Pet Therapy: Bringing Love and Leaving Smiles

In many ways, my human mommy/blogging assistant and I are a team. We do our best teamwork when we’re bringing love and leaving smiles for the Visiting Pet Program. We started the process of becoming a pet therapy team about two years ago. Because most of our work would be done in assisted living facilities and nursing homes, our initial evaluation simulated what we would experience during our visits: a raucous round of bingo, walkers and wheelchairs navigating hallways, slightly-less-than-gentle petting, unexpected loud noises. My manners were perfect, I handled each step of the evaluation beautifully, and we moved on to our probationary visits. During three months of probationary visits, we were paired with human buddies (senior members of the Visiting Pet Program) who watched as we met with the residents at several different nursing homes. And then in December 2015, my human mommy and I became a full-fledged pet therapy team for the Visiting Pet Program.

Mommy and I do our regular monthly visits at a place called Colonial Oaks Living Center. We spend about an hour going from room to room to see our friends. They love telling us about all the dogs they’ve had through the years. I love being petted and told how pretty and sweet I am. It can be kind of exhausting, so sometimes I lie down and take a quick nap. No one seems to mind. In fact, I think my little naps are somehow comforting to my friends.

We also do special visits. Mommy and I have been to a summer camp at the Lighthouse for the Blind. I was a big hit there. All the campers said I was super soft. A couple of months ago we visited Camp Tiger, a free camp for children who are physically and/or mentally challenged organized by the LSU Health Sciences Center and staffed by medical school students. Last fall, we attended the blessing of the animals at Christ Church Cathedral.

Tallulah and my human daddy joined us at that visit . . . unofficially, of course. The humans thought Tallulah could use a little blessing. Turns out an exorcism might have been more appropriate at that point in her life. My little sister has calmed down a lot since then, and one day I think she’ll make an excellent therapy dog . . . but not yet.

Back to the real team. Our favorite visits are the ones that we do with university students before they take big tests. We’ve helped students at Loyola University relax before finals and calmed the nerves of physical therapy students in the LSU School of Allied Health Professions. Most of our university visits have been with the students at Tulane University School of Medicine.

They have two really important tests each year. There’s a lot of pressure, and they can get pretty stressed out. You should have seen this group when they walked into the room where we were meeting: eyes focused on the ground, shoulders hunched, fists clenched. Within five minutes we were all on the ground. They were petting and hugging me, laughing, sharing photos of their dogs back home, and snapping selfies with yours truly. It felt good to bring a little love their way, and I definitely left some super big smiles. Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you have a great time. And I hope you remember to bring love and leave smiles. Cheers!

 


Sunday Selfie: Tallulah Gets Silly

Don’t ask me how it happened, friends, but somehow Tallulah Bee got her paws on our human mommy’s cell phone. She unleashed her inner Kardashian selfie self.

And then she got a little silly. Wishing you a happy week ahead . . . filled with just the right amount of silly. Cheers!


Hemp Is Hot for Dogs

When we unpacked our BlogPaws 2017 swag bags a few weeks ago, my human mommy noticed a couple of treats containing hemp. This made her curious (it just made me hungry), so she decided to do a little research. Turns out hemp is the hot new thing in pet care. Here’s what you need to know:

HEMP IS NOT MARIJUANA–Hemp and marijuana both come from the same plant–Cannabis sativa–and they both contain two major cannabinoids–THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). But the similarities end there. Marijuana contains higher levels of THC, the psychoactive chemical that causes a “high.” Hemp contains a higher level of CBD, which reduces the psychoactive effects of THC. So, if you humans were thinking about eating hemp dog treats to get a little buzz, forget about it. Hemp treats won’t get your pets high and they won’t get you high either.

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF HEMP?–It’s important to note that peer-reviewed research is lacking, so information about the benefits of hemp for dogs is largely anecdotal. That said, the following anecdotal benefits of hemp seed oil for dogs have been suggested:

  • strengthens the immune system
  • boosts skin and coat health while reducing flaking and shedding
  • boosts energy and supports a healthy weight
  • supports healthy organ and heart health
  • supports healthy brain functions
  • acts as an anti-inflammatory
  • aids healthy growth and development
  • produces positive effects on fertility/reproduction
  • reduces anxiety
  • lessens the associated side effects of chemotherapy

Enough of Mommy’s type of research, Tallulah and I were ready to do our own sort of science: the taste tests.

First we sampled the Treatibles CBD pumpkin grain-free chews. The ingredients list reads like something you’d find at the finest healthy human bakeries: hemp-derived phytocannabinoids (CBD, CBN, CBG), gluten-free oat flour, pumpkin, peanut butter, organic coconut oil, brown rice flour, apple sauce, organic coconut nectar, organic hemp seed oil, turmeric, vanilla, cinnamon, xanthan gum, and potato starch. Coconut oil is an antioxidant that is good for our coats and skin; pumpkin helps digestion; and peanut butter has high levels of protein. Plus, the treats are gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan. Here’s what the Treatibles website says about the source of the hemp the company uses in its chews:

The non-psychoactive cannabinoids used in our proprietary formula are sourced from hemp grown in Colorado. It is a full plant extract which contains terpenes and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBDA and CBDV. This extract contains no THC.

But best of all, they taste great! They come in two sizes: small-to-medium for dogs up to 50 pounds and large for dogs over 50 pounds. Tallulah and I tasted the small-to-medium Treatibles chews . . . so we could eat a few extras. The Treatibles website offers a store locator. A few specialty pet shops in my area carry the products. You can also use the site to purchase online (a bag of small-to-medium pumpkin chews–roughly 36 Treatibles–is $24; shipping for orders over $40 is free). By the way, Treatibles was established in 2013 and is based in California.

Next we tried True Leaf Pet’s True Hemp chews in the health support for dogs formula. (Seriously, this photo part is so tedious. When does the tasting start?) These treats contain ground hemp seed, hemp oil, DHA (an Omega 3 source derived from whole-cell algae that supports cognitive health), polyphenols and pomegranate, salmon, buckwheat flour, yellow pea flour, sunflower seed oil, blackstrap molasses, vegetable glycerin, natural fish flavor, citric acid, and mixed tocopherols. The back of the bag lists the following benefits of hemp:

  • one of nature’s most balanced and richest sources of fatty acids
  • contains Omega 6 and Omega 3 in an optimal 3:1 ratio
  • one of the few plants containing GLA (gamma linolenic acid, known to fight cancer, reduce joint pain, and improve skin and coat)
  • naturally supports the body’s response to inflammation
  • contains tocopherols, a natural antioxidant

I don’t know about the back of that bag, but Tallulah and I can certainly attest to the tasty nature of what’s inside the bag. The True Leaf pet website offers a store locator option. Sadly, there are no retailers near my house, but my sleuthing human mommy did find their hip-and-joint and calming chews on Amazon for less than $19. You can also order directly from the website. The Canadian company is a division of True Leaf Medicine International Ltd., which was established in 2013 for humans. True Leaf Pet was started in 2015 and here’s what the website says about the source of its hemp:

The hemp used in our proprietary formula is grown in Ontario, Canada. This extract contains no THC and in non-psychoactive.

Tallulah and I are pretty excited about the new treats we’ve discovered, and our human mommy is equally excited to have discovered the health benefits of hemp. If you’d like to read more, she suggests the following sources:

 


Finally, Tallulah Does PetSmart

After two years, two months, and 10 days on this Earth, my little sister finally made her first visit to PetSmart last weekend. I know. Even my humans were surprised (and, frankly, appalled with themselves) when they realized that poor little Tallulah Bee had never set foot in a PetSmart store. By the time I was Tallulah’s age, I’d been to PetSmart hundreds of times. It’s where I attended obedience classes–beginner, intermediate, advanced, and post-graduate studies–and where I had my hair done before we moved to New Orleans. Tallulah went to obedience school at Camp Bow Wow and now we get our hair done at the groomer down the street. So this little adventure was a super big deal. Clearly, Tallulah had no idea what was about to happen when she walked through those magic doors.

It didn’t take her long to realize that PetSmart is quite possibly the happiest place on Earth when you’re a dog. Tallulah was a little blur as she raced up and down every single aisle.

She slowed a bit when she reached the toy aisle and stuck her nose in every single bin . . .

. . . literally every . . . single . . . bin.

And then Tallulah came to a screeching halt when she rounded a corner and found herself (almost) face-to-face with the hamsters, gerbils, and other furry creatures in the small animal cages.

She was especially enamored with the guinea pigs. She begged and begged our humans to get one for her–after all, they were on sale–but the humans wisely refused. (NOTE: No guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, or other small furry, feathered, finned, or scaled animals were injured in the course of Tallulah’s first PetSmart visit. My humans kept her at a safe distance and maintained a tight grip!)

While she didn’t come home with a guinea pig, Tallulah did return with a few special treasures. Remember last year when we were looking for a toy that Tallulah wouldn’t destroy? (Click here to read about our seemingly hopeless quest.) Well, we’ve finally discovered that she is less likely to “kill” the non-stuffy toys. With the addition of her new Dino the Dinosaur purchase, she is now up to three so far merely gently loved non-stuffy toys. Paws crossed that this success continues. Tallulah also picked up a free small bag of ProPlan salmon-and-rice-flavored food thanks to a pretty incredible PetSmart promotion: pick up a free bag of food and PetSmart gave a pet in need a free meal. Talk about a win-win situation.

Tallulah also did some personal shopping for me while she was at PetSmart. I asked her to pick up some kitty toys and doggy treats to send to some very special friends in Texas. Their kitten, Trixie, is new to the family so she needed some special welcome gifts. And I thought their two dogs, who are now forced to share their home with this new feline, deserved some special treats. Shoutout to JoJo and Tag: I’ve got your backs! Clearly, Tallulah’s long-overdue first PetSmart visit was a roaring success. Wishing you equally exciting and successful adventures this weekend. Cheers!


A Couple of Sparklers for Your Fourth

Happy Independence Day! My little sister, Tallulah Bee, and I have had a pretty great day so far . . . except of course for having to put on silly outfits and have our pictures taken. That part was slightly torturous.

But we cooperated because we got a couple of our favorite red, white, and blue treats. Mommy froze whole blueberries in our star-shaped ice-cube tray and then dumped the frozen treats into our outside water bowl. I was a dainty drinker.

Tallulah, as usual, lacked restraint . . . but definitely had a good time.

Next we headed inside for some frozen yogurt and crushed strawberry bone-shaped delights. After a challenging-but-successful “Leave it!” command, Tallulah and I dove in like a couple of hotdog-eating contestants at Coney Island.

Sending you sweet kisses and best wishes for a safe and happy Fourth of July!

 


Fancy Fences

Isn’t it wonderful when humans take something perfectly ordinary and make it amazingly extraordinary? Like when they dip your plain old dog treat in some yummy canned food? Or when they drop ice cubes in your water bowl?

My human mommy/blogging assistant and I walk every morning. I’m a creature of habit, so we usually take the same two or three basic routes. It gets a little boring for Mommy. Not for me, you understand, because the smells are always different, always enlightening, and always fabulous. But Mommy’s sense of smell isn’t quite as advanced as mine. Therefore, we’re always on the lookout for something extraordinary on our ordinary daily walks.

We recently found a couple of fancy fences in our neighborhood. How wonderful that our neighbors have taken the time to transform something so very ordinary into something extraordinary for us to enjoy. So, as we enter the long holiday weekend, I hope you’ll take the time to look for the extraordinary in all the ordinary around you . . . and let me know what you find. Cheers!


You Can Help Pass the PAWS Act

Do my new little puppy friends remind you of anyone? Maybe this will help jog your memory.

That’s right. They’re the stuffed version of that cute puppy that sang the Bayer K9 Advantix commercial. Keeping bugs off of dogs and cats is pretty important business, but now the good people at Bayer are involved in something that’s even more important.

It’s called the Pet and Women’s Safety (PAWS) Act. The PAWS Act is bicameral (that means U.S. House and Senate) and bipartisan (that means Democrats and Republicans) legislation to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence from emotional and psychological trauma caused by violence against their pets. The act expands existing federal domestic violence protections to include threats or acts of violence against a victim’s pet, and provides grant funding to programs that offer shelter and housing assistance for domestic violence victims with pets. The bill also requires the full amount of the victim’s losses for purposes of restitution in domestic violence and stalking offenses to include any costs incurred for veterinary services relating to physical care for the victim’s pet. Here are a few important statistics for you:

  • 71% of pet-owning women entering emergency shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed, or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims.
  • 48% of domestic violence survivors report they are unable to escape their abusers because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave.
  • Fewer than 5% of domestic violence shelters across the country accept pets.

So what can you do to change those statistics? You can start by clicking here to learn more about the PAWS Act and why it’s so important. And then take the next step by writing to your U.S. representatives to urge them to support the PAWS Act. It’s simple. Just click here and scroll down to fill in the information. You don’t even need to know who your representatives are (although you should). The form does all the work for you.

My humans learned about the PAWS Act when we attended the BlogPaws 2017 conference. That’s when my human mommy wrote to our representatives using the form. The results were a little mixed. Representative Cedric Richmond responded quickly, but his obvious form letter was all about this year’s congressional budget and spending process . . . not one mention of or reference to the PAWS Act. At least Senator Bill Cassidy’s letter referenced the actual act and called it “important,” before he said that it’s been referred to a committee on which he doesn’t serve. And from Senator John Kennedy . . . well, Mommy has yet to hear from our junior senator. But she’s not giving up, and I hope you won’t either.

We’ve covered some pretty serious stuff today. I don’t often write about serious things, but this is important. At the BlogPaws conference, Mommy met a lady who had to make the difficult choice to stay in an abusive situation or go to a shelter but leave her pets behind. You can imagine how important her pets were to her. As she said, they were all she had. Fortunately, she found a local shelter that accepts pets. Not all victims of abuse and their pets are as lucky. I hope you’ll take just a few minutes to learn more about the PAWS Act and to take action to protect victims of domestic abuse and their pets across the United States. It’s important.