Sunday, December 30, 2012

December Adoptions!

Earlier this month, TAGS volunteers were thrilled when we matched November's total and found homes for two foster dogs. It was even better when we beat it... times 4!
Congratulations to all 8 dogs who found their fur-ever homes this month!
Click on the image to view a larger version.
Willy, a Labrador/Dalmation mix, is approximately eight months old. Willy came to TAGS from a shelter in Ohio a few months ago. It's no surprise that a lucky family scooped him up because he's gentle, loves to play, and doesn't mind car rides!

 (now called Wally) is a three-year-old rottweiler who gets along with everyone! Kaos will happily play with dogs of all size and personality, and loves to go on long walks with his new family.

Harley is a purebred Bichon Frise who is approximately four years old. Harley was found wandering on the GO Train tracks. After a brief stint at the pound, a TAGS volunteer rescued him and now this fun-loving companion has been given a new chance at life with his new family. 

Jake is a chocolate Lab mix who found himself in need of a new home a few months ago. Now adopted, this calm, happy guy is back to enjoying life with a loving family.

Maude is an eight-month-old terrier mix who tips the scales at a mighty seven pounds. Rescued from a high-kill shelter, Maude just joined our foster program a couple of weeks ago and has already found a new home. We love stories like this!

Allie Dawn
 is a three-year-old beagle mix whom many of the volunteers came to love while she was in foster care. She's sweet, playful and clearly adorable!

 is a happy-go-lucky Retriever, Labrador/German Shepherd puppy who is just under a year old. Even though Trixie is deaf, that doesn't stop her from keeping up with other dogs! She also loves being with people and is very outgoing and active. Bonus: Watch a video about Trixie here 

(now called Ben) is under a year old and, believe it or not, was found as a stray! It's hard to believe that no one claimed this Labrador retriever mix since he is playful, great with children and even likes cats!
-    -    -    -    -
We are so happy for all of the dogs who found homes this month, and throughout the year as well. Thank you to everyone who has supported TAGS in 2012. We couldn't have done it without you!

Happy New Year,

The Animal Guardian Society

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Eve Fireworks—What to Do If Your Dog Runs Away

Fireworks - CC image courtesy of bortescristian on Flickr
New Year's Eve is almost here, and so is snow and freezing cold! You have to leave the house with several layers of clothing just to make sure you won't get cold. Does it sound familiar? Imagine if you are not prepared at all and have to spend some nights out there in a snowstorm. A runaway pet might face a situation like this.

It's very important to make sure that your dog (or even cat) is in a warm, cozy and secure area during the night of New Year's Eve. It's a lot of fun for people to put on fireworks displays, but our pets may not feel the same. Some more sensitive dogs or cats can get so frightened by all the noises that they decide to run away from all this craziness.

Tips to Prevent Pets From Running Away:
- If your dog is an outside dog, double-check any weak parts of the fence.
- Give him or her warm blankets for extra coziness in the doghouse. With all the noises going on on the streets, your dog might feel safer in his or her comfy hideaway.
- Play or walk with your dog in the afternoon so that he or she will sleep deeper at night. 

8 Tips If the Dog Has Already Run Away:
1. Don't panic! First of all, put some water and a blanket by the part of the fence where the dog escaped from, just in case he comes home. 

2. Call up some of your friends and start exploring the neighbourhood. 

3. At least one person should stay at home to keep an eye on the property and the street and to be available in case someone returns the dog or calls the number on his tag.

Dog hiding from fireworks - CC image courtesy of Dave Parker on Flickr
4. When out on the search, call his name out and have a treat ready. Be extra careful around busy areas, though. You don't want your dog to see you and start crossing the road with the risk of being hit by a car. If you spot him, try to approach him without his noticing you.

5. Don't forget to take his leash, water and a blanket with you so that you can help him right away when you find him. Read our cold weather tips for dogs. Additionally, a flashlight for searching culverts, etc., and a squeaky toy to draw him out can come in handy.

6. Make sure you have your veterinarian's or an animal hospital's number with you. Roaming the streets alone in the dark is very dangerous for any dog. Read about dog first-aid here or here.

7. If he's been missing for more than a day, start putting "missing dog" posters out in your community and run a listing in the local newspaper. Register him on and post his picture on Facebook and Twitter. Ask your friends to share it so more locals will see it.

8. Contact the local shelters and let them know about the situation so they can call you as soon as someone shows up with your dog.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - A Christmas Nap

Christmas is tiring! - This is Goofy who is now adopted to a wonderful family

This is a blog hop. Check out the other blogs for more Wordless Wednesday posts!

Friday, December 21, 2012

If the World Ends Today

5 Tips to Make This Day Useful

1. Take your dog for a long walk to the park (if the weather allowsread our cold weather tips for dogs) and give him some attention. Play some fun games with the ball or Frisbee. It's good to spend some quality time with your pet not just because of some crazy Mayan predictions, but realistically, the holidays are coming up, which likely means that either your house will be full of guests or you will be away visiting family. Either way, you'll have less time to play with your dog.

Dog rolling in the grass - CC image courtesy of Victoria Reay on Flickr
2. Teach your dog a new trick that you always wanted to, using the TAGS-approved positive reinforcement method (see more training tips here or here). If you survive December 21, you can show your dog's talent off to your friends and family during their visit on the holidays!

3. Clean out your basement to have somewhere to hide! Also, you will probably find long-forgotten dog toys, blankets or other items that might come in handy. If they are in good condition, you can always donate them to your local charity or shelter. Read about other ways to give.

4. Arrange a get-together with fellow pet owners and their pets so the dogs can socialize. Even if the world doesn't end, your dog will be thankful to spend some time with his furry friends!

5. Be a rebel and ignore the end of the world hysteria by doing last-minute holiday tasks, like putting up decorations (if you don't already have them up), wrapping gifts and getting some holiday snacks or sweets ready. Read our Top 5 Holiday Hazards to Pets before starting!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I Wanna Pit Bull

Now that I’ve been volunteering in rescue for a few years, I am finally ready to start considering what type of dog I would get in a perfect world. For the record, I am not yet ready / able to give a dog what it needs; I am merely daydreaming.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my dream dog would be the biggest, baddest, meanest-looking, most horrible dog ever in the world. At least, what the general public believes to be the meanest dog in the world.

I’ve made it two years in rescue, and it is safe to say I have caught the bug. I thrive off taking a dog who is misunderstood and slowly wearing them down to where they are amazing family pets. I have found that the longer the challenge takes, the bigger the satisfaction.

That is why I dream of having a pit bull. Just saying those words widens the eyes of 99% of the world.

There are many dangerous dogs out there, but the pit bull specifically comes with a built-in reputation. Therefore, helping one of these “dangerous” dogs become a healthy, happy, friendly dog would be even more rewarding.

I wish I could have a pit bull because I want a dog that instills fear in others and to show them that they have nothing to fear at all. I would even argue that breed-specific legislation (known as BSL in dog circles) results in pit bulls being more dangerous by putting restrictions in place that make them harder to socialize, but I will save that argument for another post.

What I find most amazing in rescue is that dogs who have been abused or neglected, and sometimes both, still find it within themselves to love humans. Nothing would please me more than to have a pit bull who is a lap dog to show friends and strangers that this dog who was once abused or neglected wants nothing more than to give you a kiss and lay its head on your lap.

I must say that this is a selfish dream. The satisfaction I would get from achieving this goal would send me over the moon. So I guess my biggest target in this article is the reputation of pit bulls and the people who want them for that reputation (which mischievously now includes me—but I have good intentions!).

A truly dangerous dog is one that has never learned the power of its own bite and is owned by someone who does not care about the dog’s well-being. When you look at it that way, it is difficult to see how breed has anything to do with it.

In my view, a ban on a specific breed of dog puts Ontario in the ignorant category of society. Other areas have reversed their bans—most recently, Edmonton—because they are discriminatory. There is a large discussion about the statistics since many bites are by mixed breeds, making it difficult to attribute “badness” to one specific breed.

According to the Toronto Star, “More than 85% of Edmontonians identified improper training, poor supervision and irresponsible dog owners as the main cause for a dog attack.” What do Edmontonians understand that Ontarians don’t? They understand that there is no dog that you can’t get to react any more than there are people who won’t react when they are scared enough.

Anyone who works in rescue knows that my saying I want the meanest, baddest dog ever means that I will probably end up with the least threatening dog ever, a teacup Chihuahua.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Recipe: Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Photo credit:

Have you got your Christmas baking list ready? How about some treats for your furry best friend?

Store-bought dog treats are expensive and filled with hard-to-pronounce ingredients, so we've started to bake our own cookies for our pooches. Homemade cookies are way cheaper than their store-bought counterparts, and you most likely already have in your pantry all the ingredients to make these cookies. The even better news is that these cookies are delicious. My dogs can't get enough of these treats and will come racing whenever I approach the counter where they are stored.

The dough for this recipe is easy to handle and is healthy, with the addition of pumpkin* and peanut butter, both of which my dogs love to eat right off the spoon. The dough is not sticky and comes together quickly and is super-easy to roll out. Additionally, the dough doesn't spread when baked, so you can cram lots of unbaked cookies on one cookie sheet. I've even substituted the peanut butter in the recipe with bacon fat with lots of positive feedback from my dogs and from friends' dogs, too.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 large eggs
2/3 cup pumpkin purée, canned or fresh
3 tbsp. peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place all ingredients in the mixing bowl and stir until the dough comes together and looks like a bunch of little dough balls. If you pinch a piece and it crumbles, add a little water. If it’s really sticky, it’s too wet, and you’ll need to add a little flour. Gather the dough together and form into a ball. Place on a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to about 1/4-inch thickness. You can use either a cookie cutter to cut out cute shapes or a knife to cut squares or stripsI prefer to use a cookie cutter just because it makes the cookies look so cute!

Gather the scraps together and roll them out again and again until you've used up the dough. Place the cookies on a baking sheet. They can be crowded pretty close together since they don’t expand much. Bake 15-20 minutes for softer treats or 30 minutes for hard treats. (My dogs like crunchy treats, and they last longer that way, too.) Keep a close eye on your cookies after 20 minutes. If they were rolled out too thinly, they will burn if they're baked the entire 30 minutes. Let cool completely.

Recipe from Use Real Butter

Did you know that pumpkin is a solution to two common doggie problemsdiarrhea and constipation? It's a great natural remedy to both, so the next time your dog has either, start with a teaspoon of pumpkin and gradually work up to two teaspoons or a tablespoon until he's back to his normal self. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Great Gift Ideas for Dog Lovers

CC Image courtesy of ]babi] on Flickr
With Christmas Eve just ten days away, some of you are probably finished shopping, have sailed right through wrapping and are now sitting by the fire admiring your Christmas tree, wondering what is taking Santa so long.

But let's face it: many of us are just starting! While everyone loves giving presents at Christmas, trying to think of the perfect gift can be stressful. Well, have no fearTAGS is here to give you a list of great gift ideas for all of the dog lovers in your life.

But be warnedyou might want some of these for yourself, too!

For Dog Lovers Who Love to Travel 
  • Whether going to the cottage, a friend's, or the dog park, the seats in any dog lover's car can take a beating after one too many rides with a furry friend. While they might love their pooch too much to mind, they will definitely benefit from a pet car-seat cover. PetSmart carries several options on its website.
  • Help keep a friend's small dog safe by gifting your friend with a doggie car seat! This design, which is available at Canadian Tire, is elevated so the pooch can look out the window, plus it has a harness for added safety.
  • If you're on a budget, make homemade dog-sitting vouchers! While you might feel cheesy, the sentiment behind this gift will trump all others. No dog lover likes to leave his or her fur baby behind, but sometimes travel opportunities come up that don't suit a tail-wagging tag-along. Offer to dog-sit, and enjoy eternal gratitude. It will put your friend's mind at ease to know his or her pup is in good hands! 

For Dog Lovers Who Love Knick-Knacks 
Cat lady and dog lover vests!
CC Image courtesy of TheUglySweaterShop on flickr

With a knick-knack, paddy whack, give a dog a bone... If your friend loves ornaments, trinkets, and other collectibles, there are an infinite number of possible gifts for them! Look for a picture frame with paw prints, a dog ornament for the tree, or even a figurine resembling their dog. Pet stores, gift stores such as Hallmark and Carlton Cards, or even your local Wal-Mart are bound to have great gifts your dog-loving friends will dig.

For Dog Lovers Who Love to Read 

  • A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
    This TAGS-tested novel is an engaging, heartfelt story told from a dog's perspective as he searches for his purpose over the course of several lives. His soul is reborn again and again, but he is able to retain memories from former lives, which he uses to help him in the next one. It's funny and at times sad, and it's written so aptly the reader can't help but wonder if it was actually written by a canine.
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
    Also TAGS-tested, this book tells the story of Enzo, a lovable mutt who is with his best friend and owner, Denny, through all of life's milestones. Told from Enzo's perspective, the story line captivates readers from the first page, and the writing style keeps them reading until the book is finished.
  • The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs
    Culled from the pages of The New Yorker magazine, the writings and artwork in this coffee-table-sized book will delight any dog lover. In true New Yorker style, the fiction, poetry, and articles alternately entertain and informand often do both. Whether your friend is a literature lover or a dog lover, this book meets the bill.
  • Keep the gift of Christmas coming all year long! Purchase a gift subscription for your friend to a Canadian pet or dog magazine. Since the first issue won't be delivered until after Christmas, considering buying a copy of the current issue and include a note saying that there are more where this came from! 
CC Image Courtesy of dickuhne on Flickr
Bonus Tip: For Dog Lovers Who Have it All
  • Consider making a donation to a cause your dog-loving friend cares about, a topic we explored recently in this post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Nap Time!

These 3 puppies are enjoying their nap time under the warm blanket. Azriel (on the left) is up for adoption.
This is a blog hop. Check out the other participating blogs by clicking here or on the picture below!

Click here to read Azriel's story or here to like her on Facebook!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Compassion in Rescue

Much has been made in the past five or so years of the different styles of dog training. When it comes to rescue, training methods are more important because many of the dogs in rescue come with built-in issues, a product of a past that we do not know about. Using punitive training techniques on a dog who has experienced trauma can cause the dog to further regress. These techniques confuse the dog further, moving the opposite direction you are trying to get.

CC image courtesy of jo_beets on Flickr
The central misconception of these punitive or dominant techniques often seen on TV revolve around the question "What is punishment for a dog?" Punitive techniques punish a dog for breaking an arbitrary human rule (jumping up, pulling on leash, etc.) with a correction involving pain or with the human asserting dominance over the dog, suggesting that punishment should be scary or painful. 

The definition of punishment is "a stimulus that reduces the immediately preceding behaviour such that it is less likely to occur in the future."  

Modernmore humanedog-training techniques interpret this definition simply as not rewarding bad behaviour. This can be difficult and tests an owner's patience and involves a great deal of compassion and understanding. To be successful at this method, you have to remember, contrary to what you may sometimes believe, the dog does not wish to upset you.

cc image courtesy of Brian.Mo on Flickr
The simplest example is of a dog that jumps up on you. The dog is trying to get your attention and has learned that the most effective way to get people’s attention is to body-check them. So when you yell, push and react to this behaviour, the dog has succeeded in his or her main goal of getting your attention.

As every volunteer at TAGS comes to learn, rescue dogs can come with very difficult pasts. We will never know what most dogs have experienced. Judging by the fear that they exhibit when you lift a pop can or unroll a garden hose, you begin to paint a picture, and it is no Rembrandt. 

Many of the fearful behaviours we see in rescue were instilled in these dogs because of techniques based on a misinterpretation of punishment. And I would like to stress that fear is often displayed as aggression

For those of you out there who have dogs, it can be difficult to reward good behaviour and easy to just react to bad behaviour. After all, a well-behaved dog can be hard to notice when you’re being body-checked by an 80-pound Lab.  
CC image courtesy of OakleyOriginals on Flickr

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Santa Photography Day in PetSmart

Thank you all who came and helped out or supported our charity on this rainy winter day! 

Mr. and Mrs. Claus with June Bug. June Bug is up for adoption!
Despite the weather, the Whitby PetSmart store was extraordinarily busy. A lot of people came to have their pets' holiday photo taken with us. We ended up selling 63 pictures! TAGS received half of the proceeds, which can go toward rescuing more dogs in need.

Many people were interested in our program, too. Our helpful volunteers were there to answer any inquiries. Thanks to them, no one had to wait long for their pictures, because our helpers were handling the printing of the photos, as well.

It was a great opportunity for us to let people know about our charity and what we do. Very often, we find new additions to our volunteer team during these events or even a potential new home for our dogs!
Kadein was also there. He's up for adoption!

It was hard not to believe Santa Claus exists because our Santa and Mrs. Santa made the dogs' day magical with their enchanting presence. 

For more photos, visit our Facebook group or Facebook page
Were you there to have your pet's photo taken? Leave a comment about your experience!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Top 5 Holiday Hazards to Pets

Photo Credit:

The holidays are a time of celebration and festivities for both us and our dogs. However, it can also be a time that poses many hazards to our dogs. Being aware of these five holiday hazards that are present in most homes may save you a trip to the emergency room for your dog.

1. Food hazards

The holidays are usually filled with lots of tasty treats; however, many holiday treats are really toxic for our dogs.

·      Fruit, nuts and chocolate
Raisins and grapes, even in small amounts, can lead to kidney failure in dogs, so be sure to keep a close eye on those fruitcakes and fruit and nut boxes. Many nuts, especially macadamia nuts, contain toxins and may cause pancreatitis. Chocolate contains two components that can’t be processed by dogs, making it especially toxic and possibly even fatal for dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to your pet.

·      Cooked bones and fat trimmings
While cooked bones may seem like an ideal treat for a dog, they can splinter and cause an obstruction in your dog’s stomach. Fatty meat, such as turkey skin and ham, may cause pancreatitis, which can be fatal.

(If you're looking to make a special food treat for your dog this Christmas, be sure to check here on December 16 for a special treat recipe.)

2. Hazardous holiday plants

While decorative, many holiday plants are poisonouseven deadlyfor pets. Some holiday plants to watch out for include these ones:

·      Poinsettia, mistletoe and holly
These plants are not only pretty but also pretty dangerous to our pets. Symptoms of ingestion include vomiting, intense diarrhea, erratic behaviourand possibly even deathMistletoe is the most dangerous of the three plants.

3. Christmas trees
Real Christmas trees smell amazing, but there are some hidden hazards here that you might not know of yet.

·      Pine and spruce trees
Christmas trees are considered mildly toxic. The oils can irritate the mouth and stomach, causing drooling or vomiting, and the tree needles can cause obstructions. Additionally, tree water additives usually include sugar, making the Christmas tree water especially tasty to dogs. However, this preservative is dangerous. If you’re considering a live Christmas tree this year, be sure to confine your pets to keep them away from the tree while you're at work or when they are unsupervised.

·      Decorations (tinsel and ornaments)

Tinsel and other decorations, such as ornaments, are particularly eye-catching to our pets but are also very dangerous. Tinsel can become caught in a dog’s intestinal tract, twisting and bunching in their intestines, which can be fatal. Glass ornaments could potentially cut a dog's mouth, throat and intestines when swallowed and also present a choking hazard.

·       Christmas tree lights
If you have a puppy or a dog prone to chewing on electrical wires, he or she could be attracted to the lights on the Christmas tree, resulting in a shocking surprise. Check the lights frequently for signs of fraying or chewing. Keeping your dog away from the Christmas tree area will help avoid this potential hazard.  

4. Alcohol
Alcohol is extremely dangerous to dogs even in what would be considered a harmless amount to humans. Be sure to keep a close eye on drinks left on coffee tables at your holiday parties as some pooches are drawn to the scent of alcohol. Alcohol affects dogs much the same way it does humans, so if you find your dog drowsy, unable to walk or uncoordinated, be sure to consult a veterinarian immediately.

5. Christmas wrapping and decorations
While seemingly tame, ribbons, string and yarn have the same effect as tinsel, which when ingested can become caught and bunch and twist through a pet's intestines, leading to an emergency vet visit and possible surgery.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Lick Your Nose Contest

Can YOU do that with your tongue? Finnigan has mastered it.
This is a blog hop. Check out the other participating blogs, as well!

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Christmas Wish

Dear TAGS Supporter,

A tasty TAGS-inspired Christmas cake made
by volunteer Cathy L. 
The most wonderful time of year—the season of giving—is upon us again. Have you been asked yet by a family member or friend what you’d like to have under the tree? If you’re anything like me, coming up with a wish list is not easy.

One thing I do want, though, is good, loving forever homes for homeless and abused animals, so at the top of my wish list this year is a donation to TAGS on my behalf.

As a bonus, the gift giver gets a tax receipt.

And instead of giving colleagues and neighbours a box of chocolates or some other mundane, impersonal gift, I’m going to make donations to TAGS and other charities they care about on their behalf. I did the same last year, and the gifts were really appreciated.

This year, if you’re looking for gifts to give or receive, please consider us! TAGS also loves to receive pet care items such as dog beds, blankets, leashes and toys.

Cathy W.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

TAGS Event: Santa Pictures

Russell is ready for his close-up with Santa.

It's that time of year!

Riley is ready to sub in as a backup reindeer.

Every year in December, Santa Claws spends a weekend with TAGS at the Petsmart in Whitby and helps us raise some much-needed funds by posing for pictures with the pooches. All pets are welcome to have their picture taken with Santa. Santa, Mrs. Claws and their helpers will be at Petsmart between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for pictures on Saturday, December 8. 

A portion of each of the picture packages will be donated to TAGS by Petsmart and will go a long way to helping our dogs, whose only wish this Christmas is to find their fur-ever homes.

So, come on down to Petsmart this Saturdayunless you know you're on the naughty list, like Russell here!


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