Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: First Birthday!

Chloe turned one in early March. She came to TAGS from Kettle Point Indian Reserve last year with her siblings and was adopted soon after. Happy first birthday, Chloe!

This is a blog hop. You can check out the other blogs by clicking on the picture below.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Featured Adoptable Dog: Spike

Spike arrived at TAGS in September from a Sudbury pound. Despite the fact that he spent his first few years without a family, he's looking positively into his future and hasn't given up on finding his home.
He's very friendly with anyone who stops for a minute to give him a pat or a belly rub. Do you happen to have a bone as well? You'll be his all-time favourite person!

Spike's Hobbies
Chewing on bones can keep him occupied for hours but as he's a high-energy dog, he'll love a good run in the dog park the most. He will personally make sure that you're safe from the local gang of squirrels.

He knows all his basic commands like sit and stay and will shake a paw if you slip him some treats. He'd make it big in the corporate world, don't you think?

Spike is an enthusiastic walker, so using a Gentle Leader is best. He always gets excited before his walks because he loves meeting new dogs and people! As a 21st-century dog, he is even comfortable using a treadmill.

He is great with other dogs, although his enthusiasm can turn into bossiness if the other dog is not responding to his play requests. He lives with a couple of cats in his foster home, and he finds them quite funny. His dream is to play with them freely one day. But cats will be cats, and they are playing hard to get.

He's good with children, too, but since he sometimes doesn't realize how big he is, he could accidentally bump into them, so we suggest a child-free home for him. 

Overall, he's a loyal and loving guy who listens well and learns fast. His foster mom recommends for him a home with preferably another young and active dog. He has a lot of energy to work off, so if you love to spend your free time in the outdoors, he would be the perfect companion for you!

If you think Spike may be the dog for you, don't hesitate to fill out an adoption application form so that you can meet him at our dog park!

Check out more photos of Spike on Pinterest or watch a video of him on YouTube (below)!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

All Dogs Are Working Dogs


When I was speaking with my sister recently about her Yorkie, Libby, who is almost two years old, she was telling me how she finds Libby’s typically fearless terrier behaviour endearing. I got a sense that she believed it was just Libby specifically who has this “attitude,” so I thought I would make her aware of the background of Yorkshire terribles terriers.

My sister looked completely shocked as I told her about the creation of the Yorkie to hunt rats in cotton barns and textile factories of Yorkshire, England. In typical older-sister fashion, she brushed off my history tutorial and refused to believe her fluffy little Libby had been meticulously designed for mass murder.

Many people fail to realize that their dog was created for a purpose—be it ratting, hunting, retrieving, herding or, in many cases, just being outright adorable. What may seem to us like a quirky behaviour or habit may actually be from the breed’s past.

Roxie, a JRT, collecting her hot dogs into a neat and tidy pile.
I grew up with a bichon frise, a dog derived from the Portuguese water dog.  Apt swimmers, PWDs would retrieve the fishing nets for fishermen out on the fishing boats. Only the ones who did the best job returning with the nets were continually bred. So heaven forbid my bichon greet me without a present! It turned into a fun game when returning home—what is he going to bring us? (Casper was a good boy and usually brought us one of his toys.)

Other than the history lesson, this information comes in handy when considering, is your dog happy?

My dog Casper, at work as a therapy dog.
As humans, we usually consider our dogs’ mental health in terms of giving them the things that they seem to like—such things as the occasional opportunity to have their head out the car window, a play date with a friend, or a favourite treat. However, is this true happiness for them? Or is it the one thing we humans habitually dread that they are longing for in those restless dreams? Do our dogs want jobs?

I am convinced that there is no happier living thing on earth than a Labrador retriever carrying a stick on a walk. These jobs do not necessarily have to be breed specific, but usually any activity that requires dogs to use their minds will make them feel most useful.

Hogan, mid-jump at agility. This photo was taken from his blog.

Activities like agility are great for energetic dogs, and they don’t necessarily have to be overtly athletic. And for the social butterflies out there, I highly suggest therapy dog programs. Nothing is more therapeutic than a dog. Absolutely nothing. 

Boomer, still available for adoption. I don't know if he has any retriever in him,
but anything resembling a tennis ball gets his attention.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Tell me when winter's over

It's finally the first day of spring and Balin's sooo ready to come out of winter hibernation!

This is a blog hop. You can check out the other blogs by clicking on the picture below.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Why I Volunteer: Nick

And Why You Should Too.

Without a doubt, animal rescue is a morally righteous hobby. It is hard to disagree when you look at the state of animal welfare in our society, from general overpopulation, punitive training techniques, to puppy mills. But everyone finds their way into activities in different ways, and mine was purely self-serving.

I grew up with a family dog. After doing much research, my family purchased a Bichon Frise from the most reputable breeder we could find. Neither of my parents had grown up with dogs, so this was largely uncharted territory. After taking our hamster to the vet for an ankle injury, my parents finally gave in to our pleading. And so Casper joined the Iordanis family.

My two sisters and I with 2 year old Casper.

I have two older sisters, so adding another male to the bottom of the totem pole was great for me. Casper and I definitely saw each other as brothers. He slept at the foot of my bed, and we ate lunch together most days. As much as Casper and I were brothers, he absolutely loved my grandpa.

Casper, hanging out with the oldest people he could find.
When we told my grandpa we were getting a dog, he offered to build a doghouse for “it” to live outside (what he was accustomed to in our native Greece). Little did Grandpa know, in the following years when he would babysit Casper, the little dog would sleep in his bed—kicking Grandma out to the spare bedroom.

The love Casper had for my grandpa (it became mutual) got my mom to certify him as a therapy dog with St. John’s Ambulance. While he had a great time at Sick Kids’ Hospital, what he really wanted was a retirement home.  Seniors were Casper’s “speed.”

Casper on the couch with Andrea. He does kids too!
I moved away from Pickering for four years to go to university. I noticed how much I missed the companionship of a dog, but I was pretty busy trying to balance my textbooks on top of my case of beer. Casper would freak out when I came home for a weekend but then would remember, hey, you left me, and would give me the cold shoulder for a while. Unfortunately, Casper passed away at the age of 14 the summer after I graduated from university.

About a year later, I conceded that I needed—not just enjoyed but needed—a k9 in my life. However, at this point in my life I am not really in a position to own a dog. So what’s a guy to do?

Well, why not volunteer? I know there are some dogs out there who could, at the very least, tolerate my presence. So I interviewed with TAGS and haven’t looked back since. In my time at TAGS, I’ve learned a lot about dog behaviour, which is critical when volunteering in rescue.

Buttercup, a dog I helped socialize and ultimately helped get adopted.
Read my blog post about Buttercup here. 
I have found great inspiration in these rescue animals. Many of these dogs are abused and have had horrible lives, but they do not hold that against me—the next human in line holding their leash. When they first come into the program, there can sometimes be an Oh boy, this one’s going to be tough to get adopted feeling. Then we get pictures from adoptive families with their dog, and the dog doesn’t even resemble its former self.

Boomer, the TAGS dog I am helping socialize right now.
He is still available for adoption!
The best feeling in the world for me is seeing a dog at the dog park after it has been adopted. My personal favourite is when the dogs see their family start to leave, and they bolt toward the door as if to say, “I’m coming, I’m coming. Don’t forget me! I want to be in this family!”

Many people say that they would have a hard time volunteering in rescue because they would want to keep them all. To that I say you are missing the whole point. When you volunteer in rescue, you are not trying to save one dog—you are trying to save as many as you can. So while that may mean seeing some of your favourites get adopted, it also means that there is another soul out there who is down on their luck and needs some help.

Casper volunteering at a retirement home.

Saving one dog is better than none, but saving 90 dogs (amount of adoptions by TAGS in 2012) is considerably more rewarding, and that’s why you should volunteer in rescue too.

Casper, looking under a canoe.
Casper Iordanis 1994 - 2008

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Nap buddies

Chappie and his little pal Wyatt
This is a blog hop. You can check out the other blogs by clicking on the picture below.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bach Flower Remedies for Pets

Help Your Pets Overcome Their Depression or Anxiety With Bach Flower Remedies

Our pets can get just as depressed or nervous as we do. Lots of situations can bring their sad side out, like the absence or loss of an owner or someone who was close to them. They can get nervous simply from going to the vet or from fireworks outside.
CC image courtesy of Lulu Hoeller on Flickr

Unfortunately, we can't make them understand that the fireworks are harmless and will go away and that only time can cure the sorrow after a beloved one's loss.

If you want to soothe your pet's nerves, TAGS recommends using Bach flower remedies, a natural option to help your pet (or even yourself) overcome such emotions. These remedies were developed by Edward Bach in the 1930s. Bach discovered that the dew found on the petals of flowers contains the healing properties of that plant.

The remedies nowadays are made from spring water infused with wildflowers, and the ones that are safe for animals (alcohol free) are preserved with glycerin. They are considered vibrational medicines and rely on the concept of "water memory." Despite often being labelled as homeopathic, they do not bear the same characteristics.

CC image courtesy of Desi on Flickr
The most common flower remedy is the Rescue Remedy, which is a mix of five Bach flower remedies:
  • Star of Bethlehem
  • Rock rose
  • Cherry plum
  • Impatiens
  • Clematis
 You can read more about these remedies here.

This is a great and natural solution to help soothe the mind of you and your pets!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Boston Pizza Celebrity Server Event!

You are invited to attend the Boston Pizza Celebrity Server Event!

This Wednesday, March 13th, volunteers from TAGS will be pairing up with servers at Boston Pizza (Whitby North location) to serve you and your friends hot, delicious meals between 5:00 and 8:00p.m. 

We are so excited about this fundraising event because it allows us to meet more members of our community. Also, since part of the proceeds from the food sales are going to TAGS, the event will raise money for our rescue dogs, some of whom desperately need some help.

Photo by : Robert Duncan
Look at the picture above and slowly count to five. 

Still not convinced that you should spend your Wednesday night with us? Here are the top reasons why you should attend the Boston Pizza Celebrity Server Event: 

1. You get to eat pizza! (and other delicious menu items)
2. It's on hump day. Sharing a meal with friends or family is the perfect way to start the second half of your week.  
3. 10% of the food sales from the night will be donated directly to TAGS, which will help us pay for things like vet bills and dog food.
4. You will get to meet some wonderful volunteers from TAGS!

RSVP on our event page and invite your friends. See you on Wednesday! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Donate to the Shyla Fund—Meet Shyla

When I visited Shyla at her foster home, I wasn't sure what to expect.

I knew that she was a sick dog with lots of problems, so I tried to prepare myself to see a depressed and weak little dog. Fortunately, Shyla's condition hasn't affected the way she sees the world.

Shyla sees the world as if she has to make friends with everyone she meets. She barked at me only once and sniffed my hand when I offered it to her, and then it was all about love and kisses. She seems to be a jolly little girl who does lots of tail wagging and would be even more energetic if it wasn't for her sickness.

She arrived at TAGS in terrible shapeshe was almost bald, and her nails were all curled up. Her foster parents and TAGS tried everything to bring life back into this loving dog, but we ultimately realized there was more to her condition than just unkemptness. It turned out that she was suffering from allergic reactions. We had lots of tests done, but to this day, we are still not sure what she is allergic to.

Her allergies have become an everyday part of her life. She has to wear a cone and boots most of the time. This is the only way to prevent her scratching herself until she's bleeding. When I was there, she showed admirable self-control when it came to scratching, but sometimes she just couldn't help herself and was trying to relieve her discomfort by rubbing against the furniture or the floor. Imagine how hard it must be for a dog to resist when we humans sometimes can't.

On top of her allergy issues, lumps were discovered in Shyla's tummy not long ago, and she had to have surgery to remove them. During my visit, she was still a little bit tired from her surgery. The good news is that the lumps turned out to be benign. Her post-operation healing, though, has been really hard on her. She was throwing up a lot and felt very weak. By the time I visited her, she was a little bit better and livelier. It seems that the only barrier between Shyla and a good, full life is her consistent allergies.

With your donations to the Shyla Fund, we can continue doing tests on her and, hopefully, end her suffering as soon as possible and, ultimately, get this little girl a forever home!

Click here to watch a video of Shyla.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: An old friend visiting

Do you remember Goofy? He was adopted from TAGS not long ago. Here he is visiting us in PetSmart and greeting a Boxer puppy!

This is a blog hop. You can check out the other blogs by clicking on the picture below.

Friday, March 1, 2013

February Adoptions!

Wow! For a short month, February sure was busy! 

We are so excited to announce that seven dogs and two cats formerly in the TAGS program have now found their fur-ever homes!

(Please click on the image to see a larger version.)
In the spirit of rescue, and perhaps because some of us still have a bit of leftover Valentine's Day sap hanging around, I would like to say this: 

Thank you to everyone who helped these animals find homes. While each and every TAGS volunteer is passionate about saving lives, we couldn't possibly be so successful without the help of people like you, our readers. By sharing our Facebook photos, re-tweeting our pictures, and spreading the word in general that we have so many fantastic animals available for adoption, you are truly helping to make a difference. 

"You can't change the world by saving one animal, 
but you can change the world for that animal." 
- unknown
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