National Animal Pain Awareness Month – September

WARNING!! This article includes graphic images some readers may find disturbing.

Pain sucks. Always. In any form.

Pain isn’t fun for anyone, and our pet friends are no exception to this. The problem for our pets and animals is they aren’t able to vocalize their pain.

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month. This awareness helps educate and inform pet owners about animal discomfort. The goal is to help pet owners learn about their pets’ health and well-being when it comes to pain management, be it acute or chronic pain. This can greatly improve their quality of life.

If something is thought to cause pain in humans it will very likely produce pain in animals as well. Via these photos, I am hoping to encourage owners to take an active role in recognizing the signs of pain in animals and seeking veterinary care. Pain can cause our pets to become less active and even cause a lack in their appetite. Pay attention to their behaviour even if there are not visible signs of injury. By seeking care immediately, they are able to recover and also receive pain medications as needed per their injury or disease.

The photos in the post are of Nikki. She was found in Warren, Mi by an animal control officer. She had a severe injury to her leg and while she is stoic and able to endure the pain of her injury, I assure you, this injury has been awful for her. No pet should have to go through this. It is important to pay attention to our pets and what they get into in our homes, it is also important to do something immediately. While Nikki’s injury could have been worse, it also could have been taken care of much sooner than it was.

Nikki is very fortunate to have been taken in by a rescue that is able to care for her. Canine Companions Rescue Center (CCRC) in Clarkston, MI has been fostering her until she is well enough to be adopted. Her veterinary care is extremely expensive and will continue to add up. She needs daily changes of her bandage as well as various medications for pain and to prevent infection.

CCRC is great rescue and deserves our attention and donations. They are a 501 (c) (3) and all donations to this rescue are tax deductible. While she is not up for adoption yet, she will be soon. If you would like to donate to CCRC or potentially adopt Nikki, see their website at

Puppy Mill Awareness Day – September 21

Today is an annual day to mark awareness of the squalid conditions of puppy mills. While there are many good and reputable breeders out there, there are many more backyard “breeders” or Puppy Mills that confine puppies and their parents to terrible and filthy conditions inside cages. Their whole lives they have no room to move and never any time outside.

Meet Ralphie. He is from a puppy mill. He was born in a confined space and then sold as a puppy in a store in Nashville, TN as Jack Russell Terrier. As you may have guessed, he is not a JRT. He is actually a Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, American Eskimo and Poodle Mix. After the purchase in TN, the folks that bought him possibly realized he wasn’t a JRT or maybe it was because of an issue he has with his back legs, they then decided they didn’t want him anymore.

He was fortunate enough to be rescued before bounced to a shelter. The group Pilots and Paws flew him to Grand Rapids, MI to were he was placed with a rescue called Pet Tales. From there he was adopted and living the most amazing and best live in Howell, MI with his brothers Thomas and Rufus. (Cat and Dog)

Because he was born in a confined space when he was a puppy and never let out, he now has problems with his back legs. You may notice when you see him that his back legs are rotated and his knee caps are on the outside of his legs…. but quite honestly, this doesn’t keep him from moving! He is a quick little guy.

When puppies are born in mills like he was, they often receive no veterinary care, are abused, never get any socialization, receive poor food, no clean water, and lack adequate exercise space.

In Michigan we have yet to completely ban the sale of animals/puppy mill dogs in pet stores and last year (2018) there were even legislators that were trying to disallow cities and townships from banning the sale of pets in stores. This wasn’t passed and now cities like Royal Oak, MI have passed ordinances that will not allow the sale of pets in stores. This ban cuts back on the amount of potential puppy mill dogs that could be sold in the city.

We can only hope more and more cities and townships will move forward in banning these sales. This will, we hope, eventually lead to the puppy mill industry ceasing to operate.

It seems larger pet stores are more frequently asking rescues to come in and have adoption days with rescue dogs versus dogs from potential puppy mills. These events have dogs get adopted and also bring awareness to the need for rescue groups and their efforts to save dog lives.

Big thank you to Erica for allowing photos of Ralphie for this and for sharing his story with us. Ralphie has his own FB page where you can follow his journey and read more about his wonderful life. See his page at:

Ralphie also has his own Instagram and you can follow him-

Service Dog Awareness Month (September)!

While we see Service Dog/Pet information and articles in the news, there is a lot of miss information out there. I’m finding more and more people are claiming to have a service animal when in fact their pet is not. It is troubling as it affects those that really do have a service animal and need them. When a “fake” service animal could potentially misbehave or even be aggressive in public when they aren’t properly trained, it can potentially affect those that have them.

Austell is a Service Dog. She is trained to stay in place and alert when her human is having distress.

Service Dogs/Pets are those animals that help an individual perform a certain function and are trained to perform certain tasks. Service dogs assist specific individuals that have a disability. These dogs can include any sex or breed as long as they are trained.

Where some confusion steps in with “Service Dogs” is there are also Emotional Support Dogs/Animals (ESA) as well as Therapy Dogs/Animals. Emotional Support dogs fall under SOME of the same guidelines as Service Dogs with regard to access and rules per the federal government, but are not granted all the same access as Service Dogs. ESAs help individuals with emotional problems by providing comfort and support. This could mean someone with PTSD or anxiety has an animal (not just dogs) that will alert or assist when an attack may occur. Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs also have more training to potentially guide a human or even pull them to safety if needed. ESAs aren’t necessarily trained this extensively, but they can be. It isn’t a requirement to be an ESA, but Service Animals MUST be trained and are also trained to stay in place when emergency personnel arrive if there is an emergency. Service Animals are the only ones that are considered “Medical Equipment”

Therapy dogs are a different category that can get lumped into service animals, but they are not allowed the same access as Service and Emotional Support animals. They are trained to provide comfort to people, especially in hospitals, nursing homes and schools. While therapy dogs receive training and need to have several levels of certification (Canine Good Citizen, etc) on how to handle themselves in public, medical facilities and around the people they’re comforting, they may not be trained to do specific task to help with a disability. Stay tuned for a separate blog post on just therapy animals and their roles and jobs to help humans.

The Americans with Disabilities Act through the Department of Justice has an excellent fact sheet on Service Animals and their requirements. See their website at:

While researching the information for this post, I found this article about “Fake Service Animals”. It is a good read and provides further information.

Whether you see a pet in public with or without a vest, please also don’t assume you can pet them. Always ask the owner/handler first if it is appropriate to approach the dog/pet. Usually the dogs with vests will have patches associating the dog as a Service Dog, Emotional Support Pet or Therapy Animal.

Austell has a longer handle on the back of her vest for pulling her human out of stressful or anxiety producing situations.

A big THANK YOU to our doggie model Austell and her human Courtney for sharing time with me and helping educate on Service Dogs. These dogs are super amazing.

Courtney has Cystic Fibrosis, Liver Fibrosis and Liver Cirrhosis and when her enzyme levels get too high Austell alerts. She also alerts when Courtney is having anxiety, about to have a panic attack, she knows how to find exit doors and their car. She can do deep pressure therapy and item retrieval as well. She will also help her human get off the ground.

Canine Advocacy Program

I’m always asked about how much I love my job and I won’t disagree, it’s a great job to have. If you love animals, it’s an amazing job. While spending my days with people’s pets is amazing, there are other aspects to this work that make it even more phenomenal.

I volunteer. A lot. AND I LOVE IT.

Through this volunteer work, I’m able to meet so many amazing people that work for little to no pay and they do it either to help animals or help people through animals and pets. I spent a little bit of time with one of these groups and I can’t get them out of my mind.

Dan with the Canine Advocacy Program (CAP) met me at the Oakland County District Court Building in Troy, MI to introduce me to two working dogs that he has helped to train. These dogs, through the program he helped to create, are trained to assist child victims who are being called as witnesses to testify. Are you crying yet? I’ll mail you some tissue. After meeting this bunch, I had to stop at Costco and stock up on my lifetime supply of Kleenex just to get me through the photo edits.

Freida smiling knowing she is doing good work.

While CAP has dogs in Metro-Detroit, Dan explained to me he has 30 dogs working all over the state of Michigan including two in the Upper Peninsula. He has trained 35 dogs and would love to expand the program and send more pups out to courtrooms that allow dog advocates.

We were able to meet in Troy, MI at the Oakland County 52-4 District Court in the courtroom of the Honorable Kirsten Nielsen Hartig. Judge Hartig allows these type of canine programs in her court and is an incredibly enthusiastic dog lover.

\Judge Hartig with two CAP dogs, Freida and Lance

While these children are prepping for their testimony, someone from CAP introduces them to “their” dog for the day and gives them instructions on how this pup will assist them through the process. They are given some time to get to know the dog and instantaneously a bond is formed. The canine advocate then accompanies the youth to the witness stand and sits with them to ease their anxiety and any tension they may have. This is especially important for those kids that are confronting abusers and perpetrators that have in some way hurt them.

All of the dogs entering into this program are from Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester Hills. The dogs that were not selected for assisting blind humans at Leader Dogs are typically found other homes and potentially positions that would still have them “working” like they are with CAP.

I wanted to share with you the amazing things humans are doing with the assistance of our pet friends to not only help others, but especially to help those that are the most vulnerable…. children.

If you would like to learn more about this Non-Profit, please visit their website at They are accepting donations to further assist in expanding and training new dogs.

It is a Ruff Life!

I’ll admit, I’ve started and scrapped a couple of blogs in my life…. but I am hoping to start again and start fresh and new with a different perspective. I am hoping this blog will contain useful information and helpful ideas as well as fabulous photos I share on my journey to try and meet all the doggies and kittems, guinea pigs and rabbits and any pets we call our best friends.