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Gone to the Dogs (CMigrator copy 1)

Written by , published November 29, 2010

A few years ago, as I swam laps at the YMCA in Austin, I came up for air to find a sickly beagle circling the pool, watching me. Somehow he had wriggled between a break in the fence and—I like to think—decided I’d make a fine new owner. First, though, I had to nurse him back to health, and for that, I have Animal Trustees of Austin (ATA) to thank.

Along with other symptoms of neglect, my rescued beagle—whom my husband and I named Oscar—had an advanced case of heartworm disease, a dangerous disease that left untreated, leads to death. Treatment is expensive and grueling, but since I eventually adopted Oscar through a rescue organization called Austin Hound Rescue, I was able to take advantage of the mightily reduced treatment cost offered by ATA.

So I’m pleased to hear that “Celebrating Paws,” a new program offered by Lake Austin Spa Resort, not only benefits spa visitors who bring their canine friends but also donates 100% of pet guest fees collected throughout 2011 to ATA.

As part of the program, animal behaviorist Dr. Patricia McConnell will speak about the documented health benefits of pet ownership—including lower blood pressure and reduced stress levels—during spa stays February 2-6 and November 2-11, 2011.

McConnell’s topics will include “The Power of Pets: What Science Has to Tell Us about Our Love for Animals,” “Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking? What’s Really Going on in a Dog’s Brain,” and “The Other End of the Leash: Understanding How to Communicate with Your Best Friend.”

Other pet experts participating in the program include dog trainer Cara Shannon, who will lead classes in manners training and etiquette and author Susannah Charleson and her dog Puzzle (both members of the Metro Area K9 Rescue in Dallas), as well as canine photographers, massage therapists, and professional dog-walkers.

I’ll be honest: Oscar wouldn’t stand for one moment for a pedicure, but a massage is another matter.

For details about canine programs at Lake Austin Spa Resort, call 800/847-5637; www.lakeaustin.com.

And now I’m curious: what’s the most indulgent thing you’ve ever done for your dog?

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