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September is National Guide Dog Month

Sep 5, 2012

September marks National Guide Dog month

Dog owners don’t always consider the complete gift that a dog has to offer. While they are fluffy, cuddly, warm, and comforting, they are also intelligent and completely loyal to you and your needs. Despite what you might think, they are always concerned with your best interests. There are countless clips and memes throughout the world of dogs doing almost human-like acts such as protecting their owner’s bike while they’re in the store or even showing a little jealousy when another dog dives in for a pat on the head.

Dogs of all breeds and ages love to care for their companions (even if we usually consider ourselves the actual caretakers) and are always ready to take on the task of caring for their owner. Guide dogs have a specific job to do when it comes to ensuring their owner’s safety. It’s not easy to get around when you can’t see and not everyone has someone to help them get through the daily challenges that we all face. So, dogs are there to step up to the plate and take on the challenge of helping guide those who have difficulties in seeing the path before them.

This September celebrates the incredible gift that guide-dogs provide for their companions. Not everyone can see the world around them, but they can feel the comforts of having a faithful companion that will never leave their side and keep them safe.

After WWII, many guide-dog training agencies began to grow exponentially. Since then, there are numerous training facilities. Some are for profit while others are non-profit, but the purpose remains the same. In 2008, Dick Van Patten found his passion in helping to raise awareness and funds to help nurture and train guide dogs. While the need for such companions is high, the training needed to ensure that both owner and dog work well together is even higher. The average cost of raising and training a seeing-eye dog is almost 40,000 dollars. It usually takes two years with a professional family to help socialize, nurture, and properly train a guide dog before they can begin their work. For this reason, fundraising for non-profit organizations is needed.

Guide Dog Month was originally founded in 2009, marking the month of May. But in 2010, September was designated as Guide Dog Month in order to increase awareness and the fundraising needed to help benefit accredited non-profit guide-dog schools to ensure quality care of the dog and help provide the best companions for those who need their help the most.

One of the greatest gifts that these dogs provide is their companionship. There are countless numbers of guide-dog stories found throughout the internet, many of which are testimonials which exemplify the abilities of our four-legged companions and their capacity to help out those in need- even when they aren’t human.

Dale Stamper and Venture are like two peas in a pod when it comes to getting around. This veteran lost his sight serving his country, and now relies on his guide dog Venture to help him continue to experience the great things the world continues to offer.

Of course, there are some rather interesting stories of dogs that didn’t have any training but still have a knack for helping those in need, even if it is one of their own. Duke leads his mother Daisy around, rarely letting her out of his sight. If she does wander too far, she’ll sit and call out to him for help, which he is more than happy to oblige.

Then there are the rare occasions when even those that help need help. Guide dogs are still dogs and despite the care we provide and the love we offer, there are certain situations that cannot be avoided. Mr. Graham Waspe faced a rather unique situation in which his guide dog Edward also lost his sight. Rather than letting his companion go, he held onto him and they were joined by another seeing-eye dog, Opal. A great tale of what it truly means to be companions, this trio of pals is led on by Opal who now guides two companions rather than just one.

The most extraordinary thing about dogs is they are humble. They perform their duties, ensure our safety, and help us in countless ways. They never get the chance to toot their own horn, so we do it for them, which is why we write extraordinary tales of their loyalty and companionship. It’s important that we recognize the gift that guide dogs provide for their companions because without dogs, a big part of our lives would be missing.

Keeping up with your pet supplies can be just another thing you don’t want to have to remember.  After a long day at work and going to the store, the last thing you want to do is have to go “to the store” again.  Consider home delivery of your pet supplies!

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High Adventure with Your Pooch

May 16, 2012

Adventures are best when they’re shared, and who better to share them with than your ever faithful companion? There are so many things you can do, but you are always left with the concern: “Can my dog come too?” This is often one of the most difficult questions that pet owners have to constantly ask themselves. And the answer commonly leaves us looking for a different activity for both us and our dogs to enjoy.

Starting with the highest adventure, parasailing and paragliding can put the wind and fresh air in your faces as you soar high above the ocean or other types of landscapes. Lately, both activities have allowed both us and our pets to get into the air. While no company in the United States is readily equipped or insured, to take your pooch up in the air, many individuals have concurred that their pups also enjoy the feeling of the wind in their faces. After all, they do enjoy sticking their heads out of windows and enjoying the cool breeze. Places like San Francisco and Hawaii have become a hotspot for owners and their dogs to be able to take to the air and enjoy the sights and experiences. Because paragliding and parasailing can be performed from boats and in the right conditions, possibly many other environments, it is possible to find places where you and your dog can enjoy this type of adventure together.

Currently, there is no specifically manufactured harness available, but the practice has incorporated the use of sturdy units that support the dog’s chest, and then attaching them directly to your harness while they sit on your lap, much like the British pet lover Jimmy Rimsk has done in this instance: Custom harnesses have been constructed, and YouTube is littered with videos of dogs and their owners soaring the skies. As the trend catches on, we hope to see professional paragliding companies joining in on the adventure.

Achieving an extra bit of altitude might take you in a different direction. Have you ever considered exploring the mountains on a llama trek? How about your dog accompanying you on a llama trekking adventure? Unfortunately, the industry avoids allowing pets into their facilities, based on the fact that dogs and llamas don’t seem to get along very well. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience an adventure that takes you into the great outdoors. Maybe your dog would like to go kayaking with their owners down a river. This is actually growing in popularity, not just because of the adventure, but because it can also help train your dog effectively. The Canine Center for Training and Behavior is a unique school for owners and their dogs that incorporate the bonding process and the role it plays in healthy relationship development. Located in Austin Texas, this facility is dedicated to providing a natural and adventurous environment for dogs and their owners to share and develop. Amongst trail hikes and Yoga, the Kayaking experience seems to excel beyond the average experiences that dogs are used to.

For those unfamiliar with kayaking, it is a small vessel, normally seated with no more than two individuals. With the use of a paddle, you can control the direction of the kayak as it shifts and shakes with the current of the river. For your dog, this is an experience that helps them learn the art of balance and agility as they shift their weights to compensate for a change in direction. A recommended addition to the kayak is a shower or yoga mat for your dog to stand on, so they will have extra traction during the adventure. The cool water and adrenalin rush you get is extraordinary, and when combined with the companionship of your dog, it is possibly one of the most memorable moments you will experience with your dog.

Remember that adventures come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re sailing with the wind or with the river, the real adventure is that you get to share it with your dog. The world is full of adventure, and it only gets better when you can share it with your favorite companion. Whether it’s high up in the sky, or navigating the adventurous currents of the river, you can share an awesome experience with your pooch.

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The Dogs of 9/11

Sep 23, 2011

photoWe all remember the attacks of September 11th that took place a decade ago, and we will never forget the efforts of those that helped our country in its darkest hours. The firemen, the police, and the rescue teams that scoured the rubble in search of survivors are forever in our hearts and memory. Along-side these rescue teams, over one hundred dogs and their handlers traversed the remains of the World Trade Center, using their skills to aid in their rescue efforts.

Dogs search for survivors

Kiaser, a German Sheppard, arrived at the aftermath to aid in the search for survivors. Assigned to a twelve hour nightshift, the “live” search dog and handler traversed the rubble in search of any living souls. Though he never alerted to finding a survivor, he was trained well enough to hint that there was someone there, assisting the other crews retrieving victim’s bodies so that they could be properly buried. Kiaser spent ten days sifting through the remains of the twin towers, but was unable to find any survivors. He did bring something special to the rescue team; not only were his efforts welcomed, but his comfort was needed as well.

Bretagne, a young golden retriever, was introduced to Ground Zero for her first rescue mission. Though fresh to the scene, she was full of energy and did not tire in her efforts. Alongside her handler, Bretagne searched the rubble for ten days, offering hope to the fellow firefighters whom would stop on occasion to recharge themselves with the retriever’s comforts.

Just doing my job

Charlie wasn’t alone during his own searches. Searching beside and even long after the “live” search dogs, the NYPD K9 department deployed their own efforts to help recover the remains of the victims of such treacherous attacks. These teams scoured the rubble for the eight months following the attacks of 9/11, searching for fallen comrades and comforting the rescue teams.

Offering a special kind of relief

Nickie the Golden Retriever and his handler volunteered their assistance to Ground Zero, where they would spend eight months helping the people, in a slightly different way. Nickie, trained as a trauma patient dog, brought spirit to the turmoil, offering comfort to those who would endure such harsh experiences. It is sometimes amazing how special it actually is to merely pet a dog. The comfort and familiarity of a dog can bring a smile back with the wag of a tail. Nickie’s efforts were not sifting through the aftermath, but instead, sifting through the rubble of broken hearts.

More than just a friend

These dogs are just a few names amongst the vast number of dog and man teams that put their efforts to help our country in its time of need. They went in full force, never questioning their job. Boots to protect their paws couldn’t be used so that their nails and paws could gain traction on the slippery rubble which often shifted further, presenting dangerous situations for everyone. Now in their older years, most of the pups have passed on, leaving only fourteen, all of which have retired and are enjoying the company of their handlers. These dogs of 9/11 are indeed appreciated for their heroic efforts- helping the teams cope with the traumatic events, and staying by our side when we needed them most, proving that you don’t have to be human to be a hero.

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The Heart of the Matter – Cardiac Alert Dogs

Sep 19, 2011

Dphotoogs are quite possibly the most incredible creatures in the world. They possess the ability to bond with and assist us humans with everything in life from companionship to far more vital roles as medical assistants. Dogs help the blind, as well as those with other medical problems. Cardiac Alert Dogs are becoming more popular throughout the medical field, helping those with heart problems attain a sense of security knowing their pup is there to save the day.

What does a cardiac alert dog do?

Cardiac alert dogs are specifically trained to detect differences in heart rhythms and inform their owner that something may be wrong. Drops and rises in blood pressure will affect a person’s heartbeat causing palpitations or fainting if something isn’t done quickly. These problems can often be resolved or subsided by leveling the body such as laying down flat. The heart can regain control and regulate the blood flow again. This is where the faithful companion comes into play to save the day. Cardiac alert dogs are trained specifically to detect the change in blood flow and heart rhythm and will tell the patient that they need to lay down until medical help can be attained if needed.


These dogs have a vital job to do and training starts when they are a pup. They are sent to live with a foster family to teach them to be a pup with love and affection, potty training, and obedience as well. After their first year they are sent to a professional trainer who teaches the pup what they will need to do to protect their future owner. They will be taught how to detect heart anomalies and how they will need to alert their owner, including suppressing them until the problem resolves. Pup’s will lay their head and paws on their owner to prevent them from getting up.

The training is learned through “treating”  primarily, and owners must continue the process after their pup joins their life. Both the pup and the patient are unique to one another, often times the pup deciding the owner rather than the other way around.

After the pup joins the life of their owner, they are trained to be obedient to them alone, others are commonly not permitted to interact or touch the pup as it could disrupt their work. Everywhere the owner goes, the pup goes, as their work is never done.

Can you train a pup to do so?

For some dogs, detecting problems seems to be inherent. Some people have reported dogs detecting cancer, strokes, and even predicting heart attacks without training. Unfortunately, the rigorous training process begins at birth, and is quite meticulous. If you wanted to train your pup to detect heart anomalies, you would have to know exactly what to look for and be able to simulate or predict them yourselves to effectively train another pup.

These medical dogs are an amazing addition to the lives of so many. They help with not only cardiac care, but also psychiatric, diabetic, and even seizure patients. Dogs are considered the ultimate companion, and have indeed proven themselves to be such.

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Dog+: Dogs Using Social Media

Jul 27, 2011

The social networks of today allow us humans to interact with each other and meet new people and friends every day. Some folks have had the inspiration to create social network pages for their pets in the past to help them meet other pets out in the world. Lately, these networking advantages are now becoming specifically available for your pup.

Creating your pup’s profile

photoAs these newer social media become doggy specific, owners are able to interact with fellow pup owners that share common interests. You can create a profile via the internet to meet people that you would not otherwise have run into at your regular dog park. More practically, if you were an owner of a Corgi breed of pup, you can seek out other Corgi owners in the area near you. This would help people and their pets that share common interests become more interactive with each other. As these owners become more accustomed to using social media, these networks will expand and prove to be a very valuable tool for expanding the social life of you and your pup.

Many uses for dog circles

Doggy oriented social media allows for more companies to interact with pet friendly offers. Vacationing spots and eateries that are pet friendly can now see the pups that they can potentially serve. Creating a network of doggy oriented sites can greatly affect the world our pets live in. These social networks can allow owners the ability to search for doggy oriented places that they may want to visit or simply network with their own community regarding puppy related subjects. You can place information publicly for your fellow pet owners to see and interact specifically with people of a common interest. These networks keep you informed about events such as a fellow doggy’s birthday party so that your pup can enjoy the party. There are even possibilities of setting up a dog-sitter for your pup with a fellow dog owner.

Meetups and huddles

Special collars that are utilized to reference your pup’s movements have become quite popular. They allow you to uplink your pup’s location to social networks so that you can register your pup’s movements and create pet hotspots to let other dog owners get a feel for where the action is. This helps new owners find locations where they and their pups can become a part of a doggy oriented community. This is also a beneficial network if you are visiting a new area and want to find out where you should consider taking your pup. A network like this can greatly assist someone that wants to find a great spot for their pup to enjoy at any time of the day in any location.

These networking abilities have proven their quality for us humans by helping us to find new friends and keep in touch with old ones at our convenience so using them for pups seems to be a great chance to prove its versatility. As social networks become more pup friendly, we can expect to expand the experience of being a happy dog owner.

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Take Your Dog To Work Day, June 25, 2011

Jun 8, 2011

Every once in a while, we want to experience something different at work to relieve us from the stress that normal day-to-day work routine brings. Companies have days like summer outings or family day, any gig that will change the office environment even for just a day. But what better way to enjoy a day at your office than sharing your day with your dog at work. It’s going to feel like you are home and he will get a chance to meet other dogs to play with.

photoPet Sitters International created the event Take Your Dog to Work Day in 1999 and every year since, the event is celebrated by companies all over the nation to recognize how great dogs can be as a companion.  Both big and small businesses participate in this annual event to show how great having a dog is and encourage people to adopt a canine companion and provide them with decent homes.

The event is a chance to enjoy your office environment with your favorite companion to help you unwind a little even though you are working on stacks of paper work. Imagine an office with cute dogs that your dog can socialize with. Your office will look like a dog park on a Sunday afternoon.

You might think that a pet in the workplace is a bad idea but according to studies, pets in the office help boost the morale of employees and increase productivity. There are actually dog-friendly policies that are being implemented in some companies and this results in less stress among pet owners who have a home-alone dog. Studies also show that those who don’t have a pet tend to enjoy those that they see at the office.

Joining the celebration is a step to welcoming our canine friends to humane society even for just a day. The day will be a time for you to enjoy your dog in the office and not worry about him being lonely or making a mess at home. This is our chance to give back to the animal community.

If your office is supporting this movement, there are guidelines that you can follow in preparing your dog for the big day at the office. Some tips include having your dog on a leash when not in an office or cubicle and having a backup plan just in case your dog feels uncomfortable in your work environment. If you are interested to let your office join the event, there are ways to get involved.

Take Your Dog to Work Day is indeed a celebration that one should participate in, especially for dog lovers out there. Show off your canine friends and promote how they can be a great companion to others. Spread the movement of owning a pet and encourage others to adopt their own. This day will also be your chance to talk about how your dog helps you in any way. Celebrate this event with your co-workers and the rest of the nation.

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Memorial Day For Man’s Best Friend

May 27, 2011

Did you know that thousands of dogs have served alongside our country’s military forces for many, many years? The United States began training canines for combat not long after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Dogs for Defense, a civilian volunteer group which was later officially recognized by the military, established a reception and training center in Fort Royal, Virginia.

Red Cross dogs

photoOver ten thousand dogs from the US and thousands more Red Cross dogs from different nations were in action during World War II. Dogs in battle continued to serve through the Vietnam War, and at the end of the conflict, our military left in Vietnam about 2,800 of the 3,000 canines that served.

Prior to being deployed overseas, dogs were stationed in army camps and underwent an intensive 12-week training period, often as patrol and sentry “soldiers”. It has been found that the best breeds for war dogs are German shepherds, Belgian shepherds, Airedales, Rottweilers, Dobermans, giant schnauzers, and collies.

Dogs have been used in battles since the beginning of time, with Assyrian temple carvings showing great dogs in combat. Canines were also present at fights in the Middle Ages as well as the Siege of Corinth.

In modern times, France trained dogs to search for injured men during World War I, and soon other countries followed suit. The British used dogs as messengers while the Italians had them deliver food to mountainous areas. By 1915, the Germans’ 6,000 dogs had rescued over 4,000 wounded men. Between 1914 and 1918, more than 7,000 canines were killed in action.

Deployed dogs

Currently, there are dogs serving in the War in Iraq, with several in the Gulf assisting American and British soldiers. Most are guard dogs that help protect the British military, though they may also be used to guard Iraqi prisoners of war. Other canines are tasked to look for bombs and weapons.

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Dogs As Members Of The Family

May 23, 2011

photoDoes your pooch receive holiday and birthday gifts from you, sleep in the bed with you, have health insurance, and appear in family portraits? Millions of Americans treat their dogs as part of the family, pampering them with homemade treats, dressing them up on special occasions, and bringing them along on family vacations.

Canines definitely have a lot to offer to the family unit. They can play the roles of companion, child, sibling, helper, and protector. We love them because they are never too busy to share a moment, whether happy or sad, with us.

According to a survey done by the American Veterinary Medical Association, 63 percent of homes in the U.S. include pets. We don’t mind spending our dollars on specialized foods, squeaky toys, comfortable beds, and even pet insurance policies to ensure our dogs lead happy and healthy lives.

Dogs as siblings

Many believe that dogs play an important role in the lives of children, especially those who come from broken family environments. Whether it’s through sharing a bag of popcorn or playing a few rounds of fetch together, dogs help fill in the lonely spaces for children. Kids draw significant emotional support from canines, and research even suggests that children with dogs have higher development scores. A lot of kids go to their dogs when they have problems about family, friends, or school because they know their pets will love them unconditionally.

Dogs as children

Young couples who have yet to start a family and elderly couples whose human kids have left home often treat their dogs like children. Because dogs are innocent, dependent, and never grow up, they make wonderful kids. Several dog owners spoil their pets by providing them with gourmet treats and throwing birthday parties for them, among others.

Dogs as companions

Loving and being loved is essential in our lives. That love can come from a human or a canine. Dogs make us feel needed, accepted, and loved, through easy and difficult times alike. That’s what family is all about, and we treat our dogs like family because they treated us like family first.

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How to Behave Around an Assistance Dog

May 20, 2011

A service animal is a dog or other animal trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. Disabled individuals have the right to be accompanied by a service animal in any public place.

How should you act if you come across them?

Here are some tips for approaching a service canine and his human partner.

• Don’t touch the dog without permission. You could distract the animal and prevent him from doing his job. Keep in mind that the dog is working and may be in the middle of
following a direction or command. Most assistance canines need to be “released” from work mode before they can interact with others.

• Speak to the handler and not the assistance dog. Most people do not mind talking about service canines and their dog if they have the time.

• Never feed the dog as he may be on a special diet. Moreover, assistance dogs are generally under a feeding schedule. Food is a great distraction, so do not give any to a working dog.

• Don’t whistle or make sounds at the dog as these can be dangerous distractions as well.

• Don’t make assumptions about the human partner’s intelligence, capabilities, or feelings. While offers of help may be appreciated, it is best to ask first. More often than not, the individual and his dog can complete the task by themselves.

• Don’t be scared of the dog. Working canines from accredited programs are carefully tested and chosen for the right temperament. They have also been professionally trained to conduct themselves properly. Approach an assistance dog calmly and always speak to their human partner first before addressing or touching the animal.

• If you are a business owner, some employees and customers may feel nervous or uneasy about an assistance dog in your establishment. Reassure them that the dog has undergone training and has a legal right to be there under the Americans with Disabilities Act. People with assistance canines deserve the same respect as anyone else. You can ask the dog to leave if he is not behaving.

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A Face and Paws of National Assistance Dog Week

Aug 9, 2010

One of our Facebook fans and avid blog readers shared their story.  We, the team at PorchPotty, thought it was a real-life story that would touch your heart this Monday morning as we “kick-off” National Dog Assistance Week.

Thank you to Paul Harpole for sharing!

Lady and Alex

Hi I’m Lady and I am a 3 1/2 yr. old German Shepard.  I am a very special dog with a very special job.  I am a Seizure Alert Dog for my 10 yr. old best friend, Alex Harpole. Alex received me from 4 Paws For Ability 2 1/2 yrs. ago.

I go to school with Alex everyday and even ride the school bus with him!  I really enjoy my job and do a great job doing it. I am able to let Alex’s parents, Carrie and Paul, and his teachers know 45 minutes before a seizure occurs!

I am very comforting to Alex also and sleep with him after his seizures to make sure he is okay and doesn’t feel alone. I am also very comforting to Alex during the several hospital and doctors visits he has on a monthly basis and help calm his fears during these times.

Alex and I have even felt like movie stars at times! We have been to Capitol Hill to share our story with our state legislators and  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  We have also been in spirits and on a poster 18,000 ft. to base camp on Mt. Everest!  We have been involved in 2 documentaries that are currently being entered into the National Film Festival and Emmys.  These documentaries are being used to spread awareness about Epilepsy and the jobs that special dogs like me have.

Then finally we were in a children’s book by Bearport Publishing last year called “Dog Heroes.”

Now, besides all the stardom I have really been a huge help and blessing to Alex and his whole family.  His seizures have reduced since I have been there with him, he has been able to quit wearing his protective helmet, his mommy and daddy don’t have to stay with him in his room all day just while he watched cartoons or play with his toys – he can now do that just like any other normal child with me by his side.

As for me being an Assistance Dog, I ask that this week you give an extra treat to any assistance animal you know.  We are able to perform jobs that even a human couldn’t do!

For more information on Alex’s Journey, visit here.

Paws & Kisses –

Lady Harpole

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