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San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) annual Walk for Animals

Pet Companion Magazine enjoyed participating in the San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) annual Walk for Animals event. It was a beautiful day in Liberty Park, with dog lovers from all over gathered together to raise funds for the good work of the SDHS. More than 5,000 people participated in the walk to raise funds for the SDHS,  accompanied by nearly 1,000 dogs and through their generous support raised almost $300,000. PCM is proud to help support SDHS and the wonderful work they do for animals in San Diego.

Photos: Courtesy San Diego Humane Society

Saving Tofu

April 22, 2022 — This is Tofu’s Story. Tofu has been in the care of Animal Samaritans since April 5th. A good Samaritan found Tofu after he’d been hit by a car. Tofu suffered major injuries. His chance of survival was 50/50 at best. Animal Samaritans’ team sprung into action to save his life.

Since arriving at Animal Samaritans, Tofu has received diagnostic testing, a blood transfusion, pain management, IV fluid therapy, local anesthetic block, a urinary catheter, manual bladder expression, and of course, lots of love from our staff and volunteers.

At Animal Samaritans every life is precious. Every life is worth saving.

Valerie Kattz, Animal Samaritans

As of this posting, Tofu has been at Animal Samaritans’ Thousand Palms Clinic over 16 days and during this time, he has shown incredible improvement. Currently, Tofu spends his days recovering in our clinic manager’s office.

His blood work has improved, but we are still monitoring his anemia. We’re also happy to report that he no longer requires manual bladder expressions. His ribs are still displaced, but he is receiving pain management to keep him comfortable as he heals. Now that he is on the road to recovery, his personality is beginning to shine!

Tofu LOVES going for walks around the hospital and he especially enjoys going outside and feeling the ward breeze flow through his furry coat. We’re working on his socialization with strangers, and he is warming up more to people. He’s now able to go for longer walks and he has even began to jump to great his favorite staff members!

Animal Samaritans will continue to give him the medical care he needs, and the love and affection he deserves. Once fully healed, Tofu will be available for adoption through our Animal Samaritans’ No Kill Shelter. The cost of Tofu’s treatment ranges between $7,000.00 and $10,000.00. Tofu had no family to pay for his treatment. THIS is why the life-saving programs at Animal Samaritans are so vital. Without it, dogs like Tofu would not survive. We will continue to post updates on his journey to recovery. YOU can help Tofu, and other homeless pets like him, by making a donation today, at www.animalsamaritans.org/rescue 

Animal Samaritans Receives $750,000 Naming Gift

Architectural drawing of Animal Samaritans’ Pet Adoption & Humane Education Center

Thousand Palms, CA – May 1, 2022: Animal Samaritans has received a donation to its new Pet Adoption & Humane Education Center building project from the Richard Brooke Foundation in the amount of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($750,000).  Animal Samaritans will name the future Center’s covered Dog Park & Training Yard in their honor.

With this generous donation, Animal Samaritans now has more than four million ($4,000,000) dollars in restricted funds, pledged donations, and property assets allocated for their project.

The new Animal Samaritans’ Pet Adoption & Humane Education Center will be built on two and half acres of land on Pet Land Place, which is part of the greater Thousand Palms Animal Campus.  Specifically, the building site is adjacent to Animal Samaritans’ Thousand Palms Veterinary Clinic, and has already been graded and outfitted for water and electrical connection to existing infrastructure.

We have still have several naming opportunities for animal lovers interested in supporting our new Pet Adoption & Humane Education Center. Naming a room, wing, or other designated space in our new facility will be a lasting reminder of your love and compassion for animals. Including Animal Samaritans in your estate plans is another meaningful way to show your love for the animals in your life, or simply your love for animals,” according to Snyder. “If you would like our good work for the community to continue indefinitely, please consider supporting our new pet adoption and humane education center with a naming gift and including Animal Samaritans in your estate plans.

– TOM SNYDER, CEO, Animal Samaritans

With the recent addition of Mr. Jarred Ellis, Animal Samaritans’ new Director of Development & Philanthropy, the organization is positioned to double their efforts to make their dream of building a new and improved space for at-risk, adoptable homeless pets a reality.

Animal Samaritans was founded on the principle of no-kill animal sheltering and pet adoptions, and free Humane Education for area schools.   Founded in 1978, Animal Samaritans began providing free Humane Education to Desert school children as early as 1980.  Today, they continue to provide free humane education to the pet owners of tomorrow, which includes grade specific lesson plans for elementary and middle school students, as well as annual summer Critter Camps to local children ages 7 through 12.

In addition to providing a new living space for up to 30 homeless cats and 30 homeless dogs, including large dogs, the new Pet Adoption Center will include a multipurpose space for Humane Education. Children will visit Animal Samaritans’ new campus and learn: How to be responsible pet owners; what it takes to be a veterinarian, vet technician, or shelter manager; how recognize and report animal cruelty; how to avoid bullying animals; and the importance of pet spay and neuter, for example.

 “The Richard Brooke Foundation is extremely reputable and generous,” notes Animal Samaritans’ CEO Tom Snyder.  “For the past several years their support has been unwaivering. This large gift shows their alignment with our vision and their trust in us to achieve it.”

Animal Samaritans SPCA., a 501 (c) non-profit organization, started in 1978 and brought the first free Humane Education program and first low-cost spay & neuter clinic to the Desert.  As the Coachella Valley’s most comprehensive animal welfare organization, they strive to one day eliminate the needless suffering and abuse of homeless and unwanted animals.  Programs and services in place to save the lives of healthy and treatable animals include prevention through humane education, affordable spay and neuter, vaccinations, and other veterinary care, animal sheltering, animal rescue, pet fostering and pet adoptions.  In addition, volunteers from their Animal Companion Therapy program visit special needs classrooms, nursing homes, and local hospitals. More information is available by calling 760.601.3755 and by visiting www.animalsamaritans.org 

Angela Adan: Here for the Pets

Like many animal advocates, I follow several animal rescue accounts on social media, from large well-known organizations to small independent rescuers. While the landscape of Insta-famous rescuers is vast, there are a handful whose passion, expertise, and authentic intentions radiate through the screen.

Angela Adan of @deservingdogs is one of those few. One look at her Instagram account, and it’s clear she is dedicated to saving lives and that her work with animals is the most meaningful aspect of her life. I had a chance to interview Angela on Zoom in 2021 to learn more about her work and chat about the rescue world. I was met by the exact same person I saw on Instagram—kind, humble, and excited to talk about how she has curated her life around her passion for saving the lives of animals.

At the top of 2022, she invited me to her home to see what a day in the life is like, and to meet her pack of personal pets and her current fosters. When I arrived, she was out in the yard exercising a few of her dogs, all in wheelchairs. The dogs were calm and playful, romping across the grass without a worry, and when she greeted me in person, she was warm, present, and ever focused on the dogs playing among us.

As the day progressed, I was able to watch her interact with her pack of fosters and her personal pets. In addition to the enormous amount of work she does to keep everyone heathy and happy, the thing that stood out to me was how deeply connected she is to the dogs in her care. When you enter their space, where she’s surrounded by her pack, you can sense the reciprocal togetherness and the flow of gratitude and love that radiates in both directions. Angela is as grateful for them as they are for her.ALICIA BAILEYALICIA BAILEY»@DESERVINGDOGS PHOTO BY: @CHERYLLYNNPHOTOGRAPHY@DESERVINGDOGS PHOTO BY: @CHERYLLYNNPHOTOGRAPHY»

I arrived at Angela’s home with this idea that she was “simply” a full-time foster working with various organizations. Instead, she operates like an entire mini rescue ecosystem! She does it all, from personally pulling a dog from a shelter to placing them in their forever home.

Meet Angela Adan

Angela has cared for animals her entire life, and prior to doing rescue work, she thought she wanted to be a veterinarian. She became a veterinary technician, working in the veterinary field for 14 years. She thought her next logic step would be veterinary school, and so she began to take all the necessary steps toward that goal. Along the way, she became a professional pet sitter, dog walker, and trainer.

A move to Santa Barbara a little more than a decade ago changed all that. She decided to go visit her local shelter, to see if she could perhaps volunteer. As she took a look around, she was approached by a shelter staff member who told her she was looking at the “death row” dogs. In that moment, as she stood looking at these dogs facing certain death through the bars of their kennels, she was struck with a compassion that would drive her with a whole new purpose, in a whole new direction.

The First Rescue

Around the same time, Facebook emerged as a sort of miracle tool that connected rescuers and other animal advocates. It was there that she saw images of two dogs who were on the euthanasia list, posted to a photographer’s page. Angela committed to picking them up from the shelter, thinking they were the only dogs on the list. However, when she arrived at the shelter she learned that the two dogs were not the only ones on the list. And even worse, this was happening every day. She left the shelter that day knowing she had to do more.

Curating Her Life to Serve the Animals

A few years into rescuing, she started her own non-profit rescue but realized that running a rescue was not for her. “Running the rescue meant doing less hands-on care of the animals and more administrative work and drained my energy in a way that I felt like I wasn’t giving my best self to the animals,” Angela explained. “I decided to instead become a full-time foster. That way I could work with organizations I knew and respected and could dedicate all my time to the hands-on care of saving the most vulnerable souls.”

Over time she began to build her life around fostering and focusing more and more on animals who had severe medical needs, behavioral challenges, or other issues that deemed them less adoptable at shelters. The reason? “Because a dog, cat, or any animal with special needs requires a human being who will go above and beyond for them, someone dedicated to them having a great quality of life. Someone who believes in them and knows they deserve the best.”

To date, Angela has fostered approximately 1,000 animals in her 10+-year career. Dogs, cats, kittens, and birds, to name just a few.

A Day in the Life

Being a foster to special and uniquely abled pets requires a higher level of care—it’s not just petting dogs all day. While there is plenty of play time and affection shared between Angela and her animals, there is also an enormous amount of work that goes into each day.

■ Wake up

■ Take everyone out to potty, which includes getting dogs into wheelchairs, and physically carrying some dogs outside and back inside.

■ Once everyone is back inside, Angela prepares everyone’s meals and sets them up for feeding.

■ Some stay in their wheelchairs to eat, while others must be hand fed. Mealtime can take up to an hour or more, depending on who she is fostering.

■ After mealtime, she gives everyone their medication and supplements.

■ While the fosters and her pack have a postmeal snooze, Angela begins her cleaning regimen, which includes changing all the dog bedding, litter boxes, and bird cages if applicable, cleaning up mealtime dishes, mealtime messes, then sweeping and mopping the floor. Her cleaning routine takes about 2 hours.

■ After cleaning, she takes everyone outside again for exercise and enrichment. Sometimes it is feasible for everyone to be in the yard together, but if she has a behavioral case or dogs who are working on getting along, then she splits up play time to work with the animals as needed.@DESERVINGDOGS…»

■ After play time, Angela answers emails from the potential adopters, her rescue contacts, and checks in with the shelters she works with to see if there are any animals that need to be saved that day.

■ Depending on the day, there are vet and physical therapy appointments to get the animals to, and prescriptions to be filled.

■ Next, she screens adoption applications, arranges meet and greets with potential adopters, and accompanies her fosters through the entire adoption process.

■ There is an enormous amount of laundry to do every day.

■ Play time, training time, and further exercise and enrichment time happens again in the afternoon.

■ Then the evening shift begins—mealtime prep and clean up, giving medications and supplements, and cleaning again where necessary.

■ Somewhere in the day, she finds time to post to her social media accounts to share about her fosters, the animal cases she is working on, and what the animals need from her Amazon Wishlist.

If time permits, she will take dogs on a bike ride or to the dog beach for a field trip. These outings are fun for both her and the pack, and it allows them to be seen by people who might be interested in adopting them. Imagine seeing a bike going down the beach with a wagon and a basket full of dogs, and multiple dogs in wheelchairs running alongside. It really gives the term “joyride” a whole new meaning to those who see it in action! More importantly, these outings help change people’s minds about what a uniquely abled pet can do.

Asked how she does it all and stays sane, Angela reports that keeping to a regular schedule is important, staying flexible a must, and laughter is at the heart of it all. Angela says, “I laugh throughout the day, and I stay joyful because I truly love what I do, but also because the animals feed off my energy and they deserve to have happy, positive energy surrounding them.”Ferris Wheeler @DESERVINGDOGSFerris Wheeler @DESERVINGDOGS»Faith & Polly ALICIA BAILEYFaith & Polly ALICIA BAILEY»Juniper @DESERVINGDOGS…»

When asked what her favorite part of fostering is, she says, “Watching them transition from shelter dog on a euthanasia list to a joyous, bouncy, happy dog who learns how to trust again, learns how to play, learns how to receive love … it’s magical and it affects me on a very deep level.”

What I found during my visit is that my assumption that she is simply a full-time foster working with various organizations was way off base. When a dog comes into her care, she is there 100 percent of the way, from rescue to adoptive home. She feels it is her responsibility to honor the lives in her care, and that means being involved in every part of their rescue journey. Because, she says, “When it’s time for a dog to go to their adoptive home, I feel that I have a responsibility to continue to advocate for them. Give them the dignity and security of a loving transition, and let the adopters know I am here for them if they need me.”

Meet Angela’s Pack

Angela’s personal pets are integral to her fostering process, as they serve as guides to the new animals who come into their home. Each member of her pack is uniquely abled, and each one entered her life when she needed them most.

Ferris Wheeler was adopted several times and returned because his needs proved to be too much for his previous adopters. Born with spina bifida, he is incontinent and does not have use of his back legs. He motors just fine in his wheelchair, though! Ferris became a therapy dog, and prior to COVID, he and Angela would participate in a program where kids would practice reading to Ferris and got a chance to learn that what makes him different, what makes him super special!

Faith was left in the backyard when her owner went to the hospital, and she eventually ended up at a shelter. At the time, she was 20 pounds overweight, and with the help of a rescue, Angela was able to take Faith to her home. There she lost weight and began to live the dog life she deserved. Currently though, at 12 years old, Faith’s health has begun to decline—her mobility is limited, and Angela must pick her up for potty breaks and to get outside.Freddie @DESERVINGDOGS ALICIA BAILEY…»

Juniper arrived at Angela’s when she was just 4 months old. She had been hit by a car, which broke her spine and left her paralyzed. Because of her injuries and the accompanying incontinence, her owners realized they were not suited to care for her and did not want to turn her over to the shelter. Thanks to Angela and 23 loving volunteers, Juniper was transported across the country into Angela’s care. After 6 months of physical therapy, Juniper became strong enough to use a wheelchair and is now thriving among the pack.

Polly was confiscated from a home in San Francisco, a victim of severe neglect. Assuming she was a hospice case because of her appearance, Animal Control contacted Angela to see if she could take her in for her final days. Angela agreed, and once Polly received medical care, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that caused her bones to weaken. The vet determined that she had several broken bones because of this, including her front paws. Despite her rough beginning, Polly has thrived in Angela’s care, and is no longer considered a hospice case.

When Freddie was 6 months old, she was abandoned in duffle bag outside a shelter in Hesperia, California. This little dog weighed less than 5 pounds and would stand up on her back legs with her front legs out to the side. Her pointy little face was host to a very distinctive smile that showed off her teeth. When Angela saw her online, she immediately connected with that smile and arranged for her rescue.

It would later be discovered that prior to arriving at the shelter, a child had picked up Freddie and dropped her. No medical care was sought, and that is why she developed her upright stature, to compensate for not having use of her front legs. Freddie doesn’t use a wheelchair because it isn’t comfortable for her. The wheel life isn’t for her—she prefers to walk around in her own special way.

Angela fell in love with Freddie, and the two had an instant bond. She started an Instagram page for Freddie so she could share updates to those who were asking, and it took off. The Dodo (thedodo.com) ran a story on Freddie, and she became a viral superstar. Freddie brings joy to thousands of followers each day and also promotes the message that looking different is okay.

Eventually Freddie had to have her teeth pulled as a result of never having received dental care, and that caused her jawbone to disintegrate. Angela now hand feeds Freddie three times a day, and each feeding session takes about 30 minutes. You can follow Freddie on Instagram @ready_freddie_.

How to Help Angela and The Deserving Dogs

Join her Patreon page: https://patreon.com/AngelaAdan Shop her Amazon Wishlist (for animal supplies): https://amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/2ASQB1VAZCR3L?ref_=wl_share Visit Angela’s website (starring Freddie) at freetobestore.com, where you’ll find links to Freddie’s Cameo, her line of CBD oil, and fun Freddie merch! Be sure to follow her on Instagram @deservingdogs and follow Freddie @ready_freddie_

On the Go with Bow: A leisurely stroll for… more leisure

Photo Courtesy Brady Rhoades

There was a Jewish dog on the loose at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center.

More on that later.

Photo Courtesy Brady Rhoades

Bow was there too, on the grass outside of the center, enjoying our picnic. The northwest side of the Muck property is framed by homes of all architectural styles, including Tudor, and there are great views of the sun setting over Fullerton Municipal Airport. It’s not a dog park, so keep your dog leashed.

Bow prefers to play fetch, but she’s content with the consolation of splaying in the grass, connected via long leash to her humans, who choose to sit on blankets. The spread: lemonade, chickpea salad sandwiches, hard cheese, grapes, shelled walnuts and loquats (a favorite fruit). Plus, a cow’s ear for Bow.

We live about a mile from the former mansion at 1201 W. Malvern Ave. in Fullerton that’s now a hub for the arts, so we stroll there, lounge, gnosh and walk back home. We picnic for about 45 minutes, or roughly the time it takes Bow to finish her snacks.

Photo Courtesy Brady Rhoades

Recently, I saw a commercial for Corona beer that stars Snoop Dogg and Andy Samberg. They’re sitting in lounge chairs on an empty beach, brews chilling in an ice bucket, when Andy pulls out his cellphone. Snoop grabs the phone and, literally, puts it on ice. “The best plans are no plans,” he says. 

That’s what we did with our gadgets, but metaphorically.

It’s something we learn from our dogs, no pun intended: it’s OK to relax and be present.

But about that loose pooch.

The play “The Jewish Dog” was showing at the Muckenthaler’s outdoor theater (the last date was April 28). It’s about World War II as seen by Cyrus, an unusually sensitive and insightful dog from a Jewish family. Based on the novel by Asher Kravitz, the showing was in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

“The Jewish Dog,” produced by the Electric Company Theater, is getting thumbs-up reviews. For more information, visit electriccompanytheater.org

We stayed a good ways from the stage, though, because Bow can be vocal. 

She barks for reasons known and unknown.

Breaking the Mold: Meet 3DPets

Adam Hecht and Alex Tholl founded 3DPets to merge their passion for helping animals and solving complex problems through design. As industrial engineers, they saw a problem within the pet mobility landscape.

Adam Hecht and Alex Tholl founded 3DPets to merge their passion for helping animals and solving complex problems through design. As industrial engineers, they saw a problem within the pet mobility landscape. Pet mobility devices—wheelchairs, prosthetics, and limb support braces—were typically clunky, heavy, and limited in customization options, and some methods of manufacturing created an enormous amount of waste. As animal lovers, they knew there was a better and more sustainable way to build these devices and reach more animals in need.

Putting in the Work

Jumping into the intimate world of pet mobility devices wasn’t easy. Many of the companies they approached and pitched their ideas to thought they were simply unrealistic. At the time, there was a certain mindset around how the pet mobility industry worked, specifically in building devices. Alex and Adam realized that convincing people to embrace innovation in the field would require them to produce a protype first and explain later. So, with about $200 and a low-range 3D printer, they began their parent company DiveDesign, and ultimately turned a possibility into a reality.

By developing custom software and seeking out materials to support their design process, they removed common manufacturing barriers like mass-produced parts and size and weight limitations. For example, wheelchairs made out of metal or even durable plastic parts can be too heavy for smaller or weaker animals, but with 3D printing, each part can be custom made with these factors in mind. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so we intend to continually work with innovation in mind and always aim to improve our process and products,” Alex Tholl reports. “Allowing that mindset to guide us will only ensure that we can continue helping pets in a meaningful way.” Not only that, DiveDesign produces almost no waste, and the devices can be recycled when needed.

Today, 3DPets develops lightweight, ergonomic, and truly customized mobility carts and prosthetics for all species of animals. They’re breaking the mold of traditional product development to bring the freedom of mobility to animals in need by creating a device specifically built around that pet’s disability and lifestyle.

A Few Notable Clients

Waddles, a duck featured on the Wizard of Paws show on the National Geographic (Nat Geo) Wild channel, needed a prosthetic leg. When traditional methods couldn’t meet the size, weight, and functionality requirements, 3DPets stepped in to get Waddles moving again.

Little Boogie Shoes, weighing a mere 2 pounds, tried several wheelchairs. Despite being customized, they were all too heavy for him to move and put him at greater risk for injury. 3DPets was able to manufacture every part (even the screws to hold it together), and Boogie is now mobile in a cart that weighs just one pound.

Bo the Goat, who lives with a neurological issue at Goats of Anarchy Sanctuary in New Jersey, needed a helmet to protect his head during his daily activities.

How It Works

The 3DPets team can work with clients nationwide or locally in their New Jersey office, if you don’t mind traveling.

The first step involves taking a mold of your pet, which you can do at home with their guidance. Next, you simply ship the cast back to them, where your pet’s cast is scanned into their computers and the design and build process begins. Once completed, they ship your device to you for a fitting and functionality check.

Hecht and Tholl are committed to a high standard of customer service and pride themselves on being available and transparent with their clients throughout the process, from start to finish.

The two agree that the best part of their job is watching a pet try out their device for the first time. “Whether they immediately take to it and start walking or running, or if they are going to need a little time to warm up to it, seeing them upright and ready to move is a mix of instant gratification and heartfelt gratitude. To watch a pet gain freedom of mobility, and to see the pet parent realize that life will be better for their pet because of it is just really, really heartwarming.”

More success stories and clients are spotlighted on their Instagram page, @3d.pets. Their page is a great resource for pet parents. You can also view their work on their parent company Instagram @divedesignco.


Highlights from Goldie Palooza 2022

Goldie Palooza 2022 was amazing! Breaking their own record for the number of Goldens in one location — 751 Goldens were in attendance. Pet Companion Magazine was one of the vendors at the event and we enjoyed meeting so many Goldens.

Goldie Palooza is an annual event and raises funds for three rescue organizations:
SCGRR (Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue) “We are the third largest Golden Retriever Rescue in the country, finding homes for over 300 dogs annually. Our dogs are placed in foster homes where we can assess their temperament and provide them with all the necessary veterinary care they would need prior to adoption.”

GRCGLA Rescue (Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los Angeles Rescue) “GRCGLA Rescue is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and forever re-homing of abandoned and homeless Golden Retrievers. GRCGLAR has taken in over 4,800 Golden Retrievers since 2001 and our all-volunteer force numbers over 150 strong.” 

Golden Bond Rescue

Goldie Palooza is 100% run by volunteers only and full proceeds, after expenses, are donated to the rescues. Tenta

Goldie Palooza 2023 tentatively scheduled for April. Check Pet Companion Magazine‘s calendar for updates.

Orange County: Catching Up with Kirby and Sora

Catching Up with Kirby and Sora — SoCal’s Freestyle Flying Disc Duo

Photography by Anabel Dflux

As our regular readers may remember, Pet Companion Magazine’s summer 2021 issue brought you coverage of the Purina® Pro Plan® Incredible Dog Challenge® (IDC) West Coast Regional Event, which showcased dogs from all over the country competing in events they’d been invited to participate in, ranging from freestyle flying disc to diving dogs.

One of the standouts from that West Coast Regional competition were Kirby and Sora, a young team looking to strike gold in freestyle disc. The duo won the event at the West Coast Regional and advanced to the Final Round at Purina Farms in St. Louis, Missouri. After the finals, we checked in with Kirby to get her take on how the two did.

While our favorite team didn’t go on to win the finals, Kirby described a stellar performance, one that she’ll never forget. “I think it was possibly the best that any of my dogs and I have ever performed at the IDC. We played well but didn’t place. However, our good friends Dee and Rogue won. They were really spectacular, and it was a well-deserved win. We’re so happy for them!”

Photography by Anabel Dflux

The finals are always challenging, and for this one, the weather proved to be uncooperative at just the wrong time. “It actually rained during the freestyle flying disc portion, which made things a little tricky. Otherwise, the weather was great.”

Kirby had been enjoying extracurricular activities with her pups for many years before discovering dog sports in 2003—specifically, canine agility competitions with her then Shih Tzu, Lucky. In 2006, Kirby’s family expanded with the addition of Sketch, a border collie who led her into the world of flying disc. Over the years, many more pups have joined Kirby’s team and allowed her to compete all over the world in the sport for which she has such a strong passion. In Kirby’s own words, “Their [her dogs’] talent and enthusiasm has taken us to the top of elite competitions around the world, winning 20 world championships and 6 national championships.”

Not a newcomer to the Purina IDC, Kirby has competed in six events so far, with each one teaching her something new. From the 2021 event, her biggest takeaway was, “Think about rain and other possible weather conditions when putting together a freestyle routine! Living in Southern California, we don’t experience much rain or other extreme weather conditions. But many of the competition locations do experience changing weather conditions, frequently. The rain this year meant we had to slow down some of our routine, so Sora didn’t slip on certain tricks that require her precise footing.”

With fun always the number one goal, this event was full of much love, laughter, and friendships. Kirby reports, “We had so much fun at the IDC! All the disc doggers stayed in RVs right next to the field at Purina Farms, so we all got to hang out. It was a great time!” And that certainly epitomizes one of the most important facets of dog sports—having fun with your dog and enjoying a community of people who feel the same way!

Who’s Walking Who?

The importance of a loose leash

Your walks with your dog may look different from other dog walkers you see. Why? Walking your dog is a personalized experience and depends largely on how the dogs are behaving and what each owner’s goals are. To some extent, it also depends on your dog’s personality. Some dogs (although it’s rare) naturally walk on a leash perfectly calmly without any training. The challenge is that many dogs do resist the leash a great deal. If you’re a “the walk is their time” type of person, there’s not a lot your dog will learn from the walking experience with you other than it’s okay to pull on the leash and focus on everything except you. This makes dog walking challenging for so many owners I speak to. That being said, I do believe it’s beneficial for dogs to be afforded the time to smell and explore things on the walk. However, for many dogs, these allowances can condition more undesirable behaviors, like heavy leash resistance, lunging, excessive vocalizing, overarousal, and sometimes more reactive or aggressive behavior.

In fact, it’s common for dogs to learn over time that these walks are not for prioritizing walking together with their person. This can be disastrous for so many people. I hear stories from clients all the time about a dog getting loose, the owner getting hurt, slipping out of the equipment, and lots of other problems. The parents usually end up avoiding walks altogether, because it is no longer a pleasant experience. They’re frustrated and their dog is frustrated, anxious, and out of control. Now, there are always exceptions, but this example is all too common in the conversations I have with parents about their dogs. So, if you want your dog to behave a certain way on walks, you’ve got to start teaching and practicing appropriate behavior. Unless your dog is one of those dogs that automatically walks like a saint with no practice, you need to make time to rehearse what you want your walk to look like before taking your dog anywhere.

A Better Approach

If this sounds like your situation, you must ask yourself, “Who’s walking who?” It’s not that allowing your dog the chance to explore, sniff, and have “their” time is bad or wrong. It’s just that for so many dogs, how they gain access to these “dog time” experiences is crucial— if they’re allowed to drag their owners over to an interesting smell with no correction, that signals to them that this behavior is okay by you. Again, I’m not referring to those dogs that are already walking pleasantly and are not causing problems for their owners or showing undesired behavior. I’m talking about those other dogs—the ones that do require a little more guidance, a little more expectation, and a little more predictable structure during their walks. What we’re ultimately aiming for is to teach these dogs that it benefits them to pay more attention to their human. We want them to know that it is always worthwhile to at least split their attention and check in with their human with periodic, frequent eye contact. They’ll learn that it gives them the freedom to better enjoy their walk, feeling safe and confident in your leadership. They know that if they can trust you to be in charge, and you’ve got things under control, then they don’t have to try to be the leader for the two of you.

Now for the real question: How do we communicate all this to our dogs? The short answer is that it all starts with the leash. Few families actually utilize the leash inside the home, when no “walking” is actually going on. The majority of pet families only pull out the leash when it’s time to go outside and walk. I believe this is the reason so many dogs struggle. I always encourage our client families to think of the leash more as a communication device. It is your “interpreter,” the bridge that lets you communicate with your dog. The leash should not something to resist, like a ball and chain. It shouldn’t be restrictive, the sole reason your dog can’t immediately act on whatever impulse might strike him. The leash should provide clarity for your dog about what you’re asking of him, which will bring your dog comfort. Using the leash often in the home will teach your dog how to better interpret what you want from him. It will give him a more solid foundation of good leash walking skills and make walks less of a challenge for both of you. The only way we can get your dog to this point is by using the leash at home.

Preparation and Techniques

Now that we’ve shifted our mindset on the purpose and value of the leash, where do we start with hands-on exercises? Remember, we want your dog to see the leash as a way to enhance communication with you. We want your dog to know that when he feels even a little tension from the leash, that it means there’s some message from you he needs to receive. That could be that you need him to turn, or slow down, or stop, etc. We teach this lesson by incorporating more frequent but short indoor, on-leash sessions throughout the day with him. The goal is to sprinkle the use of your leash throughout the entire day. Not only when it’s time to go outside. And before you do go walking outside, it’s a great idea to try to prepare your dog for a calm walk with a vigorous play session before you go. Burning off some energy before the walk helps your dog stay beside you and obey your commands while on leash.

Specific drills and techniques aside, simply using your leash at home more frequently will improve your dog’s walking skills. We want him to normalize regularly moving with you, turning with you, stopping with you, speeding up with you, and slowing down with you. These are basic but crucial skills many dogs need before they can manage a successful walk outside, with all the possible distraction and challenges. While many specific exercises are developed to improve walking behaviors, here’s how you’re going to get things moving in a good direction. First things first—plan daily on-leash tours around the house for your dog. Yes, I want you to literally tour your dog around the house. Every day.

You don’t need a lot of space for this, it doesn’t need to be all day, or all at once. Walk your dog around every possible space in your home. Walk around the living area, walk around the kitchen, walk up and down the hall—show your dog every area of your home, all on leash. The goal is to use limited space to rehearse a high volume of repetitions, where your dog is practicing walking with you and not against you. You can do this while you take care of other human tasks and chores. You’ll take your dog through necessary lessons like moving with you in a circular fashion, turning around sharply, randomly stopping and waiting, changing your walking speed, and other practical movements you may have expected him to already know as you take him on his “real” walks. He doesn’t already know. You have to teach him.

Your dog will learn that he can release the tension of the leash by looking to you and then moving toward you when he feels it. When he responds correctly, not only does the leash go loose but he also should receive a reward from you every time. That reward might be food, praise, or toys in the learning phase. Just make sure he knows he can count on it. In time, that reward might be changed to an environmental reward, such as gaining access to an area he wants to explore. We want your dog to acknowledge your every movement and be able to balance what he’d like to do with what you are asking of him. Slowly but surely, you’ll see the results of this trust you’re building with your dog, and that will help you tackle your dog’s specific walking challenge. Whatever it is, that challenge will be smaller and easier to overcome when you regularly make time for this activity at home.

Take the Show on the Road

It’s important to keep in mind that while you’re “at home tours” are taking place, you can still walk your dog outside. While on those walks, you can still allow your dog to “just be a dog” and have opportunities for exploring. As mentioned earlier, what it boils down to is access. How did your dog access the experiences he likes? And is that access becoming a catalyst for other undesirable behavior? When it comes time to practice your walking, a great way to encourage good behavior and provide outlet for your dog while walking is practicing what we like to call “permission-based experiences.” Instead of bowing to your dog’s will and allowing him to yank you around and do what he pleases, see to it that he looks to you for some kind of permission or signal that tells him it’s okay access what he wants. This could be eye contact, maybe some obedience position, or even just a brief pause. This simple shift will let him know whether he has permission to access what he’s interested in.

If you make time to rehearse routines of walking patterns at home, while at the same time practicing additional self-control skills by requiring permission to access experiences, you can begin to reverse your dog’s perception of the walk. You can teach your dog that walks are a team sport. He’ll learn that it’s faster and more beneficial for him to team up with and tune into you. When he does what you ask, he typically gets to experience what he wants. That could be walking in a direction he desires in exchange for a little eye contact. It could be getting to smell that tree stump in exchange for stepping toward you to release the tension on the leash. He’ll begin to understand that he usually gets what he wants if he remembers to be a team player and treats you like the leader on the walk. While it will take effort and endurance on your part before your dog behaves the way you want him to, the extra work will always be worth it. If you are a “let’s do it together” type of person and want the walk to become an enjoyable experience for you both, you must make time to practice at home. Remember to ask yourself, “Who’s walking who?” After reading this, that question should help remind you what work needs to be done to get the outcome you desire. Happy training!

Pit Bulls & Cats: Overflowing in Shelters

A blue Pit Bull Terrier dog and a siamese cat sitting together

Visit any animal shelter and you’ll see there are plenty of options for anyone looking for a new pet. Even if you’re looking for a specific breed of cat or dog, chances are you can find what you’re looking for during your visit. Among the plethora of options for anyone looking to adopt are “pit bull” type dogs and cats, which make up the largest percentage of shelter populations—and that makes these two the most vulnerable for euthanization.

Pit bull type dogs and cats make up the largest percentage of shelter populations—and that makes these two the most vulnerable for euthanization.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®), “Approximately 6.5 companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters per year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats.” An ASPCA 2017 study found an estimated 3.2 million animals are adopted each year, but that still leaves over one million animals languishing in shelters.

What is a Pit Bull?

The term pit bull typically encompasses four breeds of dog: American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and American Bulldog. Because of this broad categorization and the negative perception of dogs labeled a pit bull, advocates and educational organizations like Animal Farm Foundation work diligently to change the language and perception around these dogs by describing them with a more general term: pit bull type dogs.

Identifying dogs with this phrase is a more compassionate way to categorize all large, blocky-headed dogs, otherwise known as pit bulls. This is in no way meant to deceive anyone; instead, it is meant to lift the harsh and negative cloud from over these animal’s heads, serve as an open door to owner education, and let a dog’s personality be the deciding factor for any potential adopter.

Why Do Pit Bull Type Dogs End Up in Shelters?

It is difficult for anyone to imagine turning your dog in the shelter, but unfortunately, some people face challenges that make it seem like the only option. Here are the most common reasons pit bull type dogs are surrendered:

■ City ordinances that discriminate against the breed

■ Behavior issues due to lack of training

■ Unwanted litters resulting from lack of spay/neuter

■ High cost of care

■ Owners moving

Slowing the Numbers

Combating the rate of pit bull type dogs entering shelters is a multi-pronged approach rooted in community assistance and support. Major initiatives include:

■ Education around responsible pet ownership

■ More programs offering low-cost or free training

■ Positive marketing and advocacy campaigns

■ Low-cost/no-cost spay and neuter resources

Pit bull type dogs are smart, loving, and like any other large breed, require a responsible guardian who will invest in proper training, adhere to a regular exercise routine appropriate for their dog, and provide regular veterinary care. Before adopting any breed of pet, it is important to do your research on the breed and the steps you will need to take to ensure a healthy and safe lifestyle for you and your new pet.


Just one unspayed female cat can lead to the birth of 370,000 kittens per year, according to Alley Cat Allies, so it is no surprise that cats enter shelters at an alarming rate, putting them at high risk for euthanasia. According to American Humane, only 2 percent of cats that enter shelters have owner identification. In addition, many shelters are operating on an outdated model that focuses on “making space” through euthanasia.

No-Kill Efforts

No-kill programming at public, private, and municipal shelters is essential to saving the lives of homeless animals, especially cats. Transitioning to a lifesaving model can seem like a huge undertaking, but the models that are successful include:

■ TNR (Trap – Neuter – Return)

■ Cat/kitten foster programs

■ Adoption promotions

■ Humane education and community outreach

■ Low-cost/no-cost spay and neuter resources

How Can I Protect My Cat?

As a cat guardian, you can safeguard your favorite feline with these tips from American Humane:

■ Be sure your pet wears an identification tag, rabies license, and city license. Include your name, address, phone number, and pet’s name.

■ Keep licenses current, as they help shelters locate pet owners.

■ When moving, put a temporary tag on your pet. Include a phone number of someone who will know how to reach you and/or your cell number.

■ Don’t assume that your indoor pet doesn’t need tags. Many strays in shelters are indoor pets that escaped.

■ Purchase special cat collars with elastic bands to protect your cat from being caught in trees or on fences.

■ In addition to ID tags, consider getting your pet microchipped. Always remember to keep this information current and provide an emergency contact.

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