The Central Coast Pet Sitter

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Everybody needs a little love & support March 9, 2011

Filed under: itails,Pet Articles,Service dogs — centralcoastpetsitter @ 5:27 am
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By Winston Chung

Dog ownership seems to have had a calming effect on my life, so I’m not completely surprised when I hear about new ways that canines are helping people.

Scientists aren’t really sure if dog ownership is associated with decreased allergy risk or increased physical activity in youth, but there is little doubt that service dogs are making big differences in the lives of some autistic and diabetic children.

Specially trained service dogs are helping to calm some autistic children or keep them safe, and others are sensing and warning their diabetic owners about potentially dangerous episodes of low blood sugar.

While at work, I’ve seen volunteer teams from the San Francisco SPCA Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program helping to ease the pain or brighten the day of some patients at the hospital.

The Puppy Dog Tales Reading program aims to promote literacy in at-risk populations by attempting to stimulate enthusiasm for reading. Teams are placed at schools or libraries and work with children during reading sessions, supporting efforts in a “non-judgmental way.”

Dr. Jennifer Emmert is the AAT Manager at the SF SPCA. She told me that the Puppy Dog Tales Reading program has teams at over 20 locations and that educators are describing results that include “increased enjoyment of reading, quicker improvement in cadence, increased motivation to try sounding out unfamiliar words, reduced anxiety” among others.

Canines are also helping to reduce anxiety in soldiers with PTSD. An article in the New York Times describes a 25 year-old Iraq war veteran who was able to cut his anxiety and sleep medication in half, weeks after getting a dog. The story also mentions that the government is spending money on research looking into how canines might help soldiers.

Based in San Anselmo, the Pine Street Foundation is a non-profit charity with the mission of helping people with cancer through education and research. Dr. Michael McCulloch is their research director and contributor to a growing body of literature on canines and cancer detection, including his study of dogs that detected lung cancer in the breath of cancer sufferers with 99 percent accuracy.

In an e-mail to me, Dr. McCulloch shared that they, in partnership with Touradj Solouki, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Maine, are currently enrolling women with ovarian cancer for a federally-funded study of canine scent detection. They are also seeking women with endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome as controls. Women who participate only need to provide a sample of exhaled breath and can enroll by visiting the clinical trial‘s or Pine Street Foundation‘s websites.

I have no misconceptions about my dog Bouncer having the potential to develop clinically useful skills. Heck, I’m happy when he goes long stretches without going pee-pee inside.

Bouncer showing how to enjoy the momentBouncer showing how to enjoy the moment 

But I do get the sense that Bouncer is a positive influence in our lives. Since we adopted him from Wonder Dog Rescue, Bouncer has been a reason to go on a walk and explore new city parks and dog-friendly spots in California. When I’m anxious, he can be soothing and sometimes remind me to not judge and be in the moment.

Posted By: Winston Chung MD (Email) | March 07 2011 at 11:30 AM


Lost & Found Pets: What to do? January 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — centralcoastpetsitter @ 12:05 pm
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Lassie come home

Please come home!

Here is an informative list of important procedures to take immediately when losing a pet:

Get the word out early. This is key to getting your dog/cat back safely. Don’t assume & don’t wait around to see if he’ll find his way home. As soon as you are aware that your pet is missing, GET THE WORD OUT! Find good, clear photos to have on hand just in case, and ALWAYS make sure your dogs and cats are wearing a collar with identification tags. Microchipping is an excellent form of identification, but make sure your pet has a visible collar and tags.

  • Make posters, and lots of them. Keep it simple: “LOST DOG (or cat)!” should be at the top in large, easy to read, (even from a moving vehicle) bold letters. Then include a brief description or breed type: “Beige, wire-haired terrier ” or “Striped grey and black short-haired cat “. Don’t assume that people will know your particular pure breed, so always include a description. Include the animal’s name, it may make it easier for someone to call your pet over and capture him, and it also makes your pet into a valued member of your family, and not just another lost animal statistic. Offer a reward, don’t state how much in the ad, and include your telephone number in large numbers at the bottom of the poster.
  • Make dozens of index cards with the same information as above, and go to every home, in every direction from the site of where your pet disappeared, and give a card, or stick a card under doors or on windshields. Stop and speak with every person you encounter –the more people know about your lost pet, the more likely the one person who spots him will call you. Your pet may be frightened, ask people to please check their barns and sheds, especially at night.
  • Place a “Lost ” ad in your local newspaper the very first morning your pet is gone. These ads are usually free.
  • GET THE WORD OUT! The more people know you have lost a pet, and that you are upset, worried and desperately trying to find your pet, the more people will call you if they see an animal in the woods or on the road, or in their backyard.
  • Get out and call for your pet by name. Enlist family and friends to canvas the neighborhood, in all directions, on the roads and as the crow flies. Don’t try to predict where your pet could or wouldn’t have gone –YOU NEVER KNOW. The best time to call for your pet is at night, and at dawn. If you are calling from your car, drive slowly, roll down all the windows, stop and turn your vehicle off frequently to listen.
  • Call all your neighbors personally.
  • Call all veterinary clinics, including emergency veterinary hospitals outside your local area. Sometimes people pick up a stray and drive it to a distant clinic. Call all animal shelters and animal control and dog control officers, all local police and state troopers, all local kennels, the highway department, dog training clubs, grooming shops get the word out.
  • Visit all local dog pounds and animal shelters, don’t rely on their information, go through and look at all dogs and cats, DAILY.
  • Don ‘t give up!
  • Dogs and cats often wander far away, and do things you wouldn’t predict they would do. Try everything, look everywhere, tell everyone. You’d be surprised how many people will be supportive, will get out and help you look, will offer words of encouragement and hope, will suggest places to look that other stray animals have gone.
  • Even the friendliest and most social pet may quickly become terrified and wild. Your own friendly pet, when lost, may hide from people, run away if he sees a person, he may even run away from you. Don’t chase after a lost pet –they are much faster than we are and you’ll only scare them more. Instead, sit on the ground; talk in normal tones, repeating his name and familiar phrases over and over again. A frightened animal will usually stick around, and after a few minutes or hours,come closer and closer.
  • In rare cases, you may need to rent or purchase a Humane Live trap, and set it to capture a terrified lost pet. Local animal shelters often rent or loan these, and will have an appropriate size for a dog or a cat.
  • Again, DON’T GIVE UP! Be aggressive in your search, get lots of help, get the word out right away – don’t wait a few hours “to see if he’ll come home on his own “– you need those early hours to put up posters and give out cards.

The methods above can be followed if you have Found a Pet as well. Here are two other Guides to aid you in finding a lost pet with a fee.





The Intelligence of Canine Minds January 19, 2011

Filed under: itails,news — centralcoastpetsitter @ 11:28 am
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Dog getting clicker training. Tika, the 3-year...

Clicker Training

Check out this wonderful article on researching Dog’s Intelligence from the NY times, printed January 17th.


Aggressive Coyote Prompts Dog Ban On Some Palo Alto Open Space Trails September 16, 2010

Filed under: dog hiking,itails — centralcoastpetsitter @ 10:17 am
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The coyote (Canis latrans), the animal on whic...

Image via Wikipedia

For All You Hikers Out There:

In response to a series of encounters between an aggressive coyote and dogs, Palo Alto is temporarily prohibiting dogs from visiting some trails on the western side of Pearson-Arastradero Preserve.

“The coyote would approach people with dogs, bark and howl,” said Lester Hodgins, open space division supervising ranger. In one case, a coyote “nipped at” a dog, he said, adding that there have been no full-blown attacks.

The harassed dogs have ranged in size from a small collie to a 90-pound Labrador, Hodgins said.

“In some cases, the owners just yelled,” he said. “In one case, they had to throw a rock.”

There haven’t been any reports of coyotes approaching hikers without dogs.

Following the latest encounter on Sept. 1, the city banned dogs from the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail at the preserve’s west entrance on Arastradero Road to the Meadowlark Trail, as well as from the Woodland Star, Ohlone and Bay Laurel trails. The preserve, city-owned open space, is off Arastradero Road just north of Page Mill.


By Jesse Dungan

Daily News Staff Writer