Some Simple Things

Posted November 30, 2019 by thezekechronicles
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This time of year our thoughts often turn to how thankful we are for the good things in our lives. Do you ever wonder what our pets would tell us they are thankful for, if they could talk? I have to think it would be some of the following: A warm place to sleep at night; a full tummy; fresh water; plenty of hugs and pats on the head; vaccinations that keep them healthy; walks with time to sniff, and the hope they will never have to end up in a shelter or worse yet, alone on the street. If these sound like simple needs, they are, and yet so many animals are not fortunate enough to have even the basics. In this season of thankfulness and giving, be thankful if you are able to provide for your pets and perhaps consider a donation to those animals, who for whatever reason, are left homeless. Some basics that most animal shelters need are laundry soap, bleach, floor cleaner (non-pine-scented please) and air freshener. BOGO items like dry and canned pet food make it easy to donate. When you buy them for your pets, donate the free items.

In the weeks to come, there will be many opportunities to show our love for our furry friends. Most shelters and rescue groups hold holiday parties and are happy to accept donations then. When looking for a new furry friend, remember senior pets can make wonderful companions. They’re past the chewing stage and may already be house-trained. Any one of them would be very thankful for a new home in which to spend their golden years.

As we creep ever closer to winter, please make sure that outside pets have a warm dry shelter and easy access to water that isn’t frozen. Check with your vet about maybe adding extra calories to their diet. When the temperature dips into the single digits, leaving any pet outside can become a dangerous situation for them. Remember, if you’re cold when outside, they’re cold.

 

From Ace, Foo Foo, Zombie, and Sandwich, a very Happy Holiday Season to all!

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Bad Rap

Posted October 30, 2019 by thezekechronicles
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October is always a good time to talk about cats. Maybe, because of their association with Halloween and the superstitions that go along with it, cats through the ages have gotten a bad rap. From the Middle Ages, when they were persecuted and often killed, to modern times when many false notions still exist, cats have had a bad reputation. Especially black cats. Here are some of the incredulous beliefs that have plagued them.

Because of their color, black cats are a sign of death and bad luck, much like ravens and crows.

If a black cat walks toward you, it brings good luck. If it walks away, it takes the luck with them.

If a cat jumps over a grave, the deceased will rise as a vampire.

Possessing a black cat is good luck, coming across one accidentally is bad.

In Indonesia, pouring water on a cat will make it rain (because the cat takes revenge).

If a cat sleeps with all four paws tucked it, bad weather is on the way.

Dreaming of cats means bad luck.

A cat sneezing means money is coming your way. In reality, it might mean your cat is sick, as we discovered this past summer.

Finding any white fur on a black cat means good luck, which probably stems from the belief that if any white fur was found on a black cat thought to belong to a witch, it would be spared.

On the other hand, in Japan, black cats are a symbol of prosperity, and a woman with a cat is thought to attract more suitors.

British sailors thought cats brought good luck and wanted one on their ship to catch the mice.

In Ireland, a black cat on the porch meant good luck.

In ancient Egypt, cats were considered divine and thought to have gods dwelling within them. They were often mummified along with their owners when they died.

In view of all this craziness is it any wonder that mass killings of cats spread across Europe? In an effort to eradicate the bad omens cats were thought to represent, they were destroyed, and as a result, the population of rats with the fleas that carried the Plague exploded. And we all know where that led.

Perhaps this is why even today cats are often considered aloof, not affectionate, and even expendable. Black cats especially still have a stigma, but these notions couldn’t be further from the truth. As the owner of a black cat, I will testify he likes nothing better than to spend his time napping on a lap or simply sitting in a window. He’s never had an evil intention in his life, although he does love to knock things off the table. As for cats not being affectionate, I guess our two never heard about that, because they are as friendly and people-oriented as the dogs. Maybe even more so! Knowing cats can be such great companions, it’s hard to realize shelters everywhere are so full of cats. One shelter in Indiana recently reported having 500 cats in residence. 500! How sad they are still allowed to overpopulate when there are so few forever homes. Spay and neuter is the only solution.

On Halloween, please be aware of your pets’ safety and keep them inside or at least enclosed somewhere. Not everyone has their best interests in mind, and allowing them to roam free is asking for trouble. The true evil lies with someone who might abuse them. Don’t let your pet become a victim.

 

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Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

 

 

The Gift of Time

Posted January 25, 2018 by thezekechronicles
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It’s already a month past Christmas, and if your house is anything like mine, dog and cat toys have been demolished and lie in little bits of fluff and tufts. Goodies have been eaten and we’re starting to get really bored with the winter weather that prevents long walks, or any walks, or much time spent in the backyard. The respite we had earlier in January was all too short, and now we’re anxiously counting down the days to spring that is still too many months away. On the days when cabin fever begins to set in, I’m thankful for antler chewies and indestructible toys and pets who manage to amuse one another.

January is a good time to pay attention to things we know we should do but often don’t or at least put off to another day. Updating our pets’ vaccinations might be one. A rabies vaccine is essential and required by law for dogs, but distemper/parvo shots are just as important. Parvo especially is a terrible disease, and no one wants to lose their dog to its insidious grasp. Heartworm tests are performed to assure pets aren’t positive, and now while mosquitoes are scarce is a good time to get them done. Licenses, too, are due for renewal soon, and providing your dog with a tag is one way to help him get home should he ever become lost. According to the ASPCA, more dogs are lost in winter, so keeping a dog on a leash if we do go out is for his own safety as well as that of others. Cleaning up after our dogs is just the good neighborly thing to do, no matter what time of year.

A few winter time precautions to remember: watch out for anti-freeze spills and take care of them right away; when buying salt for the sidewalks and driveway, look for the kind that is pet friendly; after walking our dogs outside near streets, wipe off their paws to remove any road salt. A little petroleum jelly rubbed on paws helps protect them in the cold. Outside pets need warm, dry shelters and fresh water. Pets left out in the extreme cold are at risk for hypothermia, frostbite and even death. If you see pets that are without shelter in the cold, please report it to animal control or your local law enforcement. Animal neglect is a misdemeanor in all 50 states. If you park your vehicle outside overnight, be sure to bang on the hood before starting. Cats are known to hide inside where it’s warm. Remember that elderly pets may feel the cold more and experience arthritis with pain and dysfunction, so be aware and check with your vet for ways to help him. Check with www.globalanimal.org for more winter safety tips for your pets.

At our house we also celebrated the first anniversary of adopting Ace the Tenacious Terrier. It’s often hard to imagine he is the same dog we brought into ourIMG_0716 lives last January. It truly is amazing what a stable life, good food, and love can do. If you are thinking of adopting a rescue pet, please be aware he or she may have issues, and you may need to be tolerant of them until that pet figures out he is really home for good. Be patient with him and give him the best gift you can, that of time.

My Name is Ace

Posted December 18, 2017 by thezekechronicles
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My name is Ace, and I was a rescue dog. I will turn two years old this month, but how I spent the first year of my life is a mystery to my adoptive family. I arrived at their house eleven months ago with my collar, leash, an antler chewie, dishes, a bag of food and my crate. I was scared and didn’t know what to expect from these new people. I was afraid of men, especially, and didn’t want to trust them. I was pretty skinny, and my little ribs showed through. I couldn’t tell anyone where I came from or what had happened to me before, so they could only guess and do their best to make me feel at home.

To my credit, I was mostly house-trained and only had a few accidents in the house, but I suffered from separation anxiety and didn’t like it when my new family left me. When they did, I took out my frustration by chewing things up. My new dad’s shoes, books or magazines, blankets, whatever took my fancy at the moment. They responded by putting me in my crate when they left but I often cried and still chewed anything I could get ahold of, including the nice fluffy pad my new mom had bought for the crate. She wasn’t happy with me, but she just sewed a new cover for it and that was that. She calls me Ace the Tenacious Terrier.

I learned to like my new home. I have a sister named Foo Foo, and I like to tease her by pulling her hair. Sometimes I play a joke on her by barking at her when she has a treat and when she runs after me, I dash back and steal the treat. I also have two cat friends, Zombie and Sandwich. We play a lot and they let me chase them around the house. Then they bat at me or hide under the furniture and smack me when I walk by. I like to sleep in the cat bed, because it’s very cozy in front of the furnace vent. I sometimes sit in the cat tower, too, so I can look out the window and pretend I’m a cat.

Some other things I like: playing with my doggy cousins, especially Hermie because he will tug on toys with me. I like to snuggle with Olive the Chihuahua, because she’s old and doesn’t play a lot, but I’m very gentle with her. FiFi doesn’t like my shenanigans, but she does like to put me in my place. I was happy that my human brother came home, because he plays with me and I act like a pesky little brother. I like to sit with my dad in his recliner while he watches TV. One thing I don’t like: cold weather. I don’t like to walk in it, and if my dad tries to take me for a walk in it, I will just sit down and not go any further. Sometimes I still forget and chew on things I shouldn’t. Mostly, I chew up cat toys and my mom says I will have to be happy with dollar store toys, because I’ve chewed all the nice ones she bought me. But I bet Santa Claus will bring me some new ones.

I’m a pretty happy little dog now that I’ve found my forever home, and my wish this holiday season is for all rescue pets to find their homes, too. Mom says to remind everyone that the Martin’s stores and Paw Mart have donations bins out so you can make sure all the pets who are still waiting for their homes can have a Merry Christmas, too.

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A Tale of Two Naughty Kitties: A True Story

Posted November 29, 2017 by thezekechronicles
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Setting: Mom’s office, 6 a.m.

Sammie: Hey, look, Mom left the big sliding door open while the dogs are going potty. I can open the screen door. Let’s sneak outside.

Zombie: But it’s still dark out.

Sammie: So? All the better to hide from her.

Zombie: I’m not so sure.

Sammie: Hurry up, you big baby. Here she comes!

(They sneak out on the deck.)

Zombie: What the heck? It’s wet out here! I’m goin’ under the deck.

Sammie: Wait for me!

(They hear Mom yelling. The dogs run inside. They’re no fools.)

Zombie: Wait a minute. This isn’t fun. It’s still raining under here. I’m going back inside.

Sammie: You sissy. Not me. I’m staying out here.

(Zombie dashes back inside, runs around the house because he doesn’t like being wet, but won’t let Mom towel him dry. Hear that grumbling? That’s Mom, very unhappy to be up chasing cats at this hour.)

Sammie: Should I run around the yard? It is still dark, and very very wet out here. Hmmm, maybe I should go back inside. Can I open the slider again? Oh look, the back door on the garage is opening. Maybe I can get in that way. I better make a run for it before it’s too late.

(Sammie sprints across the yard in the rain, darts into the garage. Mom quickly slams the door shut. He gets called a few names but is soon purring when Mom wraps him up in a towel. He lets her dry him. He’s no fool.)

Later the same day

Sammie: Look, the dogs are going out again! Let’s make another run for it.

Zombie: Are you nuts, man? It’s still wet out there. (Retreats back into the room.)

Dogs run inside, sliding door shuts and is locked. Mom is no fool.

Does any of this sound familiar? If you live with pets you’ve probably been through something similar. Sometimes, their antics can and do drive us humans nuts, but then think how dull life would be without them. (Although there are those early morning moments when you kinda wish they were a little more boring.)

With the holiday season upon us, here are some upcoming dates to remember.

Animal Aid’s Christmas Open House is set for Saturday, December 2, from 12-4pm at the Maud Preston Palenske Memorial library in St. Joseph. Come and visit with pets looking for their forever homes and do some shopping, too.

On Saturday, December 9, the Annual Holiday Party for the Animals at the Humane Society of Southwest Michigan, will be held from 11am to 4 pm. This is a major fundraiser for the shelter and the supplies that are donated go a long way to providing for the many pets served by the shelter during the year. Always on the want list: dry dog and cat food, dry puppy and kitten food, canned food, non-clumping cat litter, bleach and laundry detergent. For a complete list of their needs, please visit their website: www.humanesocietyswm.org.

This post is dedicated to Puck, who gave 19 years of friendship to my friend Alyssa and is sorely missed by her family. R.I.P Puck in a place where there is endless catnip and always sunny spots for kitty naps.

        

 

The Horses of the Pryor Mountains

Posted September 25, 2017 by thezekechronicles
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While traveling out west for nearly two weeks, one of the places we visited was the Pryor Mountains of Montana and Wyoming where wild horses roam free. Established in 1968, the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range was the nation’s first public wild horse range. When the Bureau of Land Management announced the intention to round up the entire herd in the 1960s, a local group brought a lawsuit against the BLM, fought the round-up and won. The area was declared a Wild Horse Refuge.

Today, over 100 mustangs live on approximately 38,000 acres, still managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Genetic testing has shown the horses are descended from Colonial Spanish horses, brought here in the 1600 to 1700s. While some of the horses may have escaped from local ranches or Indian herds, the true Pryor Mountain mustangs have lived for hundreds of years in these rugged mountains. Those with markings of dorsal stripes running the length of their backs and zebra stripes on their legs are most distinctive and appear more primitive, and are more directly related to the Spanish mustangs.

If you visit the Pryor Mountain horses, a stop at the Wild Mustang Center in Lovell, Wyoming, is a must. They will tell you where the herds have been seen and identify the horses in any photos you take. Two of the horse we saw were Chief Joseph, a beautiful black, and Fool’s Crow, a blue roan, whose name was originally Crow, because he was also black. But when his coat changed out to a beautiful blue, he became Fool’s Crow.  The folks at the Mustang Center will also let you know the proper behavior for viewing the horses. The rule is to stay 100 feet away at all times, but we were able to view them quite close up just from the road.

Deciding to stay on the paved highway rather than go up into the very high country, where there are only dirt roads, we saw a number of the members of the lower herd, but perhaps next trip out we’ll decide to make the journey up to the more wild and desolate areas. While round-ups do occur in the Pryors (and there is talk of one being eminent), it seems the BLM does take more into  consideration the genetics of the horses living in the mountains, because of their very old bloodlines. Watching wild horses is always truly awesome and inspiring, and it’s my hope the Pryor Mountain herd will always be allowed to roam free. If you would like to know more about this very special group of mustangs, visit the website: www.pryormustangs.org.

Our local Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan has stepped up to help the many homeless animals impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Pet shelters in the disaster area asked for help, and Pilots N Paws, a group of volunteer pilots, flew many of those pets from Texas to Michigan. They are not taking pets that have been displaced by the storm and whose owners may be searching for them, but those who were already in shelters. Thirty-three dogs have been welcomed at our shelter this month. For a list of the shelter’s needs and to help with the care of these newest arrivals, please visit the website, http://www.humanesocietyswm.org.

 

Flights to Freedom

Posted August 1, 2017 by thezekechronicles
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In the month just past, our thoughts often turned to the word freedom and what it means to us. For the many pets housed in shelters across our country, freedom most certainly means not having to live in a cage but having a true home with people who love them. A group that is working to make this happen is Wings of Rescue. Founded in 2012 by Cindy Smith, a pilot herself, Wings of Rescue is a network of volunteer pilots who fly rescue missions, using their own planes or chartered cargo planes, to transport pets from overcrowded, high-kill shelters, or often from disaster areas, to states where loving homes are waiting to adopt them. In the last year, over 10,000 pets were flown to new homes by Wings of Rescue. The goal for this year is 12,000.   While aiming to not displace the adoption of pets from local shelters, Wings of Rescue promotes spay/neuter programs and clinics to help bring down the number of homeless pets. They have also developed a program to help treat parvo virus and upper respiratory diseases that can devastate shelter pets, helping to ensure the cats and dogs being transported will have healthy lives. Thanks to these tireless volunteers, more than 26,000 pets have found new homes since the organization’s beginning, and it is all supported by the generous donations of many. For more information, visit http://www.wingsofrescue.org.

Another group of animals’ freedom remains in serious jeopardy, that of the wild horses and burros that have been captured off the range and now sit in holding pens across the country. Their management has rested with the Bureau of Land Management since the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, but now thousands of them sit in limbo and are in danger of being killed, if funds are allotted for this. Chased by helicopters and driven into crowded corrals, wild horse family bands are split up and ultimately shipped to places like Rock Springs, Wyoming, where their fate is uncertain. While there is a method of administering birth control and managing the horses and burros on the range, the round-ups continue; and now our lawmakers will decide what will happen to these animals that didn’t ask to be put into pens to await their fate. If this seems an incredibly inhumane method of managing wild horses (which by law are supposedly protected from harassment or being killed on federal land) please contact our representatives in Congress and let them know your thoughts. We need to stop the round-ups, and we most certainly cannot allow the euthanizing of our wild horses.