Too many times during the summer months, dogs get left in vehicles, their humans thinking if the windows are rolled down a bit and/or they park in the shade, the dog will be all right. Afterall, most dogs love car rides and spending time with their humans during travel; and, notably, we people enjoy having our furry friends for a ride-along. Yet, summer is a bad time to take your dog for a drive and then leave it in the vehicle while you run errands or have a doctor or hair appointment.
Studies show the temperature inside a vehicle can rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes and nearly 30 degrees in 20 minutes. The inside of a vehicle, even with the windows cracked, can climb to nearly 150 degrees. Children and pets left inside vehicles, even with windows opened a crack, can suffer heat stroke and die, and unfortunately, that happens all too often.
Each year, an average of 38 children and numerous dogs die because of being left in cars during summer. As of the end of June this year, 15 children had died from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle, and many dogs have already succumbed to death in a hot car, including a Georgia K-9 dog left in the cruiser by his police handler last month.
A veterinarian, Dr. Ernie Ward, created a video in which he showcases the rising temperature and describes the ramifications of leaving a dog inside a vehicle, even with all four windows cracked about an inch. See the YouTube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tJJ79YoFvM. Dogs and children do not tolerate heat as well as adults; in fact, dogs don't sweat in the same way as humans, so their ability to cool down from hot temperatures isn't as effective as ours.
So, keep your dog cool the remainder of this hot season and don't leave your beloved friend (or your children) in the car!
Other ways to help keep your dog cool include:
Red Rover, an animal welfare nonprofit, offers tips and other information about keeping pets cool in summer. Visit their website for more information: http://www.redrover.org/mydogiscool.
Research shows pets provide great health benefits to people. They can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, uplift our moods, and add years to our life. The simple fact that our pets accept us for who we are, they love us unconditionally and are devoted companion, often waiting by the door for our return, makes us smile and builds our confidence and self-esteem. Dogs get us outdoors for fresh air and walks, and cats curl up in our laps and purr. All of these things and more are healthy benefits to people, both emotionally and physically.
People in nursing homes, hospitals, and hospice often feel weak, are in pain, and get discouraged. Many are lonely. Therapy pets raise their spirits, bringing smiles and joy into situations that can be sad and scary. Pet Partners, formally the Delta Society, and other groups certify pets and their owners for visiting these and other public places and studies show these animals provide great benefits to those whom they visit.
My Springer/Cocker mix Mary and I are certified as a pet therapy team by Therapy Dogs, Inc. We have visited schools and nursing homes and will continue these visits for some time to come. Mary makes an excellent pet therapy dog – she lies quietly on a floor or rug and lets children pet her in the classroom, or she goes to someone in a wheelchair and sits quietly as an elderly person pats her head. Mary enjoys interacting with people, young and old, and she seems to sense those who are in need of emotional connection. Dogs and people share a unique bond, and that becomes even more apparent in a setting such as a school or a nursing home.
Other animals, too, can be used in therapy situations; cats, bunnies, guinea pigs, even horses offer therapeutic value in various circumstances.
Unlike people with whom relationships can be complex, unpredictable, and stressful, animals are a great source of stability and companionship. Having a pet in one’s home can be calming and offer comfort when one is ill. Animals don’t change, and their loyalty to their owners and their ability to rebound from tough situations can be inspiring. The simple act of petting a dog or cat can lower blood pressure and bring a sense of calm to one’s spirit. Interacting with that pet in a playful manner can generate enjoyment and laughter. Even watching fish in a beautiful tank can bring about a sense of peace and an enjoyment of splendor through the colors of both the fish and the tank. And, don’t we all need a bit more tranquility and stability in our lives?
Pets are also a great source of comfort, especially for those affected by natural and other disasters. The K-9 Comfort Dogs from Lutheran Church Charities travel America to help quell the squall people experience after tornadoes, bombings, and other tragedies.
No matter what we’re experiencing, we find love, devotion, acceptance and comfort from the furry friends around us … and we can share that special beauty with others by being partners with our pets in helping those in our community and our country.
Have you hugged your pet today? Do so, and get a bit of pet therapy in your day!
Read an article I wrote about a Casper, Wyo., pet therapy group at the local hospice: http://www.casperjournal.com/news/article_dd2409fd-e3bf-5e2c-aba7-53f62cd522fa.html
In honor of America's Independence Day, let's look at some of the dog breeds that are “made in America.”
The Alaskan Malamute is the largest and oldest Arctic sled dog breeds. Although not designed to race, this dog's great strength and endurance makes it a formidable hauler of goods over long distances. It's named for a native Innuit tribe in Alaska.
Known for its bright, white coat and deep black lips and nose, the American Eskimo is an active, intelligent, and loving dog that was once used in circuses as a trick performer. “Eskies” do well in conformation and agility competitions. Despite it's name, the breed has nothing to do with Eskimos – it's lineage is European Spitz dogs.
Another breed with a name that fools is the Australian Shepherd. They were likely developed by Basque shepherds who came to America from Australia during the 1800s. These quick-witted, quick-footed dogs are versatile and intelligent workers, serving as pet therapy dogs, ranch dogs, and search and rescue dogs as well as family companions. They perform well in obedience and agility competitions.
The American Foxhound is one of the rarest American dog breeds as well as one of the oldest. George Washington, first president of the United States, is known as the father of the American Foxhound. This breed is bred to run and hunt, and therefore, is quite energetic.
The American Staffordshire Terrier, also called the Am Staff, is bred for intelligence and endurance; it's a great competitor in agility, tracking and obedience trials. The Am Staff is related to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England and is loyal and protective of its human family.
Another American breed with ties to England is the American Cocker Spaniel. These dogs are smaller in stature and with a different head shape than their English cousins. Though originally used as sporting dogs, most cockers today are companion animals.
The sturdy, muscular American Bulldog also differs from its English counterpart, having longer legs. This breed almost became extinct by the close of World War II. Loyal, determined and courageous, these dogs were used for bull baiting centuries ago, and though not naturally hostile, some municipalities consider it a bully breed.
Also a rare American breed, the American Water Spaniel is noted for its unique curly coat and excellent retrieving ability. It was developed in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. It's heritage is the Irish Water Spaniel and the Curly-coated Retriever. This breed is known as a wonderful sporting dog and family pet. It is the state dog of Wisconsin.
The Boykin Spaniel is another American spaniel that serves as an official state dog (South Carolina). This breed developed from a small stray dog that became an incredible retriever. Known for its love for people and its stamina, the Boykin is an excellent waterfowl and game bird retriever.
Such dogs seem to be liked by many states. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the state dog of Maryland. This breed originated during the 1800s from the mating of Newfoundlands with retrieving dog breeds. The “Chessie” is an intelligent, active dog that excels as a waterfowl retriever.
Originating from crossing an English bulldog with a white English terrier, the Boston Terrier is a smaller dog breed, developed after the Civil War as a fighting dog. Now known as the “American gentleman”, this little black and white dog is mostly a house pet, and is considered intelligent, loving, and loyal.
The Redbone Coonhound is a vocal breed that traces its heritage to Scottish and Irish red foxhounds brought to America about 300 years ago. Known for speed and agility, these dogs are also excellent swimmers. Their purpose is treeing game. This breed is fairly new to the American Kennel Club (AKC) competition, being recognized in 2010.
Another hound new to the AKC competition is the Treeing Walker Coonhound, recognized in 2012. This energetic, friendly dog's purpose is to track and tree raccoons. It is known for its great endurance and willingness to please.
There are several other American dog breeds. Learn about them and other breeds recognized by the AKC at www.akc.org.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.