April 10, 2014
by Sam Bourne

Service Dogs Help Children with Autism


For parents living with a child with Autism, a new source for support is just a bark away.

Service dogs have been found to help many children with Autism come out of their shell, as well as provide them with the kind of guidance and companionship that they so often require.

RELATED STORY: What is a Therapy Dog?

Affecting 1 in 88 children, Autism has become one of the most prevailing conditions on Earth, and for parents coping with an Autistic child, it can mean serious changes to their life. For many parents, any chance to help their child regain some sense of independence is worth a shot.


First and foremost, these service dogs help keep their children safe. With a heightened sense of curiosity and a diminished awareness of danger, children with Autism often find themselves in potentially life-threatening situations. In a similar fashion to how they lead the blind, a service dog can help prevent children with Autism from walking out into busy streets or wandering off on their own.

RELATED STORY: How to Get Therapy Dog Certification for Your Dog

Beyond keeping them safe, service dogs can help in a number of other ways.

Children with Autism often display certain behaviors which, if left unchecked, can end up intensifying and becoming further ingrained. “Stimming,” or repetitive forms of self-stimulation (i.e., clapping, hand-biting, hooting), are a commonly used outlet for children with Autism, and one many parents would like to see their children stop using. Service dogs can be trained to help gently interrupt these kid’s stimming patterns.

“Bryant will try to run in never-ending circles,” says Cindy Council, mother of a child with Autism. “[Our service dog] Imme voluntarily intercepts him with a figure-8 pattern. Her persistent interruption hinders Bryant from fading into his own world.”

Also, as anyone who has ever had a dog will attest, dogs can provide a great kind of unconditional love. For children with Autism, forming emotional bonds is often a hurdle that can be tough to overcome. Oftentimes, the bond formed between child and dog can help inform these kids on how to better connect with others.

RELATED STORY: The Best Dogs for Children


While this type of relationship seems like it would be incredibly effective, it is not the most widely talked about therapy. If you know family that could benefit from a service dog, tell them that this option exists. Also, you can support organizations that are training these special dogs by fostering a puppy, hosting an event, or by making a donation. For more information, get in touch with the DFA here.


April 8, 2014
by Sam Bourne

VIRAL: See Jumpy – the Smartest, Most Athletic Dog EVER!


Image from Facebook

Dogs can certainly surprise us with what they are capable of, but this dog takes the cake.

His name is Jumpy, he is an Australian Cattle dog, and he is hands down the most well trained dog you will ever see. Not wanting to give too much away, lets just say that Jumpy’s skills are sure to amaze.

(A hint: at one point he does a backflipand that is just scratching the surface!)

RELATED STORY: Teaching Your Dog Basic Commands

Thanks to his trainer, Omar Muller, Jumpy has become one of the world’s most obedient, athletic, and all around incredible animals. Watch this video and get ready to have your whole world flipped upside down!

Seriously, you need to see this amazing dog.

Did that video give you some ideas? Want your pup to be well trained? Sign up for our 20 Essential Commands E-series and teach your dog a new trick every week.

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April 7, 2014
by Lauren Anderson

Can Pets Show Their Emotions Through Smiling?


Does your pet ever seem like they’re smiling at you? You know the look — corners of their mouth turned up, eyes squinting, ears perked up. Is that really our pets smiling at us, or are we just seeing what we want to see? What might this smile-like look really mean?

RELATED STORY: Crack the Cat Language Barrier: Learn to Understand Your Cat

As it happens, that look is actually pretty close to a real smile!

When pets position their mouths in a way that resembles a smile, it means that they are at ease and pleased with the current situation. According to the ASPCA, when the corners of their mouths are turned upwards slightly, it can be considered a smile. But that is not the only way our pets express pleasure.

How else do our pets show when they are in a good mood?


- Wagging their tail = I’m happy!

- Rolling their bodies all over the floor = I’m excited! Play with me!

- Ears that are pointing upwards = Is something about to happen? I’m ready!

- Exposing their bellies to be rubbed = Pet me! I trust you.

- Licking your face = I love you! (or “You taste salty!”)

- Following you from room to room = Where are you going? I’ll be your backup!

- Resting their head on your lap = I love you and trust you and PET ME!!

- A smile like expression with a slightly hanging tongue = I’m happy, relaxed, and maybe a little tired.


- Meowing and purring = Hello, friend!

- Tail that is straight up in the air = Go ahead and pet me if you would like.

-If their tail is straight up and vibrating quickly with an arched back = Stand down! STAND DOWN!

- Grooming or licking you = I like you, but you are bad at cleaning yourself.

- Rubbing their bodies against you = MINE!

- Bringing you a ‘gift’ = Thanks for letting me stay here!

- Ears that are facing towards you = HI!

- Eyes with narrow pupils = Ahhh….so relaxed.

- If cats expose their bellies to you  = I either want you to pet me or play with me. Touch my belly to find out!

Pets display their happy moods in many different ways, and what means one thing for one pet can mean something entirely different for another. How do your pets let you know that they are happy? Let us know in the comments section.


April 3, 2014
by Sam Bourne

Miley Cyrus Breaks Down After Losing Beloved Dog


Photo from Twitter

Earlier this week, Miley Cyrus lost her beloved dog, Floyd. A rare breed called an Alaskan Klee Kai, Floyd was Miley’s favorite dog, and his death came as a shock to not only Miley, but thousands of her fans, with #RIPFloyd trending almost as soon as the tragic news was announced.

Racked with depression, Miley let all of the twitter-verse know exactly how important Floyd was to her, stating “I am broken,” and “What am I gonna do without him?”, along with many other heartfelt tweets.

Worried that her depressed state might affect her tour, she reached out to her fans in Boston, stating “I will try my best to be my best,” but in the end, ended up breaking down during a rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” stating that it was Floyd’s favorite song. Watch the tear-jerking video below.

As an organization of proud pet parents, we know how difficult the death of a pet can be, and we are all very sorry for Miley’s loss.

April 3, 2014
by Sam Bourne

Rescue Dog Keeps US Soldier from Commiting Suicide


David E. Sharpe was at the end of his rope. A senior airman in the US Air Force, after his 2002 tour in Saudi Arabia, Sharpe had a nearly impossible time adjusting to civilian life. To cope with the difficult transition, he turned to alcohol. Hoping to snap him out of this self-destructive spiral, Sharpe’s friends gave him the idea to adopt a puppy — someone to keep him company and cheer him up.

Hitting Rock Bottom

However, the adoption alone was almost not enough. Three months after adopting Cheyenne, Sharp found himself tear stricken in his bedroom with a .45 in his hand, cocked and loaded. But then, a miracle happened.

“This little pup, who was maybe six months old at the time, came up and licked my ear, which distracted me so I [put the gun down] to ask, ‘What did you do that for?’”

Then she put her head in Sharpe’s lap, and everything changed.

“I understood it was an ultimatum to choose her or to take my life. I chose her, and I never looked back.”

Turning it all around

Fast forward twelve years, Sharpe is the founder of an organization dedicated to pairing returning soldiers with rescue dogs — Companions for Heroes. Sharpe’s mission: to actively improve the lives of soldiers combating depression or other challenges after coming home.

“Eighteen vets kill themselves a day. That’s over 6,000 a year. I want that number to be zero. And every eight seconds a [shelter] animal is euthanized.” Sharpe and Companions for Heroes put two and two together, finding the perfect way to help both struggling soldiers and shelter dogs — by forging long lasting, and mutually beneficial relationships between two groups often left behind.

To see exactly what Companions for Heroes is all about, or to donate to this fantastic organization, check out their website.