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Chandi

Chandi book cover

I have just finished reading Chandi:  The Rescue Dog Who Stole a Nation’s Heart by Tina Humphrey.  Chandi is the story of Humphrey’s rescue dog who she trained for Heelwork to Music.  Published in 2012, the book opens when Humphrey meets her first dog, Pepper, in 1994.  Chandi is adopted from a shelter in 1998 and, for a time, Humphrey trains and competes with both dogs in Heelwork to Music and Freestyle competitions.

Tina, who teaches piano and violin, has a natural ear for music and is able to choreograph routines for her dogs that emphasize the stories behind the music.

Chandi is a love story.  It is about the bond that Tina shares with both of her dogs and the devotion she has for both of them.  She is an advocate for a raw diet and natural health care (no wonder I was attracted to the book),  in part inspired by her mother who fought cancer for many years using natural therapies.  (Part of the book tells the story of how Tina suffers the loss of both of her parents, at separate times, with her dogs there as emotional support).

We also share in Tina’s heartache when, in 2007, she and Chandi suffer the loss of Pepper.  Anyone who has had to say goodbye to their beloved dog understands Tina’s pain when it is time for Pepper to be put to sleep.

Chandi and Tina win many competitions in their years together including several trophies at Crufts.  In 2010, after almost 12 years of competing and sharing their lives, they audition for Britain’s Got Talent and go all the way to the finals, ultimately finishing in fourth place.  By then, they are celebrities and enjoy a nationwide tour of the show’s finalists plus other interviews and promotions.  And that’s where the book finishes…on a high note.

On 26 April 2013, Chandi died at the age of 14 years 10 months.  She developed a condition that was thought to be pyometra.  However, during surgery to remove her uterus and spleen, it was discovered that Chandi’s body had many other tumours that could not be removed.   Tina made the heart-breaking decision that it was time for Chandi to go and was there when she was put to sleep on the surgical table.

Today, Tina is training a new puppy named Grace and is blogging about her experiences with her new canine companion.    You can follow them on Facebook.

 And through the wonders of YouTube, here are Tina and Chandi’s performances on Britain’s Got Talent:

Auditions

Semi-Finals

Finals

The canine ambassador at the Fairmont Hotel

At the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald in Edmonton (Canada), you will be greeted by a very special staff member – Smudge the Yellow Labrador!

SmudgeSmudge is a failed guide dog (due to her enthusiastic/over-friendly nature) and so thanks to a working arrangement with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Smudge came to work at the hotel.

Guests can book to take Smudge out for a walk and she will visit meetings on request.  Look for her (on her bed, by the concierge desk) when you are visiting.

Smudge also has her own Facebook page and you can follow her activities there.

Here’s a bit more about Smudge:

Managing dental health

Yesterday, Daisy had a dental cleaning at our vet’s.  She didn’t really have dog breath but her annual examination revealed that her teeth weren’t in the best condition.   She didn’t need any extractions, but she had gingivitis in her rear teeth and, as it turns out, signs of receding gums.

Daisy is a senior girl and we absolutely can’t risk having another procedure where she requires anesthesia.

I have really tried to support her mouth health through 2-3 times per week brushing with dog toothpaste and the feeding of dental chews.  She doesn’t tolerate raw bones well – which routinely either over-stimulate her bowels or cause constipation.  (When she shared a kennel with her father once a week at daycare, it was great because she could chew on his cast-offs without these problems.)

Daisy is also rather picky and so she won’t chew on chew toys like the twisted rope chews (I think she believes it’s beneath her).  If food/taste isn’t involved in the chew, she’s just not interested.

So, what’s next for our regime?

Well, the first thing is making brushing of her teeth a daily event.  I’m motivated to do this because I know the consequences of not doing it and luckily, Daisy is used to it.

But I want to do more and preferably in as natural a way as possible.

I’m also going to try homeopathics.  The two that come recommended are fragaria and calc renalis because these  keep tartar soft and more able to be removed through chewing and brushing.  The standard 30C concentrations are what we are going to start with by adding it to her water bowl.  If you can’t source the individual remedies, many of the homeopathic mixtures on the market contain these active ingredients.  In New Zealand, BioPet comes recommended.

I’ve also read that boiled oxtail is a good chew.  So I’m off to find oxtail at the supermarket/butcher.  I’m also hopeful of finding other chews that Daisy will tolerate – I’m going to source a deer antler chew shortly.

Remember, that dental health is essential.  I’ve previously written about this subject in Dog breath is no laughing matter.

Please feel free to share what you do to keep your dog’s teeth in top condition either through this blog or the Canine Catering Facebook page.  (Yes, I know about the raw diet – but Daisy hasn’t tolerated even a managed transition to raw feeding in the past.   I’m not against feeding raw, I just know from my practice that not all dogs are suited to the raw diet for a range of reasons).

If your dog voted for President

The philosopher Immanuel Kant once said, “We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”  If dogs were allowed to vote in the upcoming US presidential election, I believe that this would be their main criteria for voting.

US President Barack Obama kept his promise to his daughters when he was elected to the US presidency and the family adopted Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog.  Bo currently features in the President’s commemorative photo issued by the Democratic National Committee:

The official photo issued by the Democratic National Committee

In stark contrast is presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s reputation for caring for the family’s dog, Seamus.  Romney placed Seamus into a dog crate on top of the family’s car in 1983 for a long car trip from Boston to Ontario, Canada.  Romney defended his actions by saying that he outfitted the crate with a ‘modified’ windshield.   When Seamus soiled the crate and the rear window of the car, Romney calmly stopped the car and used a hose on Seamus.  (Romney’s team has commended his approach, citing it as an example of his emotion-free crisis management.)  (You can read more about Romney’s treatment of Seamus and others in this Vanity Fair article.)

When interviewed by ABC’s Diane Sawyer, she asked Romney if he would do it again.  He replied, “Certainly not with the attention it’s received.”  (No comment about the appropriateness of his actions, just the attention).

This act of cruelty has been described by Scott Crider as a ‘deal-breaker’ for Romney’s candidacy.  Crider has started the Dogs Against Romney movement which includes a Facebook page.

Supporters can also buy various Dogs Against Romney merchandise from the movement’s website.  For example, your dog can wear a bandana that says “I ride inside” or you can use a coffee mug at the office “Dogs aren’t luggage”

So, who would your dog vote for?  Romney or Obama?

I leave you with the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.”


Community, officials at odds over free-roaming dog

Blue the dog doesn’t have a home. And he apparently doesn’t want one. But the blue-eyed Australian cattle dog has $1,800 in savings, a Facebook page and an air-conditioned dog house.

He also has a lawyer, who is working to get him an exemption from local leash laws so he can continue his free-wheeling lifestyle in southern New Mexico’s lakeside community of Elephant Butte, where he was abandoned as a puppy a decade ago.

Read the full story in The Daily Times.

I’m friends with a Pit Bull…and so are 2,764 others

A  Pit Bull named Little Red is proving to many folks that Pit Bulls are lovable creatures deserving of a good home.  I’m proud to say that I’m one of Little Red’s 2,765 Facebook friends (and she’ll probably have more by the time you read this).

Little Red was rescued from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz kennels.  From there, she traveled to Kanab, Utah to the Best Friends Pet Sanctuary for rehabilitation.  Known as ‘Vicktory Dogs,’ all of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s properties were segregated from all non-staff at the Sanctuary under court order.

It took years to see Little Red come back to a state where she could be adopted.  Her adoptive owner, Susan, never gave up hope about Little Red after seeing a photo of her shortly after her rescue.  Susan sponsored Little Red and kept in touch about her progress.  By February 2011, Susan was able to go to the Sanctuary to visit with Little Red.  In September 2011, she was cleared to be Little Red’s foster mother.

This is their story:

There are still those who believe in breed-specific legislation and it is dogs like Little Red that prove that these rushes to judgement are unnecessary and unwarranted.

I’ve previously written (June 2011) about Michael Vick and the book concerning the rehabilitation of some of his Pit Bulls.

Thank heavens for the good people at Best Friends who took in so many Vicktory Dogs and worked with them on the long journey to rehabilitation.

Source:  Best Friends Sanctuary Stories

Michael Vick – a time for forgiveness?

Michael Vick is known for two things:  NFL football and dog fighting.

Earlier this week, Michael Vick was named the Subway Sportsman of the Year at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards for his efforts as the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.  His performance was lauded as exceptional “after being off the field for 20 months.”

The win has sparked outrage amongst animal lovers and activists in the United States with a petition on Facebook to boycott the Subway restaurant chain (No Way Subway).  There are those who say that, as sponsor of the award, the Subway corporation cannot influence the outcome of voting.  Others with experience in the management of professional sport say that the restaurant chain’s management would have been told of the outcome of the voting regardless of the winner – giving them time to prepare publicity about it.   Protestors say that this would have been an opportunity for Subway to distance themselves from the winner if they had wanted to.

This debate opens up wounds that are still fairly recent for most dog lovers.  Michael Vick pleaded guilty for his actions that spanned the years 2001 – 2007 as a co-conspirator and financial backer of a dog fighting ring.  That’s over 6 years of criminal behaviour and only 4 years later, he’s back playing NFL football, earning big bucks for it, and – now- public accolades.

Is it time to forgive Michael Vick?

The details behind the Vick dog fighting ring are not pretty.  The pit bulls involved in the operation were terrorized to make them mean and angry.  Dogs who were deemed to be unsuitable for fighting were cruelly killed.  A 2009 article in the San Francisco Chronicle provides some of the ugly details of the ill-treatment of the dogs.  For example, how the dogs were electrocuted by attaching jumper cables to their ears and throwing them into a swimming pool to struggle and die.  The sides of the pool had telltale scratches and dents from the dogs as they fought to escape.

Is it time to forgive Michael Vick?

A big enabler of forgiveness is when an offender expresses regret for their actions and the consequences of them.  Unfortunately, there is nothing on the record that shows that Michael Vick understood the cruel nature of some of his offending.

In his public statement after pleading guilty to a range of charges, Mr Vick acknowledges that he was ‘immature’ and how he let his fans down.    Is this regret for the offending or regret for getting caught?   Watch his televised statement from 2007 on You Tube below:

For more details of the case, read the plea agreement and statement of facts which I have also downloaded for you.

Michael Vick’s comeback to professional football has come comparatively soon compared to the years he spent offending.  Is this right?  Or is it the usual story of professional athletes getting put on a pedestal because of their prowess on the sports field?  The official record on this case is that Michael Vick has paid his debt to society and is a free man to go about his profession as a professional football player.

Is it time to forgive Michael Vick?  Only you can decide for yourself after weighing up the facts.

For the record:  I’m not ready to forgive Michael Vick.  He hasn’t shown he’s sorry and with the attention he is now getting for his football play, I doubt he ever will.  I have to respect, however, that he is technically a free man.  That doesn’t make me happy and I reserve the individual right to protest against any company or franchise that backs him.  In my opinion, his lack of true remorse is equivalent to an endorsement of animal cruelty and dog fighting and organisations would do well by distancing themselves from such an individual.    I’m not ready to forgive Michael Vick and I don’t want to see him endorsed by any awards programme.

Footnote:  As part of the plea agreement, Michael Vick was required to establish a fund for the care and rehabilitation of the dogs found at his Bad Newz Kennels.  Their story is told in a book which I highly recommend:

The Lost Dogs:  Michael Vick’s Dogs and their Tale of Rescue and Redemption.