Rescue Dog Sherman & the Torture of Heartworm+

Sherman is the sweetest Belgian Malinois I have ever met. He is currently in the care of American Belgian Malinois Rescue (ABMR) and will likely spend his remaining years in their care as well. The rescue found him in a shelter in Florida where he was likely found as a stray before he made his way to the pound. 

Before they could pull him from the shelter, they needed to secure a foster to take him in. Little did Sherman know, that would send him on a trip across several states and into a completely different climate. The foster available to take him was in Grand Ledge, MI….. but before he could make the trip, he needed to get well enough to travel. You see, Sherman is heartworm positive, he has a grade 4 heart murmur, an enlarged spleen and when he was pulled from the shelter he was ~20 pounds underweight. His initial Florida foster was able to put some weight on him and get him well enough to travel to his permanent foster in Michigan, but unfortunately they were unable to do any treatment for the heartworm. Sherman’s compounded health issues make him ineligible for heartworm treatment which also lowers his life expectancy.

Let’s talk about that for a minute…..There’s heartworm PREVENTATIVE and heartworm TREATMENT for those who don’t know. The heartworm preventative is something you give your dog monthly to prevent them from contracting heartworm. The actual treatment once they have heartworm is a different medicine and much more complicated.

The heartworm, once contracted, live primarily in the right side of the heart, and in the nearby large blood vessels. The female worms produce large numbers of immature heartworms which circulate in the blood.

The microfilaria (baby heartworms) are ingested by a mosquito biting an infected dog. After living in the mosquito, the microfilaria is injected into another dog when the mosquito feeds. It takes about six months for the heartworm to reach adulthood after infecting the dog. If you have your dog on heartworm preventative, it is very unlikely the microfilaria will survive and therefore preventing the disease.

If heartworm is not prevented, a great deal of damage can occur before any obvious signs of heartworm are even noticed. Delayed treatment may result in heart failure and/or permanent damage to the liver, lungs, and kidneys with eventual death.

Treatment for heartworm disease consists of a series of injections, based on the dogs weight, that will kill off the adult worms. The dog may be required to stay in a hospital for several days after the injections as reactions to the medication are extremely common and range in severity. Dogs receiving treatment also need to be kept on crate rest to prevent the dead worms from breaking off and causing heart attacks, strokes and could also float to the lungs and cause damage.

Back to Sherman, he is not able to receive the treatment for heartworm because he is already in bad shape and the actual treatment may be too much for him where he may not survive the injection. ABMR is taking the approach  to “prevent” new microfilaria by giving him monthly heartworm preventative in hopes it will prolong his life and stop the progression of heartworm disease.

Because of his severe health issues, Sherman will not be able to be adopted out and is considered a hospice foster dog in the care of the rescue. He will live out his senior life in the care of ABMR and his foster mom, Robin.

Since arriving in Michigan, Sherman’s foster noticed his fur was thin and equipped him with a couple of jackets and boots to keep him warm in the harsh Michigan winter climate. He’s gained another 10 pounds in Robin’s care and has gained considerable energy. She says he is sweet as sugar and perfectly content to just sleep most of the time on one of the five big dog beds that litter her floor. He is totally unassuming and doesn’t ask for much.

Along with his laundry list of ailments, his ears have a bunch of little hematomas in them and don’t stand up anymore so he doesn’t always look like a normal Malinois, but he doesn’t seem to care. Sherman also has arthritis.

Now that he is also on medications for arthritis, he is feeling so much better and is reported to even “trot” around the yard. The medications and a happy home have absolutely improved his quality of life.

This leads me to another side commentary…. Senior dogs. Whether they are dropped off at the shelter, left with rescues or just released into the world, there are some individuals, that instead of seeking better care for their senior dogs, they let them go- into the responsibilities of others. These dogs are most of the time perfectly wonderful dogs with nothing wrong other than their joints hurting them a little and their bodies moving a little slower. While these senior dogs could have more health issues than this, regardless of their health status, these animals need to find care within rescues and for these rescues it is usually allowing them to live out their lives in foster care.

For these rescues, this means sometimes extensive medical treatment and costs that they will not recoup without donations. These senior dogs are able to live their golden years in amazing care and the rescues foot the entire bill.

For those in Michigan, I want to highlight a couple rescues I know of that take in senior dogs with the anticipation they will not leave their care….

Silver Muzzle Cottage – rescue and hospice for homeless senior dogs.

3785 Rice Rd NW, Rapid City, MI 49676 (231) 264-8408


Joanie’s Place- Senior Dog Sanctuary Linden, MI (248) 982-8602

Donate: (Joanie’s place is supported through Stepping Stones)

Canine Companions Rescue Center

PO Box 1017, Clarkston, MI 48347 (248) 834-9419


As stated above, American Belgian Malinois Rescue will take senior Belgian Malinois dogs on long term hold as do many breed specific rescues. Please consider their group as well for donations.

American Belgian Malinois Rescue

PO Box 847 Stevens Point, WI 54481


January – National Walk your Dog Month

You Tell your kids or your spouse I’m going to take the dog for a “Trip around the block”, or an ”adventure in the neighborhood”. And then you spell out the word W-A-L-K versus saying it, but then you grab the leash and your dog knows. The tail wags, they’re automatically jumping up and down and they get excited. They love going for their stroll, especially with you. This is the highlight of their day! 

There is a lot more to walking your dog then getting them exercise too. A lot of people argue their dog can get enough exercise by just running around the backyard.  Well, as they get exercise on a walk around the block they also get a lot of stimulation. Dogs can get bored smelling the same things over and over again. They need enrichment, they need something different, and they need the new scenery to stimulate their brains. 

Let’s start with all of the physical benefits to walking your dog…… By taking them on a daily stroll, you are keeping them exercised and it helps keep their weight in control and their body conditioned. Walking them also keeps their joints moving and in better health and also benefits urinary track and digestive movement. By keeping them moving, you keep them moving longer in their lives. Dogs that are overweight and get less exercise tend to have more health issues and earlier in life as well. They get compounded the less and less they move. By walking them daily or at least 3-4 times per week, you are keeping their circulation moving more vigorously and it improves their heart health as well.

Along with all the physical benefit, there is so much more mental benefit to your pets as well. Dogs don’t like to be bored and if you give them something constructive to do, like take a stroll, they are much less likely to do something destructive (like chew the your $400 jimmy choo heels…. yes, that did happen). Walking exercises their mind as much as their body. Seeing neighborhood wildlife, other pets out with their owners, exploring new walking paths and finding that new spot to pee that you know is actually not new but seems new to them is all great mental stimulation. Walking the same space over and over in a fenced in area may leave your dogs to be bored or even cause anxiety them anxiety. Waking in new areas also releases excess energy and helps dogs sleep better at night. 

Okay, I know for some of you, you just don’t have time. You want to get your dog walked every day, but work, children, events ALL get in the way. I understand this completely. There are numerous dog walking services out there though that can help with this. There’s also a huge benefit to utilizing dog walkers during the day while you’re at work. A lot of times dog walking services will pick up your dog along with several others and walk them all together. This is a great advantage in socializing your dog especially if they normally stay home by themselves a lot. Socializing is also great in stimulating your dogs brain and keeping them less bored and less likely to chew your couch. 

For a listing of pet walkers/sitters in Michigan, visit the Michigan Canine Resource Guide©. You are able to access their online version at: 
Michigan Canine Resource Guide © Electronic Version/PDF

Pet sitters and walkers are listed on page 30-32. The Michigan Canine Resource Guide© is an excellent tool to find pet vendors in the state of Michigan, not just limited to pet sitting and walking.

October – National Pit Bull Awareness Month

This is a difficult topic. Pit Bulls. It shouldn’t have to be, but it is.

There is a whole month dedicated nationally to this breed of dog and the great things about them and yet there is so much misinformation and anger surrounding this breed that is so unnecessary. I will give you the facts though, as I have found them from reputable information sources, and hopefully some of the confusion may become clear.

The name Pit Bull is often a term used to speak of a generalized group of dogs that are “bully breeds”. Among this group is often included Staffordshire Terriers, Bulldogs and Mastiffs. There is in fact a specific breed called American Pit Bull Terrier. The photo above is of Penny, she is an American Pit Bull Terrier (APT). She is also among some of the most well behaved and happy dogs I have ever met.

Penny loves her ball.

Because of the actions of a few dogs that are like her, whether APT or a mix of that or possibly a completely different breed altogether, this breed of dog and her cousins are demonized as aggressive and dangerous. So, I did some research.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), statistically speaking, Chihuahuas are actually the breed most commonly associated with dog bites. While Pit Bull Terriers are among the top ten of most reported dogs to bite… they are among several other breeds as well that are not villainized and scrutinized as closely as PBTs. Aside for Chi’s and PBTs dog bite incident to the CDC, among the top reported dogs are also :

Bulldog, German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, Lhasa Apso, Jack Russell Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Bull Terrier, Pekingese and Papillion

Here are some more tidbits to chew on…. (sorry for the pun)

  • Over 30 breeds and dog-types were associated with dog bite-related fatalities
  • Most dog bites involve dogs who are not spayed or neutered
  • 25% of fatal attacks were inflicted by chained dogs of many different breeds
  • 6,244 U.S. Postal Service employees suffered from dog bites in 2017 from over 60 different breeds.

While PBTs have a strong jaw as stated in many news reports when a “pitbull” like dog was involved in an injury, there are several breeds that have stronger jaw strength and could potentially inflict more damage. With this said, there are well behaved and happy dogs of these breeds just as there is with PBTs, especially when paired with responsible owners… Here you will find breed and jaw strength as PSI (pounds per square inch) (Reported by

  1. Kangal: 743 PSI
  2. American Bandogge: 731 PSI
  3. Cane Corso: 700 PSI
  4. Dogue De Bordeaux: 556 PSI
  5. Tosa Inu: 556 PSI
  6. English Mastiff: 556 PSI
  7. Dogo Canario: 540 PSI
  8. Dogo Argentino: 500 PSI
  9. Wolfdog: 406 PSI
  10. Leonberger: 399 PSI
  11. Akita Inu: 350-400 PSI
  12. Rottweiler: 328 PSI

While on my journey as a pet photographer, I have to say that my encounter with any dog, cat or other pet has been nothing but positive, I believe it goes back to responsible ownership and education. There are certainly owners that have PBTs that are not responsible, but that is across the board for every breed and mix of breeds as well. I don’t think it is responsible to make laws that discriminate on breeds when there isn’t information and science to back up the claims.

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.