Tyler took him to Fairview Pet Hospital in Costa Mesa. Dr. Hongwon Kang told him that he believed Spritzer had a congenital condition that is common in the breed. He said that he needed an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis.
But Tyler, who recently had been homeless, did not have the money to pay the bill. The doctor suggested that Angel Fund could help. Tyler applied but it was about three weeks before he received the grant. In the meantime, Spritzer’s condition worsened.
Tyler did research online and knew what medications were recommended for treatment. The condition includes a collapsed trachea and an enlarged heart. “It makes it increasingly hard for the dog to breath,” Tyler said. But Dr. Kang did not want to prescribe the drugs, he said, until he could take x-rays to confirm the condition.
When Tyler was informed that his grant had been approved, he was ecstatic. He took Spritzer to the hospital and x-rays were taken. Tyler obtained the medications and began giving them to his dog.
“Angel Fund was a life-saver but the x-rays showed that Spritzer’s enlarged heart was really big and was already pushing his trachea,” Tyler said. “He would stand up and then he would fall over because he would black out. Two weeks earlier, he was chasing squirrels. He went from that to falling over. It killed me.”e H
It had become increasingly clear that Spritzer was nearing the end of his life. “I watched for a couple of weeks and I just couldn’t take it. Finally, my two sons came over and got me and Spritzer and took us to the vet. Spritzer was staring into my eyes and I was bawling, man!”
It was about a month after the dog had begun taking the medications that he was put down.
Tyler had a good job as a successful real estate agent but he plunged into homelessness after a real estate deal went sour during the Great Recession of 2007-08 that was caused by subprime mortgages and a housing bubble. He had two young sons, now both financially successful at ages 24 and 22. The family was helped by the Illumination Foundation, an Orange County nonprofit that provides aid to those without shelter. And they lived for a time in a “big storage unit” that Tyler made into a temporary home.
“The homeless thing is like a black hole, Tyler said. “You’re almost climbing out and then the thread breaks and you go all the way back down to the bottom. I had a resume as long as my arm but nobody would hire me. I raised my two boys by myself.”
Tyler lived in his car for a time and later was able to buy a recreational vehicle, that is still his home. He also went back to school and earned a graphic arts degree. He believes that triggered his recovery from homelessness. While in school, he did a graphic picture of Spritzer on his computer.
In 2009, he started repairing auto windshields. The small business “was just keeping me alive for a while” but now is doing well. “It’s been pretty good these last six months,” he said. “I get a lot of calls for window replacement, which I don’t do, but I’m thinking about expanding my business to include that. I could go do a workshop or hire somebody who knows how to do it.”
Tyler said that he didn’t want to get another dog after Spritzer died. “But now we’ve got Peanut, a small white Chihuahua. “He’s a menace, 24/7. He’s about the same size and almost looks like Spritzer.”
He also is setting up a nonprofit he is calling Life Rebuilders to help the homeless by giving them shoes.
In 2004, Galina Coleman slipped and fell at work not far from where she lived in Petaluma. She had five surgeries for the injuries she suffered. In the wake of that personal catastrophy and disillusioned with her marriage, she got a divorced and moved to Southern California.
Today, estranged from her former husband and two sons, she lives in Aliso Viejo and struggles to pay her bills. She was declared totally disabled in 2006 and lives on a Social Security disability check.
“I’m just really struggling,” she said. “I’m in affordable housing. My rent is $1,398 a month, which is ‘very affordable’ here. However, for me it’s just really, really difficult. I’ve tried to get jobs but it just hasn’t worked out for me. I have two senior dogs and a senior cat and I know they’re basically at the end of their lives.”
Late last November, her struggles came into clear perspective when Abby, her nearly 14-year-old Dachshund, appeared to be having a digestive issue. “When I took her to a veterinarian, the doctor discovered a heart murmur. She thought it was pretty serious and prescribed medication for Abby after doing an x-ray,” Galina said.
Later, she took the dog to Dr. Lynn Sanchez, a veterinarian she said she likes and trusts at Garden Grove Dog and Cat Hospital. Dr. Sanchez recommended an electrocardiogram to get a clearer idea what Abby’s problem was. But Galina could not handle the cost. She applied for an Angel Fund grant and was awarded $451, a sum that was matched by the hospital.
Abby got the electrocardiogram in late December – and with it some good news: the murmur was not as bad as originally suspected. “Dr. Sanchez said that everything looked pretty good and prescribed three medications,” Galina said. A week later, when she took Abby back for a recheck, two of the medications were discontinued. “One of them was really hard on her kidneys,” she said, “so I was really glad to get rid of it.”
After another recheck early in January, the dog is continuing to take Vetmedin. “She’s not in heart failure but has some damage to a mitral valve,” Galina said.
When Galina divorced, she took her animals with her. “I have tried to help them on a piecemeal basis,” she said. “I’ve had to rely on charity. They’ve all been in pretty good health but now they are at the point where that’s starting to change [because of their ages].”
Augie, Abby’s brother, is two years younger at 12. Aurora, her cat, also is 12. Galina believes that Augie will need a dental treatment soon.
“I’ve been given the blessing of having these animals – they are just truly a blessing for me. I am their steward and I need to make sure they get whatever is needed to take care of them. I have to do that.
“Had I not been able to do this [echocardiogram], I would either have been giving Abby way too much medication or no medication at all. It wouldn’t have been good either way. it was going to be detrimental to her health one way or the other.”
Galina is grateful to Angel Fund. “They really helped me out,” she said. “It is a wonderful thing to help people because things can be so expensive. I think it’s a really great thing for veterinarians to give back. I admire them for doing that. I think that’s what we’re all here for – to give back.”
She is thinking about moving with her animals to a place – perhaps New Mexico – where her disability check would go further. She is 58 years old.
“I have ignored a lot of my life for these dogs. But, in return, they’ve provided me with something,” she said. That something is love and support.
Animal Health Foundation’s Caring Creatures Pet Partners Team Jane Horsfield and Kiss are celebrated in Pet Companion Magazine!
From Pet Companion Magazine http://digital.petcompanionmag.com/publication/?m=40178&i=651393&p=38 “Reprinted with permission from Pet Companion Magazine, Spring 2020.”
Just like the rock band for which she’s named, the black-and-whitemasked Kiss never gives up, even when people might count her out.
Like KISS, whose members have been rocking for 4 7 years, she keeps coming back, stronger each time, just when you think she’s thrown in the towel. KISS the band is traveling the world throughout 2020 on their The End is Near tour-this time, they say, they’re really going to retire. We’ll believe it when we see it.
Kiss the border collie, however, has no plans to throw in any towel or slow down, and certainly not to retire. This rock star therapy dog/athlete has a can-do attitude that won’t quit, and all the curve balls she’s been thrown so far haven’t taken her down. She’s tough as nails, and yet sweet as the pink swipe of a gentle doggie smooch. She’s one special dog who has defied unthinkable odds to not just survive but also stay at the top of her game.
And what game is that? Well, for starters, she used to give other dogs a run for their money in flyball, agility, dock diving, nosework, and Frisbee catching. But being a top athlete wasn’t where Kiss found her calling. It turns out her best talents emerged during her 11-year career (so far) as a therapy dog-part of the Animal Health Foundation, an affiliate of Pet Partners. Kiss visits hospital patients, helps elementary school children learn to love reading, and appears at many public service events benefiting various causes for pets and children, including her local Rotary Club’s fundraising efforts to raise awareness of skin cancer. Since 2013, she has served as a crisis response dog, sent on deployments where she has helped people affected by disasters or other crises cope with their losses. But her best trick yet? Beating her own cancer, a soft-cell sarcoma on her front left leg, and now living with a complex disease called immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA). This 13-year-old takes it on the chin, but she never takes it lying down. Despite a grim diagnosis and multiple complications, Kiss is making steady progress and will soon be back visiting her local hospitals and elementary schools, putting smiles on the many faces she loves.
Kiss was six months old when she was given to Jane Horsfield and Dan Balza of Fountain Valley, California, by a fellow flyball enthusiast. Horsfield and Balza previously owned several dogs involved in the sport-which, heartbreakingly, they had lost to various forms of cancer. A lover of border collies, Horsfield was all in for taking Kiss home. However, she and Balza had recently discussed how their household was definitely at its maximum dog capacity. Grudgingly, Balza agreed to take a look at a photo of the striking black and white little furball. It wasn’t long before Kiss became part of the family.
Horsfield describes young Kiss as “one wild little banshee.” She recalls, “She barked, she chased, she screamed … and she ate everything in sight. She chewed clothes, glasses, furniture, walls (not kidding!), and the oak baseboard. I’d get home from work and, with drywall hanging from her mouth, she’d look at me with those big, brown, loving eyes. Who could be mad? Eventually, the bad behavior faded, and a wonderful ‘teenaged’ doggy emerged.”
At that time, Horsfield was doing pet therapy work with another of her beloved athletic dogs, who was 11 and nearing retirement age. All of her dogs do dog sports, but therapy work-that’s a raised bar that Horsfield says only a few dogs can reach. Because Kiss was proving to be a loving and sensitive dog, she began to train her. At just 2 years old, Kiss passed her Pet Partner evaluation, and with that opened
a new chapter in her life. Although her primary job was now therapy work, Kiss still enjoyed participating in dog sports in her spare time.
In 2017, Kiss’s image was featured on a surfboard that was part of a fundraiser by the Huntington Beach Rotary Club. Local artists were paired with local surfboard shapers, and 22 surfboards were decorated and auctioned off, with the money donated to local hospitals benefiting skin cancer research, prevention, and care. At the unveiling of her surfboard, a participant visiting with Kiss felt a swelling on her front left leg and alerted Horsfield to it. It turned out to be a soft-tissue sarcoma, and Kiss was referred to a specialty hospital.
Having lost four previous dogs to cancer, Horsfield and Balza were devastated, fearing the worst. But after 18 months of treatment, including 6 months of rehabilitation, Kiss was declared free of cancer and cleared to go back to work.
Horsfield got word of a grant from the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo that was available to therapy dogs with cancer. The foundation donated $3,000 to help cover some of the costs ofKiss’s treatment, and Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo shared Kiss’s story on their websites for the 2018 Pet Cancer Awareness campaign. The two companies have invested more than $15 million into pet cancer research since the campaign began in 2010. Asked to participate again in 2019, Kiss’s face was featured on ads in People magazine, on Petco’s Pet Cancer Awareness website, on posters in nearly every Petco store, and even on a reuseable tote bag, a gift for donating $10 to the campaign in any Petco store nationwide.
Sadly, between the time she was declared cancer free and the start of the 2019 Pet Cancer Awareness campaign in May 2019, Kiss was diagnosed with immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, or IMHA. “It’s a horrible, not-so-common disease where the immune system goes haywire and starts destroying its own red blood cells,” explains Horsfield. “She literally was fine on Saturday, then on Sunday morning she didn’t want to eat her breakfast.” While that symptom didn’t seem particularly alarming, Horsfield discovered discoloration in Kiss’s mouth and immediately took her to a veterinary specialist. From there, her condition went downhill fast, but thankfully Kiss’s condition today has been mostly stabilized through medication. But not before she suffered an intestinal blockage that required emergency surgery and a severe bout of pneumonia. The road has been long, and it’s been rough. But Kiss is not a quitter. She fights on.
And Horsfield, who “researches absolutely everything” but was too terrified to even look up this disease at first, is fighting along with her. Every day, she’s learning and, more importantly, educating others about IMHA. It’s a complicated disease with no “one-size-fits-all” treatment-veterinarians must try protocol after protocol to find one that strikes the right balance for Kiss. “This story is far from over, and she has not been ‘cured.’ Knowledge is everything when treating this disease,” Horsfield points out. She says if she’d waited a day to take Kiss to the vet or not gone straight to a specialist, Kiss likely would have died, according to her doctors. “Dog owners need to be aware of what IMHA is and know the warning signs” she cautions. “IMHA packs quite a punch, and Kiss’s life has taken a drastic side road.” Younger dogs who make it through this disease are generally more able to get back to normal, says Horsfield. “Kiss got this ugly disease at 12. She’s not a young dog, but she was in great shape before this hit, which is probably why she’s been able to fight it. I am just grateful to still have her with me 12 months after diagnosis.”
While Horsfield admits that Kiss probably won’t be competing in flyball or dock diving anytime soon, she still enjoys her nosework and catching the occasional ball or Frisbee. A pivotal moment in her recovery was when she was finally able to take a swim once again in the family’s backyard pool with her pack, the other family dogs. She’s also back to visiting hospital patients, and will head back to school for the elementary reading program very soon. In December, when a student from Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead was tragically murdered, Kiss was there to lend support. In January, she helped deploying military service men and women and their families prepare for the year ahead.
With all she’s been through, you might expect Kiss to just bask in the sun and take life easy for the rest of her days. But that’s not who she is. That little banshee who barked her head off, ate everything in sight, and chewed her way through puppyhood (and the drywall) isn’t resting on her laurels or her haunches. She’s forging ahead, mending hearts and spreading joy and kisses along the way. Because, sometimes, a kiss changes everything.
Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia
By Julie Stegeman, DVM
Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) is an autoimmune condition wherein the patient’s immune system attacks their own red blood cells as if they were a foreign invader. IMHA is more common in dogs than in cats, and it is an almost daily occurrence in the caseload of a referral hospital because of the need for inpatient supportive care and often the need for blood transfusion. It is most often seen in middle-aged dogs and in young cats, and some breeds are more at risk ( cocker spaniels, miniature schnauzers, miniature dachshunds, etc). IMHA represents a loss of immune system “tolerance of self.” Our immune system has checks and balances built in, but when there is a disturbance in that balance, a red blood cell can “look” like a virus to an immune system cell. It then becomes a target for destruction, leading to severe anemia and death if left untreated.
Symptoms ofIMHA initially can be vague. Lethargy, poor appetite, even a fever may be seen. Pet owners might notice a red or orange discoloration to the pet’s urine, or they might notice pale gums. The gums and skin might even appear yellow (“jaundiced”) due to buildup of bilirubin, which is a byproduct ofred blood cell destruction. Orange stool is also commonly seen. These symptoms lead to taking the pet in to their veterinarian. Blood tests will show anemia and may or may not show elevated bilirubin levels, elevated white blood cells, low platelets, or elevated liver or kidney values. If the platelet count is low, the pet may have autoimmune destruction of their platelets as well-this is called Evan’s syndrome.”
It is recommended to screen for a variety of immune system triggers in an IMHA patient, such as various tick-borne illnesses, viral infections, other infectious diseases, and cancer. Other triggers can include a variety of medications and even (rarely) vaccinations. If there is an underlying triggering condition, the immune destruction will continue until the trigger is eliminated. This is especially important because treatment for IMHA requires immune suppressive medications, and if there is an infectious disease present, the immune suppressant medications will allow the triggering infectious disease to overcome the patient. It is very important to provide a full medical and travel history to the attending veterinarian, so that these issues can be discovered right away. Various blood tests, chest radiographs, and abdominal ultrasounds are usually performed to screen for underlying conditions, depending on the patient and their exact history.
If no inciting cause is identified, then immune suppressive treatment is begun. The cornerstone of immune suppressive treatment is glucocorticoid (steroid) treatment, most commonly in the form ofprednisone or as injectable dexamethasone. High doses of steroids are required at first, because the immune reactions in IMHA are very intense, and progression is rapid if left unchecked. It can take several days to start to see the benefits of the immune suppressive treatments. In some patients, if the immune system is attacking red blood cells at the level of the bone marrow ( where they are being produced), it can take 4 to 6 weeks for stabilization of the red cell levels to occur. Until the red cell level ( often determined with a Packed Cell Volume [PCV]) stabilizes and starts to increase, blood transfusions are often necessary. Transfusions help “buy time” until the steroids can control the situation. Unfortunately, the transfused red blood cells are often destroyed as quickly as the pet’s own red blood cells, so repeated transfusion may be needed.
In addition to steroids and transfusions, sometimes other treatments are used. Intravenous gamma globulin treatment (IVIgG) is an expensive but often effective way to shorten a hospital stay. This treatment binds to auto-antibodies and keeps them from attacking the red blood cells. It also may reduce antibody production by the patient’s body. It helps “win the battle” but is not proven to improve long-term outcomes. Plasmapheresis is another treatment available at a few referral hospitals in the nation, with a similar end result as IVIgG. Other immune suppressive medications such as cyclosporine, mycophenolate, azathioprine, or leflunomide, often started in conjunction with prednisone, take longer for full effect and are most helpful to reduce how much prednisone is given over the long run.
Patients with IMHA have a high risk for development of abnormal blood clots, and pulmonary embolism is actually one of the leading causes of death in these pets. Therefore, it is common to prescribe blood thinners such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), and/or heparin. A blood thinner is often given as long as the prednisone is given.
Because anemia affects the entire body, gastrointestinal support is often needed, in the form of antacids, anti-nausea medications, and coating agents.
Survival ofIMHA is, unfortunately, not 100 percent. Estimates vary, but the author’s experience is that approximately 75-percent survival is expected. Not all pets respond completely to treatment. Others succumb to pulmonary embolism. Rarely, they develop secondary opportunistic infections, such as fungal infections, due to chronic immune suppressive therapy.
Close monitoring is critical after the patient is discharged from the hospital. A patient may need to be rechecked a couple of times a week at first, gradually reducing to once every 2 to 3 weeks. The medications are tapered over time, and usually by 4 to 6 months after diagnosis, the pet is either off medication entirely or is on the minimum dose of medication required to maintain a normal red blood cell level. Relapses can occur, as can other immune-mediated diseases.
In summary, IMHA is a life-threatening but treatable disease, which most but not all patients survive. A thorough evaluation of the patient is needed initially, and most require hospitalization to survive the initial part of the illness. Long term, the pet owner will need to work closely with their veterinarian to adjust medications and watch for relapses.
When they returned later that evening, Cody “came walking up to me,” Scott said, “but she couldn’t put any weight on her right front foot. It was just flopping around and I was like, ‘Oh oh!’”
Cody loved to chase rabbits but it didn’t look like she had gotten out of the Rosenthal’s 1.6-acre yard. Scott thought she may have stepped in a gopher hole. The dog is a beautiful Labrador mix and she was in a lot of pain. “She laid down and I couldn’t get her up,” Scott said. “She’s not that big, about 50 pounds. I had to get a blanket and roll her onto it to move her.”
Scott called Dr. Wendy Brooks, who owns Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. She is an old family friend and Scott has always taken his animals to her – even though it is more than an hour’s drive away. Because of his work schedule, he was unable to take Cody to the hospital the next day. “Once I got her there, they made her comfortable and they [examined her] and decided what they needed to do,” he said.
Dr. Brooks determined that Cody needed a titanium bone plate for her fractured radius. Scott, who works as a mechanic on the vehicle fleet at Oaks Christian Camp and Conference Center, “was a little low on cash” at the time, he said, and he was fearful that he might have to put Cody down.
But he called Care Credit and obtained a loan. And the staff at the hospital suggested applying to Angel Fund. He did and was granted $500, a sum matched by the hospital, which also provided $350 from client donations.
The surgery cost $1,800 but the hospital boarded Cody for about three months. Scott’s total cost, he said, was $440. “There was care at the hospital and some of that was donated,” he said. “And I worked on one of their vehicles and that was bartered.”
And, he said, his neighbors, Don and Paul Eaton – Don was a special friend of Cody – gave him $350 to help pay the dog’s medical bills. “He put the money in my hand and he said, ‘We’ll put it toward that.’ And I was like, ‘You’re kidding me!’ He’s a brother in Christ and he realized there was a need,” Scott said. “It all worked out. It was an amazing blessing.” He and Christina are grateful to Angel Fund, the hospital and the Eaton brothers. “There’s God all over this thing,” Scott said.
Today, Cody is doing well at 11 years of age. For the first six months after her surgery, Dr. Brooks was concerned “because the operation didn’t quite take,” Scott said, and because of the possibility of infection. But those concerns now are long gone.
“Cody has settled down a little bit and is not so active as she once was,” he said. “The leg isn’t as strong as it was but she uses it just fine. She wants to jump around like a puppy so we have to keep an eye on her.”
- I’m an advocate of crate training dogs, because done right, your pet’s crate serves as a secure, happy, restful place she visits throughout the day
- The obvious first step in successful crate training is finding the right type and size crate for your canine companion
- Step two involves turning the new crate into your dog’s favorite place to hang out (other than with you, of course!)
- Finally, there’s a right and a wrong way to introduce crating to your dog, and it’s important to know the difference
- Most dogs who’ve had a bad past experience with being crated can be patiently and successfully “reprogrammed” to view their new doggy den in a positive way
If you’re a regular reader, you know I’m a big advocate of crate training. Whether your furry family member is a pup or a senior, providing her with her own cozy, private space has a number of benefits for both of you. For example, a crate can help not only with housetraining, but also car or plane travel, and overnight stays with friends, family, or at a pet-friendly hotel.
A health benefit of crate training is that dogs accustomed to spending time alone in their “bedrooms” are much less likely to develop separation anxiety or other phobias. Putting a puppy in her crate for a nap or some quiet time also helps her learn not to expect constant human attention, similar to the use of playpens for babies.
This strategy coupled with basic positive reinforcement obedience training will set the stage for a secure, balanced adult dog who is pleasant to be around, which is always the goal. To create crate-love in your dog, her space should be safe, comfortable, and relaxing, and she should associate it with only positive experiences.
How to Select the Right Crate
When you purchase a crate for your dog, the size is important. You want a space that’s not too big or too small. Your dog should be able to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably in it, but it shouldn’t be so large that he can easily use one end as his potty spot and the other end for sleeping and snacking. If you need to housetrain your dog, a crate large enough to have a bathroom at one end can actually slow down the process.
If you’re unsure what size crate to buy, talk to a shelter volunteer, your veterinarian or your breeder about what you want to accomplish so they can help you pick the right size. If you’re crate training a puppy, especially a giant breed, you’ll probably want a smaller crate initially and then a bigger one as he grows.
When you bring the new crate home, place it in an area where your family spends a lot of time — not in an isolated spot, or outdoors, or a high traffic location (which can be stressful), or where your dog will experience temperature extremes.
Make sure there’s nothing hanging inside the crate that could cause your dog harm, and especially while he’s still young and rambunctious, take his collar off before you put him in the crate so it can’t get hung up on anything. As necessary, disinfect the crate with either mild soap or vinegar and baking soda and rinse it thoroughly.
Transforming the Crate into a Delightful Doggy Den
Your canine companion will need something comfy to lie on in her crate, so bedding is a must. Depending on your dog (some destroy their beds, others don’t), you can choose a plush bed, a crate mat, or something in between. (If your dog is a persistent bed shredder, she probably needs more frequent or vigorous exercise and/or additional mental stimulation.)
You’ll also want to keep a fresh supply of clean filtered water in the crate. To keep the mess to a minimum, you can use a stainless-steel bowl that attaches to a side or the front of the crate. If you’ll be confining her to her crate for short periods, it’s a great idea to have food-stuffed or treat-release toys on hand to keep her occupied while she’s home alone.
Keeping the environment inside your dog’s crate comfortable is also very important. Depending on where you live, where in your home the crate is located, and your dog’s tendency to overheat, you might want to consider a crate fan (attached to the outside of the crate), or a small floor fan placed near the crate. The fan should provide good ventilation and keep your dog cool, without blowing directly on her — or she should be able to move away from it if she feels the need.
It’s also important not to place your dog’s crate in direct sunlight, too close to a heat source, or in a cold, drafty area of your home.
Something else you might want to try is covering the crate at night or to provide your dog with quiet time when she needs it. What I do with my dogs is drape a blanket over the back half of their crates to create a quiet, dark, den-like environment. My dogs use their crates as bedrooms — they go into them to sleep. If you decide to cover the entire crate, keep in mind it will cause the temperature inside to heat up, so you should make adjustments as necessary.
Getting Your Dog Used to His Crate
If you purchased a crate ahead of time and it’s there when your dog comes home, as long as he hasn’t had a bad experience with confinement in the past, it’s should be pretty easy to get him acclimated to his little den.
The first rule of crate training is to never, ever force your dog into or out of his crate, because you can end up with an unmanageable case of separation anxiety or a pathological aversion to enclosed or small spaces. The crate must represent a safe zone for your dog, so you never want to make his safe zone feel unsafe.
The second rule of crate training is what I call, “It’s all good,” which means everything about the crate is positive from your dog’s perspective. While you’re getting him used to his crate, everything he loves goes in there, and the door stays propped or tied open so he can freely investigate.
Put treats in and around the crate, along with treat release toys, chew toys, food puzzle toys — all his favorites. I also recommend feeding him in his crate with the door open. The goal is to have your dog voluntarily go into his crate because everything about it is positive and fun.
How to Handle a Case of Crate-Hate
If your dog is nervous or fearful due to a past bad crating experience, you’ll have to take things slower. A dog who has been crated as a form of punishment or locked in a crate for inappropriately long periods of time will need to be gently and patiently reintroduced to the crate.
Make sure to leave the door open (tie it open if necessary so there’s no chance it will close while he’s in there). Put food rewards around the outside of the crate and inside as well so he can get comfortable going in and out without worrying about being “trapped” inside.
Once you sense he’s comfortable inside the crate, feed him in there with the door open. Once he’s comfortably eating in the crate, close the door. Don’t go far and keep an eye on him. At some point he’ll realize the door is closed and he’s inside. Try to ignore any whimpering or barking. Once he’s calm, open the door and praise him.
When you start closing the crate door, leave it closed for very short periods of time (no more than a minute) so that he realizes he’s not “trapped” or being punished. In the meantime, continue tossing treats into the crate several times a day to reinforce the association between it and good things.
Once your dog begins associating good things with the crate and he’s feeling more comfortable in there, you can close the door for longer periods. Be sure to leave something fun inside such as a treat-release toy he can focus on. Don’t leave your house until your dog is completely comfortable in the closed crate while you’re at home. You can gradually extend the amount of time you leave him in the crate, providing he’s getting consistent, frequent trips outside to potty.
Once he’s comfortable being in a closed crate when you’re at home, you can begin taking short trips away from the house. If you need to leave your dog for longer than 4 hours, I recommend you use a dog sitter or a doggy daycare facility rather than crating him for long periods of time.
If you’re struggling with crate training, I recommend talking with positive dog trainer who can help you work through the problems you’re experiencing.
From : https://healthypets.mercola.com/
STORY AT-A-GLANCE – By Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker
- Breeders may label their pigs mini in comparison to farm pigs, which may reach 1,000 to 2,000 pounds, but so-called teacup and micro pigs will typically reach 100-plus pounds
- There’s no such thing as a micro pig; breeders may tell new owners to underfeed piglets to stunt their growth and keep them small
- Some so-called micro pigs are actually commercial breeds originally intended for food and may even reach 500 pounds
- It’s estimated that 90% of pigs adopted as pets in the U.S. end up being taken to a rescue when they become too large for their owners to handle
- If you understand that even a “micro pig” will grow into a large animal that can easily weigh over 100 pounds, and you have the adequate space and necessary resources, adopting a pig in need of a home may be right for you
At first glance, micro or teacup pigs, which are said to be small versions of their farmyard counterparts, seem like a perfect pet. They’re undoubtedly adorable and have above-average intelligence when it comes to barnyard animals. Pigs can make excellent companions and may even be trained to go for walks, do tricks and use a litterbox or go potty outdoors.
This allure has made pigs popular pets in the U.S., especially because breeders often promise that the micro pigs will stay small. Fast-forward a few years later, however, and the owners find themselves with a pig that has kept growing and growing.
Unable to adequately handle and care for an animal that weighs hundreds of pounds, many owners surrender their “micro” pigs to rescue organizations, which are feeling the strain of the micro pig myth.
Speaking with The Guardian, Kevin Kersley, who breeds knee-height KuneKune pigs, calls micro pigs a “fallacy,” stating, “Unscrupulous people tend to breed the runts of the litter to try to decrease the size of the pig, but genetically the original size is built into the offspring, even though its parents may be small.”1
Micro Pigs Are a Myth
The idea that your tiny piglet is going to stay small or only grow to the size of a small dog is one of the greatest misconceptions surrounding pigs as pets. The California Potbellied Pig Association (CPPA) explained:
“A 60 lb. mature pig is actually very rare, despite long standing myths to the contrary. Also be aware that 100 lbs. to 150 lbs. weight is only achieved with a strict diet. A 300 lb. potbellied pig is not uncommon if it is overfed, and a 300 lb. pig could be very difficult to transport, and it will probably suffer many health problems.”2
Pig Inn Heaven, a U.K.-based pig sanctuary, explains, “A micro pig is a piglet, then it grows.”3 Sadly, breeders may even tell new owners to feed their “micro pig” only a small amount of food in order to keep it small. One woman was feeding her micro pig one-half cup of food twice a day at the breeder’s instruction, only to find it raiding the pantry and trash can. A veterinarian told her the pig was actually starving.
Further, the pig, which was supposed to grow to be only 12 inches tall, ended up reaching 20 inches tall and 180 pounds, at which point she was brought to a pig rescue, Lil’ Orphan Hammies, in California.
The problem has gotten so bad that the North American Potbellied Pig Association estimated that 90% of pigs adopted as pets in the U.S. end up being taken to a rescue.4 Sue Parkinson of Lil’ Oprhan Hammies told CBS News, “There are not enough homes out there anymore. These pigs are in big trouble.”5
Pet Pig Problems
There are other common problems with owning a pig as a pet, such as where to find veterinary care. Most cat and dog veterinarians don’t treat pigs, which may be considered farm animals, not pets. As such, you’ll need to find a veterinarian who specializes in such animals, which means you may need to travel some distance and be able to transport your very large pig for regular veterinary care.
What’s more, owning a pig may not be legal where you live, and if it is, there may be size or number restrictions. Before adding a potbellied pig to your family, check out your local (city and county) ordinances to avoid potential heartbreak.
Remember, too, that pigs are herd animals and should be adopted in pairs or more. “Never keep a pig on its own, that’s just downright cruel,” Kersley told The Guardian.6 He also recommends keeping pigs outdoors in a paddock or garden, not in your house.
Pigs are highly intelligent and inquisitive and require a great deal of mental stimulation. They can get into trouble if you don’t have a safe area from them to scamper, dig, root, forage and roam in. Likewise, without an outlet for play, exercise and emotional health, pet pigs may become depressed, destructive or aggressive. CPPA also pointed out:
“Understand that pigs are different than cats or dogs — the bonding time is different, the way they show affection is different and the engagement you will have with them is different — it’s super rewarding but it’s different.”7
Can Pigs Ever Make Good Pets?
Pigs are wonderful animals and can make great pets if you’re prepared for their size and special needs. You should not assume that any pig you adopt will stay mini. Breeders may label their pigs mini in comparison to farm pigs, which may reach 1,000 to 2,000 pounds, but so-called teacup and micro pigs will typically reach 100-plus pounds.
Those that don’t may have been underfed to stunt their growth,8 and some micro pigs are actually commercial breeds originally intended for food, and may even reach 500 pounds.9 If you’re thinking you can adopt a tiny pig that will be content to live in your apartment like a cat or small dog, a pig is definitely not the right pet for you.
However, if you understand that even a “micro pig” will grow into a large animal that can easily weigh over 100 pounds, adopting a pig in need of a home may be right for you. In this case, basic requirements of pig ownership include:10
|At least 0.5 acres of land (in an area where pig ownership is legal)||Outdoor housing or a shed for your pig|
|Access to a farm veterinarian||Regular grooming, including trimming of hooves and tusks|
|An area of mud for your pig to wallow in||Optimal food, grass for grazing, fresh fruit and vegetables|
|Fresh water daily||Regular exercise for your pig|
|Spending time with the daily, as pigs are social creatures||Appropriate fencing|