The heart is going to do what the heart is going to do, and one woman’s broken heart led her on a round trip journey of almost 3,000 miles to adopt a senior dog. When Laura Rehbein’s beloved dog Myra suddenly and tragically died, she was inconsolable. “Myra was imperfectly perfect,” said Laura, tearing up easily from the still-fresh hole in her heart. “She was a senior dog who came into my life four years ago. The small but mighty dog stole my heart from the moment I saw a picture of her.”
Rehbein was actually in the research process of adopting another senior dog as a companion for Myra when she unexpectedly died. “Myra was the pack leader without a pack,” Rehbein told us. In shock, Rehbein temporarily abandoned the idea of adopting another dog. “But, my house felt so empty. I have had a dog since I was twelve years old, and suddenly, I realized, I didn’t know what to do without a dog by my side,” Rehbein told us during a recent meeting at her Tampa office.
She soon resumed her search for another adoptable senior dog and came across an Apple Head Chihuahua at Dolly’s Legacy Animal Rescue in Lincoln, Nebraska. He ended up at the shelter after his human, with whom he had lived for years as a constant companion, died. A volunteer for Dolly’s Legacy pulled the dog, along with three other dogs, all of whom were found inside the home with the deceased.
Rehbein, who lives and works in the Tampa Bay area and has fostered for local rescue groups including Rugaz Rescue, put in her adoption application. “I just saw that face looking back at me through the posted photos, and knew. But, in reality, he was so far away,” said Rehbein. “If it was meant to be…”
Within four hours of sending in her application, Rehbein received an email saying she had been approved to adopt the dog named Half Pint. She responded to the rescue group’s email remarking how fast their approval process had been. Their response to Rehbein was, “What can we say? We spoke with your veterinarian, and what she had to say about you convinced us you would be perfect for Half Pint.”
Rachele Walter, a volunteer for Dolly’s Legacy and Half Pint’s foster mom said, “We do vet checks on all potential adopters. If we find a good match, we will adopt across state lines as long as the adopter is willing to travel here to pick up the dog. We don’t do transports.”
After a Zoom call to meet Half Pint and speak with Rachele, Rehbein began making plans for her journey to Nebraska. She would fly into Omaha, where Rachele would meet and greet her with the dog, then she and Half Pint would return to Tampa, all in less than 24 hours. “No hotels. Just up and back. I knew that I would be pooped, but it would be one day, without having to miss work,” said Rehbein. She used her saved miles for the airfare, and her only out of pocket was for the pet fee on the return flights home.
From start to finish, the entire process including planning and traveling, took five days. Not for a moment did Rehbein have second thoughts. “I knew that if I didn’t do it now, it was never going to happen, especially with the holidays,” Rehbein added.
Friends followed Rehbein’s clandestine sojourn on her Facebook page. She only hinted at what she might be doing until revealing her secret through a video of Rachelle delivering Half Pint to her at the airport. Once home, a friend helped give Half Pint his new name, Levi, which is Hebrew and means united or “joined in harmony.”
Rehbein (shown above with Levi) admits she has a soft spot for older dogs and Chihuahuas. Levi is 10, and she likes to say that he’s come to Florida to retire. “He will live his best life, riding in a convertible to go to the beach, coming to work with me or dining out,” said Rehbein. “I know some people will think, ‘how can she adopt a senior dog knowing he may may not be around for long?’ Well, we’re all going to die. We cannot control that outcome. Who knows how long Levi will be with me. Maybe eight years? Maybe two. However long, this well-mannered, chilled senior dog will now have the best years of his life. Levi came into my life at this moment for a reason,” said Rehbein.
About Dolly’s Legacy Animal Rescue:Dolly was rescued at age 11 by Kerri Kelly from a terribly neglectful environment along with 11 additional Pekingese. They were all ‘show breeders’ and had champion bloodlines and trophies. Sadly, the breeder stopped caring for them and placed them in crates in a furnace room where they lived 24 hours a day. When rescued, they had burns on their bellies from laying in their own waste, ulcerations on their eyes causing some of them to be blinded, and severe matting of their coats that was pulling on their skin. Kerri immediately bonded with Dolly and knew the sassy Peke was meant to be hers. Dolly lived for just 2-1/2 more years. Dolly’s Legacy Animal Rescue was founded by Kerri Kelly on what would have been Dolly’s 14th birthday, August 9th, 2013. Your donations will continue to help this all-volunteer rescue group’s efforts. www.DollysLegacyAnimalRescue.org
In recent conversations with fellow dog lovers, we’ve discovered many are not aware that certain frogs, palm tree nuts, and blue-green algae are dangerous and potentially deadly to our dogs. While we’ve written about these subjects before, we thought there’s no time like the present to repeat ourselves.
Every year, during the summer, we’re faced with these dangers in the great outdoors, even in our own backyards. Sometimes the descriptions are so gross and creepy, it’s any wonder we ever step outside with our dogs. In reality, we’ve been living with these potential dangers for years. Our dogs may have gotten into and/or tangled with one of these, and faced death without our ever knowing what happened. As pet parents, we are becoming more aware of our surroundings, subsequently preventing our dogs from being poisoned or worse.
1) Bufo or Cane Toad – This is a large, nonnative amphibian, poisonous to most animals that try to bite them. Let’s just call them giant ugly frogs, okay? Cane toads are reddish-brown to grayish-brown with a light-yellow or beige belly and can be uniform in color or have darker markings around the body. They have enlarged glands behind the eyes, which angle downward onto the shoulders. The glands secrete a potent milky-white toxin (bufotoxin) as defense against predators including domestic pets.
If your dog bites or swallows a cane toad, she can become sick and die in as little as 15 minutes without proper treatment. Symptoms may include frantic or disoriented behavior, brick red gums, seizures, and foaming at the mouth. If you see these symptoms, follow these steps:Wash toxins forward out of mouth using a hose for ten minutes being careful not to direct water down the throat.
2) Sago Palms and Their Seeds – On September 14, it will have been a year since Shorty’s untimely death as a result of ingesting a sago seed (sometimes referred to as a nut or date). “It’s been my mission to bring awareness on the simple things like a sago palm seed that could kill our dogs,” said Marsha Droste, Shorty’s mom. Marsha and her husband Ed were walking their two Frenchies, Pete and Shorty, in their neighborhood, where sago palms are part of the landscape. They had no idea of the toxicity of the sago seed. Within two days of rushing Shorty to a critical care emergency veterinary hospital, Shorty was gone.
Dr. Tina Wisner, a veterinary toxicologist with the ASPCA said that since 2017, calls to their national poison hotline about sago cases have shot up 79%. The seeds contain something similar to cyanide. It’s not just the seeds that are toxic either. The entire sago palm plant is also toxic. A single sago palm seed can kill a medium-sized dog. Gastrointestinal signs include hypersalivation (drooling), abdominal pain, reduced appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. Signs of liver damage also include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and reduced appetite, as well as increased drinking and urination, dehydration, lethargy, weakness, jaundice (yellow cast to the skin, mucous membranes and whites of the eyes) and ascites (fluid in the abdomen).
There is neither a specific test nor a specific antidote for sago palm toxicity. Lab work, with elevated liver values, low protein, low blood glucose, anemia and evidence of reduced clotting, may not show changes for 24–48 hours after sago palm ingestion. If sago palm ingestion is suspected, it is important to take your cat or dog to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible, rather than waiting for clinical signs to develop.Treatment for sago palm ingestion focuses on decontamination and supportive care and medications to reduce the effects of liver damage.
The prognosis for dogs or cats that eat sago plant parts depends on the amount of toxin ingested by body weight and how quickly treatment is instituted. Smaller dogs and cats are more severely affected compared with larger animals that ingest the same amount of plant parts. The sago palm toxins are concentrated in the nuts or seeds and just 1–2 seeds can be fatal to a medium-sized dog. Reports of survival rates from sago palm ingestion vary, with one study of dogs that ingested sago palm parts reporting a 50% mortality rate.
3) Blue-green algae – In August 2019, we posted a warning on The New Barker social media pages from two pet parents who lost their three dogs to blue-green algae poisoning in just a matter of hours. The post was shared 8,500 times. Through their grief, Melissa Martin and J Denise Mintz shared their story.
“If you search ‘blue-green algae,’ you see pictures of nasty water,” said Melissa. “That is false! The place our dogs played for their last time was crystal clear except for what appeared to be debris from foliage. Do not let your dogs near standing water. Our Westies didn’t even get in the water, but played in the mud at the edge.”
Shortly after returning home from their walk, and playing in the pond, Abby began seizing, followed by Izzy. All three dogs were rushed to the veterinarian. Abby and Izzy, the two Westies, were struggling to breathe and continued seizing. “We decided to let them go together peacefully. In the process, Harpo started to go downhill,” said Melissa.The family was advised that Harpo was suffering from liver failure and internal bleeding. “I talked to Harpo and asked him to let me know,” said Melissa. “He did. I held him and told him how awesome he was, and reminded him of all the lives he touched. Then we let him go.”
Later this week, we’ll give you some information on Leptospirosis and salt water toxicity in dogs. This information is not meant to scare you into not doing anything with your dogs. We simply want our fellow dog lovers to be aware of your surroundings. Many of you already know about the potential for alligators in almost any body of water, and to stay clear from the lake and river banks. We are aware of the increase in coyote sightings within our neighborhoods.
The more we’re outdoors exploring our surroundings, the opportunities for our dogs to get into something they shouldn’t increase. Keep your eyes and ears open. Also, know the closest emergency or urgent veterinary care facility near you. Have their numbers handy. And, here’s a good link to keep in your cell phone: the Pet Poison Helpline. The ASPCA also has a free mobile app for animal poison control. Check out the overview on this link. NOTE: Neither of these links will ever replace the expertise of a veterinarian.
So, I was toughing it out at my first back-to-the-real-world of work, two weeks covering an international junior golf tournament at Trump National Doral.
I have served as the official photographer for The Optimist Junior Golf tournament for over ten years. It was cancelled last year, so I was really HAPPY to be back, in the swing of things (pun intended).
Delighted to be at this beautiful resort, I always enjoy being outside covering golf, capturing the game, players, families and volunteers. But, I was really missing my (five rescued) dogs. Only one dog was at grandma’s (my mom). Everyone else was home with their dad (the hubs). As I was heading back up to my suite, to upload pics of the day’s golfers, the elevator opened, and out walked this large, happy reddish dog –– right into me. He had to have known I was missing my pack.
Dooku is an eight-month-old Rhodesian ridgeback, and the “third son” of the Van Winden family of Houston, Texas. I chatted with René, the dad for a few moments, commenting on his dog’s handsomeness and great personality. He was named for a character in Star Wars. The next day, I see my canine friend again, but this time with his lovely mom, Rebecca. It turns out their oldest son, Bo is in the tournament. Talk about serendipity. When worlds collide.
While Bo braved the Blue Monster course, with dad and brother Wade cheering him on, Rebecca and Dooku went on a little road trip. They traveled two hours north to West Palm Beach, to the Jupiter-Tequesta Dog Club’s Show. It was their first show, and they came back with ribbons: Best of Breed, Owner-Handled and Best of Winners.
You meet the nicest people through dogs. Of course, they went home with their own copy of The New Barker. ###
About the author: Before she became an international expert on all things butterfly, Tina was rescuing dogs, and anything else that needed help. She has been a contributor to The New Barkerfor 13 years, as a photographer and rover reporter, traveling the state to cover all things dog. Tina is shown here with Piper, one of the many dogs she has met along the way.
Keeping the mind of a shelter dog positively stimulated is of constant concern for shelter workers and volunteers. Although walks are an excellent way to provide socialization, other enrichment programs may include playgroups for dogs to play with other dogs, as well as with people.
Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center’s Christine O’Dell spent time researching a concept that’s been growing (pun intended) in popularity in shelters around the globe. She thought a sensory garden would be enjoyed not only by the dogs but people as well. In her presentation to gain support for creating the space, she explained how a sensory garden encourages dogs to use all of his senses by providing mental stimulation, while reducing stress and increasing confidence.
Scientists estimate a dog’s nose to be tens of thousands of times more sensitive to odor than our noses. Part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing those smells is proportionally 40 times greater than ours. Get a dog sniffing and you’ll get her mind working.
Christine’s idea was well-received. Then, the pandemic hit and the Shelter closed to the public. The Shelter’s closing correlated with Field officers and investigators moving to Code Enforcement. Christine was given the green light to proceed with the garden along with a plot of land on the backside of the shelter property: the asphalt parking lot where Field officers once parked their vehicles.
What has transformed over the course of the last year is a yet-to-be-named garden full of color and activity with butterflies fluttering in and out of flowers. Christine’s design includes spaces where dogs can sniff, walk through and dig around to their heart’s content. Some plants are grouped for their calming effects, like lavender and marigolds. Boulders, strategically-placed, will give dogs an area to climb onto or search through in crevices and openings underneath. A nose work program is definitely being planned for the near future. There is also a beautiful water feature complete with waterfall where dogs can jump into. It was designed and built by Shelter staff employee Cory Chmielewski.
Science backs up Christine’s vision. Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast found that dogs exposed to the scent of lavender and chamomile appear to spend more time resting. Dogs exposed to rosemary and peppermint perk up, playing and barking more.
Sniffing actually makes a dog happier and healthier. That’s why, when walking our own dogs, it’s important to allow them some sniff-time, you know, so they can check out that pee-mail on the tree, and other delightful aromas wafting about.
Stop and smell the roses. It’s therapeutic for you and your dog.
Have you hit a roadblock on your holiday shopping gift list? Maybe you’re stuck on what to give a friend for Christmas. Well, if your friend has a dog, you’re in luck with suggestions from our Fur-giving Gift List. We’d also like to remind you that every one of the following businesses supports animal causes by donating food, money, time, and/or their services to various charities. Now, more than ever, they need our support and continued business.
Our friends at Cartoon Collections have a unique gift idea from their Customizable Cartoon collection, like this classic by Harry Bliss. Black gloss framed and matted 12×12 starting at $150. Click here to view the available prints and to order.
Customizable cartoon prints from Cartoon Collections.
FROM GIFT CERTIFICATES TO FUN STOCKING STUFFERS
Dog Lovers Tarpon Springs is celebrating with their 25 Days of Christmas sale. From treats to toys; accessories to supplements, they have everything for the discerning dog lover. Free curbside and delivery service available. Call for assistance and suggestions: 727.934.8756.
Stocking stuffer dog treats for your dogs? Find them at Dog Lovers Tarpon.
Dade City’s Dog-Mania & Cats store greeters Cole and Lilly will be happy to help you shop for your favorite fur-friend. The store also has gift items that can be personalized with engraving. Give them a call at 352.467.9622.
Be sure to say hello to Cole and Lilly, Dog-Mania & Cats store greeters.
Emerson’s Studio Store is tucked away in a cool cottage on Anna Maria Island’s Pine Avenue. Just walking through the doors of this place will put a smile on your face. Fun art pieces from aprons to cocktail napkins; t-shirts, hats and notecards; even hand-painted customized furniture. All for the fun at heart.
At Emerson’s Studio Store be prepared to laugh. Emerson will most likely start laughing with you.
A fun place for people-wear is South Tampa’s Imagine That Boutique. Owner Cheri Hudson and her staff will offer expert assistance, service and gift-wrapping. They have a fun selection of tees and tanks just for the dog lover on your list. Be sure to treat yourself to one as well.
The tees and tanks at Imagine That Boutique are oh-so-soft.
One Lucky Dog Boutique & Grooming continues to stock up on some of the most unique items for dogs and dog lovers. Their eye for quality and trendsetting design is exceptional. You have to check out their lines of collars, harnesses and leashes. We always say, a dog cannot have too many collars.
One Lucky Dog Boutique in St. Pete offers a wide array of beautiful collars.
You could give the gift of health for the dog of the dog-lover on your gift list. Take bone broth from Pawsitively Pure Dog Food. Perfectly packaged and shipped right to the recipient’s door, bone broth is one of the most healing foods we can feed our pets. We also love their Pure Paw Balm, by the way. This Florida-based company knows what they’re doing when it comes to the health and well-being of our dogs.
The paw balm is very soothing on human hands and feet as well (we know).
Pet Food Warehouse carries the fun shirt and accessory line, Teddy the Dog Apparel. Hoodies, classic long-sleeve and short-sleeve tees with funny quotes and illustrations. Pet Food Warehouse is also having a 20% off sale on Christmas toys, collars, harnesses and leashes. Shopping options include online, curbside or free delivery. Give them a call at 727.521.6191.
Make somebody’s day with a tee from Teddy, available at Pet Food Warehouse.
Shop Nature’s Food Patch in Clearwater and Dunedin for specials on pet food, treats, supplements, and supplies. Gift certificates are available too. A fun stocking stuffer idea: sign a friend up for a free Patch Perks membership card.
Sign somebody up for a free Patch Perks membership card. Cool stocking stuffer idea.
Another healthy gift-giving idea comes from Nature’s Pet Herbals. If you’re confused by all of the different CBD products for pets on the market, check them out, and even give them a call with your questions at 406.578.HEMP (4367). We’ve successfully used this product for our dogs’ anxiety during short or long car rides.
Nature’s Pet Herbals CBD line of products.
The Doggie Bag Boutique in Lakeland is an all-round fun store for every dog lover. No matter where you live, a trip here should be part of your shopping bucket list. They even have a section of brand new dog-themed children’s books. This store recently helped The New Barker secure a year’s worth of dog food for a gentleman in Polk County struggling, economically, to take care of his three small dogs. His dogs are his life. A special thank you to NutriSource Pet Foods.
What more can we say? We have the best advertising partners in the world.
Have you shopped at The Doggie Bag Boutique in Lakeland?
In this new year, let us all find ways to be the bright spot for someone else.
by Kerry Kriseman, for The New Barker
The tiny 10-week-old black Labrador puppy nuzzled my ear with knife-like baby teeth while her sweet puppy breath erased the scent of my Coco Chanel Mademoiselle perfume. Her mission the day we met Christie was to snuggle and be held, like any baby. Her life’s mission was to lead. It’s what she was born to do.
As I held her like a baby, with her pointy head resting over my left shoulder and her arms folded into my chest, I thought about her destiny. We didn’t name her. In their grief, our friends donated money to name her Christie to honor their 16-year-old niece who died from injuries sustained in a car accident. She had been an elite swimmer, and beloved daughter, sister, and friend. She was a leader among her peers, the kind of friend who responded to texts in the middle of the night when her friends were sad. She was compassionate and kind.
Our Christie had big shoes to fill. For the next year, we loved her and trained her, hoping she would join the elite corps of Southeastern Guide Dogs that are matched with visually impaired individuals. She was to be ours for just a year before she returned to Southeastern Guide Dogs’ 23-acre campus in Palmetto, Fla., for her next phase of training.
Christie was the seventh pup our family raised for Southeastern. She made us feel like we were the best raisers. As Mary Poppins said about herself: “She was practically perfect in every way.” Stay off the furniture? Check. Sit politely at the door before entering or exiting? Check. Stay when told? Check. Training Christie was effortless.
Every one of the roughly 60 commands she learned was for one purpose: to be someone’s eyes in a world that had gone dark.
Sometimes, we are lucky enough to hear from the people who receive our dogs. They are resilience personified in an unkind world that robbed them of their vision. They describe their lives before blindness, how they lost their sight, what led them to get a guide dog. These dogs change lives even before they leave campus with their new forever friend.
After Christie came home with us, I read about Christie the swimmer and how she impacted others’ lives through her altruism. Our Christie would someday to be the light in someone’s dark world. We were sure of it.
Everyone says that returning the pup to Southeastern for advanced training is like taking your firstborn to college. What it really feels like is ripping a Band-Aid off the hairiest part of your arm. We wince, cry, and mourn. That was tough, but the news that Christie had torn her ACL and would need surgery, was worse. Her destiny was forever changed. She had to find a new purpose, just like the people whose vision is stolen from them.
When I learned that Christie would not become a guidebecause of her injury, we jumped at the chance to adopt her. We loved having her as a forever family member, but we knew she needed a mission. While Southeastern designated her an Ambassador, which meant she might be called upon to appear at events to promote the organization’s mission,I wanted to do more with this pup who was still eager to learn and serve. I completed an easy course through Alliance of Therapy Dogs so that Christie could become a certified therapy dog. An application, background screening and interview at a park was all it took for Christie to become certified.
To heal from her injuries, Christie had to be resilient. And because of Covid-19, we too have had to be resilient. It has challenged all of us to adapt, adjust, learn, and heal. Itderailed our plans to visit hospitals and nursing homes this year, but it elevated the vital work of our frontline workers. They care for the sickest patients, many of whom suffer alone in hospitals because of the deadly virus. They put themselves first in dangerous situations.They are resilient. Day after day.
As a community, we must do what we can to honor these workers. The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg hosts Frontline Workers First Friday each month, in gratitude for the selfless work first responders perform. Christie and I will be at the Museum this Friday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., to greet and thank frontline workers.
Animals, especially dogs, teach us more about resilience than any self-help book or Google search. Like the people Christie was born to serve, her destiny was changed the moment she took a wrong step while playing with her kennel mates. My dream for her was quashed. But we can always find a job to do, a way to be of service that helps others.
In this new year, let us all find ways to be the bright spot for someone else, to shine the light when days are dark, and remain resilient in a world that never stops surprising us.
About Kerry: She is a communications professional in the non-profit arts industry. The Florida native lives in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband, City of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, their two children, Jordan and Samuel, their two dogs, Christie and Jake, and their current puppy from Southeastern Guide Dogs, Hannah.
How does a television show about animal rescue go from concept to completion? We interviewed two-time Academy Award-winning documentarian Bill Guttentag on the making of THAT ANIMAL RESCUE SHOW.
by Anna Cooke for The New Barker Dog Magazine
The entertainment industry has always been aware of the positive effect animals have on people. Some iconic movie examples include classics like Old Yeller, Bambi and My Dog Skip, and remakes of The Call Of The Wild and Black Beauty.
The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship, positively influencing the health and well-being of both. In the docuseries, That Animal Rescue Show, the healing power of animals is the common thread in every species of animal showcased across all 10 episodes.
From Richard Linklater—the five-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind Boyhood and School of Rock—and two-time Academy Award–winning documentarian Bill Guttentag, this heart-tugging series tracks the animal rescue community in and around Linklater’s hometown of Austin, Texas.
The subject matter and gentle tone of That Animal Rescue Show are a bit of a departure for Guttentag’s body of work, which includes Twin Towers, Nanking, and The Last Days of Kennedy and King. He told the Hollywood Reporter, “I think when you see people rescuing animals and animals rescuing people, it’s still meaningful. It’s part of our relationship with the natural world. And in this time, when people are encroaching on animals more than ever, I think we should be focusing on our relationship with them. Animals are extremely therapeutic. They’re important and they literally change people’s lives.”
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Bill Guttentag via a video conference meeting. The beauty of this technology is that it allows us to see one another; to capture emotions as we speak to people across the country. Bill always had a subtle, gentle smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes as he spoke about the animals in his latest project.
Anna: How does a concept go from light-bulb-over-the-head to a 10-part series about animal rescue?
Bill: A mutual friend introduced me to Rick Linklater. Rick has a pet pig named Dood, whom he adopted from Central Texas Pig Rescue. I thought, this is a real interesting world here, this world of pig adoption. Among other things, I learned about the whole issue around micro pigs, which is a myth. People think pigs stay small. Over a number of weeks, as Rick and I continued to talk, it became clear what an interesting place Central Texas Pig Rescue is, which we cover in episodes two and three in our series.
But, there is a bigger world out there beyond pig rescue. The series is more about how animals are rescuing people and people are rescuing animals. That’s where the human-animal bound is most profound.
Take Austin Pets Alive. The woman who runs it, Ellen Jefferson, came up through the ranks working at traditional animal shelters, where animals came into the shelter for a couple of days and then were euthanized for space. Ellen looked at the situation and wondered, why should it be this way? She became instrumental in creating Austin Pets Alive, now one of the largest no kill shelters in the country. Through their efforts, Austin Pets Alive has managed to save between 80,000 and 90,000 dogs and cats since 2008. And, their message is spreading across the country.
Anna: There is an obvious inspirational component to the series, which will hopefully motivate more people to become involved with rescue.
Bill: I think that stories like these really do inspire people, and give us hope. Another episode, Paws In Prison, is about women inmates who take in dogs from shelters. Most of the dogs have likely been scheduled to be euthanized. The inmates train and care for the dogs to make them adoptable. Right before your eyes, you see how the dogs are saving these women while the women work to save the dogs. It’s a really wonderful reciprocal relationship.
Anna: Referring to that old W.C. Fields quote, “Never work with children or animals in film” did you have any doubts about creating a show around animals?
Bill: The beauty of working with animals is that they don’t take direction. Animals are very spontaneous and are going to do what they’re going to do. We were always surprised in good ways. We tried to capture them in the way that kept it all very authentic. You know, in filmmaking, you don’t really want people looking direct into the camera lens. But with animals, the whole idea is to see them at their level. So, we put the camera very low to the ground where you’re seeing the animal eye-to-eye. It was a little challenging for the camera person, especially when we were working with a small to medium size dog. But, it really looked good. It helped that everyone who worked on the series really loves animals.
Incidentally, most of the people who worked on the show are women and the main characters in the show are women. It’s a legitimate issue that people say there aren’t enough women in television. Well, here is a show that features women both in front of and behind the camera.
Anna: As you started researching stories, I’m sure you quickly realized the proliferation of inspirational stories about animals. How did you manage to narrow the subjects down for the series?
Bill: Yes, there are so many more stories. Rick said something to us which I thought was just great. He wanted to come up with 10 little documentaries that could all make it into Sundance Film Festival on their own. So, we narrowed the list down to the most compelling stories; the ones that really touched us – like more heart than head in a lot of ways. We were looking for a diversity of animals as well. We have a couple of episodes on pigs, a few on dogs. Cats factor into the show. We have a coyote episode and a goat episode. We have a couple of episodes on horses. We were looking for variety, in the same way that we didn’t want to do the entire series on pig rescue, we didn’t want to do an entire series on dog rescue. Although, my dog would have happily watched each episode on dogs.
Rick and I just thought it would be interesting that every episode the audience tuned into would feature a different animal. And, hopefully for the viewer, they’re all compelling stories.
Anna: What’s the take away you hope to have conveyed to the audience?
Bill: I hope people will connect with the show. There are a lot of pet owners in this country. But, that’s not reason enough to convince people to watch the show. We still, as filmmakers, have to deliver an emotional story in order to connect with our audience. One of the gratifying things about doing this series, is what I’m hearing from from people who are crazy about their dogs and people who don’t currently have pets. They have all told me that, while watching the series, they were able to really connect with our storytelling. So, I think there is something very profound about our relationships with dogs and cats and all animals, really.
Anna: To get the idea off the ground and find support, how was it presented?
Bill: The entertainment industry is a combination of art and commerce. And, the art of it all is, ‘hey, this would be a pretty good series.’ Then, the question is, who’s going to do it? It turned out CBS All Access wanted to do it, which is a great home for the series. That connection came through our friend Julia Eisenman, who had a deal with CBS All Access and her production company.
Once you say you’re going to do it, it’s like a startup in a way. You have this idea and you have someone backing you, but, you still have to deliver the product, in this case, the shows.
Anna: The entire series takes place in Central Texas, primarily Austin, completed in large part before the pandemic hit.
Bill: That’s right. We also used a lot of folks from Austin. There is a lot of Austin music in the show. I think around a hundred songs performed by Austin musicians. Again, we wanted to keep it authentic. I think too often a lot of people focus on the coasts for stories, as if the coasts are only places where things are happening. Austin is an enormously popular destination city and it’s not from coincidence. There’s a really rich culture, including Austin’s big music scene. There’s fantastic food. And, there are a lot of people who love and rescue animals. It was nice to be in a city like Austin to be filming. It’s a first rate city, and a first rate city to film in.
Anna: The show has an educational component as well.
Bill: Yes, and it’s presented in a warm, genuine way for a great experience. You’ll learn about the world of no kill shelters. You’ll learn about programs that help physically disabled children learn how to walk with the help of horses. You’ll learn that wildlife rescue is a growing phenomenon. You know, there was a time when people would swerve while driving to hit an animal on the road. Now, they pull over to rescue an injured animal. There are places like Austin Wildlife Rescue that rescue all manner of wildlife – whether it’s a hawk or a turtle or a coyote.
Anna: We’re finding our empathy in rescuing all manner of animals. There are more people who want to help rescue animals, but they aren’t aware of the resources available to help guide them.
Bill: We developed a website that correlates with the show that has more information. Where to take sick or injured wildlife for instance, and how to become a volunteer. (www.ThatAnimalRescueShow.com). The site has links to all of the rescue organizations featured in the series. It also has a way for people to look up local organizations by typing in their zip codes.
Anna: Was there one thing that really struck you as moving, while filming the series or in editing?
Bill: In our first show, we feature a puppy without paws. We filmed the dog being fitted for prosthetics at the veterinary hospital. It was tough for this dog to adjust. The dog’s human companions were the most caring people, doing everything they could for the dog. With the prosthetics on, she was being encouraged to walk by a group of little girls. When the dog starts running and the girls start cheering, it’s just a beautiful moment. Completely real. Completely authentic. It’s touching to see kids and animals interact. And, let me tell you, once you see the dog running with the prosthetics, it’s pretty clear that this dog is going to be okay.
Anna: In other episodes in the series, physically challenged children are encouraged by an animal’s resolve to overcome its own challenges.
Bill: Yes, that’s absolutely right. In our first episode, we meet Jamie Wallace. She and her family have a farm called Safe In Austin. There is a scene of a little boy who uses a walker with wheels. He encounters a dog in a wheelchair. There is something that really connects the two of them. Here’s a dog relying on wheels to get around, and here’s a little boy that gets around with the help of wheels. It’s quite touching, and very real.
Bill: You know, there are a lot of television shows presenting fake reality. Our show is real reality. Nayeema Raza, who is an executive producer on the show, has said that this show is so different in terms of tone from a lot of what we’re reading and consuming now.
“So much of the content we’re consuming right now is about differences. I think this is really a show about the universal elements of humanity. There’s something equalizing when you know a story is real, and for us, there’s something equalizing when you see a human and animal rescue each other.”
Anna: Everybody has a dog story. How about yours?
Bill: I have a three-year-old Labradoodle named Pingo. His name is derived from the Portuguese word for macchiato, which I’ve been known to enjoy, every now and then.
You know, like a lot of people in the world of COVID, I’m spending a lot more time in my home office. My life is definitely richer for having a dog sleeping at my feet while I work. Or, going out on walks with him on a regular schedule. I’m hearing similar stories from friends and associates. One of Pingo’s most endearing traits (I don’t know if all Labradoodles do this) is the way he sort of flops his paw over my arm when he’s sitting down.
All of this time at home has been great for the dogs, but I wonder if they’re going to be disappointed when we all head back to work, away from home. On the other hand, I’ll have had the experience all these months of spending extra time with him. I’ve never heard anyone complain about having to spend more time with their dog.
These are unusual times, and this goes back to the show. None of us has ever lived through something like this. As a result, there is stress everywhere – in the political world, in the medical world, and just stress in general. I’d like to think we’ve created a show that is a bit of a balm for people; an escape from the stress and all of the anger. I hope the audience will be able to take a step back and see that this is a show about people and animals, and the profound relationships we have with each other. ###
Note: Guttentag directed the Paws In Prison episode, which was accepted by Sundance Film Festival. That episode was bound for the festival in Telluride when it was canceled due to COVID-19.
Watch the trailer for That Animal Rescue Show here.
Hear what Dr. Phil McGraw has to say about That Animal Rescue Show here.
His name was Sam, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a savior of women’s spirits. Perhaps his backstory, whatever it was, only prepared him for what was right in front of him. Sam was adopted from the Humane Society of Pinellas County by a woman looking for a gentle, loving and loyal companion. Soon after, the woman and her dog moved into an assisted living facility. There were two levels of care for residents. Sam and his human, Sally, lived in one of the individual independent-living apartments on the peaceful property situated near the Bay.
In the apartment next door to them lived a woman from Puerto Rico who loved animals, especially cats and dogs. Her name was Milagros, and Sam and Sally became good friends with their good luck charm. Together they took long walks around the waterfront, especially enjoying the sunrises. They laughed at things only older women understand with years of life experiences tucked under their straw hats. Sometimes when Sally had to go to the hospital for several days, Milagros would take care of Sam.
One evening, while sitting on their adjoining front porches, Sally told Milagros that she would no longer be able to care for him. The details of why were left unspoken. Sally gave Sam to Milagros and asked them to take care of each other.
A few days later, Sam and Milagros watched from their front porch as their friend was taken away by ambulance. Attendants later cleaned out her apartment.
Sam and Milagros became inseparable. Walking around the grounds, they were a lovely sight for the other residents, greeting everyone with a human’s smile and a dog’s tail wag. They frequently visited the facility’s main lobby, meeting for coffee with the other dog lovers.
Sam was a lap dog, always right next to Milagros. They slept together and ate together. They watched television together, and she sang to him. Occasionally, he was her dance partner when an old favorite played on the radio. They thrived on their togetherness.
Sam whined incessantly when Milagros shut the door to her bathroom for even a few moments. Sometimes the whining escalated to screams while she was taking a shower, and he couldn’t see her from behind the shower curtain.
Once, a neighbor left an anonymous note on the windshield of the daughter’s car during a visit with her mother. The note accused Milagros of hurting Sam, and passed judgment on how she was caring for the dog, pointing out how long his nails were. “If you don’t do something, we will report you and your mother to animal services for animal abuse,” was the last line in the note.
Concerned for Sam’s health and her mother’s well-being, the daughter took them all for a visit with the family veterinarian. Maybe Sam was in pain from an undetected infection or perhaps a broken bone from a fall. Her mother would never intentionally harm Sam.
“Sam is fine,” assured the veterinarian. “We’ll just trim his nails. They’re really not that bad at all. I’m sorry you are having to deal with something like this, right now.”
As Alzheimer’s began to chip away the pieces of Mother’s brain, and subsequently her memory, the decision to find a memory care facility became priority. During one of her ever-increasing number of hospital stays, her doctor advised us that the facility should be secure, set up especially for residents living with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other diseases of the brain. Mother had a tendency to wander, and she had become very good at figuring out locks on doors and windows.
Finally facing the truth of Mother’s health, one of the decisions that had to be made was what to do with Sam. He was staying with us – a family of two adults and four dogs, and he missed my Mother terribly. His mournful cries often rose to blood curdling screams if he was not in the same room with one of us. I understood, then, how a neighbor could think Mother was hurting Sam. The only time he was consolable was when one of us was sitting next to him. He could go without food, water and exercise, but not the feel of a human’s touch.
We moved Mom 10 times over an eight-year period as her illness progressed. When she was highly medicated, she often became combative with staff who did not understand the disease, or Mom. These outbursts would prompt another phone call, asking us to find another facility for her.
Every facility we moved her to did not allow pets, except the last one, where a lovable fat cat named Buddy resided. He was adopted from the Humane Society as well. Buddy would make his rounds every day, visiting with each of the residents who sometimes dispensed treats and always had a gentle hand. Buddy ended each of his days in bed with Mom, curled up inside the crook of her legs, softly purring.
After some experimentation, we figured out that taking Mom off most of her meds calmed her, bringing her back to her more recognizable self. I also believe Buddy was of great comfort to her, especially after her memory had almost completely faded away. There was always something familiar to Buddy’s soft fur and the rumbling of his purr.
Almost to the end, Mom would ask about a dog who managed to remain in her memory. Was he her dog? Where was he, and was he okay? She could not recall his name, but it didn’t matter. She would smile and laugh when I described Sam to her, sometimes stroking her lap as if he was sitting on it. Sometimes, it would be Buddy on her lap she was stroking, but I imagined she may have been remembering Sam.
Sam’s third human spirit he would take care of was a woman who was bed-ridden. He gladly took his place next to her so she could feel his soft, silky fur under her hand. Her family was grateful for Sam’s gentle demeanor and his ability to calm her.
Sam had enough unconditional love to share with three special ladies, arriving at just the right moment in each of their lives. Such is the purpose of dog.
*Quote used in headline by Jean de La Bruyere, a French philosopher (1645-1696).
Dental disease in dogs is one of, if not the most, common disorders affecting our canine friends. By the age of three, 80% of all dogs have sufficient dental disease that warrants professional dental cleaning.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t occur with enough regularity to maintain good oral health. Many dogs suffer in silence as a result dental disease. Dental disorders, including plaque, tartar, gingivitis, periodontal disease, infections, cavities, and tooth trauma, all affect the oral cavity. Dental disease also has significant implications for the rest of the body. The heart, kidney, respiratory system and brain are all impacted by diseases of the teeth and oral cavity. Professional dental treatments not only provide for a healthy oral cavity, but also the health of the body as a whole. So, the benefits of proper dental care far outweigh the risks.
All major veterinary organizations that provide treatment guidelines and recommendations have established that professional anesthetic dental cleanings are considered standards of care. To not use anesthesia with dental treatments is considered to be below the minimum appropriate level of care. Anesthesia is the only way a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment can be performed.
Many dog owners are aware of the importance of proper oral health and the need for dental treatments, but acceptance and compliance is low. Why is this? In my experience, the fear of anesthesia is the number one reason why dogs, especially older ones, do not have proper dental treatments performed. While it does affect all dogs and all breeds, dental disease is prevalent primarily in older toy breeds. Costs and fees are generally less of a concern as most pet parents know how important this treatment is and plan accordingly. The key to preventing tooth loss is assessment and treatment. This is greatly limited with non-anesthetic dental treatments.
Non-anesthetic dental cleanings give pet owners a false sense of security into believing that they are doing what is best for their pet. However, in many cases, disease is left undetected and untreated. The pet suffers in silence until they can no longer tolerate the pain. By this point, the disease has progressed to where extraction of teeth is the only alternative. Other organs may now also be affected.
If disease is found early enough, treatments other than extractions are among available options. Tooth loss can be avoided with early, proper assessment and treatment, only achieveable if the pet is under anesthesia.
For non-anesthetic dental procedures, pets have to be restrained. This increases the risks that the pet may be injured by the restraint. Dental instruments can also cause mouth, head trauma or injury. It is most important to realize that the majority of dental disease lies below the gum line. This cannot be addressed effectively with non-anesthetic cleanings.
Cleaning only the surface of the tooth crown is a cosmetic procedure that offers no health benefits for the pet. Non-anesthetic dental cleanings are not in the best interest of your pet’s health and well-being.
Age Is Not A Disease Many pet parents become more concerned with anesthesia in their older dogs. This is especially true of small breed dogs. The time under anesthesia can be longer for older pets due to the level of disease and the necessity for more dental work. Treatment, early and often, is the key. Repeated anesthesia over the life of the pet does not impact longevity as was once the case with older anesthetic medications. Dental disease is not curable with a one-time treatment. The disease is recurrent and progressive. Regular anesthetic dental treatments and cleanings can manage and stall dental disease.
Ensuring a safe and effective anesthetic dental cleaning and reducing the fear of pet parents, requires screening pets and providing individualized care. This allows us to ensure the safety of the pet and limit the time under anesthesia. We start with pre-anesthesia testing. At a minimum, a physical exam and lab testing to assess organ function are required. Pets with possible or known heart/lung disease may also need an EKG, chest radiographs and echocardiogram.
The anesthetic protocol is tailored to meet the needs of the individual pet. This will mean choosing the pre-anesthesia medications, drugs to induce anesthesia and maintenance gas that meet the needs of the pet. Each pet is an individual and needs to be treated as such.
Light Plane Of Anesthesia The depth or level of anesthesia is kept to a minimum. The pet should be in a shallow plane of anesthesia as opposed to a deep plane of anesthesia. Local nerve blocs, just like with humans, can allow for better pain control, but still allow the pet to be as minimally sedated as possible. Light planes of anesthesia improve heart and lung function and blood pressure. Effective pain management, nerve blocks, injectable and oral pain medication allow for a lighter plane of anesthesia, reducing the risk of complications and speeding the recovery period. These are major factors in minimizing anesthesia concerns.
The concerns with anesthesia are greatly reduced with today’s modern ability to monitor the pet. Monitoring by an experienced and attentive technician or veterinary nurse is paramount. Monitoring machines are also very helpful. All pets will have pulse oximetry (oxygen levels in the blood), EKG, respiratory monitor, temperature monitor and blood pressure assessed during their entire time of anesthesia.
An IV catheter is always in place for fluid administration, helping maintain proper blood pressure, but also to flush drugs, medications and toxins via the kidneys, which also supports proper kidney function. As previously mentioned, anesthesia, by nature, can lower blood pressure. It can also lower body temperature. To address this, the pet must be warmed while under anesthesia. This requires external warmers such as blankets and warmed IV fluids. When the body temperature is kept as close to normal as possible, the rest of the body functions better, and recovery is quicker. An endotracheal tube with cuff is used on every patient to maintain an open airway and prevent water and debris from entering the trachea and lungs.
Recovery from anesthesia is one of the most important times of the entire procedure and is critical to a successful outcome. The pet is to be monitored until able to sit upright and breathe without the need for the endotracheal tube and swallow appropriately. Body temperature is monitored and the pet is warmed to maintain normalcy. While the pet is being monitored, any additional support is provided, if needed, such as additional pain medication, warming support, and nausea control.
The Big Take Home Message First, talk to your veterinarian and veterinary team about their protocol for pre-anesthesia evaluation, lab testing, and treatment. Ask them how your pet will be monitored, what steps will be taken to adequately monitor your pet, and control pain and discomfort. Ask how your pet will be supported to limit anesthetic complications and allow for safe, effective and proper dental care.
You’ve promised the kids your family could get a Golden Retriever puppy. You’ve been looking for weeks and have finally found one at a pet store close to home. The kids and you go to pick up your new pup and excitedly bring him home. The next day, the new furbaby seems lethargic and has diarrhea. When he doesn’t improve, you take him to the veterinarian for a check up.
It turns out your new puppy has several types of intestinal parasites, and one called Giardia, is transmissible to humans. Wait! What? How can that happen? Well, according to Florida state law, it shouldn’t.
Florida has a law (FL Statutes 828.29 at leg.state.fl.us/statutes) known as the Pet Lemon Law to protect your rights. Whether you buy your puppy or kitten from a pet dealer or private breeder, the dog or cat must be at least eight weeks old, and you must receive an Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. It must be signed by a veterinarian within 30 days of sale and will certify the pet has been vaccinated, dewormed and has had certain tests like a stool parasite exam and a feline leukemia/FIV test in cats.
If you purchase from a pet dealer (anyone selling more than two litters or 20 dogs or cats per year) they must provide you with a written notice advising you of your rights under the law. If you do not receive a Health Certificate, or the seller will not honor the statute, options include filing a complaint with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. You may also contact your local law enforcement agency and request they file a complaint on your behalf for violation of Fl. Chapter 828.29. Your filed complaint will be forwarded to the State Attorney’s office.
If your vet finds that your pet was unfit for sale, you have the right to receive a refund for the purchase price, and reimbursement for reasonable medical costs. Alternatively, you may return the pet and receive an exchange animal plus reimbursement for reasonable medical costs. You may also decide to keep the pet and receive medical cost reimbursement.
Within two weeks of purchase, if your veterinarian examines your new pup and finds a disease or internal parasites, or within a year finds a hereditary or congenital disorder, you may be compensated. Reputable purebred dog breeders test for health issues in the parents before producing a litter.
The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) is a centralized canine health database. It maintains information on the health issues prevalent in specific breeds like hip dysplasia, cardia disease, and thyroid disease among many others. Anyone can look up health-tested dogs in their database. You will need the registered AKC name of the puppy’s parents.
Many pet stores obtain their puppies for sale from puppy mills. Do your homework and investigate before making such an important and long term decision. Reputable breeders do not sell their puppies to pet retail stores.
Puppy mills are commercial dog breeding operations that place profit over the health and well-being of the breeder dogs and litters of puppies. The two primary sales outlets for puppies bred in puppy mills: 1) pet retail stores that sell puppies; 2) the internet. In 2018, an investigation by the Florida Department of Health identified pet store puppies as the source of an outbreak of Campylobactor infections which was passed by puppies to 118 people across 18 states.
Veterinarians are advocates for the animals. We take an oath to protect animal health and welfare, and to prevent or relieve animal suffering. The Certificate of Veterinary Inspection gives us a tangible way to ensure pups are physically healthy before starting their life with a new owner.
It’s so easy to fall in love with a new puppy. By the time the puppy has had it first vet visit, the new owners have already bonded with the puppy. As a veterinarian, it’s absolutely heartbreaking to diagnose genetic or congenital problems during a new puppy exam, which requires the owner to have to make difficult and painful decisions. Please do your research before buying a puppy from a responsible breeder, and know your rights. Make sure you receive that Certificate of Veterinary Inspection health certificate.
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services may be reached at 1.800.435.7352 or visit their website: 800HelpFLA.com
Carol A. Marusak, VMD owns and operates All County Animal Hospital in Brooksville. She became certified in veterinary acupuncture in 2001 and has training in herbal medicine. In 2015, Dr. Marusak completed her training in Veterinary Chiropractic and offers this service to her patients. All County Animal Hospital 645 Ponce De Leon Blvd. Brooksville 352.796.6788 AllCountyAH.com