Friday, September 12, 2014

K9 Water Festivals 2014

The dog days of summer may be long gone, but you can still pamper your pooches during the lingering heat of a South Florida fall by letting them frolic at two water parks on dogs-only days. One of Broward County Parks and Recreation’s most popular programs for the past dozen years, the K9 Water Festivals, returns this year with three weekend events in October. (There will be no events at C.B. Smith Park this year.)

The series kicks off on October 4 and 5 at Castaway Island at T.Y. Park in Hollywood, which also has events on October 11 and 12. Splash Adventure at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach follows on October 18 and 19.

Admission is $5 per dog per 50-minute session (plus applicable Florida sales tax), with sessions beginning on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Only dogs weighing 25 pounds or less will be permitted for the final session of each day. Donations of dog and cat food, treats, blankets, and toys will be accepted on behalf of the homeless animals at Broward County shelters.

Broward County Animal Care and Adoption will also be on site with dogs available for adoption.

A few rules apply: All dogs must be off leash when inside the facility and must be sociable and well behaved. Proof of current rabies vaccination and county license tag are required. Other than lifeguards, no humans will be allowed inside the water playgrounds. Finally, dogs are limited to no more than two sessions per day, and dogs must be at least 4 months of age to participate.

For more information, call the park of your choice: Quiet Waters Park at 954-357-5100, or T.Y. Park at 954-357-8811. The parks’ regular weekend and holiday gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) will be in effect for these events.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why I Don’t Shave My Dogs…and Neither Should You

By David E. Neuwirth for Harlo's Healthy Pets

 Different dog breeds have different needs when it comes to grooming, so while it might be OK or even ideal for some dogs to be shaved it is detrimental to shave others.  I have 2 Siberian Huskies (and a Chihuahua) and I live in South Florida.  All of my dogs are rescues and I volunteer with a local Siberian Husky Rescue.  It breaks my heart every time I see a shaved husky in need of a new home.  Unfortunately most of the huskies I see dumped in a shelter or on Craig’s List are shaved.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the Huskies that are abandoned by their owners are shaved.  These dogs suffer (physically and emotionally) because some human decided Huskies look cool (which they do), or they just watched a movie featuring huskies and purchased one the following week from a puppy mill-selling pet store or back yard breeder.  It is not fair to the dogs, but it happens every day.    
For anyone considering a Siberian Husky or any other double coated type of dog, let me answer a question that I am asked often.  Yes, they do shed year round and when they blow your coat your vacuum will not be able to keep up with the amount fur constantly coming off of them.  There is nothing you can do to change this fact (while being a responsible and knowledgeable husky owner.)  If the thought of seeing a ball of fur blowing across your floor 5 minutes after you just vacuumed, swept or mopped (or all three) is a major issue for you, a double coated dog such as a Husky is not the right dog for you.  Before adding any dog to your family do the research on the specific needs and care required for that breed.  If the breed characteristics and needs don’t match with your lifestyle, do more research and find the right fit for you and your family.  Adding a dog to your family should not be an impulsive decision. 
Many people ask me (often in an accusatory manner) if I’m “torturing” my dogs by not shaving them in the summer.  Some will ask, “How would you like to wear a fur coat all day in the heat?”  For those that are open minded enough to learn I explain that it is not a good analogy or comparison.  Huskies have an undercoat that is their natural insulation.  This undercoat / insulation keeps them warm in cold temperatures; however, it is also the same insulation that protects them from the heat.  A better analogy would be home insulation.  I ask people if they have any type of insulation in their home to keep their home warmer in the winter.  Assuming the answer is yes, I would then ask, “Do you take it out of your home in the summer since it must make your house too hot?”  Of course the answer is no, because the same insulation that helps to keep the house warm in the winter is the same insulation that helps keep the house cooler in the summer.
Shaving Huskies and other double coated dogs can put your dog in danger of suffering from heat stroke, in danger of suffering from skin issues, exposing them to insect and parasite bites, and may cause long term damage to their coat.  The undercoat is a protective layer that functions in many different ways.  Every breed has unique qualities, characteristics, drives and needs.  It is your responsibility (not the groomer’s or even your vet’s responsibility) to know how to best care for your dog to keep him or her happy, healthy, and safe.