Saturday, April 13, 2013

Gardening with Your Dog and For Your Dog.

Spring Has Sprung! It's that time of the year to dream, design and plant. How many times have you tended to your garden with your best furry friend laying close to you watching as you dig, plant and nurture? Dogs love the outdoors, dogs love you and dogs love digging! Let's look at some ideas for gardens for dogs. We'll look at dog friendly plants, vegetable gardens for dogs and planting to keep pets safe.

There are gardens throughout the world where dogs and their owners share the outdoor space. It doesn’t matter if your garden is large or small yard or patio container plants, gardening is a fun time to spend with your pet. My Mom and I used to garden all of the time when I was earthbound. Now I supervise her from the Bridge and she hears me!

Our friends at American Dog Magazine present us with some of the veggies us dogs love. Plant a dog friendly veggie garden!

Garden plants toxic to dogs from the site

Happy Spring. Enjoy your time planting with your furry family member and post your pics!

Doggy kisses from the Bridge, Reba Messina
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Monday, March 18, 2013

New Pope Channeling St. Francis - A Good Man

This is a feel good story from our friends at Life With Dogs. 
Journalist Alessandria Forlani wasn’t sure he’d even be allowed in when the new pope met with the world media on Saturday. Guards had told him he most likely wouldn’t because of his guide dog, however Vatican officials let him and his guide dog Asia in and after the pope’s thank you speech to the media Pope Francis asked to meet Forlani and Asia.
Forlani is a visually impaired radio journalist and showed up on Saturday at the Vatican’s auditorium for Pope Francis’ address to the media. Accompanying him was his guide dog, a yellow Labrador Retriever named Asia. “As I waited in line to enter the hall, the security guards told me that most likely I wouldn’t be allowed to get in with the dog,” Forlani wrote on his Facebook page. “But after a few minutes, Vatican official gave me the green light and I was accompanied by a Swiss guard to the audience hall.” Forlani and Asia were given a seat in the front rows.
To read the rest of the story click here.
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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Want to Introduce You and Your Dog to a New Adventure in 2013?

Let’s face it all dogs cannot be agility dogs. All dogs cannot learn how to drive a car. All dogs cannot teach kids to talk. Canines come in a lot of different packages and they have different personalities and purposes in life. Dogs with energy levels that go through the roof might make terrific agility dogs as they need a lot of exercise. Documented smart breeds like Border Collies just might pass the SPCA driving course. Then there are dogs, maybe mutts, who have Zen personalities and value a lot of quiet attention like Reba Messina did. I often thought she had a gift to be a therapy dog b/c she loved people and had a very sweet persona but I never took the time to look into it.

Maybe you’ve given some thought to your dog visiting children in hospitals or the elderly in nursing homes. Therapy dogs provide a lot of love, licks and joy during their visits. So I decided that I wanted to look into how to make that happen because I am going to find another Zen dog like Reba was to share my life with one day so that we can provide some happiness to others. Here are some tips on becoming a therapy team.
Could Your Dog Become a Therapy Dog?
Short answer:  To qualify, your dog must be friendly, well-behaved, and at least one year old. Observe how your dog acts around strangers. “Is he confident and eager to be petted? Those are signs that he’d be a good therapy dog.”
Pet Partners offers a 12-hour course on how to handle your dog in various settings, such as working with people who are in wheelchairs, have IV lines, or other medical equipment. After you and your dog pass a 22-part evaluation, Pet Partners will match you with volunteer opportunities at local schools, hospitals, or libraries that fit your pet’s talents.
Basic Obedience

In addition to basic obedience, a therapy dog must react positively with handling by strangers and new stimuli. According to Petfinder, there are many things in a hospital room, nursing home room or even a homebound person’s home that could be new to the dog, and it must not react to people and things in a negative manner.

Furthermore, most classes will make sure dogs are familiar with hospital equipment and that the dogs are properly socialized. This means that the dogs must get along with people and other animals. When visiting a hospital, strangers constantly walk in and out of rooms; and hallways are often hectic, especially if there is an emergency. Socialization teaches dogs not to fear people rushing around with equipment such as machinery and hospital beds.

Meet and Greet/Handling

Canines also learn the art of networking. Included in their training are meet and greet exercises, as most people in the facilities you visit will want to interact with your dog. Role playing for a hospital environment also teaches dogs not to fear the equipment and hurried actions often found in a hospital environment. The dogs’ handlers are also instructed on safe dog-handling; thus, should something happen in a hospital environment, the handler knows how to react to the situation. A calm handler means that the dog has a better chance of staying calm.

Sample Tests

Therapy Dogs International has 15 tests that a dog must pass to become a certified therapy dog. Mutts and purebred dogs must be able to pass the same test. The dogs must test on a plain buckle collar and must be at least a year old. The 15 tests include:
·         Accepting a friendly stranger
·         Sitting politely while someone pets the dog
·         Be well-groomed
·         Must be able to walk on a loose leash
·         Must be able to walk calmly through a crowd
·         Must be able to sit and down, plus stay in place on command
·         Must have excellent recall — coming when called
·         Must have a positive reaction to other dogs
·         Must not react negatively to distractions
·         Must not react negatively to medical equipment — some of which makes    “strange” noise
·         Must know and obey the “Leave it” command
·         Must show confidence when exposed to people who walk with an uneven gait or who wheeze, cough heavily or breathe heavily
·         Must show that it will listen to another person as well as the dog listens to its handler
·         Must be willing to say hello, including showing positive reaction when placed on a person’s bed or in a person’s lap
·         Must work well and react positively to children
So once your dog has passed a therapy test, he/she will be certified to proudly wear a working vest, do therapy work for hospitals, nursing homes and other direct care facilities that welcome therapy dogs. It’s a win-win. The patients get some puppy love and the dogs get some human love!  Some facilities may also accept a dog with an AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) award.  

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