Even though it may not feel like it here in Minnesota, spring is coming, and with it comes warmer temperatures. Many of us already know that leaving a dog in a hot car is dangerous. We have all seen the stories that usually accompany this time a year… “Two dogs dead after being left in hot car“, “Police sergeant rescues dog locked in hot car“, “Police Are Cracking Down on Dumb Dog Owners in Heatwave.”
But did you know that in several states it is illegal to leave your dog in a car? There are 14 states – Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia, that currently have statutes “that specifically prohibit leaving an animal in confined vehicle“.
The penalties range from monetary fines to being charged with a misdemeanor, and in some states, it even includes imprisonment. The Animal Legal and Historical Center website contains a list of the states with laws and what penalties apply. They even lay out what is allowed/not allowed in those states when it comes to rescuing an animal left in a car.
For instance, in Minnesota, the statute states:
“A peace officer, a humane agent, a dog warden, or a volunteer or professional member of a fire or rescue department may use reasonable force to enter a motor vehicle and remove a dog or cat which has been left in the vehicle in violation.
Don’t see your state on the list? That doesn’t mean there are no laws in your state. Many local city and county governments have ordinances covering this issue. Owners may want to know this information, not only for their own benefit, but also for those situations in which they see another owner’s dog in distress and don’t know what to do. You can read more on this issue here.
Just as a reminder on how hot a car can get, I am sharing this blog post by my friend by Julie at The Daily Dog Blog. She has a cool infographic that you can print out and share with your friends. I’m thinking I just may make a few copies and keep them in my car so I can hand them out when I see a dog left in a car.
Besides the Minnesota Sheltie Rescue Reunion, there was one other event I was really looking forward to attending – the Dog Body Language seminar being presented by my friend Kate Anders. Unfortunately, I let the crappy Minnesota winter (I refuse to call this spring) get to me. It snowed most of the morning and rained the rest of the day. I thought it would be too icy to venture out at night. I was wrong. I should have gone. I love attending seminars like these because I learn so much. (I am so sorry Kate!)
With that on my mind today, it shouldn’t be surprising that this video would capture my attention Monday night. My friend Mary Haight over at Dancing Dog Blog shared it. I was immediately fascinated.
It is a great example of the dog body language of a threatening dog. Some people might find the video funny, but what I saw was all the signals the dog gave that signaled an attack was about to happen. Can you pick out the signs? The most obvious one is the growl (notice how it is almost a panting growl), but there are more signals there. Try listening with the sound off. What do you see?
Not sure? Let’s walk through the many of the signs I see.
First, notice the dog’s eyes. They are staring straight ahead at the dog in the mirror – this is seen as a threatening behavior by most dogs. Two dogs staring at one another (a direct stare) is a sign that trouble may be just ahead (unlike two dogs playing with one another who will look at one another but also look away.)
Also notice how hard the dog’s eyes are compared to say, your dog. They are not soft and liquid. They are hard and focused and most likely dilated. They are not blinking either.
Now look at the body posture. The dog is leaning forward and his body is stiff. These are more warning signs.
This dog also shows his teeth and his upper lip and nose are wrinkled. More danger signs.
Not surprisingly, he did attack… the dog in the mirror.
In most cases, another dog will back down when faced with these kinds of body signals, and offer appeasement signals while doing so, but when faced with a dog that does not back down then it can escalate.
Does this mean this dog is a danger? Not necessarily. But it does mean that when faced with another dog giving threatening signals (and ignoring appeasement signals), he is not likely to back down either.
Obviously, in this case, neither dog could back down since it was the same dog and his reflection. While it may also seem funny to most people, to me it is a great lesson in dog body language.
*****Just wanted to add a few things my friend Dee caught that I missed: “Interesting to see a dog exhibiting threatening behaviors (freezes in place, stares straight at the dog in the mirror, doesn’t blink), interspersed with discomfort/appeasement (lip licking, slow, side-to-side tail wagging, some crouching). When he doesn’t get clear signals the other dog doesn’t mean him harm, the appeasement reverts to threats.” Thanks Dee!
In my early days with Daisy, I often would think refer to her as my tabula rasa, my little blank slate. Being a “normal” dog was so completely foreign to her back then that I’m not sure she even knew how to be a dog. Meeting other dogs (and people) was so new to her that when other dogs came up to her to say hello she would just stand there with a distant look in her eye. More often than not, the other dog would end up walking away with a noticeable air of disinterest. She was so completely foreign to them, like an alien from another planet. She just didn’t speak their language.
But, over time, I started to notice that Daisy was actually learning how to be a dog in the same way children model after their parents. She was watching what other dogs were doing and taking note. Whenever we went to the dog park, she would watch other dogs playing and try to mimic their behaviors. She made it her goal to learn as much as she could from them.
Of course, there was always an up and down side to that. She might be learning how to be a dog, but she was also learning some bad dog behaviors along the way. I was on constant guard to make sure she was surrounded by dogs I thought could show her the best way to be a happy and healthy dog. I didn’t want her learning behaviors that other dogs would find annoying or ones that might make her a less than desirable dog at the park. I know it sounds silly, but I am being completely serious when I say she watched how others dogs acted and tried to copy them – ALL OF THE TIME.
You may already know this, but dogs are observing a lot in their day-to-day lives. They are very keen on picking up on new behaviors displayed by other dogs. But they are just as keen on picking up on our own behaviors. Think your dogs don’t observe you? Try picking up your keys and walking towards the door. What did your dog do?
I think I was more aware of my dogs observing me and my behaviors than I was about them observing other dogs and their behavior. It wasn’t until Daisy that I began to realize just how much dogs observe other dogs and how much they learn from them.
When Jasper came into our lives at 9 months of age, he chewed on everything he could get his little teeth on. He tore up stuffed toys with a vengeance. He destroyed plastic toys and left little bits of them all over the house. Until Jasper came into our lives, Daisy never chewed up anything. Ever. Suddenly, she was chewing up frisbees and other plastic toys. She learned by observing Jasper.
When I started taking boarders into my home, Jasper learned from them just like Daisy learned from him. From Tuffy, he learned that a raised paw flicking in the air would get him a belly rub. He discovered the joys of squeaking a tennis ball over and over again from Maggie, who also seemed to savor her tennis balls in the very same way. He learned carrots could be quite tasty from our friend, Buddy.
When Cupcake joined our family, she learned new behaviors too. She learned from Jasper that putting your paws on my lap would get you lots of love and attention. From Daisy, she learned that running around in excitement would get me up off the couch to let her outside. She learned from both of Daisy and Jasper that stealing each other’s toys was okay and even acceptable behavior here. There is no hard and fast rule that what’s yours is yours. Everyone shared here.
Watching my own dogs has made me realize how much dogs are really observing in their environment. They are constantly watching us and other dogs, and they are constantly learning from those observations. They watch and they learn.
It made me wonder… What behaviors has your own dog learned by watching another dog? What behaviors has your dog learned by watching you? I would love to know.
A couple of weeks ago a friend posted on her Facebook page that her brain was hurting after attending a Suzanne Clothier seminar. I had to laugh. I could SO relate to what she was feeling. Back in November, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend two of the three sessions held by Suzanne here in Minnesota.
To say the sessions were mind-blowing would be an understatement. I can still remember driving home after that first session and feeling like the synapses in my brain were going off all at once. I learned more about dogs in those first three hours than I had ever learned before. I’m pretty sure I said “Wow.” at least twenty times during that first night’s drive home.
The second session was just as mind-blowing as the first and included a lot of real life demonstrations using dogs with real issues. It was exciting to be able to pick out some of the behavioral cues being given by the dogs as Suzanne worked with them.
But the highlight of the session (for me) was a video Suzanne showed during her last session. When I say it was a highlight I mean that it gave me that “A-ha” moment, a moment of insight into myself and into dogs.
Suzanne introduced the video by saying that what we were about to see was an initial meeting between a potential adopter ( a man) and a Shepherd/Husky/Lab mix. The man had come in to meet the dog after seeing his picture on the internet. He was certain that this was the dog for him.
We watched the video in silence as the man met the dog outside. Right away, it was evident that the dog had no interest in the man. As they stood on the gravel driveway, the dog made it clear that he wanted distance. He stood at the very end of the leash and put his back to the man (facing out and away from him). When the man tried to pull the dog in closer to him, he resisted and tried to maintain some distance from him.
When the man sat down on the ground, he pulled the dog in towards him and tried to hug him. The dog tolerated it way more than most people would have, but it was clear from his body language that he wanted no part of it. He pulled away, and even when pulled in close, looked uncomfortable and stiff and always faced away from the man. There were also a lot of yawns and lip-licking (signs of stress in a dog).
As I watched the video, I remember being irritated with the man for not recognizing the dog wanted nothing to do with him. Couldn’t he see the dog was resistant to his attention? Couldn’t he see the dog did not want a hug?
I was so caught up in the dog’s behavioral signals that I had failed to notice something else, something that Suzanne later pointed out – the man’s behavior. In every move and action, he was telling us what kind of dog he wanted,. He wanted a dog who was affectionate and wanted to be close to him. Throughout the video, he made every attempt to create this closeness – pulling the dog towards him,, hugging him, holding him, etc.. The only problem was that he was trying to create that closeness with a dog who clearly preferred distance. This was a dog who probably preferred to sleep on the floor across the room from you or maybe at you feet, not a dog who wanted to be hugged.
What I had completely missed throughout the video was the dynamic between the man and the dog. Suzanne called it a mismatch, and she was completely right. It was a mismatch. The guy was a perfectly nice gentleman, and the dog was a perfectly wonderful dog – they just wanted very different things from one another.
As I thought about it even more, I started to realize how similarly matched me and my dogs are to one another. I am not someone who wants constant affection and attention from my dogs, and funny enough, my dogs are not interested in giving it back to me on a constant basis either. That’s not to say that I don’t like to cuddle with my dogs from time to time. I do. It’s just I prefer not to have a dog glued to my side and needing to touch me at every moment of the day. I like that my dogs prefer to sleep on the floor at night. I love that they have some sense of independence from me.
And yet I know, for other dog owners, this would be the exact opposite of what they want. They want that closeness. They want the little dog in their lap at night… and you know what? That’s totally okay. In the end, it’s making sure that the dog you have matches what you want and that what you both have a need for the same things.
So it made me curious… Do you consider yourself someone who wants that closeness with a dog? Or someone who prefers a little independence and distance? Do you consider you and your dog well-matched? If so, why do you think so?
And, have you ever had a dog that was a mismatch for you and how did you know?
Unlike the videos I share most weeks, this video doesn’t have cute little dogs running through snow or playing with a cat. But it does have some beautiful pictures and the most wonderful words. I strongly suspect you will be sharing this with all your dog-loving friends after you watch it.
Clearly God must love a dog. And really, who can blame him?
Happy Friday everyone!
We have all heard the news stories touting the health benefits of dogs and cats – how they enrich our lives, lower out heart rates and make us get outside and get exercise (even in the frigid cold temperatures in Minnesota!).
But, do they open our worlds for us? Do they make us see things we may not have seen before? Or, help us to realize the vast possibilities before us?
I know that my dogs have taught me to be more balanced and calmer. I’m not sure that has necessarily opened new worlds for me, but it has made me a better person for my dogs to be around.
I think I have explored more, tried more things, and sought new places to walk because of my dogs. I love seeing them explore a new place (noses to the ground, running through the woods, enjoying the water, etc.) and try new things. I guess if you think about it, I am trying new things too!
Perhaps the area in which my dogs have opened a new world for me is through blogging. I started blogging to catalog Daisy’s progress as a puppy mill dog, nothing more, nothing less. I never imagined becoming a part of a blogging community that loves dogs and cats, or having such fantastic readers like you (or readers at all!) who challenge me and comfort me, or learning so much more about dogs and the business that surrounds them. I never imagined running my own business and caring for other people’s pets either. My dogs gave me that too.
The more I think about it, maybe dogs do open a new world for us. What do you think? Has your dog opened a new world for you? How?
The report comprehensively surveys animal protection laws for all U.S. states and territories and then ranks those states and territories based on their laws.
“…the RANKINGS REPORT assesses the strength of each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws by examining over 4,000 pages of statutes. Each jurisdiction receives a raw score based on fifteen different categories of animal protection…”
Of course, I was curious to find out what categories they included in their ranking, and I wanted to know where my state stood amongst the group (Minnesota ranked #14).
I was disappointed to see that the detailed information in the report, like what put each state at that ranking and what they could do better, was confined to only the 5 best and 5 worst states. However, I thought the information was interesting enough to share a summary of their findings. I suspect that if you live in one of these states you already know where they would fall, but it’s still worth sharing. I encourage you to review the full report yourself. It’s quite interesting.
There were 15 categories used to determine a state’s ranking. These covered laws in the following areas:
- General prohibitions
- Mental health evaluations & counseling
- Protective orders
- Cost mitigation & recovery
- Forfeiture and post‐conviction possession
- Non‐animal agency reporting of suspected animal cruelty
- Veterinarian reporting of suspected animal cruelty
- Law enforcement policies
- Sexual assault
- Offender registration
- “Ag gag” legislation (New this year, this ranking takes into account states where laws – propagated by the agriculture lobby – aim to conceal animal abuse, food safety risks, and illegal working conditions from consumers by making it illegal to video record or photograph at agricultural facilities.)
The Best 5 States for animals are:
The Worst 5 states for animals are:
- New Mexico (#46)
- South Dakota (#47)
- Iowa (#48)
- North Dakota (#49)*
- Kentucky (#50)
*I thought it was interesting (but not surprising) to see North Dakota on the “worst” list. I wrote about them late last year after their citizens voted down a law that would have made animal cruelty a felony. It’s kind of hard to see them making the best list with that kind of news isn’t it? By the way, South Dakota has chosen not to make animal cruelty a felony as well. I can’t help but wonder why. Surely the people in these states love animals too. Right?
What was also interesting were the states that improved their ranking by more than 50%:
District of Columbia: 64%
What made their ranking change so significantly? They changed, added laws or strengthened their existing animal protection laws.
Some of the areas in which they made this happen include:
- Expanding the range of protections for animals
- Providing stiffer penalties for offenders
- Strengthening standards of care for animals
- Reporting of animal cruelty cases by veterinarians and other professionals
- Mitigating and recovering costs associated with the care of mistreated animals
- Requiring mental health evaluations and counseling for offenders
- Banning ownership of animals following convictions
- Including animals in domestic violence protective orders
- Prohibiting convicted abusers from gaining employment involving animal contact
- Strengthening provisions on the sale and possession of exotic animals
- Expanding humane officers’ powers to be the same as other peace officers
So where did your state fall on the list? Were you surprised?
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting this past week. Not just about the past year, but about my life in general. Maybe it’s all the blog posts looking back on 2012, or all the empowering messages on Facebook, or maybe it’s Kristine’s post over at Rescued Insanity that is driving all this introspection. I’m not sure.
What I do know is that I have been in a fog for over a year now, probably a left over hangover from closing down my pet sitting business. They say losing a business is like losing a loved one. I guarantee you that in my case this was true. I loved what I did. I loved working with people’s pets every day. I loved the feeling of accomplishment from running my own business. And, I loved knowing I was making a difference in pet’s lives. Giving all of that up was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. In fact, I delayed it for a long time. It’s no surprise that the fog was so thick and consuming for so long after all was said and done.
It is only now that I feel the fog finally starting to lift. The question is, where does that leave me? What is next?
I am starting to get hints of what it might be or where I might go, but there is so much more to be fleshed out.
What I do know for sure is that it will have something to do with animals. How can it not?
When I was a young girl, I used to sit on banks of the ponds across the street from my house and observe (and yes, even take notes) the Canadian geese (I think I imagined myself as some sort of young Jane Goodall). When I was in high school, I was so excited to discover that they offered a class in animal behavior (animal biology was my second favorite class) and soaked up as information as I could.
Throughout my early years, I rescued animals of all kinds, cats, dogs, bunnies, squirrels and even raised a baby bird after it fell from its nest and raised it to fly.
In my 30′s, I volunteered at an animal shelter and soaked up as much information as I could from the dog trainers, as well as the dogs. I used to use my knowledge of appeasement signals to help the more fearful dogs come out of their kennels to go outside for a walk or to just receive love and attention.
My favorite shows to watch are about animals and nature. And recently, when I had the chance to attend a Suzanne Clothier seminar, I jumped at the chance. I only wish I could have attended the whole weekend!
Clearly, I was meant to be around animals, to study them, to learn from them. Maybe pet sitting was the right career for me at one time, but is it now? I’m not so sure anymore. I think perhaps I am being taken in a new direction. Maybe pet sitting was simply the stepping stone that was to lead me to something better. I guess only time will tell.
So what will be next? I don’t know for sure, but whatever it is and wherever I go, I feel I am finally heading in the right direction. Maybe 2013 is a year for new beginnings. One thing is certain, I can see the sun through the fog and it is getting brighter very day.
What will the new year bring? Only time will tell. I guess if you believe in numerology, then maybe there is some good news to be found in numerologist, Glynnis McCants’, prediction for the new year. According to her, 2013 is a “6″ year (2+0+1+3 = 6) which means a focus on family and business – “I see it as a good cycle for everybody who felt this year they couldn’t get it together…they have another chance.” Pretty good news if you felt a little out of sorts (like me) in 2012. We shall have to see if it really comes true.
In the meantime, I thought I would use this last day of the year to share my annual list of favorite blog posts.
As with every year, I had a hard time whittling my list down to just 12, but I think I did it.
Please note: These are blog posts I selected myself because they had an impact on me. I also thought they might be of interest to you. If you have others you think qualify, please do share them in the comment section below. I love finding new ones to read. I would love to know what blog post(s) touched you most this year.
So, without further ado, here are My Top 12 Blog Posts for 2012…
1. Pondering Poppies In January – My friend Jenny Pavlovic is probably the most fearless person I know. She tackles the biggest problems as if they were merely a pebble in her path. She helps animals and humans, and tries to make a difference in all that she does. To be honest, I am a little in awe of her ability to just barrel ahead – fearless, dedicated, committed and kind. Earlier this year she wrote a blog post that pretty much summed up her philosophy on life. I admit I have a personal connection to this blog post, but it wasn’t why I chose it.
2. A Perfect Storm - This blog post made the rounds in February after a news reporter was bitten in the face by a dog that had been rescued from a reservoir the day before. I am sure many of you recall the discussions that went on at that time – who was to blame, what people could learn from it, how to prevent a dog bite like this in the future, etc. What struck me most about Kari Bastyr’s words were both the measured way she discussed the issue and how she highlighted the need for us humans to better understand our dogs. In her own words, “Going forward, I would like everyone to take a step back and think about all the things your dog is trying to tell you. Do away with everything you ‘think’ you know about dogs, everything you have learned from your dogs growing up, and everything you try to do to ‘make’ your dogs listen. Watch and learn because your dog is trying to tell you things every single second.” Powerful stuff. I hope you will give it a read. It is well worth your time.
3. Tread lightly – My friend Debbie Jacobs is probably one of the smartest people I know, and that doesn’t just apply to her knowledge of dogs. Her wisdom about fearful dogs, however is quite amazing (and helpful!). I thought this particular post was quite powerful. I could not agree with her more. As she says in the post, “When interacting with a fearful, shy or anxious dog, tread lightly, you may not be able to see the cracks in the ice.”
4. A Dog Park is No Place for a Duck – Kristine Tonks from Rescued Insanity is a thoughtful and thought-provoking type of blogger. I always know that she will leave me thinking (and in this case, laughing). This post had me not only laughing out loud, but doing so while riding on the train, during rush hour. I even made a point and going back to read it when I got home that evening. I knew then it just had to be on my 2012 list of favorite blog posts. Need a laugh? Read on!
5. How I Failed as a Rescuer: Lessons from a Sanctuary – This post from Notes From a Dog Walker is pretty powerful stuff. The number of comments (629) should tell you enough about it’s impact. I think it’s a good example of what we as dog bloggers do best – share the raw emotional truth of our experiences with our pets, and the pets we care for, whether in rescue or a shelter. I guarantee it will leave you thinking.
6. Chix-A-Lot Friday: Let’s be gentle, not judgmental - I have to admit, I love Aleksandra’s blog, Love and a Six-Foot Leash, for two reasons: 1) She is a fantastic photographer and I love looking at her pictures of her dogs and the dogs she has fostered, and 2) she is another blogger who is wise, thoughtful and thought-provoking. This post is one of her more thought-provoking posts and one that I think every dog trainer, dog blogger and dog “expert” should read. I know that I am still learning the lessons shared in this post.
7. Exploding Dog Butts and Ill-Fitting Clothes – An Experiment in Looking on the Bright Side – If you haven’t been following Elizabeth’s dog blog, The Chronicles of Cardigan, you really should. She is about as funny as any standup comedian. I love her humor and I love her Corgiis. How could I not? They’re adorable and they provide fodder for Elizabeth’s humor. This one in particular had me in stitches. The title says it all.
8. There’s A Sucker Born Every Minute and Things Dogs Brag About - I appreciate a lot of things about my friend Kevin Myers, among them are his knowledge of dogs and his love of coffee, but perhaps it is his sense of humor about us and our dogs that I love the most. These two posts are perfect examples of how well Kevin knows us and our dogs. See if you don’t agree. I guarantee you will at least laugh.
9. Will in December – I highlighted Tom Ryan and his dog, Atticus, back in September, but what I didn’t know then was that he had since taken in another dog, one that very much-needed his loving care. To say that Will is a special needs dog would not be that far off. Neglected, unwanted, and in pain, Will was the older dog that everyone passes by. Thankfully, Tom was not everyone. This loving tribute to Will is so worth reading, although I warn you, you may need a tissue by the time you are through.
10. An apology to Jehan and Farouk - Georgia Little Pea is normally a quite funny person. In fact, she is more than funny. She is talented. This past year she has been sharing all sorts of interesting stories about her life as she cleans house and considers moving to new locales. This particular post has stuck with me since she wrote it. If you have ever had a dog and felt the guilt of not being the dog owner you had once envisioned yourself being, then this post will resonate with you. I hope Georgia won’t mind me sharing it, but I thought it was worthy of sharing. Maybe read this one first and then read Aleksandra’s (#6).
11. The Puppiness Project – Trust the Universe; Trust Yourself – Pamela often uses her dog, Honey, to help her, and her readers, better understand our complicated human emotions. It might seem a bit cliché to say that we should be more like our dogs, but I think Pamela has demonstrated that we can certainly learn a lot about ourselves through them. I think this particular post resonated with me because, like Pamela, I’m not much on trusting the universe either. That’s where Honey comes in. See what Pamela has to say on learning trust from her dog Honey.
12. #20 ~ saved from a life of doglessness – This post just might be one of my favorites for the year. Maybe it’s the beauty of Eleanore MacDonald’s words or maybe it’s the fact that she has had the chance to watch as “the dark shroud of trauma began to wear away” from her dog Lovie (like I did with Daisy), but either way, I found her post powerful and touching enough to want to share it with all of you. There is something about Lovie’s story that hit me at my core. Maybe Eleanore’s talent with music has woven its way into her blog? She certainly has a beautiful voice, and after listening to her music, I already know that she is one amazing woman. I hope you will check out her blog post AND her music.