Author Archive

ALR Next Adoption Date – FEBRUARY 11th, 2018 ~~ Noon to 2 pm!!


Atlanta Lab Rescue will hold our monthly adoption at Petsmart in Buckhead from Noon – 2 PM!!   Come out and see these amazing dogs.  You can complete an application at the adoption if you haven’t already done so online. We try to have as many dogs at the adoption as possible!  Come and see if your best friend is waiting for you!

LOCATION: Petsmart – 3221 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA 30305 (SE corner of Peachtree Rd. & Piedmont Ave.)

See you then!!



10 Thanksgiving Foods You Should Never Give Your Dog

Check out this very informative article from I LOVE DOGS by Katie Finlay – very timely with Thanksgiving in a few days!

10 Thanksgiving Foods You Should Never Give Your Dog

Thanksgiving in the United States is just around the corner, and with the delicious food ahead many dog owners will want to share the feast with their pups. But there are a number of foods traditionally eaten during the Thanksgiving holiday that can be very dangerous for our pets. If you’re not sure, check out this list below!

#1 – Cooked Bones


Never, ever give your dog cooked bones. While all cooked bones are dangerous, cooked poultry bones are especially concerning as they will crack and splinter. Not only  do they pose a choking hazard, they can puncture your dog’s digestive tract and have you running straight to the veterinary emergency hospital.

#2 – Onions & Garlic


While some argue there are benefits to feeding our dogs garlic, the Pet Poison Helpline warns that garlic is actually considered to be even more toxic than onions. Either way, both vegetables can cause serious problems in our dogs. Symptoms of onion or garlic toxicity include lethargy, elevated heart and respiratory rates, pale gums, and even collapse.

#3 – Grapes & Raisins


The fact that grapes and raisins are bad for dogs is becoming common knowledge among pet owners, and for good reason! They are toxic. While some dogs can consume grapes and/or raisins with no symptoms, it’s simply just not worth the risk. This is because consuming grapes or raisins can actually lead to irreversible kidney damage. So it’s best to make sure these are far out of reach of your pup.

#4 – Milk & Dairy Products


Many dogs are lactose intolerant, and consuming large amounts of dairy products can make them very gassy and cause diarrhea. While you may not be thinking about giving your pooch a glass of milk, remember that butter-filled mashed potatoes or a yummy baked mac and cheese is full of dairy. For dogs who can handle it, plain yogurt or cheese can be given sparingly.

#5 – Sugar


While sweet potatoes, yams, and pumpkin can actually be beneficial for our dogs, it’s important to remember that sugar is most definitely harmful. Candied yams and pumpkin pie should never be shared with your pup, as sugar will likely cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Long-term sugar consumption brings the same results as that in humans – tooth decay, obesity, and diabetes.


#6 – Caffeine


Often while socializing, we’d like a nice warm cup of coffee or hot tea. Although dogs don’t typically want to enjoy these beverages, it’s important to make sure they don’t get into them. Caffeine can actually be fatal if consumed in excess amounts, and once the poisoning has happened, there’s no way to recover your pup. So it’s better to be safe than sorry and keep these things out of reach!

#7 – Macadamia Nuts


Macadamia nuts are very toxic to our canine companions. Even five or six of these little guys can cause seizures, tremors, and death. It’s very important to make sure that all macadamia nuts and any food containing macadamia nuts is kept away from your pup at all times.

#8 – Fat Trimmings


Although many people consider the fat to be the most flavorful part of the meat, it’s really not a good idea to share it with your dog. Even though it’s probably one of the most common table scraps, excess cooked fat can lead to health problems such as pancreatitis and obesity.

#9 – Chocolate


This seems like the most obvious of all the foods on this list, but it’s still worth listing. During the holidays many people spend a lot of time baking delicious desserts that contain chocolate, and baking chocolate is the most dangerous for our dogs. Remember, the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. While consumption of milk chocolate or white chocolate will likely lead to excess vomiting and diarrhea, consumption of even small amounts of dark baking chocolate can be fatal.

#10 – Alcohol


Since wine is a popular treat for most occasions, it’s important to make sure that it and all other alcoholic beverages are kept away from our dogs. Alcohol has the same affect on a dog’s brain and liver as it does a human’s; they just need to consume less than we do. The more a dog consumes, the greater the effects, and the more likely they are to have permanent damage. So if you place your spiked beverage on the coffee table, make sure it stays out of Fido’s reach!

Feature Image: @wesleybanksauthor via Instagram



Atlanta Lab Rescue 5K Race Results!


On behalf of everyone at Atlanta Lab Rescue – THANK YOU! The race was an amazing success!  We so appreciate all who volunteered, planned, sponsored and ran the race!   Here is a link to the….RACE RESULTS!!!

Get ready for next year!

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

Atlanta Lab Rescue

Chloe’s Story….

We at Atlanta Lab Rescue wanted to share this touching tribute to an amazing dog…Chloe…She was adopted from ALR a while back. As you will read, she and her family had to deal with some “lab things” and overcame them with love and patience.  A bond of love between a family and their dog is a beautiful thing.  When you find “that dog” and you know it, your heat and life will never be the same.   Here is ……

Chloe’s Story ….

Chloe Belle, as Leslie would often call her, was as loving a companion as you would ever find. And the story of how our lives came together is much like a fairy tale.

It was January 13, 2008. Chloe was a rescue, and we were a family looking for a furry friend to love. Leslie would scour the Web look for just the right one. Grant, only three at the time, would sit in her lap and help her look at all the dogs.

One day, she felt she had found the perfect dog. His name was Sport and he was a yellow lab. She showed Sport to Grant and told him we would go play with him on Sunday. And if we were lucky, we might even get to bring him home. But Grant looked at the monitor filled with Brady Bunch squares of all the dogs and said, “Mommy, what about that one? What’s that dog’s name?” Leslie said, “Oh, that dog is Chloe but we’re going to look at Sport and pointed to his picture on the screen.” But Grant remained firm and said, “I like Chloe.”

Sunday came and we headed to the Pet Supermarket where the adoptions were taking place. Dogs lined the entire perimeter of the store. We were able to locate Sport and were waiting behind a number of people for our turn to pet him. Then, Grant started to wonder off on his own. He went right to Chloe and said her name. We all got to know her a little better and realized that she was indeed the perfect dog for us. We passed the home inspection and she was ours. And we were hers. Together, we were a family!

For almost ten years, we would play together and love one another. A constant and faithful companion, her loyalty never waned. She would let the kids love all over her – providing love and affection in the form of kisses and wags. Chloe would wait for Lauren to come home knowing she would burst through the door saying, “Where’s my puppy nug?” and lavishing her with attention. During the day, there was no doubt she was Leslie’s dog as she would follow her from room to room to be near her. She was always waiting to spring into action with her very ferocious bark to protect Leslie and the kids from the evil UPS man or any other suspicious people who would ring our doorbell.

Like most labs, she loved food, and she was always there to help clean up any messes on the floor when the kids were eating too. Always in the center of all the action during dinner, I will miss stepping over and around her as she would lay right in front of the stove while I was cooking.

Chloe had a healthy appetite coupled with an interesting palate. There was the time she ate hidden Easter candy, the time she ate shrimp tails, and the time she ate Lauren’s birthday cake. I still don’t know why she ate a bunch of rocks from the path behind our house. Each of these delicacies was awarded with a trip to the vet, and her file grew quite large over the years. I actually think Chloe liked going to the vet. There were always friends to see, and when went for rehab, she got to swim in the underwater treadmill while licking peanut butter off the glass. Chloe was a friend to all and everyone she met loved her.

Dogs are quite perceptive – especially Chloe. It didn’t take long for her to realize that suitcases meant we were leaving town and she was going to “camp”. I’ll never forget the time she literally laid on top of the suitcase and with her big brown puppy dog eyes said, “Please take me with you in this suitcase!”

Chloe hated the thunderstorms and would often find somewhere to hide the house. Her favorite spot was under our bed, and we’d often find a nose peeking out from under the bed. If we were playing hide and seek, she wouldn’t have been a very good hider because the enthusiastic thumping of her tail always gave her away.

Her tail… Who doesn’t remember the strength of her tail? It could (and did) knock a small child over. Yet she never stopped wagging it right down to the very end.

Her fur… For those who visited our home or rode in our car, you surely left with a lit bit of Chloe on you. It’s hard to believe an animal could produce that much fur! The Furminator was no match for her. I only wish there was a market for dog hair as she would have made us a fortune.

As she aged and her hip dysplasia worsened, her lifestyle became for sedimentary. Mornings were some of her best times, and she would always have a smile on her face when the day started. I will never forget her smile for it was contagious to our whole family, and the thumping of her tail was a signal of excitement and enthusiasm for what the adventures that awaited each of us for that day.

One could not ask for a more loyal and giving friend, and I cannot imagine our lives without her. She will be missed terribly, but we will always be comforted by the memories we’ve shared with her. As hard as it is to lose her, I wouldn’t pass on the joy she’s given to our family ever. God has given us a precious gift in your life with us and we are forever grateful.

Rest in peace sweet Chloe. We will love you always!

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.  There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigour; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.  They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance.

His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.

The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.

– Unknown Author


Rescue Dogs Become The Rescuers!

 Check out this great article from Garden & Gun!

Meet the Rescue Dogs—Who

Become the Rescuers

Six teams of canines and their human handlers are heading to Florida to help conduct searches after Irma blows over

photo: From left: George, Noah, Chief, and Lilly are among the dogs trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. Photo: courtesy of Search Dog Foundation

Update: After the devastation of Hurricane Irma, the dogs have arrived in the Florida Keys for duty. To keep up with their work, follow along on the National Disaster Search Dog Facebook page.

Java and Rocket have drive, energy, and athleticism—and they’re always up for a challenge. Good thing, because they’ve had a busy few weeks. First, they were in the Houston area, searching for survivors of Hurricane Harvey who might have been trapped in their homes. Now, they’re en route to a staging area in northern Florida to be ready to work once Irma has passed by.

The dogs, trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF), are paired with handlers, who are firefighters and first responders with emergency task forces around the country. When tragedy strikes—in the form of a plane crash, earthquake, tornado, missing person case, or hurricane—FEMA will deploy some of these 68 SDF-trained teams to help search. Six such teams are currently heading to Florida.

The dogs will walk the equivalent of hundreds of city blocks, sniffing out anyone who is alive and trapped. “We think of it as a massive disaster,” says Denise Sanders, communications officer for SDF. “[The dogs] think it’s a big game.”

Canine teams operate throughout the country. What makes the SDF search-and-rescue dogs different, though, is that they largely come from shelters. In other words, the rescued become the rescuers.

SDF has a network of recruiters, combing shelters for hunting and herding breeds, such as golden retrievers, Labs, German shepherds, Malinois, and border collies—or mixes of these. Often the traits that make them great search dogs make them challenging as house pets. That was the case with Rocket, who had so much energy he was considered unadoptable and placed on a euthanasia list before he arrived at SDF’s training center.

photo: Courtesy of Search Dog Rescue

Allie makes her way through training at the foundation’s facility in California.

The canines spend, on average, nine months in training at SDF’s facility in Santa Paula, California, where a 10,000-square-foot rubble pile and a replica train wreck are among the props used to get the dogs ready to work. Sonja Heritage, 56, became the head trainer five years ago, after serving for 15 years on Virginia Task Force One out of Fairfax. She traveled to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake with her canine partner, Czaro. The Virginia task force had 16 saves in Haiti.

Heritage knows what Java and Rocket—and their handlers, who happen to be two California firefighters—are heading for. And she knows they’re well prepared. “Rocket, he’s a gorgeous dog, super smart, super fast, and has a heck of a sense of humor,” Heritage says. “Java is a big, strong girl. She doesn’t tread on the rubble lightly. She’s extremely athletic and focused.”

photo: Courtesy of Search Dog Rescue

Firefighter Mike Stornetta and Rocket were part of the SDF’s deployment in Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey.

Handlers have to go through at least two weeks of onsite training in Santa Paula before they’re matched with dogs. And the chemistry has to be right between the two of them. “The partnership between the handler and the dog, it runs very deep,” Heritage says. “When you start going to some life-and-death situations, you trust your dog with other people’s lives. You really get a profound respect for them and what they can do.”

For more about the nonprofit National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, including information about how to donate money or sponsor a search dog, go to

ALR 5K Run! Hey, here is another way to help the Pups!!

Ok, so we know there are A LOT of people out there that LOVE Atlanta Lab Rescue and all the good works that we do!  Big Hugs! Our upcoming ALR 5K Run is our main and biggest fundraiser for the rescue. We know that not everybody wants to get out and do a 5K and run or walk the course! So here is another way that you can support Atlanta Lab Rescue!  Create your own ALR 5K Fundraising Team!  This is something that can be shared via social media to reach so many more people. You can see your results right on your Team Page.

To learn how to set up a Team Page to benefit ALR, just CLICK HERE!  You can set up your own page in 5 minutes!  Come on and Join The Team!

Questions? Post under Comments on the website!

Thank you one and all!


Fireworks & Anxiety – What you can do to help your dog!

Each year we publish information about how you can help your dog during the 4th of July celebrations. Fireworks and celebrations often start days before the 4th of July. You need to be prepared to take care of your dog!  So many dogs are lost at time when fireworks are used for holiday celebrations…some are never found because they are so scared and fearful. Don’t let that be you! Enjoy this article link from I Love Dogs…

Easy Steps to Keep Your Pup Happy this Independence Day

The 4th of July is a stressful time for dogs. Even where fireworks are illegal, there always seems to be someone setting them off near home.

The loud bangs and heavy vibrations frighten our furry BFFs and it can be difficult to calm them down during the chaos.

Thankfully, there are some things we can do to help ease our pup’s anxiety.

1) Stay with Your Dog

If you can, plan to keep your dog with you throughout the evening. Dogs are pack animals and they naturally want to be with their families when they’re afraid, so leaving them alone can greatly worsen the situation. Even if your dog is crated, make sure you stay in the same room with them.

2) Provide A Shelter

Dogs naturally want to seek shelter from something that’s frightening them. If your dog is crate trained, make sure that they either have access to their crate at all times or are secured in their crate during the ruckus of the evening.

Otherwise, create a comfy space for your dog to “retreat” to. Provide your dog’s favorite toys, blankets or even some clothes that smell like you to help them feel more comfortable.

3) Try Natural Therapies

More and more owners are turning towards natural remedies when it comes to managing their dogs’ health. As with any natural treatment, you’ll want to consult your veterinarian to make sure the remedies you use are safe for your pup.

For dogs that have mild anxieties, natural therapies can work quite well. For example, Project Paws™ Advanced All-Natural Calming Chews for Dogs contain anxiety relieving valerian root, organic chamomile and organic passionflower.

4) Seek Expert Advice

In some cases, seeking the help of an expert is ideal. A professional dog trainer, your veterinarian, or a veterinary behaviorist can help you manage your dog’s anxiety, especially if they become destructive and endanger themselves.

Whatever route you decide to take, it’s important to remain your dog’s advocate and ensure that whatever you do to help ease your dog’s anxiety will keep them safe and comfortable.

Best Labrador Colour: does coat make a difference?

Some like them black, others yellow and a few Americans even prefer their labs silver but David Tomlinson thinks that when it comes to the best labrador colour, performance trumps coat

The best labrador colour is a controversial and much discussed subject. While the shoot fraternity favour blacks, judges like the yellows and current trends are bringing back fox-reds. And are chocolate labs really as untrainable as some handlers claim? David Tomlinson investigates.

Regardless of what the best labrador colour is, labs are the most popular breed in the world. Ben Fogle celebrates our favourite four-legged friend, read Ben Fogle: our love of labradors.


We all know the saying that a good horse can’t be a bad colour, but few people agree that the same principle applies to labradors. When it comes to the best labrador colour, the general rule among the shooting fraternity is that black is good, yellow acceptable, but chocolate is strictly for the show bench. Black has always been the dominant colour in the shooting field and in trials. A telling statistic in The Best of the Best, a history of the IGL retriever championship, is that in the period 1909-2011, 1,790 black labradors qualified to run, compared to just 367 yellows.


The Field. Yellow

Popularity of yellows labs was boosted in 1924 by the foundation of the Yellow Labrador Club.

In the beginning, which with the labrador means the later years of the 19th century, all labradors were black. The first two yellow puppies appeared in a litter bred by Captain (later Major) CE Radcliffe in 1902. One was a dog called Ben, the other a bitch. It is generally believed that all yellow labradors are descended from Ben and his son Neptune. There are no colour photographs of Ben but the few surviving black-and-white shots depict a dark-furred dog, suggesting that he was what we now call fox-red. I can find no record of when the first yellow labradors made their debut in the shooting field but they were first exhibited in the show ring at Olympia in 1913.

Yellow soon became popular as the best labrador colour, boosted in 1924 by the foundation of the Yellow Labrador Club. The Club remains active nearly a century later. It was formed to encourage the breeding of pure-yellow labrador retrievers and to conserve the best type of working dog, principles it remains faithful to today. It still holds a novice, an all-aged and an open-qualifying stake each year, with its trials reserved exclusively for yellows. Discrimination on the grounds of colour remains acceptable in the world of dogs, at least with labradors.


Quite what the founding members of the Yellow Labrador Club would have made of the current fashion for pale-lemon labradors is another matter. Show enthusiasts are rarely satisfied with what they have, and always want to change and improve on the best labrador colour, which goes a long way towards explaining why the early fox-red labradors fell from favour as breeders, encouraged by judges, sought to produce paler and paler dogs. In recent years there has been something of a backlash, as traditional fox-red animals have become increasingly popular in the shooting field if not on the bench. The UK breed standard is flexible, allowing the colour to range from light cream to fox-red.

The resurgence in enthusiasm for fox-red dogs as the best labrador colour isn’t surprising. It is, of course, the ideal colour for a wildfowling dog, providing natural camouflage, and is a very acceptable colour for game-shooting, too. In contrast, the pale yellow dogs appear totally out of place in the shooting field – they look best wearing tartan coats while being walked in the park.


Best labrador colour. Black

Black has always been the dominant colour in the shooting field and in trials.

In 1941, Major Radcliffe wrote an article for The Field in which he described a strain of pure white labradors, bred by Mr Austin Mackenzie of Carridale. They were described as very handsome dogs but, perhaps fortunately, this was one variety that never caught on. Equally intriguing are the Hailstone labradors from the Solway. These were black-coated dogs with white spots, a sort of reverse Dalmatian. A keeper even showed one at Crufts, where it gained the approval of Lorna, Countess of Howe, one of the most influential of labrador people between the wars. She qualified no fewer than 24 dogs for the Retriever Championship between 1920 and 1936, and won it three times.


So many hundreds of thousands of labradors have been bred since the breed was first recognised in 1903 that it’s not surprising that a number of curious colour varieties have appeared. Black-and-tan dogs are bred occasionally. According to the Kennel Club, Gordon setter blood was introduced to the breed at one time, possibly in the Fifties, which might explain this colour variant.

Most contentious of all the labrador colours is silver, virtually unheard of here but causing controversy in the US, where a number of kennels specialise in breeding silvers.


Best labrador colour. Silver

Silver labradors have been causing waves in America.

The first brown-coated labradors on record were produced in the Buccleuch kennel in 1892. At that time black was the desired colour, so it seems probable that non-black puppies were culled at birth. It wasn’t until the Thirties that brown labs – then called liver – started to be seen more often but they remained a tiny minority until the Sixties, when the first liver-coloured show champion was made up. An astute move was to call them “chocolate”, a name that not only stuck but made them more appealing to the general public.

Though they became increasingly popular in the show ring and as pets, the shooting world generally avoided them, and they acquired an unfortunate reputation for being less intelligent than their black or yellow cousins. I once asked a professional handler if he had ever had a dog that was untrainable. “Yes!” was his emphatic reply. “A chocolate labrador! I sent it back to its owner as soon as I could.”


Genetically there’s no reason for a chocolate to be any less bright than a yellow or a black, but as few chocolates ever made it into the shooting field there was a tendency for many to be less trainable, having had their working instinct bred out of them. For shooting man and labrador enthusiast Ged Leeson this was a challenge. Leeson decided that as the chances of his ever winning the Retriever Championship with a black dog were remote, he would have a go with a chocolate instead.

Most of the trialling community thought that he was mad even to contemplate competing with a chocolate dog but thanks to perseverance, skill and a touch of cussedness, he succeeded in qualifying his dog Pintail Hector of Styleside (Coke) for the 2008 Retriever Championship. He was the first chocolate labrador to run in the Championship.

Leeson’s other ambition was to make Coke the first-ever labrador of his colour to become an FTCh. He narrowly failed. The problem was getting sufficient runs in open trials to gain the second victory that would have given Coke the coveted title; he did manage a second, several thirds and certificates of merits but not that elusive first place.


Best labrador colour. Chocolate

Ged Leeson’s chocolate labradors.

Two years ago I joined Leeson and his team of five chocolate labradors (including 11-year-old Coke) for a day’s picking-up. They performed magnificently. A bitch, Zeta, performed a remarkable retrieve of a hen pheasant totally submerged in a stream. I was impressed.

I suspect that if it weren’t for a touch of colour prejudice among judges, Leeson would have made up his dog to become an FTCh but that is a controversial issue. Few judges have had the chance to assess a chocolate. But the popularity of yellows continues to grow, and the 2010, 2012 and 2014 winners of the Championship were of this colour.


You can still meet handlers who claim that yellow labradors are less trainable than blacks and others who believe that yellow dogs have more brains than blacks. Both theories are, of course, nonsense, as a study of labrador genetics proves. The colour of the coat of a labrador puppy is determined by the genetic make-up inherited from its parents. Though the black gene is dominant, there are nine different labrador genotypes, allowing a number of different possibilities. For example, if you mate two yellow dogs you will get only yellow puppies. Two chocolate dogs can produce yellow puppies, while two black dogs can potentially produce black, chocolate and yellow puppies. It’s a complicated subject.

It’s essential for labrador enthusiasts who breed for a certain colour to have a detailed knowledge of genetics, and to understand the effects of recessive genes. It’s possible to have your dog tested to discover its genotype and thus be able to predict with some accuracy the colour of any progeny. The American company VetGen even offers what it calls a “Coat Color Prediction Service, so you can reveal your dog’s hidden color genes and then optimise your ability to breed the colors you want”.

Choice of coat colour really comes down to a matter of preference: we all get on best with what we like most. My enthusiasm for fox-red dogs is simply explained: they are much the best for photography. In contrast, black dogs are a nightmare. There is, of course, one other disadvantage to owning a black dog, for they do tend to look the same. I’ve never forgotten the embarrassment of two friends who took the wrong dogs home after a day’s shooting. They were blissfully unaware until their wives voiced their suspicions.


IGY 6 Service Dogs for Heroes Pack Walk – May 20th – Come One Come All!!!

Ranger Dog Training and IGY 6 Service Dogs for Heros would like to welcome you to the IGY 6 Service Dogs for Heroes Pack Walk!!!!

Date: Saturday, May 20
Time: 10 am
Where: We’ll meet next to the water fountain next to the Visitor Center in Downtown Douglasville.
Lunch after: at

-$5.00 donation for joining the pack walk will go to IGY6
-We will have shirts for sale
-Guidelines and rules apply. Please see details below.

This is a unique opportunity to meet with our new Service Dogs in training as well as the Veterans we work with at IGY6. You’ll get to know each other and learn more about what we do at IGY6 while exercising and socializing your dog.

The walk will be easy to moderate through the Historic Douglasville Square in Downtown Douglasville. We want the people in our community to meet our Service Dogs in the best environment possible, because of this we must insist that you bring only dogs on the walk that are people friendly.

To ensure the safety for all of us, our dogs, and everyone else in the community, we will be strictly enforcing the following rules:

1) Spayed/neutered dogs only.
2) No retractable leashes.
3) At least 5 feet of space between all dogs.
4) Only 1 dog per handler.
5) Anyone handling a dog must be at least 16 years old.
6) Please bring water for you and your dogs.
7) Please bring waste bags.

If your dog needs extra space because they are overstimulated and easily excited, please put a yellow or red bandana on their leash. If you do not have a bandana please let us and we’ll provide you with one.

Even the best dogs get anxious or excited, it is not a negative thing to wear a bandana. It means you know your dog well and/or maybe you’re still learning about their personality and want to be extra careful. It is ALWAYS ok to be overly cautious. *Please consider if this is an appropriate walk for your dog, the rules will be strongly enforced and anyone who violates these rules will not be asked to leave the pack stroll.



Ranger Dog Training – Ken Cappello


Atlanta Lab Rescue’s May Mix Month is HERE!!!!

ALR May Mix Month logo

The Labrador Retriever has been the most popular breed in the US for 25 years, but did you know that mixed breeds actually hold the top spot making up 53% of all US dogs!

With mixed breeds holding the top spot, it also means that there are more mixed breeds in the shelters than any other dog, and in particular large breed mixes, which are the last to be adopted or rescued.

Each May, Atlanta Lab Rescue has our “May Mix Month” where we celebrate the Mix! While we will still have purebred Labs on the roster, we are going to concentrate on helping more of these deserving mixes find wonderful homes and as an adoption incentive, we will drop $50 off of the fee for a mixed breed.

Get ready for a parade of pooches on Facebook that are sure to make you smile!

What Is Leptospirosis And Should You Be Concerned?

Now that summer is close at hand and more of us will be by lakes, ponds and streams, we thought this would be a great article to share. This is my Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer of AKC. If you take your Lab to the water, please do give this a read!  Thanks!

What Is Leptospirosis And Should You Be Concerned?

Leptospirosis is a disease that affects dogs, as well as many other kinds of animals. The organism that causes leptospirosis is a spirochete bacteria and is found throughout the world. There are a very large number of Leptospira; about 230 of them have been identified.

In the United States, Leptospirosis is in the environment because it is carried in rats, wildlife, as well as domestic livestock. More cases are seen in late summer and fall and often after heavy rainfalls. Leptospira is known to exist in standing water, dampness, and mud. Winter conditions tend to lower the risk because Leptospira do not tolerate freezing temperatures.

Pets can become infected through contact with urine of infected animals such as raccoons, skunks, rats, feral cats, dogs, and other animals. Often, dogs contract the disease by swimming in stagnant water or drinking contaminated water in puddles.


Should Dog Owners Be Concerned About Leptospirosis?

Not all dogs that are exposed to Leptospirosis become visibly ill. In a 2007 study, 25 percent of unvaccinated healthy dogs had antibodies to Leptospirosis. This indicated to researchers that they had been previously exposed to Leptospirosis without their owners noticing a problem.

When Leptospirosis does cause disease in dogs, it tends to be most severe in unvaccinated dogs that are younger than 6 months of age. It takes about 4-12 days after exposure for a dog to start to feel ill.

Signs of illness vary, but usually include lethargy, poor appetite, fever, vomiting, increased thirst or urine production. Jaundice may also be seen. Blood tests will show changes in kidney values or liver and kidney values.

Diagnosis is made through blood and urine tests that look specifically for Leptospirosis. Antibiotics are typically used to treat Leptospirosis; not only can they treat the active infection, but also may prevent dogs from becoming carriers of the organism.

How Can Dog Owners Prevent Leptospirosis?

Prevention is best accomplished by stopping your dog’s access to contaminated water. Also, try to sanitize your dog’s environment by eliminating food and garbage to reduce the attraction of rats, raccoons, or feral cats.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease. In other words, it is contagious to humans. The most likely way humans contract Leptospirosis is via exposure to dog or rat urine. However, any bodily fluid, including vomit and saliva, can transmit the disease. If your dog is infected with Leptospirosis, it is very important to observe proper hygiene even after he has recovered (wearing protective gloves when cleaning up after your dog, preventing face licking, etc.)

Vaccination for leptospirosis is an option to consider if your dog is at high risk of contracting the disease. The American Animal Hospital Association considers Leptospirosis a “non-core” vaccine for dogs. That is, they do not recommend it unless there is a good chance your dog will be exposed to Leptospirosis. The efficacy of the vaccine is variable: short lasting or limited. There have been reports of reactions to the vaccine that vary from minor to severe.

Vaccination does not always prevent infection, but it tends to make the disease much milder if infection occurs. There is the potential for vaccinated dogs that do become infected to become long term carriers of Leptospirosis. Some long-term carriers have more frequent incidence of reproductive failure and stillbirths.

As with all vaccinations, you should discuss the vaccine for leptospirosis with your veterinarian. This decision will be based on you and your dog’s life style, if your community is experiencing cases of Leptospirosis, and the other pros and cons your veterinarian has experienced with the vaccine.

Dog Bite Prevention! by Cesar Milan



Here is a great article on dog bite prevention.  Please CLICK HERE to read this informative piece by Cesar Milan from Cesar’s Way.  Preventing dog bites is so important for all involved and will keep humans safe and dogs out of shelters or worse.  Please do take a moment and read up!

Atlanta Lab Rescue

The 7 Best Hotel Chains For Traveling With Your Dog

With Spring Break upon us and upcoming summer vacations, here is a great article from I Heart Dogs!


The 7 Best Hotel Chains For Traveling With Your Dog


Your dog is part of the family, so why wouldn’t you want to include them in your family vacation? Finding a hotel that accepts dogs can be difficult, so we’ve found the 7 best hotel chains that will welcome your canine companion. Not every location of these chains accepts pets, and each hotel might have its own fees or size / breed restrictions, so it’s best to call the location you want to visit ahead of time. Keep in mind that most hotels require proof of vaccinations and prohibit leaving dogs unattended in the rooms. Compiled from USA Today and vetSTREET, here’s a list of the 7 best hotel chains that allow dogs.

Image Source: Austin Kirk via Flickr


  • Kimpton – With Kimpton’s HosPETality program, dogs of any size are welcomed with amenities that include beds, bowls, and treats. Twelve locations have a Canine Ambassador, a dog who greets every guest. Kimpton does not charge any extra fees for your furry family member.
  • Loews – Loews Hotels offer a “Loews Loves Pets” welcome package that includes a pet bowl, dog tags, and treats. Many properties offer dog walking, pet sitting, dog spa treatments, info on local pet services, and loaner beds, leashes, and pet videos. They’ve also partnered with Banfield Pet Hospitals to offer a complimentary exam and a 15% discount on any services performed during your hotel stay. Room service even includes recipes developed by vets and chefs for cats and dogs. Well-behaved pets of any kind, apart from some certain breeds, are allowed with proof of vaccinations. There is a 2 pet maximum and a $25 fee per stay.
  • W Hotels – The Pets Are Welcome (PAW) program at W Hotels provides plush beds, bowls, food mats, toys, ID tags, cleanup bags, and turndown treats for dogs up to 40 pounds. There is $25 per day fee as well as a $100 non-refundable cleaning fee.

  • Red Roof Inn – One well-behaved pet per room is allowed. Red Roof Inn does not charge any fees or deposits, but they do ask you not to leave your pet unattended in the room and they must be in a kennel or on a leash when outside of the room.
  • Best Western – With over 1600 pet-friendly hotels across the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, Best Western offers recommendations on nearby pet-friendly parks, stores, and restaurants. They allow up to 2 dogs that weigh less than 80 pounds each and charge up to $20 per day up to a maximum of $100 per week. A refundable damage deposit of $50 pay is required.
  • La Quinta – Up to 2 dogs under 50 pounds are allowed per room. There are no fees or deposits, but owners are required to be present or have their pets contained in crates during housekeeping services.
  • Motel 6 Pets always stay free. Individual locations may have varying size or breed restrictions, and dogs are forbidden from staying in the rooms alone.

With a little bit of advance planning, your pup can join your human family for an amazing vacation. Remember to clarify all rules and fees with individual locations when booking your reservations. “Bone” Voyage!

$5 Friday!!

As Forest Gump’s momma would say, “Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get.” Nothing could be more true when you consider our “chocolates” for this month. Every shape and size, like a box of Valentine’s candy, these dogs all have a different story and each are full of surprises.

Our first boy, Cooper, was surrendered by his owner. No reason was given why this beautiful purebred 2 year old dog needed to be rehomed, but when we picked him up, we realized that he was obese and at least 20 pounds overweight. He is a typical goofball lab, but what we thought would an easy dog to place, as it turns out, will be more of a challenge to find the right home that will commit to getting this dangerous weight off of him.

The next chocolate to come in was Milly. Her owner had surrendered her to the shelter and again, there was no indication why, until we discovered that she had heartworms. She recently went to a foster, and Milly is literally the perfect dog. She should recover from the heartworms with no issues, but the high cost of the treatment will more than double our cost to rescue her.

Then there is Lucy B, a big beautiful 4 year old chocolate lab. The only surprise about her was why on earth she was in a metro area shelter on the list to be euthanized that day and no one had seen her and gone and adopted her??? Now she has a dozen applications to choose from…tells you something about the plight of even the most adoptable dogs at shelters…

Carmen was the next little chocolate nugget to come in. She had been at a shelter in Alabama for several weeks and was terrified of everything around her. She came in yesterday to board at Happy Paws Inn and has not left the plastic crate that she arrived in. Most rescues would deem her as “unadoptable,” which is why she was at the shelter for so long, and why we were likely her only hope. The wonderful staff in boarding hopefully, can work their magic and draw her out, like they did Perry, another scared chocolate girl, who was returned by her owner earlier in the week. Carmen has a foster that will take her this weekend and we hope that she will somehow learn how to trust and to know what love is.

Finally, this week we brought in Tippy, an adorable 10 week old chocolate puppy that was surrendered to the shelter by her owners with an injured back leg. She sat there for 3 days and when it looked like no one else would step up, they contacted us. The orthopedic surgeon determined that the injury was older and that this poor girl had been living with a completely severed bone in her back leg for a couple of weeks! Tippy had surgery yesterday and while it wasn’t an easy fix, the expert surgeons at Northlake Veterinary Surgery where able to repair it and think she will be good as new in a few weeks. Through it all, this brave little girl has been nothing but a bundle of love and kisses. She has a foster picking her up today.

These are all great stories, but each with a “twist” that collectively, cost us over $10,000. Rescue is risky and you take what you get and figure it out. We started ALR because too many rescues were walking away from dogs with medical issues, in particular heartworms, because of the expense. Why should an adoptable dog be left in a shelter to die because it’s owner didn’t care for it properly? And why should a dog with a treatable condition die? While more emotional than practical, that thinking has served us well for the last 10 years. ALR has rescued over 3500 dogs and with your help, we are still going strong.

Your donations, no matter how big or small, have added up to give all of these dogs a second chance. That’s why we’re, once again, doing a $5 Friday and asking everyone in our database and on our Facebook page to please donate $5 (or more) and share with family and friends and help us to help more dogs like these defy the odds and
have the life that they deserve!

To donate you can click on the link below or mail a donation to PO Box 250206, Atlanta 30325.

Thank you and a Big Chocolate Kiss from all of our Pups!
Becky Cross
Atlanta Lab Rescue

Benadryl for Dogs

Here is a great article on Benadryl and your dog from the American Kennel Club Health Newsletter.   This is a good read for sure with the Spring and Summer upon us.  As it is stressed in the article…your Vet should be involved anytime you are administering meds to your dog!

2016 Atlanta Lab Rescue 5K Picture Gallery!!



Please click on the link just below to view a picture gallery from the 2nd Annual 2016 Atlanta Lab Rescue 5K Run!!   It was a great day and we are already looking forward to this year’s race!

Atlanta Lab Rescue 5K Pictures!


Atlanta Lab Rescue

December Newsletters from ALR Director!!! Happy Holidays!



When you’re the director of a rescue, it’s inevitable that you’ll get stuck with a “collection” of dogs that were either unadoptable to begin with, or got returned so many times you just took them off the roster. Anyone who knows me knows that I call my home “The Island of Misfit Toys.” I have a dog that’s almost feral, Scary Mary, who won’t let anyone near her; her son Buddy who has seizures; another dog I’ve had for 10 years, who bounces off the walls and has anxiety issues, named Flurry (should’ve been a clue…); one named Gertie, who’s the “Cruise Director” and makes sure everyone is entertained…ALL the time and finally my 100 pound shepherd mix, Jax, who likes to “herd” my house guests by biting them.

No, I didn’t pick any of these dogs to adopt or even foster, and likely, no one else would have either, but I’ve had them all for several years now, some longer than others, and the one thing that it’s made me realize is that different is good. In the Christmas classic, the misfit toys were not like any of the others, but what’s wrong with a “Charlie in the Box,” and how cool is a bird that swims, or a water pistol that shoots Jelly? In the end, it’s the reindeer with the odd glowing nose that “guided Santa’s sleigh” through the storm and saved Christmas. Like the toys, each one of my misfits has their quirks and some took a lot of patience (and still do), but there is NEVER a dull moment or a time when my home isn’t full of love and life.

Atlanta Lab Rescue is considered a “breed rescue,” but one thing that we have realized over the years is that different is good. Anyone can find a purebred lab that looks like something you would see in a coffee table book, but ALR has proven that along with the purebreds, we can bring in dogs with a multitude of variations of the breed and some completely out of left field, and people love what we have! There is a lot to be said for a unique dog that looks like no other dog, and it says a lot about our adopters that they recognize that too. Don’t get me wrong, Atlanta Lab Rescue wouldn’t exist if we didn’t love labs, but early on in the process of picking which dogs to rescue, it became painfully obvious to me that we couldn’t base our selection totally on breed specifications. There were wonderfully adoptable dogs in shelters that were getting passed over by other rescues because of a white spot on their chest, or a curl in their tail, or their ears were too short???? How horrible that dogs would be euthanized because their ears were too short, so we started taking those dogs and you adopted them! The large breed mixes are the LAST to get rescued from shelters, but ALR has continued to be one of their biggest advocates because YOU keep proving to us that there is someone for every dog and different is good.

In addition to our wonderful adopters, we have incredibly dedicated volunteers. The time, money and effort it takes to rescue, vet, house and place even a single dog is pretty amazing and we have volunteers who have driven thousands of miles, or opened up their home to 1 or 100 dogs, spent numerous hours on the computer and phone and dedicated many a weekend to work adoption days and do meet and greets. Rescue is not for the faint-hearted and our volunteers continue to step up time and again to help us achieve our mission to get more deserving dogs into loving homes.

This coming year will see a lot of exciting changes. The first being our new ATLANTA LAB RESCUE KENNELS! Through a partnership with Happy Paws Inn in Mableton, and a very generous donation by Charlie Kleman to build the kennels, we now have 9 very spacious SUITES that will house our dogs. The dogs will continue to be cared for by Happy Paws’ knowledgeable staff of veteran handlers that will have them in play groups during the day and tuck them in at night. I’ve spent a lot of time over there in the last few months and never in all of my years in rescue or otherwise, have I seen a nicer set up with a more loving and attentive owner and staff. This is the most amazing opportunity for ALR and we are so thankful to Happy Paws Inn and Charlie for making this dream come true! We hope you will join us for the Grand Opening on the 21st of January. We’ll have refreshments and giveaways. Details to follow.

We would also like to thank all of you who have financially supported us this year. The adoption fees don’t cover half of the expenses of a healthy dog and when you average in the MANY injured dogs and even more dogs with heartworms, it drives the average cost to over $1000 per dog! Large or small, one time donation or monthly, it all adds up to make the impossible possible and I wish I could personally thank each one of you!

In closing, I would like to wish all of you a safe and happy holiday and ask you to please keep ALR in mind for an end of the year tax deductible donation because there is still a lot of work to do and dogs to rescue.

Thank You!
Becky Cross
Atlanta Lab Rescue

To make a donation, please visit Atlanta Lab Rescue
Click Here.
or mail donations to PO Box 250206, Atlanta, GA 30325

Finnley – A True Story of Love!!


One of our adopters recently volunteered with the Shine A Light initiative, which seeks to raise awareness/ education in order to change perceptions about pitbulls. Their story about ALR Alum,  was published today and we wanted to share with you:  


You never know where you will find true love!

A Want or A Need?




“For you, a dog is a want – but for them, having you is a need,”…………..Words spoken from my good friend, who is all of 10 years of age. He learned this in school and while the context was not about dogs, he quickly made the connection. He and his family have fostered 3 dogs over the last few months for ALR. They have made it their mission to try their best to save dogs that need a stable home and help them to prepare for their future…one of a forever status with a new loving family.

Hayden explained his thoughts to me one day, as he knows I am involved with Atlanta Lab Rescue. His family fostered one of our dogs very recently. Hayden was so understanding of the dog’s plight. When Rigsby entered their home, he was literally skin and bones. I forewarned the family because when I picked him up at the vet, honestly…I couldn’t believe how skinny he was – you could literally count every rib and clearly see his hip bones. Rigsby was scared and not sure what was going on or what would happen next. He had already been through so much. Now, he needed this family and they wanted to help him. They weren’t frightened at his stature, stating that he will gain weight, get his shine back, and get back the sparkle in his eyes!

Over the next several weeks that Rigsby was in their care and home, he grew confident, calm and learned to trust humans again. He of course gained weight and made a new canine friend in Cloud, an amazing Great Pyr mix that seems to understand when dogs come to visit, just what his job is for their stay. When Rigsby left their loving home for his forever home, he didn’t even look like the same dog. He needed this family to restore him to his true doggie self.

With rescue dogs, we mostly never know their past. We all wish they could talk to tell us their fears and concerns and what they need most. Whether it is a rescue dog or not, all dogs need pretty much the same thing – a routine, a job, to be loved and cared for, not left out in the cold or backyard for days chained to a tree, not to be abused. They need a leader who can guide them and bring out their best – this is what they need – they need loving humans to do this for them, loving humans like Hayden and his family.

If everyone thought a little more like my 10 year old friend Hayden, about what we want and what a rescue dog needs, we might start down the right road to reduce the number of dogs in shelters……..That is what most people want and that is what shelter dogs need…..

The official Dog of the State of Georgia was just voted on…it is The Adoptable Dog……Go rescue a dog, you will be amazed at how your life will change!

For more information, please contact us at Atlanta Lab Rescue –

Thank you!

What is a Labrador Retriever?


3 labs

Tell me more about a Labrador Retriever!!  How did it get the name? What is their activity level?  What’s up with that beautiful coat and those three awesome colors?  Want to know more and find out if this is the breed for you?   Click on the story and read more about this awesome dog!!!!



Click here and find out!

Atlanta Lab Rescue 2016 5K Race!! It’s the Second Annual!!!!

Lab-Rescue-Fun-RunYes its that time again, well, almost!!!  Atlanta Lab Rescue is looking to make our 2nd Annual 5K Race amazing and we can’t do it without you!!  Join us SUNDAY NOVEMBER 20th, 2016!!

If you are a runner, our registration site is up and ready. You can sign up early and then concentrate on training!  Here is the link to sign up for the 2016 2nd Annual Atlanta Lab Rescue 5K   Click here to Register!!!

If you would like to volunteer for this great event, we are having our first volunteer meeting on June 5th from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Whitehall Tavern in Buckhead. (2391 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305) If you can join the meeting – Great!  If you can’t make it but want to volunteer, please contact Heather Coyle at for more information!

Last year, our inaugural year, was a big success.  We are so excited about this year and know it will be an even bigger event because of you and your love for the Labs and our Rescue!

Thank you! Questions?  Email Heather at  or email us at

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!





Atlanta Lab Rescue – $5 Friday!!!!!!!!

Imagine it’s 8:45 at night and you’re settled in watching “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” OK, so maybe that would never happen to you, but follow me here… Just as one housewife throws a drink (followed by multiple expletives) in the other housewife’s face, your phone beeps. You click on the text and BOOM there is the saddest face staring back at you…it’s from a volunteer from the shelter here in town, who is still  there at 9 pm holding vigil for this dog, who tested positive for parvo earlier in the day. She wants to know if we can take him and she’ll drive him to the emergency clinic tonight. A shelter volunteer who cared this much to stay through the night with a sick dog would ordinarily make me pause with disbelief, except this was the third time she has done this to us.

We have been nursing our bank account all year, barely making it with adoption fees and monthly Paypal donations. The last critically ill dog made it after 10 days at the vet and now has a wonderful life, but vet bill was more than $8000. Knowing this dog would completely tank our resources, I said “NO” and went back to watching the my mindless television. Five minutes later I texted back “take him to the vet” (followed by my own expletives).

Ladd has been fighting for his life for 9 days now. The first couple of days we thought we might lose him. He developed pneumonia on top of the parvo, his white blood cells were nonexistent and on Tuesday they put a feeding tube in through his nose because he couldn’t keep any food down. Of course through it all, he wagged his tag every time someone came to his kennel. Today the news was good. He seems to be turning the corner. The bad news is that we’ve already spent more than we have and it’s not over yet….we’re looking for a $5 Friday to rescue us!

If all goes well, we’ll be able to get him out early next week and we’ll need a foster for him. When dogs are in these situations, they’re all alone in isolation. The treatment is often painful and they don’t know we’re trying to help them. It’s hard to keep them from giving up. The love and care this boy gets going forward is an important part of his healing. If you can help, please email .

We currently have close to 3000 people in our database and over 20,000 Facebook friends. If 23,000 donated $5, or even  $1 that would be amazing! To help us out, please click on the link below and donate or you can mail a check to PO Box 250206, Atlanta, GA 30325.

Thank you!
Becky Cross
Director – Atlanta Lab Rescue

Click here to donate

To make a donation, please visit Atlanta Lab Rescue
Click Here.
or mail donations to PO Box 250206, Atlanta, GA 30325

National Pet Month – Support Atlanta Lab Rescue!!!!!!!!!!



Check this out from Bravelets.  This is another great way to support Atlanta Lab Rescue.  Bravelet will donate $10 directly to ALR for each item purchased

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!!  And check out the great items they have for sale!  You will be slyin’ and helping these amazing dogs!

Thank you!!!!


Your Dog Hates Hugs

Your Dog Hates Hugs

By Melissa Dahl – The Science of Us

Photo: Humane Society of Greater Rochester/flickr


I never met a dog I didn’t want to hug. The feeling, alas, is likely not mutual. In a giant bummer of an article published recently in Psychology Today, Stanley Coren — who studies canine behavior at the University of British Columbia — makes a sadly strong case against the dog hug, arguing that although humans love embracing their canine pals, the physical contact stresses dogs out.

If you know what to look for, their annoyance becomes obvious. Lesson one: Coren writes that a dog’s most common outward signal of stress or anxiety is when he “turns his head away from whatever is bothering or worrying him, sometimes also closing his eyes, at least partially.” Lesson two: Just like humans, dogs have whites of the eye — it’s just that you never see it unless the animal is stressed. And lesson three: An anxious or stressed-out dog’s ears will be “lowered or slicked against the side of his head,” Coren writes.

In the Psychology Today piece, Coren describes a recent data collection exercise of his, in which he combed through Flickr and did a Google image search for terms like “hug dog” or “love dog,” and found 250 photos of people hugging their dogs. He and some colleagues then analyzed these photos by rating the dog’s body language, looking for those signs of dog-anxiety. Nearly 82 percent of the dogs in the selected photos showed at least one sign of stress. To reiterate: Dogs hate hugs.

An embrace between humans signals communication and warmth and intimacy, but dogs, of course, are not humans. Coren explains why the restriction of an embrace may annoy or frighten a dog:

Dogs are technically cursorial animals, which is a term that indicates that they are designed for swift running. That implies that in times of stress or threat the first line of defense that a dog uses is not his teeth, but rather his ability to run away. Behaviorists believe that depriving a dog of that course of action by immobilizing him with a hug can increase his stress level and, if the dog’s anxiety becomes significantly intense, he may bite.

To let your dog know you love him, a pat on the head or a nice belly rub or a treat will suffice. And if you need a new photo opp idea, maybe take a note from Coren’s UBC bio, and politely stand next to your dog. No hugs necessary.

On Grieving a Dog You Rescued….

Here is a great post sent to me by one of our all time great fosters at Atlanta Lab Rescue….The article is from Positively, a website from Victoria Stillwell. Here is the LINK to the article.

As we have said many times in person, at adoptions, via email and newsletters, Atlanta Lab Rescue could not operate without Fosters!

On Grieving a Dog You Rescued


Tuck enjoying his last day before crossing the Rainbow Bridge.

There are few things that compare to the heartbreak of losing a dog. But what happens when it’s not “your” dog, but rather a dog you saved from death days, months, or years ago and then found a forever home for? It seems that I’m not the only one going through this struggle, so I’ve decided to share my story in the hopes that it may help others through their grief.

I’ve been rescuing and fostering homeless dogs since I was a child. I always felt that if I could do something for a dog in need, it was my responsibility to do it. So I guess it was only a matter of time before I had to say goodbye to one of the dogs that started his journey with me.

Tuck was a purebred Golden Retriever that ended up at a local animal control facility, where he was picked up as a stray in horrendous condition. He was a senior, and was weak, emaciated, and almost completely hairless. He had a host of medical issues, and no one was sure if he could even be saved.

Thanks to the help of Golden Retriever Rescue in Atlanta, I was able to pick up Tuck from the shelter, and we started him on the road to recovery. He was in the worst condition I’ve ever seen a dog, and I covered him in a blanket in my car as we headed to his first vet appointment. Despite the pain he was in, I could hear his tail happily thumping in the backseat. That was a good cry! He stayed with me briefly while the rescue found a long-term foster home, and he was eventually adopted by a wonderful family. Click here to read more about Tuck’s story.

I found out recently that Tuck’s health was rapidly declining. Although he had completely recovered from the neglect of his past, he was still a senior dog and only had limited time to begin with. I never expected him to live as long as he did, but when the time came, it still didn’t seem fair.

Tuck had a wonderful last day with his amazing adoptive family, and peacefully passed away. It was the first time I’ve had to deal with the death of a dog I rescued, and I was surprised by how hard it was to deal with the loss, even though I hadn’t seen him since he was adopted.

I’ve come up with a few thoughts that I hope will help others in the same position.

1) You did your job. As a rescuer or a foster, your job in each dog’s life comes to an end. Whether you’re still their primary caregiver in the end or you’ve passed that torch on to an adopter, cherish the role you played in that dog’s life.

2) You changed lives. Of course, you changed the dog’s life. But you would be amazed by how many people can be affected by an animal throughout the course of that animal’s journey with us. It might be something subtle, like teaching someone about the plight of shelter dogs. For others, that dog may have actually saved someone’s life. Be proud that you were even a small part of that journey.

3) You made a happy ending possible. A dog’s life may be spinning on a terrible trajectory, but your intervention changes everything. Overnight, a dog can go from shaking in a shelter to being loved and cherished in a caring home. You made that possible.

Dogs handle death better than we do. They live so gratefully in the present that even a few days knowing love and safety outshines the years of abuse or neglect that they may have experienced before you. They live and die with peace in their hearts, and we can’t ask for anything more than that.

If they could, I bet they’d pat us on the back and say, “job well done.” I sure hope my Tuck thinks so.

Are you ready for a second dog?


If you’re a dog lover with one dog, chances are at some point you will ask yourself, “Does my puppy need a friend?” Besides, if one dog is great, wouldn’t two dogs double the awesome?

Yes. And no. And maybe.

There are lots of great reasons to bring a second dog into your home. And an equally number of great reasons not to.

The first big question to ask yourself is whether or not you have the time, money, energy and other resources to devote to a second dog. Two dogs means twice as much money for food, veterinarian bills, grooming, toys, treats and boarding. It also means — and this is a big one — twice as much dedicated one-on-one time to play with each pup.

Many people get a second dog in the hopes the dog will provide companionship and exercise for their first dog, thereby relieving them of these responsibilities. But while a second dog can definitely help in that regard, both dogs will still need both of those things from their human. That means twice as many games of fetch and hide-and-go-seek and two leashes to get tangled on walks.

That leads to the next big question: Does your dog even want a friend? Surprisingly, not all dogs like the company of other dogs. Just because they may seem bored doesn’t mean that another dog is the answer. In fact, it could make a dog feel threatened to have to share his space and valuable human-bonding time with another. This is especially true for dogs that are older and/or ill.

If you’re thinking about getting a second dog to help cure the behavior problems of the first dog, think again. “A second dog won’t miraculously make the first dog well-behaved,” says Tonya Wilhelm, dog training specialist and author of several dog training books including, “Please Stay-Help For A Dog With Separation Anxiety.” In fact, the new dog could simply pick up the bad behaviors — such as sofa chewing or counter surfing — of the old dog. Now you have double the trouble! Wilhelm recommends focusing on training and attention for your first dog before you consider adding another.

Finding the perfect second pet

two dogs playingFinding a second dog is like matchmaking: Choose a pet that has the same interests has your current pooch. (Photo: Ksenia Raykova/Shutterstock)

But let’s say that you do have the time, money and energy to focus on a second dog and you know that your first dog would love a buddy. How do you find a dog that will be a good fit for your family?

“Matchingmaking is key,” says Wilhelm. Think about your dog’s personality and the kind of dogs that she has enjoyed playing with. Is she a quiet dog who loves napping? Or an active pup who likes to get out and play? When you take her on walks does she shy away from big dogs while straining the leash to sniff the little guys? Look for a pooch with a personality that’s similar to that of your pup.

Age is another factor to consider here. “Young dogs tend to accept new pets more readily than crotchety set-in-their-ways canines,” says animal behavior consultant Amy Shojai, author of “ComPETability: Solving Behavior Problems in Your Multi-Dog Household.” If your dog is older, a bouncy puppy that is jumping, chewing and body-slamming may not be a good fit, notes Wilhelm.

Finally, both Wilhelm and Shojai agree that opposite sex is best when it comes to dog pairings. Just make sure that both dogs are neutered or you may have even more dog trouble than you bargained for! Depending upon the dogs’ personalities, male-male or female-female pairings can work, too. But there may be more issues with competition that you will need to keep an eye on until they figure out their place in the pack.

If possible, the best way to find out for sure how your dog will react to a second dog is to do a meet-and-greet, preferably on neutral territory. And even if that goes well, be prepared to help smooth the transition once the new dog comes home. “Even if there are no issues at the adoption area, there may be issues once the new pet comes to the home,” says Dr. Judy Morgan, a holistic veterinarian who is also the author of “What’s For Dinner Dexter? Cooking For Your Dog Using Chinese Medicine Theory.” “Some dogs will suddenly become protective of toys, food bowls, and owners when a new dog is introduced,” adds Morgan.

From the start, make sure that you have two dog bowls, two leashes, and plenty of dog food, treats and toys to go around. And don’t forget to give both dogs plenty of your time, but especially the dog who has been with you from the start. With the right planning, training and attention, bringing a second dog into your home really will double the awesome — bringing your pack many years of fun and friendship.


Happy Belated Valentine’s Day from Atlanta Lab Rescue!

valentines day

All of the your donations and volunteer hours have made these “love stories” possible and none of these dogs (and many more) would be here without you.

Right now all of the shelters are full and rescue groups are at capacity. If you would like to make a donation to help us “keep the fight going” for all of the deserving dogs out there, the link is below. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We hope that because of us, you have a little more love each day.

Click on Our Lab Love Video  to see the beautiful faces – 2 and 4 Legged!

To help support Atlanta Lab Rescue, please click HERE! Thank you!

The 10 Cues Your Puppy Needs To Learn NOW

IMG_2598This is a great article from I Heart Dogs!  Recently ALR has adopted out several puppies and very young Labs.  We thought this would be very helpful information!  Teaching your puppy or young dog sooner versus later could potentially save its life one day!!!

From I Heart Dogs:

Bringing home a new puppy is one of the most exciting things you can do. Everyone wants to snuggle, play with and take pictures of the furry bundle of joy. Because of their size, cuteness and our human tendency to think of them as “babies,” training your new puppy may be the furthest thing on your mind. However, by the time you get your puppy at around 8 weeks old, they are definitely able to learn. This mean if you don’t teach them what you want them to do, they will teach themselves things. So, start your puppy off on the right paw by making sure you teach him the following 10 cues every puppy should learn as soon as possible.

#1 – Leave it

This one is so important for the safety of your puppy! You want to be able to prevent him from eating or chewing on something that may be harmful. Start with something easy like a toy!

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#2 – Drop it

This cue is great to help your puppy learn appropriate toy play including ending a game of tug or dropping a ball for fetch. It also rewards them for giving you something (because you give them a treat or another toy) instead of guarding it. Finally, it can be used as a back-up if for some reason your leave it cue failed or you were too slow to give it.

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#3 – Name         

Your puppy should learn to respond to his name by giving you full eye contact. That way, you know he has your full attention should you need to give another cue (such as come, or leave it).

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#4 – Come

Another equally important cue for your puppy’s safety. Don’t let your dog off leash anywhere until he has a reliable come.

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#5 – Sit

Sit is a good cue to teach your puppy to help with manners. It can be used to greet people, before you throw a ball, etc. You can also teach a down instead, if you prefer, or even better, both.

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#6 – Stay

Stay is a very important cue, again for your dog’s safety, but also your own. For example, stay is great when you are coming in the door with something heavy or bulky and you don’t want your dog to come and trip you up. Stays are also good for greeting people at the door, so your dog doesn’t bolt out of it. And, of course, it’s important if you are going to do almost any dog sport later in life.

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#7 – Off

While this cue isn’t imperative to your dog’s safety, it does help with one of the biggest complaints owners give – jumping up. And, if you teach when your pup is teeny tiny, you can avoid the problem all together when he gets bigger.

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#8 – Heel

“Heel,” “with me,” “side,” whatever you want to call it – walking next to you on a loose leash is taught easiest right away. There is no reason why your little 8 week old pup can’t start learning on- and off-leash manners inside the house! Work on it just a couple minutes a day and you won’t have to worry when your dog gets bigger and stronger, he will already have nice manners.

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#9 – Watch me

This cue is great to teach your puppy because it encourages them to focus on you. Those obedience dogs that spend the entire time staring up at their owners got their start with a cue like “watch me,” which simply means “give me eye contact.” You can build it up to be as long of a look as you like.

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#10 – Emergency Come

Getting dogs to come can be tricky. Many of us have our “come” cue that our dog eventually responds to, but it’s not critical if they stop to go potty before they get to us, or to sniff a tree. However, there are times when you need your dog to come now. Sometimes, it may be because of an emergency – like they are in the middle of the road and car is coming. Other times, you just may be in hurry. Having a second come cue that means “come immediately at a run” is a great cue to have up your sleeve. Teaching it young will help solidify it for years to come.

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Happy New Year!



It all started so innocently.  I bought my first house, built a fence and got a dog.

Shortly thereafter, I realized that I had the perfect situation and the perfect dog, so I started fostering for the golden retriever rescue. About that same time, a friend and I signed up to walk dogs at an area shelter (you see where this is going…).  It only took 6 months before I had adopted 2 more dogs, my friend ended up with 3 and before long my family, friends and neighbors, many of whom had never expressed any real interest in owning a dog, all had dogs. I had found my calling. Unfortunately, not one that I could make a living doing, but one that would become my life… for better or worse.

My “pack” of 3 was a potpourri of pooches and collectively covered probably no less than 50 assorted breeds. Our first Christmas, I was so excited to send out cards showing my dogs perfectly posed in holiday outfits, but just getting them in the same general area and calm, much less outfitted and posed, proved to be more than my dogs or I was capable of, so I waited until they were asleep, took a picture and superimposed their “visions of sugarplums” theme.  That was my last  Christmas card and the last time I saw that furniture in the picture.

Once Atlanta Lab Rescue came to fruition, 3 dogs became 5 and then 8 and sometimes as many as 10 dogs inhabited my intown home. My Pottery Barn couches and coffee tables gave way to dog beds and crates and my organized and fastidious world was no more.  I had “drank the Kool-aid.”

Over the years, ALR has taken on much more and become much more than we ever envisioned. Who could have imagined in 2007 when a handful of volunteers showed up at Pet Supplies Plus for Adoption Day with 12 dogs, that 8 years later we would have rescued close to 4000? And who would’ve thought that this handful of volunteers would turn into a network of dedicated people willing to sacrifice their time and money to fulfill a mission that is sometimes as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming. We can be proud that take the dogs that everyone passes on, and against all odds and with a lot of financial help we’ve healed them and sent them on to better lives.

As 2015 comes to a close, I’d like to personally thank all of the volunteers and financial supporters that have stepped up and helped make every life we’ve saved possible. Those of you that didn’t have the time, helped out with the money. Many of you signed up for monthly pledges and whether it was $5 or $500, it all added up and gave us resources we could count on. Others of you supported our $5 Fridays when we got in over our heads, which was often. Then there were the sponsors like Cobb County Toyota, Southern Proper, Peachtree Tents and Events and Jamie Coyle with Keller Williams who were always first in line to help out with every event.

For all the volunteers who took time away from family, friends and busy work schedules to pick up dogs, drive dogs, show dogs and adopt dogs out, a huge THANK YOU! Sometimes it took all day and a tank of gas, but you showed up and got the job done! For the fosters who open their homes to these battered and shell-shocked dogs, understanding that you’re their “bridge” to a better life, all I can say is you ROCK! The unsung heroes are the volunteers who do the accounting, website and social media, as well as the communications. You are the conduit to everyone and everything that makes it all possible. Finally, for the board members and those of you who are in the “trenches” every day, you have allowed me to catch my breath and have pushed us to another level. The bigger and better Bark for Art and the Inaugural ALR 5k, which was a huge success and far exceeded our expectations, took a lot of time and effort on the part of several people and the whole organization owes you a debt of gratitude.

Moving into 2016, we’re hoping to get more people more involved to accomplish even bigger and better things. The ALR volunteers are family and everyone plays a critical role, but we have fun while accomplishing truly great things. What could be better than that?

Even though we want to highlight the volunteers, we’d also like to ask everyone to remember us for end of the year (or beginning of the year) donations. Your continued financial support is critical to continue to help more dogs.

We hope the New Year brings peace, prosperity and MORE PUPS!

Becky Cross

Click here to donate

All I want for Christmas…………


Fun ways to include your dog in holiday festivities!!

christmas labs

From Cesar’s Way…Article by Josh Weiss-Roessler

Fun ways to include your dog in holiday festivities!!

Strange facts about canine instincts


The Results Are In – First Annual ALR 5k Race and 1K Fun Run!!!!

alr raceThe results are in and the first annual Atlanta Lab Rescue 5k Race and 1k Fun Run was a great success!  Fabulous weather and a great time was had by all! Please CLICK HERE to view the final race results.  Scroll down to our race and click on Results.  Congratulations to all who participated in the race – we appreciate your participation and support of Atlanta Lab Rescue! Start training for next year!

A HUGE shout out and THANK YOU to all of the FABULOUS volunteers that have been working on the race for months!  Great Success!!

BIG THANK YOU to all of our sponsors!  We so very much appreciate your continued support!!!

Thank You One and All!!

Atlanta Lab Rescue

A BIG Thank You Georgia!!!!!!


WOW! We did it! This year’s GA Gives Day campaign was amazing! We set a goal of $10,000 and surpassed it. With the help of 158 donors we raised $10,710 ! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
Through your support Atlanta Lab Rescue is able to continue its mission to find homes for dogs like Trooper who was hurt in a hunting accident and was deserted at a local shelter by his owner. Because of ALR he got the urgent medical attention he needed and found a loving secure home.
Grateful dogs like Trooper are the true real winners when we all pull together!
Thank you!
Atlanta Lab Rescue

Adoption Days – What can you expect??

We often get inquiries about ALR Adoption Days – what happens, what do we need to do, can I really be of help? ( Hmmmm……..YES!)  Well, if you love Labs and want to hangout with a lot of awesome people too, ALR Adoption Days are for you!  Here is a great video of a typical awesome Adoption Day with incredible Labs and incredible volunteers too!  Just click on the link below!!

Ever wonder what happens at Atlanta Lab Rescue’s Adoption Day?


Welcoming Your Shelter Dog Into Their New Home

Here is a great and useful article by Debbie Jacobs….Also….ALR volunteers are always happy to help provide information for bringing home your new dog and making it a successful transition!!


Moving is among the most stressful experiences for a social animal. You know that life for your newly adopted dog has just taken a turn for the better, but your dog needs you to demonstrate it for her. Some dogs move into their homes and become a happy, successful pet without skipping a beat. Others can struggle learning the rules and customs in their new life. Here are a few tips for helping to make the transition from shelter dog to a adored member of your family.

  • Make sure your dog has a place to go where they feel safe. This may be a crate, a dog  bed in a back room or snuggled up on the couch with you.
  • Don’t force them into interactions and respect any body language or indication that they are feeling overwhelmed.
  • Be patient and go slowly. Help them learn to trust you by giving them time to adjust to their new home and family.

Pair anything you want them to feel good about with yummy food. This includes petting, body handling, the appearance of the neighbor’s dog, your grandchildren, the furnace turning on, riding in the car, going to the vet, being brushed, picked up, having a leash clipped on, walking out the door, hearing a loud noise, etc.

Have a treat pouch loaded with tasty snacks that your dog loves. This part of the process does not require the dog to do anything, they just need to experience something. They may hear it, they may see, they may feel it. Immediately after they do, offer them a treat. This will help them learn to feel good about all the things they are learning about in their new life.

Keep those treats handy and when your dog does something you like; look at you when you say their name, come when you call them, hop in the car when you ask, wait at the open instead of racing out, give them a treat.

  • Have food dispensing toys and safe chews on hand.
  • Feed them their meals in stuffed Kongs.
  • Use toys they need to manipulate to get their daily kibble ration out of.
  • Give them something fun to do and keep their minds occupied.
  • Help them learn to feel safe being left alone by making sure they get to practice. Leave them with a bully stick or marrow bone when you leave the house.
  • Don’t be gone for too long early on, they don’t know the routines yet and don’t know that being isolated and left on their own is only temporary.

Find local trainers and daycares to help you with your new dog. Be sure to ask how they handle and train dogs. Trainers and daycares have a choice as to how they work with dogs. They can use food and positive reinforcement to train and manage dogs, or they can use force, reprimands or other forms of correction. Find out which anyone you trust with your dog’s well-being uses.

If you don’t want your dog being physically hurt or threatened, don’t accept any excuses about how or why someone pinches, pokes, alpha rolls, yells at, shocks, squirts or throws things at dogs. Either they are skilled enough to use positive reinforcement, or they’ll make up excuses for why they don’t need to be. Don’t buy it. Show your dog how good life can be.

6 Ways Dogs Help Ease Depression Symptoms


Here is a great article authored by Therese Borchard .  

6 Ways Dogs Help Ease Depression Symptoms

My husband and I had to put down our Labrador-Chow mix this morning. He did exactly what his sister did nine months ago: went out to our backyard on a cold and rainy night and just stood there, with his tail down, and wouldn’t come back in. It’s as if they both knew it was their time and wanted to die in peace. He was almost 15 years old, so we knew it was coming, but you’re never really ready for that feeling of emptiness or hollowness you feel when a pet leaves your life. Only then do you realize how much they gave to you.

Dogs, of course, are good for depression. Both of my dogs have helped me with my moods more than I thought was capable of things that don’t speak English. In loving memory of Sonny and his sister Sara, here are just six ways dogs enhance our mental health.

1. Dogs offer unconditional love and acceptance.

As far as we know, dogs are without opinions, critiques, and verdicts. Even if you smell like their poop, they will snuggle up next to you. In a Johns Hopkins Depression & Anxiety Bulletin, Karen Swartz, MD, mentions a recent study that found that nursing home residents in St. Louis felt less lonely when they spent quiet time with a dog alone than when they visited with a dog and other residents.

The study enrolled 37 nursing home residents who scored high on a loneliness scale and were interested in receiving weekly half-hour visits from dogs. Half of the residents had quiet time alone with the pooches. The other half shared the dog with other nursing home residents. Both groups said they felt less lonely after the visit, but the decrease in loneliness was much more significant among the residents who had the dogs all to themselves. In other words, at times we prefer our four-legged friends to our mouthy pals because we can divulge our innermost thoughts and not be judged.

2. Dogs alter our behavior.

Here’s a typical scenario back when we had dogs. I would come through the door in the evening and I’m annoyed. At what, I don’t know. A million little snafus that happened throughout the day. I am dangerously close to taking it out on someone. However, before I can do that, my Lab-Chow walks up to me and pats me, wanting some attention. So I kneel down and pet her. She licks my face, and I smile. Voila! She altered my behavior. I am only agitated a little now and chances are much better that someone will not become a casualty of my frustrations. We calm down when we are with our dogs. We slow our breath, our speech, our minds. We don’t hit as many people or use as many four-lettered words.

3. Dogs distract.

Dogs are like riveting movies and books. They take us out of our heads and into another reality — one that only involves food, water, affection, and maybe an animal butt — for as long as we can allow. I’ve found distraction to be the only effective therapy when you’ve hit a point where there is no getting your head back. It’s tough to ruminate about how awful you feel and will feel forever when your dog is breathing in your face.

4. Dogs promote touch.

The healing power of touch is undisputed. Research indicates a 45-minute massage can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol and optimize your immune system by building white blood cells. Hugging floods our bodies with oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress, and lowers blood pressure and heart rates. And, according to a University of Virginia study, holding hands can reduce the stress-related activity in the hypothalamus region of the brain, part of our emotional center. Touch can actually stop certain regions of the brain from responding to threat clues. It’s not surprising, then, that stroking a dog can lower blood pressure and heart rate and boost levels of serotonin and dopamine.

5. Dogs make us responsible.

With dogs come great responsibility, and responsibility — according to depression research — promotes mental health. Positive psychologists assert that we build our self-esteem by taking ownership of a task, by applying our skills to a job. When we succeed — i.e., the dog is still alive the next day — we reinforce to ourselves that we are capable of caring for another creature as well as ourselves. That’s why chores are so important in teaching adolescents self-mastery and independence.

Taking care of a dog also brings structure to our day. Sleeping until noon is no longer a possibility unless you want to spend an hour cleaning up the next day. Staying out all night requires preparation and forethought.

6. Dogs lower our blood pressure.

Research shows that dog owners have significantly lower blood pressure and heart rates both before and while performing stressful mental tasks — like, say, performing a family intervention or supervising kids’ homework. Blood pressure also drops when people pet dogs, especially if it’s a dog they know and love. Dog petting can also bring improvement in a person’s immune system and ease pain. It seems as though a dog’s mere presence is beneficial.

Bark for Art!! A HUGE Thank you!!!


Bark for Art 2015 was a huge success! The crowd of about 300 had a blast at Westside Market and enjoyed food from Endive and the sounds of the Grose, Hill and Callahan Band kept the night lively. The big attraction was the silent auction with everything from flights in vintage planes to jewelry to beautiful one-of-a-kind art and gift certificates for everything!

Several of our foster dogs made the scene and melted hearts and success stories from adopters melted my heart.

Special thanks also to Westside Market for hosting the event in their fabulous store, to Peachtree Tents & Events, who provide the party rentals each year (nicest people you’ll ever work with if you’re planning an event!) and Endive Atlanta for the fabulous food! We can’t forget Cobb County Toyota and Southern Proper for their sponsorship, as well as Jamie Coyle from Keller Williams, Jody Artale from Hennessy Lexus, Holly Beth Organics, Corporate Events Unlimited and World Children’s Center.

Finally, to all of the volunteers who worked tirelessly to put this together, the auction donors and the people who worked the event, a special debt of gratitude.  THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Please enjoy these great pictures from the event!  Click Here to view!

Becky Cross

Director – Atlanta Lab Rescue

Can your dog read your mind?

Here is a great article from Cesar’s Way – And yes, when it comes to treats, all dogs can read your mind!!

By Jon Bastian

Has this ever happened to you? It’s time to take the dog somewhere she doesn’t like to go, like the vet or groomer; or you’ve decided it’s bath time — but when you look for the dog, she’s nowhere to be found. You haven’t even said the words “vet” or “bath,” and yet your dog somehow seems to know something unpleasant is coming and hides from you.

It may seem like psychic ability, and you probably find yourself wondering, “How did the dog know what I was thinking?” As science is learning, though, the answer is because dogs are a lot more perceptive and tuned into us than we realize.

One of the questions behaviorists have been studying in animals for years is “Do they have a theory of mind?” What does that mean? As described by veterinarian Nicholas Dodman, “Theory of mind implies self-awareness and the ability to understand that other individuals may possess information and agendas.”

In other words, the question is whether dogs are aware of their own emotional states, and understand that other living things have their own unique emotional states and awareness.

Humans obviously have this ability — we know what we’re thinking and feeling, and we know that other people have different thoughts and feelings. Now, the evidence is increasingly pointing to the likelihood that dogs have theories of mind as well.

For the evidence, we only need to look at some of the abilities that our dogs have.

They can have empathy for us

Defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another,” humans clearly have empathy, for each other and animals — this is the entire reason that storytelling works for us; we can put ourselves in the place of the characters, feeling what they’re feeling as well as feeling for them.

A study published in Biology Letters used a novel but valid test to determine whether dogs have empathy: contagious yawning. This is the phenomenon in which one person yawning will cause others in the group to do the same, and its cause was a mystery for a long time. It wasn’t until scientists determined that children with autism do not “catch” yawns from others that they realized it was caused by, and is a sign of, empathy, which is something that many autistic people lack.

Many species exhibit contagious yawning, but only within the species. Dogs and people seem to be the only exceptions. The study noted above found that dogs would start yawning if humans did, and especially if it was their human who yawned.

Score one for “theory of mind.” Dogs can understand that we have feelings.

They can understand our point of view

In another experiment, reported in Behaviour, researchers determined that dogs can tell whether or not a human can see something and then respond appropriately.

In the experiment, a human sat at one end of a table, with a dog at the other. There were two barriers between them, one transparent and the other opaque, with two toys placed on the dog’s side, one behind each barrier. When the human called to the dog to “bring it,” the dog would only choose the toy that they knew the human could see, ignoring the other.

But when the human turned their back on the dog and toys or sat on the same side as the dog, then the toy selection was completely random. This means that dogs can understand that our point of view is different than theirs and figure out what we can see — score another point for theory of mind.

They trust our judgment

Give a dog a choice between a huge bowl of food and a small one and they’ll choose the bigger one every time, right? Apparently not. According to a study published in PLoS ONE, a dog will choose the bowl that a human seems to prefer, regardless of size or what’s in it. They still don’t know why this is the case, but it does show how dogs look to us for leadership. Eating is a primal need, and yet our opinion can influence what a dog eats.

This is also why begging can be such a problem with dogs. They’re not trying to be annoying; they just want in on what we seem to enjoy. They understand that we have information that they don’t. Three points for theory of mind.

They can feel jealousy… sort of

Humans have two kinds of emotions: primary emotions like fear, joy, grief and anger, and secondary emotions including hatred, anxiety, insecurity, and jealousy. Multiple studies have indicated that dogs can feel jealousy.

In one study, researchers had dog owners give affection to a stuffed dog while their own dog was present. The dogs reacted by trying to get between the human and toy, nudging the human, or even snapping at the fake dog. They showed none of these behaviors when the human showed the same affection to a different object, like a book.

Another study at the University of Vienna found that dogs have a sense of fairness. Alone, a dog would “shake” with or without a reward. However, in the presence of another dog, the first dog would stop cooperating if its rival received a reward and they didn’t, or if the other dog got a better reward — in this case sausage versus plain brown bread.

Secondary emotions require self-awareness, as well as an understanding of what another animal is experiencing; more support for dogs having a theory of mind

They get the point

Or, rather, they get pointing and respond to it, something that even chimpanzees cannot do. For this one, you don’t even need a panel of scientists. Just get your dog’s attention and point at something — he’ll probably look at it. In fact, you don’t even need to point. Just focus your attention on something and your dog will, too.

When you have intention, you have an agenda. Dogs can pick up on this, another important part of having a theory of mind.

Put this all together, and you have the explanation for your dog’s apparent psychic ability. They are constantly looking to us for leadership because they trust our judgment, and they are aware of what we are aware of. They can read our intentions through our body language and energy, and respond accordingly. They know that we have information that they don’t, so are always trying to figure us out.

Most importantly, they are acutely aware of the clues we are giving even when we aren’t. It can be as simple as the dog figuring out that when you go on a car trip on the day you don’t leave for work in the morning that it might be a bad thing for her, or as complex as sensing the hidden feelings you always have right before that trip to the vet or the bath.

Dogs continuously pay close attention to us for clues on what they should do. When we start to pay the same attention to them and to our own behavior, then we’re one more step on the way to becoming a successful Pack Leader.

In Praise of Senior Dogs

Senior Dog Photography03Atlanta Lab Rescue has rescued so many senior dogs from shelters and taken them in as owner surrenders (don’t get us started).  They hold a special place in our hearts.  Cassie (above) was an incredible black lab, rescued and provided for (in luxury) for her final years – which turned out to be many but not enough for her foster Mom who fell in love with her. Senior dogs are easy to foster and for we humans, being able to provide them with love and care for their final years is a blessing. Check out this great article below from Cesar on how to make the best of life for your senior dog.  Consider fostering a senior from ALR too!  You will be doing a great service!

A Tribute to Cassie – 2014  This is a beautiful video dedicated to Cassie!

In praise of senior dogs

By: Cesar Millan

Humans can’t join AARP until they’re 50 and really aren’t considered senior citizens until their 60s, but for dogs most breeds are considered seniors once they reach eight years of age. As with all things related to dogs aging, this number is a bit lower for larger dogs and a bit higher for smaller dogs.

If we take the proper steps to keep our senior dogs healthy, they can remain active and happy well into the equivalent of their 80s or 90s. This is a wonderful thing, because senior dogs also tend to be calmer and mellower, and less likely to suddenly develop misbehaviors or phobias because they’ve been around longer and have had a lot more experience than younger dogs.

Junior isn’t quite a senior yet at six years old, but his predecessor Daddy lived to be sixteen and was active and lively up until the last year or two. Even then, when he was dying from cancer and suffering hip problems that made it difficult to walk, he still served as my right hand, helping me with dog rehabilitation. Dogs don’t focus on what’s wrong with them — they focus on getting around to the best of their abilities.

Learn NOW about the product Cesar wishes were available for Daddy in his senior years.

If we want our senior dogs to keep getting around with a minimum of pain and difficulty, then there are some steps we can take to help them out:

    1. Keep their weight under control

Obesity isn’t just a problem for humans; it can affect our dogs as well. If your senior dog starts to gain weight, it may be time for a change in diet. Your vet can recommend food formulated for your dog’s specific needs and nutrition. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight will minimize the likelihood of the same conditions humans can suffer, like heart disease and diabetes. It can also help alleviate joint pain from aging and arthritis.

    1. Don’t neglect their teeth

As dogs age, their teeth can build up plaque, crack, or fall out; this is especially true for smaller dogs. If you aren’t already, you should have your dog’s teeth cleaned once a year by a licensed veterinarian. You should also clean your dog’s teeth regularly with a brush and toothpaste designed specifically for dogs.

    1. Visit the vet more often

For younger dogs, an annual wellness exam is the norm, but for seniors this schedule should increase to once every six months. You should also consider having your vet run full blood tests at least once a year to reveal any potential problems that might not be visible yet.

    1. Watch your dog’s behavior

Notice whether there are any sudden changes in your dog’s behavior, particularly if they suddenly seem to have trouble getting up or down stairs, into or out of the car, or standing up after lying down. These signs may indicate joint discomfort or pain, which you can prevent like I do with natural supplements like Antinol. If your dog suddenly becomes lethargic, has a change in appetite or elimination habits, then it’s time to see the vet.

    1. Senior-proof your dog’s life

As your dog grows older, there may be certain things they cannot do as well anymore. You may have to shorten walk times because they have less energy. If you live in a place with two floors, you might have to move the bed and food downstairs. If your dog is going blind, you can create “scent trails” with things like lavender oil to help her find her way around, and use swimming pool noodles to pad sharp edges on furniture. Dogs are incredibly adaptable but humans are incredibly clever — combine the two to make life easier for both of you.

Veterinary care of senior and geriatric dogs has made big advances in just the last decade, so there’s no reason that your dog can’t live a long, happy, comfortable life. By taking the steps above and continuing to provide exercise, discipline, and affection, you can be the Pack Leader your dog needs to achieve that longevity while staying balanced.


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