sometimes a favorite activity is to dig (much to the disappointment of many owners). Puppies are known to pull plants from the ground, run around the yard with them in their mouths, and after tiring, continue the fun by chewing on them. Sago Palms can also drop seeds. These seeds are the most poisonous part of the plant. Older dogs while having learned not to dig, still may find the seeds enticing.


Symptoms of Sago Palm toxicity include vomiting (with or without blood), diarrhea (with or without blood), shaking, depression, anorexia, and seizures. The most serious concern associated with Sago Palm poisoning is liver failure. According to the ASPCA, Sago Palm poisoining has increased 200% since 2003, and in 50-75% of cases, Sago Palm poisoning is lethal. Treatment includes administration of activated charcoal to block the absorption of the toxins, IV fluid therapy and medications aimed at protecting the GI tract, controlling seizures and supporting the liver. Blood transfusions may be needed if loss of blood is severe.

To avoid the possibility of this happening to your Lab, consider removing the plants from the areas that your dog frequents or leave your dog indoors when you are unable to watch him outside. Crate training is a great option for your pet when you cannot be with him. Look for an upcoming article for this blog on the benefits of crate training. For more information on Sago Palm toxicity or plant toxicity in general, visit the ASPCAs website: http://www.aspca.org/

Sunday, July 12, 2009

HOTLR Recommends Article To Keep Your Hot Dog Cool

After 50 plus days of triple digit temperatures, are you running out creative ways to stay cool? Well, so are we. That's why we'd like to take the time to give four paws up to Bilinda Marshall, board member of Responsible Pet Owners Alliance located in San Antonio, Texas for reminding us that we need to take special care of our pets as well, during this time of record breaking heat.

Check out the link to this informative article entitled "Baby, Its HOT Outside" from Ms. Marshall: http://d.yimg.com/kq/groups/3080957/641723660/name/BABY%20ITs%20hot%20outside.doc to get some good tips on how to care for your Lab throughout all of the remaining "dog days of summer".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

HOTLR Labs Attend Kids Camp


Each summer Hearts and Paws Kennel located in North Austin holds a three week summer camp. Kids attending camp bring their dogs and learn how to care for and train dogs. Sometimes kids don't have dogs or a family with multiple children doesn't have enough family dogs to go around. That's where Heart of Texas Lab comes in. Heart of Texas is proud to provide dogs from our adoption program to children who may not have a dog for camp.


This year's canine "campers" were two lucky girls. Saba came to us in February as a puppy from Brownwood, Texas. Miss Madison has been with HOTLR since May and was rescued from Town Lake Animal Shelter. Both girls were in need of some basic training, but more importantly were looking for someone to teach them and lead the way. Madison was assigned to Ryan and Saba spent two weeks at camp and worked with Olivia and Anna. The kids teach the dogs the basics - like sit, stay, down and heel and also get to work them on an agility course. This helps the dogs learn confidence which is just as important as good manners. At the end of the week, the kids and their dogs put on a show demonstrating all they have learned during the week. There is also a skit and costume party to round out the end of week festivites.

Heart of Texas Lab would like to thank Ryan, Olivia and Anna for doing such a good job with our dogs. We'd also like to thank Diana Smith of Hearts and Paws for inviting our dogs to attend Kids Camp. Madison and Saba say, "4 Paws Up for a great time!!!"

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

HOTLR's Raven Goes Bananas


HOT Lab Rescue's Raven made a cameo appearance at the grand opening of BANANARCHY a frozen Banana stand located at 706 N Lamar. Just up the street and north from Waterloo Records. While at the grand opening, Raven spread the message of Peace, Love and Labradors while handing out brochures to those attending and posing for photos. After sampling several of the delights, she gave 4 paws up to the After Noon Delight. A frozen Banana on a stick dipped in 3 wonderful toppings. If you would like to have a spokes Lab from HOT Lab Rescue appear at your event contact Ray at hotlabrescue@gmail.com

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue Recognized by Kyle/Buda PEC Employees


On May 28th, Heart of Texas Lab Rescue was a guest at a reception held at the Kyle chapter PEC building in recognition of several local civic and charitable organizations that employees of PEC (Perdenales Electric Coop) had chosen to honor. The employees donated more than $310,000 dollars to several area charitable organizations. The United Charities program created by the PEC allows employees to designate their favorite cause and make donations to that cause through volunteer payroll deductions. Several organizations were honored including libraries, churches, children's community sports organizations and arts programs, and others.


Claudia DeLeon, speaker and presenter at the reception, emphasized that is was the employees of PEC that had designated funds to the charities and their payroll deductions that made the donations possible. "Its a choice," she commented, "no one is making us do it." Margaret Huston, president of HOTLR, accepted the check and explained how donations are used by the group. "Most of the cost associated with our organization has to due with medical care. Over 40% of our dogs come to us positive for heartworm disease. Treatment is long and expensive. After medical costs, kenneling costs are our next highest expense as our rescue dogs wait for foster homes to open up." She expressed thanks and appreciation and assurance that the funds would be put to good use. Heart of Texas Lab was proud to be part of this group and is hopeful to attend this event on annual basis. Thanks to all the employees of PEC for their recognition and support. Photo courtesy of PEC.

Friday, June 5, 2009

How to train a Labrador

Dallas:


This is the story of Dallas and Taylor. Taylor fostered Dallas as her senior project. Dallas was dumped for being rambunctious, jumping on people etc… All the things that a bit of caring and training can correct. Taylor took up the challenge.

Watch the video Dallas Training Video

Dallas is a wonderful, happy dog, and I have had a great time working with her. I had her at my house for the whole month of May, during which I worked with her daily. I saw her come a long way. She went from completely crazy to relatively controllable.

When I first brought her home, she was like a tornado--she literally ran around destroying everything in her path. She bolted through doors, ate things, chewed up leashes, knocked people over, etc. I now can trust her to walk around in the house and not damage things. She also has found some manners and is a pleasant dog to have around the house.



The first few days I had her, she would bolt out of her kennel the minute I opened the door. I wasn't going to have any of this, so I shoved her back in and taught her to wait until I let her free. Now she always stays in the kennel until I tell her she is free. Also, each time I lead her through a door, she sits and waits until I tell her she can go through. It is the same for getting in and out of the car, also. More than anything, her self control has improved so much. She used to run around pacing the house when I let her free inside, but now I can tell her to lie down and stay and she will. It is such an enormous improvement.

I wanted to write this up for her new family so that whoever adopts her can know some of the these that I have learned while living with her this month. She loves to drink out of toilets, so you'll want to close the lids. She has a bad habit of chewing through leashes when she's tied up, so you may want to invest in a chain one (but she has learned to eat the leather handle). She loves bones, but be careful with rawhide because she eats them very fast. She loves food too, so make sure not to leave any around if you don't want her to eat it. I'm sure she'd get fat very easily, so you might want to watch her figure.

She is super smart and may try to trick you sometimes. She has learned to read when I am about to put her in her kennel and at that time will try to run away from me. She loves cats and is very curious about them. She will chase them if they run from her but with no malicious intent. She likes to try and climb in the shower if you let her in the bathroom while you are in there. She will even try to lick the soap off you! It's really bizarre but also really cute and funny. She likes water a lot but will only get in to wade around. She doesn't actually like to jump in and swim in the deep water. Once she was walking around in the shallow part of my pool and accidently fell into the deep water. I think it sort of freaked her out. Then, when we went down to the lake, she was really scared of the waves. I'm sure she would get used to swimming though if she did it more often.

Dallas loves people and dogs! The only time that I truly can't control her at all is when she meets new people or dogs. I can have her sit and stay and she will not move even when people walk by, but if I let a stranger pet her, she tries to lick them to death or mouth them or jump on them. She gets where it is almost impossible to control her or hold her back, because she just loves people that much. She would never do anything to harm another person or animal and is pretty much the most submissive dog I have ever been around. She never even would be in a fight with another dog because she would just lay on her back and submit to anything and anyone. She can be totally and completely trusted with all people and dogs, but I would be careful with her around little kids. She is so hyper and strong that I'm sure she could scare them or knock them down.

She is also pretty good on a leash now. If she starts to pull, I just say heel and give a jerk on the leash. At this point, she usually recedes back by my side. When I stop, she is trained to sit by my side, and a quick tug on the leash will remind her of this. Whenever she does something I don't like, I say "eh-eh" in a harsh tone. She will usually stop whatever she is doing. Then I say "yes" in a really high-pitched, happy tone. That is her praise word that I use every time she does what I want. She knows that it means good job, you get yummy treats now. I have also taught her several commands. Here is a list of them and how you can get her to do them:

Sit -- she knows this one really well. She will almost always sit if you just say "Dallas, sit". I make her sit and wait before coming out of her kennel, out of the car, going through a doorway, etc. The hand signal for sit is moving the hand upwards with the palm up towards the sky.

Down--she knows this one pretty well too. Usually if you just say, "Dallas, down", she will do it without a problem. If not, the hand signal is the hand moving down towards the floor with the palm down or just pointing at the floor. She will sit from a down and usually does a really cute little jump and her ears fly backwards.

Stand--she isn't quite so solid on this one, but she will do it from a sit if you hold your hand out in front of her nose and lure her to stand up.

Heel--this is the command that I use for walks or to make her not pull on the leash. She walks on your left side with her front feet even with yours. If she gets too far ahead, give a quick jerk on the leash and say "heel".

Wait--tell her wait if you want her to not do something until you let her. Free is the release command for wait. For example, you would tell her wait before you let her go through a door or before you let her eat something on the floor. I also can tell her wait and then drop food on the floor right in front of her and she will not eat it until I tell her she is free.

Leave It--I tell her this when I want her to leave something alone and not ever go near it. For example, I would tell her "leave it" on a walk if I didn't want her to go up to a person or if I didn't want her to eat something that we walked by.

Stay--she is pretty solid on this one, as well. The hand signal is a palm up towards her. When she is told to stay, she has to remain in whatever position she is in (sit, down, etc.) until she is told "free" as her release.

Shake--hold your hand out in front of her, tell her to shake, and she will place her paw in your hand. She is very good at this.

Roll Over--she can only do this one if you guide her with a treat. Tell her to lie down and then take a treat and put it in front of her face. Then move it in a clockwise circle around the back of her head. At this point, she will usually lie on her side, roll onto her back, and then go completely over. She always rolls onto her left shoulder.

Spin--this is similar to roll over but from a sitting position. Take the treat and move it in a clockwise circle. She will spin around.

I have also taught Dallas to do some agility work. She knows how to get up on the table and sit, down, and stay on it. She can also do jumps. Put the hand closest to her out extended towards her and tell her "jump" or "hup". Guide her over the jumps that you want her to go over. This is the same for the tire jump except the command for it is "tire". She also has learned how to do the a-frame and dog walk (which I call "bridge"). Say the word for the obstacle and use your hand to guide her over. At the bottom, tell her "spot" and make her remain with her back legs on the obstacle. This way she will learn not to jump off the contact zones that the dogs are required to touch during competition. I have also taught her to do the weave poles. Right now she is working on doing them when they are all lined up in a straight line. I have been doing "channel weaving" with her where the poles are spaced so there is a channel in between them. She has done well with this and is currently able to do the poles when they are as close together as possible without being completely straight. The command for them is "weave, weave, weave", and the dog has to enter with the first pole on their left. She can also do the tunnel. It is pretty easy, and you basically just say "tunnel" and point your arm towards it. She can also do the chute, but it a little more hesitant with it. I did not teach her the see saw, because that is a very difficult obstacle that can sometimes scare dogs. Since I wasn't sure if she would ever actually do agility, I decided not to teach her yet. I have started working on front crosses (where you go ahead of her and spin to her other side) and back crosses (when you let her go ahead and cross to her other side), but she isn't completely solid on them yet. She has a great start in agility, and she has great potential to compete in the future. I know that she loves it, because she does the jumps on her own when I leave her out in the yard. It is really cute, and I know that she loves it. I really hope that she will be able to have her own agility career some day!

Thanks Taylor for showing Dallas the way.
HOTLab Rescue

Thursday, May 28, 2009

HOTLR Lab Lance Invited to Giro d'Italia Watch Party

So who is the last "person" you'd expect to see at a Tour of Italy viewing party? If your answer is a Labrador, think again. Last night Mellow Johnny's bike shop hosted a watch party for the 17th stage of the Giro d'Italia bike race complete with Italian themed appetizers and wine.

Our own Heart of Texas Lab Rescue Lance was the special guest of honor. Many of you know his story by now. Attacked by dogs several weeks ago, he was surrendered to the care of Buttercup Creek Animal Hospital where he underwent extensive surgery to repair his wounds. Buttercup Creek contacted HOTLR and soon he found his new temporary home with the rescue group. Lance named after Lance Armstrong for his courage and determination to go on against all odds, is now fully recovered from his surgery and has nearly completed his first round of heartworm treatment.

Ted Arnold of Mellow Johnny's is an adopter, volunteer, and foster for HOTLR. After seeing Lance's story he worked with Erin O'Neill, PR person for MJ's to wrangle an invitation for HOTLR to attend last night's party. Lance hob-nobbed and schmoozed with some of Austin's biking elite and Lance Armstrong Foundation supporters. Resplendent in his yellow collar and matching bike jersey, Lance quickly made friends, especially with those who were sampling some of the Italian nibbles. Ray Hebert Lance's current foster dad and HOTLR board member gave a short informative presentation about Lance and the HOTLR organization. Many people stopped by to talk about HOTLR and how they might help. Of course, several people came to have their pictures taken with HOTLR's Lance also. As the crowd thinned, Lance relaxed on the floor as others came to give him a pet and a belly rub which he graciously offered. On the big screen, viewers watched Lance, the bike racer, cruise to a 10th place finish in yesterday's 17th stage.

The event was a successful one for HOTLR as the resuce group's existence and cause were promoted. Rumor has it that there may be future partnerships between MJ's and HOTLR, so stayed tuned for further updates!! HOTLR is most grateful to Ted Arnold, Erin O'Neill and the entire staff of Mellow Johnny's for the invite and making last night's event a success!!!