7 Ways to Protect Your Pets in an Emergency

Here’s some good advice from some animal-loving friends Down Under, about managing risks to our pets during emergencies. With all the weather-related emergencies around the United States, and beyond, I found good information in this article in “The Conversation,” about ways to prepare for emergencies with our pets.

While the details of Australian emergency situations might differ from those in America, even in the U.S. every community has its own risks and geography and emergency services (or lack of them), which means we pet lovers should prepare to take full responsibility for the animals in our care.

Some of the best tips for taking care of your animals in an emergency:

  • Create an emergency plan for your whole household that includes pets.  Consider a range of potential emergencies: heat waves, prolonged loss of power, floods, tornadoes and fires. Consider every creature in your household, including birds and small mammals.
  • Plan to leave early. Evacuating with animals can take longer, especially when you have multiple types of animals or need to make multiple journeys. It is not safe to leave animals behind, or to leave a household member behind to take care of the animals.
  • Stay aware of emerging weather conditions and emergency warnings by tuning into the radio or television news.
  • Have an emergency kit for your animals: fill a “go bag” (or box) with items you’ll need if you need to leave in a hurry. If you have essentials (like medications) you can’t leave in a box, make a checklist and know where they are.
  • Plan where you will take your animals. Emergency services can’t help evacuate your pets or larger animals in emergency situations, and not all evacuation centers will accept them (although this is changing). The responsibility is entirely yours, so  you need to know where you’ll take your animals and how you’ll get them there. Most people rely on taking them to friends or family, but this can sometimes mean that different animals need to go to different places.
  • Plan for what will happen if you’re not at home, or can’t get back home. No one likes considering this situation, but it is often a reality. Speak to neighbors or nearby friends about what you would like them to do if you’re not home (and offer them your support if they’re away). Make sure you have contact numbers for neighbors and those who might be able to help in these situations.
  • Practice your plan. Nobody likes to embrace the possible reality of an emergency, but all professional preparedness advice recommends practicing your plan – which is particularly important with pets. It’s better to find out early that your ideal plan actually doesn’t work so you can find alternatives  and make a plan B and C. This is much easier if you aren’t in a panicked situation with the threat of imminent danger.

Remember, your animals depend on you. Plan for all the human and non-human animals in your household, and stay safe.

Halo Pets

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Which Grammy Award Winners Help Dogs, Cats in Need?

As we get ready to watch the Grammy Awards, here’s a look back at just a few of the many performers who have won not only the coveted accolade, but also a place in our hearts for turning up the…

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George Bird Evans and his Old Hemlock setters

George Bird Evans was the most famous gundog writer West Virginia ever produced. He raised a strain of close-working English setter at his eighteenth century home in Preston County.

The home was named “Old Hemlock,” and his setter strain started with a dog bred George Ryman. The Ryman strain was heavy in Laverack blood, so the dogs look more like what an international audience would think an English setter would look like. They also point with their tails horizon and not erect (“showing off the license plate,” as my Grandpa called it).

This film is colorized from the 1950s, and you can see how good the grouse hunting was in parts of the Alleghenies, including some amazing footage of Canaan Valley, the Blackwater River, and Dolly Sods– “the Canadian Zone” of West Virginia.

These dogs are beautiful but still quite useful. The strain exists today, but it is maintained with more scrutiny and quality control than any gun dog breed that isn’t a German HPR.

The commentary on these dogs and the birds is quite good. I particularly like the discussion of a gray phase ruffed grouse being taken– the only one ever shot in these mountains. Virtually every ruffed grouse in West Virginia is a red phase. The red phase is the minority color for the species, but it isn’t here. Red ruffed grouse are an Appalachian specialty.

I enjoyed this footage of the grouse days long passed, especially those “Canaan days.”




Natural History

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Sudden Weight Loss in Dogs: Signs and Symptoms

Sudden weight loss in a dog that is not attributable to increased exercise or activity should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian. Some dogs do experience cyclical weight changes because they live in seasonal climates and are exercised and walked less during the cold winter months.

To be healthy, a dog should have sufficient fat covering the ribs. …
Dog’sHealth.com Blog

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Interrupt “Bad” Behavior With A Reward!

interrupting bad behavior

We have all heard about ways to stop your dog from doing something we don’t like by basically “snapping him out of it,” using various methods of distracting him from his shenanigans.

There’s the squirt bottle that often comes up as a supposedly harmless intervention. Some trainers suggest that if you have a really stubborn dog who seems insensitive to the squirt of plain water that you put some lemon juice in the water so it stings a little if it gets in the dog’s eyes or mouth.  In theory you’re supposed to squirt the dog at the moment she’s doing the unwanted behavior and it stops her – although in truth even if it does cause a pause in her efforts to dig up your rose garden, there’s not any lasting effect. She might even find it refreshing as then return to her excavation. This means that you have to pretty much grab her by the collar and pull her away from the garden, which you could have as easily down without the squirt bottle!

There’s the shake can of pennies, which many trainers make themselves from an empty can filled with a handful of coins and duct tape over the open end. The owner is supposed to give this can a vigorous shake toward the dog at the precisely-timed moment that coincides with the dog embarking on the behavior – like jumping up on a visitor. In theory, the shake can sound will startle him and take his mind off the task. In truth, I’ve never timed it well or had the pennies inside make enough of a clatter to “scare a dog straight.”  It usually results in a withering look from the dog when he realizes how inept I am at getting across my wishes.

A big ring of door keys is another tool espoused by some trainers. They suggest having handy a ring of keys you can throw in the dog’s general direction when you want him to stop chasing the cat, for instance (although it probably scares the cat more than the dog and makes them both go even faster).

I guess you could say these interrupters fall into the category of “positive” training, because they are presumably not cruel or harmful, intended only as interrupters of the dog’s shenanigans, without being harsh. However, if the interruption doesn’t happen,then it’s harder on the dog, who is baffled by what you want and then gets subjected to angry frustrated words from you. In my view, it’s unfair to the dog because he doesn’t really absorb the message you’re trying to get across.

So here’s a novel idea: how about changing what your dog is doing by calling him to you with a delicious treat? It has to be an extra delicious treat – you can’t just have a dog biscuit! The treat has to be better than the pleasure of the behavior he’s exhibiting and you’ll get the same effect as harsher tactics – your dog stops his behavior to come to you. And you get an opportunity to be the benevolent leader, reliable dispenser of All Good Things!

The treat needs to be bits of hot dog, cheese or one of the pure protein freeze dried treats that creates joy in your dog’s mouth! You need a super yummy treat to get their attention focused on you. And give a few treats in a  row, a real jackpot to make listening and coming to you – even when highly distracted – an enjoyable choice.  

Here’s an example: my girls Maisie and Wanda play extremely rough between them – slamming into each other at full tilt like rugby players, their jaws snapping the air like castanets. I know they’re having a grand time, but I worry their adrenaline levels will go too high and they’ll lose their self-control and hurt one another. They are each more than 80 lbs of pure muscle. Maisie goes at Wanda from behind and tries to bite her back legs out from under her. Wanda launches herself at Maisie with such force their ears fly up in the air.

I used to yell at them to try and get them to stop – wave my arms frantically. I’d even tried a shake can, but they were oblivious. However, because I always have a pocketful of Halo’s Liv-a- Littles when i go out with the dogs (for insurance that they will always come when I call out that word) they know that what comes out of the right coat pocket is reliably delicious. “Hey girls!” I call out in a happy voice as they are knocking each other over in the snow – and I hold out two chunks of dried beef right as they are knocking into each other. “Here!” I call out cheerfully (not in a scolding or frantic tone) and they stop what they are doing to grab their morsel. Then I feed them a few more pieces (I’ll often put different Liv-a-Little proteins in one pocket for the delight of variety),to reinforce the belief that all good things come out of my right pocket! But also to take their minds off what they had been doing.It’s all I need to do to break the spell and point their attention in a different direction. get them to chill out.

A friend who saw me do this misunderstood and asked why I was “rewarding bad behavior” with a treat – but the reward is actually for stopping what they are doing for paying attention to me – which is the best reward of all!
Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

Halo Pets

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Freba Maulauizada story is amazing and appreciatab…

Freba Maulauizada story is amazing and appreciatable

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John Guille Millais’s retriever named Jet



A few months ago, I wrote about how Sir Everett Millais created the modern basset hound when the inbred strains of Norman basset that were being bred in England were crossed with a bloodhound.

Sir Everett Millais was a dog show person. He was obsessed with developing the basset hound as we know it today, and as a judge, he was adamant about the newly developing English strains of dachshund take more after the hound component of their heritage than the “terrier” component.

Everett was the son of Sir John Everett Millais, a noted painter from a prominent Jersey family, and most “dog people” generally know only about his eldest son. The story of the cross between the Norman basset and the bloodhound well-documented breed lore, and much of our understanding of the dachshund in English-speaking countries comes from his work in founding that breed in England.

But of this particular Millais family, there was another son who had an interest in dogs. The youngest son of Sir John Everett Millais was John Guille Millais, an author, a painter, and naturalist of some note. I once wrote about his account of sheep-killing “Labrador dogs” in Newfoundland.

I paid almost no attention this author, other than I noted he was the younger brother of Sir Everett.  I searched around for more information about John Guille, but I got bored. I made a mental note of his name and then largely forgot about him.

A few years ago I came across a book written by John Guille.  It was called The Wildfowler in Scotland, which was published in 1901.  The book is ostensibly a how-to manual on shooting water and seabirds in Scotland, but it also includes accounts of his favorite retriever. Her name was Jet, and she was nothing like the celebrated show dogs of his brother:

“In my early days of shore shooting I was fortunate enough to procure a dog which eventually turned out to be (so far as my experience goes) the very best that ever stood on four legs. ‘Jet,’ for that was her name, was but a pup of ten months—a smooth-coated retriever of a most gentle and affectionate disposition, and quite unbroken—when I bought her of an innkeeper in Perth. She was the keenest and best nosed dog I have ever seen—too keen, as I found at first, and constantly running-in; but eventually she settled down and became almost human in her intelligence.

Every man becomes sentimental about something, and if I say too much here about dear old ‘Jet,’ who was my constant companion for sixteen years, the reader must forgive me. Many are the tales I could tell of her prowess; but I will confine myself to a few instances of her indomitable perseverance and pluck as a swimmer. One trick I mention as interesting, for she acquired it through her own cunning. Every shooter knows that while directing his eyes to the front or flank, as he naturally does while walking along the coast, birds often come up from behind, and before he can observe them, sheer off out of shot.  ‘Jet,’ however, was quite up to this.  As she trotted along behind me, she constantly glanced back over her shoulder, and if she saw anything coming, she would at once run in front of me, gazing alternatively at myself and the fowl in an inquiring manner,  thereby giving the chance of obtaining something desirable. There was no sea, however thunderous–even the great winter breakers of the North Atlantic– that she would not face, if I asked her to fetch some fallen treasure.

When the seas were unusually heavy, she betrayed a most remarkable instinct in preserving herself from being dashed from the rocks.  Instead of plunging into the mass of water, as a breaker surged towards her, she would allow herself to be carried out on the wash of the receding rush in time to meet the next huge wave and top it just as about to fall with a force that would have knocked her senseless had it broken upon her. More than once in a heavy sea she was not quick enough in this exploit, and paid smartly for her daring.  An instance occurred one day in the winter when I was lying among rocks near the Black Craig, Orkney Isles,  during one of those big westerly gales when Arctic gulls and Eiders come along the shore.  I had been watching them for some days previously, and whilst this gale was it height, a male eider came by, at which I fired.  The bird was hard hit, and made it out to sea, but had not gone 50 yards when it fell dead among the breakers.  As the sea was wild in the extreme, and I knew the bird would soon be blown ashore, I never thought of sending my dog after it; but ‘Jet’ who was pottering about in the rocks at a short distance, unfortunately had her eye also on the eider, and seeing it fall, at once made for it, in spite of all my efforts to stop her, all my shouting drowned by the roar of the ocean.  I could only stand and admire her pluck as she fought through the first two breakers. Now those who have lived much by the sea have noticed that those heavy breakers always travel over the face of the ocean in threes.  The third did for ‘Jet’ as she was trying to raise herself and look about for the bird. It completely broke over her, and I felt a chill go to my heart as, the next moment, I saw her body floating helplessly admidst the rush of seething waters.” (pg 45-47).

Jet eventually washed up on the shore, alive but severely draggled. Millais carried her home two miles, and although modern retriever people would have her much more steady to shot, this tale is a story of her pluck and drive.

In the Tay Estuary,  Millais once shot a brent goose (“brant” goose for North Americans), but left the bird only slightly pinioned. Jet took off after the bird in the water, but the bird was a much faster swimmer than the dog.  The dog pursued the goose a great distance from the shore, and Millais estimated that he ran three miles trying to call her back in:

“I began to lose all hope of ever seeing my dear doggie again. However, by the merest chance, there happened that afternoon to be an old fellow collecting bait in a spot where never before or since have I seen a man so employed. We at once asked his help, but in vain. ‘Na, na,’ he said, ‘A ken fine yon spring tide; a few meenutes to get there and a’ day to get back.’ Bribery and persuasion having alike failed, I told the old chap that as I had no intention of seeing my dog drowned I should take his boat whether he liked it or not. That he did not like it was clear from his reply; but a glance at my beaming friend convinced him that resistance would be useless, so he sullenly assisted us to launch his coble.

It took about ten minutes to run out to ‘Jet’ and her quarry, and when the latter was promptly dispatched the staunch dog fetched it to the boat, obviously proud of her accomplishment. Poor old girl, she little knew how near death she had been! Without the help that only by good luck we were able to render, she would have gone on another mile or two; then, feeling tired, would have tried in vain to make headway back’ to the shore. It took us about four and a half hours to make the coast again in that angry sea.

At all sorts of shooting, whether grouse driving, covert shooting, or wildfowling, ‘Jet’ was equally reliable; and having constant practice throughout the shooting season, she became as good a retriever as the most exacting sportsman could desire. At flight shooting she was simply perfection, and seemed, like her master, to take special delight in sitting at twilight waiting for the black forms and whistling pinions of the approaching duck. On ‘coarse’ nights, when duck flying by are seen almost as soon as they are heard, a dog is seldom quicker than a man in catching sight of them; but on still, fine nights, when the moon rises early, and the birds can be heard approaching from a distance, a good dog will always see them before the shooter, and will indicate by his motions the precise direction from which they are coming. ‘Jet’ was very good at this, almost invariably rising from her sitting posture, stiffening herself in pointer fashion, and whining if she thought I was not paying sufficient attention to her suggestions. Frequently, too, in an evening, when the wind is not too strong, many trips of birds will come down wind, from behind the shooter, and on these occasions ‘Jet’s’ sharp ears have often helped me to a shot that I should otherwise have lost from lack of time to change my position.

And now good-bye, old ‘Jet,’ fondest and faithfullest of companions! Stone deaf, and stiff with rheumatism, she quietly lay down and died, in 1897, and I can hardly hope to ever see her like again (pg. 49-50).

Jet was a poorly trained animal by our standards today, but she had lots of drive and intelligence that could have been crafted into a fine working animal.  Her longevity is something that many retriever people would like to see again. In no breed of retriever do dogs routinely reach those great ages now.

Jet was not purebred by any stretch. She was a “collie-and-smooth-coated-retriever mongrel.” From her photo in Wildfowler, she looked very much like a small flat-coated retriever, so the “smooth coat” in her breed description like refers to her being a cross between some form of collie and what became the flat-coated retriever. She had definite feathering, and if she had been a cross with a collie and the dogs that became the Labrador retriever, she would have been without feathering. The flash of white on her muzzle might point to her collie ancestry, but she would have been very typical of the retrievers that Millais and other sporting young men at the time would have had.

John Guille Millais recommended crosses between “the curly and the waving retrievers. As a general rule a curly coat denotes strength, intelligence, and a relish for the hard and coarse work of the water; whilst the wavy-coated dogs are more amenable to discipline, and gifted. with a softness of mouth and sweetness of disposition not to be found in any other of the canine species” (pg. 44).

John Guille was ultimately going against his brother’s aesthetic. His favorite dogs are retrievers bred for work:

“In selecting a pup for wildfowling work the shooter cannot be too careful in his inquiries as to the cleverness, mouth, taste for the water, and other characteristics of the mother. Where possible, he should ascertain this for himself, as the mental capacity and proclivities of the mother are generally transmitted to the pups. I think am correct in saying that a dog gets from her most of his abilities—good, bad, or indifferent; while his external form is due rather to his father. Good bench qualities will, of course, add to his value, as affording more pleasure to the eye, but otherwise, they are of no importance (pg 44).

John Guille Millais would eventually become a major force in conservation.  He was a co-founder of what became Fauna & Flora International, and his travels in North America, Europe, and Africa brought him into contact with many wild things. He wrote of his experiences in those regions, but he also wrote tomes of natural history, including books on magnolias and rhododendrons.  He wrote about deer species and deer hunting, and he often returned to the subject of wing-shooting and the natural history of game birds and waterfowl.

Like so many young men of his class, he came to natural history with the gun in his hand and a retriever at his heels. It was around the same time that Jet came into his life that John Guille and his father met the ornithologist John Gould.  That meeting laid the eggs of a passion that would drive the young man out onto the windswept coasts with his little black retriever. (It also became the inspiration for Sir John Everett Millais’s painting The Ruling Passion.)

John Guille Millais, at least when it came to dogs, was a bit of rebel compared to his brother. Everett Millais was a doyen among the dog show set. He was more interested in producing dogs that could be judged and discussed in lavish sitting rooms. John Guille was more interested in the wilder working dogs, the ones with rugged coats and lots of pluck and courage.

I am so glad that John Guille Millais was able to have this connection with Jet. She was a wonderful creature, the very sort of dog that burns your psyche deeply, the kind that visits you in dreams and leaves the memories waxing rheumy.



Natural History

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Meet Lynette! Your purchases have sponsored her kennel!

Meet beautiful Lynette! As you know we’re sponsoring a dog kennel (and a cat kennel) at San Antonio’s Animal Defense League of Texas, one made possible by your purchase in our PawZaar gift store. Our…

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Asthma Treatments for Dogs

Pet asthma is a medical condition that’s easy to diagnose in dogs and there are several different asthma treatments for dogs that can control the symptoms of this disease.

Asthma in dogs is defined as the sudden narrowing of a dog’s airways that causes breathing difficulties. Asthma can be triggered when a pet inhales something it’s allergic to. When this happens, …
Dog’sHealth.com Blog

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Halo and Vitacost Celebrate Plant-based Lifestyle at VegFest Expo

VegFest is a celebration of the health, environmental, and animal welfare benefits of a plant-based lifestyle showcasing plant-based cuisine and cruelty-free products that are part of a vegan lifestyle.

Last month, Halo partnered with Vitacost, an online retailer for healthy products, to showcase Halo’s Garden of Vegan, a holistic alternative diet for protein sensitive dogs. Our vegan recipe is a complete and balanced meat-free recipe made with chickpeas, non-GMO vegetables and fruits, nourishing oils, and added vitamins and minerals. The 12,000 festival attendees had an opportunity to win some Halo Vegan dog food while Vitacost’s online community of 400,000 followers had a chance to win a 5K-bowl of food donation to a shelter of the winner’s choice. Now that’s what we call a win-win situation!

Thank you Vitacost for helping us celebrate a movement that highlights holistic non-GMO, cruelty-free products.

Does your dog eat our vegan recipe? Share a picture with us using #HaloVeganDogFood. Remember, Halo feeds it forward, donating over 1.5 million bowls annually. As always, Halo will donate a bowl to a shelter every time YOU buy. Thank you for helping #HaloFeeditForward

Halo Pets

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