Monday, January 30, 2012

Join Team Pyrfect Paws!

Spring is around the corner, and we know what that means!  It means they'll be a ton of great events to gather for, to help support charitable causes!

From the Denver Dumb Friends League "Furry Scurry" and other charitable walks, to chili cook-offs and the like, there are a lot of great opportunities for us to get all our big, white angels together!   If you don't have a Pyrenees, no worries!  Join Pyrfect Paws just to be a presence yourself, or bring any and all other dogs you  have!  Spread the word!

What better opportunity to rub elbows with all the local Pyrenees owners, share anecdotes and experiences, all while raising money for a great, local cause!

If you are interested in getting on our list as a possible team member, please email and let us know!  You are under no obligation to meet up, and of course it costs nothing to be a part of our great team! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

DENVER Pyrenees Needs Your Help!

Please click on this link to view this amazing, beautiful boy.  He lifts his lip to smile, asking you to clearly see how amazing he is.  Please see our cross-posting below.  Please forward this to anyone you know with a big heart and some space for a foster.  If you decide to foster this guy for Saving Giants, let us know.  We will do EVERYTHING in our power to help you get exposure for him, to help him find a forever home.

This gorgeous guy is at the Denver shelter. A crummy place for any dog,but especially a big, gorgeous Pyr.  Saving Giants, a new large breed rescue, said they'd take him IF they had a foster - which they don't.
So, if any rescue can take him or if anyone knows of a foster please let me know.
Emily Wolf

Important information from Jennifer, who works locally in rescue:

"Rescue details for ID#A174771 2 yo Great Pyr in Denver: His intake date is is 1/23 so Denver has to hold him until 1/28 by law for his owner to come and reclaim him. At which point he will go go on 1 of 3 lists 1. Adoptable floor (highly unlikely) 2. Rescue list (likley) and will have 10 days to be transfered out of the shelter so he will need to be rescued by 2/7 3. The Euth list which we never see or hear anything about. I met him yesterday and he seemed a bit unhappy, restless, naturally! His kennel card read "DO NOT WALK" with a side note that say's he bites, I don't know if that is fact or fiction? I have access to the rescue side if anyone wants to meet him after 1/28 and he ends up on the rescue list."
If you'd like to be put in touch with Jennifer regarding this dog, please email us at

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dexter Needs to be Rehomed

Meet Dexter!!
Dexter is looking for a new home...could you be his new family?
 Such a handsome boy!

While Dexter is a Husky he was actually adopted from us at CGPR in February of 2009 (formerly Zorro).  Sometimes Dawn just couldn't say no to a pup who needed to be saved even if they weren't a Pyr!

Dexter's current Dad has taken on new employment that is going to require him to travel and not be able to spend the time with Dexter that he needs or deserves.  His dad wants to find him the best home possible and we, too, want to make sure that happens.

Dexter is between 5 - 6 years old, and a real sweetie.  It does take him some time to warm up to people, but once he does, he is just wonderful.   He is very good inside the house--doesn't chew on anything, no barking, and never any accidents.  He has been around a 2 year old little boy and is great with kids, letting them climb all over him.  

He gets along great with most dogs, but probably shouldn't be in a home with another Alpha male (usually it's more vocal, but sometimes there is an issue). Dexter likes his bones and doesn't necessarily love to share them.  He has not been around cats, so we don't know how he gets along with them.

Like most Huskies, Dexter will need someone who is willing to give him the exercise he needs.  His current dad takes him hiking and camping and he does really well with that (even off leash).

Dexter is neutered and UTD on all shots and vaccinations.

If you are interested in adding this sweet boy to your family or know someone who might be, please email us at and we will get you in touch with his current dad!!

Please share this blog post with anyone you think might be interested in Dexter!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Saving Sam: The Long Road Home

Sam came into the Colorado Great Pyrenees Rescue March 17th, 2009.  He and his brother were picked up as strays together, and they got adopted out separately.  Sam stayed in his home for 1 short year before being returned on March 22nd, 2010.  His "mom and dad" got a divorce, and there was no room for Sam in their plans.  He had lived with young children, and had no history of anything naughty.  Surely it would seem as if Sam wouldn't have to wait too long to find his true, forever home.

That wouldn't be Sam's story.  I remember meeting Sam when he came back in March of 2010.  What a beautiful, angelic looking boy; a real show-stopper.  His hair was just so naturally flowy, and his yellow eyes reminded us that there clearly was another breed mixed in with his Great Pyrenees.  At adoption events, Sam began to get a lot of attention.  I immediately bonded with him.  I remember brushing his long hair at an outside event one day, realizing my body language suggested he was mine.  He wasn't, but I sure love him.

For what seemed like a long time, Sam did fine enough around the other dogs.  Occasionally, and usually at the end of a long adoption event, he'd pick out a dog he didn't like and he'd bark and lunge.  There was a confidence about him then though, he didn't seem fearful or insecure, just exerting an alpha way about him.  Then, as is true today, he always responded quickly to his humans correction.

It was only a matter of time, though, before we had to start telling people "Sam isn't good with all dogs".  As anyone with rescue experience can tell you, the longer a dog is in rescue the harder it is on them.  They can be in the most loving rescue possible (as was Sam's case) but they still don't get the round-the-clock guidance they badly deserve.  Sam started to "sell himself" poorly at events, and sometimes Dawn would skip bringing him if we knew there would be a lot of dogs there.  So beautiful, people would reach to pet him.  He'd look up at them with those gorgeous eyes, but the minute a dog walked by he didn't like, it was over.  And so was that potential interest from the person.

He got adopted again on December 3rd of that year, and returned the very next day.  He had been taken to the house to be "cat tested", and he passed the test at the time.  The family said the next day (or that night) they were holding their cat and Sam growled at him.  Without delay, back he was.  Sam now was officially, informally marked as a dog "not so great with some dogs" and "not great with cats".  Now we really had a challenge ahead of us!

To make matters much worse,  the next thing up for Sam was a potential new foster.  He'd been at the "Pyr Farm" with Dawn & Ken this whole time.  From every exposure Sam had had to small children (and the fact he used to live with them perfectly) we felt good about Sam and little kids.  The problem was, is that Sam was changing.  Too long in rescue; too long without a real mom and/or dad was making our gorgeous boy change from this confident prince into an insecure dog who was unsure of so many things.  One night with the foster, and he was returned.  The foster mom said that the foster dad saw him grumble at their toddler.  I don't blame them for being careful, but the bigger question.. what is going on with our Sam?

Whatever may have been important in Sam's life took a temporary, big turn.  In December of  2010, our friend, Dawn Meaney died.  Dawn *was* the Colorado Great Pyrenees Rescue.  She died, and left behind many dogs in the rescue who still needed homes.  Sam was one of them.  Her husband Ken, the VP of CGPR, knew he couldn't continue with the rescue.  Core volunteers, namely Vicky and Channing, wrangled some additional foster homes to move dogs out of the Pyr Farm (Ken's house) so he could begin to address this horrible loss.  Sam stayed with Ken, for all the reasons Sam struggled to find a forever home;  he was just so hard to place.

Adoption events had to go on.  Everyone was grieving so badly, but everyone knew we couldn't take short cuts to find these dogs the right homes.  One by one they began to move out of Rescue and into homes.

We started dedicating 1 volunteer to specifically work with Sam at adoption events.  He no longer was there seeking adoption as the main goal, he was there to be worked with some more.  I often kept him by my side, watching his body language and offering praise when he interacted positively with dogs and children.  We still never really saw an issue with children, but the dog thing had gotten worse.  No longer that alpha bark, he would now just fixate on any dog and grumble quietly to himself.  He seemed scared.  The dog could be so far away from Sam, and it didn't matter.  He'd grumble at a dog that didn't even see Sam, he was so far away.  I would hold Sam and place my hand on his shoulder.  Often you couldn't even see he was grumbling, you'd just feel the subtle vibrations from his chest.  I would wait for those vibrations, and then give him a tap in his shoulder so he'd redirect and look at me.  If the tap didn't work and his grumble became a true growl, we'd ask him to lay down.  When he relaxed and was back to where he should be in his mind, we'd let him back up.  Slowly, Sam really started to get better.  He looked to us for guidance.  He really, really wanted to make us happy.
 Sam napping in Christie's car

Nonetheless, he won no hearts at adoption events.  Seeing us working with him, people would make comments under their breath, "That dog is horrible" or "that dog is so aggressive".  I hated that.  Occasionally a great dog person would come by, we'd explain to them about Sam's work-in-progress, and they'd smartly say "he just needs more training, he'll come around".  Second that.  To make things harder, we were down to only about 5 dogs left to find homes for.  So if Sam acted up, it was *really* obvious to people.

Enter Donna.  Donna had been fostering for us with other dogs, and we talked to her about considering Sam.  It was a brave move on her part;  she had other dogs at home.  We're telling her Sam isn't always a gentlemen with all dogs, and he needs a lot of guidance.  She took on the Sam challenge.  CGPR paid, because Donna graciously agreed to sacrifice her time, for Sam to go to obedience classes.  Sam didn't need obedience in the true sense;  he sat, would lay down, would come, etc. all at a first request (which is very unlike a typical Pyrenees).   We felt it would benefit him greatly to be put into situations with other dogs more frequently, and in a situation where he'd really have to listen and respond to Donna regardless of stimulus.  He got flying colors!
 Sam at Donna's house

We were officially down to about 5 dogs, and attended an outdoor adoption event.  Donna shows up with Sam.. and it was like the most beautiful man in the world walked into the room.  She had taken him to the groomer, and he was glowing.  Not only did he glow, but Sam has this natural "prance" about him.  I swear he could walk on water if he needed to.  A family showed interest, and they borrowed him to walk him by the other dogs.  Sam followed his human's lead, and didn't grumble or even look at the other dogs once.  What a showing!  Sadly, they didn't pursue adopting the poor guy.  Not yet, Sam.. not yet.

Sadly, Donna's dog Sophie began to have some serious health concerns.  Torn, we encouraged Donna that it would be okay to return Sam to Ken while she focused on Sophie.  Sophie, a 9 year old CGPR Great Pyrenees Donna had only recently adopted from us, passed away shortly thereafter.  We all felt Sophie's loss.  She was quite the lady;  old, deaf.. but beautiful, energetic, and good-spirited.  Donna needed time to grieve, but it was always in the back of me and Christie's minds...  "I wonder if she can take Sam back?"

We never had to ask.  Donna contacted us; it was really important to get her Sam back-  who she affectionately called her "Samuel Peter".  She missed him, and she knew that he missed her.  What she knew most, was that Sam needed, and needs, a lot of love and so did she.  He knew he'd help her heal over Sophie's loss, and she'd continue to help him stay on the path towards his forever home.

We would often wonder who the "last" dog would be in CGPR.  We all knew it'd be either Sam or Mya.  Turns out, it was both.  Mya is a gorgeous, beautiful dog who also is picky about other dogs.  It turned out that while Sam was temporarily back with Ken, he and Mya fell in love.  It proved to us what we already knew: Sam liked other dogs, and so did Mya.  Whether it needed to be the "right" dog, or the right circumstances, we knew we'd have real evidence to show someone that these dogs are great.  We have the youtube videos to prove it!
Donna felt a little conflicted about separating the two, as that would guarantee Sam a great foster but leave Mya short a best friend.  It had to be done.  Sam needed his one-on-one time so his temperament could continue to emerge into the amazing dog we all know him to be.

Having only two dogs left made adoption events tough.  It's hard to stand there with those two dogs and gain the attention for them they so deserved.  It was at our "last" event, with Ken, when we all got on board with the new plan.  We'd officially turn over Sam and Mya to Big Dogs, Huge Paws.  Sam could stay with Donna, and his world wouldn't change.  Neither would his connection to us, which was really important.  It's now late 2011 and Sam has been in rescue for longer than *any other dog* we've ever had.  With the support of BDHPs, they can both now be profiled on that site and get the exposure we'll need for them.
Sam and Christie at an event

We'd get emails showing interest in Sam all the time.  People fell in love with how he looked.  We wouldn't even allow them to meet Sam until we fully explained his history and his challenges.  Sam corrects so well to guidance, but it needs to be there and it needs to be consistent.  We can't have someone fall in love with his charm, only to return him yet again because he growled at their dog.  After all, so many dogs aren't perfect; why would we want to adopt to anyone who expected such?  Perfect dogs are far and few between, and most of them are only perfect because their owners take great care to give them training and guidance.  It's normal for a dog to growl at a strange dog at an adoption event surrounded by 30 other strange dogs.  It's just not "desirable".  We would urge Sam away from homes with small children to be safe, and the cat thing.. we'd play it by ear.  Anyway, I think cats are more about how the cats will react versus how the dog will.

Judy and Ron first emailed us about Sam in mid-December of last year.  I can say this without any exaggeration, I just knew they were "the ones".  It fit the scenario I'd had in my head for so long.  We just really needed people who weren't adding a dog into their lives as something 'extra'.. rather something primary.  People who had the time to really spend with him. I know that sounds like all dogs, but some dogs really do need extra love.  That's what they were looking for: someone to share all this love they had in their home with.  Judy and Ron had just lost their beloved Samoyed recently, and needed another huge white love ball to fill their home.  The one positive thing to pull away from when someone's dog passes away, is that it means that family kept their dog for forever.  They will keep Sam forever too.

There was one, small challenge:  they have a 3 year old King Charles Spaniel named Marie.  This is going to go 1 of 3 ways:  1. Sam will love Marie.  2. Sam will hate Marie or 3. Sam will be "Sam" and we know where to go from there.  Sam being Sam, Judy and Ron needed to anticipate he may get grumbly.  It may not be love at first site for him and Marie.  With patience and guidance, we've always believed Sam's goal will be to please his owners.  Additionally, Sam may never be a dog park kind of dog.  He may continue to improve with dogs as he's been, but it may not be fair to expect him to smile at every dog he meets.  This was a big deal-breaker for other potential adopters in the past.  You then also have to anticipate that you cannot adopt just any new dog, either.  Sam will have to become part of the family and he will have to be part of those decisions.

Sam came into the rescue in March of 2009.  In January of 2012, Sam finally found his forever home.  What a long, long journey.  Tumultuous not just for Sam, but for everyone in his life.  We volunteered with this amazing rescue, and got to be surrounded by dozens of big, white angels.  We got to see hundreds of them find homes.  We learned about the heart of a rescue, and we got to know Dawn Meaney and be a part of her life.  I got to adopt 2 Pyrenees to call my own, and Christie got her Pyr too.  They are our souvenirs of our time with Dawn, and of our time with CGPR. It's not just that we love Sam.  Finding Sam's home, and hopefully Mya's soon, means we can finally say what we've been waiting to say for a year.  "We did it, Dawn.  All your babies found homes."
   ----written by Shannon Murphy

Great Pyrenees angel watching over Dawn and her mother

Sam has been renamed Jack (love it), and below are some fun anecdotes from his new family, sent to foster-extraordinaire Donna!  Thank you Donna, and thank you Judy, Ron, and Marie....

 Judy, Ron, Marie, and Sam

  • Jack has been really good today!  He was an angel on our walk, and didn't care how close Marie got to him while we were out!  She got really close, and no problems!   It's clear that he misses you.  I think he probably wonders if you are OK, or if something might be wrong with you.  He looks a little depressed. . . . .but he's probably really tired, too, because I'm pretty sure he's used to sleeping some during the day.  He's  been pretty alert since you left.But we have all been giving him just tons of L-O-V-E!!!  Just heaping it all over him!!  He really seems to genuinely like all 3 of us!  I think he feels protective over Jessie, because he goes to check on her frequently!!  CUTE!!   And he goes to "make his rounds" and he checks the back yard and all over the house now and then  -  "on patrol." 
  • Well, we are just bonding all over the place!!!   Jack spent his first night . . . . you guessed it:   On our bed!  On top of us!  Hogging the blanket!   But we really loved it!  I know, what kind of weird people are we, anyhow?  He slept all night,  at least until Ron had to get up for work at 5:00 this morning.
  • He has been pretty good today.  He spent a lot of time today menacing the squirrels and birds in the backyard.  Patrolling his home.  That's fine.  
  • Just a few grumbles at Marie.  On the whole he's been holding back, I think  --  so that's good!  He has not caused as much trouble with Marie as I originally expected he might.  So, he's already ahead of the game as far as I'm concerned.
  • We didn't get to take a walk today, 'cause it was too cold for me.  But tomorrow we will.  I did get to see his Bronco Busting Play Technique in our backyard this morning!!!  I gave him a Rawhide Chew Chip and supervised him to make sure he bit it into little pieces.  When I first gave it to him he was so CUTE with it And I put some treats in his Tug-A-Jug mid-day today.   Had to show him how to get them out, but he learned fast, and got the rest of them out right away!  What a Good Boy!!!
  • We love him sooooooo much!!!!! It's working!   Jack and Marie are playing together!   WHOOOO-HOOOOO!!!!     Now, all we need to do is to teach Marie to chase Jack, 'cause that makes it more fair!   He's willing to get into that Play-Invitation-Stance and Bark at her!   She runs, he chases, and wags his tail!
If you are interested in learning more about Mya, please visit Big Dogs, Huge Paws:

Mya's BDHPs Profile

More on Mya From This Blog

More on Sam From This Blog

Helping Casper

We were forwarded this cross-post of a dog in need in Tennessee.  Below is his story, as well as his pictures (which are hard to look at, warning you now.)  Please forward Casper's story to anyone who can help with a donation.  They are saying Pyr mix, but to me this looks like a true Pyr.  Casper has just been so malnourished that he didn't get to grow up like he should have.

Casper is a 10 year old Pyr mix that Samantha and I rescued 2 days ago from a neglected home. Casper never been at the vet 10 years. He is not neutered and he is HW +, he was infested with fleas and he has lyme disease, he also has a 2 tumors one the size of a orange and it is so infected and bleeding and an ear infection. He has a UTI and he has some hair loss due to poor nutrition and living conditions. He is at our vet at this time getting all well; he got a medicated bath and he is in antibiotics and  however he can't have his tumor removed until he gets strong and a little more healthy. He is only 36 pounds and he should need to gain a few more pounds.

At this time his bill is $360.00 we still need to due the tumor removal that will be around $400 but the Dr. can't do it until he gets better.

If you will like to donate towards Casper vet bill please call:

Donna at:
Old Hickory Plaza at
Nashville, TN

A note from CGPRC blog: (I removed Donna's phone number, because I don't know her or have her permission to post it.  I would suggest contacting the SPCA of TN as below)

Thank you,
Celina Weissenborn

The Expense of Rescue

The other day, I heard someone comment on a particular dog who had just been saved by a rescue group.  The dog was in bad shape.  A heartworm survivor, he had several pulmonary and heart conditions related to the severity of the disease he had just overcome.  Emaciated, he smiled through his condition and cuddled on the lap of the rescuer.  Needless to say, the expense to save just this one dog was considerable, and those expenses are not even done accumulating.  For whoever adopts this guy, they will also have to be willing to open their purses more so than another owner, for the duration of his life.

The comment overheard was one I'd heard many times before.  Paraphrasing, it is "Why do these rescue groups save these kinds of dogs?  They could use that money to save so many more lives".

From observations, I feel like the general opinion on the matter is pretty 50/50.  I can understand this person's sentiment, but I feel like they are really missing the point.  Rescue isn't an assembly line, nor is it a "mass production line" spewing out healthy, adoptable rescue animals.  It's deep, it's real, and it's hard. The key aspect is, it's about the individual.

While I think most dog rescuers approach dogs or cats as a whole, perhaps even focusing on specific breeds, the heart of the matter is it's not paperwork.  It's not getting a "list" of dogs in need, and then cross-checking that list against expense and what donations are in the tin.  It's an intimate, one-on-one experience.  These people are the heroes:  they have enough bravery to walk into a shelter, look a dog in the eye, and decide if they are going to save it's life that day.  "It's" life..  They don't see a dollar amount, they see "Sam" or "Mya", or "Dog #223".  They see a personality, they see a precious soul.

The ironic thing about expense, is that your heart really will go out to the ones who need the most care, thusly the ones who will cost you the most to save.  "Look at all that dog has been through", and yet, there he or she is.. licking your face.  Each and every moment like that reinforces *why* someone is there;  why they are a rescuer.  Let's face it, if money was the issue, would anyone rescue..  at all?

To add, these rescued dogs with these inspiring stories of survival find homes quickly.  People resonate with their struggle, and they look up to their courage.  "Cancer survivor", "abuse survivor", "neglect survivor".  Few dogs are cheap to save.  Even the most healthy of dogs require basic exams and transport.  They require food and shelter in foster.

One could look objectively and reason, saving 1 perfectly healthy dog costs.. let's say..  $200.00.  When our sick dogs come around and cost $1000 to save, it may seem perfectly obvious that money is better spent saving 5 dogs versus 1.  It seems to make perfect sense.  The problem again, I refer you to the reality.  You are not balancing a check book, and you sure as heck aren't going to profit.  For the person who adopts that $1000 dog, and grows to love him.. ask them in a year how much they'd spend to have saved that dog's life.  Perhaps if they feel they would have easily spent that grand themselves, they can become inspired to donate some money back in.

I think people underestimate the amount of love a rescuer can feel for a dog they just met five minutes ago.  Hair matted, bones sticking out, tumors.. as he licks your face.. "Well, no.  We can't take that one.  He will just cost too much".  Sounds wrong, doesn't it?  That's because it really probably rarely happens that way.  The difference between true dog lovers and those who'd abandon a dog at rising food costs is clear.  The love and passion it takes to keep a dog forever, and especially to rescue dogs, is a love so great that it cannot be articulated with any words of mine.  I think that person who says "Why do rescuers save these expensive dogs?" is asked by someone who would consider surrendering a dog who got a disease that is curable with a grand out of pocket.

I don't think it's fair to expect anyone to go to the ends of the earth financially to save an animal.  I do think that my "ends of the earth" is far more extreme than some though.  I don't think you should sell your house or your kidney to save your dog, but how dare you buy a new flat screen TV the day after you surrendered your dog for financial reasons.  Shame on you, for saying you can't afford to fix something, with the same amount of money you will readily spend tomorrow on a manicure or hair cut.  Shame on you.  And shame on you for even voicing an opinion about the finances of rescue groups.

I had a conversation with a girl one time about CGPR when it was still running.  She asked me how much it cost to adopt.  $250.00, I told her, and $150.00 for special needs dogs.  "Really?" she exclaimed, "The special needs dogs should be cheaper".  I ended the conversation, versus voicing my initial response which would have been to say "They're not used cars.".  I did, however, remind her that special needs dogs cost more to save, and the cheaper adoption donation merely reflects the acknowledgment that the owner will be spending more to care for them long term.  It's not a clearance sale.

Good for you, rescuer who saved that boy the other day.  I met him, and he will be worth every penny.  Had he been seen financially as "Dog #233", then that would belie the whole entire point of saving him.  "Dog #233 costs too much, let's skip him".  He's not a number.  He is "Jack", or whatever he will be.  And the day he got saved, someone looked into his eyes and saved *him*.

-by Shannon Murphy

If you still don't get it, watch this video:

 "Junior" came into CGPR with a broken femur, as well as heart worm.  He is in a loving home now.
"Misty" came into CGPR with both ears so heavily infected that she went deaf.  She had mammary cancer so bad, that it took 2 procedures to remove all the tumors from her chest.  She is low in a loving home.

...  this is just a small, small example of 2 lives that were worth saving at any cost.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Important Note Regarding Medications

The process of understanding our animal's illnesses can be a daunting one.  Just like us, they can develop problems with their mouth, eyes, teeth, skin, heart…you name it.  A lot of times as we are trying to process whatever disease condition they're faced with, we inadvertently focus a lot of energy towards our feelings and ensuring they are supported emotionally.  Often (especially with cats) we focus a lot on *how* to get the medications into them, and less time on really understanding those medications.

My reminder to owners right now is not about understanding how and why medications work (though I highly advise all pet owners to invest into a veterinary drugs book to have around), but rather, about the finances associated with getting all those medications they need. 

Veterinary medicine, as of late, has really evolved.   There are specialists for nearly all disease processes, as well as special referral places where you can take your animals.  Even pain management and treating conditions like arthritis have taken large leaps and bounds.  While it's an amazing development regarding improving longevity and quality of life, naturally there are potentially more medications your doctor may want to put your animal on to achieve this.  

Finances can be tough.  While I have not personally looked into pet insurance, I advise everyone to do it.  The key thing to remember about pet medications is that many of them, not all, are "human" drugs.  What this means is, you can think outside of the normal "veterinary box" when getting your prescriptions filled.  While there are online pet drug places and of course your veterinarian, we can seek out the same outlets where we fill *our* medications.  Ask your doctor if it's a human or a dog med they are prescribing.  So many retailers offer meds at as low as 4 bucks for a month's supply!  Shop around and do your homework; there are lot of affordable resources out there (Walmart, King Soopers, etc. all offer specials)

On a separate note, always be aware of the drugs your pet is on.  Key a note into your cell phone or have it written down.  Not just the medication itself, but also the dose (how many milligrams) and know how many times a day they are getting it.  While we anticipate vet visits for routine exams and can think to bring that info, consider an emergency where you are running your pet out quickly.  Enabling the doctor to know all of the meds and how much your dog is on will make a huge difference.

I often suggest to dog owners to buy a pillbox for your pet, like one you'd use for yourself.  It will help you keep the days straight and ensure no medications are missed.  Days can often bleed into one, and it's good to be able to look into "Monday" and see for sure that those pills have been given. 

If your dog has a heart condition, is diabetic, epileptic, or any other condition where they need their meds, consider buying a med alert dog tag for them.  You can find them easily with a quick Internet search.  This will help ensure that if your dog gets lose and gets picked up, that those who have him will know he needs his meds.

Medicating our pets is not always easy.  Your doctor and their techs can make suggestions as to how to better get those pills down.  Some dogs do well with "PillPockets" (if you haven't tried these, do!), but others are the wiser to your attempts!  Low fat peanut butter is good, as is mixing them into their wet food.  Be aware, however, that not all meds are the same.   Some drugs like anti-biotics' potencies are affected by dairy products, so you need to know before you use cheese.  While plain yogurt is a great way to get them down, (and helps settle the stomach) some diet (“light”) yogurts contain an ingredient called Xylitol which is toxic to dogs.  Some pills you can crush up, but others (such as a heart drug called Pimobendan) can lose their efficacy if the crushed bits aren't consumed in less than 20 minutes.  Often someone will recommend using a piece of hot dog, but keep in mind that if your dog is being treated for a condition like Pancreatitis, or a condition where they need low sodium, feeding meds in a hot dog is very bad.

Have you heard of compounding?  Compounding is when a medication supplier can take the meds your dog needs, and put them into different form.  This can't be done with all drugs, but for some they can be turned into a liquid, into a capsule, an injectable, an edible pill, or even an ointment for use as a transdermal patch!   Don't give up if the cheese routine isn't working.  Do some research, because there is a chance your loathed pill can be changed into another "format" your dog may go for!

Bottom line, don't be shy!  Ask your doctor and/or their technicians every question you have in your mind regarding your animal’s drugs.  They will have pharmacies they know are the cheapest for said drug, as well as any instructions regarding how to best give it.  Ask about side effects, and buy yourself a book to have in the house so you can self-educate!   Like all things with medicine, don't freak yourself out.  Veterinary medicine books can quickly become outdated, not citing new developments for a drug's treatment uses, and many veterinary drugs are used for other purposes than what they were created for.  A book will list a slew of side effects, but your doctor will be better able to give you a more reasonable idea of what to expect based on their experience.  Drugs interact differently with each other, and your doctor is your best source for education.

by Shannon Murphy

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Am A Forever Dog, Not an "Until Dog"

I am a FOREVER dog, not an "until dog."

I'm not an "until you get bored with me" dog.
I'm not an "until you find a girl[boy]friend" dog.
I'm not an "until you have a baby" dog.
I'm not an "until you have to move" dog.
I'm not an "until you have no time" dog.
I'm not an "until I get old" dog.

I'm a forever dog.
If you can't give me forever, then I'm not your dog.
It's really that simple.

Credit:  The Calgary Humane Society
For more ads/poems like this one click here!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Success Story - Riley

Adopted 8/29/2009


"I just wanted to send in an update on our beautiful boy Riley. We adopted him from CGPR 26 months ago and couldn't be happier. Hes one of the most wonderful dogs I've ever had! His only flaw.... Hes a 150 pound lap dog ALL the time. He has severe hip dysplasia that we thought would forever inhibit his ability to run with the other dogs. However, through the use of glucosamine and gradual strength training, he was able to play some Frisbee golf with us in Conifer this weekend! Its a pretty wicked, 2 mile course and when he got home, all he wanted to do was play! Were so blessed to have this big oaf!"
-Kym (& Rob) Mercier

Intake Picture

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Buddy - Available for Adoption Through Rangley Animal Shelter

Available for Adoption Through
Rangley Animal Shelter
1 | 970 | 629 - 3865
Rangley, CO

Young, Male Great Pyrenees
Found as a stray

Buddy gets along with all people and doggies, but he has not been cat tested.  He was found running on the highway and was not claimed so he is looking for a new forever home.  
He (like most all Pyrs) will need a fenced in back yard...and maybe a porch to lounge around on.

Learn more about Buddy on his

Desiree - Available for Adoption Through Rifle Animal Shelter

Available for Adoption Through
Rifle, CO

1 year old Female Great Pyrenees

Learn more about Desiree on her

Friday, January 6, 2012

Great Pyrenees and Cats

While I have blogged about Great Pyrenees and cats previously, I have noticed many people doing searches on the subject.  I can only assume they are considering adopting a Great Pyrenees and want to ensure the breed is a match for those with cats.  I felt compelled to blog again, to address this question.

I think my previous article was a little too full of fluff, and not enough 'straight to the point'.  The answer is, "yes".  Great Pyrenees are a great match for those who also own cats.  They are livestock guardians, and their duty is to protect the land and the creatures within it.   Farm owners entrust their Pyrs to watch their land against predators, all while being gentle with the sheep and other animals on the farm.  It's "theirs" to protect.  It is in a Pyr's DNA to be gentle with everything that is not a threat.

What freaks cats out are dogs that are high energy.  Herding dogs, especially, may treat cats and kids as their 'herd' and be inclined to act rambunctiously around them.  I am not a herding dog expert, so hit up one if you are in love with a herding breed and want to introduce a cat; they may have great tips.

It's not fair to the cat to assume it is only high-energy dogs that will annoy cats, but it's a good starting place.  Some kitties just hate dogs, period.  Some cats will strike out against even the most gentle of Pyrs…who only walks by your cat to get to the water bowl; innocently enough, they may still endure the wrath of your kitty. 

Working in Pyr rescue, vetting them for 'cat friendly' was a huge part of the adoption process.  I would dare say that 95% of all the Great Pyrenees that came through our rescue were great with cats.  Either they outright ignored them, or they loved them and wanted to protect them as their flock; a very small percentage had unusual prey drive for the breed, and were definitely not a match for cat homes. 

I own 3 cats and 2 Great Pyrenees.  My 1 Pyr ignores the kitties, and they love her for that.  My other Pyr acknowledges them at every opportunity; he loves them…he wants them to love him too.  He doesn't paw them or touch them, but he wags his tail and stalks them through the house.  Sometimes they strike out and bat his face.  He takes it with grace, and never holds a grudge.  He loves them.  I feel that my 2 Pyrs are a great example of what to expect if you are thinking about bringing a Pyr into your cat house.

Keep in mind, cats will draw their own conclusions regardless of the dog's behavior.  You can talk about this important issue with rescue people, but it's hard to anticipate what reaction your kitties will have.  I fostered a dog that didn't chase or terrorize my cats, but her energy alone really freaked them out.  One of my kitties decided it would be best to show protest, and pee on the floor.  After blood work and urinalysis, we determined it was just the dog upsetting him. 

Because adoption/dogs are forever, it would then have become my task to try to adapt my home around both creatures, ensuring my cat could have a better sense of well being, all while keeping my dog.  So be prepared for those kinds of challenges.  I think most cats will always prefer to live alone, but we can make adaptations to their environment, which will make the dog-cat co-existence better for both.

by Shannon Murphy

What Is A Heart Murmur?

Some think that a heart murmur in your dog is a condition.  It is, rather, a possible symptom of an underlying heart condition.  The murmur itself describes "turbulent blood flow through the heart", and that turbulence can be due to any one of a number of different congenital or acquired heart conditions. (congenital means they were born with it, and acquired means they developed the condition).

When you take your new dog to the vet for their first wellness exam, your doctor listens to their heart.  They listen for how many beats they are producing in a minute, but also they are listening for this turbulent blood flow…a murmur.  Heart murmurs are graded on a scale from 1-6, with 1 being the softest heard and 6 being the loudest.  A grade 1 heart murmur (and sometimes a grade 2) can be very difficult to hear for the inexperienced ear.  The grade is less about severity and more about how loud it sounds.

In an over-simplified nutshell, the heart has 4 chambers: the right and left atriums and the right and left ventricles.  There are valves that separate the atriums from the ventricles on both sides (tricuspid and bicuspid/mitral valve), as well as all the avenues through which the blood enters and leaves the heart.  As you can surmise, there are several places along the path for the blood flow to be turbulent.  The actual conditions our dogs may have are too numerous to list, and if your dog is diagnosed with a heart murmur, a cardiology expert will do an ultrasound of the heart and pinpoint your dog's problem.

Some breeds are predisposed to certain heart conditions, so it's key to do your research.  In the CGPR days, I recall only 2 dogs having a heart problem.  One had a condition called Supraventricular Tachycardia and the other had Subaortic Stenosis (a condition found mostly in larger dogs). On the whole, we haven't seen too many instances of heart disease in Pyrs, but a cardiologist is your best person to answer those questions.  Some conditions are merely seen more in larger dogs than small, and vice verse.  

All puppies are at risk of having a heart murmur upon birth, called an "innocent heart murmur".  This is why your doctor may heart a heart murmur in your pups at birth that goes away shortly into their new lives.  In a simple terms, their heart chamber fills with a blood volume that their vessels are just a bit too narrow for, and it creates a turbulence as the blood leaves the heart.   This goes away quickly into puppyhood; your veterinarian can educate you best on the timelines for this to become normal.  Our puppy had a heart murmur upon his 4 week visit, and it was gone by week 8 when we got him.

If your general veterinarian diagnoses your dog with a heart murmur, again this is only a sound they are picking up when they listen.  It's crucial you take your dog in to get an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) to make a diagnosis. While these ultrasounds are not cheap, they will ensure your dog gets a proper diagnosis and will live as healthy as is their full potential.  I'm meeting more and more animals who are living longer, healthier lives with heart conditions, all due to the excellent care their owners provide coupled with the cutting edge treatments of cardiology specialists.  Definitely see a Board Certified Cardiologist, as their expertise is worth every penny!

by Shannon Murphy

Article on a special needs heart dog

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Dog Owner's New Year's Resolutions

  1. I will take you on more walks, or make our current walks longer.
  2. I will dedicate more time to brushing you and giving you baths.
  3. I will commit to trimming your nails more often.
  4. I will be sure I am cleaning your beautiful ears weekly.
  5. I will review your vet records and ensure you are up-to-date on annual bloodwork.
  6. I will be sure to give you your heartworm preventative the same time, every month.
  7. I will think of at least 1 new place I can take you with me to.
  8. I will be sure your collar is sturdy and well-fitting, and if not I will purchase you a new one.
  9. I will spend more time on your training, and focus on that "thing" that I still let you get away with.
  10. I will address your weight, and ensure I am not over or under feeding you.
  11. I will talk to my vet about natural supplements I can be giving you to support you as you age.
  12. I will give you more fresh veggies and fruits as treats.
  13. I will read up on your breed, and educate myself on any health predispositions you may face one day.
  14. I will remind myself again, how this dog is mine to care for, for *forever*.
  15. I will ensure I give 1 extra kiss and 1 extra hug each day.
by Shannon Murphy