It's been rough year for all of us – and it's not your imagination. 2020 has been so bizarre, it feels wrong not to at least do a quick run-through. 2020 brought us COVID, masks, quarantine, staying home and the negative health effects of isolation and loneliness. There have been massive business closures, record-setting unemployment, the police murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and ensuing global protests, raging forest fires and hurricanes and nonstop election and political madness, misinformation posing as news, hospitals overflowing, and of course over 341,000 American deaths from COVID-19 — a loss of life equivalent of a new 9/11 every 24 hours. Good things happened in 2020 too It hasn't been all bad though. We learned about dogs being trained to protect rhinos from poachers have saved saved 45 rhinos in South Africa. People around the world rose up to protest police violence and racial injustice. Thanks to stay-at-home orders, animal shelters are more empty than ever. The 2020 election saw the most voter participation in 120 years. And of course, we now have a COVID-19 vaccine. Focus on making 2021 better All that being said, it's still the season for thinking about New Year resolutions and planning for the upcoming year. Most people think about the usual things: losing weight, learning to live in the moment, etc. but our mission is to encourage disabled individuals who use Service Dogs to leave nothing but an excellent impression. Here are 10 ways to be a better Service Dog team in the coming year. 1) Be polite and make an effort to educate others if you can If you've been partnered with a Service Dog long enough, chances are excellent that you will have run into an access challenge, someone who is rude, secretly (or openly) jealous that you have your dog with you — or just behaves awkwardly toward you or your canine partner. Perhaps they'll ask invasive questions. If you have an invisible disability, they may wonder aloud why "you don't look disabled" or even openly confront you. Chances are they have never met a Service Dog team before. It's possible that they have an image in their mind of what a disabled person with a Service Dog should look like. While having a Service Dog does not also require you to take on the role of Public Educator (and nor does everyone have time, especially when you're tired of being confronted
The holiday season is a perfect excuse to grab some hot chocolate and snuggle up on the couch with your Service Dog, Working Dog or pet! Here are some of our favorites that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit. 1. A Dog Named Christmas A Dog Named Christmas tells the story of Todd, a developmentally delayed 20 year old, who loves animals. When Todd hears that the local animal shelter wants to adopt dogs out for Christmas, Todd is right on board, much to the dismay of his father George. With persistence Todd is eventually given permission to bring home a yellow lab he names Christmas. Little does the family know that Christmas will change their life forever. Check out the trailer here. Rating: PG Length: 1:35 Year: 2009 2. Beethoven's Christmas Adventure Photo Credit: IMBdOur favorite Saint Bernard is back in Beethoven's Christmas Adventure. When Santa's sleigh crashes in a small town and the magic toy bag is stolen, it's up to Beethoven to find the bag and return it to Santa in time for Christmas. Sure to be a family favorite. Watch the trailer here. Rating: PG Length: 1:30 Year: 2011 3. The 12 Dogs of Christmas The 12 Dogs of Christmas takes place in 1931 in Maine during the Depression and tells the story of a young girl named Emma who uses 12 special dogs to show everyone the true meaning of Christmas. Watch the trailer here. Rating: G Length: 1:42 Year: 2005 4. 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue The 12 Dogs of Christmas was followed by a sequel titled 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue. Emma is back again, but this time follows her quest to save a local puppy orphanage, by putting on a big holiday event. Watch the trailer here. Rating: PG Length: 1:42 Year: 2012 5. Buddies Movies As a follow up to the classic Air Bud movies, Disney released three different buddies movies that the kids will love! The titles are: Santa Buddies (2009), The Search for Santa Paws (2010) and Santa Paws 2 (2012). Click on each of the titles to watch the trailer for each of these movies. Rating: G Length: Varies Year: 2010 6. The Dog Who Saved Christmas When the Bannister's welcome a new dog named Zeus into their home, he doesn't appear to be the guard dog that the family is looking for. But when two burglars break into their house when they are away for the holidays, Zeus sets out to
Federal law stipulates that a Service Animal is "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability" and that a Service Dog teams are allowed to enter areas where the public is normally allowed to go. However, a Service Dog team's civil rights may be occasionally challenged by well-meaning people trying to keep pets out of the establishment. While stressful, these challenges are typically easy to handle. Sometimes, though, a little more work is required.
Dogs bark. It's what they do. But if your dog is getting in the habit of barking excessively, you probably want to take action before your neighbors start complaining. There can be many reasons that can trigger your dog to bark. However, the longer wait to start to training, the longer it will take for your dog to change their ways. First things first: always remember the following things while training: Don't yell at your dog to be quiet! To them, it sounds like you're barking along with them and only works them up more. Keep your training sessions short, positive and upbeat. Be consistent. Everyone in your family must apply the training methods every time your dog barks inappropriately. You can't let your dog get away with inappropriate barking some times and not others. Figure out why your dog is barking Trying to imagine what your dog is thinking is the first step to solving a lot of issues. You may not realize it at first, but your dog gets some kind of reward when they bark. Figure out what that reward is, in other words, what they get out of barking and remove it. Then, try to remove the opportunity to continue the barking behavior. Example: Barking at people walking by If your dog barks at people walking by, ask yourself what does the barking behavior achieve. In your dog's mind, when they bark at someone walking by they leave. In your dog's mind, barking equals making trespassers leave. Desensitize your dog to the stimulus One of the most effective strategies is to gradually get your dog accustomed to whatever is causing them to bark. Start with the stimulus — the thing that makes them bark — and then distract them. Reward them for ignoring the stimulus with treats and praise. As they become better about ignoring the stimulus, move the stimulus a little closer. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things. Example: Barking at other dogs Have a friend with a dog stand out of sight or far enough away so your dog won't bark at the other dog. As your friend and their dog come into view, start feeding your dog treats. Stop feeding treats as soon as your friend and their dog disappear from view. Repeat the process multiple times. Remember not to try to
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a disorder that has found its way into the mainstream media quite a bit recently. While we hear about soldiers returning from war with PTSD the most, PTSD can affect anyone who’s undergone a traumatic event, such as rape, a severe car accident, abuse or neglect.
Our canine friends have an enormous number of scent receptors, around 220 million. No wonder, they are legendary for their olfactory sense. How dogs scent medical conditions Dogs can notice the slightest of changes in human bodies caused by various systems including hormonal changes and any volatile organic compounds that our bodies release. The great news is that scientists and dog trainers are finding out how dogs smell the medical conditions in us and trying to figure out how to translate this into healthcare. The following are just a few of the many health conditions that dogs can be trained to help with. Diabetic symptoms Dogs can help people with diabetes realize that they are experiencing blood sugar levels hiking or dropping. Human breath has a natural chemical called isoprene that rises notably when a person with diabetes is going through a period of low blood sugar which dogs can detect. Trained dogs will alert their owners and give them time to take their insulin when they see that their blood test confirms the warning as accurate. Dogs do improve quality of life and safety of their handlers. Detection of cancer Many different types of cancer are detectable to dogs, including breast and skin cancer. Cancerous cells produce a very specific odor. In fact, in late stages of the disease, even human noses can detect it. With a sense of smell researchers estimate is between 10,000 and 100,000 times superior to ours, dogs can detect this smell far earlier in the disease’s progress—even while the cancer is still “in situ,” or has not spread from the site where it was first formed. And remarkably, they don’t need to smell the growth directly. Dogs can detect this scent on waste matter like breath. Neurological disorders and brain disruptions Dogs can be trained to sense disorders that affect your brain and nervous system. The human body sends out hormones through your sweat, and the dogs can pick up the changes in your scent. People prone to migraine attacks will release serotonin a couple of hours before the headache. People suffering from fear and anxiety will release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Patients with the brain disorder, narcolepsy, suffer from extreme sleepiness and delusions and can fall instantly asleep without warning. Final thoughts We are so familiar with dogs being our pets, our companions and our family that we are only now realizing how much they help us with personal health challenges is
Like humans, dogs go through different moods depending on the moment and the situation they witness. Sadness, joy, fear, or restlessness, are some of the feelings we share with our pets, and they tend to correspond accordingly. Learn the science behind about common funny and weird dog behavior. Understanding the behavior of our dog is essential to training. Knowing their body language, gestures, and attitudes can help us communicate with them and react accordingly. Some of weird dog behaviors may be funny — however, some behaviors can hide their pain or discomfort. Let's dig deep to discover the reasons behind all those nutty behaviors, supported by science. 1. Why does my dog eat grass? Let's start this off easy. "Why do dogs eat grass?" is probably the most often question asked about weird dog behavior. Fortunately, it's extremely common and for the most part harmless. Some dogs complement their diet with the nutrients which are contained in plants while others happily munch on the grass as they love the taste. However, most of the time dogs eat leafy greens to help with an upset stomach; however, if this is repeated often, then it's time to visit your veterinarian. Generally, the only concern may be if the plants have been treated with pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals. 2. Why does my dog spin around before laying down? We've all seen it in cartoons, movies or in your own home. Dogs walk in a circle two or three times, scratch a little, and lie down. Of course, your dog is trying to make his or her space as comfortable as possible, similar to how you may fluff a pillow. But why do they all act the same way? Wolves perform the same 360 degree turns to, in addition to seeking comfort, ensure that there is no danger in any direction. 3. Why does my dog eat poop? The scientific name given to this super gross habit is coprophagia. The word is derived from the Greek κόπρος copros, "feces" and φαγεῖν phagein, "to eat". Coprophagy refers to many kinds of feces-eating, including eating feces of other species (heterospecifics), of other dogs (allocoprophagy), or one's own poops (autocoprophagy). Yum! Stool eating has both behavioral and physiological reasons; science says that eating fecal dropping is a normal way of obtaining key nutrients due to deficiencies. However, there's often more to it. On the most simplistic end of the poop eating spectrum, your dog may smell certain scents
This year, select Anthem Medicare Advantage plans will offer members the option to receive support for their service dog (food, leash, vest) as part of their health insurance plan. Anthem, Inc.’s affiliated health plans in more than a dozen states will offer wellness, social and support benefits, including support for service dogs, in many of their 2020 Medicare Advantage plans. Consumers who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans that offer these benefits and qualify for the service dog support benefit can select this benefit, at no additional cost to them. This benefit includes an annual allowance for up to $500 to help pay for items used to care for their service dog, such as food, leashes and vests. Consumers must have a qualifying chronic condition and service dogs must meet the requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act and have approval from their healthcare provider. Other social and support service options offered as part of the benefits package in these Medicare Advantage plans include transportation, nutritional support, a fitness device, pest control, and sessions with a dietitian and home-delivered pantry staples. These benefits are part of Anthem’s commitment to whole-person health – an approach to healthcare that takes into account the drivers of health, including medical, behavioral, and environmental obstacles. “When we looked at the underlying medical, behavioral, and environmental obstacles our members face, we designed an expanded menu of wellness services,” said Josh Martin, President of Anthem’s Medicare West Region. “Last year, we led the industry in offering robust Medicare Advantage supplemental benefits, and saw strong demand for services such as alternative medicine, transportation, and the allowance for assistive devices. Our 2020 benefits will help remove hurdles to healthier living for our Medicare Advantage members – from nutrition counseling and fitness tracking to pest control and service dog support – by expanding our social and support benefits.” Members who are enrolled in the Medicare Advantage plans will have access to this package of wellness benefits, at no extra cost. Members should consult their Evidence of Coverage document for specific benefit details as benefits may vary by plan. Pest Control: Quarterly preventive treatments to regulate or eliminate the intrusion of household pests that may impact a chronic condition. (New in 2020) Prescribed Meals: 2 meals per day for 90 days delivered to home. Based on qualifying clinical criteria, health plan consumer receives a prescription for meals and periodic appointments with a registered dietitian. In-Home
In early 2017, multiple deadly forest fires swept the country Chile. As a result of these fires, 11 people lost their lives, wholes towns disappeared from the map, and over a million acres of wildlands burned. The aftermath of forest fires not only destroys lives but also devastates local flora and fauna. Animals leave due to lack of food, invasive species take over, and the ground lies barren. Usually, nature heals itself over the course of many years. For some regions in Chile, though, a special team of working dogs is out to lend nature a helping hand. Border Collies Save the Day After Forest Fire Dog trainer Fransisca Torres and owner of the environmental NGO Pewas decided to put her 3 Border Collies to work doing an important job -- reseeding the Chilean forests. All 3 dogs are female and they're named Das, Olivia, and Summer. Each of the dogs wears a backpack designed to allow seeds to scatter as the dogs run. Torres drives to the day's work location and releases the dogs from the truck. They run through the forest leaving seed trails in their wake. Being Border Collies, they can rack up some impressive mileage each day -- close to 20 miles each, in fact! Furthermore, they can scatter close to 20 pounds of seeds. Most humans who reseed the forests after fires average 5 miles per day and oftentimes far less. After the packs are empty, the dogs return to their handler for love, treats, and a refill. Once their packs are restocked, they're off again. The efforts have already started to pay off -- regrowth is occurring much quicker in the regions the dogs have ran. Greenery and vines are already starting to show. The efforts by Torres, Das, Olivia, and Summer have been praised by the president of Chile and multiple organizations dedicated to environmental preservation and awareness.
If you're ready to invite a new canine family member into your life it's tempting to go out and buy all kinds of treats, toys and more. Before you start over-buying for your new puppy, here's our list of the top things to purchase when you get a new dog. Identification Tags, Collar and Leash The first thing three things you should purchase when you get a dog are, in this order, are identification tags, a collar and a leash. Be prepared for your new puppy's natural curiosity to get them into all sorts of trouble — including wandering off. A puppy is like a toddler and you'll need to keep track of them at all times. They should never be without a collar and tag. If your puppy is high energy, avoid tags and collars that can get caught on things and cause injury. Dog Pads If you live in an upper floor condo, apartment — or if you have a Service Dog in Training (SDiT) and your disability makes it difficult for you to take your dog out as frequently as needed, dog pads are definitely worth considering. They're soft, absorbent pads that are perfect for indoor potty training. Crate or Kennel Crate training is crucial for all puppies. In the wild, a dog's den is their home — a safe place to sleep, hide from danger and raise a family. Crates function as your dog's den, where they can find comfort and solitude while you know they’re safe and secure — and not shredding your couch while you're out getting milk. However, it's important to use a crate correctly. Choose a crate that is only large enough for your dog to turn around. If the dog has too much space they will choose a corner to go potty — and the main purpose of a crate is to teach them how to hold themselves. You can choose a larger crate if you block off the rear area with a sturdy cardboard box as long as they won't shred it