Friday, April 29, 2011

FUN Friday

TGIF! Let's have some FUN!!

What's more fun (and more adorable) than a kitten? A kitten in a box! With siblings!

How about a baby and a kitty? This cat is so sweet with the baby!

Not to be outdone - we have a dog with a baby!

For our Ferret Fans - we don't cater to you enough!

Have a WONDERFUL weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Knowing What You Want Part Two

One of our volunteers, Ronnie, was telling us about the list she made for a dog. Had to be a year and a half old, no barking, good with kids, good with cats, housebroken, trained...she found one in the paper that seemed to fit her list. A family camping in Lake Arrowhead had come across the dog. As it was approaching winter, they didn't want to leave the dog to die so they brought him back to L.A. with them (after having no luck finding the owner). He seemed perfect! Ronnie and her family brought him home...

This dog dug holes in the backyard until he broke his paw. At the vet, they were informed that he was only 9 months old. He barked at everything. He was far from housebroken.

Did they take the dog back?

No. Ronnie worked on housebreaking him. The boys ran around the backyard with him to get his energy out. When he hit two or three yeas old, he settled down and the family had him for SEVENTEEN YEARS. This dog that fit the list, but didn't. He was loved for all those years despite his workable behavior. Rather than giving up on him, they saw the potential and worked through it. They loved him so much that Ronnie sought out his breed again once he passed - Brittney Spaniel.

Having a list is great. There are many ways to find exactly what you are looking for - in the shelter system, through Pet Finder, through private rescue groups. The more detailed you are, the better the match will be.

Don't be married to the list. You might be surprised what comes along that fits just as well. Perhaps, you were looking for a younger dog (two or three) and the rescue group has a six year old that fits you better - if you're looking at a small breed dog, six is YOUNG. Small breed dogs can live 18-20 years so you're still looking at 14 years with that dog. If it fits the rest of the list, why not?

Erik and I were set on having a dog that was past the puppy stages - we did not want to housebreak, or go through the chewing and mouthing stages. But Lily came in the door and she had everything else on our list. So were open to making her a member of our family.

Just as Ronnie and her family lucked out, so did we. We were very glad that we brought Lily home. She's turned out to be a wonderful dog. While we've taken her to training classes and put in our time with her, she also came with a wonderful disposition. That's not something you can train into a dog.

What about you - have you ever wavered from what you originally wanted?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Knowing What You Want

I am a woman of lists. At the moment, I have no less than four lists going - a To Do List (for home), a To Do List (for work), a Grocery List, a Card List. Before I met my husband, I had a List. There were 14 things on it - everything I wanted in a man and I wasn't going to settle. I got all but one (vegan), which wasn't a deal breaker. But I find that lists and knowing what I want are very helpful.

Naturally, when we were ready for our first dog together, we had a list. Here it is:

1) At least two years old.
2) Good with cats.
3) Good with kids.
4) Food motivated (which meant highly trainable)
5) Energetic (had to be able to keep up with us on hikes)
6) American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffie or Staffie Bull mix

We took a lot of grief from one rescue because we didn't want their mostly blind Staffie Bull. I got a nasty little email accusing us of looking for the "perfect dog". I wrote back stating that we didn't want a perfect dog, we simply wanted a dog that was a good match for us. After all, if we're not making good matches, the pet is less likely to stay in the home for it's lifetime. This dog would not have made a good therapy dog because of the eye sight. I couldn't have taken her into the classroom with me like I do with Lily. She did not have the stamina to keep up on hikes. We wanted a dog that would go everywhere with us.

What did we get on our list? All but number one. We ended up with a puppy. She looked like an APBT as a puppy, but has grown into an 80 pound mix that seems to have more mastiff in her. She's great with kids, cats and dogs. She loves when I bring to the classroom with me - especially working with teenage boys. She can't get enough.

It is good to know what you want!

What about you - are you a list person even when it comes to pets?

Friday, April 22, 2011

FUN Friday

It's FRIDAY! Let's have some fun!

There is nothing cuter than the sound of a baby laughing - there is
something about that geniune belly laugh! And when they are
laughing at the family dog? Even cuter!

Here is a humorous look at finding out where your food comes from.
Portlandia: Is it local?

A cat being fed with chopsticks!

And, of course, Jenn's favorite of the week (you knew there was
going to be an APBT involved somewhere). Robin's back (Jenn
wants him really, really bad)!

Have a GREAT weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cats Teach Us

How to stretch.

That we can sleep just about anywhere.
On a box...

OR one.

How to share our space.

Even when it's a tight space...

What about you - what have your cats taught you?

Friday, April 15, 2011

FUN Friday

There is nothing cuter than dogs and cats that snuggle and groom each other!

And how about this brave little guy?

Visiting schools is fun for the dogs as well as the kids. Hector got a present from the kids he visited. And he opens it on his own!

We hope you have a GREAT weekend!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Circus Animals

When we were kids, my brothers and I wanted so badly to go to the circus each time it came to town. Our parents refused to take us. They explained to us that it was animal cruelty and not something that they would willingly support. To us, it was child cruelty - how can you not take your kid to the circus? Most of our friends got to go.

As adults, we're grateful that we had such enlightened parents. They were far ahead of their time - teaching us that every living creature mattered and we all were important in the scheme things. It's easy to watch animals in entertainment and forget that they are living, breathing, feeling beings. That they feel pain and fear and stress just like we do. Hats off to my parents for seeing them that way.

What is life like for a performance animal?
Animals in circuses typically travel 11 months of the year, a lifestyle that makes it impossible to meet the needs of wild animals. While they’re traveling, animals spend long periods of time in confinement and social isolation. They’re denied the opportunity to exercise, socialize, forage and play. During travel elephants are typically chained inside of boxcars or trucks. Lions and tigers are usually kept in small travel cages only large enough to stand up and turn around. Trucks and trains are not always heated or air-conditioned, and they might go long periods of time without food and water. The only time animals aren’t confined is when they’re forced to perform.

How do they get the animals to perform?
Animals do not choose to perform - they are forced to perform. The actions performed by circus animals are often completely unnatural to them; in the wild, elephants do not walk on two feet and bears do not ride tricycles. The methods used train these behaviors often include intimidation, physical abuse and deprivation of food and water. Many undercover investigations have provided evidence of animals getting beaten with whips and bull hooks, and shocked with electric prods to perform their routines. Yet even persistent violators of the Animal Welfare Act are rarely prosecuted.

Are circuses safe to attend?
There have been hundreds of instances of animals, trainers, and audience members being hurt and even killed at circuses. No matter how much training an animal has had, wild animals will always remain unpredictable. The stress of enduring abuse and an unnatural lifestyle often builds until the animal finally lashes out. Many trainers have been injured in animal attacks, and audience members have been hurt as well when animals attempt to flee and manage to get past the barriers. If it becomes difficult to recapture the escaped animal, it is usually killed in the name of public safety.

What happens when an animal can no longer perform?
Animals do not enjoy a nice retirement when their performance days are over. Instead they are usually sold to roadside zoos, research labs, or into the exotic pet trade where their lives are equally miserable.

What can I do to help?
Every dollar you spend on entertainment is a vote on whether animals are exploited in the process. If you believe circus animals are treated unjustly, don’t attend any circuses that include animals in their show. There are dozens of circuses that perform throughout the U.S. which provide entertainment without the use of animals.

Fight for state and federal laws that protect animals and raise the standards of care. Current laws are weak and poorly enforced. Some areas have succeeded in keeping circuses away by banning exotic animal performances in their city. Educate friends and family members about what life is really like for these exotic animals, and encourage them not to bring their children to circuses that include animals.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Expect the Unexpected

When it comes to owning a dog, I'm constantly reminded that you have to expect the unexpect...and it will usually happen at the worst possible moment. On our morning hike, we decided to forego the backpack. We were only going to be gone an hour at most. I grabbed the water, Erik grabbed the treats, poop bags and Lily and we were off!

Twenty minutes in, we noticed Lily limping along beside us. She never complains so we have to really keep an eye on her. We watched her for a few steps to determine which leg. Lifting her paw, she had a sticker in it. No problem! Pluck it out and on we go.

We wanted to extend the hike so we headed through a park. While we were walking across the grass, Lily got ahold of a bee. Before either of us could do anything, she had it in her mouth. Being allergic to bees, there was nothing I could do to help her. My husband reached in her mouth and she let him take the bee out. He couldn't find the stinger.

So much for extending the walk.

Lily is a product of bad breeding - her allergies are beyond what is typical of her breed. This made me panic right away. We're at least thirty minutes from the car. I have water, but it isn't cold enough to take down any swelling. I wanted to run for the car while my husband waited with Lily, but he wouldn't let me.

Instead, we sat and waited. I put my best friend on alert via text just to be safe. We sat in the park and watched for any reaction - shortness of breath, excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, collapse. After half an hour, she didn't seem any worse for the sting. No swelling of her tongue or the roof of her mouth. Relieved we headed back to the car.

For more information on treating bee and wasp stings in your pet, click here.

Do you think we'll be hiking again without our backpack (which includes our first aid kit)?

Friday, April 8, 2011

FUN Friday

Did you know that dogs can snore?

What's cuter than a baby ANYthing?
How about a tiger and a piglet snuggling?

And every bit as cute, though a bit larger:

And Jenn's personal fave, starring Hector the pit bull and the Yori's new foster puppy, Bailey:

Find more videos like this on Pet Pals TV

Wishing you all a GREAT weekend!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How Long Will I Be Caring For This Pet?

These two 10 year old Boxer brothers were dumped unceremoniously at a high kill shelter this week. Look at their faces - they don't know what happened and are simply waiting for their owner to come back for them. He isn't. Though he's had them since they were puppies, they grew up outdoors and he never felt 'attached' to them. When it was time to move this week, the move became a convenient excuse to rid himself of the dogs.

One of the things that Meredith and I teach in the classroom is that pets are a LIFETIME commitment. We go over a list of things to think about before you get your pet and one of them is - How long will I be caring for this pet? Good, responsible owners care for them until they pass. They think about how long that pet is going to live before they get them so they know if that is a commitment that they can honor. I let the kids do the math - if you are 9 years old now and you get a small dog that lives 18-20 years, how long will you be caring for that dog? 29 years - through college and marriage and kids of your own.

There was an incredible story this week of a 22 month old boy who wandered away from his house. He spent the night in freezing weather wearing nothing but a diaper. The family dog followed him into the woods and stayed by his side all night, keeping him safe and warm until he was found the next day. Dogs are tremendously loyal - willing to risk their lives for us, to stay with us through their very last breath. Why is it that we have so much trouble being as loyal to them?

In the musical, Into the Woods, the lyrics from Children Will Listen come to mind:
Careful the things you say,
Children will listen.
Careful the things you do,
Children will see.
And learn.

If we show them that older things have no value, we may be teaching them the lesson that WE have no value when we grow old. Rather than take care of us, perhaps they will do what they learned when we dumped our senior dog - dump us in a retirement home.

Now is the time to honor our commitments to our pets, even when they are 10 years old. Show them the loyalty that they have shown us over the years. If you are moving, we have resources to help you find a new place that allows pets. Can't afford a pet deposit? Most landlords will break it down over a few months so that $300 deposit can be paid over three months, or even six months. If you are having trouble feeding your pet right now, there is help available. Click here for a list of available resources to help or call your local ASPCA or shelter to find assistance in your area. Help is out there if you really want to keep your pet. After all, they could just save your life. But they can't do that behind bars at the shelter.

Monday, April 4, 2011

5 Yrs REAL Male

We have signs up all over the neighborhood for a missing cat. It's a beautiful orange tabby cat. The sign reads: 5 Yrs REAL Male. Confused by this, I asked the owner what "REAL" meant. Turns out the male cat is intact. Now we know why he is missing.

It's surprising the number of men who are reluctant to neuter their males because they associate their own masculinity with their pet. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard "I wouldn't want someone to do it to me so I wouldn't do it to them", I could host my own free spay/neuter clinic. In my neighborhood, I hear this frequently when trying to educate people. Does being intact make a cat or dog a REAL male? No.

Growing up, we had an orange tabby named Bubba. Bubba was a neutered male. Bubba was the epitome of a REAL male. He could hold his own with any of the neighborhood toms. He was outdoors during the day - catching lizards, snakes, mice in the field behind our housing development or sunning in the backyard. Bubba never went far. If you stepped outside the door and called his name, it might taken him a minute or two, but he always came running. He returned home each night and stayed in. He kept the dogs in line. That cat was one bad mother...shut your mouth! He lived to the ripe old age of 17.

Our neighbor has two real male cats - both neutered. For eleven years, Jessie and Danny Boy have spent lazy days in the yard, sometimes venturing into ours to take in some sun with Lily, our pit bull mix. They've caught their share of mice, chased off their share of vermin, including a raccoon that made the mistake of coming in the cat door one night. A cat that can run off a raccoon? That's a REAL cat. A neutered cat.

Cats and dogs aren't attached to their private parts. They live longer, healthier lives without them. They are less likely to stray far from home in search of a female in heat. In our neighborhood, with coyotes just a few blocks away, this is especially important. Had the missing tabby been a neutered male, he likely wouldn't be missing. Like Bubba, Jessie and Danny Boy, he would be staying closer to home. Females in heat wouldn't bother him or cause him to stray. He'd still be alive.

For more information on the benefits of spay/neuter, click HERE. To find affordable/free services in your area, go to SpayUSA.