Monday, June 25, 2012

Remembering Hudson

BDHPI is so sad for our CFO, Kristie and her husband Tony, at the loss of their beloved Great Dane, Husdon. Hudson had bravely battled cancer, losing his hind leg a few months ago. Kristie and Tony went to the ends of the earth for their boy and we know they are completely heartbroken. RIP, Hudson!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Come see us tomorrow at the Hogs for Dogs event in Aurora, CO

BDHPI has been chosen by Deb Nabb of "The Mutt Matcher" as the recipient of her Hogs for Dogs motorcycle ride. For you bikers, it's not too late to join here are the details:

For you non-bikers, you can come still join us at McCarthy's Bar and Grill in Aurora, CO. BDHPI will be there at 1:30 to start welcoming in the riders.  There will be a live auction and silent auction.  Come meet foster dogs as well!

The address to McCarthy's is:  15350 E Smoky Hill Rd, Aurora

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Filo and his Friend

This is Filo, one of our Danes up for adoption, and his little friend Rue, who is being rehablitated by Filo's foster mom. Does it get any cuter than this?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Animal Assistance Foundation Grant Awarded to BDHPI

Big Dogs Huge Paws won a GRANT from the Animal Assistance Foundation to futher our mission and to SPAY and NEUTER all of our rescue dogs! Spaying and Neutering makes a BIG DIFFERENCE in what we do... Please spay and neuter your pets!

Thank you to Nikki for working so hard to help us get this grant! You ROCK!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Remembering Paylar

A tribute to Paylar from his phenonmenal foster mom, Shannon:

I picked up Paylar and Maximus, the Great Pyrs, from their surrendering owner on May 2, 2011, two and a half months shy of their 10th birthday.  “The Boys,” as they came to be known, were littermates and lifelong partners, and they were being surrendered because their owner was having financial problems.  Both boys were filthy; they smelled bad and felt worse to touch.  They hadn’t seen a brush, bath, nail clippers, or vet in years.  It was three days before I could get them in for a professional grooming, and in that time I didn’t even want to touch them because they felt so nasty (and I felt terribly guilty about that even then). 

 When I picked them up I asked their surrendering owner about each of them.  I was told that they had been outside dogs, living in a dog run for their entire lives.  Neither dog was house-trained, leash-trained, obedience-trained, or neutered.  I asked about their health and was told that Maximus had a thyroid problem but hadn’t been getting meds for years, and that “Paylar has a cough that sometimes makes him throw up.”  The first day that Paylar was in my home, he regurgitated 42 times.  Not an auspicious beginning.

On that first day, it was evident that the boys were uncertain about having a roof over their heads; they paced for hours, repeatedly looking up at the ceiling.  It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so sad.  Since neither dog was house-trained, and I lacked crates large enough for them, we started off by limiting them to the dining room and backyard, using tipped-over tables to block further access.  But eventually (and I do mean e‑v‑e‑n‑t‑u‑a‑l‑l‑y!), they were living proof that you can, indeed, teach old dogs new tricks.

 It was apparent within the first week, actually within the first day, that there was something more significantly wrong with Paylar than ‘an occasional cough.’ A few conferences with the vet and a few x-rays later, he was diagnosed with megaesophagus.  After a long series of trials, and much error, we found a formula of meds, food type, and elevated feeders that reduced the frequency of his regurgitations, but we were never able to stop them completely.  He had good days and bad days, and we were very happy when the good days outnumbered the bad days.

 Paylar and Maximus attended Basic Obedience class at the ZoomRoom in Longmont, CO (a loud shout-out to Marnie, the proprietress, who let them both attend for free because they were foster dogs!).  Both boys passed the class, but Paylar didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as his brother did (Paylar was never really food- or treat-motivated, probably as a result of his tendency to regurgitate), so we didn’t enroll him in any other classes.  However, both boys did go on to get their Canine Good Citizen certifications (back then we were still hoping it would make them more attractive to prospective forever homes).

Over the next 13 months, Paylar had various health issues crop up, requiring numerous trips to the vet and frequent treatments at home.  His vet, Dr. Natalie Durbin at Cambridge Animal Hospital in Longmont, CO, was always willing to see him – even without an appointment - or talk on the phone whenever an issue arose.  Her unflagging support is deeply appreciated and we couldn’t have asked for better care.  Paylar put up with the poking and prodding, the squeezing and cleaning, the subQ fluids and abrading necrotic tissue, with the grace and patience of a true gentleman.  When he had had enough of whatever it was that I was doing to him on any given day, he would simply get up and walk away from me. 

Of the countless foster dogs that I’ve had in my home, I can honestly say that I’ve never had sweeter dogs than Paylar and Maximus.Paylar, in spite of his various health issues, seemed to enjoy life.  He was happy to spend hour after hour surveying his domain in the back yard, but when the leashes were brought out he would dance like an excited puppy and wait anxiously by the front door for the chance to explore the world outside.  He was a fantastic ambassador for the Great Pyrenees breed, and giant dogs in general.  For example, a few houses down from me lives a family with 5 children, all of whom were afraid of dogs.  When we first started walking by their home, the kids would run away when they saw us coming.  Over the next year, the kids s-l-o-w-l-y got closer (or, more accurately, ran less far away), and eventually they even braved touching the dogs.  Paylar, with his beautiful thick ruff and long soft coat, seemed irresistible to them.  Everyone wanted to touch him and he was truly happy to let them do just that. 

Paylar, along with Maximus, always made new friends wherever they went, including various adoption events and other BDHPI outings.As time passed we realized that the chances of the boys finding a forever home that would take them both, as well as cope with and understand their extensive health issues, were slim.  While I am quite often pleased and impressed with what some new forever families are willing to take on, I knew finding a forever home that would take on two, senior, special-needs dogs was asking a lot (the boys were, after all, a package deal, and we would never have split them up).  When the health issues for both boys continued to mount, the decision was made to make them permanent fosters.  I think they understood what I was telling them when I said that they would never be made to leave this home; they could stay as long as they liked, or they could go whenever they were ready.  I must admit that I was surprised when, just shy of his 11th birthday, Paylar was ready first.

Paylar spent 5 days not eating and being lethargic, but there was no indication that he was in pain.  On day 4 we drew blood and started subQ fluids.  On day 6 things changed.  His breathing became labored and he was reluctant to get up.  At an emergency appointment with Dr. Durbin, all indications were that there may have been a growth or blockage in his abdomen.  The decision was made to not prolong his discomfort.  Paylar’s passing has left a hole in the hearts of all who were lucky enough to have known him.  My life is richer for having had him in it and he will be missed beyond measure.

Paylar, July 16, 2001 – June 4, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nyima Bakery Chooses BDHPI!

The Nyima Bakery has chosen Big Dogs Huge Paws as the "Rescue of the Month" for June! They will be donating 10% of all online orders back to Big Dogs Huge Paws to help in our rescue efforts. You can order these All Natural Dog Treats by going to:! Shipping is free on orders over $25!

Nyima Bakery has also partnered with LaCroix Tees (aka Rescued is My Favorite Breed) to make these some cool shirts ( with a great message ”Save a Life…Adopt a Pet”. Five Dollars from every shirt sold will go back to Big Dogs Huge Paws in the month of June!

The Nyima Bakery is dedicated to helping raise awareness and funds for rescues and shelters nationwide and we are taking this task on one rescue at a time.

Bite Levels

Dr. Yin's Animal Behavior and Medicine Blog
Was It Just a Little Bite or More? Evaluating Bite Levels in Dogs
Posted On: Friday, June 1st, 2012

By Dr. Sophia Yin
Download the Canine Bite Levels Poster.

As the 75-pound male shepherd mix squatted to urinate on the floor just 10 minutes into our consult, I hinted to the owners who were seated between the urinating dog and me, “The paper towels are hanging on the post right next to Ferdinand.” Since the owners were way closer to the paper towels than I was and theirs was the dog pottying inside the behavior consult room, I assumed they would clean up the mess. Not so! So, I decided I’d better clean it up myself.

Although the dog was presenting for fear (aggression) to unfamiliar people, I’d already greeted the dog, he was comfortable taking treats, AND the owners had marked in the preconsult records that he had never bitten anyone before. As I got up to walk past the owners toward the papers towels and the accident, I noted Ferdinand’s demeanor. He was relaxed and still interested in exploring the room. Fearful dogs suddenly can become scared and reactive when the person they’re nervous around changes posture, moves suddenly, or approaches them, especially head-on. Ferdinand showed no such signs of anxiety or reactivity.

Furthermore, although the owners had brought him in on a muzzle, they had asked to take it off now that he was in the room and looked comfortable. They said that he only was fearful of some people. They reiterated that, as the preconsult form stated, he had never bitten before. We decided to let him explore the room while dragging his leash, so that I could evaluate his uninhibited behavior in the new environment.

As I dropped the paper towels onto the floor and then stepped on them to sop up the dog’s mess, I continued to question the owners about Ferdinand’s history. “How many aggressive or reactive incidences does he have per week? How do you handle the situations? What’s his response to your handling technique?”

When all the urine was soaked up, it was time to collect the paper towels and dispose of them. Normally when I’m in the room with a dog who’s fearful and reactive, the dog would be on leash. In addition, I might avoid facing him head-on even to pick up something off the ground. But, based on the owners’ experience, Ferdinand was not likely to react at this point. Plus he was over 10 feet away. I casually bent down to pick up the paper towels. Then I hear, “Bark! Bark! Bark!!” and feel teeth on both sides of my head.

The owners quickly had him by the leash and pulled him away from me so it wasn’t a serious or even scary event for me. Plus, I was pretty sure that there were no marks on my head. However, that didn’t stop me from being peeved.

I emphasized to the owners, “You know that counts as a bite.” I thought to myself, “When you told me he had no history of biting, you forgot to include that you didn’t count the times that your dog rushed a person and grabbed a body part in their mouth as a bite!”

Based on the response of this dog, I could tell this wasn’t Ferdinand’s first time acting like this. He’d clearly had some practice sessions barking, lunging and putting his teeth on skin. A first timer facing the same level of threat or scariness—me leaning over from far away while not looking at him—might run up and bark at me but would just snap or nip with his front teeth, rather than actually grabbing my head like he was trying to taste a cantaloupe with his teeth. If he’d had tons of practice or intent to harm he’d have actually bitten down or clamped on in the same way he does when he mangles his tug toys. Or if he was scared out of his mind by my movement he would have kept biting, even if it was only a soft bite owing to lack of enough confidence to bite hard. But it was still a bite; the owners should have known that it could happen and should have had Ferdinand on leash or still wearing his muzzle.

How could the owners have been so na├»ve about their dog’s behavior? Usually when people think about bites and aggression, they think about mauling or think the dog has to intend to be mean. However, Ferdinand’s biting behavior, although mild, was cause for concern.

“Some Bites Can Kill”

Surpisingly, even with serious bites, sometimes it doesn’t click for owners. Says, Dr. Emily Levine, a veterinary behaviorist at Animal Emergency and Referral Associates in New Jersey, “I recently saw a 2 or 3 year old intact male English Bulldog in a behavior consult. The dog was staying at the owner's mother’s house. She thought the dog was crated. She went to open the door for her friend who was there holding her baby. The dog saw the visitor, ran straight towards her and bit her legs. The dog bit through muscle down to bone. They owner had a difficult time getting the dog off of the visitor. The visitor needed 90 stitches and will likely need plastic surgery,” continued Dr. Levine.

You would think that a person would clearly see how dangerous this situation is; however, according to Levine, this family had no real experience with aggressive dogs. Says Levine, “The owners had been instructed by Animal Control to quarantine the dog, which they did, but because they never received a visit from the Animal Control Officer at the end of the 10 day quarantine, the owner thought that perhaps this degree of bite was not out of the norm.” In the owner’s view, since the Animal Control Officer didn’t seem concerned enough to make a return visit, the bite must not pose any future threat.

Luckily the owner did seek a behavior consult. “Once they were educated about the fact that this was a very severe bite and after I went through the risk and benefits of a behavior plan, they decided that the risks outweighed the benefits for them.

They understood that even if they were extremely vigilant and did a great job with the behavior modification plan, fantastic results are not a guarantee.

“They realized that this could happen again and that this dog could literally kill someone,” says Levine. “If the person he had attacked was a short person or a child, it would have been the neck he grabbed hold of.” The owners decided to euthanize their dog.

Although aggressive behavior can be modified in a huge range of cases, behavior modification is not like fixing a clock or a television set where you make a few changes and then it’s good for another five years. Dogs are living animals and behavior is something you can never guarantee 100%. Based on her findings with this particular dog and family, Dr. Levine says, “I believe the owners did the right thing. I fully supported this choice.”

Level 1 (pre-bite): the dog snaps or air bites but makes no contact with the person. Now people tend to say, “The dog tried to bite me but I moved away.” I say, “Give me a break.” Humans have sloth-like reactions compared to the speed of a biting dog and dogs have pretty good aim when trying to grab things. If the dog actually meant to bite (rather than just give you a warning), you would have the holes to prove it. Owners should take this air snap as a sign that someone wasn’t paying attention to their dog’s earlier signs of displeasure or fear. Owners should get help before this sort of pre-bite behavior progresses to an actual bite. Avoid punishing these warning signs or the dog may progress to biting without warning. Instead, learn the signs of fear and anxiety that the dog probably showed prior to this situation and learn to spot the common inappropriate human actions that may have contributed to the snap.

Level 2 (near-bite or highly inhibited bite): the dog snaps and makes tooth contact on skin but there’s no actual puncture. Often the dog runs up to or lunges for a person but just puts front teeth in contact with the skin in a sort of near-bite. In other cases, the dog actually opens his mouth and clamps but in an inhibited manner such that no skin is broken. Again the owners should ask, “What earlier signs did we miss to warn us that this could happen?” The owners should realize, the near-bite or inhibited bite could turn into a real bite down the road.

Level 3A: the dog bites once and punctures skin, but the puncture is shallower than the length of the canine tooth. Even though this bite may not be severe, it is still reportable. And painful, too. Reporting is mandatory if the victim is treated in a hospital. Once your dog has actually bitten at this level (or higher) he will always be considered a liability, even if, with behavior modification, he is 99.9% improved.

Level 3B: the dog bites multiple times leaving skin punctures shallower than half of the canine. Multiple bites generally mean the dog is in a higher arousal state. That is, the dog is reacting without thinking between bites.

Level 4: the dog bites once with punctures deeper than the length of the canine (the dog bit and clamped down) or the bite produces slashes in both directions from the puncture which indicates that the dog bit and shook his head. This type of bite is very serious. While any of the lower bite levels should act as a neon sign telling the owners to seek help from a qualified and educated behavioral modification specialist (link to my site), the level 4 bite says, “Man, you should have gotten help three years ago. This has been building up even longer than the level 3 bites.” Level 4 bites are way harder than level 3 bites and now show no inhibition in strength. A dog biting at this level presents a screaming liability to the owners, both in terms of money and family members because this type of bite can kill a child.

Level 5: The dog gives multiple bites with deep punctures. Dogs who bite at this level generally have had practice biting at levels 3 and 4. Some dogs are so fearful that a scary event triggers a high arousal state and they get stuck in a reactive mode, continuing to bite hard.

Level 6: The dog kills the victim or consumes their flesh. It’s important to realize that even little dogs and puppies can bite hard enough to kill infants and small children, just the way little knives can. Dogs can bite this hard due to fear, but they can also bite and cause death due to over aroused play