Sunday, 13 September 2015


Helping Farmers to “heel” & “heal” is the goal of PHARM Dog USA

Pets Helping Agriculture in Rural Missouri (P.H.A.R.M Dog USA) is the brain child of Jackie Allenbrand. The organization's goal is to make life easier for farmers and farm family members with disabilities. Those eligible for services may have any type of disability (physical, cognitive, or illness-related). Allenbrand  trains two types of dogs - herding dogs and service dogs, trained to retrieve dropped tools, open gates and carry buckets.

“We try to use dogs from rescues or shelters. You’re helping a dog and you’re helping a person,” says Allenbrand. 

For the herding dogs, dog trainers often donate pups. Allenbrand says they try to make training simple for the farmers since most of them cannot spend much time away from the farm. Instead, the trainers go to the farm.

“We get the dogs used to the livestock, their facility, their home, and they can ask questions,” says Allenbrand.

Herding Dogs, primarily border collies, help farmers manage their livestock.

Alda Owen struggled her whole life with being legally blind. She managed her 260-acre Missouri farm as best she could, only being able to see blurry shapes and very close objects. 

Alda was making due, but after a bull knocked a gate into her, Alda's daughter decided she could use a helping hand. P.H.A.R.M Dog USA matched Alda with Sweet Baby Jo, a Border Collie that she credits with helping her remain productive and keep the life her family has built.

Sweet Baby Jo not only helps with the chores, but provides key emotional support as well. Alda's disability kept her in her small comfort zone for most of her life, but since Sweet Baby Jo entered the picture, Alda has started traveling and speaking at panels about farmers with disabilities.

Service Dogs primarily labs or lab mixes, can be trained to do a variety of helpful tasks such as retrieving or picking up dropped tools, opening a latch gate system, carrying buckets, as well as standing and bracing if a farmer has stability issues, or going for help.

Odie fetches a tool for Bruce Trammell, a Kingston farmer 
who suffered a brain injury that causes balance & mobility issues

Janet Padley is with the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City. She says the program can help the farmers gain independence. “I think that that is remarkable that they are utilizing dogs in that way to help the farmers,” says Padley. “Again, I think it just allows for the farmers not to need additional help.”

Alda says she felt like a nuisance to her family before getting the specially trained dog. “I was tired, discouraged, and in the way,” says Owen. But she says things are different now. “My days are just wonderful. No matter how hard, no matter how deep the snow is, or how hot or cold, it’s different. I feel like getting up because I know can accomplish it.”

Disabled farmers from across the country have called Allenbrand asking about available dogs. PHARM Dog has operated on a shoestring budget but Allenbrand wants to expand it nationwide.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Ralf the Giant Schnauzer

"He thinks you’re beautiful and perfect exactly the way you are."

Meet the furry gentle giant who has brought joy to hundreds of sick children
  • Ralf the Giant Schnauzer was adopted in 2005 by the Lovick family
  • His owner Caroline was told that he would be the perfect therapy dog
  • For ten years, she and Ralf have visited aged care homes and hospitals
  • He's been a regular at the Melbourne Royal Children's Hospital for years
  • Ralf has brought joy and comfort to those who need it most
  • The biography of his life, RALF, is out now from Allen and Unwin
A very special therapy dog bringing joy to hospital patients around Melbourne is proving that a dog certainly is man's best friend. Ralf the Giant Schnauzer was adopted in 2005 by the Lovick family, who quickly realised that their new dog was much more than just a pet. The gentle giant has been visiting sick children and aged-care homes for nearly ten years, bringing his special brand of magic to the people who need it most.

A photograph snapped a toddler (a patient at the RMCH) walking alongside his huge furry friend quickly made the rounds in both local and international media, shooting Ralf to fame and raising awareness of the work that the RMCH does.

'Everybody knows what it feels like to have a bad day. Ralf is happy to be your friend and have a hug. He thinks you’re beautiful and perfect exactly the way you are,' Ralf's owner Caroline Lovick.

Ralf quickly became a regular visitor at the Trinity Manor family owned aged care home in Melbourne, visiting the residents for up to six hours each week and bringing a smile to the faces of many who lived there. Ralf visits the residents in common areas, in their rooms, even in the centres hair salon, offering companionship and quiet solace and even sparking memories in some of the patients suffering from dementia.

Ralf turns 11 this year, which is 'ancient in Giant Schnauzer years', and suffered his own health scare when he was diagnosed with arthritis and cancer in his toe. Caroline said that while she knows Ralf won't be around forever, she has treasured the moments she has shared with him and the people they have met, and is incredibly proud of the work Ralf has done.  

‘I feel completely spoilt and privileged that I go to work with Ralf- I’ve loved every minute of it,' Caroline said.'It’s a little window, a nugget and it’s not going to last forever. I feel so incredibly lucky to have Ralf in the world’. RALF by Anne Crawford, published by Allen & Unwin is on sale 25 Feb 2015.

Read more: 

Brooke the Therapy Dog wins hearts of pediatric dental patients!

For kids, going to the dentist isn't always fun, but one dentist has found a way around that situation. Meet Brooke, a four year old Golden Retriever.

Pediatric Dentist Doctor Paul Weiss has been bringing Brooke to work with him twice a week for about six months now. His patients just love her.

Every Thursday morning, patients are greeted with a warm and fuzzy reception when they arrive for their visits at Dr. Paul Weiss' pediatric dental office in Williamsville, USA. The newest staff member, Brooke, a four-year-old Golden Retriever, is using her talents as a certified therapy dog (certified by Therapy Dogs International) to interact with and entertain patients and their families.

She works the reception area with her handler, offering and receiving lots of affection and hugs and occasionally chasing down her favorite ball. 

Her calm and gentle demeanor, friendliness to strangers and receptiveness to physical contact make her the perfect addition to the playful child-oriented surroundings of the office. The match between Brooke and the patients seems perfect. As a Golden Retriever, her primary purpose in life is to please those around her. She gets the love that she needs and she can help take the child's and parents' mind off their fears.

Like all therapy dogs, Brooke was required to pass a rigorous training program and evaluation. She mastered basic obedience and proved she is able to accept common medical appliances, clumsy handling (petting) and various distractions. Therapy dogs have been shown to ease tensions, lower blood pressure and increase positive attitudes. Traditionally, their services are utilized in hospitals, schools, and retirement homes.

Knowing Brooke's temperament, Dr. Paul recognized an opportunity to offer another source of comfort to his patients and increased relaxation to the office atmosphere. Brooke has become a celebrity with patients, who now make it a point to schedule their appointments on Thursday, now known as "Brooke Day."

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Doggone Perfect!

Dogs are lots of fun. But they need to be well managed and learn to behave themselves. Here are a few pointers on what really makes for a ‘good dog’.

According to Gary Wilkes, a respected US dog behaviourist and trainer, a good dog should be:
  • Fully housetrained. Unless there’s a physical problem, this standard is fairly easy to achieve.
  • Able to greet strangers without displaying aggression or objectionable affection.
  • Able to walk on a leash without pulling you down the street.
  • Able to tolerate medical care, examinations and grooming.
  • Able to ride in a car quietly, and not lunge at people passing by.
  • Okay to stay at home, in your absence, without destroying the furniture.
  • Willing to tolerate occasional loud noises, such as thunder.

Many canine owners put up with a lot less than this. The creation of a really good dog, Wilkes says, is always the result of a good owner. The steps to improving your dog’s behaviour may be obedience training, a qualified behaviourist or just raising your own expectations.

For further information, see:

5 well behaved Spinone dogs with their lovely owner!

RSPCA Programs

1. Safe Beds for Pets Program

The Safe Beds for Pets Program was established to provide temporary housing for pets of people who are seeking refuge from domestic violence and to address the link between animal and human abuse and child protection.

The Safe Beds Program is not a long-term solution to the housing of the pet, but it gives domestic violence victims peace of mind and allows them to secure their own safety and make arrangements for the future. 

It's common practice for the perpetrator of domestic violence to lure family members back home by threatening to harm the pet. With the Safe Beds for Pets Program families can now leave domestic violence situations and not fear for the safety of their pets.

Who’s eligible for Safe Beds for Pets?

Safe Beds for Pets is specifically designed to help victims of domestic violence. In most cases, these animals are referred through to the RSPCA from a domestic violence counselling service.

For further information on this innovative program visit:

2. Living Ruff Program

Living Ruff Initiative:

Every day, right around Australia, there are people with pets without a place to call “home”. Often, this is through unexpected circumstances and for reasons beyond their control that may be very stressful and traumatic.

The RSPCA strongly believes in the mental, emotional and physical benefits of the relationships between people and pets. In the case of a person who finds themselves homeless, their pet is often the only positive thing in their lives during a time of uncertainty and disadvantage.

The RSPCA wants to provide a range of community outreach services for homeless pets and their people to help them remain together while they get back on their feet, and to be as healthy and happy as they can be.

It’s research has found that people facing homelessness place great value on the relationships they have with their animals, and that the idea of having to “give up” their pet/s is a cause of major distress to people who are already suffering hardship. 

Living Ruff Initiatives

  • Access to Food for Pets
  • Emergency Boarding and Foster Care
  • Access to Veterinary Services
  • Education
  • Outreach Services
  • Temporary foster accommodation and/or emergency boarding of the pet should the owner require medical treatment, respite or other assistance
  • Assistance with veterinary treatment at the RSPCA Sydney Vet Hospital
  • Assistance with pet grooming
  • Home visits to assist the elderly with basic pet care
For more information on this program visit:

3. Pets of Older Persons

The Pets of Older Persons Program (POOPs) assists socially isolated elderly people by offering assistance with their pets in times of crisis. The POOPs Program aims to keep pets and their elderly owners happy, healthy and together in their own homes for as long as possible.

POOPs was established by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) at St Joseph’s Hospital Auburn in 2003 to temporarily care for the pets of elderly people who were admitted to hospital. The RSPCA became involved to provide assistance with veterinary care and emergency boarding.

POOPs is based in Sydney but assists clients throughout NSW whenever possible through RSPCA NSW Shelters and Branches.

Free Resources for the Study of the Human-Animal Bond

If you’re looking for a great resource for scholarly articles and journals visit HABRI Central - an electronic library and collaborative resource hub for the study of the Human-animal bond:

HABRI Central is an online platform for open research and collaboration into the relationships between humans and animals, specifically companion animals.

HABRI Central uses a combination of library resources to facilitate the discovery, access, production, and preservation of human-animal interaction research.

bibliography of references to human-animal interaction literature helps you to discover existing research while a full-text repository allows you to freely access a wide-array of materials and tools.

Along with these library resources, community-driven discussion areas, blogs, and user groups all allow you to connect and share knowledge with experts, professionals, and others involved in the study of human-animal interaction. 

By hosting all of these features in an easily accessible and centralized way, HABRI Central helps unite those involved in the study of human-animal interaction across disciplines while simultaneously lowering access barriers that might prevent the free flow of information among them.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Nesbit the 1st Million Miles Guide Dog

Nesbit was Delta Airlines' first guide dog to become a "Million Miler". At a special event held at the 2008 CSUN Conference, Delta personnel presented Nesbit with his own frequent flyer card and a plaque hallmarking his "million mile" accomplishment.

Nesbit’s partner, George, is the Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, and Nesbit was by his side as he journeyed to meetings and conferences around the world. His work involved a great deal of travel both national and international, and Nesbit guided him whenever it was possible for him to travel with George - if it was too far or difficult for Nesbit to travel too.

Nesbit safely guided George through many cities around the world from his graduation from Feb 1999 to his retirement in Mar 2008. Nesbit spent his retirement years with George and his wife Lucy.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Much more than man's best friend - Assistance Dogs!


How Dogs Love us

Do our dogs love us? 

It's a question all dog owners say they know the answer to, but Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns is trying to prove it by training dogs to get in an MRI and scanning their brains. 

A skinny black terrier mix, named Callie, steps into an MRI wearing earmuffs, places her head in a custom-fitted chin rest and holds completely still. The rescue dog belongs to neuroeconomics professor Gregory Berns at Emory University, who, along with his colleagues, has trained a dozen dogs to lie down in an MRI scanner awake and unrestrained as a part of a study to determine how dogs’ brains work.

The study is attempting to measure a dog’s brain response to hand signals and also map which part of a dog’s brain can distinguish the scents of familiar and unfamiliar dogs and humans. Not all the results of the study have been published, but the tests, Berns wrote in The New York Times, found that there was increased brain activity when the researchers gave hand signals related to food, when smells of familiar humans were introduced and when owners returned into the view after stepping out of sight.

Berns also said that the initial results suggest a possible indication of canine emotions. Something many dog owners already know. 

5 ways to test a dog your dogs loyalty to you without an MRI. 
Give it a try!

Friday, 4 September 2015

Electronics-Sniffing Dogs Help Solve Cyber-Crimes

Dogs in the United States are now being trained to find electronic components with their noses. Bear, an electronics-sniffing black lab, helped officers locate 16 smartphones, 10 flash drives and six laptops during a search of Fogle’s home. How are dogs able to find what to the rest of us has no smell whatsoever?

Rescue dog Bear 

Jack Hubball, a chemist who discovers the chemical compounds that dogs are eventually trained to find. He identified the so-called accelerants (gasoline, diesel, kerosene, etc.) dogs should focus on to sniff out arson, and helped train dogs to find narcotics and bombs.

To fight computer crimes, Hubball tested circuit boards, flash drives and other electronics components to isolate a single common chemical in each device, which police are keeping under wraps. After isolating the chemical, it was a matter of homing dogs’ sniffers onto the telltale compound.

After months of training, the dogs were able to detect the odor of the chemical in people’s hands, concrete blocks, metal boxes and clothing. The dogs also had to ignore distracting smells such as food and coffee.

The dogs have since been involved in numerous child pornography warrants, as well as other investigations where electronic documents were key evidence. After helping with the Fogle investigation, Bear’s trainer says he’s received some 30 inquiries from police who want to buy their own electronics-sniffing dog.

Bear's trainer Todd talks about their work

Super Sniffers

Apart from electronics, dogs are putting their noses to work in a multitude of disciplines – from fighting crime to diagnosing diseases. In one of the largest studies of its kind, dogs detected the presence of prostate cancer with 98% accuracy in the urine of 600 test patients. Dogs can also detect lung cancer simply by sniffing patients’ breath. Dogs have been used to sniff out bed bugs, explosives, dead bodies, contamination in water and more.

In other words, if something smells fishy, it may be time to call on man’s best friend to lend a helping hand - or snout.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

How To Prepare A Dog For Therapy Dog Training did a wonderful job providing filming for this video to help people who have questions about what is needed before training a dog for Therapy Dog Training. 

There a number of organisations that can help you train you and your dog to become accredited. If you would like to have your dog trained to do Therapy Dog work you can contact: 


Pet Prescription Team  

Pet Prescription Team was founded in 2003 for one purpose, to help pet owners train and certify their family pets for assisted therapy visits. 

It had been brought to the attention of Krystal Emery, the Founder of; "The Pet Prescription Team" the difficulties and lack of information on the certification process as well as the lack of hands on training for those that desired to train their personal family dog for therapy work.

Pet Prescription Team developed its own personal Training Manual and Policy & Procedure Manual as well as classes to assist in the certification process. Once owners complete an 8 week Pet Prescription Team Training Course they are evaluated through the Pet Prescription Team for certification. Once certified the Pet Prescription Team places Liability Insurance on both the dog and owner while out on Pet Prescription Team therapy visits.


Delta Therapy Dogs
Delta Therapy Dogs is a heartwarming program that brings the joys of animal companionship to those who need it most. 
  • Delta’s volunteer Therapy Dog Teams brighten the lives of an estimated 20,000 Australians in hospitals and care facilities every week.
  • Delta Therapy Dogs world class program is the largest of its kind in Australia with over 1000+ volunteers and their special dogs making regular visits to health care facilities to offer the wonderful benefits of pet therapy, spend time with patients and offer a chat, a floppy ear to listen and a paw to shake.
  • There are currently over 850 facilities involved nationally ranging from aged care through to acute care hospitals for children and adults as well mental health, prisons and dementia specific facilities.

Become a Volunteer Delta Therapy Team
Delta volunteers and their amazing therapy dogs are their most valued resources, and are always looking for new volunteer teams to join Delta Therapy Dogs program.
  • Do you have a dog with a good temperament?
  • Do you have an hour or two to spare every week?
  • Are you interested in volunteering in your local community?
  • Do you love talking with people about your dog?

If you answered yes to all these questions, then volunteering with Delta Therapy Dogs could be an incredibly rewarding experience for you. To become a Delta Therapy team, your dog must pass a strict temperament assessment with you, and you must complete a volunteer training session.
  • What is required?
  • Is your dog suitable?
  • Watch the temperament testing procedures video

If you feel that your dog would make a perfect Therapy Dog, then click here:  


Pets As Therapy 

Pets As Therapy is a national charity founded in 1983. It provides therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues by volunteers with their own friendly, temperament tested and vaccinated dogs & cats. 

Since its beginning over 28,000 PAT dogs have been registered into the Pets As Therapy scheme. Every year some of these retire and new dogs, having first been examined and passed on health, temperament, suitability and stability grounds, join Pets As Therapy.
Today there are currently around 4,500 active PAT visiting dogs and 108 PAT cats at work in the UK. Every week these calm friendly dogs and cats give more than 130,000 people, both young and old, the pleasure and chance to cuddle and talk to them. The bedsides that are visited each year number a staggering half million.

Each Pets As Therapy dog has an identifying tag on its collar and many of them wear a distinctive yellow coat. The owner has a photo ID badge which is worn for security at all times when visiting. Pets As Therapy have introduced a photo ID tag for its Pets As Therapy Dogs & Cats as well. As the largest charity of its type in Europe, Pets As Therapy recognises that security needs are paramount and that busy authorities and on duty staff alike, need the reassurance of a therapeutic supportive service which is problem free.

Unusual Dog Breeds

Over the centuries, people have bred dogs to be companions, pets and workers. Because of this, dogs are the most diverse land animals in terms of physical appearance. While you might know that Labs are squarely-built short-haired retrievers and Dachshunds are short, squat, little badger fighters; but there are also other rarer type dogs.

1. Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff is a large, fearless dog traditionally bred to guard herds, flocks, families, and entire villages. One of the massive fluffy pups was also recently sold in China for $1.5 million dollars, and became the most expensive dog ever sold.

2. The Pachón Navarro
With a nose like the double barrels of a shotgun, the Pachón Navarro is an extremely rare Spanish hunting dog that was once believed to have superior sniffing skills. Now breeders know that the Pachón Navarro’s nose is just cosmetically different, they don’t offer any advantage over a regular pup nose.

3. Thai Ridgeback

Similar to the Rhodesian Ridgeback, the Thai Ridgeback pup has a line of hair growing in the opposite direction along the spine. These strong-willed, powerful pups are used as livestock guardians in their Asian home.

4. Salish Wool Dog

Originally from the Washington State/British Columbia area, the Salish Wool Dog is now extinct as a distinct breed. These pups were small with long white hair that the native people sheared (like a sheep) to weave into treasured Salish blankets. The dogs were kept in groups ranging from 12 to about 20 and kept safe on islands or in gated off caves.

5. Xoloitzcuintli

Pronounced Sho-lo-eets-quint-lee, the Xoloitzcuintli is usually referred to as the “Mexican Hairless Dog” or just “Xolo.” This breed is so old that it was actually worshiped by the Aztecs. Because many Americans are not familiar with Xolo pups, it has been mistaken for the mythological Chupacabra along the US border states. The Xoloitzcuintli has not been inbred over the years like many other purebreed dogs and it is a very healthy and hardy dog that only requires a bit of moisturizer, sunscreen, and regular bathing.

6. Neapolitan Mastiff

Historically bred to fight alongside the Romans wearing body armor and blades so that they could run under and disembowel enemy horses, the Neopolitan Mastiff was almost extinct at the end of WWII. After an Italian painter set up a kennel to protect the enormous pups and bred them with English Mastiffs to diversify the bloodline, the Neopolitan Mastiff has evolved as a breed and one even appeared as Hagrid’s pet dog, Fang, in the Harry Potter movies.

7. Mudi

The Mudi is a mid-sized Hungarian herding dog with a thick, curly coat and smooth face. While they are still rare in the US, the Mudi dogs are gaining popularity with their versatile, energetic attitudes.

8. Lundehund

Originally used in Norway to hunt for Puffins, the Lundehund has six toes on each foot, prick ears that it can control at will, and the ability to tip its head backward to touch its backbone. The Norwegian Lundehund is unlike any other breed.

9. Catahoula Leopard Dog

Prized by Native Americans for their incredible hunting abilities, these pups have been favorites of famous hunters like Teddy Roosevelt. The Catahoula Leopard Dog is named after the Catahoula Parish in Louisiana, where the breed originated.

10. Carolina Dog

Also known as the “American Dingo,” Carolina Dogs are thought to be the oldest canine species in North America, appearing on rock paintings by Native Americans. The Carolina Dogs share DNA with the Australian Dingoes and New Guinea Singing Dogs and even though the breed has been domesticated, there are still wild pups still roaming around.

11. Azawakh Hound

The Azawakh is a sighthound that is very rare outside of its West African homeland. Known for its agile and feline-like gait, the Azawakh are timid by nature, but gentle and affectionate once they get to know you. It's used for hunting gazelles and other fleet animals of the African deserts.


12. Beauceron

The next breed of dog you’ve probably never heard of is the Beauceron, a French herding breed that is noted as one of the breeds used to create the Doberman Pinscher. The Beauceron is a large and athletic, highly intelligent and obedient, with an eagerness to please. 


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Dogs Trained To "Sniff Out" Landmines & Save Lives

Landmines maim & kill thousands each year, keep people from their homes, and deny the use of productive land. The Marshall Legacy Institute works in war-torn countries and provides Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs) to "sniff out" landmines, save lives and return the land to productive use. MDDs are one of the most efficient and effective detectors of landmines, searching an area 30 times faster than other demining tools and saving tens of thousands of lives, before retiring into good homes.

What is the issue, problem, or challenge?

For many nations, a primary obstacle to achieving sustainable progress is the deadly legacy of landmines. Landmines halt agricultural production, impede economic growth, slow the return of refugees, instill fear, and kill and maim innocent citizens on a daily basis, injuring or killing at least one person every 40 minutes. 
Thus, MLI's primary mission is to establish practical, affordable, and sustainable indigenous programs to help severely mine-affected countries rid their land of mines.

How will this project solve this problem?

Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs) are able to effectively and efficiently "sniff out" the landmines, which are often small, plastic, and buried in the ground. Over the past 16 years, MLI has provided 197 highly trained mine detection dogs to 11 mine-affected countries. In 2013, MLI's active MDDs searched nearly 800 acres of mine affected land, saving countless lives. None of MLI's MDDs have been injured or killed while working and all are retired into excellent homes

Potential Long Term Impact

MLI emphasizes the importance of helping countries help themselves and is the only organization in the world that builds indigenous demining capacity by donating highly trained Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs) to mine contaminated countries, and then training local handlers to safely and effectively employ the MDDs in national landmine clearance programs. Each MDD impacts tens of thousands of lives by searching up to 2 million sq. meters of land in their working life before retiring into great homes.

Funding Information

If you would like to help this amazing program click here...


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