Dog Days of Summer

Jessica Henry, Executive Director of the Allen County SPCA & Remiel.
Allison Miller, Executive Director for H.O.P.E. for Animals and her dog Newman.
Megan Close, President of the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition & one of the organization's foster dogs.
Winston and Hanna Pickett participate in Paws to Read at the Georgetown Library.
PAWS members: Chris Bohlman & Bessie, Pam Paxson & Murphy, Anne Bohlman & Dana, Diana Kuebler & Haley.
Spaw products line the shelf at Pet Wants.
PAWS members Diana Kuebler and one of her yellow Labs, Haley.

DOGS’ DAY OUT

You’re ready to head out. All systems are go except for those “take me with you” eyes. Dogs aren’t allowed where you’re going, trying not to jingle your keys.

What your dog may already know through the canine grapevine is that dogs are allowed, even welcomed, at a number of places and events.

Almost two dozen restaurants and bars hang the Allen County SPCA Paw Friendly Patio sign. Well-behaved, leashed dogs may accompany people for outdoor dining.

Pick up a Pawsport at any venue, visit all and collect a stamp from each. Present the completed Pawsport at the Allen County SPCA shelter, 4914 S. Hanna Street, for a free T-shirt. allencountyspca.org

If “take me with you” becomes “take me out to the ballgame,” check out the TinCaps’ Bark in the Park August 18 at Parkview Field, 1301 Ewing Street. Fans can bring their dogs to the 3:05 pm game against Bowling Green; gates open at 2:05 pm. A Pooch Pass, $12 until a week before the game and $14 thereafter, admits one leashed dog and one human. Additional humans get in for $6 each. Dogs must be at least six months old, and owners must sign a waiver. Dogs and their human escorts take in the action from the lawn rather than the stands, and cooling stations are available.

The TinCaps like doing events that combine multiple things people enjoy, said Michael Limmer, vice president of marketing, “and people obviously love and enjoy their pets.”

The team partners with animal-related organizations and businesses; the Bark in the Park is presented by Dog Guard of NE Indiana. Sometimes local shelters or rescues will bring dogs that are available for adoption.

“We’ve had some dogs get adopted after the families connect with the dogs at the ballpark,” said Limmer. “Then they’ll bring the dog to a game, and it’ll be, ‘This is where we met.’ Like a first date.” To purchase a Pooch Pass, visit TinCaps.com

Parks of all kinds and dogs go together, and a couple of Fort Wayne’s city parks have areas for dogs to run and play off-leash. Pawster Park Pooch Playground at Foster Park, just south of downtown on Winchester Road. Camp Canine, at Johnny Appleseed Park near Memorial Coliseum on the north side, includes an open-air shelter and water stations.

The $40 annual Pooch Pass will get you into both dog parks; half-season (July 1 – December 31) passes are available for $20. Owners must purchase passes at Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, 705 E. State Boulevard and must provide proof of up-to-date rabies, distemper and parvo vaccines.

After the pools close for the season, pooches can take the plunge at Northside Pool, 2400 Parnell Avenue, August 11, 1 – 5 pm. Dippin’ Dogs participants must be Pooch Pass holders and registered by their owners for a one-hour time slots, call 260.427.6000 to register. The first hour is for small dogs only, but all sizes are welcome for the remaining time. Pool admission is $4.50 for adults; $3.50 for ages 12-17.

Jason Smith, manager of aquatics and athletics for Fort Wayne Parks, said park officials were inspired to try an end-of-season dog swim after seeing it work in other cities. They’ve been pleased with the results. fortwayneparks.org

If your dog is more of a lake lover, try the dog beach at Fox Island County Park, 7324 Yohne Road. It’s the only area in the park where dogs are allowed off-leash and may swim as they wish. allencountyparks.org

 

BEST PAW FORWARD

How we behave and treat others, and how we teach those in our care to do so, matters in our interconnected world. Even in a modest-sized city like ours, you’ll find varying options and approaches to dog training.

Flying Colors Canine Academy, 5200 Industrial Road, offers puppy preschool classes. “When you let the puppies play together, the owners start to understand what (behavior) is and isn’t normal,” said Flying Colors owner Clarice Kashuba, a certified dog trainer with the International Association of Canine Professionals and graduate of the National K9 School for Dog Trainers.

For dogs six months and older, Flying Colors offers private sessions and the Rock Star day training option, in which dogs are dropped off during the day for nine days and taught the basics. That’s followed by evening handling classes with owners and Momentum group classes for reinforcement (especially around distractions).

Owner goals – to get a dog to stop jumping on the kids or running out the door, or to be able to let the dog off-leash at the lake – are important to Kashuba, and require different approaches. For instance mother-to-be wanted the family’s boxer to learn to walk beside the stroller, so Kashuba took hers out of storage.

“At first, he was afraid of it, so it’s a good thing we practiced,” she said. flyingcolorscanine.com

Janis Crary of All About the Dog is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed and a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. One of her tasks is evaluating dogs for the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program, which is a prerequisite for therapy dogs and required by some home insurers and apartment condominium communities. Her philosophy is: “Why use pain to get your dog to stop doing something when a small piece of hot dog will have them doing what we want?”

Positive reinforcement is more likely to result in desired behavior, than if the dog is complying to avoid pain, fear or intimidation. “That’s why we want to let the dog have a choice, and their choice should be a happy choice,” she said.

As with owner goals, special needs call for specialized training. If a dog’s behavior issues go beyond the basics, terms like “counter-conditioning” and “desensitization” come into play.

“If a dog is barking and lunging, we could stop that behavior by yelling, but it’s still not changing the reason for the behavior,” said Crary. “We want to change the emotion, and that’s more difficult.” allaboutthedog.us

 

DOGS DO GOOD

It’s not all chasing balls and napping on cushions. Police dogs apprehend suspects. Service dogs put a full life within reach of disabled individuals. Therapy dogs with Pets Assisting Well-Being and Success (PAWS) and Three Rivers Visiting Dogs brighten lives and melt stresses at health care facilities, college campuses and the airport.

Through a partnership between Fort Wayne International Airport and PAWS, teams of friendly dogs and their humans are on hand to put air travel in perspective.

PAWS volunteer handler Diana Kuebler and her yellow Labs Molly, Haley and Lincoln have been regulars since the program began in 2016. All three are certified therapy dogs. During any given visit, they’ll greet arriving passengers, those waiting at the gates or those who’ve just passed through security.

“One poor woman was so stressed out after going through the pat-down and X-ray,” said Kuebler. “She just said, ‘Wow, I needed this dog.'”

She and her canine ambassadors have met people from all over the world, and those who don’t speak English still speak dog.

Through the Allen County Public Library’s partnership with PAWS, kids of all reading levels can practice by reading aloud to dogs at library branches all over town through the Paws To Read program. The trained therapy dogs never prompt, correct or roll their eyes, making them the perfect listeners.

Winston, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, is a veteran listener at the Georgetown branch. On a Tuesday evening, he was there with his human escort, Kaye Love, listening to a young girl read Listen to My Trumpet by Mo Willems.

Winston, who is about nine years old, came to Love, a retired social worker, and her husband through a Cavalier King Charles spaniel rescue. This particular evening found him a little weary after a visit to the memory care unit at Park Place Senior Living that afternoon. He usually doesn’t do both gigs on the same day.

At the library, Love has seen kids improve their reading, and a child who used to be terrified of dogs now happily pets Winston. Love and Winston also visited with voters in long lines for early voting at the library in 2016.

Toward the end of the next book, Winston slowly lowered his head to rest on his paws. Doing good can make you dog-tired. acpl.info

 

A SECOND CHANCE

For every lucky dog in Fort Wayne, countless others need homes, are on the verge of losing their homes or are suffering from cruelty or neglect.

The city is home to two animal shelters, several rescue groups and other agencies working to change this through education, assistance, advocacy and, especially, adoption. Adopting a dog, rather than buying one from a pet store or breeder, saves not only that dog, but also the one who will take her place at the shelter or foster home.

Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control has been expanding its 3020 Hillegas Road facility. Improvements will create more space to conduct surgeries, house more animals for adoption, investigate cruelty cases and offer privacy to grieving pet owners. fwacc.org

That’s not all you can do for the city shelter. In a twist on the sip-and-paint concept, Hop River Brewing Company, 1515 N. Harrison Street, hosts Hoppy Hounds! 6 – 9 pm on the third Thursday of each month. Participants make enrichment treats for shelter animals while drinking a beer in the taproom. hopriverbrewing.com

H.O.P.E. for Animals, 1333 Maycrest Drive, is northeast Indiana’s only high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic and offers low-cost preventive care.

“Dogs are our companions, our buddies, our sweet, goofy and rambunctious friends,” said Allison Miller, executive director. “And every pet owner who cares about the well-being of their dog should have access to affordable veterinary care.”

The organization’s 2019 Hip to Snip Fur-ball Bash fundraiser will happen 6-9 pm, September 28 at Memorial Coliseum. hope-for-animals.org

The Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry, 2502 Church Street, provides pet food at no cost to owners struggling to feed, and thus keep, their pets. fwpetfoodpantry.com

Giving pit bulls a second chance, and a more accurate image, is the focus of the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition. The rescue takes on pit bull-type dogs, many from the city’s shelter.

“We’re passionate about doing everything the right way,” said the coalition’s president, Megan Close, an attorney and former Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control employee. “If we’re ever going to change the image of the pit bull, we have to change the conversation about the pit bull. So it’s important we’re placing animals from our rescue into the community who are behaviorally sound.”

A pit bull is a type, said Close, not a breed. The term has been used to describe breeds such as American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire terrier and others. But doggie DNA is beside the point. Pit bulls are intelligent, highly trainable and despite beliefs to the contrary, known to be good with children.

“Our goal is to place (adopters) with the right dog, not just a dog,” said Close. Adoption events are held every other Saturday. fwpbc.com

Keeping dogs in homes and out of shelters is the greatest challenge seen by Jessica Henry, executive director of the Allen County SPCA. “We see people surrendering dogs for reasons that might seem insurmountable to them, but are workable for us,” she said.

The organization’s Pet Promises helps keep pets and owners together with free vaccine clinics, spay/neuter surgeries, a pet food bank and other assistance.

Twice-daily play groups, known as Dogs Playing for Life, are supervised by trained staff and volunteers who note behavior and interactions. One might get along great with dogs his size; but not with smaller dogs. That’s useful for staff and potential adopters to know.

“Dogs, when they enter the play yard, are exactly like people,” said Henry. In every group, she said, you’ll see the life of the party, the quiet one, that one guy with something to prove and the “rock star” who gets along with everyone.

Henry urges dog owners to take their dogs to training – they’re never too old – and to dog parks, agility classes or whatever else is fun and engaging; training videos may be viewed on its website.

Adopters should also recognize that a dog who has lost one or more homes, been transported across the country or experienced abuse or neglect will need time to adjust and trust. Henry hates to see people return animals to the shelter, especially when they haven’t been given a chance.

“What bar are we setting for animals when we don’t have empathy for what they have withstood to get here?” said Henry. “Shelters like ours are entrusting adopters to give these dogs a second chance, but that second chance sometimes requires substantial patience and understanding.” allencountyspca.org

 

WAYS TO WELLNESS

Veterinarians vary in background, personality and approach as much as people docs do, so you want to choose one with whom you and your dog can feel comfortable and confident. We realize there’s a limit to how comfortable and confident a dog will be in any vet’s office … but bear with us. Even in this age of online reviews, you can’t beat a personal referral from a trusted fellow dog owner. Location is a factor, but the American Veterinary Medical Association suggests considering these other factors:

  • Clinic hours
  • If there is only one doctor, who covers for him/her during absences?
  • Payment methods accepted
  • If you have pet insurance, does the clinic work with the provider?
  • Are non-medical services such as boarding and grooming available?
  • Is the facility clean, orderly and welcoming?

Also important to know is how emergencies are handled. The Northeast Indiana Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital (NIVES), 5818 Maplecrest Road, is open 24/7 and handles emergency and urgent care situations for area veterinarians and pet owners. nives24h.com

 

HAIR OF THE DOG (AND MORE)

We can all use a little help to look and feel our best – anything from a quick haircut to a day at the spa. Dogs are no exception. Many
are also magnets for burrs, mud, lake goo and anything stinky. Then what about when you travel and can’t take your canine companion along, and you don’t have a reliable pet sitter?

As with trainers, there are many local options for grooming (including mobile groomers), boarding and even day care. Two local business owners encourage dog owners to ask plenty of questions and pay close attention to their dogs’ – and their own – comfort level.
Adrianna Hensley, owner of The Pink Poodle Pet Spa & Boutique, 6244 W. Jefferson Boulevard, said that since Indiana does not require groomer licensing, customers should ask where and how groomers were trained.

The best groomers continue to learn from one another Hensley said.

Communicating with employees and customers about everything from cut preferences to the needs of elderly or disabled dogs makes a big difference. So does taking special care of anxious canines, many of whom mirror the anxiety of their people.

This can require a bit of problem-solving and creating new patterns. One customer brought in a dog who had unexplained seizures at her previous groomer, only to have the same occur at The Pink Poodle. It happened every time the dog and owner entered. Then the dog would come out of the seizure and be fine for the rest of her time at the shop. Hensley decided to try meeting the customer in the parking lot and walking the dog into the shop herself. No seizure.

“My biggest desire is to make sure the dogs are comfortable and that the owner feels confident,” she said. pinkpoodlepetboutique.com

Trust is vital when choosing a kennel. Law’s Country Kennel, 10219 N. Gundy Road in Roanoke, offers both boarding and grooming, along with day care and a pickup/delivery service. The kennel opened in 1987 and provides four-legged guests with opportunities for play and socialization.

Bill Law, owner/vice president, said owners should ask plenty of questions, to make sure the animals get the love, attention and support they need. lawscountrykennel.com

 

A DOG’S DINNER

We’ve come a long way from “throw the dog a bone,” and three local businesses aim to provide the best options to help our canine charges thrive.

When Lee Albright and wife Karen ran Albright’s Meats & Deli, a customer asked him to create a recipe for raw dog food.

“That sounded simple enough,” said Albright, “until I started studying dog nutrition.”
It took nine tries to meet the nutritional standards for complete, balanced dog food established by the American Association of Feed Control Officials, he said.

Raw food supporters say dogs have eaten raw meat for millennia and a raw diet is helpful for allergies, digestive disorders and more.

The manufacturing facility for Albright’s All Natural Raw Dog Food, is at old Eckrich plant on Osage Street and falls under the United States Department of Agriculture’s reach. Every batch of food is tested for nutritional requirements and for pathogens (salmonella, listeria and E. coli).

“Not all dogs need raw,” said Albright. “Plenty of dogs do fine on kibble. But if your dogs has medical problems, he is more often than not it’s the food they’re eating,” and raw might be worth considering. albrightsrawdogfood.com

Freshness is the focus of Pet Wants Fort Wayne, and Greg Hering opened the Fort Wayne location this year. Kibble formulations for all ages and life stages, along with grain free options, can be ordered by the pound for home delivery.

“The food I have in stock was just produced last week,” said Hering.

Pet Wants sells its house-made treats at Fort Wayne’s Farmers Market.

A sense of connection is important to Hering, whose grandfather started a grain elevator and livestock feed mill. The family sold pet food and built relationships with customers over the years. He wants to do that here, working with pet owners to determine what best suits their pets’ animal’s needs. petwants.com/fortwayne

Having celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, green DogGoods, 3421 N. Anthony Boulevard, has established itself as a source for quality, holistic pet food – dry, canned, dehydrated, freeze-dried and frozen raw, along with a wide selection of supplements. House-made baked goods and dehydrated meat treats are also featured.

Quality means no corn, soy, wheat or byproducts and no ingredients from China, said Jody Norton, co-owner with Lesley Buckmaster. The store works only with pet food manufacturers who are conscientious and transparent about sourcing and ingredients, and who offer a satisfaction guarantee. greendoggoods.com

 

STAYING HOME

If you’re struggling financially, the absolute last thing you want to think about is whether or not you can keep your dog. The love and nonjudgmental companionship a dog provides can make all the difference when you’ve been dealt one or more major setbacks. That’s why the Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry, an all-volunteer nonprofit, distributes free pet food out of its facility and through nine area church-run food banks. It’s one way to address what Executive Director and Founder Pam Tracy said is the biggest challenge facing local dogs – the large number going into shelters. Those wanting to help dogs and their people stay together can donate food or money or volunteer their time. 2502 Church Street, fwpetfoodpantry.com

 

A DOG’S LIFE

A dog’s time on earth is even more fleeting than ours. That’s hard enough, but as human guardians, we face decisions that tear at our hearts. Eventually, we are tasked with letting go in a way that honors our beloved friend and the bond we have shared.

Paws and Remember, a division of Minnick Services, partners with veterinarians to provide respectful pet cremation. Urns, keepsakes and added touches such as a cast of the animal’s paw print and a remembrance booklet to fill out are also available to help comfort bereaved owners and celebrate the pet’s life. pawsandremember.com

Healing from the loss of an animal companion is harder when we hear “It’s only a dog,” or “Shouldn’t you be over it by now?” from friends, family or even ourselves.

Dawn Hammer, who did not have pets while growing up, admitted she didn’t quite get it when friends and co-workers grieved the loss of their animal companions. Then she and her husband lost Baxter, the dog they had adopted shortly after getting married. “It was one of the worst things I’ve ever gone through,” she said. “Bells were going off. I just got it.”

People who get it are helping one another through a pet loss support group at the Peggy F. Murphy Community Grief Center, 5920 Homestead Road. Hammer, a volunteer for Visiting Nurse of Fort Wayne and Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control, co-facilitates the group, which meets 5:30-7 pm on the third Wednesday of each month. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a pet, or is anticipating such a loss, is welcome.

Because everyone experiences grief differently, the group discusses a ways to cope. These include making a scrapbook, donating to an animal charity in the pet’s name, planting a tree and journaling.

“When I lost Baxter, the vet tech who was with me in the room suggested I go home and write a letter to Baxter,” said Hammer. “I thought she was crazy.” But she did write him a letter, which turned into a journal she still revisits from time to time.

When you lose a pet, “you go through some dark days. But there will come a time when you will laugh every time you think of him,” she said. With time and healing, the happy memories – rather than the last days or minutes of the dog’s life – will move to the forefront, she said.

When and whether to adopt another animal is an important and highly personal decision, said Hammer. From her experience: “The love a pet can give me while they’re here is irreplaceable, in my mind. If you’re rescuing a dog, that’s one more life saved. I’ve heard that the best way to honor your pet is to offer another pet a home.” www.vnfw.org

We choose dogs because we can. But they have a way of choosing us – for reasons they probably understand better than we do.

With love, good information, and support, we can offer our best in return.

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