Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy – Regenerative Medicine

 

By Dr. Radica Raj, DVM

Dr Radica Spanky

What is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)?

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) is a cutting-edge treatment that is available at a fraction of the cost of stem cell therapy and has been used successfully for years in both human and equine medicine.

PRP has now been introduced in the treatment of cats and dogs all over the world and the success rate and  effectiveness of this therapy is causing a rapid growth in its popularity.

How Does PRP Therapy Work?

The science behind PRP therapy is quite complex but the underlying principle is simple. Blood is drawn from your pet. Use of the patient’s own blood (autologous blood) to obtain the platelets helps eliminate the risk of disease transmission or allergic reactions. The blood sample is then centrifuged to get PRP. This PRP is then injected into the patient.

When the platelets are injected into the affected area, they break open and release multiple growth factors which bring about tissue repair and healing.
PRP therapy can be used to alleviate pain, repair damaged tissue in some cases and prevent rapid progression of degenerative joint disease.
It works well for both cats and dogs.Dr Radica PRP 1

What Does  PRP Therapy Help Treat?

PRP therapy is primarily used to promote the healing of musculoskeletal conditions caused by either injury or illness.

It is used in these conditions: tendonitis, partial ligament tears, luxating patellas, intervertebral disk disease (back and neck pain), osteoarthritis, elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia and in some cases, skin and dental issues.

How Effective is PRP?

There is an abundance of Clinical and research data that has shown PRP therapy can be effective in  treating new injuries as well as chronic cases.

PRP therapy has produced great results both as a stand-alone treatment and also as an augmentation to other treatments such as medication, supplements, physical therapy and exercise.

Is PRP Right for Your Pet?Dr Radica PRP 2

PRP therapy is an option that you should discuss with your veterinarian especially if your pet has musculoskeletal issues or degenerative joint disease, including spondylosis as well as intervertebral disk disease.

PRP treatment is relatively affordable and there is an extremely low risk of injury or adverse reaction.

The Soul of a Dog

5 Qualities of Being You Can Learn from Your Pooch

By Amanda Ree Ringnalda of Sama Dog

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The soul of a dog is a very special expression of consciousness, as anyone who has ever known and loved a dog well understands. Animals have the capacity to teach us reverent, timeless spiritual truths simply by being who they are.

An indicator of progress along your spiritual path is when you start to see or “recognize” spirit within other beings. As your heart awakens to the Divine light shining within all souls, life becomes more rich, meaningful, and fulfilling. We naturally come to treat all other beings with more reverence, kindness and respect. This is ultimately the path of yoga (the Sanskrit word for union.)

Let’s take a closer look at five qualities of being you can learn from your marvelous dog friends.top pic 13

Living in the Moment

This is a profound spiritual teaching all animals have mastered. Sure, a stimulus of some kind can trigger a memory in their minds, which then prompts a certain reaction. But soon after, animals always return to the present moment. It’s their most natural state of being. Just as time spent around a friend who is light-hearted and upbeat can make your perspective more positive, spending time around a being who is entirely present helps bring you to that state as well.

Just look deep into your dog’s eyes and feel how that moment engulfs you. When dogs gaze back at us, with their non-judgmental awareness and total acceptance, we’re able to surrender to the experience and be entirely present in return. Dogs don’t have hang-ups about time or aging, or worry about what they’re going to do about some future event that may or may not happen. Their concept of time is completely different from ours. Think of when you step outside to get the mail and come back inside to a celebration as if you’d been gone a year! The mind of a dog is easily able to rest on just one thought for a duration of time. Imagine your pup at the park… play, play, play, oh! Sniff, sniff, sniff, ah! Ball, ball, ball… you get the idea. Imagine an existence with so few thoughts! Ahhh…

Acceptance

This is a state of being which is capable of changing our entire life experience. When we’re able to completely surrender to what is, an inner stillness sets in and we lose the incessant desire to control every situation and outcome.

Pay close attention to how your dog demonstrates acceptance. Pause a couple times today to observe when and how they display this quality of being. Notice how they’re typically content in whatever circumstances they find themselves in, as luxurious or meager as they may be. Dogs really are masters of the saying, “Let go and let God.”

Selfless ServiceSOS_6781

This is something that’s as natural to a dog as breathing. Living in the moment, they don’t have an agenda like people often do, and so this is likely why they’re able to act so selflessly; their “I, me, and mine” is out of the picture. It could be said that that their Dharma or purpose in life is selfless service, called Seva in Sanskrit. It seems that when they’re helping others and they’re cared for, they feel such joy and reward that it motivates them to do more and more of it. Sure there are times when it might not feel this way, like when they don’t come when called or sneak food off the table. But think of the joy when they finally master a new trick you’ve been trying to teach them, the way they light up from simply having pleased you.

And when it really matters, they are always willing to give what they have to offer: an excitement they can barely contain when you come home from a tiring day at work, a sweet cuddle when you’re feeling lonely, or simply that sweet, loving look in their eyes. It’s often said that a dog is the only creature who loves you more than it loves itself. There are in fact countless stories of dogs who instinctively and without any hesitation gave their own life for the sake of their human’s.

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This is ever-present in dogs and bubbles over at a moment’s notice; they’re perpetually ready for the party to begin. A dog’s natural state is bliss, also known as Ananda in Sanskrit. Their light-hearted nature and unselfconscious silliness has a tendency to rub off on whomever they come into contact with.

Have you ever been just hanging out with your dog and notice that you have a huge smile on your face? Your laughter fuels their quirky character, bringing joy to everyone around. Observing the same qualities of being from another perspective, you can see that even animals who are subject to abuse or used in animal testing have an innate peace about them, at least when they’re not in acute pain (and sometimes even then too). Their natural state is that of the witness perspective, the silent presence that observes life’s ebbs and flows without judgment, which allows bliss to be ever-present.

Desire for Unity

This is innate in most sentient beings. Our canine companions usually love nothing more than simply being near us. Even a shy dog who may not want to physically touch or get too close still prefers to be in the same room with us rather than in another. No matter where we go (even to the loo), our trusty friends want to be by our side and keep an eye on us. They’ll park themselves right next to us and most of the small ones (and sometimes even big ones) find laps to be the ideal sitting spot.

Unity (which is the definition of the word Yoga) is a dog’s default point of view; they don’t see themselves as separate from other things. They don’t have the same judgements humans tend to hold about their differences. This is demonstrated in the many cases in which different species of animals grow up together. Even if the species normally would not be friendly, or if one would typically prey on the other, as fully grown animals they will often stay bonded, comfortable around each other, and unaware of their differences.

Dogs have so much to teach us about what it means to be a good human. Their open hearts shine unconditional love and light on everyone they touch, regardless of who they may be, and encourage our hearts to blossom in turn. They are our companions not only in life, but on the spiritual path we all travel together. Just look deeply into your beloved dog’s eyes and have the first-hand experience of “Namaste” — the light within me sees the same light within you.

Unity is the Path to Healing

Reflections from My Time with Dr. Tejinder Sodhi, DVM

By Amanda Ree Ringnalda

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Recently, I had the unique opportunity to travel up to Washington to spend two inspirational weeks in the company of Dr. Tejinder Sodhi. As a holistic veterinarian who has practiced for over 30 years, Dr. Sodhi is a pioneer in integrative healing for animals and was the vet who brought Ayurveda into the the AHVMA (American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association) in 1991. He and several of his family members moved from India to the Seattle area in 1985, bringing with them rich knowledge about the healing sciences of the East — Ayurveda, the mind-body health system of life.

My interest in shadowing Dr. Sodhi was to get a peek into the world of holistic healing as it’s applied in the veterinary sense. Being that I’m a teacher of Ayurveda for dogs (as well as humans), and recently founded an organization called Sama Dog which aims to spread the wisdom of Ayurveda into our dog’s lives, there was no better place to learn.

His 2-story office in Bellevue, Washington is a healing hub for beings of all kinds. The upstairs space provides Ayurvedic healing for people, and the downstairs for pets. In his Bellevue clinic, as well in his second clinic in Lynnwood, WA, Dr. Sodhi offers a wide variety of holistic modalities, philosophies, treatments and procedures. He’s not only a doctor of veterinary medicine, but also a trained acupuncturist, a certified veterinary chiropractor, and a trained rehabilitation and homeopathy specialist. IMG_0634

Dr. Sodhi takes time to understand the whole picture and unique story surrounding each individual animal, learning about their background and present circumstances, and combines this with his knowledge of potential outcomes in the future. He touches and examines each furry patient extensively, and it was easy to perceive his “tuning in” to detect what was ailing each one. He was also able, in many cases, to intuitively sense how much pain the animal was in, which was oftentimes very different from what their lovable and accepting faces seemed to convey. Animals are so stoic. 

When it comes to treatment, Dr. Sodhi’s training in conventional veterinary medicine allows him to pull from more prevalent healing tools such as medication, non-invasive procedures and surgeries. As an integrative veterinarian, he also applies his knowledge and skills in acupuncture, chiropractic, nutrition and Ayurvedic herbs. As a rehabilitation center, his practice also offers recovery tools such as hydrotherapy, cold laser and massage. One of the highlights for me was to watch all the different dogs, from 6 lbs to 200 lbs, slowly submerge into the warm-water treadmill to walk their way towards healing. And they looked totally adorable while doing so!IMG_0476

In simply observing Dr. Sodhi’s multiple appointments, conversations, phone consultations and treatments, I gained a broader and clearer understanding of what is possible in holistic veterinary medicine. I was continually struck by the willingness of each pet parent to do whatever it took to help their pet heal. And, more times than I would have thought, healing was possible. I heard stories and saw (yes, even in a mere 2 weeks) recovery that was truly exceptional. One who stood out to me, probably because of my affinity for Bernese Mountain Dogs, was Yoshi. This “Berner” had been seeing Dr. Sodhi for relief from his bone, joint and muscle problems. When I first met Yoshi, he was unable to walk without assistance – his loving dog-mom had to carry him in with a sling around his big hips. 3 times per week he was receiving acupuncture with electric stimulation and doing sessions on the underwater treadmill. He was also taking herbal supplements like ashwagandha, boswelia and curcumin. The image of Yoshi walking in unassisted for his appointment 2 weeks later is one that will always stay with me. Once again, I stand in awe of the healing capabilities of the body when given the right circumstances and support.  IMG_0625

The body is a healing unit with its own innate intelligence, and every one is uniquely different. This is the essence of Ayurveda. When one understands the overall picture of a particular animal and considers all layers of their being — physical, mental, emotional, energetic — their unique needs can be specifically addressed. If we can pair this deeper understanding of healing with the human companion’s loving intention, our pets can experience vibrancy and total wellbeing. 

In addition to fulfilling my intention of learning in a big way, I came away with an admiration for how the Sodhi family is “living” Ayurveda. I came to know Dr. Sodhi, his wonderful wife Sushma, his daughter Rupali who is a third year vet student and several other members of their family during our 2-week visit. By “living Ayurveda” I mean that each of them is an embodiment of conscious living… following the Ayurvedic theory, eating balancing foods, and by observing daily practices and principles which nourish them and their family most. 

Dr. Sodhi’s approach to healing truly embodies the essence of “Yoga,” or as it’s defined in Sanskrit, “union.” He serves as a bridge of Western to Eastern healing wisdom. This union creates a unique and exceptionally effective healing opportunity for all. Union is the nature of the Sodhi family and I saw this expressed in the way they have come together with their business and service endeavors; the way the staff (and tag-alongs like me) are treated as part of the family, the way they authentically connect and care for their clients and patients, and the way their overall viewpoint of wellbeing is entirely inclusive. In the end, a deeper understanding of the true essence of Yoga — union — is what I’ve come away with most. IMG_0525

Imagine if we broadened our scope of wellness for all our pets, and “beings” as a whole. Imagine the potential impact that could have on all of us. Our world. Our families and communities. Ultimately, unity is the path to healing. 

Gratitude to all those who build bridges and strengthen connections worldwide, and the enormous impact of their ripple. 

The referenced clinics are:

Animal Wellness and Rehabilitation Clinic

www.holistic-pet-care.com

Dr. Tejinder Sodhi

Bellevue, WA   (425) 455-8900

Lynwood, WA  (425) 771-6300

Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Medical Clinic (Humans)

Dr. Virender Sodhi

www.ayurvedicscience.com

 

Saathi’s Journey

Nepal to Canada

By Kate Watkin

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This past fall Kate Watkin, her mother, Marnie and some friends from Vancouver Island, visited the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre in Nepal. The ladies visiting Nepal are a part of the non-profit organization, Nepal Education Fund (NEF),that sponsors children in Nepal to go to school with the goal of getting them out of poverty.

All of the travelers are animal lovers so visiting the KAT Centre (Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre) was a perfect fit. As soon as the 6 women walked through the gate, they were instantly surrounded by curious dogs, old and young, who were longing for human touch and love.

While Kate was sitting on the hard ground petting a puppy, whose front leg was merely hanging from her body, she turned to see a white, almost completely hairless, crooked legged dog staring up at her. The connection between them was instant. Her name, Saathi, which means friend (pronounced Sati) was found abandoned at 3 months old with Rickets, from malnutrition in addition to that she was effected by mange, which was the cause of her hair loss. The workers at the KAT Centre said that Saathi was to be put down within the week as they didn’t have the funds to provide her with the care she’d needed to get better. That’s when Kate decided that she would adopt her and take her home to Vancouver Island, Canada. IMG_5294

Due to her many health issues she wouldn’t be able to fly for many more months. Without hesitation, Kate committed sponsorship of Saathi to get the proper care that she needed. Saathi would be flown home in March, when she was fully recovered and founder of NEF Susan Marshall returned. 

The day that the ladies were leaving Nepal to go home, Kate and Marnie were sitting having lunch when Kate asked one of the friends she’d met on the trip if he could take her to see Saathi one last time. So she hopped on the back of his motorcycle through the crazy streets of Nepal. Off they went! As soon as they arrived at the KAT Centre and Saathi heard Kate’s voice, she came running as fast as she could and she instantly settled comfortably into Kate’s arms. 

Leaving her wasn’t easy. Kate counted down the days until they were reunited. Finally the day arrived! March 29th 2017. Kate and Marnie drove to Vancouver pick up Saathi from the airport. The experience was far from perfect. There was concern about what kind of shape she would be in, especially after all the terrible stories they had read of dogs and other animals passing away on planes before even meeting their destination due to being mistreated and redundant during their journey. It took over two hours from the time Saathi landed to the time they were able to get her to Kate. There were stacks of paperwork to be filled out, and they had to go from building to building to paying many hidden fees that were not discussed prior. By the end of all the hoops it seemed they had to jump through to finally collect Saathi, they were sent into a cold warehouse where, of course all of the industrial equipment gets tended to before a live animal. Kate and Marnie searched the warehouse from their spot behind the locked gate when they finally spotted Saathi’s crate hidden in the corner facing the wall. They called Saathi’s name but there was no movement from inside.FullSizeRender

Finally someone arrived to help them. He walked over at a snail’s pace to bring Saathi over to the garage door A quick signature and off he went. Kate and Marnie were both terrified to look into the crate from the fear or what they would find. Besides being nearly  black from dirt and not being  given food or water for the entire 40+ hour trip, the moment Saathi saw Kate everything changed! Her tail started wagging and she jumped up and put her paw against the crate. The tears in Kate and Marnie’s eyes that were originally from fear and alarm were now spilling down their faces with joy and relief. The moment Kate opened the crate and picked Saathi up into her arms was unforgettable. Saathi knew it was all going to be okay, and that she would never have to endure anything like that again. They fed her, let her out for a short walk then were off to catch the last ferry ride home. During the drive home Saathi cuddled in close to Kate’s side and slept the whole way, exhausted from her long uncertain journey. 

The first couple weeks of being home Saathi slept a constantly and had very little energy. But after being on a proper nutritional diet and antibiotics to boost her immune system she started playing like the puppy she never got to be. She even found Kate’s book “A Dogs Purpose” and decided she didn’t like that Kate was reading about another dog, and ripped it to pieces. 

Saathi now enjoys her days being the office dog at the family owned business, where she brightens everyone’s day with her loving, playful ways. Along with cuddling with her new family which includes Rue the cat who thinks Saathi is the best thing that’s ever happened to him as she grooms his ears and lets him playfully pounce on her at any given moment.IMG_5619

From the very beginning there was always that scare that Saathi wouldn’t arrive but now that she has, Kate will tell anyone that it was the best decision she’s made. Not only has Saathi’s whole life changed, so has everyone’s who has met her. Kate says it still seems surreal that Saathi is actually there, but at the same time it feels as if Saathi’s always been there. She is finally where she belongs. 

Follow Saathi’s new journey on instagram @saathi_rescue_dog

On Guard!

By Valerie Barry, KPA-CTP

In Partnership With Dogs

www.ipwd.ca

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In today’s society, both dog owners and non dog owners have extremely high (and perhaps unrealistic) expectations of our pet dogs.  We have no tolerance for any grumpy or aggressive behaviour directed toward humans at any point in the lifetime of a dog. 

What we’re really asking is that our dogs go their entire lifetime without ever losing their temper.  Do you think any human could do the same – I certainly couldn’t and I don’t know anyone else who could either.  

One of the more challenging behaviour issues for dog owners to modify is Resource Guarding.  It’s also probably one of the most commonly misunderstood or misdiagnosed issues by dog owners.  

What is Resource Guarding?

One popular, yet dangerously inaccurate, explanation of Resource Guarding is that you have a “dominant” dog.  This is the mistaken belief that dogs are all about rank and that we need to be the “alpha” personality in any relationship we have with our dog.  Any dog that attempts to prevent us from taking anything he has must surely be acting out of his “dominant” nature and clearly views us as being on a much lower rank – right?  Nope – very, very wrong.  Entire methods and programs of training are based on the myth of the “dominant dog”, and it’s an extremely dangerous approach to take.  

Resource Guarding can be described as simply as a dog’s attempt to hold on to a valuable resource.  

“Behaviour that discourages another to take, or get too close to, an object or valued area in a dog’s possession.” (Excerpt taken from an article on Resource Guarding by Dr. Patricia McConnell, May 3, 2013.  Full article may be found at patriciamcconnell.com.)

In a dog’s world if I have it, then it’s mine – simple as that.  They are unprepared for the human tendency to want to take things from them frequently or to want to invade their personal space bubble for various reasons that are unclear to the dog.  

Many dog owners get very angry at the idea of their pet dogs refusing to give up a treasured object – “how dare he growl at me!”.  In fact, this can often be a deal breaker, and many dogs have been given up for even normal levels of resource guarding because it is so misunderstood.

All dogs have a degree of desire to hold on to resources that are valuable to them.  With some dogs, you may never see any of the behaviour associated with resource guarding during their lifetime or you may see it in only its mildest form.  

In the case of other dogs, you may see it start very early then continue and often escalate as they mature.  Resource guarding is a “normal” behaviour in that it exists in dogs.  When dogs are afraid, feel threatened or are attempting to hold on to a valued resource, they display certain behaviour.  However, extreme resource guarding behaviour, especially those displayed in the very young, can be very unsettling, potentially dangerous and most trainers and behaviourists would not consider this to be “normal” behaviour under the spectrum of resource guarding in the average dog.

Dogs commonly display resource-guarding behaviour toward:

  • Food bowls or food dispensing toys
  • Dropped food
  • Treasured toys
  • Family members
  • Sleeping locations – growling as you approach dog beds, couches, human beds or any area the dog is already occupying.
  • Dropped objects or found objects on walks
  • Stolen items like laundry or items from the garbage

What Does Resource Guarding Look Like?DSC_1782

Resource Guarding may include one or more than one behaviour displayed at the same time or added as the circumstances escalate.  

Some normal guarding behaviours can include:

  • Speeding up eating as you’re approaching a food bowl or food dispensing toy.
  • Shifting position to subtly block your approach.
  • Quick and frequent glances that may speed up as you approach.
  • Getting up and taking a toy further away from you as you approach or even just moving it a little bit further away from you as you sit beside him.
  • Moving just a little bit closer to you as a dog or stranger approaches.
  • Glancing at you out of the corner of his eye – commonly called a “whale eye” – as he attempts to keep his eyes on the prize but also track your movements (in a “whale eye” the white of the eye is visible).  
  • Somewhat frantic movements.  You may see a faster moving tail along with faster consumption, shifting back and forth as he quickly either eats or attempts to move items to a different area.  He may appear “happy” but movements are faster and more frantic than his usual friendly “happy to see you self”.
  • Low growling as you approach.

More extreme behaviours can include:

  • Growling that intensifies as you approach.  In more extreme cases, growling can become snarling with/without teeth showing.
  • Barking and lunging – often seen displayed toward an oncoming dog or person when on leash with a human.
  • Freezing – completely stilling his movements as you approach.  The freezing may be multiple, small seconds of freezing as he tracks your approach or longer moments of freezing if your approach continues.
  • Crouching or lowering his body to hover over a treasured object.
  • Hard eye – a hard open-eyed stare.  This can be directed at the person or dog approaching.  It may even appear that your dog is just staring out into space.  The hard eye while just staring at nothing in particular can be mistaken for a lack of interest in your approach and has even been mistakenly thought of as a seizure by the unaware.
  • Muzzle punches directed at the body part reaching for an item or closest to the dog.
  • Quick forward lunges with or without a snap.
  • Air snapping.  Some people assume that a dog “missed” when they witness an air snap.  Make no mistake – when a dog means to bite he bites and can do so faster than you can blink or move.  An air snap is exactly what he intends it to be – a threatening gesture without causing immediate damage.
  • Full contact bites with or without any damage – minor or significant.

Extreme resource guarders can begin guarding from great distances.  A dropped sock or Kleenex can elicit guarding behaviours from a dog who may be all the way across the room from the item.

What NOT to Do!DSC_1783_2

The absolute worst response to any resource guarding behaviour is to get into a conflict with your dog.  Not only could you get badly injured, but also the behaviour will get worse in the future.  If you were “successful” in thwarting your dog’s attempt to guard his valued resource, then you will see an escalation of his behaviour because his last attempt was not successful.  

Do not use punishment-based training techniques – period.  These methods involve forcing your dog to give in to you and/or stopping any behaviour they are displaying.  This is a dangerous path. Punishment results in your dog beginning to hide some of his earlier and subtler resource guarding behaviour.  A glance, freeze or growl may be eliminated in favor of a direct bite as he goes for more immediate success.  Positive trainers use the analogy “punishing the growl is like taking the batteries out of the smoke alarm” – there are no longer any early warning signs to heed.

Proactive Prevention of Resource Guarding Behaviour

You can begin the process of preventing resource guarding at any point with your dog.  If you have a new puppy or newly adopted dog, begin on day one.  (If you are already seeing resource guarding behaviour, please seek the help of an experienced positive trainer who uses force-free techniques before attempting any training on your own.)  

Trade vs. Take

I would get pretty darn irritated if every time somebody wanted something of mine, or wanted to sit where I’m sitting or lie where I’m lying that they simply took what they wanted or shoved me aside.

Trading for everything and taking nothing is a simple yet powerful concept and very easy to put into place.  You are essentially making your dog more comfortable about giving up things that are valuable to him.

If you want what your dog has, trade for it with something he would like just as much as what he has – ideally something that is even more valuable.  Present a raw bone – if he takes it into his mouth, then you can calmly pick up the kong.  

I encourage people to practice this a lot when it doesn’t really matter and when there is an enormous up side to the dog to make the trade.  If you practiced a lot by trading ridiculously valuable and tasty treats for toys and immediately giving the toy back – what dog isn’t going to happily go for that deal?  If your dog learns that more often than not he doesn’t lose anything permanently, in fact he gains something and gets to have back what was in his possession originally, he will start to become far happier about giving up his items.  

If you offer your dog a trade for what he has and it doesn’t work – he doesn’t happily drop what he has – then increase the value of the offer until he does.  If I offer my dogs a raw bone for their kong, they will often prefer to keep their kongs – because I’m really good at stuffing them!  I may have to offer 2 kongs to get 1 back, or I may have to offer a tasty slice of freshly cooked meat.  The point is that the dog gets to decide what constitutes a reasonable trade and what doesn’t.  Every dog puts a different value on things and it’s up to us to come up with something of matching or greater value.

When you are doing Trade vs. Take, don’t be sneaky about it – don’t offer your trade and quickly snatch away what he has while he investigates what’s up for grabs.  We need to know how he feels about the trade, otherwise future trades won’t be successful – he won’t trust your intentions.

Trading, of sorts, also works for sleeping locations.  If I want my dog to get off the couch, try calling him over and give him a very tasty treat when he complies.  If calling doesn’t work – he’s really comfy and the lure of a treat just isn’t important right now – then find a better treat or item and try again.  Yes, you are luring him off the couch in this case – but this is so much better than getting into conflict.  If you find that a lure (bribing) is needed, then the feedback to take away is that more Recall practice needs to be done.

Proactively, I always suggest that my clients try to curb any tendency to guard sleeping locations by tossing a tasty treat any time they pass by their dog sleeping or relaxing.  It’s not unusual for dogs to be a bit grumpy about being disturbed when they’re sleeping.  With enough repetitions and lots of really good treats, this simple act helps turn any potentially grumpy feelings into happy anticipation. 

The Training

In addition to helping your dog become more comfortable with giving up items or sleeping locations, training is a necessary addition to any plan for the prevention or management of resource guarding behaviour.

1. Teaching a “Drop-It” Cue

I have found no better method for teaching a solid “Drop-It” skill than the one presented by London trainer Chirag Patel and his training company Domesticated Manners.  He has done a very good video on YouTube giving you step-by-step directions to teach this cue.  (Search YouTube.com for Domesticated Manners and watch his video “Teaching Your Dog to ‘Drop’”.)  It’s brilliant in its simplicity and there are self-checks involved.  Whenever you see a lack of success, simply go back one step and do more repetitions before proceeding further.  I started this with my puppy, Jack, the first day we brought him home and after months of continuous work, there are very few things that he will not Drop on.   A well-trained “Drop It” skill helps you recover items you need to get back from your dog.  Because it’s taught using positive training, your dog is also very happy to comply – leaving absolutely no need for any bribing or conflict.

2. Teaching a “Leave It” Cue

“Leave It” is another valuable cue to have.  The one thing I don’t like about the “Leave It” is that people tend to rely on their presence to accomplish the goal vs. good training.  Having to use an angry or loud voice, intimidating body language or repeated cues means your training is not yet reliable – more practice is needed.

I use the “Leave It” cue for something that my dog does not yet have in his possession or, in the case of dogs approaching us, is still at a comfortable distance.  When my dog spots a dropped item or an approaching dog, “Leave It” results in my dog ignoring the item or dog and turning back toward me – for which he gets a lot of valuable treats and/or a quick game of tug.  If he’s off leash, he will come racing back to get his reinforcement.

The training starts with your dog being heavily reinforced for choosing eye contact and works up to choosing eye contact in exchange for an increasingly valuable array of items – ultimately off leash and at some distance away from you.  I have some video on my business Facebook page (In Partnership With Dogs) that teaches and demonstrates the process and the result of teaching “Leave It”.

3. Teaching a Solid Recall

Perhaps the most valuable cue of all is teaching your dog to “Come” when he’s called.  Aside from its obvious value in giving your dog off-leash freedom, imagine how useful it would be to be able to successfully have your dog Recall off the bed or the couch when necessary, or ignore that piece of dropped chicken on the floor in favor of racing back to you.  Many people have some version of a “Come” cue for their dogs, but few, it seems, work on it to the point where it is truly solid and likely to work most of the time.  There will always be that one exception that you just can’t easily train for that may pop up in the lifetime of your dog.  However, a lot of successful practice can easily make this cue a truly useful and reliable skill.  

What If There is an Emergency?

What if you really need to get that item away from your dog?  If your dog has something that is dangerous for him to have, then you need to do whatever you can to get it away from him.  You really need to do your best to ensure that even in an emergency the situation ultimately has a positive outcome for your dog.  Make a plan and be prepared.

If I had to drop an entire roast beef on the floor in order to save my dog from danger, I would do it in a heartbeat.  This is so much better than having to wrestle something from your dog – you may or may not be successful and you may very well do irreparable damage to your training and to your relationship with your dog.  

You need to find out what it is that your dog finds so overwhelmingly valuable that he just can’t resist it.  Find this item now, keep it on hand and use it very rarely to keep it’s value high.  

Use the highly prized item to trade for the dangerous one.  Take the added precaution of tossing the valuable item a distance from your dog, so he will be far away from what you need to get when he drops it to investigate.  In an emergency like this, you may very well need to be sneaky and quickly grab what you need while your dog is momentarily distracted.  Keep a second version of the prized item on hand in case he takes the dangerous item with him to investigate before dropping it to consume his roast.  Now, I don’t always have one or two cooked roasts on hand, but I always have leftovers of some kind, a block of cheese or meat in the freezer.  My dogs consider any sort of human protein pretty valuable even if it’s frozen and a whole ton of it dropped on the floor for them is mind blowing.

Sometimes a large handful of less valuable but quickly accessible treats tossed at a great distance away may be sufficient for your dog to drop what he has and race over to investigate.  However, if it’s not really valuable, it won’t likely work a second time.

Spend as much time training solid, useful skills as you can so emergencies just don’t happen or can be easily managed.

Some Additional NotesIMG_6086

  1. If you are seeing any signs of Resource Guarding in your dog or if you are unsure what you are seeing, please enlist the services of a professional, positive dog trainer who is experienced in this area.  Having an experienced trainer design a training plan, step you through it and be there for follow up is important and well worth the investment.  It’s not always obvious to the average dog owner when things are starting to turn around and skilled observations are necessary.  All (age-appropriate) members of the family need to be involved in the training and be coached by the trainer.  Dogs do not transfer these newly learned skills to another person easily – again, professional assistance is a must.
  1. The most critical part of any training plan is Management.  Again, an experienced professional’s advice is invaluable here.  If you have children living in your home, then management and experienced, professional advice is doubly important!
  1. You will likely find that sharing items with your dog rarely results in any resource guarding behaviour.  Many dogs are happy to chew on something that you are holding onto, join you on the couch when invited, or come over for a pat when you are already petting another dog.  This is simply a display of “when you have it, it’s yours” and is well understood by most dogs.
  1. If you have a new puppy, get to a positive reinforcement puppy class that actively practices the prevention of this behaviour.
  1. If you’re looking for a good book on the subject of Resource Guarding, check out “Mine!” by Jean Donaldson.

As always, keep it Positive, have fun with your dog and start your training now!  IMG_6087

The Unreasonableness of “Dangerous” Dog Legislation in British Columbia

 

By Rebeka Breder , BA, JD

www.brederlaw.com

dog2

 

Picture this: A friendly and playful dog, Cody, somehow escapes his backyard when his owner is out, and gets into a kerfuffle with another dog.  Apparently it’s the other dog’s fault, but there are no other witnesses other than the other dog’s guardians. Animal Control comes to the scene, seizes Cody and then phones Cody’s owner to say that Cody has been impounded and put on a destruction order.  Cody is thrown into solitary confinement for months, with very little human and dog interaction other than his owner’s occasional visits, which are at the mercy of Animal Control.  Cody’s owner does everything she can think of to convince Animal Control that Cody has never done anything like this before. Cody’s owner sends to Animal Control numerous reference letters from friends, neighbours and dog owners, who all attest to Cody’s friendly character. These letters have no effect. Instead, Animal Control pursues the destruction order through the City’s legal department.  Cody’s owner eventually gets her day in court, but at this point, Cody has deteriorated so much – both mentally and physically – that the pound keepers testify there is no hope of rehabilitating him and they have reasonable grounds to believe that Cody will do this again.  A destruction order is made, and Cody is euthanized. 

Unfortunately, this type of situation can, and does, happen in British Columbia.  Here is why.

Under the Vancouver Charter and the Community Charter, a “dangerous” dog is one who

  1. has killed or seriously injured a person,
  2. has killed or seriously injured a domestic animal, while in a public space or while on private property, other than property owned or occupied by the person responsible for the dog, or
  3. an animal control officer has reasonable grounds to believe is likely to kill or seriously injure a person.

The courts have interpreted “seriously” broadly to include any puncture to the skin, regardless of the long-term effects of the alleged injury.  “Reasonable grounds” has also been interpreted liberally by courts; as long as an Animal Control Officer testifies that he or she believes the dog will do it again, the courts can rely on their statements. Courts may consider other evidence, such as a dog’s past behaviour, and expert animal behaviourist testimony, but they do not need to do so.  Courts have wide discretion to decide whether a dog fits the definition of “dangerous”.  And if the dog falls under (a), (b) or (c), the dog is well on his or her way to death row.  dangerous_dogs

One of the many problems with the “dangerous” dog laws in British Columbia is that the process – from impoundment to trial – is unreasonably long and does not provide the “defendant” dog guardians with a fair chance to save their “Cody.”  Even if one is lucky enough to afford the thousands of dollars it takes to get legal counsel and expert witnesses, or find a lawyer willing to defend the dog at a reduced hourly rate, the dog will likely need further expensive veterinary care if he is freed from the pound. 

The other problem is that the dog can be impounded as a “dangerous” dog even if the dog does not physically injure someone or another animal. Under our current laws, Animal Control only needs to have “reasonable grounds” to believe that the dog is dangerous.  This gives far too much discretion to Animal Control officers who are often not qualified animal behaviourists to determine whether the dog is truly aggressive or dangerous.

What are your rights if you are ever faced with Animal Control or the police attempting to seize your dog? You should be aware that Animal Control officers and police often try to convince people that fighting them is useless, and that the dog owners must give up their dog. This is wrong. Not only ethically, but in law. Animal Control and police officers do not have the right to seize someone’s dog from their property, regardless of how convincing and intimidating they appear. Officers must have a warrant. If they do not have a warrant, you can politely tell them that you do not consent to releasing your dog.

If the officers have a warrant, ask them to show it to you, and ensure that the time period on the warrant corresponds with the date of their arrival to your home. If the warrant appears valid, you will need to release your dog to them. Make sure to note how many officers attended your home, and your dog’s demeanor when released to Animal Control or to the police. Very often, the dogs are friendly and simply believe they are going for a car ride. This can bode well for adding to your evidence that the dog is not truly dangerous (would a vicious dog so easily get in the car with a stranger?!). 

At the time of seizure, also make sure to ask where your dog is being taken and ask to visit your dog. You should be allowed visitation, and to bring the dog’s toys, preferred food, bedding, and other special belongings. Unfortunately, there is no law that requires shelters to allow you to visit your dog, but most shelters are understanding. As hard as it is, keep your cool and be polite when speaking to Animal Control and shelter attendants. This will help you in the long run.

Once the dog is seized, she can only be kept at the shelter for up to 21 days, unless Animal Control files a destruction application (ie: lawsuit) within that time period. If Animal Control does not file a lawsuit, you have the right (and should) demand, in writing and orally, the return of your dog. If they do not return your dog, Animal Control may be liable for damages to the dog owner for the failure to return the dog owner’s “property”. 

If a destruction application is filed in court, this begins the trial process. The first thing a dog owner should do is to seek legal counsel.  This is usually a very expensive process. If the dog owner can not afford legal representation for the entire trial, lawyers will sometimes offer a flexible fee arrangement. If money is a complete barrier, it is worth obtaining at least an initial consultation to let you know your rights, and the next steps for which to prepare.

One of the first steps the lawyer should advise the dog owner to take is to retain a qualified animal behaviourist who can conduct her own assessment of the alleged incident and overall dog’s behaviour. Note that there are many dog trainers who call themselves behaviourists, but they are often not qualified. Ask them for their qualifications in animal welfare and behaviour. They should have more than just experience with dog handling and training. They should, ideally, have a university degree that qualifies them as an animal welfare and behaviour scientist.  Essentially, they are equivalent to animal psychiatrists. 

Once the animal behaviourist is retained, she should visit and assess the dog as soon as possible. She will often recommend a prescription for medication to reduce the dog’s stress while impounded. 

The lawyer should also advise the dog owner to obtain a trial date as soon as possible. If the dog owners do not urge the court registry for an early trial date, the entire process can take well over one year. This is far too long for the dog to be impounded. There are situations where one can ask for “bail”, but the law is currently very unsettled.

The other important point is that, thanks to a 2013 Supreme Court decision in Smith v. Central Okanagan (Regional District), 2013 BCSC 228, “conditional orders” can be made. This means that even if a court considers a dog to be “dangerous” within the meaning of the legislation, the court can order the dog released on certain conditions (ie: leashed when on public property, muzzled in certain circumstances, continuation of a rehabilitation and management plan prepared by the animal behaviourist). This can be a useful bargaining tool with the Prosecution. Specifically, dog owners can agree in advance that their dog is “dangerous” on the condition that the Prosecution will not pursue a destruction order, but will instead enter into a “consent order” which allows both sides to agree to conditions of release. This “consent order” is then filed in court, and can drastically reduce the time needed for trial. A win-win for both sides. It ensures public safety while also allowing the dog to live.

There is much more to “dangerous” dog law. The above focussed only on provincial legislation in regard to destruction applications. The law is different when dealing with “aggressive” or “vicious” designations under municipal bylaws – that is a topic for another discussion. In the meantime, just remember that you have the right to fight for, and protect, your beloved dog. 

Raw versus Kibble!

Thoughts from Europe

By Dr. Nick Thompson

www.holisticvet.co.uk

canstockphoto35687857

Dogs have eaten meat for thousands of years. I do not think anyone could dispute this. They are not obligate carnivores, like cats, but they have been eating herbivore flesh-rich diets even before humans first made fire and stone weapons. 
 
Raw food, species appropriate, feeding is once again becoming popular. Is it the best way to feed? Is the domestic dog still wild at heart? Is scientifically formulated dried food the new answer to all our nutritional problems? 
 
Arguments for raw food include increased health, fewer vet bills, greater satisfaction at meal times, better stamina and athleticism, smaller, less smelly, more ‘pickupable’ stools and ease of feeding…the list goes on. But how does it stand up against the industry standard, kibble? 
Concerns about bacterial and parasite contamination, balanced nutrition, bones getting stuck and the expense of raw food need to be addressed.
 
The prime argument, however incorrect, against species appropriate feeding in dogs is the risk of picking up infections from raw meat. Kibble is sterilised and generally has a low level of contamination. Raw meat, or complete raw foods containing raw meat, are frozen in production and storage, diminishing disease organisms to minimal, often zero levels. Actually, in the UK, infectious agents in raw dog food are better regulated than human food! Worldwide, there are many more reports of human and animal infection from kibble than from raw food by a factor of hundreds. 
 
‘Complete and balanced’ is a phrase meaning meals contain all required nutrients at approved levels when fed. This is easy to do with a ultra-processed, high starch kibble because every single element of the diet can be manipulated to give the approved ‘scientifically formulated’ end result. Raw food producers, on the other hand, even though they are able to manipulate the food less, can use technology and science to create diets that meet FEDIAF, the European pet food industry watchdog, standards. 
 
Many critics of raw food, when trying to denigrate the practice, quote from the 2013 review ‘Current knowledge about the risks and benefits of raw meat–based diets for dogs and cats’, that appeared in the prestigious Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The review quotes four papers on bone obstruction in pets, totalling 229 cats and dogs. The word ‘raw’ is not mentioned anywhere, suggesting that most foreign body blockage cases studied were not due to raw bones. 
canstockphoto9736463_small
Bones are generally very beneficial to the gut, teeth and mind of pet and working dogs. Problems are rare. Kibble does not clean teeth, contrary to popular myth. 
The same goes for bloat, dilation and stomach rotation in dogs; most cases are not associated with raw food feeding. By far the majority are fed kibble-based diets. A colleague of mine tells a story of dealing routinely with an Old English Shepherd rescue at his practice. He eventually persuaded them to put all the dogs on raw. His income from bloat cases from the rescue all but dried up. 
 
The hassle and cost of raw are always a contender when I talk to clients and give talks on raw food nutrition. But they need not be. Kibble is the ultimate convenience food. That is why it is the world’s most popular method of feeding. But convenience has nothing to do with nutrition, it’s a sales pitch to the consumer! 
 
Nowadays, there are dozens of producers supplying excellent complete and balanced frozen raw food meals. Just Google ‘complete and balanced raw foods for dogs’, to see the options. Raw food is now as convenient as kibble!
 
‘Completes’ an excellent way to start feeding raw to your dog, they’re convenient, nutritious and reassuring to the newbie feeder. Prices for quality raw foods match prices, per meal, of the mid- to upper ranges of the kibble market. You get what you pay for. You cannot expect Range Rover performance if all you buy is 2-stoke fuel, after all. 
 
But raw food is not for everyone. Some dogs, if they have been on high-carb foods (all kibbles, grain-free or otherwise) all their lives, cannot maintain weight initially when moved onto quality raw. Some dogs, and they are rare, can’t cope with the new texture and flavours. Labradors, needless to say, are rarely in this group. If you cannot bring yourself to go the whole hog and go raw, then moving up the ‘spectrum of nutrition’ is the key – feed the best kibble you can, or introduce some raw meat once or twice alongside the kibble. 
 
Kibbles go from super-economy to ultra-premium brands. If you are set on kibble, look around for producers who are careful when sourcing raw ingredients. Low-temperature processing is another desirable feature. Also, when you buy kibble, buy quantities you will get through quickly, from a wholesaler with a good turnover of diets to ensure freshness. Raw Liver Photo...

 
There are, as with everything, pros and cons to raw food and kibble feeding. Look at the arguments for both. Consider both. You, and your dog are, after all, what you both eat. Nick Thompson - PastedGraphic-2
Nick Thompson - PastedGraphic-2
 
 

What is Holistic Veterinary Medicine?

By Nancy Scanlan, DVM, MS, CVA

cat eating with eyes closed

Holistic (or Integrative) Veterinary Medicine is the examination and diagnosis of an animal, considering all aspects of the animal’s life and employing all of the practitioner’s senses, as well as a combination of conventional and complementary (also known as holistic or alternative or CAVM) examinations and modalities of treatment. The word “holistic” can also be viewed as “wholistic,” involving both mind and body, and a deeper ways of looking at some conditions that are not included in a conventional veterinary examination. 

When a holistic veterinarian sees a pet, besides giving it a comprehensive physical examination, performing laboratory tests where indicated, and asking about past medical and dietary history, he/she wants to find out all about a pet’s behaviors, the relationship of pet with owner, and its environment including current diet, emotional stresses, genetics, nutrition, family relationships, hygiene and stress factors. The disease pattern is important. A disease with a lot of variations, such as Cushings disease, considered as one disease in conventional medicine, will be treated in a variety of ways depending on which pattern within that disease that an animal is demonstrating.

By a series of analytic observations and appropriate testing the goal becomes finding the true root source of the pathology, which can be different or deeper than a conventional medical diagnosis. A simple appearing symptom may have several layers of causation. Only when the true cause of the ailment has been found is there the possibility for a lasting recovery. cat_health

The holistic veterinary practitioner will then develop a treatment protocol using a wide range of therapies for healing the patient. The most effective, least invasive, and least harmful path to healing is selected. In many acute situations, treatment may involve surgery and drug therapy from conventional western technology, along with alternative techniques to provide a complementary, integrative whole. Herbs, acupuncture, nutraceuticals, or other treatment modalities may be included. In less acute situations holistic treatments may be used either along with, or instead of, conventional medicine. 

This form of treatment has great value for chronic disease, severe trauma and certain infections. In such cases it often out-performs conventional methods. It is also at this time that other treatment plans such as those listed below are brought into use. Once the symptoms have been treated, the task is not complete until the underlying disease patterns have been addressed. The patient, as well as the client, will be guided to a new level of health.

Modalities Used in Holistic Veterinary Medicineslide2


Modern Drugs, Surgery and Diagnostics:
A holistic veterinarian selects the ones which best conform to holistic traditions. They stay current on the latest advancements.
Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Acupuncture has been used in China for at least 3500 years. It is the main treatment for a quarter of the world’s population. Thousands of years of acupuncture treatment prove its efficacy, as well as thousands of current research articles. The primary aim of veterinary acupuncture is to relieve pain and to improve the function of organ systems by stimulating acupuncture points on the surface of the body. Acupuncture treatments elicit responses which decrease pain and regulate physiological processes. Acupuncture practice spans from ancient Chinese knowledge to state-of-the-art electroactupuncture. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that Qi (pronounced “Chi”), is a vital force that flows throughout the body, traveling along channels of energy flow called meridians. Acupuncture points along the meridians are treated whenever a disease condition exists that blocks the normal flow of energy along these meridians. TCM also believes that disease often is because the body’s natural processes are out of balance (excess or deficient). The aim of TCM is to bring a body back into balance using acupuncture and/or herbal formulas.

The majority of acupuncture points have lower electrical resistance and can be found by instruments called “pointfinders” which can measure the flow of electric current in the skin. 
Behavior Modification:
This incorporates ethology, biology, nutrition, pharmacology, lifestyle evaluation and aspects of modern psychotherapy. Every discipline listed here affects behavior (particularly homeopathy, Bach Flowers, acupuncture, laser therapy, and herbal medicine), disease and health. Humane considerations are often at stake.
Detox, or detoxification:
All bodies have waste products that build up at times when the liver can’t process them. Initially they are stored in the fat, but may spill over into other parts of the body. Drugs or toxic substances may also be stored there. Too many of these can cause chronic inflammation or disease. Detox is a process which helps the body eliminate them safely.
Herbal Medicine:Cannabis_Oil
Herbal medicine is a system of treatment using whole plants and plant extracts in the treatment of disease and maintenance of health. Whole plants provide a broad spectrum of desirable effects, from specialized nutrition (herbs contain vitamins and minerals that drugs do not) to synergy of the various components, and may allow lower doses of drugs to be used. They can also reduce side effects of drugs. Herbal medicine also recognizes that certain traditional methods have validity today. For instance, almost nothing but nutrients in conventional medicine allow the practitioner to safely strengthen chronically ill patients, while herbalists utilize tonic herbs as well as nutrition for this purpose. Herbal medicine has always recognized the whole body approach and that the mind and body interact in health and disease—this knowledge is reflected in the use of herbal adaptogens and alteratives. 

Various cultural systems of medicine (such as Chinese, and western European) may be used in diagnosis and prescription, in addition to current scientific knowledge. Herbs are unique in “complementary and alternative medicine” because we have a tradition informing us about their use, often dating back thousands of years. Herbalists use ancient knowledge and modern science to develop treatment plans for their patients. Herbal medicine requires that the herbalist be aware of the world around us, because the tools of the trade and the environment in which they grow may be endangered by indiscriminate use. Good herbalists are conservationists and are often active in sustainable agriculture and medical initiatives worldwide. 

Becoming involved with plants as medicine transforms veterinarians. They become aware of broader clinical effects when herbs are used, even as they become aware of the broader global effects related to their new interests. Herbal medicine is healthy for doctors as well as for pets.

Homeopathy:
Homeopathy dates back to the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates. Samuel Christian Hahnemann, a German medical doctor in the mid-1800’s, developed the system we are using today. Homeopathy works on the principle of “Similia Similibus Curentur”, or “like cures like.” When a large dose of a toxic substance is swallowed, it can produce symptoms of illness, but when a homeopathic, diluted, minute dose of the substance is given, it can reverse those same symptoms. In a similar way the drug digitalis in large doses will cause heart problems, whereas in small doses it can help heart disease. 

Homeopathic remedies are made from plants, minerals, drugs, or animal substances. Classical homeopathy seeks to treat the deepest constitutional causes of the illness. Acute prescribing addresses current symptoms.

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT):
Low-level laser light influences a number of processes in the body. It is especially good at stimulating healing, decreasing inflammation, and relieving pain. LLLT is increasingly used by a wide variety of veterinarians.

Mega-nutrients, Nutraceutical Therapy:canstockphoto35687857
Sometimes known as Orthomolecular Medicine, this uses supplemental minerals, vitamins and nutrients that correct deficiencies, prevent pathology and reverse tissue damage. Supplements are prescribed that support the organs and body tissues, aid body detoxification and assist in the healing process. Some vitamins in high doses have specific effects on specific diseases.

Nutritional Therapy:
Conventional medicine recognizes that specific diets can help in the treatment of specific diseases. Holistic diets do not have artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives and emphasize the use of whole ingredients. Proper nutrition is the best preventative medicine. Each pet patient is different and may need a different diet or additional supplements for optimum health.

Trigger Point Therapy
A trigger point can weaken a muscle by as much as 30%, and can cause both local and referred pain. Trigger point therapy will help release the trigger and provide instant relief. Owners can learn to perform this themselves.

Veterinary Chiropractic:
Chiropractic can be used to treat conditions involving the spine or muscle groups along the neck and spine. It is especially good for senior pets with difficulty in standing or walking. In chiropractic, the problem area of the back or neck is identified and through hands-on specific adjustments the problem is alleviated.

Virtually every form of medicine and therapy used in holistic medicine for humans exists for veterinary medicine. Many have programs for veterinarians which provide training and certification, or continuing education which enables veterinarians to keep up with the latest discoveries and techniques. The new and the old combine to make the future of veterinary medicine a healthier, more humane endeavor.

The Dogs of Canada

By Valerie Barry, KPA-CTP

In Partnership With Dogs

www.ipwd.ca

St John's Water Dog

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, I thought it would be fun to do some research and see what dogs are native to Canada.  Surprisingly, there are very few dogs that come from our provinces and territories.  It’s the rare and the extinct ones I find the most interesting.  I had only heard of one or maybe two before, so it was interesting research to do!

Extinct Dogs

Most dog breeds originate because of a need in society at that time like finding food or keeping safe and helping make those aspects of life easier.  Dogs themselves became domesticated out of our need for help – security, food gathering, hunting and even companionship. The following are some Canadian breeds who originated for very specific purposes and became extinct largely because of the introduction of other breeds, or the accidental introduction of new diseases, causing the early breeds to disappear entirely.

Hare Indian Dog 

The Hare Indian Dog originated in northern Canada bred by the Hare Indians.  It was thought to be a cross between a dog and a coyote (“Coydog”).  It’s size was somewhere between a fox and a coyote, with a long pointed muzzle, narrow head, erect ears and bushy coat and tail.  The coat was largely white with grey and brown colors in irregular patches. The Hare dog was bred to be small and fast and used for coursing – using speed and sight to chase and catch game.  As aboriginal hunting methods changed or declined, the Hare dog was no longer useful.  Inter breeding with other breeds of dogs eventually caused the original Hare Indian Dog to become extinct in the 19th century. 

Salish Wooly Dog

This was a small white, longhaired, Spitz-type dog developed by the native peoples of what is now Washington and British Columbia – the Coast Salish Indians.  It has been suggested that this is the only known prehistoric breed of dog that was developed solely by selective breeding.  The animal was bred for it’s very thick, white coat and was sheared once a year like a sheep to be woven into blankets (the Salish Blankets).  The dogs were kept confined from other dogs to retain the purity of the color and consistency of their coats.  

There were many claims that no dog hair was used in the weaving of the blankets found to be made by the Coast Salish Indians.  However, recent DNA evidence confirms the existence of dog hair in the very early blankets – those woven in the first half of the 19th century. The decline of the Salish dog began with the influx of Europeans in the 1800s who brought their sheep and alternate wool types (Hudson Bay blankets were introduced around that time). By 1858 the Salish Wool Dog was considered extinct as a distinct breed and the last identifiable Salish-type dog died in 1940.  The only known physical evidence of the Salish Wooly Dog is a single pelt, rediscovered in 2004, in a drawer at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

 

St. John’s Water DogNewfie statue

This breed, also known as the lesser Newfoundland or St. John’s Dog, was a known as a Landrace. A Landrace is a dog bred for purpose not because of it’s pedigree or appearance.  The formal definition of Landrace: “a dog or any livestock animal that has been bred without a formal registry, although their breeders may have kept written or informal pedigrees of their animals”.  Landrace dogs do not have breed standards so there is a lot of variety in their appearance.

The St. John’s Water Dog was the ancestor of the modern retrievers (Flat Coat, Golden, Labrador and Chesapeake Bay) as well as the ancestor to the larger Newfoundland Dog.  The St. John’s dogs were medium sized with strong, stocky bodies, thick short coats and strong, rudder-like tails.  Coloring was black with white patches on the chest and feet – “tuxedo” markings.  Writings as early as the 17th century describe these dogs accompanying Newfoundland fisherman on their boats retrieving lines and hauling nets back to the boats.  

The breed was made extinct by a combination of 2 factors:  In an attempt to encourage sheep raising, heavy taxes and restrictions were placed on dog ownership during the 19th century; and their main overseas destination, the UK, imposed long-term quarantines on all imported animals, especially dogs (1885) in an effort to eradicate rabies.  However, in both Newfoundland and the Maritimes provinces there are still many large, mixed breed dogs with many of the same characteristics of the St. John’s Dog.  The last 2 known St. John’s Dogs were photographed in 1980 at an old age having survived by living in a very remote area.

Interesting Canadian facts from my Googling:  Author Farley Mowat had a St. John’s dog named Albert.  In 1970, both Mowat and Albert appeared in an episode of the CBC series Telescope (CBC documentary series profiling notable Canadians). The episode included Mowat telling a bedtime story to his dog.  In the 1970’s Mowat made an attempt to save the breed by crossing Albert, with a Labrador Retriever. Four puppies resulted, and all had the distinctive white markings of their sire. Two puppies died and the other two were given away. One was given to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the other to Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin.  I found no further information on what became of the puppies.

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Tahltan Bear Dog

This dog was bred and raised by the Tahltan people to hunt bear and big cats.  It was described as mighty power in a small package with fox-like yips and yodels as its distinctive vocalization.  The Tahltan dogs were small – standing 14 to 17 inches at the shoulder with large, erect ears and a pointed, refined muzzle.  They had a glossy, average length dark coat with a thick undercoat and some white patches of color on their feet or chest. They had a very distinctive tail – short, bushy and carried erect.  It has been described as a shaving brush or whisk broom. The dogs were prized for their ferocity in chasing, treeing and harassing bears so hunters could more safely close in for the kill.  Despite their behaviour with bears, the dogs were thought to be highly social with people and lived in the dwellings with their families.

The Tahltan dog descended from pariah type dogs – free ranging dogs in that area that had come from prehistoric migration.  The dogs were centralized in the remote mountainous areas of northwestern British Columbia and the Southern Yukon.  The dogs flourished in the bitter cold and any attempt to move them out of their native environment caused the dogs to succumb to distemper, heat prostration and problems due to dietary change.  As explorers began venturing into their territories the breed became diluted.  There are no known living descendants past 1970 and the breed is believed to be extinct with no known genetic relationship with any current breed.

 

A Note About the Rare and the Unique

Something I noticed when I began doing some research on the various breeds native to Canada was that there were dogs advertised “for sale” for many, if not all, of the breeds thought to be extinct.  My research was by no means exhaustive and largely consisted of the internet and the various sources found within the articles and excerpts I read.  I can’t say for sure that all of the above breeds are extinct beyond the explanations offered in what I read – but I would say that it’s highly unlikely that any remain today.  

Over the course of my career I have discovered that people are attracted to the rare and the unique.  This isn’t always a good thing when it comes to living animals that we share our lives with.  If a breed of dog is not common then not as much is known about it’s health and temperament over a long period of time.  This can make for a difficult to train dog or one who is difficult to live with depending on your circumstances.  It can also make for health or dietary challenges.  If you are one of those who are attracted to a dog that no one else has, please ensure that you do a lot of research and lot of talking to knowledgeable breeders, owners and handlers of these dogs before making any decision for yourself.  Then, make sure you pick a credible source to get your dog from.  Reputable breeders and rescue groups do NOT sell dogs over the internet.  NEVER buy or sell any living animal (rare or common) this way – you are contributing to the growing increase in the “modern” puppy mills and the horrible treatment of domesticated animals we hear about all too often.

Uncommon Dogs

Here are a few dogs that aren’t extinct but they aren’t very well known.  I know that one or two of these breeds were new to me!

Canadian Eskimo Dog / Canadian Inuit Dog

The Canadian Kennel Club name for this dog is Canadian Eskimo Dog but the Government of Nunavut calls it the Canadian Inuit Dog and has made it the territory’s official animal.

The Inuit people living in the Artic regions of Canada, Alaska and Greenland first bred the Canadian Inuit dog.  It is considered to be a very ancient breed – often thought to one of North America’s oldest and rarest purebred indigenous domestic dog.  The breed is strong and resistant to the very harshest weather conditions.  It was used for sledding and hunting oxen, bear and other large animals and even used to keep polar bears away from native settlements.  It was critical to the early Inuit way of life and survival.  Around 1970 with the rise of snowmobiles and more modern ways, the numbers of the Inuit dog began to decline.  Today it is still somewhat at risk of extinction but is enjoying a rise in popularity in the UK and other northern countries thanks to many Canadian and English breeders dedicated to saving the breed. 

These dogs are powerfully built, athletic and imposing in appearance.  They are built for hard work, not speed.  The coat is thick and dense with a soft undercoat and a thick, impressive mane around the neck – larger in males than females.  Their coats can be any color or color pattern including solid white, black or silver.  Males can range up to 80 lbs and stand up to 28 inches at the shoulder.  It is a tough, intelligent dog.  The Eskimo dogs are often thought to have a stronger prey drive than many other dogs due to their use as sled dogs who often have to forage for their own food.

 

Labrador Husky

Less common than the Canadian Eskimo Dog is the Labrador Husky.  This breed is another spitz-type dog and was bred to be a very strong and very fast sled dog used primarily for transportation.  It originated in the Labrador portion of Newfoundland and Labrador.  The breed probably arrived with the Inuit people who arrived in the area around 1300 AD.  Although once closely related to other husky-type breeds, they become isolated to that area and continued to develop on their own.

The Labrador Husky is still a rare breed and not many purebred dogs are known outside of its area.  It’s a large dog weighing up to 100 lbs and standing up to 28 inches at the shoulder.   It has a muscular and distinctly stout body with a wide and heavy boned chest. The dogs have a thick double coat and can be solid white, black or grey (rare) or mixes of white and red, black, or grey.  They are said to be a friendly and intelligent breed.

As with most sled dogs, they require a lot of exercise and plenty of mental stimulation.  They shed constantly with a major shed twice a year – grooming is a daily requirement.

 

Seppala Siberian Sleddog

The Seppala is a rare working dog breed.  They share the same ancestors as the Siberian Husky but are a separate breed.  The Seppala is considered to be the working breed version and the Siberian is considered to be the show breed.  As their name suggests, they were bred for pulling a sled in cold countries.  Their coats are dense, smooth and medium length with an undercoat nearly as long as the guard hairs.  Coat color and marking is considered of little importance and the Seppala generally tends to be less flashy in appearance than other husky types.  Their ears are taller than the Siberian Husky and their bodies are longer and lighter than the Siberians.

Bred by legendary dog driver Leonhard Seppala from dogs imported into Alaska from eastern Siberia, the Seppala Siberians became famous in Alaska for their domination of the All-Alaska Sweepstakes distance race in the period from 1914 to 1917.  The Seppala was prized for it’s strong work ethic and affectionate, cooperative nature.  In 1939 the last Siberia imports, along with several of Seppala’s dogs, became the breed foundation for the Siberian Husky in Canada.

The pure, original bloodlines of the Seppala are rare and facing extinction.  They are still found in small numbers in some Canadian provinces. 

 

Common Canadian Dogs

Labrador Retriever

The Lab – quite possibly the most recognized dog and one of the most popular dogs of all time in North America and in the UK. 

The first Labs (descendants of the St. John’s Water Dog) were black and the occasional yellow or chocolate colored pups were culled.  Gradually a deep golden color, fox red and chocolate became acceptable colors.  Over time the deep golden yellow evolved into lighter yellow and even cream while the darker gold and fox red color largely disappeared.  Interest in these darker colors began to grow again and were re-established by English breeders in the 1980’s.  

Originally used as a hunting/retrieving dog, today’s Labs are used for a variety of purposes, in particular, service dogs.  

ECT Landseer

If you’ve never heard of the Landseer part of that might be due to some confusion about the breed.  A Landseer is sometimes also called a Landseer Newfoundland.  Some consider the Landseer to be just a black and white Newfoundland dog called Landseer to make the distinction between the 2 acceptable (CKC) colors of Newfies.  For others, though, the Landseer is a separate breed and is distinctly different than a Newfoundland dog.  In 1960, the FCI declared it to be a distinctively separate breed.  (The FCI – Fédération Cynologique Internationale – is an international federation of kennel clubs.)

The “new” breed is referred to as the ECT Landseer (ECT = European Continental Type).  The breed name “Landseer” came from the British painter Sir Edwin Henry Landseer.  In 1838 he created the painting A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society, which shows a dog of this breed.

According to many, the Landseer ECT is in many ways different from the Newfoundland in appearance. In general the Landseer ECTs are taller, do not have a deep chest, have shorter hair, no under wool and their long legs make them fast, untiring runners.  They are much faster and more agile than the Newfoundland dog.

 

Newfoundland Dog

The Newfie is a large working dog and was originally bred as a working dog by Newfoundland fisherman.  It is renowned for it’s strong swimming ability and excels at water rescue / lifesaving.  

The breed originated in Newfoundland and is a descendant of the St. John’s Water Dog (the Lesser Newfoundland).  The Newfies have many mastiff characteristics, which were likely a result of breeding the Lesser Newfoundland with the Portugese Mastiffs brought to Newfoundland in the 16th century.

They are considered a giant breed with weights up to 200 lb in males and heights up to 30 inches at the shoulder.  Their coat is thick, oily and water repellent – ideal for icy water temperatures.  Their double coat requires a great deal of grooming which is something to take into consideration if you’re thinking of take a Newfie into your home.  Acceptable colors in Canada are all black or black and white (the Landseer Newfoundland).  Newfies can also be all brown or all grey but these are not acceptable colors for the Canadian Kennel Club.

Newfoundland dogs were used to bolster the St. Bernard breed in the 18th century when that population was threatened by distemper.  Newfies were also used as the foundation stock for the Leonberger breed in Germany, another breed who excels at water rescue.

Today they are still used for water rescue and also considered a good family dog provided that good, positive early socialization and training takes place.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The Toller is the smallest of the retrievers.  The breed was developed in the community of Little River Harbour in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia around the beginning of the 19th century.  It was originally known as the Little River Duck Dog or the Yarmouth Toller.  Their origins are thought to be a combination of spaniels, setter and pointer-type dogs, retrievers and rabbit hounds with some farm collie thrown in.  Many have become herding as well as hunting / retrieving dogs hence the farm collie inclusion.

Tollers are named for their ability to lure and entice waterfowl within gunshot range (tolling).  They were sent out into the water to retrieve sticks or balls.  Their flashy white and red coloring and playful antics sparked the curiosity of waterfowl who would swim over to investigate.

Duck Tollers were officially admitted to the CKC in 1945 and gained worldwide recognition in 1980 by winning Best In Show at all breed championship events.  In 1995, the Toller was declared the official dog of Nova Scotia.

Tollers are intelligent, high-energy dogs who require a great deal of physical and mental activity.  

There you have it – all the Dogs of Canada – or at least all that I could find any information on.  Happy Birthday Canada!  Let’s focus keeping it positive for all our dogs – all over the country!

           **Above the Statue in St. John’s Newfoundland, in tribute of their famous friends.

Labrador dog

Text of Newfie

 

Canada’s Outdated Animal Cruelty Laws Fail Animals

By Camille Labchuk

www.animaljustice.ca

Kitty Kitty

In 1997, two men in Edmonton tied a border collie and a husky to a tree and smashed their heads in with aluminum baseball bats. The sickening killings sparked nation-wide outrage, but the judge in the case acquitted the men, stating, “It certainly is not acceptable to me and many other people in this country to kill a dog like [that]… but there is no law.” That’s right—this brutal and vicious beating wasn’t a crime under our animal cruelty laws because the dogs seemed to have died quickly. 

There are many more stories like this one, but the point is that our animal cruelty laws are severely outdated and full of legal loopholes. Canada is widely considered to have the most ineffective animal cruelty legislation in the western world, and the result is that countless animal abusers escape criminal prosecution every year for shocking acts of cruelty like puppy mills, neglect, hoarding, animal fighting and even bestiality. Yes, it’s true: Our laws are so bad that last June, the Supreme Court was forced to rule that humans are legally entitled to perform a variety of sex acts on animals, so long as they stop short of penetration.

You might think that the shock of a court legalizing bestiality would motivate politicians to take action, but perhaps the saddest part of this story is that MPs–including the Liberal government–recently killed an important bill that would have closed some of our embarrassing loopholes and helped bring Canadian laws into the 21st century. Despite overwhelming support for this legislation in opinion polls, Members of Parliament voted 198 to 84 against protecting animals in a vote last October. For millions of vulnerable animals, no end to this nightmare is in sight.

So, how did we get here? Canada’s animal cruelty laws were first enacted in 1892, and they were significantly updated only once—in the 1950s. The problems with these laws have been apparent for decades, especially to the federal Liberal party which once led the charge to fix them.  Starting in 1999, well-respected former Justice Ministers like Anne McLellan and Irwin Cotler drafted and introduced government legislation that would have closed the loopholes in our laws, and moved animal crimes out of the property offences section of the Criminal Code. This is important recognition of the fact that aren’t mere inanimate objects like tables and chairs, but living beings who can suffer and feel pain.

Some of the bills introduced in the late 90s and early 2000s got very close to becoming law. They were the subject of extensive study by Parliamentary committees, with animal protection advocates, veterinarians, and humane societies making the case for giving more legal protections to animals.

The bills passed repeated votes in the House of Commons and the Senate, ut bad luck and worse timing meant that the legislation died after prorogations or elections. Animal cruelty laws were reintroduced many times as private members’ bills by MPs like Mark Holland, Hedy Fry, and several members of the NDP. But with zero interest in animal cruelty updates during the recently-ended Conservative decade, animals were put on the back burner.

When Justin Trudeau’s Liberals swept back to power last year, they promised to once again ensure that Canadians’ compassionate values were reflected in public policy. Animal advocates had reason for the first time in years to be optimistic—there was no reason to think the new government wouldn’t still agree that animals deserve laws to protect them. 

The first animal cruelty bill came quickly from Toronto-area Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith. His private members’ Bill C-246 was virtually identical to the previous versions introduced in the late 90s and early 2000s. On top of fixing our laws in the same way recommended by former Liberal governments, Erskine-Smith added in provisions to protect animals from sexual abuse to respond to the unfortunate Supreme Court decision. Bill C-246 proposed as well to ban imports of cat and dog fur, which is surprisingly still legal in Canada despite bans in the US and EU. It also targeted the horrific practice of shark finning, in which live sharks have their fins sliced off and are left to die. Bill C-246 wasn’t a legal revolution for animals, but it would have taken a solid first step toward helping our laws align better with those of other western democracies. 

Bill C-246 had support from the humane societies and SPCAs from coast to coast that enforce animal cruelty laws. These are the inspectors who see first-hand the heartbreak caused by our loophole-ridded laws. Not surprisingly, law enforcement agents often feels deep frustration when an animal abuser escapes conviction, or when a prosecutor gives up, refusing even to lay criminal charges against abusers out of fear the charges won’t stick. 

Bill C-246 also had broad support from Canadians. Public opinion polls consistently show that over 90 percent of people want to see stronger animal cruelty laws, and MPs were deluged with emails and phone calls urging them to support Bill C-246.

But overwhelming support for protecting animals fell on deaf ears when it came to the government. Instead of listening to compassionate Canadians who care about animals, the government instead listened to lobbyists from the hunting, fishing, and farming industries. These special interests did everything they could, spending enormous amounts of money to block even the most basic protections for animals.

These lobby groups were responsible for inventing preposterous claims about Bill C-246, spreading alarmist propaganda that it would have criminalized people who hunt, fish, farm, and conduct medical research. 

It’s not worth examining the details of these false claims, other than to say they’re not true, and betray a disturbing indifference toward protecting animals from sadistic cruelty. Keep in mind that Bill C-246 was largely drafted by the Justice Department, with the clear goal of targeting animal abusers—not animal users. Not a single legal expert in the country came forward to say that these basic protections for animals would have somehow affected industries.

In the end, the animals lost out and political concerns won. The government chose to sell out abused animals, and listen instead to these narrow special interest groups for fear of losing votes in rural ridings where hunting, angling, and farming groups may complain. 

But it’s a mistake for the government to assume it won’t pay a political price for blocking basic animal cruelty legislation. Canadians want to do the right thing for animals, and support for ending animal cruelty runs deep. Pet owners and other compassionate animal advocates even got active in the last election to endorse animal-friendly candidates, and working as volunteers to help good MPs win. In the next election, MPs and candidates who voted against protections for animals may be surprised and dismayed to see active efforts to expose and unseat them.

The effort to fix our laws is only just beginning, and if we want to win, every Canadian who cherishes the friendship of a companion animal needs to step up and help. It’s critical that each of us tells our elected officials that we care about animals, want them be protected against cruelty, and will only vote for parties that vow to pass strong animal protection legislation. 

While Canada’s identity as a country revolves around the idea that we are a polite, compassionate society, our animal cruelty laws are out of step with this perception. After two decades of trying, it is long past time we fix our animal cruelty laws for once and for all.  It’s up to us to make sure that happens.