Dec 17, 2009

Take a minute to help us out.

donations matter . . .

paypal has a pretty good job with our dogs(you can just click on the paypal banner on the home page of our website, and the dogs do take checks as well.

send directly to to their current (not by choice) abode, Give a Dog a Bone, 1200 15th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

cheers, woofs, wags, and deck those halls, eh? And drive safely, for the love of Mike.

Dec 2, 2009


ok, this is dorky and self-serving,
but I did it anyway.

Chase Community Giving is donating $5,000,000 to charities around the USA through Facebook.

Chase is donating $5 million to charities in your community, and your votes help decide where it goes.

Facebook users are voting for the recipients! And it's easy to do . . . .

Log in to Facebook and do a search for my name (Corinne Dowling), you will see a Chase icon on my wall, click on that to go to their link, and vote for us and any other 501(c)3) that you would like to support.

Muttville. Grateful Dogs Rescue. Wonder Dog Rescue. Gimme Shelter. Toni's Kitty Rescue. Home at Last. While I'm not sure that they are all on Facebook, when you go to the Chase icon, it is easy to search your charities of choice.

And - check out my notes and photos with captions on Facebook.

Non-Profits on Facebook

Be sure to cast your vote for your favorite non-profit in the Chase Community Giving: You decide What Matters campaign.

Cheers, woofs, and wags especially from the you-know-whos.

Nov 15, 2009


I woke up this morning thinking about one of our dogs. She had two stays with us, the last one lasting for seven months.

She was something else. A huge dog, nothing small about her at all. Intimidating. For weeks, she roared her displeasure every time one of us even opened the door to her run and walked past her kennel. When she stood, as she did every time during those weeks, she almost reached the top of the front fencing with her paws. She growled, she bared teeth, she lunged at us, and if one can take that as intent, well, our girl had already proven that she was serious. She was impounded on a bite complaint, and subsequent investigation showed that there had been more than one.

She wasn't born that way, she was clearly damaged goods, and as with pretty much all dog aggression that we encounter (if not all), as she began to let us in, the threat displays dwindled, and the fear that all of that had masked appeared in heartbreaking ways. We learned some of her triggers, but never all of them, and her unpredictability ensured that there would always be a safety barrier between her and us. We never touched her. I don't know how long it would have taken her to be comfortable with touch.

But we did get through to her. Greeting her cheerfully by name as we opened the door to her run to let her know who was coming was a good start towards forming our relationship with her. We would pass by at an easy pace, not looking at her, with gentling, quiet words, as we rounded her kennel. I had sheeted one end of her kennel for calming and although she dashed over to the other side as we passed, she became more curious about us. We were not invading her world, not being intrusive, not asking her to stop protecting herself.

We began taking a little longer on our pass-bys, tossing goodies on the floor, always stooping to do so, so she never saw a raised hand. We gradually stopped for longer and then even longer periods of time, meaning minutes. She determined how long it was safe for her to be with us - we always left as she began to show signs of reaching threshold, so she had some control over her environment. Her threat displays diminished over time, and got to the point where if we could see one coming on, we could just say in a normal voice, "oh, knock it off, silly", and we could almost hear her saying to herself, "oh, right, what am I thinking, no need for this", and she would stop.

Food helped a lot. On impound, all of her ribs were showing, and although she was very picky about what she ate, we discovered a high quality nutricious kibble that she loved, and she was fed frequently by each of us. There were rules of course - since our lassie showed food possession, we had to be careful how we fed her, and she learned to sit or down a distance away from the food bowl while we slid it into the bowl hole. And, yes, she filled out nicely.

She learned boundaries, something I don't think she'd ever had before. That made her comfortable, gave structure to her life. She also learned how to play - such a young dog not to know how to play, and how it made us laugh to watch her playfulness emerge. Not much, and not for long, it made her nervous initially, but as her confidence grew, she was able to play with us for longer times. She also learned to relax. One of the most beautiful memories that I have of her is the vision of her laying calmly on her bed, just looking at me, soft as could be.

She loved kongs, she loved music - a friend of GADAB had gifted us with a CD/radio and we played music for her all day - classical mostly, but she really enjoyed a wacky Norwegian CD that one of our volunteers had brought in. She also loved being sung to, and, this was amazing, some nights when I stayed late, I'd sit in front of her kennel and sing to her, songs that I love and can remember the words to, and here's what she would do. She would sit and look at me, then lay down, then put her head on her forepaw, and then, I would hear her snoring. Oh, baby mama.

I danced for her too and she play-bowed back at me and bounced around awkwardly in response. She learned to give paw from one of our volunteers and learned how to stand up on her hind legs on cue.

All of us loved her; many short or long visits from whoever was there filled her days. We made sure that she had the biggest quilts that we could find.

You'd think she was the only dog that we had, but not so. It's been crazy busy this year with all the dogs for whom we've cared, so, so many, and how do you pick one victim to whom you want to give every star in the sky? I can't say. Any one of us could write volumes about our buddies, and the time we spend with them, but tell me, where would that time come from?

How does her story end? No judgements from any of us on that; it's her life that counted.

Truly, the memories will always be an honored part of each of us, the happy more than the sad for me. I cried bitter tears when I learned that she was dead. I was almost inconsolable that I was not able to be with her during her final moments. There was nothing more I could for her. Nothing. I am left, however, with wonderful mental images that put a smile on my face when they come to mind. Thanks, baby.

Buona notte, Bellissima.

Nov 10, 2009




tummy rubs.
Not too long ago, I was contacted by Elizabeth Brock, of Zootoo PetNews, which is a national online site devoted to the animal world in which we are fortunate enough to reside.

This was a different kind of interview, done entirely by email, which gave me the opportunity to really reflect upon her questions, some of which I either hadn't thought about in a long time or hadn't thought about at all. I found myself in a place that I can't quite explain - jumbled feelings and memories that I had to sort out, as well as many clear, concise pictures of the past few years that came to mind, bringing up issues that appear over and over again. I really had to think about how to convey my world in a way that readers could feel the truth.


"For me, dogs have always been a measure of our humanity, not only in how we regard and treat them, but perhaps, even more important, in how they help us to regard and treat our fellow humans. The miracle of dogs for me - and Orson was the living embodiment of this - is the way they brought me back to people. . . . Through him, I came to see that the work of dogs is not to lead us away from humanity but towards it." A Good Dog Jon Katz (

People and dogs. Quality of life. Compassion. Humanity. Shelter dogs. Volunteers.

Our babies thrive on affection. Quiet time. Down time.

Shelter dogs, not surprisingly,
lose the ability to relax

in such a species

Just sitting with them is such a gift.

One stick, two road cones, and a young dog braves the leap, enticed by a treat in a volunteer's hand that holds good things. Learning that hands are good is huge for a lot of our dogs.

One of our buddies follows the treat hand as the other hand controls how slowly this homemade see-saw lowers. Our hesitant buddy learns confidence as the volunteer handler responds only to the dog's movements. And then we throw a party as our pal makes it on through to the other side. No hurry, pal, we're on your time.
One case of neglected demodex. This little guy was bald on intake, and in this photo is in the midst of traditional (our shelter vet) and alternative (GADAB) treatments, and now enjoys a good life with a full, healthy coat in a good home.

Real life "weave" objects and an enthusiastic volunteer handler allow our four-legged friends to become comfortable with everyday objects, some of them upside down, some with treats on them, and a big jackpot at the end with a sit. A hose? That's what I'm talkin' about!

This little fellow, a victim of sickening abuse, perches himself on a homemade tunnel that he has learned to jauntily run through with the encouragement of this volunteer, and next (not seen), he will balance himself, hind legs on the tunnel and forelegs on the fire hydrant, for a jackpot. Hey, what else can we do with this tunnel and this fire hydrant? Rehomed happily.

Dog with people. Quality of life for all of us. Make it so for all species.

Oct 8, 2009


Who would have thought that a dog would notice the small opening between the floor and the elevator? Most of our dogs have never given a thought to that opening but to this dog, not only did he notice the opening, he had severe misgivings about crossing over it. Just look at what his body language is telling us.

He considered the treat lures that were offered, but to him, the value of those treats (which he had thoroughly enjoyed just moments ago out in our shelter park) were not enough to overcome his fear of making it over that threshold safely.

So we covered the threat, a very simple solution to a very real problem for our buddy, and it worked for him. His body language in the second photo is telling us that it's not a done deal for him, but he succeeded. Bigtime. That's what this scenario was about - giving the dog control over his environment and giving him an opportunity for success. Kudoes to our brave buddy.

No pushing the dog , no dragging the dog with the leash, no carrying the dog, no loud voice telling him it's ok when he knows perfectly well that it's not, all of which would have exacerbated his fear and done nothing to change it. We created the beginning of a positive emotional response to this particular fear. Each small success leads to a more confident dog. Not to mention the trust factor that we're establishing

So, thanks, honeybunch, for giving us yet another tool to work with youse guys. (No, I'm not from the Bronx.)

Sep 18, 2009


Meet Banjo. We believe that he hails from the ancient Isles of Rivatelah, the second dog from there whom we have been fortunate enough to have encountered here at GADAB. Although the people of Rivatelah are long gone, the breed has always been admired for their prowess in the art of lap snuggling and their outstanding ability to capture hearts.

Unlike The Captain, our first Rivatelahan, it took Banjo some time to get used to us. We used the tried and true techniques that we use with all our, "I don't really want to bite you, so please stay away from me" signals that we get from our fearful buddies. But once he decided to come around, he exhibited traits that Rivatelahan Snuggle Terriers were known for, although he is clearly a mix. What really got to us was his outstanding underbite. If you are a sucker for a good underbite, like I am, this guy could win prizes all over the world just for that. He shines as well in many other important ways, perhaps the most delightful being his cheerful demeanor. He loves playing outdoors with us, truly a people loving dog.

As we noted before with The Captain, not much is known today about the Isles of Rivatelah. They were thought to have been in the Irish Sea between Ireland and England. The scant artifacts that the Rivatelahans have left include many images and partial sculptures of dogs resembling the Snuggle Terrier in loving positions with human companions, indicating a profound intimacy between the two species.

Banjo lives now in a foster home with Grateful Dogs Rescue. His background and the wonderful times we had with him lead us to believe that his forever home isn't too far off in the future.

Sep 2, 2009


Meet our newest volunteer, Jonathan, along with a couple of his dogs. He's now teaching our dogs, mostly pitties, the joys of frisbee.

The dogs come back in from a frisbee outing, panting happily, tails wagging, and exhibiting the famous pit bull grin. They've learned impulse control, gotten unbelievable exercise, and once back in their kennels, take a well-deserved looooong nap.

Nothing like seeing a stretched out shelter dog snoring away in his bed, completely oblivious to his or her surroundings. Wonder what they are dreaming of? Since dogs live in the moment, what more can we ask for than a happy, well-exercised dog who is relaxed enough to conk out completely in a shelter environment?
One of these days, we'll be publishing a new super-star from GADAB because Jonathan will be looking for a foster from us.

Right now, it's Aztec and Ruby who compete with Jonathan and give demos to delighted and astounded folks in the Bay Area.

Sadie is retired after an illustrious career.

Jonathan, Aztec, and Ruby will be showing their stuff just behind the Give a Dog a Bone booth at Pet Pride Day on Sunday, October 25. Pet Pride Day is the annual San Francisco Care & Control outdoor super event. For more info, go to

Sep 1, 2009

Pippin, World Class Dock Diver

None of you could have forgotten our Christmas story this past year . . . posted on our blog December 22, 2008, entitled "Our Christmas Story" . . . starring Pippin and a young man whom we will always salute as a hero.

AND HERE SHE IS, THE FEARLESS ADVENTURE LOVER, PIP-PIP !!!!! And MaxineeBean shakes her head indulgently at the antics of her young roommate as she heads back to the tent where multiple doggie comforts await. Angela puts her babies first, as do we all, don't we now?

We will forever be grateful to the young man who rescued Pippin, and to Angela, a truly fabulous mom.

Truly an ending we never could have foreseen. It's still all about the love, baby.

Aug 22, 2009


Sweet dreams, darlin', darlin'.

"Lay your head
Upon my pillow.
Hold your warm and tender body
Close to mine . . . "
For the Good Times
by Kris Kristofferson


Someone had named her "Snap".

And snap she did, as close to the rear corner of her kennel as she could possibly be, from anyone who approached her in any way, lunging, baring teeth, growling. So utterly fearful of absolutely everyone - had her former people named her Snap because they thought it was funny to see such a tiny little dog acting so ferociously? Someone clearly had made this little girl act incredibly aggressively towards people - for one of those insane reasons we don't even want to guess at.

But we had something different in mind for her. And lots of experience with good instincts based on former successes. I waited her out. I would pass by her kennel and say hello to her without looking at her a few times a day. I would open her kennel door, and again, without looking at her, place some tasty morsels on the floor, close the door quietly and leave.

Then I spent short increments of time laying down as far away from her as I could be and ignored her. I did not lift my limbs, I moved very slowly, and not towards her. Using a lot of the calming techniques of Turid Rugas, such as keeping my body relaxed, soft yawning, quiet lip smacking, and never looking directly at her.

I upped the ante slowly, letting her feel safe enough to initiate an approach. At first, of course, there would be slight movements towards me with lots of darting retreats. Gradually, very gradually, her approaches became closer and she began eating treats in front of me, then from my hand. I still did not make eye contact with her, keeping my head lowered and facing away from her.

When I first touched her, I still did not face her directly, but let my hand drift towards her neck, speaking softly and cheerfully, saying her name a lot, and letting the tips of my fingers wiggle playfully just the tiniest bit. It worked. She was ready. My hand came towards her, always touching the blanket, and I never lifted it until I reached her neck and then I reached up to underneath her neck where she could see it. I stroked her gently and she stayed. Oh, baby.

That was the beginning of our love affair. It went slowly for a while and then she made the leap. Suddenly I was the apple of her eye, the person who made her twirl with happiness and jump for joy, who made her heart sing. She trusted someone. She found out about love. And how!!!

Then it was time for others to do the same thing. She needed to continue to grow and expand. She decided that was a good thing to do, although it took time with each new person, with each new place, and with each new dog whom she encountered. She met each challenge with suspicion and wariness and perhaps she always will.

Someone changed her name to Sugar Snap. Perfect. A little ( :-) ), or a lot (!), of each, our baby has finally made it out of the kennel where she began her transition into the dog she will become.

Sugar Snap is in a foster home with Grateful Dog Rescue and awaits her forever home.

FARAH aka LADYBUG - update!

Who could resist a face like this?

Well, it didn't take long for our little charmer to find a forever home, but it's turned out that there was a glitch in the works,as she reports from Lake Tahoe (where she spent the weekend with her foster family), "my new forever family has had a family emergency that is going to be a long term time commitment, so they had to put off getting a dog. Yup, me. Oh, dear, dear. So, I'm going to be with my lovely foster family until my new forever home finds me. My foster dad emailed this about me: I am housetrained, crate trained, I know sit, down, stay and come. We are working on loose-leash walking and I am improving on that quickly with his good leadership. I am (listen to this!!) incredibly good with adults and older children, and other dogs. I am active and affectionate and snuggly.

"I've been living on the streets of San Francisco (yes, I have heard of the tv show!) for most of my young life with different folks and I was never sure who my family was. How I landed in the isolation kennel at SF/ACC I'm not really sure, but there were some bald patches on my skin that made me itch like crazy, so I'm guessing that someone just dropped me off. One bath and a few Full Spa Treatments from the folks at GADAB changed that pretty quickly. Here's the kicker, though, I was adopted from ACC by Home at Last Rescue through the magnificent efforts of a particularly spectacular woman who is an ace at finding foster and forever homes. Her name is Joyce. Remember that, all you people who are looking to hire a most excellent foster coordinator. This is her true calling and we need to keep her in this field!!! By gosh and by golly!!!"

"Anyway, on one of the first days that Corinne had taken me out to the shelter park, she tossed a ball for me, and as I ran to catch it, I slipped onto my belly and then frog-legged to the ball. That cracked her up so much that she almost fell over too! Add that to my natural affection for people, that I play well with most dogs, and you can see why she called Joyce about me that same night.
"I am a lucky, lucky dog. J and C (as I call them) make a fabu team. Hey, guys and gals, I'm here to tell you - Dreams will come true."
And so it did. I have a nice size family: two (count 'em - 2!) dads, a doggie brother, and a kittie.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Joyce of Home at Last Rescue in Berkeley.

Jul 27, 2009


Make my blood boil. Horrified beyond belief. Afraid yet compelled to read one more paragraph. I’m sorry, I like happy endings as much as the next person, they very much make my day, but how do I ignore the rest? Soapbox time. Graphic too, I’m afraid, and very off topic from GADAB’s Mission Statement, but may I? For the squeamish, skip through to the last four paragraphs if you just need to know how you can make a difference.

The recent news stories, about the three state dog fighting ring, involving 30 men and 350 dogs, made news, I’m afraid, because of the sheer numbers involved. And that would just be the current number of dogs, not those maimed and killed over the years that these men were in business.

Men and women who fight animals are profiteers in other ways - arms smugglers, drug smugglers, gamblers – big money. It’s a huge business as well as a sick pleasure. You say it doesn’t happen in Canada because it’s illegal? Here’s a wake-up call – dog fighting is illegal in every state in the Union. Multitudes of animals are fought all over the world. Perhaps Michael Vick could offer some insight into the vast networks of global animal fighters.

Those of us who are familiar with dog fighting busts, canary fighting busts, cockfighting busts, also know about those animals who are bred to be tortured daily in testing laboratories all over the world. Include beagles as a breed especially victimized by animal laboratories, bunnies, monkeys and other primates bred as “test” animals by agencies that are both familiar and unfamiliar to you. The packaged meats that are displayed in your supermarket and butcher stores with nice fake grass sticking up between the different cuts – those farm animals live sickening, abysmal lives that the consumer does not see.

How about that new mascara being touted as “24 hour perfect long-lash” worn by the beautiful model smiling at you from the full page ad in a national magazine? That mascara was tested on many, many cute animals that you would snuggle in your arms as quickly as you could swoop them up, but she wouldn’t have any eyes, since the chemicals used to test that mascara have burned those little eyes crisply and effectively, without anesthesia. Anesthesia is too costly. But those companies don’t tell you that other, equally effective ways have been developed to test those live-saving drugs that are pushed as the reason for animal cruelty. Cosmetics are barely mentioned.

Those eggs that were $.79 a dozen last week at the supermarket chain people shop at were produced by chickens living in filthy cages so small that they could not move. They are filthy themselves, living in stacked cages, beaks removed so they cannot injure each other, living with dead chickens. Their life span, understandably and thankfully, is very short. Eggs come at a cost higher than $.79/dozen.

Puppy mills have been in the news lately. Good. Those darling little white and fluffies in the pet shops are damaged goods - both physically and behaviorally through no fault of their own. Breeders are to be looked at carefully; and just try to meet the dams and sires of those little ones. The lives of the dams especially would make you gag.

And Breed Specific Legislation? How safe does BSL make you feel? Wait til they target your favorite breed. Who will stand up for you?

What to do? Really, where to start? As always, with education. Then, in this economy, how do most of us afford to put our money where our mouth is?

As always, there is finding out who our legislators are and writing them, emailing them, calling them. There’s one-person boycotts, again contacting a corporation or company who practice animal cruelty and letting them know that your dollars are going to a socially conscious competitor. There’s going bigger - joining an organized group or donating a few or lots of your hard-earned dollars. In this networked world, it’s pretty effortless to do something easily and quickly.

Go to, do a search on Covance Research Products or Huntingdon Life Sciences. Your helping stop animal cruelty can just be a click away.

As for dog fighters, harder to find, harder to stop. But we can make our laws stronger, the penalties more severe, and teach our kids that morality applies to all species.

Speak up.

Jul 23, 2009



For NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to even consider meeting with Michael Vick, who was recently released from federal custody for dog fighting, speaks volumes about the NFL.

As for Michael Vick, his efforts to resume his professional football career indicate that he has little understanding of how sickened we were, and are, by the "blood sport" which he practiced. And, how additionally sickening that he wants to return to his former "glory days". It's over, Michael Vick. There are no more glory days for you. We all know who you are.

If such a meeting does occur, from the statements given by the Commissioner's office, I hold little hope that it would be to discuss Michael Vick's more appropriate future, which would be to spend the rest of his life speaking publicly, openly, and apologetically about the harm he has inflicted on the most maligned and victimized dog breed in our world today, the American Pit Bull Terrier. Easy victims are brutalized by the most cowardly of people.

Courage, Michael Vick, means openly recognizing that you chose to victimize helpless living beings in unspeakably cruel ways. Courage means owning up the harm that you have done. Courage means saying no in the first place.

But it also means that you, along with your influential friends and acquaintances, have a unique opportunity to educate the public and to actively promote the positive character of American Pit Bull Terriers, and even further, to discuss animal cruelty in an open, humane forum that addresses the possibility that one day, our species will stop hurting other species. Activism works. I hope you can meet some of the dogs that you terrorized and tell them that you are truly sorry and I hope you have heart enough to mean it. I hope you cry until you have no more tears. It will do you good to cry.

And then I hope you put your money where it belongs - directly to the shelters all over this country who care for these animals. Do you have guts enough to volunteer in a shelter? You see, it's not the animals who judge you - it's us, we're the ones who will be looking at you and trying to understand and forgive while we mop up canine blood from the floor.

Don't even think about giving your money to big animal organizations - that's the easy way out, to write a big check. Do some homework. Opportunities exist for you to make some reparation.

Then you can look your kids in the eyes and tell them that their daddy finally learned how to do the right thing.

Jun 18, 2009


Rescue Recycle Renew Adoption Fair

Come look for our table

have a great time with all

of us! Cats, dogs, birds, bunnies, other small mammals . . .
and YOU!

San Francisco SPCA invites you
Rescue, Recycle, Renew
Free Adoption Fair

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

11:00 am - 3:00 pm
201 Alabama Street
(in the courtyard of The SF/SPCA’s Leanne B. Roberts Animal Care Center)

FREE parking available

♥ Variety of Rescue Groups (adoption fees apply for each group)
♥ “Second Chance Sale” of new or gently used pet toys, outfits, bric-a-brac, supplies & more
♥ Education on recycling: garbage vs. compost vs. recyclables
♥ Tours of the new SF/SPCA Leanne B. Roberts Animal Care Center
♥ Maddies Pet Adoption Center
♥ Foster Care Program with kittens, and Fospice (Foster/Hospice) animals

Participating Bay Area Groups:

California Chins
Copper's Dream Animal Rescue
The Dog Spot Rescue

Give A Dog A Bone

Golden State Greyhound Adoption
Grateful Dogs Rescue

Hopalong and Second Chance Animal Rescue
Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue
The Milo Foundation

Rocket Dog
San Francisco Animal Care & Control

Save A Bunny
Toni's Kitty Rescue
Wonder Dog Rescue
Meet some really cool animals and bring your kids
- the next generation of adopters.

Adopt a homeless animal and save a life! Join The SF/SPCA and Bay Area rescue groups for a free Adoption Fair featuring cats and dogs of all ages, birds, bunnies, and other small mammals!
Participating Vendors ...

Dress My Pooch
Sponsored by ... PetCo Foundation - thank you, PetCo!

May 26, 2009

De-stressing your dog

It is easy to forget that dogs, like people, need very similar things to thrive. Your dog follows your routine, your eating habits, exercise habits and more. It is time that we thought about our own routines, and how they can impact the life of our pet. Dogs don't just need "dog food" and a ball to chase: each dog has something special and unique about them that should be honored, and it is up to you-- the owner-- to find out what it is!

In order to live, humans need the basics: food, water, and shelter. In order to thrive, however, we need a stable home environment, whole and nourishing foods, regular exercise, touch, love, community, strategies for managing stress, and a positive outlook on life. It would seem, to me, that we can say the same things about our pets.

At Give A Dog A Bone, we may work on a tight budget, but Corinne and her volunteers try to tackle the physical, emotional, and mental health of the dogs. One thing in particular: STRESS is not just our enemy, but an enemy of our pets as well. Although in some cases, prescription medicine is a necessity, these days, it is fun to play around with some of the extremely effective holistic and all-natural stress-busting options. Corinne has come up with some all-natural remedies that are worth sharing for de-stressing the dogs at the shelter:

1. Lavender spray bottle: Lavender has been used for ages as an herb to combat depression, anxiety, insomnia and a variety of other conditions. It works by having a calming effect on the body and thereby reducing the body's stress response. At the shelter, Corinne has a spray bottle filled with filtered water and lavender essential oil. Sprayed in the air around the dogs, they are noticeably intrigued and calmed by the smell. It is worth trying at home if your dog is having a barking attack, or noticeably agitated. 

2. Bach's Rescue Remedy: A long time holistic health staple, rescue remedy is a combination of flower essences developed by Edward Bach to be used in times of stress. Everyone from celebrities, to health professionals, or just your Average Joe can keep this in mind when stress arises. (Some EMT's even carry it around in their medical bag to use when patients are presenting with signs of shock!) The combination of flowers works synergistically to reduce stress, calm the mind, decrease anxiety, and even goes so far as to decrease panic symptoms. 

3. Diet: Dogs and people are sensitive to food. We may not know it, after all of the processes and refinements have taken place, but food definitely effects how we behave. Refined white sugar, for instance, spikes the blood sugar, causes mood imbalances, cravings, anxiety, and weight gain. Instead, it has been found that complex carbohydrates: quinoa, brown rice, millet, and protein: fish (high in protein and omega-s), chicken, lean meats have a profoundly calming effect on the body and mind. If you are up for it, make your dog breakfast of salmon, quinoa, and steamed veggies with olive oil to see how they respond to an all-natural and nourishing meal!!!

The list can go on forever, and it is fun to play around with your own stress busting ideas: Meditation, Yoga, massage, long walks, doing something fun with someone you love, watching a movie. Whatever your tactic is for stress-relief, try to get your dog in  on the action as well!

Wonderful wishes for a beautiful spring- the perfect time of year to enjoy a sunny patch of grass at the park with your furry friend.


May 5, 2009

Agility on a budget

It is one of the many perks of non-profit work that when recessions hit, you normally have a pretty good idea already of ways to save money. In an effort to make sure you can still get the most joy out of your time with your dog, we can show you how to do agility on a shoe-string. 

When looking for inexpensive thrills for your pet, look no further than some of the training equipment we use here at Give A Dog A Bone. Trust us, it doesn't take fancy toys, equipment, or high priced training sessions to make your pet happy (although I guess that never hurt, either). As any dog will tell you, they prefer your old shoes or stuffed animals to any of the other high priced toys you can find at the dog "boutiques". 

And why not let the pictures speak for themselves? The first thing you think when you see these pictures is, "My Gosh! That is one happy puppy!" Again, big thanks to Sylvia Spiro (our wonderful volunteer photographer) for being able to capture a puppy smiling and exuding pure puppy joy. You know, what we see in the pictures is not a picture-perfect puppy on a picture-perfect agility course; but rather, a sweet little guy with a patch of demodex (treatable mange) and a beautiful spirit making his own real-life agility course. Using a chair, a cone, a frisbee, and a fire hydrant (although we are not expecting you to have well-placed fire hydrants in your back yard:)), this puppy is in heaven!!! Using household objects: a broom handle, plastic chair, step stool, frisbee, rope, and any safe combination you can think of, can prove to be just the agility course your dog needs. In fact, using objects like cones and plastic chairs (cheap thrills!) is a wonderful way of getting your puppy used to objects that may seem "scary" or "strange" to its young mind. If you are looking for fun ways to socialize your puppy and get them accustomed to the big world out there, an at-home agility course could be just the mental and physical exercise they need to grow into strong, confident dogs. So look around your house today, and get experimental with your pet's agility course, they will thank you for it!

Life Behind Bars

It isn't always glamorous at the animal shelter, but there is some serious work that gets done while the animals are "behind bars". When animals are not being taken out for exercise and love, they spend the majority of their time inside of their kennel looking at life behind metal bars. Through no fault of their own, these dogs have ended up at Animal Care and Control, and it is through the effort of dedicated volunteers, like Corinne and her staff, that they end up with any human interaction at all. 

But don't despair yet! Where others might see a dead-end, Corinne and her volunteers see another opportunity to enrich the lives of the dogs. They strive to give their dogs the emotional support and mental stimulation they need in order to keep sane, even with a metal fence between them. In fact, Corinne once told me that every single time she enters a run she tries to acknowledge each dog she passes by. 

The photos above are taken by a wonderful volunteer, Sylvia, who uses her gift of photography to capture some of the wonderful day to day moments at Give A Dog A Bone. While in the cage, Corinne (seen above) is practicing "Ups" with one of her dogs. Treats abound in these training sessions, which Corinne stresses to me, keeps the dogs mentally stimulated and engaged, even when they can't be taken out. It seems that everything in life works from the inside out. Even when inside of their cages, Corinne and her volunteers begin putting behaviors on cue that will help groom these animals into well-behaved, loving dogs. Each time they pass by they have a kind word, a delicious treat, or squeaky toy to make each dog feel special.

At Give A Dog A Bone, no dog is too hopeless to be worked with or too sick to be loved. Every volunteer knows that each animal comes to the shelter with a unique set of circumstances and behaviors. Even dogs that are confined to their kennels because of aggression are not excluded from Corinne's remarkably positive training sessions. It may seem a small victory, but an animal deemed "vicious" or "aggressive" taking a treat from your hand, and doing "ups" for the volunteers, is just one of the many reasons that volunteering at Give A Dog A Bone is a worthwhile and enriching experience. 

More broadly, can you imagine what that would do for the world, if instead of turning a blind eye to others who need our help, we took the time to acknowledge each individual's beautiful and unique existence? We may not always have the answer to a problem, but taking the time to acknowledge what is around us is one of the most thoughtful things we can do.

So this is a big Thank You to all of the volunteers at Give A Dog A Bone, and to San Francisco's Animal Care and Control who make it their passion to acknowledge every dog, and give love, toys, treats, and affection to the dogs "behind bars". 

Mar 27, 2009

Do you have a type?

You can like them lean and handsome, scruffy and wise, young and nubile, or edgy and dark. Dogs, like humans, come in all shapes and sizes. No doubt most of us love all dogs unconditionally, but is there one certain type that goes straight to the soft spot in your heart?

An obvious start would be the big dog vs small dog battle that seems to divide most of us, but there may be more to it than that. Do you like big fluffy dogs with brown hair? Or small dogs with spots and sassy attitudes? The list continues with young dogs, adolescent dogs, old dogs, parti-colors, brindles, wire-haired, short-haired, bossy, laid-back...oh my!

While shadowing Deb (one amazing lady and volunteer!) I got to take a peek at her daily interactions with the dogs, and in the process, discovered her type! While we were taking the dogs out for some exercise and love, there was one adolescent puppy in particular who had captured her heart. Hunter is a gorgeous black pit-bull puppy, heading into his adolescent phase, and with lots of love to spare. Watching them work together, I saw a lot of the depth of emotion that passes between each of these volunteers and their animals. Despite how long they are in the shelter, or whatever the outcome may be, GADAB volunteers treat these animals like their own, with all of the nurturing and love that the animals can handle.

As I watched them together, and saw such genuine affection pass between them, I got to thinking about my own "type". I'd have to say that I'm a sucker for fluffy black and white dogs with goofy personalities, but I still manage to fall in love with animals of all shapes and sizes. Type or no type, these dogs are loved to the maximum capacity of each volunteer, and let me tell you, these volunteers have pretty huge hearts.

Mar 11, 2009

Squeaky Faucet? Nope, that's just Squeakers.

One of my most favorite things about volunteering at Give a Dog a Bone is finding the very thing that ROCKS a custody dog's world! Sometimes it's just hanging out in the park offering some TLC, for other dogs it's fetching a ball and learning a new agility trick.

This last Sunday, we found Squeaker's very favorite thing--so simple, so refreshing...the water hose!

Squeaker is a red Merle and LOVES to chase and bite the water straight from the hose. Now, doesn't that look like fun? Yay Squeaky Squeaker McSqueakerton!!

Jan 21, 2009

Update: Danni the Great

Now, this is a happy ending.

Do you remember Dandelion? She's the adorable girl who came in to Give a Dog a Bone under some unfortunate circumstances. She was instantly a favorite...and how could she not be? All love, this little girl wanted nothing but affection, attention, and to crawl into a lap. She was very lucky to be fostered by some very kind and patient foster parents while she was put up for adoption through Grateful Dogs Rescue.

I just so happened to be Dandy's biggest fan, and sent out an email to friends and coworkers, touting her adorableness (is that a word?). A very good friend of mine from Sacramento happened to share this email with her friend/coworker, who just happened to be looking for a 3rd dog to join their family.

A few days later, Barbara was on her way down to San Francisco.

Now, no story doesn't have a few bumps, and there were a few little bumps when Dandy, now deemed Danni, joined her new family. The dogs all had to adjust to the new dynamic. But, because they were committed to making it work, Barbara and her husband took the time to learn how to make all of the dogs comfortable in their roles in the family. And soon, the dogs were doing great, and Danni was even going to doggie school, and from what I hear, was the best dog in the class.

Plenty of exercise, dog companions, loving owners...this girl hit the jackpot.

"I am so excited to have her, she brings such great energy to our family," said Barbara in an email to me, and I have to makes me a little verklempt every time I think about Danni, starting out behind the bars of the shelter, and now...well, look for yourself...

So, thanks to Corinne for running a program that allows such happy endings to occur, and thanks to Jordan and Ellie for being great foster parents, thanks to Grateful Dogs Rescue for putting Danni in their program...and thanks to Barbara for giving the girl a chance...and for making a special little pittie's dreams come true!