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.

 

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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.

When It Doesn’t Work Out

Posted June 28, 2017 by thezekechronicles
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Last month I wrote about the need to give a rescue pet a fair chance at learning to live in your home. This time I want to talk about the other side of the coin, what happens when, for whatever reason, you find you are not able to keep your rescue. As much as we think it’s unfair to the pet to have to give up on him, sometimes it really is the best choice.

Some years ago (well, more than just some) I trial-adopted a six month old puppy that had a number of issues working against her. To begin with, she was born to a stray that had been living on her own for a long time, and whose puppies had experienced no human contact until the little family was rescued from the woods. This puppy had one eye that was deformed, and she was also deaf. While she had no aggressive tendencies, she was very frightened (understandably so) and spooked at every little movement. For the short time we had her, she rarely came out from behind the furniture, and then only after much coaxing, to eat or for us to take her outside. In that time, she didn’t learn to trust us at all.

When I agreed to take the puppy, I truly thought we could overcome her problems. To be perfectly honest, we could not. Perhaps had I consulted a dog trainer we might have been able to work with her, but at the time I didn’t feel I had the skills or the ability to deal with the puppy’s issues. After much consideration, I finally returned her to the person who had rescued her in the first place. I’d never done that before, and I cried all the way home. I blamed myself for giving up and worried about what would happen to her, although the rescuer assured me she would keep the puppy herself. Still, I felt guilty but also relieved, because the concern over how to deal with all the problems had caused a lot of stress in the family. Then I felt guilty for feeling relieved!

The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes this happens. Sometimes we find the pet we have brought home with such hope for giving it a new life just does not fit, does not adjust, and there is stress in the house that is certainly not conducive to a happy home for anybody. Sometimes we have to admit we made a mistake. My advice in such a situation is to recognize the problem and find a solution before letting it go on too long. It is better to admit defeat than to accept the stress and allow the pet to remain unhappy, too.

If you adopted from a shelter or rescue group, you probably signed a contract/agreement to return the pet if you weren’t able to keep it. Honor that agreement. If you bought from a breeder, you should contact them and ask their policy. Some breeders will take back a pet bought from them. For tips on how to handle the situation, you might check out this link: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/pets/dog-care/rehoming-what-to-do-if-you-cant-keep-your-dog . I confess this many years later that I still feel some regret and guilt for giving up on the puppy, but it truly was the best answer for her and me and the family.

On a lighter note, congratulations to the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan on breaking ground for their new shelter. While construction will soon be underway, the capital campaign continues. For all details, please visit their website: www.humanesocietyswm.org

 

Rescue Me

Posted June 28, 2017 by thezekechronicles
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We’ve all heard that rescue pets are the best. That when given a second (or third or fourth) chance at having a forever home, an animal will be so grateful they will shower you with their conditional love. While that may very well be true, what you don’t often hear about are the many challenges that can go along with adopting a pet second (or third or fourth) hand.

After we adopted Ace the tenacious terrier, we realized this was only the second time we had brought a dog home that we had not gotten as a small puppy. Even though we’d adopted rescues before, they were very young and had not already been imprinted with another person’s living habits. While at a little over a year old Ace was still a puppy at heart, he had lived somewhere else, in another home, with another family. He was eager to please and just wanted to be loved, but he didn’t have a clue what was expected of him. Nor did we know what he had experienced in his former home. Unlike a younger puppy, he wasn’t a blank slate that we could write only our expectations on. He was house-trained and only had a few initial accidents inside, which was a big plus, and he was used to staying in his crate (maybe too much); but we quickly learned there were things he feared and things he’d not been exposed to (like the outside world). Walking on a leash was new, as was staying outside his crate when we were not home. The past few months have been a process, but he is a smart little guy and he’s learning. He’s also found a place in the hearts of his new family.

So if you are thinking of adopting a rescue pet, please be aware there may be a learning curve, and don’t let your expectations rush the adjustment that may take a little or a lot of time. Realize your new friend has had a previous life that was probably very different from the one you are offering, and don’t be in a hurry to give up.

Remember this is “kitten season,” when many litters come into shelters or are taken in by rescue groups. Donations of kitten food and litter are always most appreciated. But of course the best way to help the situation is to spay and neuter our own cats. They are capable of reproducing at a very young age, so if you have recently adopted a kitten, contact your veterinarian about the best time to have this done. It is truly a gift to your pet.

An Ounce of Prevention

Posted May 1, 2017 by thezekechronicles
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So often we hear of or read in the news of the tragic consequences of a dog bite or attack. Courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States, here are three basic tips on how to prevent the trauma of a dog bite from happening.

Spay or neuter your dog. A dog that is altered is less likely to bite. That is not to say they will never bite given the right circumstances, but they are less apt to show aggression.

Socialize your dog. Expose your dog to different people and animals and situations so he doesn’t become frightened or nervous when around them.

Train your dog. Obedience classes can help socialize and teach techniques for helping your dog learn proper behavior.

The website www.humanesociety.org offers a number of other tips for dog bite prevention. Never encourage or allow your dog to chase after or attack other animals, even if in fun. Dogs often don’t understand the difference between play and real life. The first time a dog shows dangerous behavior is the time to consult a professional. Don’t wait till an accident happens. Aggressive behavior toward other animals can be a precursor to the same toward people. License and vaccinate your dog. Don’t allow your dog to roam alone. Dogs on their own are more apt to attack. Avoid stressful situations if your dog can’t handle them and work with a trainer to help overcome inappropriate behavior. If you must give up a dog because of dangerous behavior that you cannot control, please consult your veterinarian, humane society, or animal control for advice.

There are also things we can do to make ourselves less vulnerable to a dog attack. Don’t attempt to pet a strange dog without asking the owner first and teach children to do the same. Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, has a chew toy or a female dog with puppies. Watch a dog’s body language and learn to interpret the signs of an imminent attack. A tense body, stiff tail, eyes rolled to show the whites, yawning, intense stare, backing away, and licking lips are all signs a dog is stressed and may attack. If this happens, never turn your back and run as the natural instinct is to chase. Avoid eye contact and keep hands at your sides and remain still. If the dog loses interest, back away slowly until out of sight.

If attacked, put anything between you and the dog, jacket, purse, whatever you might have on you. If you fall or are knocked down, curl into a ball and cover your ears with your hands. Try to remain still. If bitten, try to remain calm. Wash the wound as soon as possible with soap and warm water. Contact medical help and report the bite to local law enforcement and animal control. Give them as much information about the dog as you can, including description, name of dog’s owner (if known), or if the dog is a stray, which way it went.

Always be vigilant with children around dogs, even if they are family pets. Puppies will put up with a lot more than adult dogs, and at around age two a dog begins to object to ear and tail-pulling, being hugged and sat on. Children need to be taught appropriate behavior around dogs and that any kind of teasing or tormenting is not acceptable. Children should also realize that not all dogs respond to gestures of affection the same as their own pet. A dog tied up and left alone in a busy place is never a good idea. If approached by a stranger they poiabout a dog attack that had tragic results both for the child and the dog involved, but was totally preventable. You can also download a Dog Decoder app for your phone that gives very good information on how to interpret a dog’s body language and avoid an attack. In the case of dog bites, an ounce of prevention is usually worth ten pounds of cure.

 

 

The Newcomer

Posted March 19, 2017 by thezekechronicles
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His name is Ace and he’s a little over a year old. He’s full of puppy energy and terrier mischief, and now he lives at our house! He came to us from Seven Star Sanctuary and Rescue,  and in just a short time he has become a member of the family. There was a little period of adjustment, as Foo Foo the Pomeranian and the cats Zombie and Sandwich learned to accept the newcomer, but now they are all friends and get along quite well. Sometimes there is a little craziness, as when cats decide to tease and lead Ace on a merry chase around the house. Then mom and dad have to get involved because he hasn’t quite learned how to control himself yet and ends up sitting on a cat. Sometimes there is yelping, when a cat has had enough and puts out a claw, but for the most part it’s all fun and games.
Ace looks forward to walks around the neighborhood and playing in his big backyard. He wasn’t too fond of the snow, but he loves to chase a tennis ball, though he hasn’t yet figured out he’s supposed to bring it back. He also enjoys chewing things, so we try to keep his rawhide bones and toys handy to discourage him from turning to less desirable targets. He’s learning little by little and we just need to have patience. Since we don’t know anything about his background, it’s hard to know what was expected of him in his early months…or not expected. He’s still a bit leery of other dogs, but he’s eager to learn how to fit into his new household.

 

All in all, he’s a good boy who just wants to be loved, as do all pets, and we’re glad he found his way to us. If you’re looking to add a new pet to your family, please remember to check out local rescues and shelters where many more pets are waiting for their forever homes.

Mountain Sanctuary

Posted December 30, 2016 by thezekechronicles
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High in the Catskill Mountains of New York state is a place called Rosemary Farm. With beautiful fields and pastures, hills and trees, it’s a place of dreams and dreams come true. For any horse lucky enough to live there, it is truly a sanctuary in every meaning of the word. If I was a horse in need of a home, I would hope Rosemary Farm would take me in.
Founded in 2008, the sanctuary is a charitable nonprofit that serves homeless horses from every walk of life; mustangs that have been rounded up from the range and perhaps been adopted by well-meaning folks, or those not so stellar, but now need a new place to live; horses that have worked hard all their lives but rather than being allowed to retire in peace have been shipped to auction to face an uncertain and scary future; race horses with amazing careers behind them but that have suddenly ended up in the pipeline that often leads straight to the kill buyers who frequent horse auctions; horses that were loved by someone who died or fell on hard times and could no longer keep him. Every horse that arrives at Rosemary Farm has a story to tell, and the people who care for them are patient enough to wait until that horse is willing to let them in on his or her secrets. Their motto is: “A place where horses get to be horses.”
Since I started following Rosemary Farm on Facebook, I’ve learned many of their stories, as related by the woman, who with her husband and many volunteers, runs the sanctuary. With names like Honey Pie, Rhett, Annie, Glory, Ella, and Princess Yanaha, they have all become horses I feel I know, just by learning of their journeys. The Princess was probably the one who got me hooked into coming back to find out more about them. She arrived at the sanctuary with her sister from a kill lot far away in Oklahoma. Just babies, they were both near death, covered in ticks and starving. How and why they were allowed to get into that condition, who knows. Sadly, the little sister did not make it but at least passed in peace and with caring people in attendance. The Princess, as she soon was known, spent many weeks at a veterinary clinic where it was touch and go for a long time. Countless fund raisers helped pay for her treatment, and in the end the Princess survived. Today she is a beautiful young filly that bears little resemblance to her former self. She still lives at the sanctuary. Without the dedication of the people who cared for the Princess, she would not be alive today. Hers is just one story from Rosemary Farm. Some stories are sad, but most are joyous.
If you would like to know more about Rosemary Farm, please visit their website, http://www.rosemaryfarm.org and follow them on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/RosemaryFarm. I guarantee you’ll soon be as amazed at the work they do there as I am.