Comfort Dogs Come to Boston After the Bombing

More Proof that Dogs bring Great Comfort…………………………..

After the Bombing, Comfort Dogs Come to Boston
3 days ago A charity group has brought five trained therapy dogs to Boston to comfort people reeling from the Boston marathon bombing.


Katia Andreassi and Amanda Fiegl

National Geographic News

Published April 18, 2013

 how-therapy-dogs-will-help-boston-bombing-victims_66462_600x450Comfort in the form of five tail-wagging, furry-faced golden retrievers has been dispatched to aid those reeling from the Boston marathon bombing.

The dogs are specially trained therapy dogs brought to Boston by Lutheran Church Charities. They will be stationed at the First Lutheran Church of Boston, a few blocks from where bombs exploded at the marathon finish line on Monday.

The dogs have reassured people following crises like shootings and natural disasters, and they regularly visit nursing homes. Tim Hetzner, the team leader for the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs, said he got the idea after seeing how well students responded to therapy dogs in the wake of a 2008 school shooting at Northern Illinois University.

In Boston, like on their other visits, he’ll take the dogs only where they’re invited and will be careful to let people approach the dogs instead of vice versa, in case anyone is afraid of or allergic to the animals. The dogs are scheduled to stay in the area until Sunday.

In December, some of the same dogs went to Newtown, Connecticut, to comfort children and adults in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

After that event, National Geographic’s Amanda Fiegl interviewed Tim Hetzerabout the work of the K-9 Comfort Dogs, and delved further into the healing power of dogs. Here is an excerpt from her report:

The Human-Canine Bond

Why does petting a dog make us feel better? It’s not just because they’re cute, says Brian Hare, director of Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center.

The human-canine bond goes back thousands of years. Dogs descend from wolves and have been attracted to humans ever since we began living in settlements-a source of tasty garbage. That created an advantage for wolves to live near humans, and since it tended to be the less aggressive wolves that could do this more effectively, they essentially self-domesticated over time, according to Hare.

Part of what makes dogs special is that they are one of the only species that does not generally exhibit xenophobia, meaning fear of strangers, says Hare.

“We’ve done research on this, and what we’ve found is that not only are most dogs totally not xenophobic, they’re actually xenophilic-they love strangers!” Hare said. “That’s one way in which you could say dogs are ‘better’ than people. We’re not always that welcoming.”

People also benefit from interacting with canines. Simply petting a dog can decrease levels of stress hormones, regulate breathing, and lower blood pressure. Research also has shown that petting releases oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and affection, in both the dog and the human.

Do Dogs Have Empathy?

In situations like the Newtown shootings, it makes a lot of sense that dogs would be an effective form of comfort, says psychologist Debbie Custance of Goldsmiths College, University of London.

“Dogs are social creatures that respond to us quite sensitively, and they seem to respond to our emotions,” she said.

Custance recently led a study to see whether dogs demonstrated empathy. She asked volunteers to either pretend to cry, or just “hum in a weird way.” Would the dogs notice the difference?

“The response was extraordinary,” she said. Nearly all of the dogs came over to nuzzle or lick the crying person, whether it was the owner or a stranger, while they paid little attention when people were merely humming.

“We’re not saying this is definitive evidence that dogs have empathy-but I can certainly understand why people would think they do, at least,” Custance said.

Other animals can also be useful in what’s known as “animal-assisted therapy.” The national organization Pet Partners has 11,000 registered teams of volunteer handlers and animals that visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and victims of tragedy and disaster. Although most of the teams use dogs, some involve horses, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and even barnyard animals like pigs and chickens.

The presence of an animal can help facilitate a discussion with human counselors or simply provide wordless emotional release, said Rachel Wright, director of Pet Partners’ therapy animal program. The group plans to deploy several teams of therapy dogs to Newtown in the near future, working closely with agencies that are already present in the community, she said.

To some, the idea of sending a dog to a grieving person might seem too simplistic. But Custance says that very simplicity is part of what makes the connection between humans and canines so powerful.

“When humans show us affection, it’s quite a complicated thing that involves expectations and judgments,” she said. “But with a dog, it’s a very uncomplicated, nonchallenging interaction with no consequences. And if you’ve been through a hard time, it’s lovely to have that.”


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by Gary Ehler

ASPCA | DOG Allergies

Here is some important information from the ASPCA about Dog Allergies.

ASPCA | Allergies

Go check them out………………….

Glad my dog is not suffering with allergies but have several friends with

furry buddies that do!


What Are Allergies?

Just like people, dogs can show allergic symptoms when their immune systems begin to recognize certain everyday substances—or allergens— as dangerous. Even though these allergens are common in most environments and harmless to most animals, a dog with allergies will have an extreme reaction to them. Allergens can be problematic when inhaled, ingested or contact a dog’s skin. As his body tries to rid itself of these substances, a variety of skin, digestive and respiratory symptoms may appear.

What Are the General Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs?

  • Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin
  • Increased scratching
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Itchy back or base of tail (most commonly flea allergy)
  • Itchy ears and ear infections
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
  • Paw chewing/swollen paws
  • Constant licking

Allergic dogs may also suffer from secondary bacterial or yeast skin infections, which may cause hair loss, scabs or crusts on the skin.

Which Dogs Are At Risk for Getting Allergies?

Any dog can develop allergies at any time during his life, but allergic reactions seem to be especially common in terriers, setters, retrievers, and flat-faced breeds such as pugs, bulldogs and Boston terriers.

What Substances Can Dogs Be Allergic To?

A few common allergens include:

  • Tree, grass and weed pollens
  • Mold spores
  • Dust and house dust mites
  • Dander
  • Feathers
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Food ingredients (e.g. beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat or soy)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Fleas and flea-control products (The bite of a single flea can trigger intense itchiness for two to three weeks!)
  • Perfumes
  • Cleaning products
  • Fabrics
  • Insecticidal shampoo
  • Rubber and plastic materials

Can Dogs Be Allergic to Food?

Yes, but it often takes some detective work to find out what substance is causing the allergic reaction. Dogs with a food allergy will commonly have itchy skin, breathing difficulties or gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting, and an elimination diet will most probably be used to determine what food he is allergic to. If your dog is specifically allergic to chicken, for example, you should avoid feeding him any products containing chicken protein or fat.

Please note that food allergies may show up in dogs at any age.

What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Has Allergies?

Visit your veterinarian. After taking a complete history and conducting a physical examination, he or she may be able to determine the source of your dog’s allergic reaction. If not, your vet will most probably recommend skin or blood tests, or a special elimination diet, to find out what’s causing the allergic reaction.

How Are Dog Allergies Diagnosed?

If your dog’s itchy, red or irritated skin persists beyond initial treatment by a veterinarian, allergy testing, most often performed by a veterinary dermatologist, is likely warranted. The diagnostic test of choice is an intradermal skin test similar to the one performed on humans.

The only way to diagnose a food allergy is to feed your dog a prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet exclusively for 12 weeks. The importance of not feeding your dog anything but the diet cannot be emphasized enough—that means no treats, table food or flavored medication. This diet will be free of potential allergy-causing ingredients and will ideally have ingredients your dog has never been exposed to. He’ll remain on the diet until his symptoms go away, at which time you’ll begin to reintroduce old foods to see which ones might be causing the allergic reaction.

Please note, many dogs diagnosed with a food allergy will require home-cooked meals—but this must be done in conjunction with your veterinarian, as it requires careful food balancing.

How Can Dog Allergies Be Treated?

The best way to treat allergies is to remove the offending allergens from the environment.

  • Prevention is the best treatment for allergies caused by fleas. Start a flea control program for all of your pets before the season starts. Remember, outdoor pets can carry fleas inside to indoor pets. See your veterinarian for advice about the best flea control products for your dog and the environment.
  • If dust is the problem, clean your pet’s bedding once a week and vacuum at least twice weekly—this includes rugs, curtains and any other materials that gather dust.
  • Weekly bathing may help relieve itching and remove environmental allergens and pollens from your dog’s skin. Discuss with your vet what prescription shampoos are best, as frequent bathing with the wrong product can dry out skin.
  • If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, she’ll need to be put on an exclusive prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet. Once the allergy is determined, your vet will recommend specific foods or a home-cooked diet.

Are There Allergy Medications for Dogs?

Since certain substances cannot be removed from the environment, your vet may recommend medications to control the allergic reaction:

  • In the case of airborne allergens, your dog may benefit from allergy injections. These will help your pet develop resistance to the offending agent, instead of just masking the itch.
  • Antihistamines such as Benadryl can be used, but may only benefit a small percentage of dogs with allergies. Ask your vet first.
  • Fatty acid supplements might help relieve your dog’s itchy skin. There are also shampoos that may help prevent skin infection, which occurs commonly in dogs with allergies. Sprays containing oatmeal, aloe and other natural products are also available.
  • An immune modulating drug may also be helpful.
  • There are several flea-prevention products that can be applied monthly to your dog’s skin.
  • If the problem is severe, you may have to resort to cortisone to control the allergy. However these drugs are strong and should be used with caution and only under the guidance of your veterinarian.

Are Allergies and Bronchitis Related?

Chronic exposure to inhaled irritants (including cigarette smoke) may be a cause of bronchitis in the dog. Bronchitis is characterized by a persistent cough due to inflammation of the airway and excessive mucus production. Treatment may include medication to open breathing passages, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents. Please remember, your pets should not be exposed to cigarette smoke.

ASPCA | Allergies
Just like people, dogs can show allergic symptoms when their immune systems begin to recognize certain everyday substances—or allergens— as dangerous.


Rawhide: Good or Bad for Your Dog?

Did you know WebMD has some great tips about Dog Health?

Check out this Great WebMD article about Rawhide Chews!

Rawhide: Good or Bad for Your Dog?

 article from WebMD

Rawhide chews are a popular treat for dogs. You might have heard that rawhide is good for your dog’s teeth and helps with his natural instinct to chew. But are there any drawbacks to giving your dog rawhide treats? Are there other alternatives that work just as well? Here’s what you need to know.

1. What are rawhide dog treats made of? 

Rawhide treats come from the inner layer of cow or horse hides. During manufacturing, the hides are cleaned and cut or ground. Then they’re pressed into chewable dog treats of different shapes and sizes. To make them more appealing for dogs, some rawhide treats contain beef, chicken, or liver flavorings.

2. What are the benefits of rawhide? 

All dogs need to chew. It’s a natural instinct. Some even spend hours chewing every day. Chewing can provide your dog stimulation and help relieve anxiety. Especially with puppies, treats like rawhide bones can be a great substitute for your leather shoes and the legs of the dining room table!

Chewing also keeps dogs’ jaws strong, teeth clean, and breath a bit fresher. Dogs that chew regularly on rawhides and other bones or toys have less plaque and tartar build-up on teeth. 

3. Are there risks associated with rawhide dog treats? 

Given the amount of rawhide consumed by dogs each year, the risks are relatively small. Still, risks can be serious, so don’t ignore them. Weigh the risks and benefits of giving rawhides based upon your dog’s chewing needs and behaviors.

These are the most common rawhide risks:

  • Contamination. As with pet toys, rawhide chews can contain trace amounts of toxic chemicals. And, as with other pet (or human) foods, Salmonella or E. coli contamination is possible. Even humans can be at risk when coming into contact with these bacteria on rawhide treats.
  • Digestive irritation. Some dogs are simply sensitive or allergic to rawhide or other substances used in their manufacture. This can cause problems, includingdiarrhea.
  • Choking or blockages. Rawhide bones and other edible chews can pose a choking and blockage risk. In fact, this is a much bigger risk than contamination or digestive irritation. If your dog swallows large pieces of rawhide, the rawhide can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. Depending on its size and where it is located, a vet may be able to remove these pieces fairly easily through the throat. But sometimes, abdominal surgery is needed to remove them from the stomach or intestines. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death.


4. How can I make rawhide chews safer for my dog?

If you decide to offer your dog rawhide, you can take certain precautions to make them safer. To minimize your risk of exposure to contaminants, wash your hands thoroughly after handling these treats. Have young children and family members with immune system problems avoid handling them at all.


This is just one article covered on the WebMD site……….

Go take a Look………………

Dogs in Tights…. This will crack You Up!

Dogs in Tights…. This will crack You Up!

Until recently, the only association I made between dogs and pantyhose would have involved an unfortunate trip to the vet. Of the inanimate objects pulled from pets’ gastrointestinal tracts — from drywall and hearing aids to corn cobs and toy cars — pantyhose, and their cousins, socks and underwear, top the list.

But last week, dogs and pantyhose found themselves a new union. Dog owners in China have started a fad of dressing their dogs in pantyhose and, in some cases, pantyhose and high-heeled shoes.

Dog in Panties 1A response of, “What the…?!” flooded the Web. One early article even came with the disclaimer, “This post contains content that some readers might find offensive.”

A Huffington Post Quick Poll asked readers to vote whether dogs in pantyhose is “good old harmless fun” or “sinister and vile.” Readers show support for the latter: “I find these photos very disturbing and unsettling. They make me feel unclean somehow and I don’t really know why,” and “Absolutely gross, makes me want to vomit.”

It is easy to see why people would be upset. The images might evoke the sexualization of non-human animals or even bestiality. But for a moment, put aside any social (or sexual) connotations of pantyhose and think about pantyhose from the dog’s perspective.

What are pantyhose to dogs? For one thing, highly constricting. Often made of nylon, pantyhose can easily cut off a dog’s urination and defecation pathways. And many of the dogs in pantyhose are pictured lying down, possibly because mobility has been hindered by, yes, those tight pantyhose. So a dog in pantyhose for an entire afternoon is probably not a good idea.

Dog in Pantyhose

Dog in pantyhose

But what else? In the photos, the pantyhose don’t appear ripped or shredded. There are no massive holes or major runs from a toenail catching an edge. If anything, the dogs seem to have done a better job of getting into tights than I!

This is to say, companion dogs have been placed in pantyhose by the person or people they live with, seemingly without much resistance. Dogs didn’t wind up in pantyhose because they were ambushed by a stranger who jammed them into this attire. Dogs let particular people put them in this silly getup. Dogs and pantyhose is made possible by a relationship.

Behind dogs in pantyhose — and behind much of the dog-human relationship — is an immense amount of tolerance, often from dogs toward the people they live with. People do the silliest things with their companion dogs, things that, left to their own accord, dogs would not normally do.

We dress them up and have them eat like humans:

Two Dogs Dining

We costume them up for various occasions:

Elf Bruno

And of course, there are weddings and birthday parties. Much of this can be categorized as “putting things on dogs” both literally and figuratively.

Do dogs mind? Studies find that dogs extend different levels of tolerance to people they do or don’t know. After being exposed to a threatening approach from either a dog’s owner or a stranger, the threatening approach from a well-known person didn’t rankle the dogs. Dogs tend to want to associate and interact with known people, even after odd behavior. For example, a dog might recognize when its owner is “just kidding,” as often seen in play.

But while many dogs living as companion pets might tolerate our human whims — and some dogs might even anticipate that a doggie costume signifies an awesome parade is up next (if they are into that sort of thing) — there are plausible downsides. Will people have an expectation of tolerance, assuming that companion dogs will be comfortable with and amenable to all the various social and environmental contexts in which we place them? The danger is that we might forget what the dog wants (and many dogs do not want pantyhose). After all, if we ask a dog what he feels like doing, here’s how many would respond:

Butt sniffing yin yang

Dogs in pantyhose | Dog Spies, Scientific American Blog Network
3 days ago Until recently, the only association I made between dogs and pantyhose would have involved an unfortunate trip to the vet. Of the inanimate

Photos: Dogs in pantyhose via Huffington Post; Two Dogs Dining via YouTube; Elf Bruno via Cynr on Flicker; Butt Sniffing Ying Yang via Tim Dorr on Flicker