Friday, November 30, 2012

November Adoptions!

We are excited to announce that over the past month, two TAGS dogs have gone through the adoption process and found their fur-ever homes!

Blossum, who is about 8 months old, is a smart, cuddly border collie mix who was saved from a Kentucky kill shelter along with her littermates back in September. Her brother Chappie was adopted in October, and once Chappie's new family got to know him better, they just knew they wanted a lifelong friend for him. They contacted TAGS again and decided to adopt Blossum, too!

Elijah is a playful two-year-old who loves kids, other dogs, and even cats! This English springer spaniel mix was saved from gassing and is happily enjoying life with his new family.

Blossum and Chappiereunited and it feels so good!
 (Photo cred goes to their new mom, Courtney!)
(Their sister, Azriel, our featured dog from earlier this week, is still looking for the perfect family.)

Congratulations, Blossum and Elijah! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Enjoying a Little R 'n' R

Starr is a sweet little Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix available for adoption

Be sure to check out the other Blog Hop members' posts through this link.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Featured Dog: Azriel

Dogs come to TAGS from local shelters, shelters in the U.S., and owners who can no longer keep their dog. Azriel and her brother and sister were rescued by TAGS in September from a shelter in Kentucky. Due to the large animal overpopulation problem in the U.S. and space constraints in the shelters, nearly 50% of shelter animals are euthanized there each year. Azriel and her siblings were saved just in the nick of time from becoming part of this dismal statistic.  

Before: Azriel, her brother and sister in their Kentucky shelter
Though scared and skin-and-bones at first, these pups were at regular weight in no time with some good food and love from their TAGS foster parents. In the months since their journey from Kentucky, Azriel's siblings have been placed into a loving forever home (adopted together), leaving Azriel, the last of the sibling trio, still among our adoptables.

Now: Azriel
Azriel, or Zee-Zee, is a real sweetheart of a pup. She is smart and playful, looking up to her humans to follow their requests as closely as possible. She is still a young dog, and as such, she has been responding quickly to basic obedience training and is very eager to learn. While she is happy to receive treats, a pat on the head is just as effective a "treat" for Zee-Zee.  

Azriel doing one of her favourite thingsgetting treats
She is well socialized with other dogs and shy around cats. Although she is sometimes timid in new environments, she quickly adapts and is soon asking for cuddles and pets. A very gentle dog, Azriel walks well on her leash and is great in the car. She loves people, dogs, playtime and car ridesin other words, all things "dog." 

Want more info on Azriel? Check out a short video about her and her favourite things:

Does Azriel sound like a perfect fit for your family? If so, fill out an adoption application and contact us in order to get your adoption process started. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Play Bingo for Charity!

Do you love playing bingo? Did you know that you can support a good cause just by playing at the Red Barn in Oshawa?

If you have never tried bingo, start with us! The proceeds go toward helping our rescue dogs. You can enjoy your game, knowing that we will be able to save many more dogs' lives thanks to you.

There are several sessions each day, and sometimes there are up to 200 people playing. The atmosphere is always great, especially on TAGS dates. Currently twice a month, from 3:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., four of our volunteers help out and make your afternoon of bingo even more fun. And since the funds raised are shared on the basis of pooling, the more often TAGS participates, the more revenue we receive. Therefore, we are always looking for new volunteers who are interested in helping at bingo sessions.

But if you can't volunteer, you can still help by playing. Visit the Red Barn in Oshawa (directions here) and raise funds for our rescues! Your help is greatly appreciated.

Remaining dates for 2012: December 2 & 18.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Featured Volunteer: Nancy, the Amazing Foster Mom

Nancy has been a great addition to the TAGS foster team. Her very first foster dog was a husky mix who needed special treatment for a medical condition. But thanks to Nancy's great attendance and big heart, even this special dog found her forever home within a couple of months.

How long have you been volunteering?
I have been volunteering since July 2012. I love what I do, and it's so rewarding for me.
What made you decide to become a foster parent?
Busted! Starr and the cat do get along
There are so many reasons I volunteer. Most of all, it is very rewarding to see a dog go to its fur-ever home. I also love animals, and they love you back unconditionally. They are such a joy to have around, to play with, walk with and to love. There are so many animals out there that need homes that I thought this was a way in which I can give back to the community and not see so many animals put to sleep due to lack of room and no home to go to. 
What's the best and the worst things about being a foster mom?
The best part about being a foster parent is having a dog come into my home, not really knowing their background, and giving them the best life that they can haveby showing them how to learn new things and experience what it is truly like to be a dog. You ask if there is a worst part about being a foster parent, but there really isn't anything bad about itjust when the dog is being adopted, it's hard to see them go, but knowing that they are going to their fur-ever home makes it all worthwhile and definitely puts a smile on my face and makes me very happy.
When you have to, how do you choose a new name for your foster dog?
When a dog comes into my care, and I have to choose a name, I wait a few days before choosing one. I wait to see what type of personality they have. I look at how they interact and if they love attention, how they act with other animals in our household. Then I choose a name. I try to fit the personality with the name. 
How do you usually solve any differences that come up between your foster dog and your own pets?
When it comes to solving differences between my foster and the pets we have, I talk to some of the volunteers who also foster or to Kathy (founder of TAGS), and overall the advice they give works. If I still am having a bit of an issue between the animals, I try to teach them on my own or bring them to classes that TAGS offers. I don't treat my pets any different than my foster dog(s).
How did you deal with having to say goodbye to your first foster dog?
My first foster was Sasha, who has medical needs. It was very difficult to see her go to her new family. She was amazing, beautiful, and such a down-to-earth dog. The day before the adoption, I spent a lot of time with her, playing with her, walking with her outside and, yes, even talking to her. I told her she had to be a good girl and make me proud, which she has done. I gave her a lot of hugs and kisses and made her feel very special (something I do with all my fosters). The next day was the adoption, and I gave her a kiss and a big hug and passed her over to the family that was giving her a fur-ever home. It was a little difficult for me, for Sasha was my first foster and dealing with her medical condition, I had become very attached to her. But knowing that the family was going to give her a wonderful, loving home and lots of attention, I knew that this was the right family for her.
 Do you have any funny or cute stories about being a foster?
3 foster dogs - Harley, Starr and Layla
A really cute story that happened recently with my foster Starr was when I was sitting down for breakfast. Starr is normally at my feet waiting for a piece of toast even though she has already been outside and had her breakfast. Well, after about 10 minutes, I noticed she wasn't sitting and waiting for her toast. I decided to go look around the house for her to see if she was up to anything with the cats. I walked into my bedroom, and there she was asleep under the covers with her head on the pillow. I have never seen anything so cute as this, and she totally melted my heart. Starr probably stayed in bed till about 10, when I had to get her up finally to make my bed.  I just thought this was the cutest thing ever and had to take a picture.
Now, that you have been a foster mom for a while, what would your advice be to new foster parents (or to people who are considering fostering)?
My advice to anyone who is considering being a foster parent  or just recently became one is that not all animals are alike or are the perfect dog. Some will have medical issues, behaviour issues or training issues and may require a lot of attention. The dogs are not perfect, and sometimes the road for them may be a little long, but with patience, guidance, time and a lot of love, these dogs will overcome whatever issue they are dealing with. This is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had, and I definitely love what I do.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cold Weather Tips for Dogs – 5 Things to Keep in Mind

Although we don’t need our balaclavas just yet, it is safe to say that we’ve had a few “one-dog nights” so far this month,  so it’s time to start thinking about the winter ahead.

(“It was a ___ dog night” was an expression used by cowboys and ranchers working out on the range. They would sleep with their dogs to stay warm, describing the weather conditions based on how many dogs’ worth of warmth they needed to share to be comfortable.)

While our cuddly canines are certainly good at keeping us warm—their internal temperature sits about three or four degrees above ours—it is important that we help them out a bit too.

So, without further ado, here are five important things to keep in mind as the cold weather approaches:

Starr, a TAGS foster dog, trying on her winter jacket. 
1.     Bundle up your pup! Small dogs, or breeds with short or thin fur, should wear sweaters or jackets when they are outside to protect them from the wind and cold. The clothing should cover them from their neck to the base of the tail, as well as the tummy. If they will not tolerate clothing, just be sure to watch them closely—if they start to shiver too much when you’re out on a walk, consider taking shorter walks more frequently to minimize any prolonged exposure to the elements.

(If you're looking for a way to "bundle up your pup" and are interested in supporting TAGS while you're at it, consider purchasing a hand-knit sweater made by Cathy, one of our volunteers! For more information visit her blog here.)

2.     Thaw the paw! When you bring your dog in from the backyard or from a walk, be sure to thoroughly wipe in and around all of the pads of his feet. If any moisture or ice is left in there, it can not only cause the dog to limp but can also give him chills for hours. Wiping your dog’s paws will also reduce the risk of his carrying in anything that could cause his paws to become dry and chapped, such as salt or other anti-freezing solutions. If ingested, such chemicals can cause ulcers and irritation of the esophagus and mouth.

3.     No-shave November! As the temperature drops, consider letting your dog’s fur grow out. If his full coat is too much, just be sure to avoid going right down to the skin. The extra fur will help keep him insulated against the elements.

4.     Just water, no ice please! Cold, dry weather can increase the likelihood of dehydration. Having constant access to fresh water is essential all year round, but for some reason, many of us associate thirst with being hot. Dogs are the same way, so we have to encourage them to drink just as much water when it’s cold out, even if they didn’t just get in from a summer day at the dog park. If your dog is kept primarily outdoors, make sure the water does not freeze over—purchasing a heated bowl will help with this. 

5.     Check under the bed! While there may not be any monsters hiding there, there could be moisture buildup from all of your pup’s outdoor adventures. Make sure all of your dog’s favourite places to nap are clean, dry and well insulated. Consider tossing his bed in the dryer for a few minutes to make it feel extra cozy. 
If you have any questions about the above, or any of your own tips and tricks to share, please tell us in the comments! You can also visit us on our website to find out more about our rescue organization and the great dogs we have available for adoption.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

TAGS Dogs in PetSmart

As you probably already know, TAGS showcases some of its dogs at the Whitby PetSmart every weekend (directions here). It's a good way to inform people about our charity and to introduce our adoptable dogs.

We have our own booth set up each time, where people can learn about our adoption process, upcoming events or even browse through our binder of dogs.

If you are available on a Saturday or a Sunday, visit us and our dogs in the store! Our usual hours are from 12 until 4 in the afternoon on both days. Please note that TAGS will suspend its activities and services during the holidays, specifically between December 20 and January 3.

This Saturday we had Jake, Diesel and Clover with us in the store. All three dogs attracted a lot of people. Many of them seemed really serious about adopting a dog, so our fingers are crossed for them!
Treat is coming...
Treat is almost here...
Jake in his cool bandana

See you there next time! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pet First-Aid 101

Last weekend, TAGS hosted a pet first-aid course taught by veterinarian Tanya Varley from Morningside Pet Hospital. Twenty pet-loving people and about 14 tail-wagging dogs attended the all-day event at the Quality Suites at Bloor and Grandview.

Checking Merlin the greyhound's gums.
Through the course of the day, participants learned and practised such important skills as taking a pet’s vital signs (heart rate, respiration rate, temperature), bandaging a wound and performing CPR. Did you know that a dog’s normal body temperature is a little higher than a human’s and a temperature below 37°C or above 39°C is potential cause for concern? A temperature that’s too high or too low needs to be regulated slowly so that the organs, not just the outer body, can acclimatize. A hypo- or hyperthermic dog should immediately be removed from an environment that is too hot or too cold, and drastic measures (e.g., giving an overheated dog ice cubes) should be avoided.

While the discussion of vital signs was relatively tame, some of the scenarios Dr. Varley presented us with, such as prolapsed eyeballs (not uncommon in pugs, Boston terriers and bulldogs) and impalements, were difficult for the faint of heart, like me, to hear about and see pictures of. But we students all shared a common goal: wanting to do everything in our power to care for and potentially save the lives of our pets in an emergency. And that was enough to quell the squeamishness—well, for the most part.
Annetta practising bandaging techniques on Petunia's paw.

Many important topics were addressed: preventing and treating bloat, managing allergic reactions, inducing vomiting (and when not to), recognizing and dealing with seizures, and—so important for every pet parent to know—determining which symptoms can be dealt with at home and which require an emergency trip to the vet.

The learning experience was great, but spending time with fellow dog people and their dogs is always a major highlight of TAGS events. Most of the dogs greeted each other and their human counterparts with enthusiastic tails. Occasional barking sounded throughout the conference room, but for the most part, the dogs were all well behaved, allowing us to concentrate. By 2:45, after we humans enjoyed a wonderful lunch (included in the course fee), dog after dog lay flaked out on the fur-filled rug, and then around 4:10, all of a sudden, six or so woke with a start and barked up a storm, probably in response to a noise only canine ears could detect. They were easily calmed, and class resumed.
Nikki asking Dr. Varley a question.

That quiet hour and a half before the choral yapping was likely our best opportunity for learning, but it’s also when many of us, I suspect, felt tugs of distraction. There’s just something about a roomful of sleeping dogs that rouses a sense of wonder and love that can sidetrack even the most attentive of us.

Letting sleeping dogs lie.
Fortunately, Dr. Varley provided one enlightening bit of information after another, so refocusing on the task at hand was relatively easy. By the end of the day, we attendees walked away with the invaluable feeling of being better equipped to protect our four-legged loved ones when they need us most.

Pack Your Own First-Aid Kit

Here's what you need:

hydrogen peroxide
rubbing alcohol
saline/contact solution
gauze squares (to use for cleaning wounds/skin, contact layer for bandages)
non-stick pads (to cover wounds)
rolled gauze for bandaging
Vetwrap/klingwrap for bandaging
tweezers (in case of ticks, splinters, etc.)
muzzle, leash
digital thermometer
stethoscope (optional)

And if you missed the course, watch for another one in the spring so you can learn how to use these items!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Friends come in all sizes

Be sure to check out more Wordless Wednesday pictures by visiting the other participating blogs or by clicking on the picture below

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lest We Forget

Every Remembrance Day, we pause to reflect on the men and women who lost their lives to secure our freedom.

CC image courtesy of Bernt Rostad on Flickr
Alongside some of these soldiers were four-legged canine partners, so this Remembrance Day, their bravery is worthy of reflection as well.

Stories of dogs serving in wartime efforts extend back almost as far as the domestication of the species. Throughout history, dogs have been trained to serve in several areas of military activity: In early wars, they carried messages to the Allies in the trenches. Their duties now include being a part of search-and-rescue teams and tactile units, protecting troops in battle, and helping boost the morale of soldiers with their energy.

CC image courtesy of Library and Archives Canada
During World War II, both the Allied countries and their enemies are said to have had large troops of trained canines in their ranks—dogs who had been to war-dog training camps to prepare them for their roles in the military. These dogs, just like their human counterparts, had to pass a physical and undergo intense training, which included preparations for the loud and sudden noises they would hear once out on the field.

Dogs continue to astound us each day with their level of intellect and bravery. We often hear stories about heroic dogs in our towns and cities: dogs who have alerted their families of fire or an intruder; guide dogs trained to lead their humans with confidence; dogs who sniff out threats…. The list goes on.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of war, history and time, we will never know every soldier’s story or be able to appreciate his or her legacy fully. The same goes for our fallen canine heroes, but based on present-day stories of dog heroism that continues to amaze us, it is safe to wager that canine soldiers in wartime were as worthy of praise as they come.

So this Remembrance Day, we honour them, too.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Outreach Event: Canadian Tire

Every weekend TAGS has an outreach event at the Petsmart store in Whitby. A couple of volunteers and a few dogs are at the store between noon and 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. 

This past weekend, though, brought a fun, once-a-year event that TAGS has participated in for the past two years—an outreach event at Canadian Tire! 

Here we are, set up right between the kitchen appliances and checkout counters

Canadian Tire has been a great location to show off our dogs for a few reasons: 
  • There's an element of surprise for the shoppers, and the store is always packed with people shopping on the weekends.
  • There aren't any other dogs, like there often are with the shoppers at Petsmart, which ensures a more relaxed atmosphere for the TAGS dogs.
  • In most cases, the shoppers at Canadian Tire might not already have a dog (as opposed to shoppers at Petsmart) and would be more likely to adopt a dog they've seen at the store.

Dawson, ready for his big debut

The day was a huge success for both dogs, Tucker and Dawson, being showcased. Both received attention from Canadian Tire employees who are currently considering adopting a dog.

Dawson charmed everyone by nudging for belly rubs or giving his paw for a "handshake" and eventually formed a "fan base" around himself. His friendly charm resulted in not only a bone for him from one of his admirers but also two adoption applications for him the very same day! 
A very relaxed Dawson, gnawing away on a bone from a potential adopter
Canadian Tire has been a great place for TAGS to create awareness about the rescue, and we are hoping to have more chances to feature our dogs in the store in the future.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pet Cancer Prevention Tips

Dos and don’ts

November is national Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Many people don’t realize that their beloved pets are just as likely to get cancer as humans are. Unhealthy processed foods and environmental factors are most often the cause of tumours developing in our pets’ body. While it’s more common for dogs to get cancer, but that also means, that cats can, too, and because cats tend to mask illnesses, it’s harder for us to see if our cat is sick. But the signs are the same in both species: tiredness, lethargy, weight loss, vomiting, coughing or evidence of pain. 
What is more important, however, is trying to prevent this terrible disease from taking hold in your pet. Here are some dos and don’ts for keeping our dogs in good health.

    CC image courtesy of photofarmer on Flickr
  • Give your dog dark green vegetables (e.g., broccoli, asparagus, lettuce) a few times a week.
  • TAGS recommends natural dry foods that have the AAFCO guarantee along with vitamins E and C.
  • Add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to your dog’s food (it’s high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which help maintain a healthy immune system).
  • Enrich your dog’s diet with antioxidants such as a tablespoon of ground flax seed.
  •  Add coconut oil to your dog’s food (it contains fatty acids).
  • Add a small amount of minced garlic to your dog’s dinner (great cancer-inhibiting element).
  • If you prefer to make your dog’s food yourself, then be sure to use organic ingredients that are free from pesticides and drug residues.
  • Don’t give your dog dry foods that contain artificial flavours or artificial colours.
  • Don’t feed your dog grain-based food, because dogs have a hard time digesting grains, especially uncooked ones, and a regular diet  of them can lead to serious problems like organ failure or cancer.

Environment and Habits 
  • Consider making your lawn and garden organic.
  • Keep your dog in good condition by engaging him or her in sports or other activities.
  • Vaccinate your dog with only the necessary vaccines (vaccines stimulate the dog’s immune system in a way that can cause fibrosarcoma).
  • Install a water filter to avoid pets’ consuming fluorides.
  • Massage your dog from the feet toward the heart to stimulate circulation.
  • Don’t smoke in the house or around your dog – second-hand smoke is as dangerous for animals as it is for humans.
  • Don’t walk your dog behind idling cars or trucks. Gas and diesel emissions will be picked up by your dog’s nose a lot faster than they are picked up by ours.
  • Don’t let your dog sniff chemically treated grass.
  • Don’t use household chemicals, especially if the label states “Keep away from children and pets.”

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