Rescued Beagle, Near Death, Finds a Forever Home

Late last year, 40 special beagles arrived in L.A.  They had been rescued from an animal-testing lab in Spain by the Beagle Freedom Project, at great personal expense to the project's founder.  It was the first time these dogs had seen the sun or walked on solid ground.

Today, The Pet Collective, the premiere digital channel for pet lovers has released a wonderful follow-up video that completes the story of one of these dogs, a beagle named Ebbie, who was particularly scared and scarred by the life he had lived.

Ebbie could not eat or drink and was wasting away from years of lab testing and toxins being pumped into his body.  But when he met a litter of pit-bull puppies, his demeanor changed, and today, Ebbie is living in North Hollywood, Calif., in his "forever home."

Spotlight on...The Lohmann Brown Chicken

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Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Breed Overview

Size:  Medium, 3.5-4.6 lbs.  
Environment:  Ideal for small areas, gardens, yards
Diet:  Omnivorous; diet is typically primarily chicken feed
Temperament:  Friendly, Adaptable
Egg Size & Color:  Very Large, Brown
Laying Rate:  Good — as many as 300 eggs per year

Life Expectancy:  10 years with about 2 years of good laying

Interesting facts:  Developed in Germany, the Lohmann Brown Chicken were often used by commercial chicken farms thanks to their egg quality, production efficiency and adaptability.  They often start egg production earlier than other chickens — 14 as opposed to 20-24 weeks.

Appearance:  These chickens are not fancy.  Their plumage is orange-brown with cream highlights.  Medium in size, they have a long neck, typical comb, and short tail feathers.

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Personality:  Called the best of the backyard chickens by some urban farmers, Lohmann Browns are hardy, friendly and good layers.  While the White Leghorn chicken puts out a comparable number of eggs per year and is number-one for large-scale commercial egg production in the United States, they tend to be nervous and flighty.  Lohmann Brown raisers say they are docile, friendly, and easy to keep.  They can be ideal for a home with children.

Common Health Problems:  If you keep a closed flock (no additions of new birds, or use a quarantine period), you may not need to vaccinate your chickens.  For humans, salmonella poisoning is a concern, so hand-washing is important after handling chickens or eggs.  A big “health concern” for chickens is predators, even in the city.  Threats include chicken hawks, foxes, weasels, owls, dogs, cats and raccoons.  In line with this, chickens should be kept in a coop at night and provided covered area during daytime hours.  Consider wood or concrete for the coop floor to protect young chickens from rodents.  Make sure fences are secure — predators can sneak through very small holes.  

Best Match:  For first-timers, juvenile or adult chickens may be best.  Chicks must live in a brooder for 4-6 weeks depending on outdoor weather.  Check local ordinances as there is commonly a limit on flock size, and many areas prohibit roosters.  

Suggested reading:  A detailed guide to raising and keeping Lohmann Brown Chickens published by the original developer of the breed can be found at:  www.hastavuk.com.tr/en/kitapciklar_en/0/brown.pdf.  

 

The Dog Food Dude dishes nutritional wisdom

Rick with his pack (l to r): Baxter, Raleigh, Duncan and Chloe.  All photos by Alicia Dickerson-Griffith of Four-Legged Photo.

Rick with his pack (l to r): Baxter, Raleigh, Duncan and Chloe.  All photos by Alicia Dickerson-Griffith of Four-Legged Photo.

Rick Woodford’s personal collection of canine cookbooks has steadily grown over the years.  Between friends and family and his own proclivity for researching the subject, Woodford owns dog-themed cookbooks dating back to the ‘70s.  Ironically, he found every one of them lacking.

“All these cookbooks, even those written by veterinarians, had recipes for a 30 lb. dog,” says Woodford.  “And, maybe I’m sensitive to it, but I don’t have just a 30 lb. dog, I have an assortment.”  Woodford and his partner Gregory currently live with four dogs, two with special needs, so he kept returning to the same question:  how can food prep be made easier?  Five years later, he delivered the answer with what he calls his “dog food manifesto” in Feed Your Best Friend Better.

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The Portland, Oregon native’s foray into cooking actually began well before he ever considered writing a book.  Several years ago Woodford’s beloved Belgian-Malinois/Lab mix Jackson was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and given one year to live.  His appetite waned and he was growing weak.  Woodford began cooking turkey and vegetables to “lure him back to the bowl.”  It worked, and as Woodford continued cooking all of Jackson’s meals he saw his friend grow stronger and more active.  Jackson lived four more vibrant years, mostly cancer-free.

Woodford’s success with Jackson compelled him to cook for other sick dogs.  He started Dog Stew, a home-delivered dog food company, and began teaching others how to care for and nurture their dogs with healthy, homemade meals.  He eventually closed the business to focus on the book, driven by the passion to spread the word about the power of healthy nutrition, especially for dogs who are ill.

“The first reason I wrote the book was for the ‘Warm Nose Meals’ section,” says Woodford, “because when I closed down Dog Stew I wanted to make that information readily available.  I kind of kick ass when it comes to feeding a sick dog, and they seem to do so much better on my food.”  The key, says Woodford, is that he provides real food that dogs want to eat.   

“I also wanted to write it for the ‘Foods to Share’ part,” he continues.  “People tend to cook for their dogs when it’s too late and their dog is already sick.  I’m hoping people will do it sooner, including things like vegetables and fruits in their diet.”  Woodford speaks knowledgeably about how the body can absorb antioxidants and phytochemicals in a way that fights disease.  “Those foods seal the deal on long-term health,” he says, encouraging people to provide variety to their dogs “right off the cutting board.  Apples, carrots and green beans, in the right amount, are snacks too.  It can be really simple.”

Woodford loves simplicity.  However, while that’s exactly what he aimed to give his readers, the five years he spent researching and writing . . . wading through nutritional databases and veterinary manuals, and studying amino acids, minerals and vitamins  . . . was anything but simple.

“I want people to be able to say, ‘Oh, this has five instructions and five ingredients — how hard could that be?’  In my [book] proposal I cited the two types of books currently available on the subject:  very technical veterinarian books, and boutique books that say, ‘And this is how you make a sugary frosting for your dog’s cupcake.’  I’m like, ‘Oh no, no, no; you’re not putting frosting on a dog’s cupcake, you’re using mashed potatoes.’”

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Feed Your Best Friend Better is filled with recipes that at a glance seem like simple comfort food you’d prepare for your human family.  Woodford smiles and acknowledges that he hears that frequently, adding that in fact it’s fine for people.  “Just add some salt and pepper.  I did use very simple, familiar preparations and techniques.  I didn’t want to alienate people by requiring special skills.  I mean, it is dog food . . . you don’t have to garnish.”

Woodford fell in love with the kitchen early, watching his mother cook.  “When I think of myself as a young kid I think of myself like this,” he says, cupping chin in hand and gazing lovingly upward, “watching my mom cooking.  She would be cooking and I’d be watching and talking, or reading my schoolwork to her.  I always loved being in the kitchen.  It was me, my mom, and the dog . . . always in the kitchen.”

His mother’s own culinary skills came from his paternal grandmother, says Woodford.  “Until she was 18 my mother never had a fresh tomato, but after my parents married, my grandmother said, ‘Sit down.  You’re going to eat some stuff.’  I’ve realized that when it comes to feeding my dog, I trust the wisdom of my grandmother as much as I trust the education of my veterinarian.”

Turning his thoughts to Jackson, still a sensitive topic, Woodford says the two met after a series of failed adoption attempts had him ready to give up on getting a dog.  Then a friend shared that a family who was relocating needed to rehome their beloved dog.  Woodford connected with them but nearly lost out to another family.  A final plea and in-person meeting later, Jackson was on his way home. 

The bond wasn’t immediate though, says Woodford.  After the initial greeting, there were days when neither quite knew what to do with the other.  “We were really just staring at each other,” he recalls.  “That got boring so I started doing weird things like hide so he would hunt me down.  As crazy at is sounds, I would climb up on the washer and dryer, shut the closet door and whistle to see if he would find me.  We turned into buddies.”

Woodford was in the throes of the book when he lost Jackson.  “I went into hyper drive after he died,” he says.  “I called in sick and said, ‘My dog died.  I can’t come in for a week; I need to work on my book.’  I was just a fiend.”  His fervor at the time was born of grief, but he also wanted to finish and get the book published.  “I wanted to honor my dog who gave me so much.” 

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Among the more burdensome tasks involving the book, Woodford says, was frequently having to make 12 batches of a cookie recipe to get it just right, or to woo potential publishers.

“The worst was when my agent would call and say, ‘Okay you need to make more dog cookies.’”  While his cookies for dogs are simple squares, his gift packages are filled with delicate shapes and designs.  “So I was cutting out moons and fish and Xmas trees, and people would come over to help and they’d say, ‘This isn’t really fun when you’re grumpy.’ I would yell, ‘I hate shaped cookies!’  Woodford is quick to point out that he does recommend a simple pizza cutter when filling the pups’ cookie jar.

A favorite task was creating recipes and naming them.  The book is filled with dishes with smile-inducing names — Good Girl Gizzards . . . Mutt Loaf . . . Tiny Tuna Noodle Casserole.

As to the book’s content, despite all the research and dedication to nutritional detail, Woodford’s work hasn’t been unanimously accepted by the traditional veterinary community, though it’s slowing growing, he says.  Jackson’s oncologist had a hard time appreciating Woodford’s efforts, even after the dog’s health improved.  Eighteen months after the doctor issued Jackson’s grim prognosis, she said one day, “I don’t often get to tell people this:  I don’t know what it is, but you don’t need to bring him back.”  Woodford insisted it was the homemade food he was providing.  “The doctor would say, ‘No, you don’t know what you’re doing,” says Woodford.  “I’d say, ‘No, you don’t know what I’m doing.’”

As to what might drive such pushback, Woodford says, “I don’t know.  I mean, if your husband is diabetic, you’re allowed to cook for him.  If your child has kidney disease you’re allowed to cook for your child . . . but you can’t cook for your dog?  I don’t get it.  I think they’re worried that people won’t do it right and won’t do everything they need to.  But I could never imagine a pediatrician saying you must only feed your child commercial foods and a vitamin — it would incite a riot.  I think it’s because home-cooked nutrition for dogs, even to veterinarians, is a still a little bit of a mystery.”

Not surprisingly, Woodford’s research into nutrition for dogs has informed his own eating habits which now include much more vegetables and whole grains and much less meat.  He was struck by the impact of food on Jackson’s recovery, and the other dogs in his Dog Stew network.  He says he came to realize “food is kind of amazing.”

Rick with Jackson (l) and Raleigh

Rick with Jackson (l) and Raleigh

Woodford has frequently taught cooking classes for dogs at In Good Taste in Portland.  One evening he received an email from a student who lauded his work.  “I said, ‘It’s not me; it’s really the food that’s amazing.’  And people who love their pets enough to cook for them?  That’s amazing to me.”

“Food and love are the currency in our contract with dogs,” it says in Feed Your Best Friend Better, conveying Woodford’s passionate view of the relationship between people, dogs and food.

“If you have a treat in your hand you can actually get a dog to behave because they are saying ‘that’s important to me,’” says Woodford.  But I feel sometimes we take the easy way out of paying our bill by saying ‘oh, here’s your scoop of plain old boring food.’  Or we overdo by saying ‘I’m going to pay you in gold pieces of cheddar cheese’ (I always tell people, don’t over cheese your dog!).  There is a middle ground.  When I pay my bill to the dogs, I want them getting something good that is also good for them.”

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Woodford is proud that his book addresses a range of needs and doesn’t lecture at the reader.  “This is not a book saying what you must do,” he says.  It’s saying there are a lot more options — let me lay them out for you.  I just wish people could get this book when getting a puppy — and I hope people discover how much food can do sooner rather than later.  Because when it’s later, sometimes it’s too late.”

Woodford says he has worked to make advice from respected veterinarians and veterinary journals more accessible. 

“And my Grandma,” he says, “‘Cause Grandmas made us eat our vegetables.”  He smiles and adds, “The first thing my mom said when she saw the book was, ‘Your Grandma Crist would be so proud.’  And I think she would be proud . . . especially since I included her recipe for Dutch Baby Pancakes.” 

Learn more about Woodford and his work, check out his blog and find nutritional analyses of all the recipes in his cookbook at DogFoodDude.com.

Watch Rick whip up a batch of those Dutch Baby Pancakes in this fun video:

The Border Collie

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Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Breed Overview

Size:   30-45 lbs.
Grooming:   Heavy seasonal shedder with double coat.  Rough coat needs some brushing.
Exercise:     Very demanding
Environment:   Preferably access to running room.
Temperament:  High alert, loyal.  Balanced when mental/physical exercise/stimulation needs are met.

Life Expectancy: 11 years

Interesting fact:  The Border Collie is often cited as the most intelligent of all dog breeds.  Chaser, a Border Collie from Great Britain, knows over 1,000 unique toy names.  See an amazing video of Chaser:  

Appearance:  The Border Collie has a slight frame and a body that's a bit longer than it is tall.  They have either a smooth or rough (medium-length) coat with feathering down the hind legs.  They come in many color varieties, including tri-color and merle, but most are commonly associated with the black and white bi-color pattern.  The high variation in coloring and overall look of the Border Collie comes from breeding for athletic ability instead of appearance.  In the dog world this typically means better health and breed specific intelligence.

Personality:  Very agile and active.  They are "high alert," meaning they bark at the doorbell, chase most anything that runs (unless trained not to), and keep track of the family.  BCs are built for herding livestock, especially sheep, and do well in agility and other sports/activities.  Not surprisingly, many owners report their Border Collie is very in tune with their guardian's emotions and movements.  These dogs were bred to herd sheep and have an intensity and a desire to work that makes them unlikely to be happy as couch potatoes.

Common Health Problems:  Hi dysplasia and seizures are sometimes seen.  Potential for a genetic disposition for hip dysplasia can be checked in puppies with x-ray.  Seizures are unsually controllable with medication.

Best Match :  Nancy Yamin of Mutts Better Dog Training in Lane County says, "A hunting, working or herding breed dog requires time and energy be spent working with that dog, ideally in the capacity it was bred for, or another activity that meets its mental and physical needs.  A family with children should seriously consider whether they have the time and desire to spend 2-3 hours daily meeting the needs of their dog."  It's ideal for a Border Collie to be able to go to work with its humans or have access to plenty of activities inside and outside the home. 

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Tullio

Featured Adoptable: Tullio is a very sweet, somewhat shy 2-year old Border Collie mix who arrived at the shelter as a stray and was never claimed.  He loves pets and is happy to curl up in front of the fireplace on colder days.  Although Tullio is a very calm guy, he needs a home where he can get regular exercise.  Visit this handsome boy at The Humane Society of Central Oregon in Bend, call 541-382-3537, or get details at Petfinder.com (ID 15170211).

MCAS Gets National Nod

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The ASPCA recently highlighted Multnomah County Animal Services in a blog about play groups at shelters.  A post called “All Played Out” on the ASPCA’s blog “Shelter’s Edge” includes a video of dogs in action and an interview with Cindy Bruckart, CPDT at MCAS.  Bruckart discusses evaluation techniques she and her colleagues use to ensure everyone stays safe on the playground.  See the full interview and video at MultCoPets.org.

CONFIRMED: Dogs can fly

Makani is ready for serious playtime

Makani is ready for serious playtime

Anyone can be a disc dog!

Some people get revved up watching an amazing touchdown or their favorite player swing from the net in a game-winning slam dunk.  Others get their blood pumping when the horses are in the back furlough and the announcer strains to be heard over the pounding hooves of magnificent beasts.  Then there are those among us for whom dog sports rev our engines.  Likewise, some dogs’ tails start thumping, hearts start racing, and muscles start quivering.  They can barely contain themselves in the presence of their obsession.

Spot received a YouTube video awhile back showing some amazing moves by a human/canine team showing their stuff in the thriving sport of disc dog.  The dazzling duo is Oregon’s own Rich Roskopf and his Aussie/Viszla mix Makani, doing what they love best — playing Frisbee.  Included in their jaw-dropping, acrobatic and energetic routine was a showstopper that surprised and thrilled the crowd.  Going in a handstand, Roskopf flips Makani the disc with his feet.  Makani catches it and sails beautifully into a backflip.  All we can say is, “Wow….”  Printed words can’t convey the excitement — catch the fun with your own eyes by watching the video.

A little about Rich…

Roskopf can’t remember a time he didn’t love throwing a disc.  He played ultimate Frisbee at Oregon State University and, when seeking others of like mind, especially people who enjoyed trying new moves as much as he did, he found the perfect partner:  a dog.  Having a canine partner proved the best of both worlds; Roskopf got to throw the disc and now had someone to bring it back.

Allie makes it look easy during a recent competition

Allie makes it look easy during a recent competition

The dogs…

Makani was a natural jumper who came bearing some great stunt-dogging front and back flips.  Roskopf adopted her from Oregon Dog Rescue and began the thrilling journey the pair continues to enjoy.  Makani was not only a jumping, flipping fiend, but she was ball-crazy.  Roskopf said it took time to get her interested in the disc, but by studying her ball obsession he was able to redirect it to the disc he favored.

Allie is another rescue girl, from the Jefferson County Animal Shelter.  An Australian Shepherd Labrador Retriever mix, Allie was a pleaser from day one, always keen to follow Makani’s lead.

Enter the disc…

Roskopf thought the Frisbee would be a great way to exercise the dogs while allowing him to continue his beloved hobby.  Rain or Pacific Northwest shine, Allie, Makani and Roskopf are out playing, running, chasing, and practicing their sport.  The disc also serves other functions, says Roskopf, including strengthening the trio’s bond.  If you’ve participated in training with your dog, you likely appreciate that while tools help with the work, perhaps the most important factor is the shared bond.  “Sometimes I think I am training them to obey commands and more often than not, they are reminding me to just play,” says Roskopf.

 Rich Roskopf and Makani impress the crowd with their physical prowess.

Rich Roskopf and Makani impress the crowd with their physical prowess.

Disc Training

A dog doesn’t necessarily have an instinct for a disc.  It isn’t an item from nature — something they’d instinctively seek, like a squirrel.  A disc must be introduced, and some dogs need help recognizing its potential for fun.  Roskopf notes that it’s important to develop some proper disc throwing skills before adding your dog into the equation.  You’d don’t want to throw the disc in a way that could lead the dog into harm’s way.

So what if your dog won’t give the disc a look, or acts like he has no clue what you expect?  Try using it as a food and water dish.  Baby steps.  Start slowly and build.  Once your dog is used to the disc being in his or her life, you can move forward.  One thing Roskopf says worked for him was playing tug with it.  That progressed to the dogs tugging and dropping it, then to carrying it while chasing him, to him rolling it along the ground, then flipping it straight up in the air.  Once that became appealing it was a quick transition to throwing horizontally.  Like most things, there’s no one-size-fits-all method.

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These are some ideas to get you started whether your goal is to just have fun with your dog, to meet other people, or to find a sport in which you can compete together.  Makani and Allie’s dad says, “Playing disc with your dogs doesn’t have to be about you standing there and your dog chasing the disc.”  He gets plenty of exercise playing with them — wrestling, playing tag, chase, and keep away.

Caring for the Disc Dog/Athlete

Roskopf’s background is in massage and movement therapy with a primary focus on biomechanics.  So professionally he works to educate people to use their bodies efficiently.  When it comes to dogs, he often finds they tend to learn best when steps are taken in easy, comprehensible bits.  Paying attention to each of their natural abilities and focusing their training, moves, and using routines that showcase those characteristics goes a long way toward keeping the dog balanced, motivated, and happy.  Dogs are excellent workout partners and playmates, and keeping them happy and healthy and accommodating their love of play is integral to the relationship.

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Disc Dogging Resources

There are numerous resources about disc dogging online, including FLYDO (flydogoregon.com).  From videos to pictures, training tips, and contact information for pros like Roskopf, FLYDO is a great site to learn more about this energetic, fun and creative sport.  As is typical of dog-related sports, you’ll likely find people who are extremely helpful, willing to field questions, share tips, discuss strategy, and maybe even meet up for a workout.

Currently, Roskopf is busy working on creative solutions to each of his girls’ challenges — such as maintaining team focus from a distance and turning styles.  He’s also designing a freestyle routine for Allie, and of course just continuing to have fun.  He hopes both dogs will again qualify for the upcoming World Championships.  

Like this story?  See the video!

MCAS offers videos of lost pets

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Multnomah County now has a new way to track lost pets:  the MCAS shelter is periodically posting videos of animals in its kennels in hopes of reuniting more lost dogs and cats with their people more quickly.  While visiting the shelter personally is recommended, the folks at MCAS hope the new service will increase the number of happy endings.  Details MultCoPets.org.

YouTube for pet lovers

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For those who can’t get enough adorable animal footage, a new YouTube channel is just the ticket.  The Petsami channel is dedicated solely to animals, with regular shows such as “Puppies vs. Kittens,” “Ask a Tiger,” and “One Minute Meerkat.”  The channel also offers “Leashline News” hosted by Monkey Parker, a muttley dog who tells inspirational stories from the canine perspective, such as what it takes to be a therapy or seeing-eye dog.  Check out these shows and more at YouTube.com/Petsami.