Is Your Heart Large Enough for a Doghouse Fire Puppy?

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Dog house Fire Puppies (aka St. Patrick's Day Litter)

We are all drawn to Lu’s Labs Labrador Retriever Rescue for many reasons. Some of us want to adopt Labradors, some of us want to facilitate the rescue of Labradors, and some of us look to Lu’s Labs to care for and find homes for dogs we can no longer provide for.

The sad story we want to share today illustrates all those different kinds of Labrador love. On December 14, a litter of 7 puppies was born in Louisiana. Mom is a pure bred black girl, who days before her spay appointment, was visited by an AKC registered golden retriever, Duke, who could not resist the temptation of Misty. The kids in this family begged and pleaded and won the approval of their parents to keep the puppies. Kids and puppies, right? They were made for each other!

The puppies came, were weaned, and received their shots and regular veterinary care. On January 31, tragedy struck. The heat lamp in the doghouse caused a fire. The fire was discovered quickly, and all the puppies were saved. Although the owners sustained severe injuries and were rushed to the ER.

The puppies have scars, understandably. But, they have all been lovingly cared for with regular penicillin shots, special baths, and creams administered daily to their skin. Their family showered love on them to help them heal, through and through. And, Lu’s Labs has added daily laser treatments to their regular care in an effort to reduce the scarring and increase the healing.

Despite this tragedy, these puppies have thrived. The love showered on them by their first family and the careful care that was administered to their wounds have allowed these puppies to be the best they can be. These puppies like all young puppies are playful, curious, and love to have things in their soft mouths. They are scarred. But their labbiness has conquered all and shown though as they healed from this awful, awful calamity.

Overwhelmed and understandably exhausted by this responsibility, this family turned to Lu’s Labs to find homes that will continue to show these very special puppies the care and comfort they deserve.

So, we come to the third type of person drawn to Lu’s Labs. You, dear adopter. You are the answer to all our prayers. The prayers of these puppies, especially. These puppies who literally survived fire and are now with Lu’s Labs. These puppies, now 4 months old, healed after their misfortune, need you, dear adopter. They need you to continue to love them and cherish them. These puppies are very special. They survived tremendous odds to become a member of your family. There is no question that these puppies will give love freely and unconditionally, as labs do. But also, as survivors of a horror few of us can imagine.

Is your heart large enough for a Doghouse Fire Puppy? Please fill out an application on our website and let us know that you are specifically interested in the Doghouse Fire Pups! We have 3 girls and 3 boys available!

Spring Has Sprung – Tips for Your Dog's Safety

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FINALLY. If you are in the Northern VA, MD, DC area - up until the other day it’s felt like day 182 of January.  But now that the weather is getting better what sort of spring hazards may exist for your dog?

Chemical Care in Gardening – Many soils, fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides contain harmful chemicals that aren’t good for your four-footed friends. Make sure to find as many toxic free options as possible, if you do have to use dangerous chemicals, make sure to read pet recommendations and store away from your animals. Also supervise your pets when around them in the garden.

Be Aware of Toxic Plants – While colorful blooms are a pretty addition to any spring garden, make sure to be aware of which plants can be toxic to your dogs. Spring staples like azaleas and rhododendron can be fatal if eaten. The list of toxic plants can be long, it’s best to do your research before planting your garden, or make sure your fur babies are supervised and staying out of the flower beds.

Riding in the Car – Nothing is more fun for doggies than going for a car ride to parks, hikes, and outdoor adventures! While your pal may like the wind in his face, make sure to buckle up with doggy seat belts and harnesses for safety. Likewise allowing your dog to ride in the bed of a pickup truck, or with heads stuck out windows of moving cars can be dangerous due to flying debris, bugs, and other vehicles. Buckle up for safety.

Hazards of Home Improvement – Spring is the time we break out the paint, the cleaners, and other materials to spruce up the house. Just make sure to be aware of storage and use of such products and keep Fido out of the fray. Whenever possible look for green cleaners that are not toxic to your pets.

Buggy Beware – With spring showers, mosquitoes and other menacing pests are more prevalent. Make sure you are staying current on all of your heart-worm and flea and tick prevention. It only takes one mosquito bite from the wrong bugger to transmit heart-worm to your pet. The same goes for tick-borne diseases, and no one wants a flea infested home.

Allergy Alerts – When the seasons change it’s not just us humans that find ourselves allergic to the elements, sometimes our dogs are too. This may manifest in itchy skin, and even anaphylactic reactions to stingy bugs. If you are concerned your pet may be sneezing, sniffling, or exhibiting other possible allergy issues, make sure to make a trip to your vet. Relief can be simpler than you may think.

Now that the weather is FINALLY getting nicer, enjoy your time out and about and bring your pups with you, but make sure when you do they are safe and sound.

3 Ways to Combat Counter Surfing - Remove, Redirect, Reward

 Photo by LucBrousseau/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by LucBrousseau/iStock / Getty Images

 

Counter surfing, this all too frequent dog behavior is actually quite natural.  In order to curb counter surfing it’s important to understand the potential reasons for the behavior as well as some ways to combat this unwanted circumstance or to reshape their behavior.

Why Does My Dog Counter Surf?

Counter surfing is a dog’s drive to cruise counters and tables for food items – not just objects. Objects would fall under the category of attention seeking, while food is a much more primal drive.

·      Seeking food is a primary instinct for dogs as well as other animals on the planet, so it’s no surprise that when a dog smells something yummy on top of the counter, it may be something that requires investigation.

·      Your dog has been successful before in finding food on a counter top or a table either because food was left on a counter and they found it, or you fed them scraps as you were cooking. This has now been established as a hunting ground.

·      It’s a high value reward, and thus something your dog is seeking. Let’s face it, your most food motivated dogs are the ones who become counter surfers.

How Can I Deal with This?

The main wait to combat counter surfing is simply to remove the temptation. This works 99.9% of the time, however it means we need to make a change in our own behavior. Even if a dog is taught to leave food on a table or during training on the floor, when left unsupervised, that training may only go so far. Why set your dog up for failure?

Remove – Control the environment. Why set your dog up for failure? It is up to us as dog owners to change our behavior.  If you have a habit of keeping bread, pastries, etc. on the counter tops move them to inaccessible locations. (This does not mean the back of the counter.)  Ideal locations are away in pantries, refrigerators – on top or inside – inside the microwave, the oven. Anywhere that will best remove the temptation. Do not feed scraps to your dog from the table or the counter top.

Redirect – The truth is, if you are cooking and a dog smells those amazing smells we have all likely experienced dogs under foot. Redirecting their actions and activity to another diversion is key in safely cooking without a dog in your cooking space, or worse…on a counter. Teaching a dog to go to their bed, their place, or to play in another room can be done through effort and household cooperation.

Reward – As you are teaching your dog to utilize a different behavior such as going to their place, make sure you reward them with high value treats (not from your counter tops) for complying with your training. Reinforce this with clicker training, and soon you will be able to redirect your dog out of the kitchen while you are preparing food.

Can I Train the Dog Not to Counter Surf?

Well, again, short of removing the temptations training is a difficult thing. There are 4 phases when a dog counter surfs. When the spot the food, when they put their paws up on the counter to investigate the food, when the dog grabs the food, and when they eat the food.

If you are not catching the dog in the early phases and using positive ways to redirect them, your corrections will be frustrating and ineffective. Yelling at a dog once they have jumped on the counter, pulled the food down, or eaten it, won’t compute to your pup.

You need to find ways to positively redirect the dog when it discovers there is food on the counter. If you see the dog move to the counter, or jump on the counter, plug a dog treat into his nose and lure him off or away from the counter. When his feet hit the ground say yes or click and give him the treat. After much practice incorporate the command off.

But let’s face it, we don’t want to entice our dog to jump on the counter in order to train the off command. In reality we don’t often see when our dogs jump on the counter because it is a crime of opportunity. Rather than driving yourself insane with this behavior. Remove the temptation, redirect them to their place when you are cooking, and reward their good behavior.

On a side note, sometimes rescue dogs are persistent counter surfers because they had to scavenge for food. Who knows how long they may have been strays. Or under fed because they were not well treated in their previous circumstances. But over time, as they realize they have a consistent food source, with a loving family, and no longer have to forage – you may see their behavior dissipate. But it can take months and months or even years.

Should Your Dog Be a Therapy Dog?

 Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images

In our last blog post we talked about the difference between Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and Emotional Support dogs. In this segment we are going to talk more about Therapy Dogs – the pros and cons of certification, and whether or not your dog should be a therapy dog.

Therapy dogs are not registered service dogs, and do not enjoy the same benefits on a personal level of helping their handlers but rather are trained and used to help others in a variety of situation. Therapy dog’s may be found in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice situations, schools, disaster areas – just about anywhere comfort is needed. Recently you may have seen a picture of the therapy dogs greeting the survivors in the wake of the Parkland, FL school shooting.

 

Does My Dog Have the Ability to Become a Therapy Dog?

It takes a certain dog to really be a therapy dog.

We all think our dogs are the sweetest angels on the planet, but when it comes to control and personality there are several things to consider and weigh when deciding whether or not to pursue therapy dog activities.

Therapy dogs typically have gentle, friendly, confident dispositions. They are tolerant, and well behaved in a variety of situations. They don’t startle, and they do not exhibit behaviors such as jumping, nipping, or shying away from touch. Their primary purpose is to make contact in therapeutic situations. To this end they must be comfortable with strangers, clumsy petting, and responsive to commands given by their handlers/owners.

A Lu's Lab Alumni, Svamal Machang, who has taken his Lu's Lab Ollie through the PAL's Program (See below) Says, "I think it comes down to trusting and knowing your dog. Is this something they would enjoy, and do you know your dog well enough to gauge how they’ll react in unpredictable situations."

Is There Required Training?

There are a variety of organizations out there that “certify” dogs as therapy dogs. For the most part, there is no set training program that is required. Nor a set of standards by which a dog must be trained before being certified. However, the best certification agencies do require dog and handler to go through a rigorous test of temperament and behavior. 

"Turns out, there’s no legal definition or status called therapy dog," says Machang, "It’s mostly about being under the umbrella of a group that can take care of the paperwork and insurance."

What kind of Registration is Required?

Well this is where it gets tricky. There are lots of organizations out there that offer “Certification” from websites to actual training facilities. Some don’t require any training at all, you just have to pay your fee. It’s important that if you want to take this on and really have your dog become a therapy dog, that you research reputable programs and make sure your dog has the temperament and manners to behave in a variety of situations.

Of the program Machang went through, he says, "You basically need to show that both you and the dog are friendly, communicate well and get along with other dogs and people."

What are Some Resources to Start?

Therapy Dog’s United – A non-profit with its own certification and testing program as well as connections to a network of facilities that utilize volunteer certified therapy dogs.

AKC Therapy Dog Program – Both purebreds and mix breeds can go through AKC certification programs. This is mainly a title and recognition program for a dog that is already performing visits on site with an agency.

Therapy Dogs International – Founded in 1976 this is a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing, and registering therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers.

Local Resources

Alliance of Therapy Dogs -  This used to be called Therapy Dogs, Inc., or TD Inc.  Lu’s Labs, head of training Linda Deam, did Pet Therapy through this group with two of her dogs several years ago.  The dogs were tested prior to being accepted into the TD Inc. program.  She worked with a local group and they followed a strict set of rules.  TD Inc. set the rules and everyone paid a yearly fee to join.  TD Inc. provided insurance as well.

PAL -  This is the local group some of our Lu’s Labs alumni, including Machang have used. PAL’s certification process is 3 steps, one orientation and two on site evaluations, there is a $100 application fee.

Pet Partners - This is another well-known therapy dog program that is worth checking into.

Ultimately this is an activity that can bring dog owners (Handlers) and their dogs together in a rewarding activity. "Seeing the joy in children’s faces as they read to Ollie, and how they persevere through their difficulties to read to him. There’s no fear of judgement, just a kid reading to a dog," Says Machang.

Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Emotional Support Animals: What's The Difference?

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Wouldn’t a world where we could take our pets anywhere with us be an amazing thing? From planes to restaurants, some of us want our pets to be a part of our everyday life. So much so that some try to side step the system. This can be harmful to those in true need.

In reality our pets don't cross over to the category of service dogs. There are 3 types of categories when it comes to dogs that “assist” us. Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and Emotional Support Animals. Each category is important to understand especially if you are considering a dog for a specific need, a specific task, or a specific reason. Under the law they all have varying degrees of rights and they are not all equal.

Service Dogs

While not to diminish the role of therapy dogs and how they can be helpful to many people in a variety of situations, nor discount the role of emotional support animals and how they impact the lives of their owners - A service dog is the only animal of this group that is highly trained and afforded special access where other animals would not pass.

Service dogs are highly trained team members that work with their handler’s specific needs. They help mitigate their handler’s disability and afford them safety and independence that may otherwise hinder an individual’s daily life without a Service Animal. This is the only case where the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the rights of people with disabilities to bring their into otherwise forbidden places. It is also important to note that under the DOJ/HUD/FHA The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Fair Housing Act and Federal Rehabilitation Act, Service Animals cannot be barred from otherwise pet restricted housing. The DOT Air Carrier Access Act also provides accommodation for Service Animals.

It is not possible to simply send away for a certificate or pay a fee and have a dog certified as a service animal. Simply buying a vest doesn’t cut it either.

Therapy Dogs

While therapy dogs also receive special training, they are for completely different purposes than service dogs, and the training is much more broad and forgiving. Whereas Service Dogs work for their handlers to provide specific needs and tasks, therapy dogs are utilized to assist individuals other than their handler/owner. These dogs are often chosen for their easy-going personalities and steady temperaments. They are often utilized in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other locations to provide companionship and comfort for patience, residents, and students in need.

Therapy dogs have many benefits and have a variety of jobs, they are not afforded the same rights under the ADA, DOT, and DOJ/HUD as Service Dogs. Therapy dogs go through their own set of standardized training and certification depending on their purpose.  At the end of the day they do not have the same jobs or legal designation as Service Dogs.

Many pet owners do seek out and successfully have their own pets certified as therapy dogs. We will explore this in more detail in our next blog post.

Emotional Support Dogs (Animals)

From Hamsters to Peacocks we’ve heard it all lately when it comes to emotional support animals, the truth of the matter is emotional support animals are far different from service dogs and therapy dogs.

Emotional support animals can be virtually any animal that its owner finds to be supportive for their emotional needs. There is no specialized training, required behavior, or certification necessary to be an emotional support animal. And no species classification. While not to diminish the role of an emotional support animal and the comfort they afford their disabled owners, there is very little oversight in designating an animal as emotionally supportive.

But in all seriousness, there are many scams out there providing quick certificates for animals claiming they are emotional support animals. A true emotional support animal is not a pet, but a companion animal to an individual with a verifiable mental or psychiatric disability. As such it is this type of animal that, while not afforded the rights under the ADA, they are given rights under the HUD and FHA – Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 and landlords must make reasonable accommodation for such animals. And Emotional Support Animals are not required to have any kind of specialized training.

Emotional Assistance animals do not bypass rules for air travel or fall into the same category as Service Dogs. And with more and more people abusing this status airlines are cracking down on animals allowed on flights. On the lighter side of things for a good laugh, read this emotional support animal journey with The New Yorker contributing writer, Patricia Marx.

Since many people often wonder how to get their dogs certified as therapy dogs, we will explore the pros and cons of therapy dogs in our next blog post.

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Guest Post: My Experience with Seperation Anxiety

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The following blog post is from a Lu's Lab adopter and Volunteer, our very own Samme Menke Drake. This post may help anyone experiencing separation anxiety with some tips and tricks. This is no substitute for visiting with your vet, a trainer, or a behaviorist to come up with a plan that is specific to your dog. But it is good to know that you are not alone, and that with patience and love you can overcome hurtles and provide a loving home for a rescue dog in need.

"We adopted our dog through Lu’s Labs Rescue in the fall of 2015 and had learned through our adoption coordinator that Henry (then Cooper) had spent at least the last year, and possibly longer, living out his days in a crate on the back porch of his family’s home in Georgia.

We were happy that the family had decided they could no longer care for him so that we could give him a better life. When Henry came to live with us, we were on the 9th floor of a high-rise apartment and while we were providing him plenty of space and exercise, we quickly discovered his separation anxiety.

The first week we had him, we were working from home to ensure that he was bonding with us and learning to trust us. We were crating him overnight and whenever we left. He escaped the crate a few times when we left, so we used extra zip tie closures to completely secure the crate.

The next time we were gone for roughly one hour, he had a complete panic attack. When my husband came in from his doctor appointment, Henry couldn’t even see him he was so crazed – spitting, screaming and slamming his head into the crate until he bled. After that, we stopped crating him and left him out in the open. While he mostly behaved out on his own, he constantly tried to escape the apartment, including learning to open the door. It was also clear that he had been pacing around the door as his “happy tail” wound had opened back up and left blood marks all over our walls around the entrance.

The next time we left him alone, we decided to put him in our bedroom and close the door so that he wouldn’t accidentally let himself out of our apartment. We left him for 45 minutes and when we returned we learned that he had another panic attack and dug the carpet all the way to the subfloor trying to escape.

Finally, we decided to put him in the bathroom with our laptop computer to watch him from our couch to see how he would react in the room alone (note: we didn’t even need to leave the apartment). We gave him a frozen kong treat and shut the door. Within the first 30 seconds, he abandoned his kong. Began to cry and started pacing. He then tried to open the door and began to panic. He peed on the floor and laid down in it. Then paced again. We watched him for 12 minutes as he completely lost it – exhibiting pretty much every symptom of a panic attack except drooling. (Note: the key to most of these symptoms is two-fold. 1. He clearly focused on exit points of the home. It wasn’t general destruction – it was an attempt to escape. 2. He struggled with being in enclosed spaces – even just being in a room by himself.)

Note: If your situation is far less intense, it could be a number of different things. Maybe your dog needs more exercise, more mental stimulation, is generally bored, or isn’t getting enough routine/discipline.

If your situation sounds similar, I highly recommend meeting with an experienced and licensed trainer to determine the method forward. Below is a description of what we went through and honestly, having someone to help us through it was the only way we would have been able to do it.

After this episode, we called a licensed trainer who specialized in this particular issue. After describing all of the above, she said it sounded very much like Separation Anxiety – not just a transitional issue, boredom or lack of exercise – it was much more than that.

Our trainer came to do an in-person evaluation and confirmed that this was indeed a Separation Anxiety issue, but he was also exhibiting some low-level anxiety symptoms in general (which she actually said was a positive thing because he may respond better to medication). We sought the advice of our vet and he was prescribed Fluoxetine (i.e. Prozac).  We were also given other ideas – such as a pheromone collar, Rescue calming drops, thunder shirts – some we tried, and some we didn’t. We didn’t really see any improvement with those.  

The method she recommended was incredibly intense and would definitely be a challenge, but she said if we put in the time and effort that he would end up being an amazing dog.

Devastated, but refusing to give up, we took on the challenge. Essentially, for six months we did not leave our dog alone (combination of daycare, babysitters and working from home made this possible).

We began with some easy training – teaching him the basics including sit, stay, down, etc. Our trainer emphasized that giving him these commands helped him to trust us and would teach him to be less impulsive. It helped him understand that we were in control and that we would take care of any of the “scary” things he might encounter when we are in the elevator, or walking outside.

Then, we taught him to “go to place,” which was essentially his bed that we would move around our apartment and practice sending him to it from various places – then slowly backing away or jumping up and down – the more focused he was and if he stayed in place, we would reward him with a treat. Then we gradually started moving out of his sight line.

Getting him to stay while we left the room was a major victory. Once we mastered that, we introduced a baby gate barrier. And again, started rewarding him for staying on his “place” for various time frames, or if we moved out of sight, etc. We aimed to spend about 30 minutes to an hour a day practicing these things.

Because Henry is very food motivated, we saw progress in him immediately – not with the Separation Anxiety because we still weren’t leaving him alone yet. After a few months, our trainer said it was time to start popping out of the apartment for less than 30 seconds a few times a day. We slowly built that time up from 30 seconds to minutes until we reached 20 minutes.

We invested in Nest cameras so that we could monitor him through the process. If he showed any signs of a panic attack coming on, we could come back in. We would go sit in the lobby and watch on our phones. After he was able to handle 20-30 minutes alone – that’s when we were able to start pushing the envelope further. Finally, we built up to a few hours and continued to see Henry improve. Our lives were back to normal.

Then we moved.

We were really concerned that the move would set him back, so before we moved in, we would take him over to our house to get a feel for it. We knew in the long-run the house (with a yard) would be better for him, but we didn’t want him relapsing. We let him warm up to the idea by leaving him alone for very short periods of time and watching him on our cameras.

We realized that the front door was a source of anxiety, so we stopped letting him near it when we left – basically putting the baby gate at the top of the stairs so he was forced to stay in the main living space with the comfort of his couch and a big window to look out of.

Aside from a few tiny bumps in the road, Henry has fully recovered from his Separation Anxiety. He is still on his medications, which we may consider weening him off eventually, but for now it’s working and he’s happy.

Overall, I definitely think the house environment is much more suited for him. Because he came from such a rural area, I think the constant interactions with people in the apartment building, as well as the construction noises and everything else he was adjusting to, exasperated his issue. He feels much more at home in our house."

As you can see, with love, patience, and time as well as the advice and intervention of experts it is possible to get through seemingly difficult behaviors with your dogs. Remember, whenever you adopt a dog from rescue their behaviors may take a while to come out, and they are not solvable overnight. You are helping save lives when you rescue and adopt. With it comes responsibility.

Ice and Snow: 7 Tips to Keep Your Dogs Safe in Extreme Cold Weather

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Okay we concede that extreme is different in different locations and Lu’s Labs rescues dogs all over the south and brings them up to the north, so some dogs may not like the cold. How can we protect our dogs against extreme weather no matter where we live?

1 - Deciding What’s Too Cold for Your Dog – First off, think about what is too cold for you, and it’s probably too cold for your dog. Weather and wind-chill below 32 Fahrenheit can cause hypothermia and frostbite for your dog. (And of course for you too!)

2 - Stay Indoors -  If anyone knows our rescue, dogs are indoor family members, not outside pets. At least not to us. That means that in extreme whether you shouldn’t be leaving your dogs outdoors and dog houses are not sufficient shelter for a dog. Maybe their ancestors were pack animals that lived outside, but our domestic dogs are not. And when they ran in packs they had other warm bodies to curl up with. Dogs, especially Lu’s Labs, belong inside, by the fireplace, snuggled in your blankets, and, for most of us, on the couch.

3 - Check Your Dog’s Paws – Walking in ice and snow can damage your dog’s paws. Check for cracking and bleeding, and make sure ice is not accumulating between toes. Some people go to extremes and get dog socks or boots, and while this may be helpful in some cases, also examine your dog’s level of comfort. The best course of action is to limit walks in cold weather.

4 - Wipe Down Feet, legs, and Bellies – While walking around your dog can pick up de-icing chemicals, salt, and antifreeze along with other chemicals unsafe for your pets. If you keep dog safe wipes by the door you can wipe down their paws and under carriage and legs to reduce the possibility of poisoning and illness from these harmful chemicals.

5 - Use Pet Safe Chemicals – While you can’t help what your neighbors do, you can help what is in and around your sidewalk and driveway. There are pet safe de-icers out there that will reduce your dog’s exposure to harmful contaminants. Again, try when you can to avoid walking across chemicals. It can cause burns and abrasions to your dog’s paws. Refer back to tip number 4 whenever in doubt.

6 - Avoid Anti-Freeze Spills – It is common practice during winter months to change or top off car coolant and anti-freeze. Chemicals within the anti-freeze have a sweet smell and taste that can seem attractive to your dog yet are extremely toxic when ingested. The ethylene glycol in these substances can cause severe illness and death to pets. Minutes can make a different when it comes to getting your dog help.

7 - Rock Salt Poisoning – Rock salt is a mixture of salt (Sodium Chloride) and grit and is commonly used to de-ice winter roads. It can be harmful to dogs though it’s hard to say how much needs to be ingested in order to cause damage. Ingesting rock salt (And even common table salt) can lead to high blood sodium which can cause thirst, vomiting and lethargic behavior.  In severe cases there is a risk of convulsion and kidney damage. If suspected dogs should be taken to a vet for evaluation.

Bottom line, when in doubt, when it’s cold out, keep your dogs’ exposure to a minimum to severe temperatures. Make sure you have plenty of indoor games and things to keep them occupied. Brain games, toys, and supervised play…otherwise you may just lose a shoe or two while waiting for the winter weather to subside.

 

Be Aware of the Dangers of These 4 Dog Toys

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How do you choose the best dog toys for your dogs and how do you avoid the pitfalls and hazards that come along with dogs…toys…and chewing?

This is a never-ending question that doesn’t always have a straight forward answer because some dogs treat their toys differently than others. Some dogs are prolific chewers. Some like to disassemble toys but don’t swallow the parts. Other dogs, will ingest anything they can get their paws on… so how do you know what is safe for your pets?

This could be a really long post if we tried to tell you all the toys you can buy that are tough, and all of those that you should stay away from. Instead we will talk about 4 of the most common toys and chews on the market.

As we discuss toy dangers it is important to know that 95% of the time, when your dog swallows foreign objects, they will pass through their system without incident. It’s that other 5% of the time that can be life threatening and result in expensive vet bills or worse.

Rope Toys – From a tug of war stand point and if you play with your dog or supervise your dog this can be a fairly safe toy. BUT if you leave a dog to their own devices and their goal is to pull the rope apart and ingest it, then it should be a toy kept out of reach.

The Dangers: Strands of rope can be very dangerous when swallowed. Vets categorize this as a “linear foreign body.” The danger occurs when one part of the rope is stuck in the stomach and the other part of the rope makes it into the intestines. The digestive system attempts to pass this through its system, and it begins to cinch on itself like the drawstring in a pair of sweatpants. This slowly tightens the digestive track and can become life threatening and painful. Even small pieces of rope overtime can accumulate like hairs in a shower drain causing a blockage.

If your dog is continually trying to strip off the pieces of rope, even if this is a favorite toy, it’s best to find a different toy for your dog friend.

Nylabones – In the constant quest for something for prolific chewers some pet owners are divided about Nylabones.  There are pros and cons to these synthetic pet chews and you will get varying opinions on the use of these chew toys. While the pros are that these help promote healthy chewing (And saves your couch from time to time) and provide mental stimulation, there are some cons as well.

The Dangers: When unsupervised some dogs can chew these into small pieces that are not digestible. They can cause intestinal blockage, and when chewed into sharp shards can also pose a threat by puncturing the intestines.

Sometimes ring chews give a dog less purchase to break off small pieces and Nylabone does have some rings that may work well for your needs. Again supervising is the key. Know what your dog is doing to the toys you provide.

Rawhides – Again, the debate is real. So many vets, rescues, and dog experts steer away from the use of rawhide bones. While once a staple in dog families when they first became popular in the 1950s, our knowledge has evolved and the sources for rawhide varies. While dogs need to chew, and some people still gravitate toward rawhides because they are cheap and easy, the risks are worth keeping in mind. Especially with questionable sources from China containing such toxins as formaldehyde, arsenic, and other contaminants.

The Dangers: Some rawhide bones have been found to have trace contaminants and toxic chemicals not good for your dog’s consumption. Choking and blockages can occur when your chewer ingests pieces of the rawhide bones. Your dog may be sensitive to rawhide and it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other signs of poor health. 

Balls and Tennis Balls – This is an all-time favorite for most dogs who have any kind of fetching skills or ball drive.  Who doesn’t think tennis ball when they think of retrievers? But most people aren’t aware that tennis balls and balls in general can actually be dangerous for larger breed dogs. (Or any size ball that is the wrong size for the dog in question.) The most important thing is to be aware, be smart in choosing your ball toys, and know what to do in case of an emergency.

The Dangers: Balls are a major choking hazard for dogs. Especially if the ball is wrong sized. Typical tennis balls can be too small for larger breeds like golden retrievers and, you guessed it, Labs. The ball can get stuck in your dog’s throat when he or she catches it and cause a blockage.

When this type of accident happens, you will not have time to get the dog to the vet before he could choke. It’s important to get to your dog immediately, straddle the dog, open the mouth and grab it out of the throat, it may mean sliding 2 fingers down to try to get it un-wedged. If it’s lodged too deeply you may need to work on the outside of the dog’s throat first and try to roll the ball up. The faster you can get the ball out the better your dog’s chances of survival.  At the end of the day it’s important to consider oversized balls that won’t go down their throats when engaging in play.

The bottom line is, that when our dogs are left to their own devices it’s important we don’t leave them with toys that can be harmful. It’s also important to supervise their play and know the right toys for the right sized dogs.

The Great Escape: How We Caught Sarah

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So how did we catch Sarah? It can’t be that hard, right? Just put up some signs. Watch her. Feed her. Grab a leash. Correct? Wrong. So just how did this whole shin dig go?

Sarah left her foster home Saturday morning for transport to Virginia. Sarah was tethered, and the next stop was the McDonald’s in Evergreen, Alabama. However during the drive she stepped on the seat belt clip which unhooked. So when the driver opened the door Sarah jumped out and ran. Sarah stuck around McDonald’s for a bit attempted to go up to some girls but decided to run. She had her martingale collar with an ID tag and a leash attached to it. She was officially in flight mode.

In the time Sarah was running and finding a place to feel safe, her foster mom Peggy hopped on the road and drove 2 hours to Evergreen. The transporter Nancy made contact with the local police and they were actively looking, patrolling, and alerting the public. Nancy continued to drive the area looking for any sightings of Sarah. That is what we needed, a starting point.

So Sarah is loose in Evergreen, Al. What that hell is there, there. Let me say, some awesome freaking people! Very helpful, kind, concerned people. But other than them it’s just one of those towns between two big cities that has a few restaurants and a couple of hotels. There was not even a place to print flyers. So what to do, who to call? Who can be there with feet on the ground? There were literally no contacts in the area. There were fosters within 3 hours though, who were willing to drive. So Jess and her family hit the road.

In the meantime Melissa started a flyer, Janis finished it. Sent it to an Office Depot in Montgomery along Jessica’s route to Evergreen. Jess arrived to OD and there color printer had just broken.... the lady at OD was the absolute best she tried so hard to get it working. When she couldn’t she called the nearest OD which was 12 miles in the opposite direction. When Jess arrived they had them waiting because the lady from the other OD called and told them how important this was. We grabbed what we needed. Sheet protectors, duck tape, and markers and hit the road again.

For the next hour from Montgomery to Evergreen Anita wrote reward on both sides of the flyer and Lexi put the flyer in a sheet protector. And Anderson slept.

Peggy (Sarah’s foster Mom) had arrived in Evergreen. Nancy had seen her once near a wooded area near a dialysis center. Peggy walked the area, hoping to see her. Absolutely nothing.
No sounds. No sightings. Was she still there? No one knew. So Peggy and Nancy drove around continue to look for any evidence of a loose dog running. Nancy’s Dad (85years old) spotted her! Near the road, near the dialysis center!!! Yes she was still in the same area!!! There was a water source!!! Sarah had found her a spot.

Jess, Anita, Lexi, and Anderson(the dog) arrive. Jess rolls out a simple short term plan. Anita and Lexi head out to put up signs and talk to local business. Nancy and her dad go searching for an Samsung Galaxy 8 cell phone charger (which in case you wanted to know are impossible to find). Jess gets Peggy set up on the tree line of the area Sarah was last seen, and Jess sets up two food sources. One very close to the water area and one near where she was last seen. Peggy sat in the woods for about an hour with nothing. Jess sat way back near the water source to see if she might be down that way. Again the question was, was she even still in the area. We didn’t know and there had been no sightings. So we stayed in this area. Anita and Lexi came back. Anita took over Jess’s spot and Jess and Lexi went the other direction putting up signs, knocking on people’s doors, making contact with the community.

In the meantime, many people from far away more people then I can list begin making the social media pleas. We needed people on the ground. We needed help. A Facebook page was made and shared about 200 times. Pms were going, people were being contacted. Just so much behind the scenes was going on. And it was so hard for all those people because they wanted to be on the ground but were in Fl, VA, NY and probabaly more places.

Jess and Lexi came back from hanging fliers and convinced Peggy to go charge her phone and get some food. Peggy was tired, emotional, and so worried she needed to go relax. We were afraid that if Sarah was near she was sensing Peggy’s stress.

In the meantime Anita and Jess switch back and forth sitting in the wood lines. The police came by every 20 minutes. Anita heard what she thought was tags but soon after that we got word there was a dog a half mile away in the intersection and cars were having to go around it. Anita, Jess, and Lexi loaded up and and drove there. There was a dog. It was not Sarah. She was a Red Heeler mix. At this point what do we do?

Yep you all know. Lu doesn’t leave a dogs behind. So she came back to the dialysis center with us. We named her Eve for being found in “Eve”rgreen.

At this point we were not sure if Sarah had been around or not. So Jess went to check the food. Nothing. But it was 38 degrees, so we decided to watch from the car. While sitting in the car talking to Lu coming up with a plan for the next day. She comes out. She lays down near the food bowl. She eats. She slept for about 20 minutes. And then she disappeared back into the woods. We had Peggy go back and sit for a bit. But let’s face it the ground was so cold and wet from the snow and ice in the previous days, if you sat you got wet. And then it was cold. So it was beyond hard to sit for long. There was no signs of Sarah for the remainder of the night. She had eaten (1/4 of a can of dog food) and disappeared. She has bedded down for the night.

It was time for us to get some sleep too. So we could be fresh in the morning. We left the last sighting location at 10:45pm to go to the hotel. Well the hotel allowed pets under 20lbs. Ummm we had Anderson at 65lb lab and Eve as 50lb heeler mix. They let us stay!!! No questions asked. Anita and Lexi went and grabbed some food. Jess mapped out a plan for the morning.

They got up at 330am and were out and back out on the ground at 4. Jess was on the ground from 4 until 6. Jess swore she kept hearing her but so saw nothing. Anita swapped with Jess, and again kept hearing something but never saw anything. At 7:15 with Anita still on the ground, Sarah was spotted she came from behind Anita and went towards the road. But she came right back down and back into the comfort of her woods a little ways up.

Jess decided to go down a ways from where Sarah was seen. Jess found a tree and made that her spot. We were trying to figure of which patch of woods Sarah was in. There were two sets (the road, grassy area, woods, grassy area, and woods) Sarah was active and boy she was getting close to Jess. The more Jess sung the closer she got. Sarah got within 5 feet but spooked when a car drove by. Back into the woods she went. At 8, it had warmed up a bit. So Jess helped Peggy set back up in the wood lines.

Jess, Anita, and Lexi went to the local AC so see about a trap. No traps 😞 but such a nice man! Who was so helpful. He scanned Eve for a microchip, no chip. And asked if we needed anything. He took all of our information and shared with a transport group. We went back to the hotel and got smoked sausage and sausage gravy for Sarah (it smelled so go) and checked out of our room. We took the food back out and set it up for Sarah. Peggy went to go get her breakfast and check out of her hotel room.

In the meantime a trap was on the way from Mobile!

Jess decided it was time to try Anderson. Jess and Anderson walked. Anderson got extremely whinny. So they sat. Anderson was on to something. Within 5 minutes, Sarah was there. She was pacing and watching. She was getting closer and closer. She wanted to come out. Jess was working on commands, playing, feeding, and loving on Anderson. The more she loved on him the closer she got. Sarah was within ten feet of Jess and Anderson. She would go and sleep about 25 feet away and then come back. Her leash was getting stuck which scared her a bit.

The trap had arrived and was up by the road. Local volunteers had arrived they were lining the wood line by the road that way she couldn’t cross there because we did not want her too. A local man was told what we were doing and we asked him to stay away. Well we were on the backside of his property so he decided to come see what we were doing. He came up behind Jess and Anderson. Jess spooked and it made Anderson spook which spooked Sarah and she took off running.

She ran the direction she had some from and then all of a sudden she came barreling back and went into the woods closes to the road where the other side was blocked by people. We went two hours with no sightings. No sounds. We honestly were scratching our heads did she get past us without us knowing.

Somehow Tony spotted her in the brush. She had not gotten past us. She has found a gully, curled up, and went to sleep. The area was wooded. And about 15 feet deep. We were able to surround her. She was dead asleep, Surrounded by the comfort of bushes, briars, and the ground. She felt somewhat safe.

We also knew this was our chance. Tony stood in front of her. While Anita army crawled slowly into the bushes. Sarah woke up, but did not move. She was shaking. Tony got low to the ground. He would get Sarah’s attention, and Anita would crawl. Anita would her attention and Tony would crawl. This went back and forth. The remainder of us surrounded the area in case she ran. Anita got close enough and slowly reached for the leash and grabbed it. Leash in hand Sarah was pulling tight and flipping. Anita said it was like a dog on a catch pole. Which is kinda what the martingale
Collar did. As Sarah pulled it tighten and Sarah could not slip lose. Tony moved closer. Sarah would not Allow them to touch her. So we passed food and water in to gain trust. Slowly gaining trust they were able to slip a slip lead around her neck. Tony would hand food to Anita. Anita would toss it to Sarah and slowly started offering the food from her hand. Soon Anita was petting Sarah. They were not able to stand so they coaxed her out with Tony in front with bacon strips, Sarah following while eating, and Anita behind with the leashes in hand.

They coaxed Sarah all the way back around where we had the trap. We decided to coax her into it. Just give everyone a chance to relax take a breath and to get Peggy to her girl.

We can not thank everyone enough who help.

Especially the ones on the ground in the Team Sarah picture. Search partners(left to right): Tony Nobles, ARR/South members Leigh, Todd, Kaylee, and Andrew Darby, Jessica Ely, Anderson(yellow lab), Peggy Robertson, Anita Ely, Susan and Tony Scott, and D Todd Grier. Not pictured is Lexi who is taking the picture.

The directors who were behind the scenes helping brainstorming ideas, keeping each other calm 😬 or at least trying.

The people in Evergreen and the omg the police officers who were so awesome.

All the shares we got, advice, offers to help. Each one of you were amazing!

We may have not done things by the books. But it was a successful rescue! And it took a village!!

Oooo and Eve! Eve stayed in Evergreen with ARR/south members who will be updating us along her journey!!!

Do Your Research When It Comes to Essential Oils and Your Pets

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Hello Lu's Labs family. I just want to address something that went viral recently and I know that a lot of our Rescue community saw it. It was a viral post (that has since been taken down) about a woman upset about poisoning her cat with essential oils. However, many more exist out there so it’s important to understand safety and your pets when using essential oils. (Whether in your home for your family, or directly for your pets.)

The original post caused a lot of buzz on the internet for many reasons. And as someone who has taught Essential Oil classes (about animals and people) and recently taught a class specifically for Lu’s Labs on Facebook, and donated Oils (and an Animal Desk Reference) to our auction - I just want to put up an educational post for us all.  First and foremost, safety in purchasing and using essential oils is key. I have used essential oils for the past 3 years around my 3 cats, and my dogs.

I attach a medical disclaimer to all classes I do online about oils, and always recommend that people know what they are doing and consult professional holistic vets when in doubt.

****My medical disclaimer. I am not a doctor nor a vet. I am not able to, nor have I ever prescribed oils for animal conditions (or people) or diagnosed illnesses. Please consult a holistic vet or a professional.

When my dog Rio had cancer, I consulted a holistic vet and got the approval with my cancer specialist to use Young Living oils side by side with her treatment.

I only use Young Living oils and when I run my classes I am only talking about uses for Young Living oils. Young Living is the only large company out there that sources their oils from Seed to Seal on their own farms and partner farms. They are involved in the process from growing the oils to distilling them, detailed testing of them and bottling them. They add nothing else. They are also the only company that I know of that has a veterinary advisory board. Does this mean this is the only company you should use? No. Of course not. And this is not a sales post, so please put that out of your mind.

It is important however that you research the quality of the oils you do decide to use. Know what it is in it. 95% of the oils out there are being sourced through oil brokers which means that the companies are simply re-bottlers. They are not involved in the growing or distillation process. No matter what you use, please use reputable sources when researching anything that you are going to use around your pets. Life Science Publishing has an excellent publication called Animal Desk Reference, this book addresses animal safety. Dilution ratios, and so much more.

It is true that cats cannot process essential oils the way humans and dogs can. Their livers are very sensitive and pick up on toxins and have a different way of metabolizing oils.

It is for this reason that around cats, (though why not around humans and dogs??) the quality of an oil is very important. This is in no way saying you must only use one oil company, but it is upon you, if you are going to use anything around your pets, whether it be everyday cleaning supplies or essential oils, to research the heck out of them. And please don’t take one frantic post from a questionable source and use that to determined that all essential oil is poisonous to your pets. It’s simply not the case.

Unfortunately, there is no regulation in the US in regard to labeling of oils. That is why it is so important to find a brand you can trust. And not just buy the cheapest stuff off Amazon. Even reputable brands purchased off Amazon can be altered and adulterated. It is very easy to remove a reducer from a bottle and change the contents within.  It happens all the time with beauty products as well. (Again, do your research.)

There are plenty of natural and organic things that are harmful to our pets. And don’t come with warning labels. Dogs can be poisoned by onions, chocolate, and other food items. Cats can be poisoned by lilies of many varieties. Here’s a blog post we published around the holidays to help you steer clear of things that can harm your pets.

Just because something is not labeled toxic to animals (think of sugar free peanut butter sweetened with xylitol which could kill our dogs and cats) doesn’t mean we don’t have to do our research and use it in the right way.

Please know that I have 3 cats and have used essential oils around them for 3 years with zero health issues to them. I thoroughly researched them. I started low and slow diffusing 1-2 drops for 30 minutes once every other day and slowly allowed the cats to build up their tolerance. I never close them in a room with a diffuser. I never use oils topically or internally with them.

There are plenty of toxic things we have in our homes that can be harmful to our cats. (And our dogs) Just think about all the air fresheners, plug ins, candles etc. that have synthetic toxins.

I know we all love our fur babies. Oils, in and of themselves, are not going to poison our animals if we are responsible pet owners who research and use them properly and consult professional vets/holistic vets when in doubt, and make sure we use reputable sources for purchasing our oils. I always recommend seeking out a holistic vet that uses essential oils. I mean you wouldn’t ask an Ear Nose and Throat doctor about your feet, you’d talk to a podiatrist. So why would you talk with a vet that doesn’t use oils in their practice about oils?

Remember. Don’t trust everything you read on the internet. That woman in that post googled a bunch of stuff and came up with some misleading stuff.  It doesn't mean you should ever feel compelled to use a product. But make your choices based on informed research from reputable sources.

I hope this post has been helpful to you all. I would never want anyone to use oils in a way that would harm their pets.

***About the author. While Leah Fellows writes and researches all of our blogs, they are usually written in 3rd person. This is a very personal issue near and dear to her heart and she would never want to see anyone do something harmful to their pets in the name of Essential Oil use. This is in no way a sales post. It is not about any single brand, but making sure you do your research and know what you are doing when using anything new or potentially harmful around your pets. This goes for cleaning supplies, dog toys, foods, snacks. And so much more! The goal of the author is to make sure people are responsible pet owners with a jumping off point to do their own research on Essential Oils.

 

8 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Dog

  Photo By  Mr. Nixter

Photo By Mr. Nixter

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for people, they are a pact you can make with your pets too. Lack of exercise, excessive eating, and other bad habits are not just people problems they can be pet problems too. What better way to start out 2018 then to bring your pet along on a journey toward a healthier happier new year.

#1 Get out and walk!

Yes it’s that easy, you and your dog can get out and walk and get more fitness into your day. If you’re usually taking your dog out 3-4 times a day for 10-15 minute walks, think about bumping it up to 20-30 minute walks a couple of times a day along with shorter walks. 

#2 Mix Up the Activities

Just like your workout routine may get stale and boring when you do the same thing day in and day out, it may be the same for your pup. Consider activities you will both enjoy from hiking solo with your dog, to group dog activities in dog parks, doggy day cares, or meet ups. Play fetch, throw a frisbee, or take your dog for a kayaking trip. Bonding with your baby dog can be fun and healthy for both of you.

#3 Portion Control

This isn’t just for people. Measure your dog’s food, and make sure you know what is recommended on the bag. And adjust your dog’s exercise accordingly. Remember if you are going to add in lots of treats you may need to adjust the amount of food at breakfast and dinner.

#4 Watch What They Eat

Different age and energy level dogs may have different nutritional requirements. Make sure you are providing the right dog food that is age appropriate for your furbaby. And if supplements are needed for bones and joints as a dog ages, make sure you are taking this into consideration and getting them the supplements they need to stay healthy and strong.

#5 Regular Check Ups

This is important for people, and it’s no less important for our dog friends. Make sure you are getting your dog in regularly for their vet checks and wellness appointments. This will help stay ahead of diseases, and make sure your dog maintains a healthy weight. This is a great time to talk with the vet about any behavioral issues, and make sure their shots are up to date.

#6 Dental Health

Your dog only has one set of teeth. From dental chews, to daily brushing with dog friendly tooth paste, you can keep your pet healthy and keep their plaque and tarter from becoming a problem.

#7 Make Sure Records and ID’s are Up to Date

It never hurts to make sure your vet has all the current information on your pet.  If you’ve hopped from vet to vet, or use multiple vets, make sure they are communicating with one another and all your records are up to date. At the same time make sure your Pet ID is current, microchip is registered to your current address. People move. Phone numbers change. It’s important that if your pet gets lost, all your information is current and accessible.

#8 Socialize

We all like to be social creatures, your dogs are no different! At least they shouldn’t be. A happy healthy pet is one that is well socialized. Take the time to do group training classes, head to the dog park for group activities, or even consider fostering in order to give your pup a chance to socialize in their home.

Great Gift Shopping Ideas for Your Dogs

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Okay, so there are only 5 shopping days left until Christmas (Do you think your dogs will really know the difference if their presents are late?) but if you love to spoil your dog, as we all do here at Lu’s Labs, here are some fun last-minute holiday shopping ideas you may think about so your dogs have gifts to open too.

Amazon Smile: Remember when you use our link to Amazon Smile anything you purchase will help contribute to our rescue. Just search Dog Gifts for Big Dogs – Some of the fun things you can find there will still ship out in time for the holidays! Whether it's fun doggy Christmas stockings or boxes of toys, we’ve already preloaded the search in our link. Make sure you set up your donations to go to Lu’s Labs!

Chewy.com: This is a great go to place for all things dog. Again, you can use our link and shop Chewy.com and they will donate to us with every great thing you get for your dog! Chewy's customer service is top notch and it's easy to set up a monthly shipment for food, supplies, toys and fun! With Chewy you get discounts with your monthly autoship and can move around the dates, manually ship now, push it out, and add to it! The Chewy system is very flexible. And you get free 1-2 shipping when your order is over $49.

Petsmart: I’m sure you are no stranger to Petsmart, but did you know any online purchase you make through our link will also help the rescue? The great thing is you can save 5% on your orders when you order online and pick up in store. Right now for the holidays they have fun $5, $10, and $20 quick gift grabs to fill your puppy's stocking!

All of these have a wide variety of toys, collars, treats, and more to keep your dog friends entertained during the holidays. Each of these links are set up to help give back donations to our organization! It’s a gift in itself when you shop through our links and help support Lu’s Labs. This holiday season shop for some great gifts for your pups and enjoy your holidays!

 

Logan’s Big Adventure – Lu’s Labs Dedication to Getting Back a Lost Dog

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Sometimes things go wrong by no fault of a dog, and humans are, well human, and they make mistakes. 90% of life is not about what happens to you, but how you react to it. 

Logan, our darling black lab boy, about 4-years old and loves every human he meets - escaped on transport around 9:45 pm on Saturday night. Accidents happen. Logan was able to back out of his crate as he was being loaded onto a transport van at a busy Pilot truck stop in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Still attached to his bright green Lu’s Labs slip lead, he actually stayed out of reach but stayed around the truck stop for a couple of hours.

Amid Christmas parties, evening activities, and weekend wind downs, the Lu’s Lab community of volunteers, and rescuers beyond, mobilized.  Flyers were made, there were eyes on the ground with our local rescuers in Alabama searching, sighting him a couple of times under trucks parked for the night, along pathways, and also dangerously close to a busy highway.

The hardest part when a rescue dog escapes, in a stressful situation and an unfamiliar place, is that you just don’t know how they will react. A usual happy go lucky dog like Logan at first tried to approach a few people. But, through a comedy of errors, and misreading his intentions reactions spurred him off to a more stressed out state.  Once this happens with a scared dog, approaching the dog can be perceived as chasing. Chasing means to Logan, “I have to get away.” And I have to get away means being driven further off course. At one point Logan ducked for cover into a drainage pipe in a culvert under the highway.

In the meantime, the executive team of Lu’s Labs began putting together a game plan and got together lost dog flyers to get down to Alabama for printing. By Sunday morning with boots on the ground a coordinated effort of volunteers were blanketing the area with flyers, receiving information and sporadic spottings, that couldn’t always be sure were Logan.

After 36 hours of no sightings, the founder and president of Lu’s Labs, Luisa, put everything on hold in Northern Virginia to jump on a plane and head down to the Tuscaloosa, AL. Tuesday evening she secured her rental car, a place to stay, and met up with Jennifer McKinley, our Southern Foster Director, along with a dedicated team of volunteers and rescuers who had been tirelessly working to find Logan since his escape on Saturday evening.  Animal Control was involved and helping with rescue efforts. They were ready with traps and when sightings occurred around Woodland Forrest, traps were set to try to catch him.

One volunteer contacted local radio stations who pulled together and posted on their websites and twitter feeds. Social media was instrumental in bringing in people. The lost flyers were shared over and over, and rescuers that were not even connected to Lu’s Labs joined in the search. More and more sightings let us know that he was still attached to his bright green slip lead. Sometimes it was apparent, but sometimes it wasn’t seen.

It was actually a blessing and a curse that he was still attached.  This helped mark him as our black lab boy, but at the same time there was a fear that he was caught on something that could become a dangerous situation for him.

Luisa brought with her squeaky toys, field cameras and other equipment to help her catch Logan. With no recent sightings, she helped rescue another lost dog that had alluded animal control for a few days. And of course, no trip to Alabama would be complete without visits to the shelters, and falling in love with a couple of dogs that just had to become Lu’s Labs.

Jennifer, a native to the area, and also the first point of contact on the flyer and thus was getting all the sighting reports - began to see a pattern of where Logan was roaming and saw he was making a tighter and tighter triangle. On Wednesday night they staked out two ends of the path he was traveling.  Lu and her crew were grilling out in a field on one side of the perimeter trying to draw Logan in with the smell of stinky foods, while Jennifer was by an area where other spottings had occurred. Her singing actually attracted Logan, but again, in his heightened state of alert, he alluded her.

The key really was to ignore their natural instincts and not look behind them whenever they heard sounds. That’s right, a bunch of women in the woods ignoring their conditioning to look at rustling in the hills behind them. The goal was that he would either come to them, or hopefully go in a trap.  On Thursday morning, they heard the trap had a dog! Could it be Logan? No it was another dog. Thursday night they repeated the process and swapped sides of his traveled path.

By this point so many people had spotted a friendly black lab attached to a green leash, hanging out by fences, following home some girls who were singing, roaming around, but no one could really get close enough to earn his trust.

On Friday morning Luisa was preparing to head home to Virginia, while the plan for other volunteers was to keep up the search. This is when the news came. Logan had been caught in the trap! And Billy from Animal control, who was born for this job, with his total dedication, was able to harness Logan and along with Jennifer getting another slip lead on Logan, they were able to get him into Jennifer’s car and let Lu know the great news.

Lu immediately canceled her flight and made arrangements to drive all the way back to Northern Virginia with Logan. With a bursting heart, happy to know Logan is safely back in the nest, Logan’s Journey isn’t over yet. 

His big adventure is only just beginning as he heads for his Northern Foster. This dedicated team of rescuers, volunteers, and good Samaritans went above and beyond to make sure Logan had the chance to find his forever home.

While at time's Logan's Journey was scary, at the end of the day, his escape led to the capture of two other stray dogs, and 3 other lucky labs making it into Lu's Labs where they will also find their forever homes! Remember always live in that 90% of how you react to the world and good things will come!

End Note and Many thanks Abbreviated From a Post by Luisa Paucci: Luisa Paucci would like to personally thank many of the people who were involved in the search. Of course Jen McKinley - The Southern Foster Director and her tireless dedication from the moment we got the news of his escape. Lisa PIzzato - Lisa was out handing out flyers, camping out with Lu, and was instrumental in the search for Logan.  Amy Eades Anderson - Also camping, distributing flyers, and involved intensely with the search. Arianna Curreri Bastian - involved in a lot of our transports, was immediate feet on the ground and brought her dog Duke to help in the search.  Tracey Walker Dies - who brought the grill, fed us, camped out with us, and was dedicated to Logan's recovery. Maddie Towers - Logan's foster mom, spent countless hours looking for her boy, showered him with love, and made him the incredible dog he is. Steve Lamon - made giant signs for us and helped in the search. Myra Alexander - Feet on the ground the very first night. Kathleen Johnson - Who contacted the media and got the word spread far and wide. Linda Wilson - who brought us hot chocolate, blankets and chairs during our camp out. The amazing efforts and involvement of Tuscaloosa Animal Control - Billy, Miguel, and Trent. Thank you for being so incredibly supportive, helpful and responsive. And on a very personal note, Luisa knows she has her husband in heaven supporting her through difficult times like this past week. Loving memory to Rick Harrelson.

And of course, the countless number of people who shared and liked posts on social media, reported spottings, and were caring in the face of a lost dog.

 

Tis' The Season to Remember: Pets Aren't Presents

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Movies portray cuddly puppies with red bows around their neck popping out from Christmas boxes under ornament laden trees. Starry eyed children, or smitten soulmates gaze into the eyes of those pups and think, “ahhh what a perfect present.”

While getting a puppy for Christmas may sound like the perfect gift, it also may be a case where good intentions turn quickly into bad ideas. This is especially true as the magnitude of owning a pet sinks in.

A few hours later reality sets in. Presents are destroyed by chewing teeth. Tree skirts are soiled by poorly timed potty-breaks.  And no preparation for a pup was made beyond the surprise. This sort of gift giving can really spring you into the deep end of the pool of pet ownership without the preparation.

We may think someone is ready for a puppy or needs the companionship, but the truth is many people may not be ready for the responsibility and expenses that come along with pet ownership. Many people would much rather pick out their own pets and make sure it fits the characteristics and personality they desire.

The reality of owning a pet is that once the red bow is removed some serious investments must be made not just emotionally but financially as well.

Some Expenses Gift Givers Don't Consider

  • Veterinary care and vaccinations
  • Preventative medication for flea, tick, and Heartworm
  • Food and treats
  • Grooming and training expenses
  • Bedding, toys, and crates
  • Boarding, pet sitters, or dog walkers

Beyond the expense of the dog is also the care giving, the energy, and effort that goes into making a dog a part of your home. Unfortunately, not everyone is well prepared for this. And the most devastating effect of gifting a dog for the holidays is when families decide it was an ill-conceived adventure and give up their pet to a shelter or rescue.

The Consequences

Every year, once the magic of the holidays wears off pets are dropped off at shelters like clockwork.  Too many people do not realize the full responsibility of a pet when they decide to gift them.  They get caught up in the moment and think the spontaneity of a unique gift is all that matters. The truth is, animals are not toys to be gifted. They are living breathing beings that have a complexity of considerations to weigh before taking them into your home. 

Impulsiveness vs Preparation

A dog should never be an impulse buy. Adding a pet to your home should be something that is thoroughly considered from all angles, and each family member’s perspective. Some simple questions to ask of the whole family that will help you determined whether or not you are ready to bring a dog, or any pet for that matter, into your home are:

  • Who is going to feed and walk the dog?
  • Who is going to clean up after the dog?
  • Where is the dog going to sleep?
  • With all the family activities, how long will the dog be home alone each day?
  • How will you train a dog?
  • How much do you think a dog will cost you each year taken into account expenses listed above?
  • And does that fit your budget?
  • What becomes of the dog as the children get older or you add another child to the family?
  • Where will the dog go if you go on vacation or move permanently?

Once all these questions are answered and you’ve figured out how a new dog will fit into your family - not just under the Christmas tree, but for the years to come as an integrated part of your household - then it’s time to go look for your new dog. 

Always remember, when you are ready to add a furry family member, adopt don’t shop. It may take longer to find the right dog to add to your family, especially if you work with Lu’s Labs. But in the end, the best gifts are worth waiting for.

5 Pro Tips on Adopting a New Dog

Adopting a dog from a rescue is one of the most exciting and heart-warming things you can do for a dog who has been dealt a rough hand in life.

 If you are like us here at Lu’s Labs, you think a dog is supposed to have a warm comfortable place to sleep indoors. Preferably on cushy pillows or even on the end of a bed…sometimes in the middle. Bonus if they get to relax on couches, and a dog bed is a must.  Meals and treats that are healthy and consistent so there’s never a pang of starvation in their bellies. While also being mindful of not allowing your furry friend to put on too much weight. Lots of toys, people, and playtime to entertain them and exert their energy. Which also can cut down on mischief since they are too tired to get into the things they aren’t supposed to. And the most important thing a dog should have is love. This can consist of pats, scratches, and a general appreciation for their presence in our lives.

This is the recipe for a loyal happy companion. But sadly, not all dogs start out their path in life with these wonderful things. This is why every rescue dog may come with their own set of circumstances that can make adjusting to a new home take differing amounts of time for different dogs. Here are 5 pro tips that will help you and your new furry companion get through this adjustment period.

1. Be Prepared – When you bring a new dog into your home, make sure you have all the things a dog will need like bowls, beds, healthy food, a crate if needed, toys, training snacks, leashes and collars, a tag with your name, address and phone number on it and other items that can help making the adjustment period easy. Here’s a good list on our site that will help you decide what you may need. (Link to other post on Lu’s Labs)

2. Schedules – You and your new dog are not going to know each other’s routines, or even each other’s signs. There may be accidents in the beginning as you adjust to potty schedules and learn how to read the signs. From the beginning, it can be important to establish schedules. Dogs are creatures of habit, so by feeding and walking at the same time daily you can start to instill a schedule that you will both grow to understand. For more information on setting up cues this is a great training article.

3. Introductions – There are all kinds of introductions that will happen when you bring your new pup home, and begin to integrate them into your life. It could be other pets – dogs, cats, or even the family rodent! Children. Neighbors. Just think of all the introductions that can happen as your circle expands. When introducing new people and animals taking your time is always important. With other animals in the house, it’s a good idea to have separate spaces, gated off areas, or even allowing animals their own rooms so they can adjust to the new smells of each other through gates and doors.

With small children, babies, and toddlers, it’s a must to supervise these interactions as everyone is getting to know each other. Keeping your dog on a leash so you can have better control will help you decide of excited wiggles, jumping, or running through the house will be a safety issue for the little humans. It’s also important to teach kids about your dog’s personal space, understanding the signs to back off, and not placing a dog in an uncomfortable or defensive situation. For more on introducing your dog to a cat, check out this article. for more information on introducing dogs to children, this article is helpful.

4. Training Tune-Up – Consider seeking out a positive training class or one-on-one session with a trainer to help you and your new companion get used to each other. Sometimes as people we need as much training as dogs do, to understand their needs and learn how to create the best interactions we can with our new dogs. Training and agility classes help you bond. You can reach out to your adoption coordinator and get a list of Lu's Labs approved trainers in your area.

5. Patience – If there is one thing that can be more important than anything else when adopting a rescue, it is patience. Understanding that this is a completely new environment for your dog, and in some cases rescue dogs have never had a warm secure place and humans to call their own, is an important part of the new adoption process. There’s no way of knowing the life experiences your dog has had before you. But taking time to understand they may not all have been positive, and very likely were not, will give you a better handle on dealing with behavior, and tempering your expectations. Rarely is a pup perfect from the moment they walk in the door. Adjustments to the way you live may need to happen as you transition and train a dog to be a member of your family. But the biggest reward comes when you don’t give up. When you utilize resources, recommendations, and research to help your dog adjust to its new life.

Good luck on your journey as a new dog owner! Every dog should have a warm, safe, loving home to call their own!

 

 

Common Foods That Can Be Toxic to Your Dogs

With the Holiday Season upon us, there may be more than the usual temptations in the kitchen ready to entice even the best dogs into raiding the trash, or surfing the counter tops. It’s important to understand that foods that have no effect on us humans can be poisonous to dogs.  Some of the most commonly used ingredients can have adverse effects on your dog’s health so make sure you know what they are early on when you introduce a furry friend to your family.

Chocolate – This is probably one of the most common food items that pet owners are familiar with as harmful to their pets. And from Halloween through the New Year there’s probably a higher concentration of these delights in the home. Large amounts of cocoa can kill your dog, due to the theobromine in the chocolate. The darker the chocolate the heavier the concentration of this component.

Xylitol – This artificial sweetener can be present in gum, candy, toothpaste, and even some peanut butters as well as other processed foods. This substance is extremely toxic to dogs and even small amounts can cause seizures, liver failure, or death. It’s important to check the ingredients of packaged foods and keep them away from your pets.

Grapes (and raisins) – While it’s still a mystery as to what exactly the toxin is in this popular fruit, even small amounts of grapes and raisins can be toxic to dogs, the fact remains that some dogs experience kidney damage and even kidney failure. The reasons why some dogs are affected and others are not, is a topic of research.

Garlic, Onion, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, and Leaks – With soup season warming up, these are so common in cooking, and easy for a dog to get into when browsing through your trash.  More than .5% of your dog’s body weight (Cats are even more sensitive) can be toxic to your dog. It can cause anemia, pale mucus membranes, and weakness.

Coffee, Tea, Coffee Grounds, and Tea Bags – The caffeine present in these substances is toxic to dogs and is a cousin chemical to the toxicity found in chocolate. Even 1-2 diet pills can easily cause death to small dogs and cats. It’s important to keep all these away from your fur babies.

Salt – Another common component we use every day in our foods can be harmful to dogs in large quantities. Too much salt can cause sodium ion poisoning.  Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and seizures.

Walnuts – While it’s best to stay away from all nuts because of their fatty content. Black walnuts native to the Northeastern US and Canada are especially toxic to dogs and horses. Old walnuts from a tree can cause dogs to develop tremors and seizures from walnut hulls that are moldy and contain penitrem A.

Macadamia Nuts – These are also a toxic nut that your dog should stay away from also causing tremors, lethargy and hyperthermia.

Alcohol – Tis’ the season to be merry, and that can come with alcohol. A dog’s liver is much more sensitive than our livers, and thus the effects of alcohol can be much more severe

Apple Seeds, Apricot Pits, Cherry Pits, Plum Pits, and Peach Pits – These fruits themselves are not harmful to dogs, though too much natural occurring sugar, as is found in fruit, can cause weight gain in your pet. It’s the seeds and pits you need to stay away from. With the pits, there are obvious dangers such as choking hazards and bowel blockage. But there is also poison contained in these seeds and pits. Amygdlin, which is a form of cyanide is found in the seeds and pits, and in large quantities can cause acute poisoning, or in small amounts over time, your dog can suffer from chronic poisoning. Cyanide prevents the blood from carrying oxygen throughout the body.

The leaves and stems of many vegetables in large quantities such as potato, rhubarb, tomatoes, peaches, peppers, and others. For more information check out the Solanaceae family. These plants contain Solanine which can cause sever gastrointestinal distress.

There are lots of foods that are actually beneficial to your dogs. When in doubt it’s best to research whether something is going to be helpful or harmful to your dog. We hope this list is helpful.

 

New Doggie Checklist

Whether you are a first-time dog owner, or a seasoned expert, it never hurts to have a list of things you need, things to do, and things you may want when you first get a new dog from a rescue. This quick checklist is designed to go with Lu’s Labs and some of our philosophies of dog ownership.

Quality Food – You may want to change the food from the rescue, this all depends on preference.

Treats – Think about having training treats, dental treats, Kongs for stuffing, and rewards on hand.

Bowls – Having their own dedicated bowls or feeders for food and water.

Dog Bed(s) – This may help with training so that a dog knows where their “spot” is.

Toys – Tug toys, throw toys, plush toys, puzzle toys! The list of toys is endless.

Crate – This can be a safe space for your dog since dogs are den creatures. It’s not meant as a place of punishment.

Crate pad – Something soft in your dog’s crate if they are going to spend any time there.

Gate – This may be an alternative to crating, or just a way to keep your dog out of the cat box.

Personalized Tags – Tag’s with your name, number, and information if your dog gets lost

Collar – Collars should not be prong, shock collars – the Martingale collar is recommended

Harness – Easy walk harnesses can help keep your dog from pulling while walking

Leash – One to two 4-6 foot leashes. In the beginning, you may want to double leash your dog, until you know them better to prevent slipping a collar and running away. No retractable leashes – they are not good for training, discipline, and can cause injuries to people and pets.

Poop Bags – These don’t have to be the expensive kind, but remember you will be picking up after your new dog. Poop bags will come in handy especially on walks.

Pet Car Restraints – Everything from car harnesses to tethers can be helpful for your new dog. These are safety devices that help keep your pup safe when stopping short, and keep them from running from the car when you open the door or hatch.

Vet – Have your vet set up ahead of time before you adopt.

First Visit – Take your dog to see the vet for a complete check-up within 7-10 days of your adoption.

Microchip – Make sure to get the microchip changed into your name.

Pet Insurance – With dogs, there is no telling what kinds of things you may encounter with their health as they age. Deciding on pet insurance can save costly bills in the future.

Spay/Neuter – If your adopting a puppy, the spay and neuter will be part of your responsibility. Adult dogs will come to you with this already done.

Monthly Preventative – We can’t stress enough, year around heart worm preventative and flea and tick preventative. Talk with your vet.

Training – For puppies and dogs under 3 from Lu’s Labs training is a must, but training is a good idea for any new dog so that everyone can get to know each other and work on reinforcing good behavior. We only allow positive methods of dog training with Lu’s Labs.

Grooming Kits – Brushes, combs, nail clippers, canine tooth brush, canine tooth paste (Make sure there is no Xylitol in tooth paste) doggie shampoo.

Non-toxic Cleaners – Find enzymatic odor neutralizers, and non-toxic cleaners to use on accidents.

Patience – Above all else, remember what you can bring to the table with your new dog is patience and understanding. There is always an adjustment period with a new rescue.

We hope this list has been helpful!

Guest Post: When Luisa incorporated a love of animals into her life, dogs in shelters gained a new champion.

Original post written by Nina Biggar Del Vecchio on April 26, 2017

When grief over the loss of a beloved pet needs to be channeled and your love of animals runs deep, you get forces of nature like Luisa Paucchi starting a foster based dog rescue in Alexandria, VA. Since taking this on in 2015 Luisa and her devoted team of volunteers have saved at least a couple hundred dogs (some quite sick and needing immediate medical attention) and brought so much joy to the families who were lucky enough to be entrusted with this new family member.

Luisa has been saving homeless animals since she was just a little girl (including a monkey!) but her love for Labradors began in 1999 when she welcomed Petey into her home and heart.

Her first dog transport over-night turned into a week-long emergency foster and she was so hooked she never looked back. After several years of being involved in every aspect of animal rescue…from transporting to fostering, adoption and foster coordinating, joining a rescue to understand the ins and outs, and then to independent rescue, she finally decided to take a huge leap of faith and begin her own animal rescue. Lu’s Labs was born in February 2015 and this endeavor is the culmination of her lifelong dream.  Lu’s Labs likes to focus on dogs in the South that are in high-kill shelters, but we will pull from anywhere we see a need.

Follow Lu’s Labs and the wonderful stories of these dogs – you’ll be surprised at how attached one can get to these dogs via pictures and stories!

Devote is a community-powered platform where individuals and businesses share stories about giving via financial donations, volunteering, or pro bono support.

Devote exists to help us share stories of how we give, where we give, and why. Devote believes every giving action matters, no matter the size. Because good begets good – so join us and inspire some serious good! Register to start sharing your stories and experiences of volunteerism, to highlight the causes most meaningful to you, to shine light on your favorite organizations.

We want to hear about your contribution so sign on now! 

 

Volunteer Spotlight - Donna McClaugherty

Donna and Blitzen.jpg

Lu’s Labs likes to spotlight the amazing people who make this rescue work. We have the most dedicated and caring people you will find from the south to the north.

This month, let’s talk about puppies and adoption coordinators. Donna McClaugherty, from Gainesvillle, VA, wears several hats here at Lu’s Labs. She is the Director of AC Training, she is the Puppy Coordinator, and she is also a foster. In the last two years, Donna has helped 78 adopters find their fur-ever lab friends.

Donna found her way into Lu’s Labs when a friend simply asked her to “like the Facebook page”.  Little did she know that two years later she’d be in integral part of the volunteers here at our rescue. She initially answered Luisa’s plea for adoption coordinators, and the rest was history. “I own my own full-service travel company, Cruise and Travel by Donna, and when I realized Lu’s Labs was willing to work around my travel schedule it made volunteering easy.”

The team work, and being part of a great rescue, is what keeps Donna taking on more and more responsibility. “Some days are crazier than others, especially if I am fostering,” says Donna. “My day consists of booking travel for my clients, calling vets and personal references, and then more travel.” At night Donna usually can be found on the phone again doing interviews, and once or twice a month she trains new Adoption Coordinators. (AC’s) And of course, when she has a foster in the house then play time is a must.

Her resident bonded yellow labs, Bailey and Bacardi don’t give much notice to the fosters that come through her home. “They really ignore my fosters after the initial meeting.” They are very laid back couch potatoes and prefer not to play with other dogs.” But they are very tolerant of visitors so they make it a good environment to host new dogs.

With all of Donna’s hats, you can’t forget the Puppy List! Donna keeps track of all the puppy requests and litters that are coming into Lu’s Labs so that she can match baby fur balls to their new homes. This is just one of the many rewarding things about being a volunteer. “It makes me feel so good to help rescue these pups,” Says Donna, referring to older and young pups alike. “Some of the stories are heartbreaking and I feel so good when I give them a happily ever after.”

Since Donna is both an AC and a Foster, she knows what it’s like through every aspect of the adoption process with Lu’s Labs. Over the last two years she has fostered 11 adult dogs and several litters of puppies. “My little volunteer job has grown in the past two years but I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Whether you want to get involved in fostering, or become a match maker between Lu’s Labs and their families, Donna is a great resource and loves what she does.

If you’d like more information on becoming a foster, or an adoption coordinator please reach out and talk with us. Committing to just even one dog to foster at a time helps us save lives, and the more adoption coordinators we have, the quicker we can match applicants up with the dog of their dreams.

 

 

Volunteer Spotlight - Stacy Eagles

Stacie Eagles.jpg

Lu’s Labs likes to spotlight the amazing people who make this rescue work. We have the most dedicated and caring people you will find from the south to the north.

Our Volunteer Spotlight features Stacie Eagle, one of our southern fosters from Louisiana.

Fostering animals since age seven, she’s been with Lu’s Labs since 2016.

 

A day in the life at Stacie’s home is busy. At any given time, she has between two and eight fosters – even more if she has puppies. Not only is Stacie an amazing foster mom, she also has kids, and teaches.

While life may be crazy at times, the rewards of being able to help save animals and give them a better life comes from her heart. “I have my own personal zoo,” says Stacie. “My pups range
from 90 pounds to 8 pounds, male and female, playful to grouchy! They are used to the
revolving door and wouldn’t know what to do if we didn’t have guests!” With dogs, a cat, and 7
chickens, this diversity is a great personality test for foster dogs.

One of the most rewarding aspects of rescue for Stacie is watching dogs come out of their shell. “It is amazing to see a dog with such broken spirits see that humans are kind, food is plentiful, and they are safe. It’s as if you can see them exhale and just relax. They know they are finally going to be okay,” says Stacie.

Fostering is a part of Stacie’s DNA. She points out that every doggie kiss is worth a lost flip flop or two or picking up piles of poop. The pros far outweigh the cons. For Stacie saving a life and giving a lab a chance at a new home is worth it.

Her best advice for newbie fosters, “If you love them, let them go. A foster cannot be selfish.”
Several have taken a piece of her heart with them. “People always say, ‘I couldn’t give them up,’
and many times, I don’t want to. But, I know that if I love them, I must. They deserve to be
someone’s star!” With each dog Stacie preps for its new home and their journey north, she
opens up another space for the next lab. 

If you’d like information on becoming a Lu’s Lab Foster, please let us know.  Committing to even one dog at a time helps saves lives.