Monthly Archives: July 2017

Benefits of Adopting a Pet From a Shelter

Sometimes I get a funny reaction when new acquaintances meet my two dogs, Chewie and Miles. The look of surprise and incredulous response – “You mean she came from the streets? He came from the pound?!”

So many people have the misconception that rescued dogs are less than other dogs. Are children less than other children because they came through the foster home system or are raised in single parent homes? Are the children that come from the “perfect” set of parents better than other children? We can all think of examples of the hard-luck children that make good and the children with everything going for them making a mess of their lives. So why do we assume homeless pets are less than other pets? I’d like to help set the record straight: there are many reasons to adopt a shelter pet.

1) You will Save Money
Adopting a pet from a shelter can cost a lot less than buying a pet at the pet store or from a breeder, especially when taking into account the fees for neutering and vaccination. Beyond the medical care, shelters provide education about how to care for pets, how to introduce your new pet to your other animals, how to deal with behavioral problems, etc., so you also get an entire support system for free.

2) You Will Get a Healthy Pet
Since most shelters give their animals vaccinations, feed them healthy diets, and neuter them before adoption, these pets are happy and healthy. Shelters also pay close attention to the temperament of the animals, in order to match these pets with the most appropriate owners possible. Sometimes pet owners take on pet ownership before they are ready, without proper circumstances or knowledge, or without the necessary commitment, but through adoption these pets get a new chance to find great owners who will commit to keeping them fit and content.

3) You’ll Get a Great Companion
Pets really do become our best friends. They make us smile and they love us unconditionally. Owning pets has even been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as helping with loneliness and depression. And all these great benefits have nothing to do with a pet’s breeding.

4) You Won’t Be Supporting Puppy Mills or Pet Stores
Puppy mills have received a lot of bad press lately, and rightly so. These mills put profits above the welfare of the dogs, which means that the dogs are treated cruelly and often kept in cages. Pet stores buy these puppy mill dogs, and many people who buy from the stores are not aware that they are supporting these horrible places, but by adopting a pet you can be sure that you are actually supporting a great cause for great animals.

5) You are Saving a Life
Sometimes we forget that most of the animals that become homeless are great pets that had less than stellar owners or the owners had to face insurmountable obstacles that made keeping their pet impossible. The circumstances can vary greatly but the bottom line is – rescued pets are wonderful animals that deserve love and a chance to live as much as any pet.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, between three and four million dogs and cats are euthanized each year because people are not able to keep their pets, shelters are not able to house them all, and not enough people adopt animals. By adopting these pets, which have been left by their owners through no fault of their own, we can save them from being euthanized.

It is a common misconception that shelter pets have bad breeding, but do not assume that pound pooches do not have purebred breeding, as often the dogs that breeders cannot sell end up in shelters. If you really want a certain type of dog, you can also check out local rescue leagues that tend to specialize in certain breeds. And do not forget that one of the best adoptions is the older, wiser, already-potty trained pet. Sure, we hear that puppies are more readily accepted by the pets already in the household, but bringing in new older pets is do-able. Very do-able. It just takes a little know-how and patience. If you don’t have the patience to acquaint stranger pets to each other then you certainly don’t have the patience to raise a puppy.

Unless your purpose for having a dog in your life is to have a show dog, or to produce purebred puppies to sell to worthy pet parents, I strongly believe you should look into adoption from the shelter first. And if you still feel purebreds or breeder dogs are smarter, just take a look around at the great work former shelter pets are doing. Shelter pets have been rescued to go on to do great work for performers, the military, the justice system, and as therapy animals – just to name a few examples. Granted, breeding can help accentuate specific genes for certain desired traits but environment has a lot to do with molding a pet or a person.

When a pet is given love and a chance, MAGNIFICENT things can happen! No matter where they come from.

Pet Camping Preparation

Woof, woof, woof, meow, meow, meow, Don’t forget to take us with you on the camping trip. What, we are taking them with us on our camping trip? Yep, mom we love them and want them to go. Does this conversation sound familiar? I know it all too well but many pet owners who camp do not take their furry friends with them. If you do decide to take them, there are a several items that are a must bring and a few tips that would benefit any pet owner.

If you do not own your own property or camp spot it will be necessary to call ahead to ensure that where you are camping pets are allowed. Many state campgrounds do not allow pets. Many others allow pets only on leashes and in designated areas.

Food is the number one item that must be brought. If your pet is on a special diet, then one good tip to make sure you bring enough food, is to pre-measure the food out into individual Ziplock bags and then put all the pre-measured bags into a larger Ziplock bag. One hint that I have found helpful is to pack two extra meals just in case of an issue or my pet works super hard while we are camping and requires more food for energy.

Treats are another important aspect of the food that needs to be brought. If you are hiking with your pet then a full meal is just not what they need, a small protein snack does wonder for a pet’s moral. Just like the food I also put the snacks in a Ziplock bag to protect it from the weather and if any other mishaps happen. What goes in must come out, so don’t forget to bring your bags to pick up your pet’s waste.

Good Ole H2O is a must to take camping. I use a Nalgene see through water bottle, because it is made out of thick plastic therefore very hard to break. It can also be filled up the night before the camping trip and froze to keep it cold longer. Besides. I can take the first drink and feed the rest to my furry friend. I never take water bottles and leave them in the car or in a heated area, because the plastic leaks into the water being drank and can cause cancer. Don’t forget the portable water and food bowls to keep the pet from wasting any H2O.

Taking a leash is important. There are many different types to consider bringing along. A long line, for training purposes or so you can tie your pet up temporarily. A retractable leash for short walks and a standard leash for longer walks. It really doesn’t matter what type of material it is made out of just so that it is strong enough to keep your pet safe. There are standard leashes that have a reflective coating on the outside that glow in the dark, great for keeping you and your pet safe while walking at night.

A collar is another item that should not be left behind. Most pets wear some type of collar, but you may want to consider a harness for a dog that tends to pull while on a walk. A training spike collar, is another option, especially for larger breeds of dogs. Never leave the training spike collar on your pet for an extended amount of time or when the pet is left alone. Your pet can get his front foot stuck in the collar and/or get stuck to an object resulting in an injury. Never leave your pet tied up with a spike collar. A gentle leader is another positive option to use as a collar especially when walking your pet. An identification tag needs to be securely attached to your pet’s collar. Your name and phone number should be clearly etched into the tag, just in case your pet gets separated from you. A microchip is also an important tool to have imbedded into them, in order to identify your pet and contact you to claim them. Choke chains should be left at home.

Hmm, don’t forget the crate. You need some way to transport your pet from home to the camp spot. Lots of owners prefer crates. It keeps your pet safe from other wild animals that might be in the area. It also provides a safe place for your pet to sleep at night. If you happen to be camping in a spot that does not allow you to keep watch on your boat you can put your pet in the crate while you are having fun on the water. The best plan would be to take your pet with you on the boat, sharing in the fun. Make sure you have some sort of bedding to put in the bottom of the crate to keep your pet comfortable and not sleeping on hard cold plastic. A dog bed would be a good idea to put into the crate, or just take it for your pet to sleep on if you are for certain there won’t be any wild animals wondering around at night.

Here are a few more items that I sometimes bring when we take our dog, Oakey the one year old Saint Bernard camping. I take his grooming supplies to brush out any burrs he might get in his hair. His shampoo, Oakey loves the water and when he swims I like to give him a bath, it is so much easier and cleaner to bathe him in the lake. I also bring extra towels to use on Oakey after his bath, for his drooling mouth, and any other dog mishaps he happens to have.

Don’t forget your pet’s toys or else they will find their own in the woods and you wouldn’t approve of or might not be safe. I also bring any medication or vitamins my pet might be taking. I do not want to disrupt the routine or break the cycle of the prescription. It is a must if you are traveling any type of distance with your pet to stop for them to exercise, potty, and get a drink.

Traveling with your pet can be difficult if your pet is not acclimated to car rides, but if they are it can be pleasurable. Everyone is excited to get to the camp spot, soak up the wilderness, and have fun with all who came camping including your furry friend. We had the most fun when we took six dogs camping on a lake and the dogs took turns riding on three-man tube behind the boat. I hope you have as much fun with your pet as we did.

Pet Sitter Decisions

One of our most treasured possessions is our pets. We love them and they love us. We do our best to care for them, love them, and attend to there needs each and every day. But what about when we are gone, whether it is for an extended day, or longer, like a business trip or vacation? How can we make the best decision to be sure their needs are met while we are gone? The love we feel for our pets can’t be replaced, but we can make sure they are well cared for.

You first have to decide if you want your dog or cat cared for in your home. Are you comfortable with a stranger coming into your home? Which option is the least stressful for your pet; someone coming into your home, or taking them some place else to be cared for?

The cost of all of your options also needs to be part of your decision. You need to find someone or some place that is reputable, reliable, and who is pet friendly.

Boarding Your Pet

If you decide you want to board your dog or cat, you should visit several facilities to see which one you feel is best for your pet. You can ask family members, friends, and/or your vet for recommendations. You can also go online to find a local pet sitter, or look in your yellow pages. Look for a reputable place that is professional, dog and cat friendly, and preferably one that is near you. Then begin your interview process. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it. What may be good for their pet may not be the best for your pet. For instance, some boarding facilities may be better for dogs, and not for cats.

Create a list of questions you want to have answered before you make your decision. Call your prospective boarding facilities and ask them as many questions as you want. Have them ask you any questions they need answered, and to list any requirements they have, such as vaccinations, etc. A phone call can easily narrow down your prospective facilities.

Some questions you might want answered are:

1. Are the dogs and cats always caged?

2. Do they get exercised? How often?

3. Are cats and dogs in separate boarding areas?

4. What requirements do they have regarding vaccinations, etc?

5. What are the pets fed? Canned and/or dry foods? How often are they fed? Can you bring your pet’s favorite foods?

6. What is their price schedule? Are there any additional charges that you could incur?

7. Ask if you can bring your pet for a visit. You will want to also inspect the facility. Watch how your cat or dog reacts to the environment. Remember, they may act or react differently when you leave.

8. Also consider that any negative reaction your pet may have, or you have, will make you realize that a pet sitter coming to your home would be the best avenue to pursue.

Pet Sitters at Home

Once again, formulate some questions to have answered. You can also find a pet sitter the same way as you could find a pet boarding facility; ask family, friends, online or yellow pages.

Knowing your pet’s personality is the key to making your decision. Your options for a pet sitter are:

• Someone who comes into your home once, twice or 3 times a day, depending on the needs of your cat or dog. The availability of your pet sitter may or may not meet your pet’s needs if it is more than twice a day.

• Someone who stays in your home to both pet sit and house sit. House sitting may include some light chores such as bringing in the mail and papers, play with your kitten, water indoor and outdoor plants and yard, clean the yard of dog waste, walk your dog daily, etc. This person may also have a full time job, so they would not be there 24/7.

• Take your pet to someone who pet sits at their home. This could possibly be a 24/7 position because they are full time pet sitters. Or they may work full time also, caring for one or two pets at a time.

• Take your pet to a family member or friend’s home just because you don’t want to leave your pet alone all day, they know the dog or cat. You may have someone express an interest to take care of your dog or cat.

Either of the last two options would be because you don’t want someone coming into your home.

The cost of services is definitely a major criteria in making a decision. Prices vary in different parts of the States. When comparing the prices be sure to compare ‘apples with apples’ and not ‘apples to oranges’. Find out if they have defined services with their charges not just that they come to your home for ½ hour twice a day. Ask what they would do during that ½ hour. If you take your pet to another home, find out if they will have other pets at the home. Your pet may not get along too well with another pet they don’t know.

When you are hiring a professional pet sitter to come to your home daily, look for a person that is detail oriented.

• See if the prospective sitter is taking notes regarding what you want from them, like a schedule of feeding times, what to feed your pet, etc.
• Ask if they will be bringing anyone else with them, such as their children.
• How will they communicate with you in your absence?
• Do they have a back up plan if they can’t be there – illness, car trouble, etc?
• Will they be the same person to come each day?
• Do they have references? Always call and check out the references.
• Are they bonded? Liability/theft insured?
• Discuss a plan should your pet have an emergency.
• What would they do if they saw something unusual at your home, like a burglary?
• Do they have a formal contract?
• How long have they been a pet sitter?
• Are they trained and licensed?

These are just some of the questions you could ask in an interview. Also know that they will have questions of you.

Don’t wait until the last minute to find a pet sitter, especially around holidays. Good sitters do get booked in advance. Don’t wait until just before you leave to have your pet’s vaccinations become current.

Be considerate of your pet sitter as you want them to be to you and your pet. Always have an interview with them, preferably in your home, and be sure they meet your pet. Leave plenty of dog food and cat food and pet toys for them. You may be unavoidably detained because of weather or illness.

As you can see, deciding on care for your dog or cat should not be left until the last minute. Once you have established a good relationship with a pet sitter, the next time you need them will be much easier. Always check on the rates and services before you sign a contract to make sure they are what you are expecting.

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian nor do I have any formal training in any medical field. This article is not to replace the advice of your veterinarian. I am only providing options and ideas that you may want to discuss with your veterinarian.

Lori Kniff loves cats and dogs. She has had a cat most of her life and several dogs. She is concerned with the health and welfare of our pets. Please visit [] for items, such as dog toys, dog chews, or cat toys that will help you show your love for your cat or dog while you are away.

Tips for Coping With the Loss of a Pet

The loss of a pet can be a devastating event for anyone. To many Americans, a pet is a best friend, or at least a beloved family member. Many children grow up with pets, and learn their first lessons about death through those pets, as most pets have shorter life spans than humans.

The average lifespan of a dog can be anywhere from 7-15 years, depending upon the breed. Dogs are loyal animals who offer unconditional love to their owners. They provide companionship and, often, protection. Cats, on the other hand, can live quite a bit longer, but offer the same love and devotion to a dedicated owner. Pets can also include birds and reptiles. No matter what the species, a pet is an important member of any household or family, and the grief that is felt at the end of a pet’s life can be profound.

While pets usually show signs of decline in their health toward the end of their lives, it’s sometimes difficult to know exactly when is an appropriate time for euthanasia. It is usually advised to notice when the pet’s quality of life has become significantly compromised. For example, dogs and cats often become incontinent, or their legs fail to support their body weight. Another example might be visible signs of discomfort or pain. No one wants to see a pet suffer, and any loving pet owner would rather protect a beloved pet from suffering.

This is often a difficult decision, and one that no one enjoys making. Today’s animal care is comprehensive and offers quite a few options, such as hospice care, acupuncture, and other holistic medicines that provide comfort to a pet with a serious illness. While that can alleviate some symptoms and discomforts, there is still a deep sense of grief for the owner when the pet eventually passes.

As with grief for any death, it’s important to find support systems to help with the emotional pain. There are online support groups and articles. Many communities offer in-person support groups and/or counseling. Memorializing a pet can help with the grief process. Time is, of course, the ultimate healer, and during the passing of time, it’s often helpful to reflect upon your life with the animal. Looking at photographs is a wonderful way to remember your pet. Favorite stories about your pet can be remembered through writing poems and short stories, or even drawing pictures.

Your pet can be buried in a pet cemetery, or even on your property, if local laws are permitting. There are plenty of ways in which a pet grave can be marked with a plaque, stone, or other grave marker. This can be a special tribute that honors your pet forever.

Alternatively, pet cremation is becoming more and more popular. A unique or personalized pet urn can serve as a constant reminder of your love for your pet. There are plenty of choices in today’s pet memorials market. A pet urn can be made that reflects the spirit of your pet, or even resembles the physical traits of your pet.

As with all grief, it is common to feel anger, sadness, denial, or depression. It is important to seek support and know that this is normal. Time softens the anguish of this grief, and support can help the emotional state while that time is passing.

Adrienne Crowther is the owner and founder of Shine On Brightly, the premier online resource for artist made pet urns and pet memorials, as well as support articles and resources for the loss of a pet. The company offers an alternative to the many mass-produced, impersonal pet memorials that dominate today’s market. All pet memorials at Shine On Brightly are hand-crafted by artists within the US.