Monday, March 22, 2010

Scoop the Poop Campaign

So, the sun is out. The days are longer. The temperatures are warm and balmy. Your dog is bringing you his leash, begging for a nice long walk in the springtime sunshine. As most Austin dog owners are aware, this city has a multitude of parks and places you can play with your pet.

However, in recent years, the elevated bacteria levels in many creeks and lakes have been a cause for concern. Bacteria levels have reached such high levels that some parks have had to close temporarily for restoration and clean up. Bull Creek District Park an off-leash dog park is one such park currently closed. Although the primary reason for the park's closure is to restore natural vegetation to areas where excessive erosion has taken place, the park's water levels indicate significantly high levels of E. coli with dog waste thought to be the main contributor.

In June 2000, the Watershed Protection Department in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Department began a pilot program to install 25 "Mutt Mitts" dispensers in various high traffic dog parks throughout the city. In 2001, 75,000 Mutt Mitt bags were distributed. By 2008, 115 Mutt Mitt dispensers were installed throughout Austin and over 2.8 million bags distributed. Experts estimate that there are 120,000 dogs in Austin each depositing on average 1/2 lb. of waste per load. With over 2.8 million bags distributed, that means the city has hauled away nearly 1.4 millions pounds of poop!!!

The City of Austin is kicking off an educational campaign to teach owners about the importance of waste removal. Television spots, a park sculpture and educational brochures will be made available to the public. For more information on the "Sccop the Poop" campaign as well as videos, television spots, and brochures, Mutt Mitt dispenser locations and dog-friendly park locations, click here: Scoop the Poop. So be sure to do your part to help keep Austin lakes, creeks and parks clean and safe. Don't forget to and Scoop the Poop!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Let's Hear it for the Seniors!!

It's no secret that older dogs are often passed by at animal shelters by adopters that don't understand the value of a more mature dog. At HOTLR, we look beyond the age of the dogs we evaluate. In fact, it is impossible for us to know the real age of many of our dogs because often we don't have their full history. It's what we see in their heart and soul that bring them into the HOTLR family. Below we've listed a few reasons why we think more mature Labs make such great companions:

10) They already have manners.

9) They understand that "play time" has a definitive start and end.

8) They LOVE to take naps and watch really long, boring movies.

7) It is not necessary to train for a marathon or invest in a automated pitching machine to wear them out.

6) The white in their muzzles make them look distinguished and sophisticated.

5) They do not bark as much; they've learned to speak volumes with their eyes.

4) They have learned that your shoes, books and furniture are not chew toys.

3) "Going for a ride" does not always have to end at the park or the lake. They are perfectly happy going to the bank, grocery store or pretty much anywhere as long as it's with you.

2) They are great babysitters and teachers for younger dogs.

And the Number One Reason to Adopt an Older Dog:

1) They know they don't have the face of an 8 week old puppy. They know their chances are limited. They know what it's like to feel safe and loved and to lose it. So, they will bond to you faster and harder. They will never forget it was you that saved them. They will be loyal to you forever. That is their gift to you.

To learn more about the dogs pictured here as well as other senior members of the HOTLR family, please click here Labs Available for Adoption for more information.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And Baby Makes Four - How to Introduce Your Dog to the Newest Member of the Pack

Congratulations!! You have a new baby. Not having a child myself, I can only imagine all the changes that take place in your life once your beautiful bundle of joy arrives. Although I am no expert at human "momminess", hopefully I can help shed some light on how to make the transition easier for your dog.

Unfortunately, sometimes when a new baby arrives, the pet who was formerly the "baby" may find his life has drastically altered. The house where he may have once enjoyed free reign suddenly has rooms that have become "off limits" or certain pieces of furniture where he may once have napped, are no longer allowed for peaceful slumber. Stuffed toys which have always been a favorite play toy, may no longer be appropriate toys for your pet. Daily walks or play sessions may be reduced or disappear altogether as new parents understandably, have less free time.

What's worse, is that many times dogs that have always been indoors are suddenly relegated to the backyard isolated from the family that once doted on him. This lack of attention and change in lifestyle while not meant to be hurtful, can cause the dog to become stressed and lead to the development of negative behavioral issues. Tragically, many pets are given up because of the arrival of a new baby.

The key to success is preparation. Just as you have had 9 months to prepare for the arrival of your baby, your dog is no different. He too should be a participant in the preparation with specific exercises designed for him so that when the baby arrives, you will be confident of the behavior you can expect from him and vice versa.

The Humane Society of the United States is a great resource for information regarding your pets. They have written an article entitled "Introducing Your Pet and New Baby" that is filled with great suggestions. Here are just a few examples:

1) Before the baby arrives, take you pet to the veterinarian. Have the vet give your dog a thorough check-up and make sure all vaccinations are up to date.

2) Focus on obedience in the time prior to the arrival of the baby. Practice having the dog lie calmly next to you. Teach him not to jump and curb any "mouthing" or "play biting" behavior.

3) If the mother-to-be is especially close with the pet, have someone else begin to spend more time with the dog. This way the dog will have an opportunity to bond with another person and not feel "lost" when the new mother is unable to spend as much time as she used to with the dog.

4) Set aside time each day to spend one on one with the pet - even if it's just a grooming session, a short walk, or some dedicated backyard ball time.

5) Have friends with babies and young children over to the house so that the dog gets used to babies.

6) If the baby's room will be off limits, start training the dog right away to stay out of the room. Or set aside a certain part of the room where the dog will be allowed to stay. Give him special toys and treats when he stays in his "part" of the room.

7) Once the mother has gone to the hospital, bring a blanket or some clothing with the baby's smell home for the dog to sniff so he becomes familiar with the baby's scent.

These are just a few of the tips that you will find in the Humane Society's article. To read the full article, please click here. Dogs and babies can live successfully together with each getting the proper attention they deserve, but it is important to prepare your pet for the arrival of their new "brother" or "sister", just as you prepare any other member of your family.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Road to Recovery - HOTLR's Malibu

Whether it was blunt force trauma from an angry cow's hoof, or some other painful accident, only Malibu knows the real story. What we know at HOTLR is that Malibu is yet another reason why this rescue group exists. The heart and spirit of a Lab are second to none in my book, and Malibu is a great example of a Lab with both heart and spirit. Just one look at her biography and video on HOTLR's website and I am sure you will agree. See Malibu's bio here. Malibu is well on her way to recovery from the surgery that fused her shattered shoulder and front right leg back into place.

Physical therapy is vitally important to a dog recovering from serious orthopedic surgery just as it is for people. No one knows how long Malibu has been lame, but now that her leg is working again, she must learn how to use it again. We thought you'd like to see her in action during a recent physical therapy session at the Canine Rehabilitation and Conditioning Center. Sandra Hudson is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner and heads up the physical therapy program at CRCC located at 12419 Metric Blvd. Last Thursday Malibu visited Sandra for another session. It was her second week of PT.

The session began with cold laser therapy in which a laser is directed at the scar tissue and incision sites from Malibu's surgery. This type of therapy aids the healing process by entering the mitochondria (the energy power house of the cell) and helping remodel scar tissue. This therapy is also instrumental in relieving inflammation and pain.

Next, Malibu found herself on the balance board. The balance board is reminiscent of a see-saw and forces the dog to redistribute her weight to maintain balance. This exercise is helpful in reminding Malibu that she now has a fourth leg that is able to hold her weight and will teach her to trust in using the limb again.

After the balance board, Malibu found herself placed on top of a giant rubber ball. Although this type of exercise therapy also teaches her to redistribute her weight, this particular exercise is more about massaging Malibu's tired and overused back muscles. Malibu's other body parts have taken on the burden of supporting the weight that her unused right front leg should have been handling. Therefore, it's important to massage these overused muscles to prevent her from causing injury to other body parts. Malibu could could not have been more relaxed as Sandra manipulated the muscles of her back releasing tension and tightness.

Finally, the moment I had been waiting for arrived. Malibu was placed in the underwater treadmill tank. The water helps support her body weight as she becomes more buoyant in the water just as we do when we swim. She spent 20 minutes in the tank which really required her to work her leg. It was amazing to see her injured foot on the ground, supporting her weight, toes splayed out looking exactly like her left leg. The slow motion underwater resistance really allowed her to focus on using her leg. It was amazing to see her walking normally. In fact, during the treadmill session, her speed was increased numerous times as she kept placing her recovery leg on the latch to the door, attempting to escape. Each time the speed was increased, she responded until it was obvious that she was tired. Way to go Malibu!!

Malibu still has another six weeks before she is fully recovered. If you are interested in meeting her after her recovery, be sure to put in an application at our website. This is one pup that will go the last mile with you and will definitely be worth the wait. Click here to fill out an application to adopt Malibu.