Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spay & neuter your pets

Every year, between six and eight million dogs and cats enter U.S. animal shelters. According to the Humane Society of the U.S., three to four million of these animals are euthanized because there are not enough homes for them.
  • Think you can't afford to spay or neuter your pets? Call your vet and ask if you can work out a payment plan.
  • If your vet is too expensive, call your local animal shelter. Look in the yellow pages under "animal shelter," "humane society," or "animal control." Ask if they offer reduced rates for spay and neuter services. Some may offer vouchers to have your pet spayed or neutered at a lower cost by local veterinarians.
  • SPAY/USA is a national spay/neuter referral network that may be able to direct you to subsidized spay/neuter clinics in your area. Contact them at 1-800-248-7729 or
  • Pets 911 is an online resource for pet owners. This online database can provide you with information on spay/neuter resources in your area.
Remember that even if you pay full price for the procedure, spaying or neutering is a one-time cost with a lifetime of benefits. Spaying or neutering your pet not only helps reduce pet overpopulation but also reduces your pet's risk of developing health problems later in life.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

SPCA Dog Jog

The Richmond SPCA's Dog Jog fundraiser was a huge success. Dogs and their people were everywhere and with few exceptions were very well behaved. Our team raised $535 of a whopping $96,700 total. Thanks to everyone who came out and walked with us and to those who contributed money to this great cause. See you again next year!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Puppy Pushups

Here's a terrific way to practice your dog's ability to sit and down efficiently on cue. The first video is the two-dog version starring Murphy, the chocolate Lab and Cody, the yellow (aka Bubba and the Blonde. The second video is Murphy solo and includes stand and bow along with sit and down. It's all about practice practice practice. We're looking for appropriate, immediate, and enthusiastic responses to cues.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Kongs are the best interactive toys ever. And most dogs can't destroy them. Get the Kong shaped like a snowman in a size appropriate for your dog. Get red for average chewers, black for heavy chewers. In addition to being a great way to keep your dog occupied with a positive way, stuffed Kongs can help with a variety of behavior issues including separation anxiety.

Stuffing the Kong
Check out the stuffing recipes on the Kong website. Here's my personal favorite: pour a cup or more of your dog's dry food into a bowl. Cover the dry food with hot tap water. Wait until the food has absorbed the water (it should be moist - about the consistency of turkey stuffing). Now it's time to stuff: drop something really smelly and tasty like dried liver treats into the Kong first. Next, stuff the Kong half way with moist food, packing it tight. Now add something interesting like a bit of fish or meat, pieces of apple, some blueberries, a drizzle of honey ... anything to make it smell enticing. Your dog will be able to smell everything in there, so make him want to get to the bottom of the Kong. Finish stuffing it with moist food, again packing it tight. Cover the big hole with peanut butter, yogurt or cream cheese and ... here's the most important part ... freeze the Kong. Frozen Kongs are awesome for teething pups. For older dogs, the frozen contents will take a bit longer to get out - always a good thing.

Stuffed Kongs are good when company comes, too. And, they can help ease the anxiety your dog feels when you leave the house. If you have a large or giant breed puppy, don't bother with the swirly blue and pink puppy Kongs. Your pup will outgrow them almost immediately, so go ahead a start with a mid-sized red one.

That's Murphy in the midst of enjoying his frozen Kong. Yum!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Life's Journey Therapy Dogs

Join our new therapy dog team in person if you're anywhere near Richmond, VA or in Facebook groups. Our mission is to provide continuing education and support to therapy dog teams, create new therapy dog programs in the community, and educate the public about therapy dogs.

Whether you are a current therapy dog handler, have a new dog to train or are simply interested in learning more - you are welcome.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

CCI Puppy Workshop

The room was filled with the friendly chatter of people. And there were dogs. Lots of dogs.

Once a year trainers from CCI's (Canine Companions for Independence) Northeast Training Center in New York travel to Richmond to work with CCI puppy raisers. The six-hour workshop is part lecture, Q&A (how do I get my puppy to stop chewing on his leash?), and hands-on training.

So, about these dogs. What makes them special? CCI breeds Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and crosses of the two. Puppies are born in the homes of volunteer breeder caretakers who provide permanent homes to CCI’s breeder dogs in California. These folks nurture newborn pups until they are about eight weeks of age. The pups are then placed with volunteer puppy raisers nationwide for 13-18 months. While living with their puppy raisers, they receive lots of love and attention, learn basic obedience skills, and are socialized in a variety of environments.

As healthy, happy, confident young dogs, they are ready for their next step – training at one of five regional centers. CCI dogs complete a six- to nine-month training program. They are taught by professional trainers to respond to more than 50 commands, including retrieving items, pulling wheelchairs, turning light switches on and off, and opening and closing doors. After completing the training, the dogs enter two weeks of intensive team training with their new human partner. This is when individuals learn to work with their future service, hearing, or facility dog. Team training ends with a graduation ceremony, signaling the beginning of a new phase of life rich with promise for the new graduate team.

Learn more about CCI at And consider being a puppy raiser. It's one of the best volunteer jobs imaginable.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Murphy & the Muffin Pan

All it takes is a muffin pan, tennis balls, and treats. Your dog will have fun while learning to problem-solve. In this version of the game, there is a treat under each ball. Put a treat under only one tennis ball and it becomes a real scent game. For small breed dogs, a mini-muffin pan and small tennis balls will do the trick.

Did you see Murphy nose some of the balls, then go back for the treat? Why did he do that? Because his sister Cody tried the game first and the balls were wet from her saliva. The tennis balls sat on top of the treats just long enough for the scent of the liver treats to be on the ball. He was being thorough, smart lad that he is. He assured himself there was no food stuck to the ball, then went back to the muffin pan to get his treat.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cookie & Coco

Many of you contacted me about finding a home for two Labrador Retrievers, Cookie and Coco. As it turns out, this plea for help came from Los Angeles. According to Snopes the dogs found a new forever home together. Read more at

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow in the South

I measure nine inches of snow on my deck, a rare occurence in central Virginia. Murphy and Cody are having a blast in the powder. Note: the frisky blonde, Cody Girl, is 8 years old. Murphy, the chocolate, is four years old and outweighs Cody by 20 pounds. Yet somehow ... he's always on the bottom.