Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Honoring military dogs -- What you can do to help these doggy heroes

Monday was Memorial Day. We honored the men and women who died to keep us free.

Lets not forget the the dogs who sacrificed too.

Beagles are not typically used as military dogs because of their overdeveloped sense of smell, but German and Dutch shepherds and retrievers are used to detect bombs and booby traps, alert troops to snipers and other suspicious people, and find the wounded in hard to reach places.

A memorial is expected to be unveiled next year in Washington for military dogs. The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument will feature bronze statues of the dog breeds that have helped our troops do their jobs since World War I.

Right now the team behind it is collecting donations. If you would like to donate, head over to the website. 

Meanwhile, there is a bill in Congress to change the way military dogs are classified. Right now they are classified as equipment. The bill would change that to "canine members of the armed forces" and also to make it easier to adopt retired military dogs. The bill has support in the House, but needs help in the Senate.

If you want to help, check out this article from the ASPCA.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Diva Dog: Getting good pictures of Lulu the beagle, and other dogs too

You know, when we first got Lulu, even when I first started this blog, I had no trouble getting pictures of Lulu. She saw the camera, would sit down and give me a smile.


See what I mean? That was before she even left the shelter.

Nowadays though, getting her to take a picture is a struggle. She turns her head, turns around, even runs in the other direction. I don't know if she is just sick of having to picture taken all the time or what.

This was a much better picture when I started.

So I've been looking up tips for taking better pictures of her. There are some great sites with info out there already. The two I like best are Dogster and Pet Travel Experts.

Both offer the following advice:

  • Get down to the pet's level
  • Focus on the eyes
  • Get the pet's character -- candid shots
  • Don't use a flash if you can help it
Some other good ideas: 
  • Use treats -- which works great for beagles, since there are treat crazy
  • Do whatever it takes to make your dog stand out in the picture -- simple backgrounds, well-lit.
  • IPhones and other cameras can take good pics of your dog:

You will need to get as close as you can without spooking your dog. The zooms really ruin the pics. You'll also need to make sure the lighting is good. If you want, you can just put the camera on video and then take freeze frames. It works well.

You don't need to get an expensive camera. Point and shoots work well. Many have kids and pets features that take good photos. But both blogs have good info if you're looking for some more advanced equipment.

Just remember -- patience is key, and especially with a beagle. Watch your animal and be prepared to hit that shutter button.

Happy shooting!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rescuing beagles -- The work to save these dogs across the country

This weekend we took a trip to SPCA/Humane Society of Central Florida in Orlando. My parents decided to look for another dog, since Lulu was now mine. And they found one -- a long-haired dachshund. But there were three adult or senior beagles waiting patiently for new homes. In all cases, the beagles were given up because the owners were told they could not keep them.

All over the country, animals are being given up because owners can no longer keep them. These animals have a chance to find homes, and they have volunteers who treat them well. Only their hearts were broken.

Other beagles endure a worse nightmare -- abandoned, abused, neglected. And even worse, some never even see the light of day. Shut up in lab cages, beagles are often the dog of choice for testing products like makeup, household cleaners and drugs. In fact, it was surprising that Lulu had a reaction to her rabies vaccination last month because beagles are often used to test the vaccines.

Why are beagles so prized for animal experiments? Beagles, generally, are docile, forgiving creatures. They can take a lot of abuse.

Fortunately there are groups out there that take these lab beagles in. Most notable among these is the Beagle Freedom Project. They work with the labs to get these dogs out, rehabilitated, and into good homes. Most recently, they rescued 10 dogs from San Diego.

They also rescued 40 dogs from a lab in Spain. You may have seen the video of the dogs seeing sunshine and grass for the first time ever.

The Beagle Freedom Project is a non-profit out of California, and if you want to help them out, you can get in contact with them to foster a dog, or donate supplies.

There are beagle groups across the country, and all over the world that you can help with though.

Petfinder is a great reference if you're looking for groups in America or Canada. You can also use beagle.rescueshelter.com to find groups in other countries.

Since I'm from Florida, here's a list of Florida rescue groups for beagles:

First Coast Beagle Rescue -- Jacksonville, FL
Southeast Beagle Rescue -- Tampa, FL
Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue -- Tampa, FL
Ziggy Beagle Rescue -- Palm Bay, FL

If you know of any other beagle rescue groups out there, don't hesitate to leave a comment. You can also talk to us on Twitter, via @LifeWithBeagle, or Facebook on Lulu the beagle's official Facebook page.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lulu the beagle becomes a hot dog: Summer, your dog and health issues to watch for

It's Florida in May. It's hot. Very hot. But the other day I decided it'd be a good idea to take Lulu to the doggy park anyway. It'd been a while since she'd been out socializing since I've been busy with some personal changes, and she enjoys it.

A lot.

There weren't many dogs out, but she did meet some new dogs and got to run around a bit, but it wasn't long before I noticed she might have been getting hot.

Lulu rarely goes into the pool, and when she does she never stays for a long period. This time, however, she just walked around it, I guess trying to keep her feet cool. So I decided to take her home.

And in the car she panted like a fiend, even with the air conditioning on.

According to Pet WebMD (yes, there is such a thing), a symptom of heat stroke can be heavy, fast, and/or erratic panting. But she showed no other signs: no heavy drooling or frothing at the mouth, he tongue and gums looked fine, and she didn't feel hot to the touch. And eventually she cooled down. 

More and more people are taking their dogs to doggy parks, and in the summer that means looking for the signs that your dog may have a problem. VPI Pet Insurance.com recently put out a release on what dog owners should do to prevent your dog from having a heat problem at the dog park. Aside from watching for the signs and keeping the dog hydrated, you should also maybe not go to the park between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (we went to the park around 3:30). This way the dog is out of the sun when it's at its highest point.

But heat exhaustion/stroke is not the only problem pet owners should be aware of at the dog park. VPI's list also includes:

  • Sprains and Soft Tissue Injuries
  • Lacerations and Bite Wounds
  • Kennel Cough/Upper Respiratory Infection
  • Insect Bites
  • Head Trauma
  • Parasites
  • Parvovirus
VPI compiled this list based on last year's dog park-related medical injuries. Sprains and soft tissue injuries are the most common -- the more the dog is outside, the more likely it can get hurt. All kinds of illnesses can come from insect bites, including lyme disease from ticks and heartworm issues from mosquitoes.

The best advice is to have an eye on your dog at all times when the dog is outdoors, and make sure to check the dog when you are finished being outside. 

Don't forget -- you can follow us on Twitter via our Life With Beagle account, or on Facebook, just like the page for "Lulu the Beagle."

FACTOID: What exactly are the DOG DAYS of SUMMER? According to Wikipedia:

"Dog Days" (Latin: diēs caniculārēs) are the hottest, most sultry days of summer. In the Northern Hemisphere, the dog days of summer are most commonly experienced in the months of July and August, which typically observe the warmest summer temperatures. In the Southern Hemisphere, they typically occur in January and February, in the midst of the austral summer. The name comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, in close proximity to the sun was responsible for the hot weather.
So the "dog days" actually have nothing to do with an actual dog. Good to know.