Supporting Those Who Served
When Cpl. Matt Foster left Afghanistan after his tour of duty in 2013, he didn’t know whether he would ever see his K-9 partner again.
For nine months, Foster and Sgt. Mick, a black Labrador retriever, lived and worked together keeping the military compound at Camp Leatherneck and the surrounding area in Helmand Province safe from explosive attack.
After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, Foster did not give up in his quest to adopt Mick. The 7-year-old Lab had been discharged for medical reasons, and Foster said he lost count of the number of adoption forms he sent attempting to be reunited with his dog.
Ultimately, Foster’s quest to reconnect with Mick was successful, and they are together again living in Colorado.
“When I first got Mick back, I was worried that I might not be able to take care of him,” he recalled. “After what you go through with your dog in the service and then adopt them afterward, you wouldn’t want to say goodbye to your partner because you couldn’t afford to take care of him.”
Once military and police dogs retire, with no guaranteed pension for their medical care, the burden and cost of care often fall solely on their caregivers. Now an advocate for military dog adoption, Foster has joined The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve and the RIMADYL K-9 Courage program to help other retired military dogs and handlers.
The RIMADYL K-9 Courage Program is a charitable healthcare donation program that, together with The Sage Foundation and National Police Dog Foundation, provides financial and in-kind product donations of $150,000 annually to support the veterinary needs for up to 500 retired police and military K-9s.
Officer without a pension
Despite being considered an officer of his county’s sheriff’s office, Dano is another retired working dog whose veterinary needs and expenses will mount after retirement.
“Dano is an extraordinary dog,” said Senior Deputy Sheriff Danielle Delpit of her K-9 partner. “He’s been injured, tazed and involved in two critical incidents.”
Recently, Delpit noticed that Dano, now 7 1/2 years old, was slowing down and she reluctantly decided it was time for him to retire. After Dano’s retirement, it became Delpit’s responsibility to care for him.
“While on active duty, Dano’s veterinary care was covered. But now that he is retired, it is up to me,” she explained. “Dano has injuries; he has a bad back and I know he will eventually have arthritis. The RIMADYL K-9 Courage Program will give me peace of mind to know I’ll have help to give him the healthcare he deserves.”
K-9s in service
An estimated 1,775 military dogs are actively working to protect military personnel. Each dog saves as many as 150-200 service men and women by detecting explosives and hidden weapons caches.
The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve (www.sagefoundationfordogs.org) works to promote the welfare of dogs who have faithfully served in wars, police work, crime prevention and rescue. Their work includes education and public awareness, as well as making medical care available for these hero dogs.
Law enforcement dogs are used at the local, county, state and federal levels, and are considered full-fledged police officers. Unlike their human counterparts, however, these officers do not receive a pension.
With a mission of making K-9 teams mission-ready and self-sustaining, the National Police Dog Foundation (www.nationalpolicedogfoundation.org) provides funding for the purchase, training and medical needs for police dogs through retirement.
Learn how you can support retired police and military dogs at www.rimadylk9courage.com.
Sources: Family Features | Zoetis
Ways to Welcome a Shelter Dog
Animal shelters are full of lovable dogs of all breeds, sizes and ages deserving of a good home and ready to become your next four-legged family member. In fact, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, nearly 2 million dogs are adopted into new families each year.
However, choosing the right dog is just the beginning. The first weeks after bringing home an adopted pet are critical. It’s a time to get to know one another and build a lifelong connection. Here are some steps to help ease the transition:
Create a pet-friendly environment. Keep items that are unsafe, such as chemicals and certain house plants, out of reach. Cords and objects that invite chewing also should be tucked away. If certain areas will be off limits, use baby gates to block them.
Expect accidents. While house training a puppy is to be expected, you may find that an older dog needs help in this area as well. The stress of transitioning into a new household can lead to accidents, so keep this in mind and be sure to provide your new pet with lots of potty breaks, patience and instruction.
Start with smart nutrition. Providing your new dog with a high-quality diet from the beginning can contribute to a lifetime of whole body health. Chose a complete, balanced food with real meat as the No. 1 ingredient, such as Purina ONE SmartBlend, so that you can be confident you’re giving them the best nutrition available.
Introduce a schedule. Providing dogs with a consistent routine right off the bat can help ease their stress during the transition. Set a schedule for walks, feeding time and training so he can settle into a routine that feels a bit more familiar.
Approach training with patience. Without knowing how your pet was trained, it can be difficult to predict how he will respond in his new environment. For example, he may be used to receiving treats for good behavior, while you prefer to reward with praise. Plan to be flexible, and soon you’ll come to a shared understanding.
Emmy-nominated actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson recently began putting these tips into practice after adopting his new dog, Fennel. The television star partnered with Purina ONE to promote its ONE Difference campaign, which celebrates those making a positive difference in the life of shelter dogs, and he ended up finding a forever friend in the process. The 8-month-old Cockapoo mix joins Ferguson’s 3-year-old Maltese-Yorkie mix, Leaf. The pair are currently taking the Purina ONE 28 Day Challenge, and encouraging others to do the same.
Learn more, and find out why more than 90,000 dog owners have decided to switch to Purina ONE, by visiting www.PurinaONE/MakeONEDifference.
Sources: Purina ONE | Family Features
Pet-Friendly Attire for a Walk Down the Aisle
For couples planning a wedding, there is greater opportunity than ever to weave personal elements into every aspect of the big day. Many traditional “rules” of wedding planning have given way to let couples celebrate as they see fit – even including their four-legged family members and inviting guests to do the same.
Whether you’re a bride whose furry friend will play a leading role in the festivities, or a guest bringing your pooch along for the party, these tips from the pet experts at PetSmart will help ensure your canine companions join the celebration in comfort and style.
Put your pet to work. Think ahead about how your pet will participate in the fun: as a member of the wedding party, perhaps as ring bearer or flower girl? Give your pet a rehearsal run to be sure she’s up for the task.
Choose a fur kid-friendly venue. If pets are welcome, make sure they’ll also be safe. For instance, avoid freshly fertilized lawns and plants, as well as flowers that are toxic to pets. Find out where your fur babies can go and where they need to be on a leash. If possible, give your pet a few sneak peeks of the location.
Don’t make pets suffer for fashion. Skip the puppy couture version of a tight pair of shoes or an itchy shirt tag, and choose a stylish pup-friendly ensemble instead. Made of lightweight, breathable materials, each piece of the Martha Stewart Pets® wedding collection for dogs features timeless design elements, simple color palettes and complementary accessories such as collars and leashes to help ensure your pooch puts her best foot forward. The limited-edition line of dapper, sweet and sophisticated wedding attire, including elegant tuxedos to bow-adorned dresses, is available at www.petsmart.com and PetSmart stores. Remember, a “dress rehearsal” can help you make sure your fur kids can sit and stay comfortably in their wedding day attire.
Pamper your pet. Now is not the time to skimp on pampering. From lush, oxygen-infused baths to haircuts fit for a show dog, nail trims to non-toxic chalking and decorative stenciling, let a groomer take the lead on your pet’s look for the big day.
Keep everyone fed. Make sure your four-legged friends have more than table scraps to nosh on during the reception. Serve food in a portable bowl and bring treats, too. In case one of the guests can’t resist helping Fido sneak a snack, be sure the human menu doesn’t contain anything that’s harmful to pets. Provide plenty of fresh water, and if the venue is outdoors, use a large block of ice to keep your canine’s water cool all day.
Make sure your fur kid is the party type. Before committing your pet to a vibrant celebration, be sure he’s comfortable with commotion, loud music, crowds and strangers. Consider signing up for a training class beforehand; brushing up on your pet’s best behavior can only enhance the day.
Assign a chaperone. If you have a leading role in the big day as the bride or a member of the wedding party, recruit a staff or family member to double as your pet’s dedicated chaperone. Arm them with a pooper scooper and pick up bags. Help create a quiet, safe space for the chaperone to guide your pet away from the excitement if it becomes overwhelming.
For more fashionable inspiration and tips to ensure wedding party pets remain healthy, happy and stress-free, visit www.PetSmart.com or follow PetSmart on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Sources: Pet Smart | Family Features
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