Monday, December 20, 2010

A Lab Rescue Christmas Story


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the pound

Not a creature was stirring, not even the hounds;


Except for some Labradors, their cage doors locked tight,

They paced and they shivered, it'd be a long chilly night;


Alone in their cages they dreamt of a day,
When they would have a home, and be no longer a stray;


With round, full bellies and people to love,
They each chose a star and made the wishes above,


But then in the parking lot arose such a clatter,
They watched from their cages to see what was the matter!


They looked to each other, now what could it be?
But it was too dark, and no one could see.


Then the moon came out and the wind did blow
The parking lot lit up and it began to glow,


When, what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a woman and a green van she did steer,


Lots of kennels were in it, she intended to fill,
The Lab hearts beat loudly, and they grew very still.


More rapid than eagles she flew out the van,
And she whistled, and shouted, to the Lab cages she ran;


"You're Dasher! You're Dancer! You're Prancer and Vixen!
Come on, Comet! Your Cupid! You're Donder and Blitzen!


Those are your new names! Now come when I call!
Now dash to the van! To the van with you all!"


As fast as they could, they left their cement block,
They flew and they ran, not one of them did walk,


So into the van the Labradors did run,
A second chance at life, their shelter days were done.


And then, in a twinkling, Margaret did drive
The Labs they relaxed and they heaved a great sigh.


And she started to speak without turning around,

“You Labs are not lost, today you are found.”


“Tonight, the first night of the rest of your days,
You’ll be healed, you’ll be schooled with some "sits" and some "stays";


“You’ll eat healthy food and you’ll grow very strong,
“And then in some time, it won't be very long....”


“You’ll meet a nice family! And get a new home!”
“A family to love - one to call your very own!”


She talked and she calmed them in her nice way,
And the Labs they did settle and grew tired where they lay;


And Margaret she drove with the radio on,
And the Labs fell asleep to an old Christmas song;


And before they knew it, their dreams did come true,
Days of healing and learning, they went fast, man, they flew.


And soon they came to that special day,

They met forever families and picked one where they'd stay;


And they lived long lives, so happy and bright,
But none of them would ever forget that first night;


When that lady in the ugly green van did appear,
And gave them new life, took away their fear,


And forever they'd remember how lucky they were;
To have happy homes and to have clean fur,


And this is the wonderful things we can do,

With our supporters, volunteers and people like you,

And so we thank you with another year end in sight,

"Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good-night."




Heart of Texas Lab Rescue will be at Barnes & Noble for the rest of the week wrapping presents for donations. Please come see us. Check out our scheduled time on the HOTLR website!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Do You Have a Toxic Household?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the pleural lining of the lung caused by "plaque" or thickening of the pleura due to asbestos exposure. Many people over the years have suffered from this disease. But people are not the only victims of this type of cancer. Dogs can be stricken with this disease as well.

Asbestos is a building material used from the 1930s to 1980s in many indoor structures and was a favorite among builders due to its low conductivity to heat and low incidences of burning or melting. Exposure to asbestos occurs when fibers are inhaled through the mouth and nose and settle in the lungs as a result of living or working in a building that was constructed using asbestos. Because of the strong link between asbestos and mesothelioma, asbestos is no longer used in building materials.

You and your pet could be at risk if you live or work in an affected building, or work or are exposed to demolition or repair of buildings containing asbestos. Your pet and family members are even at a high risk of exposure through "secondhand" asbestos exposure from fibers you may bring home with you.

Jackie Clark is an Outreach Coordinator with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance and has kindly provided us with information about this toxic substance as well as other toxins that your pet may be exposed to in your homes. Please take a minute to review this important information:

Keeping Your Pet Safe: Hidden Danger of Household Toxins

Most of us know that exposure to household toxins like asbestos can lead to mesothelioma in humans; animals are just as susceptible to common hazards. Understanding that there are hidden dangers lurking around their house, pet owners can keep their furry friends safe, healthy and ultimately protected.

Most pet owners know to keep dangerous materials away from their animals such as cleaning supplies, people food and antifreeze, because any inquisitive pet easily ingests those items. However, there are more household items overlooked by pet owners that are equally as dangerous that a pet may ingest or inhale.

Household garbage poses the single, largest threat to any pets’ health. Animals are drawn to the smelly refuse, typically looking for delicious scraps of people food left over. Especially with dogs, picking through the trash to find the tastiest bits is not practical; instead, any trash that smells good is munched.

This is a terrible hazard since garbage cans hold a smorgasbord of household waste including medications, paper towels used for cleaning, and even batteries. Broken glass, say from a light bulb, can cut an animals’ gums or tongue, and can cause horrible damage to the esophagus or stomach if swallowed.

Many pet owners do not know the threat airborne toxins can have on their furry shadows. Inhalation of any toxin, like bleach vapors, secondhand smoke or paint fumes not only have damaging health risks for people, but also for pets. Animals are naturally curious, exploring the world through their sense of smell or taste, simply investigating what their owners are doing can be risky.

Though most pet owners understand the dangers cleaning supplies can pose for their animals, but what is often missed are the hazards of home renovations. Construction dust, insulation particles, asbestos or mold, common side effects of any renovation project, are also unsafe for animals.

Anything that is toxic for people is also toxic for pets. This overlooked hazard can often cause silent, yet deadly diseases in pets. Especially with inhaled toxins, animals can develop respiratory problems, circulatory disorders or cancer.

Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe

Simply, if it is unsafe or unhealthy for humans, it is also for animals. By following a few easy rules, any pet owner can keep their animals happy and healthy.

  • Keep trashcans securely covered.
  • Do not put unused or expired medications in the trash or down the drain. Many communities have safe ways to get rid of medications through local refuse collection sites.
  • For cleaning or renovation projects, wear a protective mask and coverings, have proper ventilation and keep pets away.
  • Do not leave any hazardous items on the floor, counters, tables or anywhere a pet can easily access.
  • Keep dangerous products, like cleaning supplies, renovation materials or unsafe people food in a locked cabinet. Since many pets are able to open cabinets easily, attach child locks.
  • For any extended home renovation including painting, tiling, wallpapering, sanding or refinishing surfaces, keep pets out of the house. If the renovation lasts more than a day, keep pets at a friend’s house or a kennel. Animals can not only ingest or inhale hazardous materials, there is also a threat of animals stepping on nails, glass, insulation or broken tile.
  • Always inspect pets’ mouths, eyes, ears and feet to see any telltale signs of naughty behavior.

The most important way pet owners can protect their furry friends is to use common sense. Remember “If it is dangerous for me, it is dangerous for them.” For many pet owners, having an inquisitive shadow is so common that sometimes they can forget what they are doing may not be healthy for their animals.

By keeping a watchful eye on your curious friend, you can keep them safe and healthy. If you suspect that your pet ingested or inhaled a toxin, seek immediate veterinary care.

Reference

ASPCA. Tobacco is Toxic for Toto, Too. Accessed on December 2, 2010. (http://www.aspca.org/pressroom/press-releases/041510.html)

ASPCA. Top 10 Pet Poisons of 2009. Accessed on December 2, 2010. (http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/top-10-pet-poisons-of-the-year.html)

HOTLR is grateful to Jackie Clark for providing us this important information. For more information on Mesothelioma please check out: http://www.mesothelioma.com/.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Giving the perfect gift. This time of year it can be all we think about. Getting that special someone the gift they've been wishing for for months or even years. What about a new pet as the perfect gift? Your child begs for a dog daily. Your girlfriend has been clamoring for one for months. Your husband is sure that a new dog is exactly what is needed to complete your family. But what about giving animals as pets for Christmas. It may seem like a great idea, but maybe there is a better way?

For me, part of the joy of adopting a new pet is finding the special something about a certain dog that speaks to me in a way that no other dog does. Take for instance my first Labrador. Long before I discovered my passion for animal rescue, I found an ad for Labrador puppies in my local newspaper. I had been begging my husband for months and so after work one day, he took me out to see the pups. Suddenly 12 puppies surrounded me...rolling pell mell all over each other in attempt to get to me first. I dropped to my knees and was instantly enveloped in Labrador puppy love. What an amazing feeling. With so many warm wiggling bodies surrounding me, it was hard for me to tell one from the other. So after many minutes of feeling like I was a pot full of honey surrounded by a bumbling mass of baby bees, I extracted myself from the puppy pile and began to walk away to try to get a better look.

At first nothing changed. The pups didn't seem to notice I had gone. They quickly merged into a roly poly Labrador snowball. But then one little pup disentangled himself from the fray and began to look around. He spotted me and seemed to sprout wings as he made a beeline directly for me!! Of course, we brought him home. There was no question that he was "the one". We named him Miko and although he has been gone for 13 years, that memory of him running as fast as his short little puppy legs could take his fat puppy body across the grass back to me has stayed with me like it all happened yesterday. That was the moment that my true love for this dog and the breed was born. My husband gave me the dog, but the true gift was what Miko gave to me.

Think about arranged marriages. Not exactly in vogue anymore. There is a reason for that. You don't want someone to choose the person with whom you spend the rest of your life. Neither should you choose a pet for someone else. I'm not saying that giving a pet to someone for Christmas is a bad idea. What I am suggesting is that you give the gift of the joy of that special connection - the gift that will be remembered for a lifetime. So you want to give someone a pet for Christmas? No problem, wrap up a dog bowl....or a leash and collar.... Your loved one will get the idea and then all of you can share in that beautiful moment when the perfect pet joins your family.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Paws Up for the DOOG Walkie Belt

There are certain perks when your best friend is the Fit City column writer for the Austin American Statesman. You may get roped into running a marathon, or maybe you'll be asked to join her on a relaxing 100 mile mountain bike ride through the West Texas desert. You might find yourself on a 55 mile cruise on your road bike in Van Horn, TX with winds of 35mph and temps in the 40s. It's for sure always an adventure, and I am ALWAYS glad I took part.

The other great perk about your friend, the Fit City writer, is that people are always sending her free stuff in the hopes she will use it and review it. Lots of it is sports related apparel, or supplements, or gadgets. But this is a dog column, so back to the dog stuff. So here goes. Occasionally Pam receives stuff that you can use for your dog, in the hopes that people are actually exercising with their pets. Pam, who doesn't currently have a dog, but is well acquainted with my brood always forwards the dog stuff on to me. Free stuff for my dogs - YIPPEE!!

I received a package in the mail from Pam just the other day with some great stuff in it. When I opened the envelope, I pulled out a dog "walkie belt", a collapsible bowl and some biodegradable, scented dog pooh bags. The company that makes this gear is called DOOG - Dog Owners Outdoor Gear. Started in 2007, by a husband and wife who had grown tired of all the accoutrements one must take when walking dogs (such as leashes, pooh bags, hand wipes, treats, keys, money, etc.), Jaime and Jessica Knight decided to design a product that would allow you to bring all the necessary items with you, but in a compact and organized way.

I had actually seen the "walkie belt" advertised somewhere before, but I thought I was managing fine without one, so didn't see the need to purchase one. But, now that I had one, I might as well try it. Well, let me tell you, I am sold. It is so much more convenient to be able to strap this belt around your waist and take off on your walk with all the things you need right at your fingertips. The belt design has a strap to clip your cell phone to, a velcro pouch with slit in it to easily access your pooh bags, and a zippered pocket for your keys and some cash, your license, etc. On the opposite end of the belt, an additional pouch with slit, makes handy wipes for messy jobs easily accessible. Finally, there is a carbineer attached to the belt for attaching leashes, or hanging your belt on a hook by your door when not in use.

While in general, I like the overall concept and the ease of all the necessary items close at hand, I did find a few flaws in the product. The pouches for holding the plastic pooh bags and handy wipes are small. This means that you must use the DOOG brand bags and wipes in order to reload your belt once you run out of the original supply. The slits in the pockets are small, and it can be a tight fit to get your fingers in there and pull out the bag or wipe that you need. Additionally, while the carbineer is a good idea, I think, I 'd hook a waterbowl or water bottle to it, rather than a leash. It would also be good to hook a bag of treats for those dogs that need to be distracted during a walk. Also, the foldable water bowl itself is a bit cheap and expensive at $12. I believe there are better collapsible water bowls out there for the money, such as those made by Ruff Wear or Planet Dog. However, even with these minor flaws, I do find myself reaching for the belt now each time I take my four pups for a stroll.

The "walkie belt" retails for around $35, but I found it for $17 on Amazon. Amazon also sells the handy wipe and doggy pooh bag refills. I personally think the "walkie belt" is a great deal at half the price and am considering purchasing a few for Christmas gifts. It comes in a variety of colors and styles and is sure to please anyone on your dog lover list.

Is this belt a necessity for a successful walk with your pooch? Surely not, but it does make life a bit easier and more organized. Try one and see if you like it. If you don't, just give it to your best friend!!

During this time of year, we are ever mindful and thankful of our wonderful volunteers and donors who give constantly of their personal time, money and dog supply donations. We have a lot of great dogs in our program right now, so be sure to check out our "Labs Needing Homes" list. If a special dog touches your heart, give a little gift and sponsor them this holiday season. Again, thanks for all you do for HOTLR!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Kinder Gentler Way to Take a Walk

Ahh, the cool, crisp days of autumn that I have been longing for have finally arrived. There is nothing I enjoy about autumn more than a steaming mug of coffee in the morning as the sun rises and then leashing up my dogs for a nice long walk.

But it hasn't always been that way. There was a time I dreaded walking my dog. The thought of it made me tremble and my hands began to sweat, and it wasn't because the weather was less than perfect. I hated walking my dog, because I just physically couldn't.

At the time, my 12 year old boy Cayman, was a strapping 2 year old and weighed around 90lbs. Those of you who have met him, know how tall he is (too tall for a "show quality" Lab) and how big he is. There wasn't an ounce of fat on him, not my boy, he was solid muscle. And then there was me. I am 5'1 1/2" on my best day. Being a lady, I won't mention my actual weight, but let's just say that the pounds that separate Cayman and me don't amount to much. Here I had this beautiful, gorgeous dog that I wanted to show off to the world, and yet, I found myself petrified to leave my house with him.

So we went to dog training classes. Those were fun. The first day I showed up with my metal pronged pinch collar and the dog trainer looked at me in disgust and told me not to come back with it. (Now, remember, this was 10 years ago and I didn't know then, what I know now. So please forgive me.) After the end of the first class, she asked me to stay late. She worked with Cayman and me for a few extra minutes, one on one. At the end of our extra session, she had changed her mind and told me to bring the pinch collar back with me to the next class.

Actually, the pinch collar never worked. If anything, it only made him fight me harder on the leash. And the issue, of course, was his pulling. It didn't matter where I wanted to go, we were going where he wanted to go. I always hated the thing anyway. It looked like a medieval torture device, it was hard to get on and off, and let's face it, it's prime objective was to cause him pain.

I was thrilled when Gentle Leader came out with the Halti product. Another dog trainer several years later turned me on to this little gem. I was skeptical at first. How could this little piece of nylon that fit over the nose and head of my dog allow me to walk him easily when a steel pronged pinch collar did not? The Halti is used in much the same way that a horse halter is used. The concept is that when you steer a dog's head, you steer the dog's body and the Gentle Leader Halti headcollar allows you to "steer" your dog. After the first try, I was sold, this product was brilliant and it worked great for me.

There was a bit of a downside however. First, Cayman hated it. Whenever I put it on him, he ran around the house rubbing his face on anything he could. Me, the furniture, the floor, other people, nothing was off limits. He clearly hated wearing the thing. Also, many people we saw on the street would hurry to cross to the other side when they saw us coming. It was only later after I heard someone whisper the word "muzzle" that I figured out that people thought that Cayman was a dangerous dog that required a muzzled to be walked. And last, whenever he went swimming, it seemed that the Halti would rub his nose in places and often leave marks or rub his hair off in spots as if the collar fit too tightly.

Finally, the good people at Premier Pet Products came up with an alternative to the Halti head collar that I believe works even better. The skies opened and the sun shone down on none other then the Gentle Leader Easy Walk Harness. Once again, a third dog trainer turned me on to this next generation product. It is by far, the easiest and best alternative I have ever found to walking a difficult dog and ALL four of my dogs have one even though two of them probably don't really need one. The concept behind the Easy Walk Harness is this: most harnesses attach to the leash on the back of the animal, but the Easy Walk is different as it attaches to the front. This puts gentle pressure on the chest and shoulder blades of your dog directing his/her attention back towards you should they begin to pull. I also like the stability of the product. There is always that chance, however, slight that your dog could slip out of it's collar and leash. Not so easy with the Easy Walk Harness. For me, it just adds an extra layer of stability between me and my dog should we come up on a difficult situation. It is a wonderful, magical, life saving device and I cannot tell you how much I love, love, love this product!!!

The Easy Walk Harness is a familiar site at Heart of Texas Lab Rescue Meet 'n Greets, or social events such as the Barnes and Noble gift wrapping sessions where HOLTLR dogs are invited. If you have trouble walking your Lab (or any dog) or know someone who does, get yourself or your friend an Easy Walk Harness. Either the Halti head collar or the Easy Walk Harness can be bought at your favorite pet supply store. You'll look forward to walks with your dog almost as much as he does, and your dog will thank you for it!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Day for Celebration!!

There are 3 very important days in a HOTLR rescue dog's life. They are as follows:

1) The day they are pulled from the shelter and are officially accepted into the Heart of Texas Labrador adoption program.

2) The day they are chosen by their forever families and leave us for their new lives healthy, happy and whole.

3) The day they complete their heartworm treatment.

On each of these days, I find myself saying the same thing to each of them....."Today is the day you begin the rest of your life." And today is a very special day for me. Because my foster Tango, who is now my very own adopted boy, is finally free for the first time in his life. He is now considered "heartworm negative".

Every dog owner should know just how deadly heartworms can be. Their name alone can conjure up shivers of disgust and well it should. These worms that are carried by mosquitos live and breed inside the heart and lungs of the dog. Dogs with heartworms may have a mild cough, are exercise intolerant, and seem lethargic and unwilling to play, however, in early stages of the disease, dogs may exhibit no signs at all. The most critical aspect of heartworm disease is death of the infected animal.

Heartworm treatment is expensive (costing anywhere from $500 - $1000) and takes around 8 weeks to complete. It also is very hard on your dog. Your dog will undergo a series of chest xrays to determine the severity of the heartworm disease. He will also be placed on antibiotics and steroids to fight infection and inflammation for the duration of the eight week treatment period. Your dog will be administered an injection of an "adulticide" into the muscles surrounding his spine. The injection is very, very painful and as the medication begins to kill the worms your dog will feel very ill.

For the next four weeks, your dog will not be able to participate in any exercise and will be only allowed leash walks for "elimination" purposes. Should your dog participate in any cardiovascular exercise, the dying worms could potentially cause a clot in the heart or lungs which could be fatal to your dog.

After the first four week period, the process starts all over again, with back to back injections over a two day period to kill any remaining worms. Again, your dog will be required four weeks of steroids, antibiotics and cage rest as the remaining worms die. Because the injections only kill adult worms, in the meantime, you will also be required to give your dog heartworm preventative that will kill off any of the baby worms.

The only guaranteed way to prevent heartworm disease is to give your dog a monthly preventative prescribed by your veterinarian. There are a few different brands on the market. Some kill other parasites and/or fleas along with the heartworms. Your veterinarian will be best suited to recommend which preventative is right for your dog.

Many dog owners are under the false impression that during the winter months, it is not necessary to give dogs heartworm preventative as mosquitos seem to disappear. But we live in Texas with a mild temperate climate year around, that means heartworm preventative is a must year around. Your dog should receive heartworm preventative every single month of each year.

For more information on heartworm disease, treatment and prevention, check out the American Heartworm Society.

So, today was definitely a day of celebration for Tango. He had endured and survived heartworm treatment. I loaded him into the 4-Runner and took him to Bark 'n Purr on Burnet Rd. Once inside, we took our time..... we chatted with some other customers and we looked at EVERYTHING....TWICE....Tango became so exhausted from our shopping spree that he even decided to nap on the store floor while I sweated over just the right collar for him. (He has a matching handmade leash and collar coming from our friends at Lucky Fiona for special occasions, but he also needed a collar for everyday wear.) I finally decided on two different collars in shades of red. We'd let the cashier make the final choice. He also received his very own Huck ball by Westpaw Design. Now, and forever, he can chase all the balls he wants....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Reason Heart Exists in Heart of Texas Lab Rescue

Sometimes it's hard for me to write a blog every week. Sometimes I can't think about a good topic, or the words just don't come easily. Sometimes the happy, happy, joy, joy of rescue is tempered with the reality of why rescue exists. Today is one of those days.

I want to write about some of the dogs in our program that have been around for a while...for one reason or another....to update you and to ask you to think about them and to send hope for them, that we can find the right family for them soon. These are the days when I hope my blog can make a difference.....

This is Sedona. She was born about this time last year and is one of Eden's puppies...She has suffered from bouts of pneumonia since her birth. She was adopted twice, by two different families. And her familes loved her deeply, however, they could not cope with her constant illness. So she came back to us. She has new hope, however, a recent visit to the veterinarian shows that with the proper antibiotics her pneumonia is nearly gone. The vet is hopeful that 6 more weeks of antibiotics will have her healthy for the first time in her life. Look at that face. Look at those eyes. We want for her a healthy, happy life and a forever home. Do you know someone who would like to give her a chance?

This is Corona. Corona has been with us for over a year. He is a handsome, strong chocolate boy who simply loves people. But he has a hard time getting along with other dogs... This doesn't happen very often with Labs, but this is rescue. We don't know what Corona has had to face in his past. We haven't been able to identify what sets him off with other dogs. Did he have to defend himself just to survive? Is that why he is untrustworthy with other dogs? We simply don't know. However, what we do know, is that he deserves to have a chance to be in a forever home and be loved like every other Lab we rescue. But he will need a special home. Someone who doesn't mind skipping the dog park, and is happy showering him with love in a dog-free environment. Do you know anyone like that? If you do, Corona is waiting and he pledges to be a lifelong best friend....


Here we have Maris. She is a hard case too. We had high hopes for Maris when she was placed in the Alzheimer's wing of a local senior care facility. She did wonderfully there and loved her job as caretaker for her people. This is where the trouble began, she loved her people too much and didn't want to share them with other dogs who came to visit. After some time, sadly, Maris was asked to leave. She is at our boarding facility now, where she has been for a while. It is not a good place for her as she is overwhelmed by all the dogs and activity going on around her. She is not a young dog and just needs a place to lay her weary head to live out her days in safety, comfort and love. But she too needs to be in a home where she is the only animal. Do you know someone who could help?

Last, we have Zeke....Nothing wrong with Zeke except that he is one big, crazy Lab....He is strong and exuberant and can be quite the handful. We were hopeful that he would make it into a program to be trained as a drug dog, but sadly his ball drive is just not strong enough. He is a big, beautiful boy who needs a strong, dedicated hand for guidance. He would not do well in a family with young children, but this could be a very rewarding experience for a young person who is up for a challenge, loves exercise and would be willing to work with a trainer to help Zeke learn some rules and boundaries. Do you know anyone that might fit that bill?

At the end of the day, these dogs deserve a second chance at love just like every other dog we have in our program. Sometimes we need a unique individual or family to step up and help us meet the challenge. If you know anyone who can help any of these wonderful dogs find their forever homes, we would love to talk to you. Please contact us for more information.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Howl-o-Ween Safety Tips from HOTLR!!

Put your seatbelts on, folks....it's that time of year again, the start of the holiday season....Halloween is this weekend, Thanksgiving is just around the corner and before you know it, Christmas bells will be ringing and Santa's bells will be jingling. Along with the chaos, excitement, joy and frenzy of the holidays, this time of year also presents unique opportunities for our pets to get injured and sick that we may not face during other times of the year.

There are lots of wonderful on-line resources posting information helping to remind us of the dangers to look out for during the holiday season. Below are a few links to some useful information and helpful reminders:

From rat poison, to poison mushrooms to snakes, find out what hidden dangers are more likely in the fall than during other seasons of the year in the ASPCA's article Autumn Safety Tips. Also, check out the Top Ten Pet Poisons of 2009 and know how to protect your pet.

The ASPCA even has a 24 hour, 365 days a year veterinarian staffed poison control hotline. Should you have a pet that has eaten something you may think poisonous and you cannot get your pet to his/her regular veterinarian, call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline to find out your best line of defense. There is a $65 fee charged, but if you are in a life or death situation, the money is well spent. The fees charged allow the ASPCA to run the hotline and to keep a veterinarian on staff 24-7, 365 days a year. I recently used the hotline myself when my foster dog ate 40 antibiotic pills while we were on vacation. The ASPCA answered my questions, quickly and efficiently and let me know that my dog would suffer no long term health issues. What a great relief and wonderful resource!!

The Humane Society of the United States is another great resource offering lots of tips and info on good pet care. Check out their article on Halloween safety recommendations: Spare Your Pet the Spooks this Halloween.

So, remember, while it's a wonderful time of year to spend with family and friends including our four-legged furry ones, keep in mind the special considerations that come with the holiday season. We at HOTLR wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and ask you to look us up at your local Barnes & Noble starting in December. Come visit, chat, and get some Labrador love!!! We'll even wrap some gifts for you for free!!! Check out the HOTLR Events page to find out when we'll be at which B&N locations!! See you there!!




Monday, October 18, 2010

HOTLR Alum Dahlia (now Della) is a Rave Retriever

We are a rescue group. Our dogs come from all over central Texas. Ninety-nine percent of our dogs come from animal shelters that practice euthanasia due to overpopulation. Sometimes we know a little of the history of our dogs. For instance, we might know that they were surrendered because their family was forced to move to a new place that didn't allow pets, or maybe the family that had them prior deemed them too "unruly" in the behavior department. Maybe they grew too big, too fast.

Lots of times our dogs are strays. We don't know anything except what the shelter can tell us based on the few minutes their volunteers spend with them each day. Lots of times we learn things about them when we visit with them at the shelter before bringing them into the program. Of course, even then, it's hard to tell. That's why our fosters are so important. In foster homes, these shelter dogs thrive in clean, stable, safe environments very much like the ones in which they will ultimately be placed. This is where their true personalities come out, where they really start to shine....

Sometimes I am amazed that some people think that rescue dogs can't do the things that other purebred dogs can do. That they are somehow a lesser representative of the breed. True, they may not all be "show ring ready", but they have the same ability and desire to live up to their "name". They can become drug dogs, or therapy dogs, or agility dogs, or hunting dogs. They can do what any other Lab can do with the proper care, love and training.

Most of you know this already. You've been following us a long time. And this blog is really about a success story. This is "the thing" that keeps volunteers and donors coming back...time after time...for more. This is the story of Dahlia. She was a one year old pup when she came to us. She did spend some time receiving formal training, but she was a dog that needed her puppy energy channeled in the right direction. She was known as a fence jumper if she was left alone too long. She got bored...and lonely. Dahlia needed a "job", like lots of Labs do.

Enter the LeLaurin family of San Antonio. They adopted Dahlia and renamed her Della and she found her perfect match. But her story doesn't end there. She has been attending training classes at RAVE Retrievers. RAVE Retrievers established in 1981 and serving the San Antonio/New Braunfels area, has been training retrievers as gun dogs and in obedience as well as providing boarding services ever since. Della is learning to be a hunting dog. She's got her puppy paws full of retrieving, sitting, waiting, listening, watching, and running. What more could a Labrador want? Della is even the star of her own short movie. Check her out: Della's Movie . Go Della!!!

To see her learn...to see her joy...to watch her be all she was meant to be...that is why we do what we do. That's why we keep coming back for more. Thanks to the LeLaurin Family for giving Della a chance and sharing Della's story. If you are interested in fostering, volunteering or donating to Heart of Texas Lab Rescue, visit our website: Heart of Texas Lab or email us at: hotlr@hotlabrescue.org . There are always other "Dellas" waiting in the wings...just for the chance...another chance to be all they were meant to be...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wine, Food, Labs & Fun!! Come on Out to HOTLR's Evening of Giving

If you are an avid HOTLR fan, I hope by now you know about the Evening of Giving Silent Auction and Wine Tasting Event in San Antonio on October 16th. If you don't....then's here's the scoop....

Where: The Fairmount Hotel, San Antonio, TX
When: October 16, 2010 from 6pm - 9pm
Why: Silent Auction and Wine Tasting Event to raise money for HOTLR
Tickets: $25 each, pay via PayPal or at the door

After the success of our first event last year, we are even more excited about the this year's event. We'll have a wide variety of silent auction items at all price levels including a stay at a dog friendly bed and breakfast, a stay in a Texas coast home and a Colorado mountain home. We'll have a beautiful hybrid bike donated by Mellow Johnny's, original works of art, wine tasting gift certificate at several local Texas wineries, restaurant gift certificates and nearly 100lbs of Wellness dog food. Raffle items include an IPOD shuffle and an Amazon Kindle.

Then of course there is the wine....we'll have a large variety of wines available for tasting, something tasty for everyone's palette. And don't worry, if wine is not your thing, you'll not go thirsty as we'll have beer and home brewed root beer from Blue Star Brewery of San Antonio. Nibbles will also be provided including, cheese, crackers, hummus, sandwiches, veggies and desserts. So no worries about going hungry.

Worried about driving in from Austin? Don't be. The Fairmount has graciously offered a reduced room rate for Saturday at $169. Across the street from the Riverwalk and within walking distance of the King William historic district, this is a hotel you don't want to miss. The largest building in the world ever moved from one location to another, the Fairmount was relocated to its current location in April 1985 when the city of San Antonio at a cost of $1 million opted to save the building rather than demolish it.

Resident Labrador, Luke (a rescue dog himself) continues his work as the official hotel greeter and is still waiting to meet a guest he doesn't like. So, stay Saturday night and make a weekend of it. Play on the Riverwalk and check out the King Williams historic district on Sunday before you head home. Don't delay, purchase your ticket now via Paypal on the HOTLR website. Make sure you indicate the $25 is for the Evening of Giving in the description line of the Paypal payment form. You can also purchase tickets on the night of the event at the hotel. So, what're ya waiting for? Tickets are on sale now...get 'em while their hot!!! Luke's waiting for you!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Food and Fits - What's a Dog Owner To Do??

As a dog owner, I feel I'm bombarded with information every day on what and what not to feed my dogs, as well as numerous ideas on how to train them to behave. I am having a hard enough time trying to decide what's healthy for my own self (Adkins diet, low fat, the cabbage diet, red wine/no red wine?) let alone my dogs. However, with the recent tragic deaths of many pets linked to the food they ate, I know that this is one topic that is important to get right. Also, living in a multi-dog household, with new dogs coming in all the time as fosters, good behavior and training is also key.

The Whole Dog Journal is a wonderful resource for people trying to sort through these issues and hoping to do the best for their pet in the most natural and healthful way possible. The monthly guide is dedicated to providing the latest info on natural dog care and training. Regular articles in the journal include information on behavior and training, nutrition, health and care.

Supplementing the printed journal is a great website with even more information on the subjects found in the journal as well as topics ranging from puppies to senior dogs, problem solving and a blog.

The Whole Dog Journal advocates raw feeding, but realizes that this may not be the best answer for every family with a dog. Recently they mailed me a supplement to their journal entitled, "Top Dog Foods for Total Wellness". This mini-guide talks about the importance of food in relation to your dog's health, and also recommends the best foods available at local pet supply stores whether they eat kibble or soft food. (I was happy to find the kibble that I feed my canine kids listed!!)

Optionally, they offer several books for purchase on their website (both by hard copy and downloadable onto your computer) on subjects such as feeding your dog, puppy training, and solving such problems as separation anxiety or teaching your dog how to greet people properly.

Topics in this month's October issue include: senior dog hearing loss, bone marrow transplants in dogs, understanding canine aggression, and carbohydrates in kibble. A yearly subscription runs $20 with two years for $30. Since each individual issue is $5.95, then buying a subscription certainly makes sense. As a Whole Dog Journal subscriber, you are also entitled to all the back issues via the WDJ website for free. For me and my pack, I need all the help and advice I can get. Along with frequent consultation from my favorite veterinarian, this is definitely some quality reading that I don't want to miss!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Teeny's Friends Toy Drive Benefits HOTLR

Teeny's Friends (logo on the right) is an Austin-based organization that holds monthly toy drives for needy dogs. Each month, Teeny's chooses an Austin based dog related business to place their "toy bin". The "host" of the toy drive for the month chooses a beneficiary and during two weeks of that month, toys are collected in the designated bin.


This month Heart of Texas Lab Rescue will be the recipient of the Teeny's Toy Drive thanks to Austin Canine Central who nominated HOTLR.

Austin Canine Central (logo on the left) is the home of Joyce Morgan Dog Training and is located in central Austin at 5402 Middle Fiskville Rd., Austin, TX 78751, (Phone 512-458-8800). ACC offers a variety of training, agility and conformation classes as well as doggy daycare, grooming services and rental facilties for dog-related activities or non-dog related activities. Make sure to visit their website to learn more.

Austin Canine Central makes it easy to donate to the Teeny's toy bin as you can shop the doggy boutique that carries a wonderful assortment of treats, food, collars and toys from the comfort of your home and of course, from their Middle Fiskville location. Stop in today, check out ACC's schedule of classes, get a tour of the facility. Stop by the boutique on your way out to buy a little special something for your canine companion and drop a little something in the Teeny's toy bin. Click here to shop on-line and have Austin Canine Central drop the toy in the bin for you.

Teeny's toy bin is waiting to be filled with lots of Lab-friendly goodies to help our rescue pups pass the time until they are ready to meet their forever families. The deadline for toy collection is this Saturday, September 25th, so don't waste time, donate a toy to Teeny's Friends and help HOTLR today!!! Loads of thanks and puppy love to Teeny's Friends and Austin Canine Central for dedicating this toy drive to HOTLR!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Join HOTLR for Pizza on the Patio with Pups

Got plans for Saturday night??? Now you do. Come join us for Pizza with Pups at Austin Pizza's Westlake location from 4pm until 8pm. Austin's Pizza has a large covered deck, perfect for enjoying your favorite pie with your favorite pup just off Bee Caves Road.

Don't forget to tell your friends too. This party doesn't discriminate. Well behaved dogs of all breeds are welcome. Just tell your server you are there to support Heart of Texas Lab Rescue and 15% of all proceeds will be donated to HOTLR.

And if you've ever been interested in volunteering, come join us for our volunteer information session beginning at 6pm. Meet other volunteers and some of HOTLR's board members, and learn about all the cool things you can do for Lab rescue.

If you want to just hang out and eat pizza, that's okay too.....Here's a lil' somethin' somethin' to wet the whistle....the menu, of course. Plenty of yumminess here to warrant a Saturday night visit. So, don't be shy.....bring your dogs, bring your family, bring your friends and join HOTLR for a Pizza Party on the Patio!!! It'll be paw-sitively fantastic!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

HOTLR gets Bucks from a Duck!!

HOTLR's newest donor is not a human...nor does he have fur....and although he is a bird, he technically has no feathers. He is a rubber ducky - one dressed as the University of Oregon's mascot Donald Duck based on the cartoon character of the same name.

Round Rock Sertoma is an international volunteer service organization dedicated to SErvice TO MAnkind. For the last 35 years, the Round Rock chapter has dedicated itself to helping speech and hearing impaired children, as well as other charities. One of the charity's several fundraising events includes the Sertoma Central Texas Rubber Duck Race.

This highly anticipated event takes place during Round Rock's Frontier Days Festival held July 4 (although this year's race was postponed until July 16 due to weather). Donors assess many rubber duck specimens in an attempt to purchase the fastest duck. Once the donor has made his/her decision, the duck is dressed up and then the big race is on. Rubber duck owners sweat it out at the finish line, as their prized ducks madly paddle their way to victory. The Oregon Duck fought its way to a 3rd place finish. After much consultation with his human owner, Ken Scholz (pictured above with Donald and HOTLR President Margaret Huston), Donald decided to donate his $200 prize to none other than Heart of Texas Lab Rescue!!!

HOTLR would like to take this opportunity to give four paws up and a HUGE thank you to Donald and his human, Ken Scholz!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

HOTLR Road Trips to San Antonio for Pet Expo 2010

Looking for something to do this weekend? How about checking out the San Antonio Pet Expo? Indoors at the Freeman Coliseum (directions) in downtown San Antonio, you and your dog are welcome to attend this wonderful social event from 10am to 6pm on Saturday, July 31st.

There will be tons of activities including a Fashion Show, Pet Costume Contest, an Agility Ring, Smart Pet/Stupid Human Contest, and Pet Look Alike Contest. Several exhibitors are also attending including pet care and service companies, pet products companies, and several central Texas rescue groups. Services will also be provided for low cost vaccinations, low cost micro-chipping, free nail trims and free pet licensing for the city of San Antonio.

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue will be in a large double booth directly across from the agility ring with all kinds of furry Lab kids waiting for some attention. Come meet some of our rescue alumni as well as some canine kids we have currently available for adoption. So, come on over and hang with us awhile. We guarantee to bring a smile to your face.

Click on this flyer for all the fabulous details. Parking and admission are free and the air conditioning is cool. So are the HOTLR dogs....so come on in and check it out!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dancin' for Donations


When is the last time you headed out to do a little country 'n western dancing? I know for me it's been awhile.

That's why I am so excited about this weekend. The Midnight Rodeo is hosting a Heart of Texas Lab fundraising event this Saturday, July 24th from 7pm until the doors close.

Not only will you have a great time dancing to all of your country favorites, but raffles will be held every hour. You could win Lab-themed gift items, cd's, concert tickets and even VIP passes to Midnight Rodeo.

Midnight Rodeo is located just one block east off I-35 in south Austin on Ben White (Hwy. 71). Look for the giant, bright & flashing Midnight Rodeo information sign over 75′ high. Originally an 84 Lumber Company building on the outside, now a huge comfortable & warm honkey-tonk on the inside! The address is: 2201 East Ben White Blvd.

This is a human only event....so therefore, we ask you to leave your canine friends at home, so you can make the most of the great music and HUGE dance floor!!

So don't stay home and be a Snoozy Susie..... come on out of the heat, and cool off in a fun and festive atmosphere while raising money for your favorite charity!!! It'll be a howlin' good time!!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Labrador's New Clothes

Many of you know Susie by now. She is my foster failure. For those of you not familiar with the term foster failure, let me define it for you. Foster Failure - n. one who moves into one's family temporarily with the purpose of being made ready for adoption, thereby eventually leaving temporary residence. Aforementioned temporary resident never leaves temporary residence and becomes permanent resident including, but not limited to, taking aforementioned temporary residence's family name permanently. Now all of you HOTLR foster families or foster wannabes beware of the foster failure phenomenon. Having experienced it myself I can honestly tell you that it does not cure you of the desire to foster. If anything, you realize what incredible dogs are out there and you just got to get your hands on more!!! Anyway, on with the blog......

Susie has been with us nearly two years. We are not sure of her birth date or her age. However, we have decided to make the first day that she came to live with us her birthday. That day was July 2, 2008. So, Susie's birthday is upon us.

One of the things that is so special about Susie is that you can take her anywhere, introduce her to anyone anyplace and her behavior is completely predictable. She is cool as a cucumber, loves to travel and is completely trustworthy in all situations. She has visited assisted living facilities, doubled as a jungle gym for my young nephews, and has been employed as a greeter in the lobby of the vet clinic where I work. It was high time this special girl received a special gift for her birthday. I thought it would be cool to get her a really nice matching collar and leash to wear when she goes visitin'.

I don't usually do product reviews on this blog. But sometimes when I find a unique pet product - something that really works, is creative and is of high quality, I like to talk about it. So, today, I'd like to talk about Lucky Fiona Retro Inspired Custom Dog and Cat Collars. I found out about Lucky Fiona through Kim Usey a repeat adopter and volunteer for HOTLR. At the time Lucky Fiona was running a special (a BOGO special we ladies like to call it). What better time to get Susie a new collar and leash, plus with the buy one, get one special on collars, Susie's sister Rio would get a little something out of the deal too.

So, I went to the Lucky Fiona website and began to shop. The great thing about Lucky Fiona is that each collar is custom made. You get to pick the fabric the collar is made from, the size of the collar and the style of collar. They have hardware to make collars as wide as 2 inches and can even create martingale collars which are the preferred style for HOTLR dogs. The same is true with the leashes. You choose the length of the leash and the fabric as well. There are tons of fabrics to choose from and paying is simple through PayPal. Prices are moderate at $16.99 for a collar and $27.99 for a leash, but keep in mind though you could find less expensive collars and leashes, these are one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted, made-in-Chicago, IL, USA-by-an-individual, unique items.

I was on pins and needles waiting for my special delivery. I received a notification via email once my special package was on its way. Yesterday, low and behold, there it was in the mailbox waiting for me. I rushed into the house and opened the envelope. Each item was packaged separately in a plastic bag covered in paw prints. Inside each item was wrapped with a sweet orange ribbon. Perfect birthday wrapping for the birthday pup.

The collars were beautiful. Stitched to perfection, padded and extra thick, there were no rough edges that might itch or irritate sensitive skin. The leash likewise, was beautifully tailored and perfectly matched Susie's new collar. I couldn't wait for Susie's actual birthday, but actually put the collar on her and Rio right away (hence, the pictures). I was thrilled and completely 100% satisfied!!

So, if you are looking for some new and unique "clothes" for your beloved pup, check out Lucky Fiona. You won't regret it and your pup will be sure to be the best dressed pup in town!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chicken Wings and Labrador Things

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue is excited to announce its first ever "Yappy Hour". This relaxing event will be held from 5-7pm on Saturday, June 26th at Pluckers Wing Bar located on So. Lamar. Click on this link for directons: Pluckers Directions

We will be on the cool and refreshing patio which is equipped with misting systems and fans to help relieve the heat. Dogs on leashes are more than welcome and don't forget to invite your friends. This event is not limited to Labradors only, so if you have other furry friends you'd like to invite, please feel free to bring them along. Of course humans without dogs are also welcome

We will raffle off a few baskets of Labrador themed goodies and be available to chat with you about everything HOTLR. If you've ever been interested in volunteering, fostering or adopting this is the perfect laid back event to have your questions answered. Get some hands on experience with Labrador love too.

So, come on and join us!! Who could resist a few Labradors, refreshing drinks and good friends on a warm Austin Saturday evening. Pluckers' cool, relaxing patio and chicken wings await you!!! Check out Pluckers menu for some other good eats too!!! Hope to see you there!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Time is Vacation Time...Take Your Dog with You This Year

Summer time is here again and that means it's time to catch up on some rest and relaxation. Vacation time!!! School is out, the heat it on. It's the perfect time for a change of scenery. The thought of leaving your furry friend behind got your draggin' your heels about making plans?

How about taking your dog with you this year? Might be cheaper than paying a dog-sitter or boarding your pet at a kennel. I bet your dog will certainly thank you. And think about how much lovelier your vacation photos will be with your four-legged friend in them. But how do you find out about dog friendly hotels, restaurants and beaches or walks?

Check out this website: bringfido.com. Launced in April 2005, BringFido claims to have helped over a half million pet owners travel with their pets. They have recommendations for pet friendly hotels, condos, restaurants, dog friendly events and attractions etc. You can choose any destination in the world, type in the number of adults, children and pets you are traveling with and a choice of accomodations will pop up. Simply click on the link of the suggested hotels to check out their amenities, prices and get further information.

Still need help? No worries, a pet friendly travel agent is available by phone to help you plan the perfect vacation for your family and your pet. You can even use this number for special services such as locating the closest dog-friendly hotel in the current area, recommendations for a vet hospital in an unfamiliar town, etc. Post your vacations photos on the photo page, chat on a forum with other vacationers that travel with their pets, and sign up to receive info on discounts and coupons for pet friendly deals.

A recent search in the Austin area turned up over 75 hotels and 225 restaurants with pet friendly policies. As always please phone the restaurant or hotel directly to confirm the latest pet friendly rules.

Not sure how your pet will do on a trip? Take a short vacation close to home as a trial run. If you enjoy traveling with your dogs as much as I do, you may soon find that you never want to leave them behind.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stink, Stank, Skunk

It was inevitable, it had to happen - an event to which I am no stranger. And as we begin to celebrate the glorious days of summer, I feel it is my duty to repeat some information I've shared before.

My husband and I are vacationing in beautiful Pagosa Springs, Colorado. If you have never been there, it is the ultimate destination for both man and beast if you are into the outdoors.

When we come to Pagosa, there is no question, our 3 Labs come with us. In fact, they should probably rename Pagosa to Doggy Heaven, Colorado. This time of year, temperatures are mild and the wind is breezy. There is little to no humidity and at 7500 feet above sea level the snows have already melted and the ground is dry. Public land abounds and dogs are welcome almost everywhere. The aspens are budding, wild flowers are blooming and the streams are flowing with snow melt from higher elevations. Evenings are cool and provide the perfect opportunity for you to snuggle with your special someone whether it be human, canine or both.

We are lucky enough to stay in a small house that backs up to the San Juan National Forest. Groomed trails right out the back door lead directly into the forest where it is easy to amble away the day. The dogs have a great time chasing sticks and scents and swimming in the cold mountain streams. Wildlife is abundant. Deer, squirrels, birds, raccoons, beavers and SKUNKS....

Late this afternoon, we stepped off the back porch and headed onto the trail. Up ahead I saw a small black and white pup that I pointed out to my husband. He didn't see it and felt quite sure that what I was seeing was really a pile of dirt. Well, piles of dirt don't move, but this black and white thing most certainly did. And I wasn't the only one who saw it. Susie Q, our yellow Lab, famous for her love of stuffed animals, was off like a silver bullet. She disappeared off to the right of the trail and then I heard a short bark....just one. She immediately returned to us. But Susie brought something along with her. A stink like none other. One that makes your eyes well with tears, your nose hairs burn and your face wrinkle in disgust. Susie had found herself one big, bad Colorado skunk.

We tried to carry on with our stroll but the stench was too much. Shortly, we turned and made our way back home. My husband and I like to think that we are professional de-skunkinators at this stage, having another yellow Lab who has been sprayed three times in our backyard in Austin. We knew exactly what must happen for us to be the big happy family we had started out as just 30 minutes before. I stayed outside with Susie under a tree while Daddy Mike hit the local grocery store to purchase hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. We needed dishwashing liquid too, but had that at the house already.

There are many solutions to get the skunk smell off a dog. There is a product called Skunk Off that lots of veterinarians sell and that you can find in pet stores and on the Internet. I've heard of a tomato juice concoction although I've personally never tried it. Limited research on the
Internet says that tomato juice does not work, nor does lemon or citrus, or "cover-ups" such as Febreeze or perfume. Check out this link for additional info: http://www.aaanimalcontrol.com/skunksmellremovalrid.htm

Below is a recipe that is tried and true. I used this very link to help me rid Miss Susie of her stink and get her to smelling like the Lab we love again - home remedy for de-skunking your dog. For me, this recipe is the most successful. This website is very informative as well, warning that the mixture breaks down almost immediately after mixing and is most effective when used as soon as possible. The website also recommends keeping these inexpensive and useful household items on hand for just such an event, but notes that mixing the ingredients together and storing them in a bottle or plastic tub is unsafe as pressure builds when the ingredients are mixed together and they will explode.

I hope you find this little tail, oops, I mean tale beneficial to you. While I can honestly say that I have never seen a skunk as big as the one I saw today, skunks are no strangers in Texas and you too may find that you and your beloved canine run up against one some day, though I hope for your sake, this never happens. Now you will be fully prepared to remedy this little calamity as cheaply and safely as possible and be free to wrap your arms around your faithful companion and shower them with all the love and attention they deserve in no time, even if they decide to pick a cute little skunk as their new best friend.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beware of the Teddy Bear

Susie is the yellow Labrador that I adopted from Heart of Texas Lab Rescue. Nothing brings a smile to my face more quickly than when I come home from work, and Susie greets me at the door with her stuffed bunny in her mouth, her entire body wiggling from head to toe. Susie takes pretty good care of her stuffed animals. She has a Santa that's still around from Christmas and now her "Easter" bunny has joined the family. Sure they get dirty, or may get a left in the yard over night. Sometimes they get a little ragged around the edges, but I wash them on the "delicate" cycle in my was machine and throw them in the dryer and soon they are as good as new.

It's amazing to me to think about all the money I've spent over the years on toys for my dogs. It adds up pretty quickly. Even the stuffed animals can be pricey. Sometimes I wonder if getting them at a garage sale or local Goodwill might save me a few dollars.

However, think all stuffed toys are created equal? Better think again. Recently, an article appeared in the Midwest Labrador Retriever Rescue newsletter cautioning pet owners about buying stuffed toys that are not specifically made for pets. The article tells how a child's stuffed teddy bear was given to a dog as a toy. The toy contained some materials that are not found in stuffed animals made for pets - specifically, a flame retardant gel and chemicals used to control mites. According to the article, the dog who ingested these toxins was not able to be saved.

To avoid a scary situation with your pet like that described above, follow these simple safety tips to ensure safe play:

  • Give you pet only toys specifically designed for pets
  • Ask your veterinarian for recommendations for safe toys for your pet
  • Purchase your toys from reputable pet stores or Internet sites that will accept returns for damaged toys or those that don't perform to specifications. Read the labels on all the toys you purchase to ensure the toys are made safely and are toxic free to your pet.
  • Use toys recommended that are appropriate for your pet's size
  • Always supervise your pets when they play with their toys
  • Throw away toys that break or have missing parts. In the case of stuffed animals, if the stuffing is coming out, repair the toy or throw it away. Watch for the "squeakers" in stuffed animals. Lots of dogs think it's a fun game to dig the squeaker out of the stuffed animal.
  • Should you become concerned that your pet has ingested a broken piece or part of a toy, call your veterinarian.
Should your pet destroy a "indestructible" toy that was played with by your pet as the directions recommend, return the toy to the store where you purchased it. Most reputable pet stores will take the item back and return your money.

For more information and recommendations on safe toys for your dog check out the Humane Society's article by clicking here.