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November 2019

  /  2019

This year, select Anthem Medicare Advantage plans will offer members the option to receive support for their service dog (food, leash, vest) as part of their health insurance plan. Anthem, Inc.’s affiliated health plans in more than a dozen states will offer wellness, social and support benefits, including support for service dogs, in many of their 2020 Medicare Advantage plans. Consumers who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans that offer these benefits and qualify for the service dog support benefit can select this benefit, at no additional cost to them. This benefit includes an annual allowance for up to $500 to help pay for items used to care for their service dog, such as food, leashes and vests. Consumers must have a qualifying chronic condition and service dogs must meet the requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act and have approval from their healthcare provider. Other social and support service options offered as part of the benefits package in these Medicare Advantage plans include transportation, nutritional support, a fitness device, pest control, and sessions with a dietitian and home-delivered pantry staples. These benefits are part of Anthem’s commitment to whole-person health – an approach to healthcare that takes into account the drivers of health, including medical, behavioral, and environmental obstacles. “When we looked at the underlying medical, behavioral, and environmental obstacles our members face, we designed an expanded menu of wellness services,” said Josh Martin, President of Anthem’s Medicare West Region. “Last year, we led the industry in offering robust Medicare Advantage supplemental benefits, and saw strong demand for services such as alternative medicine, transportation, and the allowance for assistive devices. Our 2020 benefits will help remove hurdles to healthier living for our Medicare Advantage members – from nutrition counseling and fitness tracking to pest control and service dog support – by expanding our social and support benefits.” Members who are enrolled in the Medicare Advantage plans will have access to this package of wellness benefits, at no extra cost. Members should consult their Evidence of Coverage document for specific benefit details as benefits may vary by plan. Pest Control: Quarterly preventive treatments to regulate or eliminate the intrusion of household pests that may impact a chronic condition. (New in 2020) Prescribed Meals: 2 meals per day for 90 days delivered to home. Based on qualifying clinical criteria, health plan consumer receives a prescription for meals and periodic appointments with a registered dietitian. In-Home

In the United States, every Service Dog handler enjoys the right to travel with their Service Dog. However, finding straightforward information about airline policies and requirements, international laws, TSA regulations, security checkpoints, and other commonly encountered situations isn't easy! To help you prepare you for your trip, we've compiled Service Dog travel tips, tricks, hacks, guidelines, and resources. Terminology note: U.S. Federal law includes miniature horses in the list of allowable Assistance Animal species. Miniature horses trained as Assistance Animals usually provide either guide services or brace and mobility support. Since the majority of Assistance Animal handlers partner with a dog, we usually utilize the term "Service Dog" instead of the more universal "Service Animal." However, any time you see "Service Dog," you could replace it with "Miniature Guide Horse" or "Brace and Mobility Support Horse" seamlessly. Miniature horse users possess identical public access rights to Service Dog teams. Airlines Updated Service Dog and ESA Policies in 2018 Throughout the course of 2018, nearly every major domestic airline updated their Service Dog travel policies. Most airlines designed their new protocols to crack down on people using legal loopholes to transport untrained or unsuitable dogs free of charge in the cabin. As such, many of the new rules differ greatly from the "old" airline Service Dog requirements. This is particularly true concerning Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). Many airlines now require an extensive, multi-step approval process for Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals. Some airlines outline different rules or behavioral expectations for different types of Service Dogs. As an example, American Airlines requires Psychiatric Service Dogs to meet the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) requirements instead of the standard Service Dog requirements. Click Here to Learn More About how Service Animals, Therapy Dogs, and Emotional Support Animals Differ Other types of professional working dogs, like Search and Rescue Dogs and Police K9s, often fly under an airline's established Service Dog policy. However, that's far from universal -- airline working dog policies range from nonexistent to clearly defined with everything in between! All handlers should confirm their airline's Working K9 or Service Dog travel policy several days prior to flying. Airlines accept Service Dogs in Training (SDiTs) at their own discretion. Service Dnimals in Training are not covered by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and therefore have no legal rights to fly under any Service Animal policy. Some airlines provide better SDiT policies than others. Service Dog Definitions and Requirements Vary Widely Airline to Airline In

In October 2019, a trained Military Working Dog (MWD) named Conan helped take down the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, during a special operations raid. K9 Conan and members of Delta Force chased Baghdadi into a dead-end tunnel. Baghdadi subsequently panicked and detonated his suicide vest, resulting in his death and that of 3 children he brought with him. Conan has been hailed as a hero dog for his part in the successful raid. While information about him is scarce as both he and his handler are still operational, here are 5 things we do know about him. He's a Belgian Malinois Conan is a male Belgian Malinois. This medium to large herding dog breed is a hardworking powerhouse of ideal size and temperament for multipurpose fieldwork. Furthermore, the Belgian Malinois traits of trainability, exemplary performance under stress, and unmatched athleticism make them a prime choice for Military Working Dog positions. The U.S. Military also utilizes German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds, as well as Labrador Retrievers, for both combat roles and detection jobs. Belgian Shepherds, including Malinois, tend to be smaller than their German cousins. Males average 24 to 26" tall at the shoulder and weigh approximately 60 to 70 pounds. They boast a sleek double coat that's most commonly seen with varying shades of brown, tan, and black, although the breed does come in several other color combinations. They have a sharp, inquisitive, take charge nature. Most members of the breed are extremely intense. Belgian Malinois require highly experienced handling and extensive training. They do not often make good pets or Service Dogs, although they thrive as working and performance dogs. MWD Conan's Training Took Place in Texas The United States Air Force selects, trains, and places Military Working Dogs of all kinds. K9 Conan, like all MWDs, was trained by the 341st Military Working Dog Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, which is located in Texas. Specifically, Conan belongs to the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Military Working Dog program. He's attached to the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, more commonly known as Delta Force. Delta Force is an Army unit that falls under the umbrella of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command. Military Working Dogs utilized by U.S. special operations teams undergo some of the most rigorous and sophisticated training in the world. These special dogs run messages, serve as eyes and ears for their handlers, sniff out hostiles, assist with

In early 2017, multiple deadly forest fires swept the country Chile. As a result of these fires, 11 people lost their lives, wholes towns disappeared from the map, and over a million acres of wildlands burned. The aftermath of forest fires not only destroys lives but also devastates local flora and fauna. Animals leave due to lack of food, invasive species take over, and the ground lies barren. Usually, nature heals itself over the course of many years. For some regions in Chile, though, a special team of working dogs is out to lend nature a helping hand. Border Collies Save the Day After Forest Fire Dog trainer Fransisca Torres and owner of the environmental NGO Pewas decided to put her 3 Border Collies to work doing an important job -- reseeding the Chilean forests. All 3 dogs are female and they're named Das, Olivia, and Summer. Each of the dogs wears a backpack designed to allow seeds to scatter as the dogs run. Torres drives to the day's work location and releases the dogs from the truck. They run through the forest leaving seed trails in their wake. Being Border Collies, they can rack up some impressive mileage each day -- close to 20 miles each, in fact! Furthermore, they can scatter close to 20 pounds of seeds. Most humans who reseed the forests after fires average 5 miles per day and oftentimes far less. After the packs are empty, the dogs return to their handler for love, treats, and a refill. Once their packs are restocked, they're off again. The efforts have already started to pay off -- regrowth is occurring much quicker in the regions the dogs have ran. Greenery and vines are already starting to show. The efforts by Torres, Das, Olivia, and Summer have been praised by the president of Chile and multiple organizations dedicated to environmental preservation and awareness.  

Using a dog training trail mix allows a trainer to offer a variety of high value and low value treats during training sessions. This keeps a dog's attention better than using only one type of treat. Furthermore, a dog training trail mix provides a wider balance of nutrients, which is important for young Service Dogs in Training because they often get the majority of their calories via training sessions. Dog training trail mixes supercharge training sessions by acting like a lottery -- is the next treat delivered going to be the most epic on the planet or is it only a piece of kibble? Your dog continues to work because not only do they want the treat, but they're holding out for the best treats possible. This also keeps your dog from working for only one type of reward. Additionally, it allows the trainer to include nutritious food such as kibble, freeze-dried raw, or other high-quality foods. Another great benefit of dog trail mixes uses a dog's nose to up the value of everything included in the mix. Kibble is pretty boring and dogs see it all the time in routine meals. However, if you include kibble in a training trail mix with hot dog slices, freeze-dried liver, and cheese chunks, all of a sudden, kibble carries more value. Your high value, and often more expensive, treats go further when combined with lower value options. Rewards to Include In a Dog Training Trail Mix When making a dog training trail mix, you'll want to include treats your dog likes. However, you'll also want to make sure all the included treats store well, aren't super messy, and will still be useable after a few days in a treat pouch or canister. Most trainers incorporate a balanced blend of high value and low-value dog treats in their trail mixes. Low-value treats are usually crunchy, with minimal stinkiness, and they aren't very interesting. High value treats usually are soft, smelly bits of yumminess your dog doesn't see or get often. Included treats should be bite-sized, about the size of a piece of kibble. Smaller dogs need smaller treats. Bigger dogs can manage bigger treats, but there's nothing wrong with using smaller ones for them, too! If you're using your dog's meals for training sessions, try to ensure included rewards are nutritionally balanced. Using high-value food-based elements like Ziwipeaks air dried, Wellness CORE tender bites, Zukes mini naturals, Bixbi

Halloween 2013 is tomorrow and with it comes fall festivals, parties and trick-or-treating. While Halloween events are fun and exciting for the entire family, this most spooky of nights also carries many dangers, particularly for four-legged pack members. Before heading out to celebrate Halloween 2013, review our list of precautions to learn how to keep you and your Service Dog safe and your night of frights as trouble-free as possible.

Another mundane day in the office; stocking patient rooms, prepping a few IV lines because our intel is that we had 75/25 chance of getting rocketed tonight, sweeping the Iraqi dust out of our makeshift aid station, when suddenly my heart starts pounding, tears spring to my eyes and I feel out of control.

If you're ready to invite a new canine family member into your life it's tempting to go out and buy all kinds of treats, toys and more. Before you start over-buying for your new puppy, here's our list of the top things to purchase when you get a new dog. Identification Tags, Collar and Leash The first thing three things you should purchase when you get a dog are, in this order, are identification tags, a collar and a leash. Be prepared for your new puppy's natural curiosity to get them into all sorts of trouble — including wandering off. A puppy is like a toddler and you'll need to keep track of them at all times. They should never be without a collar and tag. If your puppy is high energy, avoid tags and collars that can get caught on things and cause injury. Dog Pads If you live in an upper floor condo, apartment — or if you have a Service Dog in Training (SDiT) and your disability makes it difficult for you to take your dog out as frequently as needed, dog pads are definitely worth considering. They're soft, absorbent pads that are perfect for indoor potty training. Crate or Kennel Crate training is crucial for all puppies. In the wild, a dog's den is their home — a safe place to sleep, hide from danger and raise a family. Crates function as your dog's den, where they can find comfort and solitude while you know they’re safe and secure — and not shredding your couch while you're out getting milk. However, it's important to use a crate correctly. Choose a crate that is only large enough for your dog to turn around. If the dog has too much space they will choose a corner to go potty — and the main purpose of a crate is to teach them how to hold themselves. You can choose a larger crate if you block off the rear area with a sturdy cardboard box as long as they won't shred it

Special thanks to Kong Artist Taylor McDonald and her pup Bindi for this awesome fall KONG dog toy recipe with pumpkin spice filler! Follow Bindi and Taylor's adventures at their Instagram, Bindi's Bucket List, where they post canine enrichment ideas and creative KONG recipes of all kinds. What You'll Need One or More Appropriately Sized KONG Dog Toy (or other stuffable treat toy) 100% Raw Pureed Pumpkin Artificial Sweetener Free Whipped Cream Bully Stick, Greenie, Dental Stix, or other chewie Optional: A Bit of Your Dog's Regular Kibble Optional: A Mug or Cup How to Make a Pumpkin Spiced Kong for Your Dog Assemble your ingredients and KONG dog toys (or other treat toys). Scoop a bit of pumpkin into the bottom of the KONG with a spoon. Add some kibble to the middle, if you're including part of your dog's regular meal. This helps up the nutritional value of the recipe. Furthermore, kibble adds a variety of textures to the pumpkin and whipped cream mixture. Fill the remainder of the KONG toy with pumpkin once you're finished with the kibble or other middle fillers. Consider mixing the kibble and pumpkin together for a great challenge, if you're planning on freezing the KONG. Add a dollop of whipped cream to the top of the KONG. Bonus points if you get part of the whipped cream to sink into the pumpkin as if it's "melting." Insert the bone or long-lasting chewie into the top of the KONG on a slant. Leave at least 2/3s of the length exposed for beginner puppies or dogs. For more advanced dogs, leave just the end visible. Repeat for each KONG toy you're stuffing. For added challenge or for more experienced puzzle solvers, place the finished KONG upright in a mug, cup, or several together in a bowl. Freeze them before presenting the mental stimulation toy(s) to your dog for some Fall fun!  

Puppies need exercise and activity. However, growing puppies, especially large breed puppies, should avoid heavy, jarring activities or exercise including lots of twisting and turning. Too much jumping and turning can injure growing bones. In order to preserve your puppy's joint health and structure, avoid these 5 activities. Running on Hard Surfaces Repetitive impact on hard surfaces, like running, can jam a puppy's long bones and prevent proper joint development. While puppies often enjoy wrestling and zooming about, such activities should be age-appropriate and kept to softer surfaces, like grass. Puppies naturally run and shouldn't be limited. However, they shouldn't be forced to run or walk long distances. Jumping Jumping results in huge amounts of force being distributed across growing joints. Young puppies should keep four on the floor as much as possible. Injuries to knees, ankles, hips, or shoulders can result in malformation or lasting issues later in life. "Jumping" includes things like jumping out of the car, off the couch, or in agility training. Frisbee Frisbee involves lots of running, jumping, twisting, leaping, and hard landings, often while in a hyper excited state. As such, full-on disc play should be avoided until growth plate closure can be confirmed. if you'd like to introduce your puppy to frisbee, learn to throw rollers along the ground for them. Treadmilling Treadmilling is the epitome of repetitive activity. It also forces the puppy or dog into a fixed gait or movement pattern. Puppies should avoid treadmilling outside of some very light introductions to moving surfaces. Forced exercise does nothing good for puppies, especially not for their growth and joint health. Walking on Slippery Surfaces Slippery surfaces can cause puppies to splay out, slide, or land in puddled heaps while running. While adorable, this activity isn't safe for developing joints. If you have hardwood or tile floors, consider putting down runners or rugs.