Not a Fun Day for Dogs!

The Fourth of July is an exciting, fun holiday for humans, but unfortunately, this holiday holds a plethora of danger for your dogs who do not understand the loud noises, and flashes of light.. Just put yourself in your dog’s place: it is getting dark and you are relaxing on the back patio, when suddenly the sky explodes…fire and thunder shattering the night.

No dog should be left outdoors, especially on the Fourth of July, and do not take her along to any fireworks show. . The Humane Society of the United States recommends leaving your pet INDOORS in a safe, quiet room. Make sure the room is dog- proofed, and provide safe toys for him. (maybe this is a good time to give him a couple new toys!). Frightened dogs can become destructive, so remove any breakable objects or things that could be harmful to your dog if chewed.

Turn on a radio or television (or both), set at a low volume, to create a soothing noise. We have found one of the best calming tools is a CD, Canine Lullabies: heartbeat music therapy especially for dogs. Most of the CD’s that claim to “make dogs happy or calm” are simply people-pleasers, but Canine Lullabies is different. It was tested by humane societies and members of the American Boarding Kennels Association. However, personal experience is always the best teacher, so I tested it on our own shelter dogs. Several of them were so distraught that they would bark for hours; another one licked himself until his skin was raw. Amazingly, this music calmed and relaxed them. If you have a dog that suffers from separation anxiety, barks excessively, or exhibits other inappropriate behavior, I recommend trying it, and there is no better time than the Fourth of July weekend. For whimpering puppies, sick or injured dogs, or just hyperactive pets, it is a life saver. For more information go to or check out Terry Woodford on Face Book.

You can also stream these from Spotify using these links ( and ( for free with commercials or without commercials if you already pay for a Spotify account.

A commercial product, ThunderShirt, has been used with great success by thousands of individuals and shelters. An effective deterrent to anxiety and stress, this product was developed out of sheer frustration. ThunderWorks founder, Phil Blizzard’s fifty pound dog was terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks, and Blizzard could find no solution other than medications and desensitization training programs. One day a friend recommended trying a snug wrap…like swaddling an infant, and during one bad storm, he wrestled the dog into an old t-shirt and used packing tape to create mild pressure. It worked and the taped T-shirt evolved into a ThunderShirt, which has had an insanely calming effect on millions of dogs, and effectively provides an effective solution for common problems of anxieties, over-excitement, pulling, jumping and much more.

Rescue Remedy Pet is an alcohol- free variation of the original stress relieving formula, Rescue Remedy, that has been available for more than 70 years. It can be used to create a calming effect in any stressful situation, or when your dog needs help overcoming a variety of emotional or behavioral problems.

It is a good idea to make sure your pet is well-exercised well before any fireworks displays begin. A tired pet will be calmer and less likely to engage in anxious or disruptive behavior. The safest option for celebrating the holiday is to exclude them from all of the festivities, but make sure they are wearing ID tags …just in case. According to Dogs Deserve Better, more animals are lost on July 4th than any other time of the year Two forms of identification are always best…if your dog gets loose, and is found, the first thing that will be looked for is an ID tag. If he is taken to a shelter, he will be scanned for a microchip.

By using common sense precautions, both you and your pet can enjoy a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Embrace the New Year

As we embrace the New Year and its promise of changes and improvement, don’t forget to include your pets in your 2018 resolutions. Need ideas? Her are a few resolutions to make sure the new year is your dog’s healthiest happiest year yet:

  • Update Pet ID info…A lot can change over a year’s time….people move, get new phone numbers, and change e-mail addresses. If any of your contact information has changed, updating tags and microchip information are the best ways to ensure a lost pet makes his way home safely.
  • Spend more time with your dog. We often get caught up in the daily responsibilities and working to improve our personal lives, but spending more time with our family, both two-legged and four-legged is a sure way to increase happiness in the new year. Try a new activity; a new exercise routine is a great way to bond, and it will get you both moving and you will reap the benefits of a healthy physical activity. Joining a group with like-minded pet owners might be fun for all.
  • Maintain a schedule. Pets thrive on routine. When meals, walks and playtime happen at relatively the same time daily, you will find your dog will be ready and anticipating what comes next.
  • Training. Well behaved dogs are well behaved because they have been trained. It is the caregiver’s responsibility to teach what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior. Most relinquished dogs are dogs that have not learned boundaries and limitations, which is sadly the human’s fault. Training for your dog often becomes training for you as you learn to be consistent, firm, clear, and patient in both commands and expectations.
  • Make a date with your vet. Yearly examinations by a veterinarian are vital to good preventative care. Many medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and obesity are easier to manage when detected in the early stages. Veterinary visits are also the perfect time to have a dental exam….did you know that most dogs have serious dental problems by the age of three? Canine dental problems are not limited to the damage of the dog’s teeth and gums. They can also have adverse effects causing problems to major organs such as the lung, heart, and kidneys.
  • Guarantee your pet-related financial health by starting a pet savings fun. Stash away a few dollars every month, and then when a pet emergency comes up, you’ll have a reserve.
  • Evaluate your dog’s diet. Just because a dog food is highly advertised does not mean it is a healthy diet. Many of the highly touted foods are really not good for your dog. It is difficult to understand all the jargon used on dog food labels, but avoid products containing bad products like by-products and chemicals. If you are unsure, go to for an unbiased report on a particular food. You may be surprised at what you discover.
  • Measure your pet’s food—every time. Most of us just eye-ball their daily intake, which usually results in overfeeding and weight gain. It is important to use an actual measuring cup to ensure your pet isn’t getting more food than she needs. Most professionals recommend twice daily feeding, and PLEASE don’t feed junk-food treats to your dog. There are many easy-to-make HEALTHY recipes available.

Start the New Year off on the right paw by following these simple guidelines:

Play more! Stress Less!

Love unconditionally

Go on relaxing walks

Smile more and laugh a lot

Live in the moment….NOW is a new beginning


Tis The Season for Love and Joy… And Debt

For many Americans, the quality of Christmas is determined by gifts It is an undeniable fact that for our society as a whole, gifts are the central feature of the holiday season, with retailers pressuring us to spend more than we can afford by promoting the ‘buy now, pay later’ philosophy, piling on credit card debt. In a recent survey, many said they would prefer to skip Christmas altogether because the holiday season brings so much financial pressure. How sad….we need to learn that things will never make us happy, and Christmas is not about accumulating more “stuff, ” for either our two-legged friends or our four-legged companions.

According to the American Pet Products Association, pet caregivers are spending more than $60 BILLION dollars on their pets this year. Chris Riches of Dailymail says that pets are more popular than relatives at Christmas with more than half planning to spend more on their animal companions than each of their own family members. Naturally every pet supply outlet is taking advantage of the impulse buyer, tantalizing dog lovers with toys, but remember that there is NO agency overseeing the dog toy market , and many of them are not good for your canine. With the market flooded with cheap imports, it’s BUYER BEWARE. Double check…and then check again to make sure a toy is non-toxic and safe. Squeaky toys are a favorite for almost all dogs, but it is easy for dogs to choke on them, often causing a blockage that requires surgery. Dogs love rawhides, but I recommend that you NEVER give rawhides to your dog! Consider toys made of very hard rubber which are safer and last longer, and remember your dog is not impressed with expensive stuff…. They possess the spirit of Christmas every day of the year, realizing that it is not the Christmas wrapping or the gifts…it is about joy and love, and they are eager to share those attributes with you every day of every year. . However, a gift or two would be appreciated, so please choose products made in North America or Europe over those mass-produced and imported from other countries where safety standards are almost non- existent. Avoid the cheap, stinky latex toys, and Inspect all toys for loose parts or pieces that might easily break off. Don’t give children’s toys to dogs, because they could chew off and choke on the eyes and noses of stuffed animals.

One of my favorite toys is the Kong. Kong toys are uniquely shaped, extraordinarily strong, rubber toys with hollow centers, and they have an unpredictable bounce that appeals to almost all dogs. This toy can be used for therapy, boredom, separation anxiety, other behavior problems, and just plain fun. A Kong can be stuffed with almost any kind of food your dog likes…mix some of his meal with a little canned dog food, yogurt, peanut butter…combinations are endless, and if you freeze them , they will occupy your dog for extended periods of time.

Kyjen Pet Products has a great assortment of quality dog dogs….the Squeaker Mat Toy has multiple squeakers that have the squeakers sewn inside, and doesn’t have any stuffing to be swallowed when your dog eventually rips it open.

The Nylabone Durable Dental Dinosaur and the Nylabone Dura chew Wishbone are great gifts for serious chewers. They have interesting shapes and raised bristles to help clean her teeth.

The Cuz is an ingeniously designed, natural rubber ball with feet…but that’s not its only special feature. It squeaks…and the squeaker is built into the Cuz so that it won’t fall out. It is a well-made toy by JW Pets, a U.S. based company that claims their ideas are l00% homegrown in the USA. They also have a large assortment of other creative, well-made toys, including Cuz Tails, which has a soft, squeaky tail that can be bounced, tugged and fetched. JW dog toys are higher quality than most of the toys you find in the big box toy departments.

Remember that no toy is indestructible, and as long as the toy industry is an unsupervised playground, it is the responsibility of the caregivers to keep their eyes on the ball, the stuffing, and the squeaker.

Dogs help us to better understand what Christmas is truly about, and even though they cannot speak in our language-or perhaps it is that we cannot speak in theirs-we know that dogs realize the true meaning of Christmas. Have a loving , joyous, debt-free holiday season!

Chaos Reigns Supreme

The holiday season is a time of friends, family, gift-giving, and festivities for most of us, but from a dog’s perspective, the holidays resemble a long confusing nightmare in which chaos reigns supreme.

It begins with a dead tree being dragged into the house with everyone oohing and aahing as the pine needles leave a path across the floor. If we even drag a branch from the back yard, we’re in trouble, but this thing is apparently special. Another interesting fact: normally a tree is fair game for marking, but not this one. Our humans are fiercely protective of this lopsided, leaning thing. They even string it with warning lights and hang all sorts of junky looking stuff on the sagging limbs, and continually warn us to not even think about touching that tree. The only explanation we have is that it is seasonal madness…it has something to do with the time of year, and we just have to survive for a few weeks, knowing that it will pass.

The tree is off limits, and sometimes the kitchen is a no-no too. There is a mad flurry of activity, cooking all sorts of things and then stuffing them into an already full freezer. It wouldn’t be so bad, but there is not even a hint of something for us. And the hoarding begins. We have seen squirrels hoard, but this is ridiculous. Big boxes and bags are crammed into the closets until the doors will hardly close. Even the squirrels know when enough is enough.

Other strange objects appear, and it seems like everything has a ribbon around its neck. The bags and boxes are hauled from the closets to the tables, and everything is covered with brightly colored paper, and of course, ribbon. What is this ribbon fetish? Then the boxes and bags are moved from the tables to the floor around the dead tree, and we are warned again to not even think about touching them. The only bright spot in this mess is that a couple of the boxes really do smell like those special dog treats mom makes once in a while. Maybe the two-legs were making dog cookies to put in the freezer!

Then there is that early morning madness when extra people show up, and everyone starts tearing open the bags and boxes that we had been forbidden to even touch. Hooch who has been around this craziness for many years offers some advice. “The human puppies are not all bad. This is a day when everyone eats several times, so sit by the kids. You can take food from them quite easily. A cookie, a cracker, some cheese, teething biscuits—it’s a doggie bonanza. All in all, it’s almost worth enduring their presence. “

Then the moment of ultimate humiliation. They put those gaudy, uncomfortable sweaters on us with little ribbons chafing our necks, but again Hooch, our wise senior four-legs, patiently explains, “Humans have strange sayings like, “that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back,” and “this too shall pass,” which don’t make much sense, but I think they somehow relate to this whole sweater thing. I do know that eventually the nightmare will end. The human puppies will leave. The tree will still be leaning, there will be junk everywhere, but no one will notice. Your people will finally remember the boxes with the tantalizing smells and begin dividing up mom’s homemade biscuits …and some toys that still have squeakers that squeak, and stuffed animals that are really stuffed.

Hooch’s final words of wisdom are, “Our humans will be totally exhausted and maybe even cranky, but that will pass. It is important to appreciate the gifts…even the sweaters. The two-legs mean well. In their own strange ways, they demonstrate that Christmas is a special time of joy, a time to share, a time to put love and kindness and compassion on display. The unimportant stuff like the ribbons and tinsel (and the dead tree) will disappear, but hopefully the true meaning of Christmas—joy, love, kindness, and compassion—will remain.”

Faith, hope, and charity…may we always have these, not just at Christmas time, but the whole year through.

It’s Beginning to Look a LOT like Christmas

We are plunging into the cold, snowy months of winter, and it is definitely beginning to look like Christmas everywhere! It is a fun time for humans, but can be quite confusing to our four-legged friends. Dogs thrive on routine, and suddenly things seem to change, as they see the two-legs doing all sorts of weird things. Time management skills often become over-taxed as we rush around shopping, gift wrapping, and going to holiday activities, making it is easy to overlook our pets, so here are a few tips to help safeguard your dog’s happiness during the upcoming weeks of preparation and celebration:

  • Christmas trees are full of potentially deadly dangers. Place your tree in a place where it can’t be easily knocked over by an inquisitive dog. Try to find an area by the wall or in a corner, out of the major traffic flow pattern of the house, and near an outlet so you don’t have to run electrical cords long distances. Choose safe ornaments…there are no totally pet-safe bulbs, as any ornament can be ingested and cause an intestinal obstruction, but fragile or glass ornaments should not be placed on the lower limbs, and hanging edibles on your tree is discouraged , unless you want your canine companion stealing cookies and candy canes while your back is turned. Tinsel and garlands, if eaten, can also cause intestinal obstructions that may require surgery. Dogs love to investigate, and don’t understand that presents are not toys for them. Consider storing the presents in a safe area until right before the holiday, and do not allow your pet access to the tree without supervision. (Some caregivers claim that Bitter Apple sprayed on the lower branches will deter most dogs, but it is better to limit access to the tree)
  • Seasonal holiday plants can cause nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal upset, and even cardiovascular problems…. While serious complications aren’t likely, it is still best to keep them out of paws’ reach.
  • Some popular holiday foods can be quite dangerous to pets, such as chocolate and cocoa, candy and sugarless gums that contain xylitol, yeast bread dough, and fruit cakes with raisins and currants. The fruitcake threat can be compounded if the cake is soaked in rum. Alcohol poisoning can potentially lead to seizures or respiratory failure. It is perfectly acceptable to ask guests to refrain from sharing human food and drinks with your pets.
  • The holidays wouldn’t be the same without candles or menorahs, but remember to keep candles and liquid potpourri well out of the way of exuberant tails and inquisitive paws and noses. Leaving lighted candles and hot wax unattended can quickly become disastrous.
  • Make sure that visitors know you have a dog, and that it is important to keep doors shut so he doesn’t get out. You may just want to provide a special quiet place with cozy blankets and fresh water, and a favorite toy or two when you are having a lot of people coming and going, and the festivities get hectic, just to keep everyone safe, secure and happy.

Santa’s Gift to Me by Jim Ness

What do you mean this isn’t my present…didn’t Santa wrap it for me?

His picture’s all over the paper, as plain as anyone can see.

I am sure it has my name on it, although the writing is hard to read.

And it smelled very familiar so I am sure it is all right for me to proceed.

You know I don’t have much patience; I’ll just peek to see what it is.

I really don’t want to wait til Christmas… I’ve already drooled on the ribbon,

And the paper got a little wet, but I am tired of waiting… Isn’t it Christmas yet?


If you feel overwhelmed with preparations for the holidays, focus on the true meaning of Christmas—Let love, kindness, and joy fill your heart. There will be no room left for stress. As you make time for your loved ones, both two legs and four legs, everyone will be blessed!


Great Gifts For Your Favorite Pooch

Every pet outlet is taking advantage of the impulse buyer at this festive time of year. Pet stores and sites are tantalizing dog lovers with a vast array of “dog stuff”, and it is tough for dog lovers to resist with all the “hot buys” offered. Here a toy, there a toy, everywhere a toy, and your dog certainly needs a new toy (or two, or three!) for Christmas, right?

It is important to realize that there is NO agency overseeing the yearly $50 BILLION dollar dog toy market, and many of them are not good for your canine. With the market flooded with cheap imports, it’s BUYER BEWARE. Double check and then check again to make sure any toy is non-toxic and SAFE. Hazards can include anything from needles left inside stuffed toys to chemical laden paints and choking dangers, which are all too common with many of the toys. Although tennis balls are wonderful for some dogs, if the dog is an aggressive chewer, he can puncture the ball with his teeth and the ball is stuck in his mouth, or if he chews them in half, pieces can be swallowed…we have two dogs at the shelter right now that LOVE tennis balls, but cannot be left unattended with them. Squeaky toys are a favorite for almost all dogs, but again it is common for dogs to choke on them often causing a blockage that requires surgery. Dogs also love rawhides which can become soft when they are chewed and can lodge in the throat. I do not recommend ever giving raw hides to your dog!

Please choose products made in North America or Europe over those mass-produced and imported from other countries where safety standards are minimal. Inspect any toy for loose parts or pieces that might easily break off. Don’t give children’s toys to dogs, because they would probably chew off and choke on the eyes and noses of stuffed animals.

One of my very favorite commercial toy for dogs is the Kong. The Classic Kong has been around for more than 20 years, and is a “must have” staple for dog caregivers. Kong toys are uniquely shaped, extraordinarily strong, rubber toys with hollow centers, and they have an unpredictable bounce that lures most dogs into an ongoing game of catch, chase, and chew. (Sadly the Kong Company is now outsourcing some of their new products, but the Classic Kongs are made in the USA.) This amazing toy can be used for therapy, boredom, separation anxiety, other behavior problems, and just plain fun! Every dog should have several Kongs, especially if he is left alone for extended periods of time. A Kong can be stuffed with almost any kind of food your dog likes. Mix some of his meal with a little canned dog food, yogurt, peanut butter, cottage cheese…combinations are endless.

Another favorite toy is the CUZ, an ingeniously designed, natural rubber ball with feet….but that is not the only inventive thing about it. It squeaks…and the squeaker is built into the Cuz so that it won’t fall out. It has become a real favorite with the dogs at the shelter. It is a well-made toy made by JW Pets, a US based company that claims their ideas are l00% homegrown. They do their own inventing, designing, and creating in their facility in Texas…no outsourcing. They also have a big assortment of other creative, well made toys, with the latest addition being the Cuz Tails, which has a soft, squeaky tail that can be bounced, tugged and fetched …fun for both humans and canines. JW dog toys are better quality than most of the toys you find in dog toy departments. We encourage you to check out their website at You’ll find some really fun dog stuff.

Remember that no toy is indestructible, and as long as the toy industry is an unsupervised playground, it is the responsibility of the caregivers to keep their eyes on the ball, stuffing, and squeaker.


Christmas Puppies For Sale!

Most of us are busy writing our lists and will soon be checking them twice. We urge you to think carefully before you give a dog as a Christmas gift. Animals come with responsibilities, and the person receiving them may not be prepared to adequately provide for the animal’s care. When the holidays end, the kids go back to school, and the adults go back to work, what happens to the puppy?

A puppy is not a stuffed toy that can be tossed on the shelf when the newness wears off; the reality is that a pet is a serious long term responsibility and the decision to include a dog into any home should come only after careful consideration.

Please don’t just “get a puppy for the kids,” unless you are prepared for a lifetime commitment! And don’t fall for all the slick marketing techniques from the pet stores, and on- line-sites. Their motivation is not your happiness or the welfare of the animal; it is financial gain, as illustrated in this poem by Shannon McClure.

Adopt Don't Shop

Adopt Don’t Shop


Excerpt From – Merry Christmas From Ye Olde Puppy Shoppe!

By: Shannon McClure

We love our puppy customers.
They’re our #1 bread and butter,
Especially right now at Christmas time
With their MasterCards all a-flutter.

Oh sure, they’ve heard about puppymills
They don’t live in a cave.
The tree-huggers dreamed THAT whole thing up.
They’re really quite depraved!

All OUR pups came from “Local Breeders”.
These signs around TELL you so;
We paint em up and hang em high
Cause we want you to know!

We don’t put a price on honesty,
But this pup will cost eight hundred dollars.
You don’t think that we make the big bucks
Selling fish food and martingale collars !

But back to our Christmas Greeting
And why we wish you all Good Cheer;
You see, you are $pecial folks to us
At this festive time of year.

We love you cause you just don’t care
You buy it because you want it.
You can lay your cash on OUR counter, ma’am,
If you’ve got it, you OUGHT to flaunt it !!!

We love the things you DON’T ask !!!
It makes our job so easy.
If you saw the sights behind the scene
You’d probably get quite queasy.

You’ll never see the breeding dogs
Who suffer on the wire,
Or pups die of hypothermia
When their truck gets a flat tire.

We’ll keep you from our back room too,
And put a padlock on the freezer.
Those tiny puppies stiff and cold
Would not be a crowd pleaser.

We hope you have a vet you like
That pup’s probably gonna need him.
Ivomec wears off in thirty days
That’s how long we’ve guaranteed him !!!

Who cares when you get that blue slip home
And find out that it wasn’t true.
Your Local Breeder’s way out in Kansas ?
HO! HO! HO! That joke’s on you !!!

We’ve got the carols playing
And a Santa, for good reason;
We’re all scrubbed up and lookin’ good
So you’ll make our Christmas season.

Celebrate National Mutts’ Day

National Mutt Day is celebrated every July… actually caregivers who are owned by mutts celebrate their four-footed companion EVERY day, but officially animal welfare advocate and founder of Mutt Day, Colleen Paige, explains the purpose of the day is to raise awareness of the plight of mixed breed dogs in shelters and rescue facilities, and to educate the public about the millions of healthy, loving, mixed breed dogs desperately awaiting new homes. National Mutt Day encourages people to adopt a dog-in-need from shelters across the nation instead of pet stores, which are supplied by puppy mills. “Puppy mills are horrific places that neglect and abuse dogs for financial gain. I think that if everyone who wanted a dog would adopt from a shelter or a rescue group, we could make a huge impact on the overpopulation of unwanted dogs in America. Mutts are great family dogs, and are often healthier, behave better, and live longer, and are just as able as purebred dogs to perform expected duties! Please make a visit to your local facility…if you can’t adopt, volunteer to walk dogs, donate food or other supplies needed, or make a donation in the memory of a loved dog. In every heart there is a hole…and in every shelter, there is love to fill it.”

Tips to help you celebrate Mutt’s Day (or any other day):

  • Always be patient and kind and give her lots of love and praise every day. Be proud to announce that your dog is a Mutt.
  • Every dog loves a good walk, or some undivided snuggle time. A good brushing, tummy rub, or massage is always appreciated.
  • Offer to walk a mutt that gets little attention from her caregiver.
  • Write your Congressman and ask that he/she support the ban on puppy mills.
  • Buy your mutt a fun, new dog toy.
  • Throw out all your chemical cleaners, and purchase non-toxic cleaner for your home…both your dog and you will be healthier.
  • Buy a canine first aid kit so that you are prepared in case of emergency.
  • Microchip and I.D. tag your Mutt with current info so if she gets lost, you can be located.
  • Make sure your Mutt has all necessary vaccines and regular health exams.
  • Install a physical fence if you have an unfenced yard, so that your mutt can run and enjoy some freedom at home. NEVER chain him outdoors to a tree or doghouse. Include him in your family be letting him live inside your home with you.
  • Check the ingredients of your dog’s food. Many well known foods are NOT quality foods. Deciphering a pet food label may be confusing, so, an independent site ranks all of the major dog foods. When you discover how different foods rank, you may decide to switch your dog’s food.
  • Most commercial treats are not healthy, and some are downright toxic. The FDA is continually issuing warnings about dog treats (and foods) that are potentially poisonous to your dog. We recommend no commercial treats, but especially avoid those that are imported from China. It is easy (and cheaper) to make your own homemade treats for your Mutt. Frozen dog treats are always welcome on a hot day, and they are easy to make. Dogs LOVE ice cubes, and flavored ice cubes are even better. What can you freeze for your dog? Just about anything.  You can make pupsickles in ice cube trays, or for larger dogs, use a paper cup, and before serving, peel away the cup. If you want to make your dog work for it, pour your ingredients into a stuffable Kong toy, plug the end with peanut butter or dry kibble. (Yes, they are all messy, but your dog’s appreciation is worth the mess!)
  • Pumpkin pops—Mix some canned pumpkin (NOT pie mix, just plain pumpkin), low fat yogurt, and a bit of water, and freeze.
  • Chicken broth on ice—freeze some low sodium beef or chicken broth…you can add almost anything…a few bits of leftover chicken, beef, or fish…bits of cheese, carrots or even peas. Iced treats are so easy to make and fun to eat. Just be sure to never add anything that is toxic to dogs: No avocado, chocolate, macadamia nuts, onions, raisins, grapes or tomato leaves, please.

AHHH… the joys of having a dog: total and complete love and devotion… loyalty, and the determination to stick with you, right by your side, no matter what. If you are lucky enough to have a dog, you are truly blessed.


Live Rabbits are not Easter Toys

It’s Easter time, and what would make a more perfect gift than an adorable floppy eared bunny? Baby rabbits and soft baby chicks are soooo adorable, that they are hard to resist.  After all, you think, wouldn’t this be a perfect, low-maintenance “starter pet” for a small child? THINK AGAIN!  These animals are not well suited for children, and it’s a sad fact that most of the ones that are purchased as impulse pets will not live to see their first birthday, because as soon as they grow out of the cute baby stage, they are given away, banished to lonely lives in outdoor hutches, or just released outside, a sure death sentence.

Most children want a companion that they can hold, carry and cuddle, and rabbits are not cuddly.  They are ground-loving, prey creatures that actually are  physically fragile, and require specialized veterinary care. Children are naturally exuberant, and loving, but “loving” to a small child usually means holding, hugging, and carrying an animal around in whatever fashion their small hands can manage…exactly the kinds of things that make most rabbits feel insecure and frightened.  Handled in this way, they will often get fidgety and start to scratch or bite simply out of fear. The rabbits that do survive the first few months , quickly reach maturity, and when they are no longer tiny and “cute,” the kids usually lose interest, and the rabbit, who has no voice to remind you he’s hungry or thirsty, or needs his cage cleaned, is gradually neglected.  If you are impulsively thinking of adding a rabbit to your family, it is important to understand that rabbits have a lifespan of 7-l0 years, and they are high maintenance creatures. BEFORE acquiring a rabbit, here are a few points to consider:

  • Housing:  A rabbit’s cage should be at least six times the size of an adult rabbit…It should not have a wire bottom, as the wire can injure the rabbit’s feet. There should be room for a litter box, toys, food and water bowls. It should be kept indoors… NEVER left outdoors.
  • Playtime: They are inquisitive, intelligent, and very social by nature, requiring plenty of exercise and interaction with the humans.  An energetic young rabbit needs at least 30 hours a week of time outside her pen or cage on a regular basis.
  • Grooming: Rabbits shed their coats 3-4 times a year, which necessitates regular brushing.
  • Diet: They need fresh water, fresh grass hay, at least 2 cup of fresh vegetables, and a very small serving of plain rabbit pellets EVERY day.
  • Health:  Like cats and dogs, rabbits should be neutered or spayed. The risk of uterine cancer in intact female rabbits is alarmingly high, and unneutered males are likely to spray.

Mary Cotter, president of Rabbit Rescue and Rehab in New York City stresses that “Rabbits should NEVER be bought on impulse. Adults must be willing to take full responsibility, committed to being actively involved on a daily basis for the possible l0-year lifespan of a rabbit, or they should not consider a live bunny.  A rabbit is not a toy, so if you are not ready to promise him ten years of your life, you’re not ready to give him as a pet. A better choice would be a chocolate rabbit or a stuffed rabbit that will be almost as cute, and a lot less work.”

A perfect Easter gift for any child would be the beautifully illustrated book, The Forgotten Rabbit by Rabbit Society educator, Nancy Furstinger. Wearing its heart on its sleeve, this story has a mission, but it is a worthy one, telling the story of a rabbit who was purchased as an impulse pet and later forgotten and neglected until she was rescued by someone who gave her a forever home and showed her the meaning of love. The story is touching and draws attention to the plight of unwanted pets purchased without adequate planning and preparation. Appropriate for any child over five, the book offers honest, charming insights into the proper care of a rabbit as a companion animal. It is suspenseful, moving, and in the end, joyful. The active language will delight children while helping them build vocabulary skills. The book can be purchased from a local book store, or online from


Christmas a Time of Love

Christmas is a time to pause, count our blessings, and reach out to family, friends, our beloved companion animals, and those less fortunate.  IT IS A TIME OF LOVE, but it is also a time to avoid holiday hazards with pets:

  • Foods of the season may be dangerous even in small portions. Keep all bones out of reach…they can easily damage the digestive tract. Keep pets away from chocolate, alcoholic drinks, grapes, raisins, and onions (or dips and dressings that contain onions.) Garlic, fatty skin from the turkey, many spices and bones may do more than just sicken your pet. And never give your pet any yeast dough when you are baking. Coffee, coffee grounds, or coffee beans can also be harmful.
  • Many holiday plants, including lilies, holly, Christmas cactus, mistletoe, and poinsettias, are poisonous if eaten, and many florists now use cocoa mulch which is extremely toxic in potted plants
  • Secure all extension cords to prevent pets from chewing on them, and keep all candles out of reach of curious paws. Never leave lit candles unattended with pets around.
  • Make sure your tree is solidly secured, and keep tree preservatives inaccessible to pets—they are toxic. Keep the area under the tree free of pine needles which can puncture intestines if swallowed.
  • Select your decorations carefully.  If you have breakable glass bulbs and other decorations, place them out of reach of curious paws. One of the biggest hazards is tinsel which, if ingested, can cause serious problems which may require surgery. Avoid hanging edibles on your tree. Popcorn strings should be avoided because most dogs will eat both the popcorn and the string.
  • Provide a quiet, safe place for your pets to retreat if they feel stressed during your holiday festivities.
  • As you spend time with your family, friends, and furbaby, don’t be too busy to include something for a less fortunate dog…you can do this any time of year, but please do something to make the holiday more special for a lonely dog.. or two..or three!  Companion animals play important roles in the lives of the people who love them, but sometimes the elderly or ill have trouble providing essential pet care. Perhaps you could offer to assist—walk the dog, help with grooming or feeding, pick up supplies, or drive her to the veterinarian. Your local rescue group or shelter always appreciates volunteers. There are dozens of things you can do…contact your local organization to get specific suggestions as to how you can brighten a lonely dog’s life…and donations are always welcome…money, towels, food, blankets, or equipment…all shelters have wish lists.

Tis the day before Christmas and all through the house,

the puppies are squabbling over an old rubber mouse.

The stockings that hung in neat little rows boast obvious holes in all of the toes.

The tree purposely placed way up high leans badly and looks ready to die.

I catch them and hold them, “Be good,” I insist.

They lick me, then run off to see what they’ve missed.

As I watch them, the thought comes to me that they’re the spirit that Christmas should be!

Perhaps children and puppies can show us the way,

and teach us the joy that comes each new day!

Could they convince us of the message sent from above

That Christmas is kindness and compassion…