Thursday, October 25, 2012

Howl-i-day Safety TIps

HOTLR Alum Susie shows her Halloween spirit

We can no longer deny it.  The holidays are upon us.  But before we all get wrapped up in the full craziness of the holiday season, it's important to review some important tips about pet care that come to the forefront during the holidays.  Check out these tips below:

1) Microchip your pets - many of us travel during the holiday season and for some of us that means are pets travel too.  Whether you take your pet with you or leave him with a friend, relative or neighbor unfortunate incidents can happen.  With all the noise, lights, costumes, people, decorations, new environment and general hubbub, your pet may find himself or herself overwhelmed. An unfortunate escape through the front door or backyard could put your pet in danger and you out of your mind with worry.  Having your pet identified with tags and microchipped is the safest way to increase the chances your pet will be found and returned to you.

Check with your veterinarian to learn more about microchipping.

2) Holiday food - and we don't just mean candy....Most of know about the dangers of your pet ingesting chocolate.  An 80lb dog can get ill from just a 8oz of baking chocolate and while it takes more dark chocolate and even more milk chocolate to make a big dog sick, it takes far less for a little dog to become ill.  Chocolate toxicity can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure and.or coma.  Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate.  Be sure to store your candy in a safe place away from your pet.

Same goes for food rich in fat, turkey or chicken bones or really any other foods your dog does not regularly eat.  Dogs that get table scraps or get into holiday dinner trash can become ill.  Symptoms may be anything from a mild bout of diarrhea and/or vomiting to a more severe illness such as pancreatitis or hemorrhagic diarrhea requiring expensive treatment and overnight hospitalization.  While most veterinarians keep pretty regular hours during the holidays, many vets close for the holidays themselves meaning that you will need to seek emergency care costing much more....

For a list of foods that can cause harm to your pet, check out this link from the ASPCA:

ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: (888) 426-4435

3) Holiday decor - If you are a Lab owner then you probably already know that a Labrador can find almost anything entertaining.  Some of my dogs' favorite toys (empty water bottles, cardboard wrapping paper rolls, socks, shoes and plastic flower pots) were not designed with dogs in mind.  Neither are holiday decorations.  Make sure that you keep your pet safe from chewing on or eating any holiday decor that could harm him.  Christmas tree balls and electrical power cords could tempt an inquisitive puppy or young Lab.  Be aware of decorations that your pet might find interesting.

4) Holiday gifts - I can't resist it.  Every year on Christmas Eve, my husband and I hit the local pet store and stock up on holiday gifts for our dogs.  We use scraps of gift wrapping and wrap the presents so the dogs can "open" them on Christmas morning.  You've probably guessed by now that we don't have human children.

Many of our friends and relatives will stop by with gift for our pups as well.  Unfortunately, though many have tried, indestructible Labrador toys are few and far between.  That's why it is of utmost importance that you think carefully before you purchase toys for your pets.  As with anything, it seems the better quality (in this case, harder to destroy) toys are more expensive.  Make sure you purchase toys that are appropriate for the size and personality of your dog.  Consider speaking to shop owners or your veterinarian for recommendations on the best type of toy for your pet.  Last but not least, always supervise your pet when he/she is at play.

For more information on holiday safety tips specific to Halloween, please click here: Halloween Safety Tips.

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue News Flash is written by Marcy Stellfox, HOTLR Board Member, Foster & Adopter.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dylan's Dilemma

Dylan hams it up for the camera!!

When HOTLR walks into an animal shelter, there is no way for us to know what we may find.  We only know the very basics of the dogs we look at - male or female, approximate age, their color.

What we cannot know are the stories they have to tell.  Why dogs that seem so happy, healthy and perfect are sitting in a 2 foot by 6 foot run scared and alone.  They cannot tell us the reasons that brought them to the shelter. But it’s our job to rescue these dogs and give them a second chance.

When we pull the dogs from the animal shelter to join the HOTLR program, we make a promise to them the moment they enter “the Sweet Pickle” gherkin-colored transport van.  HOTLR will to the very best of our ability “fix what’s broke” and get these dogs into the best possible home we can find.

Over the weeks, as they join foster families, we begin to discover the things about them that make them unique.  Maybe they have a cute way of letting you kow they are hungry.  Perhaps, they have a mad, crazy ball drive.    Maybe they like cats, maybe they don’t.  Are they really the mellow couch potato they protrayed themselves to be in the shelter, or are they “ninety to nothin’ Nascar worthy racers”?  These are some of the joys of fostering....watching your shelter dog unfold into the dog they are meant to be.

Sometimes however, we find that they are less than perfect.  Maybe it’s a behavior issue that’s easily fixed with some training.  But sometimes it’s a health issue.  Sometimes it’s easy - skin allergies that clear up with the proper food, a wound that needs attention and antibiotics.  Sometimes it’s much more serious - a knee injury that requires surgery, a hip that is so malformed the only hope is replacement.

Such is the case with Dylan.  Dylan is a sweet laid back chocolate 3 year old.  Recently, he began to show painful symptoms in the hind end of his body.  Then one day, his back end completely gave out and he was unable to get up.  A visit to the doctor and a few xrays later, Dylan was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia.  He was referred to a specialist.  The visit to the specialist resulted in the recommendation for a total hip replacement.

And this is where we need you.  Dylan’s surgery will not be cheap.  The recommended procedure costs $4,000 in addition to several weeks of physical therapy afterwards.  HOTLR makes a promise to each dog we take in.....we will fix what’s broke...but sometimes we need a little help to keep our promise.  

Can you make a donation to help this sweet boy get the care he needs and give him the second chance he deserves?  Click on this link: HOTLR Donations to donate via Paypal (scroll down the page to the PayPal logo).  Make sure to put “Dylan’s surgery” in the description line so we can properly thank you.  You can also mail a check to: 

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue, Inc.
PO Box 81821
Austin, TX 78708-1821

Whatever you can give is always appreciated.  Just do it for Dylan......

Monday, October 1, 2012

Why Fostering Rocks - Reason 8,112

Dolly Sue cooling off in the Lampasas River

Some may say I’m spoiled, some may say I’m lucky.  I choose to think that I am blessed.  These are the thoughts that entered my head the other day as I walked the trail along a peaceful country path headed to the Lampasas River.

I had spent the night in Kempner and the rain had fallen all night.  The windows were open all through the house.   Home builders of the 1940s knew how to take advantage of a Texas breeze and I had spent one of the most restful nights in a long time in this 1940s farmhouse.  You see, my friend Margaret has an old house on her property that she no longer uses.  Since I have a horse up there (about an hour’s drive from Austin), the farmhouse makes a perfect overnight spot once in a while after a long day with my horse.

The other beautiful thing is that since Margaret is a Lab rescue person, my dogs are always welcome at the farmhouse (and her own house for that matter), so I am never lonely. And we have 77 acres, a pond and a river to explore all to ourselves.

That day last week was the first day of autumn to roll in trumpeting its grace and sending off the end of summer.  It was cool, the breeze blowing.  The rain the day before had rejuvenated the trees and the pastures surrounding the property were sighing grateful of the respite from the heat.  Deer bounded along side of me, birds sang festively, and rabbits sprung across my path.

My sole companion only added to the beauty of the day.  I had brought my foster dog with me for some one on one time.  She was Dolly Sue, the yellow Lab I have been fostering for almost 9 months.  During our walk to the river, the joy in Dolly’s movement touched me.  She started out next to me, but quickly ran ahead.  Never so far ahead that she couIdn’t see me.  And as a Lab will, she constantly ran back to me, checking in, making sure I was still coming, reassuring herself we were still headed in the right direction together.  I realized yet again, how much I love fostering, how much I enjoy nurturing these rescues back to health, watching the transformation take place.

Many of you know Dolly’s story.....126lbs when we took her in and heartworm positive.  Today she is 75lbs, heartworm free, and has some mad skill with a tennis ball.  She knows when it’s play time and she knows when its “chill time.”  I had not spent much one on one time with her because I have other dogs.  But our last two days together made me realize what a special dog she all of our rescues.  They have unique backgrounds, sad stories, and health and behavior issues to overcome.  But each one of them is worthy of a second chance, a place in a family, people to call their own,  unconditional love to give and to receive.

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue recently left the kennel we used to house our overflow Lab population until we could get them into foster care.  We could use extra fosters now.  Have you ever thought about fostering?  Are you on the fence?  Afraid you’ll get too attached?  I’d lie to you to say you won’t get attached, but it’s worth it...every minute.  The joy of the adoptive family when you deliver your foster dog to their forever home makes every moment worth it.  The unique experience you get with each dog you foster makes every moment worth it.  The one on one time you get to have we these beautiful, amazing, resilient creatures is worth it.  Wouldn’t you love to spend a morning like I did with a foster dog?  C’mon, give it a shot.....I promise, you won’t regret can be spoiled, lucky and blessed....just like me and love and rehabilitate a rescue in the process.  For more about fostering and other volunteer opportunities, check out the HOTLR website at: