Monday, May 28, 2012

Honoring Our Military Dogs

Every year, thousands of soldiers have given up their lives to serve their country. Military dogs are right by their side, helping them sniff out bombs, protecting them on the front lines, and guarding the home base of their beloved soldiers.

Many dogs have lost their lives fighting in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Since 2011, 600 dogs have participated in the events in Iraq. Even more dogs work the fields in Afghanistan. Yet, these soldiers are classified by the Department of Defense solely as equipment. These dogs who often saved many soldiers' lives, never get any special commendations either. They are basically.

Currently, there is a bill in the works to remove this label and make it easier for dogs finished with their duty abroad to find a home. This bill will reclassify military dogs as K-9 members of the armed forces and make it possible for dogs to be formally recognized by the U.S. government for their tireless commitment.

In Great Britain, over 800 dogs were put to sleep in the last ten years because they are deemed too fierce due to their specialized training and therefore do not make good pets.

In the Vietnam War, many of these dogs were abandoned there when their service was completed. Now, the tide is turning and many of these dogs are being adopted by their handlers or families of the handler that took care of them but didn't survive. For dogs who don't fall into the previous categories, the U.S. War Dogs Association helps make it possible for military dogs to find a forever home.

In Remembrance Of Those Who Perished

Bart, a Belgian Malinois died with his owner John Douangdara, 26, from Sioux City, Nebraska, who was a Master at Arms Petty Officer, 1st Class when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan last August. He's is just one of many that include dogs like Jacko (Golden Retriever) who died with his owner Gregory Rodgriguez, 35, an Army Sargeant First Class from Weidman, Michigan in 2008 when his patrol came under small arms fire.

One of the most touching master/handler bonds happened when Corporal Kory Wiens and his dog Cooper. Kory made it clear his dedication to Cooper, a labrador retriever, by reenlisting in the army so he could serve until Cooper was able to retire and they would be together. He was only 20 years old when he died together with Cooper on July 6th, 2006 while performing a search patrol. They worked to detect TNT, C-4, detonation cords, smokeless powder and mortars saved countless lives by taking explosives and other IED manufacturing materials out of Iraq.

In 2007, a dog park in Fort Carson, Colorado was named in the honor of these two soldiers. It showed the beginning of change when it came to military dogs.

Thank you to all the veterans who have selflessly given their lives because of their service to our country.

Let's Discuss!

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

How Walking Our Dog(s) Helps Us

Photo: Chris Reynolds
There are many benefits to walking your dog for dogs. Many people fail to realize how it will help them as well.

Here's what I've learned from walking three dogs continually:
  1. It unites you with nature. Because walking brings you down to a certain speed, you get to hear the birds singing, flowers blooming and seeing the wildlife around you. Nature has an effect of calming and tends to lift our moods.
  2. It gives you time to sort out your thoughts. Many times, we are on a solid routine of work, downtime, sleep. While this is ideal for most of us, being out with your dog gives you time to destress and organize your thoughts. You may rush through a walk sometimes, but even on days like those, you know it's going to help your dog.
  3. It lowers the bad (ldl) cholesterol and raises the good (hdl). Continuous walking will keep your cholesterol levels steady.
  4. It keeps your blood pressure down. High blood pressure is a key factor in accelerating heart disease. Walking will help to combat this.
  5. It improves bone density. Postmenopausal women who walk about one mile each day have higher bone density than women who walk shorter distances. It also is effective in slowing the rate of bone loss from the legs.
  6. It helps keep your brain sharp. Walking is known to increase brain function and keep cognitive thinking higher.
  7. It helps people to live longer. In a 1998 study in the New England Journal of Medicinenon-smoking men between the ages of 45 and 68 who walked each day 1 mile or less, the mortality rate was 43.1 in 100. On the other hand, men who walked 2 miles or more, in the same period of time had a mortality rate of 21.5 per 100. That's quite a difference
  8. It reduces your carbon footprint. Walking causes no pollution compared to driving in your car. Even with picking up after your dog, it will leave a much smaller footprint in comparison to driving frequently
  9. Minimal equipment is required. When you're walking your dog, all that's needed is a good leash, a pooper scooper and a good pair of walking shoes. No special gadgets are needed (although pedometers are helpful).
  10. It makes your pooch happy. When dogs are given something to do like walking, it eliminates their excess energy. They sleep better and have a more structured routine. It keeps them in shape and helps them to live a longer life.

Get Started!

It's simple to get started. Even if you can't do long walks, doing 3 10 minute walks a day is just as beneficial as walking 1 30 minute walk a day. A useful guide to how your neighborhood rates for walking is

Let's Discuss!

How does walking your dog benefit you?

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Who Gets The Dog?

Photo from: Free Knuckles

Relationships aren't easy. They take quite a lot of work from both individuals to make them succeed. Even more difficult is when a relationship breaks up. We all react differently.

I was utterly surprised when I heard about the man who is spending $60,000 to get his dog Knuckles back. Knuckles can't be more than a couple of years old. He's a puggle comprised of 3/4 beagle and 1/4 pug. Obviously, both Craig and his girlfriend were both attached to this boy.

While we haven't heard much from the girlfriend's side about the case, by reading the other articles and seeing the video on his fundraising website, it's obvious that this dog is really special to his owner.

We don't know how long this is going on but it's evident that this guy has taken a huge risk by putting his story on the internet. He has paid around $60,000 USD out of pocket and is working three jobs to earn the money to try to bring his "Knux" back home with him.

I don't know what went wrong in the relationship, but taking a dog all the way across the country to California without consulting the other person about it, just doesn't seem right. This guy lives in New York City and seems to be of limited means where he can't jump on a plane at a moment's notice to see his dog. It has been said the girlfriend's reasoning is that this guy didn't want the dog anymore. I think he's shown her 60,000 reasons that he does. I'm inclined to believe this guy, because he's found creative ways to raise money for his cause as opposed to just asking for it.

A Growing Trend

Many times in the past and even in present day, pets are perceived by the courts as being just property. As more and more people are raising their dogs as part of their family and not just a pet, there are going to be more lawsuits like this one. Many lawsuits have arisen out of love, but there is a significant percentage that have resulted from spite and/or retaliation. One thing for sure, there has been a huge increase of pet custody cases since 2001.

Let's Discuss!

What's your take on this? Is it happening because they both love the dog or because the girlfriend is striking back? I don't know the answer to that, but I have to wonder why this man would go to this trouble if his motives weren't true?

Learn More About Knuckles

Here's the fundraising website for more information.

Free Knuckles

Sunday, May 6, 2012

When Stress Hits Hard

Photo Resource:
Life tends to go by very fast these days. Many of those days are stressful. Owning a pet can be stressful for some. Many of us will ignore the stress until something drastic happens. That happened to me recently. As many of you know, I attend school part-time and work as a dog walker while I've been looking for that ideal career job. Luckily, I have a lead and hope it will get me started in the right direction.

This week, I'm in the middle of finals. I went in for a long, overdue haircut and came across the realization that my hair was physically affected by the stress. It's not like it happened on its own. However, I'd been in such a get up and go mode for many days, I kept pulling my hair back in clips and rubberbands. After awhile, my hair became weakened because of all the pulling.

Any time you repeat certain physical actions, it's usually as a result of reacting to stress. Nothing brings on stress like uncertainty.A little bit of stress is good. It keeps you on your toes, helps your productivity and challenges you. However, when stress goes into overload mode, it takes its toll.

We're living in difficult times. Unemployment has remained high since 2009. There have been record foreclosures. As rewarding as it is to own a dog, it's frustrating as not being able to bring them in for a checkup because a person can't afford it. Worse yet, many owners have had to give up their family friend for the same reason. Even though I'm not working permanently, I'm able to provide for my pets with the support of my family behind me.

What The Wake Up Call Told Me

After this happened, I decided to find more of a balance. Here are some things I've done to keep the stress at bay.
  1. Exercise more. Exercise has a way of taking away the stress impact. While I love walking my dogs, other types of exercise like strength building are just as important
  2. Have more of a routine. When you have an irregular schedule, it can take its toll. Consistency is very important.
  3. Relax. We schedule things to do all the time but never schedule time to relax.
  4. Spring cleaning. It's a great release of stress and combats it head on.
  5. Breathe. It may be a cliche but then again, cliches are usually true.
  6. The video below shows dogs just enjoying life because they're riding a car. It was shot by Keith Hopkin and it's one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. It reminds up that dogs can find happiness in the simplest things and maybe we should take a page from that book

Let's Discuss!

Life has a funny way of making us slow down when we least expect it. I'm looking forward to this. How about you? What are some things you do to combat stress? How does your pet help?

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