Tag Archives: New Zealand

The Diplomatic Dog

Gracie is the fun, feisty, cute and sporty Yorkie owned by US Ambassador Scott Brown, who recently relocated to New Zealand for his diplomatic post.

Gracie has her own Twitter account.

That makes perfect sense, given that Gracie is an extended member of President Trump’s administration – and Mr Trump is well known for his like and use of Twitter.

News from Gracie so far has been limited because she’s been in quarantine since arriving in New Zealand (she got out yesterday).   New Zealand is blessed with some very unique flora and fauna and it relies on a strong agricultural economy.  Because of this (and the fact that our country is free of diseases like heartworm and rabies), dogs that arrive here from other countries need to have a period of quarantine.

Unlike most dogs who arrive in New Zealand, however, Gracie didn’t arrive as baggage.  Ambassador Brown tweeted a photo of Gracie sitting on his lap on the plane trip to New Zealand.  The perks of being a diplomatic dog!

Scott Brown with Gracie

Scott Brown and his dog, Gracie, on their flight to New Zealand. —Scott Brown via Twitter

According to Gracie, Brown and his wife visited her in quarantine earlier this month.

Ambassador Brown with Gracie in quarantine

Scott Brown with Gracie in quarantine

Since Gracie is now out of quarantine, she’ll be able to experience all that New Zealand has to offer.

If you ask me (a transplanted American of 23+ years), Scott Brown is very lucky in his posting to this beautiful country.

We hope Scott brings Gracie for a massage.

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

Dogs in the workplace – a health benefit

Think dog-friendly workplaces are only found the in the USA?  Take heart, New Zealanders, they’re moving closer to home…to our rival Australia.

This is good news – because like it or not, New Zealand tends to look to Australia when it comes to things like health and safety initiatives.

Every Friday, for example, workers at VicHealth enjoy Take Your Dog to Work Day.

Suki at the feet of her owner Jane Shill. Photo: Simon Schluter, The Age

Suki at the feet of her owner Jane Shill. Photo: Simon Schluter, The Age

Clothing retailer Cotton On is also allowing office staff to bring their dogs to work.

It’s a boost to morale and encourages workers to go out for walks at lunch breaks.  And, when owners are allowed to bring their dogs with them, absentee rates decrease.

Allowing dogs in the workplace is a ‘perk’ to attract and retain talented workers.

Sounds like you, doesn’t it?

Source:  The Age

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Animals in Emergencies – book review

AnimalsinEmergenciesCover

I have just finished reading Animals in Emergencies:  Learning from the Christchurch earthquakes by Annie Potts and Donelle Gadenne.  This was a must-read book for me.  Why?  I’m in it!

Published in late 2014, this book is largely a compilation of stories about people and animals caught up in the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.  However, since it is also a text produced by university academics, it aims to serve a purpose as “an introduction to the specialised area of animal welfare management during emergencies.”

I found the first 90% of the book the most enjoyable.  Filled with stories of rescue, sheltering and individual owner’s tales of the earthquakes, the book serves to document – largely in the first person – the historical accounts of the days, weeks and months following the quakes.  And I like the fact that the book doesn’t just focus on companion animal dogs and cats, but also includes stories about horses, fish, hedgehogs and other species.

But the last 10% of the book is rather disappointing (and it hurts me to have to say this).  Since New Zealand is a production-based economy, this book had to focus on the fate of production animals.  But this is also where the book loses its tone and momentum.  Either the authors asked for interviews with farmers and researchers and were rejected, or they simply didn’t ask – we’ll never know.

Perhaps because of the lack of firsthand accounts, the book becomes too formal in its approach to describing the impact on farm animals and animals used in research.  The text uses citations from newspaper articles at this point and becomes ‘preachy’ in terms of animal welfare.  As someone with a personal interest in animal welfare management, the issues raised in the book are not new but the distinct ‘lessons learned from Christchurch’ is very much lost on the reader.

I’m pleased this book has been produced and I’m very honored to have my story told although I know that I’m a very small contributor to the overall efforts to assist animals following the quakes.

Animals in Emergencies has been distributed to booksellers worldwide and a paperback version is available on Amazon.com.

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

Pelorus Jack – remembering World War I

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I and commemorations are being held across the Globe.

It’s a fitting time to remember the animals that served during the conflict.

Pelorus Jack, a Bulldog, was the mascot of the HMS New Zealand.  In fact, there were two Pelorus Jacks because the first mascot was killed and subsequently replaced.

A model of Pelorus Jack with his collar and leads (photo courtesy of NZ History)

A model of Pelorus Jack with his collars and leads (photo courtesy of NZ History)

The first dog was a gift to the ship from a New Zealander living in England. He was named after the famous dolphin that accompanied ships traveling in the outer Marlborough Sounds between 1888 and 1912.  He was killed when he fell down the forward funnel of the ship and was officially ‘discharged dead’ from the Navy on 24 April 1916.

In his will he had requested that his successor be a ‘bull pup of honest parentage, clean habits, and moral tendencies’.

The second Pelorus Jack, also a bulldog,  was terrified of the noise of the ship’s guns.  He achieved the rank of leading sea dog before his final discharge in October 1919.   On his return to New Zealand, he was gifted to the City of Auckland along with his silver collar, a brass studded collar and leading reins.

The Auckland War Memorial Museum holds these items in its collection, along with the collar of Caesar the Anzac Dog.  Read my blog about Caesar here.  Another Pelorus Jack collar is kept in the Royal New Zealand Navy Museum in Devonport.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Source:  New Zealand History

US FDA issues warning about raw pet foods

Feeding raw (or not) has to be one of the most controversial topics in dog ownership today.  Consequently, the US Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) recent warning to owners feeding raw is likely to generate some controversy.

The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) screened over 1,000 samples of pet food for bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses. (The illnesses are called “foodborne” because the bacteria are carried, or “borne,” in or on contaminated food.) The study showed that, compared to other types of pet food tested, raw pet food was more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria.

Raw pet foods were included in the second year of a two-year study and the samples were from commercially available raw pet foods which were purchased online and sent to six different testing laboratories.

The participating laboratories analyzed the raw pet food for harmful bacteria, including Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

Of the 196 raw pet food samples analyzed, 15 were positive for Salmonella and 32 were positive for L. monocytogenes (see Table 1).

Table 1: Number and type of pet food samples that tested positive for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes (Years 1 & 2)
Type of Pet Food Sample No. samples tested No. positive for Salmonella No. positive for L. monocytogenes
 Raw pet food  196  15  32
 Dry exotic pet fooda  190  0  0
 Jerky-type treatsb  190  0  0
 Semi-moist dog foodc  120  0  0
 Semi-moist cat foodc  120  0  0
 Dry dog foodd  120  0  0
 Dry cat foodd  120  1  0
a Non-cat and non-dog food, such as dry pellets for hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, amphibians, and birds.
b Included chicken jerky and pig ear-type products.
c Typically packaged in pouches for retail sale, such as (1) pouched dog and cat food; and
(2) food treats shaped like bacon, fish, pork chops, and burgers.
d Included pellet- or kibble-type food typically packaged in bags for retail sale.Note: CVM did not collect or test canned and wet pet food samples in this study.

The FDA has gone as far as warning owners against raw feeding, but in an acknowledgement that this type of diet is the preference for many owners, they also provided these tips to prevent Salmonella and Listeria infections:

  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) after handling raw pet food, and after touching surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food. Potential contaminated surfaces include countertops and the inside of refrigerators and microwaves. Potential contaminated objects include kitchen utensils, feeding bowls, and cutting boards.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with raw pet food. First wash with hot soapy water and then follow with a disinfectant. A solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 quart (4 cups) water is an effective disinfectant. For a larger supply of the disinfectant solution, add ¼ cup bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) water. You can also run items through the dishwasher after each use to clean and disinfect them.
  • Freeze raw meat and poultry products until you are ready to use them, and thaw them in your refrigerator or microwave, not on your countertop or in your sink.
  • Carefully handle raw and frozen meat and poultry products. Don’t rinse raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. Bacteria in the raw juices can splash and spread to other food and surfaces.
  • Keep raw food separate from other food.
  • Immediately cover and refrigerate what your pet doesn’t eat, or throw the leftovers out safely.
  • If you’re using raw ingredients to make your own cooked pet food, be sure to cook all food to a proper internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, and other harmful foodborne bacteria.
  • Don’t kiss your pet around its mouth, and don’t let your pet lick your face. This is especially important after your pet has just finished eating raw food.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands after touching or being licked by your pet. If your pet gives you a “kiss,” be sure to also wash your face.

In my practice, I have clients that feed all types of diet (commercial, raw, homemade).  I have seen raw food diets implemented successfully with some dogs, and others who fail to thrive on them for a variety of reasons.  That’s why I am a proponent of the food therapy approach, which can successfully be implemented with all types of diet.

For my clients here in New Zealand, I’d like to emphasize that the food hygiene suggestions by the FDA do make sense.  According to our Ministry of Primary Industries, Salmonella is the second most common bacterial cause of foodborne disease in this country (campylobacter is the first).  Incidents of Listeria are rare, but some people like pregnant woman are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Source:  US Food & Drug Administration

My idea for the Christchurch rebuild

If you live in my local area of Christchurch (New Zealand), you are probably as worn out as I am about hearing about “The Rebuild” and “The New Central City.”  It’s been especially frustrating for those of us who want to see a dog-friendly city because our needs are not being met.

So here’s one idea for the rebuilt Cathedral Square in central Christchurch.

A fountain for all to enjoy (but especially dogs!)

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Hongi (dog style)

Most of my readers know that I am based in New Zealand, where the Māori people are the indigenous culture.  The hongi is a traditional greeting which is done by pressing your nose and forehead to the other person.

Well, I have a client who has used the hongi as a training cue for her dog, Dixie.  This is uniquely New Zealand cue!

And just so I am not accused of being culturally insensitive, here’s what a human hongi looks like:

A hongi performed at a welcoming ceremony (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

A hongi performed at a welcoming ceremony (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

And here’s an instructional video on how to participate in a hongi correctly so as to not offend your host:

What unique dog training cues does your country have?

 

Identification tags for Disability Assist Dogs

In the aftermath of the Christchurch 2011 earthquake, officials had difficulty identifying the status of dogs at civil defence centers.  If you were the owner of a disability assistance dog, this made things more difficult in what was already a stressful time.

Disability Assist Dog identification tag
In December 2013, the Minister of Civil Defence, the Hon Nikki Kaye, announce the production of a Disability Assist Dog tag that will be officially recognised throughout New Zealand.  The tags will be entered into the National Dog Database and provide unique identification for each dog, linking it to its owner/handler and the organisation that certified the dog.   These tags will be help match lost dogs and owners much faster and ensure that handlers and their dogs are allowed entry to official civil defence centers.

(Dogs are also micro-chipped in New Zealand; this is compulsory)

Seven organisations are authorised under the Dog Control Act 1996 to train and certify disability assist dogs. Only dogs certified through these organisations will qualify to wear the official identification tag:

  • Hearing Dogs for Deaf People NZ
  • Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust
  • New Zealand Epilepsy Assist Dogs Trust
  • Royal NZ Foundation for the Blind
  • Top Dog Companion Trust (not currently operating)
  • Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust
  • Perfect Partners Assistance Dogs Trust

What programs are in place in your country to support owners/handlers and their assistance dogs?

The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill

New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Amendment Bill is now before a Parliamentary select committee.  Submissions from the public are being accepted from now until 4 October.

Here’s why I’m making a submission:

  1. I want to make a difference for animals and having good animal welfare laws is essential to achieving this
  2. Silence is acquiescence.  Too many New Zealanders do not engage and this allows poor legislation to pass.  MPs like to say that they voted in favor of the ‘silent majority’
  3. The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill is lacking in many areas and now is our chance to improve it

Party animals
The Bill doesn’t ban testing of party bills on animals, nor does it ban the use of animal testing in the cosmetic industry.  As far as animal welfare issues go, these are ‘no brainers.’

I’d also like to see an independent Commissioner for Animals because I don’t think the Ministry of Primary Industries, with its focus on economy and production, can make good choices.

Click here to read the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill

Making a submission online is easy – just click here and follow the instructions for uploading your submission.

Visual identification of breed – one reason why BSL doesn’t work

I’m ‘on the record’ that I don’t support breed specific legislation (BSL) and I consider it one of New Zealand’s great shames that it has adopted such laws  (just one of the issues I raised when I submitted to the review of the Animal Welfare Act).

Breed specific legislation doesn’t work because, in part, these laws rely on visual identification of breeds.  If a dog is identified as one of the banned or dangerous breeds, it can (literally) be ‘all over, Rover.’

There’s scientific research that shows why visual identification is a fatal flaw in BSL.  Some of this research has been conducted by Dr Victoria Lea Voith who is based at the Western University of Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine.

In 2009, Voith and her colleagues published results of a study comparing visual identification of dog breed with DNA results.   They showed that there was a very low accuracy rate when visual identifications were verified with DNA.  The research team concluded:

  • There is little correlation between dog adoption agencies’ identification of probable breed composition with the identification of breeds by DNA analysis
  • Further evaluation of the reliability and validity of visual dog breed identification is warranted
  • Justification of current public and private policies pertaining to breed specific regulations should be reviewed

This year (2013), Voith and her colleagues published another paper entitled “Comparison of Visual and DNA Breed Identification of Dogs and Inter-Observer Reliability”   Since their previous paper was based on the identification of breed by a single person, the research team wanted to see if the success rate of breed identification improved when multiple people were involved.  The research team presented one-minute video clips of the same 20 dogs to over 900 people who were engaged in dog-related professions or services.

For 14 of the dogs, fewer than 50% of the respondents visually identified breeds of dogs that matched DNA identification. For only 7 of the dogs was there agreement among more than 50% of the respondents regarding the most predominant breed of a mixed breed.  In 3 of those 7 cases, the visual identification did not match the DNA analysis.

This time, the research team concluded:

This study reveals large disparities between visual and DNA breed identification as well as differences among peoples’ visual identifications of dogs. These discrepancies raise questions concerning the accuracy of databases which supply demographic data on dog breeds for publications such as public health reports, articles on canine behavior, and the rationale for public and private restrictions pertaining to dog breeds.

Dr Voith explains her research in this YouTube video:

If you still want to know more about this issue, you can visit the Breed Identification page of the National Canine Research Council.  On this page, you can download color posters that further explain the problems associated with visual identification of breeds.