SOMETIMES A TOPIC for this column presents itself, as happened this week. There were five articles about dogs In Monday's Union Leader - three major stories, one small piece and the Doc's column. It felt as if I had entered an alternate universe.
The front page had a heart-wrenching story about an evil person who left a small dog in a hole high up in a tree, out of reach of the hiker who fortunately spotted the poor dog.
Named "Angel" by the Manchester Animal Shelter volunteers who rescued her, she was malnourished, with eye and ear infections, and had been dumped in the tree to die.
Fortunately Angel was saved, is in a foster home and receiving veterinary care. The MAS is accepting donations to help cover Angel's medical care. If you're reading this on Sunday, Nov. 24, you can come to All Dogs Gym and have your pet's photo taken for a $5 donation (yes, just $5!) to the Friends of Manchester Animal Shelter. No appointments necessary, come anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Or visit the website (manchesteranimalshelter.org) to make a donation to help Angel and others.
I have mixed feelings about the next story. The headline read "Saving Florida shelter dogs by the truckload" and is about a non-profit group that brings dogs from high-kill shelters in the south to the Salem Animal Rescue League (sarlnh.org) to find homes. My mixed feelings are because I can't help thinking about transport dogs from the dog's perspective, and I wish there were another way to help them.
These poor dogs go through the trauma of living in a shelter in Florida awaiting rescue (under who knows what kind of conditions). When selected to be brought north, they spend two days in a transport vehicle to be deposited at a different shelter in New Hampshire (most likely much nicer, but still a shelter), where they will stay for at least two days, probably longer, and hopefully will find new "forever" homes.
While many dogs survive these traumatic experiences with relatively few repercussions, unfortunately that is not true for all. We have seen numerous behavioral problems in consultations with owners of transport dogs suffering with issues that can only be described as PTS, possibly (even probably) related to their experiences.
Before I get angry emails berating me for my heartlessness, it isn't that I don't wish something better than euthanasia for these dogs, I just wish there were a less traumatic way to go about helping them. I don't claim to know the answer, and I hope that someone smarter than I might figure out a better way.
The next story was in the Business section, and is close to my heart. A graduate of our All Dogs Academy Professional Grooming School has started her own business. Melissa Eckert owns Hair of the Dog Grooming Paw-lor in Raymond.
We're always thrilled to hear about graduates of our grooming school and training school who make their dreams come true, and what made me particularly proud in this article was Melissa's emphasis on the health and well-being of the dogs she grooms just as much as making them beautiful.
This is a critical part of our school's mission that we impart to our students, and Melissa embodies it. The article referenced Melissa telling an owner about a lump on her dog, which ended up being a cancerous growth that was removed, likely saving the dog's life.
The last two stories were about diet and health. Drs. Oz and Roizen's column recommended applying the same label-reading care to what we give our dogs, as we do to ourselves and our children, eliminating foods that contain questionable or unhealthy ingredients. On that same page was an article about a "TV expert" on canine nutrition.
One particular sentence caught my eye about how to slim an overweight dog. The answer was simply, "We are 100 percent responsible for what goes into our pet's dish ."
If you have an overweight dog - and my observation tells me that that's at least 50-75 percent of the dogs I see - start by removing a small amount of your dog's regular meal portion.
In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving!
Gail Fisher, author of "The Thinking Dog," runs All Dogs Gym & Inn® near Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. To suggest a topic, email firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o All Dogs Gym, 505 Sheffield Rd., Manchester, NH 03103.