Tuesday, November 30, 2010

USDA Fails To Crack Down On Puppy Mills....

USDA fails to crack down on puppy mills
The Associated Press
... government report says dogs are dying and living in horrific conditions due to lax government enforcement of large kennels known as puppy mills. ...

USDA fails to crack down on puppy mills

By MARY CLARE JALONICK (AP) – May 25, 2010

WASHINGTON — An internal government report says dogs are dying and living in horrific conditions due to lax government enforcement of large kennels known as puppy mills.

Investigators say the Department of Agriculture agency in charge of enforcing the Animal Welfare Act often ignores repeat violations, waives penalties and doesn't adequately document inhumane treatment of dogs. In one case cited by the department's inspector general, 27 dogs died at an Oklahoma breeding facility after inspectors had visited the facility several times and cited it for violations.

The review, conducted between 2006 and 2008, found that more than half of those who had already been cited for violations flouted the law again. It details grisly conditions at several facilities and includes photos of dogs with gaping wounds, covered in ticks and living among pools of feces.

The report recommends that the animal care unit at the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service immediately confiscate animals that are dying or seriously suffering, and better train its inspectors to document, report and penalize wrongdoing.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday that the department takes the report seriously and will force immediate action to improve enforcement, penalties and inspector training. He noted the investigation was conducted before his time in office and called it troubling.

"USDA will reinforce its efforts under its animal welfare responsibilities, including tougher penalties for repeat offenders and greater consistent action to strongly enforce the law," he said.

The investigators visited 68 dog breeders and dog brokers in eight states that had been cited for at least one violation in the previous three years. On those visits, they found that first-time violators were rarely penalized, even for more serious violations, and repeat offenders were often let off the hook as well. The agency also gave some breeders a second chance to correct their actions even when they found animals dying or suffering, delaying confiscation of the animals.

"(Animal care) generally took little or no enforcement actions against these facilities during the period," the investigators wrote, adding that the agency placed too much emphasis on educating the violators instead of penalizing them.

Online: 69 page report

USDA Inspector General report:

Don't Chain Your Dogs Up...........

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Not Worth The Time Or Money..........

Agricultural groups weigh options for fighting Proposition B
Monday, November 22, 2010
BY Jessica Stephens
COLUMBIA — Groups opposing Proposition B lost their battle in the polls on Election Day. Now they're hoping to counter that loss with a win in the courtroom or the state legislature.
The ballot initiative, adds restrictions to commercial dog breeders. It applies to all facilities that own more than 10 female sexually intact dogs and breed them with the intention of selling their offspring.
Proposition B provides clear guidance to inspectors.Agricultural groups such as the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, the Missouri Pet Breeders Association and the Missourians for Animal Care Coalition are working to keep Proposition B from taking effect at all. These groups have been working with Rep. Mike Parson and Rep. Tom Loehner, who work on the House Agricultural Policy Committee, to determine which course of action is most likely to weaken or eliminate the law.

Loehner said he is considering filing a bill that would "grandfather in" licensed breeders, or exempt breeders who were licensed before the election, from having to meet the new restrictions.

If the new law's opponents choose to fight Proposition B in the Missouri legislature, they must wait until Dec. 1 to prefile any new bills. These prefiled bills would then be introduced Jan. 5, the first day of the General Assembly session, according to the Missouri House of Representatives website. Any proposed bill would need 82 yes votes before moving to the state Senate.

MU law professor Richard Reuben said any attempt to fight Proposition B through the state legislature or court system would be a long shot — and expensive.

Reuben said trying to repeal or weaken the law would mean opposition groups must pay for attorneys, filing costs and possible appeal costs if they choose to appeal in the courts.

"It's not an inexpensive proposition," he said. "You could be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars."

If they go the judicial route, Reuben said groups opposed to Proposition B must find something illegal in the way the law was enacted or find a constitutional provision that would trump the new law.

Reuben said fighting the law through the state Legislature might be more effective, but that it's still not likely to be successful. If agricultural groups go this route, they must try to get both the House and Senate to pass an amendment modifying Proposition B or eliminating it altogether. This amendment must then be signed by the governor before becoming a law.

Reuben said getting this kind of legislation passed wouldn't be easy, especially since Proposition B won with a popular vote.

But Loehner said Proposition B certainly has enough opposition to merit a second look. He pointed out that most of the people who voted in favor of the law live in cities and don't understand what it's like raising animals for profit. He added that 103 out of 114 counties rejected Proposition B.

But Reuben pointed out that fighting Proposition B might not be worth the time and money it would require of opposition groups. "There gets to be a real point where they have to ask themselves if the cost to fight the law is more than the cost of complying," he said.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Real Life Meets Second Life

November 26th, 27th and 29th.

With the innovation of the Internet comes the virtual world, Second Life. Second Life is a 3d virtual world environment that allows people from all over the world to meet and chat and interact. It is becoming very popular and well known throughout the country and the world. Corporations like Intel, Cisco, CNN, IBM, and many others have placed in world locations in the virtual world.

The live music scene in Second Life has become something of it’s own innovation. Music companies are looking and listening. Several musicians have actually signed contracts and the talent is incredible. It is amazing to have musicians from all over the world be heard by others in a unique forum such as Second Life. There are 3d venues and people come as if they were attending a real world concert.

November 26tth, 27th, and 28th is the big event, called “A WEEKEND FOR LUCAS”. Over 25 hours of live music each day with some of Second Life’s best musicians.

Lucas was a dog that was rescued from certain death over a year ago by Robert Cabral from www.boundangels.org. Lucas was abused and neglected most of his life. Finally, Jay Hellerich from The Smiling Dog Farms, was contacted and agreed to take Lucas. Lucas sadly passed away since but we know that his last days were his best ones. In his honor we have created this wonderful event, now on our 4th year. All proceeds going to www.smilingdogfarms.com.

Smiling Dog Farms is a private animal sanctuary that survives solely on donations. Their efforts to save lives is truly rare in this day and age

This is a wonderful newsworthy story that needs to be told. To bring the efforts of a virtual world to the real world in a positive way can make a difference. The true hope is that this event can raise awareness not only at the local levels but the national levels as well. We urge all of those receiving this press release to please respond. Jay Hellerich is available for interviews and any specific information you may need

St. Louis Senior Dog Project....

Farewell to Annie Berg The St. Louis Senior Dog Project is a not-for-profit dog rescue organization specializing in older dogs but taking in and finding homes for dogs of all ages. See our adoptable dogs here. We'll be at the Kirkwood Petco 11 to 3 Saturday, November 20 from 11 to 3. This will be a special Adopt-A-Senior-Dog Day. All senior dogs will have low adoption fees for this day only of $50 to $75. And senior citizens adopting senior dogs will receive free vet care for life through the Stray Rescue clinic. But if you're not interested in a senior dog, we will also have many young dogs there as well.

OUR 2011 Calendar is now available. You can purchase it online at www.yearbox.com/seniordog or at one of our adoption events. Volunteers will also be selling calendars. A great Christmas gift for your dog-loving friends.

I liked her. That's about it. I liked her.

She was a little blond corgi who'd spent her seven years as a breeder, but she came to the front of her cage when I whispered her name. This was at a dog auction three weeks ago where one of the state's largest breeders was shutting down.

She seemed tired, a little worn. But what would you expect from a dog whose had too many puppies? She still had milk from the last litter.

Everyone described her as "sweet, sweet, sweet," but someone did warn me that she was sick. That made me want her all the more. I won the bid, took her home and placed her in a foster home. We took her to the vet. She was thin; she was running a temperature, but we were all optimistic that day. We could nurse her back to health. We were wrong.

She rallied for awhile. It looked like she was on her way-- even though we found out she had mammary tumors. We could fix that,\. Than a few days ago she stopped eating. She became lethargic. We took her back for another vet visit.

This time the news was bad. She was in liver failure and she had some sort of anemia. She wasn't going to get better. So we let her go gently. She'd had three weeks of love in her foster home, but that wasn't at all what I had mind. I thought we could give her half her life in a good home with toys and fancy dog beds. The works.

We have so many good days and so much good news. But nothing makes the losses any easier.

Ellen Ellick
St. Louis Senior Dog Project

A Holiday Adopt Don't Shop Wish by Melissa Karpel

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You've Got To Admire Bob Barker......

Proposition B was supported by animal welfare groups from all across the state

The assertion by the dog breeders' representative that they were attacked by out-of-state animal rights groups could not be farther from the truth ("Contempt," Nov. 9).

Proposition B was supported by animal welfare groups from across the state, including the Humane Society of Missouri, Wayside Waifs (Kansas City), Central Missouri Humane Society, Humane Society of Southwest Missouri (Springfield), Stray Rescue of St. Louis and the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation.

The cruelties associated with puppy mills is an animal welfare issue, not an animal rights issue. Proposition B still will permit kennels to breed dogs. Proposition B will ensure the humane treatment of dogs confined at large breeding operations. It will ensure veterinary care, access to water and nutritious food and adequate living space and exercise. This is about the welfare of dogs and has strong support among all Missouri animal-welfare advocates.

Proposition B was endorsed by former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth. The wife of U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, Linda, served on the Puppy Mill Reform Committee, which helped advance Proposition B.

Missouri Attorney Gen. Chris Koster said that plans to overturn voter approval of new rules to rein in puppy mills would probably fail because the language is not as overreaching as some opponents have claimed.

All Missourians should be proud that we have reasonable welfare standards in place to protect dogs.

Bob Baker • St. Louis Executive Director, Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation

PetShopPuppies.org is Fabulous website to check out....

The holidays are fast approaching. The commercial dog breeding industry boasts that 50% of annual sales occur between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Please help us combat holiday puppy sales by educating the public about the realities of this cruel industry. We are offering our educational brochures, free of charge, to all those willing to get involved. We will even pay for shipping.

Follow this link to preview our brochures. You can also use the following link for creative ways to distribute brochures.

To order 200 of our brochures, go to their site and it will tell you how to with your name and mailing address.

Also, if you, or someone you know has purchased, or are considering purchasing, a pet store puppy, please fill out a request for our free puppy report. It will help you better understand the true origin of your puppy and provides us with very important information which allows us to track the activities of this industry.

We believe education and awareness are the keys to stopping puppy mills. Please continue to help us speak out on behalf of puppy mill dogs.
Thank you,
PetShopPuppies, Inc.

Go to their fabulous website at PetShopPuppies.org
Did you know that 90% or more of the puppies/dogs sold at Pet Stores are from Puppy Mills and 30-40% of puppies/dogs sold anywhere in the nation at pet stores are coming from Missouri.
Please don't ever buy a pet from a PET STORE !!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How To Work WIth A Puppy Mill Dog......

Here are some resources to help with puppymill dogs training



Every mill survivor is different. What works on one or many, will completely fail on others; the only thing that is consistent is that they will need lots of patience, understanding, love, and probably most importantly, unconditional acceptance of what they are and what their limitations may be. At first glance a mill survivor may look like many of your friends' dogs; maybe not a perfect example of the breed, but close. What you won't see is the condition they were in when came into rescue. Many have fur so matted that it all had to be shaved off and even the short haired breeds suffer from thin dull coats. Many times removing the filth and matting have only revealed open sores, usually from flea allergies or sarcoptic mange. Their ears are often full of filth and usually mites and some survivors suffer from permanent hearing loss because of untreated ear infections. Most survivors require the removal of rotten teeth, even young dogs. The gums are usually very infected and the teeth have excessive buildup on them. Many vets who are not familiar with puppy mill rescued dogs will miscalculate the age of the dog if using only the teeth as their guide. Many survivors also suffer from swollen, splayed and sore feet from so much time walking on wire. While finally getting some good nutrition and extensive medical care after arriving in rescue, all too often there remains the psychological damage that can't be fixed with a bath, medicine, or surgery. We would love to say that every puppy mill survivor only needs love to turn it into a wonderful family pet, but that would be a lie. Love is definitely needed in large amounts, but so is patience. The damage done during the years in the mill usually can be overcome, but it takes time and dedication. It takes a very special adopter for one of these dogs. Not being "up to it" is no crime, but you need to be honest with yourself, and us, about your expectations. These dogs have already been through more than their share of heartache and if your entire family is not willing to make the commitment, the dog is better off staying in our care until the perfect home for them is found. Handling:
Many mill survivors have spent their entire life in the mill with only a elevated wire cage to call home. Puppies who grow up in a mill miss out on many crucial socialization periods with humans and they never learn to trust, to love, or to play. They have had very minimum physical contact with people and have virtually no concept of what to expect (or what is expected of them) when they are placed in a family situation. Their life in the mill may have been what we would consider unpleasant, but it is the only life they have ever known. In the mill, they were probably fed and watered using automatic dispensers, and their feces and urine was only cleaned after it fell through the wire that they lived on. Actual human contact normally came when they were being vaccinated, dewormed, or moved to a new cage to breed or to whelp puppies. Many of the quirks that mill dogs might have will be discovered while the dog is still in our rescue, but there are things that may develop after the dog feels a little more comfortable in your home. Most of the dogs we encounter have had their spirit broken many years before and aggression is not normally something we encounter; however, there are memory triggers that the dog may experience after it is settled in your home, so we will talk briefly about these. The physical contact that they have received probably has not been pleasant. For one thing, because they are not handled enough, they are scared. Many mills handle their "stock" by the scruff of the neck. They have work to do, and don't really want to stand around holding some stinky little dog any longer than necessary. It is not uncommon for these survivors to be sensitive to the backs of their necks, after all, it brings the unexpected. Many mill dogs will try to always face you, not trusting you enough to give you easy access to them from behind. NEVER startle a mill survivor from behind, you will lose any trust that you may have gained. Always make sure that they are anticipating you picking them up and consistently verbally tell them what you are going to do with the same word, like "up". It is not uncommon for a mill dog to drop their bellies to the floor when they know you are going to pick them up, some will even roll on their backs, often urinating in the process. This is a submissive move on the dog's part, and while it may be frustrating trying to pick up a dog in this position, these dogs will seldom show aggression in their lives. It is okay to go ahead and pick up a dog while they are in this position, but if time is not of the essence, encourage the dog to come to you by sitting a few feet away and calling him. The most common posture we see in mill dogs is the "freeze;" the dog will initially try to escape you, but when they realize there is no escape, they simply freeze up--rigid, like a statue--and accept their "fate." This is a good time to really praise the dog--scratch his back or ears and speak gently to him--it goes a long way towards teaching him that human contact can be a good thing. Always be gentle and try to avoid picking them up until you see that they are receptive to it. It's almost a 'hostage' type situation to these dogs. Imagine how you would feel if taken hostage at gunpoint. The gunman may never harm you in any way, but you are aware of the danger the entire time and you don't have the ability to leave when you want. No matter how nice the gunman is to you, you will never enjoy the experience and will always watch for an escape route; however, you can turn the tables around and see a ray of hope. Imagine the gunman has been captured and you decide to visit him in jail. Now you are in control. you call all the shots, you have the ability to leave at any time. The bottom line is that these dogs have to progress at their own pace. Anything you force them to do will not be pleasant to them; let them visit with you on their terms, whenever possible.. Learning about the House:
Many times when you bring a mill survivor into your home, it is their instinct to hide in a quiet corner. Any new dog that you bring into your home should be kept separated from other family pets for 7 days. During this time it is fine to crate or confine them to a quiet area. After that though, they need to have exposure to the household. If crating, the crate should be in a central location. The ideal spot is one where there is frequent walking and activity. This allows the dog to feel safe in the crate, yet observe everyday activity and become accustomed to it; they need to hear the table being set, the dishwasher running, phones ringing, and people talking. Very few mill dogs know what a leash is. After the quarantine, when the dog is out of the crate and supervised, it is not a bad idea to let them drag a leash around with them. Let them get used to the feel. It is easy to fall into the mindset that they must be pampered and carried everywhere, but leash training is important. It will make your life easier to have a leash trained dog, but it will also offer your dog confidence in the future. Gaining Trust:
A mill dog has no reason to trust you. Your trust needs to be earned, little by little. Patience is a very important part of rehabbing a mill survivor. We have seen a lot of mill dogs that don't want to eat whenever people are around. It is important that your mill dog be fed on a schedule, with you near by. You don't have to stand and watch over them but should be in the same room with them. They need to know that their yummy meal is coming from you. For the majority of mill dogs, accepting a treat right out of your hand is a huge show of trust. Offer treats on a regular basis especially as a reward. Don't concern yourself too much if your dog does not eat for a few days. Because most of our mill rescues have been fed with self-feeders and confined to small places, it is not uncommon for them to be a little overweight. If there is no vomiting or diarrhea and your dog is otherwise acting healthy, a few days of nibbling at their food while they learn to live by your schedule, is not going to hurt them. It is important to teach them that food is fed on a schedule and you should not be leaving food down at all times. While you shouldn't overly force yourself upon your dog, it does need to get used to you. Sit and talk quietly while gently petting or massaging your dog. It is best to do this an area where they, not necessarily you , are the most comfortable. They probably won't like it at first, but given them time to adjust. Some dogs sadly, never will adjust, and we'lll talk more about them later. Never allow friends to force attention on a mill survivor. Ask them not to look your dog directly in the eyes. It is not uncommon for mill dogs to simply never accept outsiders. Let your dog set the pace. If the dog approaches, ask them to talk quietly and hold out a hand. No quick movements. Ask that any barking be ignored. Remember that these dogs bark to warn and scare off intruders. If you acknowledge the barking you may be reinforcing it with attention. If you bring your guest outside you have just reinforced to your dog that barking will make the intruder go away. Housebreaking:
A child spends the first one to two years of their life soiling their diaper and having you remove the dirty diaper and replace it with a clean one. A puppy mill dog spends its entire life soiling its living area. Potty training a child and housebreaking a puppy mill dog are the exact same procedures...you are UN-teaching them something that they have already learned to be acceptable. A regular schedule, constant reinforcement, praise, and commitment on your part are a must! Would you ever scream at your child, march them to the bathroom and make them sit on the toilet AFTER you discovered they soiled their diaper? A dog is no different in this sense; scolding them after the deed is done is of no benefit to anyone.
The two most important things you can do are to get your new dog on a regular feeding schedule (which will put them on a regular potty schedule) and to observe them closely after feeding time.
Getting them on a premium, low residue food is very important. This will produce a stool that normally is firm (very easy to clean up) and only one or two bowel movements a day are normal. Low cost, or over the counter foods have a lot of fillers and it is very hard to get a dog on a regular cycle using these foods.
Before you even begin to housebreak them, you must learn their schedule. Most dogs will need to 'go' right after eating. As soon as they are finished eating, command " outside ". Always use the exact same word in the exact same tone. Watch them closely outside and observe their pattern as they prepare to defecate. Some will turn circles, some will scratch at the ground, some may find a corner, some may sniff every inch of the ground, some will get a strange look on their face...every dog is different and you have to learn to recognize how the dog will behave right before he goes; this way you will recognize it when he gets ready to go in the house.
We could give you a million tips that our adopters have found to work best for them, but as we have said, every dog is different. As long as you always keep in mind that housebreaking and potty training are one in the same, you should eventually see results. Never do to a dog what you would not do to a child. It may take a week, it may take a month, it may take a year...and sadly, some dogs will never learn. Never give up and never accept 'accidents' as a way of life. In most cases, the success of housebreaking depends on your commitment. While we have focus mainly on bowel movements, urinating in the house is just as hard to correct as defecating in the house (if not worse). Below we will discuss "marking," which many people associate only with male dogs. We will go into that in more detail, below, but if urinating in the house remains a problem for your dog, we highly recommend crate training. This can be researched online in more detail, but if crate training is not working because your dog is soiling in the crate, you should discontinue the training immediately--as you are only reinforcing that it is okay to soil their area. In general, if you can understand your dog's bowel patterns, you will usually find that they urinate before or after a bowel movement. Reinforce the positive and work on the negative, as most dogs will understand "outside" and associate it with both urinating and defecating. Of course, in the meantime, you will want to protect your carpets by either removing any that can be rolled up, or confining the dog to a tiled floor when you aren't holding it on your lap. This should only be done during the training process, as socialization is just as important as house training and often tiled floors are in areas that we don't spend a lot of time.
Puppy mill survivors all have one thing in common...they were all used for breeding. A dog that marks its territory is 'warning' other dogs that this is its area...stay away! However, in a puppy mill situation, the dog's area is normally a 2X4 cage with other dogs in and around their 'territory'. It becomes a constant battle of establishing territory and it is not uncommon to see male and female survivors with marking problems. Normally, marking is seen in dogs with a dominant nature. This is good in the sense that these dogs can normally withstand verbal correction better than submissive dogs. The word 'NO' will become your favorite word as you try to deal with the problem of dogs that mark. Don't be afraid to raise your voice and let the dog know that you are not happy. Always use the exact same word and don't follow 'NO' with "now what has mommy told you about that, you are a bad dog."
Dogs that are marking do not have to potty...taking them outside will not help. You have to teach them that it is not acceptable to do this in the house. The only way to do this is to constantly show your disappointment and stimulate their need to 'dominate' by allowing them more time outside, and even to areas where you know other dogs have been...like the park, or the nearest fire hydrant.
While you and your survivor learn about each other, and your survivor develops a sense of respect towards you, you will have to protect your home from the damage caused by marking. Here are a few tips that you will find helpful.
1. White vinegar is your best friend. Keep a spray bottle handy at all times. Use the vinegar anytime you see your dog mark. The vinegar will neutralize the smell that your dog just left behind. Using other cleaning products may actually cause your dog to mark over the same area again. Most cleaning products contain ammonia...the very scent found in urine. Your dog will feel the need to mark over normal cleaning products, but normally has no interest in areas neutralized by vinegar.
2. Potty Pads....your next best friend. These can be found in any pet store, but most 'housebreaking pads' are treated with ammonia to encourage a puppy to go on the pad instead of the carpet; since we are trying to discourage your dog from marking, these aren't always the best choice. You might check at a home medical supply store. The blue and white pads used to protect beds usually work best. Staple, tape or pin these pads (white side facing outward) to any area that your dog is prone to mark (walls, furniture, etc.). Do not replace the pads when your dog soils them...simply spray them down with vinegar. These are not a solution to the problem, but will help protect your home while you deal with the problem.
3. Scotch Guard. Scotch Guard is really nothing more than a paraffin based protector. It puts a waxy substance down which repels water and spills (and in our case, urine). You can make your own product by filling a spray bottle about 1/2 full of hot water. Shave off slivers of paraffin wax into the bottle (about 1/4 a bar should be fine) and then microwave until you don't see the slivers anymore. Shake and spray this onto the fabric areas you want to protect, such as the base of the sofa and the carpet below doorways or areas your dog is apt to mark. It may make the area stiff feeling at first but it will normally 'blend' in with normal household temperatures and humidity. (note: This is also great for high traffic areas of your home or along the carpet in front of the couch). After the first use, you will need to microwave the bottle and emerge the spray mechanism in a bowl of hot water so that any wax residue will melt.
With the use of vinegar and/or homemade scotch guard, you should test a small area of the fabric/fiber that you will be using the product on and make sure it does not discolor, stain, or bleed. I have never had any problems, but it is always best to check beforehand.
4. Belly Bands. Sometimes these can be a (male) mill dog owners best friend. Belly bands can be easily made at home out of things you probably already have. Depending on the size of your dog you can use the elastic end of your husbands tube socks, the sleeve of sweatshirt, etc. Simply fit the material to your dog and then place a female sanitary napkin under the penis. Another easy way is to measure your dog, cut the fabric and sew on Velcro to hold it in place. There are also many sites on the internet to order these if making them yourself is just not up your alley. Just remember to take the belly band off every time you bring your dog out to potty. Again, this is not a solution, but a protective measure. Quirks:
Poo-poo, shoo-shoo, ca-ca, doo-doo, #2, feces, poop, stool...whatever 'pet' name you give it, it's still gross! But nothing is more gross than owning a dog who eats poop!

Coprophagia is the technical term, but for the purpose of this article, we're just going to call it the 'affliction'.

Dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes have the affliction but in puppy mill rescues, it is not uncommon at all to find dogs afflicted with this horrible habit. As in any bad habit, the cure lies in understanding the unacceptable behavior.

There are three primary reasons that a puppy mill survivor is afflicted. We'll start with the most common, and easiest to remedy.

1. It tastes good and they are hungry! Rescues that have come from a mill where dogs were not fed properly often resort to eating their own or other dog's feces as a source of food. These types of situations will usually remedy themselves when the dog realizes that he is always going to get fed. It is also easy to discourage this behavior by adding over-the-counter products to their food which are manufactured for this purpose. Ask your vet which products are available and you will normally see results in 2-4 weeks.

2. Learned behavior. This is usually the cause of puppy mill dogs that have the affliction. There are several reasons why a dog learned to behave like this, but the most common cause is being housed with dominant dogs who fight over food. These dominant dogs will often guard the food dish and prevent the more submissive dogs from eating even if the dominant dog is not hungry. Food aggression in caged dogs is usually fast and furious and often results in severe injury to the submissive dogs. Because the dominant dog is often eating much more than is needed, the stool is virtually undigested and contains many of the nutrients and 'flavors' of the original meal; therefore almost as tasty to the submissive dog as if he'd ate the real thing. Puppies that were raised with a dominant mother or dominant litter mates also pick up this habit very early--in this case, it is a little harder to treat, but it can usually be done.

This eating pattern is usually maintained throughout the dog's life, so the age of your dog will play a big role in how hard it is to correct the behavior. It's become habit...and as the saying goes, "Old habits are hard to break".

Dogs with the affliction will actually go hunting for a fresh stool when you take them outside. The key is to give your dog something better to hunt for. Pop some unbuttered/unsalted microwave popcorn and sprinkle it on the lawn before taking your dog out in the morning. You may find something that he likes better and is as readily available and affordable. The good thing about popcorn is what your dog doesn't eat, the birds will. We can almost guarantee that once your dog has learned to search out the popcorn, he'll pass those fresh turds right up, LOL! It may take weeks or months before your dog 'unlearns' to seek out stools but most dogs are receptive to this training. You may have to sprinkle the lawn with popcorn the rest of your dog's life...but the trouble is well worth just one 'popcorn kiss' as opposed to a lick on the face right after he eats a tasty turd.

3. As mentioned above, Coprophagia means 'eating poop'. Coprophagia is a form of a much more serious problem called Pica. Pica is the unnatural 'need' to eat foreign objects. Dogs suffering from Pica will eat not only stools, but rocks, dirt, sticks, etc. Remember the kid in school who ate paste and chalk and 'other unspeakables'? Pica is a psychological disorder which is much more in depth and serious than anything we can discuss in this guide.

A good rescuer will observe dogs prior to placement and will recognize the seriousness of this problem. A dog suffering from Pica should never be placed in an inexperienced home or any home that is not aware of the problem and the dangers. Dogs suffering from Pica will often end up having surgery--.often several times--for objects they have eaten that can not be digested. If you are the owner of a dog which you believe suffers from Pica, I suggest you consult your vet; these dogs often require medication for their disorder and only your vet can guide you on the best way to proceed.

Before we close this section on Pica, we want to say that true Pica is rare. Most dogs will chew on sticks or rocks--or sofas and table legs. However a dog suffering from Pica will not just chew on these items...they will eat these items any chance they get. Just because your dog is eating his own stool...and also the bar stool at the kitchen counter...does not mean that he is suffering from Pica. If in doubt, consult your vet. The "special" ones:
Occasionally, we see the survivor who has survived the mill, but at such a great cost that they can never be "brought around". These are the dogs that have endured so much suffering that they remind us of children who are abused, and survive by separating their mind from the body. These damaged dogs will never fully trust anyone. So where does that leave these poor souls? Most are still capable of living out a wonderful life. They need a scheduled environment but most importantly, a home where they are accepted for who and what they are. They may never jump up on a couch and cuddle with you, or bring you a ball to play catch, but you will see the joy that they take in living each day knowing that they will have clean bedding, fresh food and water, and unconditional love. To them, those small comforts alone are pure bliss. These "broken ones" are the ones that normally never leave their foster homes. Ironically, these types of dogs normally do very well in a group-dog setting. They seem to have shunned the world, and most certainly mankind, and have created their own little world without humans. Whenever we suspect that a mill rescue may be "too far gone" for a fast paced family, we try to place them in experienced homes; quiet homes; or homes with other dogs. These are by far the hardest ones for our hearts to accept, but they are also a constant reminder of why we do what we do. The educators: Finding forever homes for mill rescues is not all we do; we are constantly reminded of the horrors of puppy mills and the commercialization/farming of dogs when we see the neglect and abuse these dogs have suffered. We work not only to adopt dogs, but to educate their new owners about the truth behind that puppy in the pet store window. We hope that you will keep a journal or blog on the reform of your puppy mill dog, and we hope that you will join us in our campaign to educate the public--through the eyes of the survivors--by always taking the opportunity to further educate others. Together we have made a difference in the life of just one dog, but together we can also make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of dogs still caged in puppy mills. It is only when the public realizes the connection between pet stores and puppy mills that we will end the demand; end the supply; and end the abuse!

I Rescued A Human Today......

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.

As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.

A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well. Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes. I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one. Yes, I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

USA Today writes about Missouri Puppy Mill Problem

Puppy mill measure Prop B passes in Missouri
Missouri voters on Tuesday narrowly approved a ballot measure aimed at ridding the state of its reputation as the nation's puppy mill capital.

Proposition B, which would take effect in a year, will beef up Missouri's existing laws by restricting commercial breeders to no more than 50 female dogs for breeding, increasing the size of dogs' living spaces and by requiring commercial breeders to have their dogs examined yearly by a veterinarian.

The measure, which applies to operators with more than 10 breeding dogs, also requires the animals to be fed daily and not be bred more than twice every 18 months. Breeders also must house animals indoors with unfettered access to an outdoor exercise yard.

Violations will be misdemeanor carrying up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine. Small breeders who are currently exempt will remain exempt under Prop B.

The Humane Society of the United States said the measure - drafted partly by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - is needed to better regulate Missouri's 1,400 licensed commercial dog breeders and the hundreds of suspected breeders who operate under the radar.

Washington and Oregon have also toughened laws against operators of puppy mills.

The HSUS and ASPCA urge people to adopt from shelters rather than buy from pet stores, often the recipients of puppy mill dogs.

"This is truly a watershed moment in Missouri history," Kathy Warnick, the Humane Society of Missouri's president, said early Wednesday. "All of us in animal welfare are elated by the outcome, and we give our heartfelt thanks to Missourians for doing the right thing and providing a voice for Missouri's defenseless animals."

Many of the grim details about puppy mills are detailed in Carol Bradley's book Saving Gracie, which includes the tale of a dog who was a breeding machine. Meet Nikki, a gentle broken puppy mill dog that was just rescued after being in a cage 8 years churning liter after liter of puppies out for a Puppy Miller in Missouri. Notice how wide her paws on from walking on a wired cage her entire life. Her paws are permanently stained from her own blood and walking in her own urine and waste. She had to have 21 teeth removed but this Mexico, Missouri Puppy Miller's vet(who of course is making a mint off this disgusting industry) said all the dogs were in excellant shape. She is terrified of any floor that isn't carpeted and wouldn't even stand up and when you would go to pet her she would drop to the floor in panic. Missourians should be mortified to be the #1 Puppy Mill State.

Betty White, the renowned actress, lets her voice be heard !!!

Betty White has spoken out about the growing problem of "puppy mills" in the state of Missouri.

The veteran actress, a renowned animal welfare campaigner, recorded a message yesterday urging the public to vote in favour of Proposition B, which would improve conditions at dog breeding farms.

"This is Betty White, concerned about puppy mills in Missouri," she said in the message. "And that's why I'm calling for 'yes' on Prop B. We need to deal with the State's terrible puppy mill problem. Dogs are crammed into small, filthy cages without exercise or veterinary care for their entire lives."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Check Out THIS VIDEO .....

All Dogs Need is Love......

Dear Puppy Millers .....

So all you heartless, greedy PUPPY MILL People open your eyes. Your industry has been uncovered and you can't hide anymore out in the hills of Missouri on your RURAL land and treat dogs so heartlessly.Society is wiser and thanks to all the media attention and public outcry your disgusting industry has been exposed for what it is. I just want to know how you sleep at night and are you really ready to look your maker in the eyes and try to justify how you could treat breeding dogs so inhumane for the sake of $$$$$ !!! Good luck and I hope you like the heat......you will end up in a very hot place to spend eternity. I just wish all of you would have to spend a month in a wired bottom cage stacked one on top of the other with waste raining down on you and no compassion and love ever given to you !!! For all the good breeders out there doing right by the parent dogs GOD BLESS YOU and keep up the love!!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Missouri voted YES! on Prop B! Thank you for saving thousands of dogs
Thousands of dogs will soon enjoy a better life -- and they have you to thank.

Missourians voted YES! on Prop B, and chose to save dogs suffering in Missouri puppy mills.

You made this victory happen. Whether you donated to keep our TV ads on the air, spent your nights phone banking for Prop B, hit the pavement with leaflets, gathered signatures from registered voters, or engaged your friends and family in Missouri -- you helped show millions of Missouri voters what Prop B would mean for dogs.

We are grateful to the citizens of Missouri for voting to crack down on puppy mill abuses and establish common-sense standards for the care of dogs at large scale facilities. Finally these creatures will have relief from being crammed into small and filthy cages, without veterinary care, exercise, or human affection. If we can do it here in the nation’s largest puppy mill state, we are more likely to see similar reforms enacted in other states, where the industry is not nearly as strong and entrenched.

Dogs should be treated like family pets, not like breeding machines or a cash crop. We look forward to working with commercial breeders to transition to more humane systems and setting a new high bar within this industry. Missouri lawmakers and state officials should heed this message from the people, and immediately step up enforcement efforts to crack down on inhumane breeding operations.

How dogs are treated is so important to all of us -- and even more important to the dogs who have been suffering every day in Missouri’s puppy mills. Together, we fought for a better life for puppy mill dogs, and together, we won.

Thank you,
Barbara Schmitz
Campaign Manager
Missourians for the Protection of Dogs / YES! on Prop B

P.S. For the latest news and next steps, please continue to visit YESonPropB.com.

Paid for by Missourians for the Protection of Dogs / YES! on Prop B, Judy Peil, Treasurer

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November 2, 2010

Dear Friends of Petraits,

Flip (Petraits attached) is an absolutely adorable, joyously happy, extremely playful, sweet, friendly, and wiggly four-month-old, eight-pound, male Jack Russell Terrier or mix puppy looking for a loving home.

This brave little boy gets along with dogs of all sizes, and is very playful with cats – perhaps too playful for some cats.

He is looking for a home where someone has time to train, housebreak and exercise a puppy. He is very healthy, de-wormed, up-to-date on age-appropriate vaccines, micro-chipped, and will be neutered on Thursday. His adoption fee of $300 benefits rescued pets.

To meet and possibly adopt Flip, please contact sheri@petraits.com or 312-961-4571. He is being fostered in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood.

To see other pets for adoption, please visit

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prop B from start to finish.....

2010 Initiative Petitions Approved for Circulation in Missouri
Statutory Amendment to Chapter 273, Relating to Dog Breeders
2010-085, Version 1

Be it enacted by the people of the State of Missouri:

Section A. One new section is enacted, to be known as section 273.345, to read as follows:
273.345. 1. This section shall be known and may be cited as the ”Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act.”

2. The purpose of this Act is to prohibit the cruel and inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills by requiring large-scale dog breeding operations to provide each dog under their care with basic food and water, adequate shelter from the elements, necessary veterinary care, adequate space to turn around and stretch his or her limbs, and regular exercise.

3. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person having custody or ownership of more than ten female covered dogs for the purpose of breeding those animals and selling any offspring for use as a pet shall provide each covered dog:

(1) Sufficient food and clean water;

(2) Necessary veterinary care;

(3) Sufficient housing, including protection from the elements;

(4) Sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down, and fully extend his or her limbs;

(5) Regular exercise; and

(6) Adequate rest between breeding cycles.

4. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person may have custody of more than fifty covered dogs for the purpose of breeding those animals and selling any offspring for use as a pet.

5. For purposes of this section, and notwithstanding the provisions of section 273.325, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) ”Covered dog” means any individual of the species of the domestic dog, Canis lupus familiaris, or resultant hybrids, that is over the age of six months and has intact sexual organs.

(2) ”Sufficient food and clean water” means access to appropriate nutritious food at least once a day sufficient to maintain good health; and continuous access to potable water that is not frozen, and is free of debris, feces, algae, and other contaminants.

(3) ”Necessary veterinary care” means, at minimum, examination at least once yearly by a licensed veterinarian; prompt treatment of any illness or injury by a licensed veterinarian; and, where needed, humane euthanasia by a licensed veterinarian using lawful techniques deemed “Acceptable” by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

(4) ”Sufficient housing, including protection from the elements” means constant and unfettered access to an indoor enclosure that has a solid floor; is not stacked or otherwise placed on top of or below another animal’s enclosure; is cleaned of waste at least once a day while the dog is outside the enclosure; and does not fall below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, or rise above 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

(5) ”Sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down, and fully extend his or her limbs” means having (1) sufficient indoor space for each dog to turn in a complete circle without any impediment (including a tether); (2) enough indoor space for each dog to lie down and fully extend his or her limbs and stretch freely without touching the side of an enclosure or another dog; (3) at least one foot of headroom above the head of the tallest dog in the enclosure; and (4) at least 12 square feet of indoor floor space per each dog up to 25 inches long; at least 20 square feet of indoor floor space per each dog between 25 and 35 inches long; and at least 30 square feet of indoor floor space per each dog for dogs 35 inches and longer (with the length of the dog measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail).

(6) ”Regular exercise” means constant and unfettered access to an outdoor exercise area that is composed of a solid, ground level surface with adequate drainage; provides some protection against sun, wind, rain, and snow; and provides each dog at least twice the square footage of the indoor floor space provided to that dog.

(7) ”Adequate rest between breeding cycles” means, at minimum, ensuring that dogs are not bred to produce more than two litters in any 18 month period.

(8) ”Person” means any individual, firm, partnership, joint venture, association, limited liability company, corporation, estate, trust, receiver, or syndicate.

(9) ”Pet” means any domesticated animal normally maintained in or near the household of the owner thereof.

(10) ”Retail pet store” means a person or retail establishment open to the public where dogs are bought, sold, exchanged, or offered for retail sale directly to the public to be kept as pets, but that does not engage in any breeding of dogs for the purpose of selling any offspring for use as a pet.

6. A person is guilty of the crime of puppy mill cruelty when he or she knowingly violates any provision of this section. The crime of puppy mill cruelty is a class C misdemeanor, unless the defendant has previously pled guilty to or been found guilty of a violation of this section, in which case each such violation is a class A misdemeanor. Each violation of this section shall constitute a separate offense. If any violation of this section meets the definition of animal abuse in section 578.012, the defendant may be charged and penalized under that section instead.

7. The provisions of this section are in addition to, and not in lieu of, any other state and federal laws protecting animal welfare. This section shall not be construed to limit any state law or regulation protecting the welfare of animals, nor shall anything in this section prevent a local governing body from adopting and enforcing its own animal welfare laws and regulations in addition to this section. This section shall not be construed to place any numerical limits on the number of dogs a person may own or control when such dogs are not used for breeding those animals and selling any offspring for use as a pet. This section shall not apply to a dog during examination, testing, operation, recuperation, or other individual treatment for veterinary purposes; during lawful scientific research; during transportation; during cleaning of a dog’s enclosure; during supervised outdoor exercise; or during any emergency that places a dog’s life in imminent danger. This section shall not apply to any retail pet store; animal shelter as defined in section 273.325; hobby or show breeders who have custody of no more than ten female covered dogs for the purpose of breeding those dogs and selling any offspring for use as a pet; or dog trainer who does not breed and sell any dogs for use as a pet. Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit hunting or the ability to breed, raise, or sell hunting dogs.

8. If any provision of this section, or the application thereof to any person or circumstances, is held invalid or unconstitutional, that invalidity or unconstitutionality shall not affect other provisions or applications of this section that can be given effect without the invalid or unconstitutional provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this section are severable.

9. The provisions herewith shall become operative one year after passage of this Act.

Great Dog Story....

They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie,
as I looked at him lying in his pen.. The shelter was
clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly.
I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere
I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open.

Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.

But something was still missing as I attempted to
settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog
couldn't hurt. Give me someone to talk to.
And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local
news. The shelter said they had received numerous
calls right after, but they said the people who had come
down to see him just didn't look like "Lab
people," whatever that meant. They must've thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things,

which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis
balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner. See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.

Maybe we were too much alike.

For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls --- he wouldn't go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes.

I guess I didn't really think he'd need all his old stuff, that I'd get him new things once he
settled in. But it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn't going to.

I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like "sit" and "stay" and
"come" and "heel," and he'd follow them - when he felt like it.

He never really seemed to listen when I called his name --- sure, he'd look in my
direction after the fourth or fifth time I said it, but then he'd just go back to doing whatever.

When I'd ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.

This just wasn't going to work. He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes.

I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell.
The friction got so bad that I couldn't wait for the two
weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search
mode for my cell phone amid all of my unpacked stuff. I
remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest
room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the
"damn dog probably hid it on me."

Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the
shelter's number, I also found his pad and other toys
from the shelter...I tossed the pad in Reggie's
direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most
enthusiasm I'd seen since bringing him home. But
then I called, "Hey, Reggie, you like that? Come
here and I'll give you a treat." Instead, he sort of glanced

in my direction --- maybe "glared" is more accurate --- and

then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down .... with his back to me.

Well, that's not going to do it either, I thought. And I punched the shelter phone number.

But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope.

I had completely forgotten about that, too.

"Okay, Reggie," I said out loud,

"let's see if your previous owner has any advice."

____________ _________ _________ _________

Whoever Gets My Dog:

Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the shelter
could only be opened by Reggie's new owner.
I'm not even happy writing it. If you're reading this,

it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab

after dropping him off at the shelter.

He knew something was different.

I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip,
but this time... it's like he knew something was wrong.

And something is wrong...which is why I have
to go to try to make it right.

So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it

will help you bond with him and he with you.

First, he loves tennis balls.
The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he's part
squirrel, the way he hordes them. He usually always
has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in
there. Hasn't done it yet. Doesn't
matter where you throw them, he'll bound after it, so be
careful - really don't do it by any roads. I made
that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.

Next, commands. Maybe the shelter staff

already told you, but I'll go over them
again: Reggie knows the obvious ones ---
"sit," "stay," "come," "heel."

He knows hand signals:
"back" to turn around and go back when you put
your hand straight up; and "over" if you put your
hand out right or left. "Shake" for shaking
water off, and "paw" for a high-five. He
does "down" when he feels like lying down --- I bet
you could work on that with him some more. He knows
"ball" and "food" and "bone"
and "treat" like nobody's business.

I trained Reggie with small food treats.

Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog.

Feeding schedule: twice a day,

once about seven in the morning, and again at six in
the evening. Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter
has the brand.

He's up on his shots.
Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with
yours; they'll make sure to send you reminders for when
he's due. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet.

Good luck getting him in the car.

I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows.

Finally, give him some time.
I've never been married, so it's only been Reggie
and me for his whole life He's gone everywhere
with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if
you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he
doesn't bark or complain. He just loves to be
around people, and me most especially.

Which means that this transition is
going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new.

And that's why I need to share
one more bit of info with you....

His name's not Reggie.

I don't know what made me do it, but

when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them
his name was Reggie.

He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it

and will respond to it, of that I have no
doubt. But I just couldn't bear to give them his
real name. For me to do that, it seemed so final, that
handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting
that I'd never see him again. And if I end up
coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it
me and everything's fine. But if someone else is
reading it, well ... well it means that his new owner should
know his real name. It'll help you bond with
him. Who knows, maybe you'll even notice a change
in his demeanor if he's been giving you problems.

His real name is "Tank".

Because that is what I drive.

Again, if you're reading this
and you're from the area, maybe my name has been on the
news. I told the shelter that they couldn't make
"Reggie" available for adoption until they
received word from my company commander. See, my
parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could've
left Tank with ... and it was my only real request of the
Army upon my deployment to Iraq , that they make one phone
call.. the shelter ... in the "event" ... to tell
them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily,
my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon
was headed. He said he'd do it
personally. And if you're reading this, then
he made good on his word.

Well, this letter is getting downright depressing,

even though, frankly, I'm just
writing it for my dog. I couldn't imagine if I was
writing it for a wife and kids and family ... but still,
Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as
long as the Army has been my family.

And now I hope and pray that you
make him part of your family and that he will adjust and
come to love you the same way he loved me.

That unconditional love from a dog
is what I take with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do
something selfless, to protect innocent people from those
who would do terrible things ... and to keep those terrible
people from coming over here. If I have to give up Tank
in order to do it, I am glad to have done so. He is
my example of service and of love. I hope I honored
him by my service to my country and comrades.

All right, that's enough.
I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at
the shelter. I don't think I'll say another
good-bye to Tank, though. I cried too much the first
time. Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he
finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home,

and give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me.

Thank you,

Paul Mallory

____________ _________ _________ _______

I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope.

Sure I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even
new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and

posthumously earning the Silver Star

when he gave his life to save three buddies.

Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.

"Hey, Tank," I said quietly.

The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.

"C'mere boy."

He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on
the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head
tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months.

"Tank," I whispered.

His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each
time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture
relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood
him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried
my face into his scruff and hugged him.

"It's me now, Tank, just you and me.
Your old pal gave you to me." Tank reached up and
licked my cheek. "So whatdaya say we play some ball?"

His ears perked again..
"Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?"

Tank tore from my hands and disappeared in the next room.

And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.