Who Rescues Who?

By: Andrea Young

We’ve all heard the phrase and we all know the answer. Every pet I’ve had has always come when I’ve needed them. Good times and in bad. They have all had a story, and it’s usually a bad one.

People in rescue are like that too.  We are a diverse group with varying upbringings. Some traumatic, some abusive, some neglectful, some spiteful, and some loveless.

I was one of the lucky ones until I wasn’t.

We lost my eldest son to violence. My world imploded. I had been a single parent and I felt my purpose was no more, or so I thought.

I had to start taking care of me. I had a 5-year-old depending on me and a husband desperately trying to mend us all.

I became the Director of Victims of Homicide, a support group in the city of Edmonton. It was there that my true purpose exposed itself. I had to bring my dog into the meeting with me one day as I don’t leave my dogs in the car. We had come from the vet and I had forgotten about the meeting (one of the factors of having PTSD).

Long story short, my beautiful broken boy, Jake (Shepard cross 120lbs) wove some magic and we started to see immense light come back in our members’ eyes.

That experience so inspired me I had found purpose again. I chose to take an animal training course through the Edmonton Humane Society and the lovely, Bilinda Wagner.

I wanted to help those that were as broken as me and that didn’t have a voice.

My family had done fostering when I was young, and I wonder why I didn’t think of it sooner. At any rate, 89 dogs later and Zoe’s co-director (who I co-parent newborn litters with) asked if I would like to name our newest litter after my son.

I think I stopped breathing, thinking and computing. After it all sunk in, what an honour and a privilege it was to remember my son and celebrate these precious lives. It was a full circle moment for me as my son was a HUGE animal lover himself.

In just a few short days ten healthy smart, exuberant and joyful puppies will be making their way to their foster homes to start looking for their forever lives with adopters.

Each puppy name means something to my son, a nickname, a favourite character, a treasured family member or friend and a place he frequented.

He is gone and I can’t change that. The universe knows I’ve tried.

Ten beautiful souls will be spread around with my son’s spirit, and I truly believe he’s in every one of them.

Brandon was kind, funny, clumsy, independent, fearless, an observer, comforting and generous of his time.

These puppies are all that and more. I’m a proud co-mama.

The goodbyes will be tough, I feel like I’m grieving his loss all over again. But truly the honour has been all mine. The joy the purpose the strength they have given me is immeasurable.

To my puppy family:

Pokey, Batman, Cuba, Einstein, Dragon, Tina, Wiley, Betty, Goose and Lexus,

May you know nothing but pure joy and happiness (and you better keep in touch with me!). To Kath Oltsher, who made all of this possible and has rode the emotion train with me, I adore you and respect the hell out of you.

Zoe’s is my lifeline. My second family. My people.

Life can be really hard. Pets always make it better, in the moment and far into the future.

Rescuing is hard, sad, maddening, life sucking, joyful, hilarious and comforting.

I hope, universe willing, I will keep being rescued and I can return the favour!

Please note: If you interested in adopting, please check on our website to see when they will be available. Also, please note that we will NOT be accepting applications prior to. Thank you!

The Benefits Of Crate Training

One people add a pet to their family, specifically a puppy, a big question is whether or not to use a crate.

Some people view crate training as a negative thing, but that shouldn’t be the case. There are many positive benefits for both you and your pet by having your pet crate trained.

It makes house training simple

One of biggest benefits to crate training, especially a puppy, is it makes house training for your pet much more simple.

The first thing pet parents should do when letting their puppy out of their crate is have them go outside right away to pee and or poop. They will learn very quickly that this is what they are supposed to and it definitely helps if they are rewarded with a treat and lots of positive praise for doing so. Dogs are very smart and like routine, so if you do this all the time, they will know that by going outside, they will get rewarded.

With that said, it’s never recommended to leave a puppy six months of age or under in a crate more than three to four hours as they will not be able to hold their bladders for longer periods than that.

There are people who instead will choose to place pee pads down on the floor and either block off an area for their puppy or let their puppy free roam throughout their house. The only downside to using pee pads is constantly having to change them or in some cases, the puppy will miss the pee pads all together and you will be left with a big mess on the floor.

At the end of the day, choose to do whatever you feel works best for you and your puppy.

It makes travel simple

 If you like and or choose to travel with your pet, having a crate for them to stay in is beneficial. Some dogs get very nervous and stressed not only travelling, but staying at a place they are not familiar with.

Having a place for them to decompress in a space they know makes a big difference. If you are staying at someone’s house, an Airbnb or hotel, would mitigate any stress that your pet might have by being in an unfamiliar setting. Some dog can will become destructive due to separation anxiety or stress, and no one wants to have to pay for damages left by your pet.

It’s also much safer for pets to travel when they are secure and if you ever chose to fly with your pet, they will have to go in a crate in order to be allowed to travel.

It also makes transporting your pet to and from the vet much easier if they tend to get stressed in a vehicle.

It can help with separation anxiety

 Many pet parents find themselves in situations where their pet all of a sudden becomes destructive by chewing, digging or peeing and pooping in the house. These can all be symptoms of separation anxiety.

As much as we all would love to bring our dogs with us everywhere we go or stay home with them at all times, it’s unfortunately not possible. Separation anxiety can be a very challenging and stressful situation to deal with.

Crates can help prevent massive destruction from your dog. It’s not to be seen as or used as punishment, but rather a place where they can feel safe and calm. Place their favourite blanket in their crate or you could even put in an old t shirt that you’ve worn so they have your scent with them to help relax them. Make it their home and make it a place where they enjoy going.

With that said, crates are not a solution for separation anxiety, especially in moderate to severe cases. If your dog is dealing with separation anxiety, it’s best speak to your vet.

How do you get started with crate training?

Like any training, go slow. Try giving your pet treats and even small portions of their meals in their crate and leave the door open.

Your dog may whine and cry at first while in their crate, and that’s normal. That’s generally when people decide to give up on crate training as they don’t like hearing or seeing their pet upset. Like anything, it will take time for them to adjust. Unless you notice your pet is highly stressed and agitated, try not to give up.

Make it comfortable for them. Some people will choose to place a pet pillow in their dog’s crate and or also place a comfortable blanket in there. The one downside is if your dog is destructive, you could come home to find their pet pillow ripped apart.

Giving you pet a Kong stuffed with treats or peanut butter (only use all natural to give to your pet) will keep them busy and occupied while in their crate.

Where you decide to place, your crate can also make a big difference. Many dogs like to be where their owners are, so having their crate in your bedroom or living room would be much better than having it in the basement or a spare room that you are never in.

There are a variety of different crates available. Wire ones make it easy for your dog to see out and they are also collapsible which is convenient to take anywhere. Hard shell plastic crates are ones that airlines use to transport dogs, so if you are planning on flying with your pet, that one would be recommended.

The biggest key to crate training is to not use it crate as a form as punishment. You don’t want your dog to associate the crate with any sort of negative connotations. If you notice that your pet is stressed, do not force it.

Dogs can sense your stress, so if you are stressed about using a crate, your pet will also be stressed.

Many people often assume that if a dog was never crate trained as a puppy, that they could never learn. That’s incorrect. You can 100% teach an old dog new tricks. Dogs can learn to be crate trained at any age.

Crate training, when used in a positive manner, is extremely effective for any pet owner.


Protecting Your Dog Against Ticks

As the weather warms up, that means more time outside with your dog. But, with the warm season, also means the return of something else: ticks.

Ticks are found specifically in longer grassy areas and in bushes. Even though many people think of them as insects, they are actually arachnids which are similar to spiders and mites. Ticks are parasites that feed off of the blood the host they attach themselves to. Those hosts can be can a human or an animal.

The biggest problem with ticks is that they are carriers of disease, specifically Lyme disease. Lyme disease can be very serious if not treated, with symptoms including a fever, loss of appetite, pain, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes, swollen joints and shifting lameness from one leg to another. If not treated, it can cause serious damage to your dog’s heart, nervous system and kidneys.

If you suspect that your pet has Lyme disease, take them to their vet as soon as possible. Your vet will want to do a blood panel to be sure and then start your dog on antibiotics right away as Lyme disease is a bacterial illness.

This is why it’s extremely important to do a tick check any time your dog has been outside, specifically if they have been in long grassy areas (such as the river valley) or in bushes. The most common places where ticks like to grab on to and most pet owners miss are your dogs ears, between their toes and arm pits.

What do you do if you find a tick on your dog? The safest way to remove a tick is by using a pair of fine tipped tweezers. Do not touch the tick with your bare hands as bacteria could be transmitted to you. Wear gloves or use a paper towel if you don’t have gloves. Grab the tick as close to the skin surface as possible so this reduces the chances of the head detaching. Pull the tick out with steady and even pressure. It may take a minute or two, so be patient. Once the tick has been removed, find a container and take it your vet so they can send it off to a lab to be inspected. Write down the time and place where the bite occurred. This helps vets and scientists know and understand if that tick carries Lyme disease.

Once the tick has been safely removed, it’s very important to disinfect the bite area and your hands as soon as possible.

So, what can you do to prevent your dog from getting ticks? Talk to your vet about what they recommend as there are many different options out there. There are monthly topical treatments that can be applied to your dog that are effective at keeping both ticks and fleas at bay. If your dog attends daycare, most daycare require proof that your dog is having it applied. But be cautious about using any random tick treatment you find at a store as they are not all created equal.

There are also oral medications, shampoos and even homeopathic/natural treatments. Like anything, talk to your vet to find the best course of preventative action.

Also, make sure you check yourself over if you have been out with your pet in high risk areas for ticks. You don’t want to take your chances.