He hung back when all the other dogs came charging, looking at me with those big brown eyes full of hope, worry and fear. His head was full of scars of troubles from an earlier time in his short life. That was the day a year ago when Petey stole my heart. Once a scared, abused puppy, Petey has left that terrible life behind forever. He now gives back to our community by working as a certified therapy dog—sitting with children at the local libraries while they read to him—between kisses, of course. He enjoys his work. After his day is done, there is a proud swagger to his step and he holds his head just a little higher. It hurts my heart to imagine the loss of happiness and joy to so many people of all ages if Petey hadn't stolen my heart that day at the local animal shelter.
Thanks, Jeannie! Stay tuned for additional winning rescue stories to come over the next few weeks.
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Black ASPCA Beanie: With winter weather in full swing in many parts of the country, this versatile, one-size-fits-most black beanie will keep you warm this season. The hat is made from 100% preshrunk cotton and features the ASPCA logo.
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Keri Matthews, a mom of two, has worked in the ASPCA’s licensing department for more than five years. She lives on Long Island with her husband, Tom, her children, Gabriella and Tommy, and their Greyhound, Clyde.
As Thanksgiving approaches, many families are gearing up to celebrate the holiday with their kids and pets. My family is starting to think about how we will safely incorporate our dog, Clyde, into the preparation and day-of festivities. This time of year, there are so many food hazards to pets in the home. And since Clyde is a large dog, he can reach the table and garbage pail quite readily. We will take the following steps to keep him safe before, during and after the holiday:
Take out the trash: Throughout Thanksgiving Day, we will empty our garbage more often than usual. Bones, chocolate, onions and other Thanksgiving food staples are all hazards to Clyde that will make their way into our kitchen during the festivities.
Food tasting: We will explain to our daughter Gabriella that we can’t give Clyde a taste of every food item we’re making for Thanksgiving dinner, but we can stuff his Kong toy with veggies of Gabriella’s choosing, a bit of cooked turkey and some gravy. Clyde will be thrilled!
Quiet time: We’d like Clyde to have an extra quiet space (other than his bed) while company is visiting so he doesn’t get too stressed out. We’ll set aside a few towels on the floor to give him another nook where he can sit back and relax—something we all hope to do this Thanksgiving!
Guest post by Dana Wilkosz of KIWI magazine. The views expressed in this post are not necessarily those of the ASPCA.
I’ve been an allergy-sufferer for almost my entire life. Dogs, dust mites, grass—you name it, I’m probably allergic to it. (As my allergist put it to me at the tender age of five: “You probably shouldn’t have any animals in the house…But you can still hug the trees!” I was devastated.) So I can relate to parents who may be hesitant to introduce a pet to their young child—especially if they themselves have ever suffered from being around animals (itchy eyes, itchy nose, itchy throat—so much itching.)
However, you may want to think twice before deciding against four-legged companions completely. A recent study suggests that it is unlikely that being around a dog or a cat for most of the childhood years will increase a child’s chances of developing allergies, and early exposure could actually lower the risk.
Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit studied 565 18-year-olds who had been followed from birth. They found that teens who had cats during their first year of life had 50 percent less chance of developing pet allergies later, compared to babies born into cat-free homes. Boys who lived with a dog during the first year of life had about half the risk of developing allergies as compared to those without a dog in the house, though, oddly, this wasn’t true for girls—a fact that researchers were unable to explain.
In fact, being exposed to pets anytime after the first year of life seemed to have no effect on allergy risk at all, which, researchers feel indicates that a baby’s first year is a critical time when it comes to the possibility of a child developing pet allergies. The reason for this? Researchers believe it may lie in the “hygiene theory”—the idea that early exposure to certain environmental factors, like dust or animal dander, might trigger the immune system to develop a tolerance for common allergens, therefore reducing the likelihood of a child developing sensitivities.
Still, researchers are quick to point out that even though the study indicates that having pets early in life could help protect kids from allergies, this doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship—meaning you probably shouldn’t rush out to get a pet in the hopes that it’ll make your child immune to pet allergies. However, if you’re planning on getting a pet, it might be better to get one sooner rather than later.
Fortunately for me, my allergies have never been life threatening, and my mom agreed to keeping pets in the house so long as my symptoms didn’t get out of hand. To this day, I live quite happily with a cat of my own, and though I still take a pill everyday to help relieve some of that awful itching, I’m an animal lover and a pet owner, and I wouldn’t have grown up any other way.
What about you? Did you grow up with animals and allergies? Do you think exposing your child early in life to common allergens could prevent them from developing allergy symptoms later in life? Please share in the comments.
We adopted Yoshi from the Darlington County Humane Society. He is a mix and is about 3-years-old now. He went from being a shelter dog on the euthanasia list to a therapy dog for an organization called Paws for People. Yoshi now is a certified "Courthouse Canine." He goes to court with children that have to testify in abuse cases and sits with them on the witness stand to provide comfort and security. He also visits the Children's Advocacy Center where he provides therapy to children being interviewed after allegations of abuse surface. When he’s not visiting children, Yoshi visits rehabilitation centers where he brings many smiles to the elderly. He is one of our family members and we love him!
Thanks, Deanna! Stay tuned for additional winning rescue stories to come over the next few weeks.