ALR NEXT Adoption Date – Sunday March 26th!!!


The NEXT Atlanta Lab Rescue Adoption Date will be March 26th from NOON – 2 PM at DELIGHTFUL DOG – Located at 4958 Lower Roswell Rd., Marietta, GA 30068 678-273-3700.

Come to this great facility and meet the Lab of your dreams!

Mark your calendar and leave a; comment if you have any questions! See you then!


$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

Puppy’s Second Christmas……Please read if you are considering a Puppy or Young Dog….

alr pic

It is that time of year again…..and it happens every January to pretty much every rescue group we talk to and it happens to Atlanta Lab Rescue too…….Not even 24 hours after the excitement of a new puppy for Christmas and people are calling rescue groups and dumping puppies at the shelters all around Atlanta and beyond.  It happens all the time – for some reason, somebody thinks it is a great idea to get a puppy for an unsuspecting person or child – NOT A GOOD IDEA!  That is pretty much the worst idea for a Christmas gift. A puppy or a dog is a living animal that will require years of attention, exercise, food and care. Many lab and lab mix dogs live up to 16 years!  That is a long time to commit to and if you are not ready and have not thought it out, Christmas is NOT the time to make such a far reaching decision.

On Christmas Day last year, we received a request to take in an owner surrender – on Christmas Day! Go figure….they couldn’t even wait a day.  The family had grown tired of the dog already.  Puppies are puppies and many dogs remain puppyish for years to come………..especially labs!

Here is the bottom line on Puppies –

They have lots of energy – because they are puppies

They pee on the carpet – because they haven’t been properly trained yet and their bladder is the size of a walnut

They bark – because they are unsure of their new surroundings

They don’t know how to walk on a leash yet – because they haven’t been trained

They can be fearful of small children – because small children generally don’t know how to treat a puppy

They can throw up – because you might be feeding them the wrong food or table scraps

They need periodic vet visits – because they are not fully immunized

They have to pee every 2 hours – because they are puppies and their bladder is the size of a walnut

They need consistent training and interaction – because they are puppies

That puppy will grow up to be an absolute reflection of the care you give it from day one! 

Too often we get requests to take in dogs that are very young, not trained, snarly and generally not the best pets – why? Because someone treated that dog terribly as a puppy – neglected it and generally treated it like a stuffed animal.  Well guess what, these wonderful little four legged ones are like little kids, they need constant attention and care to mature properly.   And when we take in these young dogs, we spend money and time, neither of which is in great supply, to rehab them to be great dogs that we can adopt out again…..I personally adopted a puppy about two and a half years ago….I can tell you, I thought it out long before bringing him home!  I made absolutely sure I could give him all he needed to grow into a great dog and he has done just that because I put in the time.  For the first 2 weeks, taking him out to pee every 2-4 hours….around the clock!   Guess what?  It takes time and patience! Do you have a good supply of that after a 10 hour work day, child activities, dinner and general time to do household chores and such?  You can’t just toss the dog in the back yard either…..

If this article is speaking to you, take time with your puppy or new dog……don’t make the mistake thousands will make in a few weeks, dropping the ball and dumping the dog at the shelter. The shelters become overrun quickly and owner surrendered dogs are the first to be put down….as in immediately.  The shelters don’t have the space.  If you end up giving your dog up to ANY rescue, make a financial donation to help defer costs.

Think about it long and hard before doing anything…remember, you are the one who wanted the puppy, you owe it to the puppy or dog to give it your best…..

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

Bark For Art Sponsors

Bark For Art Sponsors

ALR would like to extend a big thank you to our 2015 Bark for Art sponsors. We could not hold this event, which is our major fundraiser of the year, without their generous support.

Cobb County Toyota

Cobb County Toyota Logo


Southern Proper

Southern Proper

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.


Read more:

Because Atlanta Lab Rescue doesn’t take a day off… Anyone? Anyone?

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How to get your dog to listen to you!

By Juliana Weiss-Roessler

When your dog won’t listen to your commands, it can be frustrating — and it can also be dangerous. After all, this kind of communication can help keep your dog out of trouble, preventing him from running out into a busy street or eating something he shouldn’t. It can also help keep you sane by helping you manage problem behaviors.

But it’s not always easy to get to the root of the problem. So where do you start if your dog doesn’t obey — either in specific situations or all of the time? Here are a few problems you may be encountering.

Remove excess energy
If you’ve ever tried to communicate with a hyper toddler, then you know how excited energy can be distracting. It’s no different with dogs. When your pup is raring to go, his only focus is on releasing all that pent-up energy inside, and he’s going to have a hard time listening to you.

So remember to practice first exercise, then discipline, and then affection. A daily walk that truly drains all of your dog’s energy will go a long way.

Be consistent
If your dog is receiving different messages about his behavior, he won’t understand what you want from him. That’s also true if individual family members enforce different rules. Sit down as a family and discuss the rules, boundaries, and limitations you want to set for your dog. It can be helpful to write them down and display them somewhere prominent.

Master your energy
Dogs listen to their pack leaders, and you can only be that leader if you are displaying calm-assertive energy. If you’re frantic or uncertain as you give a command, your dog will tune you out. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t really aware of the energy we are giving off. Have a friend observe your behavior and give you feedback — or even film it so you can see for yourself.

Go back to basics
Does your dog truly know the command? It can take hundreds or even thousands of repetitions for some dogs to learn a new skill. Practice makes perfect. You may need to focus on training again to ensure your dog really has it down.

Stop relying on verbal commands
Dogs don’t speak to one another; they use energy and body language to communicate. So it’s not surprising that they sometimes have trouble picking up on our verbal commands, particularly when they are bombarded by our constant yammering all day.

Even if they know a command, they may actually associate it more with a non-verbal cue you give at the same time — something you may not even realize you’re doing.

If your dog is listening to you, consider what may have changed about your physical presence. Are you holding a baby? Are you sitting down? Are you looking away? Small changes like these may be impacting your ability to fully communicate your message like you normally would.

Notice your dog’s emotional state
Beyond pent-up energy, your dog may be distracted by a number of emotions. If you are trying to train her to come when a neighbor’s dog approaches, your pup may instead be so focused on claiming her territory that she’s tuned you out. Or she may be so frightened by the sound of thunder and lightning that there’s little mental space to hear your command to go to her crate. You have to deal with the underlying issue before you can get your dog to really listen to you.

If you continue to have problems, consider hiring a professional to help. Communication between you and your dog is important for both of you and worth the investment of your time and energy.

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What you didn’t know about rescue (but really need to)

Here is a great article from Dog Hair & Bourbon.  While some might think Heather, the author, is over the edge, I can tell you first hand she is spot on! (Don’t even get our Director started!!)  So many people we ALR volunteers speak to cannot believe the reasons people give us for surrendering their dogs – dogs that they have had for 6 years or the stories we hear about how these beautiful dogs are abused by the very people that should be protecting them and giving them a loving life.  It is truly a sad state of affairs. Support your rescue groups in any way you can.  You will be saving a life!    Here is a great read —


As a sort of follow-up to last week’s post that got a lot of people all hot n’ bothered, I figured I would stir up some discussion on what exactly is the purpose of rescue. This post applies to most dog rescues; I fully understand that there are indeed rescue groups who do take it upon themselves to fill the niches provided below. Those groups are few and far between, however.

Dog owners tend to have a lot of misconceptions about rescue groups and animal control, and what their job is in society. Spoiler alert: it’s not to fix your problems.

1. We’re not rehabilitators

So you got a dog, and now that dog is causing you trouble. It’s snapping at company, herding/nipping your kids, tearing up the house, whatever… The likely reason is that you didn’t train it right, didn’t do your research, got a dog from a crappy breeder, or all of the above. Maybe you genuinely did everything right, and it’s just the dog. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter, because either way it’s not our job to fix your basket case. Don’t email me saying, “He deserves better,” or “She’s a wonderful dog, she just needs a farm,” or the like. You’re right, the dog probably does deserve better, but why do you think I’m going to risk getting my hand bitten off, or my dogs attacked, or my drywall eaten? Take some personal responsibility, change your methods, get a trainer, or, if the dog is a serious threat, do the right thing and have the poor thing humanely euthanized yourself.

2. We’re not your rehoming shortcut

By that I mean, if you decide your dog needs a home, do it yourself. It’s really not our job. We will gladly list your dog as a referral, share, spread the word, direct adopters your way, etc. We are constantly inundated with dogs from animal shelters that will DIE if they don’t have foster space. You took on the responsibility of owning that dog – take the responsibility of finding it a home if it needs it. And if your dog has some issue that keeps you from doing this, see #1.

(While I’m on this topic – it’s also not your local animal control facility’s job to find your unwanted dog a home. Animal control exists to hold and place strays, and protect the public from dangerous animals. If you surrender your dog to animal control, they will kill it in 24 hours.)

3. We’re not in the “business” of rescue

Those of us who are doing rescue ethically are not making any money off this venture. In fact, we’re probably losing money. Dogs are expensive, and we don’t exactly get the cream of the crop as far as health goes. So, no thank-you, we are not interested in you “donating” your dog to our organization (unless, of course, you want to “donate” a litter of purebred, vetted puppies). Our dogs are not “for sale,” they’re for adoption, and we have plenty, thank you very much.

4. We’re not your safety net

You didn’t spay your dog, and now you have eight wiggling bundles of joy in your bathroom (or your backyard, depending on what caliber of person you are). Guess what! That’s your problem, not ours. You’re the dum-dum who broke the number one rule of dog ownership

Below:  Zelda and Mako were “accidents” – Zelda was born in the shelter and Mako is deaf, so his breeder dumped him.


Similarly (this goes out to you backyard-breeder asshats) – we’re not here to take the puppies you can’t sell. We’re definitely not here to take your inbred, handicapped puppies that were born because you were either too stupid to know better or too greedy to care. If you want me to take your unwanted puppies, you better as hell sign an agreement to have that bitch spayed, or give me her as well. I will not encourage or enable your breeding habits.


5. We’re not retirement communities

If you send me an email, and it says, basically, “Our dog is 12 years old, and we love her very much, but we just don’t have the time to give her what she needs,” I will pull out my voodoo doll and stick a dozen pins in your eyes. You are the lowest of the low. Tell me, please, what you think we’re going to do with your poor old dog.

Cyrus is eight – ancient for a Great Dane.


I’m not sure what la-la land you live in, but there aren’t exactly lines out the door for senior dogs. You’re going to honestly sit and tell me that that dog is such a burden on your life that you can’t handle the last few months, maybe a year or so, of its life? I’ll tell you what – I’d hate to be your parents. Mom’s too old to be bothered with, just leave her in the bed to fester. Seriously, you disgust me.



Okay, I’m sure you’re asking by this point, so what the hell are we here for? That’s very simple, my friend. We’re here for the homeless, for the abused, and for the sick. Our job is to take dogs from shelters that don’t deserve to spend the last week of their lives in a loud, smelly, scary concrete prison cell. The dogs that can be rehomed with families that genuinely appreciate their presence.  The dogs that have never known love in their entire lives – only fear, hate, and abuse. We’re also here to help the people who love, cherish, and want their animals but life just won’t let them. For example, the elderly lady who’s being moved to assisted living, or the single man or woman who lost their job and can barely feed themselves, much less a four legged companion. Doesn’t your plight of “just don’t have time” or “we have a new baby” sound pretty pathetic next to all of that?

Below: Bruce’s owner gave him up because he was dying.


Dogs – all pets, actually – are lifetime commitments. You are their lives; you are all they care about and all they have. Stop shirking responsibility, and don’t try to rely on third parties to do all the heavy lifting for you. You thought you were good enough for that dog in the first place, now prove it.




bark for art


This year Bark for Art will head back to the Westside Market, a cooperative of art, design, antiques and FUN for a party that you won’t forget!

Aside from the “visual safari,” we’ll have delicious food and cool summer libations. We’re also thrilled to introduce The Grose, Hill and Callahan Hill Band that covers everything from Abba to Zepplin, so bring your boogie shoes. In addition to the band, we’ll have a huge silent auction filled with jewelry, dinners, trips, art and some awesome surprises and best of all, 100% of the proceeds goes to Atlanta Lab Rescue!

Tickets are $35 at the door and through PayPal (details to follow)

Sponsorship opportunities are still available and include Bark for Art and our ALR 5k Road Race on November 21st plus Website and Facebook recognition throughout the year. For details email,

Hi – My Name is Gatsby – An ALR Dog Speaks Out!


Hi. My name is Gatsby. I wanted to give my dog and people friends out there an update to my doggie life story. It’s been a little over a year since I landed in my forever home, and boy am I a happy dog. I want to start from the beginning, since everyone might not know my story.

I am a cheerful, 85 lb. yellow lab mix who had a rough go of it the first few years of my life. I was rescued from a shelter in early 2014, after they didn’t feed me very well. I had some complications from that, which included nerve damage in my back left leg that resulted in me losing my leg in May 2014. The doctors at Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital took great care of me and I had great foster parents named Heather and Stacy during that awful time. Without them and the ALR family, there is no telling what would have happened to me.

In June 2014, I was told that I was going to a forever home. I was hoping that would be the last time I would be shuffled around. No dog likes that. Anyway, I was dropped off at Sutton & Kristi’s house on June 11 by one of my foster moms, Heather. I got out of the car and jumped into Sutton’s lap hoping that he would be my forever dad. I found out soon that Sutton & Kristi had lost their yellow lab Aspen to cancer in May, so I was hoping I could fill that void and be a really good fit for them.

The first week, Dad stayed home quite a bit to make sure I was OK with the new house and all the surroundings. He would leave me longer and longer by myself so I could get use to having the house to myself. I also showed my new owners my love for shoes. Yes, shoes. I don’t know what it is, but I love taking shoes from wherever they are to my bed in the living room. I’ve been known to hoard a dozen shoes, all within paw distance to my bed. I also like taking them places where you can’t find them. I get them from the closet, off the coffee table, off the floor, wherever I can find them.

I also had to learn the ins and outs about my new house. They had a doggie door, which was cool, but I had to learn how to use it. With 3 legs, it was a little bit of a challenge to negotiate the door smacking my butt, because I was a little slow at first. But, I figured it out. Also, my new owners got me in shape really fast. You see, when I go out the dog door, I have to go around the house and down the stairs to the fairly steep driveway down to the fenced in backyard. It’s a nice backyard, with plenty of places to explore. The first time I went down, I thought it was pretty cool. Then, when I was done, I was like ‘Uh Oh.’, I have to go back up that driveway, and up those stairs. Boy, that was really tough. I can do it pretty well now, but I try and hold it as long as I can, because I prefer the easier way which is when Mom or Dad let me out front to go potty.

At first, I was a little lonely, because Mom & Dad both work. I had to get used to being alone for longer periods, but I had the dog door, so I could go out anytime I wanted. It really worked out well in the beginning, because I also had heartworm. The downtime and quiet during the day helped during the long month of medicine and shots. I am happy to report that I am now heartworm free. Yay…

I finally got used to being alone during the day, and it wasn’t too bad. When Dad gets home, he plays with me for a long time. He really likes dogs, and I don’t mind at all playing and being on the end of a tummy and back rub. Dad also takes me to work on Fridays once a month, since he only works 1/2 day. I really like that. I go from office to office saying hi to everyone in the building. I like to show everyone how I am doing and how happy I am. After seeing everyone, Dad takes me back to his office and I just lie down for a couple of hours and just enjoy being out and about.

In November, I got an unexpected ‘visitor’. Well, I thought it was a visitor. My Dad brought home a 2nd dog. They called her America. I heard mention of Mom & Dad being fosters, so I breathed a sigh of relief. I was their main dog now, and was enjoying being the center of attention immensely. America came in with her tail between her legs, and I was OK with that, because I had to show her that I was boss around here. We got along pretty well, and we had some early skirmishes, but I really still wanted to be the only dog. Before Christmas, Mom & Dad took America to an adoption and then to a potential foster’s home. I thought to myself ‘Finally back to normalcy’. But, America came back. I heard she didn’t like other dogs and was quite aggressive when around other dogs. Funny, she never did that to me. Maybe she just knew who she was dealing with! Anyway, she was great around people and loved kids like I do, but she just kept hanging around. And Mom & Dad started showing a little favor towards her. I was starting to get a bad feeling.

The first real sign of trouble was when America was invited to go up to PA to visit my new grandma and the rest of Mom’s family. I was like ‘Whaaattt??’. How am I and this new mutt going to get along for 12 hours up and back cooped up in the back of an SUV. Granted it had plenty of room, but still what did I do to deserve this? Well, we made it up to PA and it wasn’t bad. We were really good and didn’t cause too much trouble. America did like crawling all over the car, so she was a little annoying.

Up in PA, I really liked Grandma. The family thought both of us were good dogs and I could sense that everyone wanted Mom & Dad to keep America.   She was also starting to be really cuddly toward Mom & Dad as I think she began to think this fostering experiment was a failure. Turns out I was right.

When we got back to GA, the deal was sealed and America became part of our family. She is a very good dog, but I didn’t like the idea of having to split the doggie fun with her. Now Dad has double duty when he gets home. But, he does pretty well at it. Thankfully, America and Mom share time together so I might get a little more time with Dad.

Currently, I weigh about 85 lbs and feel great and get around quite well. I got up to 89 lbs. and Mom & Dad were not happy. Mom blamed Dad for giving me too many treats (he’s good at that), but I kept my mouth shut. I’ve lost back down to 85, and I feel much better. I think they want me down to 82, because they feel that would be better for my joints.

Overall, America and I get along very well and I like my Mom and Dad. I actually enjoy having another dog around during the day. I still would like to get more attention, but hey I guess fair is fair.

I can only hope that all you dogs out there looking for a good home can find one. And, all you dog-loving humans out there, please consider one of us less fortunate dogs when you go looking for one. We will really appreciate it and will give you more loving than you can imagine.

Love to all my ALR friends.


4th of July Fireworks and your Dog

sally alr 4th of july

It is nearly the 4th of July – a time for us to celebrate our freedom and independence, have cookouts, watch parades, have family gatherings, enjoy a picnics at the park and fireworks!   This is also the time of year, along with New Year’s Eve, that most dogs are lost due to fireworks.   This year take precautions with your dog relative to their proximity to any fireworks display. Even if you are shooting off fireworks in your backyard or you are in an area where a larger public display can be seen and heard, make sure your dog is safe and secure.

Be mindful of your guests coming and going into your home or fenced back yard. If your dog is already nervous or is feeling anxiety, an open door will look very tempting. Make sure your dog has on a collar that has clear identification, just in case he gets out. Make sure guests know that it isn’t ok to feed your dog what they are eating, or drinking. There are many foods that are dangerous to our dogs. Click just below for a list of foods and drinks that can be dangerous to your dog:

Dangerous Foods for Dogs

Remember, your dog’s hearing ability is so incredibly larger than our human ability. Imagine the sound they must hear when fireworks explode. Like thunderstorms, dogs may not really understand just what is going on, however, they hear a very loud noise and a see a very bright light – this can all make for a challenging evening! Be mindful of your dog and watch his/her body language. Above all, make sure all of your pets are secure and accounted for at the end of the evening.

Here is a great link provided by Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital, via the AVMA on pet safety and the 4th of July. Please CLICK HERE to read the article…….Or……CLICK HERE to listen to the Podcast.

Be safe and have a Happy 4th of July Celebration! 

Atlanta Lab Rescue


Pet photo series aims to counter ‘black dog’ theory

By COLLIN BINKLEY June 14, 2015 

We felt this was a great article to share with our ALR Friends:

Black Dog Project

In this Oct. 2013 photo provided by Fred Levy, a black Labrador retriever named Denver poses in Levy's studio in Maynard, Mass. Levy, a pet photographer, first heard about “Black Dog Syndrome” in a 2013 conversation at a dog park. It’s a disputed theory that black dogs are the last to get adopted at shelters, perhaps because of superstition or a perception that they’re aggressive. The idea inspired Levy to take up a photo project on their behalf. (Fred Levy via AP)

MAYNARD, Mass. (AP) — It was a summer day at the dog park when Fred Levy, a professional pet photographer, overheard a conversation that he couldn’t shake off.

A woman was talking about “Black Dog Syndrome” — a theory that black dogs are less likely to be adopted than those with lighter coats, perhaps because of superstition or a notion that black dogs are aggressive. Experts debate whether it’s a myth or reality, but it struck Levy.

“A dog shouldn’t be overlooked just because of its coat,” Levy said. “That’s a minor element when it comes to the dog.”

That dog park visit was almost two years ago, but it inspired Levy to take on a project that’s still gaining international attention. He calls it the Black Dogs Project, a photo series that features black dogs against black backdrops, aiming to capture their beauty and counter negative stereotypes.

The photos struck a chord online and quickly went viral. Commenters raved about the striking details Levy brought out in each portrait — the soulful eyes, that one floppy ear, a Poodle’s ears blossoming with fur. The microblogging website Tumblr counted Levy’s blog among its “most-viral” of 2014.

Levy, 45, did it all in the basement studio of his Maynard home, where he lives with his wife, two young boys and a black-and-white rat terrier named Toby.

“I knew that, for this project, it would hit a nerve with two different groups,” Levy said. “Pet-lovers would love it, and photographers would like it if I did a good job.”

After adjusting to the sudden onslaught of attention, Levy decided to publish the work in a book. It’s slated to be published this September, titled “Black Dogs Project: Extraordinary Black Dogs and Why We Can’t Forget Them.” Part of the proceeds will go to a rescue group for Labradors in San Diego.

In the book and on his blog, Levy includes stories about each dog to counter myths about black dogs. Among those he highlights is Denver, a 2-year-old black Labrador that’s also a therapy dog. Denver works at an elementary school and spent time in a Boston firehouse after the marathon bombing.

Amanda Lukowski, Denver’s owner, said the photos were “breathtaking.”

“It captured his whole personality,” said Lukowski, of Northbridge. “Denver is a gentle giant. He’s 90 lbs. — he’s a big boy — but he is the most kind, caring, compassionate dog ever.”

Early on, the black dogs that Levy photographed came from owners he recruited through his Facebook page. Recently he also started working with abandoned dogs referred to him by shelters. After training his camera on them, he shares their photos online in search of a permanent home.

But his message to viewers isn’t necessarily to adopt black dogs. Mostly, he wants people to think beyond appearance when they’re adopting pets.

“I want people to make informed decisions on the best dog that will fit into their lifestyle,” he said. “The fur shouldn’t be the deciding factor.”

There’s no firm science to support the existence of Black Dog Syndrome, and some studies have dismissed it as a myth. Maryann Regan, director of shelter operations at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, said she doesn’t see widespread bias against black dogs. Still, she supports Levy’s work.

“Anything that helps to break down any barrier to benefit an animal is wonderful,” she said.

Among the victories that Levy ties to is project is the story of Annabelle, an 8-year-old black Labrador mix that was abandoned for more than a year, enduring a brutal winter outside. After hearing the story, Levy snapped three portraits of Annabelle and posted him on his blog last month. Two days later, a family adopted her.

Please click on the direct link to the story to see additional photos and learn more!

Black Dog Photo Project

5 essential commands you can teach your dog


Here is another great article from Cesar Millan. If your dog doesn’t know these basic commands, might be a good thing to read this article and teach your dog these basics.  Remember, you need to continue to work with your dog on these commands as well! Your dog will love learning and doing things to please you!!!

By Juliana Weiss-Roessler

Having a trained dog isn’t the same as having a balanced dog, but if your dog knows a few basic commands, it can be helpful when tackling problem behaviors — existing ones or those that may develop in the future.

So where do you start with dog obedience training? You could take a class, but it’s not necessary; you can do it yourself. In fact, with the right attitude, it can be fun for both you and your dog!

This is one of the easiest dog obedience commands to teach, so it’s a good one to start with.

  • Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose.
  • Move your hand up, allowing his head to follow the treat and causing his bottom to lower.
  • Once he’s in sitting position, say “Sit,” give him the treat, and share affection.

Repeat this sequence a few times every day until your dog has it mastered. Then ask your dog to sit before mealtime, when leaving for walks, and during other situations where you’d like him calm and seated.

This command can help keep a dog out of trouble, bringing him back to you if you lose grip on the leash or accidentally leave the front door open.

  • Put a leash and collar on your dog.
  • Go down to his level and say, “Come,” while gently pulling on the leash.
  • When he gets to you, reward him with affection and a treat.

Once he’s mastered it with the leash, remove it — and practice the command in a safe, enclosed area.

This can be one of the more difficult commands in dog obedience training. Why? Because the position is a submissive posture. You can help by keeping training positive and relaxed, particularly with fearful or anxious dogs.

  • Find a particularly good smelling treat, and hold it in your closed fist.
  • Hold your hand up to your dog’s snout. When he sniffs it, move your hand to the floor, so he follows.
  • Then slide your hand along the ground in front of him to encourage his body to follow his head.
  • Once he’s in the down position, say “Down,” give him the treat, and share affection.

Repeat it every day. If your dog tries to sit up or lunges toward your hand, say “No” and take your hand away. Don’t push him into a down position, and encourage every step your dog takes toward the right position. After all, he’s working hard to figure it out!

Before attempting this one, make sure your dog is an expert at the “Sit” command.

  • First, ask your dog to “Sit.”
  • Then open the palm of your hand in front of you, and say “Stay.”
  • Take a few steps back. Reward him with a treat and affection if he stays.
  • Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the treat.
  • Always reward your pup for staying put — even if it’s just for a few seconds.

This is an exercise in self-control for your dog, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to master, particularly for puppies and high-energy dogs. After all, they want to be on the move and not just sitting there waiting.

Leave it
This can help keep your dog safe when his curiosity gets the better of him, like if he smells something intriguing but possibly dangerous on the ground! The goal is to teach your pup that he gets something even better for ignoring the other item.

  • Place a treat in both hands.
  • Show him one enclosed fist with the treat inside, and say, “Leave it.”
  • Let him lick, sniff, mouth, paw, and bark to try to get it — and ignore the behaviors.
  • Once he stops trying, give him the treat from the other hand.
  • Repeat until your dog moves away from that first fist when you say, “Leave it.”
  • Next, only give your dog the treat when he moves away from that first fist and also looks up at you.

Once your dog consistently moves away from the first treat and gives you eye contact when you say the command, you’re ready to take it up a notch. For this, use two different treats — one that’s just all right and one that’s a particularly good smelling and tasty favorite for your pup.

  • Say “Leave it,” place the less attractive treat on the floor, and cover it with your hand.
  • Wait until your dog ignores that treat and looks at you. Then remove that treat from the floor, give him the better treat and share affection immediately.
  • Once he’s got it, place the less tasty treat on the floor… but don’t completely cover it with your hand. Instead hold it a little bit above the treat. Over time, gradually move your hand farther and farther away until your hand is about 6 inches above.
  • Now he’s ready to practice with you standing up! Follow the same steps, but if he tries to snatch the less tasty treat, cover it with your foot.

Don’t rush the process. Remember, you’re asking a lot of your dog. If you take it up a notch and he’s really struggling, go back to the previous stage.

Just these five simple commands can help keep your dog safer and improve your communication with him. It’s well worth the investment of your time and effort. Remember, the process takes time, so only start a dog obedience training session if you’re in the right mindset to practice calm-assertive energy and patience.

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How do I know when my pet needs immediate veterinary attention?


Here is a great article from the Georgia SPCA sharing information about both dogs and cats. Knowing when to take action can be critical!

This month’s question is actually a very serious one for me, as it is sometimes very hard for owners to recognize when their pet requires immediate medical attention. After all, they can’t directly tell you how they feel or where it hurts. But in all the years I have been a veterinarian or even a technician, I have learned that if a client thinks it is an emergency, they are likely right. Owners have an uncanny ability to know something is “off” with their pets that can lead to a major, possibly life-threatening, emergency if something is not done quickly. Examples:

  • An owner notices that her cat keeps trying to defecate but doesn’t get any stool out, which can actually mean that the cat can’t urinate because of a blockage – a major life threatening issue.
  • An owner notices that his 10-year-old dog has just been laying around for a day or so and not really wanting to eat, and that turns out to be a hemoabdomen (blood in the abdomen).

The difficult part of deciding to go the veterinarian is how quickly to go. Sometimes owners think, “Well, Fluffy will feel better tomorrow.” But in some cases, tomorrow or the next day might be too late or the pet is so sick by then that it will need a very lengthy and expensive stay at a veterinary hospital in order to survive.

Some things are easy: If your pet is hit by a car, it might look like he is fine. He can walk around and there are no broken bones. BUT such a major impact can cause internal bleeding or tears in the diaphragm at a minimum. Your dog might not be clinical right away but tomorrow he may be on the verge of death. It is very important to go to the vet after any major trauma to get blood work and x-rays to make sure things are OK.

Another major life threatening problem in dogs that might not be so easy for the owner to figure out is commonly called bloat (our fancy medical term is gastric dilatation and volvulus – GDV for short). This is when the stomach basically rotates on itself and cuts off the inflow (esophagus) and outflow (pylorus) of the stomach. Owners usually call and say that their dog is trying to vomit but absolutely nothing is coming up and maybe the stomach is tight or a little enlarged. This is a MAJOR emergency and usually by the time you get to the vet your dog is in major shock. GDV requires hospitalization and surgery to correct in order for the patient to live.

I could talk for hours about many different clinical signs and presentations that call for immediate veterinary attention BUT… for your sake and mine I will include a short but by no means all-encompassing list of occurrences of symptom that should prompt an immediate visit to your vet:

  • Eating something the pet was not supposed to, such as a toxin (rat poison),grapes, a toy, a sock or any other foreign body (If you suspect your pet has swallowed a poison, take the box to the vet with you.)
  • Inability to urinate or urinating small amounts
  • Constipation (what sometimes looks like constipation might turn out to be another serious problem)
  • Snake bites
  • Being stung by a bee or insect , followed by lots of vomiting and diarrhea (anaphylaxis)
  • Prolonged seizures
  • Heat stroke (In the hot Georgia sun, as little as 10 minutes of playing on a hot day or just minutes in a hot car can cause this.)
  • Difficulty breathing or open mouth breathing (gums could be pale or blue/purplish)
  • A unilateral eye problem ( I have seen animals lose an eye because of an unrecognized corneal ulcer)
  • A small puppy or kitten not eating (They can get hypoglycemic and dehydrated very quickly.)
  • Acutely paralyzed or dragging rear legs
  • Prolonged unproductive labor of greater than 2 hours

The bottom line is that I really encourage owners to err on the side of caution if they think something is wrong with their pet, and take them to a veterinarian. Not every life threatening emergency is as obvious as a hit by a car and, personally, I would rather be told that things aren’t so bad and can be treated than that I waited too long and now my precious furry baby might die.

Moving with your dog

We thought this article was especially important this time of year.  One of the TOP reasons we are requested to take a dog into the program via owner surrender is:  “I’m moving out of state and I can’t take my dog.”  –  There are no states in these United States of America that prohibits dog ownership!


By Juliana Weiss-Roessler

When I look back on my family’s move from Los Angeles to Austin, I still don’t know how we managed to make it on the plane with our one-year-old son and two dogs – along with our luggage, playpen, dog crates, and car seat.

But it wasn’t just the plane ride; every stage of the move was made more challenging with three creatures who weren’t interested in sitting still while we checked off our to-do list.

Whether your move is long-distance or just down the block, there’s a lot to accomplish. Here are a few things I learned from my experience – and a few I learned about afterwards – that will help you and your pups with the transition.

Leaving your old home If you’re a renter, then your only concerns on moving out are cleaning up and minor repairs in order to get your deposit back. However, if you’re a homeowner looking to sell, dogs can complicate the process a bit.

Keeping your home clean for potential buyers and getting out of the way for viewings can be a challenge if you have dogs. But it’s a necessary part of the process if you want your home to sell.

  • Amp up the walks There’s a lot going on, but it’s important not to neglect your dogs’ needs now. Exercise keeps their energy down, which means they’ll be less likely to engage in messy, destructive behaviors at home, and they’ll be more likely to cooperate if you have to leave the home fast for a showing or leave them in their crates.
  • Have a game plan Have everything you need to get out of the house in one dedicated location, and know where you’ll head if someone calls for a last minute showing. Being prepared will make it less stressful for everyone.
  • Schedule showings during your usual walk time It won’t always be possible, but let your realtor know that those are the best times for your family.
  • Restrict your dog’s access If you’re like my family, your dog is welcome in every area of your home, but during this time, consider making certain areas off-limits to keep them cleaner. This can be done simply by shutting doors to certain rooms, or using a doggy gate.
  • Never, ever leave your dogs loose during a showing Even the friendliest dog can frighten someone who isn’t comfortable with dogs, and you always run the risk of a visitor leaving a door or gate open and allowing your dog to escape. Instead, put your dogs in their crates if you can’t get them out of the house with you. If you’re looking to rent a new place, the first consideration, of course, is whether they accept dogs at all, so do your research first with an online tool like’s pet-friendly search. Remember: a lot of places will require proof of vaccination before they’ll let your dog move in, so be sure you’re up to date and have the documentation.
  • If you’re buying a house, shopping for your new home is one of the most enjoyable parts of the moving process. But whether renting or buying, it’s important to take your dog into consideration while going through it.
  • Finding your new home
  • Find nearby dog-friendly locations Do you currently love taking your pup to the dog park or for a walk down to your local café, where the baristas leave him a bowl of water and a treat? Make sure you can maintain similar routines in your new location.
  • Consider your dog’s new living quarters It’s likely you’ve ensured the new home has enough bedrooms for the human occupants, but what about your dog? Where will his dog bed live? His food and water?
  • Look into backyard safety When moving with my pups, one of the things I was most excited about was giving them their first backyard, so that was on my list of must-haves: a safe, fenced-in area where they could roam. But you should also look at how visible your dogs are when outside. If they can be seen from a major roadway while behind your fence, it can put them at higher risk of being stolen.
  • Check out other neighborhood animals When you’re seriously considering a home, take a walk with your dog around the block. Note the barking dogs in backyards, roaming cats, or other creatures, and consider how they may affect your daily routine. You’ve found your new dream home and are ready to leave the old one. Now it’s time for the dreaded process of putting everything you own in boxes. Here’s how to help your dog through it.
  • Packing and unpacking
  • Maintain your calm Recognize this may be anxiety-inducing for your dog, but it will be especially so if you are feeling stressed about it. You can also help reduce your dog’s fear about the major changes going on by maintaining his routine as much as possible.
  • Pack your dog’s room last Whatever room is your pup’s favorite, save it for the end. That way, she’ll spend less time with the upheaval there stressing her out.
  • Get your dogs out for moving day There are a lot of people coming and going during the actual moving out and in, and that means many opportunities for a stressed dog to escape. On my moving day, I took both dogs and the baby to a nearby dog-friendly restaurant to hang out until it was all over. Other ideas are to ask a friend or family member to have them over for the day or find out if your vet offers boarding. Not an option? When in doubt, a crate can help ensure they are safe. For my family, it was a no-brainer. There was no way that all five of us were up for a cross-country trip in a moving truck. We hired a moving company to take our stuff, and then we all boarded a plane. But for some families, driving with all your household items and household members can be a fun adventure.
  • A few things to consider for your pup when deciding between methods of transportation:
  • Traveling to your new location If your move is long distance, you’ll need to decide how to move your items as well as your family to your new location.
  • Your car ride will take longer with a dog joining you Do you normally like to drive as many hours as possible before you stop? That’s not best for your dog, who should get out to stretch his legs and take a bathroom break every four to six hours. Naturally, this will add to your travel time. Also, make sure you plan where you will stay the night. It may not always be easy to arrange pet-friendly accommodations unless you do so in advance.
  • Larger dogs cannot travel in-cabin If your dog is small enough to fit underneath a plane seat, she can likely travel with you on the plane, but larger dogs must go with the cargo. Hundreds of thousands of dogs travel safely in cargo, but there is a risk posed by greater temperature variations.
  • Older dogs may not be up for a long trip Whether it is days on the road or hours unsupervised in cargo, senior dogs can be at greater risk of suffering health issues. Talk to your veterinarian about what travel method is safest. In some cases, you may have to make the tough choice of re-homing your dog with a friend or family member rather than putting him through the ordeal.
  • Get a baggage cart for your plane ride I’ll be honest: I’m a penny pincher. Who needs a cart when suitcases have wheels? The answer: you do! You’ll appreciate having more hands available to meet your dog’s needs as you travel through the airport.
  • Settling in Now is the time to set up or re-establish good habits! Focus on rules, boundaries, and limitations.
  • Establish your new routine quickly It’s likely some things will change in the new home, but try to stay as close as possible to your previous routine. If you’ve switched time zones, jump right into the new schedule like it didn’t even happen. Still go for that 9 a.m. walk in your new location – even if it may feel like 11 a.m. to your dog.
  • Update your dog tags You want your new contact information on your dog stat. Being in a new place can increase the chances that your dog bolts and gets lost.
  • Find a veterinarian Ask for recommendations from neighbors and co-workers, and get your dog in for a check-up. Getting your dog in before an emergency situation arises can help him get to know the new vet in a relaxed way. Especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors, find out if there are any region-specific vaccines that your dog may now need.
  • Don’t wash those dog blankets When moving, your gut instinct may be to get everything fresh and new – but stop at your dog’s items. Keep them smelling just like your pup. That familiar scent can help him feel more at home in a new location.
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