MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
Click photo to visit dawnkairns.com

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Problem Dog or Dog Needing a Purpose?

Maddie right after we adopted her
Hordes of animals wait in shelters every day for their human to find them and give them  companionship and a forever home. However, according to Amanda Hanson, founder of Shelter Dogs with Jobs, sometimes it is the prospect of a purpose and a job that provides a happy ending for certain homeless dogs. Especially those dogs labeled "problem dogs" by their owners and left at a shelter because they do not know how to handle them.  Perhaps they are too high energy, or their energy is directed in a destructive manner. With proper training, structure and "employment", these once homeless (and probably quite intelligent and easily bored) dogs may shine.

Our constant fetcher in her prime
 I suspect our 11-year-old lab/lab mix, Maddie, was just such an owner surrender in a shelter  in Denver when she came to be ours at the age of 10 months. Extremely high energy with a fetching instinct that wouldn't quit, she was dogs with jobs, dogs with the purpose, problem dogspolice dogs, seizure alert dogthe kind of dog that if you did not show her a good time and give her the mental stimulation she needed she would find it her own way. In retrospect, she probably would've been a great search and rescue dog.  Perhaps a good police dog.  Instead, she has  brought smiles to many as a therapy dog and just in her day-to-day life with the people whose paths cross hers as she goes about her day with us.

Read more about Hanson as a dog trainer and rescuer in the Care 2 blog, Could Giving Animals Jobs Instead of Homes Solve the Stray Problem? and the organization she started with two others, Mo Eppley and Sabrina Zitzelberger. From being an emotional support animal to alerting their family to seizures to doing police work, dogs with certain character traits from being very calm or highly focused to playing fetch incessantly will provide the clues to the kind of match they need in their jobs.





Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Days of Dog Labs in Medical Schools Finally Over

I am reprinting this letter from Neal Barnard, M.D., President of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)  so we can all know how hard they worked over many years to create this  long over-due win for animals.

"I have momentous news to share. After more than three decades of perseverance by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, we can now announce that the days of using dogs and other animals to teach medical students are finally over.

When I was a medical student at George Washington University, I refused to participate in a required "dog lab," and I vowed to end these laboratories. Well, the last two known holdouts—the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Tennessee—have both made the decision to end the use of animals in their medical schools, which means that all medical schrools in the United States and Canada are completely free of animal laboratories in teaching. We have won this fight.

In 1985, when I founded the Physicians Committee, most medical schools required students who were eager to learn how to treat and heal to instead kill their first patient. Dogs were injected with various drugs to see the physiological responses or cut open so students could perform minor surgical procedures. At the end of every dog lab, the animal was killed.

We worked hard to stop these labs for two reasons: First, the obvious cruelty to the animals was unconscionable. Second, when medical students are trained like this, they come to believe that killing animals is somehow essential to medicine and science. That had to stop.

At many medical schools, students who refused to participate were penalized or even expelled. At the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (the U.S. military's medical school), students could be court-martialed for refusing to take part in the animal labs.

Often we worked directly with medical students and faculty—like those at Harvard Medical School—to replace animals. Other times, we used the law, like when we helped a University of Colorado student sue her school for requiring that she participate in the dog lab. At other schools, we held demonstrations with celebrities and other physicians. We put up billboards. We also held on-campus presentations and discussions. Over the years, as we brought the practice into the public eye, schools switched from dogs to less popular animals, hoping to mute criticism.

Recently, we knew of just two medical schools that were using animals to teach students—the University of Tennessee and Johns Hopkins University. Last month, we shared the great news that, after years of pressure from us and recent criticism by Maryland lawmakers, Johns Hopkins finally dropped its animal lab from the surgery clerkship curriculum. Well, that decision had ripple effects. We pushed hard on the University of Tennessee, which decided to follow suit.

I should clarify that this is the end of animal use in medical school courses. That's a great thing. But animals are still used in more advanced training (in surgical and emergency medicine residencies, for example), and there is an enormous amount of animal use in basic research, unfortunately. We are continuing to work in those areas as well and are steadily winning those battles. But as of now, at every medical school in the United States and Canada, students will get their M.D. or D.O. degrees without ever even being allowed to harm animals.

Thank you for your dedication to creating a more compassionate future. We could not have achieved this milestone without you."

Thank you, Dr. Barnard, for your years of commitment and compassion to/for freeing laboratory animals!

Days of Dog Labs in Medical Schools Finally Over

I am reprinting this letter from Neal Barnard, M.D., President of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)  so we can all know how hard they worked over many years to create this  long over-due win for animals.

"I have momentous news to share. After more than three decades of perseverance by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, we can now announce that the days of using dogs and other animals to teach medical students are finally over.

When I was a medical student at George Washington University, I refused to participate in a required "dog lab," and I vowed to end these laboratories. Well, the last two known holdouts—the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Tennessee—have both made the decision to end the use of animals in their medical schools, which means that all medical schrools in the United States and Canada are completely free of animal laboratories in teaching. We have won this fight.

In 1985, when I founded the Physicians Committee, most medical schools required students who were eager to learn how to treat and heal to instead kill their first patient. Dogs were injected with various drugs to see the physiological responses or cut open so students could perform minor surgical procedures. At the end of every dog lab, the animal was killed.

We worked hard to stop these labs for two reasons: First, the obvious cruelty to the animals was unconscionable. Second, when medical students are trained like this, they come to believe that killing animals is somehow essential to medicine and science. That had to stop.

At many medical schools, students who refused to participate were penalized or even expelled. At the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (the U.S. military's medical school), students could be court-martialed for refusing to take part in the animal labs.

Often we worked directly with medical students and faculty—like those at Harvard Medical School—to replace animals. Other times, we used the law, like when we helped a University of Colorado student sue her school for requiring that she participate in the dog lab. At other schools, we held demonstrations with celebrities and other physicians. We put up billboards. We also held on-campus presentations and discussions. Over the years, as we brought the practice into the public eye, schools switched from dogs to less popular animals, hoping to mute criticism.

Recently, we knew of just two medical schools that were using animals to teach students—the University of Tennessee and Johns Hopkins University. Last month, we shared the great news that, after years of pressure from us and recent criticism by Maryland lawmakers, Johns Hopkins finally dropped its animal lab from the surgery clerkship curriculum. Well, that decision had ripple effects. We pushed hard on the University of Tennessee, which decided to follow suit.

I should clarify that this is the end of animal use in medical school courses. That's a great thing. But animals are still used in more advanced training (in surgical and emergency medicine residencies, for example), and there is an enormous amount of animal use in basic research, unfortunately. We are continuing to work in those areas as well and are steadily winning those battles. But as of now, at every medical school in the United States and Canada, students will get their M.D. or D.O. degrees without ever even being allowed to harm animals.

Thank you for your dedication to creating a more compassionate future. We could not have achieved this milestone without you."

Thank you, Dr. Barnard, for your years of commitment and compassion to/for freeing laboratory animals!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I'm Still Here With You

My sister said good-bye to her soul mate dog of 13 years last week, Sadie. When I lost my soul mate dog, Maggie, I was devastated and of course, my sister is also devastated and lost without her canine companion. This heart-melting poem was sent to me yesterday by a friend with the subject line, "Losing a Pet," and so I sent it to my sister. It so describes how I feel about our beloved pets' spirits still being with us. At the end the email message said "Go like Animal Rescue Home page for more." I did, but was not able to find this beautiful poem that brought tears welling up in my eyes. So I do not know who to attribute it to. If it is from the Animal Rescue Home, thank you:

"I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.
I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
"It's me, I haven't left you, I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here."

I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,
You were thinking of the many times, your hands reached down to me.
I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.
I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.
I want to re-assure you, that I'm not lying there.
I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.
I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said " it's me."

You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.
I tried so hard to let you know, that I was standing there.
It's possible for me, to be so near you everyday.
To say to you with certainty, "I never went away."
You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew...
In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.

The day is over... I smile and watch you yawning
and say "good-night, God bless, I'll see you in the morning."
And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
I'll rush across to greet you and we'll stand, side by side.
I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.

Be patient, live your journey out...then come home to be with me...."

Author Unknown to me

Thursday, May 7, 2015

So Many Dogs, So Little Time

YOU can Recover From the Loss of Your Beloved Canine Companion

Maggie & me days before she died
"'Older dogs that have lived their entire lives with someone are taken to humane societies and rescue groups for reasons as numerous as dog breeds. They have the hardest time being adopted,' Dawn Kairns writes-- in one of the best of all the dog books I've read yet -- in a market full of grieving pet owners immortalizing their pet with a book. This one is filled with insight and wisdom.


'I have this feeling that our special animal friends find their way back to us after they pass on,' Dawn Kairns tells us. Pet owners the world over will believe it, or want to believe it. After losing her beloved canine companion Maggie, Kairns delved into Jung and cited evidence details about Maggie that support this consoling theory: 'The collective unconscious is where we come from, we return to it when we can, and we ultimately return to it when we die.'

"I had just finished reading another dog lover's lament, Mark J. Ascher's "Humphrey Was Here." Interesting contrasts between the two dog owners. Ascher is more of a skeptic. This sounds like me: 'If it was God's will, I wanted to know how he dispersed his tragedies -- an immediate investigation of (God's) distribution system was in order. If I had bad karma, I demanded to know what I had done in another life ... If everything happened for a reason, I wanted to know the reason now, when the pain was intense. I wanted answers; I kept coming up with questions.'

But Kairns offers that spiritual consolation I can only hope-wish-hope for: '...there’s more to this world than what we experience with our limited five senses. Can it be that the spirit world is right here, but most of us lack the extrasensory abilities to perceive it?'

The book opens in a present-tense account of life with Maggie, the dog who is so much more than a pet. Later we get to the "if only I'd known" and "what if" stuff, thoughts we all suffer. One factor contributing to Maggie's untimely demise may have been the thing we believe is best for our pets. My own (former) vet scoffed at me when I pointed out the #1 ingredient in Science Diet is grain. Which one of us got the college degree in veterinary science, he said? Well, call me impudent, but I noticed our dogs fared better when they sneaked out and found fresh venison. No, it never became a staple of their diet, but their droppings clearly showed that fresh venison was easier on their digestive system. Unfortunately, their love of people food and their ability to get it (mastery of the cute, pleading face) also may have led to their pancreative failure at ages 13 and 14. For large Collies, maybe the life expectancy is rarely much better than that. And if you asked Blaise and Bailey, I'm sure they'd have opted for shorter lives than lives without chicken, roast beef, pizza and the occasional cheese puff.

Page after page of this book "speaks" to me as a mother of three and a former companion of two majestic, nearly human Collies. I kept Kindle-sharing lines that had me nodding in agreement or empathy. Rather than retype them here, I'll trust readers to find the page of Kindle Highlights.

I'm skeptical about some of the reincarnation theories but very hopeful that we will indeed meet up again with our lost loved ones, canine, feline, human, equine, or whatever, in a next life. Those who experience the "evidence" are blessed.

This book delivers the happy ending of a new adventure with another dog. So many bereft dog lovers say they'll never get another dog because of the pain of losing one again, or because no dog can replace the one who died. There are so many, many dogs out there, on death row in animal shelters, awaiting adoption. No one with the means to care for a dog has to go dog-less.

My husband is in no hurry to get another dog, but I'm ready for one to turn up, scouring the Rescue sites and local shelter listings, watching and waiting. Meanwhile, I'm one of those strangers who accosts dog owners in public: “I need a dog fix." Mine died. (Or, "We’re here on vacation, and mine is at home.”) Thanks to all of you who indulge me and let me greet your dog.

NOTE: this is one Kindle-Share that bears repeating far and wide --

Maggie loved the switch from dog food to raw
'There are now several brands of high-quality pet foods made with human-grade protein as the first ingredient and without by-products or chemical preservatives. These can be found at smaller holistic pet food stores and include brands such as Canidae, Innova, Natural Balance, and Chicken Soup for the Dog Lovers Soul, among others. Flint River Ranch products can be ordered online.'

Kairns recommends a diet of raw ground turkey, vegetables, grains, and beans, adding vitamin supplements and a nutritional powder of kelp, nutritional yeast, bone meal, and lecithin.

I would add that if your dog has allergies, inform the delivery guys who offer a treat to every dog who greets them. One of our Collies tested allergic to beef, brewer's yeast, and a gazillion other ingredients in dog food and treats."

Posted by Dawn Kairns and taken directly from Carol Kean's Amazon Review. I added the photos. To Carol, my heartfelt thanks. She captures the essence of MAGGIE better than anyone to date in both her above review of MAGGIE and on the Kindle Highlights page:


the ability exists in all of us to intuitively communicate with nature and animals. It’s “the first language, the foundation of spoken and written words, and the common link Read more Kindle Highlights quotes here.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Simpsons Co-Creator Was an Angel to the Animals

A CARE (Colorado Animal Rescue Express) rescue dog
Did you know that Sam Simon, the co-creator of "The Simpsons" spent millions of dollars each year to save the lives of dogs through his establishment of the Sam Simon Foundation? His non-profit organization for dogs was also created to enrich people's lives.

Simon passed away on March 8, 2015 after a battle with colon cancer that was diagnosed in 2012. After learning of his prognosis of only several months to live, Simon decided give his millions to animal charities and the hungry. Not that he wasn't already spending millions to help animals even before his late stage cancer diagnosis. On  a wonderful piece of real estate in Malibu, his Foundation gave stray and abandoned dogs a new chance at life. In 2007, 60 Minutes called the Sam Simon Foundation “the grandest dog shelter in the country."

Some of the ways Simon has used his millions to help animals and the animal rights cause include:

  • a mobile veterinary clinic that travels throughout Los Angeles to assist low-income folks and their pets.
  • a hearing dog program where the Foundation rescues dogs from shelters and humane societies and trains them to become Certified Hearing Dogs.
  • service dogs for veterans where the foundation trains shelter dogs to assist veterans with PTSD, or trained to help veterans with hearing loss, traumatic brain injury or moderate physical limitations.
  • visitation at assisted living facilities where dogs regularly visit and brighten the days of residents of Los Angeles assisted living facilities.
  • adoption program for shelter and rescue dogs where those rescued dogs who don't quite have what it takes to be service dogs can still make amazing companions. 
Markie, rescued in Texas by my husband and me
Simon has also made large donations to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The latter was able to add a fourth ship to its fleet (since Simon bought it for them), and this ship is now defending whales from Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Simon also created the Feeding Families program in 2011 to respond to families and individuals in economic crisis who are unable to provide food for their children and pets, feeding about 200 families per day. As though all of this is not enough of an amazing legacy, Simon, along with Ingrid Newkirk and PETA began buying zoos and circuses in order to send the animals, those he referred to as "the most abused animals in the country," to a sanctuary.

Thank you, Mr. Simon, for your legacy of love to the animals. And thanks to the Care 2 Causes Blog for the full story on Sam Simon and his wonderful animal philanthropy.

Posted by Dawn Kairns
Author of Maggie the Dog Who Changed My Life