“Paws & Effect,” written by Sharon Sakson, is a tail-wagging good read that focuses on the remarkable impact of the relationship between humans and canines. Sakson creatively utilizes each chapter to convey factual and anecdotal information related to, among other things, the therapeutic role of the human-canine bond. “Paws & Effect” provides readers with an in-depth look into the foundational beginnings and current roles of assistance dogs to promote independence and overall wellness in humans. In addition to learning about the therapeutic impact of assistance dogs, readers can expect to learn about the astounding nature of military working dogs and the incredible bond formed between these animals and their handlers. Sakson bravely takes a dive into controversial topics by providing scientific insight into seizure alert dogs and olfactory detection of melanoma from our furry friends. “Paws & Effect” displays a phenomenal balance between personal accounts and existing scientific evidence of the healing power of dogs in mitigating physical and mental ailments in their human counterparts. An exquisite read, “Paws & Effect” is a must-read for dog lovers near and far!
Meet Maggie Mae! She is a beautiful Australian Shepherd whose adoption story will really tug at your heartstrings! Maggie is a snuggle bug with a wiggle butt that will surely make you smile!
- Name: Maggie Mae
- How I Got My Name: My human’s mother decided I looked more like a Maggie Mae than a Luna Mae, like she considered naming me.
- Breed: Australian Shepherd
- Nickname: Maggie Moo, Magoo, Miss Mae, and Wiggle Butt
- Age: Approximately 7
- Adoption Date: October 2014
- Adoption Story: I was running wild through the streets of Fishing Creek when a lady saw me and made efforts to bring me closer to her. She only had Chinese food and pizza for leftovers, which I sneakily made my very own. She gently welcomed me indoors and showered me with love and a warm bath. Upon my surprise, she had two furry friends in her tiny home, but there was no place for me to run and play. She posted flyers, knocked on doors, and made Facebook posts to find my previous owners or a new home. No one claimed me from the flyers, and others reported they had seen me running around for weeks. That’s when my now human momma asked to give me a home. She then took me to a vet to be checked for a microchip and to be well cared for. I had a long recovery from malnutrition, mange, and various allergic reactions, but my momma loved me more than ever, and I stayed by her side. At first, she let me live with her parents because she needed to return to school. She then found a home that suited both her and I! While living with my grandparents, I spent my time snuggling and playing, and soon my scars healed, my hair grew back, and I comforted my human companions with butt wiggles. I am now living with my human momma and am an only dog surrounded by lots of love!
- Best Tricks: I do this pretty nifty trick where I randomly throw myself on the ground, roll over, and get endless belly rubs and treats. I also sit, stay, roll over, hug, jump, and bark on command!
- Collar Color I Sport Best: Maroon! It brings out my beautiful fur features!
- My Fur Family: Me…and only me!
- Favorite Fur Friends: I most enjoy Dallas, a big, loving bulldog, who lives with my grandparents! I am also very fond of the twice daily company of a wiggle butt Corgi that always stops outside my home to say hi!
- Favorite Activities: My all-time favorite things to do include sunbathing, taking long walks, snuggling my humans, playing tug, and begging for food and treats.
- Favorite Toy: I love my moose stuffed animal, marrowbones stuffed with peanut butter, and a tattered rope tug toy. Nothing beats a good play session with my toys!
- Favorite Treats/Food: I love, love, love my (Xylitol-free) peanut butter, cooked green beans, and peas. I have some allergies, however, that require me to eat gluten free food and treats!
- Favorite Memories of Pet: I once taught myself to roll over, and my human momma tells me that this is her all-time favorite memory of me!
- Life Lessons Learned From Maggie:
- Always comfort a friend.
- Long walks and sunsets can soothe and calm any bad day.
- Be the weight… then they can’t move or leave!
I find myself in a strange home. Unfamiliar scents. Unfamiliar sights. I find comfort in her presence and get scared when she leaves. I know the signs. She’s putting on her shoes. Please don’t grab your coat. Won’t you stay a little longer? I can tell she’s in a hurry. I notice her brows are furrowed, and the outline of her lips are facing down, not up like they usually are. Is she scared too? I’m worried about her. My breathing gets heavier, so she looks into my scared eyes and comforts me. She tells me she’ll be back soon, but I’m afraid. She turns the TV on, so I won’t feel so alone. She grabs her key — a surefire sign she’ll soon be walking out the door. First, she puts me in my crate which is somewhere I feel safe. Her T-shirt she left with me gives me comfort as I await her return. What’s that? The door unlocks, and a familiar sight unfolds. There she is. My person. I’m safe now.
There it is. It’s loud and thunderous like a battlefield. It echoes like a child screaming into a cave. Echo, echo, echo. It looms high, bright, and beautiful in the sky for just a moment. Boom. There goes another one. They light up the night sky. I run and hide into my safe place under the bed. I shake. My breathing gets heavier as I await another inevitable boom. The boom of each firework shakes me to my core. When will it end?
This is anxiety. More specifically, this is anxiety through the eyes of Pinella. Throughout her days as a service-dog-in-training, Pinella underwent observations which ultimately deemed her too anxious for service dog work. Some of my very first recollections of life with Pinella involved preparing her for situations, wherein we had to be separated. As a young puppy, goodbyes were often accompanied by fear and distress. My heart ached to witness her feeling emotionally uneasy. We practiced goodbyes, slowly increasing the duration of time spent away from one another. First, it was a few seconds. We very gradually moved from minutes to hours. Reunions were coupled with praise and positive reinforcement for desirable behaviors she displayed upon being separated and while apart (i.e., no destructive chewing, urinating, defecating, barking, et cetera). It is often suggested that the root origin of separation anxiety in dogs is linked to fear of abandonment. It took many test runs of leaving and returning, leaving and returning, and leaving and returning for Pinella to understand that separation was temporary. Together, we mitigated her anxiety by creating an exciting, enjoyable goodbye ritual. She learned that, while goodbyes are necessary, they aren’t to occur without the accompaniment of a peanut butter snack or, more recently, treats in her tricky treat ball.
Separation anxiety is suggested to affect 14 percent of our nation’s pets (Kriss, 2019). It is my personal speculation, however, that this number is highly underestimated as separation anxiety is often overlooked and ascribed to a dog who “misbehaves” or “has bad manners.” It is not the dog’s responsibility to “wise up” and “fix” their problematic behaviors. Rather, it begins with responsible dog owners whose duty it is to become familiar with their pet’s body language, cues, and signals. Kriss (2019) suggests that signs of anxiety in dogs include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Tense body posture
- Lip smacking
- Hypersensitivity to sights or sounds (i.e., alertness to the possible sound of their owner’s return)
- Barking, growling, howling
- Defecation, urination
- Destructive chewing
- Pacing and restlessness
- Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
Familiarity with your pet’s body language, cues, and signals begins with first understanding the context in which their problematic behaviors occur. As such, examine whether or not your dog displays any of the aforementioned signs upon your departure from the home. For example, does the dog begin pacing and panting when you go to the closet and grab your coat and shoes? If so, this may be an indication of separation anxiety. If these kinds of behaviors occur across many different contexts, there may be a larger issue at hand aside from separation anxiety.
While some anxiety is healthy and normal, it can become problematic when the dog’s response is disproportionate to that which is average. The latter has been repeatedly exemplified with Pinella’s fear of fireworks. This specific fear, also referred to as a phobia, developed while on a walk one evening. Neighbors were setting off fireworks, and we inconveniently found ourselves in the crossfire. She froze, unable to move. Shaken to the core, she looked at me with fear in her eyes. There existed no amount of praise or treats that would have enticed her and reassured her that she was safe to keep walking.
Since that incident, I have done extensive desensitization training and counterconditioning work with Pinella to help mitigate her symptomology. While she has demonstrated decreased anxiety symptoms, holidays, such as Independence Day and Memorial Day, continue to be most challenging. What is most frustrating, however, is the unpredictable nature of firework displays. I fully support pre-planned displays at previously determined locations. I think it’s wonderful that we, as a society, can come together and celebrate our nation, its freedom, and the veterans who fought for it. What I find problematic, however, are the displays we see in neighborhoods — those that are unpredictable, unplanned, and unbeknownst to all until it’s essentially too late. We owe it to our nation’s veterans, anxious pets, and all individuals with exaggerated startle responses to be mindful of how unpredictable firework displays can worsen psychological symptomology.
When Pinella developed a fear of fireworks, we immediately began working together to create an environment where she would feel safe, comfortable, and confident. As holidays, such as the aforementioned, approach I find myself with a freezer filled with peanut butter Kongs and marrow bones filled with organic pumpkin. At the sound of the first firework, she will retreat to her safe space under my bed where she has free access to her treats. The curtains are drawn. The television and fans are turned on to provide ambient background noise. Through studying and assessing her body language, I have learned that, while she enjoys my company, constant comfort and too much invasion on her personal space results in increased anxiety. For that reason, I often find myself staying in the same room as her while allowing her to check-in with me when she needs to. When you have an anxious pet, it’s important to know what triggers them as well as what comforts them. Here are some tips to help you in developing a plan to care for and comfort your beloved fur friend:
The aforementioned information highlights the debilitating and unnerving experiences that are commonplace to many of our four-legged companions. The prevalence of anxiety-related issues in pets is alarming. As responsible pet owners, it is our duty and moral obligation to understand what our pets are communicating to us and, in turn, identify sensible solutions to make them more calm, confident, and comfortable!
Thanks for taking time out of your day to read another Sit, Stay, Blog post! Don’t forget to Like and Follow us on Facebook, Twitter,and Instagram! If you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to see your pet featured on Pets on the Net!, leave a comment below or submit your information on Sit, Stay, Blog’s Contact page! 🙂
Until next time,
Casey, R. (n.d.). How common is separation anxiety? Retrieved from https://www.dogstrustdogschool.org.uk/behaviour/separation-anxiety/how-common-is-separation-anxiety/.
Kriss, R. (2019). Understanding, preventing, and treating dog anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/treating-dog-anxiety/.
Until Tuesday is a tail-wagging good read that focuses on the intimate relationship between a veteran and his service dog, Tuesday. Luis Carlos Montalvan, deemed a “highly decorated captain” in the U.S. Army, served two tours in Iraq. Post-Iraq, he found himself experiencing a host of mental and physical disabilities. Montalvan reports that the crippling aftermath of serving in combat caused him to experience debilitating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and chronic physical pain. He coped unhealthily, often relying on alcohol, isolation, and alienation from others as a means to manage every day life. Each day was seemingly a constant battle for Montalvan “until Tuesday.” Tuesday was a beautiful golden retriever trained by East Coast Assistance Dogs. Through his training, Tuesday learned many cues, including how to open doors, turn on lights, and sense and respond to the onset of anxiety and flashbacks. For Montalvan, he did just that and more. Tuesday connected with Montalvan like none other and provided him with the service he needed to more healthily manage both his mental and physical disabilities. Through Until Tuesday, readers learn about the manifestation of posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, alcoholism, depression, and physical ailments in Montalvan’s life. We learn about the horrific extent of the many issues that our nation’s veterans face upon reintegrating into civilian life, and we gain a first-hand account of the therapeutic and healing power of the human-canine relationship. With Tuesday’s help, Montalvan developed the confidence and courage to become a nationally recognized advocate for veterans with PTSD. Until Tuesday provides an avenue for readers to learn about “man and dog,” “war and healing,” “ability and disability,” and “spiritual restoration.”
Montalvan reportedly died by suicide in 2016. In memoriam of a national hero, thank you for your service. Thank you, Tuesday, for your gift of life that you provided to your partner in the years leading to his death.
More books by Luis Carlos Montalvan:
Tuesday Tucks Me In (Children’s Book)
Tuesday Takes Me There (Children’s Book)
Meet Luca! Luca is a beautiful, two-and-a-half year old Pyrenees who teaches the value of calmness and patience. She’s a beautiful little lady who certainly knows how to steal the hearts of those she meets!
- Name: Luca
- How I Got My Name: Out of nearly 4,000 names, Luca is the only one my owners could agree on! It might have helped sway them that my dad’s name was Luzenac!
- Breed: Great Pyrenees
- Nickname: Einstein
- Age: 2.5 years young!
- Birthdate: August 27, 2016
- Adoption Story: My owners have always wanted to raise a Great Pyrenees from puppyhood, and so along came me into their lives!
- Collar Color I Sport Best: Black and gold!
- My Fur Family: I have two fur siblings, Rory and Mardi. Rory is a Yorkie, and Mardi is a mixed breed. Word on the street has it that they will also be featured on Pets on the Net! soon!
- Favorite Fur Friends: Rory, Mardi, and Finn, of course!
- Favorite Activities: I enjoy walking and playing ball, although I most enjoy ball-playing in the house! It is also a favorite pastime of mine to play with Mardi! Lucky for me, I also have two human playmates as well – my owners’ granddaughters!
- Favorite Toys: I hope it’s not too cliché, but I really favor my tennis ball! Boy, I have tons of fun romping around with that in the house!
- Favorite Treats/Food: Tail Banger Cookies – yum!!
- Life Lesson Learned from Luca: The thing about Luca is that she’s known for being the calmest in the pack. She teaches her fur friends and human family the value of patience in this ever-busy, ever-demanding world we live in!
Meet Vincent! Vinny is described as a “lazy” little puggly-wuggly fur friend who teaches you how to love and be loved. He’s a remarkable little fella who knows how to steal hearts and take naps!
- Name: Vincent Paterno Keiser
- How I Got My Name: I am named after the greatest college football coach, Joe Paterno, PSU Football!
- Breed: Pug
- Nickname: Vinny, Vinny Bumper, Bumps, Chubbs, Baby boy
- Age: 4 years young!
- Birthdate: November 21, 2014
- Adoption Story: My sister (Phoebe) and I thought we had our forever home all figured out. Unfortunately, plans had changed, and we quickly became foster kids. We kept our hopes high that we would be able to stay together; however, we knew that it might not be possible because we can be very hyper together. Luckily, we found a forever home with two other Pugs (Abby and Lucy and later on, Clarice) when an animal-loving family took both of us home!
- Best Tricks: One thing I have mastered and a skill that can never be taken away from me is my ability to make food disappear!
- Collar Color I Sport Best: I have always preferred the “birthday suit,” “nudity” kind of look, but when my human sister (Hannah) makes me exercise, I settle for wearing my blue harness!
- My Fur Family: My fur sisters are Phoebe, Lucy, and Clarice who are also all pugs like me! I also have three cat siblings, Nelly, Mo, and Kobe!
- Favorite Fur Friends: I like my sister, Phoebe, the best, but sometimes me and Lucy play together!
- Favorite Activities: My all time favorite things to do include sleeping all the time and taking trips to the beach with my human family (If it ain’t a dog-friendly beach house, it ain’t for us!)!
- Favorite Toy: I love squeaky and conveniently play with him before bed time.
- Favorite Treats/Food: My daddy always gives me puppy food, but sometimes mommy spoils me and shares cheeseballs and powdered donuts with me. They are my favorite!
- Life Lesson Learned From Vinny: “Accept yourself. As you can see by Vinny’s photos, he does not care about his figure. He is not too interested in exercising and accepts himself as he is. We all love him for that! He doesn’t compare himself to his sisters who are a lot smaller than he is. I think we can learn a lot from him by not wasting so much time changing or hating ourselves.”
Welcome back, Sit, Stay, & Bloggers! A new year is upon us! Do you subscribe to the “new year, new me” mantra? Did you set a new year’s resolution? We’re officially one month into the new year. Some of you are excelling beyond expectation at your new year’s goals, while others might have dismissed their resolutions altogether. Whatever your status, you set a goal, and that’s progress in and of itself! Be proud!
You might notice some “New year, new me” progress here at Sit, Stay, Blog in the form of a new website design as well as a new domain (www.sit-stay-blog.net)! I’m very excited to share these changes and updates with my readers and hope that it will propel me into a successful year of blogging!
The end of 2018 marked a special time for me — I completed my master’s degree! This monumental experience has reminded me about the importance of pausing to reflect inward on who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m headed. Through this self-reflection, I’ve learned something: I’ve been chasing happiness.
Chasing happiness is a strange concept. On one hand, you’re trying to achieve happiness (a positive). On the other hand, you’re missing out on life as you’re trying to get there (a negative). As I reflected on where I’ve been, I realized that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time striving to live in the future. “I can’t wait until this semester is over.” “I’ll be happier once I move.” “Life will be easier when I have a 9:00 to 5:00 job.” These statements are a reflection of my eagerness to achieve whatever goals I had set for myself; however, they also represent a grim reality of how we, as a society, operate on a day-to-day basis. We wake up on a Monday thinking, “I can’t wait until Friday.” When we are faced with something we don’t want to do, we can’t wait until it’s over with. We are eager. We chase happiness. We push aside our ability to be mindful of the present so that we can invest all of our energy into whatever a future of happiness looks like. I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with this sense of eagerness in striving for happiness in life. For me, however, I’ve learned it’s important to consider the process in how I get there.
Self-reflection can teach you a lot. More recently, it has taught me that, at any given moment, you are in control of how you feel. You have the power to choose happiness or chase it. You can choose to find happiness in the smile given to you by a passerby. You can choose to be happy about the wet doggy kiss your four-legged friend just greeted you with as you walked in the door after a long, hard workday. Perhaps you can choose to be happy about the teachers who have provided you with the education necessary to read this blog post. In the most simplest form, you can choose to feel happy about the beat of your heart that allowed you to wake up this morning and start anew.
This sounds like a relatively simple concept. However, it requires a change in your frame of reference, and change is difficult. We are a society that resists change because it’s much more comfortable to stick to the status quo. I’ve chosen to embark on this new year with the goal of finding happiness each and every day. I am working to eliminate phrases such as “I can’t wait for…” from my vocabulary and instead am choosing to focus on more present day events that spark my happiness. In this first month of 2019, I have actively chosen to feel happy about settling into my new home, spending time at home relaxing with Pinella and Alex, receiving three job offers, increasing my presence at my favorite service dog organization, reading a new book that broadens my political knowledge base, revamping the look and style of Sit, Stay, Blog, and the list goes on. As this year progresses, I hope to continue to be more conscientious and deliberate about finding a way to celebrate all positivity, big or small, while minimizing my exposure to negative energy.
Understanding the difference between choosing and chasing happiness is step one. Step two includes implementing action steps into your daily routine to promote feelings of happiness. Action steps include activities that allow you to be more mindful, present, and in touch with your everyday experiences. While not an exhaustive list, below are some of the strategies I employ to reach a state of mindfulness to ensure happiness:
- Reading a book
- Spending time with an animal (Animals live in the present and are wonderful models to their human counterparts about how to be mindful)
- Coloring/getting crafty
- Unplugging from social media
- Recognizing your five senses (paying attention to how things look, smell, sound, taste, and feel)
- And much, much more!
2019 will be a year of firsts for me. It is the first time in 20 years that my identity will include something other than being a student. I will embark on a new lifestyle that includes full-time employment. I will teach and be taught many new things. I will care for others and be cared for. I will strive to live my life in the present. Most importantly, I will choose happiness.
Thanks for taking time out of your day to read another Sit, Stay, Blog post! Don’t forget to Like and Follow us on Facebook and Twitter! If you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to see your pet featured on Pets on the Net!, leave a comment below or submit your information on Sit, Stay, Blog’s Contact page! 🙂
Until next time,