First recorded case of dog giving plague to humans in US

Poor puppy! Poor person too, I guess
For the first time in the United States, we have a report of a dog infecting humans with the plague. Last summer, a two year-old pit bull in Colorado was suddenly struck ill with lockjaw, a high fever, and other symptoms. The dog was put to sleep at a vet's office the next day. 
Four days after that, the dog's owner was admitted to the hospital with classic plague symptoms: a bloody cough and high fever, which was initially misidentified as pneumonia. Subsequent tests proved positive for pneumonic plague.
Dogs are unusual carriers for the plague, to say the least. The more common infection vector is a cat: the cat attacks an infected prairie dog, the prairie dog's fleas vector the infection to the cat, the cat gets sick and sneezes on its owner. This case of direct dog-to-human plague transmission is interesting, but is no doubt a rare, isolated, freak occurrence, and no need to worry about your own dogs.

BREAKING NEWS: This dog looks like Steve Buscemi

Little Ari is famous!
Ari the dog was patiently awaiting her "forever home" at the Go Dog Safe Paws shelter in Los Angeles when someone spotted the similarity between her and a certain famous celebrity. The next thing she knew, she was internet famous as "The dog who looks like Steve Buscemi."
This puggle (a pug/beagle mix) is approximately nine months old, and was saved by Go Dog Safe Paws from a high-kill Los Angeles County animal shelter. But the media attention has been a "mixed blessing" for the shelter, which has received a flood of adoption requests.
The problem is that the shelter now has to sift through thousands of requests for Ari's adoption. Which is not only a strain on resources, but it does a disservice to all the other adoptable dogs at the shelter. No one wants those dogs - they only want to adopt Ari.
The same situation happens whenever an adoptable animal makes the news. Go Dog Safe Paws is asking that if people want to help Ari, they please adopt another animal from a shelter in Ari's name.

Detroit's stray dog epidemic

Over 50,000 stray dogs loose
Detroit is a struggling city, to say the least. Stricken by financial problems and job losses, many of Detroit's former residents have fled for better circumstances. With over 90,000 abandoned homes, Detroit is becoming a ghost town - one which is increasingly populated by stray dogs.
Many of the dogs were left behind when their owners moved away. Others were abandoned when their owners could no longer afford to care for them. Many more still were born on the streets, the product of intact strays, and technically feral.
Experts estimate between 20,000 and 50,000 stray dogs are roaming Detroit. Enough to fill a medium-sized town full of people. The problem is big, and getting bigger. Not only are the dogs at risk from the weather, sickness, and malnutrition, but Detroit's residents are increasingly at risk from aggressive packs of feral dogs.
The city, worried about its reputation, has been refusing film crews permission to film the stray dog problem. And with an unemployment rate approaching 10%, most residents of Detroit are hardly in a position to help. 

Tornado victim reunited with missing dog

Missy is home
When tornadoes devastated Illinois last Thursday, with winds of up to 200 miles an hour, leaving a trail of destruction half a mile wide and 29 miles lost, Clem Schultz's home in Fairdale was destroyed, his wife Geraldine was killed, and his dog Missy was lost.  
Then on Saturday, an electrical utility worker spotted Missy, a white German shepherd, roaming a field. The utility worker contacted police, who attempted to catch Missy. Unfortunately, Missy was having none of it, and led police on a 2.5 mile chase before they finally caught the dog. 
Schultz and Missy have been reunited, thanks to the dedication of the officers who kept up the chase. 

Terrible dog owner leaves "gay" dog at pound

This poor misunderstood dog!

The good news first: this dog has been adopted, after a Facebook plea spread word of his plight. And a good thing, too, because the pup had been surrendered by his owner to a high-kill shelter. He was picked up on Thursday morning, just under the wire: he was scheduled to be euthanized at 1p.m. that day.

I don't even know where to start.
It should be said, of course, that there are a lot of crappy reasons why people leave their animals at the pound. For the vast majority of dogs, taking them to a kill shelter is a death sentence. About 64 percent of the animals taken to shelters are euthanized. Adult animals are vastly overrepresented in those numbers. At most shelters, an adult animal - especially a less desirable breed like a pit bull - is lucky to get 72 hours before being put to sleep. Many are scheduled for death within 24 hours.
And yet, people surrender their animals for the dumbest reasons. Lack of training, owner laziness, not understanding what a dog is, and the slight inconvenience of taking your dog with you when you move to a new house: these are all common reasons for owner surrender.
But "my dog is gay" is truly a new low. First of all, who cares? Even if your dog WAS gay, what possible difference could that make in your life?
And second of all: no, he wasn't. Dogs hump each other for a lot of reasons; mostly as a dominance display. And an unneutered male dog (it seems that this dog was intact) will hump just about anything that holds still long enough. 
But credit where it's due. If this guy didn't know even that tiniest fact about canine behavior, and if he was truly so intolerant that he would send his dog to the gas chamber just for suspected homosexuality, then he didn't deserve that dog in the first place. Here's hoping that no other animals ever have to suffer for that man's bad ownership. 
And kudos to the people involved in this dog's rescue, from the person who first posted the Facebook plea, to the woman who adopted the dog. His new name is Elton, and I wish him all the smooches in the world.

Giving the gift of a Shetland sheepdog

Does the recipient really want a dog, and everything that goes with pet ownership?

Shetland sheepdogs, so sweet and fluffy, may seem like ideal gifts. And yes, in the right circumstances, they certainly can be. If you’re considering giving a dog as a gift, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

Does the recipient really want a dog, and everything that goes with pet ownership? A beautiful dog like a Sheltie can seem very appealing, yet bringing a dog into a household can be almost like bringing in a child. Before giving a dog as a pet, talk to the recipient and make sure they are on-board.


The Shetland sheepdog will require walks, feeding, grooming and vet care, and can easily live to be 16 years old. This intelligent breed thrives on training, and loves to spend time with its family. Is the recipient able to provide all this? 


Another question to ask is whether the recipient will have this ability in the foreseeable future. An older teen may love getting a Sheltie, and may take excellent care of her pet, but what will happen to the dog if she goes off to college? Are the teen’s parents willing to provide a home at this time?


When giving the gift of a dog, it’s also important to think of the timing of the gift. Ideally, the recipient should have extra time to spend with the Sheltie when the dog first comes home. This is especially true when talking about puppies, as they will need plenty of potty breaks until they become physically mature enough to have bladder control.


It’s also nice if the new owners have extra time to help the dog get used to the family’s routine. Time for exercise and training can also make the difference between a well-behaved and happy dog, and a neurotic, destructive one. Many people like to choose their own dogs, so if that is the case, consider providing a “gift certificate” that you make up that allows the recipient to meet the dog before making a lifelong commitment. 


The strange and simple joys of life with Shelties

Shelties can bring joy to your life in many ways.

The joys of living with Shetland Sheepdogs can be both strange and simple. One of the things I love so much about the breed is their abundant fur. I love the luxurious feeling of running my fingers though Sasha’s sable coat, and caressing the top of her head with my face, feeling her ears flicking against my cheek. When you have a Sheltie, even with minimal grooming, you’ll always be able to drink in the sight, and feel, of beauty. 

Shetland sheepdogs usually have loyal hearts, and they love their families like no other. You can be gone for two minutes, two hours or two weeks, and you’ll get a joyous greeting when you return, making you wish that you never need to leave again. 


If you live where the weather gets wintry, you can start enjoying the cool nights when you have a Sheltie or two as foot warmers. They are the perfect size; large enough to be warm, yet small enough that they can fit on the bed with you. And you might even get some sweet and gentle Sheltie kisses when you awake. 


The simple act of walking becomes more interesting when you experience it through the eyes, (or should that be nose?) of your Shetland sheepdog. Watch your Sheltie sniff the ground and imagine what wild animals she may be scenting. 


Even housework can become a new experience, if your Sheltie likes to herd the vacuum cleaner as mine do. I whisk it around the room, and they circle around the vacuum’s head, occasionally dashing in to take a nip at that noisy beast. 


So simple, and yes, strange, but Shelties can bring joy to your life in many ways. 

Shetland sheepdogs and seizures

It's frightening to watch a beloved pet wracked by seizures.

As I was still asleep, early Sunday morning, I heard one of my Shelties pawing in her crate. I scolded her, “Stop it, Maddie!” But the pawing got worse, and it started to sound like she was flopping her body in her crate. I was still half-asleep, but it eventually sunk in; something was seriously wrong with Maddie. I turned on the bedside lamp, and saw her lying on her side, her jaws caught in the crate’s wires, her body wracked by convulsions. 

My husband ran to get wire cutters and a pliers so we could free her as I kept watch. Before he even returned, Maddie yelped, then she jumped up, freeing herself from the wires, and sat back in her kennel, obviously confused and shaky. 


In another few moments, Maddie was able to walk out of her kennel, and she and my husband napped for a couple more hours. I was too shaken by what had happened to go back to sleep. 


Naturally, I had to research Shetland Sheepdogs and seizures. The breed is not prone to them, but they do occasionally happen. Seizures might be a symptom of epilepsy, or triggered by low blood sugar, toxins or vaccinations. Some dogs are genetically disposed to them. They seem to occur more frequently in the morning, and I have awakened with a sense of dread since learning that. 


It’s possible that this seizure could be a one-time event. I dearly hope it is. It’s painful and frightening to watch a beloved pet in this condition. Have you had a dog who suffered from seizures? If so, where you able to determine a cause, and did you seek treatment? 


Watching "Dog Whisperer" doesn't make you a canine expert

One must own or work with a dog to give canine advice

One of my best friends watches National Geographic's "Dog Whisperer" religiously. She is fascinated by the transformations that host Cesar Millan makes with out-of-control dogs. Every week, she shares with me how an unsocial husky was turned into the perfect family dog.

When I took in my first dog, this friend was the first person to give me advice on how to raise and train my pooch. What's the problem you ask?

She has never owned a dog.Reality television shows are very popular, and they don't seem to be going away. Sure, it's fun to peek into the lives of other people, but that doesn't mean you are an expert on the subject.

If you have never owned a canine companion, then please don't tell me how to become the pack leader. Of course I know that my dog needs to see me as the alpha. Sure, it's best that I'm the leader in my household. However, if you have never tried to train a dog of your own, then you really have no clue how to do it yourself.

When my dog is acting rowdy when I get home from work, I know that I should take her out for a walk. I really don't want a lecture about how her wild behavior is a sign of pent up energy. I know it is, but did you forget that I spent the last eight hours at work? Trust me, she gets plenty of attention once I'm home again.

If my dog begins to chew up all the socks in my laundry room, don't tell me it's because she is bored. My dog has more toys than most toddlers. She just likes the way my socks feel and taste. I make sure to discipline her when I catch her in the act, but that doesn't mean she will instantly stop this behavior.

Yes, I am aware of all the various pet food recalls in the last couple of months. I do appreciate you forwarding them to me, but don't act more educated than me at the pet store. I'm perfectly capable of selecting a healthy and safe food for my pooch.

When and if you finally decide to add a four-legged friend to your house, I may start taking your advice more seriously. You are not the "Dog Whisperer" until you actually work with canines on a daily basis.

My rant is over. I'm going to relax with my dog now.

The joy of agility with a senior dog

Sheltie Tyler votes for more agility

When we live with dogs, and especially it seems, when we train them for sports, we develop such a bond that our dogs seem to read our minds. I love that feeling of connectedness, and although two of my Shetland Sheepdogs are tottering around the 10 year mark, we still train for agility. We might not run as fast as we did years ago, but assuredly, we run with even greater joy. 

I no longer have the aspirations of greatness in the sport of agility that I once did. I had hoped to be one of the areas’ top handlers, and frankly I’m not. I stopped competing several years ago because of lack of time and funds, but we’ve enjoyed training, and we’ve continued to do that. 


As we’ve all heard, each day is a gift, and that is brought home to me each training day. When the dogs do well, which is often, I cherish those moments. When they decide to stop and sniff, all I can do is smile, and encourage to come back and finish the course. I realize all too well that this run could be their last. 


To accommodate their aging bodies, I set their jump heights to half the height they jumped when they were in their prime. They seem comfortable and happy at this height, and the lower height should extend their careers. 


Agility is not only a physical game, it is also a mental game, and in that respect, the two older Shelties are as strong than ever. We run advanced level courses in training, I’m so impressed by how quickly they learn new skills.