Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue Gives Back

Many of you are used to seeing Heart of Texas Lab Rescue in the community and are familiar with our mission. So you know that HOTLR is dedicated to saving, rehabilitating and rehoming Labradors left behind at kill shelters and other abandonment situations. HOTLR is also dedicated to educating the public about the plight of abandoned animals and the advantages of spaying and neutering your pet as well as providing early training and socialization to ensure that your pup becomes a welcome forever member of your home. Recently, however HOTLR gave back to the community in a different way.

Enter Ray Hebert. Long time supporter, foster and volunteer at HOTLR, there is no one who loves the Labrador breed more. A few seconds after meeting Ray you instantly understand how dedicated to the breed he is. Ray who is an amazing resource for all things Lab came upon a special Lab mix named Emma Zen. Emma Zen and her human Debra Jo Chiapuzio run a 501(c)3 non-profit called Team O2 Pet Oxygen Masks whose goal is to place pet oxygen masks and related equipment with fire departments, EMS teams, search and rescue and all first responders to aid in pet rescue situations. While these organizations are prepared to help humans suffering from breathing complications due to fire or other catastrophes, little can be done for our pet friends whose noses and heads are not shaped properly for human equipment. But thanks to Team O2, many rescue organizations are receiving donated equipment specifically designed for pets.

When Ray discovered that the community of Buda was not already equipped with this pet life-saving equipment (Round Rock and Austin already have the equipment), he decided to donate two sets of the equipment to the Buda Fire Department on behalf of Heart of Texas Lab Rescue. In total the Buda Fire Department received three sets of equipment with the help of Caju the Warrior Dog, Buddy's "Be the Dog" Life, HOTLR and the Emma Zen Foundation.

Ray was on hand for the presentation of the oxygen masks and brought along HOTLR's very own Cher as a demonstration dog to the event. Accompanying Ray was Snoco, a sweet little pup currently fostered by Guardian Angels for Soldiers Pets (a foster organization that fosters pets for those who are currently deployed). Ray and Cher trained the fire fighters on how to properly use the equipment on pets. Check out all the great pics taken at the event on Facebook. Talk about a win-win situation. HOTLR Cher is introduced to another part of our community, and pet safety awareness benefits to boot!! Research continues to show that people are spending more and more money on their pets, proving that now more than ever pets are considered priceless family members in many homes. The more resources we can provide the community on preparation and ways to save pets in the face of disaster, the more likely each family members chances for survival when disaster strikes.

Remember that you too can help first responders be aware of your pet. Get a safety sticker for your home that alerts emergency personnel to the number and type of pets you have. Check out the following link from the ASPCA on disaster preparedness for your pet to prepare your own emergency kit. Be sure to microchip your pets as well in case you are separated during an emergency.

HOTLR would like to thank Ray Hebert for his generous donation and his time to provide this important opportunity for awareness to the community all in the name of HOTLR. To learn more about Emma Zen, click here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kids and Labs - How to make It Work!!!

Kids and dogs are like peanut butter and jelly. They are just good together. However, a large dog that is eye level with your toddler can be intimidating to a small child and scary for you. Check out these tips to make interactions between your Lab and toddler a breeze.

If possible, have two people available to help out with an introduction. One person should hold the dog on a leash a few feet from the child. Give the dog a "sit" command. The other person should guide the child to the dog. The child should be taught prior to the introduction about how to properly greet a dog. Do not allow the child to pet the dog on the head or face. Teach the child to approach the dog calmly and pet the dog gently on his back or neck.

In the event that the dog lunges or jumps, have the dog handler move between the dog and the child. Have the handler keep the dog behind him. This can be done by using the human body to block the dog. The dog handler can place both arms behind his back with the leash in hand. He can lock his arms by grabbing onto the wrist holding the leash to keep the dog behind him. He may also spread his legs to make his body bigger to prevent the dog from going around him. The handler should never use his knees or hands to discipline the dog. Body blocking the dog is the proper approach. The person with the child should step away until the dog calms down.

Repeat the process again. Give the dog the "sit" command and then have the child approach the dog slowly and calmly. Repeat the process until the dog sits willingly and allows the child to pet the dog.

Do not allow the child to give the dog a treat or a toy unless you are 1000% sure that the dog will not lunge, grab or accidentally bite the child offering the food/toy. Never allow a child to discipline a dog.

Always supervise interaction between your child and a dog. I remember watching my nephew crawl on top of my dog and peel his eyelid back, sticking his finger right into Cayman's eye. Nothing really phases Cayman, especially now in his old age, but had I believed for even a second that my nephew was in danger, obviously, I would not have allowed them to interact that closely. Cayman was lying in a relaxed position on a dog bed and had ample time to move away from my nephew's investigations. Never did he tense or did his body language indicate that he was anxious or upset. He never even lifted his head. Be sure to recognize body language in your dog that may indicate he is losing patience. Stop any inappropriate behavior from the child before the dog reacts.

In the beginning refrain from allowing the child to crawl on or grab the dog. Desensitize the dog by distracting him with a special treat. Begin to pull on the dog and poke him. See how he reacts. Begin gently at first and increase the intensity without hurting the dog.

Give your dog an escape hatch. Be sure your dog doesn't feel cornered. Allow him to be able to walk away from the child. Discourage the child from chasing after the dog. If the dog seems upset or irritated, place him in his crate and close the door. Allow him to take a break from the child. Distract the child's attention from the dog and let the "doggie take a nap".

Following these tips should help reduce the stress between introducing dogs and children. It is most important that the child understand how to approach and pet the dog in a calm and gentle manner. Once you know that you will be adding a canine family member to your pack, begin teaching the child immediately how to interact with the dog prior to your dog's arrival. Recruit friends and neighbors with friendly dogs to help out. Practicing prior to your dog's arrival will make the special day that your new dog arrives a happy and joyous occasion for all!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

HOTLR Needs Fosters!!

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue is looking for foster homes for several of our dogs. We find that dogs that dogs that are living in homes are more likely to be adopted then those at the kennel. The home environment is a golden opportunity for the HOTLR rescues to interact and learn to live in a family. This is an important first step in a rescue's recovery as it allows the pup to begin to rebuild their confidence and to begin to heal the wounds that have been left by abandonment.

We also are able to save critical dollars if we are able to keep the dogs at the kennel to minimum
, giving us more opportunity to focus on medical expenses and rescuing other dogs. Please read the note below from Margaret Huston the President of Heart of Texas Lab Rescue. Please help, if you can.

I have run almost all of the meet and greets for the past 9 years and have observed one interesting fact. When an applicant meets dogs that are being fostered in a home, and also meets dogs that are at the boarding kennel, more often than not the applicant adopts the dog from the foster home, not the dog from the kennel. We are fortunate to have the kennel, because without it many of our dogs would have been put to sleep at the shelter for lack of space on our end, but the reality is that these dogs do better and show better when they have a person who can discuss all aspects of their lives, not just the obedience they know.

I know school is getting ready to start again. That means many of you are done with your summer travels. Don't you want to foster a dog for us? We'll work with you on getting you the right fit! Right now we have 9 dogs at the kennel, and I have an additional 6 with me (two of mine came from the kennel this week and are adopted).

The dogs in need of foster homes are Shari, Zumba, Rocky, Dionne, Cricket, Gouda, Gonzo, Gizmo, Guapo, and Izzy. There are a few others that are special cases, too.

Let me know if you'd like to give fostering a try, or if you're ready to get back into it.

Please email if you are interesting in fostering an HOTLR dog.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Veterinary Technician gets "Schooled" in Ears

Last week, Susie and Tango (HOTLR alumni) had their annual check up. You know the routine, heartworm test, vaccination update if needed and since both of them are approaching senior status (8 and 6), I also opted for a senior profile blood panel. I'm happy to say that both of them were deemed in perfect health. But then we had yet to proceed to the official "physical exam".

Once again both dogs check out great.

Heart and lungs = normal.
Skin = normal
Weight = perfect
Nails = trimmed
Eyes = normal

I must admit to you that both of my Labs received a "C-" grade on their ears.....and I am a veterinary technician....Oh, the shame.... (The picture is from my own dog, but was taken after 3 days of treatment..)

If you have Labs then you probably know about Otitis Externa (OE). And if you have Labs and you don't know about OE, you should learn about it immediately.

Have you ever noticed a foul, yeasty smell coming from your "beloved's" ears? Once you've begun to search out the source of the stench and you lift up one of your dog's silky ears, do you observe a brown chunky discharge. Are your pups ears red and inflamed inside instead of a healthy pink? Does your pup paw and scratch at his ears, shake his head, wipe his face on the rug even though you know that he cannot possibly have fleas???? Does he seem sensitive when you touch or rub him around the ears?

These signs, my friend, are the classic symptoms of Otitis Externa. Here is an important equation to keep in mind.....

Labs + a moist humid climate (+/- swimming) (+/- bacteria) = Otitis Externa

Otitis externa refers to inflammation of the skin and outer portions of the ear and ear canal. It can be as simple as inflammation caused by exposure to water or otitis externa may be a result of a bacterial, allergic or microbial infection. The condition can often occur overnight and as the inflammation and swelling continue can become incredibly painful quickly. Remember how painful the dreaded "swimmer's ear" was that you had as a child?

Treatment varies depending on the presence of bacteria or microbes. Different medications are prescribed to treat the underlying bacterial infection and will also reduce swelling and redness. The most common form of treatment is medicated ear drops that are administered daily for a certain number of days. Sometimes the ears will be "packed" with medication in the animal hospital and will need only be administered the one time. Pain medications are sometimes prescribed as well. If you believe that your dog is in pain, don't be afraid to request pain meds or ask if the prescribed medication has a pain reliever mixed in. It is usually best if you dog returns to the vet after completing treatment to make sure that the infection has indeed been cured.

Left uncured, Otitis Externa can lead to permanent damage to the ear and the sensitive mechanisms required for hearing. Hearing loss and damage to the ear drum can occur. The best preventative measure is to clean your dogs ears on a regular basis, especially after swimming. And yes, I am sad to say, that if they are swimming daily, cleaning their ears daily is probably best. Your veterinarian can recommend a gentle cleaning agent that also acts to "dry" any remaining water that may be trapped in your dogs ears. Prevention is the best medicine.

So, give your pups ears a quick check. If they seem a bit funky, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Follow his/her advice for the quickest and best outcome. I know I am. I've learned my lesson. For more information on Otitis Externa click here: PetEducation - Otitis Externa

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Make Your HOTLR Dog a Therapy Dog

I have two HOTLR alumni in my home. Susie came to us three years ago. And then, exactly, to the day, two years after Susie, Tango joined the Stellfox clan. At last count, that makes 4 Labradors and two humans living under my roof. And I love it!!!

Once you meet me, it takes about 10 seconds for you to find out that I love Labs and that I have four at my house. I am so proud of my canine kids. I can't help but talk about them all the time. I love to show them off on Facebook or at HOTLR events, or to my friends, or at my veterinary clinic. I can never get enough of showing them off and talking about HOTLR. Embarassingly, I often have to admit that the dogs I adopted from HOTLR are way better behaved than the two I've raised from pups. But, that simply helps to balance out my family and makes it even easier to brag about HOTLR.

But what if I could take the amazing animals that HOTLR has given to me, and give something back to the community? What if my HOTLR Labs could become Pet Therapy dogs? What a great way to share my dogs with people and also spread the word about HOTLR.

Therapy Pet Pals of Texas, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that began in 1984 with one small Pekingese pup and an owner who wanted to share this pup with those people unable to have pets. She contacted a nursing home that reluctantly agreed to have her pup come for an "interview". Once the dog visited the nursing home, the smiles and happiness that this little pup brought to the home's population sealed the deal and Therapy Pet Pals of Texas was born. Today, Therapy Pet Pals of Texas has over 200 trained volunteers and even more pets. They service over 90 institutions including nursing homes, hospitals and rehabilitation centers, but TPPT is still working to recruit new members.

Requirements for membership include attendance and completion of the TPPT Qualifying and Training class (2 hours) as well as a veterinarian's medical clearance. Once the class is completed, the prospective member and pup will attend three therapy visits along with an experienced TPPT trainer. After successful completion of the trial visits, you and your pup are ready for solo trips. Click here to find out all the details on qualifying your pup as a pet therapy volunteer.

As a volunteer team for TPPT, you will choose one institution to visit with your pup that will be come your "home" institution. TPPT asks for two visits per month to your chosen pet therapy site. TPPT believes in promoting the human animal bond by having regular visits by the same pet/human therapy team. Regular visits allow residents and the pet therapy team to foster friendships and relationships and allow patients to feel that they have their very own dog again. What better way to show off your HOTLR pride and joy!!

To find out more about Therapy Pet Pals of Texas, visit their website at: Therapy Pet Pals of Texas.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Importance of Care for the Heartworm Treatment Dog

This is Shadow. He is a member of the HOTLR family and is heartworm positive. He looks perfect on the outside, but on the inside heartworms have invaded his heart and lungs.

Heartworm disease comes with rescue. It’s a fact. The good news about heartworm disease is that it is preventable. It’s also treatable, but there are several downsides to treatment.

The disease is graded into categories. Category 1 is the least serious, while Category 4 is the most serious. To categorize the disease properly, xrays should be taken. Regardless of the stage of the disease, the treatment is the same. The heartworms must be killed in order to leave the dog’s body. Most dogs require 2 - 3 injections to rid the body completely of the worms. Complete treatment for heartworm disease is expensive. It can cost anywhere between $500 - $1000.

Killing the worms is not easy. Treatment is painful for the dogs as well. There is only one way at this time to effectively eliminate heartworms in a relatively safe and efficient manner. This treatment requires the dogs to be given a series of injections spaced 3 – 4 weeks apart. The medication that is used to treat the worms is called Immiticide. Immiticide contains arsenic. This is the active compound that kills only the adult heartworms. If taken in large enough doses, it is a drug that is fatal to humans as well as dogs. Immiticide is injected into the deep tissue muscles of the lumbar spine. It hurts….

Prior to treatment, dogs must be on antibiotics for 4 weeks. They must stay on these antibiotics through the duration of their treatment. They will also be treated with Heartgard. Heartgard or its generic form known as Triheart is used to kill any baby heartworms that the Immiticide can not. These dogs cannot take other heartworm preventatives during this time. Heartworm treatment dogs will also be prescribed a steroid. They must also stay on this steroid during the duration of their treatment. The steroid will cause them to drink more frequently and also need to urinate more frequently. They may have accidents in the house. It’s not their fault. It’s their illness.

In addition to the antibiotics and the steroids, the dog will require pain meds. Heavy duty pain meds known as Tramadol – a cousin to morphine will need to be given the first 3 – 5 days after each injection.

Now here’s the really important part….It is imperative that dogs undergoing heartworm treatment have no exercise or do not get overly excited. That means no ball playing, no swimming, no leash walks, no NASCAR in the backyard. The dog should be given cage rest if he is unable to stay quiet in the house, and should only go outside on leash for elimination walks.

Why? The dog undergoing heartworm treatment is at an increased risk of suffering a pulmonary thromboembolism. This is because the heartworms are breaking up into pieces as they die and begin to pass from the body. These bits can cause blockage of the primary arteries carrying blood between the heart and lungs. If these become blocked, the dog could die. So any increase in activity that requires the heart and lungs to work hard, can increase the chances that thromboembolism can occur. The steroids work to reduce the inflammation caused in the body as the heartworms die. That is why it is imperative that the dog stays on steroids throughout his treatment. In addition, the antibiotics will stop infection from developing in the lungs and throughout the body as the heatworms die. That’s why it’s imperative that the dog continue on antibiotics throughout the duration of his treatment. The Heartgard heartworm preventative will kill any baby worms in the dog’s body as well as keep him heartworm free as the adult worms die. That’s why it’s imperative to continue to give Heartgard to your dog during his heartworm treatment. The pain medication will aid in relieving pain at the injection site, as well as any pain associated with the worms as they die. In addition, it will help keep the dog quiet and comfortable so that he may rest more easily. That’s why it’s imperative to give your dog ALL of his pain meds.

This information is not meant to scare you. I have not known a dog in HOTLR to die because of heatworm treatment, but I have known other dogs that did. Heartworms dogs are “easy keepers”. You feed them, give them their meds, crate them and take them on elimination walks. Besides, lots of love, that’s all that’s really needed to care for one. HOTLR needs fosters that are willing to take on heartworm treatment dogs. They cannot be in a kennel environment during treatment. However, I cannot stress enough the importance to follow every direction to the “t” when recovering a heartworm dog.

HOTLR is so very appreciative of its foster families. We cannot thank you enough for the love and care you give to these beautiful dogs as they wait for their second chances. It is because of you that we are able to save as many dogs as we do, especially the heartworm positive kind. Dogs like Shadow deserve a second chance at a healthy long life just as much a rescue without heartworm disease, don’t you think? Thanks so much for all you do.

For more information regarding heartworm disease, check out:

If you have any questions at all about caring for a heartworm dog, please feel free to contact Marcy Stellfox.


Cell: (512) 658-7355