Thursday, October 29, 2009
Fall is a magical time of the year with the crisp air and the crunchy leaves under your feet. I love watching the seasons change with a cup of hot cider and a warm blanket to snuggle under. Since Halloween is my favorite holiday I enjoy getting into the spooky spirit of it all!
This year I decided to combine my love of Halloween with my passion for helping animals. So a few weeks ago we had the “Halloween Howler,” a festive fundraiser for NMHPU. It was quite an exciting evening and I think everyone had a great time. Guests and pets came dressed up in a variety of theme costumes including a complete Wizard of Oz family, a mail man dog with his 2 human letters, and some matching cheese head fans. No one held back for this occasion.
Every year I dress up Charlie and Sassy (my 2 small doggie companions) in costumes as well. They never seem thrilled at the idea but they love getting to go places. So it is a good compromise.
Now at stores there is a huge assortment of fun costumes available to get your pet into character. I am always amazed at the creativity that goes into designing them. But there are some things to consider when selecting a costume besides just what we think will look cute.
Make sure their costume is comfortable. We don’t like to wear uncomfortable things, so don’t force them to. It should not constrict or block their vision, breathing, or hearing. Also select a costume that does not have small chewable pieces to prevent choking. Try the costume on your pet before Halloween to make sure you pet is not stressed out in any way.
No matter how cute they look in their costumes, making them suffer is not worth it. Over all the costume should be safe and pleasant for them. You would not want them to get snagged or caught on anything that could result in an accident.
When it is time to attend Halloween parties or hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, keep your furry friends in mind. Strangers in costumes can be scary and stress out your pet, especially if they are constantly knocking on your door. It is best to keep all pets in a separate room so they are not so stressed out. Also this will help prevent your pet from darting out the door when candy is being handed out. If taking your pet to other Halloween parties always keep them on a leash just to make sure they don’t get startled and run off.
As an extra precaution, make sure your pet’s tags and microchips are always current. There is nothing sadder then a lost pet never finding their way home again simply because they didn’t have current identification!! So make sure you are looking out for pets ahead of time.
Treats are always fun to eat and share! What is Halloween without a bunch of teeth rotting goddies? But they are not good for our furry friends, so please keep them away from them. Chocolate in just about any form can make your pet sick with vomiting and diarrhea. Also candy wrappers and artificial sweeteners can be poisonous for cats and dogs. They will beg, but don’t be a sucker and give into those cute faces no matter how persuasive they are!
I love to decorate my house and go all out for Halloween. But I always have to consider my pets at home. Pumpkins or decorative corn can cause gastro-intestinal problems, so don’t leave those out to be munched on. Fake cobwebs always seem to attract my cats no matter where I place them, so watch out for those. I have learned this one the hard way at the vets office. Keep wires and cords out of reach also. One little nibble could shock a pet or even be fatal. Candles can also be a safety concern, so keep them is a safe place where a tail won’t catch on fire!
Pet safety doesn’t have to be a nightmare and you can still have a spooktacular good time! Just remember if celebrating with your furry monsters planning ahead will help create a safe holiday.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I've been hearing some political pundits ask the question of late "Why are Americans becoming more outspokenly critical, snarky, and nasty in their opposition to a view other than their own?" A variety of opinions are bandied about: perhaps it is the popularization of shows featuring the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Gordan Ramsay and Simon Cowell; perhaps it's a racist response to our President; perhaps it's the fact that people can easily and anonymously put their opinions forth on the internet and find power in others who also like to criticize and rant; perhaps it is because the age of journalism ethics is over. I don't claim to have the answers but my thought is "Oh, America is starting to act a bit more like animal people." ("Animal people" meaning those people who work or volunteer helping out companion animals.)
Now before you animal people get highly offended, I am a proud "Animal Person" myself and for years have been making the claim that animal people are no more "crazy" than other people. Why would I even have to make that claim? Because it is true that, as a movement, animal welfare has the reputation for attracting "crazy" people. My own opinion on this is I do believe that persons who may have some social anxieties (like me) are attracted to this movement because, as I hear over and over again "I like animals more than I like people." Well sure, animals can never say things they may regret later; animals cannot offend, criticize, or belittle....it sure does make them easy to love. The problem is, you can only do so much to help animals without engaging and working closely with people.
I do believe that the rest of the population can learn a lesson from us animal people who haven't been getting along with each other for years before Rush Limbaugh. The lesson is you don't have to agree with someone but if you really want to advance your cause, you'd better learn to deal respectfully with those holding opposing views. And you'd better learn to prove your point using something more than hollow criticisms and a holier-than-thou attitude.
Recently I received an anonymous letter from someone who felt No More Homeless Pets in Utah was "evil" for spaying pregnant animals, accusing us of having no respect for life. A paragraph later this person then proceeded to criticize us for NOT killing adult feral cats. Apparently the value of life, in their view, was only afforded the unborn cats rather than cats already alive. My first response was "well, this person is freaking crazy," but then when I really thought about it I found I could have compassion for their viewpoint. I didn't agree with it but I could respect it. However I could not respect the malicious tone nor abide the angry rant. Had they signed the letter I could have replied thus:
None of us enjoy the thought of spaying a pregnant animal, and certainly we are all striving for the day in which we can not only save the already born, but the unborn as well. Sadly, that day has not come, and so we must go into shelters, choosing some and leaving others who will inevitably be euthanized. It is not the shelter’s fault, it is not our fault, and we do the best we can to rescue as many as we can. In light of that dilemma we do spay pregnant animals. We certainly respect other organizations who choose to let a late-term pregnant animal have it’s babies and care for them until they are weaned, fix them along with the mother before adoption and responsibly place them. They may use up resources that could have been used to save double the number of animals already in shelters and already born, but we respect their important niche in animal welfare. We don’t criticize them simply because they choose to save lives in a way different than we do.
As long as animals are dying in shelters, this ethical dilemma will be present. Who do we save? Having mutual respect for shelter workers, veterinarians, breed enthusiasts and other rescue agencies all implementing various life-saving programs close to their own hearts is critical if we want to work together to solve this problem.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Meet Nikita - the Akita with attitude!
Nikita is a 4 ½ year old Akita. She is a very special dog and has been with us for quite some time. Nikita was pulled off of the euthanasia list from the Humane Society after spending her time there with no adopters in sight. When Nikita first came to us, she was a bit stand-off-ish for the first little bit. Once she warmed up to us, we saw she was such a sweetheart.
Nikita is a typical Akita who displays all of the Akita traits. She is very independent, protective of her owner and stubborn at times but has so much love to offer. Nikita bonds very closely with people, but true to her breed, she is a one person dog. Akitas like to take charge - an inherited trait from their wolf ancestry - and may at some time challenge you for the dominant position. She is very smart, almost too smart for her own good. She loves to play with people as they are a member of her pack. Nikita wants to be the only animal in the house, once again, a trait true to her breed. She is a great companion, for the right person. She needs a strong handler who can be the leader of the pack, someone who is familiar with Akitas and no kids under 14.
The adoptions team and many volunteers have grown very close to Nikita and enjoy our time with her, but we are so excited for her to find her forever home! She is an amazing dog who deserves a second chance in a loving home.
If you or someone you know can offer her a home, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 801-577-5616.
Monday, October 12, 2009
After a recent trip to visit my family in California, my mom showed me a book she had picked up especially for me: What My Cat Taught Me About Life by Niki Anderson
Author Niki Anderson offers a witty account of life in the eyes of our favorite feline friends. This book gives the reader little gems of personal meditations, real-life cat stories, little-known cat facts, and kitty wisdom.
As I flipped through the book, I couldn’t help but wonder what my own cat had taught me about life. Bootsie, my 14-year old long-haired tuxedo, is a diva in all sense of the word. Her big emerald eyes can definitely get her point across and if that doesn’t work, she’ll let you know her opinion with a soprano-like meow you just can’t ignore. Although her attitude may have given her a diva reputation, she’s never failed to be there for me through the most important points in my life. Meeting me at the door when I came home from my first day of junior high. Sitting on the bathroom counter while I got ready for my prom. Chasing my computer mouse while I filled out college applications. The most cherished moments in my life will always share a thought with Bootsie. She has taught me to keep calm and collected in times of stress, but never be afraid to take a swipe at anyone who might try to bring me down. She’s taught me that naps in the sunlight are great and that my mom’s old quilt is the best thing to sleep on. She’s taught me that looks can be deceiving and to always give people the benefit of the doubt. She’s taught me that patience is truly a virtue and the best friends are the ones who will be there for you through anything.
I loved this book. I’d definitely recommend it for any cat lover who may need reminding just how much our cats (and all pets) teach us about life.