Tips for a safe Thanksgiving with your dog

by Sue on November 18, 2015

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner and there will be lots of food. Some of that delicious food isn’t safe to give your pets who will REALLY want some.

Here is a list of the top 6 things you should not give them

1. Stuffing

Thanksgiving dressing is often made with onions, scallions or garlic. These ingredients are extremely toxic to dogs and can cause a life-threatening anemia (destruction of the red blood cells). It’s best to avoid feeding any amount of stuffing to dogs.

2. Ham

Ham and other pork products can cause pancreatitis, upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea.

3. Turkey Bones

Bones can cause severe indigestion in dogs, potentially causing vomiting and obstructing the bowel. Bones may also splinter and cause damage to the inside of the stomach and intestines. In some cases, turkey bones may even puncture through the stomach and cause a potentially fatal abdominal infection.

4. Mashed Potatoes

While potatoes are safe for pets to eat, mashed potatoes usually contain butter and milk, which can cause diarrhea in dogs. Additionally, some recipes call for onion powder or garlic, which are very toxic to pets.

5. Salads with Grapes/Raisins

There are many salads served at Thanksgiving that include grapes or raisins as ingredients, such as fruit salad, waldorf salad and ambrosia. However, grapes and raisins are very toxic and potentially deadly. Grapes can cause severe, irreversible and sometimes fatal kidney failure in dogs. Be sure to keep all dishes that include grapes and raisins away from dogs.

6. Chocolate Pie

While pumpkin pie is the most famous Thanksgiving dessert, many people offer a variety of pies at Thanksgiving, including chocolate pie. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, yet dogs love the smell and taste of it. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Keep chocolate pie and all chocolate desserts out of the reach of pets to prevent an emergency trip to the veterinarian.


If your dog ingests any of these foods this Thanksgiving, be sure to call your veterinarian immediately. Early action may prevent more costly and serious complications from developing.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!


Personal Review of Barker Lab’s Liquid Glucosamine 100% Extra Strength Vegetarian Dog Joint Supplement

by Sue on November 12, 2015

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Not very often do I write from a personal viewpoint on product that we sell. Reason for this is because we have tested our products, know they are good, and would never sell anything we would not use ourselves. However what I would like to relay in this blog message is the amazing results I have seen in my disabled dogs. Now keep in mind that, by posting this, I am not making claims that this product will work this way on all dogs, I am just telling you what has happened with my disabled dogs as well a friend’s disabled dogs. The product I am speaking of is our Barker Lab’s Liquid Glucosamine 100% Extra Strength Vegetarian Dog Joint Supplement.

About 10 years ago I took on two dachshund brothers. Sarge was, and still is, a bit high strung and takes everything personal. He stresses easily and, because of this, actually started turning grey at the age of 5. We also learned that he has a heart murmur and it cannot be fixed. Colter, on the other hand, has more of a laid back yet confident attitude. Not much shakes him up.

IVDD is a disease quite common in dachshunds. I have two others, Gunny and Trina Marie , that have had back surgery and do quite well. But not all dogs are lucky enough to be candidates for surgery once they have become paralyzed or are on the beginning stages of it. Five years ago Colter became paralyzed. I took him straight away to my board certified neurosurgeon. After an MRI and other tests, it was determined that Colter was not a good candidate for surgery. I tried crate rest anyway but it did not work and he ended up in a cart. His laid back attitude was, and still is, a Godsend. It has never once bothered him to be disabled and he took to the cart like a duck to water.

When we started selling the Flex Liquid last year, I put Gunny and Trina Marie on it. But as an afterthought I put Colter on it too. Within a week I noticed an improvement in both Gunny and Trina Marie, but as another week went by I was astonished by something much greater…Colter was standing on his own. Another week went by and he was trying to walk. Then yet another week went by and he was walking, and still does. Not all the time, as he had paralyzed for four years, but it was a improvement that just utterly blew my mind.

Wondering if this might be an isolated incident, I contacted my friend Ann who lives about 7 hours north of me. She rescues IVDD dachshunds and has several in various stages of paralysis. I told her what had happened to Colter and asked her if she would like to try a bottle of Liquid Flex. Knowing Colter, and shocked by my story of his improvement, she was happy to do so. A month later she called me to let me know that she had seen vast improvements in some of her worst IVDD cases. She continues to buy it to this day.

After Colter went down, I had a fear in the back of my mind that Sarge might follow in his brother’s footsteps. I was deeply concerned not only that this was highly probable, but also that Sarge was not as laid back as his brother is and may not handle the recovery well. That fear was warranted as one day, about 4 months ago, Sarge started showing signs of paralysis. His started out very mild. Just a bit wobbly in the back end. But I knew the symptoms and knew what was going on. My diagnosis was confirmed by the Vet, who also informed me that Sarge’s heart mummer was worse. If we chose to operate he might not live through it.

Not wanting to risk his death, I thought back to the Liquid Flex and how it had not only improved Colter, but also Ann’s dogs. Sarge was to the point of barely being able to use his back legs at all. He needed help and of course I was there for him. I straight away put Sarge on a double dose twice a day. By the end of the first week, the results were negligible. But by the second week, he was walking a little bit better. As the weeks went on he began to have more and more control of his back end and walking better each day. Now, four months later, you can barely detect that he ever had a problem. I plan to continue him on the supplement for the rest of his life.

In conclusion I would like to say this again. I am not making claims that this supplement is a miracle “drug”. Nor am I claiming that this will work on every dog as the results that I and Anne found with our dogs might differ from your results. But at the price of two bottles it might be worth a try for you.


Tips for a safe holiday season with your dog(s)

by Sue on November 4, 2015

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Of course you want to include your dog in the festivities but as you celebrate this holiday season, try to keep your dog’s eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. Be sure they stay clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations:

Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your dog. If possible, corral your tree with an X-pen. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he/she drink it.

By now you know not to feed your dog chocolate in any form and anything sweetened with xylitol, but you know the lengths to which a dog will go to chomp on something yummy. Make sure to keep your dog away from the table and unattended plates of food.

Looking to stuff your pet’s stockings? Choose gifts that are safe.
Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallowing the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Stick with chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible.

Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Lilies can cause kidney failure in dogs if ingested. Opt for a just as pretty artificial plant made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

Fatty, spicy and foods known to cause sickness or death in dog, as well as bones, should not be fed to your dog. Dogs can join the festivities in other fun ways that won’t lead to costly medical bills.

Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Dogs may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use candle holders placed on a stable surface. Remember. Never leave a dog unattended in a room with a lit candle!

Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of the dog’s reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock. A punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus. Shards of breakable ornaments can damage your dog if ingested.

Make sure all of your medications are put away securely. And be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away too.

If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, place your unattended alcoholic drinks where your dog cannot get to them. If ingested, your dog could become weak, ill or even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

Give your dog his own quiet space to retreat to. Shy dogs might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the excitement.

Have a safe and happy holiday season from the team of
Service Dog Tags

Our hours of operation for the holiday season will be as follows:

We will be closed Veterans Day
We will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and the 27th.
We will be closed at noon Christmas Eve and be closed all day Christmas.
We will be closed at noon New Years Eve and be closed all day New Years Day.
As usual we are closed on the weekends and all federal holidays.
Our websites of course are open 24/7 however nothing will be processed or shipped on days we are closed.

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Finally someone who is speaking out about something we as a company have known for years!

by Sue on October 22, 2015

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Representing your dog as a Service Dog when it fact it is not IS a felony!!!!!!



Tips for a safe Halloween with your dog(s)

by Sue on October 6, 2015

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It’s almost the spookiest night of the year and we recommend taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep your pet safe.

1. That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters not your dog. Chocolate in all forms, especially dark or baking chocolate, can be very dangerous for dogs. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol are deadly to dogs. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Halloween decorations such as raw pumpkins and dried corn are considered to be nontoxic, but they may produce stomach upset in dogs who ingest them.

3. Wires and cords from electric decorations should be kept out of reach of your dog. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts, burns or a lethal electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do be cautious if you choose to add a candle. Dog can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire.

5. Please don’t put your dog in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (One of my dogs LOVES wearing things!). For dogs that do not like to wear things, however, wearing a costume may cause stress.

6. If you do dress up your dog, make sure the costume does not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe or bark. Take a closer look at your dog’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that they could choke on. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the day of. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, reconsider having them wear the costume.

7. Only the most social and well trained dogs should be allowed near the front door during trick-or-treating hours. This reduces the chances of a stranger getting bit or the dog darting outside and not returning when called.

8. Always make sure your dog has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you. Also, it is preferable that the collar be a little loose on a dog. That way if the collar becomes hung up on something the dog can pull its head out rather than choking to death or getting hung. If you have a small dog, break away (sometimes called safety) collars for cats work great. Personally I prefer to not have my dogs wearing collars around the property purely for safety reasons as I own a farm. Mine only wear them when we go places. My dogs are chipped.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!


Traumatized Vietnam vet credits service dog with saving his life

by Sue on September 23, 2015

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At what point is anecdotal evidence so overwhelming that it matches or exceeds scientific discoveries?

Carol Borden, executive director and founder of Guardian Angels Medical Services of Williston, FL, says her non-profit has paired about two dozen service dogs with military veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since 2010. She says that in every instance the veteran has benefited. Other organizations echo the same experiences.

Ray Galmiche, 65, of Navarre, FL, served two and a half tours of duty in Vietnam. While in the combat zone, his PTSD symptoms were minimal, but they became increasing apparent after his retirement from the Army after 20 years of service. Among them were extreme nightmares accompanied by night sweats. Galmiche often suffered from sleep deprivation. When going out in public, which he rarely mustered the will to do, Galmiche felt overwhelmed and suffered panic attacks.

Even the simple act of driving a car became a challenge, and potentially dangerous. Galmiche’s wife realized this after he had a flashback while at the wheel. Ray had no idea where he was. His mind was on a jungle battlefield, re-living a firefight from years before. Luckily, no one was injured.

Galmiche concedes that he began to push away from his family. “I was basically giving up,” he says. “I just couldn’t stand it anymore.”

In desperation, not wanting to lose her husband, Ray’s wife pursued partnering him with a service dog. “I didn’t know or understand what a dog might to do help,” says Galmiche. “Besides, I didn’t think I deserved a dog.”

Ray was paired with a German Shepherd named Dazzle. He tried to push the pup away. But some dogs just don’t take no for an answer and Dazzle was determined to be Galmiche’s best friend. “I just didn’t have it in me, but Dazzle loved me anyway. I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Ray recalls.

Galmiche didn’t understand why the nightmares and night sweats disappeared, and he was simultaneously annoyed that Dazzle might awaken him in the middle of the night. He soon realized the dog wasn’t being a pest; he was awakening Galmiche just as the horrible dreams began.

“Maybe it’s my body chemistry, but Dazzle doesn’t allow me to have those nightmares,” Galmiche said. Today, Ray can sleep through the night.

Although Galmiche still has panic attacks, they’re more infrequent and less severe. “I know Dazzle has my back,” he says. “And if I get anxious, he knows it. He puts his head on my leg and I pet him. I think he enjoys it. And I begin to relax.”

Galmiche says he sometimes thinks about a friend also diagnosed with PTSD who committed suicide. “If he’d had a (service) dog, maybe he would be alive today,” Ray says. “I wish the VA would have suggested a dog years ago. I don’t know what would have happened to me if it wasn’t for Dazzle.” Galmiche adds that it’s not too melodramatic to say that the service dog saved his life.

Galmiche is hardly alone. The stats are nearly overwhelming: There are 400,000 ex-soldiers currently in treatment for PTSD, according to the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs), and among that population, rates of divorce, substance abuse and unemployment exceed those in the general population. Their suicide rate is off the map, with 32 to 39 attempts daily and about half that many succeeding.

Anecdotal evidence suggests a service dog dramatically lowers the suicide rate, even divorce numbers and chances of substance abuse among veterans with PTSD. With a four-legged partner, veterans don’t require as many (if any) drugs for symptoms related to PTSD. And veterans are able to find jobs. Most importantly, all this improves quality of life for veterans.There’s a significant savings to taxpayers.

Aware of this evidence, some members of Congress tasked the VA to demonstrate scientifically the effectiveness of pairing veterans with PTSD and their families with service dogs. Fewer than two dozen dogs were enrolled in the study (nowhere near the 230 dogs recommended for the research).

Recently, the study was abruptly suspended because of reported dog bites and a health problem with one dog, leaving members of Congress and organizations that train PTSD service dogs mystified. What’s more, the VA announced recently that it will no longer support service dogs paired with veterans diagnosed with PTSD (and instead only support dogs partnered with veterans with visible disabilities).

There’s little doubt more scientific study would be helpful. Meanwhile, as Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) pointed out in an email to this reporter, as the wars wind down, more soldiers are returning home diagnosed with PSTD than ever before.

To ignore an option that’s clearly helpful to many soldiers is, in fact, at odds with the VA’s own mission: “To serve America’s veterans and their families with dignity and compassion and to be their principal advocate in ensuring that they receive the care, support, and recognition earned in service to this Nation.”


Veteran With PTSD Finds Service Dog Stolen in December

by Sue on September 9, 2015

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A California Marine veteran whose service dog was stolen from her San Diego-area home in December has found her beloved pooch, thousands of miles away in a small Texas town.

Alexandra Melnick’s dog, Kai, disappeared from her Vista home on on Dec. 10 last year. San Diego Sheriff’s officials say an unknown suspect entered Melnick’s property and took the dog from a secured backyard.

Kai is a 1-year-old, tri-colored German Shepherd that is trained and certified as a service animal. The dog has a microchip that helps identify him.
Following Kai’s disappearance, Melnick canvassed the North County with fliers in hopes of finding Kai.

“He was never used for the military, but he does help with PTSD-related aspects for me as a service dog,” she told NBC7 in San Diego when he disappeared. “I would really like for him to come home.”
On Aug. 31, Melnick received a tip that told her Kai was in Aubrey, Texas. The same day, she boarded a plane to Texas and confirmed Kai was there.

With the help of Denton County Constable D. Boydston and Animal Control officials, the dog’s microchip was scanned and his identity confirmed.

Kai is with Animal Control officials and a property hearing is scheduled Wednesday to determine proper ownership of the dog.

Sheriff’s officials have identified a suspect, but did not identify him or her. The investigation is ongoing.

NOTE from Sussie: I have an issue with the fact that the dog is chipped with the rightful owner’s information yet the courts demanded a rightful owner hearing.


National Dog Day

by Sue on August 28, 2015

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National Dog Day is celebrated August 26th annually and was founded in 2004 by Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert and Animal Advocate, Colleen Paige. It serves to help the public to recognize the amount of dogs that need to be rescued each year, and recognizes dogs that work selflessly each day to save lives and keep us safe and bring comfort. Putting their lives on the line each day for their law enforcement partner, to help their mentally or physically disabled handler, by detecting bombs or drugs and finding lost individuals or those trapped by a disaster.

National Dog Day is against “breed bans”. Dogs should not have to lose their lives because they are stereotyped.

Americans do have the right to purchase a purebred dog, however it is strongly suggested NOT to buy dogs from pet stores supplied by puppy mills, backyard breeders and the internet. When considering buying from a breeder, verify the breeder is a reputable breeder by asking for local references such as a Veterinarian. It’s vital to educate yourself about the breed you’re considering. Know what to expect before you buy. That is the key. Every breed is different.

Thousands of dogs are killed each year because they’re simply unwanted. They are “thrown away” because the owner did not research the breed before buying or they were bought as a gift for someone who decided the responsibility was something they no longer wanted or because they shed too much or because they bark too much or simply because someone changed their mind.

Dogs do not understand why they were left at a shelter. In a dog’s mind, they did something wrong and that is why they are there. Dogs are pack animals. A human or a family is their “pack”. In the wild when a dog does something against pack established rules, they are banished from the pack. When a dog ends up at a shelter, they are left wondering what they did wrong to be banished from the “pack”. This is, honestly, the reason many dogs go into a state of depression once they arrive at the shelter.

All a dog wants to do is love you. Dogs are amazing, courageous, sensitive beings that deserve love and understanding. Please consider bringing a rescue into your home, or adopt one from a shelter. They will never forget being “rescued” and loved again.


Common household items which are harmful to your dog

by Sue on August 17, 2015

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Dogs are curious. It is one of the things that make them such special companions. Sometimes that curiosity leads them into areas of the house where you store unsafe items such as medicine and detergents. Many common household items that you use everyday can be harmful or lethal to your dog. Below is a list of items that you should store securely away from your dog’s reach.
Common household items which are harmful to your dog:
Antifreeze and other car fluids
Bleach and cleaning fluids
Boric acid
De-icing salts
Disinfectants (Unless they are approved to be used around pets)
Drain cleaners
Furniture polish
Hair colorings (Even those used to dye dogs such as poodles)
Weed killers
Nail polish and remover
Prescription and non-prescription medicine for humans
Rat poison
Rubbing alcohol
Shoe polish
Sleeping pills
Snail or slug bait
Windshield-wiper fluid
If your dog ingests any of the above contact your Veterinarian IMMEDIATELY!


Restaurant apologizes for turning away vet with service dog

by Sue on August 3, 2015

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A National restaurant chain has fired a local manager and issued an apology after an Army war veteran who says he has post-traumatic stress disorder was refused a table because he was accompanied by a service dog.

Garrett Loughran, 32, and his 5-year-old labradoodle named Hershey, donning a red service dog cape, went to Houlihan’s in Algonquin with Loughran’s parents for lunch the day before Memorial Day.

“He’s very important to me,” Loughran said about Hershey.

Carpentersville shop a tailor-made take on the American Dream
Carpentersville shop a tailor-made take on the American Dream
According to Loughran’s mother, Laura Wills, when the family walked in, a hostess and then her manager questioned the need for the service dog and told them they were not allowed to bring the dog into the restaurant.

They left, and Wills said they were welcomed and served at another restaurant nearby. But afterward, Wills wrote about the experience on her Facebook page and on Houlihan’s page. The posts generated thousands of shares, likes and comments.

And they also prompted Houlihan’s to acknowledge a mistake had been made.

Amy Fasholt-Fisher, vice president of operations for Houlihan’s Restaurant Group, said she and her company were “mortified” to learn of how the veteran and his dog were treated.

She said the manager, who had been employed at the restaurant about two years, has been fired and the restaurant is making a $2,000 donation to Pets for Vets.

“We are sincerely apologetic for the lack of respect and compassion that this veteran and his family experienced in our restaurant,” Fasholt-Fisher said.

Military nurses lauded at Elgin Memorial Day ceremony
Military nurses lauded at Elgin Memorial Day ceremony
It is company policy that all service dogs are always welcome in all Houlihan’s restaurants, she said. According to its website, Houlihan’s has almost 100 restaurants throughout the country, including several in the Chicago area.

Loughran said he held the rank of specialist and served as a tank mechanic for more than nine years on tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army officials confirmed Loughran had been in the Army and had deployed but could not provide specifics.

Wills said that Hershey helps her son cope with being in large crowds, and that the dog wakes him up when he is having nightmares.

“He’s constantly on guard, constantly looking around, especially when a lot of people are around him,” Wills said of her son’s need for Hershey. “He is always looking for a threat. The dog calms him.”

She said that since her son moved back to her Huntley home from Wyoming about five weeks ago they had gone out to several restaurants with Hershey and had never been treated that way.

Wills took to Facebook to share the story in hopes of spreading awareness.

On Monday, Loughran, his parents and Hershey, at Houlihan’s request, went back to the restaurant.

“They were very nice people, very understanding and very forgiving,” Fasholt-Fisher said.

She said they “had a nice conversation” about how the restaurant could do a better job in such a scenario and asked how they could make things right.

Loughran and his family suggested the donation be made to Pets for Vets to help cover the costs of training another service dog.

Loughran bought Hershey for about $1,000 from a service dog training facility in Colorado about three years ago.

“He helps keep me calm … alerts me when there is something wrong,” Loughran said.

Loughran said that after he was turned away from the restaurant Hershey “was just there to comfort and calm me down afterwards. I was rather upset.”

He said he had never had a similar experience at a restaurant.

Loughran and Wills said the situation, though unpleasant, has raised awareness for a better understanding of PTSD and service dogs and a better appreciation for veterans.

“That’s all I wanted,” Wills said.

She was shocked to find her Facebook posts garnering so much attention.

On Memorial Day, she and her son were visiting family in downstate Savanna and had no cellphone service, so she was unaware of the flurry of activity on Facebook. Once she was back in range, a call came in from her brother saying Houlihan’s was trying to contact her.

Loughran said that Houlihan’s management “apologized profusely” and that he believes the company is sincere.

Note from Sussie: That is actually how I got Costco’s attention when they refused entry of me and my service dog. The manager verbally attacked me and sent me into a PTSD episode that my Service Dog could not pull me out of. I posted it on Costco’s facebook page. It went viral. I can’t talk anymore about the settlement and all that but, rest assured, there is no more trouble with them.