Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Its Thanksgiving...

and I'm thankful for everything this Thanksgiving. For my related family who stand by me no matter what I put them thru; for my rescue family who work tirelessly to help me save all these Akitas; for our adopters who make our work possible and take on our rescued Akitas to give them a forever life like they so richly deserve. I am thankful for everyone who supports us and works hard for us; and I'm so thankful for this wonderful breed of ours, the Akitas that make all our work worthwhile (like Katsu pictured here!)!! And most of all, I'm just thankful I am still here, able to be helping with rescue and starting to enjoy life once again.

What are you thankful for this year?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Holiday Safety Tips -- PLEASE READ!!!

I found this great list on the internet, so rather than re-write it, I'm just going to post it here -- its FABULOUS ADVICE for the upcoming holidays to keep your pet safe -- read it in its entirety, its well worth the read:

* Many holiday plants can lead to health problems in dogs and cats. Among the plants to keep out of reach are holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and lilies.

* Snow globes often contain antifreeze, which is poisonous to pets.

* Pine needles, when ingested, can puncture holes in a pet’s intestine. So keep pet areas clear of pine needles.

* The extra cords and plugs of holiday lights and other fixtures can look like chew toys to pets. Tape down or cover cords to help avoid shocks, burns or other serious injuries. Unplug lights when you are not home.

* Anchor Christmas trees to the ceiling with a string to keep it from falling on pets.

* Do not let pets drink the holiday tree water. Some may contain fertilizers, and stagnant tree water can harbor bacteria. Check labels for tree water preservatives and artificial snow, and buy only those that are nontoxic. Some folks use screens around trees to block access to electrical cords and gifts.Very important: do not put aspirin in the water (some folks do this thinking it will keep the tree or plant more vigorous). If a pet ingests the aspirin-laced water, his health or even life can be at risk.

* Pets, particularly cats, can be tempted to eat tinsel, which can block the intestines. Hang tinsel high and securely to keep it out of reach of pets.

* Keep other ornaments out of reach of pets. Ingestion of any ornament, which might look like toys to pets, can result in life-threatening emergencies. Even ornaments made from dried food can lead to ailments. And remember, shards from broken glass ornaments can injure paws, mouths and other parts of the body.

* Put away toys after children open their gifts. Small plastic pieces and rubber balls are common causes of choking and intestinal blockage in dogs. Ingested plastic or cloth toys must often be removed surgically.

* Avoid toxic decorations. Bubbling lights contain fluid that can be inhaled or ingested, snow sprays and snow flock can cause reactions when inhaled, styrofoam poses a choking hazard, tinsel can cause choking and intestinal obstruction, and water in snow scenes may contain toxic organisms such as Salmonella.

* Keep candles on high shelves. Use fireplace screens to avoid burns.

* Hi-tech shooing: A timely product I’m not sure I’d recommend, but if you have any experience with it, let me know. The StayAway canister from Contech Electronics uses a motion-detection device to sense when a pet approaches some off-limits area (countertop, table-top, candles, fireplace mantel, holiday tree), then activates a burst of compressed air and a one-second warning screech.

Other low-tech methods: place sticky mats, crunchy aluminum foil or bubblewrap on or around the area … tie balloons around the area … put some pennies in empty plastic drink bottles and balance the bottles on the bottom branches of the holiday tree or plant so that they’ll noisily tip over if a cat or other pet jumps at or on the tree.

* Holiday guests and other activity can be very stressful and even frightening to pets. It can also trigger illness and intestinal upset. Make sure pets have a safe place to retreat in your house. And make sure they are wearing current I.D. in case they escape out a door when guests come and go.

* Reduce stress by keeping feeding and exercise on a regular schedule.

* Always make time to care for your pets. Some folks get lax about walking their dogs, and a few resort to letting pets out on their own. This puts the animal in danger, while also leading to nuisance complaints and dog bite incidents. Remind pet owners not to take a holiday from responsibly caring for their pets.

* When pets are stressed by holiday activity or during travel, they may require more water. Dogs typically pant more when they feel stressed. Keep fresh water available for them to drink.

* Rescue Remedy, a Bach flower essence available in most health food stores, is a natural stress reliever that many folks keep on hand at home and in travel kits. It can often help both people and animals recover from injury, fright, illness, travel fatigue, chocolate ingestion and irritation. Put a few drops in the dog’s water bowl or portable water container. For stressed or injured animals, rub a drop on their ear or put a drop on the towel in their crate or carrier. Flower essences are free of harmful effects and can be used along with conventional medicines.Another safe, nontoxic Rescue Remedy-like product is Animal Emergency Trauma Solution, available from, where you can also get Flee Free to combat fleas nontoxically.Other flower essence sources include and

* Do not let guests feed your pets human food. There are many holiday foods, including fatty meats, gravies, poultry skin, bones, chocolate and alcohol, that can cause illnesses from vomiting and diarrhea to highly serious pancreatitis and other toxic reactions. In addition, candy wrappers, aluminum foil pieces and ribbons can choke pets.

* Keep pets away from gift packages as well as your gift wrapping area. Ingested string, plastic, cloth and even wrapping paper can lead to intestinal blockage and require surgical removal. And pets have been severely injured by scissors and other items left on floors and tables.

* Keep pets away from the garbage. Use pet-proof containers.

* If you suspect that your pet has eaten something toxic, call your veterinarian and/or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-888-4-ANI-HELP.

* If your pet ingests glass, broken plastic, staples orother small, sharp objects, call your veterinarian.In the meantime, you can give your dog supplemental fiber in the form of whole wheat or other high-fiber bread, canned pumpkin or Metamucil, any of which can help bulk up the stools the help the foreigh material pass through the dog’s digestive system. Dosages depend on the size of the dog. For Metamusil, try a teaspoon for a small dog, a tablespoon for a big dog. For pumpkin, feed one-quarter to two-thirds of a cup. Some folks recommend feeding the dog cotton balls to help pass the foreign objects, but others in the veterinary field caution against this since cotton balls can compound the problem.

* By the way, now is a good time to double-check smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and other safety devices and replace batteries. Safety, of course, is the key reason — but here’s another good reason. When batteries run low, the devices often emit alert or alarm sounds at frequencies that can be painful and frightening to many pets. If you’re not home when the alert/alarm sounds, your animals will have to endure that sound until you return, which can be traumatic. So always keep fresh batteries in those devices.

■Holiday sweets with chocolate are not for pets. Depending on the dose ingested, chocolate (bakers, semi sweet, milk and dark) can be poisonous to many animals. In general, the less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it could be. In fact, unsweetened baking chocolate contains almost seven times more theobromine as milk chocolate. Vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate can be seen with the ingestion of as little as 1/4 ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog.
■Keep your pet on its normal diet. Any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals that have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. Boiled or grilled meats and fresh vegetables can be offered as a healthy alternative.
■Don’t give pets holiday leftovers and keep pets out of the garbage. Poultry bones can splinter and cause blockages. Greasy, spicy and fatty for spoiled foods can cause stomach upset and moldy foods could cause tremors or seizures.
■Alcohol and pets do NOT mix. Place unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot reach them. If ingested, the animal could become very sick and weak and may go into a coma.
■Keep aluminum foil and cellophane candy wrappers away from pets. They can cause vomiting and intestinal blockage.
■Be careful with holiday floral arrangements. Lilies are commonly used and many varieties including Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and Casa Blanca can cause kidney failure in cats. Safe alternatives can include artificial flowers made from silk or plastic.
■Common Yuletide plants such as mistletoe and holly berries can be toxic to pets. Should a cat or dog eat mistletoe, they could suffer gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Holly can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and lethargy if ingested.
■Poinsettias are over rated in toxicity. They are considered to be very low in toxicity, however, they could cause mild vomiting or nausea if ingested by your pet.
■Christmas tree water may contain dangerous fertilizers, which if ingested, can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water can also act as a breeding ground for bacteria and if ingested a pet could end up with nausea and diarrhea.
■Decorate your tree with animal safe ornaments such as dried non-toxic flowers, wood, fabric or pinecones. If ingested, ribbons or tinsel can become lodged in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction. This is a very common problem with kittens.

■Alcoholic Beverages: Alcoholic beverages can cause alcohol poisoning. If ingested, the animal could become very drunk and weak, may become severely depressed or may go into a coma.
■Yeast Dough: Uncooked yeast dough, if ingested (most cases are with dogs) can rise in the stomach and cause severe pain. Pets who have eaten bread dough may experience abdominal pain, bloat, vomiting, disorientation and depression. Since the breakdown product of rising dough is alcohol, it can cause an alcohol poisoning. Many cases like this require surgical removal of the dough. Even small amounts can be dangerous.
■Chocolate (bakers, semi sweet, milk and dark): If ingested, chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate. This can be seen with the ingestion of as little as 1/4 ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog. Chocolate poisoning does not seem to be a problem in cats, although it is possible if enough would be ingested.
■Nicotine: Tobacco products can be fatal to dogs and cats if ingested. Signs of nicotine poisonings often develop within 15 45 minutes. Symptoms include excitation, salivation, panting, vomiting and diarrhea. Muscle weakness, twitching, depression, coma, increased heart rate and cardiac arrest can follow.
■Coffee (ground, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans): Contain caffeine which is a stimulant and depending on the dose ingested, stimulation, restlessness, increased heart rate, tremors, or seizures could be seen.
■Macadamia Nuts: Macadamia nuts can cause muscular weakness, depression, vomiting, disorientation, tremors, abdominal pain and muscle stiffness in dogs. The effects can last 1-3 days. This has not been reported in any other species.
■Grapes and Raisins: The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is aware of recent reports of dogs alleged to have developed kidney failure following ingestion of large amounts of grapes or raisins. There has also been one case of renal failure occurring in a cat who ate raisins. Veterinary toxicologists at the APCC are currently investigating these cases in an attempt to determine the causative agents or disease processes. At this time the exact role of grapes or raisins in these cases is unclear.
ALWAYS Be Prepared !!!!Your cat may become poisoned in spite of your best efforts to prevent it. You should keep telephone numbers for your veterinarian, a local emergency veterinary service, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) in a convenient location. If you suspect that your cat has ingested something poisonous, seek medical attention immediately.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

eBay Auction!!

It’s Holiday Auction time on Ebay for ARWNY! Shop now and save the rush of Black Friday! Purchase your Holiday Cards and save the headache and gas of making a trip to the store!

Some of the items we have listed up for auction are:

-5 different design holiday cards – all professionally printed and gorgeous. You won’t believe the quality on these cards. They come in a pack of 15 cards – 1 design per pack.

-The ever-popular Italian charm bracelet featuring laser etched akita images. Available in silver, gold, or a silver/gold combo. These are an ARWNY exclusive!

-Corian cutting board in the shape of an akita head. This is another ARWNY exclusive!

-7 different akita mug designs. All mugs have 2 fabulous full color akita pictures per mug and are a large 15 oz. These are heavy duty mugs and are even dishwasher safe! Yet another item exclusive to ARWNY!

All the items up for auction can be found at:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Its all about the money....

when you do rescue because without MONEY rescue can't function. In this time of economic trouble, donations have dwindled for all of us in rescue -- we are all hurting yet we are having more and more Akitas in need of homes than ever before.

So, since I am well-known to NOT be of much help when it comes to fund raising (I spend it, Ms. Nancy tears her hair out wondering how to get more, then I just spend it again because food, vets and boarding all cost money, eh?) I decided to try my hand at something with Ms. Nancy's blessing. This past weekend, I sat at my computer and taught myself how to use CAFEPRESS and ZAZZLE. Don't laugh -- for a computer-challenged dolt like me, it was HARD WORK!!

But I finally did it and I put all the designs my son did for us recently along with some older designs we love, up on both sites so you can order away, get something for the money and we get a portion for our rescue work!!

Of course, we still have our ARWNY store which has the biggest selection of our items -- but do check out the two other sites and let me know what you think!!

And be kind -- I'm still learning so if you have any suggestions, I'm willing to hear them and learn but if you just want to tell me I'm a boob & have no clue what I'm doing, don't hurt my feelings -- my physical therapist does that on a weekly basis & I have to PAY her to hear that! *SMILE*

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rescue work.....and common sense....can they mix?

There has been a lot of discussion on the internet about a very sad situation with a little pitbull named OREO who was at the ASPCA in NY. I won't go too much into specifics but you can read the story here:

http://www.aspca. org/pressroom/ press-releases/ 111309.html

I will say this -- after 5 months of daily working with this little pit, who was so horribly abused by her 19 yr old owner (may he never have another moment's sleep or peace!) it was decided her human fear aggression issues were too severe to allow her to be safely rehomed. It had NOTHING to do with her breed, as the ASPCA saves thousands of pitbulls & rehomes them. It had NOTHING to do with BSL. It had EVERYTHING to do with her having "triggers" that incited aggression, with having no bite inhibition when it came to humans due to her fear, her abuse. I don't blame her, the story broke my heart, & I felt nothing but sadness & pity for Oreo. But I also would NOT have placed her with another rescue, in a sanctuary or in a new home. I know a dangerous situation when I see one.

The big hue & cry is that she should have been sent to "sanctuary", or to a no-kill facility or to another rescue, because many rescues were just SO SURE they could do what this facility failed to do after 5 months of the best possible behavior help available. Herein lies the problem for me -- I guess because I have too much common sense to just think that would have been a nice easy solution.

First, the term NO-KILL is a misnomer (wow I'm full of big words today!)because no shelter is truly NO-KILL despite what they say. Use your common sense -- if they truly did NOT kill ANY animal surrendered, how long do you think it would take for them to be TOO FULL to take in any more dogs until all these unplaceable dogs died a natural death? So, what they mean is, THEY don't kill the dogs themselves -- they just send them elsewhere to have it done for them. Hence, no such thing as a true no-kill shelter.

As for sanctuaries -- there are a few in this country with huge amounts of land, with big money behind them, that are well-run and can hold out hope for a VERY select few dogs that are social with other dogs but possibly not with humans. These dogs can be given big areas to run & play in together as a pack situation, with shelter, where no human has to come into direct touching contact with them; just goes in to feed, water & clean the big area, big enough so the dogs can move around & not be handled. Now, use your common sense again here. If every human-aggressive-but-social-with-other-dogs dog was sent to these places, how quickly would they fill up -- my educated guess is -- OVERNITE. Then once again, they would be full, have no room, so would be unable to take any MORE dogs to help since they are truly no-kill. So, in reality, they take very few new pets, they are very selective in who they take, and they don't get in over their heads. Those are the well-run places, of which there maybe only 4 or 5 in the whole country.

Then there are the poorly run but wonderfully advertised places with big-names & big advertising campaigns who make themselves out to be the wonderful saviors of THE SPECIFIC DOGS THEY PUBLICIZE no matter what its issues, that are called no-kill facilities also. What happens there is this -- pets that are human aggressive end up in a cage for the rest of their lives there while the other unknown/unadvertised pets that never got publicity go to a kill facility so they have room here. Unable to be held, petted, loved, touched, the ones they keep live in daily fear of the humans that must open their cage, rabies-pole them to get them to move so they can clean the run, feed them, water them. The poor dog is a prisoner, no contact with other pets & unable to be handled by humans. My common sense tells me, this is INHUMANE. I've been to some of these places -- some are BIG NAME, big money-makers and people donate to them without ever visiting them to actually SEE what goes on behind closed doors. Easier to donate than to actually SEE what happens, that's what our society is all about -- help from a distance & don't get your hands dirty. These places are inhumane and I will not ever allow any Akita in my care to be condemned to hell at places like this. Yet daily, weekly, monthly, I see people saying "Why wasn't such & such a place contacted to help this dog?" It drives me crazy.

Dogs sit in local shelters, dying for a home, yet posters all over the internet are working their butts off to save a dog 2,000 miles away -- then rescues from 2,000 miles away offer to take THAT one dog to save it, when dogs just like it are dying less than 2 miles away from their back door. Where is the common sense in that? Why has it gone down the drain? Common sense says -- if there are 100 dogs sitting in your local shelter & you have room, you help one of them. You don't go 2,000 miles away & spend time, HUGE money and effort to bring in one from across the country. When you do that -- it means a dog next door is condemned to death.

Can common sense work in rescue? When I started in rescue, it was what everyone I was associated with, who did good rescue, had in huge quantities. Lately I'm starting to think its gone the way of the Dodo bird -- its becoming extinct!! Common sense tells you to help those dogs close by that take less money, less time & can be helped safely & humanely, to get them into homes so less dogs die for lack of space in that same facility. Or common sense says, if you have room, take a dog in from one county over if there are NONE in your local shelters that you can help. But now -- now we have dogs from the south being brought to the north to fill our shelters, even from Mexico & Puerto Rico to become "unwanted" in the north, to force dogs FROM the north to be euthanized for lack of space (I know b/c I had to RESCUE an Akita brought as a puppy up from Puerto Rico who was adopted out then RETURNED unwanted to a northern NJ shelter b/c the rescue group that brings up these puppies doesn't take back "adults"!).

We have well-meaning but definately ill-conceived notions that a rescue from one part of the country should expend thousands of dollars in transport money, time & space to bring in a dog from another part of the country when exactly the same breed of dog is sitting in the HUNDREDS in their own state. I would never let an adoptable Akita near me die so I could bring in one from the south or any other part of the country. I have taken in Akitas from other areas but in doing so, NO local Akita to me died for that lack of space.

Sadly I do have to decide which Akita we can help sometimes when faced with two we need to consider -- the one with 6 bites on its record who has become so used to biting humans that it has become second nature & will NEVER be safely rehomed or at the very least, will sit for a year or two in our rescue waiting for just that ONE home up on a mountain with no company, no visitors & no other family who could possibly live with his issues -- or the sweet one further away that has bite inhibition & will be safely rehomed without biting someone just for the heck of it. Thats when common sense intervenes saying "you know exactly which Akita you need to save!" But if faced with saving two Akitas with the same issues from different areas -- I will always opt for saving the one in OUR region that I can help locally. I will not risk someone being bitten transporting a bite case, scaring the dog by sending it from driver to driver to get it to us here. Common sense prevails.

And worse, we have people who figure that EVERY DOG can find a home despite common sense saying "a dog that bites humans is NOT a safe dog to rehome when thousands of NICE dogs are dying all around you." Some dogs are just not safe to ever rehome -- period. Like it or not, there are psycho dogs out there - dogs so badly damaged that they cannot be safely rehomed. Just like with humans, dogs can also be mentally damaged beyond repair.

I was taught to do rescue using common sense factors. I had great mentors with great common sense. Yes my heart used to tell me to do one thing but my common sense intervened & helped me do the right thing. Of course I cry like a baby when I know I have to make a decision that means an Akita will have to be humanely euthanize. But I would cry even more & probably loose my mind if I let an Akita I KNEW had human aggression issues go to a home & it ended up hurting someone.

So in this case listed above, after carefully reading the whole story, I feel the ASPCA did the responsible thing, and humanely let Oreo go "Over the Rainbow Bridge" never to fear humans again, never to suffer or go crazy or feel terrified of something a human might do to set her aggression issues off again. I feel that is our responsiblity as rescuers. I feel that is common sense. In this case, I feel the ASPCA used commone sense. They gave her 5 months of rehab & behavior work. Most dogs in shelters get 5 days.

Lets all start using a bit of common sense & realize there are many more who are the same breed as OREO who perhaps CAN be quickly rehabbed b/c they aren't so badly abused to hate ALL humans, and lets concentrate on them. Lets look to our local shelters to see just who we can help locally. Lets pull that ole' common sense back out of the moth balls where its been hidden lately & start to use it in the rescue world. Lets spend what limited funds we all have in rescue wisely, on dogs that CAN be saved, on dogs that CAN be rehabbed and not waste it for months on end on dogs that are too badly abused to be salvaged or to transport dogs across the USA when we have dogs JUST THE SAME AS THIS ONE sitting locally begging for the chance to be saved. There needs to be more common sense in rescue work -- doing rescue work with your heart only does NOT work in today's world. Put your heart in 2nd place and let your brain be in first.

Oreo, run & play "Over the Rainbow Bridge" and hopefully you have found the humans there with you are kind, gentle & sweet so that you can start to love human beings. I am glad you are no longer scared, sad nor aggressive any longer.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Nationals!!

We are back from a week in St. Louis MO to attend the ACA Nationals. What a fun week even if we froze, got rained out, had to stand in floods and lost out on a lot of shoppers due to the weather! It was still a great week!!

First, huge thanks to Ms. Nancy, her wonderful friend Ms. Jackie who doesn't even have Akitas but comes to Nationals to help us out, to my wonderful daughter Jenn who knocked herself out, to Deb & Chris Karfs for driving out & helping us all week. They did all the work - decorated the booth, redecorated every day after when the rain and wind caused issues. They schlepped the stuff from the hotel back & forth (and up and down stairs as our hotel had NO ELEVATOR!)and they packed the van up at the end as well as helped load up the ARSF booth to help Kathy Stoudt!! The gals were troopers -- laughing the whole week, making jokes and being upbeat despite the weather and other issues we ran into. I love these people -- they are the reason I love doing the Nationals every year!

Add to that, we get to see a lot of great friends -- people we only see at the Nationals because of distance. We got to have dinners with good friends, spend the evenings at either meetings or with other good friends and nothing is better than getting to be with friends!!

This year's Parade of Titleholders (that includes the Rescue dogs) was fabulous!! They brought back the music and as a surprise, had the agility dogs show off their skills -- what a fun thing to watch!! I didn't get to see much of the show due to my health and other times being at the booth but this I did get to watch -- hats off to the ACA for making this so much fun to watch! And hats off to the new ACA President Mike Bennett (those who attended the AKITA PICNIC got to meet him!) for speaking up and making a very impassioned speech about rescue -- you rock Mikey!

All in all, while the 15 hr drive out each way was a bummer, it was great to be able to be there this year -- we missed last year's National and I hate to miss any National!! Its a good way to keep Rescue in everyone's mind, a good way to connect to those that donate to us all year long and a great way to meet up with friends!!

Next year's National will be in Gettysburg PA -- I will be writing a lot about that in upcoming months, as we want to have a LOT of ARWNY rescue dogs marching in that Parade of Titleholders so be prepared -- the date for the parade should be Sept 24, 2010 but I will check to be sure.

Here is the info for the 2010 National:

September 21-25 2010

Eisenhower Hotel
2634 Emmitsburg Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325

1-800-776-8349 Or 1-717-334-8121

Contact : Mary Lou or Amber 8:30 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. EST

More on the 2010 National later!!!