Coping with the Loss of a Pet

Dealing with the loss of a pet is never easy. Tikken, my Golden Retriever, passed in February of 2013, and over four years later I still have moments when I talk about her, and  I need to stop because the loss still hurts. I know that I am not alone.

I recently had a friend lose her dog, and she contacted me to asked if I know of any pet loss support groups. A week later I finished reading a book on canine cognitive dysfunction that listed several online resources to help people when they lose a pet. I have posted those resources here and will add to this list whenever I find other such resources.

Grief Resources

Argus Institute Counseling and Support Services (Colorado State University) – http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/vth/diagnostic-and-support/argus/Pages/default.aspx

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement – http://www.aplb.org/

Lightning Strike Pet Loss Support – http://www.lightning-strike.com/index.htm

 

©8MAR18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Book Review – Remember Me? Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction by Eileen Anderson

I would recommend that anyone with an older dog read this book. Thanks to modern veterinary medicine our dogs are living longer, and that means that they are more susceptible to age-related disorders like arthritis and dementia. In the past 21 years, I have lived with six dogs that lived into their teens. Three of them, fifty percent, experienced varying levels of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, or what some call “doggie dementia.” I have friends and colleagues that have had dogs that also experienced this disorder. As the owner of a boarding kennel and daycare, I can say, anecdotally, that the incidence of doggie dementia seems to be increasing. That is why I recommend that you read this book.

Author Eileen Anderson starts by sharing the story of her Rat Terrier Cricket and how dementia affected both of their lives. She discusses the symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, the importance of getting a veterinary diagnosis, and various treatment options. Anderson also explains how to manage your dog’s environment and daily routines to minimize stress for the dog and you. I like that she emphasizes that caring for a dog with this disorder will impact your life and can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster.  Anderson stresses the importance of taking good care of yourself if you want to be able to do the best for your dog.

The author’s guidelines on how to help your dog face specific challenges such as drinking, eating, elimination, hygiene, sleeping and basic movement are all very helpful. I love that she has discussed the importance of mental enrichment to help keep your dog’s mind engaged. Mental stimulation is something that I recommended with a young dog, long before you need to worry about dementia, but I find often overlooked until it is too late. If you are not already providing your dog with frequent mental stimulus, talk to a reward-based trainer and ask how they can help.

Anderson discusses medications and supplements that can be helpful in managing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. The one area where I differ with her is on the topic of nutrition. I would recommend any pet owner work with a holistic veterinarian to develop a diet made of fresh whole foods, rather than feeding highly processed food from a bag. Nutrition is the foundation of good mental, physical, and emotional health and that starts with fresh food, whether we are a person or a pet.

At the end of the book, there are recommendations on techniques you can use for objectively assessing your dog’s quality of life and on factors to consider when making that difficult decision about euthanasia.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Assessing Pets’ Welfare Using Brambell’s Five Freedomshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/01/animal-welfare-assessing-pets-welfare-using-brambells-five-freedoms/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Podcast – The Special Needs of Senior Pets with Dr. Mark Hanks from Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinichttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/02/25/podcast-the-special-needs-of-senior-pets-with-dr-mark-hanks-from-kindred-spirits-veterinary-clinic/

Web Sites

The website companion to Remember Me?http://dogdementia.com/

Grief Resources

Argus Institute Counseling and Support Services (Colorado State University)http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/vth/diagnostic-and-support/argus/Pages/default.aspx

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavementhttp://www.aplb.org/

Lightning Strike Pet Loss Supporthttp://www.lightning-strike.com/index.htm

 

©8-Mar-17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Podcast – We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)! – part 1

< Click to Listen to Podcast>

<A companion piece to this podcast was published in the March 2017 edition of Downeast Dog NewsAdopting A Pet – We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)!>

If you have a puppy or dog selected, or are thinking about getting a canine companion, this show will help you prepare for your new dog.

This episode of The Woof Meow Show on March 4th, 2017, and part 2 of this show, which will air on March 11th, are companion shows to our January 14th and 21st shows entitled Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family. Kate and Don discuss what you need to be thinking about before you bring your new friend home. They start off by talking about your attitude and the need for patience. Don and Kate also emphasize the need for you to have the time to raise a puppy, especially during the puppy’s critical development stages. They discuss the importance and necessity of selecting a veterinarian, a groomer, and a trainer before you bring the dog home. (How to choose a dog trainer). They also discuss supplies you need (baby gates, collars, leashes, ID tags, ID microchips, water bowls, food bowls, toys, and chewies,).

Pet food and treats are addressed in the second segment of the show. Don and Kate explain why it is important to do your research and become an educated consumer. You will get lots of recommendations as to what to feed your new dog and you need to recognize most of this information is biased because the person recommending it gains financially if you purchase it. That includes breeders, veterinarians, animal shelters, rescues and even Don and Kate at Green Acres. (Pet Nutrition – What Do You Feed Your Dog?)

In the last segment of the show, Kate and Don discuss socialization and habituation (Puppy Socialization and Habituation) which is far more important than teaching your puppy to shake or sit. They explain the critical period when this needs to occur and what the typical puppy needs to be exposed to before they are sixteen weeks of age.

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on The Pulse AM620, WZON, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://www.wzonthepulse.com or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show and can be downloaded at www.woofmeowshow.com and the Apple iTunes store.

< Click to Listen to Podcast>

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Finding the right dog for you and your familyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/16/adopting-a-pet-finding-the-right-dog-for-you-and-your-family/

How to choose a dog trainerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

 

 Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 1http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-14Finding_the_Right_Dog_for_You_and_Your_FamilyPart-1.mp3

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 2http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-21Finding_the_Right_Dog_for_You_and_Your_FamilyPart-2.mp3

How to choose a dog trainer – http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-07How_to_Choose_A_Dog_Trainer.mp3

The benefits of training your dog and 2017 Training Classes at Green Acres – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/12/12/podcast-the-benefits-of-training-your-dog-and-2017-training-classes-at-green-acres/

 

©4MAR16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Adopting A Pet – We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)!

< A version of this article was published in the
March 2017 issue of Downeast Dog News>

<  UPDATED – 3SEP17 >

We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)!

Prior Planning Makes for Success

By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA

In January Kate and I did a two-part series on The Woof Meow Show (woofmeowshow.com) about finding the right dog for you and your family. You can read a companion article and get a link to the podcast here (Finding the right dog for you and your family). This column discusses what to do after you have found your dog but before you bring them home.

Adjust your schedule and priorities – Your new puppy is going to need significant time from you, especially during the first few months. A puppy has a key developmental period between eight to sixteen weeks of age, during which certain things need to happen if you want a well-adjusted puppy. This is not something you can postpone until you have time. Block off time in your daily schedule for your pup now, and stick to your commitment. Get other family members to pledge to do their part as well. It takes a family to raise a puppy.

Learn to accept, laugh and relax and ALWAYS be kind –   Your attitude and emotions will be a big factor in your pups happiness and readiness to bond with you. Trust me, dogs read us better than many of our closest human friends, and if you become angry with your dog, it will damage your relationship. Understand that a new dog, whether a puppy, a senior or anything in between, will need you to be patient and understanding. Accept the fact that both you and your dog will find one another frustrating at times. Rather than get mad, laugh and relax. Dogs like kind people with a good sense of humor.

Determine how you will handle your puppy’s housetraining – Your puppy will not housetrain themselves and will need someone present to take them out several times during the day. This need will continue for the first few months of their life. A rule of thumb for how many hours a puppy can “hold it” is their age in months plus one. For example, a four-month-old puppy will be able to “hold it” for five hours, at most. If you work all day long, you need a plan now, if you want your pup to become housetrained. Leaving a puppy in a room or an X-Pen while you are gone is just rewarding them for going to the bathroom inside, which will make training them to go outside take that much longer. If you cannot be there for your puppy, consider hiring a friend or family member to help you.

Make an appointment with your veterinarian for your puppy for the second day they are with you – No matter where you get your puppy, even if it is from your most trusted friend, take them to your veterinarian for their first wellness exam within twenty-four hours of your bringing them home. Make this appointment well in advance, so you are not delayed because your veterinarian’s schedule is booked.

Consider pet insurance – If you want to protect yourself against future major expenses, the time to consider pet insurance is when your dog is young, as it does not cover preexisting conditions. I recently had a client who adopted a new puppy that was diagnosed with a heart condition at their first appointment. While this is rare, it can happen. There are many pet insurance options available, so do your research.

Select a qualified trainer and enroll you and your puppy in a Puppy Headstart class – Do this now, before you have the puppy, so that you can make sure there is room in the class when your puppy arrives. Every dog will benefit from training, as will you, and the relationship between you and your dog. Developmentally, a puppy will benefit starting in class when they are eight to nine weeks of age, definitely before 16 weeks of age, when socialization windows close. A well-designed puppy class will focus on important issues like; socialization and habituation, housetraining, play biting, jumping up on people, and chewing. These are vastly more important at this stage than working on things like sit and shake. Working with a professional, certified, reward-based dog trainer can greatly simplify your life.

  • If you enroll in class, you are more likely to train your dog,
  • a trainer can answer your questions as they come up, and
  • a trainer can teach you how to avoid unintentionally training behaviors you do not want.

Do not just choose a trainer solely based on location, convenience or price. Training is an unregulated profession, and not all trainers are created equal. (How to choose a dog trainer)

Purchase Basic Supplies – You will need some basic supplies for your puppy. Minimally, these include a crate, a leash, a collar, an ID tag, food and water bowls, and toys.

Purchase Food and Treats – What you feed your pet and use for treats is a big decision, which can have significant effects on your puppy’s health. I believe that quality nutrition is the key to health and a long life. Be skeptical of television ads for pet food. The pet foods that you most often see advertised on TV are currently facing a lawsuit for misleading advertising. Avoid anyone suggesting that one and only one food is the best food for all pets. Recognize that breeders, veterinarians, pet stores, shelters; and others trying to sell you food, have a bias. Either commit to learning about pet nutrition, or find someone you can trust to help you.

Find a groomer – Not all dogs will need a professional groomer for their coat, but unless you plan on trimming your dog’s nails on your own, you will need the services of a professional groomer every four to six weeks. If you have a long-haired dog; Poodle, Doodle, Sheltie, etc., you will want your dog to start to become familiar with the grooming process between 8 and 16 weeks of age. I suggest a minimum of two to three visits to the groomer during this period, not for a full grooming, but just to have some “happy time” with the groomer and for your dog to become habituated to the process.

Have fun and enjoy your new companion – If you think I have made raising a puppy sound like lots of work that is because it is. However, the more you know and plan ahead of time the easier it is. The investment you make in your puppy will be paid back in fun and companionship.

 

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Finding the right dog for you and your familyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/16/adopting-a-pet-finding-the-right-dog-for-you-and-your-family/

How to choose a dog trainerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

Does My Dogs Breed Matter? – Parts 1, 2 & 3http://bit.ly/DoesDogBreedMatter

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 1http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-14Finding_the_Right_Dog_for_You_and_Your_FamilyPart-1.mp3

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 2http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-21Finding_the_Right_Dog_for_You_and_Your_FamilyPart-2.mp3

How to choose a dog trainer – http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-07How_to_Choose_A_Dog_Trainer.mp3

The benefits of training your dog and 2017 Training Classes at Green Acres – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/12/12/podcast-the-benefits-of-training-your-dog-and-2017-training-classes-at-green-acres/

 

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

©4MAR17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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