“The therapeutic and social benefits of animal-assisted therapy are invaluable and span all ages,” said Irvington resident Jennifer Shirley of the Oregon Humane Society’s training and behavior department. “Whether gazing into the eyes of, talking to, or petting a dog or cat, there’s an increase in the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which assists in bonding.”
Research also shows that petting an animal can reduce blood pressure and ultimately help lower stress.
Many memory care residents have great memories of a dog or cat who was part of their family.
Children build confidence in their reading skills when they have opportunities to relax and read to a nonjudgmental dog.
Pet Partners, a national organization based in Bellevue, Washington, offers certification programs for nine types of animals – dogs, cats, horses, llamas or alpacas, rabbits, rats, guinea pigs and birds – but dogs are the most common Animal Assisted Therapy pets. All teams are required to demonstrate consistency and predictability of responses, comfort with being handled by unfamiliar people, and ability to remain calm in stressful, startling and noisy environments.
OHS offers an extensive training program that prepares individuals and their animals to become registered AAT teams with Pet Partners. Program requirements include:
• Pets must be at least one year of age when evaluated.
• Individuals must have owned their pet for at least six months.
• Pets should have no history of aggression towards people or other animals.
• Dogs attending the training portion must be spayed or neutered and have up-to-date vaccinations.
• Dogs should know basic cues: sit, down, stay, come, leave it; and walk on a loose leash.
Shirley said that while AAT evaluations can be very stressful for the handlers and their dogs, every team has control over getting trained and being prepared. The other big mistake that some handlers make is thinking the evaluation is all about their well-trained dog. It’s not. People are shocked when told they are responsible, not their dogs, for not passing.
“There’s nothing I love more than to see a respectful and loving relationship between a handler and his or her dog because I know I’m sending a great team out into the community,” said Shirley.
OHS PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS ANNOUNCED
The Oregon Humane Society has announced the winners of its 26th annual Fuzzy, Furry and Feathered Friends Photo Contest, which highlights pets of all kinds – including cats, dogs, rabbits, rodents, birds and other companion animals. All winners were featured in OHS Magazine and received a professionally framed copy of their photo and a $200 gift certificate from contest sponsor NW Framing. All proceeds go to help animals at the society, and last year the contest raised more than $16,000 to help shelter pets. The winners in the Top Dog, Top Cat and OHS Choice categories are below.
Pups with purpose provide performance partners
It’s not the vest that distinguishes service or companion dogs from emotional support dogs and therapy assistance dogs.
The American Disabilities Act defines service animal as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.
Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not service animals. The work or tasks of a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. A doctor’s letter does not turn an animal into a service animal.
Traits and training
Since 1975, Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit based in California, has trained more than 5,500 assistance dogs to:
• Perform daily tasks to assist adults with physical disabilities
• Alert hearing-impaired partners to important sounds
• Assist special needs clients in visitation, education, criminal justice or health care settings
• Enhance independence for children and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities
CCI breeds Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and a cross of the two to provide highly trained assistance dogs for people with disabilities. Trained service dogs are calm, confident, obedient and attentive, and they display a good work ethic. Once they master approximately 30 commands during their first year of training, dogs must complete advanced training before graduation and placement. (For more information, see cci.org.)
Encountering service dogs
In a public facility, a person accompanied by a service dog can only be asked two questions: is the animal required because of a disability, and what work or task has the animal been trained to perform? A facility is not allowed to ask for documentation or proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal.
Remember: these are working dogs providing safe, effective performance of work or tasks for their human partner.
Next month we’ll explore therapy assistance animals and provide information for training your dog or cat to serve as one.
Timely tips for ‘Bark’ to School
Camilla Welhaven of reward-based dog training business Ain’t Misbehaving has been training people – and their dogs – since 1999. For more information, call 503-239-8886 or visit www.aintmisbehaving.com.
- Be proactive; ideally, training should be integrated into summer activities. Practice leaving your dog crated and be consistent. Dogs learn from experience and pick up on cues from their human.
- Crate training: use multiple sessions with different scenarios. Crate your dog when you’re home, using high frequency and varied time sessions. Don’t crate your dog only when you’re leaving home. Make the crate a safe place providing food/water and special toys so your dog will easily retreat to it, rather than be confined by it.
- Create a leashed settle spot for your dog (or use a baby gate to limit their access), with a bed and toys. Chewing kibble stuffed inside a Kong can provide calming and soothing activity for dogs, redirecting dogs to manage themselves while their human is away.
- Provide consistent structure for your dog and think beyond your immediate training needs. Most dogs identify patterns of behavior and like routine.
- Reinforce your dog’s expectations that humans come and go and everything will be fine. Don’t exaggerate your departure from home or throw a party when you return.
- Consider supervised play and exercise at doggie daycare or hire a dog-walker.
- Exercise your dog before leaving home for school or work.
Photo contest will raise funds for humane society
It’s time to share your love of pets with the world and enter the Oregon Humane Society’s Fuzzy, Furry & Feathered Friends Photo Contest. The rules are simple, the prizes grand, and all entry fees go to help the pets at OHS.
The 26th annual contest highlights pets of all kinds: cats, dogs, rabbits, rodents, birds and other companion animals. Photos can be submitted of any pet, not just those adopted from OHS. This year’s contest features a People’s Choice voting system: three winners will be selected based on votes from the public. In addition, an “OHS Choice” winner will be picked by the staff of OHS.
The winning photo from one of the four categories (Dog, Cat, “Other” Pet and OHS Choice) will grace the cover of the OHS magazine. All winners will be featured inside the magazine, along with runners-up. Each winner will also receive a professionally framed copy of their photo and a $200 gift certificate from contest sponsor NW Framing.
The deadline for submitting entries and voting online is August 13. There is a $10 entry fee for submitting a photo; votes can be cast for $1 each. All proceeds go to help the animals at OHS. Last year, the Fuzzy, Furry & Feathered Friends Photo Contest raised more than $16,000 to help shelter pets.
Enter, vote and learn about the contest here: www.gogophotocontest.com/oregonhumanesociety
Pet photo tips: Get up close
Portland photographer David Childs shared a few tips for photographing pets at a class he offered at the Oregon Humane Society:
- Get your pet’s attention. In addition to dog and cat treats, use a squeaky toy or make sudden movements. Get down on the ground to get closer to your subject.
- Crop your photos – take out the busy background and zoom in on your dog or cat’s face. Photographer and photojournalist Robert Capa once said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” Even colors can be distracting, so you might try shooting in black and white.
- Scout out available outside light. The magic time for natural light is the first or last two hours of the day.
- Avoid pet red-eye by taking photos in natural light and not using your camera’s flash. Cats and dogs have reflective membranes, so if you use a flash, you’ll likely get red/glowing eyes in the picture.
- Vary your camera settings by consulting your camera’s manual to learn details about F-stops and shutter speeds. You need a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second to capture a sprinting dog.
Keep your pets safe in the heat
This summer’s hot weather will not only be uncomfortable for people, it can be dangerous for dogs, cats and other pets. The Oregon Humane Society urges animal lovers to follow these simple dos and don’ts for keeping pets safe in the heat:
- Don’t leave your pet alone in the car. The inside of a car heats up to dangerous temperatures in minutes. On an 85-degree day, a car’s interior temperature can climb to 120 degrees in 20 minutes, even with the windows slightly open.
- Don’t walk, jog, or play fetch with your dog during the heat of the day. Instead, walk and play with your pets in the cool of the evening and morning.
- Don’t let Fido ride in an uncovered pickup bed in the heat of the day. The sun heats up the metal truck bed and can burn a pet’s paw pads.
- Don’t leave pets unattended outside when it gets too hot – bring pets inside.
- Do keep your pets inside the house, with plenty of water. The best place for your pet to be during the heat of the day is inside with you – especially if you have an air conditioner or fan.
- Do give outside pets lots of shade and plenty of water to drink if it is not possible to bring them indoors.
- Do get a kiddie pool and fill it with water for your dogs to splash and play in. They will love it.
Symptoms of heatstroke could include restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark red tongue or gums, vomiting, and lack of coordination. Contact your veterinarian if your pet exhibits these symptoms.
If your pet is overcome by heat exhaustion, immediately immerse or spray the animal with cool running water (avoid cold water as that could cause shock) and continue until the body temperature lowers. Give your pet water to drink and consult your veterinarian right away to determine if additional treatment is needed.
If you suspect an emergency situation has developed and you see someone else’s animal in immediate danger from the heat, first consult the owner if possible and then contact your local animal control agency or police department.
For more information, visit www.oregonhumane.org.
Make informed decision on what to feed your pets
By Holly Hood
Oregon Humane Society retail buyer
With so many choices, how do you know what pet food to choose? Don’t judge the food by the pretty pictures on the front of the bag, judge it by the label on the back. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the label, you probably don’t want to feed it to your pets. If your cat or dog lived in the wild, their natural diet (prey) would be local, varied and around 70 percent water.
Dog and cat foods come in many forms, including homemade raw or cooked. Dry food contains 90 percent dry matter and 10 percent water. Wet canned food contains 75 percent water and dehydrated raw food contains 70 percent water.
Each type of prepared food has pros and cons. Dry is easy to feed and travels well but, is highly processed and by necessity for storage, contains preservatives and is well, dry. While dehydrated, raw and homemade are less processed and more bio-available, they can be more time-consuming to feed.
High quality dog and cat food have five things in common:
• First ingredient will be a whole named meat protein – not “meaty,” “meat-like,” or “beefy,” etc.
• First five ingredients on label will be high-quality ingredients, preferably meats.
• It won’t contain soy, wheat, corn or any byproducts.
• It will be high in moisture.
• Ingredients will come from a trusted source – local is best – make sure to review for recalls and product history.
A note about cats: they are desert carnivores who evolved with a low thirst drive. Cats in the desert eat prey to receive most of their moisture. Feeding an all dry food diet can cause chronic dehydration, which in turn can cause urinary and kidney problems.
The old adage “You are what you eat” is true for us, and true for our pets too. Less is more when you are reading pet food labels.
Consult your veterinarian before drastically changing your pet’s diet. Pet foods should meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ guidelines.
The Oregon Humane Society’s retail buyer and Roseway neighbor, Holly Hood with her husband, Miles, and doberman, Hijack. (Judy Nelson)
Rescue groups save dogs, regional shelters step up with medical care
Two groups have rescued about 40 dogs from Stevens County, Washington, and six adult animals, plus five puppies, are receiving medical care at the Oregon Humane Society, 1067 N.E. Columbia Blvd.
The Rescue4All and Spokane’s Humane Evacuation Rescue Team, assisted by the Stevens County sheriff’s office, rescued the animals, which apparently had been living outdoors for most of their lives, according to the humane society. Some of them had been in chains for so long that they suffered deep neck lacerations from chain collars, said a news release from the organization.
The rescue groups asked shelters in the region to help care for the dogs because Stevens County doesn’t have the resources to attend to so many animals.
One of the dogs taken to the Oregon Humane Society gave birth to the puppies the day after she arrived. All the dogs will receive medical care as long as needed. They will be offered for adoption when they are ready for new homes, according to the humane society. The adult dogs include Labrador mixes, mastiff mixes and other breeds.
“The dogs are friendly to people but are not leash-trained or house-trained,” according to a news release.
Dogs were initially surrendered by their owners, Theresa and Thomas Hostetler, but rescuers suspected more animals were on the property. A search warrant was served, said Sheriff Kendle Allen.
The Hostetlers were arrested on animal cruelty charges after skeletal remains and hides of other animals were found during the search, the sheriff said. More information is at www.oregonhumane.org.
Six adult animals and five puppies rescued from Stevens County, Wash., are receiving medical care at the Oregon Humane Society. They will be offered for adoption when they are ready for new homes. (Oregon Humane Society)
Tips for boarding pets
• Visit the pet boarding facility before you need it – whether it’s for planned vacation or emergency.
• Interview the facility’s owners for details about feeding (special diets), exercising and housing your pet. Confirm drop-off and pick-up times.
• Test drive a weekend stay for your pet at the boarding facility.
• Obtain details about add-on costs, including walking dogs or administering medications. Ask about any discounts when boarding multiple pets or for frequent stays.
• Furnish contact information for your veterinarian, plus recent pet records, including evidence of required immunization/shots.
• Inquire about access to vet/emergency care and the facility’s capacity to provide care after hours.
• Share details regarding your pet’s personality. Does your pet experience separation anxiety or have other behavior issues that require extra attention?
• Are the kennels large enough to house two dogs (or cats), or can they be housed near each other if they’re a bonded pair?
• Ask about options for extending your pet’s stay in case of emergency or delayed returns.
• Provide emergency contact information. – Kathy Eaton