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!