Monday, August 6, 2018

How You Can Help Your Shelter This Summer

While the kids are out of school, it’s a great opportunity to become active with a local rescue organization. This could be a great time to foster a dog, teaching the kids many lessons about responsibility and caring for others. You can also organize food donations. In this article, we’ll explore how you can make a difference to your local shelter this month.

Visit a Shelter

The first step to making a difference for your local shelter is to visit one in person. Your kids probably know that some dogs and cats live in shelters looking for a new home. But reading or hearing about it isn’t the same as seeing it for yourself. School-age children are old enough to tour a local shelter to see for themselves how many great pets need homes. Visiting a shelter is a great opportunity for them to understand the responsibility of pet ownership. It also teaches them about compassion for these animals who are in need of homes. And they may even feel compelled to spread the word to their friends, encouraging a new generation of pet owners to look into adoption first.

Organize Food Donations

Your local shelter is run by volunteers and relies heavily on donations. While Christmas may be the most popular time to think about making a difference for others, shelter pets need food all year round. Dog and cat owners already have to buy pet food for their own animals. Kind-hearted people are often willing to share with less fortunate dogs, and that’s how our shelter and foster dogs get through hard times.

To organize a food donation, you can make fliers and activate your neighborhood. You could even organize a barbeque or set up a lemonade stand and accept pet food in lieu of money. You could also collect coupons allowing you to purchase more pet food for the same price and donate the extras to your shelter.

Pet or Walk Shelter Animals

Many shelters are understaffed or low on funds. They’re always looking for more helpers to socialize the animals or take dogs outside to play. You and your children can volunteer to do just that. Your contribution may make a shelter pet a little calmer around people and even help them find a forever home when the right person comes along. In the meantime, your visits will keep them happy and healthy.

Donating your time and caring for a shelter animal is also good for your soul. When you volunteer at a shelter, the pets will provide you with insights you may not have had otherwise. It feels good do something for someone else, and if you love animals, volunteering at the shelter is no hardship.

Foster a Dog                    

Fostering an animal is a great way to help your shelter. Many dogs will eventually find a home, but it doesn’t happen overnight. That’s where pet foster parents come into play. During the summer, kids can help with foster dogs and take over feeding and training responsibilities. If nothing else, your children can play with and pet a foster dog while they’re out of school.

Fostering a dog is a great way to figure out if your family is ready for a commitment of this magnitude. It also teaches your children a lot about responsibility and caring for someone other than themselves. You may be surprised how much thought they put into caring for this dog. However, it’s important to prepare them for the inevitable separation when the dog finds a new family. After all, being a foster pet parent is usually a temporary assignment.

Collect Donations

Your time and effort is valuable. But not everyone has the ability to volunteer long hours at the local shelter. Fortunately, you can still make a difference by collecting donations. You don’t have to have a lot of money to donate to make a difference. You can easily organize an event that helps collect donations in the community and donates the proceeds to the local shelter. Entrepreneurial-minded children can even run their own lemonade stand and donate those proceeds to the animal shelter. Every little bit helps.

There are many different ways to make a difference this summer. But even after school starts again, you can use your afternoons and weekends to become active with your local animal shelter. And when a friend is looking for a pet, you know where to send them: the shelter.

Monday, July 23, 2018

5 Things to Do with Your Dog This Summer

Most people are trying to plan fun activities with their kids, friends, and family during the summer, but your dog wants to be part of the action, too. It’s not always easy to find the right activities when it’s hot and humid outside, but your four-legged friend would love to join you wherever you go. Here a few suggestions for making memories with your dog this summer. Don’t forget to keep the camera handy for some great pictures!

Go to the Beach

You can’t live in Volusia County and not make at least one trip to the beach this summer. You may not have given this a lot of thought, but your dog wants to go, too. Most dogs enjoy playing in the water, and some of them are enthusiastic swimmers who’ll never tire of the ocean. There are lots of things to do at the beach with your dog. For example, you can go for a walk along the water edge and let your canine friend enjoy the unusual scents. Your dog may also like to play fetch in the shallow water, although some prefer not to get wet at all.

Some beaches have restrictions that require you to keep your dog on a leash. In certain areas of the beach, your dog may be allowed to roam free – often in the early mornings. If the beach is crowded, it’s important to keep your dog close by and leashed – especially if he doesn’t come to you when you call him. Additionally, you should make sure that your dog doesn’t overheat. Let your dog rest in the shade during the hottest time of the day and give him plenty of fresh water to drink.

Play Frisbee or Ball

It’s traditional to get active in the summer. We recommend playing Frisbee or ball with your dog to get both of you moving. You can do this in your own backyard in the early morning or late evening, when it’s coolest. If your dog is new to playing catch, it may take him a while to understand that the game can’t continue until he returns the ball or Frisbee to you. 

The great thing about using balls and Frisbees is that you don’t have to run as much as your dog. Therefore, this lends itself well for dog owners of any size, age, or physical ability. Even younger children can keep a dog entertained by throwing the ball, and your dog can relieve some of their penned up energy.

Try Agility Training

If you haven’t heard of agility training, you’re in for a treat. With agility training, you’re teaching your dog to go through an obstacle course as quickly and accurately as possible. The dog has to complete the course off the leash without food or toys as an incentive. Naturally, it takes time to work up to the end result, but it can be a fun past time for both of you to enjoy.

Agility training keeps your dog’s mind sharp and his body active. It also builds a deeper bond between you and your dog. Most of all, it can be a lot of fun for both of you to complete the challenges and get better over time.

Play in the Sprinklers

Summer is a time for having outside fun. When temperatures are soaring, it is difficult for the most active dogs to run around outside. You can encourage your dog to have fun by playing in the sprinklers with him. If you have young children, you already know that sprinkler can be irresistible attractions. After all, you never know exactly where the water will come from next, and you’re staying cool while having fun outside. Most dogs like water, but some are very resistant to getting wet. Don’t force your dog to play in the sprinklers with you. But you never know if he likes it until you give it the old college try.

Go for a Trip

Summer is the perfect time to leave home for a little while. Unlike cats, dogs are more securely attached to their owners and enjoy being with you more than being home alone. While going on a trip can be nerve-wracking, it can also be fun and exciting.

Many hotels accept pets, and you can also try renting a condo from a private party for more leeway with the pet policy. Another option is to take an RV or an old-fashioned tent, because most campgrounds welcome dogs with open arms. If organizing an overnight adventure is too exhausting, you could also just take a day trip to the nearest national park.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

7 Signs That Your Dog May Be Sick & When to Call the Vet

Your dog can’t talk and tell you when they’re not feeling good. Nevertheless, most pet owners are aware of their dog’s behavior and can spot the signs when something is wrong. Over the course of your dog’s life, there will probably be several minor ailments and hopefully not too many major ones that require the attention of a trained veterinarian. It’s important to schedule regular checkups and be on the lookout for these signs that your dog is sick.

Bad Breath or Drooling

While some people associate bad breath with dogs, there is a difference between dog breath and bad breath. If your dog’s mouth has an unusual odor to it, that could be a sign that something is wrong. Of course, he may have just caught a rodent or stuck his nose in something smelly, too. If you notice persistent bad breath, it may be a good idea to take your do go to the vet. He may need dental care, or he could be dealing with gastrointestinal, liver, or kidney problems.

Excessive Thirst or Urination

When it’s triple-digit temperatures in the summer, it’s normal that your dog needs extra servings of fresh water. However, if your dog seems thirstier than normal, that’s a possible indicator that something is not quite right. There are a variety of illnesses that could cause your dog to keep coming back for more water, and your vet will quiz you about other symptoms to diagnose the cause, such as a change in appetite or hair loss.

Change in Appetite

Dogs love food. When you serve them dinner, they tend to scarf down their allotted portion within seconds. If your dog doesn’t eat as much food one day or seems a little hungrier another day, that’s not always a cause for concern. A particularly active day may have made him hungry, and a growing dog may need more food. However, if your dog refuses to eat, eats very little, or never stops eating, you should get in touch with your veterinarian. Any change in appetite that also corresponds to a change in weight is a cause for concern in a grown adult dog.

Behavioral Changes

Your dog may have days when he’s grouchier or more tired than usual. If you notice a trend that your dog isn’t as interested in doing things as he once did or is sleeping more than he used to, it’s important to rule out any underlying problems. Your dog may also exhibit attitude changes that could be caused by an illness. Finally, if your dog is unable to do certain things, such as climbing stairs, you want to mention that to your vet, too. 

Coughing or Labored Breathing

While the common cold is typically spread around humans, dogs can also cough. Unfortunately, a cough isn’t always benign and may indicate lung disease, heartworms, or another type of heart disease. If your dog has a hacking cough, he may have kennel cough. Kennel cough is contracted from other dogs and usually resolves within two weeks. Puppies are more vulnerable and could be at risk for pneumonia. Certain breeds are also more likely to have difficulties breathing, especially if they have a flat face.

Skin Problems

Your dog is a popular host for many types of critters. Between fleas and ticks, your dog may scratch often. Some dogs also react to certain allergens found in their food. If your dog has sores, dry or itchy skin, they may be fighting an infection or have an autoimmune disorder. Your vet can help you treat dermatitis and offer suggestions on getting your dog symptom relief.

Red or Cloudy Eyes

Eyes are considered the window of your soul, but they can also tell you a lot about the health of your pet. If you notice that your dog has red eyes, he may have an allergy or an injury to the eye tissues. Cloudy eyes are often a sign of cataracts or nuclear sclerosis. This is a common observance as your pet ages.

When to Call the Vet

Oftentimes, you can talk to your vet about the things you have observed at your next appointment. However, sometimes it’s more urgent and you need to take your pet in right away. If you’re not sure, just give the vet a call, and they’ll let you know. But here are some signs that your dog requires immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Panting, inability to lie down, and abdominal bloating
  • Seizures
  • Collapse or profound weakness
  • Profuse hemorrhage
  • Major trauma
  • Loss of use of rear legs
  • Not drinking or eating for a day

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Importance of Pet Foster Parents

At Sophie’s Circle, our pet foster parents are the real heroes. Our organization does not have a facility to keep the animals while we look for their forever home. Instead, local pet foster parents welcome the pet into their home for a short period of time, allowing us to take the time to find the best match for them. Pet fosters are desperately needed. Here you’ll learn about the importance of fostering and how you can help our mission.

The Role of Sophie’s Circle

Sophie’s Circle has a big mission. Our goal is to rescue animals and help them find a forever home. Local shelters work at limited capacity, and they euthanize pets that don’t get adopted. This is done even though most of the animals don’t have incurable diseases or untreatable behavior issues. At Sophie’s Circle, we work hard to give every pet the second chance they deserve.

Our pet rescue organization works hard to match every pet to the right owner. The goal is to find a forever home for each pet, which is why we take our time to get to know our foster parents and adopters. We act as a go-between and use our network and reach to place the animals in their forever homes. We also operate a pet food bank that relies on the generous support of our donors.

How to Become a Pet Foster Parent

We’re excited about anyone who considers becoming a pet foster parent. As a foster parent, you may be asked to keep a dog for one night or several weeks, depending on how soon a family can be found to adopt the pet. It’s easy to become a pet foster parent – just fill out an application and email to us.

The application is very thorough and requests a lot of information about your household. To place a foster pet in your home, it’s important that we get to know your family and pets. Every dog is different, and some dogs may not thrive with young children or in households with other pets. It’s up to us to ensure that the foster pet is a good fit for your unique situation.

Additionally, you’ll be asked what type of animal you’re looking to foster. Some animals may need to be house trained, and others may have medical issues that need attention. If you need assistance in taking the foster pet to the vet or to any of the scheduled events where she can meet potential adopters, our staff is happy to help.

Why Pet Foster Parents Are Needed

Our organization relies on foster parents to successfully find new homes for our dogs. We do not have a facility to board the dogs that are in need of new homes. Instead, every animal will be placed in a foster home that is compatible with the dog. The foster pet parent will keep the animal until a home can be found for them. A foster may stay as short as one night or as long as an entire month.

Our foster parents play an extremely important role. While local shelters can take in animals, they often euthanize pets before a home can be found for them. By fostering the pets, they are given a second chance allowing us to treat their medical condition, rehabilitate them, and find a new owner for the pet.

In most cases, the animals have done nothing wrong. Their owner may have passed away, moved, or divorced. Now the dogs deserve another chance to have human companionship and a family that cares for them.

How You Can Help

There are many ways to help our organization rescue more animals. If you’re in a place where you’re ready for pet ownership, you can browse our current listings to find a dog to adopt in Volusia County. You can conveniently fill out an application for adoption online.

To keep our operations running, we always rely on pet foster parents. While we’d love for you to adopt an animal, your willingness to be a pet foster parent is also very much appreciated. You can fill out a pet foster application here.

Lastly, our organization relies on donations to keep going. We are a registered nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation. We’re able to rescue and rehabilitate countless dogs in need with the support of foster pet parents and donors. As the only pet food bank in Volusia County, Florida, we accept pet food and monetary donations on an ongoing basis. Our contribution will be appreciated.

Monday, June 11, 2018

How to Help Your Dog Get Along with Other Animals

In general, dogs are friendly and easy to get along with, especially when they’re around their favorite humans. However, unless you live in the middle of nowhere, your dog is bound to run into other animals from time to time. Here you’ll learn how to help your dog get along with other animals, whether they are dogs you meet on your daily walks or other pets in your household.

Other Dogs

Taking your dog for a walk is good for both of you. You’re getting some exercise and fresh air at the same time. However, for some dog owners outings are difficult because of other dogs in the area. In many cases, two dogs that meet on the sidewalk will be good-natured, expressing curiosity and interest but not aggression. However, if your dog tends to act aggressively towards other dogs, you’ll want to address this before it becomes a problem.

The first step in the process is to teach your dog basic obedience. Once your dog understands and follows commands like sit, down, and stay, it’s easier to control their behavior when other dogs are present. You can take an obedience class in your local area or hire a dog trainer to work one-on-one with your dog. Either way, you must practice the commands regularly to ensure that they’ll work when you need them most.

Strategies to Use

If another dog approaches, you can ask your dog to lie down and stay that way. In many cases, this will keep your dog from acting aggressively as long as the other dog doesn’t come too close. The down position sends a signal to the other dog that discourages aggressiveness, which is why it can be very effective.

Another tactic that can be very successful is simple avoidance. If your dog is known to be aggressive with certain other dogs in the neighborhood, you can simply switch to the other side of the street when another dog approaches. You can use this method in combination with obedience, but it will work in a pinch when you’re pressed for time.

Lastly, it’s important to socialize your dog with other dogs. You can do this by visiting dog parks or having your dog spend one-on-one time with other dogs in your neighborhood. You may even strike up interesting conversation with other dog owners in the process and make new friends for both of you.

If your dog does get into a fight with another dog, the best thing you can do is stay calm. You can break up the fight by pulling the leading dog up (not back) away from the other dog. It’s important to stay calm after the fight. The dogs will quickly forget about it, and there’s still a chance for them to get along just fine. In fact, even dogs that live together can occasionally get into a fight over food or as a result of misreading the other dog’s signals.

Small Animals

It’s possible for dogs to get along with small animals, like rabbits and guinea pigs. However, not every dog can learn to abandon their natural instinct and leave small animals alone. If your dog likes to run after squirrels or other small critters, you may be best advised to keep them away from small pets. 

To introduce your dog to a small pet, you must proceed in steps. The first step is to bring the small animal home and keep them in a room separate from the dog. In the beginning, your dog will spend a lot of time sniffing at door. After the dog loses interest in the new smells, it’s time to introduce them to the small pet by letting them go into the room, keeping them on a leash and the small animal safe in the cage. 

The goal is for the dog to lose interest in the small animal. You may only be able to keep the dog in the same room for a few minutes at first, rewarding him with treats if they stay calm. Eventually, your dog may learn to ignore the animal. It’s important to keep your pets’ safety in mind throughout the process. Your small animal should be secured in the cage where the dog can’t get to them and have access to food, water, and shelter.

If your dog can't seem to get along with your small animals, you have some options. If you can ensure that the small animal is safe from the dog, it's possible to keep both in the house. However, it's important to keep both safe before you leave the house each day and supervise all interactions between them.