Apparently there is an abundance of skunks right now…..and inquisitive canines can become overzealous in a search for a playmate, and have a close encounter of the worst kind! There are few smells that are as unpleasant and long lasting as skunk spray!
February through March is mating season for skunks, and that translates into more activity and more “skunk smell.” Skunks are gentle, non-aggressive creatures who have earned a bad reputation because of the pungent odor; their diet of grubs, insects, mice and baby rats is actually beneficial, but they are definitely unappreciated!
As for a person being sprayed by a skunk, it is unlikely. When alarmed, they are actually more afraid of you than you are of them, so if you know you have some on your property, make some noise when you go outside to let them know you are coming and they generally run away. …they also give off a warning by stamping their front feet. They usually come out at dawn and dusk to feed on grasses, roots, insects, or small rodents, and around homes, they may check the garbage cans. Skunks are nearsighted but they have a keen sense of smell so they follow their noses: a garbage can is an attraction, and if a door is open, a skunk may amble in. If the skunk enters the garage, the HSUS recommends leaving the garage door open at night and sprinkling flour along the bottom of it so that you can see the existing tracks. Cornering them is not a wise option, because spraying is their main defense! Dogs running free in a fenced-in back yard may share their space with them because skunks can get through very small openings to find any uncovered garbage or left over bits of pet food, and dogs don’t heed any warnings, so they are often victims of these nighttime prowlers.
There are many effective commercial “de-skunkers” on the market… some are effective; others are worthless. (Do NOT use tomato juice…it just makes a bad situation, worse!) The first thing to do is to check a sprayed dog’s eyes. If they are red and appear irritated, wash them out immediately with cool water. Since skunk musk is made up of chemical compounds called thiols, the answer to skunk odor is to change the thiols into other compounds that don’t smell, and regular shampoo won’t do that, but there is a homemade chemistry cure which is simple to make and will successfully “de-skunk” your smelly pet, eliminating the odor rather than masking it.
Mix the following in a large bucket (you need a large container because it will fizz):
- 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide
- ¼ cup baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of liquid dish washing soap or pet shampoo
Soak your dog’s fur, being careful to not get the solution in her eyes, nose, ears or mouth. These ingredients are natural, but they have acidic properties and can cause irritation. (We suggest putting a protective eye ointment into her eyes and a couple cotton balls in the ears before you begin soaping) Knead the solution into the fur, covering every part of the body, soaking it well. Use a sponge or cloth to clean around eyes and head. Rinse thoroughly, and if there is still an odor, soak down again, and rinse, and rinse, and rinse again!
If there is any solution left in the container, don’t try to store it. The chemical reaction from being closed up will just explode the lid off. Just toss whatever is left over, and hope there won’t be another stinky encounter for a long time!
Most people care about companion animals and want to protect them from cruelty and exploitation, and with the explosion of mobile technology and online social media, advocating for stronger animal-protection laws has never been easier. The ASPCA stresses the importance of not being shy about making your views known. Your legislators are on social media, and you can be sure that they pay attention to what the voters are saying, but personal messages– a phone call, an e-mail, or snail-mail message—is more likely to make them sit up and take notice. First impressions count, so when writing to legislators and government officials, be professional, and do your homework BEFORE you write. Know which political body handles which areas: for example, don’t ask a state legislator to introduce federal legislation, or a civilian member of a government advisory board to file a bill. Another effective avenue to share your views is to submit a letter-to-the-editor of your local newspaper. Whatever method you choose, don’t forget…
- Be specific
- Persuade with logic, not emotion…be sure your facts are accurate.
- Be brief…don’t ramble or get sidetracked…focus on your message
- Check your spelling and grammar!
- Be polite and respectful
- Thank the recipient for his/her consideration of your views
Animal welfare issues are important concerns in every state, and it is important to keep current on any legislation that may improve the lives of companion animals. If you live in Iowa, we suggest you join Iowa Voters for Companion Animals, an all-volunteer group working to address issues associated with Iowa’s large-scale commercial breeding facilities known as puppy mills.
Iowa still has the second largest number of puppy mills in the country, with the state being home to more than 200 of these commercial dog-breeding mills. Ranked among the top 4 dog-breeding states in the nation, Iowa is the ONLY one without state-level oversight of those facilities, which means that animal cruelty laws aren’t applied to these facilities. Thousands of dogs are currently suffering in horrific conditions without medical care or social interaction, in small, cramped, wire-bottom cages…many without adequate protection from the winter’s bitter cold. (If you are unfamiliar with puppy mills, google Puppy Mills/ASPCA).
Legislation is moving through Iowa’s Capitol right now that could provide additional protections for the 15,000 adult dogs in Iowa’s USDA kennels. This legislation is aimed at protecting dogs in puppy mills, and will not affect hobby breeders. Iowa residents are urged to contact state legislators to support this important, commonsense legislation. Please visit www.iafriends.org to get more information and to sign up to help Iowa dogs. (And a note from animal lovers in other states wouldn’t hurt either.)
Regardless of where you live, it is important to become better educated about the plight of animals in your state. The more you learn, the more you will become an advocate for the companion animals who have no voice, no choice. Some problems are due to apathy or ignorance; for others it is unabashed cruelty, but as you become more aware of what is going on, hopefully you will think carefully about the choices you make. You choose your friends, your doctors, your churches. You choose how you spend your money. You choose your legislators, and perhaps you need to let them know that mistreatment and abuse of animals matters to you, and that you expect these issues to be addressed. Companion animals deserve compassionate care and respect, and it is not up to “someone else” to be an advocate for them. If it’s to be, it’s up to you and me, not someone else.
We pray for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering; for animals that are overworked, underfed and cruelly treated… for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry; for all that must be put death. We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity, and for those who deal with them, we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words. Make us to be true friends to animals—Albert Schweitzer
The weather is truly miserable right now in most areas of the country, and even the dogs are not thrilled about taking a lengthy walk, but we all know that dogs that are not regularly exercised are likely to develop behavioral problems such as chewing, excessive barking and separation anxiety. So what is the responsible pet caregiver to do?? When it is too cold to spend much time outdoors, there are indoor activities that can stimulate your dog’s body and mind. Because of their keen sense of smell, dogs love nose games… actually they love almost any activity that involves interacting with their humans.
- Hide and seek: Simple and fun. Tell your dog to stay while you go to a different area of the house and hide…once you are hidden, call her to come and stay perfectly still until she finds you. Offer a treat and lots of praise and she will think she is an amazing search and rescue dog!
- Laser pointer capture: Shining a laser pointer on the floor and wall and letting your dog go wild chasing the red dot looks like fun, and it can be IF it is not overused, but most animal behaviorists claim that it can have unintended consequences. Dr. Nicolas Dodman from Tufts School of Veterinary medicine explains that a dog instinctively chases laser beams because, well, the dots move, and they stimulate dogs’ predatory systems so much that they cannot NOT chase it. They can’t help themselves. They are obliged to chase it, and never actually catching it can drive a dog to get so obsessed with chasing the light that he develops behavior problems. Dodman suggests that you keep laser chasing sessions very short and hide a few dog treats around the room, and then occasionally let the laser dot point out a treat that your dog is able to actually “catch.” If you notice the dog becoming obsessed about chasing the laser beams, replace the laser toy with a game of “fetch” where he can actually catch the toy.
- Indoor fetch: Fetch is an all-round great activity that is usually played outdoors, but it can be adapted for indoors. Fetch can be played down a long hallway or in the basement. Playing fetch up and down stairs is another option and provides a good workout, but keep it to a limited number of throws. It is best to throw the toy up the stairs, not down. That way he’ll be putting less pressure on his shoulder joints.
- Retrieve it: Many indoor games can help build your dog’s obedience skill, so if you are having difficulty teaching her to retrieve, put all her toys into a box, and then dump them in a pile on the floor. Sit across the room from her and point to the toys, asking her to bring you one. When you dog goes to pick one up, offer praise and when she brings it to you, offer more praise and maybe give her a treat. Repeat until all the toys are in your lap, and then offer BIG praise. You can practice other obedience exercises in the house too. For example, heel up and down a hallway with a ball or toy in your hand, and occasionally throw the ball to the end of the hallway and play a few rounds of retrieve.
- Tread-milling: If you have a treadmill gathering dust in a closet or basement, now is the time to dust it off. Training a dog to use a motorized treadmill requires patience and persistence, but most dogs will adapt quickly if you don’t spook them so that they develop a fear to the machine right away. Get him used to getting on the machine with the motor turned OFF. Repeat the on and off practice until he is interested in the machine and is comfortable on it. Let her watch you get on and off it with the motor on several times BEFORE inviting her to join you. Proceed slowly and offer praise (and treats if necessary). Never leave her unsupervised!
With a little imagination, neither you nor your dog needs to sit around on the couch all day yearning for better weather. Who knows—winter might even become your favorite season!
A VALENTINE FOR MOM
–thanks to Ann for sharing this uplifting story by Cathy Moore
My mom was a quiet, gentle soul and when Dad died unexpectedly, she was devastated but kept busy with her many friends and activities; however, four days after her sixty-sixth birthday (the week before Valentine’s Day), she had a stroke. An ambulance rushed her to the hospital, and the next month was tough, and although she survived, something inside her died. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with anger and sarcasm. Her number of visitors thinned, and gradually stopped altogether. She was left alone.
Since my husband and I were now empty nesters, we invited her to come live with us on our small farm, hoping the fresh air and casual atmosphere would help her adjust. We soon regretted the decision…she was moody and critical and had frequent outbursts of anger. She criticized everything, even the birthday gifts that she had received. Feeling frustrated, I desperately wanted to get her a Valentine that would brighten her spirits (and mine!). I browsed through everything at the local gift shop and was ready to give up when the store owner suddenly exclaimed. “I just read something that might help you. Let me go get the article.”
The article described a remarkable study done on stroke victims. It offered many ideas that we had tried without success, but there was quite a commentary on how attitudes often improved dramatically when stroke survivors were given the responsibility of caring for a dog.
I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon, filled out a questionnaire, and explained my reason for being there. The attendant showed me row after row of pens with dogs. As I neared the last pen, a sheltie in the far corner struggled to her feet, looked at me, and then lay back down. Years had etched her face and muzzle with shades of gray, her hip bones jutted out…she certainly was not a show dog, but there was something about the sadness in her eyes that held my attention.
The attendant noticed. “She’s a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and just sat at the door. That was three weeks ago. Her time is up tomorrow.”
As the words sank in, I turned to the guy in horror. “You mean you are going to kill her?”
“Ma’am,” he said gently, “We don’t have room for every unclaimed dog. It certainly not what we would choose to do, but dogs seem to be throw-away property, and we are left with the sad responsibility to do what has to be done.”
I looked at the sheltie again. “I’ll take her,” I said.
I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house, I honked the horn twice, and Mom came out onto the front porch. “I want you to meet your Valentine.”
Mom looked, then wrinkled her face in disgust.” If I had wanted a dog, I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Take it back. I don’t want it.”
Anger rose inside me, and as we glared at each other, the sheltie pulled free from my grasp, stumbled toward Mom, and sat down directly in front of her. Then slowly, hesitantly, she raised her paw. Mom’s face softened. The dog just sat there, staring at her with those sad eyes. Mom dropped to her knees, sobbing as she hugged the dog.
We can’t explain what happened, but in that moment, Mom’s peace of mind was restored, and it was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. She named her Lucy, and together they explored the community, making new friends. They were inseparable. Mom was once again a gentle, lovable person, and the sadness disappeared from Lucy’s eyes.
Then last year, late on the eve of Valentine’s Day, I was wakened to feel Lucy’s cold nose frantically pawing at our bed. I rushed to Mom’s room, where she lay, hands folded across her chest, face serene. Her spirit had left quietly sometime earlier in the night. The next day my grief deepened when I discovered that Lucy had pulled Mom’s blanket from her bed, made herself a nest, and curled up for a permanent sleep..
The morning of Mom’s funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks the way I feel, I thought, as we entered the sanctuary, surprised to see the church overflowing with the many friends Mom and Lucy had made through the years.. As the pastor paid tribute to both my mother and the dog who had changed her life, I noticed that sunlight was streaming through the window. The heaviness in my heart lifted, as I realized what a blessing the Valentine for Mom was to all of our lives.
According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, more than $800 MILLION will be spent on pets this Valentine’s Day, one of the biggest holidays for advertisers out there. Wow! And I thought our economy was tight…not that I am opposed to giving your dog a Valentine.
There are some very practical items, but for the caregiver who really wants to go all out, there is a plethora of extravagant (and ridiculous) gift options, including real mink coats that are farm raised and custom made in Canada…a Canadian Golden Sable. Lined in colored matched flannel backed satin, is on sale for half price for a mere $747.00. Then there is the 3.2 MILLION dollar diamond dog collar which is featured on www.ilovedogs.com . Dubbed the “Bugatti of dog collars”, this 52-carat diamond dog collar, designed by Forbes Senior Editor Matt Miller, is truly the “world’s most expensive. ” Beyond the Crate offers dream house mansions….the Hacienda Celebrity Dog Mansion was custom made for a Hollywood personality. This “dog house” is designed by a “world renowned artist and designer” who creates some of the most upscale dog houses in the world . The Hacienda Mansion sells for about $30,000, depending on the number of extra amenities requested. For exact pricing and a free consultation, contact email@example.com . I love dogs, but I cannot believe that anyone would even consider purchasing some of the outrageous gifts that are available. Just proves that some people definitely have more money than common sense.
For most animal lovers who don’t have the time, money, or inclination to spend big bucks on their pets, there are no worries. The reality is that our pets don’t know it’s Valentine’s Day, and they won’t feel slighted if they don’t get any grand gift. An extra walk, a few quality minutes of your time…and maybe a home made treat or two will mean more than a million dollar collar.
And here’s a valentine from your favorite pooch:
I love dog biscuits, stuff in the garbage can, smelling spots in the back yard, my squeaky toys, and long walks, but what makes my tail wag more than anything is you, my best friend. I love having you as my person, and I try every day to take good care of you. My very favorite thing is being close to you. You fill my days with joy, and I hope that nothing ever comes between your being my person and my being your dog. You have my unconditional love and loyalty, no matter what your life brings. I would run miles to be with you, risk any danger to protect you, and kiss away your tears to comfort you. You are my true love, and I want to always be the one who makes you smile. I wear my heart on my wagging tail, and I will always love you more than anything…even biscuits. Every day is Valentine’s Day when I am with you.
Your faithful dog
If you feel the urge to bake, here’s a simple recipe for cheesy dog treats that your dog is sure to love.
- 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (or white will work if you don’t have wheat)
- ½ cup oil
- ½ cup milk
- Mix together and drop by spoonfuls on lightly greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly with a glass.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
February is Spay-Neuter Awareness Month with the 26th declared World Spay Day, an annual event organized by the Doris Day Animal League to promote awareness of the tragedy of pet overpopulation. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers worldwide come together every February to share information and stress the importance of spaying and neutering pets. There are more than six hundred million homeless and unwanted dogs in the world and millions killed in US shelters, and spaying and neutering is an easy, low-cost way of reducing the over-population problem and preventing the needless deaths of these wonderful animals.
In every community, in every state, there are homeless animals. In the U.S. there are an estimated 6-8 million homeless animals entering shelters every year. Barely half of those animals are adopted, and tragically many healthy, sweet pets who would have made great companions are euthanized.
A recent USA Today article cited that neutered male dogs live 18% longer than intact males, and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than intact female dogs. Part of the shorter lifespan of unaltered pets can be attributed to their increased urge to roam, exposing them to fights with other animals and other mishaps, but a major factor to the longevity of altered pets involves the reduced risk of certain types of cancers. Spayed female dogs have a much smaller chance of developing pyometra, a fatal uterine infection, uterine cancer, and other cancers of the reproductive system. Male pets who are neutered eliminate their chances of getting testicular cancer, and most medical professionals believe that it also lowers the chance of prostate cancer.
Getting your pets altered will not change their fundamental personality or their innate protective instincts, or make them fat and lazy…..too much food and too little exercise cause weight problems. Un-neutered dogs are often overly assertive and more prone to urine marking than neutered dogs, and although leg lifting is most often associated with male dogs, females may do it too.
Other behavioral problems that can usually be resolved by spay- neuter include:
- Roaming: especially when females are in heat
- Biting: most dog bites involve dogs who are unaltered
- Dominance-related behaviors: barking, mounting, etc.
Dr. Debora Lichtenburg, DVM, offers her philosophy and soapbox thought on the subject:
“If you have a pet at home, not spayed or neutered yet, either because of procrastination on your part, financial reasons, or some misinformation, get off the couch and make plans to schedule the surgery asap. Know that you are saving your pet from future health complications and you are saving yourself some big future vet bills if you spay-neuter NOW. And if you have a little extra, offer to pay to have a neighbor or friend’s intact dog fixed! Help raise public awareness of our serious overpopulation of companion animals, anticipating a time when there will be fewer stray puppies and dogs in shelters and on the streets”
The millions of unwanted dogs represent a needless tragedy, and by spaying and neutering your pet, you can be part of the solution instead of the problem. Let your family and friends know that they should do the same thing, and if cost is an issue, seek out groups that offer assistance. In our area, the TLC, in cooperation with the ASPCA, has a few vouchers left to help pay for this surgery. Contact your vet or the TLC for details.
January is Train Your Dog Month, and while working on this week’s Paw Prints, I have been sidetracked several times. Seems like there are “special recognition days and months” for just about everything. I certainly did not know that there was a “Squirrel Appreciation Day” celebrated every January… and although we feed the squirrels and enjoy watching their antics, I never imagined how many sites feature this special day.
I don’t know how effective squirrel training might be, but I do know that dog training is a vital aspect of responsible pet care. Inappropriate behavior is a major reason given when a dog is relinquished to a shelter, which is sad for both the humans and the dog, especially when most problems could be resolved. Dog training is not just an 8 week class; it is an ongoing effort that will continue for the life of your dog, and, like people, no two dogs are alike, so they respond differently, but the best way to change unwanted behavior is by positive reinforcement. If you want your dog to do something, find a way for it to make sense to her and she will respond, and be reasonable in your expectations… a dog is a dog is a dog!
- When it’s time to train, put aside your frustrations of the day, and focus on the positive relationship you would like to have with your dog. Training should be an enjoyable experience for both you and the dog, and if you are not in the right mood for training, don’t even start the session.
- Always ask yourself what you want your dog to do in any given situation. If you don’t know, she can’t possibly know either. Sometimes it is possible to prevent the dog from making a mistake in the first place by teaching her substitute behaviors. Instead of jumping up on people, teach her to sit. Instead of chewing on shoes, provide appropriate dog chew toys (and put your shoes away so they are not temptations) She will soon learn that sitting gets a better reaction than jumping up, and that scraping human body parts with her paw doesn’t get her a walk in the park.
- Use whatever reinforcement your dog enjoys the most, something highly prized…treats and praise rate high with most dogs.
- Dogs respond best to short, calm commands. Use exactly the same word every time, and avoid constantly repeating a command. Say it once, using a firm tone that is crisp and cheerful. Then wait for compliance.
- Timing is important. Delayed reinforcement seldom works. Your dog sits, but by the time you say, “Good dog,” she is standing again…so what are you encouraging? Re-enforcing too quickly is also ineffective as giving rewards for behavior that has not yet occurred simply creates confusion.
- Use all of your dog’s behaviors to earn him “what he wants.” Make getting anything that your dog desires a learning opportunity. It doesn’t matter what behavior you ask for, as long as you ask the dog to do “something” in exchange for a valuable reward.
- Training should never involve any negative or punishment-based component… no yelling, hitting or chain jerking. Each session should be upbeat and positive with rewards for well done.
- When training, it is important to be consistent with sessions every day, and repetition is important. Everyone is busy, busy, busy, but, If possible, short sessions two or three times daily will work miracles with your dog…and don’t forget to feed the squirrels!!!
While we are busy teaching our dogs to sit, stay, and roll over, they are teaching us love, loyalty and joy.—Yorinks
Major snow storms, bitterly cold temperatures, and extremely high winds have hit with a vengeance, and as tough as this weather is on humans, it can be even tougher on our dogs. NEVER leave your dog outside in weather like this, and remember, even if the temperature isn’t that low, wind chill can threaten your pet’s safety. If it’s too cold outside for you, then it’s too cold for your companion animal. If your fingers are cold, your dog’s feet and pads are too! They are vulnerable to frostbite and hypothermia in less than an hour’s exposure. It is the responsibility of pet caregivers to keep their dogs safe and healthy through the harsh winter months.
We don’t approve of “outdoor” dogs at any time of the year, because dogs are pack animals and are happiest and healthiest when kept with their human pack, but it is especially dangerous in extremely cold or hot weather. . Why have a dog if he is tethered or confined “out back”? If you don’t want a dog in the main part of your house, surely there is a heated area that could be kid- gated where he could spend his day in warm comfort. If he has behavioral issues, the solution is not to banish him to the back yard, but to spend the time to train him. Dogs are usually willing to comply to house rules if they understand what the rules are. TAKE him out for just a short, brisk walk, or if you have a basement or upstairs, you can exercise him by playing fetch up and down the steps (or even through the halls), and provide him some entertainment if you will be gone for an extended period of time. Popular “puzzle” or “foraging” toys are great!
My very favorite is the Kong which can be stuffed with part of your dog’s meal, or a combination of meal and treats. A few Kongs will keep your dog happily occupied for hours, and will lessen the chances of inappropriate behavior. If you absolutely refuse to let your dog into the house, at least fix up a warm corner in the porch, basement or garage, using plenty of blankets to provide a barrier from the cold floors and build him a warm, cozy “den.” There are many small, safe heaters that can be used to warm his den….don’t keep pets in unheated areas, but use caution to keep any electrical cords out of chewing reach…just in case.
A high quality, nutritionally balanced diet is essential, especially in the winter. To find out how different foods rate, google www.dogfoodadvisor.com, an independent company, that rates all the major dog foods. Check out the food you are currently using…you may be surprised at what you find. All dog foods are not created equal, and with all the slick marketing techniques used, it’s tough to sort out what is good and what is simply advertising mumbo jumbo.
Many dogs need a sweater or coat to protect from the elements, but after evaluating dozens of different brands, we concluded that most of them are worthless. Some are difficult to put on the dog; many are ill-fitting or stretch out of shape quickly, others have uncomfortable bands that do little except irritate the animal, and most of them expose the dog’s vulnerable underside. Premier Pet “Fido Fleece” coats are really designed to keep Fido toasty warm. Made of anti-pilling fleece, they are durable and feature a collar-to-tail Velcro closure for easy on and off, wear like iron, and are super easy to clean— just machine wash and dry. Look up Fido Fleece Dog coats and you will find a wide choice of style and color.
Salt and de-icing chemicals can cause your dog’s pads to become dry, cracked, and painfully sore, so be sure to carefully snip the tufts of hair between her toes to help prevent ice balls from sticking. You can find dozens of dog boots or booties in pet stores and catalogs—most are cute but quite ineffective…and most dogs rebel against wearing them! A thin layer of aloe or Vaseline rubbed onto her footpads will provide a protective coating, and is safe even if she licks her feet. It is important to always clean off paws after a walk, even though the oil helps keep ice and snow from clumping so badly between the toes.
Please get involved if you see a neglected or shivering animal left out in the cold. (Shivering is the first sign of mild hypothermia) Urge people to bring their dogs inside, and as difficult as it is, don’t be belligerent or accusatory. Try to get your point across in a friendly manner. Ignorance is curable by education. However, if you meet with resistance, alert the authorities. Concerned neighbors are often the only hope for these poor animals.
We can judge the heart of a human by that person’s treatment of animals.
The festive holiday lights no longer sparkle, the tree is stored or discarded, and the decorations have been put away. BRRR, it is cold outside, and as we face the prospect of several months of gray, cold, gloomy days, many of us feel the “blahs” …some of us become afflicted with the disorder, SAD. Officially, SAD is thought to be caused by a lack of bright light affecting hormonal balances, but no one seems to adequately understand this “Seasonal Affective Disorder” …it just makes us depressed, sometimes seriously depressed.
Do our dogs suffer from SAD? Probably not, but they are prone to cabin fever, and even worse for them, they cannot entertain themselves as humans do, by watching old movies or texting friends. Our TLC residents are definitely a little out of sorts…weather has not permitted their usual long healthy walks, and they have creatively tried various methods to boost themselves out of winter’s doldrums.
After spending some extra time with the canine crew, we offer these ten New Year’s resolutions from our dogs’ perspective:
- Resolution 1: Even though it is too cold to bare my butt outdoors, I will use the pet door and go outside to do my business, as tempting as it is to just squat in my warm den. However, sometimes there are special considerations, and I may have to decide what those special considerations are. How cold is too cold?
- Resolution 2: I will stop acting like I am starving. I‘ve got begging down to a fine art—those TLC volunteers are putty in my paws, but it has become demeaning. I will reserve the begging for worthwhile things, like Roberta’s homemade dog cookies.
- Resolution 3: I just discovered that I am scheduled for my annual checkup, so I will try to remember that the vet and staff are just trying to help in their own, weird way, although they really know how to push my buttons with those needles. I will try to relax, so that they will start to say, “Good Dog,” and “Nice girl” instead of “get the muzzle for this one.” I won’t bite if a snarl is effective.
- Resolution 4: I will try to introduce myself to new TLC visitors in more appropriate ways. I will focus above the waist when introducing myself because somehow, I get the feeling that my normal greeting methods offend them… something about “invading their private space.”
- Resolution 5: I realize that all of the toys are not specifically MY toys, and will be more sharing. New squeaky toys are not included….I will do my best to keep them hidden under the covers in my bed…definitely off limits to everyone—four-legs or two-legs.
- Resolution 6: If it is warm enough, and I get a walk, I will not roll on nasty stuff… unless it is irresistible…some things are irresistible.
- Resolution 7: I will not chew on pens or crayons that get dropped on the floor, especially not the red ones, because the volunteers get really panicky thinking that I am hemorrhaging.
- Resolution 8: I am going to get paw prints on a petition stating that leg humping be a juried competition in major dog shows. Humping would certainly be more productive than some of the strange things the judges expect.
- Resolution 9: I realize that there are many chained dogs, injured animals, and lost and wandering pets who need intervention by someone who cares, and I am thankful that I have been rescued. I pray that more humans will realize that companion animals are sometimes at risk and it’s up to compassionate animal lovers to bring them to safety.
- Resolution 10: I will continually remind myself to practice tolerance toward the two-legged ones. They need all the help they can get, and I must do my best to make life easier for them.
2015—Let’s resolve to make this the very best year ever, filled with peace, love and joy!!
The arrival of the New Year brings the inevitable resolutions. We are all familiar with the promises to improve our lives and the lives of our dogs in the coming year, so perhaps we can all benefit from a few words of wisdom for 2015:
- Walk with your dog every day, smiling. Emulate your dog…..greet everyone you meet with honest enthusiasm.
- Live with the 3 E’s: energy, enthusiasm, and empathy.
- Read some books on dog training: then follow through with the suggestions.
- Listen to quiet, relaxing music every day…it is nourishment for your soul and most dog enjoy it too.
- Spend more time with your family and your dog than you did last year. Sharing our lives with others is a privilege, and it is humans’ responsibility to provide proper care and attention those dependent upon us.
- Put together a pet first aid kit and a disaster kit so that in case of an emergency, you are prepared. If you have a kit, be sure to update it on a regular basis.
- Eliminate clutter…in your house…in your office. In your mind…and clean out the dog toy box and donate some of the toys he never plays with to a dog that doesn’t have any toys.
- Never pass up an opportunity to help an animal in need. Chained animals, injured animals, lost and wandering pets—all of these animals need intervention. Removing them from dangerous situations may be the difference between life and death for them. Animals can’t dial 911 or ask for help; they are at the mercy of humans, so be prepared and willing to help an animal in need.
- Support the efforts of local shelters or rescue groups. If you can’t adopt, volunteer to transport animals for a rescue group or give financial support to struggling organizations. Animal rescue is a 24/7 operation and groups need as much help as they can get—both physically and financially.
- Donate supplies. Call to find out specific needs, but most groups need blankets, paper towels, and toys, and many shelters have website posts with “wish lists” of the most-needed items.
- Never buy pet supplies from stores that sell puppies – you will be supporting puppy mills. Regardless of what they tell you, almost ALL stores that sell puppies are supplied by puppy mills.
- Stay informed. Join animal welfare groups to keep you updated on current legislation. Write to your congressmen, encouraging them to support better laws to protect our companion animals.
- Recognize that you can pass through another year, just coasting on cruise control, or as Pablo says, “You can step out of your comfort zone, trying things you have never done before and make 2015 the year that you elevate from where you are and soar high…Make it happen.
Walt Zientek offers this prayer for the New Year:
I pray for every dog searching through alleys and trashcans for breakfast, a forever home with plenty of food and love.
For every dog who spends his nights chained or isolated in the back yard, a soft, warm bed with a human nearby.
For every “Christmas pup” that was given, a tolerant, caring person who realizes that a dog is forever, and must not be abandoned, no matter what.
For every ailing pet, enough money for the caregiver to pay bills, and a skilled veterinarian to make him well.
For every lost dog, a clear, safe road, and well-marked path to lead her home.
For every old and tired friend, a warm fire and soft bed to ease the aches and pains.
For every dog who has passed on, a moment when he is remembered, and missed.
Life is beautiful, and this year offers wonderful opportunities to make it the best year ever.