Monday, October 30, 2006

Halloween & Dogs

"Is the boogy man coming to take my pumpkin?"

"What's in those pumpkins over there?"

Halloween is around the corner. I know my kids are getting excited for that annual adventure of dressing up, knocking on doors and being given candy. They are finally at an age where they don't wonder why you can't just do that any ol' day and get candy.

Dogs are not as sophisticated at watching the calendar for the grand adventure of either going on the walk of all walks -- trick or treating or, for some dogs, the horror show of people endlessly parading up their walk in scary costumes, ringing the bell and yelling "TRICK OR TREAT". While it can be a wonderful socialization opportunity, for those who missed the boat or whose dogs find the stress too much to bear, management of the dog(s) away from the hordes is advisable.

After the treats have been accumulated (Trip and Bean collect them in the pockets of their Har-Vest), please be mindful of the possible toxicity of the treasures for your dogs and again, use wise management to keep eager noses and mouths away from the chocolates and candy.

Have a great holiday, and enjoy!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Growing Up

You care for them, feed them, help nurture them from helpless orphans and they start to take off on their own. Little Anna Heather, the orphaned kitten who came at the tender age of 3 weeks has been here almost half her life. From the scraggly little 6.1 oz critter she has gained more than a whopping 7 oz. and now is a footloose and frolicsome 14 oz. youngster. She has gained more sure footing, trots about fearlessly, eats solid food, uses a litter box, tries to clean herself (but still falls over more often than not), commanding the dogs to her bidding, winning the hearts of all who meet her. Needless to say I'm getting fond of her. But knowing I have to set limits, I have weeded through interested adopters and settled on a couple who live on my block. They will give her a loving and active home and the best part is should the kids and I want to see her, we'll be able to. The best of all words. I'm selfishly keeping her through Halloween to see what she'll think of trick and treaters and the pumpkins that will be flickering their orangey glow. Hopefully I'll be able to add updates on the little one over time.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Who's My Mama

As an ancillary part of dog training I often help with rescue efforts -- mostly to rehome unwanted dogs and cats, sometimes to help someone find a new dog or cat for their home. I'm often riddled with phone calls and emails asking me to take in an unwanted animal and most of the time I state that regrettably I cannot do that. I do have a petfinder site that has been very successful in finding homes for these animals, and because the results are usually so positive, I keep at it.

The other day my oldest daughter's best friend's father caught me in a vulnerable moment and I agreed to take an orphaned kitten off his hands with the caveat that he provide some kitten formula and a bottle.

Anna Heather, aka AH, has been here nearly a week. She has thrived with regular round the clock bottle feedings and the gentle rubbing of her privates to stimulate her peeing and pooping needs, and she has grown from a scrawny 6 oz. to a whopping 9.1 oz as of this morning. She frolics around the house and seeks out any warm or potentially warm body as if to say, "are you my mama?"

Unfortunately, cats that are orphaned so young who don't benefit from the ministrations of a decent mother and the shared experiences of littermates often develop behavioral problems later on. We're hoping to offset that as much as possible by having her experience different people and animals who are gentle so she can minimize the emotional trauma of being wrenched away from her mother so young.

Tomorrow I estimate she'll be about 4 1/2 - 5 weeks old. We may crack open a can of kitten mush and see how she does. Unfortunately, I'm unwilling to wash her off with my tongue so frequent water based baths and quick drying efforts will hopeful make her look a little less scraggly over time!

We'll keep updates on how she does.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Measuring Accomplishments

I was talking to a friend the other day who was making the difficult but necessary decision to euthanize a beloved companion dog of very old age and seriously failing health and had some questions about the process. One of her concerns was a surviving also old dog -- would she become distraught and should she go and watch her canine friend go to the rainbow bridge?

I said I felt that unless an animal died in the home and surviving animals might want to sniff for closure sake or whatever you want to call it, I didn't think taking the dog into the hospital to "watch" was a good idea at all. Dogs do mourn, and do have feelings, but I don't think they need to have the stress of watching it happen in a vet hospital no matter how humane the process.

I recommended some rescue remedy could help for both the dog and the people involved and some special treats or a walk or a belly rub or something the dog valued before the euthanasia and I think it helped my friend and her dog.

I was talking to a friend of mine today about how one values accomplishments. I argued it's not in the # of degrees or formal education you have, the $ you earn, the things you own, but by the way people think of and/or remember you when you've gone from their lives (because of life changes including moving away, evolving, up to and including death) or even how they value you when you're an active person in their life.

Dogs don't generally receive degrees or careers from informal or formal education, very few have jobs so to speak, but I would have to say, in my experience anyway, they accomplish a whole heck of a lot just being loyal, true, honest, funny and simple in the way they need their needs met and the way we feel by meeting them.