June 26, 2010

Yvonne Divita Highlights Documentary Fixing Fido!

Thank you to Yvonne DiVita for writing this great article, originally posted on Scratchings and Sniffings.

A few days ago I wrote about Amazon Cares, a fantastic group working to care for all living being in the Peruvian Amazon region. As anyone who regularly reads this blog knows, we are in favor of better health for all - but especially for the least among us: our dear anipals and pets.

Well, Amazon Cares is affiliated with a group called Fixing Fido - A Feature Film about Man's Best Friend. WARNING: Some images may be and should be disturbing to view!

From the site:
"The stench of garbage, meat and fish overpower the air at the Belen meat market alongside the rising waters of the Amazon. River. Barefoot children crowd the streets helping their families sell their wares.

"Dr. Jeff Werber threads his way through the dust, refuse, and crowds, cradling a mange infected dog. Dr. Jeff is returning the dog to it's "home" on the streets of Belen hours after performing a vital neuter surgery and vaccinating against deadly diseases."

This group is "scouring the globe" to spend time researching the issue of street dog overpopulation. They are also looking at the "complex" relationship between man and dog - asking the important question: is dog man's best friend? If so...are we returning the favor?

Is there hope in your heart for this cause? Are dogs man's best friend, truly? Can we all see the need to help this cause? Please participate - if you cannot donate, please share the message.

June 25, 2010

Dogs Toys! What a Novel Concept!

I am en route to Iquitos, Peru.  My suitcases are stuffed to the gills with toys from Teeny's Friends. When one buys a dog toy Teeny donates one to a shelter. Teeny's Friends has always been one of my fave animal charities. The concept is so original and keeping shelter animals stimulated and occupied is often overlooked despite it´s importance.

So I made a donation to Teeny´s Friends, but was unaware that Teeny would donate the freebie toy back to Amazon Cares!  THANK YOU TEENY!

I may try to sell a toy to a vet clinic client and donate a toy to the shelter. That way we get 4x the benefit! I mentioned this idea to the Peruvian staff and their reaction was "People won't buy dog toys in Iquitos!"  It may be true that I should focus on bigger fish to fry, but the novel concept of getting these toys out into the community excites me.

I can't wait to see our dogs playing and deriving comfort from these toys and I will be sure to take pictures!

There is one issue to be addressed, and it saddens me that Teeny may be sad to know this. Dogs, abandoned and owned, are not accustomed to having a luxury such as a toy. I have tried to teach the dogs to fetch for years with no success. I will throw a ball and they may run after it, but then they will come running to me, empty-mouthed.

Unlike the dogs you may know and love, these dogs don't react to the sound of a precious squeaky toy. I hope that I can change that. My first experiment succeeded, and Magda, pictured, quickly hogged several toys!  incidentally, Magda is named in honor of Donor Magda Wozny.

June 23, 2010

Spotlight on Amazon Cares and Fixing Fido by Yvonne DiVita

Originally posted  at Scratchings and Sniffings on May 29, 2010

Spotlight on Amazon Cares and Fixing Fido

Back in April, during the BlogPaws conference (where Dr. Larry spoke, pictured with Yvonne, Caroline and Tom - BlogPaws), we were lucky enough to meet the good people from Amazon Cares, an organization that seeks to provide better health and living conditions for ALL living beings of the Peruvian Amazon region.

Lest anyone think we Americans shouldn't be focused on the Amazon region, remember that we're a global species - remember that domestic animals can be found in all regions - remember that it takes a village, and you're part of a world village. Their blog can help you remember.

I urge you to visit the Amazon Cares site, make an online donation, read about membership (it's free!) and learn more about how the Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education and Safety is a Certifying Organization that nominates and distributes the Presidential Volunteer Service Award.

As all BlogPaws participants know, we are about Be the Change for Pets... we will continue to support our beloved companion animals, everywhere. Often, help is just a click away. This is one click that could be worth millions. Try it...

Thank you to Yvonne DiVita for allowing me to re-publish this wonderful article!

June 14, 2010

Hollywood meets Fixing Fido, the documentary!

More Event Info and to RSVP

The Sirens Society is excited to host its fundraiser, “There’s A New Top Dog”, on Wednesday, June 16 at The Parlor Hollywood. Animal lovers, compassionate guests, and sympathetic celebrities will join The Sirens Society in supporting the documentary Fixing Fido and in raising awareness on the sad predicament of man’s best friend.

In partnership with Much Love Animal Rescue and Best Friends Animal Society, “There’s A New Top Dog” kicks off at 7pm with a celebrity red carpet entrance, followed by a Passing of the Torch from current The Sirens Society President and Founder Jodi Fung to new President Hollie Stenson, and concludes with a sneak peek of Fixing Fido. The fluid and energetic beats of DJ Savi round out the rest of the evening’s festivities, along with a complimentary wine bar, Parlor Hollywood hors d’oeuvres, and a silent auction with must-have items.
Fixing Fido is a feature length documentary that traverses the globe offering a unique look into man’s best friend and his role in our hearts, homes, and work. Presented as a gritty exploration into the complex relationship between man and canine, the film shadows veterinarians who travel to foreign lands to make a difference in the lives of these forsaken Fidos. Their mission is simple: to restore the bond between man and his best friend. To learn more about Fixing Fido, please visit: www.FixingFidoFilm.com
Due to overcrowding, illness, and disease in animal shelters, over 4 million animals are euthanized each year in the United States. Two non-profit organizations, Much Love Animal Rescue and Best Friends Animal Society, are dedicated to fighting this statistic and providing a better life for these innocent animals.
Much Love Animal Rescue places those animals most in danger of being euthanized into no-kill shelters, while also providing medical care and rehabilitation programs for the sick and hard-to-adopt. Much Love also stresses preventive methods in controlling animal overpopulation; they offer educational programs to both adults and children on the importance of spaying/neutering and on responsible pet guardianship. To learn more about Much Love Animal Rescue, please visit: www.MuchLove.org
Best Friends Animal Society, which operates the largest no-kill sanctuary in the country, successfully advanced their “No More Homeless Pets” campaign by developing no-kill programs and strategic nation-wide partnerships. Best Friend’s initiatives include re-homing animals, providing a permanent home at the sanctuary for animals too sick or too traumatized to leave, and working with communities across the country to set up spay/neuter, foster and adoption programs. To learn more about Best Friends Animal Society, please visit: www.BestFriends.org

The Sirens Society is an innovative philanthropic group that draws on the collective ideas and strengths of its individual members to affect positive change in our world and raise awareness for issues that range from widely known to overlooked. Their mission is to positively sculpt the world, not just live in it.
For additional information on the event and The Sirens Society, please visit: www.SirensSociety.org.
There’s A New Top Dog hours from 7-10pm
Press check -in: 6:30pm
Red carpet: 7:00-8:00pm
Suggested online pre-donation: $20.
Suggested donation at the door: $25.
Special gift bags will be given to the first 50 supporters.

For celebrity guest list, press & media consideration, please contact Steven Yamin at Conscience Entertainment Group steven@conscience-entertainment.com

June 10, 2010

Why do dogs care about what we want?

My dog had just chased off a cluster of ducks, and I got to thinking about the nature of bonding. And of course, that got me to thinking about dogs, and the nature of their bond to humans. While it has been proven that a duck will “imprint” on and follow a human if it is the first thing it sees after hatching, I think of “imprinting” and “bonding” as two different things.

Imprinting is a simple instinct stamped into the brain that dictates the duckling will follow its mother. She is likely to lead that duckling to sources of food and shelter. This increases the offspring’s chances of surviving infancy, reaching sexual maturity, mating, and propagating the species. Again, the gene succeeds, the gene continues.

But what is bonding?

I think of it as something more complex. Something more bound to social order. Instinctual? Probably. Still related to survival? Definitely. But still complex.

Dogs in the wild, since their earliest descendants, understand social order and collaborative hunting. A well ordered pack of wolves can successfully hunt, shelter, raise offspring, and pass on their genes. A pack suffering from social strife will not have clear leadership or collaboration, and will eventually die.

Dogs understand this on a genetic level. It is why a properly socialized dog understands how to communicate with other dogs using their species’ unique and understandable body language. It is why we, as dog trainers, are sometimes described as being able to “read” dogs. We’re simply recognizing attitude and thoughts, and yes, even emotions, by interpreting body language. And that is precisely what allows us to shape dog behavior by using our own body language to clearly show a dog what we want from them.

But why do dogs CARE about what we want from them? That is the question that has both mystified and thrilled me ever since I got my first dog at the age of 11. Why is a dog willing to be trained? Why do they thrive on it in fact? Why is a dog remotely interested in what we want from them?

A cow doesn’t much care. So we eat them. Most horses I have known and ridden will yield to humans, but they seem to me to prefer their own company to mine when given a choice. But because they yield to us, and helped us form our nation, as a culture, we’re horrified at the idea of eating them.

Wolves, I am told, are canids whose behavior can be somewhat modified by men. But they will generally return to behaviors for which they are genetically programmed, regardless of what training they have had.

So what is it about dogs? Why do they care about what we want? Why did my first dog remember and perform his utility signals exercise into his dotage, way after deafness, strokes and until shortly before he died at seventeen and a half?

His name was Gus. He was a Sheltie born April 29, 1969. He came to me in a dream several years ago and he spoke to me in words that did not come out of his mouth, but which I heard in my head. These are the exact words of the interchange.

“Where are you?” he asked, intense in his sadness.

“I’ll come to you one day,” I told him.

“But I have been waiting so long,” he said.

“Because it’s not my time yet,” I told him. “But I will come.”

He paused, but only briefly.

“I’ll wait for you,” he said.

“Find Bobbi and Frannie,” I said. “They are Greyhounds They are mine too, and they will know you. They will wait with you.”

“I will,” he said, and he left me slowly, reluctantly, at my bidding. I woke up crying, as I cry now recounting the experience.

I have always known that dogs care about us on the deepest possible levels but only recently did I put together my own concept of why. I think it was that dream of Gus. I told you he spoke to me in words. The words did not come from his mouth. They came from his mind into mine. But they had a voice. And that voice was my own.

My waiting dog spoke to me in my own voice. We love our dogs. But they adore us on a level beyond love. They are what we ask them to be, becoming part of us if we ask them to. I think Gus came to me that night, or perhaps my unconscious summoned him, because I was finally ready to understand the answer to my long held question.

Dogs care about what we want from them because, when led properly by man, they consider us to be more than their pack mates. We provide more than food, shelter and more than comfort. We provide dogs what the concept of God provides to us, a sense of meaning, comfort, a sense of purpose, a sense that we are not alone.

Dogs do not love us. They worship us. But not from afar. They live with their gods. They worship us from the foot of our beds, they adore us as they look at us, and they long for us even as we touch them.

Trained dogs submit and yield to this worship readily. It satisfies them on a level which humans with our questioning mentalities may not fully comprehend. The faith of a dog, particularly a trained dog, is absolute. He never questions or has a crisis of faith. He doesn’t believe. He knows.

Have you ever noticed that after putting a dog through even a basic course of obedience, other behaviors change for which you have not trained? If you do your work artfully, the dog gives up undesirable behaviors without even being commanded.

This occurs because the dog always knew his owner didn’t like the behaviors. After all, they grumped and yelled when he did it. He simply didn’t care. He felt no particular compulsion to give up a treasured behavior such as jumping on guests.

But when a dog is trained, he learns to look at his humans in a whole new way. He learns that the bond has more meaning that he ever knew before. He learns that he no longer has to make every decision for his life. It’s not satisfying to a dog to pull on the leash and be out of control. Yet, if that behavior is all he knows, he’ll do it over and over. I now see that behavior as a cry for help, the way the dog shows his profound need for leadership.

But once the dog has learned to yield his decision making to a human, a bond between dog and handler is formed that knows no limits of depth. So why do dogs care about what we want? Why are they willing to do what we ask of them if we can only show them clearly what we want? Why will they yield their willpower to ours?

They do it for the love of man. They do it because they love us more than they love themselves.

Is it genetic? The gene succeeds so the gene continues? Probably. But I think it’s more than that. I think the dog has a void that only we humans can fill. Even those of us who succeed the most with dogs don’t quite have the same love for dogs that they have for us. We can’t. We don’t have that gene. But we can understand and honor the dog’s need for leadership.

We can bring a dog to a place where his need for us is absolute yet doesn’t destabilize the independent nature of his being. Lest you take from my words the idea that I am a tree hugging dog spiritualist, I will tell you flat out that I am not. I am a dog trainer. I both correct and reward my dogs. That’s pretty much the way life treats me.

The ultimate reward for us both is a bond during the dog’s lifetime that exceeds any other comfort he can ever know. And after the dog’s death, he brings a form of comfort that some, like me, have not known before.

Someone is waiting. Someone who loves me more than he loves himself.

About the Author:  Marc Goldberg is an IACP Certified Dog Trainer specializing in the rehabilitation of difficult dogs and improving relationships. He is Vice President of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) and Editor of SafeHands Journal. The author also educates professional dog trainers in his techniques. 

June 7, 2010

CARES Volunteers Eligible for Presidential Service Awards

written by Linda Swefel

Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education and Safety (Amazon CARES) has teamed with the White House to become a Certifying Organization for the President's Volunteer Service Award, a national program recognizing Americans who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to volunteer service. Established in 2003, the Award was created by President George W. Bush to give Presidential recognition to individuals, families and groups who meet requirements for volunteer service, measured by the number of service hours performed over 12-months.

Amazon CARES is one of thousands of organizations that have joined forces to deliver the President's Volunteer Service Award and honor the volunteers who strengthen our Nation. As a Certifying Organization for the Award, Amazon CARES is responsible for verifying service hours, nominating potential recipients and delivering the Award.

“We are extremely proud to recognize our most outstanding volunteers with the President's Volunteer Service Award ,” said Molly Mednikow, Amazon CARES Executive Director. “Our volunteers are role models in our community, donating their time, energy and talent to bring us closer together as neighbors and a world. The Award is our way of thanking these volunteers and inspiring everyone to make volunteering a central part of their lives.”

“Even if you’ve never volunteered before, the President's Volunteer Service Award is within your reach,” Mednikow said. “There are so many ways to contribute, and every volunteer hour makes a difference in improving the quality of life for others. We encourage everyone to get involved. Together, we can strengthen our world – one hour at a time.”

The Award is issued by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, a group convened by President George W. Bush to help foster and encourage a culture of volunteer service and civic participation among Americans. Children, adults, families and groups can receive the Award and, given their ongoing service activity, many of our volunteers may already meet the requirements (see below). To qualify for the President's Volunteer Service Award , volunteers simply submit a record of their service hours to AmazonCARES, and the Award will be delivered upon verification with the certifying organization.

Volunteer service hours are not limited to those performed on behalf of Amazon CARES. In fact, service hours can be accumulated through work on a variety of projects throughout the year. The only requirement is that the necessary hours be completed within 12 months; recipients can qualify for a new Award each year.

“Our volunteers should strive to earn the President's Volunteer Service Award every year,” said Mednikow. “Even if you’ve never volunteered before, the Award is within your reach. In fact, the strength and success of us all depends on every one of us taking an active role in the world community. You can further help our cause by asking your friends, families and neighbors to join you in helping -- most people say ‘yes’ if asked to volunteer – all it takes is a personal request.”

For more information about volunteering for Amazon CARES, please visit its website at http://www.amazoncares.org; visit www.PresidentialServiceAwards.gov or call 1-866-545-5307 to learn about how to qualify for the President’s Volunteer Service Award and about additional volunteer opportunities.

To be eligible to receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award, applicants’ service hours must be confirmed by a registered Certifying Organization. There are three levels of the AWARD varying by hours of service completed within a 12-month period:

Kids - 14 and younger
Bronze Award 50 - 74 hours
Silver Award 75 - 99 hours
Gold Award 100 or more hours

Young Adults - Ages 15 - 25
Bronze Award 100 - 174 hours
Silver Award 175 - 249 hours
Gold Award 250 or more hours

Adults - Ages 26 and up
Bronze Award 100 - 249 hours
Silver Award 250 - 499 hours
Gold Award 500 or more hours

Families and Groups (two or more people)*
Bronze Award 200 - 499 hours
Silver Award 500 - 999 hours
Gold Award 1,000 or more hours
*Each member contributing at least 25 hours towards the total

Individuals who have completed 4,000 or more volunteer service hours over the course of their lifetime are eligible to receive the PRESIDENT’S CALL TO SERVICE AWARD.

June 3, 2010

Embrace Pet Insurance Gives Back...thanks to BlogPaws!

Embrace Pet Insurance Gives Back.

Written by Kelly Biegle

Our gratitude goes out to Embrace Pet Insurance following their wonderful donation of needed veterinary supplies for use in the Peruvian Amazon.  Jan Ols of Embrace sent three boxes of supply kits with much needed veterinary supplies.  These supplies are now  headed to Peru. The shipments included suture materials, hypodermic needles, syringes, and much more.  All items are sterile, new and came in a large assortment of sizes.

Our veterinary clinic staff in Iquitos will be ecstatic to receive the supplies that will directly supplement the services provided there. Emergency veterinary support, care of abandoned animals, and pet care for underprivileged families are provided at the clinic. The Embrace Pet Insurance contribution will enable the facility to more readily provide these services to the local community. 

Additionally, the supplies will be used in multiple mobile spay and neuter clinics which are primarily for street animals and pets of underprivileged families. These mobile clinics often travel to remote jungle areas that have no access to even minor veterinary care.

Each vet trip and campaign is an extreme financial strain on CARES, often depleting finances by 80%.  One manner that Amazon CARES can recoup costs is by working with donated materials, such as the much needed ones donated by Embrace! We have valued their generous donation at over $1,100! 

Embrace Pet Insurance likes to go by the saying "A house is not a home without a pet". Not only does Embrace run as a "green" company but they donate $2 for every policy sold. We are honored to be working closely with Embrace because of our complete agreement with their mission. The company is environmentally friendly and gives back to the pet community (we love this)!

The donation came about when company co-founder, Laura Bennett, met Amazon CARES founder, Molly Mednikow at the Blog Paws  pet blogging conference in Columbus, OH during April, 2010.  Although the two did not know each other long, Ms. Bennett immediately volunteered to help Amazon CARES, and the CARES organization, along with many animals in Peru, will benefit greatly from the generosity of Embrace, who has already made plans to send more supplies!

In yet another act of generosity and support, Embrace Pet Insurance is offering a 5% discount on their pet health insurance policies to those that purchase through the Amazon CARES link below!!

More things we LOVE about the Embrace Pet Insurance website!
  • Visit their Pet Health Center with health information, articles and resources!
  • Join their Online Pet Community which offers discounts to many pet-related businesses', forums, contest, freebies and more!
  • A blog!  The only pet insurance company I could find with a blog that is not ALL ABOUT THEM!

Information about Pet insurance for your dog or cat

Embrace covers all the things you expect, up to 90% of your vet bills, and reimburses you more because we don't use a benefit schedule. Use any veterinary hospital in the country, no networks. We don't nickel and dime you with monthly fees and Embrace is rated 9 out of 10 in customer service.  

Got a purebred dog?

Genetic illnesses such as hip dysplasia can cost thousands to treat and often strike without warning. Many purebreed dogs are at risk. Fortunately Embrace covers genetic conditions and is the best pet insurance for your purebreed dog.