Category Archives: dog ownership

Dogs benefit children with autism

A University of Missouri researcher has studied dog ownership decisions in families of children with autism and found that parents report a range of benefits of dog ownership including companionship, stress relief and opportunities for their children to learn responsibility.

Photo credit: Noël Zia Lee, Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Noël Zia Lee, Wikimedia Commons

‘Children with autism spectrum disorders often struggle with interacting with others, which can make it difficult for them to form friendships,’ said Gretchen Carlisle, the study’s author. ‘Children with autism may especially benefit from interacting with dogs, which can provide unconditional, nonjudgmental love and companionship to the children.’

Carlisle interviewed 70 parents of children with autism.  Nearly two-thirds of the parents in the study owned dogs, and of those parents, 94 percent reported their children with autism were bonded to their dogs. Even in families without dogs, 70 percent of parents said their children with autism liked dogs.

‘Bringing a dog into any family is a big step, but for families of children with autism, getting a dog should be a decision that’s taken very seriously.  If a child with autism is sensitive to loud noises, choosing a dog that is likely to bark will not provide the best match for the child and the family. If the child has touch sensitivities, perhaps a dog with a softer coat, such as a poodle, would be better than a dog with a wiry or rough coat, such as a terrier.’

The study, “Pet Dog Ownership Decisions for Parents of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder,” was published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing earlier this year.

Source:  University of Missouri media release

For more about the benefits of dogs for people with autism, read my post Dogs are a ‘social lubricant’ in helping people with autism

The 5 types of dog walker

A new study in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management discusses the environmental, health and safety issues of dog walking and, in particular, scooping the poop.

Please Clean UpChristopher Lowe of the University of Central Lancashire in Preston (UK) and colleagues hoped to determine what factors influence dog walker behaviour and how those who do not do the right thing might be persuaded to take charge of their dog mess.

The team suggests that there are five types of dog walker from the most to the least socially and environmentally responsible:

  • Proud to pick up – happy to be seen carrying dog waste, will pick up in all locations and take it home if no bins are available
  • It is the right thing to do – will pick up in public places but will seek to dispose of the waste as soon as it is practical; often embarrassed to be seen carrying bagged waste
  • I have done my job – if there is no bin available will leave the bagged waste to be dealt with by someone else
  • Only if I have to – will only pick up in the presence of other people – likely to discard when no one is looking
  • Disengaged – will not pick up in any situation even if they are aware of the environmental consequences of their actions

Dog faeces are not only as unpleasant as any animal waste, they can also carry parasitic diseases that have health impacts on people and animals that come into contact with them. For instance, they might transmit toxocariasis, via the larvae (immature worms) of the dog roundworm (Toxocara canis), which can cause blindness, asthma and neurological problems in those affected. Dog faeces from animals that eat raw meat and bones are also suspected of causing neosporosis in cattle. The researchers also point out that the presence of dog faeces in country parks, walks and other recreational areas can deter visitors and so have a local economic impact in those areas.

The team’s final thoughts:  The issue of getting dog walkers to do the right thing is both complex and emotive….more research is needed.

Source:  AlphaGalileo media statement

Grounds for dismissal?

Royston Grimstead, owner of an Aston Martin and a Border Collie cross named Luce, came home last week to find that she had chewed the wheel arch of the £80,000 car.

photo by SWNS

photo by SWNS

Some people found this story funny, with Grimstead saying that he felt the dog acted out of spite when she heard that he wanted to re-home her.  He then reported that the had re-homed Luce without telling her new owners about the destructive chewing incident (although with the coverage this story had in worldwide media, they probably have heard by now).

In my opinion, dogs don’t act out of spite.  They do act out of boredom and Border Collies are particularly known for their high intelligence and need of a job (plus other enrichment activities).  Luce was likely bored and found the texture and shine of the fibreglass appealing.

photo by SWNS

Luce, photo by SWNS

I don’t agree with the media coverage of this story for two reasons:

  • It reinforces the myth that dogs act from spite
  • It spreads the idea that is okay to give away a dog when you don’t want to work with them on behavioural issues

What do you think?

Who’s a good girl..and other things we’d like to hear

Have you ever considered that the things you say to your dog are a reflection of what you would like to hear?  Food for thought…

Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You? | Video – ABC News

One of the things I try to do through this blog and my column in NZ Dog World magazine is to educate dog owners.  This item, from ABC News in the United States, gives you some food for thought.

The key messages are:

1) Be an educated dog owner about health care

2) Ask knowledgeable questions about recommended procedures (including vaccinations)

3) Understand that some practices market procedures (up-selling) to increase sales

And the subtle one for me is really to develop a working relationship with your vet.  I believe that most vets are ethical and are willing to have an intelligent conversation with you.  But, it’s up to you to be the steward of your dog’s care.  You are the one who says ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to all treatments given to your dog.

Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You? | Video – ABC News.

Happy anniversary…

My promise to you

Daisy and I are celebrating our 10th anniversary together this weekend.  This photo seemed appropriate!

This is my last will and testament…

If you love your dog, you should consider what would happen if you died.  Who would care for them?  One way of dealing with this issue is to have a pet trust.

To establish a pet trust you need to:

  • Nominate a trustee
  • Designate a caregiver (it would be best to consult this person in advance and make sure they are happy with the responsibility)
  • Set aside a nominated amount of funding for the trust
  • Clearly state what standard of care your dog should receive
  • Establish the trust’s duration (a certain length of time, likely to cover the rest of your dog’s natural life)
  • Designate a beneficiary who will receive any remaining funds once your dog passes
  • Name your dog(s) to be covered by the trust

Here are some more notable bequests to dogs:

Leona Helmsley (The Queen of Mean) set up a pet trust for her Maltese, Trouble.  It was a whopping $12 million.  After the will was contested, the dog’s trust was reduced by $10 million.

Leona Helmsley with her dog, Trouble

Leona Helmsley with her dog, Trouble

In 2010, socialite Gail Posner left a home and a $3 million trust fund to her three dogs.   These dogs were very pampered and were said to have been given weekly spa appointments, traveling to those appointments in a gold Cadillac. Conchita, a Chihuahua, April Maria, a Maltese, and Lucia, a Yorkshire Terrier were the beneficiaries.

Before both of these ladies made their bequests, there was German Countess Carlotta Liebenstein.  She left approximately £43 million to her pet dog Gunther III when she died in 1991.  Gunther III and his son, Gunther IV,  enjoyed the services of a personal maid, chauffeur and a pool.

In 2004, after 10 years of contention, the bank that served as executor for tobacco heiress Doris Duke’s estate agreed to compensate the caretakers of her dogs.  Although Duke had made provision for them in her will, the will was contested for a number of reasons.  The settlement involved over $100,000 to pay two of Duke’s former servants who were responsible for feeding, medicating and cleaning up after the dogs.  Two of the dogs died over the 10 years of fighting.  Only Robert, an old shepherd cross remained.

Picking up the scent on the road to bliss

As a woman with a long history of enjoying life with canine company, I found this article, by Tatjana Soli, particularly good.

What do you think?

Going postal

Postal worker with dog

A mailman meets a boy and a huge dog. ‘Does your dog bite?’ asks the mailman. ‘No,’ replies the boy. And the dog bites the mailman’s leg. ‘You said he doesn’t bite!’ yells the mailman. ‘That’s not my dog,’ replies the boy.

Letter carriers and other delivery personnel regularly face a hazard when delivering to properties with untrained or unrestrained dogs.  Although there are many cartoons and jokes about dogs and postal workers, the issue is no laughing matter.

In the United States last year, nearly 5,900 letter carriers were bitten by dogs.  Letter carriers are encouraged to report homes with dogs that appear menacing and they may choose not to deliver to a property or even a neighbourhood if dogs are running loose.

Ken Snavely, Acting Postmaster of Los Angeles, says, Working with animal behavior experts, the Postal Service has developed tips to avoid dog attacks, and for dog owners, tips for practicing responsible pet ownership.’

These tips include:

How to be a Responsible Dog Owner

  • Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dogs in any situation.
  • Dogs can be protective of their territory and may interpret the actions of a letter carrier as a threat. Please take precautions when accepting mail in the presence of your pet.
  • When a letter carrier comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door, in another room or on a leash.
  • Dogs that haven’t been properly socialized, receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of time frequently turn into biters.

The US Postal Service also keeps statistics on dog bites, with the City of Los Angeles topping the list of incidents.

Fiscal Year 2012 U.S. Postal Service Dog Attack City Ranking

Ranking City, State Attacks
1 Los Angeles, CA 69
2 San Antonio, TX and Seattle, WA 42
3 Chicago, IL 41
4 San Francisco, CA 38
5 Philadelphia, PA 34
6 Detroit, MI 33
7 St. Louis, MO 32
8 Baltimore, MD and Sacramento, CA 29
9 Houston, TX and Minneapolis, MN 27
10 Cleveland and Dayton, OH 26
11 Buffalo and Brooklyn, NY 24
12 Denver, CO 23
13 Dallas, TX and Tacoma, WA 21
14 Wichita, KS 20

Source:  US Postal Service media statement

A mixed news week for dogs in Christchurch

It’s been a variable week of dog news here in Christchurch (to say the least).

The news was all bad by mid-week, when it was reported that two Rottweilers mauled a young boy of eight, named Mason Bennett.  Mason had been staying with his mother and her partner (who owned the dogs).    And there had been a previous incident when the dogs were aggressive with another young boy.

Read Dad’s shock at earlier attack by same dogs

The recent dog attack saw lots of comments about how Rottweilers can't be trusted.  Was it the dog or the owners who are to blame?

The recent dog attack saw lots of comments about how Rottweilers can’t be trusted. Was it the dog or the owners who are to blame?

In the same edition of the newspaper, columnist Rachel Young wrote about My dog was a rottweiler. In general, a defense of the breed, Ms Young also mentions in her story that when her family Rottweiler, Zeb, became unwell with kidney disease he became more aggressive.  Her parents decided to euthanize him.  To quote “Despite the loving environment, at times you can’t beat nature. In Zeb’s case, it seemed the protective, aggressive nature was developing as he got older and sicker.”

Which shows that even some dog owners don’t know a thing about dogs.  Maybe a sick dog lashes out because they are in pain and can’t communicate that in spoken words – and their family doesn’t get it!!!!!

This provoked a Letter to the Editor on my part – which the newspaper largely got right but they decided to edit it by attributing the dog attack to dogs that were unwell (which there isn’t any evidence of – just poor owners!)

The dog news turned for the brighter the next day when police dog Gage was honoured with the PDSA Gold Medal posthumously.  Killed in 2010 during a drug raid, Gage took a bullet that was meant for his handler Bruce Lamb.  The PDSA Gold Medal is known as the Animal’s George Cross, for civilian bravery.

Bruce Lamb tells his and Gage’s story here Shot police dog Gage honoured for bravery

Today is Monday and there is mixed news for dog owners in today’s newspaper.  Front page news is the story of landlords charging special pet bonds to allow tenants to keep pets.  This is when a tenant pays more than the standard four week’s rent upfront to secure their rental and it is illegal.

The story goes on to say that charging more for a pet-friendly rental (week to week, or month to month) is okay.  Unfortunately, since Christchurch is still in earthquake recovery mode, rental housing is at a premium.  Many dog owners don’t dare contest a pet bond because they need a home for all members of the family.  Read Landlords in dog box over pet bonds.

Further into the newspaper, some better news.  A little puppy of about six weeks old was found cowering under the seat of a car when it was stopped by police.  The offenders fled and the dog is believed to be stolen property.  A police constable is appealing for information about the wee puppy.

Read Police pursuit nets puppy

Here’s hoping that the stolen pup is returned home soon…

I’d like to see more positive news about dog and dog ownership in Christchurch.  But it seems that for every bad news story, we need about ten more to gain the confidence of the public.

How does your city/town deal with dog news?  Please get in touch.