Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's Summertime and the Living Is Easy...

It may not feel that way for many New Yorkers, but with summer right around the corner some states are already seeing temperatures in the low 80s. The other day, while New York had a dreary, rainy day, it hit about 82 degrees in Philly.

It should go without saying, therefore, that as temperatures begin climbing, you need to make sure to keep your pet properly hydrated and safe. So check the weather report and leave your pets at home; do not take them in the car with you to run errands. Even if you leave the windows cracked and take a few minutes, cars get hot and dogs, no matter the size, overheat quickly. Unfortunately, there has already been at least one case this year of two pugs perishing in a car, with the window cracked, as their owner and a friend went shopping.

Leave your pet in an air-conditioned space. If doing so is impossible for you because of high electric bills, consider a fan, or try to leave your pet in an area that is properly ventilated. Provide your pet with plenty of water. You should give your pet fresh water often, and be sure to refresh as often as possible in the summer months. Add some ice cubes in there for good measure.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chico's Story

Cheryl lives in Maine and has two dogs. An odd couple, in the eyes of some, they are a seven-year-old chihuahua named Peanut and a two-year-old pit bull-Labrador mix named Reid. Cheryl also has two cats, Tink and Tequila, ten and six, respectively, and both rescues.

Despite having a full house, and one that includes a chihuahua--a breed that tends to be yappy and neurotic and often misunderstood--Cheryl checks the list released daily by the New York Center for Animal Care and Control every single day and cross-posts profiles hoping to connect dogs in need with fosters and adopters.

When Cheryl saw Chico on the list, she jumped into action. A four-year-old white chihuahua, pictured above at the shelter, Chico was listed with two other chihuahuas, both of them seniors. A rescue group pulled the two older chihuahuas, but Chico remained despite people showing interest not only in fostering him but also adopting him--a lucky break that doesn't happen often.

Why? Chico earned a behavior rating of SEVERE for being aggressive from the Brooklyn branch of the New York Center for Animal Care and Control. People calling in expressing a desire to foster or adopt him were being turned away. The same dog that, according to the shelter, showed affection to both men and women was reportedly tense, highly nervous, and attempting to bite staffers who attempted to handle him. He had to be sedated to receive his rabies vaccine. Yup. Sounds like a frightened chihuahua to us.

When Cheryl called to say she wanted to adopt Chico, she was taking a leap of faith, if you will. She was making a huge assumption that his aggressiveness was simply the typical chihuahua response to being in a chaotic environment completely foreign to it. She was told by a NY CACC employee that she could not handle a dog like Chico. Cheryl did not give up. She argued her case, pointing to her experience in handling chihuahuas as well as to the conflicting information in the dog's write-up. When the second shelter employee turned her away, she turned to the rescue organizations.

Two rescues organizations were ready to take on Chico's case, and ultimately it was AmsterDog that managed to get through to the high-kill shelter and put a hold on Chico, saving his life. Arrangements were made to transport Chico to a foster in Connecticut that night. Cheryl drove from Maine to get him and bring him to his new home.

Training Humans asked Cheryl whether her hunch about Chico acting out because of his surroundings was correct. She says:
He is the sweetest mush ever. NOT aggressive and probably just afraid of the noise and scary men [shelter employees, including those who assess the dogs]. He gets along great with my two cats and two dogs.... They [the shelter employees] were wrong and [it is] so sad how many poor animals get PTS [put to sleep] for no reason!
Training Humans received photographs of Chico settling in to his new environment.

The city boy seems to have taken to life in the country splendidly.

Chihuahuas are nervous dogs, and often bark and attempt to bite when they feel threatened. They also tend to take to one owner and become very possessive and territorial. While not all chihuahuas should be painted with the same brush, Training Humans cautions people with small children against getting chihuahuas without doing their research first.

Even children with the best of intentions can be a little too rough on this small breed dog and make it feel threatened. Training Humans will be dedicating a blog post to this breed, especially in the wake of California's chihuahua epidemic. Please look for it soon.

For now, please enjoy these last two shots of Chico with his new pals.

Training Humans thanks Cheryl, AmsterDog, and the foster in Connecticut for not giving up on this beautiful pooch and wishes Cheryl and Chico the very best of luck!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Gift from You and Patrick

Patrick the pit bull has become the face of hope for many animals. The story of abuse and gross neglect he suffered at the hands of his owner made headlines in New Jersey, where he was found, and quickly spread across the United States and even internationally. He remains in the care of the GSVS Pet Hospital in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, and is recovering splendidly. Patrick's story has helped launch a grassroots movement to highlight cases like his and lobby for tougher laws. But it doesn't stop there. Patrick's story has also inspired many to support their local shelters and rescue organizations. Training Humans has prepared a handy list of things you can do to help your local shelter or rescue, and you might not even have to spend much, or any!, money doing so. Read on.

But what can I do?

  • Check that linen closet. See those blankets and towels taking up precious space that you KNOW you haven't used in ages? Stick them in a bag and take them to your local shelter or rescue organization. Live too far away from one? See if a friend will do it for you or if a volunteer can come pick stuff up from you.
  • Check your closet or attic. Have spare kennels that you don't use anymore? Perhaps a crate that you haven't used in ages? Why let it collect dust and take up space (especially you New York tiny-apartment dwellers!), when you can take it to your local shelter or rescue organization. They can always use it, especially if you aren't!
  • Want to donate but feel funny sending cash? No problem. Support local pet supply stores: buy a bag of kibble and some toys and take them over to your local shelter or rescue organization. One of the biggest expenses for shelters and rescues that house animals on premises is food. They will appreciate it.
  • Donate money! You can donate via PayPal or with a major credit card. Be sure you are donating to a shelter or rescue directly. Training Humans has assembled a short list of rescue organizations that will appreciate the help. 
  • Volunteer your time. Live close to a rescue or shelter? You can volunteer to walk the dogs and spend time with them. Offer to add to their assessment files by writing up profiles of the dogs with which you work. 
  • Volunteer to foster a dog. Every rescue has different rules and time-limit specifications. If you are interested in fostering a dog and can offer it a warm, safe haven while a forever home is found for it, do it. Talk to a rescue, fill out an application, and save a life today. 
  • Can't foster or adopt? No problem. Offer to print out and distribute flyers promoting rescues and shelters and soliciting fosters and make sure to pass them out in libraries, local businesses, and even your church if you go to one. Leave flyers in pet supply stores and veterinary offices. You can be their PR and marketing guru. 
Via one of the many Facebook pages created in his honor, Patrick is lending his name to an event taking place this weekend, encouraging people to buy some food and perhaps toys as well for local shelters and rescue groups in his name. It's called A Gift from Patrick Day. Training Humans encourages you to check out the event on the link provided and participating. 

There are countless shelters and rescue organizations in need. We have listed just a few shelters below for you and encourage you to check them out. 

  • Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Brooklyn, NY. Sean and his pals rescue everything from dogs and cats to birds, turtles, rabbits, and snakes. We have linked you directly onto the donations page, but check out his site. He's always in need of newspaper, plastic bags, bleach, dish soap, paper towels, old pillow cases, and towels. Can you give money? Awesome! Can you adopt a pet? Even better!
  • Our Best Friends Rescue, Valley Stream, NY. This takes you to their Facebook page where you can find information on many of the pets they have rescued and placed in foster homes. A few of their most recent rescues are special-needs animals. They took in Benny, a little white dog that should be 20 pounds and was only 8 when they got him. He's thriving and recovering. They also took in Babs, a deaf pit bull mix that spent the first year and a half of her life in a cage at a shelter. Look for their stories here on Training Humans in the near future. We love sharing the happy news! 
  • AmsterDog, NY. Another New York rescue organization, these guys keep busy. If you can donate food, money, or time, they will greatly appreciate it.
  • Rebound Hounds Rescue, NY.  Another awesome rescue organization, these gals are always looking for available fosters. Check out their site, put your page-maker skills to the test, and help distribute flyers promoting them and their need for fosters. 
  • Posh Pets Rescue, NY. Check out their site and see what you can do to help. 

A special shout-out to two out-of-state rescues and friends of Training Humans:

  • OC Chihuahua Rescue, California. This hard-working rescue is in the process of receiving its non-profit status. They network hard to place the staggering amounts of chihuahuas abandoned in California. We have linked you directly to their donations page (which plays awesome chihuahua-centric music that Training Humans' own Atticus enjoys wagging his tail to) and encourage you to give a little something. Every dollar helps. 
  • SoCo Animal Rescue, Georgia. Friends of Training Humans, the humble and hard-working folks at SoCo suffered a tremendous loss over the weekend. A fire destroyed the home from which they ran their rescue. Thanks to the efforts of the fire department, only three animals perished of the more than 60 that were kept on the property. While they have found fosters and adopters for most of these animals, we encourage you to read their page and get to know them and, of course, consider making a donation. During this difficult time, it will be especially appreciated as they begin to rebuild. 
We will continue suggesting rescues and shelters to you. Did we leave one out that you particularly love? Let us know and we will welcome them into our growing network. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Times Are Tough All Over

You just got laid off. Or you got evicted. Or you just took a pay cut. Or your landlord has decided to put in effect a strict, no-exceptions no-pet policy. In times of stress it's difficult enough to find a new job or a new home for yourself, let alone for a pet that you can no longer afford to keep.

Training Humans is not going to tell you to make your pet the number-one priority when you find yourself in any number of situations mentioned above. We get it. What we have done, however, is devised for you a handy Do's and Don'ts list so that you improve your pet's odds at finding a safe and happy new home.


  • Contact Training Humans via the comments section in this blog or via our Facebook page (see link on the right of the page). Seriously.
  • Network. You have Facebook? Twitter? Make a Facebook page for your pet and explain the situation and let people know you need to find it a new home. Be honest about your pet. What breed is it? How old is it? Is it housebroken? Why do you need to get rid of it? Tweet a link to that Facebook page and ask people to help you spread the word.
  • Google. If your dog a senior? A pure breed? A mutt? Look up rescues that work specifically with seniors or the pure breed you have. Or ask Training Humans to do it. We know a bunch of rescues and are happy to help you find a good place for your pet.

  • Keep a pet you cannot afford to have and stop feeding it. 
  • Leave the pet chained to a tree or fence hoping someone takes it.
  • Set the dog loose in the street.
  • Take the dog to a high-kill shelter.
  • Wait until the day you are moving to try to find your pet a new home.

Remember, when you got your pet, you made yourself responsible for providing it with food, clean water, maintenance, and veterinary care. It certainly depends on you for its basic survival needs. 

If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot afford unexpected veterinary bills or provide it with its daily food requirements, reach out for help immediately. Do not wait. Contact Training Humans. We will help you find a humane solution. We will help you find a no-kill shelter or rescue organization that can help you. 

And don't lose heart. If your situation is temporary and you need a reprieve while you get back on your feet, work with a foster who will return your pet to you once you are stable enough to care for it properly again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Now What?

So you are ready to adopt a new pet, or just did. Awesome! Congratulations! 

Training Humans has put together a handy little checklist of things you should buy for your new pet ideally before you get it, but definitely the moment you do. Trust us, you will need some of these things before you even set foot into your home with your new best bud. 

Essential Must-Buys for Cats
  • litter box
  • cat litter
  • scooper (stainless steel models are easier to clean and longer lasting)
  • bed
  • hair brush
  • scratching post
  • toys
  • bowls (at least 1 for water and 1 for food)
  • food 
  • collar
  • tags
  • kennel cab (for those trips to the veterinarian)

Some folks opt to use litter liners. Training Humans does not, but we do use Arm & Hammer Cat Litter Deodorizer, which we sprinkle into the box before filling it with fresh litter. If you want to minimize accidents, be sure to change the litter (full dump and change) at least once a week or at most twice a week. Training Humans also minimizes mess by putting the cat box in a nifty serving tray purchased from Crate and Barrel ages ago (on clearance). 

Essential Must-Buys for Dogs
    • bed
    • hair brush
    • food
    • bowls (at least 1 for water and 1 for food)
    • harness
    • collar
    • tags
    • leash
    • pooper-scooper bags
    • toys
    • chews
    • kennel cab
    • wee wee pads (even if the dog's already housebroken)
    • blanket
    • crate (for crate-training purposes)

    Keep in mind that some of these purchases are one-time only deals. Don't let either list overwhelm you. 

    Did we miss something? Leave us a comment and we will update both lists. Training Humans will also be putting together a "maintenance and upkeep" list of sorts as well as a recommended reading list. Look for these lists in the next day or two.  

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    So You Want to Get a Dog...

    Or a cat. 

    Or both! 

    Where do you start? You have very specific needs. And why shouldn't you? It's going to be your pet. Perhaps you grew up with a specific breed, so you really want to have one of those again. You don't have much free time, so it can't be a puppy or kitten or any type of high-maintenance pet. You want to have it for a long time, so seniors are out, too, as well as any special-needs or ill pets. It must be healthy. And it HAS to be a boy. Or a girl. 

    So those shelters, where large numbers of dogs and cats wait for someone to foster or adopt them, are surely out of the question. They only have injured or sickly animals, and just a bunch of mixed breeds that are probably aggressive. Right? 


    You'll be surprised to find pure breeds of all ages available at high-kill shelters. Many no-kill shelters also make available lists of dogs and cats looking for new best friends and forever homes via their Facebook pages, official websites,, or any combination of those. Furthermore, even if you find your new best bud at a no-kill, you've helped a greater cause: you've freed up a space for that shelter to go and save one from a high-kill facility. 

    Owners surrender their animals for all sorts of reasons: some move to places that don't allow pets, some are evicted, some have babies and have no time for their pets anymore, and some pass away. So there are many awesome animals available, and all you need to do is look for one. 

    No time to go through lists? No problem! Training Humans wants to help you. We'll do the research for you! Simply leave us a comment on this blog or visit our Facebook page and leave us a message and we will put you in touch with a rescue organization or shelter that has the pet you are looking for. Be sure to check back here for tips on what to purchase in preparation for receiving a new pet into your household (we'll link to the relevant blog post once it's live). 

    When adopting a new pet, you have to complete an application, and if you go through a rescue organization, they will follow up with you to make sure the dog or cat is doing nicely. Remember that sometimes these things don't work out, so if you decide the dog or cat you get is too much work or simply not for you, then please return it to the rescue group from where you got it. If you got the pet directly from a high-kill shelter (sans middle man) then please contact Training Humans and we will help you find a no-kill shelter. 

    Training Humans wishes you the best of luck with your new pet.