Friday, December 30, 2011

‘Paws’ to Look Back on 2011 (Part 2)

Another year is quickly coming to an end.  This is the time when most people sit and reflect on the year’s progress, setbacks, and accomplishments.  We’ve seen record breaking floats, dogs winning over hearts everywhere on Valentine’s Day, and heartbreaking reports of abandonment.  But how did the middle of the year turn out? 
There are always good causes to support and great fundraisers to participate in each year.  This year’s noteworthy campaign came from The American Cancer Society.  Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in the United States.  Approximately 1 out of every 3 woman and almost 1 out of every 2 men in the U.S. will develop cancer in their lifetime.  And 1 out of every 9 dogs in the U.S. dies from cancer each year.  Organized and run completely by volunteers in the community, The American Cancer Society Bark for Life™ is an opportunity for individuals and their dogs to raise funds and awareness for the fight against cancer as well as honor cancer survivors, the many service dogs who assist cancer patients, and those who have passed away from cancer (human and canine).  A Bark for Life walk event was held in Riverside County (Corona) and Orange County (Costa Mesa) this year, with great turnouts and amazing fundraising results, all benefiting the fight against cancer. Simply Fur-nominal!   

GOP Congressman, Jason Chaffetz, of Utah, calls for more dogs in the airport rather than body scanning machines.  Most of us know how inconvenient and annoying it is to travel by plane anymore due to airport security measures and the invasion of privacy that comes with the body scanning machine.  Well, Republicans like Congressman Chaffetz are irritated at the amount of money being spent on such machines when there are more useful, capable, and reliable alternatives, such as a well-trained bomb-sniffing dog.   And while Congressman Chaffetz is certain that bomb-sniffing dogs would do a better job and be more cost effective than the body scanning machine, the dogs do not have lobbyist pushing for them like the machines do.  While TSA says it sends out more than 800 bomb-sniffing dog teams in more than 80 airports (like LAX) around the country they do not seem interested in replacing the body scanning machines with these dog teams.  Will we ever see the end of body scanning machines? Only time will tell if this one will go to the dogs.
Who can forget the adorable race held each year to name the annual Wienerschnitzel Wiener champion? This year marked the 16th Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals held in Los Alamitos, benefiting the Seal Beach Animal Care Center.  Each year thousands of fans come to watch the wienies race, and this year they came to see 98 participants compete for the gold.  The participants were broken into 12 heats, running a distance of 50 yards, and the winners of each heat went on to the championship race. But of 98 Dachshunds, only one could be the winner of the prestigious title “Fastest Wiener in the West”.  This year’s title goes to wiener #2, Penny Lane, for the second year in a row.  Way to go Penny Lane!
It’s been a busy year in the dog community, and it’s still not over yet!  Check out ‘Part 3’ to find out how one dog was honored for her bravery, a group of dogs broke another world record, and how other dogs were blessed this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

‘Paws’ to Look Back on 2011 (Part 1)

Another year is quickly coming to an end.  This is the time when most people sit and reflect on the year’s progress, setbacks, and accomplishments.  This is also the perfect time to reflect on the big dog events of 2011.     
The year started off big for canines as Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance® Pet Foods, Inc. broke a Guinness World Record® with their float in the Tournament of Roses® Parade on January 1st.  Natural Balance® broke a Guinness World Record® in last year’s Rose Parade, having the longest float ever.  This year’s goal was to break the record for “Heaviest Float” ever, and indeed they did.  Their float weighed a record breaking 84,000 pounds.  How did they do it, you ask? By filling their float with water – 4,000 gallons of water to be exact.  This year’s float featured a pool, for dock diving dogs to jump into, and a water way for dogs to skimboard across during the parade.  The dogs who got to show off their moves included Tillman the skateboarding Bulldog (named “World’s Fastest Skateboarding Dog” by Guinness World Records®), and the winners of a contest held last November by Natural Balance®.  Happy pups splashing, slipping, and sliding to “Who let the Dog’s Out”, quickly turned this float into a fan favorite.  The crowd loved it, the float received awards, such as “Exceptional Merit”, and most importantly, they broke a Guinness World Record®.  Paws-itively Delightful!

Dogs kept the ball rolling into February by beating out husbands for Valentine’s gifts.  In February, Google search trends showed Valentine’s Day searches for “Personalized Dog Gifts” were 10% higher than “Personalized Husband Gifts”.  Overall, Google searches for “Valentine’s Day Dog Gifts” increased by 30% this year compared to last year.  Searches for “Flowers for dogs”, “Red dog collars”, and “Chocolates for dogs” also increased this year by 10%, 10%, and 20%, respectively.  Watch out men – You seem to have a little competition.  
Not all news from this year has been good news.  Every year passes with heartbreaking stories of animal abuse or neglect.  Riverside County had seen steady growth during the 90’s into the early 2000’s.  So much so that Corona was the fastest growing city from 2000 – 2004 which caused the sprouting a new city, now known as East Vale.  But what goes up must come down, and the current state of the economy has left hundreds of homes abandoned due to foreclosure.   But homes were not the only thing being abandoned this year.  As families were forced to move into apartments or living situations that do not allow dogs, they decided to abandon their dog with the house.  If the dog was lucky enough to be noticed by a neighbor, he might have made it to a shelter or rescue group and may have found a new home.  Sad as it is, this problem is not isolated to California and has been happening across the country, creating an even greater burden on the already overcrowded animal shelters.  This is why it’s more important than ever to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue group.
 That was just breaking news from the beginning of the year.  Check put ‘Part 2’ to find out how dogs raised thousands of dollars for The American Cancer Society, are working to change laws in Washington, and are becoming National Champions.  All that and more, coming up this week.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Photos with your pet

With family holiday cards, pictures with Santa, holiday parties and more, it’s no surprise that your dog will be getting his picture taken at some point during the holidays.  Even if he isn’t getting his own photo shoot with a top photographer doesn’t mean his pictures can’t look their best.  Local Riverside photographer, Randall Kaufman, shares some tips and tricks to getting your dog to cooperate with the camera this Holiday season.
Getting ready tips:
Take pictures after your dog has gone for a walk or had some time to get his energy out.  He will be better behaved, calmer, and a better listener.
Allow your dog to get use to the smell and sound of the camera.  Start slow, at a distance, and slowly move your way in.
Where is the best place to photograph a dog?
Your dog will do best if you pick a place he is comfortable in.  While outdoor shoots are great, you may have a hard time keeping your dog’s attention with all the distractions (birds, people, etc.)
If you shoot indoors, make sure you have plenty of lighting. 
Is there a good time and a bad time to take pictures?
Again, it’s a good idea to take pictures after your dog has gotten his energy out. 
In regards to time of day, if you’re shooting outside, the best time is 10 – 11 a.m. or in late afternoon, when the light is golden or even.  Avoid taking pictures at noon or midday because the light from directly above will flatten your picture and create harsh shadows.
What if I want to add a prop or scenery?
If you want to have scenery in your picture, keep it simple.  One gift or tree in the background is best.  Don’t go overboard by putting your dog in full costume.  The best pictures are simple, with dogs being dogs.  If you want to make your dog look more festive you can give him a holiday toy prop or a special collar or handkerchief to wear. 

How do I keep my dogs attention?
This is when basic commands like “sit”, “Stay”, and “Lay down” come in handy.  I have an assistant help me get the dogs to sit still and get their attention toward the camera when I’m ready to shoot.  I would recommend you ask for help from a family member or friend who is good with your dog.
I rarely use treats as an attention getter.  They may be hungry when we start but if I still need a few more pictures and the dog is full on treats then he’s lost his motivation to cooperate.  If I reward with treats, I do it after I get the pictures I need for that shot. Giving attention and praise as a reward works as long as you don’t get your dog too excited.  Lastly, I use a squeaky toy (or magic word like “walk”) to get him to look at the camera just before I take my shot.
How do I set up the shot?
Position your dog in a way that is natural to him.  Let him look like a dog.  If you want him to sit but he decides to lie on his side instead, then work with that.  You may end up getting some really great pictures that you didn’t plan on.  (If he won’t cooperate no matter what you do, you may want to hold off on taking pictures and try another day.)
Take the picture from his height.  The best pictures are taken from your pet’s level and not with him looking up at you.
Shoot in action mode on your camera.  This will help you avoid blurry shots because chances are your dog is going to move.
Any other words of advice?
Be patient and calm. Dogs can be very unpredictable so you are better off just going with the flow.  If he won’t sit still then try taking him to the park or beach and get candid photos there.  You can’t force your dog to take a great picture so it’s best to work with him in whatever way you can.  Good luck!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Angels

Four weeks, 17 drop-off locations, a handful of volunteers, and 1 dedicated dog club resulted in an inspiring donation of thousands of blankets, towels, beds, and toys for homeless dogs and cats in the Orange and Los Angeles County shelters.  
Stephen and Brandi Terry founded the non-profit, Desperate Paws of Orange County Dog Club, in hopes of bringing dogs and their owners together to experience the best in life and to make a difference in their community.  While the group mostly functions as a dog club (getting together for fun dog-friendly activities) it also organizes fundraisers and sponsors adoption events throughout Orange County.  As stated as one of the group goals, “The Club advocates for dog welfare and adoption so we can help aid needy dogs in our own community.”  That is exactly what the club did this past Saturday, Dec. 16th, for the third time since they started in January 2010. Their first fundraising event, Presents for Paws drive, was last Christmas for which they collected and distributed toys to the homeless dogs in the main Orange County shelter.  The club got an even bigger response at their second fundraiser in March when they collected over 40,000 pounds of pet food and relief supplies to send to Japan after those devastating disasters.  The Presents for Paws drive this year was the club’s third collection and fundraising event that helped sponsor the 2nd Annual Pawliday Dog Adoption at the O.C. animal shelter.
The Presents for Paws drive was held for four weeks, from November 7th to December 5th.  Nine companies participated, supplying seventeen designated drop-off centers throughout Orange County.  While last year’s collection drive was only for toys, O.C. Animal Care asked that this year’s drive include blankets and cat toys as well.  While donations were slow in the beginning, they began pouring in as the drive came to a close.  Because of the amazing response to the drive, the club decided to split the donations between O.C. Animal Care and the L.A. Department of Animal Care and Control.  The donations were plentiful enough that even local dog rescues were given much needed supplies and other organizations received blankets for homeless people.  The positive effect this drive had on the community was priceless and it reached much further than anyone had anticipated.
The club does not only organize events and donation drives; it also sponsors the “Paw It Forward” campaign.  “The PAW IT FORWARD campaign supports needy and adoptable dogs in our local community by holding and funding special adoption events as well as our Presents for Paws drive.”  The club does this by raising funds and using those funds to reduce adoption fees to help place shelter dogs in a new home.  During the Presents for Paws drive the club raised enough money to reduce the adoption fees by $50 for the first 20 dogs adopted at Saturday’s adoption event.  The club gave this same donation at last year’s adoption event which inspired the shelter to continue taking $50 off adoption fees for the rest of the day.  This year the shelter reduced the adoption fee of cats during the adoption event as well.  As if the collection drive and donations weren’t enough, the Paw It Forward campaign teamed up with Betty’s Boot Camp for Dogs and Humans to provide free training classes to all new owners and dogs adopted during the adoption event.  This gracious gift from Betty is invaluable to these dogs and their new owners since most dogs end up being returned to the shelter because of behavioral issues.
The impact this relatively small group has had on the community is tremendous, and it is growing.  Experience it for yourself.  Check out this group either to find new opportunities to go on a fun outing with your pup or to help make a positive change in the community.  Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to start your own local dog club, spread the puppy love, and make a difference in another community.   Paw it Forward.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Good Idea, Bad Idea – Holiday Edition

Did you ever have a stroke of genius only to discover later that it wasn’t such a good idea after all?  While we all make those bad choices at least once in our lives we should not be so careless when it comes to another living being.  Here are a couple of helpful tips to get you and your dog though this holiday season without an ‘oops’ or a visit to the vet.  
Good Idea: Giving a gift card to your niece for Christmas.
Bad Idea: Giving a puppy to your niece for Christmas.
The Riverside Animal Services Department and the Corona Animal shelter know all too well that about half of all animals in their shelters (and nationwide) are owner surrenders.  The majority of pet owners say they got their pet from a friend or family member.  And while these pets are often acquired with the best of intentions, for one reason or another it doesn’t work out and the animal ends up in the ‘system’.  This is a big reason why authorities like Riverside Animal Services Department and organizations like ASPCA urge people not to buy pets as gifts.  Picking out the perfect pet has to be a personal decision.  Believe it or not, every dog (and cat) has a unique personality so it is best to find a companion that you feel a connection with and fits your lifestyle.  For example, a person who enjoys staying indoors and watching a movie rather than going on a hike would not be a good owner for a husky, as they require a lot of exercise.  Additionally, your friend or family member may say they want a pet but may not actually be ready for one.  In short, when deciding on what gift to give this year, go with the gift card and not a pet.   

Good Idea: Hanging the stockings by the chimney with care.
Bad Idea: Hanging treats (like candy canes) within reach of the dog.
We all know dogs (and cats) can be mischievous, and like toddlers, they like to stick things in their mouths.  Any holiday can be a dangerous time for a pet but Christmas time tends to have more sharp and toxic items for them to get a hold of.  Keep all candy canes and sweets out of reach from your pup.  Make sure all the electrical cords are tucked away or tapped down to keep your pup from chewing on them and getting shocked (or worse).  Don’t let them drink the Christmas tree water as it can contain fertilizer or even bacteria.  Keep holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, and lilies out of reach as these plants can be toxic to pets.  And lastly, try to buy non-toxic decorations because we know that pets can’t resist playing with them.   
Good Idea: Enjoying holiday cheer with family and friends.
Bad Idea: Overwhelming the dog with strangers in the house.
We all know how stressful it can be having a ton of house guests over for the holidays.  Imagine how stressful it can be for your dog.  If you plan on having  a lot of company over at your house this holiday, give your dog a quiet and safe retreat somewhere in the house (as far from the commotion as you can) and turn on soothing music (like classical).  Of course, don’t forget to give her potty breaks.  If your dog is out mingling with guests, make sure your guests know the rules you have with your dog;  No feeding scraps from the table (even if you do it), no pulling tails or ears, watch for the dog when the door is open, and no jumping on people.  Regardless of where your dog is in your home this holiday season, keep in mind that when dogs are stressed they tend to pant more and therefore require more water.  Be sure to have plenty of fresh water available for her to drink.
Have a happy and safe Holiday, from our pack to yours!   

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Home-made for the Holidays

Almost everyone has been effected by the economic downturn, whether directly or indirectly, so it comes as no surprise that some families will not be buying their dog (or cat) a gift this year.  If you find yourself in this same predicament you need not worry because you have other options.  While you could go the year without getting a new toy (and your dog wouldn’t be the wiser) you may feel guilty.  You could always hide a favorite toy for the rest of the month, wrap it and give it as a gift on Christmas day.  Your dog would be very excited.  But if that does not sound like what you had in mind here are a few home-made gift ideas that may spark your interest.
Ball Toys
A clean sock and a tennis ball is all this toy requires.  Slip a tennis ball into a clean sock and knot the open end closed.  Wah-la, you have a toy; its as simple as that.  If you don’t have a tennis ball and you find yourself buying some at the store, that 3 pack can be turned into 3 different tug toys.  Check out the YouTube video of this article for step by step instructions on how to make those toys for your pup.

Tug Rope Toys
This is another simple toy to make.  It involves 3 scrap strips of material (fleece is best and better for dogs to chew on but an old t-shirt will do) and a couple rubber bands.  Tie your 3 scraps of materials together on one end, hold that end between your knees and do a tight braid all the way to the other end of the material.  If you don’t know how to braid then ask a family member or neighbor for some help.  Once you are done, knot both ends and wah-la, a tug rope toy.  You can add more knots or loops just like the toys in the store.  For step by step instructions and helpful pictures, check out
 Dog Treats
Nothing says love like some good home cookin’.  Your dog will be more than happy to only receive treats as a gift this year, I guarantee it.  Baking for your pup is not only a great way to show love but it’s a great way to know exactly what your dog is eating.  Homemade treats contain no preservatives, no funny by-products or fillers, and no chemicals or additives that you can’t pronounce.   Diane Martinez of Riverside shares a cheesy treat she makes for her pup, Bruno.
You’ll need:
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup margarine
1 egg
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups wheat germ
1 pinch salt (optional)
2 tablespoons milk
1.       Cream cheddar cheese and margarine together using an electric mixer then add the egg.
2.       Stir in the flour, wheat germ, salt, and milk. Cover and chill for up to one hour.
3.       Roll the dough out to approximately ¼” thick and use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes.
4.       Turn oven to 350˚F and bake for 15 – 18 minutes.
5.       Cool and store in an air tight container.

Dog (or Cat) Beds
A fun thing to try this year is repurposing old items into pet beds.  An old computer monitor or suitcase can be spruced up into a new piece of furniture that blends into any room.  Simply gut an old desktop computer monitor or cut off the top half of an old suitcase, throw in a pillow and wah-la, a pet bed.  What items do you have laying around your garage that could be turned into a pet bed?

An Extra Lap
Have a lap dog that doesn’t always have a lap?  Why not repurpose an old pair of jeans?  Stuff the legs of an old pair of jeans with newspaper or scrap fabric. Fold the legs in and secure them underneath the thigh part of the jeans.  Place a decorative pillow in the open end of the jeans and wah-la, a lap for a lap dog any time of day.  Train your dog to only use his extra lap while sitting on the couch and you will save yourself the trouble of having to vacuum up his hair on the rest of the couch.
Don't be afraid to get creative.  Your dog will be excited about anything you give him and he will still love you no matter how awkward-looking it may turn out.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Unique Gift Ideas for Pet Lovers

Buying for a pet lover can be tricky because they often have everything they want or need.  Here are a few gift ideas you may not have thought of.
Get your pet lovers pet picture turned into a portrait.  Companies like turn everyday photos of a pet into a work of art fit for any wall.  Photos can be turned into a painting, modern/pop art, a photo collage, and more (including a rubik’s cube).   Send in a simple photograph and it will come back a pet portrait on canvas.  Who wouldn’t love that? 
If you have ever had to put together a search and rescue team to track down your missing dog then you can appreciate the brilliant design of Tagg - The Pet Tracker. The Tagg is designed to attach to your pets existing collar and is meant to be worn at all times, even if your dog goes swimming.  If your dog leaves his Tagg zone (set up by you) you can easily track and locate him on the Tagg Map using a computer or your smartphone.  This gift is great for anyone who has a dog notorious for getting out of the yard or running out the door. 

Ever wonder what your dog is thinking?  Well, now you don’t have to because someone did the research for you and invented a device that tells you what is on your dog’s mind.  BowLingual gives you simple translations for 6 basic emotions: Happy, Assertive, Sad, Frustrated, On-Guard, and Needy.  The translating device comes with a collar and a monitor.  The monitor will show you a face symbolizing the dog’s emotion at the moment.  That face can translate to several verbal expressions that the dog may be trying to communicate.  Unfortunately, this gift is best considered a novelty (see YouTube video) and a bit expensive at that.  Luckily, this dog translator is also available as an iphone app for free, which may be a better solution.  Download the app and start having fun translating what your dog has to say.   
Testing Bowlingual video on YouTube
Does the pet lover in your life have a mystery mutt?  Most owners who adopt dogs from the shelter have no idea how their pup came into being.  If the dog isn’t pure bred and he looks like a couple of different breeds it stirs your curiosity.  Why not get that curious pet lover a DNA testing kit for dogs?  They are available online or through your veterinarian.  Get the kit in the mail, swab the dog’s mouth, and mail the swab back to the lab.  Within weeks your test results will return and (hopefully) the mystery will be solved. 
Unique Skins can help you turn an ordinary laptop, phone, or other electronic device into a unique personalized device.  Skins are removable adhesive-backed vinyl covers used for protecting and customizing electronic devices.  You can transform the look of your cell phone, MP3 player, laptop, netbook, Bluetooth headset, gaming console, tablet, Ebook reader, external hard drive, and more by getting a personal photo turned into skin for that device.  
Surprise the pet lover in your life this year by thinking outside of the box.  And if you have some creative ideas, please share!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fun Presents for Your Pooch

It’s the gift giving season and you may be thinking about what to get your dog this year.  Even if you aren’t thinking about getting your dog a toy, you may find yourself reconsidering after you see some of these entertaining items. 
While dog toys have made progress over the last few decades and have become more advanced they don’t always do the trick.  The simple truth is that dogs are easy to please and they don’t really care what we give them as long as they can sniff it, chew it, lick it, play with it, and/or eat it.  Just ask the dog who is carrying around an empty soda bottle as a prize possession.  Or ask my dogs who won’t put in the time required to figure out how to get a treat out of a Kong.  No, it’s not the dogs who want the latest and greatest toys; it’s us, their owners.  We get bored with having the same options to buy for our dogs.   Well, I’m not here to tell you about an amazing new toy that will change your life, but here are some old toy ideas with a new spin to help you have a jolly holiday season.
Humunga Tongue™ and Humunga Stache™ put a spin on the traditional dog ball.  These products are a non-toxic rubber ball with a tongue or mustache molded to it.  When the dog picks up the ball he has a ridiculous mustache or rubber tongue hanging out.  These balls not only give comic relief while you watch your dog carry them around, but they provide your dog with hours of fun trying to catch a ball as it bounces erratically. It’s a win win!  You can also try the Humunga lips™ or Humunga Stache and Beard™ for an additional good time.  All of these Humunga products can be found on starting at $12 for one or $10 each when you buy 2 or more.

Gold’s Gym Dumbbells are now available for dogs!  Have you ever thought about how great your work out was and how great it would be if your dogs could get the same workout?  Well now he can with his very own set of dumbbells at home.  These tough rubber chew toys come in two sizes and work great for body builder dogs or dogs who just want to look tough.   These rubber dumbbells can be found at (starting at $5) or on (starting at $13).
Do you ever feel like your dog has had a rough day and could use a nice cold drink to relax with? Well, it’s possible without animal services knocking down your door.  Doggie drink toys are available (these are just a toy, no actual alcohol is in them) in your favorite brand such as Heini-Sniffin, Cataroma Extra, Crispaw, Dog Perignon, and Barkardi (to name just a few). These witty toys come as a rubber squeaky or soft plush toy to accommodate your dogs chewing pleasure.  You can find these and more Silly Squeakers™ at and similar plush toys at, with prices ranging from $10 - $14.
Even though you can’t afford the latest in high fashion, designer name accessories doesn’t mean your dog can’t.  Pawda Italy, Bark Jacobs, Chewy Vuitton, Gucchewi, Dogior, Sniffany & Co., Chewnel #5, and Jimmy Chew; you name it, your fashionista dog can have it.  And she can pay for it with her very own Muttster card.  Well, her Muttster card might be rejected but, lucky for you, these doggie designers won’t bust your budget.   These fabulous plush toys and more can be found at for $10 - $15. 
Maybe this year you have to buy your dog something he actually needs, like a new I.D. tag.  Well there is no reason you should limit your options to the machine at the pet store.  There are so many unique options out there; you are bound to find one that fits your dog’s personality.  For example, you can give your dog his very own driver’s license this year.  Now he can run errands for you while you relax at home! (Well, the dog can’t actually drive but his I.D. will still make him look cool).  Not interested in a driver’s license? These fun photo tags will put your dog’s mug shot on money, an FBI badge, an Area 51 badge and more!  Check out for some great alternatives to the same ol’ dog tag with prices ranging from $12 - $27.    

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Spirit of Giving (a temporary home)

While giving should carry on throughout the year, one can easily take advantage of the holiday spirit to inspire this new habit now.  Thanks to the economic situation, animal shelters and rescues are overflowing with pets like never before.  This is the perfect opportunity to give service by volunteering or donating needed items.  And while those are great options to help our local shelters, they are not the only way in which you can give this holiday season.  
Many local animal rescues, who save pets from euthanization every day, can no longer take in pets for the sole reason that they have nowhere to put them.  Like shelters, all rescues organizations are always filled to the brim.  As a result, rescues are always in need of foster homes, and rightfully so.  If a Rescue had an unlimited supply of foster homes they could save almost every animal from the shelter.  Unfortunately, that isn’t reality and the short supply of foster homes only accentuates the fact that these rescues are very limited in their ability to save all homeless pets.  They need your help.  So, in the spirit of giving, why not consider opening your home to a pet in need.   
I have personally fostered dogs in my home even though I had two dogs of my own at the time.  Here are some frequently asked questions regarding becoming a foster pet parent. For the purpose of this article we will focus on dogs, but the questions apply for any animal you choose to foster.  
Do I have to foster a dog?
No.  There are always different animals in need throughout Southern California from turtles to goats.  You can choose the animal that will fit your home and lifestyle best.  Just keep in mind, different animals have different adoption rates and dogs are usually in higher demand. 

How many dogs would I have to foster?
You may take in as many dogs or as few as you wish. Even fostering one dog would help a great deal.

Do I get to choose which dog I foster?
Rescues do their best to match you with the right dog for your home, personality, and lifestyle.  If you need a dog who is good with children or other pets, they do their best to meet that criteria.  They encourage a meet and greet before taking the dog home.

How much will it cost to foster a dog?
Most rescues have the funds to cover the cost of all veterinary care, food, and other supplies the dog may need.  Double check with the rescue you are considering before applying to foster.

How long does it take for a dog to get adopted?
No one can predict how long it will take for the dog to find a new home.  On average, it takes between a week and a month for a dog to find a permanent home.  Some dogs, like puppies, usually get adopted more quickly than older dogs or dogs recovering from health problems.

Will I be involved in choosing the dog’s new owner?
Because foster parents have spent the most time with the dog they are usually the best judge of what kind of home is the best fit for their foster dog’s particular needs. For this reason, foster parents are usually involved in the screening process of potential adopters.

There are hundreds of animal rescue organizations in Southern California alone, with plenty of opportunities to volunteer, give donations, or open your home to a foster pet.  Choose a local rescue today and give a pet a second chance.
To help start your search, here are some local Riverside County rescue groups:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Spirit of Giving

It seems the holiday spirit is infection this time of year.  It’s the time when people are nicer, more compassionate, more giving, and usually happier.  The spirit of giving is an interesting component of the overall holiday spirit.  It can be loosely defined by the Webster dictionary as an inclination, impulse, or tendency to give.  How can you not be intrigued by an invisible force that mystically inspires people to give more than any other time of year?  Don’t believe it? This concept is reinforced with the fact that almost all non-profit organizations receive 40% of their yearly donations in the last six weeks of the year, despite the need for donations all year long. (
Instead of trying to solve the world’s great mysteries, we will embrace the spirit of giving and let ourselves be inspired to give as well.  As we consider our approach to giving we are faced with two main possibilities.  1. Give donations or 2. Give time. 
In 1996, The HSUS launched National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week (based on an idea from the Capital Humane Society in Lincoln, Nebraska). This campaign was designed to acknowledge and promote the invaluable role shelters play in their communities and to increase public awareness of animal welfare issues and shelter services. National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, the first full week of every November, presents the perfect opportunity to start giving by volunteering or giving needed items to a local shelter.
Animal shelters have always had a rough time caring for the large influx of animals that come in each year, but even more so now.  Due to the sad state of the economy, shelters and rescues are over capacity with more pets than ever seen before.  As people continue to lose their jobs and their homes they continue to abandon their pets.  “Approximately 3,500 animal shelters across the United States serve the estimated 6-8 million homeless animals who need refuge each year.  Many more animals find themselves in need of the services provided by local rescue groups….Shelters and rescues are always in need of towels, food, toys, and other supplies for the animals, often specified in a “wish list” on their website. Give what you can, ask family, friends and colleagues to do so as well.” – Humane Society

Volunteering is a great activity for the whole family and it teaches children the true meaning of giving as well as a greater understanding and appreciation for the things they have.  Volunteering helps build character through humility, kindness, compassion, understanding, generosity, caring, and serving someone regardless their own problems or needs.  Cities are always looking for volunteers to help keep communities beautiful and community programs available.  Riverside County Department of Animal Services is always looking for teen and adult volunteers to help at shelters throughout the county.  This is a great opportunity for animal lovers who aren’t able to have a pet at the moment and pet owners alike.  The chance to make a difference in an animal’s life is a gift in itself.   
When thinking about how your family can make the most of giving this season, consider extending your commitment to providing charitable acts throughout the year.  Many organizations have plenty of volunteers over the holidays but lack sufficient volunteer resources the remainder of the year.  
There is really no substitute for the feeling you get after giving your time to help someone else in need.  Open your heart this holiday season (and for the rest of the year) to an animal in need and watch the positive impact blossom in your life. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday Prep: Cooking for the dog

Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry, sweet rolls, pumpkin pie;  With thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s almost impossible not to think about all the delicious food we’ll get to eat.  It’s hard not to feel bad for the dog who sits quietly under the table waiting for a meager scrap of food to fall for him.  But what do you do when you know it’s bad for him to get table scraps?  Well, you make him his own Thanksgiving feast.
Don’t know where to start?  There are hundreds of recipes available online that can help you create the best Thanksgiving meal for your dog.  Here is a recipe that Norah for Riverside was happy to share:
“I found this recipe on the internet a few years ago and I thought it was perfect.  The recipe makes a large serving so you could easily make this meal for multiple dogs or even refrigerate the left over servings and treat your dog to a homemade meal for the rest of the week.” – Norah

2 lbs. ground turkey
2 eggs
2 cups cooked rice
8 oz. peas
3 carrots, diced
1 apple, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well by hand. On baking sheet, form into the shape of a large dog bone (or smaller dog bones if you have more than 1 dog or you plan on saving the leftovers).  Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool and serve.  

Note: This recipe makes a large batch. I had enough to make 6 dog bones.
So why not treat your dog to a Thanksgiving feast this year.  He will thank you by letting you eat your feast in peace.