Category Archives: special dogs and awards

Bandito and Luigi

A pug named Bandito and a cat named Luigi have taken social media by storm. These companions,with over 25,000 followers across Facebook and Instragram, have walked 1500km across Spain with their humans, who purchased them a doggy stroller specifically for their travels.

Bandito and Luigi in stroller

 

Partners Finn and Sebastian let the pair become accustomed to the stroller at home for weeks before venturing out.  Eventually they walked the 497 mile Camino de Santiago trail together, a trip that took six weeks.

The stroller is a safe haven for Bandito and Luigi who use it as a resting place or a place to go when they are scared.

According to co-owner, Sebastian, Bandito and Luigi are the best of friends but he cautions that this style of travel would not suit all pets.

“It is easy if you act like it is their holiday but not if you overestimate your pet’s abilities.  We have had to be vigilant at all times. Inner cities are not ideal places, but fortunately we are in the countryside the vast majority [of time]. Because of this we can really enjoy our time together like climbing trees with the cat and running around with the pug.”   

I particularly like the style of stroller chosen for Bandito and Luigi.  It reminds me of the Pope Mobile used by Handsome Dan, the Vicktory dog featured in the documentary film The Champions.

Source:  The Telegraph and Pug and Cat Facebook

Gobi and her ultra marathoner

The story of Dion Leonard and the dog who accompanied him through the Gobi Desert ultra marathon earlier this year has been making its rounds through the internet this week.

What dog lover could pass up the chance to hear about the dog who decided to bond with a man she had never met, through an grueling endurance event?  It sounds very much the like the 2014 story of Arthur who adopted the Swedish Peak Performance team in the Amazon.

Dion Leonard and Gobi

I suggest you listen to Dion Leonard himself in this interview on WBUR radio in Boston.  There’s nothing like hearing the story first-hand!

(Dion Leonard is currently fundraising to adopt Gobi and bring her to Scotland to live with him.  I hope he reaches his goal.)

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

 

Will’s raffle

Will

I follow a number of greyhound sites on Facebook because Izzy is a greyhound and greyhound owners are well known for wanting to share photos of their hounds.

This year has been particularly hard on Will’s family.  Will was very ill and required surgery.  The vets couldn’t find anything that was causing the massive inflammation in Will’s chest and abdomen.  Lots of drugs and he still wasn’t getting better.  So more surgery and finally, they think they got the problem under control.

Will’s family stuck by him, but as you can imagine the vet bills were massive.  A call went out for raffle prizes to help them pay the bills (something they reluctantly agreed to) and I had to contribute.

Today I am sending this prize to the winner of the raffle.  It contains three bags of my preservative-free dog treats  – Cranberry & Coconut Biscotti, Apple, Cranberry & Ginger Biscotti and Salmon Squares – and a triple-headed toothbrush which is ideal for greyhounds (who are known to have lots of dental problems).

Will's raffle prize

As an independent business, I get lots of requests for support.  Some resonate more than others.  Will’s family weren’t going to give up on him without a fight and in this case, I think they made the right decision.  We are all hopeful that his inflammatory condition doesn’t return (it was thought to be a foreign body of some type, that has never revealed itself on scans, etc).

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

 

 

 

 

The dogs of the In Situ Foundation

The In Situ Foundation based in Chico, California, has spent the last 12 years developing scientific protocols that are needed to train cancer detection dogs and their handlers.  In collaboration with top research universities including Duke and UC Davis, they rescue dogs and train them to sniff out specific cancers.  All training is reward based.

What I particularly like about this registered charitable foundation is their mission to use rescue dogs “Our mission is to use shelter/rescue dogs whenever possible. We adopt dogs and give them loving homes, so what could have been a dog on death row, is now being trained to save human lives. All dogs are “super sniffers”, so we do not believe in breeding them, or creating a “super sniffer” breed.”

The dogs of In Situ live in residential homes with their adoptive families.  Their day jobs are to go to work at the Foundation.

Here are the current dogs in the In Situ team:

Stewie

Stewie is a 5 year-old, female, Australian Shepherd. She has been one of In Situ’s best dogs, and has been trained to detect early stage lung, ovarian, and breast cancer. She was one of our star dogs in a 2012 ovarian cancer study, and she is also on Duke University’s canine team for breast cancer. Stewie has also competed in agility, obedience, and is a certified therapy dog with Pet Partners and LA Children’s Hospital, where she visits sick children. Stewie was nominated for the 2015 American Hero Dog Award, given by the American Humane Association. Stewie is a beautiful, loving, smart and talented dog, who loves her work more than anything, except the frisbee.

Leo

Leo is a 2 year-old, male German Shepherd, that In Situ Foundation adopted from Westside German Shepherd Rescue. Leo was on death row, and he was scheduled to be euthanized. He is a wonderful, loving, friendly and well-trained dog, and he’s very valuable to In Situ’s team. Leo is on the team of dogs working in conjunction with Duke University on a two-phase, breast cancer trial.
Charlie

Charlie is the newest addition to the team.  She is a six week-old German Shepherd from champion lines (from Nadulhaus German Shepherds) and will be one of the first dogs in the world trained on upper thoracic (head, neck and throat) cancer, using saliva samples. After 12 to 18 months of training with In Situ Foundation, she will be owned and loved by Dr. Peter Belafsky (University of California, Davis) and will work with him to sniff samples in clinical trails, which will help advance protocols to detect cancer at its earliest stages through olfaction.

Linus
Linus is a 3 year-old male German Shepherd who was also on death row, and adopted by In Situ Foundation. He was returned to the shelter three times by his previous owner. When he came to our ranch and got his first “job”, it literally transformed Linus’s life. Linus went from a small “jail cell” to a life of love and play. He’s happy, balanced, and well adjusted, and he’s the most loving boy around! Linus loves his work, and he’s a gem on our cancer detection team. Linus also works on the Duke team of breast cancer detection dogs.
alfie
Alfie is another new addition to the In Situ team. He will be owned and loved by Dr. Hilary Brodie, Chair of Otolaryngolgy at University of California, Davis. Alfie is a Labradoodle (Lab/Poodle hybrid) who will also be trained to detect upper thoracic cancers, and he will be working toward advancing bio-detection by canines at UC Davis.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

A turtle’s best friend

In January, during the northern hemisphere’s winter, a Newfoundland named Veda found a loggerhead turtle in distress.

Veda the Newfoundland

Veda a two year old, 120 pound female Newfoundland, owned by Leah and Brad Bares found a stranded sea turtle on Ellisville Beach in Plymouth. (photo courtesy of NE Aquarium)

Her owners phoned the New England Aquarium, who responded quickly and rescued it.  It was nursed back to health for over 5 months before it could be released to the wild again at Assateague State Park in Maryland.

If it weren’t for Veda, the turtle is unlikely to have been saved.  There’s not a lot of people on the beach in January!

Just another case of how special dogs are and how their skills can be put to good use for the benefit of humans and other animals.

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

VP Nominee Senator Kaine and why I’m writing about him in a dog blog

Today Senator Tim Kaine made news by officially becoming Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the race for the US Presidency.  That’s not why I’m writing about him.

The announcement of his status as candidate for Vice-President has overshadowed something he did earlier this month.  He announced his support for the PAWS Act.

On 15th July he announced his support for new legislation to help veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The bill, known as the Puppies Assisting Wounded Service members (PAWS) Act, would help veterans suffering from PTSD to access innovative treatment methods to improve their quality of life.

“We owe each and every veteran a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices they made on and off of the battlefield,” Kaine said.Many come home with injuries that are unseen, such as PTSD which affects a significant percentage of veterans who have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A service dog can provide loyalty and emotional support to help our veterans cope with the scars they return with. I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort.”  

The PAWS Act directs the Veterans Administration to implement a five-year pilot program to provide service dogs from certified providers as well as veterinary health insurance to those veterans who: (1) served on active duty on or after September 11, 2001; and (2) were diagnosed with, and continue to suffer from, PTSD. Veterans paired with dogs would receive follow-up support service from the certified service dog provider for the rest of the dog’s life.

Soldier with PTSD and dog

Pictured in 2012, a soldier in the Paws for Purple Hearts program, one of four experimental programs that paired veterans afflicted by PTSD with Labrador and Golden retrievers. (Joseph Matthews, Veterans Affairs Photo)

The bill authorizes $10 million for each fiscal year from 2017 to 2022 to carry out the pilot program. Following completion of the pilot program, the Government Accountability Office would conduct a program evaluation and submit a report to Congress.

The House version of the PAWS Act, H.R. 4764, was introduced by Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) in March 2016. The House bill currently has 97 bipartisan cosponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

I’m pleased to see the support for this Act, although I doubt even $10 million per year will go far enough.  It’s a start.   Thank you Senator Kaine for your support.

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

In my book review of Reporting for Duty, I referred to these statistics concerning returning soldiers and their needs for support dogs:

  • More that 540,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD or depression (or both)
  • More than 260,000 veterans have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries
  • Even if all of the service dog organisations currently operating in the United States increased their annual output by a factor of 100, the mental health challenges of veterans would still not be met
  • The present policy of the Veteran’s Administration is to provide service dogs only to veterans with visual or hearing impairment or some selected mobility challenges – a small sub-set of the range of uses and support that can be given by trained dogs (Assuming the pilot program referred to in the PAWS Act proved successful – then this policy may change)

Research shows dogs de-stress families with autistic children

Owning a pet dog reduces stress and significantly improves functioning in families who have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), new research has shown.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Lincoln, UK, and funded by the US-based Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation, also found a reduction in the number of dysfunctional interactions between parent and child among families which owned a dog.

Published in the American Journal of Veterinary Behavior, it is among the first of a number of HABRI-funded research projects which examine the effects of companion animals on human health. This project focused specifically on the effects of pet dogs on families with children with ASD.

Professor Daniel Mills, Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, led the research. He said: “While there‭ ‬is‭ ‬growing‭ ‬evidence ‬that ‬animal-assisted‭ ‬therapy‭ ‬can aid in ‬the‭ ‬treatment‭ ‬of‭ children with ‬autism‭ ‬spectrum‭ ‬disorders, this study is one of the first to examine how‭ ‬pet‭ ‬dog‭ ‬ownership‭ ‬can also ‬improve‭ ‬the‭ ‬lives‭ ‬of‭ ‬those‭ ‬more widely affected‭ ‬by‭ ‬autism. Researchers have previously focused on the positive effects that assistance dogs can have on the child’s well-being and have passed over the impact they might also have on close relatives, but our results show that owning a pet dog (rather than a specifically trained assistance dog) can considerably improve the function of the whole family unit.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“We found a significant, positive‭ ‬relationship‭ ‬between‭ ‬parenting‭ ‬stress‭ ‬of‭ ‬the child‭’‬s‭ ‬main‭ ‬caregiver‭ ‬and‭ ‬their‭ ‬attachment‭ ‬to‭ ‬the‭ family dog. This highlights the importance of the bond between the carer and their dog in the benefits they‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ gain.”‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The research involved families who took part in a previous study, which examined the short-term effect of a pet dog on families of a child with autism. The researchers followed up with the families two and a half years later in order to determine the longevity of the benefits of pet ownership. The study demonstrated that initial results of reduced family difficulties lasted years beyond the early stages of acquiring a dog, and that stress levels continued to experience a steady decline.

“Stress associated with parenting a child with autism continued to decrease among dog owners over time, but we did not see the same reductions in families without a dog,” added Professor Mills. “This long-term follow up study highlights the potential benefits of pet ownership in bringing long-term improvements to the lives of families living with a child with autism.”

HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman said: “Parents of children with autism can experience increased anxiety and stress, and now we have strong scientific evidence to show that pets can have positive effects on these quality-of-life issues. Families with an autistic child should consider pet ownership as a way to improve family harmony.”

The study at Lincoln is one of a series of research projects from a major body of work carried out at the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences which sheds light on the benefits that pet dogs can bring to children with ASD and their families.

Source:  University of Lincoln media release