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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lots Of New Friends

We've gotten behind in welcoming new friends to the blogging community. Here are some of our newest blogging buddies. Be sure to drop by and say hello.

This is Andy.

His big sister Sally Ann is doing a great job teaching him how to be a good boy.

Next is Kelly.

Kelly is a service dog in training.

The dog under those ears is Roy Rogers.

Roy has lots of playmates including other dogs, cats, rats and even his very own little girl.

Meet Miss Gracie.

She looks like one of my pack, but she's actually a Kerry Blue Terrier and joins Buster and Ms Bailey Blue.

Not all our friends are dogs. This is Summer.

This lucky bunny has her own room in the house.

Summer isn't the only new kid around, JD has recently joined the family, too. They join Zodiac, Legend and Lyric.

It sure looks like a great life for JD.

There are probably some other new additions that I've forgotten. Drop me a comment or an e-mail and I'll get you all on the blog for special greetings.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pedigree Helps Homeless Dogs

For each blog that posts about the Pedigree Adoption Drive thru September 19, Pedigree will donate a bag of Healthy Longevity Food for Dogs to shelters nationwide.

Just write a post and go to Life With Dogs to leave a link to your post so Pedigree can find it and count it.

They're counting on us to help.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Deafness in Dogs

Chan recently posted about Nick, an older dog who was starting to lose his hearing. It brought up an important issue. How do we help our aging pets who are starting to lose hearing, sight or mobility? What do we do when we fall in love with a puppy, only to learn that he has special needs.

There are lots of questions to ask. Are some breeds more prone to certain physical problems than others? How do we live with and train a dog or cat with special needs? Are we capable of providing the care needed by pets with disabilities or aging pets?

I've asked Laurie to post about her experiences fostering deaf dogs. She writes about her daily adventures on her blog Dog Foster Mom and I've enjoyed reading about Ziggy. I can almost feel Laurie's frustrations in trying to find the right home for him.

Below is what Laurie has to share about her experiences. Be sure to drop by her blog and read about her dogs.

This is Tulsa. She was the first deaf dog that I ever fostered. Tulsa didn't know she was deaf. She was a six-month old puppy, and to her, the world never included any kind of sound. You can't miss what you don't know, and being deaf didn't make a difference to Tulsa at all. She was a normal purebred Australian Cattle Dog, who loved to herd and always needed a job to do in order to be happy. She took to herding Remi, my Great Dane, around the backyard - nipping at his heels to guide him where she wanted him to go. I was relatively new to fostering, and had been a dog owner for less than a year. I had wanted to work with deaf dogs, and had jumped at the chance to foster Tulsa. However, my first foster was a total failure. Tulsa was more than I could handle. I forgot one basic rule - a dog is a dog first, their breed second, and their disability last. And as an inexperienced dog owner that worked full time and lived in the suburbs, I was nowhere ready for a young, intelligent, tireless working dog. Fortunately for Tulsa, for Remi and for me, another, more experienced foster home (without any Great Danes) was found for Tulsa. I learned a valuable lesson - don't ever save a dog just because he or she has a disability that draws you in.

Several months and many foster dogs later, I learned of another deaf dog that needed a foster home. Noelle was a four month old puppy, also deaf from birth. She immediately captured my heart. Nothing made Noelle happier than being with her people. She loved to cuddle, and would often lay on top of my feet. I learned this was a common occurrence with deaf dogs. Since they can't hear you get up or leave the room, they sleep touching you or across a doorway to be sure to know if you are about to leave them. Noelle kept a close eye on me at all times since she wouldn't be able to hear if I were to do something interesting, like open a bag of dog treats. We went through obedience training together, and Noelle taught me that training a deaf dog isn't harder than training a hearing dog, and in some cases it is actually easier. Deaf dogs aren't distracted by the sounds of other dogs or people or traffic. Dogs respond to signs and body language better than verbal cues, so teaching Noelle was easier than I expected. Some deaf dogs know over fifty signs! Noelle is not one of them.

It was several months after giving in and adopting my foster dog Noelle that I received another request for help with a deaf dog. Chenille was a senior Pomeranian that was deaf. She came from a shelter several hundred miles away. A rescue group had pulled her to adopt out, and then found out she was deaf. They knew that deaf dogs are harder to find homes for, so in spite of being a beautiful purebred Pomeranian, they felt that she wouldn't have much of a chance finding a home in their rural area. While both Tulsa and Noelle had been deaf from birth, it's likely that Chenille had lost her hearing as she had aged. I thought it might be harder for a dog who used to be able to hear to get used to a world where all communication was done with signs or body language or facial expressions. But Chenille picked up quickly on the same signs I used with Noelle, and in no time she had fit right in.

By this time word had started to spread of my interest in working with deaf dogs, and I received an e-mail about Bella. Bella was a Boxer puppy who was turned in once her owners found out she was deaf. This adorable, smart, sweet puppy was unwanted simply because she couldn't hear. I see it over and over at adoption events when I am fostering a deaf dog. People are sometimes interested in the dog, and then they hear me say the dog is deaf, and suddenly they begin backing away and looking elsewhere. Some people think a deaf dog would be too much work, while others simply think deaf dogs are "defective". In truth, deaf dogs are just like hearing dogs. Some are more work than others - some are better behaved than others, and some are more well trained than others. It always amazes me how people can so quickly lose interest in a dog just because the dog is deaf. Bella taught me how much misinformation is out there about deaf dogs, and how great the bias is against deaf dogs.

Around this time, a volunteer at a local shelter contacted me about Farley. Farley was a deaf Dalmatian mix that had been waiting at the shelter for quite awhile. Farley was everything good about dogs. He was gentle, well behaved, smart, fun, an all-around great dog. He had already learned some basic obedience commands at the shelter, and I had him less than two weeks before Farley was adopted!

And then there is Ziggy, my current deaf foster dog. Ziggy is unlike any dog I have fostered before. he is very intelligent, very rambunctious, and very challenging. His deafness hasn't made him harder to communicate with, but it has added a bit of extra physical work on my end. Dogs who are still puppies or not well trained need a lot of supervision. The extra work comes in with deaf dogs who can't be stopped from whatever they're doing with a simple "hey!" or "no!" from across the room. When Ziggy is counter surfing in the kitchen, I have to physically get off the couch and get his attention before I can sign "drop the bananas, mister!". Of course, the fact that he doesn't immediately drop the bananas has only to do with my lack of training follow-through, not with his lack of hearing or understanding. So if you're considering adopting a deaf dog, and the dog is very young or still needs a lot of work on house manners, make sure you're up for the challenge of getting off the couch or out of the recliner to go get your dog when he does something you don't want him to do.

I've learned a lot from my deaf dogs. I'd like to say they're better, or sweeter, or more appreciative than hearing dogs. But the truth is, they're just like hearing dogs. Some of them bark a lot, and some of them seldom bark. Some of them are cuddly lap dogs and some of them are busy, independent dogs. They can learn to come to a porch light being flashed on and off instead of a verbal "come"command at night. Or during the day, they'll quickly spot a raised arm and come running, if they've been trained. Otherwise they'll be just like every other dog at the dog park, and ignore all requests to come when called! One advantage to living with deaf dogs is they are typically sound sleepers. If you want to come home from the store and get all your groceries away before greeting the dog, a deaf dog is a nice advantage. If you don't let them sleep in bed with you, you can even get up in the morning and get ready for work before they ever wake up. You don't have to worry about your dog being afraid of thunderstorms or fireworks or the vaccum cleaner. And your dog won't go crazy with trying to extract the squeaker from a toy, or refuse to play with a toy that doesn't squeak. All in all, deaf dogs make great companions. You can find out more about deaf dogs at

There appears to be a genetic link between color and deafness. You can learn more about this and find a list of breeds most affected at the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Going Green

What does going green mean to you and your pet? It could mean a lovely walk in the woods, but we're thinking of another meaning. We're thinking about recycling.

No matter where you stand on the global warming debate, we can all agree that some things are worth doing just because they're the right thing to do. None of us want to be knee deep in plastic bottles or litter. We dispose of these things responsibly because it's what's best for all of us. How about putting some of that litter to good use?

First, beds. These are made from recycled plastic soda bottles. They're available in sizes XS to XL at West Paw Design.

These colorful sleep mats are also made from recycled plastic bottles. There's no shortage of bottles, we see them everywhere, so why not put them to good use? They're found at Pristine Planet.

If you're like me, you love buying collars for you dog. Each of mine has a couple and I'm always seeing new ones that I like. If you're looking for a new collar, think about getting one made from recycled or environmentally friendly materials. The ones above are made from 100% recycled materials and can be found at Green Nest.

Earth friendly doesn't have to mean dull or ugly. These collars are from Cycle Dog and are made from reclaimed bike tubes.

There are pretty leads to match.

At JeffersPet, one of my favorite online pet supply stores, you cam find these collars made from hemp. Don't they have a nice look for winter?

These are some of my favorites. Again, they're made from recycled plastic bottles and are from Westminster Pet Products. They also have matching leashes.

We're trying to practice what we preach. Here Samba wears her red bandana print collar. It's made by Westminster, but I bought it from Jeffers Pet. I think it looks great with her black curls and it's nice and soft against her skin.

Do you use Earth friendly pet products? What are they and where can we find them?
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