Entries in Dog (15)


Beagle Sniffs Out Bacterial Infection

Hemera/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- A 2-year-old beagle in the Netherlands has been trained to sniff out Clostridium difficile, a skill that could help doctors catch the deadly infection days before laboratory tests.

Clostridium difficile infections often occur in people who are already taking antibiotics, causing symptoms that range from mild diarrhea to severe inflammation of the colon.  And to make matters worse, the bug is particularly adept at spreading through hospitals, uncontrolled by the usual surface cleansers.

The clever canine, called Cliff, correctly identified 50 stool samples containing the bacterium, which kills 14,000 Americans each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Cliff also identified 47 of 50 stool samples that were Clostridium difficile-free (he couldn’t make up his mind about the last three).

Laboratory tests for Clostridium difficile -- dubbed C. diff -- can take up to 48 hours.  But Cliff gives his answer immediately by sitting or lying down.

“The sooner the clinician has a diagnosis, the better it is,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an expert in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.  “You can also reduce the risk of transmission to other patients.”

Stool from patients with the C. diff has a characteristic smell, often likened to horse manure, which Cliff learned to identify over two months of training.  Now, he can smell the bug even without the stool, correctly identifying 25 of 30 patients with the infection and 265 of 270 without.

“We’ve always known that dogs make us feel good, but now we know that they’re good for us,” said veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, who is based in Sandpoint, Idaho, and is the author of The Healing Power of Pets and a writer for

Dogs have also been trained to sniff out cancers of the lung, bowel, skin, breast and bladder with high accuracy, and petting animals can also be therapeutic.

“We use them in our institution, largely in pediatrics, and have brought in reptiles, dogs and even miniature ponies,” said Schaffner.

However, Cliff has struggled with staying focused at work, according to the study authors.  A plastic cup, urine on the floor, excited children and the strong smell of cleaners proved distracting.

“This may not work in the context of much more hectic U.S. hospitals,” said Schaffner.  “I don’t think [dogs] will replace [existing laboratory tests].”

But Becker said the healing power of pets should not be underestimated.

“There was a time when you expected to see this kind of stuff in the tabloids,” he said.  “Now the science is there to show how it works.  What are we going to find next?”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


How to Ease a Dog's Fireworks Freakout

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Every year around the beginning of July, Gerald and Sarah Willick find their French Bullmastiffs, who weigh a combined 235 pounds, hiding in the bathtub.

The Willicks' dogs, Bosley and Roxy, are terrified of fireworks.

"They'll be panting and then when the firework goes off they'll stop," Gerald told ABC News. "They normally come up to the couch and lay down alongside the couch and alongside of us. When the fireworks get more repetitive and intense they'll actually start pacing."

That's when Bosley and Roxy work their way to the tub.

"To get them in the tub to have a bath it's almost impossible," Gerald said. "But when the fireworks are going off, they love the tub. They feel more comfortable in there."

The Willicks, from Fort Erie, Canada, get a double whammy. Their dogs head for the tub each year on July 1 when fireworks are set off to celebrate Canada Day. But because they live so close to the United States border, the Willicks have to deal with fireworks on July 4, too.

One possible solution for the Willicks could be the Thundershirt, a product for dogs that provides a dramatic calming effect with the use of gentle, constant pressure.

Phil Blizzard, the creator of the Thundershirt, had tried everything from training to sedatives to calm his golden doodle Dosi's fear of thunder and fireworks. After countless nights of Dosi keeping the family awake, Blizzard needed a new solution. A friend suggested putting a tight wrap around Dosi's chest.

"It didn't make very much sense to me," Blizzard told ABC News. "But one night with a 50 pound dog on my chest, my wife was like, 'We're trying this.' When the wrap "worked like a charm," there was no turning back for Blizzard and the Thundershirt was born. The company launched in May 2009 and has a success rate of 80 percent, Blizzard said. The shirt is made out of durable, washable fabric and comes in seven sizes at a cost of $39.95.

"We've had probably three returns and we've sold hundreds," a store employee at Friendly Paws Pet Supplies and Grooming in Athens, Ohio told ABC News.

"So many dogs do suffer from anxiety, it's one of the biggest concerns people have when they come in," an employee at The New York Dog Shop in Manhattan said.

According to a survey sponsored by Thundershirt, 13 percent of dogs have a significant fear of fireworks.

For some dogs, it could require two to three uses before they become comfortable with a Thundershirt, Blizzard said.

Cesar Millan, who stars in the Nat Geo WILD reality show The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, advises using the shirt before a dog gets too anxious. On an anxiety scale of one-to-ten, dog owners should try to use the shirt early.

"You want to catch it from zero-to-five," Millan told ABC News. "If you're 5-10 you have to come out with another thing before you use the Thundershirt. They work, you just have to know how to use the tool. All tools are great you just have to learn how to use them."

Sarah Perkins, a dog owner and groomer, said the Thundershirt doesn't work if she doesn't use it early enough on her pitbull, Rucca. But when she gets it on right, the Thundershirt is a success for Rucca, who is terrified of everything from storms to car rides.

"He tries to crawl in my pocket. He is a wreck," Perkins told ABC News. "He sits there and pants and tries to hide anywhere he can and shakes. If you put the shirt on him he'll lay on the bed. There is a definite difference when he has the shirt on."

But why is it that 50 pound dogs think they are lap dogs when fireworks go off?

"The ears of dogs are very sensitive," Millan told ABC News. "Dogs get over stimulated often by sounds."

Another problem is that most dogs do not get enough physical challenge. The majority of dogs in America walk an average of 15-20 minutes a day, Millan said. In order to remain calm, they need much more than that.

"A dog spends too much time behind walls without going outside to drain energy," Millan said. "Their level of frustration is so high that it will take loud sounds to have a nervous breakdown"

Millan advises to act more like a paramedic to your dog than a family member when it is freaking out over thunder or fireworks. When taking care of others, paramedics stay very calm. You staying calm is the key to your buddy staying calm.

"Dogs can pick up on your vibe," Millan said. "They are wondering why you are getting so concerned, upset, bothered. Then the sound comes and they think 'oh that's what it was.'"

For more tips on how to relax your dog, visit Millan's website. The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan returns to Nat Geo WILD for the 9th and final season on July 7 at 8 pm ET/PT.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Oklahoma Blind Dog Gets New Life with Canine Pal

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(TULSA, Okla.) -- Putting two dogs of different breeds and from different backgrounds together in a confined space will usually end up in a lot of bark and likely some bite.  Rarely does that pairing end up in the two pooches becoming an inseparable pair.

That latter, more unlikely scenario was just the case, however, with two young dogs in Oklahoma who not only built a friendship but also cured each other’s ills.

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Blair is a 1-year-old black Labrador mix brought to the Woodland West Animal Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., after she was shot while living on the streets.  After he recovered from his wounds, Blair remained at the clinic, a timid and nervous pup whose difficult history made her hard to place with an adopted family, the hospital’s director, Dr. Mike Jones, told ABC News.

Then there was Tanner, a two-year-old Golden Retriever puppy who was born blind and with a seizure disorder so severe he was sent to Woodland Hospital as a last resort after his first owner died and the Oklahoma City-based Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue organization that had assumed his care, was unable to find a family to give him the around-the-clock care he needed.

“His seizure disorder was really, really bad and nothing -- no medications -- seemed to be helping,” Jones said.  “Anytime he [Tanner] seizes he expresses his bowels.  It’s a nightmare anytime you have a 90-lb dog experiencing this nightly; it made living in a home very, very difficult.”

Tanner and Blair lived with their respective conditions until the two were placed together a few months ago in a chance encounter, first reported by local ABC affiliate KTUL.

“One day they were exercising in a play yard together and they got together," Jones said.  “Blair all of a sudden seemed to realize that Tanner was blind and just started to help him around.”

Recognizing the dogs’ immediate connection, hospital staff began to board Tanner and Blair together, and the results spoke for themselves.

Tanner had been seizing almost nightly, Jones said.  ”After two or three weeks, we realized Tanner wasn’t seizing anymore.  He’s not completely seizure free but it’s not constant anymore.”

“We’ve worked with a lot of different service dogs to provide these services for people,” said Jones. “But it’s the first time I’ve seen anything like this, the special relationship these two dogs have.”

The bond is so strong and instinctive that if Tanner has a leash on, Blair will pick it up and guide her friend around, according to Jones.  Likewise, he said, Tanner has had a calming influence on Blair, making the former street dog much less timid and anxious.

The next task is to find the two dogs a home together to continue their joint recovery.

“They absolutely have to be adopted together,” Jones said.  “But it’s going to take a special home with someone who understands their special relationship plus understands seizure disorder and is ready to take on the responsibility.”

The adoption search is being handled by the same Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue organization that brought Tanner to the hospital, a lucky decision that brought on the recovery process no one could have predicted.  The hospital has, to this point, taken care of Blair’s recovery through its own foster care account.

“The big thing about this is just finding the right home for Tanner and Blair, which is a very specific mission,” said Jones.  “This is not a typical adoption.  Tanner is only two-years-old.  We’re looking at probably ten years or so care for Tanner.”

Calls to the Sooner Rescue organization placed Friday by ABC News for comment were not returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Musher Saves Dog with Mouth-to-Snout

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(RAINY PASS, Alaska) -- When Marshall collapsed on the Iditarod trail, Scott Janssen did what any good friend would do:  He stopped the sled and gave mouth-to-mouth CPR.

Or mouth-to-snout, as the case may be. Marshall is a veteran sled dog, and a personal pet of Janssen and his wife Debbie Janssen.

On Monday night, 22 miles from the next checkpoint at Rainy Pass, Alaska, the dog suddenly fell.

“Marshall was running really tight on the line, no problems at all, and all of a sudden, he collapsed,” said Debbie Janssen.

When Scott Janssen stopped the sled and grabbed Marshall, the dog wasn’t breathing, so he closed the dog’s mouth and began breathing into Marshall’s nose, all the while compressing the animal’s chest.

Scott Janssen had to administer mouth-to-snout twice, because after the first attempt, Marshall woke up but then quickly fell unconscious again.

The second time, Debbie Janssen said, her husband could see in his dog’s eyes that he was coming to.

“He looked at Marshall and said, ‘Come on! Come back to me!’” Debbie Janssen said. “And Marshall did. He came back. He started breathing.”

At 9 years old, Marshall is one of the oldest dogs on Scott’s team. He has competed in about six Iditarod races, and given his age, this was to be his final attempt.

After Marshall was resuscitated successfully, Scott Janssen tucked the pooch into his sled bag and then approached the front of the sled to reassure each dog with a quiet voice or a gentle hug.

“They were all freaking out,” Debbie Janssen said. “They’ve been a team and could tell something was wrong.”

The team then continued on to Rainy Pass, where Marshall showed no signs of stress, according to Iditarod spokesperson Erin McLarnon. Leaving Marshall with the Iditarod vet, Scott and his team of 14 dogs continued on toward the finish line in Nome.

Marshall is being flown back to Anchorage, where the Janssens own a funeral home.

Scott Janssen, who calls himself the “Mushing Mortician,” is competing in his second Iditarod. He trained with experienced musher Paul Gebhardt for four years. And it was Gebhardt who taught him how to perform mouth-to-snout resuscitation.

“It’s his dog,” said Debbie Janssen. "He loves all these dogs. He told me he couldn’t imagine Marshall dying in front of him.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Denver News Anchor Bitten by Dog: 'Having a Baby Hurt More'

Denver Post(DENVER) -- The Colorado news anchor who was bitten by a rescued dog live on the air told the Denver Post in her first interview that the first thought she had after the dog bit her was, "I'm bleeding, and it had to be on television."

Kyle Dyer, a veteran morning news anchor for NBC News' Denver affiliate KUSA, was reporting an uplifting story of a dog rescued from a frozen reservoir on Feb. 8.

When Dyer bent down to kiss the dog's nose, the 85-pound Argentine Mastiff named Max turned his head and bit into Dyer's face as his owner and rescuer watched in disbelief.

"It was a fluke, it happened," Dyer told the Denver Post. "It could have been so much worse. Not once was I afraid or scared. Yeah, it hurt, but having a baby hurt more."

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Dyer received 70 stitches and had her mouth stitched shut so that she could heal. A plastic surgeon grafted skin from her lower lip to build her a new upper lip, the Denver Post reported.

"We all think we know how to pet a dog, but we don't. You know, I don't, obviously," Dyer said. "By the end of that interview, it was just a fluke. I didn't see anything that I felt threatened [by]. I didn't realize that I was threatening [the dog]. It just happened."

The on-camera bite became a viral sensation, circulated all over the world.

"My niece lives in Lithuania, and it was in the newspaper in her small town in Lithuania. Can you believe that?" Dyer asked incredulously.

Dyer has already undergone two surgeries and is having the remaining stitches taken out this week. In the summer, a doctor will decide whether she needs any more surgery.

She has received an outpouring of support from people everywhere, who have left messages on her Facebook page and sent her cards. Dyer has also gotten some negative messages from people blaming her for the dog's temporary detention.

"People get heated and protective over dogs," she said. "I never felt any ill toward Max."

"The dog went and did his time, as the city says, and I'm glad he's back with his family because that must have been a really hard 24 hours for that family to go through that, so I'm glad they've got their dog back," Dyer said. "It was just an accident."

Dyer said the negativity was a "shame" because, for her, the experience had been oddly positive, and she is looking forward to getting back to work.

"I just keep reading the letters and know that I'm going to heal," she said. "I don't know how quickly, but I will and I'll be better than ever."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


News Anchor Bitten by Dog Received 70 Stitches, Mouth Stitched Shut

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- The Colorado news anchor bitten by a rescued dog live on air posted on her Facebook page that she received 70 stitches on her face and is unable to speak because her mouth is stitched shut.

Kyle Dyer, a veteran morning news anchor for NBC News’ Denver affiliate KUSA, was reporting on an uplifting story of a dog rescued from a frozen reservoir when the dog bit her on the lip Feb. 8.

When Dyer bent down to kiss the dog’s nose, the 85-pound Argentine Mastiff named Max turned his head and bit into Dyer’s face, as his owner and rescuer watched in disbelief.

Dyer has received an outpouring of support from thousands of well-wishers on her Facebook page. Over the weekend, she took to the page to update them on her status.

“After a 4 hour surgery, I have 70 stitches in my upper lip, lower lip and nose,” Dyer wrote. “I am unable to talk because my mouth is stitched shut to allow for the skin graft to take and get the blood circulating in my lips again.”

Dyer thanked the medical team at Denver Health Medical center for taking “excellent care” of her. She was released from the hospital on Thursday and is at home recovering.

“I can’t say thank you enough for all of your notes and prayers of encouragement and love,” Dyer wrote. “They give me great strength, which along with my faith, will see me through a successful recovery!”

Dyer is scheduled to return to the doctor this week and to undergo another procedure in the next few weeks and is already looking to the future and her return to TV.

“Once I’m all healed, I will return to my friends at 9NEWS who have been remarkably supportive as have viewers and friends throughout the country,” she wrote.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Teen Blinded by Stargardt's Disease Chases Dreams -- and Guide Dog

Courtesy Sami Stoner(LEXINGTON, Ohio) -- Ohio teen Sami Stoner loves to run.  But when a rare eye disease swiftly stole her vision, the tree-studded trails of cross country running became too dangerous to tackle.

Stoner has Stargardt's disease -- a hereditary form of macular degeneration that causes irreversible blindness.

At first, it seemed running would be yet another sacrifice for the 16-year-old, who will never be able to drive.  But she found her way back into the race with a one-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever called Chloe.

"When one door closes, another one opens," said Stoner, a high school junior in Lexington, Ohio.  "Even if you have a disability or you don't think you can do something, there's almost always a way."

Stoner met Chloe, a specially trained guide dog, in July at the Pilot Dogs facility in Columbus, Ohio.  Tethered by a sturdy harness, the pair endured four weeks of intense training -- first walking and then running under close supervision.

"I've never bonded with even a person like that," said Stoner.  "She knows she has to watch out for me.  I can't imagine being without her now."

Stoner returned to Lexington with Chloe on Aug. 17.  Although Chloe could safely guide Stoner through three miles of uneven terrain, one obstacle required outside help: Ohio High School Athletic Association rules barred Stoner from participating in cross country runs with a dog.

"There's never been a blind athlete with a dog sanctioned to compete," said John Harris, director of athletics for Lexington Local Schools.

Harris urged the association to allow Stoner and Chloe to run.  Eventually, they said yes -- with some stipulations.  Stoner has to start 20 seconds after the other runners.  And while she's allowed to pass them, and she does, she can't impede them.

With the Association's OK, Stoner and Chloe raced the following day on Sept. 17.  In three meets since, the pair has bettered their time.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Surfing Dog, Ricochet, Helps Disabled Surf

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- There are dogs who play ball, dogs who chase cats and dogs who catch Frisbees. But near San Diego there is Ricochet, a 3-year-old golden retriever who catches waves and captures hearts.

Ricochet helps teach disabled people how to surf by acting as a canine co-pilot.

"She stabilizes the board," said Sabine Becker, who was born with no arms. "Somehow, she does it so we're not off-balance. She is just standing there and just surfs with us."

Surfing isn't even Ricochet's first career. From birth, she was trained to be a service dog, a companion to someone who needed help with everyday tasks. But she is a little mischievous and likes to chase birds -- poor traits for a companion who needs to provide constant attention.

Owner Judy Fridono discovered Ricochet had other ways to help.

"I wanted her to make a difference in one life, and she's touched millions and millions now," Fridono told ABC News.

Ricochet started boogie boarding at 8 weeks old and is now a pro on the surfboard. Fridono swears she adjusts her balance and stance depending on the disability of the person she is surfing with.

Ricochet is just as valuable on land: She has raised more than $100,000 for different charities on her Facebook page and her videos have gone viral, garnering more than 3 million views.

She is also a finalist for the annual "Hero Dog Award" from the American Humane Association, where she is up against a guide dog and even a military dog -- all amazing animals. And while they all might rate a 10, only Ricochet can hang ten.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Dog Raises Over $17,000 After Running Marathon for Cancer Research

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- In 2008, when his new family adopted him, Dozer the Goldendoodle was the only pup left in the litter. It made Dozer kind of an underdog. But fast forward three years to the day of the Maryland Half Marathon -- a 13-mile race for cancer research -- and this pup found his way to the front of the pack.

That was the day Dozer slipped past the virtual fence surrounding his yard as the marathon runners passed by. He got quickly caught up in the current at the 5-mile mark -- and kept up the pace for the remainder of the race, with people snapping his picture all along.

When he crossed the finish line, the bewildered pup with muddy paws turned to walk the eight miles back home, where he was awarded a finisher's medal from the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Suddenly Dozer's life story changed. A Facebook page was put together in his name to raise money for cancer research. Donations came pouring in, as did the fans. He now has 2,500 friends on the social networking site and has raised more than $17,000.

While the wonder dog seems to inspire all and gives laughs to some, his run has benefited others in the best way of all. Diane Salvatore, 55, was just diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. She is a direct beneficiary of Dozer's fundraising -- the more than $17,000 that the pup raised has already been designated to go toward research that will help her and others like her.

"I don't think he's last anymore," said Salvatore. "I think he's come in first place. Great job to be the spokesdog for this type of research that needs to be done for this kind of breast cancer."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


One-of-a-Kind Dog Walks with Four Prosthetic Paws

File photo. Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- Naki'o has the rambunctious spirit of most dogs -- he loves to run, jump and play fetch -- but one thing is different about this red heeler cattle dog: his four bionic paws. OrthoPets, a Denver company that specializes in pet prosthetics, outfitted Naki'o, who lost his paws to frostbite after he was abandoned in the Nebraska winter.

When Naki'o was adopted, his legs had healed to rounded stumps, making mobility a struggle. He had to crawl on his stomach to move, but he was determined.

"Even though he was hobbling, he was still just trying to enjoy life," said Martin Kaufmann, the founder of OrthoPets, who outfitted Naki'o with his new paws. "Naki'o's personality was great."

And it was that spirit that captivated his owner, a veterinary technician, to adopt him from a shelter and raise money for him to get two prosthetics.

Two became four when Kaufmann heard about Naki'o's plight and completed the set, making him, Kaufmann said, the first dog in the world to have four prosthetic paws.

Veterinarian Marty Becker said prosthetics are becoming increasingly common on disabled pets.

One prosthetic can cost anywhere form $1,000 to $3,000.

"It's really heartwarming," said Becker. "Dogs just soldier on. They could be in incredible pain but still greet you with their tail wagging."

Naki'o can now play fetch to his heart's content and enjoy his newfound mobility.

Kaufmann said Naki'o's only challenge would be learning once again what the ground feels like to walk on -- and he has no doubt Naki'o's playful spirit will help him adjust to his new paws.

"We get to work with patients with drive and determination," he said. "They have a real willingness to thrive."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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