Is your shelter expecting?

It’s the first day of March, and in Florida and other southern climates, that means Kitten and Puppy season is about to begin. Our northern neighbors may have a couple more months, but not us.

I received this poster in my email from a local shelter and it reminded me that while they certainly need loving homes to adopt the incoming litters of kittens and puppies, they also need help with supplies.

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So , throw a baby shower for your shelter. New items, gently used, I guarantee they won’t care. Towels, wet kitten food, and litter. Stop by your shelter today. They will be glad to see you.

Is your shelter having an event to raise funds or supplies? Send me their poster.

Pets like routine

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Bend the rules just a little if your pet is undergoing change or stress.

I don’t know about your pets, but our canine, feline and avian members of the household thrive on a schedule.

They are fed at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily and for at least those two times of day they seem to be able to tell time.

Our pool cleaner comes on Tuesday and Kodi is stretched out in that flat to the floor Corgi stretch, watching the pool deck.

Last week the schedule changed drastically when the leader of the pack, my hubby, had to be admitted to the hospital. I would leave every morning and spend most of the day at the hospital.

So the 6 a.m. feeding was on schedule, but the treat times (Oh yes, there are designated treat times during the day) and the evening meals were delayed.

Typically I get up earlier than my husband and after breakfast Kodi returns to the bedroom and stays with him, while Buddy is with me in the family room. While my husband was gone, Kodi was totally out of sync and didn’t know what to do.

The other adjustment was not being able to go out all day—Our dogs are spoiled. We both work from home so they are rarely alone. All of that changed last week and I have to brag on my pups—They were fantastic.

I put down puppy training pads for the long days. Some days I came home and the pads were clean and dry—It isn’t healthy for them to hold it all day—so I was actually happier when I had seen they had used it.

Things are getting back to normal, hopefully.

Stress can be caused by a number of events in your pet’s life, a life-long friend going off to college, divorce or separation, illness, and vacations — even when you take them with you!

Tips if you have to change your pet’s schedule:

1. Extra time – I cannot stress this enough. My dogs didn’t know what was going on, only that someone was missing. When I was home I made time to sit with them, cuddle and comfort.

2. Potty breaks – Puppy pads or someone to check on them during the day. I prefer the pads because I don’t want to have to worry about them getting away from someone, just they way I worry. They are adult dogs and while I am leaving a pad out they aren’t using it.

3. Treats – I didn’t want them to put on weight, but wanted to give them extra treats for being so good so I cut the treats in half.

4. Schedule – Return to a normal schedule as soon as you can. Dogs (and even the cat and bird) like to have control over their environment and a schedule is an important part of that.

Happy February 14th

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Of course I know it’s Valentine’s Day, but for our pets it’s February 14th otherwise known as “Tuesday.”

No chocolates in their bowls or flowers by their beds, what’s this day for them?

It’s another day to enjoy, dare I say “celebrate,” them being part of our family. Like so many adopted dogs, cats and birds who are waking up in a loving home this morning, they are the lucky ones.

Breakfast has been served and a new day begun.

So on this day I have five things, do one or all five, to challenge my readers on this day of Love.

  1. Make a donation to your local humane society. This can be $1 or $500, or even your old blankets and towels for bedtime and bath.
  2. Volunteer at a shelter. One hour a week walking a dog or petting a cat can make a big difference. Animals that receive attention are more social and have a better chance at being adopted.
  3. Post a link to your shelter on your Facebook page. “Like” your shelter’s Facebook page.
  4. Learn one new thing about your shelter. Do they have a new program or event?
  5. Say “thank you.” Shelter workers are hard-working individuals that do their job for the love of the animals, certainly not the pay.


    one more;

  6. Don’t spread rumors. If you hear something about your humane society or shelter, investigate it yourself before repeating it or reposting online. There are many misconceptions and sadly there are  some groups that bad mouth each other and shelters to rise themselves up. Don’t fall into that.
    It is all supposed to be about the animals, remember that please.

Pup-sicles? Keeping your pets warm in winter

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A winter’s day in my part of the world, East Coast of Florida, is often scoffed at. We have our lower temperatures, in the teens or below? No. But then we are not prepared for that, and neither are our animals.

As I was leaving the post office last week a woman in shorts and  a t-shirt jokingly told me to take off my coat, saying it was too pretty a day.(The temperature was in the high 50s).

The request was barely out of her mouth when she stated, “You live here don’t you?” My response, “Yes, and you don’t” as I looked  at her choice of clothing for they day. Did I NEED the jacket? Maybe not. Was I comfortable? Definitely. These same considerations should be applied to our pets.

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You don’t want to overdress, and thereby overheat your dog, but if he’s chilly, and especially if your pup is a short-haired dog, a sweater may be appreciated. So far my dogs have not needed clothing, though as a knitter I have checked out a couple of patterns and even considered converting an old sweater into a dog vest. (There’s a pinterest link below for a neat way to make a pooch sweater)

Folks in the north, or those traveling with their dogs in the north, have more to worry about than ice and snow. Something far more dangerous to your pet – the chemicals and salt used to remove the ice and snow.

So if you live in an area where you have to melt the ice and snow, or are traveling to an area like this, it is important to be aware of where your dog is walking. A Florida dog is probably not going to want to walk on the snow and will stick to the treated sidewalk and roads.

5 Tips before you take your dog outside:

  1. Put a small pan of water (one the dog could step into) and a towel by the door into the house.
  2. Wash and dry your pup’s paws before you go back into the house.
  3. Do not let your dog lick his paws. If he starts paying attention to his paws instead of what he is outside to do, wash them immediately, the chemicals are probably burning the pads of his paws.
  4. You do not want him licking his paws and ingesting the chemicals or salt. These are toxic and can do permanent harm, or even be fatal, to your dog.
  5. If you pup wears a coat/sweater, make sure it fits. Once you are back inside, remove it immediately or supervise your dog while he has it on.

Dogs are fun to watch outside, but remember, boundaries all look the same when everything is covered in snow. Keep them on a leash or in a fenced in area and have fun!

Need a quick sweater for your pooch? I found this easy-to-follow pattern on Pinterest

http://thethriftycouple.com/2016/10/29/how-to-turn-old-sweaters-and-sweatpants-into-no-sew-dog-sweaters-in-5-minutes/

How to Entertain a Bored Bird

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Quick ideas for pet toys that you can make with a minimum of fuss.

I have been looking for ways to keep Rosie the African Grey entertained. I’ve asked fellow bird owners and scoured the internet, and I am still looking. I want something that is easy to make (it’s going to be torn up in a day), and something I can recreate if she likes it.

Here are a couple of ideas for us all to try – if you have a favorite, or a tip please let me know and I will include it in a future post.

1. Pine Cones

Pine cones are pretty easy to come by in most places. For me, a pine cone found off the beaten path is the best. Even so they have to be prepared before being put in your bird’s flight.

Pick up pine cones that haven’t been on the ground long and soak them in a COLD vinegar water bath (1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water). This will clean the dirt and bugs out. Air dry for a day. Now it’s time to bake – place the pinecones on a foil covered cookie sheet and bake at 175 for 20-30 minutes. This is kill mold and bacteria. Cool – duh – and add them to your pet’s flight. You can hang them from the top or incorporate it into a forage basket and stuff appropriate treats  in the pine cone.

Time to forage

Birds love to dig through things and shred. Use undecorated and unvarnished wicker or fiber baskets, the brown paper (lunch-size) bags, or cardboard boxes. Do not use Styrofoam!

Fill with shredded paper, and tuck in treats, things they can pick up with their talons, pine cones, whatever is safe. This can be put attached to the cage or put on the floor of the cage. You may have to weigh it down with a stone.

If your bird doesn’t go for it immediately don’t despair. New things may take time to get used to. I would recommend switching it out every day, just as you would their food and water. Unstuffed pinecones can be left longer.

Are birds really good pets?

YES! But they need good owners.

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Rosie, is a talkative bird, that loves time out of her flight. But that time has to be closely supervised.

We have an African Grey named Rosie. She has a good vocabulary and will pick up obscure phrases from the T.V.  Recently she has taken to asking “Are you OK?” repeatedly.

She calls the cat (by her name Samantha), sings her own name, and tells Kodi to “shut up.” Now that I think about it I don’t think she has every said “Buddy.”

On the, “Why do I have this bird?” side of the bird experience, are the times she gets stuck on a sound, ALWAYS an annoying sound — the beeping of a truck backing up, and what can only be compared to a hammering sound. This cacophony ususally occurs when I am on the phone or trying to meet a deadline.

Rosie has a nice big cage, but I still would like to expand it in the future. Letting her out unattended is not an option; with a corgi, a Jack Russel and a cat. It isn’t that any of them have shown any interest in hurting her (cat included, though she is a cat after all), but they like to play and that could have dire consequences.

I personally would not leave any bird out on its own in the house. If someone needs to come into your house, firefighter, paramedic, or heaven forbid someone breaks in, your bird may indeed—fly the coop.

Birds get bored. Birds like African grays who are very interactive with humans, need mental and physical exercise, or they will find their own.

Birds are often purchased, or in Rosie’s case adopted, put in pretty cages and forgotten. Birds, like most of us, need quality interaction.

As I write this I realize I could go for pages and pages, so I will break it down over the next couple entries.

5 things you should be doing with your parrot

1. Physically play with them. Start small, take your index finger and gently rub the top of the beak. If they start to bite slowly RAISE your finger away, do not jerk back. In time you will become more comfortable, the bird will relax and you can move onto scratching her head. You may find your bird “soft bites.” If the pressure increases say a firm (not loud) “no” and remove your finger.

2. Toys – We all like toys, especially new toys. Rotate the toys in their flight a couple at a time. Don’t redecorate the whole cage at once, too much newness!

3. Music – Rosie likes the Moving Art Series on Netflix. Background noise, nothing blaring.

4. A room with a view – When Rosie starts acting up I roll her flight over to the sliding glass door. This gives her more light and a different view. I always move her back to the same stop at the end of the day when it’s time for bed.

5. Food routine – I am the one that feeds Rosie, twice a day – 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. A straight seed diet is not healthy for them. Rosie is not a fan of pellets (I have tried introducing them) What she does absolutely love is scrambled eggs sprinkled on her seed in the morning. Other favorites are French cut green beans and fruit. My husband has a banana every morning for breakfast and some always makes it into Rosie’s talon and bowl.

About.com has a good list of easy to make bird treats http://abt.cm/2kwKM81

Not all food is good for birds. Check with your vet, a local bird group or petmd.com.

Introduce new food in small quantities to the existing diet, even if your bird is on a straight seed diet right now. Birds do not usually like new things in their bowls and may stop eating entirely. If they eat around the new food or drop it to the floor of their cage keep trying. You can also try letting the bird take new food from you hand.

WASH vegetables—even food labeled organic should be rinsed thoroughly with water and patted dry. I do not use any vegetable wash on food that will be going into Rosie’s bowl.

Tomorrow we can explore ways to keep your bird occupied and happy.

Hide and seek, kitty cat style, or 5 reasons you can’t find your cat

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Five reasons your cat may hide from you:

I walked into the bedroom yesterday to find our cat Samantha rolled up in a section of an afghan that was cascading from the mattress onto the floor. I wasn’t concerned. She looked quite comfortable, and to be honest, I experienced a smidge of envy.

It’s chilly and she looked quite snug. So I grabbed the camera off my desk, snapped her photo, and left her to her retreat.

There are times our cats, and even the dogs, may want to curl up somewhere away from the action. Don’t we all?robby-legs

Robby, our daughter’s cat, needs to work on his “hiding” skills. We were house guests which took time for him to adjust to.

Just think the word “vet” and your cat will escape to another dimension of your home you didn’t know existed. We have all searched for the feline veterinary patient convinced we will have to cancel the appointment because, “I can’t find the cat in my one-bedroom apartment.”

If your cat hides on a regular basis there may be cause for concern.

5 reasons your cat might hide:

  1. Car ride – cats that don’t like car rides, i.e. vet trips
  2. Medical issues – Behavior changes are often the first indication you might need to call the vet.
  3. Pain – Several causes of pain. A broken nail, a reaction to a small child pulling their tail, or dietary and intestinal pain. Again, time for the vet.
  4. Fear – New visitors in the house, especially if the cat is not accustomed to children. Activity around the house or even your neighbor’s house. Workmen for example.
  5. Stress – Adding a new pet, having house guests, even changing furniture, can cause stress in felines. Keeping their possessions like the litter box, food bowls and toys in the same place may help alleviate some of this.

samantha-windowWindow sills are one of Samantha’s favorite spots.

A community comes together to save a 6-month-old dog

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There’s a happy ending.

So many criticize their local animal control officers and humane societies. These folks have the jobs that you have to have a passion for because the thanks are few.

I always encourage people to get the facts. Too often we read something online, or even in the newspaper or on the TV news, and we take it as truth without really knowing.  I’ve interviewed people who tell me about awful conditions and treatment, only to find they have never been to the shelter or rescue — “they’ve heard.”

This is a story of teamwork

One animal control officer I know responded to a call about a stray dog running through town.

What he found will break your heart. What happened next will reaffirm your faith in people.

Abby, as she has been dubbed, was starving to death. Every single rib bone and hip bone, pressed through her white coat. She was eating every day but she was starving. She was eating garbage, literally. Chicken bones, and rocks, and a corn cob (lodged like a cork in her intestine) had been her diet.

Abby was taken to Flagler Humane Society in Flagler County, Florida. She was close to death according to Director Amy Carotenuto.

They took Abby to a veterinary hospital that provides x-rays to the shelter. Abby was soon in surgery.

Shelter staff and volunteers put out a plea for funds on Facebook and $750 was quickly raised for the operation. The surgery was more than $2,000, but the vet waived the balance.

I hope all of the people who donated money have seen what a difference they made in one 6-month-old dog’s life.

I want you to see Abby now, less than two weeks after she was rescued. Just scroll to the end – a smile awaits.

Abby’s angels:

  • The animal control officer Keith
  • Amy Carotenuto and the staff at Flagler Humane Society
  • Dr. Andrea James – the FHS veterinarian
  • Dr. Kelly Long – veterinarian at Tomoka Pines Veterinary Hospital/Ormond Beach (and his staff)
  • Donors who paid for Abby’s surgery

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