by Christie Lagally
As I sat in a specialized dog training class a few years ago, I was relieved that my dog Toby and I were not alone. We were there because Toby, my mix-breed pup, has a lot of trouble adapting to nearly every situation, and his stress turns from quiet distress to lunging and barking in an instant. Toby is considered a highly reactive dog, as were the other purebred and mix-breed dogs of all sizes at our “Reactive Rover” training class.
Since Toby’s reactive behavior started, I’ve learned that there are a variety of good techniques to help a reactive dog adjust and to help owners manage life with their reactive dog. Like my husband and me, many people are overwhelmed owning a dog who barks at passing cars, lunges at joggers and starts whining, yelping or snarling at the sight of another dog, a cat or a crow on a walk. These issues seemed like insurmountable challenges, but there is help to mitigate these symptoms.
Several dog-training companies in Seattle offer classes to help reactive dogs. I attended Reactive Rover with Companion Animals Solutions. Great Dog, a dog daycare and training company in the Northgate neighborhood, has a Reactive to Reliable class. I highly recommend attending such classes if you have a reactive dog, since the skills are best learned from a professional using dog-friendly, humane training techniques.
Missy Hughes is a canine educator at Great Dog. Hughes explains that its Reactive to Reliable class is an opportunity for dog parents and their dogs to learn skills in a safe environment. The class provides a separate space for each participant in a cubicle so the dogs can keep calm and only see other dogs when they are ready.
Hughes explains that the goal of reactive dog training is to help dogs learn to focus on their owners or other positive stimuli. Owners learn to read the body language of their dogs and to appropriately intervene before the dog runs over his or her anxiety threshold, which leads to reactivity. In the six-week course, owners and dogs learn desensitization techniques and counter-conditioning methods to teach dogs that situations that were once anxiety-provoking are now paired with positive things like treats or a favorite toy.
“We work to not get to the point of reactivity,” Hughes said.
Creating positive experiences
One of the most inherently stressful situations for most dogs — reactive or not — is going to see a veterinarian. Toby’s good health has limited his exposure to the veterinary office to just two visits in more than six years. Hence, this December, when it was time for a vaccine, I decided to get some help from my friend and local dog trainer, Colleen Wells, a fellow canine educator at Great Dog. In addition to joining Toby and me during our vet visit, Wells suggested several techniques for a successful vet appointment.
“This will be the time to have the best and tastiest high-value treats and plenty of them,” Wells explained. “Skip his dinner, or give him only part of it to make up for the extra treats he’ll get at the vet. He may not take them at first, since stressed-out dogs will often not take a treat, but when/if he does, we’ll know his stress level has reduced some. It’s a great barometer.”
Wells emphasized that giving high-value treats helps create a positive association with the veterinary office.
Ahead of time, I also informed my veterinarian, Dr. Julia McNeal at Maple Leaf Pet Corner, that Toby could do everything from snarling and lunging at her to giving kisses depending on his anxiety level. Thankfully, Dr. McNeal had worked with many difficult canine patients in the past, and our visit with Toby went well.
Too close for comfort
Walks can be particularly challenging for dogs like Toby because you never know what is around each corner. In the past, people have seen Toby with his cute, mismatched ears and oversized, puppy-like head and marched over to pet him. The unsuspecting human is shocked to get a barking dog in his or her face. This situation cannot be tolerated, so Toby now wears a red warning vest that reads, “Do not approach. In training,” in bright-yellow letters. This keeps most passersby away from him.
I also insist that people give Toby all the time he needs to warm up to them and not expect him to be a “friendly” dog. If people can follow these rules, they eventually find that they can make a lifelong friend in Toby.
Wells explained, “No one knows your dog better than you do, and if at any time you think the dog is being pushed too far beyond his limits, it’s your place to advocate for him and say something, even if it’s simply, ‘I think we need to take a break for a moment.’ This keeps everyone involved safe.”
CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane, a news site providing articles, op-eds and podcasts on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com. To comment on this column, write to CityLivingEditor@nwlink.com.
When Council Member Sawant was about to release on ordinance that would allow the Seattle Council to stop the elephant move,WPZ allegedly appears to have acted in haste to get the elephant out of Seattle.
Your comments are desperately needed if there is to be an active recovery of our native endangered Grizzly Bears to the North Cascades Ecosystem.
Without your comments, all the hard work by so many conservation organizations and so many Federal agencies will unsuccessfully end. This is tragic for such a magnificent species that is the symbol of pristine wilderness that once was and the loss for future generations.
The opposition comes from the well-funded, well-organized cattle industry that continually opposes any legislation to protect cougar, bear, and wolves in the State of Washington. They are the greatest contributing factor to the destruction of the grizzly bear in the United States. In just 200 years we have managed to eliminate 99 percent of their original range, reduce their number from 50,000 to 100,000 to less than 1,200.
We have the opportunity that no other west coast state has to return the grizzly to where they once thrived, where they belong, far and free from human encroachment.
The grizzly bear has a very low reproductive rate and therefore has a slow population growth. They live most of their lives in remote areas, feeding mostly on vegetation and any dead animals they may find. By nature, they are shy, easily retreat and cattle depredation is extremely low as well as human/bear conflicts in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
Grizzly bears have been an important part of the North Cascades Ecosystem for thousands of years. They play a vital role for the health of the environment and other wildlife species, figure prominently in regional Native American and First Nations’ cultures, and contribute to the richness of our natural heritage in the Pacific Northwest.
With nearly 10,000 square miles stretching from I-90 north to the Canadian border and anchored by North Cascades National Park, the designated North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Area is one of the largest blocks of wild federal land remaining in the lower 48 states. Research indicates this wilderness landscape has quality habitat capable of supporting a self-sustaining grizzly bear population Given the low number of existing grizzly bears, their very slow reproductive rate and other constraints, the North Cascades grizzly bear population is considered the most at-risk grizzly bear population in the United States today. With so few grizzly bears left in the North Cascades, biologists believe they may soon disappear entirely from the area is recovery actions aren’t taken.
We have included a number of talking points and a website for further information, Conservation Northwest.
Simply pick one or two talking points and visit https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm/cfm?documentID=64266 to submit a comment or mail it to:
Grizzly Bear Restoration
North Cascades NPS Complex
810 State Route 20
Sedro Woolley, WA 98284
The current public comments end March 26, 2015.
Do it now! Just a few sentences are all it takes.
Consider the following talking points to Include in your Comments:
- I strongly support the recovery of the north Cascades grizzly bear and comment the NPS, USFWS and WDFW for moving forward with the restoration of this important native species.
- The recovery coordinating agencies should take into full consideration the ecological, biological, cultural, spiritual and economic importance of grizzly bears to the Pacific Northwest.
- As the only Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone on the west coast (or outside the greater Rocky Mountains) restoring a healthy North Cascades grizzly bear population is important to the resilience of the species in general, particularly in light of climate change.
- Quality habitat still exists for grizzly bears in the North Cascades Ecosystem. Thus, we have an ethical and legal obligation to restore a healthy grizzly bear population to the North Cascades.
- There is strong public support for grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades that transcends geographic and demographic lines. Washingtonians support healthy wild ecosystems with all the native species present when habitat and ecological conditions allow.
- I want to see the best available science used to identify and implement active strategies to restore a viable population of grizzly bears in the North Cascades Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone. Therefore, the EIS must include alternatives to add a modest number of grizzly bears to the North Cascades Ecosystem under the guidance of local communities a strategy that has been used successfully in Montana’s Cabinet-“Yaak Ecosytem.
- Grizzly bears are culturally and spiritually significant to First Nations throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia
- Grizzly bears are considered an “umbrella” species, and they play an important role for healthy ecosystems.
- Grizzly bears have been part of the Pacific Northwest landscape for thousands of years. We have an ethical and legal obligation to restore this native species.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for a myriad of animal agriculture oversight duties, but they often fail to protect animals or the safety of our food supply.
On Monday, the New York Times exposed some of the cruelest, most gruesome animal abuse on US soil including death by rape and starvation (as reported in the Huffington Post), only for readers to find out that the abuse was TAXPAYER funded and initiated by the USDA.
Farm Sanctuary, a leader in animal welfare protection summarized this abuse saying:
The facts and eyewitness accounts uncovered by the Times are gut-wrenching. In just one particularly gruesome experiment recounted from the Times story, a teenage cow had her “head locked in a cagelike device to keep her immobile.” She was raped by as many as six bulls for hours, until her back legs were broken and her body was “torn apart,” and she died.
This situation is so dire and horrific, that all animal advocates — from cats and dogs lovers to vegans — must speak out right now! Here’s what to do. Please do all these items (they don’t take long):
- Make a call to USDA’s Secretary Vilsack’s office during business hours and explain how outraged you are. Tell them to close the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center immediately. The direct line to reach his office is 202-720-3631. They may also give you an email address to email them, but insist that you can leave a message for the Secretary.
- Email your congressperson TODAY. You can contact your representatives by visiting the Farm Sanctuary action tool. Ask your representatives to “Close the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center”
- Read The Humane Society of the United States blog on this issue about the US agro-industrial complex and why this abuse happened. Use the HSUS action alert tool in addition to the Farm Sanctuary action too.
- Ask all your family and friends to take these actions as well — because we can only expect an immediate stop to this abuse if we all speak up.
The New York Times posted letters expressing the outrage of the public on this issues, include a letter for The Humane Society of the United State’s CEO, Wayne Pacelle saying:
The grotesque and inhumane experiments performed on pigs, sheep and other farm animals at an obscure and secluded Agriculture Department research facility in Nebraska demonstrate the unholy collusion between government and industry in driving production on factory farms and in the process treating animals like machines and throwaway objects. Apparently, it’s not enough to confine farm animals for their entire lives in windowless buildings and in cages and crates on factory farms. We are also engineering them to grow at absurdly fast rates and to produce inordinately large litters, which often cause misery and death for the animals.
In addition to speaking out, you need to boycott the the meat, dairy and egg industry. Think of the chickens, cows, pigs and sheep who have suffered at the hands of the USDA and the meat industry. Those animals deserve your boycott of the agro-industry that hurt them.
If you do eat animal products ensure that 100% of the meat and eggs you buy are from suppliers that attempt to provide the highest animal welfare standards (as confirmed by animal welfare advocates). Note that there is NO SUCH THING as more humane dairy — so avoid dairy at all costs. The dairy industry is inherently abusive to cows.
Thank you for speaking up for animals at this critical junction in US history!
by Christie Lagally
This January, Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) is hosting a series of talks on animal issues near to our hearts and minds. “Thinking Animals: Species, Power and the Politics of Care in the World” is a series of five lectures that explore the interdependencies of humans and animals. Nationally recognized leaders will discuss various aspects of human-animal relationships — from the thought-provoking behavior of cats in French history to guinea pigs in Peruvian politics. These lectures are for anyone who loves animals and thinks critically about their roles in society.
Relating to animals
University of Washington (UW) professor John Marzluff has done extensive research on birds in our city. On Jan. 9, in his lecture “Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers and Other Wildlife,” Marzluff will illuminate how birds continue to evolve in response to changes to our cities.
Marzluff explains that cities were once just single ecosystems but now consist of many different types of ecosystems, such as ponds, fields and high-rises. This allows for a more diverse bird population than we see in rural areas, and Marzluff will explain how we can foster this unique interdependency.
“This talk will be like a field guide to your yard,” Marzluff explains.
On Jan. 30, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, will speak on the juxtapositions of animal issues within the context of our economy, as we struggle to reconcile our natural concern for animals with widespread economic exploitation of animals.
In his talk “Animal Protection in the 21st Century: Finding Clarity in Our Tangled, Contradictory Relationship with Animals,” Pacelle will discuss how we need to reject institutionalized cruelty to truly address issues of violence in society.
“The exploitation of animals is retarding progress for us and creating all sorts of collateral damage in society,” Pacelle describes. “I’ll be talking about how technology and innovation can provide a pathway forward for society on a range of animal issues.”
SAL’s Feb. 13 lecture is not to be missed for anyone who thinks critically about the sources of their food and our relationship to farmed animals. Beacon Hill resident and UW part-time geography lecturer Kathryn Gillespie has meticulously researched the lives of dairy cows in the Pacific Northwest and nationwide.
In her talk “The Cow with Ear Tag No. 1389: Species, Place and Power in U.S. Animal Agriculture,” Gillespie follows individual cows through potent moments in their lives — from the dairy farm to the auction house, where all spent (terminally over-milked) dairy cows and separated calves end up for sale to slaughterhouses. Through her research at 4H shows, dairy farms, auction houses and dairy-industry trade shows, Gillespie reveals the inherent violence that dairy cows and calves experience and how it differs dramatically from the public perception of the dairy industry.
In her Feb. 27 lecture “Thinking with Cats,” UW French and Italian studies professor Louisa Mackenzie will explore the role of cats in the intellectual lives of prominent French historical figures as a means to understanding the human-animal divide (i.e. what makes us human and “them” animals).
Mackenzie explains, “There is something of a minor tradition in European philosophy of cats provoking moments of deep existential questioning about the limits of what we know.”
She will discuss how cats seem to know things that humans may not know or know in the same way. Mackenzie adds that it is good “to be reminded that human ways of ordering the world are not the only ways.”
From food to celebrities
On March 6, Wallingford residents and UW professors María Elena García and José Antonio Lucero will explore the shifting role of animals in Peru, with a focus on guinea pigs and a high-profile Rottweiler.
Once mainly an indigenous food animal in Peru, guinea pigs have increasingly been used in elite food-tourist products and as symbols of Peruvian unity. García’s research questions how Peruvian society has changed this indigenous food by incorporating it into modern cuisine, thereby creating a greater demand for the meat. This has resulted in intensified guinea pig farming and genetic manipulation to make the meat more available, much the same way chickens are factory farmed in the United States.
García also considers the consequences of this move for indigenous peoples.
Lucero will speak on the curious case of a Rottweiler who killed an alleged burglar and then became a celebrity as upper-class Peruvians championed the dog for protecting property from the threat of criminals from indigenous society. The case reveals much about insecurity and race in the political imagination of Peru.
García and her UW colleagues collaborate to consider these and other issues of animals in society through the UW Critical Animal Studies Working group. The group has organized this lecture series with SAL.
García explains, “Animals represent a paradox for us humans: Animals are everywhere, yet they are often almost invisible. When we slow down to ask some questions about the place of animals in the world, we gain a greater understanding, not only of the animals that share our world but also about ourselves.”
For more information and tickets for SAL’s “Thinking Animals” lecture series, visit www.lectures.org.
by Christie Lagally
The University of Washington (UW) is an integral part of our Seattle community as the professional home of researchers and medical doctors. Since we support them with donations and federal funds, their actions reflect upon our community, particularly with regard to the use of animals.
Unfortunately, recent issues have highlighted incongruities between UW’s stated goals to use animals responsibly and decisions made by certain medical instructors and the UW Regents.
In October, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine organized a physician-led protest to bring awareness to UW’s paramedic training program, which uses 31 pigs each year to teach paramedics, paramedic students and Airlift flight nurses how to manage obstructed airways in trauma patients. The pigs are anesthetized, used for training and then euthanized.
This is an unnecessary use of animals, and the UW has a human-body simulator, known as the SimMan 3G, which is already used to teach medical students, graduate physicians and trauma physicians this procedure (and many other procedures) without the use of animals.
Dr. John Pippin, the Physicians Committee director of academic affairs, explains that of the 11 surveyed paramedic training programs in the Pacific Northwest, 10 use human simulators instead of live animals, with UW being the holdout.
Additionally, using pigs constitutes a sub-standard educational method. Students trained with human simulators benefit from learning this skill on a replicated human rather than pig anatomy, and a human simulator can be used repetitively to optimize training, so students are not limited to practicing a few times on pigs.
“It’s the decision of the instructor,” UW Medicine spokesperson Tina Mankowski stated, but Pippin explained that the decision is simply wrong and paramedic students are missing out on human-relevant training.
(To encourage UW’s transition to human-centered, animal-friendly training, visit the Physicians Committee website at www.pcrm.org.)
Broadening animal research
An entrenched approach to animal use appears to be affecting other UW decisions, as well. In 2013, the UW Board of Regents approved a new Animal Research and Care Facility (ARCF) to centralize animal labs on campus. According to David Anderson, executive director of Health Science Administration, UW intends to grow its primate-research capacity with the new ARCF.
Our community was left out of decisions about the ARCF and its impact on animals, according to Amanda Schemkes, director of the group Don’t Expand UW Primate Testing.
Schemkes has sued the UW, claiming failure to comply with Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act. The act states that public commissions and boards (such as the UW Regents) “exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business” and that actions and deliberations be conducted openly.
Yet, documents obtained by Schemkes show that the UW Regents allegedly discussed and agreed to support the ARCF at a dinner meeting before the public meeting. Don’t Expand UW Primate Testing’s lawsuit seeks the Regents’ decision to build the ARCF to be voided and to allow time for the community and the Regents to educate themselves about the realities of primate testing.
Animals in research labs suffer considerably as a result of being used as a tool rather than treated as a soul. Many endure lethal exposure to toxic chemicals or have mechanical devices implanted in eyes and brains. Some primates live in small, solitary cages most of their lives.
In the last decade, UW has received multiple USDA citations and fines for failure to care for animals and for performing unauthorized surgeries.
‘Slowing medical progress’
There is a growing voice in the medical community that animal testing is inherently flawed and slows medical progress by placing a hyper-focus on animal use, instead of developing human-relevant alternatives such as cell cultures for toxicity testing and organ-on-a-chip technology for systems-level biology tests.
Also, animal experiments are shown to be unreliable, according to John J. Pippins’ 2013 “Animals Research in Medical Sciences,” since up to 96 percent of drugs successfully tested in animals fail in human clinical trials, while dangerous drugs sometimes gain FDA approval. Furthermore, some chronic diseases have no cures or effective treatments despite decades of animal experiments.
Yet, in 2014, UW received $423 million in taxpayer funds through the National Institutes of Health, much of which supports animal testing. A diversion away from research on animals could mean a loss of these funds, and “the animal research portfolio accounts for over 35 percent of research activity,” according to UW documents.
Although Anderson assures that all animal testing is reviewed for necessity, the UW’s plans to increase primate testing — rather than to set institutional goals to intentionally reduce animal testing overall — is not an ethical use of taxpayer funds. So, while there may be little monetary motivation to reduce animal testing, there is certainly a moral and scientific prerogative, since increasing primate testing inherently diverts funds from human-relevant research methods and subverts the rights of animals to be free from cruelty and mutilation.
The goal of using and seeking alternatives to animal use is not to block progress but to advance scientific discovery and training that will directly apply to human physiology. Furthermore, human progress is not just evaluated by our advancements in medical science but is also measured by our intentional evolution of the ethical treatment of animals.
CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane (livinghumane.com), a news site about humane-conscious lifestyles.