Halloween Pet Costumes: Fun for you? Definitely. Fun for your pet? Not always.

Photo Credit: Petco. Costume available at Petco.com

Dressing your pet for Halloween can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to remember that the safety and comfort of your pet should be your number one priority.

  • When searching for the perfect pet costume make sure to find something that fits your dog properly and does not restrict your dog’s movement. The last thing you want is for your pooch to turn into a stone statue for Halloween, because he won’t move in his costume. You’re likely to find the largest selection of costumes online, but be sure to purchase far enough in advance of any Halloween events, so that you have time to return the costume. If the costume doesn’t fit, return it. Pet costumes are available at a number of shops including Petco (both in store and online), and at your local neighborhood shops such as, The Fish & Bone and Polka Dog Bakery. Our South End friends at Polka Dog currently have $5 Halloween costumes. When possible try a costume on in store, so that you can make sure it fits.

  • Avoid costumes with masks that cover eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. These could make it hard for your pup to breathe and your dog could suffocate. A number of costumes feature hoods that cover your pet’s ears. If you find a costume that you like, but it has a hood, hat or headpiece, remove the headpiece or don’t pull the hood over your pet’s head. Most people will grasp the idea of the costume, even without the cowboy hat. It’s important for your pet to have access to all of his senses and he’ll be much happier if his ears are uncovered.
  • If your pet is not accustomed to wearing clothing, try the costume on several times before the big event, so that you pet can get acclimated to wearing it. Be sure to have plenty of treats in hand and praise your pet for taking his first steps in the costume.
  • Know that some pets just won’t wear costumes. If after several attempts your pet won’t keep the costume on, don’t force it and instead try going with a festive Halloween collar or bandana.


A Happy Birthday Tail

Happy B-Day, Hank!

The National Adopt-A-Dog-Month celebration continues! We’d like to start today’s post with a birthday wish….


Hank, formerly known as Tom Hanks, was adopted on April 25th, 2012, by Patrick (pictured with Hank, below).

Hank was brought to the Animal Rescue League of Boston as a puppy, because his original owner couldn’t provide him with the love he needed and thought it would be best to surrender him to the League, so that Hank could have a better life. Now, after six months with his new owner, Hank is definitely living the life. Pit bull dogs and pit-mix dogs tend to stay at our shelter the longest of any breed and so we are always particularly thrilled when they find a good home.

Patrick & Hank

When we asked Patrick how Hank has changed his life, here’s what he had to say, “‘we saved each other. Hank came into my life during a move on my own in the city. His companionship and loyalty made the move effortless and Hank and I quickly fell in love. Having Hank in my life really grounded me, it made me get on a schedule and grow up a bit more. Lastly, having a 60 lb pit mix puppy in a studio apartment teaches you a lot of patience!”

When Hank arrived at the League he was still a puppy, and according to Patrick, he has grown up a lot since his adoption, but he’s still full of energy and loves to cuddle. As you can see from his picture, Hank has adapted to Patrick’s city lifestyle and has become a total city dog. Some of Hank’s favorite activities include fetch at the park (but only with basketballs and soccer balls), riding the T into the city, and morning walks.

Here’s what Patrick had to say about his adoption experience with the ARL of Boston.

“I really want to thank the staff for all of the hard and amazing work they do! I know many different hands and many milk bones made Hank into the handsome boy he is today. He was well trained from the day we left the shelter, and it is apparent how much each member of the team at the ARL of Boston had something to do with that. I get stopped every day on the street to be told what a beautiful and great dog Hank is, and I am so happy to have him in my life.”

We want to thank you, Patrick, for giving Hank such a good home and for making him a priority in your life.

From all of us here at the League, Happy Birthday Hank, and here’s to many, many more!

“Joey” the War Horse Visits the League’s Dedham Branch


The League’s Dedham shelter received a special visit today from Joey, the star of the five-time Tony Award winning play “War Horse” opening at the Boston Opera House tomorrow. War Horse has been packing houses from London to New York, and we were grateful that Joey took the time to visit and bond with Celeste, a miniature horse rescued by the League in March.

War Horse personifies the power and beauty of the human-animal bond. Albert goes to war in the hope of finding his beloved horse Joey after he was sold to the cavalry and shipped from England to France in 1914. Albert risks his life in order to be reunited with Joey. We thought it was especially fitting for Joey to meet Celeste since both endured a long journey to their forever homes.

Joey is a remarkably life-like 8-foot tall horse puppet that comes to life courtesy of 3 puppeteers: Jessica Krueger, Danny Yoerges and Brian Robert Burns. Jessica, Dannny, Brian and Andrew Veenstra (who plays Albert Narracott) answered questions from the 4th grade class of Dedham Country Day School, and the students were thrilled to be able to interact with Joey. They also enjoyed the having a chance to pet the sweet and friendly Celeste, who also loved the attention.

In honor of Joey’s visit, October 9th has been officially named “Joey Day” at the League. We would like to thank Ann Sheehan and Natalie Tomaselli of Broadway in Boston and the cast of War Horse for a wonderful visit!

Hyatt Harborside Donates To Help Homeless Animals

Last Friday Christen and her team from Hyatt Harborside Hotel located at Logan Airport, dropped-off their generous donation of towels and bedding the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

Christen & Marigold

The greatest surprise for us at the League was that Christen brought along her new pup, Marigold, a ARL of Boston alum and an absolute sweetheart. If any of you remember Marigold she was the small white dog who stole the show at Webster First Federal Credit Union’s Open House.

Christen is a huge fan and supporter of the ARL of Boston and adopted Marigold last month. She had noticed that the League was in dire need of towels and pet beds, so she did something about it! Christen started towel drive at her work. She sent out a mass email to all employees and set up a donation box within the hotel.

Thank you to Christen and the Hyatt Harborside Hotel! We love it when pet lovers take action to help homeless animals!

“Who’s been here the longest?”

Mystic and her new dad.

Adoptions are sweet. But some are just a bit sweeter than others.

When 4-year-old Mystic came to the shelter in June, her kennel card was printed out with the words “Owner Died.”  It’s a small phrase that can imply a big trauma for an animal. We don’t know much about Mystic’s previous life. What we do know for sure is that she’d been living in the only home she’d ever known and now it was gone.

You know those cats who paw through the bars of their cages, crying for attention? Mystic was not one of them. Or how about those cats who, despite being in a strange environment, love to be snuggled?  She wasn’t one of them either. Add in the fact that she was seriously overweight and you get a cat who was not flying out the shelter door.

Despite the care of staff and volunteers, the stress of shelter life can make cats vulnerable to illness and Mystic was no exception. In her case, an infection progressed to the point that her eye had to be removed. It seemed that Mystic just couldn’t catch a break.

“Who’s been here the longest?” That’s what Jayson Stohl asked one of our shelter agents recently. Bells should go off and confetti should drop from the ceiling when we hear that question. In this case, our staff member just took Jayson to see Mystic.

What motivated Jayson to ask that question?  “I feel better taking a castaway, a non-typical cat. They deserve a shot.” Two years ago, he adopted Maggie, a nine-year-old cat who was missing most of her teeth and hid at the back of her cage. Jayson looked beyond all that.  “Even if a cat is shy and withdrawn at the shelter, it’s still a great cat.”

In fact, Jayson says Maggie blossomed into a playful, loving animal who followed him around the house and greeted visitors at the door. Sadly, she recently passed away. But despite this loss, Jayson was ready to bring another cat into his life.

He admits he was a bit surprised when he saw just how heavy Mystic was. Then, he says, he chuckled and thought, “This is right up my alley. I knew right away I’d adopt her.”

So, after more than three months at the shelter, Mystic finally went home. And apparently she was all for the move. She slept on Jayson’s bed that first night and often asks him for attention. “And she’s been showing a surprising degree of athleticism.” This includes relocating toy mice from the 3rd floor to the basement, for reasons known only to Mystic. (And yes, she’s on a weight-loss plan!)

Jayson encourages anyone looking to adopt a cat to consider one that’s been overlooked. As he puts it, “I’m two for two!”

Meet Knight

Knight is a male, black gerbil who has been at the League’s Boston Shelter since June. Brought to the shelter because his owner could no longer care for him, Knight is still looking for a forever friend.

Although small in size, Knight has a big heart and would make a wonderful companion. If you’re interested in meeting him, stop by our Boston shelter today!

Join Our 2013 Boston Marathon Team

Love animals and running? Well here is your chance to support the Animal Rescue League of Boston while running in one of the world’s most prestigious road races.

John Hancock has graciously given us charity bibs for the April 15th marathon and we are looking for four dedicated individuals to represent the League.

Please visit the following website www.arlboston.org/2013bostonmarathon for more information and to apply. The deadline for applications is Friday October 12th.

All of the animals at the League hope that you’ll join our team!

Welcome to Our Pup-kin Patch

In honor of Adopt-A-Dog Month, every Friday we will feature our Pup-kin Pick of the Week. This week’s pick is Twix, a Pit Bull mix.

Found by Boston Animal Control in early August, Twix has been re-cooperating from severe mange at our Boston shelter. She quickly became a staff favorite and showered them with kisses in gratitude.  Her playfulness makes her a great four-footed companion.

Twix is now available for adoption at our Boston shelter. She is looking for a forever home that will make her story complete.

5 Training Tips for New Dog Owners

Our very own resident dog trainer, Kim Melanson, shares some useful tips for new dog owners.

Whether you adopted a puppy, an adolescent, or an adult dog, these tips can help you and your new dog start off right.

Dog Training with Maria (L) and Twix

Teach your dog to love a crate, pen or a gated safe room, such as kitchen or laundry room. Confinement can help your dog learn proper housetraining and can prevent destructive chewing. To help your dog learn to love her crate or area, start by feeding in there, with door open. Then toss treats in crate or area and let her get them on her own. Do not close the dog in at first; after she has gone in a few  times, feed her treats as she stands at the doorway before coming out.  Use plenty of praise and the verbal cue ‘crate up’ as you toss treats in now.  Close the door for a moment and feed a few treats through the door. Gradually work up to the dog spending longer time periods there and give the dog a good chew toy for longer time periods. Your dog will learn to love the ‘den’ feel of her crate.

Teach your Dog a Chew Toy Habit: Dogs are natural chewers and puppies need teething relief. Manage your house to prevent inappropriate chewing, using your crate or safe room for the dog when you are not home. Put your shoes, dirty laundry, garbage and other enticing household items that dogs might find fun to chew, out of sight. Offer your dog appropriate safe chewing items; there is an array of them to choose from. Food ‘puzzles’ such as Kongs, Bully Sticks, and even deer antlers are available for dog chews.

Exercise and Enrichment: Make sure to give your dog enough exercise. A brisk long walk, some safe off leash time or a game of fetch before you head out to work can help prevent excess energy coming out in destructive ways. Dogs like to interact and be with people; chose some games that you and your family would like to play with your dog, fetch, or just a walk in the woods are some good ideas. If your dog has a backyard, make sure they get some leash walks too, as dogs love to sniff around the neighborhood. If they are a city dog and walk on leash all the time, find a safe fenced-in area, such as the Joe Wex Dog Park, for some off leash time. If your dog is social, play with other dogs is good, but keep it to small groups, so you can keep the interactions safe.

Training: Teaching your dog some basic cues can help you and your dog learn to live happily with each other. Training will also help the dog and human gain some self control. It’s much more clear for the dog to understand one word cues like ‘sit’, ‘down’, and ‘drop’ rather than just saying “NO” all the time.  Your dog can ‘sit’ instead of jumping, ‘sit’ for her dinner, and ‘sit’ for most any situation where “NO” was once your response or command. Recommendations to get started are ‘sit’and ‘Retrieve’ Training, which not only teaches a fetch but a ‘drop’.  Enroll in a local humane ‘positive’ dog training class and your dog will learn even more, such as how to perform cues under distractions, and you are both sure to have fun learning together.

Have Patience: Your dog will need time to adjust and feel comfortable in your family and household. Have patience and empathy that it might be a stressful and confusing time for some dogs. They often show anxiety by chewing, over excitement, barking, and if fearful by shutting down, moving away and hiding. Be kind and go slow and let your dog’s personality come out at their own pace and you will truly have a great friend.