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Tag: shelters

Online service offers to match you up with the right adoptable dog, not the cutest

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Borrowing from eHarmony, three women in New England have started an online service that matches those seeking dogs to adoptable dogs that will best fit their personalities and lifestyles.

How I Met My Dog features a detailed questionnaire for potential adopters that asks dozens of questions about a potential pet owner’s tastes and interests.

Those shelters and rescue taking part, meanwhile, provide specific information on the animal’s habits and behavior patterns.

Computer software does the rest.

The goal is to match up would-be dog owners with pets they won’t regret taking home — and will be less likely to return, according to the Boston Globe.

Jody Andersen and Mary Ann Zeman launched the company earlier this year in New England under the belief that adopting the right dog, as opposed to the cutest dog, can make a huge difference in the outcome of that adoption.

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Andersen, author of a 2002 book, “The Latchkey Dog,” is a believer in computer-assisted relationships, having met her husband online. She also used the developing software to find her current dog, a Weimaraner named Finn.

“We want you to fall in love at first sight, with a dog you can live with,” she said.

The service is free while in startup mode. Afterward, it will charge $49 to match would-be owners to available pets, and $75 to a current dog owner who wants to rehome their pet. Animal shelters can list their dogs at no charge.

Andersen lives in Long Island, N.Y., Zeman, lives in Connecticut, while Alana Mahoney, who manages the company’s relationships with pet shelters, serves on the board of the Massachusetts Animal Coalition and lives in Hopkinton, Mass.

Andersen said she has received inquiries from 400 animal shelters nationwide that are interested in trying out the new service.

“Every year there’s four million dogs surrendered to shelters,” Andersen said. “How I Met My Dog wants to find a home for every dog, where it will thrive.”

(Top photo: Jodi Andersen (left) and Mary Ann Zeman, cofounders of How I Met My Dog, in Boston, with Andersen’s dog Finn, a Weimaraner; by Jonathan Wiggs / Boston Globe)

A place for old dogs to die loved

A little peace, and quiet, and love, and attention — they’re all any of us really want in life.

And maybe even more so when death is on the way.

For humans, hospice care is now big business, but the opportunity for sick and elderly dogs to die in peace and dignity isn’t always there.

And often, their last days are less than peaceful — especially for those whose owners, hoping to avoid the expense of veterinary care, abandon them to shelters or worse.

Seeing that happening too often — seeing them get abandoned at the time they need someone the most — a northern Michigan woman started the Silver Muzzle Cottage, a rescue and hospice for homeless old dogs.

The Detroit Free Press on Sunday took an in-depth look at the organization and the woman behind it, Kim Skarritt.

Silver Muzzle Cottage takes in dogs left behind either by owner choice, or by circumstances, as when a dog’s owner suddenly dies and no one else can care for it.

In two years, she has cared for more than 70 of them. It remains the only such hospice in the state, and one of the few in the country.

1441360_668204089941476_771065216946594329_n“They don’t ask for much when they’re really old,” said the 56-year-old former auto engineer. “They want to be loved and cared for, they want food and they just need a warm place to lay their head at night.”

Five years ago, Skarritt opened a dog boarding and fitness center called Bowsers by the Bay. Through that work, she noticed the pattern of elderly dogs being abandoned in their final days. After calling animal shelters throughout the state, she estimated there were about 900 senior dogs within 500 miles of Elk Rapids needing a home.

Skarritt researched the issue, finding many area shelters were taking in old dogs whose owners had surrendered them, sometimes just leaving them tied outside the shelters at night.

“I kept seeing these 14-year-old dogs and 13-year-old dogs in shelters and needing homes, and I’m going, ‘What is that? Who does that?'”

So she bought an empty storage building next door to her business and opened Silver Muzzle Cottage as a nonprofit rescue just for elderly dogs, which she defines as age 10 or older, or terminally ill but not suffering so much they need to be euthanized.

The Free Press described the inside of the rescue as a “big living room with couches, throw pillows, a fake fireplace with decorations atop the mantle, end tables with vases and a coffee table with a thick photo book about dogs atop it. It looks like a normal house, except there’s a bunch of dogs lounging on the couches like they own the place.”

The dogs aren’t caged at night, which means someone has to be there at all times. Skarritt moved into a small bare bones room adjacent to the living room and sleeps there at night.

About 100 rotating volunteers visit the dogs, take them for walks and car rides and pet and play with them.

Despite their old age, many get adopted — both by volunteers and by those among whom Skarritt works to spread the word about both the plight old dogs face, and the joys of having them around.

If you ask me, the world could use more places like this — for dogs and humans; places that aren’t about being poked, and prodded and prolonged but about being treated with some love, dignity and compassion when the end is near.

Silver Muzzle Cottage is at 201 Industrial Park, Elk Rapids, Mich., 49629. For information, call 231-264-8408, or visit the Silver Muzzle Cottage Facebook page.

(Photo from Silver Muzzle’s Facebook page)

Dog, cat and rat leave shelter together

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A dog, cat and rat who were surrendered together to a Wisconsin shelter have been adopted — as a team.

The threesome was brought to the Oshkosh Area Humane Society by a family who said it was no longer able to care for the pets.

They pointed out at the time that Sasha the dog, Jack the cat and Tweaks the rat were very bonded to each other and, ideally, should be adopted together.

Shelter staff found that out for themselves when the three were separated for their first night at the shelter, pending evaluations.

“It was immediately obvious to us that Jack was extremely unhappy. A staff member had the idea of putting the dog back with Jack to see if it’d have a positive impact,” said admissions manager Cari Tetzlaff.

“As soon as Sasha was in the room, Jack perked up. We were able to touch him for the first time. He instantly felt more comfortable,” she added.

Jack became even more comfortable when Tweaks (the rat) was placed in the room.

From that point on, the group — known as the Rat Pack — was allowed to stay together as they waited for adoption.

dogcatrat2“We’re very grateful to their new family for adopting them so they can start a new chapter in their lives – together!” the Oshkosh Humane Society said in a Facebook post. “Congratulations to this special trio and their family!”

The adoptive owner was initially hesitant to adopt the rat, but quickly changed her mind after seeing the bond they shared.

(Photos: Oshkosh Area Humane Society Facebook page)

Look what showed up at the “night drop”

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Video stores and libraries aren’t the only places where you’ll find “night drops.”

Some animal shelters have them, too — areas where dogs and cats in need of homes can be dropped off after hours, anonymously, and under the cover of night.

A few weeks ago, a veterinary technician who was the first to arrive for work at the Animal Friends of the Valleys shelter in Riverside County, California, found two boxers — one pink, one brown, both nearly hairless.

Both of the dogs, who were abandoned without a note identifying their previous owner, had a skin condition called demodex mange.

asiaandartie“I felt so badly for Artie and Asia when I first saw them,” said Jennifer Glover, a vet tech for the shelter in Wildomar. “But I was encouraged by the fact that we would be able to start helping them.”
“They were very sweet when they arrived but they were depressed,” Glover added. “Within just one day of having someone care for them here, they were so much happier and more outgoing.”

The skin condition is a treatable one.

The dogs have been responding well to treatment and both have been sent on to Last Chance at Life Rescue to be put up for adoption, according to People.com.

Asia, the pink one is believed to be about 10 months old, and Artie about 2 years old.

On top of the skin condition, caused by mites, Asia has a heart murmur, and Artie has some eye issues, but they otherwise seem healthy and playful.

“I assure you they were both unsettled with being dumped but they know very quickly that the staff at Animal Friends of the Valleys and the volunteers at LCAL are their ‘friends,’ and there to help them,” said Lisa Hamilton, founder and president of Last Chance At Life. “They are with us until we find their perfect home.”

Hamilton says people have already inquired about adopting the pair, and that anyone interested should contact them through the organization’s website.

(Photos: Last Chance at Life Rescue)

The proper care and feeding of Rhino

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Rhino — the dog who was reluctantly surrendered to the Humane Society of Utah along with a 15-page instruction manual written by an eight-year-old family member — has moved on to a new home.

Rhino, a boxer, was returned to the shelter earlier this month with a small spiral notebook attached to his neck.

The family explained he was too rambunctious and they were worried about their youngest child.

The owner’s manual he was returned with was written by their older daughter.

book2Its handwritten pages were filled with advice aimed at whoever became his new owner, like “His cheeks make lots of slobber,” “He likes sleeping under blankets,” and “Please take him on two to three runs a day. The more he gets out the more he is well behaved in the house.”

Reading between the lines of swirly script, it’s clear that parting with Rhino wasn’t easy for her.

book1She referred to the brindle boxer as a “striped dream” and “an amazing puppy,” and asked, “Please tell Rhino that I love him and miss him every night.”

Rhino went home last week with a new owner, who took the time to study the notebook, including the advice that “His full name is Rhino Lightening then your last name.”

Rhino was adopted by Melanie Hill, who has another dog and plenty of land to romp on.

She told FOX 13 she’ll be taking the spiral notebook home with her too, and will follow all the instructions and stay in touch with Rhino’s previous family.

book3“I will take care of your puppy and love him, just like you did,” Hill said. “He’ll be able to run and play and be spoiled rotten, but mostly he’ll be loved.”

Hill said she already has a connection with Rhino. She was put up for adoption by her mother. “She dropped me off at an orphanage,” she told FOX 13.

She said she a saw story on TV about the dog and the notebook, and decided she had to meet him.

“That just broke my heart. I just kept replaying it on the DVR over and over again and I was like I want this dog. Instantly I fell in love with him.”

(Photo: Humane Society of Utah)

Study finds dogs prefer reggae

A new study by the Scotland SPCA and the University of Glasgow reveals that dogs have a preference for reggae music.

The study concluded that, while each dog has its own musical preferences, reggae and soft rock were the two most favored genres of the five that shelter dogs were exposed to during the tests.

“Overall, the response to different genres was mixed highlighting the possibility that like humans, our canine friends have their own individual music preferences,” said Neil Evans, professor of integrative physiology at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine.

“That being said, reggae music and soft rock showed the highest positive changes in behavior,” he added.

Five types of music were played for the shelter dogs used in the experiment — Motown, pop, classical, soft rock and reggae, according to the BBC.

The dogs’ heart rates showed a decrease in stress levels while listening to soft rock and reggae, and researchers suspect that could have something to do with the tempo and repetitive themes of those genres.

The experiments were conducted at a rehoming center in Dumbarton, and based on its findings the Scottish SPCA says it plans to invest in sounds systems for all its kennels.

“At present both our Glasgow and Edinburgh centers are able to pipe music into their kennels,” said Gilly Mendes Ferreira, education and research manager. In the future every center will be able to offer our four-footed friends a canine-approved playlist, with the view to extending this research to other species in our care.”

Scotland’s animal welfare charity released research in 2015 that showed classical music led dogs to become more relaxed, but that those effects were only short term.

Both that study and the new one were published in the journal Physiology and Behaviour.

(The video above, showing a dog howling along with a Bob Marely song, is unconnected to the study and not presented here as either anecdotal or scientific proof of absolutely anything)

Baltimore brothers give … and receive

Will and Harris Morgan thought they were going to Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS) Friday morning to drop off donations they had gathered for homeless dogs.

But their parents had a Christmas surprise in store for them.

Watch and see.