Whether its lowering our blood pressure, upping our oxytocin (that hormone that makes us feel warm and fuzzy), or keeping us sane (no small task), you can bet there’s a study underway at some university somewhere seeking to unravel — and dryly present to us — more hard evidence of yet another previously mysterious way that dogs enhance our well-being.
Given that, it’s a nice change of pace to plunge into a more anecdotal account — one that looks at the near magical mental health benefits one woman reaped through her dog, and does so with candor and humor, as opposed to sappiness.
“Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself” is a book that shows, far better than any scientific study, just how valuable — no, make that priceless — the human-dog bond is.
The memoir spans a year in the life of the author, Julie Barton, starting when, just one year out of college and living in Manhattan, she had what we used to call a “nervous breakdown.”
A barely coherent phone call from her kitchen floor brought her mother racing to her side from Ohio to take her home.
Barton was diagnosed with major depression — one that didn’t seem to lift, despite the best efforts of family, doctors, therapists and the pharmaceutical industry. She spent entire days in bed, refusing to get up.
Around the same time doctors started her on Zoloft, Barton told her mother she’d like to get a dog. Her mother thought that was a great idea. A few weeks later, they were bringing home a golden retriever pup. Barton named him Bunker.
On that first night, Bunker started whimpering in his crate, and Barton crawled inside with him:
“It occurred to me as I gently stroked his side that this was the first time in recent memory that I was reassuring another living thing. And, miraculously, I knew in that moment that I was more than capable of caring for him. I felt enormously driven to create a space for Bunker that felt safe, free of all worry, fear and anxiety. For the first time in a long time, I felt as if I had a purpose.”
Barton’s depression didn’t lift overnight; it never does. But, as the artfully written story unravels, Bunker gives Barton the confidence she needs to start a new life on her own in Seattle.
The are plenty of bumps ahead, and more than a few tests, but, given we’re recommending you read it for yourself, we won’t divulge them here.
Or you can wait for the next scientific study that comes along, proclaiming — in heartless, soulless prose — to prove one way or another what we already know:
Dogs are good for the heart and soul.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 24th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, benefits, bond, book, books, books on dogs, bunker, dog books, dog medicine, golden retriever, health, humans, julie barton, memoir, mental health, nurture, nurturin, pets, reading, rescue, science, studies, thinkpiece publishing
Among many “old school” and unprofitable practices here at ohmidog! is my tendency to treat advertisers like well-trained, perhaps overly-trained, dogs — insisting they stay in their place and don’t dare venture into our editorial columns.
I will let my big old dog in bed with me, and I gladly do so every single night. But when it comes to advertisers, don’t even think about it.
So what’s this T-shirt doing here — in the space that I, way too ethical for my own good, so haughtily reserve for news matter?
For one thing, it’s kind of cool.
For another, with these T-shirts being the biggest ad ever to appear on our pages, I thought it would be a good time to explain this website’s approach to advertising.
(It is not one I recommend to anyone seeking to make money through their website.)
Basically, this middle section of the website is for news, and despite many requests from advertisers to link to their services and products here, I just don’t do it, because it strikes me as sleazy and deceptive.
The rightside column, with all those logos, is for non-profit animal welfare and animal rescue groups, and serves to link the public to their websites. There is no fee for that.
The leftside column, the one clearly marked “advertisements” is for, you guessed it, advertisements.
When ohmidog! started, seven years ago, the hope was that advertising would cover the costs, and maybe even lead to a profit.
That almost worked when we were headquartered in, and focused on, Baltimore.
Then we went and hit the road and ended up living in North Carolina. A few of those local Baltimore ads remain, but I no longer charge those advertisers — partly out of gratitude for helping us get off the ground, partly because fewer Baltimore eyes will see their ads.
Today, most of our ads, including the t-shirt ad at the top, are what are called affiliate ads.
The advertisers pay nothing for them, but if a reader clicks on one of them, and ends up buying something during that visit, the company sends a percentage of their profits my way — generally pennies on the dollar.
So far, those pennies haven’t amounted to much. And as business models go, ohmidog! — even when I wanted it to make money — has always been a prime example of how not to run a website.
We’ve always been all about the content (though I prefer the word “stories), and, while I don’t promise much else, we always will be — without any ads popping up on you, without any links misdirecting you.
What I started out doing for fun and profit, is pretty much becoming just about the fun.
In the months ahead, I’ll qualify for — and plan to start receiving — early social security. So I can only make so much money before having to turn over all the rest to the government.
So, if you must buy a T-shirt, go ahead and click on it, or any of the others now featured in our banner ad.
Just don’t buy too many.
(Photo: The I Love Dogs Site / Sunfrog.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 11th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ads, advertising, affiliate, animals, business, dog, dog websites, dogs, editorial, ethics, love, ohmidog!, pets, profits, rescue, t-shirts, websites
A Chihuahua that was left at a California shelter after suffering chemical burns as a puppy has found a new home with a 12-year-old girl in Alameda who is still undergoing treatment for burns she received as a baby.
Chloe Levenson, who has been through seven surgeries since being scalded by hot tea, adopted the dog — named Fireman — last week.
They were brought together when a Pittsburg animal rescue group, Umbrella of Hope, decided the traumatized dog might get along best with an owner who had experienced similar pain, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury-News.
While thousands of people applied to adopt Fireman, the group thought the dog, who has some behavioral problems, would be a good fit with an owner who might have some extra compassion for him.
Rescuers found the puppy behind Antioch’s animal shelter on March 30 with severe chemical burns running the entire length of his belly and up to his ears, both of which had to be amputated.
After months of medical care, paid for my Umbrella of Hope, Fireman recovered physically, but was diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the burns.
“He had a lot of strings attached,” said Kristy Keusch, who fostered the dog for four months after his release from the hospital.
Fireman didn’t always like being petted. Although he loved having someone rub what was left of his ears, he disliked being touched on his head and neck, Keusch said.
“He punctured me a few times,” she recalled.
She used behavior modification techniques to make Fireman more trusting and less defensive, but she knew that whoever adopted him would have to commit to continuing the work.
When Umbrella of Hope put out some feelers, Shriners Hospital for Children responded and put the organization in touch with Chloe and her family.
After a few meetings, Chloe took the dog home last week.
Although he still growls and nips, Fireman is already letting her touch his head and will cuddle on the couch with Chloe when she watches TV. But he “absolutely hates leashes,” she said.
“I understand him,” Chloe told the organization. “I know what he’s been through, and I think he understands me too.”
(Photo by Kristopher Skinner / Bay Area News Group)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 7th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adoption, alameda, animals, burn victims, burns, california, chemical burns, chihuahua, chloe levenson, dog, dogs, fireman, foster, girl, healing, pets, rescue, scaldings, shriners hospital, umbrella of hope
Here’s a picture that turned out to be worth much more than a thousand words.
When an Atlanta rescue organization posted this photo on Facebook of one dog hugging another — a shot taken at a shelter shortly before both were scheduled to be put down — it was only a matter of hours before they were taken in by a foster parent.
Along with the photo was this explanation from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Atlanta, written from the perspective of one of the dogs:
“I’m Kala. This is Keira. We’re so scared in here. The people working in the shelters see how scared we are but just told each other that today is our deadline.
“We have to have someone rescue us or we’ll be ‘next.’ Keira is black and not a ‘real boxer,’ just a mix. She’s so brave and tells me it will be okay no matter what happens. She tells me to be brave too but I don’t know if I can be.
“Can you see our faces. Keira knows what will happen. You can see it in her eyes. She’s putting on a brave face for sure but I can feel her heart beating fast while I’m clinging to her.
“If no one saves us, someone will take her away from me. I’ll see her as she goes down the hallway. She won’t come back and I’ll cry.”
Within a few hours, both dogs were taken into foster care by an unnamed veterinarian from the Atlanta area, according to MyFoxAtlanta.com.
The photo was shared thousands of times on social media, and received thousands of ‘likes.’
(Photo: by Malena Evans, courtesy of Angels Among Us)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 22nd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, angels among us, animals, atlanta, care, death row, dog, dogs, euthanasia, facebook, foster, home, kala, keira, pets, photo, photograph, rescue, saved, shelter
The dog — named Adam, ironically enough — is allergic to humans.
Adam was pulled from a shelter by Lucky Dog Rescue in Indianapolis last July, but it took a while for vets to determine what was causing his fur to fall out.
“When we first saw him, he looked just absolutely miserable,” Lucky Dog president Robin Herman told ABC’s Good Morning America. ”He felt like Vaseline. Reddish-pinkish fluid would just ooze out of his skin.”
The rescue center, which was working with Indianapolis’ Animal Medical Center, originally believed that Adam, who was one-a-half at the time, had flea dermatitis.
Months went by — he spent at least six of them wearing a cone — and his condition didn’t get better.
But in late October, Dr. Rachel Anderson, a veterinarian from the medical center, ordered some allergy tests, and was shocked by the results.
“It was a really interesting phone call,” Herman said. “She was like, ‘You’re not going to believe what he’s allergic to! It’s really remarkable, he’s allergic to humans the same way some people are allergic to dogs and cats.”
Specifically, the blood tests showed Adam is allergic to human dander, as well as cat dander, some plants, walnuts and some insects like houseflies and cockroaches.
After news first broke about Adam’s condition, people from as far away as Australia and the U.K. contacted the center either with adoption inquiries or donations, Herman said.
But Adam ended up finding a permanent home with the center employee who spent the last year caring for him, Beth Weber, who now makes sure he gets the proper medications and gives him baths every three days with a different kind of soap every other time.
He’s also seeing a specialist at the Animal Dermatology Clinic in Indianapolis.
“He’s come such a long way,” Herman said. “… All his fur is back except for a little spot on his butt and tail. Though he’s going to be on medications for the rest of his life … he’s now on the road to full recovery and health.”
(Photos: Lucky Dog Rescue’s Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 10th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adam, allergic, allergies, animals, condition, dogs, humans, indianapolis, indianapolis animal medical center, lab, lucky dog, lucky dog rescue, mix, pets, rescue, skin
Mayor Shelley Vana warned pet rescue organizations this week to stop bringing homeless dogs from other cities and states into Palm Beach County, saying the practice contributed to the deaths of local dogs in need of homes.
Finding homes for local shelter animals is made harder by well-meaning rescue groups that transport dogs and cats into the county for adoption events, the mayor said.
“How does flying or busing in puppies from other regions … help the dogs in this community?” Vana asked during a press conference at the county shelter on Tuesday. “How does it benefit dogs that are going to die here?”
The county’s animal shelter near West Palm Beach takes in about 15,000 dogs and cats a year. It manages to find homes for about 80 percent of the dogs (so far this year), and puts down the rest.
Included in that 80 percent of dogs who get a second chance, though, are dogs pulled from the shelter by rescue organizations — some of the same organizations the mayor is being critical of.
In light of that, and the mayor’s very non-global perspective, her plea/warning/request strikes me as a little selfish. It’s almost as if she’s saying Palm Beach’s bounties, beauties and kindness should be reserved only for natives.
What seems to be prompting the mayor’s push is the county’s quest to reach the admirable goal outlined in its 10-year “Count Down To Zero” program. Launched in 2014, the goal is to become a no-kill shelter by 2024.
The program calls for increasing spay-and-neuter efforts while encouraging more adoptions, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
About 1,800 dogs and 8,300 cats were euthanized at the Palm Beach County animal shelter last year.
Because many rescue groups have “ignored” the county’s request that they stop bringing in outside dogs and cats for adoption, Vana went public Tuesday with her plea for rescue groups to focus on helping local animals.
The county wants rescue groups to stop bringing in outside animals — some from Broward and Miami-Dade counties, some from Alabama, Tennessee and other states — until the county shelter can find homes for 90 percent of the dogs and cats it receives.
The mayor’s concerns were echoed by Dianne Sauve, the county’s director of animal care and control, who agreed local dogs should be put first.
“These guys deserve a home,” Sauve said. “Let’s try to clean up our own backyard.”
Others think the mayor is going too far.
“It doesn’t matter where the dog is born, if the dog is need,” said Lauree Simmons, president of Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Wellington.
Simmons estimates that her group has 350 dogs from Palm Beach County, but it also has volunteer foster homes across the state that help find dogs in need. The group takes dogs from the county shelter and from other shelters across the state that would otherwise be euthanized, she said.
The Sun-Sentinel reports that Tuesday’s press conference was prompted by the actions of another local rescue group that, on Saturday, brought in 60 pets from Alabama for an adoption event.
According to the Palm Beach Post, local philanthropist Lois Pope worked with the American Humane Association to fly 60 pets from Greenville, Ala. Assisting Pope in that effort was part-time Palm Beach resident Beth Stern, wife of Howard Stern.
“I’m on a mission,” Pope explained. “I want nothing more than to save dogs from being euthanized in gas chambers. I want to take them from kill shelters and find them forever homes.”
Even if that means Palm Beach County might have to work even harder to reach the numbers it wants to reach, it’s hard to find any fault in that.
(Photo: Lannis Waters / Palm Beach Post)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 3rd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, animals, countdown to zero, dog, dogs, florida, goals, local, mayor, non-local, organizations, palm beach county, pets, rescue, shelley vana, shelter
Authorities have dropped the charges filed against a veteran who was arrested after breaking a window to save a dog left inside a hot car in a shopping center parking lot.
Michael Hammons, 46, an Iraq War veteran who lives in Athens, Ga., used a leg support from his wife’s wheelchair to smash out the window of a Mustang.
At the insistence of the angry dog’s owner, who said she’d only let the dog alone for five minutes, Hammons was arrested and charged with criminal trespass.
Thousands subsequently came to his defense online and called Hammons a hero, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which announced last week it will be awarding Hammons its Compassionate Action Award.
PETA officials noted that temperatures inside a parked car can jump quickly to 100 to 120 degrees — even on a mild, 78-degree day like Saturday, May 9, when the incident took place.
A local Ford dealer in Athens offered to replace the broken window for free, WXIA in Atlanta reported.
Current Georgia law allows someone to break a window to save a person, but not an animal. Hammons arrest led to a call to change that law, as a handful of other states have.
“The laws need to be changed to protect the animals, not necessarily the people,” said Mark Martin, a pet store owner who rallied around Hammons’ cause. “We are the voices for the animals; they can’t speak for themselves.”
Ken Mauldin, district attorney for the Superior Court of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties, said the car’s owner agreed with his decision to drop the charges.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 19th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arrested, Athens, broke, car, charged, charges dropped, criminal trespass, district attorney, dog, dogs, dropped, georgia, hot, inside, leg support, michael hammons, parked, parking lot, pets, rescue, safety, wheelchair, window