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Tips for Keeping Your Furry Friends Comfortable During the Winter
By Dr. Bentley
Hi there! I’m Dr. Caitlin Bentley, one of the newest board members of Tails of the Trail. From time to time, I’ll be popping in here to offer some vet tips, insight into how animal shelters work, and other tidbits to make your life with your furry friends easier. I’m one of the vets at Metro Nashville Animal Care and Control. I’ve got two dogs and two cats of my own, all from shelters, and I’m passionate about shelter medicine. I’m also passionate about dressing my dogs in matching bandannas, cat toys that are shaped like human food, and telling my dogs about a thousand times a day how cute they are. I can’t wait to get to know the Tails of the Trail family! Now, down to business.
With the holidays over, we’ve still got a long winter ahead of us. It’s during these dreary days that I start longing for spring, or even humid summer! Our dogs and cats can be affected by cold weather just as much as we are. Here are a few tips to keep them warm and cozy during the long slog towards spring.
· Help them on their potty breaks: Sometimes pups can be reluctant to potty outdoors on snow. I can’t say that I blame them, I bundle up with wool socks and boots to go in the snow, while they have only bare paws! To remedy this, try grabbing some straw from your local grange or feed store and scattering it outside the door or porch. This can help keep their paws insulated while doing their business.
· Bring them inside: Many cities have ordinances that don’t allow pets to be kept outside in extreme weather. Here in Nashville, dogs cannot be tethered when it is below freezing, and owners can be cited and subject to legal consequences. It’s best to bring pets indoors when it’s freezing outside, so they can stay warm, well fed, and healthy.
· Clean them off: Salt and de-icing compounds are often spread on icy winter roads, and these can be irritating to tender paws, and irritating to tender mouths when licked off. Keep a towel by your door to wipe down your pets when they get inside.
· Beware the antifreeze: Antifreeze is poisonous and deadly for dogs, cats, and children. If you spill any, clean it up promptly. Its sweet taste is irresistible to animals and children, and even a small amount consumed can cause life-threatening illness.
· Consider providing a feral cat shelter: Feral, or community, cats need to stay warm in the winter, too. Consider making them a shelter out of an inexpensive styrofoam cooler. Simply obtain a cooler, tape the lid on, cut a cat-sized hole in the side, and bed with straw. Some organizations even provide these shelters for free, like Pet Community Center in Nashville. Check with your local community cat group, and consider becoming a caretaker for community cats in your neighborhood.
· Don’t stop prevention: As a vet, I am obligated to tell you: even though it’s wintertime, your pets still need their monthly flea/tick and heartworm prevention. It’s true, when you graduate veterinary school, you must solemnly swear that “I shall always chastise pet owners for forgetting their prevention.” As much as we would all love it if the danger of fleas, disease-carrying ticks, and heartworm larvae disappeared in the winter months, it’s not the case. Keep your pets safe from pests with prevention year-round.
· If you see something, say something: If you see an animal that is struggling outside in the cold, please contact your local animal control. Animal control officers do their best to work with people to allow them to keep their pets. Sometimes people just don’t know what’s best or have financial constraints. I’ve known animal control officers who bring bags of pet food to people in need, buy new doghouses to replace leaky ones, and bring straw bedding to warm outdoor dogs. If you’re worried about a pet in your neighborhood, don’t be afraid to call your local animal control agency. They’ll be happy to have the chance to save a pet.
Keep your fuzzy bundles of love close and warm this winter! Together, I know we’ll make it to spring!
I just moved to Nashville from New Jersey and wanted to find ways to meet new people and continue hobbies, as I like being outside and I volunteered for an animal rescue group in NJ.
Before I left, a friend tagged me in an article about Tails of the Trail.
I quickly looked up the organization and knew I had to get involved! The whole idea of Tails of the Trail is so smart, and you can see a difference in the animals after you walk them.
I signed up for my first event with the group in November and went to Cheatham County Animal Shelter. We were given a really friendly, informative introduction about how to handle the dogs, and I met a lot of very nice volunteers. There is a lot of care and effort on the volunteers’ part and the event was super well organized. You could see that the dogs were having the best day ever, especially after the walk when they were given puppy popsicles – so sweet!
The second dog I walked that day, named Arnold, was an absolute sweetheart.
He was a little shy with me and had some serious skin issues that needed to be addressed. He reminded me of my family dog at home who we rescued and had similar issues.
I inquired about Arnold and ended up going back to the shelter the following Monday to hang out with the little guy. He wasn’t available for adoption until he was neutered, so I spent a little over a week walking and playing with him each day. As soon as he was neutered and cleared to go home, I adopted him!
He’s recovering from his skin infection and is still rocking a cone of shame, but he could not be happier. His personality totally blossomed and now he loves playing with toys and is a total mush. He also celebrated his first Thanksgiving with my family and our dogs, and absolutely loved it.
I definitely have to thank Tails of the Trail for not only hosting a great event, but for introducing me to little Arnold!
I look forward to doing more events with the group and I love having my new little buddy!
“I worry you’re going to come home with a dog,” my wife told me
in the days leading up to the July 23, 2016, Tails of the Trail event at the Maury County Animal Shelter in Columbia, my first time to volunteer for Tails. I did not bring a dog home that day, but I did become emotionally attached to one. Nearly three weeks later, my wife and I brought the dog home together.
After 26 years without a dog in my adult life, I had begun to be cautiously drawn to the idea of having a dog in our family.
So when I learned about a volunteering opportunity to give exercise to shelter dogs, it seemed the perfect way to be around them without owning one. I knew my daughter would be visiting from Knoxville on a July weekend when Tails was doing an event at the Maury County shelter, so I signed us both up.
Sammy was the first dog I walked that day. He is a 25-pound border collie beagle mix, with a border collie’s black and white coloring and a beagle’s body. Thirteen months old when I met him, he still looks like a puppy. When the volunteer led him to me, Sammy stood on his back legs and gently rested his speckled socks in my hand in a most endearing greeting. On our walk, he was all business. He wasn’t interested in dog treats or pupsicles, laying in the shade, or playing in the pool. He just wanted to follow his nose. He never barked, and never acknowledge any of the other dogs. But when any other human came near, he greeted them by raising up and gently placing his paws on the person’s arm or outstretched hand, standing there as in conversation. We made notes about each dog we exercised.
For Sammy, I wrote, “The perfect combination of sweetness and energy. He’ll make some family a great dog.”
Between my daughter and I, we exercised five dogs that day, including Sammy. On the way home, I said I wasn’t sure if I had walked the dogs, or if they had walked me. All five dogs were special in some way and at dinner that night, the dogs were all we could talk about–the way each one acted, how happy they seemed to be about being able to get outside.
In the days that followed, I kept thinking about Sammy.
I watched every video YouTube showed me from a “border collie beagle” search. I researched the border collie beagle mix and learned this was an intelligent, high energy dog, requiring a lot of mental and physical exercise. This matched what I had seen in Sammy, and fit what I was looking for. Not a dog to sit on the couch with, but a dog to hike trails with.
On the second Monday after meeting Sammy, I called the shelter to check on him. They said he was there, but was quarantined. That sounded ominous, so I didn’t ask more. Yet I still couldn’t forget about him. On Friday of that same week, I called back to check on him and to get more information about the quarantine.
The shelter employee said Sammy had been adopted and returned the next day because his temperament wasn’t suited for a family with a toddler and another dog. “He doesn’t seem to get along well with other dogs,” the employee said. When I relayed all of this to my wife, she knew. She has heard the stories my mother tells of my elementary school teachers saying, “John is a good student, but he doesn’t get along with the other kids.” We agreed that if no one else claimed Sammy by the time he was out of quarantine, and if the shelter would approve us, that we would adopt him.
On the following Monday, we got the word that Sammy was released from quarantine. We filled out the paperwork
and the next day, after a frank discussion about Sammy’s hyperactivity, we were approved to adopt him.
That Thursday, 19 days after first meeting Sammy, my wife and I brought him home.
Sammy has lived up to his billing as an intelligent, high energy dog. But he has adapted well to our family and we to him, with some adjustments on all sides.
I’m proud that he gets along with other dogs well now, to the point that dog parks are fun, and he goes to doggy daycare one day a week.
He especially likes bigger dogs who like to run. He’s 60 pounds of dog in a 25-pound body. Our step counters tell us we are three times more active than before, and I have lost 15 pounds.
I like to think all of us, Sammy included, have learned something in the two months since he joined our family.
But the main thing I have learned is that a walk is more fulfilling when it’s taken with a dog.
John has since become a volunteer PAWtograher for Tails of the Trail.
My name is David and I love DOGS! I’ve been a team member of Tails of the Trail for over a year and am also a regular volunteer at Metro Animal Care and Control. I found my black Lab mix, Tracy, on Craigslist after many failed attempts to find the right dog. She is the first dog I’ve had since high school. At the time I knew nothing about rescues. Now I am a regular volunteer and know that rescues save the lives of dogs and cats on a daily basis. Tracy’s exact birthday is unknown but that didn’t stop me from celebrating it on the day she became a beloved member of my family, September 25, 2011, at the age of three (3). We have been together five (5) years now and recently celebrated her 8th birthday. Being a dedicated dog lover, I took a week off from work to celebrate her special day and we did fun activities such as visiting several dog parks and pet stores. I even baked her a special carob (aka dog chocolate) cake, recipe below. We ate our slices and frozen yogurt on all fours; unfortunately the video was too dark to view…you know, in the birthday candle lighting. BUT I can assure you we had FUN!
In the minds of many this may seem like it was a bit overdone for just a dog, but Tracy came to me at a time in my life when I was coming up from a major low point. I often believe that she has helped me to avoid going back there. She rekindled my love of dogs that had been forgotten for many years though I do still miss my childhood dog, Dizzy. Tracy is the reason I learned about dog parks and the need to exercise their minds and bodies to stay healthy. I think back to the day I first visited Metro Animal Care and Control (MACC) to learn about their dog exercise program which ultimately lead me to become a volunteer member for the past 21/2 years and counting. Coincidentally this is where I also learned about meetup.com and the Tails of the Trails nonprofit organization. And can you believe that the first event in which I participated was held at MACC. I love my time helping the dogs during Tails of the Trail events and at MACC.
Now the love I have for Tracy has expanded to other dogs and animals in general to the point that I no longer eat meat. I truly respect the lives of all animals and treasure my time with Tracy. Whether we’re learning or practicing tricks, walking the greenways, playing in the dog parks or she is simply snuggling against me at night I know that I am blessed. She provides many laughs and much love and I cannot imagine my life without her!
I strongly encourage you to volunteer at your local shelter and adopt a dog or two…you won’t regret it.
Doggie Birthday cake:
1 cup carob powder
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup flour
½ cup honey
¾ cups peanut butter
8 oz plain cream cheese
5 large eggs
Mix well and bake in pyrex dish at 375 degrees
for about 35-40 minutes.
The cake comes out about 1.5 inches high.
16 oz cream cheese
1 cup large Frozen fruit like strawberries or ½ cup small frozen fruit like blueberries
½ cup honey
Spread onto cooled cake and enjoy. Human and canine edible; don’t forget the candles!
A Special thank you to our friends at Spring Station Middle School for drawing all the fantastic pictures on 100 doggy treat bags. These treat bags will be handed out at this year’s Barktoberfest!!
Thanks to Mrs. Dugan for allowing her students to help Tails of the Trail.
You all did a fabulous job!!
Melissa with Tails of the Trails supplied wonderful treats for the 7th and 8th graders to enjoy while working on the treat bags.
WELCOME to Belmont University’s Class of 2020!
And what better way to make the students feel right at home in Nashville than to partner up with Tails of the Trail for a three (3) hour SERVE project.
Thanks to Metro Animal Care & Control, we were able to offer a service project for 21 Freshman and their 2 Student Leaders this past Monday, August 22.
The students sat in on an introduction to our 501(c)3 Tails of the Trail organization with the hopes that we will see them join our shelter dog hiking events in the near future.
In fact, ten (10) spaces have been offered up to students via their Get Connected portal for the upcoming Metro hike on Saturday, September 10.
Next Lulu, an available shelter pup, personally greeted everyone while Sarah Hagood, Volunteer Coordinator at Metro, provided a Shelter Orientation followed by a facility tour. Students were also able to make dog and cat enrichment toys that will be loved by the shelter pets.
After socializing with a few cats in their adoption room several students along with six (6) happy dogs made their escape to the great outdoors for a choice of off leash playtime or a stroll around the Mars Scent Garden.
Maggie, an adoptable puppy, stood guard over the breakroom treats sponsored by Belle Springs Lemonade. Nothing beats fresh squeezed watermelon lemonade, if you are a human; the pups preferred a few biscuits from Nature’s Select.
As students start missing their personal pets left at home, get energized to exercise off that Friday night pizza or simply want to destress from pending exams, it is our hope that they will join a Tails of the Trail event and return once more to Metro Animal Care & Control to brighten the faces of many more shelter dogs in need of a warm smile, soft hug or big kiss!
Thanks for your partnership, Belmont University!
The summer heat, especially in the South, can take a toll not only on human health, but also on the health of our four-legged best friends.
Here are a few tips for keeping your dog safe during hot weather:
- Shorten walking distances and avoid walks when ambient temperature is over 85 degrees
- Limit exercise for older dogs (over seven years) and any short-nosed dogs
- Monitor heartworm-positive dogs closely since they may be more prone to exercise intolerance or respiratory compromise due to lung inflammation
- Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight (especially light-skinned dogs, as they are more susceptible to sunburn)
- Don’t allow your dog to drink from puddles (reduces chances of infectious diseases and chemicals/toxins)
There are several indicators to watch for when outdoors with your dog(s) in the heat. Warning signs of canine heat stress to watch for include:
- Significant panting (panting more heavily than usual)
- Increased respiratory effort
- Hypersalivation (increased drooling)
- Dark red or purple gums
- Drunken gait
- Lethargy, decreased responsiveness
If you think a dog has become overheated, hose them down with tepid water and place them in front of a box fan or in air conditioning.
Let’s strive to keep all pets safe this summer!
How Adoption Can Change Your Life
Our wonderful family dog Twister passed away from cancer in the fall of 2014, just before the holidays. We were saddened by his passing but were grateful to have had him as part of our family!
This is not just a story of losing our family dog; it’s a testament of how he brought so much joy and love to each of us, and how he inspired us in many ways we didn’t see coming.
My sons, Daniel, Bryce, and I had Twister in our lives for 14 years after adopting him in June 2000 from an adoption fair at a local pet store in Franklin, Tennessee. He was a mixed breed, around 8 weeks old and the one of three siblings that barked the loudest in the playpen. Bryce picked him up and didn’t want to put him down, promising to feed him and give him fresh water each day if only we could take him home. I couldn’t say no and felt it would be good for Bryce to learn some responsibility and have a dog to play with after school.
While there at the adoption fair we learned how Twister came to be put up for adoption. He, his two siblings and mom were rescued by a fireman during the May 2000 tornados. The mom named “Stormy” had taken her three puppies down into a drain to wait out the storm.
With Twister’s loss comes a new kind of understanding. After his passing, I realized that I had to “do something” so his life wasn’t wasn’t in vain.
Twister brought so much love and happiness during the 14 years he was with us. With this, I knew I wanted to help other dogs feel loved while waiting to find their forever family – and from that, our Twister leaves a kind of legacy inspiring others in addition to the strong legacy he leaves us who knew him.
“When I first heard of ‘Tails of the Trails’ walking and helping shelter dogs find loving homes, I knew this was something that I had to be a part of!”
Twister inspired me to volunteer with shelter dogs and promote the adoption of shelter dogs. When I first heard of ‘Tails of the Trails’ walking and helping shelter dogs find loving homes, I knew this was something that I had to be a part of! My first event in July 2015 was so much fun. I so enjoyed taking hundreds of photos showing how happy and loved the shelter dogs were while walking along the trails with their volunteer caretakers.
The big smiles on everyone’s face spoke volumes as the volunteers shared lots of treats and lots of love while caring for their pooch. The furry face lickers and tail waggers were so grateful for the time spent walking, big hugs and the delicious homemade yogurt and peanut butter treats shared at the end of each hike. It was amazing to see how such a simple deed eased the fear and anxiety helping the dogs feel love and encouragement that their new ‘forever family’ would soon find them.
Twister also inspired me to make some changes in my own life after his death, highlighting what’s important and that life is very short in the grand scheme of things.
He gave me a life that was worth so much more than it did previous to adopting him. It gave me a clear sense of meaning and purpose, which was to help other dogs that are less fortunate and homeless with no one to love.
“Twister gave me a clearer sense of meaning and purpose, which was to help other dogs that are less fortunate and homeless with no one to love”
Early in February 2015 my son, Bryce adopted Sophia, a black lab, pit bull mix. She’s so loving and full of energy she can’t stop wiggling from head to paws with happiness when he brings her over. She now gets to enjoy evening walks with the family and socializing with other dogs at the dog park.
In October 2015, I stopped by an animal shelter in Murfreesboro just to look and maybe take a dog out for a short walk. While walking around the caged dogs, I noticed a small white puppy looking straight up at me with the most beautiful brown eyes. Reaching into the cage, I picked her up to take her outside for fresh air and a brief walk. She had just been spayed and didn’t feel well. Her fur was so fluffy and soft as she snuggled up laying her face as close to mine on my shoulder. When I looked at her she looked back with those big brown eyes as if saying don’t leave me. And I couldn’t.
Not intending on adopting that day, I just couldn’t put her back in that cage. So I adopted her. During the drive home I kept staring at her wondering what was she thinking. Was she happy? With an occasional glance she slept in the front seat the entire trip home. Her forever home. Bella, a Great Pyrenees mix was eight weeks old. Now that she was home, I couldn’t image life without her.
Three months later came Chanel. Chanel was a hybrid mix half Newfoundland, half Bernese Mountain dog. An elderly couple adopted her but had to give her up as their health was not the best making it impossible to keep her. She was 3 months when I adopted her. Today Bella and Chanel are BFFs. They are so happy and I love them incredibly.
Later that year, my son Daniel, took in a stray pit bull. Found on the side of the street with cropped ears and a docked tail. Stitches made from fishing line still in both ears, this puppy had been dropped most likely after losing an illegal dog fight. While dog fighting is a felony in the United States, it continues underground illegally.
Daniel immediately took him to the veterinarian for medicine and weekly skin treatments thereafter due to a painful and severe skin rash that had taken over his entire body leaving the skin inflamed and bare with some areas raw and bleeding. His hair was completely gone.
After several months of treatments and tender loving care Ricco was beginning to look better. Despite all this dog had been through he is incredibly loving and such a loyal companion.
Family holidays are very lively with all our adopted pets having the best time playing and just being happy lovable dogs. Lot’s of playful banter, tail wagging, butt sniffs, peeing and more sniffs. Yes, our family continues to carry out Twister’s legacy.
Fourteen years flew by too fast. While our newest family members will never be a replacement for Twister as he is irreplaceable, but a reassertion of all that Twister stood for: an incalculable blessing to inspire future adoptions.
I can go on, and on, and on about all the wonderful experiences Twister brought into our lives. Many of the memories that each of us carry will remain in our hearts for an eternity. And for that, I am forever grateful to that puppy who barked the loudest, was abandoned until fate brought us together in June 2000. A day that would forever change the course of our lives.
It is believed that dogs have accompanied man since around the time of the Pleistocene epoch, a period ending around 12,000 years ago. Our canine friends have watched the failures and triumphs during man and womankind’s darkest and most enlightened times; they have witnessed humans evolve from rudimentary to technologically advanced lifestyles, and learned to successfully adapt to each challenge and all the related changes.
Dogs have learned to modify their behavior since the first paw shake – even more so than cats – in order to coexist with the most advanced and fearsome creature on planet Earth: Homo sapiens.
Today, as social media saturates the web with videos showcasing dogs capable of mind-bending theatrics and all manner of astute exchanges with humans, a thought-provoking question emerges comes to the forefront: How far will dogs be able to advance biologically and mentally, particularly concerning their relationship to man? Dear reader, after contemplating these things for a while you may never see your pup the same way again!
Over the years, the phenomenon of limbic resonance (a.k.a. brain-to-brain correlation) has been the subject of extensive research and scientific study. Dr. Michio Kaku, a laureate theoretical physicist and futurist, presents the case for the possibility of this brain-to-brain communication being possible between humans and dogs. According to Dr. Kaku, in the future this type of communication would not be limited to mere exchange of information, but feelings and emotions as well, “because these are also part of the fabric of our thoughts.” Just how possible could it be for this phenomenon to also extend into our relationship with that tail-wagging, four-legged creature that enjoys stealing our socks from the dirty laundry basket? Dr. Kaku and other scientists believe this is not only possible, but that it is in fact beginning to occur today; scientific research has revealed valuable data to support this theory.
Along with all other biological life, dogs dance in perfect synchronicity with the universe: a natural skill man has tended to rebel against over the course of his existence.
Of course, it is known by dog lovers the world over that a canine can tell with Swiss-watch precision when it’s time for a visit to the vet, or when the pack is on its way to the off-leash dog park. Dogs also seem to have an uncanny ability to immediately classify any furless life forms approaching their domain with any sort of catch (read, food packaging) while wearing shorts as persona non-grata. I am personally convinced that volumes of information are being encoded by our dogs in messages attached to any manner of horizontal ornament installed on the side of the street, and acknowledged as they go about their daily walks. That would explain their rebellious lingering when approaching the withered solitary tree, the nondescript light pole, or the abandoned water hydrant… all part of tactical maneuvering to gather intelligence and keep current the neighborhood’s latest developments. I encourage you to pay attention to these key spots next time your dog urges you to take him or her for a stroll.
Gregory Burns, a professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University and the author of How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain, participated in a study involving the administration of MRI scans to several trained dogs. After exposing the dogs to various samples of emotion from both humans and animals, his conclusion was tantamount to “dogs are people, too.” These findings should cause more people to reevaluate their relationship with and treatment of dogs, as these animals have been proving over the years that they are quite capable of experiencing consciousness and emotions very similar to those of humans.
The MRI analysis showed the temporal lobe, formerly believed to be stimulated only in humans, to be switched on in all eleven dogs when exposed to 200 different sounds emitted by the scanner. NOTE: The dogs remained calm and collaborative during the entirety of the rigorous study!
The overall conclusion of the study included the statement Although parallel evolution cannot be excluded, our findings suggest that voice areas may have a more ancient evolutionary origin than previously known. So it’s possible that dogs and humans, over the course of the past 18,000 to 32,000 years, have been evolving together, helping to explain why dogs (in particular) are capable of processing the emotions embedded within human vocalizations. Is it an evolutionary skill, or is it something much more profound? Furthermore, is it possible that dogs have learned through thousands of years of sitting, staying, and rolling over for humans, how to interpret the signals emitted by the human brain (also seemingly imperceptible to humans) with singular accuracy? The answer as it is now being found through scientific research seems to indicate that we may be underestimating our four-legged friends when expecting them to eat a $2.99 on-sale bag of kibble with the same enthusiasm they would a beef pâté recipe.
Nevertheless, none of these elucidating findings will truly matter unless we become more aware of the how our faithful companions are being so easily disposed of by haumans. It is estimated that 1.2 million dogs are being euthanized every year in the United States alone, according to the ASPCA, with just about 1.4 million dogs being adopted. The numbers are rather close, but this is not taking into consideration the estimated 1,880 cases of animal abuse reported in a 2007 analysis by the Humane Society. Of that number, close to 65% of the cases involved cruelty towards dogs. Man has gone to great lengths in the quest for self realization, and it appears much is still to be gained regarding respect towards coexisting with other life forms. One example of the easy dismissal these creatures have been and are still subject to by Homo sapiens society: Laika, a terrier mix, was the first non-human cosmonaut aboard the Sputnik II launched from the former Soviet Union on March 11, 1957.
Dogs have proven to be capable of adapting to the most austere environments as they have followed man to just about every recondite corner of the Earth. In the process, they have learned to trust man’s guidance through observation. May we always do our best not to teach them to distrust us. There is potential for so much more in this multi-millenary association.
In 1972, Benjamin Solari Parravicini, an Argentine priest known for his accurate predictions and prophecies of world events through psychographic writings, predicted that man will become a telepath in the future. Perhaps then we may truly understand and deeply know the furry quadruped sitting at our feet. While pondering why I keep getting frustrated when my dear pooch won’t sit on command, I can only wonder if he may just be trying to engage in a more profound conversation!