Category Archives: animal welfare

Do Unto Animals – book review

When Tracey Stewart’s book was launched in 2015, it was to great fanfare and lots of reviews.  It has taken me a while to get this book to the top of my reading pile.

Do Unto AnimalsThe theme of the book is ‘how to give back’ to animals of all types.  The first 70 or so pages are about domestic dogs and cats and the remaining 110+ pages are about other creatures including wildlife and farm animals.

To be honest, I think Stewart could have cut the chapters about dogs and cats and focused solely on the ‘other’ creatures.  The advice given for dogs and cats is pretty basic and not particularly well thought out because the information is so brief.  For example, she has included two pages about dog massage with 6 ‘moves’ and the usual warnings about ‘not to be substituted for veterinary care.’

The book comes into its own, however, when the other animals become the focus of the text.  For American audiences, the chapters about backyard wildlife and the roles of each of the ‘pests’ is enlightening. In the farm animals section, she covers pigs, cows, goats, sheep, horses, chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese.  And for each type of animal, she includes a hard hitting ‘what makes a pig (cow, goat, sheep, horse, chicken, turkey, duck or goose) unhappy.’

These pages constitute a simple ‘list of shame’ when it comes to factory farming and the realities of individual consumer choices for meat, dairy, and even feather down garments.

The best part of the book, in my opinion, are the illustrations by Lisel Ashlock.  In full color, these adorn every page of the book and are a reason why this book should be owned and shared in print version (not electronic).

My overall grade:  A-

Tracey Stewart has a veterinary technician qualification although her first career was in design.  She is the wife of comedian and talk show host Jon Stewart.  Both are committed to animal welfare, with a large animal family of their own on their New Jersey farm property; part of the proceeds of each book sold go to support Farm Sanctuary.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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The Found Dogs – book review

For anyone interested in animal welfare, the story of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels is both sobering and encouraging.  Their rescue and the legal cases that followed were thoroughly documented in the New York Times bestseller, The Lost Dogs, by Jim Gorant.

The Found Dogs by Jim Gorant

In 2017, to mark the 10th anniversary of the bust which rescued the dogs, Gorant came back with this slim volume to update us on the stories of the dogs and people involved in the case.

Told simply and straightforwardly, the book opens on the property at 1915 Moonlight Road which is now the Good News Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.  In 2016, a ceremony at the property reunited many of the people involved in the case and the adopters with the dogs who had been saved.  51 dogwood trees were planted along with 51 plaques depicting the names of each of the dogs found at the property.  In some cases, the adopters were planting the trees for their dogs in memory, because by then many had already passed away.

Part II of the book is the longest part of the book; it’s an alphabetical list of each of the dogs by name and their story since being rescued.  Some are heartbreakingly short.   Other parts of the book update us on the key people involved in the bust and the legal case, and a discussion about what has changed in the last 10 years.

Much like the documentary film The Champions, the book couldn’t have been published too soon.  Many of the Vick dogs have passed, including cover girl Little Red whose story opened and closed The Champions.

Definitely worth reading and, if you are like me, adding to your ‘real’ dog book collection.  (I’m talking physical books, not Kindle files!)

And the last words go to Jim Gorant:  “As the dogs showed us – and continue to prove – accepting the state of things as they actually are and forging on in the face of those realities is the only way to make progress and create a new, better reality.”

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Puppies are not presents

The RSPCA has issued a new advert for 2017 to illustrate the message that puppies are not Christmas presents – they are a lifetime commitment that a family should knowingly make.

Follow the story of Woody, the pup given as a Christmas gift who ends up neglected, abandoned and in the care of the RSPCA.

Kindness goes a long way and animal welfare agencies work 24/7 – throughout the holiday season – taking care of unwanted animals.

If you are considering adding a pet to your home, do your homework and be prepared for the unconditional love that an animal brings to your home – but with responsibilities.

Adopt, don’t shop.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Great Global Greyhound Walk

The Great Global Greyhound Walk has become an annual event since 2014 to raise the profile of adoptable greyhounds.  (The event was started in 2010 as the Great British Greyhound Walk but interest soon went global.)

Groups from around the globe organize walks with their hounds to show them off to the public and to raise funds for greyhound adoption.

This year, the date is this Sunday – 11th June.  gggw-logo  If you follow the Walk’s website, there’s a searchable database to find the walk closest to you.

Check out the map while you are there – this event is truly global.

As Izzy is a greyhound and we volunteer for Greyhounds as Pets, you can guarantee that we will participate in our local walk in central Christchurch.

Interested in knowing more about bringing a greyhound into your life?  Why not come out on Sunday and meet lots of hounds and their owners.  Owners love to talk about their dogs and their enthusiasm is infectious.  Bring your spare change and make a donation, too, so more hounds can find a forever home.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

When a rescue champion retires…

I have just finished writing a column for NZ Dog World magazine about the issue of demographic change in the veterinary medicine sector.

And then in my Linkedin newsfeed pops up this article about a rescue group in Utah that is winding up.  It’s founder and stalwart is retiring after 13 years…

Linda-Elwell-retiring-970x546

Santa Clara City Councilwoman Mary Jo Hafen presents Linda Elwell with a bouquet of flowers in appreciation of her work with Friends of Ivins Animal Shelter, Santa Clara, Utah, May 31, 2017 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

…and the rescue group is ceasing its operations as a result.

Something that ‘experts’ warned for quite a few years is upon us – demographic change.  In the next 10 years, many Baby Boomers will be retiring.  They’ve done their bit and it’s time to slow down and enjoy life.

The problem is – the Gen X and Millennials that are living their lives have different pressures and priorities.  Gen X are dealing with aging parents, educating their children, and retaining full-time employment to pay for their own retirement.  Millennials have different priorities too.  They may have aspirations to buy a home in a rising housing market; they are integrally connected to technologies of all types, and they don’t ‘volunteer’ the way previous generations did.

Rescue groups and those involved in re-homing need to take heed.

Succession planning is important if your rescue group is to survive.  This means an honest look at business processes and how they relate to the current generations with disposal income and the ability to support your efforts.

Digital presence is a must; as is content curation – the provision of new and regular content.

It’s a real shame to see groups winding up; but there will probably be more who don’t survive the rapid change in their memberships.

Need help?  I’m an experienced not-for-profit and public sector manager as well as a canine massage therapist and entrepreneur.  I’d be happy to work with your group to facilitate the development of action plans for your future.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Fundraising

I haven’t been posting as frequently as I would like.  Forgive me.

Over the last two months, I have been pulling together the prizes and other arrangements for my third annual fundraising event.  While I always walk away feeling good that I’ve invested my time in giving back to the community, these events take time and effort.

I haven’t had much time to do my usual research and writing – but we are in countdown mode with less than 2 days to go.  And then it will be over for another year.

Tonight, I am wrapping prizes.  This photo shows my progress – but thankfully there is still a long way to go thanks to many generous donors/sponsors.

Prizes

Back soon with doggy news.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Is love enough? Some thoughts on the five freedoms

It’s been a while since I blogged about the Five Freedoms.

For a number of reasons over the last week, I have been reflecting again on these basic rights of animals in context of whether an owner’s love blinds them to their dog’s actual quality of life.

A good example will be an obese dog.  Yes, the owner is feeding it (more likely over-feeding it or perhaps not feeding the right diet), but the dog’s body condition means that the animal is not healthy.

For example, the Chihuahua I wrote about that had heart problems.  It was then revealed upon discussion that the dog was grossly overweight.  Thankfully, in that case, the owner accepted advice that their dog needed to go on a weight loss program and they stuck to it so the dog dropped the weight and the heart problems disappeared.

fat-chihuahua

What an obese Chihuahua looks like

A dog with a diagnosed orthopedic problem like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, or arthritis (as examples) needs to be kept trim, with a fitness regime that is appropriate to their condition.  It’s rather disheartening to see a dog yo-yo with its weight.  They are going good and then drop off my calendar only to be booked in weeks and months later because they are limping.  More often than not, the dog has re-gained all of its weight (if not more) due to improper diet and exercise.

Another circumstance is when an owner has a very elderly dog who is showing signs of pain and discomfort – even with medication.   This situation is one reason why I developed my Quality of Life checklist to help clients understand what their dog is telling them.  We have to look at behavior and health and ask ourselves if the dog has quality of life and make changes wherever we can.

Is love enough?  It’s a big part of caring for our dogs.  But, it isn’t everything.  And it can be an excuse – consciously or subconsciously – for neglect.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand