Friday, December 14, 2012

FUN Friday

We're bringing in the weekend with some smiles.

The adorableness of this video can't be described in words (adorableness is not enough).  There is something so sweet in the gentle way that he sets the leash on the ground.  And what is it with little boys and puddles?

When you watch this little goat, you're going to alternate between "oh, how cute!" and "what a rascal!"

And a little funny cartoon.
Hope you have a GREAT weekend - stay warm and dry!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Indoor/Outdoor Cats

This is something that I battle with - should my cats be allowed outdoors?  My husband has always had cats.  His cats have always been allowed to come and go through a dog door.  I was late to Team Cat, getting my first one quite by mistake in my mid-20s.  None of my cats (we're talking a total of four over the last decade) have ever been allowed outside until we moved to Burbank.

Before we moved into our house here, it was never an issue.  We lived in an apartment on a very busy street and I had a feral colony that I took care of in the parking lot.  This meant it wasn’t safe for the girls because of the cars and the other cats.  But when we moved into the house, my husband wanted to give the girls some outdoor time.  I caved on one condition – the outdoor time had to be supervised.  I didn’t want them wandering out of the yard. 
We have coyotes that come down into the neighborhoods.  There are always one or two different MISSING CAT posters up in the area.  We’ve had coyotes in our yard as late as 10am and we see them as early as dusk when we walk Lily.  We also have a lot of “resident” dogs – dogs that people believe are guarding their house from their backyard even though they’re not allowed inside the actual house.  Most of them are extremely people friendly, but not fond of cats (or squirrels or anything that is entertaining to chase).  I didn’t want the cats to end up walking into the wrong yard. 

Pip has one eye, but that doesn’t mean that she won’t get into mischief.  When we’re out in the yards with the cats, we have to keep a close eye on her.  Most days she likes to eat grass and then find a nice spot to take a nap.  But there are days when she’ll decide it would be nice to climb a tree or sneak under the fence when we’re not looking.  We keep a close eye on all of them, but especially Pip.  Lily seems to enjoy the company and she rarely uses the yard anymore without them out there with her.  She’s also been known to open the screen door and let Pip into the yard with her. 
They enjoy their yard time and I believe their lives are richer because of it.  When we had the apartment, we spent more time actively playing with them to keep them enriched.  This house has large, deep set windows that they love to lay in to watch the birds and squirrels.  But they do enjoy a half hour in the yard every a few times a week.  I don’t know that I’ll ever be an owner who can let the cats out in the morning and not know where they are all day.  I think I’m too paranoid for that.  Our neighbor lets her cats come and go during the day and it works for them.  They’re teenage cats and they stay close.  I’m not that brave.

What about you – are your cats indoors, outdoors, or both? 

Friday, December 7, 2012

FUN Friday

The weekend is here! 

Let's bring it in with some FUN videos and pictures!

Have you ever seen a dog play the piano and sing?

I know you've seen dogs do agility.  But what about a chicken? 
This is for all the students who wanted to see a clicker trained chicken
(you know who you are):

This video is old, but I still love it.

And for our Big Bang Theory fans:

Have a GREAT weekend!!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pets as Gifts

With the holidays fast approaching, I'm seeing two things:
Help! The kids want a puppy/kitten for Christmas.  How do I say no???
Pets don't make good gifts.
To the first, I say - as a Mom, you have final say.  If you don't want to train a puppy, walk a puppy, feed a puppy, clean up after a puppy, you say NO.  After the excitement of having the new, cute little bundle wears off, guess who is going to be the primary caretaker?  That's right - Y-O-U.  If you don't have time in your life to be taking two walks a day, going to training classes, and remembering to feed another mouth, you say NO.  You're the mom.  They're the kids.  It really is THAT simple.  If you feel the need to give in, get something that requires less work - like fish or a hamster.  Hamsters are a two to three year commitment.  They don't require training.  They're cuddly, but without all the extra work a dog brings. 
To the second, I say we need to clarify that statement - pets can make GREAT gifts in certain situations.

Bad Gifts
When the person isn't expecting the pet.
When not everyone in the family wants a pet.
When you're purchasing the pet from a pet store, from a backyard breeder (on Craigslist, Kijiji, the local paper, a flyer at the store, etc.).

An example of bad gifting:
We had a family come into the shelter where I volunteered - dad and two kids.  They wanted to surprise mom with a puppy.  The kids were excited, the dad was ecstatic (let's be honest - the dog was definitely going to be "his").  They looked at rows of dogs, played with several in the yard, but as we were talking it came out that mom didn't even want a dog.  Dad was counting on her being so smitten with the pup when they got it home that she wouldn't be able to say 'no.' 

To be fair to him, he felt that this would work because his own father had done this to their mother growing up and it had worked well.  They had come home with a little, white ball of fluff and his mom had fallen for the dog hard.  The dog was a member of their family until it passed away fourteen years later.  After having an experience like that, why would he not think it might work on his own wife? 

Because his wife was terrified of dogs. This came out because dad started looking at big dogs and the ten year old son was smart enough to warn his dad about it (gotta love the honesty of kids!).  Getting a dog for a fearful family member is not a good way to get them over their fear of that animal.  This was going to be a horrible situation - imagine the mom's terror (and anger) when her husband shows up with a puppy she didn't want that the kids are now head over heels in love with.  How do you tell the kids that dog has to go back?  We would have been setting the dog and the family up for failure right from the start.  It was a bad idea from start to finish.

Good Gifts
When the family has been wanting a pet.
When everyone has done their research and knows exactly which pet is right for their household.
When you are getting the pet from a shelter or rescue.

I have friends who have taken the plunge for the holidays before.  They've been wanting pets, have done their research, and decided that it was a good time to add a family member.  There is nothing wrong with giving yourself the gift of a pet for any holiday or birthday when you are prepared for the work it takes to have one.  And there is nothing like the excitement on a child's face when they've been wanting a puppy or kitten, have been actively involved in the search, and are surprised with the wriggling bundle under the tree.

Here's the example of good gifting from my own family.  Meet Patches and Cinder.

Patches and Cinder were presents for my mom almost seventeen years ago.  I would say that gift worked out well (and they would agree with me because they got the best home ever). 

My mom was depressed after losing her dog.  She loved cats and had been thinking about getting one.  She's a procrastinator.  I knew she wasn't going to take the plunge anytime soon, having gotten her dog by default.  I just sped up the process by getting her two kittens for Christmas. 

These kittens came to me in an email from someone working at Disney who happened to be fostering both litters.  I was willing to take both of them, but I was upfront and honest with her - they would be driven to San Diego as a present for my mom.  I think the only reason she took a chance on me was because I was willing to keep the two of them together - they were from separate litters but were very bonded. 

I knew my mom wanted a cat.  I knew my mom would keep the cats forever.  I got them from someone fostering the litters for her local shelter.  It was a win-win situation.

It's important to be open-minded about homing pets around the holidays.  It can work. Sometimes it even works when the family isn't ready! 

As a general rule, holiday or not, we encourage everyone to do their research before getting any pet.  Not every pet is the right fit for every household.  When we choose wrong, the pet suffers - whether they have to be rehomed or end up neglected in the backyard.  For this reason, we encourage you to take your time deciding which pet, which breed, and then we encourage to go to a shelter or a foster based rescue for your newest family member.

How do you feel about pets as gifts?


Monday, December 3, 2012

Lily - A Study in Pictures

Can you guess what Lily's favorite thing to do is?
She loves her sleep.
She can sleep anywhere.
In campsite.
In the sun.
At Uncle Drew's.
She'll sleep with anyone.
With a friend.
With her sisters.



By herself.


She just LOVES to sleep. What about you - does your dog love to sleep?

Friday, November 30, 2012

FUN Friday

The weekend is here! Let's bring it in with some videos and a comic for our cat friends, shall we? I feel like we always tend to be a bit dog heavy...

 For the cuteness factor, we have a squeeky little hold 'em up kitty.

Do you have a cat obsessed with boxes? My Wednesday sure is! This owner put down boxes, let the fun happen and then took it up a bit on her own!

What if our friends acted like our pets?

 And finally, for those of us putting up Christmas trees - ever wonder what your pet thinks?

Happy Friday! Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dogs Are Like Kids

"Having a dog is like having a kid."

Have you ever heard that?  When we got Lily as a puppy, we were warned - by the shelter, by friends who had dogs, by friends who had kids and dogs.  We didn't believe it until we got her home and started living it!  I was thinking about that this week after a visit to my brother-in-law's house.  Erik and I went over for dinner one night this week.  My niece and nephew enjoyed a leisurely dinner with us before it was time to hit their bedroom for homework.  While we chatted in the family room, they finished up what was due the next morning.  Then it was bathtime.  They finished up just in time for their 8 to 9pm reading in bed.  At 9pm, it was lights out.  My niece was actually asleep before 9!  She fell asleep with the book open on her chest.  Many parents swear by routines - dog parents and kid parents.

We got Lily on a routine early at the advice of my cousin, who has both kids and a dog.  Settle the dog into a routine and it will make things easier, he swore.  Advice taken.  It took about a month for us to figure out what would work for her (and for us).  Once we decided on that schedule, we've stuck to it. 

Lily's Routine
Morning walk of at least 30 minutes.  If we have the day off, she gets walked for longer in the morning.  But she's good with 30 minutes.  Lily isn't much of a walker.  She's more of a sniffer.  So that 30 minutes may only take us 13 blocks.  All the processing of scents her brain is doing really wears her out.  When we return to the house, she must go straight to her spot and remain in a down stay while we scatter what is left in her treat bag throughout the house.  Then, she gets to play 'find it'.  While she's sniffing out all the treats, we're usually getting our breakfast ready.  She gets fed after we're done.  After breakfast and a long drink of water, she'll hop up on the couch and sleep - for hours. 

Around late afternoon, she starts to stir.  She gets a dog toy and can either play tug with us or chew it up (and Mom cleans up the stuffing).  After dinner (ours and hers), she gets walked for an hour.  Again, it's straight to her spot and into a down stay for the 'find it' game.  Then, she will knock out for the rest of the night.  The house is filled with her loud snores.

When we're gone, we set the tv to "Lily's channel" - it's Soundscapes.  My brother actually recommended this.  He said it helped both my nephew and their dog settle down.  It's become a cue for her.  We can turn it on and she settles right in for a nice snooze.  This comes in handy when Mom and Dad want an afternoon nap on the weekend!

The only time we regret the routine is on rainy days, which fortunately we have few of here in SoCal, or late nights out.  Lily enjoys the rain.  She thrives in cooler weather, partly thanks to her breed.  She's down for a walk no matter how cool or wet it is.  And when we go out to dinner at the in-laws, we have to make it home at a decent hour because she'll still need her evening walk even at midnight! 

What about you - do you have your pets on a routine?  Does it work for you?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wednesday's Story

This is our Wednesday.  As you can see, Wednesday has a bit of what you would call a "weight management problem."  When your belly hangs out of the bottom of your cat tree, you know it's time to lose a few pounds.

My husband has had cats since he was two.  I got my first cat by default as an adult in my early twenties.  I'm allergic.  We have three.  I'll talk another time about how that works.  Neither of us has ever had to deal with an overweight cat. 

The vet says that Wednesday's rough start in life may have had something to do with her obesity now.  We found Wednesday as a tiny kitten almost dead in our parking space.  Her mother had shown up to the feral colony about a week or two earlier and then disappeared.  Leaving behind little Wednesday.  She was just around one pound and suffering from severe flea anemia.  With some fluids and a bath and some flea meds, you can see that she, um, thrived.  No $500 "blood transfusion" necessary (this was an emergency vet and I'm always amazed at how much they try to get out of you).  From the beginning, she was a fighter. 

We've always free fed our cats.  We use high quality kibble and they get a "treat" three times a week that consists of a spoonful of wet food.  The junky kind because, contrary to the belief that they have nine lives, my cats will only live once.  The problem is that Wednesday is always first to the bowl.  She has a food anxiety, an eating disorder, leftover from her days on the street.  My vet says that she has found this to be common in orphaned and bottle fed kittens. 

Poor little Wednesday.

First option, switch to high fiber Science Diet food.  No.  I'm not going to put my two older cats on a new food (and a questionable one at that) because of her. 

Second option, add fiber to the bowl.  Bingo.  In theory, this will fill her up faster and she'll eat less.

Stop free feeding is always the best option, but hard to do when you travel.  We usually take the dog with us and have friends check in on the cats.  It's far easier to find someone to do that when all they have to do is stop by every other day to rinse and refill a bowl.  However, I'm afraid we're almost at that point.

Fiber has not filled Wednesday.  Increased exercise has not helped her shed those extra pounds.  Other than that extra bit of weight, she's a very healthy cat.  So we're faced with the dilemma - do we just let her be to live her life?  She's almost 7 now.  She's had no other health problems.  She runs around the house like crazy, torments the dog, and plays with her sisters.  Sometimes, she explores outside when we're in the yard.  She's a happy, loving cat.  Do we change everything for all of our cats just to get a few pounds off of her - or do we let things be as long as she doesn't gain more weight?  It's not an easy solution when you have other pets in the house.

Anyone ever had an overweight cat?  What did you do - if anything?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to get together with our family and friends. During this time, people can tend to be overly generous with their pets.  It's important to keep in mind that too much turkey can make your pet sick.  An overload of fatty foods that your pet isn't used to can cause pancreatitis or gastroenteritis.  Neither are inexpensive to treat.  Both can be deadly if they go untreated.  A little bit of the white turkey meat is okay as a treat.  Stay away from giving the dark meat or the skin.

Bones.  I am still amazed how many people are shocked when we educate them about the deadliness of cooked bone.  Turkey, chicken, and duck bones are too small and a pet can easily choke on them.  Bones from bigger cuts of meat can be deadly as well.  When they chew on the bone, it breaks off into sharp, tiny little pieces.  It would be like you snacking on chunk of window glass.  It can cut their throat, stomach, or intestines.  So keep the bones for soup!

Our cats are great at getting into mischief.  Remember the phrase "Curiousity killed the cat"?  Our cats seemed determined to make that come to pass.  Keep an eye on any snacks you have up on tables.  If your cats have access to it, they'll be up there the minute you've turned your back. 

Beware the lure of garbage.  Even dogs who haven't been tempted by garbage in the past can be tempted to tip that can over when no one is looking - and help themselves to leftovers.  You don't want to come home to a mess in the kitchen from the trashcan AND your pet.  Leftovers aren't fun to clean up after they come out of your pet!  Keep that lid on tight.  We always take the trash out before we leave the pets the next day.  You can never be too careful.

Wishing you and yours a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

FUN Friday

Let's bring in the weekend with some laughs!

Our favorite shelter star turned YouTube star - Jesse!

Baby Jaguars!

These Shelter Pet Project commercials always give me a chuckle!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pit Stops 2 Review

Pit Stops 2
Adventures with Kara
Michelle Sathe

Don't let the title fool you. This isn't just a book for pit bull lovers. It goes without saying that you will love this book if you love the breed.

But this book also speaks to any and all road trippers out there. It's a fast, fun ride. You discover new places, you get to see the new faces that Michelle and her Pitpanion, Kara, meet.

We live in a diverse country. This breed is owned and loved by a diverse group of owners. You get to meet them all (and some may surprise you - which is good thing!).

 Michelle admits that she started the last trip with starry eyes, convinced that she would be able to change the world with her passion and education. Haven't we all been like that about some cause in our lives? Jumping in with that relentless enthusiasm knowing that we were going to be Super Person - changing minds and the world? And how disappointing when we realize that reality is quite different and mindsets are hard to change.  The important thing is - her passion didn't die and she's right back out there.

This is a wonderful, heartfelt book that doesn't just champion the breed. It shows us the courage and faith of people in this breed.  We see the love of ordinary families.  We feel the desperation and the hard work of shelters across the country to make a difference.

Michelle pulls you from the first page and keeps you turning pages until you're done. I will warn you - her food description will make you set aside the book in search of something to eat.  Her ability to paint pictures with words isn't limited to landscape and she goes into detail on some mouthwatering meals!  This book will make you want to take a road trip...and don't forget the dog!

We're giving away an autographed copy of Pit Stops 2!  Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page under the link - be sure to leave your name if you're doing this anonymously! - and we'll pick a winner next Wednesday, October 24th!

For more information on the book (and to order your own copy), click here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Of Kids and Dogs

Today I want to talk about dogs and children in a way that we don't normally speak of them.  Most of our education involving the two is geared toward helping parents prepare the dog for the new family and teaching kids when it's okay and when it is not okay to pet the family dog.  It's very worthwhile and Dog Safety is one of our most popular presentations.  This week we will be doing it in two separate schools for four straight days. 

But right now, I want to blog about the pure joy that children get from dogs.  It struck me when I was out walking Lily this morning.  We have several routes that we take depending the day, the temperature, and how much time we have to spend out and about.  This morning, we headed toward the elementary school in the neighborhood.  Along the way, we had a mom approaching with her toddler in a stroller.  As always, I got Lily off to the side in a sit stay.  When the little boy caught sight of Lily, he immediately started to bounce in his stroller and his grin was ear to ear.  They stopped so that he could look at the 'bow-ow'.  The genuine joy on his face just melted my heart.  This little guy has seen her before and every time the reaction is the same.  He's fascinated by her - and he just loves the sight of her.  He can be in full blown tantrum mode when we walk by and the tears will stop, his face is alert, and a smile breaks through.  Very cute.

Our next stop was the elementary school. The kids were at recess and some of them rushed to the fence, calling her name.  They're not allowed to pet her (or any dog) through the fence (I've hit this one home and it's been nice to watch them NOT reach fingers through even when it's someone else's dog).  But they love watching her do tricks.  They raise their hands and each get to choose a trick.  It's cute when one will say "Dance!" and another child will say "Awww, I was going to say that!"  Lily is comfortable in her performing role.  We spend about five to ten minutes doing tricks for the kids.  Lily gets a standing ovation at the end.  These boys and girls are always willing to give up their recess to watch her.  Last week, I had a little girl tell me that she was having "the worst day ever" but that Lily had brightened her day.

When we go into classrooms, we see the joy that the kids get from their dogs.  They always want to tell us all about their family pet.  It saddens me when we have to speak someone who wants to give up their dog because of a new family member, because it's "too much" to have a dog and a baby.  Whether their dogs live inside the house as members of the family or in the backyard, children genuinely care for their pets.  To think that a child is going to miss out on that special bond, that unconditional love, pushes us to try to find a way to make it work - for the dog and for the family.

Lily and I ended our walk by passing the toddler and his mother one last time.  He waved "hi" as soon as he saw us.  His toothy grin and high pitched squeal said it all. That pure joy at the sight of this dog.

Does your child enjoy your dog?  Do they love seeing dogs when you are out and about?

We've extended our deadline to enter to win a signed copy of Pit Stops 2!  Don't forget to comment on the post for your chance to win this amazing book!  Click here to enter.

Friday, October 19, 2012

FUN Friday

TGIF!  Let's bring the weekend in with some FUN videos.

This is one of the cutest videos ever.

From Shelter Dog to SuperStar - Jesse didn't come this way, he had an incredible owner who saw potential in him and worked very hard to get all these tricks!

Just so we don't leave Cats out of the tricks. Here's a very smart Bengal!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ants Are Like Zombies

They look fairly harmless.  Some people might shudder at the sight of them.  Imagine hordes of them.  In your house.  Every time you turn around.       
That has been our life for the last few months.  We've been living through Antpocalypse. 
Having been through infestations during particularly dry winters and long summers growing up, I know that poison never works.  I also grew up with parents who believed that every creature had a reason to be here - in the case of ants, they killed off fleas and bedbugs.  Is this true?  I don't know.  We grow up with so many myths that get passed down from generation to generation.  In the classroom, we frequently hear that pets can't sleep with you because if you swallow a hair, you will get cancer.  Not true.  But their grandparents are telling them this and the children are really afraid.  I would like to believe that ants kill fleas and bedbugs, but my cats and dog were scratching through the summer so I'm pretty sure we can cross fleas off the list.
As an adult, I live with a man (my husband) who believes that Humane Education should extend to all creatures that venture into our household.  Every spider is safely corraled and taken outside to safety.  He wasn't feeling the ants, though. 
First they cropped up in little places around the kitchen.  We're clean people.  I spray down the counters nightly.  But these little suckers could find any little crumb.  And they would swarm, voracious appetites devouring the crumbs tiny piece by tiny piece.
Like zombies, they are relentless.  You beat them back in one place and they crop up in another.  If the cats didn't finish the entire piece of food they took out of a dish, they were there.  If the trash wasn't taken out each night, they were there.  Anything sweet had to be ziploced or tupperwared.  Sealed.  Still, they would swarm if they caught a scent through the bag.  And they can fit through the tupperware seals.
Enter Google.  I searched for every home remedy to be found.  Let me save YOU, the reader, some time:
Cornmeal - Didn't work.  The whole theory that they take it back and explode?  More like a population explosion.  They loved the cornmeal - and they brought friends who brought friends who brought friends of friends.
Cinnamon - Sweet enough to draw the most picky of ants. 
There really wasn't a scent that they didn't like (bay leaves, vinegar, cloves, cayenne pepper).
Talc - Guests started asking when we had a baby.  And still the ants would come.
The best solution?  Tracing them back to their entry point and sealing it tight.  Caulk has become my new bestest friend. 
The second best friend?  Soap and water. 
First, we caulk.  Then, we spray the area like crazy with a mixture of method dish soap and water.  Finally, we wipe it down.  This erased any scent.
Like the folks on The Walking Dead, we're protecting our little home.  We're beating back the ants and sealing up the cracks to keep our residence safe.  Thanks to a little soap and water (and a whole lot of caulk).
What about you - are you having ant problems this year?  Have you ever found home remedies that work?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Of Cats and Paws

I am obsessed with my cat's paws.  Each one of the cats has different colored pads.  (I apologize in advance for the low quality pictures.  I don't have a decent camera.)

These are Pip's.

Her pads are a mixture of her Tortie coloring in cool, random patterns.  Her mouth is the same mixture of pink and black.  When she yawns, it's super cool.

Eowyn's pads.

I love how Eowyn has fur growing between her toes.  She's a long-haired cat.  Perhaps that's why?  They swirl like little eddies in a pool of water.


Wednesday's pads are the most interesting to me.  I had never seen a cat with purple pads before.  The color goes so well with the gray fur.  She'll get you if you touch them, though.

Cat Facts (Paws):

Have you ever seen your cat climb up a tree?  To get down, they must back down (otherwise, jump).  This is because all of their claws face the same direction, making climbing the tree a cinch but getting down from it a bit more complicated.

Cats, like humans, are right or left-handed.  Females tend to be right-pawed, while males tend to be left-handed.

Cats have carpal pads on their front paws that help to prevent them from sliding on a slippery surface when jumping.

Most cats have five toes on each front paw, but only four toes on each back paw.

Scratching is normal cat behavior.  Cats scratch  to remove the dead outer layer of their their claws.  It's also a way to mark their territory - both visually and by leaving a scent (cats have scent glands on their paws).

What color are your cat's paw pads?

Friday, September 28, 2012

FUN Friday

Happy Friday everyone!

The weekend is almooooooost here.  Let's bring it in with some laughs!

Anyone who has had a dog that likes to eat things can identify with this commercial

I love the Shelter Pet Project commercials. You really do touch more people with funny.

How cute is this cat? Excuse me, Owner. I can haz pets?

Does your cat touch your arm when asking for petting? Are any of your pets pushy about it?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


This is Mama.

Mama came into my life when I moved into an apartment complex in Studio City in 2000.  The parking lot bordered a restaurant and hotel, providing enough food to keep the local ferals fed (but not healthy).

When I first moved in, there were 37 ferals that were living in the area and eating out of the dumpsters.  The apartment manager admitted that she would call Animal Control every six months to have them trapped.  But more would always show up to take their place.  I pointed out that there was a good food source with the dumpsters and asked if she would let me handle the situation my way.  She was exasperated enough to let me try!  With some help from friends and Catnippers (now FixNation), I started TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release).  By the time I moved, we were down to two ferals (both neutered Toms).

Mama was a skinny, scrappy, smart young kitten who had her first litter young (my guess would be no more than a year old).  And kept having them.  No matter how I disguised the traps, no matter what I put in them (KFC, tuna, mackerel, salmon, you name it and I tried it!), she wouldn't go in them.  In fact, she would sniff it, hiss at it and lay down in front of it, waiting for me to come downstairs and see her.  Defiant little thing.  I had to admire her pluck.  She also didn't trust me enough to eat with me standing anywhere near her so netting her was out of the question.

Mama gave me three litters a year for 7 years.  She was an excellent mother. I was working on a television show and would get home at 1 or 2 in the morning to find her teaching those kittens how to hunt in the parking lot using the crickets.  At 6 weeks, the kittens were weaned and she would chase them off.  They were hurt, confused, and I would pluck them up and find them homes.  Only to have her give birth again.  (Pictured is the Harry Potter litter:  Harry, Draco, Dobby, and Weasley)

For 7 years I fretted over her and her 3 litters a year.  She brought 84 kittens into this world.  I had given up hope of ever fixing her, but I hadn't stopped trying new angles.  My last tactic was luring her ever closer to my front door with the wet food she loved so much.  Eventually, I would just shut her inside and figure it out later.

The colony numbers were slowly dwindling as no cats were reproducing.  We had two fairly territorial Toms that would tend to run off any new cats.  Still, they'd let females stay without much of a fight.  Two new cats had shown up in the past few weeks so I was trapping.  I set the traps, headed upstairs, and waited for the sound of the door snapping shut.  I put tuna in them, which was standard - nothing fancy, just smelly enough to lure them in.  I had barely walked in the door when the first one clicked shut.  My husband I raced downstairs to pull the trap before the other cat figured out what was happening.  When we got the trap upstairs, he lifted the cover up to see which lucky feline had wandered in.

"Hey hon," he hollered from the bathroom.


"You're not going to believe this."


"It's Mama."

No.  It couldn't be the elusive, smart cat that had been dodging my traps for years.  I set them with TUNA.   I didn't bother to disguise them.  I stormed into the bathroom in disbelief, lifted the cover and there she was.

"Mama?" I asked.

She meowed at me.

She had a litter outside waiting for her.  We got her spayed the next day, much tears of joy were shed, and she went back to the litter 24 hours later.  I had her for two more years.  She started coming upstairs for dinner every night.  Mama wasn't going to eat with the rest of the street's ferals.  She wanted her own plate.  She had earned it.  During the winters, she would spend hours curled up in front of the space heater while my own cats were locked in the bedroom.  If I ever tried to shut the front door, she would bounce off the walls and howl like crazy.  But I could be patient.  The plan was to shut the door eventually.  I was easing her into things.

Mama disappeared one Christmas.  I called to her every night.  I wandered up and down the street in search of her.  Ten months later we moved to Burbank.  The colony was down to two cats and a neighbor took over the feeding.  I left my number with the new apartment manager and the neighbor.  If Mama showed back up, they were to call me.  I would come over and get her.

But I never got a call.  We would go looking for her, driving the fifteen minutes to the neighborhood, and wandering the streets in search of her, for the next year.  It's been five years.  I miss her like crazy.  I wonder what happened to her.  Sometimes, I cry.

She left me one reminder, though.

This is Pip.  Pip was one of her kittens.  She's living the life her Mama should have lived.  I'm spoiling her rotten, and have been for ten years now.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

And Little Magpie Is...

We held a contest last month to see if anyone could guess Magpie's breed(s).

To read the original post and learn all about this sweet girl, click here.

Magpie was listed at the shelter as a Boxer Mix.  She weighs around 25 pounds.

Tony and Jennifer did the Wisdom Panel Insight DNA test and the results are now in!

Magpie is...

Cocker Spaniel Mix and Boxer Mix

She also has traces of:
Rat Terrier

And faint traces of:
English Setter
Norwich Terrier
West Highland White Terrier
Parson Russell Terrier

No one got the Cocker Spaniel in her, but most of you guessed the Boxer!  So to get the closest winner, we went to

The winner of the gift card is:

Please email Jenn at with your name and address so we can get the gift card off to you!

A HUGE thank you to Tony and Jennifer Aronovitz for sharing Magpie's story with us and for including us on their DNA adventure!

Have you ever had your dog DNA tested?  How accurate did you feel the test was?

Friday, September 21, 2012

FUN Friday

Let's bring in the weekend with some smiles! Halo plays pool - better than Meredith or me!

And this guy loves his trampoline.

I love these Shelter Pet Project commercials. This one is for all you cat lovers out there.

Anything making you chuckle this week?

Wishing you and your family (two and four legs) a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Family Paws

I had the pleasure of sitting in on a Webinar hosted by Jennifer Shryock from Family Paws.  The Webinar was titled "HELP! My dog growled at my toddler!"

Let me preface this by saying:  I am a firm believer in prevention.  Education is huge when we're talking about pets and children.  I didn't participate in this event because my dog growled at my child.  I don't even have a child.  But I feel that it's important to educate myself before it gets to that point.  This was an opportunity to learn from an amazing woman so I jumped on it.  I wasn't disappointed.  It was informative, but she didn't talk above us (as some trainers can do).  The presentation was interactive - we were given choices to voice our opinions on what was happening in the dog/child interactions and this was followed with Jennifer educating us picture by picture. 

This is going to be a monthly webinar and I highly recommend it if you have a child and a dog (or plural).  The subtle signals that dogs give - from yawning to lip licking to turning away - can be easily missed.  By recognizing these signs, we can intervene and help create a safe and comfortable atmosphere for our children and our dogs.  It doesn't ever have to escalate to the growling stage.

You can check out Family Paws website here.  It's a great resource.  Be sure to sign up for their newsletter and bookmark their blog (which has informative posts).  And be on the lookout for future Webinars on our Facebook page.  We'll be sure to post them to keep you informed!

(Note:  Though Lily is relaxed in both pictures, the first situation is the only one that she chose.  She has Erik as a buffer between her and Dillon, our nephew.  She chose to jump up next to Erik while Dillon was still awake and they both fell asleep together.  The second picture, she was too tired to move.  I snapped pictures of Dillon from different angles as he leaned into her.  This is not something that I would let just any child do.  Lily is familiar with Dillon.  Even so, it probably wasn't a good idea.  We were actively watching her for any signs of stress.  Had she shown any, Erik would have redirected Dillon to another activity while I gave Lily a way out of the situation and redirected her.  Redirection is something that I learned from reading Jennifer's blog over the last two years.  VERY informative and she often uses pictures of her own dogs and children on the site to help illustrate what she is blogging about.)

Have you done anything to prepare your dog for your baby?  Do facilitate dog/child interaction in your own household?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Interview with Oliver the Cat

Today, we are very lucky to bring you an interview with a very special cat.  Let me introduce you to Oliver Burks!  Such a handsome fellow.  Oliver agreed to answer some questions for us (as well as share some pictures).

Let's start with an easy one!  How old are you?

I am ten years young, a middle-aged gentleman.

You look really good for ten!  Middle-aged indeed because indoor cats can live 18-20 years. 

Where did you find New Mom?

I found her lurking around at the Burbank Animal Shelter where I was staying earlier this year. The first time I saw her I ignored her because I was feeling kind of depressed. Then she came back again when I was feeling better and we played a bit together. I thought she was interesting and nice, and she knew exactly where I liked to be scratched, behind my ears. The third time, she took me home.

Tell us a little bit about life before New Mom.

I and another cat lived with a kind senior human who loved us a lot. One day our senior human had to go to a place where other humans could take care of them. I guess that happens when humans get old and need special assistance doing daily stuff. Unfortunately, that place did not allow cats. It was pretty upsetting to have to say goodbye.

Oh, I bet that was hard.  Some people don't realize that cats have feelings just like humans do!  They can get as attached to people as we do.  What is it like at the shelter?

At first I didn't like it at all. I didn't really understand what was happening and that made me grumpy.

On top of that I had to share my cat condo with the other cat that lived with me and the senior human, a GIRL cat! Yuck! She worked my last nerve. The nice people at the Burbank Animal Shelter figured that part out pretty quickly and soon I had a condo all to myself, which was better. She got adopted and that was the last I saw of her. Bye! I hope she is happier now, too.

My shelter mom, Officer Jessica, took a shine to me and I liked it when she held me. I was still kind of grumpy from being confined to the condo and from listening to the dogs in the kennels next door bark-bark-barking! They did not use their indoor voices. But I perked up when the volunteers came to play with me, pet me, clean my litter box and give me food and snackables.

One day I overheard someone tell Officer Jessica that I was unadoptable because of my attitude. Uh-oh! But guess what? She stood up for me and said I needed more time...and some dental work. She made sure I got my teeth fixed and cleaned and after that I felt better. She believed in me, that made me happy! Soon I was feeling more relaxed and sociable thanks to the special attention and love that all of my shelter friends gave me.

I lived at the Burbank Animal Shelter for three months. I really liked my friends there but by the time my new Mom Lady came looking to adopt a cat, I was ready to get out of the condo and live in a human home again. So I flirted with her and it worked, she adopted me!

Now that you are the man of a new house, what are some of your favorite activities?

I love to look out of the windows and the front door screen at the birdies every morning, and at the various outdoor critters that walk through the yard at night. I like to stare at my new human neighbors, too, and sometimes I talk to them through the door screen. But mostly I stare at them.

Eating snackables while watching a movie on the television or while sitting in bed while my Mom Lady is reading is also something that I enjoy doing every day. Temptations are my favorite, all flavors. I also love to play with all the toys, scratchy posts and a jungle gym that my Mom Lady and all my new friends have gifted me with since I've been here.

Sleeping is also a favorite activity. During the day I sleep under the bed, my Man Cave. I share my cave with several stuffed animal friends. It a club for non-humans so sorry but I cannot reveal any other details. I also like to sleep on top of the bed with my Mom Lady when she takes her nighttime nap. That's cuddly fun but sometimes she rolls around too much, so that's when I jump up on the crow's nest of the jungle gym for some peace.

Most of all and above all else I love to get brushed! If I could, I would get brushed all day long but my Mom Lady has to go to work so I get by with one session after breakfast, one when she gets home, one after dinner and one before bedtime on weekdays. On Caturdays when she stays home I get brushed as many times as I want. My record is eight but I hope to best that soon!

Tell us who you think make better pets - cats or dogs?

Cats! POL! Just kidding. I'm biased. Actually I don't think it's about who is better between cats and dogs. I think it's about matching the right human with the right pet.

For instance, I am a stay-inside cat (as all cats should be because it's dangerous out there!) who likes to be an only child and have lots of quiet time with no young humans around (they scare me!) That made me and my Mom Lady a good match. I have the entire run of the apartment when she's gone at work and when she comes home it's just her and me, the way I like it. I don't need a yard and she doesn't have one, perfect!

So I would say that the most important thing to consider whether you want to adopt a cat or a dog is to think about your home environment and your lifestyle, then ask questions at the shelter about your prospective pet to make sure you both can give each other the type of attention, love and life you're both looking for.

You can find GREAT companions like Oliver at your local shelter.  Remember those middle-aged cats and dogs make really good pets.  Most of them are there through no fault of their own, like our friend Oliver!  And they still have years of love left in them.

Oliver has his own facebook page.  You can "Like" him here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fun Friday

This Friday is dedicated to our friend, Wallace.  He got some bad news this week and our thoughts are with him and his family in this difficult time. 

Right now, we want to celebrate his life and his passion.  He brought joy to many people, has changed quite a few minds, and is a CHAMPION.

Wallace in action at SkyWorld

The trailer for his book

At the end of the day, Wallace is just a DOG.  He likes to do things other dogs like to do.

To see more Wallace videos, click here.

To purchase a copy of his book (Wallace: The Underdog...), click here.

Wallace is a very special dog.  He's an excellent ambassador for his breed thanks to his wonderful owners, Roo and Clara Yori.  We wish them the best as they are facing this difficult time!  We know Wallace will make the most of the time that he has left here - he doesn't know how to do things any other way.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Amazing Lily

Maybe she isn't THAT amazing, but we love her and she's a good girl.

Here she is getting ready for bath time...

Lily LOVES french fries.  We don't give her many because it will upset the delicate balance that we have with her diet, her weight, her intestinal tract, and her allergies.  So she gets a few when we treat ourselves to In N Out Burger.  But she has to earn them.  Sometimes, she's so excited for french fries that she gets her tricks mixed up.

Does your dog like baths or dislike them?  What is their favorite treat that they will do anything for?

Next week, we'll try to bring you a video of neighborhood tricks we do with the Lilster.  We like to incorporate things like walls into our walks and use them for agility.  It's a fun game for her and it works her brain as well as her body, which helps to tire her out even more.  This is good especially during the hot weather when we can't walk for as long as she is used to!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wallace: The Jim Gorant

My first introduction to Wallace was this video:

I'm not even sure how I found it or what I was looking for on YouTube. I was instantly taken. I sent it to every friend and relative on my email list. They all fell as hard for Wallace as I did. And we were so impressed with Roo's athleticism as well.

When I heard that Jim Gorant (who also wrote The Lost Dogs) was writing a book about Wallace, it was an obvious MUST HAVE. I cracked it open on Friday and finished it on Sunday. Some might not be fans of Gorant's writing style and I get that. But he drew me in with The Lost Dogs and he does the same with Wallace.

I'm horrible at writing reviews so I'm going to focus on what I love about this book:

1) The reality of this breed. American Pit Bull Terriers are high energy dogs. They have drive. They need to get exercise and they need to work that mind. Wallace is the perfect example of this breed - smart dog, high drive. I think the challenge with this breed (and other high energy breeds) is finding what works for their energy/drive and your lifestyle. Jim Gorant didn't gloss over Wallace's bad habits or his energy level. Roo and Clara were honest and up front about the challenges. They knew he had issues. They knew his issues were workable, though they did wonder sometimes what they had gotten themselves into.

2) The Yoris NEVER gave up. It started when Clara championed Wallace at the shelter. They went to bat for him. They ended up bringing him home. It wasn't perfect. There were hurdles. But they worked through them. They never gave up on Wallace and were rewarded for it. This book is a testament to what dog ownership is all about. This was a young couple who could have walked away, but they didn't. They had the tenacity of an APBT when it came to figuring out what made Wallace tick and what made him happy.

3) It's realistic. This book didn't just focus on Wallace.  Roo and Clara let everyone into their life. I think this book is going to help more people than they realize because they are so relatable. People look up to them. By seeing them struggle (and make it through), we feel not so alone in our own struggles. With our dogs, with our relationships.

4) It's uplifting. Wallace beat the odds. From the day he was discovered with his litter, the odds were against him. He beat them. He had people that stepped in along the way, helping to get him through. But he also had heart. It's that heart that shines through. Everyone loves an underdog (except for President Snow) - and Wallace was that as a puppy, as young dog in the shelter system, as a pit bull trying to make it in the disc world.

I loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who owns a "pit" - whether a mix or an Amstaff or an APBT - and to anyone who loves dogs, loves underdogs, loves to read animal stories.

Lily gives it both paws up. And she thinks Wallace is one handsome dude.

Wallace has a YouTube page here.

You can find his offical website here.

Have you read the book yet?  If so, what did you think?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pets for Vets

Today, we have the honor of interviewing Clarissa Black, founder of Pets for Vets.  The Pets for Vets program supports our veterans and provides a second chance for shelter pets by rescuing, training, and pairing them with America's veterans who could benefit from a companion animal.

What gave you the idea for Pets for Vets? And how did you get started?
While volunteering at the Long Beach VA hospital, I observed how the veterans responded to weekly visits with my dog, Bear. They always asked if Bear could stay with them. It occurred to me how beneficial it would be for a veteran to have his/her own dog 24/7 when a briefly visiting dog had such a positive impact. My background is animal behavior and training so I knew how important selecting and training the right dog for each veteran would be. Everything just fell into place as I developed the program.

Where do you get the pets from? How do you choose them?
Pets for Vets rescues the animals from shelters and rescue groups. We identify the veteran first and then look for a dog or cat (the veteran specifies which he/she would like) to complement the veteran’s personality and to fit seamlessly into his/her lifestyle.

How long does the training take? Who trains them?
The length of training depends on each particular dog/cat. All of our rescues are trained to CGC standards by experienced trainers. If anyone is interested in volunteering with Pets for Vets, there is a Volunteer Application and a Trainer Survey available on the website.

How do you match the vets with the pets? Do you meet with them before you pull a dog or do you have dogs already in training and match them based on their personality?
A veteran submits an application and then our trainers get to know the veteran through phone interviews and in-person visits, including a home visit. The veteran is identified first then our trainers begin the search for just the right dog to match the veteran’s personality and lifestyle.

How do the vets find you?
The veterans find us through VA hospitals, Vet Centers, our website and word of mouth. Most of our veterans have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain injury, anxiety or depression. Pets for Vets believes that companion animals can be a life saving therapy or friend that many returning servicemen and women need. Pets for Vets matches have helped veterans feel comfortable turning off the lights at night, feel safe while walking in public, wake up from night mares, decrease the number of nightmares, decrease the amount of medication needed and more. Please visit to see some of our amazing stories.

How many vets have you matched with dogs?
In CA we’ve matched twenty dogs with veterans. We’ve also made 3 matches in Seattle, 3 in Michigan, one in Florida and one in Washington, DC.

How do you get your funding?
Our funding comes from individual donations and grants. We were fortunate to win a Pepsi Refresh grant determined by online voting. That grant helped us establish chapters in other locations.

To donate to this wonderful program, click here.
To volunteer for Pets for Vets, click here.
If you know a Vet who would benefit from being matched with a pet, they can click here.

Like Pets for Vets on Facebook.
Follow them on Twitter.

Browse their website to learn more about their program.

To thank Clarissa for her wonderful work, leave a comment below!

Monday, August 6, 2012

What is little Magpie?

This is Magpie.  She's very much loved by her owners, Jennifer and Tony.  She was rescued from a shelter in Venice, California.  At the shelter, they had her listed as a boxer mix.

Does she look like a Boxer mix to you?

Her owners aren't sure what breeds she is.  All they know is that Magpie is the BEST dog ever. 

She weighs about 25 pounds, much smaller than a Boxer.  But she does have some Boxer traits, especially when she's playing.

Any ideas yet?  Maybe a few more pictures will help.

Tony describes her as the "most loving, playful dog" he has ever met. 

She's always in a great mood and loves to be the center of attention.

She plays differently with Tony than she does with Jenn.  With Tony, she will wrestle and the sounds that she makes are frightening to anyone who doesn't know her.  With Jenn, Magpie is much more gentle.
While they don't know just yet what breeds little Magpie is, Tony and Jennifer have a few ideas.
They are going to have DNA testing done!  So we get to make our guesses now and find out how close we were when the results come in.

Here's the fun part - Paws  and Learn will give a $25 gift card to the person who has the most accurate guess!  $25 to PetCo or PetSmart - you can't beat that!  Plus, it's fun trying to figure out what breeds might be lurking in her DNA!

What do you think?  Do you see Boxer?  What breed or breeds do you see? 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Operation Tired Lily aka 4th of July

We've been very lucky with Lily.  She hasn't really struggled with fireworks or thunderstorms in the past.  Last year, though, we were walking her on the 3rd of July and some teens thought that it would be funny to set off some firecrackers right next to her.  It's hilarious watching a big dog jump in fright, right?

The next night was awful for Lily.  Even closed up in the house with the television on, she shook and panted.  She ended up hiding in the hallway.  When it was time for bed, she slept with us (something she hadn't done for almost a year).  For months, she would not walk after dark.  If we tried to force the issue, she would pant the entire walk.  Not good when you have a dog who is sensitive to heat and it's not cooling down out until well after the sun goes down. 

We were able to right the ship again with patience, and some help from Bubba (her best dog friend).  Super yummy treats that were only available on night walks started to ease her back in.  Surprising her with Bubba on various walks sweetened the deal.  Soon, we had our girl back.

Like many dog owners, we were dreading the fireworks this year.  We drove past Disneyland last week during the show and Lily panted her way through it.  We knew this was going to be a challenge.  Too late, I had discovered Through a Dog's Ear (link here - see their Canine Noise Phobia series under the Music section).  With not enough time to plan, we went back to her early years for inspiration.

Her first 4th of July, she huffed at the fireworks.  It was cute and entertaining, but we knew that she was uncomfortable.  The second 4th of July, she had no reaction.  When they started, she opened her eyes to look at us, but we ignored her so she went right back to sleep.

Sleep.  That was the key. 

Operation Tired Lily was put into action yesterday.  We started with an hour and a half hike, then let her lounge in the yard (on a blanket so she didn't aggravate her allergies!) because she doesn't really nap when she's out there.  We capped it with an hour walk after dinner.  They were testing the firing during the walk the last few nights and she was not reacting to that at all so we were hopeful.

At 8:30pm, Lily was up on the couch -- and she was snoring.  We turned on the music channel (Soundscapes is her favorite) a bit louder than usual, lighted a few vanilla candles (for calming scents), cranked up the air conditioner so that it was nice and cool. 

She dozed.

She didn't sleep.  The first bangs woke her up.  But she didn't pant either.  Her eyes remained closed, her breathing even.  Her ears perked up at the finale, but that was it.  Operation Tired Lily was a success.  It also proved to be Operation Tired Mom and Dad too.

Does your dog struggle with fireworks? Or thunderstorms? What works to keep them calm?

Friday, June 15, 2012

FUN Friday

Let's bring the weekend in with some smiles, shall we? This seemed mean at first...and then he got his in the end. ;-)

Meredith's new favorite commercial.

Does your pet steal food? Are they this clever about it?

Happy Friday! Wishing you a great weekend!