Abandoned Pup Becomes a High Flying Star on the Dock and at Home

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Flying is not something you usually associate with dogs, but a former APA Adoption Center rescue dog is changing that.

13494787_10207056851919422_2885648887790078003_n-1 A puppy was found abandoned in a rural area of Missouri. The Labrador mix named Serenity by her rescuers was transferred from the overcrowded rural St. Clair County Animal Control shelter to the APA Adoption Center .A044044

The former stray seemed to have springs in her legs and an eagerness to learn. APA matchmakers alerted a Purina trainer, Sara Brueske. Brueske is always looking for canine athletes in her work as an award winning trainer who frequently fosters dogs. Serenity became Kapow and began training with Brueske for a possible slot in a performing team at Purina Farms.

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Working with the award winning trainer, Kapow was a stand-out in several competitive canine events including Frisbee play and dock diving. But she didn’t have everything Brueske was looking for, so a search was on for a new home.

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Kapow’s wait for a new owner wasn’t long. An animal advocate added this high-flying pooch to his pack. An authority on flight as a professional avian ecologist, Ryan Brady knows a lot about active dogs.

Brady lives with a dock diving Yellow Labrador that is also an award winning sporting companion and a trained barn hunt dog. Rounding out the active Brady bunch is a sweet Puggle who embraces the hunting heritage of her Beagle ancestors and lap dog tendencies of her Pug lineage.Kapow_3_medal

”Kapow is a great dog! She fit right in with my other two dogs from the first day I adopted her and is a member of the family,” said Brady who is committed to new stimuli and training for his canine companions who often accompany him on nature hikes and farm visits.Kapow_1

Kapow won a ribbon on her first jump in a dock diving competition with Brady. He is continuing training on the Frisbee and dock-diving while adding new pursuits like retrieving and putting out bird decoys.Spending a lot of time in nature where her owner works at a wildlife refuge, Kapow succeeds at a pursuit where many other dogs fail.

”She catches and kills squirrels frequently,” explains Brady. “Her speed and agility are amazing.”

Kapow may not have wings, but it isn’t keeping her from flying on the ground or in the air.

photo by Ryan Brady

Kapow is one of 2,534 pets who found homes at the APA Adoption Center in 2015. Providing services to more than 10,000 animals annually, the APA provides a humane option for those surrendering unwanted or abandoned companion animals, provides education and outreach programs, reunites lost animals with their owners, provides pet adoption and foster care services and offers veterinary clinic services at a reduced rate. The APA Adoption center is open 7 days a week. For more information about the APA of Missouri, visit www.apamo.org or call 314-645-4610.

photo courtesy of Ryan Brady

Bee a Nature Hero: 3 Easy Ways to Help Pollinators + Free Online Garden Resources

Bees and other pollinators are in trouble. Join the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge

Have you spotted many butterflies this year? What about bees? Unfortunately, these pollinators are in trouble. Pollinators move from plant to plant while searching for protein-rich pollen or high-energy nectar to eat. As they go, they are dusted by pollen and move it to the next flower, fertilizing the plant and allowing it to reproduce and form seeds, berries, fruits and other plant foods that form the foundation of the food chain for other species—including humans. Pollination is vital to the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink.

Bees  are on the decline

Bees are the most obvious and recognized pollinators in nature. It came as a surprise to me that over 100,000 invertebrates also pollinate. These include butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles and even flies! Hummingbirds are among a thousand birds, mammals and reptiles also helping pollinate.

Vital pollinators on the decline

You can help be pollinator hero in many ways. Here are three easy ways to start.

  1. First, and perhaps the most obvious is through plants. Whether you’re a gardening novice with a small balcony or gardening veteran with a few acres; you may be able to help wildlife in your area. It is easy to plant varieties that will attract pollinators. For example, start with native plants. Native plants form the foundation of habitat for pollinators by providing them with pollen and nectar for food, cover from the elements and predators, and places where their young can grow. The best way to attract beautiful butterflies, busy bees, speedy hummingbirds and other pollinators is to fill your yard with native plants. There are some free resources to help at the end of this post.
  2. Avoiding pesticides is not only good for you, your family and pets it is the second great way to help pollinators. Bees are our most important pollinators, and they are insects. So are butterflies like the monarch. Using insecticides will kill these insects. Herbicides will kill important native plants such as milkweed that pollinators rely upon as a food source and a place to raise young. Make the commitment to avoid using chemicals and to maintain your garden in a natural, organic way. The traditional suburban lawn, on average, has ten times more chemical pesticides per acre than farmland. By choosing native plants for your landscaping, you are creating a healthier place for your family and community.
  3. The third easy step is to help protect our grasslands to aid pollinators. America’s native grasslands are critically important for pollinators such as bees and monarch butterflies. Our grasslands are filled with native plants that offer nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and a wide variety of pollinators. They also provide milkweed, the only host plant for monarch caterpillars. Today, more than 90 percent of native grasslands have been converted to cropland and development. Grasslands are disappearing faster than any other ecosystem in North America, and that’s a big problem for pollinators. Spreading the word through social media and helping educate others is a great way to be a pollinator hero. Planting milkweed to attract butterflies will give you enjoyment as you help pollinators.

Businesses and community groups can get involved in this effort to help pollinators. One nonprofit in Saint Louis is working to provide a living landscape for birds and other wild animals. The Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA is part of the growing trend to garden for wildlife.

APA Executive Director Steve Kaufman is working with the Saint Louis Audubon Society to create landscaping to encourage wildlife and benefit the ecosystem surrounding the adoption center: “The APA cares for all animals, not just the ones brought into our facility for direct care. This is just a small way to do our part to help the native Missouri animals that live in our area (or fly through!).”

The Missouri Botanical Gardens offers many free resources online to help with native gardens. You can find them by clicking on A Guide to Native Landscaping in Missouri or following this link: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/visit/family-of-attractions/shaw-nature-reserve/gardens-gardening-at-shaw-nature-reserve/native-landscaping-for-the-home-gardener/native-landscaping-manual.aspx 11078212_10204083286547347_1748544961633585133_n
A national native online plant guide can be accessed by clicking on American Beauty Native Plants or following this link: http://www.abnativeplants.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.search/index.htm?announcementid8429382

10494643_10207078779912157_3907921197852980798_nThe National Federation for Wildlife or NWF offers many free resources for gardening to benefit pollinators and wildlife. The NWF is joining with dozens of conservation and gardening organizations as well as seed groups to form the National Pollinator Garden Network. To mark the occasion there is a new nationwide campaign – the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. You can take part in the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge by turning your yard or garden into a Certified Wildlife Habitat via National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program. It’s as simple as providing food, water, cover and places to raise young for pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. You can learn more at www.nwf.org.

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Missing Cappy: An Extraordinary Healer and Volunteer

Why a Pint Sized Pup Means So Much to So Many

A remarkable volunteer for a Saint Louis nonprofit is being remembered. This big hearted go-giver was less than fifteen pounds and left a paw print on the hearts of thousands of people.

Cappy, a pint-sized pet of Jim and Diane Doyle worked with his “grandmother” Helen Doyle and her dog Lucky as therapy dogs. The trio served as PetReach volunteers with the Animal Protective Association of Missouri, or APA, visiting senior care facilities, convalescent centers and hospitals. It was a volunteer outreach they would perform for over ten years.

Helen, a pediatric nurse says Cappy was the right prescription for so many: “Cappy was calm and a great healer. I would put in in a lap or on the chest of someone in a bed and their face would light up. So many times, they would begin sharing stories of a childhood pet or their dog at home. Their pain and worries were eased.”Cappy

It was after such a visit to see patients at a Richmond Heights hospital, a vehicle struck Cappy. The truck never stopped. Even in the accident, Cappy brought out the best in people. Two onlookers rushed to help. The strangers gave mouth to muzzle CPR to Cappy. The dog that greeted everyone with enthusiasm and made life better for so many was gone.

Cappy exemplified the meaning of service as he helped so many people as an APA PetReach volunteer. So many feel fortunate to have known this wonderful soul and witness how Cappy put his training, loving nature, and small size to work to make the world a better place. His life leads many of us to believe angels are often disguised as dogs.

If you would like to learn more about the APA’s PetReach program, contact Laura Jones at volunteer@amamo.org or 314-645-4610.

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Most Dogs Do Not Like Hugs Plus Other Communication and Bite Prevention Facts

Dogs are known as man’s best friend for a reason. They are great companions, emotional support, working dogs and much more. They deserve a kiss, hug and a pat on the head right?  Wrong. Most dogs don’t like hugs, kisses, or pats on the head according to animal behaviorists. There are some 70 million great dogs and any dog can bite.

Every year, almost 5 million people are bitten by dogs and most of those bitten are children. Strange dogs are not the most common offenders, 77% of bites come from a family or friend’s dog!

Preventing dog bites is everyone’s responsibility. Simple measures can be very effective. Being aware of the risk and active supervision is important. For example, a calm and gentle dog surprised or startled can react uncharacteristically if a toddler crawls up and kisses a sleeping dog.
10440678_796489223779881_6550008399635534847_nIt is obvious a child poking or pulling a dog tail or ear could provoke a bite. Animal behaviorists find dogs guarding resources including food, toys, or even its owner is the cause for most bites.

Many animal organizations and adoption centers offer fun classes on safe interaction with animals to prevent bites. For example, in Saint Louis the APA Adoption Center (Animal Protective Association of Missouri) offers a variety of classes for kids and adults. You can learn the ways dogs and cats communicate, the proper way to approach a dog and what to do if approached by a stray animal.

11025160_807130716029148_5874756013793407181_nYou can attend a class at the APA Adoption Center or instructors and trained pets can come to you. To check out some of the programs and classes available to all age groups check out the APA website or follow this link: http://www.apamo.org/education/group-programs/group-programs-list/

If you are outside the Saint Louis area, check with local adoption agencies or visit https://www.avma.org for more information on dog bite prevention.
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There is Help Dealing with the Loss of a Pet

236506 I can find little good to say about losing a pet. Our pets bestow unconditional love, companionship and purpose in our lives. Even our best friends and family sometimes fail to understand the emotional pain and void the loss of a pet can leave.

For me, poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning said it best, “His ears were often the first thing to catch my tears.”

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So what do you do when those ears and your beloved friend is gone? The Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA is offering a pet loss support group to help. The new pet loss support initiative allows participants to share feelings in a compassionate environment.


“Understanding how we grieve and exploring ways to cope with loss can bring you closer to the day when memories of your pet prompt smiles instead of tears,” explains APA Humane Educator Jennifer Blome.

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Jennifer Blome has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Washington University. She joins three volunteer facilitators trained in counseling and grief therapy in leading the sessions.

Each APA Pet Loss Support Group session will last 75 minutes and take place in a private meeting room at the adoption center. You can find more information on the free sessions and many other community programs at the APA: http://www.apamo.org.

Not in the Saint Louis area? Check local adoption facilities and mental health centers in your area for similar pet loss groups.

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Attend a Furry Friendly Event: Action-Packed Fun + Exercise with or without your Pup!

7th Annual Fast and Furriest 5K Run + 1-Mile Walk is Ahead for Your Best Friends

236504It’s said some of our most precious gifts we place in museums or vaults; others we take for walks. It is a very unique walk and run for dogs and people I want to share with you.

I think most dogs and pet people find ways to make friends. This observation is based on a recent dog park visit when I met a pet owner and her pooch visiting for the first time. Her dog, Hank, was met with wagging tails. Hank’s mom just moved from Atlanta. Other pet parents learned Hank came into her life in college and has been a constant companion through moves, break-ups, and celebrations including the recent job promotion to Saint Louis. Hank is helping her meet new people and learn about their new home.

Hank and his owner exercise together. I mean serious running. Hank is a Whippet, a superb athlete as well as a gentle companion. Several of us want to make sure Hank can stretch his legs in an upcoming event to help homeless pets.

The 7th Annual Fast and the Furriest 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk will be Sunday, April 26th at Tower Grove Park. The run is unique because it offers Hank and his owner the opportunity to take part in a professionally-timed race together. There are not many across the nation. Others will take part in the walk at a leisurely pace with our dogs. This is an event not only for athletes, but the entire family. Fast and Furriest also offers a children’s fun area, vendor booths and food trucks.

FF_Runner-Dog‘Pooch Poker’ is new to the annual fun-fest. Event organizer Robin Wood of the Animal Protective Association of Missouri (APA) says the game is open to anyone registered for the one mile walk: “Walkers will be dealt playing cards at stations along the 1-Mile Walk route. Players with a winning hand receive a prize at the end of the walk!” Hank and his mom are planning to run and walk with some members of the dog park community.

Animal lovers and APA supporters who can’t participate in the walk or race can still pitch in by fundraising with individual fundraising campaigns. Proceeds from this event will benefit the APA’ s mission of bringing people and pets together, advancing humane education, and creating programs beneficial to the human-animal bond.

You can learn more about this non-profit event and many other exciting community programs underway at the APA Adoption center at http://www.apamo.org/donate/fast-

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A Simple Secret 1 in 4 Americans Use to Feel Better and Improve their Lifestyle

Would you like to feel better and perhaps get a professional boost too? It is not a new juice cleanse or exercise regime I want to share; it can be as easy as walking a dog or reading to a toddler. It is an opportunity to grow personally and professionally as a volunteer. Health and lifestyle research finds there are many benefits for volunteers.11084281_825868887478501_532518496970130019_n

Here are just a few:

Volunteering connects you to others
Volunteering increases your social and relationship skills
Volunteering increases self-confidence
Volunteering combats depression
Volunteering with animals has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress
Volunteering can reduce anxiety
Volunteering can provide career experience or allow you to practice work skills

Many of your neighbors are enjoying these benefits. More than 62 million people give their time according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. It works out to one in four Americans volunteering their time.

Do you have a story about a volunteer experience to share? I would like to hear your tips and experiences as a volunteer. I volunteer in a couple of ways, but my favorite is the adoption center where I found my pets, the Animal Protective Association of Missouri (APAofMO).

Volunteers and educators from APA of MO Adoption Center work with children

Volunteers and educators from APA of MO Adoption Center work with children