Sunday, June 30, 2013

June Adoptions!

They say every dog has its day, and this month, that was the case for nine TAGS dogs who had their luck turn around when they were adopted into new homes! 

Please click on the image to view a larger version.
We love hearing from our adoptive families to find out how their new furry family member is doing. Here's what we've heard so far about the dogs adopted in June:

Tiny is a one-and-a-half-year-old Rottweiler mix. She came to us from a pound in Sudbury, and this fantastic dog didn't have to wait long to find her new home (we love when that happens!). Tiny now lives with two other dogs on a five-acre piece of land with access to a lake. Her new owners say she is always the first into the water and has even learned how to blow bubbles!

Tex is a one-year-old shepherd mix who is now named Tubbs! Tex was adopted with Yukon, a one-year-old Lab and heeler mix who has been renamed Crockett. Being so close in age, these two make great playmates for each other, and they bonded with their new family quickly.

Tex and Yukon (now Tubbs and Crockett) with their new parents.
 Check out that smile on Crockett's face! 
Scooter is a Pomeranian mix who was dropped off in a "doggy drop box" at a pound after it was closed for the night. Despite being abandoned in such a cruel way, Scooter has a great personality and so much love to give. This furry guy loves attention, and if you pet him just the right way, he makes cute little snorting sounds!

Scooter with his new dad. 
Pecan is a senior cocker spaniel who came to TAGS as an owner surrender. Pecan is hard of hearing but otherwise healthy and still has some spunk. Unfortunately, Pecan's previous owners allowed her ears to become very infected and inflamed but she received treatment from TAGS, and her new family has reported that she is doing much better.

Pecan visited TAGS volunteers in a PetSmart
 recently to show off her new family.
Congratulations to all of the dogs who were adopted this month!

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If you've ever adopted a dog or cat from TAGS, we want to hear from you! Write to us about your furry friend, and we will share your story on our blog. We want to know about their likes, dislikes, quirks, anything! Please don't forget to attach new photos, as well! You can send your stories (200-300 words, please) as a private message to our Facebook page or email it to 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Small Dogs vs. Big Dogs

Some dogs are small and some are big. The end.

Just kidding.

Today’s post is less about actual size and more about how small dogs are treated compared to their larger canine friends because how we treat small dogs has, in many ways, facilitated the widespread notion that all small dogs bark a lot and are aggressive.

As a TAGS volunteer, I have met many fantastic dogs who are up for adoption. When I’m in pet stores doing outreach, I often hear families who are looking for a dog say that they don’t want a small dog because they are known to be aggressive and therefore not good with kids. While it’s true that we have dogs up for adoption who we would not recommend to a family with small children, this is not a blanket statement for all of our small dogs. Some of our larger dogs are also not suited for a life with kids, and some of our small dogs would be great with anyone and everyone.

Every small dog I have ever met is yappy, and you want me to believe that it’s just a stereotype?

It’s a common assumption that because these dogs are little, they bark more and act tough as compensation when they feel the need to defend themselves against strangers and larger animals. Being defensive is unfortunately common for some dogs depending on what they have experienced in their lives, but that said, it’s not all about size. Dogs probably don’t even know that size means anything in the human world. Big or little, a dog who is taught or encouraged to be defensive, protective or dominant is going to display that behaviour. Moreover, any dog, regardless of size, can feel intimidated by another dog or animal or human. Why else have so many large dogs been put in their place by a cat? Why do I know a Lab who is afraid of pugs?

Sheldon is a small breed, and yet he didn't make a peep
when he visited students at UOIT and Durham College. 
But I trained both of my dogs and my terrier barks all the time, while my husky is quiet. 

Whether you are aware of it or not, the way humans treat small dogs compared to large dogs is a major factor in the way that smaller breeds conduct themselves. Even if they were trained in the same obedience class as a large breed, their “yappy and aggressive” behaviour can emerge over time based on day-to-day interactions. For example, when a small dog growls or tries to “act tough,” it is common for people to think this behaviour is not a concern because the dog is small. Some people even think it is cute that the dog is trying to “act like a big dog.” If your German shepherd were to bare his teeth and growl at your guest, too, would it be so cute? I doubt it.

 Other ways we treat small dogs differently than large dogs

At the TAGS dog park, all dogs wait nicely
for a treat, no matter what their size is! 
Giving attention/Greeting new people: When small dogs are looking for attention or for a treat, they might go up on their hind legs and rest their front paws on their owner’s legs, some even jump up into this position until they are told to sit for their treat. However, it’s likely that you trained your large breed to go straight into the sitting position or else risk being knocked over.

Going on a walk: While on a walk, large dogs who are considered to be good at walking on a leash are not allowed to pull and generally walk beside or behind their owner. Smaller breeds pull, too, but because they are small and easy to scoop up or otherwise control, owners do not worry as much about their little dog leading up front.

Playing: If you wouldn't feel comfortable letting a large dog  nibble on your hand during playtime, then don't let the little one do it either!

So what does all this have to do with small dogs being yappy or aggressive? 

While pulling on a walk is not necessarily a sign of aggression, it is similar in the mind of the dog. If your Chihuahua is allowed to jump up, pull on a walk and otherwise do anything he wants, then why isn’t he allowed to bark at everyone? Why can’t he growl in the dog park when he’s allowed to growl at home? These are all types of dominant behaviour, but “yappy” and “aggressive” have become the buzz words for small breeds because these are the habits that are most noticeable to others.

Help break the cycle!

Rocky at PetSmart a few months ago.
Rocky has since been adopted
Dogs bark, it's true, but learning how our actions can affect our dog's behaviour is key, especially if they are little and often allowed to get away with negative behaviour. Take note of when you might be treating your little dog differently, and work on correcting your own habits. In time, the dog's habits will improve, too, and people will notice: During a PetSmart shift with Rocky, a customer commented on how quiet he was "for a little dog." While the ultimate goal is to not have it be assumed in the first place that Rocky would be loud just because he's part Chihuahua, part miniature pinscher, maybe that woman has a slightly different perspective on small dogs now.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: TAGS Goes to the Mall!

Volunteers Wendy, Nicky and Jenn were at the Oshawa Centre on Sunday to promote TAGS.
The big red dog got a bunch of hugs throughout the day from kids passing by! 

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

Monday, June 24, 2013

Agility: Fun for You and Your Dog!

This week, TAGS is launching its first ever agility course with trainer Emma Joynson! This series of six classes is only $120 and starts Wednesday, June 26, at 7 p.m.

What is agility? you may ask. Agility is a fun dog sport through which the dog and handler work together to complete an obstacle course.  In this six-week course, as the handler, you will learn to train your dog to run through tunnels and chutes, leap over jumps, and climb a teeter-totter, among other things—all on your command.
Emma and her dog Cobain (Coby to some)

We asked Emma to give us a little more information about agility and who could participate in agility training.

TAGS: What are the benefits of agility training?
Emma: The benefits are countless. First, the bond that is formed between dog and owner by working together is a major benefit. Agility brings together many aspects, including obedience, focus and drive. The end result is the dog being worked both physically and mentally, which is essential to a happy dog. Both dog and owner are learning and getting exercise in a fun and safe environment.

TAGS: What skills does my dog need to have to begin agility training?
To start agility training, only the essentials are needed. I think the two most important are a decent sit/stay and recall (neither of which need to be absolutely perfect, of course, but the basic knowledge should be there).

TAGS: Can an old dog learn agility?
Emma: Yes! Any dog of any age, breed or size can learn and excel in agility!

TAGS: What if I’m not in shape? Can I still do agility with my dog? What skills do I need to have?
Emma: The beauty of agility is that you don’t have to be in shape to participate! While the sport certainly will get you out and moving, we will go over skill sets and training techniques that will assist you in participating in agility without having to be a marathon runner.

If you’ve read this and still aren’t sure, here are some videos of dogs running in starter-level agility trials: Hogan’s first trial and Chelsea’s first qualifying run. With only a couple months of training, your dog can participate in a trial, too! Our one word of caution for you: Agility can be addictive!

For more info or to sign up, call 905-263-TAGS or email

Featured Adoptable Dog: Tucker

Tucker is a fun-loving, active dog who is always up for some playtime. He's been looking for a new home for a year now. Originally, TAGS rescued him from a high-kill shelter in Kentucky. He's an interesting mixmany people see spaniel, English springer spaniel, Australian shepherd or even Rottweiler in him. Tucker will make sure you won't forget him, not just by using his natural good looks but by showing off his goofy behaviour, as well. You just can't say no to him!

Tucker's Hobbies
Tucker's favourite pleasure is to play with and roll around in the garbage bags in the backyard. As much as his foster parents disapprove of this behaviour, Tucker always finds a way to sneak out to enjoy a session of filth and fun. That's what he calls it, as far as we know.

He has many toys, as well, that he likes to play with. Tucker is also a big fan of cuddling on the couch, where he can be close to people.

He can "sit" and "lie down," and he is now learning to "stay."
Tucker gnawing on a bone.

He is getting very good at walking with the Gentle Leader. 

Tucker LOVES to be with people because he enjoys all the attention he can get. He gets along with other dogs well; however, sometimes he needs a little reminder about manners. Tucker likes children, but we would recommend he be in a home with older children, as he might accidentally knock the little ones down with his exuberance. 

Tucker is so handsome!
He doesn't particularly like thunder and lightning and usually hides somewhere until the storm goes away or wears a Thundershirt to help with his anxiety. 

Tucker loves to lie with his hind legs behind him, which his foster parents call "the rug." Overall, Tucker is a very active dog (but he has settled a bit lately) who requires a family that can put some time in with him and enforces clear rules and boundaries.

Tucker doing "the rug."
If you think Tucker 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.
Tucker is a beautiful mix of several breeds.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Helping Rescue Dogs Get Adopted in PetSmart

The Animal Guardian Society is a small rescue. We do not own a shelter or a wellness centre (however, it is one of our long-term goals). Therefore, if we want to keep in contact with the public or showcase our dogs, we can do so only through PetSmart (or Pet Valu, which recently became part of our weekend schedule).

PetSmart volunteers at the Whitby location
Through this sort of outreach, we get better exposure for our dogs by letting PetSmart customers meet them "in person." Seeing a dog somewhere other than on a photo is still the most efficient way to get him or her adopted. It's often hard to take a photo of a dog that will truly reveal his or her personality.

We are at PetSmart and Pet Valu (different locations) every weekend from noon until 4 p.m.(or 3 p.m. on long weekends). We usually have one to three adoptable dogs in crates and two or three volunteers who look after them and answer people's questions. This is one of the few volunteer position at TAGS that involves dealing with animals directly (others include fostering, doing home visits and transporting). We have other volunteer positions available, too, but most are ones done through interaction with a computer, not with dogs.

Are you interested in volunteering for The Animal Guardian Society? Teenagers, you can get your community service hours while helping animals in need! 

A typical PetSmart/Pet Valu shift includes:
-Setting up our table (arrange adoptable dogs' photos, folder and other brochures on the table)
-Setting up crates for the dogs
-Interacting with people who are interested in adopting or volunteering (you have to answer questions about the dog, our adoption process, adoption fees, etc.)
-Cleaning crates and our surrounding area if needed
-Representing TAGS in a professional and respectful manner

We offer a volunteer orientation for new volunteers to help them get started with TAGS or simply schedule our newcomers in PetSmart shifts to shadow our other, well-seasoned volunteers. This way, they can observe the way we work "in action." Click here to see more photos from our PetSmart shifts.

Please click here to submit an application to become a volunteer with TAGS.

Izzy at PetSmart. She's adoptable!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Patience

This is Spike, sitting patiently on the snow in the dog park last winter. Spike is one of the dogs in the TAGS program looking for his fur-ever home! Looking for a new addition for the family? Spike might be the perfect fit! Thinking about adopting? Consider adopting from The Animal Guardian Society, click here!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Oshawa Centre Community Contact Day

Are you still hesitating about volunteering? The Animal Guardian Society promotes its volunteer and foster programs every June at the Oshawa Centre. 

Our table
If you have any questions or concerns and don't want to write lengthy emails, come out and talk to some of our volunteers to get a better picture of what TAGS is about. We always need volunteers or foster homes, and you can apply online.

Some of the positions available:

-PetSmart volunteers
-Designated cameraman or -woman for our YouTube channel
-Graphic designer

We will also be selling various dog toys, dog jackets, magnets, stickers and much more in order to raise money for our dogs and cats in need.

Our big red dog has become an attraction of its own over the years. Come and take a photo with him!

Dates: June 22, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
            June 23, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Location: Oshawa Centre, 419 King Street West, Oshawa, ON L1J 2K5

Our big red dog

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Sleeping Beauty!

Shhhh! I'm taking a nap!
This is Izzy! She is available for adoption through TAGS. If you think Izzy might be the perfect fit for your family, click here to fill in an adoption application to meet her!

Monday, June 10, 2013

How to Deal With Separation Anxiety in Pets

Many owners face a pet's separation anxiety at one point, especially if their beloved pet is a rescue dog. Our pets become anxious because they don't understand why we can't just stay and play with them all day instead of going to work.

Source: The Animal Guardian Society's website

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety:
  1. Whining, howling, barking
  2. Destructive chewing
  3. Urinating or defecating in the house
  4. Licking or chewing their own paws
5 Tips to Help Them Overcome Separation Anxiety
  1. Don’t make a fuss: Come and go from the house without making a big fuss over your dog, and don’t say things like, “Mommy’s going to work now, but I’ll be home soon, so be a good dog,” before you leave. Leaving your house should just be treated as regular,   everyday behaviour that is no big deal. The really hard part is coming home. Your dog will be so happy to see you, but you need to ignore him for 5 to 10 minutes when you get home. Once your dog has calmed down, you can greet him and say hello. Practise leaving for short periods of time, and build up to longer absences.
  2. Exercise: It sounds easy because it is. If your dog is good and tired, she’ll just rest until you get home instead of releasing all of her pent-up energy by being destructive.
  3. Crate train your dog: This can be an important step, especially if your dog is a destructive chewer when left alone. Not only will the dog cause damage to your belongings, but more importantly, your dog could hurt himself or swallow something dangerous. When used properly, the crate will feel like a safe place where your dog will be comfortable awaiting your return. Click here to read more about crate training.
  4. Distractions: Try leaving the TV or radio on for your dog. Hearing human voices throughout the day can be comforting. Classical music usually works well. Toys can be another good distraction for your dog. You can try stuffing a bone or a Kong with treats and peanut butter or Cheese Whiz and giving it to the dog before you leave. (If you put it in the freezer beforehand, this treat will last even longer.) Also, there are a lot of toys on the market that are designed to make your dog work to get at the treats inside. These are good options because they keep her busy and distracted from the thought of your absence. You can try other games as well, such as hiding treats and toys around the house so she has to spend time looking around to find them. The idea is to make the dog tired from her search so she will be more relaxed waiting for you to get home.
  5. Bach flower remedies: A mixture of these herbal remedies made from flower extracts can be helpful for some dogs to help ease their anxiety. These are usually more successful when some of the other techniques are used in conjunction with them. Click here to read more about Bach flower remedies.
If you are wondering what kind of exercises you could do with your dog, think no more! The Animal Guardian Society is launching agility classes in June. Click here to sign up.

Friday, June 7, 2013

5 Reasons You Should Attend a Charity Yard Sale

Every year, TAGS organizes a yard sale.

What separates it from other yard sales is the fact that at ours, all your money goes to charity. When you purchase something, keep in mind that it's going to help sick dogs like Shyla, and it may even help fund our next trip to pick up a couple of puppy mill dogs. Everybody wins hereyou get to find great treasures for a reasonable price, and our charity can add some much-needed funds to meet our tight budget. 

People cookies and dog cookies are always a bestseller!

5 Reasons You Should Come:
  1. Every penny will help homeless dogs.
  2. There's always a great selection of itemssome gently loved and even some new.
  3. You will meet other dog-loving people.
  4. You can ask our volunteers questions about volunteering, fostering or adopting.
  5. You get to enjoy some nice June weather (yes, TAGS guarantees that it won't rain by doing a special rain dance!).
Among this year's great finds are a big-dog cool-down jacket (XXL), two sets of cross-country skis, household items, furniture (such as this type of chair), doggie accessories, books and much more!

Date: June 8, 2013. 8 a.m - 1 p.m.
Location: 77 Allan Street, Port Perry, ON.

It's a relaxed, fun event every year.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Off to the Races!

Jill having fun at the Furry Friends 5K on Sunday. 
Throughout the event, Jill wore a race shirt that identified her as a dog up for adoption.
Make sure she doesn't need this shirt next year. Put in an application to adopt Jill! 

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

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