Raw Diets and Assistance Dogs

bee on flower 9-2010

Several comments to the last blog brought up the issue of Delta's new policy of banning pets fed with "raw protein food" from being Delta Society Pet Partners. I'm guessing that although they were aware that an increasing number of people feed raw food to their pets, (Delta itself cites the "increasing use of raw protein diets" as a reason for their policy), they were not expecting the firestorm that blazed across the dog world once their policy was announced. Delta, as you probably know, cites studies that animals fed raw diets have increased amounts of pathogenic bacteria compared to dogs fed cooked food. Indeed a study out in 2008 found that dogs fed raw diets had increased  levels of salmonella and E. Coli in their stool. However, as the excellent review of this issue published in Read More

Animal Assisted Therapy Through the Ages

goldfinch, nuthatch

Aubrey Fine's new book on AAT just came out, Handbook on Animal-Assisted Therapy, and I am pleasantly surprised at how much of general interest is in it. If you've been reading the blog for awhile you might remember that Aubrey and I wrote a chapter for it together on "what therapists need to understand about their co-therapists." I loved working with Aubrey, he and I share so many beliefs and perspectives, and in addition he is such a kind and generous man to work with. We both agreed, as we say in the chapter, that great therapy dogs are often older dogs, who have had a chance to mature and mellow a bit. As I mature (so to speak) I look forward to being semi-retired and  having the time to do AAT or AAA (animal assisted activities). With Willie? Not sure, too soon to say. He is sooo Read More

Cats and Shelters

sushi hay 9-10

I did a fund raiser for my  local shelter last night, the Dane County Humane Society. They are about to open a state of the art facility for cats, designed to treat cats with ring worm (a fungus, not a worm) so that they don't have to be put down (as they often are at shelters, even some 'no-kill' ones.) They have developed a nationally recognized treatment program, and a new facility just for cats is part of the program. They call it the FIT Center (Feline Infectious Treatment? I'm making that up.) and it will be opening up next week. Yeah DCHS! I am bushed today, but am so gratified to be able to help. Over 200 people attended, we raised lots of money thanks to a generous community and I auctioned off Willie's slightly used Polly the Pig stuffed toy and discovered it's really really Read More

New Book on Human-Animal Relationships:

asters close 9-10

Oh dear, I'm behind already and the day is still young. It's not my fault, it's Hal Herzog's fault, for writing such a thought-provoking and engaging  book on human/animal relationships. Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat, is the kind of book that once I start I can't put down--thus my late start to the day this morning. Full disclosure: First off, I teach a class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison called "The Biology and Philosophy of Human/Animal Relationships," so this is clearly a topic near and dear to my heart. In the class, we talk about the same complications and contradictions that Hal addresses: Is it ethical to eat cows but not dogs? If yes or no, why? If you had to choose between saving the life of your own dog or a person you'd never  met, what would you do and Read More

Dog-Dog Reactivity II — The Basics

Thanks for all the great comments about your experiences with dogs who are reactive, whether it's to other dogs, or to people, or other objects. If you haven't read the comments, here's what comes out (at least to me) loud and clear: 1. There isn't any one method that works for all dogs. Dogs are "reactive" for a variety of reasons, including being afraid of other dogs, wanting to greet other dogs and being overwhelmed with excitement or frustration about it. In addition, some dogs seem to be helped by being first taught an appropriate behavior on cue, others do better if allowed to initiate it on their own. 2. The methods that seem to work best for most people involve teaching a dog to turn and look away from another dog, BEFORE the dog begins the problematic behavior. 3. If the Read More