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.