Special needs - or just special?

BrutusIf you’ve payed attention to any of my prior posts, you’ll see I’m a pushover for “different” pets, or those with special needs. Tripedal cats and dogs, those with vision impairment, deaf animals, motor-issues...all of it. We all have our quirks, and I just love seeing how pets move forward as though nothing is different or wrong. We could learn a lot from them about how to live and be our best selves.

It turns out I’m not the only one that finds these pets a bit inspiring. In shelters, anything that made a pet a little “different” could be the thing that gets them adopted. Polydactyl cats and three-legged dogs were usually adopted quite quickly. While some special needs take a special pet parent, there’s usually a person out there looking to connect with a pet that has these unique issues. Differently-abled animals are even finding their way into the spotlight. (Remember, “Champion” on Parks and Rec, played by Lucy the 3-legged Pit Bull?)

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Training With Treats - Is It the Best Choice?

Training with TreatsJust to be clear, I am not a dog trainer, but I am a keen observer and see the consequences of training daily. I see the good and I see the bad.

In recent years, many dog training have adopted new philosophies and techniques. In the past, it was commonplace to see the, unfortunately misnamed, “choker” correction collars, pronged collars, and shock collars. Personally, I still see a place for the correction collars in a balanced method if they are used properly. However, I am not a fan of pronged collars and, in my opinion, there is absolutely no situation that justifies the use of a shock collar. Shock collars are not training collars. I have seen so many dogs become uncontrollably fearful and anxious due to shock collars.

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Avalanche Dogs

Well, we had a great fall after a scorching summer, but eventually we had to have a winter.  I have written in the past about winter time hazards, and how to keep your pet happy and healthy during the winter months.  But, despite how I may sound in  my gloomy, cautionary posts,  I actually love winter.  I love to ski, especially in Deer Valley Utah.  It is beautiful!  The sky is a blue that everyone needs to experience.  

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Fact Check: The Truth About Pet Nutrition

Thank goodness the presidential election season is over. How many times did you catch people offering statements as truth, without facts supporting them? In some cases, the loyal followers of the candidates take everything told to them by their candidate, a person they feel is an authority, as truth. In fact, NPR reported a new study that said the majority of misinformed people, don’t change their opinions even when presented with the facts. (Notice how we cited the study?)

The same sorts of rhetoric and spin can be found in the pet food industry, right down to the pet stores and their employees. With so many falsehoods that are being presented to the public by the big brands through sales reps and advertising, I always tell the many veterinary students that go through our practice to be critical thinkers. Do your own research. Be careful which sites you look to for information, because there is no editor on the internet! I could write an article dispelling all the myths I’ve heard repeated from pet parents, but how would you know if I am telling you the truth or just some more propaganda? I want you to read the results of the research yourselves. Here are some reliable websites:

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The Importance of Training

KaydenKayden is easily the best behaved dog I’ve ever had. I can’t say he’s the most well mannered dog anyone’s ever had, but he’s not a trash-diver, jumping, barking, indoor-pooping doof like some I’ve known. A lot of that is just in his nature. But, whenever I thank my stars for having an “easy” dog, I thank myself for taking the time in his first year with us to do training with him. He comes when called, takes treats nicely, and has a bond with my family that I think stems from those early interactions.

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