Tag Archives: Boston Globe

Mourning a pet isn’t what it used to be

The role of pets has changed a lot in the last 20 or so years.  This change is also reflected in how people mourn when a pet dies.  This column, by Monica Collins of The Boston Globe, discusses how mourning for a lost pet is recognized as genuine grief.  Well worth reading (just click on the link below)

Mourning a pet isn’t what it used to be – Lifestyle – The Boston Globe

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The Dog in the Hospital

Great story from The Boston Globe which shows dogs are medicine for the soul.  In this article (linked below), read about Mike Hurley and his therapy dog, Dexter.  This pair worked behind the scenes with Boston bombing victims and their families and continue to spread cheer amongst patients at the Center.

Photo by Suzanne Kreiter, Boston Globe

Photo by Suzanne Kreiter, Boston Globe

The Dog in the Hospital – Metro – The Boston Globe.

The case of the missing dog statue

Have you seen this statue?

The statue in 1937.  Photo by Oakes Plimpton in the book ”Robbins Farm Park, Arlington, Massachusetts: A Local History"

The statue in 1937. Photo by Oakes Plimpton in the book ”Robbins Farm Park, Arlington, Massachusetts: A Local History”

Robbins Farm Park in Arlington, Massachusetts is interested in having its dog statue returned.  It was last seen in about 1950, when the old family farmhouse on the land was demolished.

The group Friends of Robbins Park is putting out an APB (all points bulletin) on the statue, which may have been adopted by someone who was part of the demolition crew.  It could be lingering in a junk yard, buried under years of debris.  No one  is sure.

The statue was formerly installed on a hill at Robbins Farm Park, which offers a great view of the Boston skyline. Children were often photographed on the statue, such as this photo from 1937.

If you can help solve the case of the missing statue, contact the Friends of Robbins Farm Park at 781-646-7786.

Source:  The Boston Globe

Dogs who help soldiers

When I watched the PBS documentary Shelter Me, I was astounded at the statistics that more returned servicemen are dying by their own hands than are dying in fields of conflict like Afghanistan and Iraq.  These men and women are returning from active duty with difficulties such as post traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety-related problems.  They have difficulty adjusting to life in peacetime.

Dogs are playing a key role in helping these ex-soldiers to recover and re-enter society.  Shelter Me covers the stories of two veterans, for example, who have been paired with service dogs.

Here’s the YouTube trailer for Shelter Me:

The Boston Globe recently covered another story about the value of service dogs.  Patriot Rovers is a charity that trains dogs to be service dogs for returned servicemen and women.  The charity names the dogs after soldiers who have fallen in the line of duty.  The charity’s website is particularly poignant, with photos of the dogs and an explanation of the soldier they are named after.

In the Globe story, Natasha Young-Alicea suffers from migraines and anxiety from the time she served in the Marines and has been paired with Josh who is named after a Navy SEAL, Josh Harris.  Josh helps Young-Alicea in many ways.  One particular heart-wrenching task is to sit behind her in the checkout line at the supermarket, to avoid people approaching her from behind.  This proximity triggers anxiety.

Josh and his handler visit the parents of Josh Harris which also helps in their journey of healing.

These stories reinforce the critical role that service dogs play in our communities.  If you have spare time or dollars, please consider supporting service dog charities in your area.

Weight gain and obesity are not only human conditions

We live in modern times, and in western societies such as ours, obesity and weight gain are consistent problems.  And not just for people.

36 million pets in the United States are obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.  In dog population terms, that’s 55% of the dog population.  The Association does a pet obesity survey each year, timed with National Pet Obesity Prevention Day (in October), where it asks pet owners to fill out a survey about their pet’s size, breed and eating habits.

Veterinarian Ernie Ward is a co-founder of the Association and he says that the focus on reward-based training has helped to contribute to the obesity problem.  Simply put, owners are not adjusting their dog’s daily intake of food at mealtime to compensate for treats being given as a reward.

And once a dog is fully trained, the rewards seem to keep coming for sometimes very basic tasks.  Like pooping, for example.

(Ask yourself:  once your child is potty-trained, do you keep praising him/her each time they use the toilet? – even into their teenage and adult years?)

And I’ve found that delivering the news to a client that their dog could lose some weight can often be a reason for not being asked to return for another massage treatment.  According to a recent article in The Boston Globe, I’m not alone.  Vets that deliver the news that a pet is overweight may find that the owner becomes defensive or, worse, takes their business elsewhere!

However, when I am dealing with a dog with arthritis or other mobility disorder, I am looking for ways to relieve their pain.  If they are carrying around extra weight, their sore joints and muscles are pulling double-duty.  I remember a client with a Pug, for example, who was easily twice its normal body weight.  Sure, the dog had arthritis, but it was so fat that it didn’t want to exercise and so weight loss was going to be a challenge and something the owner had to a) recognise and b) act on.

The Globe article also discusses the wide range of calorie content amongst commercial dog foods.    People may change their dog’s food, but continue feeding the same number of cups per day.  Weight gain is insidious and many people don’t recognise that their dog has put on weight until a vet or someone else points it out to them.

I do nutritional assessments for this reason.  I ask questions about the dog’s lifestyle, exercise habits and eating.  And I can run caloric calculations based on the dog food label to give advice on how much to feed.

There are many health professionals including your vet that have your dog’s best interest at heart.  Don’t be afraid to ask if they think your dog is overweight and be humble enough to make changes.

P.S.  When I take Daisy to her acupuncture treatments, my vet asks me to weigh her prior to each consultation.  This keeps me very disciplined to ensure that Daisy remains in her ideal weight range.

Some full-service pet shops and veterinary practices are happy for you to drop in to use their scales.  Why not make it a habit of walking your dog to these places for a weigh-in?  It’s a new routine that will keep you focused on your dog’s weight in a more positive way.

Firm comes to aid of disabled dog

When Lucky’s wheelchair was stolen, New Hampshire firm HandicappedPets.com stepped in with a new one.  Read the story here.

David Feeney with his dog, Lucky, in Lucky's new wheelchair. Photo by Matthew J Lee, Boston Globe.

How kindness built civilization by Gareth Cook

Any columnist who begins an article with “It’s about time the dog got a little more respect” is bound to get my attention.

In this article  Gareth Cook, a columnist with The Boston Globe, discusses the research of Brian Hare who compared the intelligence of dogs with chimpanzees and found that the dogs are more intelligent in many aspects.

The lesson:  “To be smart, first play nice.”

Read his story here.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced DogChristchurch, New Zealand

Helping service dogs

Engineering students at Northeastern University (my alma mater) are working to design a product that will help service dogs.

Initially, the first-year engineering students were given an assignment to submit a design for an apparatus that would help service dogs to do their job.  This required the students to research what gear was already available and in use.

After submitting designs for things like an apparatus that would help a service dog pull a wheelchair in a straight line, the students felt there was unfinished business.  Working with their faculty sponsor and the University’s Centre of Community Service, these students are now pursuing product design and development in their spare time.

Read The Boston Globe’s story on this project.

Watch the video.

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