Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Products at The Rex Center

We have a very small retail area, but are featuring some new products and thinking about more.

  • Planet Dog Toys:

  • Thundershirt TM is a proven solution for many types of dog anxiety...thunderstorms, fireworks, separation, travel, crate, and more...Whatever the anxiety, Thundershirt's gentle, constant pressure can help calm and focus a dog. No drugs, Easy to Use, Satisfaction guaranteed!

  • Nina Ottosson puzzle toys -- Let your dog search for treats by lifting blocks, pushing blocks, moving discs, pushing buttons, etc. ... Show the dog how to play.

  • Speaking For Spot book by Dr Nancy Kay, ACC Sonoma - With warmth, candor, and humor cultivated over 20-plus years of working with dogs and their human companions Dr. Kay provides an insider’s guide to navigating the potentially overwhelming, confusing, and expensive world of veterinary medicine.

Some products that we're thinking about. Lets us know what you think!

  • K-9 Carts... I took a workshop with the owner of K-9 Carts and witnessed the fitting of two handicapped dogs with this cart. It was amazing, the dogs were thrilled with a little bit of freedom. We're thinking about starting a custom fitting shop and/or rental program.
    Benefits include:

    • Excellent rehabilitative aid for encouraging your pet to return to walking on its own.
    • Keeps your pet happier and healthier as it is able to exercise and join in family activities.
    • Our wheelchair designs encourage leg movement and, in many cases, a return to full rear limb function.
    • Your pet is able to urinate and defecate while in the cart.
    • Nursing care is easier for the pet owner.
    • Stable pelvic support system keeps spine and limbs in alignment and promotes healing.
    • Takes stress off the rear legs.
    • Your pet can use the cart with its legs either down, in the walking position, or up in the support slings, non-walking position.
    • Your pet has the ability to use its rear legs while still being totally supported in the rear.
    • Supporting the rear keeps your pet’s front legs stronger.
    • Encourages normal leg movement when legs are fully supported in slings.
    • Lightweight, eases the strain on your pet.
    • Well balanced cart makes motion easier and safer.

  • Help Me Up Harness features both a front and rear harness lift system for owners helping their dogs with mobility issues. I've seen this in use and it seems fabulous and not too complicated to put on.
  • Double Back Harness is another that has an extra piece to hold the dog's hind end - this one is designed for mountaineering.
  • Web Master Harness is a great harness to help with mobility - and I've seen this in use a lot with dogs who have a hard time getting up from laying down or who might need a little extra support getting around.
  • Walkabout Harnesses is another harness that a local SF-Dog person recommended.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Couch potato or Physically Fit Senior?" Canine Elder Care: Exercise

Your elderly dog may seem perfectly content lounging around and dozing on the couch all day, and you are probably tempted to let him do so – after all, his stiff legs and achy joints make movement difficult. However, aging dogs can greatly benefit from regular exercise. Just tone it down a bit.

If you once enjoyed spending time with your furry friend outside, like going for walks or jogs, you still can, and should, keep participating in outdoor activities. Depending on your dog’s abilities, you can go for a short walk around the block. While on a walk, let him look and sniff around. The stimulation is wonderful for keeping the mind active and healthy, and can keep him from getting depressed. Playing fetch is another activity that you can still do with your dog – only play for less time than you would with a younger dog, and don’t throw the ball too far. Most dogs will do anything to please their guardians, even overdoing it to keep up with what they think you expect of them. [More info]

For dogs with osteoarthritis, daily moderate exercise can even help delay the continued degeneration of joints. Warm-water swimming is an excellent activity for older dogs with arthritis because it allows them to get a workout that encourages full range of motion of the limbs while being gentle on the joints. Simply being in a warm-water swim spa will create a therapeutic experience for your dog – just think of how a warm bath or hot tub relaxes and soothes your sore muscles.

Making sure your dog moves a little everyday will help prevent atrophy by keeping the muscles toned. Also, as your dog’s metabolism and activity levels decrease, you may notice some extra weight creeping around his abdomen. Regular exercise will help him maintain a healthy weight, which will be great if he has arthritis. The less the burden on the joints, the better!

Check back in the next few weeks for more interesting ideas for keeping your senior dog in less pain, while also being active, sharp-minded and happy.
Long-time dog lover Britany Lueras has a degree in journalism from San Francisco State University and contributes her writing talents to The Rex Center.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

La Paw Spa training at The Rex Center

We had the privilege of hosting a Cindy Horsfall of La Paw Spa at The Rex Center last week and conducting two classes -- a Level 1 beginner course and an Advanced workshop.

Level 1 "Heart of Canine Water Therapy" class

We had 4 people, plus Cindy and a bunch of dogs -- 26 as a matter of fact. They went to Mendocino for two days to learn about water, connect with each other and Cindy - and learn and experience watsu (water massage) for themselves. Then two days later, came to The Rex Center to spend 3 days in the water with dogs!

From Cindy's website ... "I call my training program the 'heart' of canine water therapy as it is just that - the heart - the connection - the foundation from which you can build your practice. It is the consideration of the emotions behind that client seeking out your program, the fears behind the obvious. I will strive to inspire you to embrace the bigger picture - to support your clients fully - both the dog in your arms and their person at pool side. This work is a lot more than it seems ... deeper that it appears ... and so we go to the heart in our training.... "

Each day got progressively harder. I didn't have a lot of 'easy' clients who were available during the day - so day 2 had a lot of new dogs! (A bit harder than expected, oops!)

Here's a picture of the class with a bunch of beautiful shelties ages 15, 6 and 1.5 years old. They did great...

Afterwards, their mom said:
You should have seen Cody, the oldest, BRISKLY TROT, GALLOP, and RUN after puppy Scout in the house after we got home. The fastest gate for him has been a slow trot and mostly just walking. The therapy looks like it was quite beneficial for him tonight, so much so, that I forgot to give him his rimadyl. He’s sleeping now, so I’ll wait until his breakfast to medicate.

Scout and Gina are wild – Gina is chewing on her bully stick and Scout JUST NOW crashed and burned!

Congrats to the four new Level 1 water therapy grads!

Advanced workshop

In the mornings on Thursday and Friday, we had a bunch of additional dogs to work with for a more 'advanced' session with Cindy. Three of us swam with a bunch of new dogs - and we tried to screen for level of difficulty, but ended up with only about half the dogs being really 'difficult'. I learned some new stretches and vocabulary on how to teach others...

Here's a testimonial!

This morning Lula, my dog, volunteered as a "dog professor" in a class for canine water therapists at the Rex Center, a facility in Pacifica that offers aquatic services as well as training classes, workshops, etc.

Lula gives the place four paws up, and I do as well. The facility has a warm, inviting, and professional ambience, and the heated indoor pool is set off in a nice quiet area. The swim therapists were a pleasure to meet and work with. As Lula has never been in a pool before and never actually swum, it was a new and a bit frightening experience for her. They handled her calmly and deftly (as well as affectionately, which always does a guardian's heart good), and by the end of the session she was much more comfortable, looking around and checking out the pool and the room and licking the face of the therapist holding her.

When my last dog, Ruby, was disabled in her final year, we drove all the way down to San Jose to go for aqua therapy because there were no viable options closer. It's great to see places appearing closer to SF that offer this valuable service.

Lula says, "Check it out." www.therexcenter.com


Monday, October 5, 2009

Goodbye, Diamond

Diamond the Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff) went to the "Rainbow Bridge" today this morning after having complications from her back injury. Diamond's family has been bringing her to The Rex Center for a couple of months now since she's been home after her injury that left her hind legs immobilized. She had a great time swimming because it gave her the mobility that she no longer had on land. We played in the water, let her straighten out her back, moved her back legs and cheered when she swam and her tail wagged.

All of us at The Rex Center got the chance to swim with Diamond and we'll all miss her.

Our memorial at The Rex Center is a set of Pet Prayer Flags -- and we're going to write the names of dogs that we've lost or that our clients have lost on a ribbon and tie them to the strings in between the flag. Having a memorial is important closure for all of us. We'll burn a candle, say a prayer or offer reiki to help her passing and to comfort the family.

In the Bay Area, we're lucky to have a lot of great resources for pet loss support too. I think its a very hard thing to talk about grief and losing an animal. I've met and talked to Betty Carmack (SF SPCA) and think she's wonderful. I've talked to Dr Nancy Kay via email and think that all of these groups are likely great and supportive. Here's a short list:

(Thanks for the comment (below) that this UC Davis phone line is no longer in operation
"Pet Loss Support Hotline: (800)565-1526 or (530)752-4200 Monday-Friday 6:30-9:30pm (West Coast time) is staffed by volunteers from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine")

And, of course there's always the Rainbow Bridge poem. I still like it.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...