Pride 2018 - Beware The Dog Flu!
Some tips to take care of your critters this Pride month.
Unfortunately, this year my dogs and I are sitting out all pride festivities to limit any risk of exposure to the canine flu. Influenza is nothing to mess around with over 500 dogs have gotten sick on the west coast this year and over three dozen dogs have been infected in NYC in the last few weeks. Have you heard of canine influenza? Until recently I didn’t know much about it, but unfortunately depending on where you live and if your dog(s) have been vaccinated or not it might get in the way of your pride plans
The problem with canine influenza is that it is extremely contagious. Dogs can easily pass it to each other and it’s estimated that 80% of dogs exposed will become infected. The disease is even easily spread on hands of people who come in contact with infected dogs living up to 12 hours on hands and up to 48 hours on clothes and other surfaces. The dog you meet might even not be showing signs of infection but can still pass the virus to other dogs. There are two strains of influenza the first which started being seen in Florida amongst racing greyhounds in 2004 but quickly spread. The second strain which is believed to have entered the United States by way of Asia has been reported in the states since 2015. If you want to learn more about Canine Influenza check out this great resource from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.
If your dog is a dog social dog who goes to training classes, the groomer, daycare, dog parks or anywhere in public where there are lots of dogs – like Pride festivals they are especially susceptible to the infection. Talk to your vet about risk factors for your dog and your area of the country and discuss if the vaccine might be a good idea. The canine influenza vaccine is a two-part shot involving the initial vaccination and a booster two weeks later. My partner and I got our dogs in to be vaccinated as soon as we learned there were cases of influenza in Brooklyn, including at the center where my dogs and I train in dog sports.
Canine Influenza is serious because it’s not just a little cold, it can actually be fatal for dogs. I’m worried that any of my dogs could get sick, but my oldest dog Mercury will turn 16 years old this summer and though he’s in decent health our vet is very concerned about if his body could handle fighting off influenza so we’re being extra careful. Mercury has been coming to Prides with me since 2003 but we’re sitting pride out this year. Instead, my dogs and I had a little private pride party in our backyard where the dogs helped me paint some new rainbow yard furniture!
If you are going to pride and want to bring your dog along here are my tips for making pride safe and fun for your dog:
Vaccinate - Talk to your vet about if canine influenza is a risk in your area and if so vaccinate if you haven’t already done so and make sure that your dogs are updated on all other vaccines.
Bring water - Always important for summer outings is to bring water and a water bowl for your dog. While many pride booths cater to gay dog parents by putting out bowls of water it’s safer to bring your own especially with the risk of canine influenza.
Dogs first - make sure that pride is the kind of place your dog will actually want to be, it’s not the right outing for every dog! Pride festivals are crowded, loud spaces with lots of people and lots of dogs. Pride festivals can be very over stimulating and overwhelming to dogs. Your dog’s needs must come first so only bring your dog if they are comfortable in that kind of environment and don’t feel ashamed of pride isn’t a good fit for your best friend (my dog Charlotte would rather not ever attend pride and so she doesn’t!) If you bring your dog to Pride their needs and comfort have to come first meaning if they get overwhelmed or tired you might have to call it a day early.
Boundaries - Help other people to remember dogs aren’t just walking stuffed animals. Remind people how to politely interact with your dog, seeking consent from you first before greeting, and being calm when petting and not encouraging dogs to jump up. Overly excited children and intoxicated adults can really struggle with not just running up to dogs and may reminders about how to appropriately greet dogs.
Shade – If you bring your dog to pride make sure they get plenty of time out of the sun. Consider going early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the hottest parts of the day.
HAPPY PRIDE to you and your critters!!!
Sassafras Lowrey is a straight-edge queer punk who grew up to become the 2013 winner of the Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award. Sassafras’ books—Lost Boi, A Little Queermas Carol, Roving Pack, Kicked Out and Leather Ever After—have been honored by organizations ranging from the National Leather Association to the American Library Association. Sassafras lives and writes in Brooklyn with hir partner, and their menagerie of dogs and cats. Learn more at www.SassafrasLowrey.com