Crash-Test Dummy Dogs Hunt for a Safe Seat Belt

Article excerpted from a 10/2/2013 article by Matthew Dolan (WSJ.com)

Auto makers have used crash-test dummies to simulate stresses and strains on human forms from big men to tiny women. Now, it’s Fido’s turn.

The nonprofit Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Va., has teamed up with auto maker Subaru to run preliminary tests on 11 pet safety belts.

The goal: To figure out which pet restraints work well enough to earn a seal of approval from pet-advocacy groups, which the center hopes will one day set national safety standards.

image

Center for Pet Safety - A specially designed canine dummy gets buckled in by researchers in a collaborative crash-test study of pet harnesses conducted by Subaru and the Center for Pet Safety.

This summer at a private product-testing lab in Virginia, seven of the 11 pet harnesses underwent crash testing. The center designed some of the world’s first crash-test dogs, simulating a 25-pound terrier mix, a 45-pound border collie and a 75-pound golden retriever.

The final results, expected to be released this week, weren’t encouraging. Sleepypod’s Clickit three-point safety harness was the only restraint that consistently kept a dog from launching off the seat. It was also the only one judged to offer substantial protection to all passengers, dog included, in the event of an accident.

Subaru says it will soon offer Sleepypod’s Clickit Utility Harness as an accessory in its vehicles.

The Center for Pet Safety, which says it doesn’t receive any funding or free products from the pet-device industry, is in the first stages of trying to establish a uniform standard to judge all pet restraints.

“It establishes a good baseline,” said Sean Kane, a noted auto-safety researcher with Safety Research & Strategies, who reviewed the study at The Wall Street Journal’s request. The variations in test-dummy size were particularly important, he noted, since larger dogs consistently fared worse in the tests.

An untethered pet can create a safety hazard. Pet advocacy group Bark Buckle Up argues that unrestrained pets act like missiles in accidents, endangering passengers and themselves. In one calculation by motorist-advocacy group AAA, even a 10-pound unrestrained dog in a crash at only 30 miles an hour will exert roughly 300 pounds of force.

Law-enforcement groups say an injured or disoriented pet thrown from a car crash can turn violent or impede rescue efforts.

Several pet-restraint manufacturers say consumers should be cautious of these early test results. The firms say they crash-test their products at accredited facilities. The devices, however, aren’t tested by the American Pet Products Association, the federal government, traffic-safety groups or other product-safety groups.

“Our members are continuously striving to develop products that enhance the lives, health and safety of pets,” says Bob Vetere, chief executive of the American Pet Products Association, who says he hopes consumers will continue using pet restraints.

Nearly 90% of U.S. pet owners say they travel with their pets, but few strap them in, despite recommendations from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and others. Some 17% of drivers surveyed in a 2011 AAA study admitted driving with a pet on their lap.

 

Symbolism of the Cheetah

Cheetah, Power Animal, Symbol of Focus, Accelerating Time

By Ina Woolcott

Cheetah’s medicine includes – speed and focus, brotherhood, elusiveness, ability to focus intently on something for a short period of time, swiftness, self-esteem, accelerating time, keenness of sight

Different to other felines, who stalk, then swiftly jump on their prey for the kill, cheetahs, the fastest animals alive, run down their prey.

The lesson to be learned here, the inspiration, is to fulfil our goals with speed and focus. When we feel stuck, cheetah energy can help us spring into motion. If we are moving with great speed but with little direction, cheetah medicine can help us to keep our eyes on our goals, to focus, and to find the most direct way of achieving them.

Sometimes we must carefully consider all aspects of a plan to reach a goal. At other times, it may be necessary to be flexible and adaptable in rehashing plans. However, sometimes the most important thing to do is to act with both speed and focus. The goal is almost reached, but continually putting something off, or lack of clarity keeps one from accomplishing it. It is at times like this that cheetah medicine is extremely valuable.

There is more wisdom to be taken from the cheetah’s actions – there are those who want to accomplish their goals but who may take on too many goals at one time. Though the cheetah is able to reach speeds of up to 63miles per hour, it can only maintain this incredible speed for a short period of time. Afterwards, it must rest for around 15 minutes.

The cheetah period of rest teaches us that intense activity should always be followed by a time of rest, relaxation, and contemplation.

Therapy dogs provide stressed travelers comfort at busy airports…

excerpted from a Daily News article of 5/29/2013…

LOS ANGELES (AP) — There’s a new breed of airport dog. They aren’t looking for drugs or bombs — they are looking for people who need a buddy, a belly to rub or a paw to shake.

“His job is to be touched,” volunteer Kyra Hubis said about Henry James, her 5-year-old golden retriever that works a few hours a week at the San Jose airport. “I am just standing there with him. They are talking to him. If I need to answer for him, I do. But I am at the end of his leash, he’s not at the end of mine.”

Mineta San Jose International Airport is widely credited with introducing the first airport therapy dog in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, when flights were grounded, passengers were stranded and reaching friends and relatives in the East was nearly impossible. Passengers were anxious and afraid.

Enter Orion, owned by a volunteer airport chaplain who got permission to bring the dog to work. He made such a difference that San Jose formalized the program and now has nine dogs. Miami International Airport got onboard the program with one and Los Angeles International Airport has 30 and is hoping to expand its program.

The dogs are intended to take the stress out of travel — the crowds, long lines and terrorism concerns.

You never know why people are flying, said Heidi Huebner, director of volunteers at LAX, which launched Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUPs) in April. Travelers might be in town for a vacation, a funeral, to visit a sick family member or to attend a business meeting.

“You can literally feel the stress levels drop, people start smiling, strangers start talking to each other and everybody walks away feeling really, really good,” Huebner said.

Dogs have to be healthy, skilled, stable, well-mannered and able to work on a slack 4-foot leash, said Billie Smith, executive director of Wyoming-based Therapy Dogs, Inc., which certifies the LAX animals. They have to be comfortable with crowds, sounds, smells — and they need to pass through security like all airport workers.

Handlers are taught to watch for people who fear or dislike dogs or those who might have allergies. In most cases, people approach the dogs, identifiable by the vests or bandannas they wear.

Los Angeles’ dogs, which are featured on trading cards, are as varied as its airport passengers. There’s a long-haired Dalmatian, a Lab-pointer mix, a field spaniel, a poodle, three Australian Labradoodles, a Doberman and a 150-pound Irish wolfhound named Finn who has two tricks.

“He looks you in the eye and lays down on the job,” said owner Brian Valente. “When I’m around Finn, it makes me feel like things are OK. When Finn’s around other people, they are OK. It’s almost instant, even if just for a moment,” Valente said.

Miami’s sole dog, Casey, a 4-year-old golden retriever, is a star. She has her own website, fan mail, business cards and a role on “Airport 24/7: Miami,” a weekly reality show on the Travel Channel.

“Casey is so pure and genuine,” explained Dickie Davis, director of terminal operations and customer service. “She’s not asking for anything or selling anything. She is just a love magnet.”

When Claudia McCaskill’s family recently flew home from vacation in Brazil she requested Casey meet the plane to greet her 5-year-old daughter, Carina, who is autistic. She knew Carina would be low on energy and patience and they still had a 2.5-hour drive home to St. Lucie.

Casey and handler Liz Miller were there with a gift basket and Carina fell in love with the dog.  ”Thank you for visiting us at the airport so I would be happy,” Carina said in a video the family made for Casey.  Now Carina wants to go back and see Casey again.

“I can’t say how much we appreciate what they did for us. It not only helped our daughter, but us too,” McCaskill said.

Despite all the smiles, there are also hard moments.

Before departing from San Jose, a soldier kneeled down and told Henry James: “OK, buddy, you take care of the house while I am gone,” Hubis said.

A woman who said her husband of 40 years told her he wanted a divorce that morning wept on Henry’s shoulder.

“He just sat there,” Hubis said. “He knew. He can feel.”

Therapy dogs take the stress out of travel at busy airports like in Los Angeles.

Woof!

“Kitten Bowl” vs “Puppy Bowl”

excerpted from an Associated Press article of 4/23/2013…

It’s a Super Bowl matchup for the ages: cats vs. dogs.  The Puppy Bowl, a fixture on Animal Planet during the Super Bowl for nearly a decade, will have new competition next year from the Kitten Bowl, the Hallmark Channel announced this month.

Win or lose in the ratings, all the animals stand to benefit. Hallmark will use between 50 and 100 kittens from animal shelters around the country, and Abbott vowed to place each one in a home.  Animal Planet placed every dog and cat on this year’s show — 63 puppies and 21 kittens. (Cats serve as halftime entertainment for the two-hour Puppy Bowl.)

The annual Puppy Bowl has a football theme, with the dogs scoring “touchdowns” if they cross a goal line with a chew toy.  Kittens in the Kitten Bowl will compete on an agility course set up with hurdles, scratchers, tunnels, hoops and weave poles. Laser pointers and toys on strings will be used to entice the kittens.

Judges will look at each kitten’s ability to cuddle and win the hearts of viewers.  ”We had to develop some kind of framework to show what wonderful animals they are. They are their own little souls,” Abbott said. “Many people don’t realize how entertaining cats are and what great companions they are for people.”

Most of the competition will be unscripted. Kittens can’t be expected to figure out a timed course, so not doing it in the cutest way will determine the winner, Abbott said. The Most Valuable Kitten will be the cutest of them all.

The show is part of Hallmark’s Pet Project Initiative and will be done with a partner, the American Humane Association.

Animal Planet and Hallmark have a good relationship.  ”We’re just happy that pet adoption is being promoted and more animals are finding their fur-ever homes,” Animal Planet’s statement said.

This year, a record 12.4 million people watched during the 12-hour Puppy Bowl X broadcast. By comparison, the Super Bowl was watched by 108.4 million people to become the third most watched show in TV history.

The National Football League also supports the efforts to raise awareness about animals and shelters.  ”The Super Bowl brings families together, and we love the idea that it includes the adoption of dogs and cats on Super Bowl Sunday,” spokesman Greg Aiello said.  ”We love animals here at the NFL, including cats and dogs,” spokesman Brian McCarthy added. “We also love Dolphins, Ravens, Bengals, Colts, Jaguars, Broncos, Eagles, Bears, Lions, Falcons, Panthers, Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks.”

Woof!

 

Hyperbaric Chambers and Pets…

excerpted from an Associated Press article of 2/26/2013…  

Hyperbaric chambers have been used for decades to treat divers with the bends, burn victims and people with traumatic injuries, but in the U.S. they’re increasingly being used on ailing pets.

Doctors at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine have recently used an oxygen chamber on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits and one monkey.  Veterinarian and professor Justin Shmalberg said the capsule has been used to treat animals that have been bitten by rattlesnakes, hit by cars and those with infected wounds, among other things.

“Any place we have swelling of tissue, we oftentimes are thinking about the hyperbaric chamber as something we could do to decrease that,” he said.  Shmalberg said the chamber’s high-pressure atmosphere of pure oxygen appears to help reduce swelling and aid healing time. He added that the school will begin clinical trials this summer to determine how – or even if – the hyperbaric chamber really is effective in speeding recoveries and healing animals.

There is little research on hyperbaric treatments and pets, although veterinarians who use the chambers note that most of the research for human hyperbaric treatments comes from trials done on rabbits and rats.

In humans, insurance companies will pay for hyperbaric treatment for several conditions, including carbon monoxide poisoning, crush injuries and bone marrow infections, among other things. Some insurance companies won’t pay for hyperbaric treatment for wounds or ulcers, saying that it’s an “unproven” therapy — but some people swear by the treatment and seek out private clinics.

It’s the same with pet owners; veterinarians with oxygen chambers say that people with sick pets often will often research the treatment and request it after becoming familiar with it through human medicine.  “It is a very new modality for treatment in veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Andrew Turkell of Calusa Veterinary Center in Florida.

“I find that it’s really very effective for any kind of trauma,” he said, adding that he’s seen improvements in pets that have been hit by cars that have been subsequently treated in the chamber.

McCullough said that his employees deliver and train veterinarians on how to use the capsule. Working with 100 percent oxygen can be dangerous, which is why pets going inside the chamber are patted down with water before the treatment so their fur doesn’t conduct static electricity and cause a fire.

In 2012, the high-oxygen chamber of a Florida equine sports medicine center exploded and caused part of a building to collapse, killed a worker and the horse inside the chamber.  The machine that exploded wasn’t one of McCullough’s chambers; it was a larger contraption made for horses. The horse inside the chamber apparently struck the side of the machine with its foot, which caused the spark and fire. It underscored the potential danger of the capsules.

Dr. Dorie Amour, the director of Emory University’s wound care clinic, suggested that hyperbaric therapy in pets be a last-resort treatment. It “has to be a therapy used when there is no alternative. Or a therapy used for a very serious problem for which there hasn’t been a solution.”

Why is my dog barking… again?!

by Jim Harrington

Morning.  Noon.  Night.  Joggers.  Trucks.  Air.  None of it makes sense, yet it usually makes perfect sense.  Our dogs often communicate their fears, their wants, and their needs by barking.  Over time, they train us to understand why they bark.  But sometimes… really???!!!

I’ve had a dog in my home since I took my first steps as a baby back in the late 60′s.  It’s remarkable how a dog can sometimes vary the pitch and pace of their bark depending on a situation.  If they’re warding off an evil squirrel (actually, I think squirrels are cool!) their bark can be quite rapid and forceful.  If it’s time for suppy or a treat our favorite pooch might serenade us with a slow-rolling low-fidelity howl.  When it’s time to go potty, well, they can be pretty good at conveying a sense of urgency for that too…

But, the most interesting barking pattern comes from what I’ll call ‘dynamic nothingness’ (a/k/a compulsive barking).  Our trusty companion is hanging out or taking a nap.  He’s been fed.  He’s already been outside ten times.  He’s been pet and played with.  Then – out of nowhere – it’s time for a barking marathon.  Looking around, we don’t see Mrs. Jogger outside.  Our favorite woodland creatures aren’t taunting Jake from the deck outside.  I don’t even hear the goofy dog down the street looking to harmonize…

Ugh!!!

Is my dog turning into one of those COMPULSIVE BARKERS???  Maybe.  If you’re pretty certain you’ve ruled out the usual causes, and you’ve noticed a bit of a pattern, it might be worth bringing the issue up at your next visit with the veterinarian – if your supply of Advil can sustain you that long…

Compulsive barking is often accompanied by repetitive movement patterns, such as pacing back and forth in a consistently defined manner.  The compulsiveness is most prevalent in hunting and working breeds, but it can occur in any breed.  If your veterinarian rules out medical causes you have three primary options…  Use a behavior modification specialist; utilize medication for your pooch; or invest in ear plugs…

Some folks would advocate a fourth option – anti-bark collars – but I’m not a fan.  Rather than something invasive, it’s never a bad call to consistently scheduling time for yourself and your best friend to go for some nice walks, or commit to petting him more and watching some shows on Animal Planet together.  It might not solve the compulsive barking issue, but at least you’ll both get some peaceful and relaxing time together out of the deal…  :-)

Woof!

Clean Those Teeth!

by Jim Harrington

Ever gotten close to your favorite four-legged friend and gotten a whiff of something nasty?!  Similar to how our mouths function, pet bad breath typically stems from anaerobic bacteria that thrives in areas such as gums and in between teeth.  Once that bacteria transforms into plaque and accumulates, that wonderful stank becomes more noticeable.

A combination of patience and a willing pet can enable teeth to get brushed.  Generally, dogs are a bit easier to do teeth cleaning than cats.  Most dogs feel more of a need to please and bond.  A cat’s mouth is typically smaller and their teeth are also smaller and sharper – plus they choose when they feel like engaging with their human.

Brushing is an unnatural act for your pet, especially since they also cannot rinse, spit or floss on their own.  If your pets (or you) get too stressed by trying to utilize some of the traditional oral hygiene approaches, it may be best to consider alternative products.  Take a ride to your favorite pet store and you’ll see the ever-expanding teeth cleaning options that are available.  Products range from special chew toys and ropes to hard treats and cookies.  If none of those work, you can also ask your veterinarian about special foods and diets that support good oral health.

Make sure you do NOT use human toothpaste though…  the foaming action and an inability to spit leaves only one option for our furry friends – they swallow it.  Once that happens, plan on an upset tummy – or worse.  If your pet cooperates with the brushing concept, be sure to purchase a foamless flavored gel specially designed for animals.  These gels are safe for pets to swallow.  Brushing once a day should be sufficient to maintain good oral health for your dog or cat.

Lastly, be aware that oral care products for animals are not specifically regulated by any federal agency.  The FDA does provide some general oversight of products that make claims of cleaner teeth, fresher breath, etc, but it doesn’t do specific testing.

Woof!

Ticks

by Randi Case (originally published on mendhamchester-online.com)  

Tick tock goes the summertime clock!  As summer rolls in and activities go outdoors we need to be cautious about ticks.  In rural areas like ours that are heavily wooded, ticks are very common.

Ticks are not jumping insects.  Instead, they climb grasses and trees and hitch a ride on passers-by.  Different species of ticks prefer different hosts – dogs, cats, humans.  Ticks can carry diseases like Lyme Disease, which can infect the host when the tick attaches.  The tick feeds on the blood from the host and can then transmit disease.

The best prevention against ticks is to use a product that specifically targets ticks.  These products may include spot on products and collars.  Speak to your veterinarian about which option is best for your pets.

It is also important to carefully examine yourself and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors.  With the proper precautions, outdoor time with your pet can be a wonderful bonding experience without the worry of unwanted insect hitchhikers!

Randi is the owner of Caring for Animals in Mendham, NJ.  Visit caringforanimalsnj.com for a description of the pet sitting and animal chiropractic solutions we offer in Morris County (NJ)…

Got Food?

by Randi Case (originally published on mendhamchester-online.com)

One thing that dogs are good at is sniffing out a good meal.  Often, however, that meal is the sandwich that is sitting on the counter or the leftovers on the dinner table.  Eating “scraps” is a bad habit that is all too common.  Here are a few tips to keep the paws on the floor and off the counters…

First, “exercise is a ‘quick fix’ for many annoying dog habits”, says Justine Shuurman, owner of The Family Dog.  She recommends twenty minutes of aerobic exercise three times a day “until his tongue is hanging out of the side of his mouth.”  This will leave the dog tired and less likely to look for mischief in the kitchen.

Second, don’t give him the opportunity to find anything yummy where he snoops.  If the dog is rewarded by a tasty morsel, he’ll be back for more.  Best practice, Justine recommends, “If the food is THERE, the dog is AWAY.  If the food is AWAY, the dog can be THERE.”

Third, have the dog work for their food.  Pet stores often have ‘Dog Puzzles’ that keep the dogs engaged.  A kong, a kibble nibble, or a tug-a-jug give the dog a mission.  Dogs love this!  It also tires them out.

Finally, if you have a persistent pincher with years of food hijacking, it may be time to call in a PRO.  Go to the CCPT.ORG website to find a certified dog trainer near you.  Persistence, consistency, and a good trainer will help both you and your dog live happy, healthy lives…  Woof!