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.


ASPCA. Tobacco is Toxic for Toto, Too. Accessed on December 2, 2010. (

ASPCA. Top 10 Pet Poisons of 2009. Accessed on December 2, 2010. (

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

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.