The Problems with Yellow…

I read a blog post last week that was a rather scathing attack on the both the YellowDog and SpaceDogs campaigns (they’re kind of the same thing, but with different names & sponsors etc). I didn’t read the full post – I couldn’t take too many glib comments from someone I believe should know better and could have been less subjective, so that’s what today’s post is for. As much as I think the concept is fantastic, it does have it’s downfalls, and I’m going to objectively discuss some of them.

Yellow ribbon

The two most obvious issues are: many people who should use the scheme won’t; and many people will misunderstand the idea behind the scheme. On top of that, people may use the scheme as an “excuse”, to take their fearful/reactive/badly or under-socialised dog out and about and think the yellow item will provide some sort of protective bubble to keep people away from their dog, and that they will never have to train or help their dog in any way.

So, who should use the “yellow schemes”? This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these schemes were set up primarily for people who have dogs who are: unwell but still able to leave their home without putting others in jeopardy; recovering from illness or surgery; deaf, blind, or both; dogs who are undergoing training for a lack of appropriate and/or plentiful early socialisation; and dogs who have become reactive (i.e. fearful) after an unpleasant encounter, most often with another dog.

Yellow users

Sadly, many people with dogs who come under one or more of these categories don’t want to admit their dog has a “problem”, and with the medical causes (notwithstanding deafness, and treatable blindness), what starts out as a behaviour because the dog is unwell, can end up becoming a learned behaviour that is rather rewarding for the dog to perform.

Besides people who should be using these schemes often not knowing a single thing about them; the next biggest block to them is some of the people who do use the schemes.

There will – sadly – be people who misuse the scheme. They’ll slap a yellow ribbon on their dog’s lead and take him to a busy pet superstore on a Saturday afternoon, potentially blaming other people and/or their dogs for “making” their dog react, when in reality their dog should be left at home, or should be closely supervised at all times – not to mention undergoing training. Some of these dogs and their families may just need a little help from a qualified behaviourist, and some may be happiest with a quiet life of interactive toys and naps at home while their family has outings.

Don’t get me wrong – I have yellow ribbons, and I do use them for Starr and Inka, but not all the time. If I know that we’re going somewhere and they’re unlikely to be of use, the ribbons stay home; and regardless of whether they have the ribbons on or not, they always have the lion’s share of my attention.

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In other news, yesterday was Inka’s “official” birthday, he turned three, and we marked two full years of him being part of our family.

In further “other” news, I’ve decided to take a blogging break for the summer. It’s not that I don’t have plenty of things to blog about, but this summer is shaping up to be a good one weather-wise, plus I have my Susan Garrett exercises to work on, as well as Denise Fenzi’s heeling courses; not to mention I need to get organised to take Starr to the vets to see about having her put on medication. If there is anything that needs shared I will – of course – share it, but otherwise enjoy your summer folks and I’ll see you in September!

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UK Pupaid Anti Puppy (and Kitten) Farming Petition

This is something I feel very strongly about, and so I’m using this weeks post to highlight the brilliant Marc Abraham and Pupaid, and the petition calling to ban the sale of puppies and kittens from anywhere but the home of a responsible breeder.

I won’t say much more on the matter, or post any photos, but will let the petition text speak for itself:

Ban the sale of young puppies & kittens without their mothers being present

Puppies & kittens mass produced in horrific puppy/kitten farms are separated from their mothers too early, transported long distances & sold via pet shops, newspaper ads, websites & private dealers.

These puppies/kittens suffer: –
* Impaired immune systems
* Painful diseases requiring costly treatment
* Shorter life spans
* Poor socialisation leading to behavioural issues

Prospective owners should always: –
* Ask “Where’s Mum?”
* Insist on seeing puppy/kitten & mother interacting
* Be aware of scams e.g. fake/no mother present

The only exceptions are rescue animals that have been orphaned/abandoned.

We, the undersigned, call on the Government to ban the sale of young puppies/kittens unless their mothers are present.

We ask for urgent action to raise awareness & encourage the public to choose a responsibly bred puppy/kitten at least 8 weeks old, or adopt from a legitimate rescue organisation.

The Government must end the cruel practice of puppy/kitten farming in the UK.

Sign the petition: http://t.co/fh3nXZENIr

You can also follow @pupaid on Twitter

Don’t Cook Your Dog

Following on from my previous post about the two police dogs killed in a hot car, I wanted to take a little time out to share the campaign initiated by Dogs Today Magazine, and supported by a growing number of celebrities and companies.

Beverley Cuddy has a blog post about the campaign here, with some of the endorsements, and there is a website here, with downloadable posters, in English and other languages.  I have posters in my car, and will soon be ordering stickers.

The most important part of the website, however, is the part that advises what action should be taken if we see a dog in a car, along with early warning signs & first aid for heatstroke.  I will copy the information here, but please do go to the website, watch the videos (especially the one of the cookies being baked inside a car!), print the posters, order stickers, and share it around friends & family.

Please be a responsible owner, if you’re going out with your dog, make sure he or she is welcome where ever you go, if you’re not sure; please leave him or her at home.

The RSPCA advice is: if you see a dog in a car on a warm day, please call the police on 999.

Under the Animal Welfare Act everyone has a legal duty to care for their animals and if someone puts their animal at risk, they should face prosecution. Obviously they also have to live with the fact that their action resulted in terrible, unimaginable suffering.

If the car is in a supermarket car park or at a public event, ask for a message to be broadcast, asking the owner to return to their car immediately.

If the police are unable to attend, call the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 or if you are in Scotland: 03000 999 999 for SSPCA
(Please store this number on your mobile phone!)

There has been much debate online as to what to do if no one comes in time and the clock is ticking. Consensus is to try to take photos/video of the scene, using your phone. If you decide things are serious and you need to break in to release the dog try to make sure you record what you are doing and to protect yourself from accusations of criminal damage. Certainly advise the police of your intention to do this, so they are aware.

Tell us more: What was the police response when you called in a dog in distress? We believe there may be regional differences. Please email beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk with your experiences.

Heatstroke early warning signs

  • Heavy panting
  • Profuse salivation
  • A rapid pulse
  • Very red gums/tongue
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of consciousness

Heatstroke first aid

If a dog shows any symptoms of heatstroke, move him/her to a shaded, cool area and ring a vet for advice immediately. Heatstroke should always be treated as an emergency.

Dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature gradually lowered:

  • Immediately douse the dog with cool (not cold) water if possible
  • Let the dog drink small amounts of cool water.
  • Never cool the dog so much that he/she begins to shiver.
  • Then go straight to the veterinary surgery.