Archive for August, 2009

The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Shock Collars

Posted in Uncategorized on August 28th, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment

According to these articles, shock collar training can make dogs nervous or aggressive and give them way more behavioral and psychological issues than they started with.

Missing Cody

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27th, 2009 by katie – 2 Comments

About a month ago my family’s golden retriever, Cody, had to be put down due to a medical condition in which he had fluid surrounding his heart and lungs. Cody lived to be 11 1/2 years old, and had a very full and adventurous life right up until the end. I think about him a lot, especially when I am at BARCS, as though his spirit lives on in some way in each of the dogs that I interact with.

Most strikingly though, the other day I took Cocoa to the dog park and a woman was there with her two golden retrievers. The woman had on a baseball cap with a golden retriever on it, and it turns out that she is a foster for GRREAT, the golden retriever rescue for this area of the country. Both of the dogs she had with her were former fosters that she decided to keep. One of them, named Bailey, was a big stocky guy who was the splitting image of Cody. Bailey is 4 years old, and has the big boxy head of an English golden and a beautiful long coat – just a tad bit lighter than Cody’s.

When Cocoa went over to try to steal sticks from the two goldens, Bailey came right up to me and positioned himself between my legs just like Cody used to do. Later when I was sitting down, he came over to me and sat quietly right next to me so that I could rub his head. Even his breathing sounded just like Cody’s. It was very sweet and I felt like somehow Bailey was telling me that Cody was alright.

Here’s one of my favorite photos of Cody taken in May of this year:


I’m Official! Dog Walking Training at BARCS Parts I and II

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27th, 2009 by katie – 2 Comments

This week I completed the two 2-hour dog walking training at BARCS. On Monday I went in for part I, which consisted mostly of basic orientation and introduction to dog walking, and then on Thursday we did part II which was entirely devoted to practicing with the dogs.

I had the opportunity to work one-on-one with Les, who is one of the most enthusiastic, friendliest, and compassionate people I think I’ve ever met. He was thrilled to be my instructor, and he took care to answer all of my questions and make sure I was comfortable with what I was doing. On Monday we spent some time in the conference room going over basic procedures and he asked me some questions about myself in order to get to know me better. Some of the things we went over were basic operating procedures for dog walkers, how to report any behavioral or health issues we notice with a dog, how to avoid getting bitten, and how to avoid dog fights. He said that in recent years there have been three instances where volunteers have been bitten: one was when a dog as cowering in the back of the cage, clearly frightened, but the volunteer went in anyway and tried to put the collar on and the dog snapped at him. Another was after a dog walker returned a dog to its kennel, gave the dog a treat, and then reached for the collar to remove it and the dog was food aggressive and snapped at her hand. The third case occurred out in the dog runs, when one volunteer was already out with a dog and then another volunteer came out and went into the dog run next to the first one, and the dogs started fighting through the fence. One dog started digging under the chain-link fence, so the walker went to try and pull him back and was bitten pretty severely. So, I think my lesson there is to a) observe and respect the dogs’ body language; if they’re telling me they don’t want me there, then I won’t go there! b) to avoid food-aggression issues from the start and c) carefully follow their instructions on avoiding dog-dog confrontations. If there is another dog in our path, we are instructed to turn around and go back until they pass. If there is another dog out in the dog runs, Les says that we should allow the dogs to interact through the fence before letting them off the leash so that we can determine whether it’s a good idea to let them off the leash or not. The most important thing is to prevent any dog from getting loose!

BARCS has three main kennel rooms or suites, each with 22 kennels inside. There are also a few smaller rooms for puppies and nursing mothers but we didn’t go in there because they are currently being renovated. (The renovation meant that there were stacks of kitty condos lining the hallways, and cages of adorable puppies in the halls – so cute!) Out in the hall near the dog walking door to the outside, there is a dry-erase board with a line for all 66 kennels and the name of the dogs in each one. Beside the dogs’ kennel # and name is the date of their last walk, and beside that there may be an L for “leash walk only”, an E for “high energy”, an X for “caution do not walk”,  an H for “house trained” or other symbols for dogs that have recently had surgery or have other special needs. Les said that an L for leash-walk only is usually because the dog has not had all its vaccinations yet, so it should not go into the exercise runs, or it is currently on medications, or the dog has recently had surgery and needs to take it easy. Apparently they used to not walk the dogs that haven’t been fully vaccinated yet, but those dogs ended up waiting way too long because they are just so backlogged, so now those dogs can go out; they just need to be on the leash only.

Both days I was there it seemed like most of the dogs had been walked the day before or two days ago at most, but hardly any had had a chance to go out yet that day. Les said that he usually starts with the dogs that have an H for house trained, because they’re probably holding it pretty bad, and then he goes on to the dogs that have not been out in the longest time.

For me, the trickiest thing is preventing the dogs from bolting out of their kennels as soon as I open the door to go in. Today we took out one dog, named Bear, who was very energetic and started biting on the leash as soon as we tried to get it on him. Once we got the dogs out the door, we either took them for a walk up and down the street or around the parking lot, or we went into one of the dog runs to play. After each play session, dirty toys and balls have to put into a plastic bag and placed in a special bin to be cleaned between uses. Also in between dogs, we the walkers have to sanitize our hands. Both Monday and today, just about every dog we took out went #2 while we were outside, which I took as a pretty good sign.

So here’s the basic routine:

Upon arrival, volunteers sign in, pick up a key to the side door of the shelter, pick up a name tag, and select from a collection of leashes and chains. I find that most of the chains are fairly short, but Les brings his own nice long one which I much preferred, so I got to use his. Some of the dogs have Martingale collars assigned to them hanging on the door of their kennel, but they seem sort of difficult to get on a lot of the time so I’m not sure how often I’ll use them. We pack up our pockets with treats and plastic bags, and a collection tube for poop or diarrhea in case we encounter a medical problem that the vets need to tend to. Then we go to the board and see who needs to be walked.

On Monday I had the chance to walk two dogs. One was a pit-bull mix named Reiki who was very friendly and well behaved. He had a number of red sores along his back and right flank, so we reported that on the vet’s sheet. I wonder if he had been in a fight? He wasn’t there today, so I don’t know what happened to him. There’s a chance that the Maryland SPCA, who comes by several times a week, may have scooped him up because he was so well behaved (apparently they get to pick out the good ones they want to take!)

The other dog we walked on Monday was a cute shepherd mix that had already been approved for adoption. He was very sweet. Today I walked about five dogs. The first was “Bear” who was very enthusiastic about biting the leash but turned out to be a sweet dog. Here is a screen shot of his profile from the BARCS website:

After that, we walked a 5 year old Boxer named Sandy that had been surrendered from an abuse case, and was very thin and looked much older than 5 years to me, but she was very very sweet. Then we walked a very cute little mix named Hot Lips. Hot Lips has already been approved for adoption but she hadn’t been out for two days. She was super cute and had a black body with a white face and white feet and a white tip at the end of her tail. Unfortunately she has kennel cough, but she is on medication for it but we could not take her into the dog run. Next came Twinkle who had already been walked today but Les wanted me to meet her. She was a doll! Here is her profile:

At the end Les suggested I pick the last one and I came across an absolute sweetheart, brindle coated honey that was just completely emaciated. I have never seen a dog that thin before, and neither had Les – he said this was by far the worst case he’d ever seen, and he does this three times a week for I don’t know how long. This dog turned out to be the biggest sweetheart! We went over to a picnic table near the water and he just moved right into my lab for some lovin’. This poor dog’s lower back is barely more than three inches across and you can see every rib and all of his pelvis sticking out, but he was one of the biggest snugglers I’ve ever met, and that’s saying something. I didn’t see how much he weighs but it’s probably well over 40 lbs LESS than he should weigh. He is on a puppy food diet which is high in calories so hopefully he will gain weight fast. He came in as a stray, and I can’t imagine how long he was out on the street starving like that. But what a honey; that was really the best moment of the whole experience was the pure joy and relief that I could feel in him as he snuggles up into my arms and licked the bottom of my chin. Yes, I let him sit in my lap even though he’s way too big; I thought he totally deserved it.

Now that I’ve passed the dog walking course, I can go whenever I want to help walk dogs. Next I’ll try to get into one of the cat socialization classes, and then it will be time for escort training.

Adopt Don’t Shop: One woman’s experience buying a puppy online

Posted in Uncategorized on August 21st, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment

From the Best Friends Website: Link

An interesting note about the reality of “No Kill” shelters

Posted in Uncategorized on August 21st, 2009 by katie – 1 Comment


“Demand for designer dogs fuels these factory farms”.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20th, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment

Puppy mills are a huge problem in Pennsylvania. According to United Against Puppy Mills, “Puppy mills are commercial enterprises which breed dogs in significant numbers for profit. Recent Pennsylvania statistics revealed 1,667 licensed commercial kennels with 156,534 kept dogs. Of these kennels, 254 were K-5 licensed to have greater than 251 breeding dogs each.”

In June police raided a puppy mill in Allentown, PA and with the help of the Humane Society of the United States, eighteen dogs were brought to the Maryland SPCA on Fall Road.

See the original news story here:

And see this article to read about how some of the rescued dogs are adjusting to their new lives:,0,6467569.story

Woman reunited with her dog after “dogjacking” incident in West Baltimore

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20th, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment,0,7182353.story

More than 500 dogs rescued from Texas puppy mill

Posted in Uncategorized on August 19th, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment

See article from the Humane Society of the United States

Chained dogs

Posted in Uncategorized on August 19th, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment

It’s difficult to stomach the euthanasia rates in American’s animal shelters: 9.6 million animals are estimated to be euthanized in the United States annually according to the American humane society.

However, there are millions of other animals suffering abuse and neglect that can’t be heard. They either can’t break free, or nobody reports their owners to authorities.

Dogs Deserve Better is a group devoted to ending the chaining of dogs. Check out their website for more information:

“Sadee wasn’t a pet, she was a prisoner to live her life on a chain, with no food, water, care, love and most of all no choice”

Pitbulls: Saving America’s Dog

Posted in Uncategorized on August 18th, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment

Check out the link on this webpage of DogTown trainer John Garcia and one of Michael Vick’s former dogs, Georgia on Larry King Live!