Kurgo Discount Supports International Assistance Dog Week

April 9, 2013 · Posted in Service Dogs · Comment 

I just wanted to let everyone know that Kurgo is offering International Assistance Dog Week supporters a 30% off coupon code they can use to shop at www.kurgo.com.

By using the coupon code, SX4A9ED, you’ll not only get a great discount, you’ll help support IADW. A portion of the proceeds from purchases made with the special IADW coupon code will be donated to International Assistance Dog Week.

For those of you who may not be familiar with International Assistance Dog Week, it was created in 2009 to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability related limitations. You can read more about the annual event at www.assistancedogweek.org.

A company who is committed to providing high-quality dog products, Kurgo also is committed to social responsibility. Over the past few years Kurgo Products has been making donations to nonprofit organizations around the country. These charities are working hard to give humans and pets alike, a positive chance at life.

Kurgo’s mission is to help dogs and their owners get out and enjoy an active lifestyle together.  This ambition has guided them to develop award-winning products that make this simple joy in life effortlessly fun.

Many of the Kurgo products are designed for dogs and humans on the go, and make traveling with you in your car or van safer and more convenient. They also have pet bowls, collars, dog beds and so much more.

Check out the Kurgo products at www.kurgo.com, use the coupon code, SX4A9ED, and get 30% off your purchase while helping to support IADW.

Please share this information with all your friends on your websites and Facebook. Thanks for helping to support International Assistance Dog Week!

What I Know for Sure After 39 Years of Being a Guide Dog Handler

August 5, 2012 · Posted in Aging Dogs, Guide Dogs · 1 Comment 

Guest blogger Katherine Schneider, Ph.D, Senior Psychologist Emerita, Counseling Service, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and Author of “To the Left of Inspiration: Adventures in Living with Disabilities” has written this blog post for Working Like Dogs. You can find more of her musings at her blog: http://kathiecomments.wordpress.com.

Kathie and Fran

I’m heading off to train with my ninth Seeing Eye dog and that’s put me in a reflective mood. In a couple years I will have had a Seeing Eye dog for half the time the Seeing Eye has been in existence. That entitles me to be philosophical, right?

The first thing I know for certain is each working dog is a unique gift; no two alike! The first dog often changes one’s life so much that second dog suffers by comparison. After you realize that of course they’re different and have different strengths, you can still honor that first dog and go on to fully embrace number two, three, etc. Each dog does their job, but the fun and sometimes frustrating part is to figure out how to work with that individual dog so he/she shines.

Each of my working dogs has built my character in different ways. My first dog taught me to be positive instead of crabby when my expectations were not met. My soon to be retired dog showed such courage in telling me that she needed to retire by refusing to work when she thought she could not safely do so because of a vision problem, that I am in awe of her. Then there are the funny little things they do that show you they definitely do think. For example, I’ve taught each of my dogs the words “up” and “down” so when we go into a building they’ll find the stairs for me. As they reached middle age (about seven), each one started showing me the elevator instead of the stairs.

I’ve learned from retiring dogs that it’s never easy no matter how many times you do it, but you will get through it and you will love again. I grieve the decision to retire a dog, the actual retirement, and eventually the grief of the dog’s death. Like with any grief, rituals like a retirement party and writing a bio for the family who adopts the dog help. Coaching friends to treat it as seriously as they would a death or divorce may be necessary. A few empathic souls “get it” that working dogs are very different from pets and do the right things like listening and showing up to help with the transition or just bringing a dish, but I’m convinced more would if they realized this dog is my best friend, my eyes and my key to safe transportation.

I’m still learning from my dogs that you can be joyful in greeting each new day, quick to love and forgive, enjoy the little things like fresh water and a bowl of food and that a wagging tail wins a lot of friends. I wonder what I’ll learn from Young and Foolish.

Cancer and Early Detection – Conducting Routine Exams at Home

September 26, 2011 · Posted in Doggie Healthcare · 2 Comments 

I don’t know about you, but I am acutely aware of the sobering statistics related to large breed dogs and cancer. I try to examine Whistle on a daily basis just to make sure that he has no undetected lumps or bumps. And, if I do find something, I make sure to make an appointment right away with Whistle’s veterinarian for his professional opinion and assessment.

I came across a helpful article in a recent issue of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s DOG Watch that I wanted to share with you regarding the importance of early detection of canine cancer.

Did you know that “it has been estimated that cancer is the cause of death in 50% of dogs over the age of 10 and that 25 to 30% of all dogs will be stricken with the disease at some point during their lives, regardless of their age”?

I don’t want to be an alarmist but I think we can definitely take some proactive steps to protect our assistance dogs. As we all know, the sooner a cancer is diagnosed, the better our dog’s chances that the cancer can be stopped and an assistance dog’s life can be saved or extended.

The folks at DOG Watch stress the importance of owner awareness to such physical symptoms as: “an open sore that won’t heal; an unusual lump or swollen area that doesn’t go away; mysterious bleeding from the mouth or anus; troubled breathing; difficulty in urinating or defecating; uncharacteristic lethargy; reluctance to exercise; sudden weight loss”. They also recommend that young dogs receive a yearly physical but dogs older than eight should have a physical at least twice a year.

Whistle is my third assistance dog. I have noticed that each of my assistance dogs’ health changed between the age of 5-6. After age 5, I began monitoring their health a little closer and regularly scheduling a physical exam with our vet every six months. The cost has been relatively low because he is just conducting a physical assessment in his office however it gives us a base line to monitor Whistle’s health as he becomes a senior working dog.

I routinely groom my assistance dog by brushing their fur at either the beginning or end of the day. Not only is this a good bonding exercise but it also gives me a chance to physically scan Whistle’s body for any lumps or bumps, changes in his skin or other physical signs of potential health concerns.

Dealing with health issues is never easy but I feel it is my responsibility to be vigilante with Whistle’s health care maintenance and overall wellness. Conducting routine exams at home with your assistance dog can be just what the doctor ordered!

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. (October 2011) “Early Detection of Canine Cancer”. DOG Watch. 15(10): 1.

It’s All About the Bootie!

August 29, 2011 · Posted in Doggie Healthcare · 1 Comment 
Marcie & Whistle with booties

On a recent trip to Olympia, Washington, I noticed as we settled into our hotel room, that Whistle was chewing on his back foot. My husband, Franz, and I got him on the bed to inspect his foot. To our surprise, there was a blister in between the pad of his back foot.

The blister looked pretty angry and Franz and I both felt we should get a vet to look at it just to be safe. We had busy outdoor vacation plans and we wanted to make sure Whistle was up for the week.

The next morning, I located a veterinarian’s office online, Hawks Prairie Veterinary Hospital (www.hawksprairieveterinaryhospital.com), which was close to our hotel. I called to make an appointment and fortunately, they were able to get us in right away.

The vet inspected Whistle’s foot. She and her assistant cleaned and debrided the area and shaved the hair from around the spot. The staff was so friendly and helpful. They prescribed a topical antibiotic cream and a solution to keep the area clean.

The vet also suggested that we consider purchasing Whistle a set of booties. She was concerned that perhaps the blister was the result of the summer time asphalt or a hot rock that got embedded in his paw. Whatever the cause, we wanted to make sure that Whistle’s foot would be protected, remain clean and heal properly.

She directed us to a wonderful local dog supply store, MudBay (www.mudbay.us), in close proximity to the clinic. We went over to check out their line of booties. The first pair we tried were very rigid and durable for all types of terrain. Whistle was bewildered about these foreign objects and he was behaving pretty dramatically.

We decided to try another brand, Ultra Paws Traction Dog Boots. These booties were much lighter and surprisingly Whistle adapted very quickly to them. With the encouragement of a few yummy treats, he was quickly walking around the store and hardly even acting like he was wearing booties.

Another bonus was the price. These booties were much cheaper than the original pair he tried. For about $20.00, we were on our way and Whistle’s feet were protected. From there, we were ready to continue on our vacation.

We began the beautiful drive from Olympia, Washington up to Mount Rainier National Park. We stopped in for lunch as we entered the park. I must say that I was not prepared for the response Whistle received regarding his booties. Literally everyone we encountered wanted to know why he was wearing them, where we got them, and how we convinced him to wear them.

I have been partnered with an assistance dog for almost 20 years and I am used to people’s curiosity. But this was a whole new experience.

Whistle glided throughout the entire trip with his new slippers. I am happy to report that his foot healed quickly and I will definitely continue using the booties during the summer for hot pavement and in the winter time to navigate on snow. Actually, I anticipate Whistle will be wearing his new booties quite often!

Play Dates are Fun for Assistance Dogs Too!

August 6, 2011 · Posted in Doggie Healthcare · Comment 
Whistle and Bueno

I have always felt guilty that my assistance dogs have been the sole dog in our house with the exception of the times when there has been an overlap with my retired assistance dog. However during those times, my retired dogs have been older, physically challenged and uninterested in playing with a younger dog.

For the past five months now, Whistle has been the sole dog in our house after my retired dog, Morgan, passed away. Whistle is one of those dogs who is full of energy. After working with me all day, Whistle still demands to go for a long walk around the neighborhood. When we return, Whistle grabs his toy and insists that my husband, Franz, and I play retrieving games with his favorite toys until bedtime.

I really felt Whistle needed some canine interaction and I was considering taking him to the local dog park so he could have some social engagement with other dogs. However, I had heard from acquaintances of their experiences that made me reluctant to do so.

Seeking a more controlled situation, I asked a friend I know and trust who has a rescue dog similar to Whistle’s age and athletic drive to bring him over to my house for a play date with Whistle.
She brought him over to meet Whistle one Saturday afternoon. At first, they seemed a little awkward and too energetic, but with a little supervision, they became fast friends. Now the two look forward to seeing each other and they both get to run and play in a safe environment.
We decided to schedule some regular play dates so Whistle and his new friend, Bueno, could spend more time together. Now, when Bueno’s mom and dad want to travel or go on an outing, Bueno comes over for a visit.

It’s so nice to see Whistle run around and chase Bueno like an average dog. And, it is amazing to see Bueno, who has had no formal obedience training, try to sit by my wheelchair and act like my assistance dog!

It’s a match made in heaven for everyone involved!

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