Friday, October 9, 2015

Adopt Unconditional Love - Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

I want to tell you a story about a little dog. This dog was a good little dog. Yes, he chewed on shoes and piddled on the floor. But he didn't mean it. He was just a puppy after all. He wanted to be good. But the man and the woman who lived with him and his 4-legged mom said they had too many dogs already and that the little dog was too much trouble. So they took him to the animal shelter. The little dog was put in a small cage with no friends to play with and no one to pet him. He had food and water and sometimes he got to go outside and walk around, but most of the time he was in the cage - alone. It was very scary! Sometimes the people who worked at the shelter would come and get a dog for a walk - and the dog would never come back. The little dog heard that they were put to sleep. Sleep was good, but somehow sleeping and never coming back didn't seem right. The little dog worried that might happen to him and he was afraid. Sometimes, people would come in to the shelter and take a dog from the cage. These dogs also never came back. But the little dog heard that this was different. These dogs were going to new homes where they would be loved and be part of a family. The little dog wished every night that someone would take him home.

One day a man and woman came in to the shelter. They stopped at the little dog's cage and talked to him. The little dog sniffed at the woman's fingers as she reached through the cage. She asked if she could hold the little dog. When she picked him up, the little dog reached up and kissed her on the chin to say thank you for taking him out of the cage. The woman cuddled the little dog, looked at the man, and said, "I want him." That's was all it took! The little dog couldn't believe it. Someone was going to take him home.

The little dog came to live in a great house in the country.  There was a big yard for him to run and play in and two other dogs for company.  There was a soft comfy bed for him to sleep in during the day and at night he slept in a big bed with the man and the woman.  He had toys and treats.  He even had a cat!  But his favorite thing was to curl up in the woman's lap in a big chair they shared.  Sometimes she would read or watch TV.  Sometimes she would just sit with him.  It really didn't matter what they did, because he knew he was loved.

As the years, went by the little dog got older.  It became harder for him to see.  He couldn't always jump up in the chair.  Sometimes the woman had to carry him up or down the stairs when his legs were stiff.  Sometimes he couldn't always make it out the pet door in time and would have an accident.  He was scared that he would have to go back in the cage.  But the woman still loved him and cared for him.  As he got older they spent less time walking and playing and more time just sitting in the chair together. 

In case you haven't figured it out, the little dog was Bob and the story is how my Mom and Dad found him at the shelter. He was lucky. He have lived here for 21 years and was loved and cared for every day. I only spent a few years with him.  He was already old when Mom brought me home.  But I know he had a great life. And when it was time for him to go to sleep, Mom and Dad were with him so he wouldn't have to be alone even then.  But there are thousands of dogs and cats who aren't so lucky.

I am not a shelter dog.  Mom bought me from a breeder.  But the Yorkshire Terriers she has owned are the only dogs she has ever bought.  All of my playmates here at home are shelter dogs.  And they are all great dogs!  They love Mom and Dad with all their hearts.  They guard the house, cuddle with them on cold winter nights, walk with them on warm summer evenings.  They keep mice and snakes and all the other assorted country critters out of the house and yard.  They play with me when Mom is too busy.  Mom and Dad rescued them and brought them home and they respond with unending loyalty and companionship.  Mom says they are unconditional love! 

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.  So this month, I am asking you to think about adding a furry friend to your home.  If you have room in your house and your heart for one more thing to love, please visit your local animal shelter and adopt a dog.  Go to your local shelter, find the perfect dog for your family and give another little dog a forever home.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Talking About Hunger

Many of you who remember Bob know that he had several issues that he supported through this blog.  Pet adoption, responsible dog ownership, and conservation were just a few.  And Mom was very willing to let him use this space to promote action in support of those causes.  So today I want to repay her by using this space to talk about a problem that Mom is very concerned with - hunger in America.

If you think hunger is only a problem in third world countries you couldn't be more mistaken.  Today, right here in America, 1 in every 5 children faces hunger.  Think about it!  15 million children right here at home struggle to get enough to eat.  They are here - in your schools, in your churches, in your communities.

Food insecurity is harmful to all people, but it is particularly devastating to children.  And I love kids!  Proper nutrition is critical to their development.  Not having enough of the right kinds of food can cause serious problems with a child’s physical and mental health, academic achievement and future career potential.  The future of America lies in our children.  When hunger threatens the future of a child, it threatens the future of our nation as well.

It's time we join with Mom to fight hunger in America.  She is a supporter of Feeding America, an organization that helps feed America's hungry.  And every September, they sponsor Hunger Action Month.  Feeding America and member food banks ask everyone in America to take action to fight hunger in their community, all month long.  Hunger Action Month is your opportunity to join a movement that has a real and lasting impact on our effort to feed more Americans than ever before. Whether it’s by advocating and raising awareness, making donations, or volunteering, you can find the way that’s right for you to make a difference during Hunger Action Month.

So, on behalf of Mom and Feeding America, I'm asking you to get involved.  Donate.  Host a food drive.  Take a "spoon selfie."  Volunteer with your local food banks or Feeding America.

I have never been without food.  Mom makes sure of that.  But I know how it feels on days when she gets home late and my dinner isn't served on time.  So I can't imagine how it would feel to not have enough to eat all day long!  Won't you help?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Responsible Dog Owner Days Are Here!

Are you a responsible dog owner? Take the AKC Responsible Dog Owner Pet Promise!

1. I will never overlook my responsibilities for this living being and recognize that my dog’s welfare is totally dependent on me.

2. I will always provide fresh water and quality food for my dog.

3. I will socialize my dog via exposure to new people, places and other dogs.

4. I will take pride in my dog's appearance with regular grooming.

5. I will recognize the necessity of basic training by teaching my dog to reliably sit, stay and come when called.

6. I will take my dog to the vet regularly and keep all vaccinations current.

7. I will pick-up and properly dispose of my dog's waste.

8. I will make sure my dog is regarded as an AKC Canine Good Citizen® by being aware of my responsibilities to my neighbors and to the community.

9. I will ensure that the proper amount of exercise and mental stimulation appropriate for my dog’s age, breed and energy level is provided.

10. I will ensure that my dog has some form of identification (which may include collar tags, tattoo or microchip ID).

11. I will adhere to local leash laws.

Post your name and your dog's names in the comments if you are a responsible dog owner.


For more information visit or call 212-696-8228.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Happy National Dog Day!

Do you know what Wednesday, August 26th is?  It's National Dog Day!  Let's celebrate!

National Dog Day was founded in 2004 by Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert and Animal Advocate, Colleen Paige.  It is a day to help remind people of the number of dogs that are in shelters and need to be rescued.  You know how important that is to Mom and me.  And so we encourage everyone to celebrate National Dog Day.

Here are some ways for you and your dog to celebrate on Wednesday:

1.  Check out the official National Dog Day website and consider becoming a partner or sponsor!

2.  Is your fur baby an only child?  Adopt a playmate from your local shelter! 

3.  Can't adopt?  Volunteer!  Shelters can always use an extra helping hand.

4.  No time to volunteer?  Donate blankets, food, or cold, hard, cash to your local shelter!  National Dog Day urges everyone - even non-dog owners - to donate $5 to their local shelter on National Dog Day.

5.  Have a party and invite all of your friends and their dogs!

6.  Post your favorite dog photo in the comments section!

7.  Buy an official National Dog Day T-shirt!

8.  Spend some time with your fur baby!  Take them for a walk.  Bathe them or at least brush them.  Buy them a new toy, or leash, or collar.  Teach them a new trick. 

9.  Spread the word about National Dog Day!

10.  Remember - we love you!  All we want is for you to love us back.  Share the doggy love!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

It's Dog House Repairs Month!

July is National Dog House Repairs Month.  Now, I admit I don't know much about dog houses.  I stay in Mom and Dad's house.  I have a bed downstairs that I use during the day, and I night I sleep in the big bed with Mom and Dad.  But I know that some dogs do have dog houses.  I have seen them when Mom and I go for walks or drives.  And I have to admit that some of them look like they could use a bit of work!

Our house has a pet door so I can come and go as I need.  So when it's hot out like it is now, I can stay in the nice air-conditioned house.  When it's raining, I can go out just long enough to tend to business, then come right back in.  And when it's cold and snowy, I can warm up by the fire after a trip outside. 

Outdoor dogs need the same.  (Okay, maybe not the fire).  But they do nee a place where they can stay cool in the heat of the summer, dry when it's raining, and warm when it's icy and cold.  That means it should be waterproof and insulated.  And big enough for some bedding in the winter with enough space for your dog to stretch out or stand up and turn around without being cramped.

Now is the time for all owners of outdoor dogs to inspect their dogs' houses and make any necessary repairs.  You wouldn't let other members of your family sleep in rundown, leaky, cold houses would you?

If you're not sure what to look for, here are some tips.

Look for any wood that is worn or chewed and replace it.  Never use pressure treated wood.  This wood contains arsenic which is poisonous. 

Check for nails and screws that are sticking out.  These could cause an injury.

See if the bedding needs to be replaced.  Don't use blankets or rugs.  These can get wet when it rains or freeze in the winter.  Use wood chips, straw, or even newspaper.

Check the roof for leaks.  If it has been raining as much as it has here, that's easy.  If not, use a garden hose and spray the roof.  Then look for leaks.

Make sure the roof extends at least 8 inches past the doorway to keep rain and snow from blowing inside the house during a storm.

Take a walk around the outside of your dog's house.  Is the location suitable?  Is it located near shade for the summer?  Is the surrounding area safe and clean?  If there are problems, remember - dog houses are portable.  So move it if necessary.

I love being able to spend most of my time with Mom and Dad.  But I know that not every pet owner is able to keep their dogs in the house.  So celebrate National Dog House Repairs Month and make sure your best friend has a house that says he is family too!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

AZA-Accredited Zoos and Aquariums Mobilize to End Extinction of the World’s Most Vulnerable Species

The 229 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced a bold new effort focused on saving species from extinction and restoring them to healthy sized populations in the wild. SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction will deepen the already substantial science and conservation work on endangered species occurring at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums by engaging the 180 million annual aquarium and zoo visitors and partners across the world to protect habitat, decrease threats, and restore populations to sustainable levels. 

 “At its core, SAFE represents a new and unique opportunity to combat the extinction crisis and save vital species,” said Jim Maddy, President and CEO of AZA. “With thousands of scientists and conservationists--more than any other single conservation organization--750,000 animals in their care, and more access to the public to the tune of 180 million visitors annually, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are poised to make a tremendous difference.”

The leadership of the AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium community has worked intensively over the past two years, reviewing the science to identify more than 100 species that are facing serious threats. These species are critical to maintaining overall ecosystems, and zoos and aquariums have unique scientific expertise and resources to improve their conservation status. In 2015, SAFE will focus on 10 key species from that list: African Penguin, Asian Elephants, Black Rhinoceros, Cheetahs,   Gorillas, Sea Turtles, Sharks and Rays, Vaquita, Western pond turtles, and Whooping Cranes.

Every year for at least the next decade, 10 or more species will be added to SAFE based on the most current science and the availability of resources. 
For more than 100 years, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have been leaders in species survival and are already working to restore more than 30 species to healthy wild populations, including the American bison, the California condor, the black footed ferret and a number of aquatic species. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums collaboratively manage more than 450 Species Survival Plan® programs, as well as are investing more than $160 million each year in field conservation work in more than 100 countries across the globe. The worsening and accelerating extinction crisis, which many scientists refer to as the “Sixth Extinction,” challenged AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to significantly increase their efforts.

“In many cases, the science and conservation community knows what must be done to save these species and many independently managed efforts have been initiated to tackle one or more areas of focus at a time,” said Dennis Pate, AZA Board Chair and Executive Director and CEO of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.  “We will convene all partners working on saving the AZA SAFE species, who will collaboratively identify and prioritize the essential conservation actions needed. We will then provide the resources and mobilize our 180 million visitors to help save these species and restore them to sustainable populations in the wild.”

“For years, we have worked closely with AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, but SAFE is really a game changer for us,” said Dr. Stephen van der Spuy, Executive Director at SANCCOB, the South African non-profit that is leading the effort to protect African penguins and other sea birds in South Africa. “By strategically focusing the work of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, by bringing new resources, and by engaging the millions of zoo and aquarium visitors in saving African penguins, we’re confident that SAFE can help make a real impact at saving these birds from extinction.” 
This bold, comprehensive approach is already attracting significant support. Initially, SAFE launched with a $1 million challenge grant from noted conservationists Mark and Kimbra Walter. Since then, the challenge has been successfully matched and their gift has continued to generate additional philanthropic interest and investment in this critical initiative
SAFE has also drawn significant corporate support from ALEX AND ANI, FishFlops® and Frito-Lay North America. ALEX AND ANI, the Rhode Island based eco-conscious lifestyle brand, created a penguin charm as part of their award-winning CHARITY BY DESIGN® program, and it has already become a top seller, generating funds that support conservation work at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. In the same spirit of giving back, 17-year-old entrepreneur Madison Nicole Robinson, creator of the popular children’s line of shoes FishFlops®, is creating a special line of flip flops and slippers to benefit SAFE, with a portion of her sales going directly to SAFE conservation projects. As an AZA partner, Frito-Lay North America is rallying families’ support for SAFE with a commitment to match every dollar donated to the cause through, up to a maximum of $100,000, through June 15, 2015. In addition to matching donations made through the site, Frito-Lay will donate $1 for each social share, per person, per day, of an endangered animal fact made through the site in an effort to encourage families to spread awareness about the important cause. Donations for social shares will also count towards Frito-Lay’s maximum $100,000 donation.

"Fun is at the heart of everything we do and it’s what we hope to inspire with our variety packs of snacks,” said Ryan Matiyow, senior director of marketing, Frito-Lay. “Through our partnership with AZA, we’re able to bring families around their shared passion for animals and to support a cause that will help ensure families can experience the wonder of wildlife for generations to come.”

About AZA
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and seven other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit

About SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction
SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction combines the power of zoo and aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and partners to save animals from extinction. Together we are working on saving the most vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protecting them for future generations. To learn more, visit

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

We're Ready. Are You?

It's been raining here a lot lately.  Mom says it's one of the wettest springs we've ever had.  And there is more rain coming this weekend!  But it's not as bad here as it has been in other areas.  Mom's sister and her cats live in Texas where there have been floods.  Of course she is ready in case it gets bad enough that she has to leave.  But Mom was worried about the cats.  Were they ready too?

That is a question that every pet owner needs to ask.  Are you ready to take care of everyone, including your pets, in the event of an emergency?  Mom has an emergency kit for her and Dad.  She calls it her "go bag."  I sneaked a peek in it the other day and was upset when I didn't see any supplies in it for me and the other pets.  But then Mom explained that we have our own go bags - one for the dogs and one for the cats.  I feel better now.  Mom is ready!

But are you ready?  Just in case you're not sure, Mom and I are providing the list of what's in my "go bag."  The contents are based on recommendations by the American Humane Association and have everything I need to be safe in an emergency. 

  1. My food
  2. Water
  3. My leash and collar
  4. My bowls
  5. Photos.  Photos of me and photos of me and Mom
  6. My vet records and shot card
  7. My carrier (actually my bag is stored inside my carrier!)
  8. A first aid kit
  9. Contact list of pet-friendly hotels, veterinarians, American Red Cross, American Humane Association and out-of-town friends/family
  10. Irene and Lady are older dogs and need medication so we also have their pills in the bag.
  11. One of my favorite toys
  12. Rope
  13. Pooper Scooper and disposal bags

Additional links to help keep animals safe before, during and after a disaster can be found on American Humane Association’s website.  Mom and I urge every pet owner to prepare before problems arise to keep your entire family, including the fur babies, safe and healthy.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I'm A Great Outdoors Dog!

It's summer and that means Mom and Dad will be spending more time outdoors.  Hiking, fishing, canoeing - they love being outside.  And sometimes I get to go with them!

I love being outdoors with my Mom and Dad!  They make sure that I have everything I need to be safe and comfortable while spending time with them. 

Of course, I can't go everywhere with them.  I go out in the boat with them or over on "the hill."  And some of the state parks will let me visit.  But not all outdoor destinations allow dogs.  And the ones that do have rules - which usually means they have to wear the leash when I am with them.  I really don't mind.  Bob taught me long ago that having Mom on a leash is a good thing!  That way she can't wander off and get lost!  Most parks and campgrounds will say on their website whether or not they allow dogs, so check before you go.  If you need a list of places that do allow dogs, there are lots of sites on the internet.  My favorite is  They make it easy to find dog-friendly campgrounds, beaches, and attractions.

Of course, the outdoors if home to all kinds of nasty things.  Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, snakes - yuck!  We live in the country so Mom already keeps me protected from all of these things.  I get medicine every month to keep the fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes away.  I don't think there is a medicine for snakes but the cats and Dad do a good job of making sure they don't bite me.  And if Mom finds one it's all over!  She does not like snakes - especially near the house!  But if you are not an outdoor dog, make sure you get nasty pest medicine before you go.  And maybe take a cat - or my Mom - along to watch out for snakes!

Whenever we go on an outdoor adventure, Mom always packs my backpack.  She makes sure I have food and water, a pooper scooper and disposal bags, my tags (even though I'm chipped, we all have tags too!), my toy, and even my hat and some sunscreen. (Yes, dogs can get sunburned too).  I'm kind of small so Mom does not make me carry my own backpack.  She normally puts mine in with hers.  If we are going to be gone overnight or longer, she also brings my brush and my blankie - all the comforts of home!

Thanks to Mom knowing how to make my time outdoors safe and comfortable, I am a great outdoors dog.  You can teach your Mom and Dad how to do the same things my Mom does.  Then you and your family can share awesome outdoor adventures together too!


Saturday, May 30, 2015

"Top Ten" Checklist for Adopting a Cat

  1. If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, consider taking home two. Cats require exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction. Two cats can provide this for each other. Plus they’ll provide more benefits to you. Cats’ purring has been shown to soothe humans as well as themselves – and they have an uncanny ability to just make you smile. A great place to start your search is online. Sites like let you search numerous shelters in your area simultaneously to help narrow your search and more quickly find the match that’s right for you and your new feline friend.
  2. Find a cat whose personality meshes with yours. Just as we each have our own personality, so do cats. In general, cats with long hair and round heads and bodies are more easygoing than lean cats with narrow heads and short hair, who are typically more active. Adoption counselors can offer advice to help you match the cat’s personality with your own.
  3. Pick out a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption. You’ll want to take any medical records you received from the adoption center on your first visit. Kittens in particular should accompany you to make the appointment – even before the exam itself – so staff can pet the cat and tell you that you’ve chosen the most beautiful one ever.
  4. Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat before it comes home. Visiting the shelter or animal control facility should be a family affair. When adopting a new cat with existing pets at home, discuss with the adoption facility how to make a proper introduction.
  5. Budget for the short- and long-term costs of a cat. Understand any pet is a responsibility and there’s a cost associated with that. A cat adopted from a shelter is a bargain; many facilities will have already provided spaying or neutering, initial vaccines, and a microchip for permanent identification.
  6. Stock up on supplies before the cat arrives. Be prepared so your new cat can start feeling at home right away. Your cat will need a litter box, cat litter, food and water bowls, food, scratching posts, safe and stimulating toys, a cushy bed, a brush for grooming, a toothbrush and nail clippers.
  7. Cat-proof your home. A new cat will quickly teach you not to leave things lying out. Food left on the kitchen counter will serve to teach your new friend to jump on counters for a possible lunch. Get rid of loose items your cat might chew on, watch to ensure the kitten isn’t chewing on electric cords, and pick up random items like paper clips (which kittens may swallow).
  8. Go slowly when introducing your cat to new friends and family. It can take several weeks for a cat to relax in a new environment. It’s a great idea to keep the new addition secluded to a single room (with a litter box, food and water, toys, and the cat carrier left out and open with bedding inside) until the cat is used to the new surroundings; this is particularly important if you have other pets. If you’ve adopted a kitten, socialization is very important. But remember – take it slow.
  9. Be sure to include your new pet in your family’s emergency plan. You probably have a plan in place for getting your family to safety in case of an emergency. Adjust this plan to include your pets. Add phone numbers for your veterinarian and closest 24-hour animal hospital to your “in-case-of-emergency” call list.
  10. If you’re considering giving a cat as a gift, make sure the recipient is an active participant in the adoption process. Though well-meaning, the surprise kitty gift doesn’t allow for a “get-to know-one-another” period. Remember, adopting a cat isn’t like purchasing a household appliance or a piece of jewelry – this is a real living, breathing, and emotional being.

Monday, May 25, 2015

How Pets Make Your Life Better

Pets - life begins when you get one!  Or at least a better life!  And that's the truth.  It has been proven that pets help their owners live longer, happier, healthier lives. 

How do we do that?  Just look at all the things I do for my mom!

1.  I provide companionship.  Now that all of the other kids are grown and gone, Mom spends a lot of time alone.  Dad is often busy with other things.  I keep her company during those times.  She loves to talk, and she talks to me all the time.  We read together, watch TV together, walk together, play together, and even sleep together.  I love my mom and she loves me.  As long as we are together, we are never alone.

2.  I guard the house.  I know I am very small, but I am brave!  I guard the house from all kinds of things.  And if it is too big for me to handle, I bark loud so Mom hears me and knows that something is around that shouldn't be.  And of course, when I bark, the others join me!  Often just the noise of all of us barking will scare the intruder away! 

3.  I make Mom happy.  I can tell when she is sad.  We pets, especially we dogs, can sense that.  And whenever I see that she is a little bit sad, I will jump up in her lap and cuddle.  Or sometimes I will dance and make her laugh.  But I will do whatever it takes to make her smile.

4.  I help her teach the grandkids things.  When they come visit, the get to help take care of me and the others.  This teaches them how to care for things that cannot take care of themselves.  It teaches them responsibility and compassion. 

5.  I help babysit.  Speaking of the grandkids, I help take care of them.  When she is busy in another part of the house, I play with them or sit with them.  I sometimes sleep with them at night to guard them or just to keep them company. 

6.  I help her business. Lots of the designs in her CafePress shop were inspired by me!

7.  I hunt.  We live in the country so I hunt for mice and rats and moles and anything else that might get in the house.  Mom does not like these things in the house and so I hunt them down as soon as they come in the yard - that is if the cats don't get them first!  I am not like Bob though.  I do not chase squirrels.  I kind of like them!

8.  I help Mom cook and clean up.  Sometimes when she is cooking she will let me sample her latest recipe to see if it is good.  Most of the time is is - but not always!  And sometimes she will drop something on the floor while she is cooking and I will clean it up so she doesn't have to!

9.  I help keep her warm.  When it is cold in the winter, I will snuggle up with her in our chair and help keep her warm.  I am not big enough to sleep on her feet and keep them warm like Ginger did.  But I snuggle up as close as I can get.  I must do a good job because sometimes she will make me move because she is too hot.  I am a good warmer!

10.  I help her stay healthy.  She is losing weight and part of that is because she and I walk together whenever we can.  We haven't been doing too much of that lately.  It's been raining so much here, I'm afraid I would have to learn to swim if we came to a puddle!  But when it is nice, we both get our exercise by walking together.

It is not just dogs that are good for you.  Many different kinds of pets can be helpful.  Pet owners have been found to have lower blood pressure and make fewer doctor visits than non-pet owners.  Children raised in homes with two or more pets are less likely to develop asthma.  Pet owners are also less likely to suffer from depression.  So if you want to have a better life, get a pet!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Homeless Pets Need Food Too

Mom is very concerned about people having enough to eat.  She participates in all sorts of food drives and events to help feed the hungry and homeless.  But there is one group of hungry beings that are often forgotten - homeless pets.

Now I know what many of you are already thinking.  If people are homeless, they certainly don't need to have a pet.  But for the homeless, pets are companions, friends, protection - they are family.  It may be the only connection they have with another being.  Many will share their last bit of food with their companion animals, often going without themselves to feed their beloved friend.

Homeless pets need our help.  And if we do something this month - just one little thing - imagine the difference we could make!  Many large cities have food pantries for pets.  If not, then often human food pantries will also distribute pet food to people that need it.  The wonderful organization Pets of the Homeless collects and distributes food for homeless pets and they have collection centers all over.  We even have one near us.  So what if we all donate a can of pet food, or a dog blanket, or even just $1.00?  Do you know how much that could be? 

If you would like to get involved in a bigger way, I have some ideas!
  • Arrange a food drive challenge at your school, your office, your church, your neighborhood, or among your friends
  • Set up donation boxes at local businesses
  • Do you own a business?  Set up a donation box.  Offer discounts or a gift to people who bring in donations.
  • Are you a member of a theater group, or sports team, or club?  Offer discounted admission in exchange for donations.
  • Do you have good but unneeded pet food at home?  Donate it!
  • Organize a car wash and collect pet food for payment.
Homeless pets need our help.  Can you open your heart to them?  Let's feed homeless pets this month!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

I May Not Know My Address But My Chip Does

I have never been lost.  In fact, none of us dogs have ever been lost.  Mom keeps us inside a fence and the gate is always locked.  But many years ago, we did lose a pet.  It was before I came to live with Mom, but she has told the story many times - about the day they came home and found the gate open, and Harvey, their beloved Boston terrier, gone.
It was a terrible day for everyone, especially for Jessica, Mom's other child.  Harvey actually belonged to her.  Mom tells how they searched the neighborhood for hours, called all the animal shelters, put up posters, and placed ads in the paper.  But there was no news.  It was especially hard because they weren't sure what had happened.  Had they accidentally left the gate open?  Had someone stolen Harvey when everyone was at work and school?  Was he hurt?  Was he scared?  Was he even still alive?  Mom knew that they would probably never find him.  But she tried to keep up hope for Jessica's sake.
I am glad I have never been lost.  But if something did happen one day, and the gate was left open and I just had to go exploring, I have a much better chance of being found than Harvey did.  I have a chip.
"Chip" is actually short for "microchip."  Micro means it is small - no bigger than a grain of rice.  It doesn't look like much but it is awesome!  It carries a number that can be read with a special reader.  And that number tells whoever is reading my chip where Mom lives and how to contact her.
It didn't hurt either.  I did have to go to the vet.  It felt sort of like getting a shot.  But I didn't mind because I always get a special treat after a trip to the vet - especially if I have to have shots.
I am seven years old and have had my chip since I was a puppy.  It doesn't itch or bother me at all.  I don't even remember that I have it most of the time.  I only remember when I hear about someone losing a dog or cat.  Yes, cats can get chips too!
I don't think it costs a lot of money either.  There are nine of us dogs and cats at Oak Valley and we all have chips.  Mom isn't rich so it must not cost too much. And it doesn't have to be replaced when it wears out.  Can't say that about my collar and tags!
Nope, I don't worry at all about getting lost.  No matter where I may roam, a vet or the animal shelter will probably have a chip reader.  And Sally, our friend at the shelter, says that they scan all pets for chips now as soon as they come to the shelter, just in case they have lost their Mom. 
So please, if you are a pet Mom (or Dad), get them a chip.  Then you won't ever have to go through the agony of wondering what happened to a much-loved family member.  May is Chip Your Pet Month!  What a great way to celebrate - by chipping all of  your furry family members!
P.S.  The story of Harvey does have a happy ending.  A few months after he disappeared, Dad saw him at the home of an elderly gentleman who lived several streets away from them.  He said Harvey just showed up at his house one day hungry and scared.  He never saw the posters.  He did look in the paper but didn't see Mom's ad.  So he just let Harvey live with him.  Harvey looked happy and healthy and he and the man really seemed to love each other.  Dad and Mom talked and decided to let Harvey stay there.  Besides, by then Spot, the Chihuahua, had found Jessica - but that is another story!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April is National Frog Month! Who Knew?

No, really!  There is a national frog month and it's now!  That must be why I can hear what Mom calls "peepers" every night.  There must be a lot of them because they sure are loud!  But they are also kind of soothing and peaceful.  You know everything is alright as long as the peepers keep peeping.

Why is there a month to celebrate frogs?  Frogs are pretty cool!  Frogs can live on both land and water.  That is why they are called amphibians.  They can also see in three directions at once - forward, sideways, and upwards.  Even I can't do that!  And frogs can throw up!  They discovered that on a space mission.  I don't think I want to know how, though.

Frogs shed their skin completely about once per week.  I bet Mom would love that.  She sometimes complains about the fact that Lady and the cats shed so much.  But a frog usually eats its skin after it sheds, so maybe that would be better than the cats.

Frogs have teeth! And a group of frogs is called an army.  How's that for a scary thought?  An army of frogs with teeth.  Where's Mom?  I think I need to get up in her lap?

Frogs don’t actually drink water with their mouths; they drink it through their skin. A frog’s skin absorbs water when it is in the water so its body gets all of the hydration that it needs that way and the frog doesn’t need to drink with its mouth.

Frogs are cold blooded. That means that the body temperature of a frog is the same on the inside as it is on the outside. That is why frogs need to be near water so that they can jump in and cool off on hot days

Besides being very cool animals, frogs are important.  They eat lots of insects, which makes them pretty valuable to those of us who don't like bugs!  And they provide food to lots of other animals - even humans.  Dad loves frog legs, although he only gets them when we go out.  Mom won't make them at home.

Because they are so valuable and fun, you would think that people would take care of frogs.  But that is not happening.  Frogs are in trouble. There aren’t as many of certain species as there once were, and a few kinds have even gone extinct.  But you can help!  April 25 is Save the Frogs Day!  There are lots of ways you can work to save frogs.  Save the Frogs is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving frog and they have all the information you need on their website.  Imagine a spring night without the sound of peepers.  Now - won't you please help?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Go Batty!

Just in case you haven't heard by now, it's Bat Appreciation Day!.  Mom likes bats.  She even has bat houses on our property.  I'm not so sure about them.  They seem kind of creepy to me.  But Mom says they do lots of good things for us.

They eat bugs - especially mosquitoes.  A bat can eat 600 mosquitoes in an hour.  That's a lot of bugs!  I don't like mosquitoes so I agree with Mom.  That is a good thing!

Bats make chocolate!  Okay, not really.  But they do pollinate plants.  Over 500 species of plants rely on bats for pollination.  And one of those plants is the cocoa plant.  So in a way, bats do make chocolate.  So thank you, bats.  Mom gets cranky if she doesn't have her chocolate regularly!

Bat poop makes good fertilizer.  Bat poop is actually called guano.  And it is frequently used for fertilizer because it works fast and doesn't smell bad.  It helps keep plant healthy an d green.

Bat saliva can help stroke victims.   A rare protein in the saliva of vampire bats appears promising in the treatment of acute ischemic stroke — the kind of stroke caused by a blood clot that blocks blood supply to the brain.  I'm not sure if I would want a vampire bat to bite me!  Isn't that how you wind up with a stake through your heart?

Lessons learned from bats’ echolocation have produced navigational aids for the blind.

Bats give us a reason to party!  There are Bat Festivals all over the country.  The Austin BatFest, the  Wisconsin Bat Festival, the Great Lakes Bat Festival, the Florida Bat Festival, and the Midwest Bat Festival are just a few of the events you can attend to celebrate the bat.

There are lots of bad stories about bats that make people think they are scary.  But most of them aren't true.  Bats will not try to get in your hair.  They aren't dirty.  They won't attack you and suck your blood - even if they are vampire bats.  They don't spread rabies any more than any other animal.  Bats are gentle and shy and very smart. 

Bat populations are declining all over the world.  A disease called White Nose Syndrome is affecting large numbers of them.  Half the bats in the United States are listed as rare, threatened or endangered. Won't you help?  There are bat sanctuaries and rescue programs worldwide that could use your time, money - or both!

Now that I know how cool bats really are, I am going to celebrate Bat Appreciation Day!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mean Mr. Dog Catcher

Mom keeps us inside a nice, fenced yard.  We are not allowed to run free around the neighborhood.  It's a big yard so we have lots of room to run and when it's hot, or cold, or raining, we have a pet door that leads into the heated and air-conditioned garage so we are out of the weather.

Unfortunately, that is not the case for many of the dogs in our neighborhood.  We watch them run up and down the road.  And we hope that the mean dog catcher doesn't get them.

Except, maybe the mean dog catcher isn't so mean.  Mom told me that next week (April 12-18) is National Animal Control Appreciation Week.  Why would you have a whole week to celebrate mean dog catchers?  That's just not right!  So Mom and I did some research.

The dog catcher that cruises the neighborhood rounding up all the stray dogs and hauling them off to the dog pound to be locked in cages until they are put to sleep pretty much only exists in cartoons.  Today's animal control officers work hard to ensure that animals in general, not just dogs, are safe.  Yes, they do still pick up strays that are roaming the neighborhood.  But when they do, they work hard to reunite them with their owners.  Sometimes these strays are injured and sick and the animal control officers will rescue them so they can receive the medical attention they need.  They also investigate cases of animal neglect and cruelty, and help educate the public about laws concerning pets.  They must really love us to do all this for us.  Especially when they can be bitten, or clawed, or scratched by the animals they are trying to help.  I hope they know we don't mean it.  We are just scared and maybe hurt.

So this week, instead of running from Mean Mr. Dog Catcher, ask your Mom and Dad to say thank you for helping to take care of us.  Mean Mr. Dog Catcher isn't so mean.  He's actually very nice! 


Sunday, March 29, 2015

April is Adopt a Greyhound Month

April is National Adopt-a-Greyhound Month and the need to place thousands of surplus greyhounds from southern racing states to adoptive homes in northern, non-racing states has never been greater. There’s a concentration of beautiful, ex-racing greyhounds in seven southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Texas, and West Virginia) and a lack of adoptions in those states.  Most adoptions occur in the north and northeast portions of the country.

“Although many greyhound tracks have closed in recent years, the need to find homes for retired racing greyhounds has not diminished,” said President of The Greyhound Project Melissa Cook. “Greyhounds retiring from the 21 remaining tracks across the country, including 12 in Florida, are being cared for by adoption groups as they wait to be adopted into their permanent homes.”

“The need to move these dogs to non-racing states is critical, and costs associated with accomplishing this present a real challenge. National Adopt-a-Greyhound Month is a great time to welcome these wonderful Greyhounds into loving and permanent homes.”

National nonprofit The Greyhound Project is spreading the message of greyhound adoption awareness to ensure that 100 percent of these greyhounds find caring homes. The Greyhound Project works to support over 300 greyhound adoption groups nationwide. The charity also publishes Celebrating Greyhounds, an award-winning quarterly magazine written for greyhound adopters, owners, and supporters.
About The Greyhound Project
Founded in 1992, The Greyhound Project is a volunteer, non-profit organization. The mission of The Greyhound Project is to promote the welfare and adoption of greyhounds by providing support and information to adoption organizations, adopters, and the public. Please visit The Greyhound Project for more information.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Adopt A Rescued Guinea Pig!

Did you know there are cute little furry friends called guinea pigs?  I had no idea - until I saw a one this weekend.  Mom knew what it was right away though.  She said she and her sisters each had a guinea pig when they were growing up.  She said they were easy to take care of and cute as could be.  She called hers Clover because he loved it when Mom brought him clover from the yard.

Mom got online to show me more about guinea pigs and you know what we discovered?  March is adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month!  I never knew guinea pigs needed help.  I have never seen one at our local shelters.  But after seeing how cute they are and learning about guinea pig rescues, I had to share.  All animals need happy, forever families, especially cute little fur babies like these! 

Guinea pigs make great pets, according to Mom.  She says they are very friendly and gentle.  She has been bitten by her dogs and her hamsters, clawed by her cats, and kicked by her horse, but her guinea pigs were always tame and easy to handle.  They are also easy to care for.  Mom kept hers in a cage with some hay and fresh water, food pellets, some fresh veggies, and of course, clover for Clover.  Mom says that all she had to do was keep them fed, supplied with fresh water, and a clean cage and that was it.  No walking, no bathing, no house-breaking.  How easy is that?  And as long as you don't put a mixed-sex pair in the same cage, you don't need to spay or neuter them. 

I don't understand why there would be a need for guinea pig rescues.  They seem almost as perfect a pet as me!  But an article by The Critter Connection, a guinea pig rescue in Connecticut, said guinea pig rescues are full of sweet little guinea pigs who have been abandoned outdoors, left behind in empty homes, seized by authorities in abuse/neglect/hoarding cases or, quite literally, thrown away. (Who could do such a thing?!) There are pigs who were surrendered because kids lost interest, adults lost jobs, families had to relocate or caretakers were overwhelmed by the costs and/or labor required for the proper care of this species.

Now that you are sold on owning a guinea pig, why not just buy one?  According to The Critter Connection, there are several advantages to adopting. Here are just a few:

Adoptable guinea pigs are correctly sexed. A rescue group won't send you home with a mixed-sex pair thinking you are instead leaving with a same-sex pair.

Adoptable guinea pigs have had top-notch care. Expert handlers know the subtle symptoms of a long list of illnesses and won't send a pig out if they have the slightest doubt about its current health.

No surprise pregnancies. A rescue group will not send a pregnant guinea pig home with an adopter. If an unspayed female pig comes into a rescue and volunteers know there's a good chance she'd been around an unneutered male, she'll be put on pregnancy watch as a precaution.

Rescue groups typically have guinea pigs of all ages. This means you're sure to find the right match, whether you have soft spot for seniors or would prefer to have full-grown guinea pigs for your kids.  As a senior citizen myself, I hope some of you will consider adopting an older guinea pig.  We boomers make great pets!

Rescue groups have bonded pairs of guinea pigs. So if you want two, you can find two who already get along great.

Rescue groups often know the personalities and temperaments of the guinea pigs in their care. Whether you're looking for a roommate for your single pig, want a pig that's not going to freak out when your English Sheepdog barks, or want a pig that's the quintessential couch potato, a rescue can help you find the one who fits.

A good rescue is not going to let you get in over your head. Their primary concern is the welfare of their animals, and they are strong defenders of and advocates for them. If they think potential adopters need further information and education, or think guinea pig care is going to be too much for an already overloaded household, they are going to have a diplomatic but firm heart-to-heart talk with you.

So if you're looking to bring guinea pigs into your home, please give a rescued animal a second chance. When you adopt guinea pigs, you help more than just the animals you take in.  Believe it or not, we found hundreds of adoption listings on Petfinder for guinea pigs across the U.S. And for every pig that's in a rescue, there's another one needing the same safe haven.

Monday, February 23, 2015

February 24 is World Spay Day

Every day, thousands of healthy dogs and cats are euthanized.  Every day!  Most of these animals would make perfectly good companions if given a chance at a home.  So why are they being killed?  Simply because there are so many homeless pets, animal shelters simply don’t have the space or resources to provide care or find homes for them all.  Those that aren't killed end up wandering the streets as strays.  Many of these will die from diseases, starvation, or abuse and cruelty.  I know because we have several cats at my house and every one of them was a stray that showed up at our house and Mom took them in and cared for them.  Some of them were ill.  Some of them were injured.  All of them were hungry and skinny.  But not all stray animals are lucky enough to find our house!

Spay/neuter is an effective and humane way to save animals’ lives. Spaying (for females) and neutering (for males) are common surgeries veterinarians perform to stop animals from having accidental, surplus litters. Mom had me neutered shortly after I came to live with her.  It didn't hurt and Mom bought me ice cream when she picked me up.  The hardest part was being alone at the vet all day.  An FDA-approved technique for dogs called zinc neutering, also performed by a veterinarian but administered by a shot, is now available in many places.  I think I might have preferred that to the surgery! 

Preventing litters reduces the number of animals for whom resources are not available.  Most people support spay/neuter, especially once they understand how it saves lives.   However, affordable services are out of reach for many pet owners, and funding is always needed to spay and neuter feral cats and stray dogs.

That's where you come in!  You can make a big difference for animals by participating in World Spay Day.  Learn where there are underserved areas in your community, and raise awareness for the need for services—or of the availability of existing resources.  I know there are several low-cost spay/neuter clinics right here in Northwest Arkansas.  I'll be sharing them on social media tomorrow!  You can too!  Use social media to spread the word about the power of spay/neuter.  Help raise critical funds to spay and neuter those animals most in need.

Support World Spay Day in your community.  Help reduce pet overpopulation.  Let's be sure that every pet has a home. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dog Training Education

I am a good dog.  I don't jump on people or pee in the house.  I don't bark or run out of the yard.  But I also don't like to walk on a leash.  I have a big back yard to run in.  Why would I want to wear a leash?  And I don't always sit when Mom tells me to.  So I guess I'm not a well-trained dog.  Mom used to have dogs like me that she took to shows and they were well-trained.  But I'm not a show dog.  I'm just for play.  So I guess it doesn't matter if I'm well-trained - does it?

Actually, it does.  I am not leash trained because I rarely leave our house except to go to the vet.  And then, Mom puts the leash on me, but she always carries me so I don't actually walk on the leash.  But she still trained me a little.  She taught me to go outside to do my business.  She taught me that it's not nice to jump on people.  She taught me not to run out in the road even though we live in the country and there isn't much traffic.  And she taught me to sit still for pictures and to wear the silly things she makes me wear without fussing.

Learning to do all this may sound like hard work.  You're right.  It was.  But it was also fun!  I got to spend special time with Mom and she would give me treats when I did things good.  Who doesn't like treats?!  And Mom and I have our own special friendship now that she doesn't have with Dad's dogs.

You might think you don't need to train your dog.  But even if he is like me and doesn't need lots of training, you should work with him.  We want to learn.  We are eager to please you.  We just need you to show us what you want us to do and how you want us to behave.  And teaching us to follow simple commands like "sit" and "stay" may actually help keep us safe.

There are lots of different theories on how to train your dog.  Mom said we aren't going to discuss all of them here.  She said she was more interested in the "why" instead of the "how."  Too many dogs are taken to shelters because their owners don't train them and then get mad at them when they don't behave.  But we are no different than your children.  You teach them right and wrong.  Why don't you teach us too? 

Some people think training should only consist of rewards and positive reinforcement.  Others say it is not only okay, but necessary, to discipline your dogs when the misbehave.  Mom has never hit me but then I am a good dog.  Regardless of what training method you choose, it is important to teach your dog how to behave properly for your household.  You must decide what behavior is desired and teach it to your dog.  For example, Mom has a friend who thinks we should not be allowed up on the furniture.  Her dog is trained to stay off the couch.  But Mom says the couch is for me to sit on and look out the window when she is not home.  She has a cover on it that protects it from getting dirty.  She does not care if I jump up there to sit or sleep.  In our house, that is acceptable behavior.

There are lots of places to learn how to train your dog.  So go to the library and get a book.  Buy a DVD.  Look online for information.  Enroll you and your dog in training classes.  But do train your dog in the basic things he needs to know.  You'll both be happier.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Adopt a Rescued Rabbit

You know that one of Bob's passions (yes, we dogs have passions!) was to help as many homeless animals as possible find the same type of happy home he had.   And in his memory, I have decided to carry on that mission.  While I do spend most of my time promoting dog and cat adoption, there are those Moms and Dads who just aren't cat or dog people. Hard to imagine, I know, but it's true. But I have a solution for them. How about a rabbit?

February is Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month.  This is the time of year to get the word out about rabbits.  Why?  Easter is just a couple of months away.  And that means many people will be considering buying rabbits for Easter presents.  But often, these families don't know how to care for or interact with rabbits.  The kids grow tired of them, and the next thing you know the parents are dropping them off at already crowded shelters.  There are thousands of rabbits in shelters around the country waiting for homes; many of these rabbits were babies purchased as a whim during last year's Easter season.

I don't know much about pet rabbits. All the rabbits at my house are not pets. I see them hopping around in the field sometimes and I think it might be great fun to chase them but Mom won't let me. But The House Rabbit Society knows all about rabbits. They told me that rabbits can be wonderful indoor companions, get along with many other companion animals (including cats and dogs), are intelligent, affectionate and inquisitive, and can readily be trained to use a litter box. That's pretty smart. Even I don't know how to use the litter box! However, they can also be destructive. The ideal "rabbit person", in addition to being gentle, patient and eager to get to know a rabbit on his or her terms, must be willing to rabbit-proof their home to prevent destructive chewing. (See Mom - I'm not the only one who chews on things they're not supposed to).

Like the ASPCA, HRS says rabbits can and should be spayed and neutered - both for health reasons and also to help put an end to the animal overpopulation problem.

HRS also tries to teach people that rabbits are not always a good pet, especially for children. Even baby bunnies tend to be willful and independent, and do not enjoy being picked up and carried. HRS also cautions against buying or adopting a rabbit as a gift, or on impulse, as the novelty of having a new pet usually wears off. When a family realizes how much day-to-day work is involved, the rabbit is, unfortunately, often turned loose or surrendered to a shelter.

Also, this month, in honor of Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month, for each purchase from the Travels with Bob shop, Mom make a donation to the Petfinder Foundation.  And if you purchase an "Adopt a Rabbit" themed product, she will also make a donation to the House Rabbit Society!

Make some bunny happy!  Adopt a rescued rabbit!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

January is Train Your Dog Month

Of all the dogs at Oak Valley, I am the only one that Mom actually paid money for.  The rest of our family came from various shelters. 

Mom expected some behavior problems from me when I first came home.  After all, I was only a few weeks old and didn't know any better.  But the dogs from the shelter were all much older.  You would expect they wouldn't be too much trouble.  Not so!  In some cases, they misbehaved worse than I did when I was a puppy! 

According to the Humane Society of the United States, between six and eight million dogs and cats are turned in to animal shelters each year, and about four million are euthanized for lack of good homes.  If the behavior of our shelter dogs is any indication, I can understand why!  Who wants a dog that isn't housebroken, or constantly chews things, or is too aggressive?  What is really sad is that most of these behavior problems could be solved with a little training and socializing.  Fortunately, Mom and Dad understand this and take the time to work with us.  Not all dogs are as fortunate.

Training doesn't have to elaborate to be effective.  All we need are the basics.  Almost any of us can learn to sit and stay.  And once we have learned to do this, we are less likely to jump on people or be a nuisance.  Now we can truly be part of the family!

Of course, if you want to teach us more, some of us are eager to learn.  We dogs can be taught to do all kinds of things.  Gypsy can dance.  Ginger used to herd.  Dusty was a hunter and pointer.  There are dogs that play Frisbee.  Mom and Bob even told me about dogs that can surf.  I don't do many tricks but I do know how to sit and stay.  I'm so cute, apparently that's enough to make Mom happy!

January is Train Your Dog Month.  That makes it the perfect time for dog parents to learn how to train their dogs.  There are lots of ways you can learn.  Books, DVDs, and even online videos are available.  Please remember that we want to learn so any training should be humane.  Most of us will do anything to please you for some praise and a small treat.

If you don't want to learn to train us yourself, you can always attend a training class or hire a professional trainer.  This will cost a bit more than doing it yourself, but takes less time than doing it yourself.  But the time spent training your dog personally will be time well-spent.  It will give you and your dog a chance to bond and play.  If you do hire a trainer, remember there is no certification required.  That means anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, even if they don't know what they are doing!

Take time to train your dog.  We'll be better behaved.  You'll be less stressed.  And we'll both live happily ever after.

For more information on dog training, contact the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, who have proclaimed January as Train Your Dog Month.