Friday, May 31, 2013

May Adoptions!

Any month in which there have been adoptions is a great month, but May 2013 was especially exciting for the volunteers at TAGS.

At the end of April, we were thrilled that a few of our senior dogs had been adopted since it is generally more difficult to find homes for them. Similarly, in May, TAGS found homes for Molly and Reimer, who, despite the fact that they are adorable, are also part of a marginalized group.

Also adopted this month was Boomer, who had been waiting for his fur-ever home for some time. However, Boomer's story just goes to show that patience is a virtue. The perfect family came along, and we couldn't be happier for Boomer and his new family. 

Click on the image to view a larger version. 
Oakley is a purebred Siberian husky who is almost two years old. This energetic guy came to TAGS when his family couldn't take care of him anymore, and he's happy to have found a home where he will have lots of opportunity to play and just be a dog!

Molly is a 10-month-old female black Lab mix. Molly loves to play with just about anyone who wants to play with her, no matter what their species may be! Molly is very affectionate, friendly and sociable, so it comes as no surprise that she has found a home.

Reimer is a one-year-old black Lab and blue heeler mix, which basically makes him look like a mini-Lab. Reimer came to TAGS from a high-kill pound in Tennessee and has been thoroughly enjoying his time in Canada so far. This guy's tail never stops wagging, and he loves to greet every dog and human he lays eyes on with a sniff and a smile.

Boomer is a greyhound mix who is almost four years old. Boomer is considered to be a compassionate alpha who loves to exercise, especially if said exercise involves chasing a ball. Not much is known about Boomer's life before he joined the TAGS family, but he used to be very cautious of newcomers. With help from dedicated volunteers and Brooklin Pet Care, who fostered him, he has become the dog everyone knew he could be.

Congratulations, everyone! 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Boomer's Happy Tail—Every Dog Deserves a Second Chance (Part 2)

Part 1 of this article can be found in our June newsletter. Click here to read it.

We had a dog, Buddy, for 11 years. We rescued him from the Port Perry pound when he was a puppy, but we had to say goodbye to Buddy last October. At first, we all agreed not to get another dog. As time passed and the emptiness remained, though, our son Alan decided we needed to get another one. I decided to start looking at the pounds and shelters. We would never consider a store or a breeder! When I saw how many dogs are out there in need of good homes, I knew we had to get another dog.  

After briefly considering adopting from the Humane Society, I started looking at rescue organizations, and I found TAGS. The entire experience was amazing. TAGS wants to find the right homes for their rescues. The application process, home visits, adoptioneverythinghave been great. I cannot say enough about our positive experience with TAGS and how amazingly happy we are with Boomer, the dog we ultimately adoptedand the fact that Boomer is happy with us!

We met seven TAGS dogs, but our entire family felt a connection with Boomer right away. We requested a home visit that week, and that Saturday, we picked Boomer up for his weeklong extended visit with us. Within one day, we knew that Boomer was staying.
And Boomer stayed
We were a little concerned at first about “the incident” that caused Boomer to have to wear a muzzle at the dog park, and because we met Boomer inside, we never did see him play with other dogs. We didn’t get any scary vibe from Boomer, and we witnessed him meeting a couple of dogs for the first time that day, and he just wagged his tail. What drew us to Boomer was the fact that he is very smart and that he seemed to truly want to please his human companions. He walked well on a leash and knew the basics of sit, come, stay, and paw. The fact that he had been in a shelter for over a year just made us want him even more. This intelligent loving dog needed a home. 

During our extended visit, Boomer was very curious yet cautious about everything and everyone he saw.  He had clearly not had a lot of life experiences. The following Saturday, we officially adopted Boomer. 

Boomer in his new home
Since Boomer has been with us (five weeks now), he has settled in very well. Our 18-year-old son, Alan, and Boomer are now inseparable! Boomer will follow him anywhere anytime. We have had Boomer out visiting and we have had friends and dogs visit us, and we have had no issues with Boomer being “aggressive” in any situation! Boomer is a poster dog for second chances, in my opinion. Thanks to TAGS for rescuing Boomer and to Nick for working with Boomer and showing him that not all people are bad. Boomer has come to trust us now. It has taken some time, but I think he now knows he is truly HOME.


Susan Griffiths 
Adopter of Boomer

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: A Dog's Dream Came True

Boomer could not be happier in his new home, where he has become a full-time soccer player!

This is a blog hop. Check out the other participating blogs as well by clicking on the image below.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Puppy Mill Dogs

It is an unfortunate reality in our society that puppy mills exist. Puppy mill dogs are typically kept in extremely harsh conditions, and receive very little, if any, human interaction, resulting in a mix of poor health and socialization / behaviour issues.

Due to their lack of human contact, they are usually quite wary of all humans—not just the bigger more intimidating humans, but even the small friendly-sounding humans. This fear can be displayed in many ways, but the most common is aggression or timidity.
Princess, her picture taken the day she came to TAGS, and the day she was adopted. What a difference!

Neither of these behaviours is very desirable. To make matters worse, if it is a medium to large dog, aggression can often result in euthanization.

The only good thing about this situation, if you can call any of it good, is that puppy mill dogs typically are very well socialized with other dogs. This makes finding them a home relatively easier since they get along with pretty much everybody who has four legs.

Many dogs who come from puppy mills or breeding situations have minor health issues, especially when they first arrive at a rescue, due to the unsanitary conditions they lived in. A little bit of tender love and care, though, will bring them back to health.

Occasionally, a puppy mill dog will have developed an issue from lack of exercise or growing up in a cage. This is sometimes referred to as "floppy bottom," or having a general lack of muscle tone. This issue can be fixed usually just by walking or getting regular exercise, but some dogs will have permanent defects as a result of growing up in an enclosure. As long as the dog is not in any pain, he or she can live a happy second life.
Little Sophia came from a Mennonite puppy mill in southern Ontario.
 Such a cutie pie! Notice anything? She is missing her right eye, but that hasn't slowed her down!

One issue you really need to be aware of when taking home a puppy mill dog is that these dogs have not been trained to eliminate outside (unless the foster home has done potty training). For their entire lives, they have peed and poohed where they livein their house. This means that when you adopt a puppy mill dog, you should expect the same to happen in your house.

A poster advertising the five dogs taken from the Missouri
puppy mill. I made the poster and dubbed them
"The Missouri 5"
In some cases, puppy mill dogs that have grown up in elevated wire cages require the sensation of the wire beneath their paws to induce them to eliminate. That will get the neighbours talkingwhy do they have chain-link fencing laid out on their back lawn?     

On St. Patrick's Day 2012, TAGS took five small dogs from a puppy mill in Missouri. Dubbed the Missouri 5, they were taken to one (super) foster home. All five of these dogs were given Irish-themed names for St. Patrick's Day. So far, all but one have been adopted. Josie is the lone ranger waiting for her fur-ever home. She was particularly more cautious of humans than the others but has almost done an about-face and now approaches humans who she does not see as a threat.

Housetraining and people training a puppy mill dog is often a long-term process and cannot be done in the span of 30 minutes, despite what you see on TV. But I'm sure if you were to ask any of the adopters of the Missouri 5 dogs, they will tell you the long-term challenge leads to even greater reward!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Featured Adoptable Dog: Chaco

Chaco is a sweet giant with lots of love to give. He's been waiting for a forever home for nearly three years. He was found as a stray in Kentucky and was then placed in a pound. He was on death row when TAGS heard about him and rescued him. He knows that Canada will be the place where he will finally find a family who loves him unconditionally. 

Chaco's Hobbies
Chaco is the kind of dog who is quiet in the house when nothing is happening but will get super-excited if he detects that there is something going on. He likes to play with stuffed animals, squeaky toys and balls.
I want to play!

Chaco knows how to "sit" and "stay."

An enthusiastic boy, Chaco tends to pull when on a walk, but his foster mom is working on his training him with a Gentle Leader. 

It's sunny!
Chaco is picky when it comes to choosing his buddies. He doesn't like busy, crowded dog parks, and he can be dominant with dogs that he doesn't yet know. But he does get along well with his foster siblings, Josie and Diesel.

His foster mom recommends for him a home with no other dogs, cats or small kids (ages 14+ would be preferable). As a high-energy dog, Chaco would be happiest as part of an active family. Please give Chaco a chance! He's got many wonderful qualities, but he often gets overlooked because of his fur colour (read more about black dog syndrome here) or his size.

If you think Chaco may be the dog for you, don't hesitate to fill out an adoption application form so you can meet him! More details about him can be found on our website.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Weekend Family Program - Whitevale Spring Festival

Now that winter has finally given up trying to stay with us for the rest of the year, we must take advantage of the nice weather.

If you've been planning on getting out of the house and doing something with the family, plan no morethe upcoming Whitevale Festival in Pickering is a great opportunity for a lovely family day. Everybody will find activities to suit them. Past events have included a bake sale, book sale, beer tent, games, petting zoo, face painting and much more!

Watch this teaser promo of the upcoming festival.

The Animal Guardian Society will have a booth there, as well. We'll have a variety of doggy collars, dog toys, jackets, magnets and lots of other adorable knickknacks for sale. All proceeds go to helping our animals in need (such as Shyla's treatments).

Our volunteers will be more than happy to answer your questions about adopting, volunteering, fostering or donating. We hope to see you there!

Date: May 25, 2013 (10 a.m - 4 p.m.)
Location: Whitevale Village
You can RSVP on our Facebook page.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Ohmmm...Ohmmm...

Scooter meditates while using a newly discovered
chin rest during a PetSmart shift. What a goof! 
This is a blog hop. Check out the other blogs by clicking on the picture below.

Monday, May 20, 2013

How to Prepare Your Dog for the Fireworks

This article originally appeared in our official newsletter for the month of May. To get more informative articles and sweet tales from the life of a rescue group, sign up for our newsletter today!

Caution: Seasonal Noise Aheadthunder

The arrival of hot weather and national holidays (like Victoria Day) aren't always reasons to celebrate. Especially for noise-phobic dogs.

For them, hot weather means thunderstorms. National holidays mean fireworks. And these phenomena can mean reactions ranging from anxious panting to panic attacks. It may also mean trembling, drooling or whining; pacing or barking; urinating or vomiting.

If you own a dog with such nervousness, it means bearing helpless witness to your pet's extreme fear. Fortunately, there are various ways to deal with your animal's distress. The first is to defuse the situation before it begins. Play a tape of the sounds of thunder (or fireworks) at a low volume for brief intervals, adjusting the volume according to your dog's responses. But if a thunderstorm or fireworks display has already started, there are several coping strategies you can try:
  1. Divert your dog's attention. Turn on the radio or TV, engage in some active games, and be generous with the treats. 
  2. Provide your dog with a dark, comfortable place to hide, such as a dog crate, the inside of a closet or a folded blanket under the bed. Being tucked away in a small, snug space allows your dog to feel more secure and muffles the noise outside.

  3. Buy dog-appeasing pheromones (their scent is similar to those released by nursing mother dogs), available in sprays, diffusers and collars.
  4. Bind a form-fitting, fabric wrap or thick, woven shirt tightly around your dog. Both garments are meant to touch certain pressure points in your dog's body, slowing down the heart, reducing knots of tension and helping to promote relaxation. 
If, however, your pet's anxieties escalate, there are two remaining alternatives: working with a qualified dog therapist to learn behaviour modification techniques or asking your vet to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication.

But, whichever path you choose, follow it with kindness, patience and love. Think back to the sounds that frightened you as a child, and you'll know just how your precious pet is feeling.

This article originally appeared in our official newsletter for the month of May. To get more informative articles and sweet tales from the life of a rescue group, sign up for our newsletter today!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Paws for Mental Health: Ontario Shores 2k Paws-a-Thon Dog Walk


On Sunday, May 26, 2013, all are welcome to attend the Paws for Mental Health 2k Paws-a-Thon Dog Walk!

Sunday, May 26, 2013
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
700 Gordon Street, Whitby

Did you know that 1 in 5 Canadians experience mental illness severe enough to affect their daily activities? The sad reality is that even more than that will become affected by mental illness or affected by the mental illness of someone close to them. 

Did you know that dogs are effective in helping to relieve stress, anxiety, depression and and other aspects of mental illness?

This event will showcase the therapeutic benefits and joys that dogs bring!

When you support Ontario Shores, you are providing patients with specialized, recovery-focused mental health care and the benefits of a broad range of innovative research. You also join the important and growing public conversation about mental health. This walk-a-thon event will support the building of a new Family Resource Centre and Staff Health and Wellness programs at Ontario Shores. 

Also, The Animal Guardian Society (that's us!) will be joining dog lovers, owners and those supporting Ontario Shores in what should be a lovely afternoon! We will have a booth, staffed by our knowledgeable volunteers. Purchase some of our exciting gift items, including TAGS T-shirts, doggy jackets, magnets, stickers and toys.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Diesel's Little Friend

"This is my friend Red Squeaky Ball. You may throw him if you'd like." 
Diesel will chase anything that squeaks!
If you'd like to play with him, apply to adopt Diesel today! 

This is a blog hop. Check out the other blogs by clicking on the picture below.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Furry Friends 5K Charity Run for Pets

If you want to receive a special race kit, you have only two more days to register for the Furry Friends 5K.  

Early pickup of the kits will be available on Friday, May 31 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, June 1 from noon to 5 p.m. at Running Free, 26 Church St. S. Ajax (near corner of Hwy. 2 and Church). Please note that you will still need to pick up your timing chip at the event.
If you want to wait to register at the event, you can, but an additional $5 will be charged.

Learn to Run With Your Dog

Now you can participate in "Learn to run with your dog" sessions, in case you are running with your furry buddy. Please contact Running Free in Ajax. We need at least 5 individuals! 

Molly, a dog rescued by TAGS shares why she wants to participate:


Friday, May 10, 2013

Alternative Heartworm Prevention

After having my dogs’ blood taken for their heartworm screen, I was on pins and needles once again as I awaited the results. Getting the call that says our dogs are heartworm- and tickborne disease–free is always such a relief—especially because we don’t use our vet clinic’s recommended preventative medication.

We had put our beloved previous dog on Revolution every year, believing it to be the most responsible thing for us to do for her health). But when we adopted two dogs from TAGS, we learned about the risks of giving our dogs these medications, and after doing independent research online, we decided not to put our dogs on them. For the past two years, we have instead taken the following nonmedicinal (nontoxic) precautions:

  • Feeding a high-quality food and supplementing with fruits and vegetables
  • Using Natural Defense spray (or a homemade spray—recipe below) to repel mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks
  • Giving them garlic and brewer's yeast tablets daily
  • Putting black walnut drops into their food three times a week, as recommended by Dr. Marty Goldstein in his book The Nature of Animal Healing
  • Installing a Mosquito Magnet in the backyard to keep the bug population down
  • Avoiding buggy trails and woods, particularly in the early morning and at dusk
Scary displays and photos like this in vet clinics
frighten pet owners into doing whatever is
recommended to prevent heartworm. And rarely
are owners told heartworm is treatable.
Last year, a colleague who had given her two beautiful English bulldogs their Revolution doses faithfully every month the previous summer learned that one of her dogs had contracted heartworm regardless of the preventative medication. The cure? Much larger doses of the same active ingredient that’s in the prevention and six weeks’ crate rest except for very brief leashed excursions outside just to attend to “business.” Her experience of the prevention not working has made me feel even better about my decision not to use it.

Nevertheless, I admit, I will be on pins and needles once again next year as I await the results of my dogs' heartworm tests. Until then, we'll keep on doing what's worked so far: focusing on good nutrition and using homeopathic options.

Have any of you had experiences—good or bad—with heartworm preventatives or homeopathic options? If so, please share in the comments!

Homemade Bug Repellent for Dogs
2 cups boiling water
Branch of fresh rosemary
3 drops tea tree oil

Thinly slice lemon and place the slices in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over lemons. Add branch of fresh rosemary and tea tree oil. Let sit for 24 hours. Strain into a spray bottle. Avoid spraying in eyes or on mucous membranes. 

Note: I keep the bulk of this solution in the fridge and only small amounts in a spray bottle because it has grown mould when not refrigerated.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Love and Companionship

"Oooh, yes, I love cuddles!"
Max the cuddle bear is all cuddled up with a loving TAGS volunteer. This is an example of the love and companionship Max has to offer. If you like what you see, fill out an adoption application and come meet him!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tips for Dealing With Aggressive Eaters

When a dog is considered to be an aggressive eater, people can have a few different understandings.

Dog food aggression refers to a dog's behaving in a dominant way around his or her food. Dogs who have dog food aggression typically snarl, bark or otherwise make it known to humans and other dogs that the food is theirsand everyone else needs to back off. This behaviour is closely related to "possession aggression," whereby dogs fiercely protect their toys. 

Being an aggressive eater, however, refers to a dog's eating too quickly, perhaps from anxiety or excitement. Although the temperament of the dog could be just fine, eating too quickly is a concern as it can cause bloat, weight gain or other digestive problems. The faster they eat, the less they chew, so choking is a real concern as well. That said, aggressive eaters can have dog food aggression if they eat quickly as a result of dominance, but these are two separate issues. 

For the purposes of this post, I will provide some tips for dealing with dogs in the second category, but if you would like to read some tips about overcoming dog food aggression as it relates to dominance issues, please let us know in the comment section! We'd be happy to write a post about that topic in the upcoming weeks. 

Tips for Dealing With Aggressive Eaters

Dusty has a deep chest and a small belly so using
a slow-eat bowl makes him slow down and helps avoid bloat!
1.  Purchase a slow-eat bowl. These bowls have various compartments so the dog has to move around the bowl to get to all of the food. There are many varieties and sizes available at your local pet store that are proven to help slow down aggressive eaters. Alternatively, if you already have a metal non-tip food or water bowl, you can turn it upside down and put the food around the edges. Another option is using a muffin tin and spreading the food out for your dog to find.  

2.  Consider hand-feeding.* Not only will this technique build trust between you and your pet, it will also give you control over how much food your dog eats and how quickly. By hand-feeding, you can make sure your pup is finished chewing before feeding her more, and over time she should learn that eating slowly is the way to go. 

* This idea was contributed by Rocky's foster mom, Nancy. Due to her diligence, Rocky now eats at a normal (if not slow) pace, and Nancy has gained his complete trust when it comes to his mouth. She can check or clean his teeth or get unwanted things out of his mouth no questions asked, which, she says, is a big improvement from when he first came to stay with her!

3. Do not overfeed! Since we love our furry friends, when we see that they have finished their food quickly, only to look up at us with those eyes of theirs, it's tempting to give them more. Do not give in! This behaviour just teaches them that the faster they eat, the more food they will receive.

Happy feeding! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Me and My Shadow

The following adoption tale came to us from Nomi Berger, a TAGS volunteer.

"May I pat your dog?"
It was a question I posed to many of the dog owners I met on my early morning, fall walks around the Rosedale reservoir.
If the answer was "yes," I'd smile gratefully and bend to stroke the top of yet another warm and furry head.
"Do you have a dog?" I'd invariably be asked.
"No," I'd reply. "I'm just living vicariously."
Was it my imagination, or were the looks I'd receive slightly sad, almost pitying?
As a child growing up in a highly allergic family, I'd never owned a pet. As a woman with a successful career and an active social and cultural life, having a pet had never crossed my mind.
Then, in late middle age, I'd found myself with no family, no career (due to the diagnosis of a chronic neuromuscular disease) and a life of increasing pain and decreasing mobility.
In an effort to stay limber, I'd begun taking long walks through the city. But as time passed, and my body grew stiffer and more resistant to the concrete sidewalks, I'd turned instead to the softer earth paths of the reservoir.
It was there that I'd discovered a delightful and unexpected diversion: dog watching.
Photo courtesy of Gareth Williams.
Some of the dogs were on leashes, bouncing or plodding, sprinting or chugging, alongside their owners. Others were off leash, barking as they chased after squirrels or raced to catch bright rubber balls and frayed plastic Frisbees.
Their owners chatted easily among themselves as they strode together in pairs and in groups, calling out a cheerful "’morning" to everyone they passed—even solitary figures like me.
Oh, how I'd envied them.
Dogs and owners alike.
I'd envied their closeness. Their unique relationships. Their shared experiences. They were like privileged members of an exclusive club, bound by mutual love and loyalty and respect.
Suddenly, I wanted to be part of that club.
Throughout the winter, as my pain grew worse and my walks grew shorter, I immersed myself in all things dog. I watched every dog program on TV, even the reruns. I memorized the names of every dog breed recognized by the Westminster Kennel Club. I wept for every dog on every online rescue site.
By spring, I’d made up my mind.
I would adopt a dog.
One Saturday morning in early May, I found her.
Half maltese, half yorkshire terrier, her pert, whiskered face with  impossibly long eyelashes, gazed out at me from the computer screen.
And I fell in love.
We met in the flesh that same afternoon. And on Sunday—her third birthday—she was officially mine.
I renamed her Shadow. Because of her smoky, black and gray colouring and because, within hours of entering my world, she literally became my shadow.
In the days that followed, I was stunned by the depth of my love for her. It was a love unlike anything I'd ever felt before. Fierce and protective. So intense that it made my chest ache and brought tears to my eyes.
With her came a new routine, a broadening of my narrow world. Each morning, I'd open the baby gate to the empty storage closet I'd turned into her bedroom (complete with wallpaper, a shelf lined with dog care products and whimsical china dogs, and assorted plush toys propped up on the floor), and there she'd be.
My reason for getting up every day. The perky, welcoming presence that dulled my pain for a while. The tender, wriggling bundle of warmth that allowed me some temporary peace.
We were equal partners, Shadow and I, starting together from scratch.
Just as I'd never walked a dog before, she'd never been walked before. Her original owners had simply opened the back door of their house and let her out into their yard.
I bought a harness and leash and began our mutual training by walking her up and down the corridor outside my apartment. We then progressed to the large, landscaped garden with its stone pathways off the third floor of the apartment building itself.
I ignored the new, gnawing pain in my right shoulder and focused solely on Shadow. My goal: to become an expert dog walker while making her an expert at being walked.
Finally, after weeks of practice, I felt secure enough to attempt our first trip to the reservoir two blocks away.
My heart was pounding as I led her across a busy street for the first time. I held my breath, then slowly released it, as we crossed the second street without incident.
This was it.
I straightened my back, tightened my grip on the leash and gave it a gentle tug. Then, woman and dog moved forward in perfect synch onto the grounds of the reservoir.
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched Shadow marching along next to me on her short, slender legs. As if sensing my gaze, she turned her head and glanced up at me. I mouthed a flurry of proud, happy kisses her way, then returned my attention to the path ahead.
A woman I'd seen on many of my walks was coming toward us, her brown standard poodle, Eli, prancing regally beside her.
Once again, I held my breath.
"’Morning," she said as she drew closer.
"’Morning," I replied.
And then I waited. For her to notice.
Without breaking stride, she called back over her shoulder, "You finally got a dog! Good for you."
I could actually feel my smile as it stretched across my face.
"Y-e-s!" My free fist pumped the air. "We did it, little dog, we did it!"
Shadow's reward: not one but three of her favourite liver treats and a series of tight, ecstatic hugs.
After that, my spirits soared with every step we took along the reservoir's wide path.
"’Morning" came the usual greeting, as dogs and owners passed us, in pairs and in groups.
"’Morning," I echoed, nearly giddy with excitement now.
I was oblivious to my body as I walked, longer and faster than I'd been able to walk in months.
I felt a space opening up around me, like a pair of welcoming arms, granting me access, at last, to that exclusive club, and issuing me a lifetime membership.
For as long as I had my Shadow.

To read more heart-warming stories like this, sign up for our monthly newsletter. Click here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Dawson's Photoshoot

The winner of our Facebook caption contest is Dena Elliott! We all loved her sweet and witty caption (see below). Thank you to everyone who played. Don't worry if you didn't win this timewe have more contests like this coming up.

Dawson (middle) was recently adopted! Check out which other pets got adopted in April! Click here.

This is also a blog hop. Check out the other blogs by clicking on the picture below.

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