Advocacy for Animals Through Humane Education- It Takes a Village

Kids say the darnedest things. Their expressions of naiveté are often very funny and endearing. An example in point occurred at a “Critter Connection” after-school session I was leading. A young boy, I guessed to be in first or second grade, asked about the dog resting in my arms. “Is she people’s age?”, he inquired, truly baffled by the number “18” assigned to the dog‘s age. “Yes”, I replied, “that’s her age but because dogs age faster than people she is really much older. I carry her on walks because she is blind now and too old and frail to walk very far”.

Dog with students

“Dali” –photo courtesy Jean Gilbert

By chart standards, using size (toy poodle mix) and weight (11 lbs.) as references, my dog “Dali” is the equivalent of an 88-96 year old person. Adopted from the municipal animal shelter (Las Cruces, NM) as a young adult, she’s been a celebrated companion– comfortable at humane education sessions meeting children and happy at animal welfare events like “Lobo to Lassie”, winning best talent for catching tennis balls to song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and featured in “Bark Magazine“ with a winning smiling photo.

I wish all dogs were as celebrated and cherished as Dali. This year marks the 13th season of the Dogs Deserve Better “Have a Heart for Chained Dogs” and “Chain-Off” campaigns. Children in the Humane Society of Southern NM’s education program lent their artistic talents (year 5) with thoughtful, anti-chaining messages on valentines to help improve lives for chained/tethered dogs through DDB mailings to approximately 10,0000 residences in the US , including residences identified in Dona Ana County. Our education campaign now, in concert with DDB, focuses on danger of heat stroke in summer time for chained dogs with a “Chain-Off” demonstration led by animal advocates and community members planned for July.

Tamira Thayne, founder of DDB, notes their organization’s rescuers see horrific conditions with dogs suffering from heat exhaustion or freezing in the snow, given a longstanding misperception that it’s okay to chain a dog outside in any kind of weather. She underscores the significance of education and awareness campaigns for reaching people who chain/tether their dogs and for bringing aid to forgotten canines through re-homing efforts or bringing provisions such as fencing to living environments for dogs based on support or cooperation of owners.

Chaining is not only inhumane for dogs isolated and alone in the elements 24/7, but it has taken a toll on our nation’s children. During a 10-year period spanning through July 2014, there were at least 400 incidences, conservatively reported, of children killed or seriously injured by chained dogs across the country. Chained dogs, not socialized with humans, can become very territorial of their tiny space, and a child who wanders into that space can be attacked and killed before adults can intervene. An attack in Arkansas left a 2-year old boy dead from head and neck injuries. He was attacked and killed by an unspayed female chained in the backyard, with puppies.

Buddy Unchained book cover

About Buddy Unchained

The Henry Bergh ASPCA award-winning and heart-warming story “Buddy Unchained” by Daisy Bix reflects the anti-chaining message of DDB when a small dog, chained in wintertime, is overcome by hypothermia and is rescued in the nick of time. This year marks the fifth consecutive year for the Humane Society of Southern NM donating hardback copies of this remarkable story to area schools with emphasis on danger of heatstroke as summer approaches. The children who hear the story through presentations are always immersed, struck with concern and empathy for Buddy and rejoice in the happy outcome for a deserving dog.

Join the Humane Society of Southern NM in humane education efforts by volunteering in the Critter Connection or Diggity Dog Learning programs or in the Cans 4 Critters project involving youth and clubs in litter clean-up with aluminum cans saved for reclamation to help animals.

Jean Gilbert

Jean Gilbert is a retired teacher with a MS degree in elementary/special education. She has been active in animal welfare work since moving to Las Cruces with her husband over 30 years ago. She has served on the board of directors of Las Cruces Storytellers, Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary, Southwest Environmental Center, and the Dona Ana County Humane Society.

As a humane and environmental educator for HSSNM, Jean leads “Critter Connection” sessions for youth and adults in the community and “Diggity Dog Learning” programs in the public schools. In addition, Jean leads the “Cans 4 Critters” project benefiting animals in the community and serves as a volunteer with the Las Cruces “pet network“.

As membership/fundraise chair, Jean welcomes ideas and support for fundraising projects for the organization to sustain HSSNM programs/services. Jean welcomes requests for humane education presentations and service projects involving youth and adults in the community.

Contact Jean Gilbert, HSSNM humane educator-coordinator at or 575-522-2529 for more information.

How To Train An Abused Dog

Often you will come across a dog that has been abused at one point in his life. These dogs are difficult to deal with, as the normal things we do cause them anxiety and fear. You can, however, increase your chances of teaching an abused dog to trust with a few simple changes in approach and a lot of patience.

Dog under tableHow To Approach A Once-Abused Dog

When interacting with this dog, bend down to appear less threatening. When talking to him, keep your voice low and cheerful. A loud or frustrated tone will cause him to fear. Call him to you; don’t approach him. If he makes an effort to obey, praise him. Don’t wait for him to obey completely. Remember, he may be used to getting hit when he approaches someone.

When you do get to pet this dog, avoid his head. Keep your hand palm up as it approaches him and gently rub under his chin or on his chest. Rubbing either spot tends to calm a dog. If he moves to step backward, let him retreat. In time, he will stay longer.

Nervous puppyWhen A Dog Is Nervous

When a dog is nervous or you have a skittish dog, he will often wet the floor involuntarily. If this should happen, it is important not to allow your frustration to show. It is not a deliberate attempt at disobeying and will likely disappear as he gains trust in you.

How To Train An Abused Dog

When training or retraining an abused dog, keep any sessions short, with just a few minutes of actual touch each time. You can gradually increase the time as his trust grows. Often, just sitting quietly and waiting for him to approach you will make him feel comfortable. If your initial attempts fail, try this.

found dog in Honduras named LuckyThese Dogs Make A Great Pets!

A once-abused dog can be as trusting and loving as any other.  Working with abused dogs takes patience on the part of those in their lives. A crouching position, low voice and appropriate touch will win them over eventually.  The effects of animal cruelty can manifest in many nervous dog symptoms.  But love and time really do conquer all.

Where to Adopt

Here are a couple of links we recommend for awesome shelter and rescue organizations in Cincinnati.  If you need a referral in another location, feel free to contact us!

Lil Paw Prints Animal Rescue Haven

Rescue Me.Org

Adopt A Senior Dog!

Ever thought about adopting a senior dog? There are many reason to consider adopting one. It can be much more devastating to the older dog that ends up at a shelter.  So you are saving a life!
        First off, at what age is a dog considered a senior? Vets suggest around the age of seven. Smaller dogs mature slower then larger dogs.

   So why adopt a senior?  Shelters are full of seniors that often get overlooked through no fault of their own. These are a few reasons why older dogs are given up: the pet’s family has lost their job or home, death of a guardian, change of lifestyle. Those are just a few.

Older dogs are often looked at as problem dogs. This is not the case.  Older dogs can be calmer and less energetic.  Most of the time, older dogs are potty trained  These dogs make great companions, and YES, OLDER DOGS CAN LEARN NEW TRICKS!

  So next time you are looking for a new dog consider a senior dog!

Check out these vids on senior dogs!


Tina CaldwellTina Caldwell has been training dogs and their families for about twenty years. She likes to work with all kinds of dogs and people, and has shown and competed in many different events over the years.   Some of her specialties are conformation, obedience and agility trials.  Her favorite breed of dog is the Cane Corso. You can contact Tina through Petsmart Eastgate in Cincinnati, or at