Posted tagged ‘pets’

Rescue Me

June 28, 2017

 

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.

To Serve and Protect

June 27, 2016

 

We remember hearing the stories of the many search and rescue dogs that worked tirelessly at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, of their bravery and loyalty and their willingness to serve. On June 6, 2016, Bretagne (pronounced Brit-nee) the last known survivor of these incredible dogs, passed away at the age of 16.

Bretagne, at age 2, was a youngster on that fateful day, and her work at Ground Zero was her first search and rescue mission. She and her handler, Denise Corliss, spent ten days searching through the rubble, first for survivors and then for remains. When Bretagne wasn’t searching, she provided comfort to the firefighters and other rescue workers at the site, as someone to hug and with soft fur to pet. It was said at the time that when they were not able to recover any survivors that some of the dogs became depressed. Perhaps then the comfort they received from the other workers benefited them, too.

After 9-11, Bretagne and Denise worked rescue after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ivan. After a full career, she retired from her service at age nine and went on to work as a goodwill ambassador as well as a reading assistant to children and visitor to autistic children. In 2014 Bretagne was a finalist at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. In 2015 she visited the Sept. 11 memorial in New York, and you have to wonder, as different as it all looked, did she remember the work she did there? The following year, Bretagne returned to New York and was given a hero’s welcome and a party to celebrate her 16th birthday.

On the day Bretagne made her final walk into the animal hospital outside Houston, Texas, firefighters and search and rescue workers lined the sidewalk to give her a final farewell. Rightfully so, she was carried out in a flag-draped casket.

Nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their owners worked at Ground Zero in the grueling and horrific days following 9-11. As dogs’ lives are all too short, they have now passed on, but they will never be forgotten for their work and dedication. Denise Corliss said she has worked with other rescue dogs but that Bretagne will always be that one special dog for her.

When we celebrate our nation’s freedom with fireworks this weekend, let’s remember that our pets don’t usually enjoy the noise that goes along with it. Taking dogs to the fireworks isn’t usually a good idea and in fact keeping cats and dogs inside or at least in an enclosed area during the height of the celebrating is best. Many pets become lost during firework season when they try to escape the noise they don’t understand. I’ve had dogs that barked the entire time and others that shook in fear (the same way they reacted during thunderstorms). A product that does help calm extremely nervous dogs is the Thundershirt. Wrapping around the dog, it gives a sense of protection and soothes frazzled nerves; perhaps like swaddling a baby? If your dog trembles in fear during summer storms or fireworks, a Thundershirt might be worth the investment. At our house, FooFoo usually takes a nap and snores during the neighborhood parties. Zombie ignores the whole thing, while Sammie makes a beeline for the basement or hides in a box until it’s all over. However your pets react, please just keep them inside and safe.

 

Who Owns Who?

November 24, 2015

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Any of us who have had pets for years know the feeling of being owned by them. If you can identify with any of the following, you are definitely owned by your pets.

You save the last bite of whatever you are eating to share with the furry ones.

You sleep in one position all night so as not to disturb the sleeping ones.

You feel a little guilty going out at night after being gone all day, because they are looking at you with those sad eyes.

You rarely can sit in a chair or on the sofa without someone wanting to curl up in your lap.

You always have “help” when you are doing household chores; making the bed (playing hide and seek under the covers); laundry (overseeing how much detergent you use); sweeping the floor (inspecting the dirt for anything useful).

You always check out the pet section in a store to see what’s new.

There is usually an assortment of toy mice, stuffed animals, jingle balls and half-chewed treats strewn around the house.

Your holiday shopping list includes at least one of the above (except the half chewed treats!). They’ll want some new fancy ones.

Speaking of the holidays, here are some dates to put on the calendar for upcoming events.

Saturday, December 5, Animal Aid will host their annual Holiday Open House. This year it is being held at the pet-friendly Silver Beach hotel in St. Joseph, 1:30-5:00 pm. Stop in before, during, or after the Reindog Parade and shop for gifts and baked goods, and to check out the silent auction items. Visit with pets hoping to find their forever homes and have your pet’s photo taken. Past pets may be remembered at the Memory Tree. All proceeds benefit the pets that are served by this local animal rescue group.

The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan will hold their annual Holiday Party for the Animals on Saturday, December 12, 11am-4 pm. There will be a gift store and raffle tickets as well as refreshments to enjoy. The donations collected on this day go a long way to help support the shelter at 641 Crystal Avenue, Benton Harbor. They are always in need of the following items: kitten and puppy food, adult cat and dog food (both canned and dry), bleach, and non clumping litter. Monetary donations are always appreciated and help defray medical and other shelter expenses. Please know that no donation is too small and all will help the animals that, for whatever reason, now live at the shelter.

The Humane Society also has a new website with many new features and updates. Visit them at www.humanesocietyswm.org for the latest on what’s happening and a more concise list of needs.

In this season of thankfulness, let us be thankful for the rescue groups and many volunteers who give countless hours of their time to save animals that need new homes. It can be physically and emotionally draining for the humans, but if they could speak, I’m sure the animals would say thank you for saving them and guiding them to new homes.

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Look Closer

August 26, 2015

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Champagne Lady

The following quote is borrowed from the Facebook page of Mark Rashid. From Colorado, Mr. Rashid is an internationally known horse trainer and the author of many books on the subject. While this refers to horses, similar thoughts could be applied to any pet or animal that we have in our lives.

What Do You See?

“I am not your therapist.

I am not sports equipment

I am not a chair

I am not a doll

I am not a vehicle

I am not your child

I am not a toy

Look again. What do you see?”

Reading this made me think about how often we bring an animal into our lives for what they can do for us rather than for what we can do for them. While many animals do provide invaluable services to and for people, how many of us truly believe that they have value beyond this? How many animals have performed their duties for which they were trained, only to be discarded when they were no longer able to do so? From the dog trained for the military or law enforcement, to the racehorse, to the show animal, to the family pet, how many animals when they become too old and inconvenient or are no longer needed, are disposed of because they are no longer of any use to us?

To their admirable credit, many men and women who have worked with service dogs in the military refuse to leave them behind when their tour of duty is done. Many have fought long and hard to bring their canine companions home with them to live out their lives. Law enforcement dogs are often retired with their handlers, and when they pass are treated with the same honor and respect as any other officer. Most pet owners who have had their pets for many years are committed to them until the end. But there are also many senior pets sitting in shelters simply because no one wanted to put up with their disabilities as they aged, as there are horses sent to auction because they can no longer be ridden or worked or shown. Do they not deserve to live out their lives in peace and relative comfort for the love and service they have provided? Do they not have value just for who they are rather than for what they can do? I think that’s what the author of What Do You See? is asking us to consider.

Photo of Champagne Lady was taken at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, a place where you can appreciate animals just for who they are.

Summertime Tips for Healthy Pets

July 25, 2013

Since we’re in the hottest part of summer, here are a few reminders for keeping your pets cool, safe and healthy.

Outside pets need fresh water and shade that lasts all day, especially if you’ll be away. If they can’t be kept inside in air-conditioning when the temperatures rise close to those dangerous numbers, be sure they can get out of the sun at all times.

Dog breeds such as pugs, boxers and bulldogs (any known as the brachycephalic breeds) are more susceptible to having respiratory problems in the heat because of their flat faces. It’s best for them to avoid heavy activity when it’s hot.

Pets can suffer from heatstroke the same as people. Never leave them in a hot car alone for any length of time.

On the hottest days, walk either in the morning or later evening, especially if walking on pavement. A good test of whether it is too hot to walk your dog on asphalt or cement is to lay your hand flat on the walkway and if it’s too hot to keep your hand there for thirty seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s feet.

Another danger I recently learned about is that of the foxtail. A wild grass that often likes to attach itself to passersby, foxtail is quite prevalent in some areas and can cause all sorts of problems if it becomes embedded in ears, eyes, or just about any part of a pet’s body. If a foxtail is not removed, a pet could actually die from the ensuing infection. It’s always best to check a pet over carefully if they’ve ventured into grassy areas, and if you suspect a foxtail is embedded anywhere on their body, call the vet.

Keep up to date on heartworm and flea/tick preventative, as the nasty little varmints can cause all kinds of problems. As I learned the hard way once, don’t wait till you see fleas to treat them. It’s much easier for you and your pets to prevent them.

By taking just a few precautions, you can enjoy the summer with your pets.

Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2012

Since we are just a few hours away from seeing ghosts and goblins on our doorsteps, here are a few quick tips to make sure your pets have a safe and Happy Halloween.

1)If your dog enjoys the festivities and will be going along with the trick or treaters, make sure he’s wearing his leash, collar and I.D. tag as well as something reflective to also be visible to motorists.

2)If not joining in, it’s probably best to walk your dog before the fun begins. Many dogs do not like costumes and masks, so avoiding them is a good idea.

3)A dog that is highly excitable is best kept inside on Halloween night, preferably in a room with a radio or TV playing and perhaps a nice chewy bone to keep him busy. Don’t jeopardize the dog’s safety or that of a child by allowing him to run free.

4)Keep all sweet treats, especially chocolate, out of your pets’ reach. Do give them some of their own treats so they don’t feel left out.

5)Make certain your cats are safe and don’t fall victim to cruel pranks. Cats like our friend Zombie here need to be kept out of harm’s way, so please don’t let them roam away from home.

With a little pre-planning and caution, Halloween can be a fun night for all. Enjoy!

Dogs Days of Summer and Blue Moons

August 3, 2012

We are entering what is often referred to as the Dog Days of summer. The term comes from ancient times when Sirius or the Dog Star, close to the sun and the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major,  rose with the sun this time of year. Ancients thought it had something to do with the hot dry days that usually occur mid-July through August. In the midst of this especially hot, dry summer, it’s good to remember that our pets can suffer the same effects of the heat as we humans do. They can get heat stroke; some signs of that being heavy panting, difficulty breathing, vomiting and diarrhea. If you think your pet may be having problems because of the heat, please contact a vet who can help you decide if he needs medical attention. The best precaution to take is to make certain pets have access to shade and plenty of fresh water at all times of the day. Some dogs enjoy having a small pool to play in. Zeke doesn’t care much for water but Foo Foo actually likes to run through the water when I’m spraying with the hose. If at all possible, and most especially on those three-digit days, keeping pets inside is a good idea. Walking in either early morning or later in the evening when the pavement isn’t burning hot helps keep their paws safe. A good rule to follow is, if you can’t keep your hand on the pavement for 30 seconds, it’s too hot for paws. We’ve had a little cabin fever going on when we didn’t walk on the worst days, but sometimes pets, dogs especially, don’t know what’s good for them and we need to do their thinking for them. That applies to Zeke, who often has to be convinced he can give up his patrol of the backyard to come inside and cool off.

One benefit of the hot, dry weather has been the absence of mosquitoes and so far fleas, but I have a feeling come end of summer there will be a sudden outbreak of fleas. Keeping up on both heartworm and flea preventatives is the best way to avoid problems. Prevention is always less expensive than the cure.

Something else occuring this month is the appearance of  a blue moon, which can be either two full moons in one month or the fourth full moon in a season. Anyone who has pets may notice that they sometimes act a little crazy when the moon is full. They have a harder time sleeping (and thus so do we) and seem restless. I really do believe that it harkens back to the instincts that guided their wild ancestors, and I’m pretty sure even the mildest of housepets still has a gene that ties  them to the beasts that howl at the moon. So if your pets seemed to be a little off this past week, then look for it to happen again on August 31 when we will see the Blue Moon. 

Enjoy the summer with your pets, stay cool, and if you will be going to any of our county fairs, check and see if a local animal shelter or rescue group has a booth or display. They are often selling small pet items as fund-raisers and welcome any contributions, as most of them operate on donations only. It’s a good way to help the animals that are looking for their forever homes.