Shiloh & Hillary

In Spring 2005 I had lost my first dog, and wasn’t sure how long it would take me to be able to consider having another. I had rescued an older Australian Cattle dog, and thought I would have her 5-6 years or so, but apparently that was not God’s plan, and he called her to the big ‘doggie park’ in the sky in May; less than 3 years in my life. I was so sad and there was such a hole in my heart that I didn’t know if I could go through it again. But at the same time, I couldn’t imagine not having a pooch pal in my life and in my home. It seemed so quiet, and I missed the routine and the unconditional love.

In early June I decided to get online to just start looking at the various sites that link animal rescue organizations. A friend referred me to I looked every night for a few weeks, and I corresponded with a few people about a few dogs, but really my heart wasn’t singing. Then one night I saw my girl looking out at me from the screen, and I knew she was the one – I knew my heart was ready again.

Having gone through the painful task before of getting set on one dog, only to find out it had already been rescued (actually a good thing!) I was fearing the worst, and hoping for the best. I tried all weekend to reach United Hope for Animals, and was frantic not hearing from anyone, but Monday morning came good news that she was still available, and I was invited up that evening to meet her. As I knew I would, I went home cradling her in my arms that evening.

I named her Shiloh, and she has become the light of my life. She had just had puppies before she was rescued, but no one knows what happened to them. She was spayed the day I met her. Needless to say, her little system was quite messed up for several weeks and she was very quiet and mellow. But now she is very playful and loving friend who is either younger than we suspected, or she is now experiencing the puppyhood she never got to enjoy while on the street!

I believe she is an angel sent to me by my first pooch pal, Rosy. She loves to play fetch with anything for hours on end, chase bunnies and birds, cuddle and have her belly rubbed. Everyone I meet on the street says she looks like such a happy dog, which couldn’t make me happier! Thank you United Hope for doing what you do and making such wonderful opportunities available to the dogs and to us humans!”

Shiloh has gone from searching for food, water and shelter on the streets of Los Angeles to the safely and love of Hillary and her beautiful home. Here is Shiloh asleep on Hillary’s glass coffee table; yes she is in the lap on love and luxury now!

—Written by Shiloh’s “Mom” Hillary

A Family Rights the Wrongs of a Backyard Breeder

Trooper, Leyla & The Murch Family

Trooper & Leyla, Trooper’s Mom

A backyard breeder in the LA area who bred pure bred puppies to sell for profit wanted to dump a broken puppy and her momma. This backyard breeder threw momma ‘Leyla’ and Star (one of her puppies, now named Trooper) over the fence of one of one of our volunteer foster people. The puppies’ front left leg was injured. We thought at the time that it was because of the drop over the fence. However, we were suspicious that the reason why the breeder was discarding the puppy was because the puppy was (as the breeder would put it) damaged goods.

Her injured leg was the very reason why he was tossing her away. But we did not know at the time all we could do was assume her leg was injured from the drop over the fence and get her to a specialist as soon as possible. Sadly it was later found that the injury did in fact happen while she was a very young pup and the breeder did not seek medical care at the time, so her injuries became more complicated for the specialist to repair.

Moreover, when the man (the breeder) walked away he still had some of her (sellable puppies) and Leyla could hear them crying. Seconds after the foster person knelt down to take the above photo of Leyla, the mama dog turned and ran toward the sound of her crying babies. In an attempt to attend to puppies cries Leyla tried to jump over and clear the high wrought iron fence (seen in the background of the above right photo). Leyla impaled herself on the spikes at the top of the fence.

The pain and grief the backyard breeders bring to the dogs, to the families who love these dogs, and to the pet overpopulation problem is disgraceful. Leyla and Star (Trooper) had the great misfortune of being the product and property of a backyard breeder.

The name of the game for backyard breeders is puppies for profit.

But Star and Leyla also had the most amazing, good fortune of coming across a group of people who wanted to help both Star / Trooper and Leyla; most notably is the Murch family.

A wonderful call came into the office of UHA; it was the kind of call the all rescue people would love to have daily. The caller said that she and her family were thinking of buying a golden retriever, female puppy, however they as a family, had decided to adopt a dog in need instead of buying a puppy. Marika, the woman caller, was calling simply to adopt a Lab or Lab mix in need of a good home instead of buying from a breeder.

When Marika learned of Star and Leyla’s story she said that she and her family would be interested in helping the momma and pup in need. She stated that they would be interested in adopting Trooper and even if it did not work out for their family to adopt Trooper they still wanted to help raise money to help with their medical costs. Marika’s first concern was always on the dogs.

We asked Marika if she and her family would like to adopt and care for little Star and before the phone line had cooled the Murch family already had Star appropriately renamed Trooper and took over her care with out complaint or hesitation. This family opened their hearts and home to a crippled pup. This family is a true example of conscious living, and of great generosity and compassion. They give us all hope that there is enough good in the world to balance neglect, due to ignorance, as well as the conscious destructiveness of others.

Hard working kids with big hearts and as well as big business sense – after a hard days work of making gourmet dog cookies they made $75 to go toward the medical care of Trooper and her Momma Leyla!

Marika writes:

“Trooper has been making great progress since we brought her home. Dr. Nancy Hampel of the Animal Medical Center in El Cajon examined her and recommended physical therapy in lieu of surgery. Trooper sustained two injuries as a very young pup – a crushing break on the growth plate on her lower paw and a dislocated elbow. By the time Trooper was x-rayed, the break had begun to heal itself. If Dr. Hampel operated on Trooper to repair the break, Troopers leg would stop growing. In addition, repairing her dislocated elbow would require fusing the joint, which would eliminate any flexibility. When Trooper is 9 months she will examine her again, and if she is in pain – she will revisit the surgical option for her elbow.”

Trooper’s physical therapist Renee is wonderful and so smart. She created a program for Trooper that will encourage her to stretch her leg building up the muscles so she will use it more. We visit Renee twice a week and continue the program daily at home. Oliver, Taylor and I take a session each. The exercises are essential play time for Trooper, crawling, high-fives and hydro-therapy. – It is fun for all of us, essentially when she is swimming in our bathtub. Renee also encouraged us to massage Trooper’s paw to help reverse the atrophy. She is one pampered pooch. It’s still too soon to predict the actual outcome, but one thing is for sure, Trooper is a happy camper – and hasn’t let her injury stopped her from being a playful, energetic and loving puppy.

She is building quite a fan club in our neighborhood. She has several visitors who are learning the therapy program and stop by to help out. All is well in Trooper World.”

Oliver and Taylor and Little Trooper

Little Trooper and Momma Leyla are finally free and safe from the destructive hands of the backyard breeder. Trooper has been officially adopted by the Murch family and Leyla is safe and care of UHA foster person Jennie. Jennie generously took in Lelya and Trooper into her foster care to recover while we look for their forever home. Thank you Jennie Star and Trooper’s foster mom) for the care you have given Trooper and Leyla.

Dealing with Dominance

What does “dominance” mean?

In order to understand why your dog is acting “dominant,” it’s important to know some things about canine social systems. Animals who live in social groups, including domestic dogs and wolves, establish a social structure called a dominance hierarchy within their group. This hierarchy serves to maintain order, reduce conflict and promote cooperation among group members.

A position within the dominance hierarchy is established by each member of the group, based on the outcomes of interactions between themselves and the other pack members. The more dominant animals can control access to valued items such as food, den sites and mates. For domestic dogs, valued items might be food, toys, sleeping or resting places, as well as attention from their owner. In order for your home to be a safe and happy place for pets and people, it’s best that the humans in the household assume the highest positions in the dominance hierarchy.

Most dogs assume a neutral or submissive role toward people, but some dogs will challenge their owners for dominance. A dominant dog may stare, bark, growl, snap or even bite when you give him a command or ask him to give up a toy, treat or resting place. Sometimes even hugging, petting or grooming can be interpreted as gestures of dominance and, therefore, provoke a growl or snap because of the similarity of these actions to behaviors that are displayed by dominant dogs. Nevertheless, a dominant dog may still be very affectionate and may even solicit petting and attention from you.

You may have a dominance issue with your dog if:

  • He resists obeying commands that he knows well.
  • He won’t move out of your way when required.
  • He nudges your hand, takes you’re arm in his mouth or insists on being petted or played with (in other words, ordering you to obey him).
  • He defends his food bowl, toys or other objects from you.
  • He growls or bares his teeth at you under any circumstances.
  • He won’t let anyone (you, the vet, the groomer) give him medication or handle him.
  • He gets up on furniture without permission and won’t get down.
  • He snaps at you.

What to do if you recognize signs of dominance in your dog:

If you recognize the beginning signs of dominance aggression in your dog, you should immediately consult an animal behavior specialist. No physical punishment should be used. Getting physical with a dominant dog may cause the dog to intensify his aggression, posing the risk of injury to you. With a dog that has shown signs of dominance aggression, you should always take precautions to ensure the safety of your family and others who may encounter your dog by:

Avoiding situations that elicit the aggressive behavior.

  • During the times your dog is acting aggressively, back off and use “happy talk” to relieve the tenseness of the situation.
  • Supervise, confine and/or restrict your dog’s activities as necessary, especially when children or other pets are present.
  • When you’re outdoors with your dog, use a “Gentle Leader” or muzzle.


Canine Rivalry

What is Canine Rivalry?

Canine rivalry refers to repeated conflicts between dogs living in the same household. Animals that live in social groups establish a social structure within that group. This social structure is hierarchical and dogs determine their place in the hierarchy through control of and access to various resources, such as food, toys and attention from people. A stable hierarchy in which each individual knows and accepts his rank provides dogs with a sense of comfort and belonging. Conflicts arise between household dogs when there is instability in the social structure; that is, when the ranking of each dog is not clear or is in contention. Dogs may warn each other initially by snarling, growling or snapping, but not causing injury. However, the conflict may sometimes intensify into prolonged bouts of dangerous fighting, which may result in one or both dogs being injured.

Getting Professional Help

Ongoing canine rivalry is potentially dangerous. Dogs or human family members could be severely injured as a result of fighting. Because resolving rivalry problems requires managing the dogs’ somewhat complex social behaviors, it’s often necessary for owners to obtain assistance from a professional animal behaviorist. Certified animal behaviorists are trained to observe, interpret and modify animal behavior.

Why Conflict Occurs

Conflicts between household dogs develop for a wide variety of reasons.

  • A new animal has been introduced to the household.
  • A resident animal has died or no longer lives in the house.
  • A resident animal is re-introduced after an absence.
  • A young dog reaches social maturity, which is usually between 10 months and 2 years of age, and challenges the established higher-ranking dog.

A high-ranking dog ages or becomes ill and cannot maintain his higher status. Understanding Status Seeking Behavior and Social Structure. The dogs’ positions in the hierarchy are determined by the outcome of their interactions. The results of this complex and dynamic process will depend on the dogs themselves, without regard to your preferences. Any attempt on your part to interfere may result in increased conflict.
How dominance is established: Dogs usually determine their social ranking through a series of behaviors, which include body postures and vocalizations that don’t result in injury. Examples of these behaviors are one dog “standing over” another by placing his paws or neck on the shoulders of the other, mounting, lip licking or rolling over onto the back. Some dogs may take toys away from other dogs, insist on being petted first or exercise control over other resources. However, because of past experiences, inadequate socialization or genetic tendencies, some dogs may escalate these displays into aggression with very little warning.

The Social Structure: Do not attempt to influence or define the dogs’ rankings by treating them equally or by preventing a higher-ranking dog from asserting his position over another dog. The social hierarchy of the dogs is dynamic and complex, so even attempts to “support the dominant dog” may be counter productive. The dogs should be allowed to determine control of resources, such as toys and favorite sleeping places, amongst themselves. As much as possible, refrain from interfering in the dogs’ interactions with each other. But most importantly, establish yourself at the top of the hierarchy. Practicing “Nothing in Life is Free” is an easy and non-confrontational way to establish leadership by taking ultimate control of all resources the dogs find valuable. If your position as leader is clear, it will help the dogs sort out their lower places in the social structure more peacefully.

Breaking up a fight: If you need to break up a fight, do so by squirting the dogs with water or making a loud noise to try and interrupt them. Never attempt to break up a dog fight by grabbing the dogs by their collars or getting any part of yourself in between them. Touching dogs while they are fighting can result in what is called “redirected aggression,” where a dog may bite you because he thinks you are part of the conflict. If you’ve had a dog fight, please call our dog behavior helpline or contact your veterinarian for a referral to a professional animal behaviorist.

What You Can Do To Help

  • If the dogs involved are intact males or females, spay or neuter both dogs.
  • Make sure that all of the humans in your household are at the top of the hierarchy by practicing “Nothing in Life is Free.”
  • Establish fair rules and enforce them consistently. This helps all the dogs feel more secure and also reinforces your role as leader.
  • With the help of a professional animal behaviorist, elicit and reinforce non-aggressive behaviors using counter-conditioning and desensitization techniques. These procedures must be designed and tailored to specifically meet the needs of each individual case and require professional in-home help.
  • Punishment will not resolve the issue and can actually make it worse.

You should be aware that if you respond to this type of problem inappropriately, you run the risk of intensifying the problem and potentially causing injury to yourself and/or your dogs.

Photo Credit: Uberphot