"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume III - Issue 28:  October 7, 2005
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  It's Not About Convenience
=>  Quote of the Week
=>  Mail Bag
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  The Blonde: A Year in Review

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Christopher's Drool

Hey Everybody,

What a busy week it has been. Seems like it just flew by me without my even realizing it. I guess that is a good thing because I seemed to have gotten a lot done. That is a good thing for sure.

Doggie Flu

Many have you have seen or even written to me about the new dog flu that has been hitting many dogs around the country and world. While the majority of the dogs who are affected by this are fine, there is still a death rate of 10 %. Due to this, I figured I would catch you all up on it and make some suggestions on how to avoid it.

Dr. Cynda Crawford, an immunologist at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine, said the disease is only deadly in rare cases - about 10 percent in puppies and old dogs - but is of concern because it is spreading rapidly. It is believed that the new virus may have mutated from an equine influenza strain, she said.

“Like most flu viruses, it can be spread by air, as well as by contact, and the populations of dogs most at risk are those in shelters, kennels, boarding operations or other situations where a lot of dogs are housed under one roof,” she said.

The disease could also spread in parks where pet owners let their dogs off the leash to socialize. Dog parks are a perfect playground for contagious diseases because when animals share toys and water dishes, they also are sharing germs. The symptoms of the disease include coughing and sneezing, and there is concern that it could be spread in vet waiting rooms, Crawford said.

"When you bring a bunch of dogs together under one roof, if a dog happens to be infected, then the virus will spread rapidly," she said. She compared the situation to what happens with young children in school.

So far, there is no test for the flu that vets can administer and the virus is too new for any dogs to have developed immunity to it, so pet owners should watch their dogs carefully for any symptoms. The concern is that the dog population on the North American continent is wholly 100 percent susceptible.

Now, after reading that, it would seem we are pretty much screwed no matter where we take our dog and to a certain extent that is true. However, if we take a few precautions, we can limit the chances of our dogs contracting this flu over the fall and winter season.

First, just as diet affects the behavioral qualities, it also obviously affects their health as well. Since we have this new virus currently, this is a great time for us to evaluate the way we are feeding our dog. Obviously, the healthier the diet, the healthier the animal. Personally, I prefer a cooked food diet as I can regulate everything that goes in and out of my dog. However, there are obviously other quality diets you can use.

Regardless of the type, make sure it is meeting all the nutritional needs of your dog so they can maintain a strong immune system. I also strongly recommend adding Tahitian Noni juice to your dog's food on a daily basis. It has been repeatedly proven to boost the immune system and making recovery from illness and injury quicker and easier on the animal.

Second, avoid the dog parks for now for the reasons listed above.

Third, schedule your veterinary appointments wisely. By this I mean the first appointment of the day as opposed to later. The staff at most clinics do a thorough cleaning of the facilities. This makes your best bet for avoiding contamination in the early morning before other patients that may be infected have been seen for the day.

Finally, don't be a carrier. It is not know at this time whether humans are capable of being carriers for this strain of flu. What I mean by this is it may be possible for a person to carry the virus from one animal to another without the person becoming sick.

For this reason, we need to avoid contact between ourselves, our dogs and other animals we are not familiar with. Make sure you wash your hands and face with anti-bacterial soap after encountering other animals. This is just a preventative but certainly won't hurt.

Don't forget the water! We often hear, particularly when summer is approaching, to make sure our dogs are getting enough water. What we need to remember is that it is just as important in the winter. I was told many years ago that people who get winter colds often don't drink enough water which increased their chance of getting sick. For this reason, I make sure my dog is well hydrated.

Katrina Mayhem

Well, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) seems to have spent a lot of time back peddling over the last few weeks. There seems to be excuse after excuse coming out of them addressing the accusations that have been made by many of their own volunteers. This is fine with me as it shows to me they are worried. Keep in mind, they generally have a policy (when it comes to criticism) to ignore them and they will go away. Even better, they are contradicting their own statements.

Lets' start with the HSUS t-shirts ...

In a HSUS release on their website, they say ...

“Please note that many people are now wearing the blue HSUS t-shirts. Just because someone is wearing such a t-shirt does not mean that they are an HSUS employee or volunteer recruit.”

and ...

“In a situation as enormous and fast paced as this disaster, information is being distributed rapidly and-on occasion-recklessly. Rumors are flying. It is impossible for us to respond to what other animal welfare groups are saying or doing, or to the misinformation and hearsay that individuals are spreading through other websites and chat rooms.”

Why have I clumped this together? For good reason. The reports I have written about have a resounding theme. Either the person they were complaining about was wearing a HSUS t-shirt or they knew for fact the individual was a paid employee of the organization.

These are not just people from other organizations down there with a massive conspiracy to make HSUS look bad. In fact, many of the people who have volunteered down there have no love for the HSUS but have set that aside to volunteer for them in the affected area because it is the right thing to do. Could all of the accusations be just sour grapes? Certainly, I could see that if there were only a few rescuers making these accusations. The thing is - there are hundreds.

When I first heard about HSUS passing out t-shirts to volunteers, I kind of thought that was a little hincky. It was explained to me the shirts were to help identify registered volunteers from unregistered to assist with security concerns and volunteer tracking. While I understood they were also a great way to show the media their numbers on scene, I didn't really mind so much any more. When in the service, we had I.D badges that showed whether we were authorized in a specific area. While I would have used something else as an identifier, I guess in a pinch, a shirt will work.

Okay, they used shirts and let's just say I am peachy with this. Why didn't they track the issue of these shirts? A legal pad and a pencil is all it would have taken until they had a computer on line. Now if you decide the shirts are the answer, then there is no excuse for them losing track of them.

According to the people I have heard from, the HSUS has been passing out the shirts like candy to anyone who wants them. Boy, that's some mighty fine security! Lets' face it, those shirts were for little more than the eyes of the media in my opinion. “Look at us, Look at us! All these shirts mean we must be doing a good job!”

The Money

As recently as last week, the HSUS was still begging for money and volunteers for the relief efforts. However, according to their web site, they seem to have numerous volunteers and supplies ready to deploy.

“As you can imagine, we are inundated with offers of help and have thousands of volunteer applications in hand.” and “Please be patient as our staff work their way through these volunteer requests and deploy people based on the needs at the field sites.

“The major pet food companies have been wonderful in filling our requests for food for the rescued animals. There is no need for individual pet food donations at this time. If you have registered an offer of several cages, animal toys, etc., and have not received a response, please contact your local animal shelter and offer your donation to them to use locally.”

Okay, they have volunteers, and obviously don't need food or gear. Most of the volunteers are working at their own expense and the majority of the food and gear has been donated. So, where's the tens of millions of dollars they have collected go? If they don't have the staff to process volunteer applications in a timely manner, how is it they have staff and funds to facilitate a filming crew focusing on HSUS's “disaster efforts?”

As I have been receiving and reading the complaints from volunteers I have become more and more angry. Especially, when I read the response to the accusations HSUS has made about them. The way I see it, if we were to believe HSUS ...

  • Other rescue groups are involved in a big conspiracy to discredit HSUS
  • All the complaints being made against them by volunteers are lies
  • All the animals are being fed appropriately and treated for disease
  • They are responsible with the reuniting of animals to their family
  • The local and State officials dictate policy and HSUS's hands are tied
This is hogwash. I have worked in rescue for decades and you will never convince me of any conspiracy among them to nail the HSUS particularly in this situation. The same goes with the integrity of the volunteers. These people, and there are literally dozens and dozens, come from all over the country with different back grounds most of whom never met. Funny, they all seem to have similar stories.

They are not responsible for the majority of the dogs being reunited by their own admission. When you go to their site looking for your animal, you are referred to www.petfinders.com who is handling all the tracking of animals. You can certainly bet HSUS will have an official present for a photo opportunity when the dog is picked up, but they had little to do with reunifying the animal with its' family.

Finally, for this week anyway, they are blaming local and State officials for their inability to do their job stating these individuals make the rules and policy. Are you kidding me?! The HSUS has a full time paid legislative department to push their agenda through Congress which they have been extremely successful at. Are they trying to tell me they couldn't get the Governors of LA and M. to listen to them and make policy changes to assist the animals in this situation? Just my opinion here but it seems to me if the appropriate policy changes were made, HSUS would have to spend more donation money. Perhaps this is the reason they haven't spent any time talking to officials about the road blocks.

It's time for us all to speak up and make our displeasure known. Write your local media, local officials and your State representatives and let them know your displeasure. Contact the IRS and demand an audit of HSUS's finances throughout this crisis and publish the results.

As someone who has dedicated his life to dogs, I find, what I perceive as the fleecing of disaster animals to be despicable. The people at the top of the ladder need to be investigated and prosecuted if there is cause. Additionally, the HSUS should step up for once and be culpable for their short comings and quit blaming others.

That's it for this week on Katrina and the disaster relief. Please don't give your money to HSUS. If you feel compelled to donate, contact Noah's Wish. This way you will know it gets to the animals.

Keep those letters and suggestions coming. They are greatly appreciated.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm outta here!



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It's Not About Convenience

Technology is wonderful, isn't it? Our computers run faster, our cars are more efficient, we can make telephone calls from our car, yard, or even the portable toilet at the County Fair. Meals that use to take an hour can be done in minutes. We pay our bills, do our banking and shop online. We have supplements that that make us more alert, relieve anxiety and increase energy.

These are excellent ways for all of us to get more things done in less time, and I, for one, appreciate them. Lord knows there doesn't seem to be enough time in my day, and I'm sure many of yours, to get all the things done we need to do in a day. Our world has become fast paced and results oriented, with everyone wanting everything NOW!

Just as technology and efficiency systems have invaded the human world, so has it entered the world of our dogs. There are a multitude of devices, supplements, training methods and therapies all designed for the behavioral well being of our dogs ... Or are they?

Over the last several months, I've been looking into several of these methods of training and products. I've talked to and listen to the reasons people use these methods as well as investigating their safety and effectiveness. I've found many that appear to be excellent tools for modifying your dog's behavior. I've seen some that are nothing more than cruel.

The key word here is tool. No product or training method in the world is going to replace a dog's instincts, pack mentality and protocol. It's a nice idea, but the truth of the matter is that technology has not reached that point, and I don't see it doing so in my lifetime.

Whenever I speak with a new client who is using a particular method or product exclusively to modify their dog's behavior, I tend to hear the same resounding theme. Convenience for the dog owner. This is concerning, as convenience for the owner doesn't always equal what's best instinctually or mentally for the dog. Let me give you a an example ...

Crate Training. Dogs need to be trained to go into a crate for safety and travel. A crate should not be something you have to fight to put your dog in to go to the vet or travel on a plane. They need to be comfortable entering one freely. A crate should not be used as a babysitter, or to avoid destruction of property. You might be surprised at how many people use them for just that purpose.

There are also a multitude of products that are designed to help dog anxiety and or hyperactivity. Some are designed by pharmaceutical companies, and others are made from all natural organic materials. Again, these are great tools to help modify behavior, but they don't address the reason for the behavior, nor do they provide a long-term fix.

Dogs do the things they do because of instinct, life experience, breeding or as a result of learned behavior. They are not destructive, nervous, aggressive or loud by nature. There's always a reason dogs exhibit the behaviors they do. It's up to us, as owners, to determine why and take the steps necessary to properly direct the behaviors.

This process can take time, which is contradictory to how we as humans like to live our fast paced lives. Lets face it, it's faster and easier to lock the dog in the garage when we go out than it is to train the dog not to eat the furniture. It's easier to medicate the dog, rather than help them to work through their anxiety. Heck, we can even zap them with a little electricity in the neck. That will get you some results. It will be at your dog's expense, but hey, the sofa is safe.

Whenever we begin to modify our dogs' behavior, or simply start the training of a new dog, we must look at the big picture. What are the family pack dynamics? Who is the Alpha? What changes have been made to the environment around the time the dog began to act out? What type of schedule is the dog going to be on and/or have there been changes to the existing schedule? Until our dogs are able to verbally express why they do what they do, we have to ask ourselves these questions.

Once we know the reason for the behavior, then we can decide on a direction to take to correct it. The critical thing at this point is that we choose a methods and tools that will best address the dogs needs and instincts, and not our own convenience. This is the only way to achieve lasting results, and it will cost you less in the long run.

If our dogs are experiencing behavioral issues there's only one way to approach the problem. Understanding and effort. If we don't understand the reason the dogs are behaving the way they do, how are we going to be able to make sure we are redirecting the behavior in a manner that is best for the dog? If we aren't willing to put in a little effort, we are not living up to our obligation to our dog.

This article may be republished using the following attribution statement:

Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator: The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies Subscribe to the BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter: mailto:subscribe@Master-Dog-Training.com?subject=Subscribe VISIT NOW: http://www.Master-Dog-Training.com

Quote of the Week

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.

~ Samuel Butler ~

Mail Bag


Thanks for opening my eyes to the true colors of the HSUS. I used to donate to them and will just continue to donate to the sheltie rescues here in Texas as I have recently been doing. (I did recently 'rescue' sheltie # 4 two weeks ago to make more room for those poor unfortunate animals from the hurricanes). From one animal lover to another, thanks for your newsletter!

Diane St James


Thanks so much for the excellent information in both last week's and this week's newsletter. Hope you don't mind, but I posted it on several of the pet boards I visit. Also have been telling people and also posted a link to Noah's Wish.

Had to laugh about the vacuum being the devil to dogs, as all my dogs actually love the vacuum, couldn't be because since day one of their arrival they have heard it run on a daily basis, could it! Thanks for such important information.


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Joke of the Week

The Blonde: A Year in Review

(No letters folks…I'm blonde myself)

January - Took her new scarf back to the store because it was too tight.

February - Ordered new drapes for her computer because it had windows.

March - Got excited when she finished a jigsaw puzzle in 6 months because the box said "2-4 years."

April - Was trapped on an escalator for hours when the power went out.

May - Couldn't make Kool-Aid because 8 cups of water wouldn't fit into the little packet.

June - Couldn't learn to water ski because she couldn't find a lake with a slope.

July - After losing in a breast stroke swimming competition, complained to the judges that the other swimmers were using their arms.

August - Told her blonde friend to hurry when trying to get into their locked car using a coat hanger because it was starting to rain and the top was down.

September - When asked what the capital of California was: answered "C."

October - Hates M&M's because they are so hard to peel.

November - Baked a turkey for four days because the instructions said 1 hour per pound and she weighed 120.

December - Couldn't call 911 because there was no "11" on any phone button.

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Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2005 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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