– A New Puppy for the Holidays-

bulldog-puppies

It seems like only yesterday that we were packing up our pumpkins and other Halloween décor (actually it was last weekend) and now mid November is almost here and we are trying to decide on turkey or ham for our Thanksgiving festivities.

Christmas, Hanuka, and Kwanzaa are just around the corner and many of us are scratching our heads in bewilderment as we ponder the quest for the perfect gifts.

Those of us with children look forward to the excitement that is contagious as presents are opened by our youngest ones bright eyed and full of expectation.

An age old gift parents like to surprise their little ones with is a bright,shiny, living and breathing, you guessed it, brand new puppy.


This particular article in essence is to address the perils of rash decision making, such as the purchase of an animal.

If you are thinking about introducing a puppy into your family circle, make sure you are fully aware of the responsibility you are taking on and all that it entails.

Puppies are cute and adorable, but for most of us that cuteness can wear off in the span of 24 hours. Usually beginning after your newest family addition has kept you up half the night howling from loneliness and self pity, caused by being separated from it’s mother and litter mates.

After a few more days of constantly cleaning up puppy droppings and puddles the sudden realization of what we have gotten ourselves into hits home, and hits home hard.

The newest addition to our family is similar to acquiring another toddler, extremely needy and of the diaperless variety.

But that is not by far the least of it, a chewing monster with a taste for anything and everything has been unleashed, upon your leather couches and designer Italian shoes.


Shelters and rescue organizations everywhere are full of unwanted animals that people were unprepared for. So before making a commitment you may regret make sure you are prepared.

Below is a check list which can help assist you when purchasing a new family member.

  • Your wallet will be affected.

    Pets cost money, they need shots, worming and may have health issues just as humans do.

    They need nutritious diets and supplementation to help keep them healthy and live long lives.

  • Educate yourself in what breed may best compliment your family and lifestyle.

    For example certain breeds are better suited with children, other breeds are extremely people oriented and when left alone for long periods of time (IE: when you are at work) become very destructive. And then there are those that are extraordinarily ‘high’ maintenance and therefore expensive (such as English Bulldogs due chronic to skin problems, allergy issues and so on that is associated with the breed itself.) Some breeds need a lot of exercise and room to run, while others need specialized grooming and maintenance.

  • Buy a crate -familiarize yourself with crate training.

    There are differing opinions on crating an animal, but dogs are den animals and in my opinion it is the most humane way to ensure your sanity and teach your pet.

  • Research the proper food and nutrition – be very aware of the vast pet food recall and the companies that are involved. Avoid using these brands like the plague. Always remember ‘anywhere’ that sells pet food including Vets and pet stores make profit off their sales. Trust no one’s word, do your own investigation. All of this information is available to anyone who takes the time to look , via the internet.

    NOTE: Always remember the most expensive food is not necessarily the best food.

    Hopefully these tips have given you a good guideline to start you off.

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Eva Mendes Reveals All- For Peta

Eva Mendes—the gorgeous star of Training Day, Hitch, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Ghost Rider, and most recently the brilliant We Own the Night featuring Mark Wahlberg and our old friend Joaquin Phoenix—is also the new face of our winter anti-fur campaign. Once you’ve had a long look at this stunning new anti-fur ad, take a deep breath and check out what Eva had to say when she sat down with us for this PETA Files exclusive interview about what led her to speak out about the cruel treatment of animals in the fur industry:

How did you come to get involved with helping animals? Did you have any animal companions growing up?

I love animals, but I hadn’t had a pet since I was a kid. I recently got a dog and he’s not only made me a happier girl—he’s made me much more sympathetic to animal rights. I look at my beautiful dog and think, “Of course I’d never eat him or skin him for his fur, so why would I be okay with eating a cow or wearing a cheetah?” It’s just not right. It’s a contradiction.

Do you have any animals? Can you tell us about them?

I recently got the most beautiful dog in the world! He’s the sweetest thing ever. He’s fully trained and all his commands are in French. Too cute! So I’m learning French and he’s learning Spanish!

What drew you to the idea of working with PETA on our “Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” Campaign?

I wasn’t familiar with PETA early in my career. I remember having my first premiere in New York City and being so naive that I didn’t have a coat with me. My stylist sent me a fur wrap for the evening and I ignorantly wore it.

PETA then wrote me a beautiful letter commenting on my less-than-educated choice. I was so impressed that I vowed to them and myself to never wear real fur on the red carpet or in my life again.

As a fashion icon in Hollywood, do you find that people put pressure on you to wear fur on the red carpet? If so, how do you handle that?

A lot of the high-end designers are unfortunately still big on fur, but I simply let them know that I won’t wear it on the red carpet or for photo shoots. People are pretty respectful and don’t try to pressure me to wear fur (smart for them … haha).

.Can you tell us about the projects you are working on right now and also about your film We Own The Night?

We Own The Night is a crime thriller set in the late 1980s about two brothers on opposite sides of the law. I play the girlfriend of Joaquin Phoenix, a manager for a club involved with the Russian Mafia, whose brother (played by Mark Wahlberg) is a cop targeting the Mafia for drug involvement. It’s a great cast, and it was such a thrill to play opposite actors like Joaquin, Mark, and Robert Duvall. I’ve also just finished filming The Women, which was very cool, and I’m just starting a really amazing project called The Spirit.

What issue involving animals is dearest to your heart? Also, you have a lot of fans out there which gives you a powerful platform to reach people and make a difference: What is your message to them about having compassion and getting active to help animals?

I’d say the closest animal rights issue to me right now is being anti-fur. I feel like in recent years, due to pop culture, fur has made a comeback. Some people still see wearing fur as glamorous and a sign of prosperity. Personally I think wearing a baby chinchilla says, “I’m ignorant,” vs. saying “I’m a badass.” I don’t think you can force people to change their attitudes, but you can help to educate them and to lead by example. … There are way too many amazing faux fur options out there for people to still be wearing real fur. I want people to know that there are options; that killing a poor animal and wearing it isn’t cool. But respecting all life forms is cool. Very cool.

Dangerous Dogs- bite stats and misinformation

This is a must read!!!!  If your on the fence about the ‘dangerous dogs Act’ being implemented  in your area and unsure how to vote. Please read the following article. -Knowledge is Power-

Top 10 Most Dangerous Breeds

Which breeds are the most dangerous?

Fig14 Which ones bite without warning, or can just snap?  Which ones are likely to attack unprovoked, or take up a pack mentality?  Which breeds have unstable temperaments, and just can’t be trusted?

Quick – which breeds come to mind? Are you thinking Pitbulls, Presas, Rottweilers? Dobermans or Chows?  German Shepherds or Akitas?

Wrong. In fact, really wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, these breeds are not the most dangerous.  In fact, not a single animal welfare organization on the planet will give you a list of dangerous breeds, but we will…………..

Just The Facts

Fataldogattacks But before we do – let’s give you the facts.

Fact: The CDC has stopped reporting bite statistics by breed, as these numbers are driven by eyewitness reports, and are very often inaccurate.  Why did the CDC stop? Because misidentification of breed is extremely common, making eyewitness reports an unreliable source.

In her book,  Fatal Dog Attacks, author Karen Delise has studied the statistics and the stories behind these rare but deadly events. A top expert in this specialized field, she has concluded that a number of factors are present in a fatal attack.

Fact: On average, there are fewer than 30 deaths annually in the U.S. due to fatal dog maulings.  Statistically, these tragedies are incredibly rare, as the dog population of 79 million.  The stats on deaths by breed are available, as there are so few, and yes, Pitbulls and Rottweilers are on the list.  But so are other breeds you might not imagine.

The media and headline-hungry pols love to point to these stats, and with great authority point to Pitbulls and Rottweilers as top offenders.

But what the media and politicians don’t tell you is that the breeds on this list are driven by breed popularity, and that over the years, the types of breeds on this list have shifted.

So why are these breeds on the list? The answer is this – breed popularity drive the stats, but perhaps even more intangible is that breed popularity with irresponsible dog owners is an even bigger factor.

The #1 Factor

The absolute, number one factor that determines whether or not a dog will become dangerous is……………  ownership.

And in compiling this list of dangerous breeds, you’ll note they all share one trait in common – they are all human.

That’s right, Kory, Jackie & Michael – humans are most reponsible for dangerous dogs. Humans are responsible for creating the circumstances and behavior that lead to dog bites or maulings.  Get it right, Bubba  – Humans.

So without further ado here are the……………….

Top Ten Most Dangerous Breeds

10. Criminal Dog Owners – They vary in size, shape, color and creed. Whether urban or rural, they Criminalmind_quiz thrive in environments where crime does pay.

This breed may deliberately train dogs to be human aggressive. This breed  has been known to shoot dogs for fun it.  They fight dogs and use sweet tempered dogs as bait. Here in the New York area  – they’ve been known to feed dogs ground up glass and gun power to toughen them up – you know-In case the police kick the front door – they’re out the back – and the dogs are in between.

9. Irresponsible and Ignorant Dog Owners

Characterized by a complete lack of common sense and or manners, these dog owners come in three distinct varieties – Dumb, Dumber and Plain Stupid.

However they do share the same Dumb_and_dumberbreed traits, like

  1. Complete disregard for local leash or pooper scooper laws
  2. Stubborn, self-centered rudeness
  3. The inability to see the potential consequences for their behavior

So here are the three types if I & I’s:

  • Dumb– When Snowball whines to go out, they throw open the front door and let her out to wander the neighborhood.  Snowball is free to poop and pee wherever she likes.  And if Snowball should wander into my yard and my dog defends its territory, like many dogs …….we’ve got a problem.
  • Dumber – Easy to recognize, this genius nonchalantly walks their dog off leash in the neighborhood, like it’s no big deal. WEll in my book – it is a big deal. How would you like it if I let my dog run up to your children off leash.   Or run up to any Stupidperson who may be afraid of dogs.  (and BTW – I support off leash space – just not on the block).   And it’s not OK if your dog takes a dump in my flowerbed, got that?
  • Plain StupidWaaaaay short on common sense – they let their children play unattended with dogs, or let them run up to pet a stranger’s dog or get in a strange dog’s face.

8. Negligent or Abusive Dog Owners

Like sociopaths who lack basic the human trait of compassion – this all-too-common breed is well known for a lack of care or concern.  They are, however, gifted and talented in the areas of neglect or cruelty.

Abused_dog These G & Ts routinely fail to give their animals even the basics of food, water or shelter or fail to provide vet care. David Owens, an employee of Child Services in New York, has been accused of leaving his dying Akita out in the cold for weeks.

Even beating the dog is OK for these people- it’s only a dog. Even if it’s not their dog!  Kick it if it gets in your way, wants food or attention. OK – so cruel and unusual punishment is against law, so giving them the same treatment is out. Too bad.

6. Ignorant Shelter Workers & Rescuers

We give shelter and rescue workers big snaps for the great job they do on a daily basis.  That said – they are some bad apples in this bunch.  Who? These people are marked  by their staggering ignorance, leaving the rest of the dog world stammering in surprise.

Statements from these so-called “professionals” include, “We don’t adopt out Pitbulls – they have locking jaws”, and “We don’t adopt out Rotties or Dobermans – they’re aggressive”.  Better yet, they hide a dog’s health or behavioral history, thinking that all dogs can be saved, from adopters who may be in for a big surprise. Someone needs to teach this breed a lesson – and quick.

5. Ignorant Dog Fanciers

Nose and tail always in the air with, “Breed restrictions don’t really apply to me – I own a PUREBRED dog”.  Oh, really ?  Maybe you’d like to share you magical powers with the rest of us….or better yet …………

4. Arrogant Dog Fanciers

Not only are nose and tail always in the air, but his type will even dis their fellow dog fanciers with, “it’s not my breed”.   Ain’t that special? Now bend over ………..this won’t hurt a bit….

Numbers 4 and 5 do a diservice to the many hardworking, ethical home breeders who care deeply about their dogs and the welfare of dogs in general.

3. Irresponsible News Media

They attack -unprovoked, when you least expect it.  Out of the blue, and really just when those ratings are starting to take a dive.  That’s just the perfect time to lead with a dog story.  These media outlets target large working breeds, they thrive on fear.   And they are yellow to the core.

  • Yeah – I’m talking to you, Kathryn McIntyre of the Commerce City Journal for your lack of editorial integrity for publishing the street addresses of pitbull owners.  Sex offenders have more privacy rights than dog owners.
  • And yeah – I’m talking to you all you local metro broadcast news outlets, like CBS Channel 2 News in New York that that invariably portray “dangerous” dogs as Pitbulls or Rottweilers. In journalism – we don’t automatically portray stories of rapes with images of black or Hispanic men.  Nor should we visually support dangerous dog news stories with pictures of Pitbulls and Rottweilers, by default – like the one shown here from the CBS News site:Rottie
  • And yeah, I’m talking to you, for any print or web media that shows that same doctored photo of a snarling pitbull with digitally elongated teeth.

This ain’t news – it’s titillating info-tainment designed to spike fear, ad circ, and ratings at the same time.

It’s time to run these out-of-control puppies back thru the basics – you know, fair and balanced reporting, media ethics – all that stuff they swore by in journalism school.

2. Greedy Insurers

These insurers aren’t dogs – they’re pigs.  And who’s to stop them when………..

  • they can chow down of easy profits on the backs of good dog owners by denying, limiting or eliminating coverage of dog owners in 37 states?
  • they stuff so much of their piggy bank bucks into the pockets of politicians?

Then politicians, hoggin’ up all that campaign dough , do the bidding of the insurance sector, blocking bills that would make it illegal for insurers to discriminate against good dogs and good dog owners.

There’s a saying – pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered. I’d like to invite you all to a barbeque 🙂

1. Opportunistic Politicians

These dogs will whine – they beg – they’ll do anything for attention – and money – especially from those fat cats in the insurance lobby who ensure obedience with juicy campaign donations.  These politicians breed fear, thrive on ignorance and count on apathy. Prime examples are : Michael_bryant_ontario_ag_5

Michael Bryant – Ontario’s infamous “Puppykiller” for the province’s sick and twisted breed ban.  One must “prove” that a dog isn’t a pitbull and the law requires all pitbull type puppies be shipped out of the province, sent to reseach facilities or euthanized.

Jspeier_1_9Jackie Speier of California, AKA “The Breed Exterminator” Rep_paul_wesselhoft_r_ok_house_3, and notable author of SB 861, which is having a chilling effect on dog ownership in California

Paul Wesslehoft of Oklahoma – whose bill to ban certain breeds just went down in flames in the state legislature there.

Molly_market_aurora_co_2

Molly Markert of Aurora, Colorado’s Town Council – that smiling Miss Prim (we hear she smirked to the audience when the breed ban passed) – and noted dog-hater, a leader in passing Aurora’s 12 breed dog ban

I’ve got a message for you – kick these headline grabbing, egg-suckin’, political opportunists  of ANY political persuasian to the curb in the next local or state elections.

The Most Dangerous Breeds?

I’ll tell you the most dangerous breeds – write these down!

#1 All Time Dangerous Breed:

The #1 most dangerous breed are media outlets that deliberately breed fear, spreading myths and lies about dog breeds and canine behavior through irresponsible reporting and reinforcement of undeserved and negative breed stereotypes

What You Can Do About It:

  • Call up the paper, the TV station or email the website and complain about the biased dog story
  • Ask for the Editor, Sales Manager and/or Program Director
  • Tell them you won’t read, watch or visit
  • Tell then you won’t patronize their advertisers until they stop their biased coverage
  • Tell them they have the opportunity to spread knowledge, not fear
  • Tell them My Dog Votes!

#2 All Time Dangerous Breed:

The #2 most dangerous breeds are the local and state politicians that feed on the fear created by the irresponsible media, and the public’s ignorance.  They are greedy for the headlines, campaign dough and do the bidding of the private sector instead of truly advocating for the public health, safety and welfare.  They pass breed bans , weight or size restrictions, public space bans, and mandatory microchip laws, and other anti-dog legislation limiting the rights of responsible tax-paying citizens rather than deal with their criminal and social problems.

What You Can Do About It:

  • Call or write the offending local of state elected official and complain about the breed ban or other anti-dog legislation
  • Tell them you want the ban overturned in favor of breed-neutral legislation
  • Tell them you want any other anti-dog legislation stopped or overturned
  • Tell them you will vote them out in the next election
  • Tell them you will vote out any politician that supported the ban
  • Tell them you will rally every dog owner in town against them
  • Tell them they have the opportunity to educate instead of legislate
  • Tell them My Dog Votes!

#3 All Time Dangerous Breed:

The #3 most dangerous breeds are the apathetic dog owners who say nothing, or do nothing because they think they cannot affect change, or fight the sytem, or it doesn’t affect them directly. Or maybe they just don’t care – or won’t care – that is – until they come for their dog.

What You Can Do About It:

  • Tell all of your friends, neighbors, relatives and associates, regardless of whether or not they own a dog about the breed ban or other anti-dog legislation
  • Tell them they must support their fellow dog owners, friends,  and neighbors
  • Tell them if we don’t stand together now, we all fall
  • Tell them they have the opportunity to unite the community, not divide the community
  • Tell them to do it for their dog
  • Tell them My Dog Votes!


Canine Flatulence-What Can You Do?

Does your dog smell up your house, embarrass you in front of company ? Have you often wondered how something managed to crawl up your K-9’s rear end and die a horrible death? Are you ready to stick a cork in your best buddies butt … )): Here’s part of an article that I found .

I know it’s a problem I have encountered before with my pet over the years. (many…many….times!!)

I figured some of you may have need of this very informative piece…..

How can you combat dog flatulence

There’s more than one way to skin a cat – I mean there’s more than one way to help your dog out if he has a bit of a wind problem.

Give him the best quality dog food you can. Perhaps a recognised, named brand rather than the “generic.” Same goes for kibble – only the best. Your dog will feel the better for it.

Think about it for a moment – if you eat a nice steak and a few trimmings, don’t you feel better than if you’d stopped at the services on the motorway somewhere. Translate the same to feeding your dog. Give him the best dog food you can. Do your research and buy the type of food recommended for the particular breed and age of dog you own.

Don’t give him food you know has a reasonable chance of triggering a “wind problem.” We all know what that means…..!

Some dogs (my old greyhound used to love this one – that’s her at the top of the page) enjoy a spoonful of natural yogurt as a little treat after their dinner. This can aid digestion and reduce the risk of flatulence.

If you dog does “wolf” his food he’ll be swallowing air as well as his dinner. Get ready for a gas outbreak! Try feeding him on a “little and often” basis – the same amount of food as he’d normally have in a day but spread it out a bit. Instead of feeding your dog 1 or 2 portions of food per day, divide the daily ration into smaller portions and feed the dog more frequently.

Cut out or drastically reduce those little treats and leftovers from your dinner. If he gets bloated, you know what’ll happen……..! Sure – it’s hard to resist throwing him an extra piece of doggie chocolate or sneak him a bit of meat from your plate when he comes begging, but resist if you can. Your boy (or girl) will have less chance of a “wind episode.”

Walkies! It’s your dog’s favorite word. Man, how he knows what it means. Take your dog for regular exercise. He needs it anyway and it’ll help to keep his “insides” healthy as well thus aid digestion in general and reduce flatulence. And while you’re out on your walk, there’s a better chance that any gas build up will find a way out “naturally” and it’ll be gone before you get home.

You’ll never completely cut out flatulence on your dog. Well, do you think you’ll never get the odd bit of excess wind – of course you will. And it’s the same for your dog. That said, what you’ve read here should help to reduce your dog’s flatulence and those “nasty smells.” Plus your doggie might just feel all the better for it.

In closing – at all times have the best interests of your dog at heart. Consult a vet immediately if you have cause to think your dog is unwell, suffering and requires professional attention.

http://www.dogflatulence.com/

Home Made Dog Toys

Ideas For Homemade Dog Toys

by Clare Bristow

puppy-chewingHere are few ideas for homemade dog toys that I’ve gathered from the web and comments that you’ve posted on this site.

<I hope they provide you with some inspiration for making your own dog toys – please add to the list with any other suggestions you have.

Plastic Bottle Toys

The plastic bottle is a much under rated toy in my opinion, Zoe has had hours of fun chasing plastic milk bottles around the deck.

Don’t let your dog play unsupervised with the bottles, they can easily crack and you don’t want your dog swallowing the plastic. Ideally, just use the bottle once and then dispose of it.
Here are some ideas:
The Plain Plastic Bottle – it doesn’t get any easier than this; just remove the cap and labels, squeeze the bottle so it makes a great crackly sound to get your dog’s attention, throw it up in the air and off you go, an instant toy for your dog to chase and fetch.

Stanley Coren shows you how it’s done (including the crackly bit) in the following video clip (originally posted in Lead in Dog Toys – DIY test kits unreliable), and he reminds you that you can always take the bottle back for your deposit once your dog has finished playing with it.

The Plastic Bottle with Beans – to make the bottle more interesting you can put dried beans into the bottle before screwing the cap on tightly. Here’s a dog showing you how much fun this can be:

A variation is the sock bottle dog toy – put a sock over the bottle and tie a knot in the top of the sock; this will make the bottle more chewable for your dog.The Plastic Bottle with Treats – put treats in the bottle instead of dried beans and cut a small hole in the side of the bottle. The treats come out as your dog is playing with the bottle.

Rope Toys

You can use an existing length of rope that you already have and tie a few knots in it for an excellent chew toy.

Bear in mind that rope can fray so trim the ends of the rope frequently so your dog doesn’t swallow the rope strands. Avoid nylon rope as your dog can easily shred this, and if swallowed can cause intestinal blockage.

An alternative is to make your own rope toys from fleece or tea towels.

Here’s a step by step guide to making a fleece rope, and many thanks to Paula raised the point that you should avoid fleece material that has been treated with a flame retardant.

Whatever type of rope you use it can be made more exciting by soaking it in broth before giving it to your dog.

Balls

Yesterday I mentioned that Denise had found that Penn tennis balls are made in the US, and so may be safer for your dog to play with.

Ball on a Rope – drill two holes in the ball and thread a piece of rope or cord through the holes and tie the rope tightly just above the ball.

Here’s Stanley Coren again to show you how to do it:

Treat Ball – make your own treat ball by slicing through the tennis ball and stuffing it with treats; your dog will be kept busy trying to prize the ball apart to get to the treats.Balls in the Tubing Toy – I found this idea on My Dog Parlance.

Attach a few pieces of water-pipe together (preferably corners), pop a ball in one end and then let your dog get the ball out again.

In yesterday’s article Dog Toys from China – the Alternatives I mentioned that PVC can be a hazard, so either use non PVC piping or just supervise your dog and don’t let him start chewing the plastic.

Socks and Trousers

Barbara said that she cut the legs off old jeans and tied knots in them, thereby making an excellent chew toy for her Rottie, Tank – thanks for that suggestion Barbara.

Old socks can also be made into great toys – this article shows you how to make a sock ball and a sock swing ball.

A caution about using socks, or any item of clothing or footwear as a toy is that dogs don’t know the difference between an ‘old’ shoe and a ‘new’ shoe – if you give them an old shoe to chew on then every shoe is likely to be treated in the same way.

Cardboard Boxes

Another Zoe favorite is the cardboard box – when she was a puppy I used to put a few treats inside the box and tape the lid on. She’d spend quite some time attacking the cardboard box and pushing it around the floor until she could get to the treats.

Quite quickly she realized that if she pushed the box up against a wall it crushed and this was the easiest way to get the treat out.

Any size box will provide entertainment, as Toby shows us below:

I hope this has given you a few ideas – have fun!

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One Of Those Pictures…..

Pup’s In Prison????


Prison Pups

Pioneering program gives both women and dogs a second chance

By Lisa Wogan

Connie lathers a small brown Terrier in a waist-high tub. She wears a T-shirt and waterproof apron, and wields the gallon jug of shampoo as though it were much lighter. Her face is pink and shines from the heat of dog dryers and exertion.


“She’s a little mad about this whole ordeal,” Connie says, referring to the bather, Bella, as she massages soap down the dog’s legs and paws, rinses, and scrubs her muzzle with no-tears shampoo. She works quickly with the confident, gentle touch of a seasoned pro.

She is a pro. Connie has been working with dogs since 1995, and, if all goes well, she’ll continue until her release date, which is currently set for 2017. An inmate at the Washington Corrections Center for Women near Gig Harbor, about an hour south of Seattle, she is one of 13 women working in the Prison Pet Partnership Program (PPPP). Only a select few of the total inmate population of more than 800 learn kennel management and grooming skills and provide these services to the public.

On the face of it, PPPP is a simple voc/ed program, preparing women to work in the pet-care industry after they are released. But unlike toiling in the kitchen or the laundry, or participating in horticulture, construction or welding workshops, women in this program work with warm, furry, affectionate creatures. In prison, that makes all the difference.

“Because most of the programs deal with inanimate objects, you don’t continue to grow emotionally,” says Connie, who was 21 when she began serving her time. “This program has allowed me to mature. I think I would have shut down. You can’t do that with dogs. You have to leave your emotions open; therefore you’re emotionally learning and growing.”

In addition to her grooming duties, Connie is training a pair of rescue dogs, Alaska and Stella, to become service, seizure or therapy dogs, or to live as pets. Most program participants eventually train rescue and shelter dogs.

“It seems like no matter what dogs have gone through,” Connie says, “they still come out being very loving, helpful and ready to do something for you. That’s the miracle of working with dogs.” It’s tough to reconcile Connie’s crime with her compassion and insight, except to imagine that she illustrates the rehabilitation ideal.

The Power to Change

The Prison Pet Partnership Program was the inspiration of Sister Pauline Quinn, who is generally credited with being the first person to create a dog-training program for prisoners in this country. Her own early days were as fraught as any felon’s. As a child, Sister Pauline suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse; ran away from home; was homeless off and on, and in and out of institutions; gave up a child conceived though rape; and even resorted to self-mutilation. Eventually, she became a Catholic and a Dominican nun. But she credits the companionship of a German Shepherd named Joni with setting her on the road to mental health.

“It is important to feel and be loved, and a dog can do that for you,” Sister Pauline said in an interview with Lifetime Television, which made a film about her, Within These Walls, in 2001. “This is the first step in healing; then you can continue on and grow to even greater things.”

It is this simple idea that persuaded Dr. Leo Bustad, a veterinarian studying the human-animal bond at Washington State University, and a pioneer in animal-assisted therapy, to advocate for Sister Pauline’s dog-training program, which she launched at the Gig Harbor prison in 1981.

By 1991, the private nonprofit organization, working under contract to the Department of Corrections, expanded its mission to include kennel and grooming services. Inmate trainers have helped place more than 700 dogs in working partnerships or in homes as “paroled pets.” And the program has been emulated, at least in part, at prisons all around the country and internationally.

Tangible Results

The Washington program is unusual in that inmates participate in training all the way through and including facilitating the dogs’ transitions to their new lives. In the majority of these types of programs, inmates raise puppies who are finished and placed by trainers offsite. “Here, they see the whole spectrum of what they are working for,” says training coordinator Grace VanDyke. “They get to see their impact on the clients’ lives.”

That’s what inspires Jesyka. Her first dog in the program was a brindle-furred Greyhound mix named Leif. “He was really, really skinny and sick. He had ticks all over him,” says Jesyka, who overcame a serious bug phobia to clean him up. Jesyka, who has long carrot-blonde hair and talks a mile a minute, is more than halfway through a 15-year sentence. She sits at a picnic table in the center of the dog annex. Next to her are Leif and his person, Ashlee Eddy, and Ashlee’s mother, Carol Blakely. It’s been a long while since dog, client and trainer have seen each other.

Eddy struggles with serious learning disabilities and suffers as many as 30 petit mal seizures a day. Leif’s job is to nudge her hand to bring her out of a seizure or to stand guard and bark a warning if she freezes or collapses in a public place. Until Leif came into her life three years ago, the 22-year-old had to be kept under constant surveillance. Now, with Leif at her side, she doesn’t need so much monitoring. She can bathe alone, hang out with friends, walk outside by herself. She talks about working for a veterinarian someday.

“We went to prison to find freedom,” Blakely says. “I knew that a dog would help Ashlee. I didn’t think that it would impact all of our lives like it did.” For the first time in decades, Blakely is able to sleep through the night.

During the training, Jesyka and Eddy became friends, and the inmate-trainer basks in her young client’s obvious success. “In here, time stands still,” Jesyka says. “Your friends have had their jobs for 10, 15 years. Have their cars paid off. Part of their house is paid off. Kids. A husband. And what do I have? I have Ashlee. If it ever came down to that, if I ever had to say, you know, like when you go to heaven, What have you done? I’d say, ‘Ashlee.’”

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Like the motion caused by a rock in water, the benefits of Prison Pet Partnership Program ripple outward. The inmates bond with “their” dogs and gain marketable skills, and come away with the confidence they have learned from their ability to transform neglected or unsocialized dogs into healthy and well-adjusted pets. They also avoid getting into trouble; inmates must be major-infraction-free for a full year and minor-infraction-free for 90 days—and stay that way—to qualify for the program.

They also appear to have better success on the outside. Of the 140 participants for whom program director Elizabeth Rivard has records, only four have re-offended (a little less than 3 percent, far below the state average recidivism rate for women of 35 percent).

Disabled people of limited means benefit too. They receive the life-expanding assistance and companionship of a service dog for free. (Assistance Dogs International estimates the average cost of training a service dog to be $10,000.) Dogs also get a second chance.

“We would have a much higher success rate if we bred dogs for this purpose,” says Rivard. Only one in 15 to 20 dogs make it as service animals; the others become pets. “But the mission of this program is a second opportunity.” Rivard says it’s the “power of change” that has kept her at the prison for almost 10 years.

Christa knows all about dogs and second chances. She was an inmate working in the office at PPPP when a batch of year-old Poodle and Labradoodle puppies came in. Rescued after nine months in a hoarder’s basement, they were encrusted with feces. “You’d touch their skin and it would just crawl,” Christa says. Among them was a black Standard Poodle named Ramone. For six months, Christa dedicated every free moment to him. “You’re not supposed to sleep with your dogs in the program,” Christa says about the dog who shared her pillow. “I was like, yeah, that’s not going to happen.”

Ramone came a long way under her care, but after two months with an adoptive family, he failed to bond with them, and was returned to the prison shortly before Christa was to be released. She had served a little less than half of a 14-year sentence, and is serving the balance of her sentence on community placement. She was permitted to take Ramone home with her.

“It was really scary, because they’d never let anybody take a dog home before. It was like, ‘Oh great, she’s just getting out on the streets, so let’s give her a dog,’” Christa remembers. “It was just crazy. But I love this dog and I couldn’t imagine being without him and he couldn’t imagine being without me.”

She moved to Bellingham, north of Seattle, where she now lives with two of her three teenage daughters and Ramone. Soon after her release, she landed a job in customer service at the Whatcom Humane Society, where she worked for more than two years. On the day we talked, she’d just received a glowing review after six months working the front desk for a veterinarian—a stellar comment not only on her job performance, but also on her own efforts and the program that helped her land on her feet.

prisonpetpartnership.org

Lisa Wogan writes about dogs, homes and politics in her hometown of Seattle. Her most recent book, Dog Park Wisdom, is available from Mountaineers Books.


Mutual Aid

Prison-based training programs can be found in most states, and are catching on around the world. Generally, dogs come either from breeders or shelters and rescue groups. Though many are trained to work as guide-, assistance-, therapy- or detection dogs, a number of programs focus on training them to be good companions. Here’s a sample.

Canine Support Teams, Inc. (Calif.)

Friends for Folks (Okla.)

Greyhound Project (Kan.)

Hounds of Prison Education/HOPE (Pa.)

Lee County Cell Dogs (Fla.)

Liberty Dog Program (Wisc.)

Pen-Pals—A New Leash on Life (Okla.)

Pen Pals of San Quentin (Calif.)

Prison PUP Program (Conn., Mass., R.I.)

Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program (Colo.)

Puppies Behind Bars (N.Y., N.J., Conn.)

Safe Harbor (Kan.)

Second Chance Prison Canine Program (Ariz.)

SOS Pen Pals (Va.)

Tender Loving Care (Ohio)


Groom and Board

Live near Gig Harbor, Wash., and need to board your dog or have him groomed? Check out services available through the Prison Pet Partnership Program. With 28 indoor dog kennel runs and full-service grooming, the facility operated by PPPP has a lot to offer. (They also care for cats.) All kennel workers are Pet Care Technicians certified through the American Boarding Kennel Association. For details, visit the website, phone 253.858.4240 or email prisonpetpartnership@yahoo.com.

Photograph by Stephanie Felix