Tag Archives: guide dogs

5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Labradoodle


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They’re furry with a funny name, and they’re #13 on PuppySpot’s list of most popular dog breeds! We’re talking about Labradoodles, the “designer dog” cross between a Labrador Retriever and Poodle. Developed in Australia in the late 1980’s, this breed hybrid continues to gain popularity for its easy trainability and outgoing personality. Below are 5 facts you need to know about Labradoodles!

1. They’re a good choice for people with allergies.

While Labradoodle fur varies from dog to dog, the hybrid tends to be a good choice for those with allergies to shedding dogs. Because of its Poodle-like fur, Labradoodles hardly shed and are virtually hypoallergenic.

2. They serve a special purpose.
The Australian Guide Dog Association first bred Labradoodles in 1989 as an allergy-friendly seeing eye dog. Their smart, social nature and low-shedding coats make them perfect for visually-impaired people who suffer from pet allergies.

3. They have good genes.
As a cross between two different breeds, Labradoodles have a healthy genetic pool of variation. According to Goldendoodles.com, first generation (F1) crosses (the product of a Labrador Retriever and Poodle) have the highest “hybrid vigour,” which is the idea that the first generation offspring are healthier than each of their individual parent lines.

4. No two Labradoodles are alike.
Since Labradoodles are not purebreds, the characteristics of any one Labradoodle cannot be predicted. A first generation Labradoodle may look more like its Poodle parent or its Labrador Retriever parent, and may possess any variation of personality or genetic qualities from either of its parents. These qualities become more consistent as Labradoodles are bred between each other.

5. They love the water.

Labradoodles don’t mind getting their paws wet. In fact, they love to play around in the rain, jump in puddles and go swimming, too.

Learned something new about the doodle? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Why the World Needs Purebred Dogs


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May 1 is National Purebred Dog Day, a day to appreciate the centuries-old tradition of breeding dogs for specifically valued traits. The day’s founder, Susi Szeremy, writes that each dog breed is “a living legacy of the culture that created it,” and the continuation of purebreds keeps their respective culture’s history alive. While mixed breeds are cool, too, there are good reasons to support purebreds. Read on for the top three reasons why we think the world still needs purebred dogs.

1. They’re predictable.

One big reason why purebreds are valued dogs is their predictability. Because each breed is bred for specific traits, one can expect to find particular physical and behavioral qualities in any one member of the breed. While these traits can vary within individual dogs, you know that if you breed a Chihuahua you’ll be getting a pint-sized pup that fits in your purse, while if you breed a Great Dane, she’ll be even bigger than the Chihuahua the moment she’s born! Moreover, the predictability of purebreds makes them indispensable in the many pup-powered jobs which our communities depend on. In the US alone, ten million people suffer from allergies, many of whom rely on specific allergy-friendly dog breeds to accommodate their health needs. For example, the intelligent and low-shedding Poodle makes a qualified assistant to disabled people with dog allergies. Purebred dogs are our service dogs, police dogs, military dogs and of course, the loving companions that brighten up our homes. They can be specially trained to serve purposes that go above and beyond fetching a bone. Purebred dogs are society’s four-legged superheroes, often trained as early on as birth to fulfill roles such as guiding the blind, sniffing out drugs or explosives in the airport, detecting blood glucose levels in people with diabetes, and the list goes on. Purebred dogs are crucial, irreplaceable members of society who improve the lives of people you know every single day.

2. They help us make scientific advancements.

Purebred dogs help us make advancements in science that enhance our understanding of both humans and other dogs. For example, a recent study discovered a gene found in Dalmatians associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome in dogs. This research not only reveals an important factor of this canine disease, but it may also lead to a breakthrough in research for respiratory disease in humans. This research and others like it would not be possible if not for the uniform traits in purebreds which lend themselves to objective scientific testing.

3. They tell a story of the past.
Each breed tells a unique story form the time and place in history it came from. Perhaps it was the German Shepherd, herding the fields of Germany during the turn of the 20th Century. Or maybe the Yorkshire Terrier, working alongside factory workers during the Industrial Revolution. Each breed has its very own story tell, and believe it or not, these stories are in danger of fading away. There is such a thing as an endangered dog breed, and if it were not for the efforts of responsible breeders, these breeds would not survive.

Breeding purebreds is not just a tradition that provides us with a fun and furry look into the past. Rather, purebred dogs are indispensable to lending a helping hand (or paw) to present day problems such as physical and mental disabilities and health issues. This National Purebred Dog Day, let’s take a moment to look around at the amazing creatures who fill our lives with joy on a daily basis. We hope to have them around for years to come.

Tax Day: 5 Surprising Dog-Related Write-Offs


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Most people dread tax season, full of paperwork and potential money owed. While the majority of pet costs (veterinary, food, grooming, or boarding bills) are not eligible for tax deductions, there are a few exceptions for qualified dog owners. We’ve broken out several IRS-approved dog expenses, which may be considered eligible tax deductions. Keep the following tax-friendly dog scenarios in mind for next year’s filing!

1. Moving Costs
If you’re moving residences and unable to take your dog with you, consider using a professional transportation company to handle the hassle of shipping your dog cross-country. Pet relocation costs are considered above-the-line deductions. The IRS simply requires a filled out worksheet and Forms 1040 and 3903 to complete the claim. The extra work is sure to be worth the savings.

2. Guide, Service or Therapy Dogs
The IRS says that if a guide dog is needed to assist the hearing or visually-impaired, you can write off all costs-associated with the dog’s care, such as the dog’s actual purchase, training, food, grooming and of course, medical expenses. A good rule of thumb is that any expense necessary to keeping the dog healthy enough to perform his service-related responsibilities, may be written off. Similarly, if you have a therapy dog trained or certified to help with treatment of a physical or mental health condition, all costs associated with the dog are approved as medical-related expenses.

3. Working Guard Dogs
If your dog is necessary to your line of work (for example, your Rottweiler or German Shepherd guards your storefront or warehouse inventory), then you may write off the dog’s expenses related to the job. Standard business deduction rules such as keeping track of the hours your dog spends on the job would apply to this scenario. However, as long as you can prove that the money spent on your dog (e.g., food, medical, training) is required to keep him up to guard dog condition and that his presence is necessary to maintaining your livelihood, these costs would qualify as business expenses.

4. Dog Breeders
As an animal breeder, your breeding stock is an essential part of your business and thus you’re allowed to deduct all necessary animal-related expenses from your taxes. The IRS allows you to claim animals held for breeding of at least 12 months as either capital assets or as a part of your regular inventory. By claiming your breeding stock as capital gains, this allows you to depreciate them and ultimately reduces your taxable income. Make sure to use all of the right forms when filing your income taxes and reporting all sales to get all the breaks you’re entitled to.

5. Charitable Donations, Fostering Animals or Regular Volunteer Work
If your love for dogs involves continuous and regular philanthropic work, you could be eligible for related tax write-offs. Perhaps you routinely donate to an animal rescue organization or volunteer at a local shelter. Or, you foster pets for a temporary period of time until they are adopted into permanent homes. Be sure to retain all receipts and records associated with pro-social work and foster pets and be sure to itemize deductions under the charity section of Schedule A.

6. Canine Sports Leaders
Does your dog compete in professional dog shows? If you participate in dog competitions, agility meets or a canine-related income-generating hobby, such as selling portraits of your dog, or lecturing on dog-related topics, unfortunately the income is taxable. However, you may use the hobby’s expenses as write-offs, to offset the hobby’s earnings. Hobby expenses can be itemized under Schedule A, but the total must exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income before it can be deductible. Note that if the pet-related hobby starts to generate income on a regular basis, you should consider turning it into a business, where you could write off even more expenses.

7. Pet Trusts
Not surprisingly to most dog lovers, it’s become accepted practice to include beloved animals in wills and trusts to ensure that whomever takes possession of the pet after death will receive adequate income to pay for the pet’s expenses. Depending on the structure of the trust, dog owners can work with their attorneys to make sure taxes are paid from the trust itself without adding to the beneficiary’s tax liability.

Getting to Know Guide Dogs


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Guide dogs, also known as seeing eye dogs, are special pooches that help the blind navigate their world. Guide Dogs of America provides blind and visually impaired people with guide dogs free of charge in North America. Now that deserves a “round of a-paws.” Let’s get to know more about these paw-some pups and how they perform heroic acts every day.

History
The first school for training service animals, including seeing eye dogs, was established in Germany during World War I to assist veterans blinded in war. Outside of Germany, interest in service dogs did not become widespread until the mid-1900’s. The first guide dogs were German Shepherds, appropriately coming from the service dog school’s country of origin. In 1929, Nashville resident Morris Frank succeeded in convincing Americans to grant people with service animals access to public transportation, hotels and other open public areas. By Federal law, blind people with service dogs are now allowed to go anywhere the general public is allowed, including restaurants, hospitals, stores, airplanes and taxis.

Breeds
The dog breeds used in guide dog service are chosen for their easy trainability and sound temperaments. The most common breeds selected as guide dogs are Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds, but other breeds have also been known to be good choices, such as Labradoodles, Standard Poodles, Collies, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Havanese and Vizslas.

Training
Many guide dogs are trained from birth for the special task of aiding the visually impaired. Dogs who start training at birth take about 18 months to complete their program (DGP for Pets). Just like all domesticated dogs, guide dogs must first learn housetraining and basic obedience before receiving additional guide dog training. After about one year, the guide dog meets her partner and they train together for two weeks.

The guide dog recipient is just as responsible in training as the dog. It is the responsibility of the visually impaired person to use his or her senses to judge whether or not it is safe to cross the street, for example, but the guide dog may refute the action if she deems it hazardous. The dog’s intentional refusal of a command is called “intelligent disobedience.”

Meeting a Working Guide Dog Team

If you encounter a visually impaired person with a guide dog, you should treat this person as you would any other stranger on the street and respect boundaries. Do not pet, feed or talk to a guide dog without asking for the owner’s permission first. While they may be irresistibly cute, guide dogs are at work and should not be distracted. After all, the owner depends on his or her guide dog to be vigilant of dangers.

Guide dogs are special service dogs that have helped aid the blind for decades. Their ability to learn techniques above and beyond basic training techniques in order to devotedly assist their partner is truly remarkable. We never cease to be amazed at what dogs can do in our everyday lives.