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Woof Wednesday: What Is Old & Fetching Fools

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Old dogs, old friends--extra care is WORTH it!

What is considered “old?” There are individual differences between pets, just as there are for people. While one person may act, look and feel “old” at fifty-five, another fifty-five-year-old remains active with a youthful attitude and appearance.

Aging is influenced by a combination of genetics, environment, and health care over a lifetime. The oldest dog on record was an Australian Cattle Dog who lived for twenty-nine years and five months.

A good definition of old age for an animal is the last 25 percent of her life. However, we can’t accurately predict what an individual pet’s life span will be, so pinpointing when old age begins is tough. Ask the breeder about the life span of your pet’s parents and grandparents. That’s a good predictor of how long you could expect your cat or dog to live. Mixed-ancestry pets are more difficult to predict, but you can make a few generalities.

affenpinscher

Little guys age more gracefully than giant breeds.

Extended Lifespan

In the past fifty years, the average life span of small dogs has tripled. They used to live to be only six or seven years old, but today it’s not unusual for your Chihuahua to live into late teens or early twenties. With an average potential life span of fifteen to seventeen years, onset of old age—when a little dog becomes “senior”—would be about age eleven to thirteen.

Even large-breed dogs, which age more quickly, commonly reach ten to thirteen years of age—double the life span of the past few decades. They would therefore be considered old starting at about seven years.

Giant breed dogs (those weighing over eight pounds or so) tend to age earlier than smaller pets. Great Danes, for example, are considered “senior” at age five, and typically live only seven to nine years. There are exceptions, of course, with some very large dogs living healthy, happy lives well into their teens.

Viszla

Sniffing ability is maintained longer than eyesight or hearing--use it!

Youthful Doggedness?

So you have an old fogey doggy–how do you keep him youthful? What happens when that go-go-go puppy attitude turns into a yen for snoozing the day away? Dogs can become frustrated when their youthful abilities fade away and they’re no longer able to leap tall buildings–or onto sofas–with a single bound, or chase the Frisbee and catch it without effort.

I have one word for you: ACCOMMODATION.

Enrich the dog’s environment and make accommodations for his new skill set. Agility dogs can still perform all those tricks of fetch and vault, just lower the bar a bit. For blind dogs, put a bell inside the ball or scent with liverwurst so his nose knows where to find it.

Today’s Ask Amy strikes close to home because my Magical-Dawg is a fetching fool. Currently he’s in his prime and has no problem chasing and leaping until  his tongue drags the ground. But since this is Magic’s all-time-favorite-of-them-all (excluding car rides!), I know that FETCH will be a game that helps keep him young even when he’s an old fogey.

Do you have a fetching fool? What about your old dogs–what games do they love? Have you made accommodations for their aging abilities? Please share!

SPECIAL THANKS

This month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Furry Friday: Adopting “Other-Abled” Pets

PetFinder.com sponsors Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week September 17-25. The event is devoted to giving those pets who are often overlooked at shelters and rescue groups for whatever reason — they’re old, the wrong breed, have special needs, or are simply different or the wrong color — a better chance at finding homes.

Y’all know how I feel about golden oldie pets, after writing two award-winning books that help folks care with the needs of aging cats as well as aging dogs. Senior citizen pets have just as much love to give and often fit very well into families unable or unwilling to manage the hijinks of in-your-face puppies and kittens.

old dog

Old dogs make great friends.

Adult cats and dogs grown out of the “cute” phase also can have a hard time being chosen. But remember that healthy cats and small dogs can live well into their mid to late teens or longer, and you can expect to enjoy at least another half dozen years by adopting a four year old pet. And usually you save costs because they’ve already been “fixed” and have their shots, as well as basic training.

“Other-abled” pets don’t know what they’re missing. Despite loss of limbs, mobility, sight or hearing, they live and enjoy life regardless of the challenges they face. Often, the pet has less difficulty coming to terms with such changes than do owners. Cats and dogs seem to willingly accept conditions that devastate people.

My friend and colleague Natalie C. Markey shares her life with Oscar. His epilepsy inspired her to write a book about Caring For Your Special Needs Dog. Would she have adopted Oscar knowing that he had health challenges? Absolutely! You can hear from her directly in this Pet Peeves radio interview.

Pets can suffer paralysis through accidents, degenerative back diseases or other health conditions. Nobody knows what happened to Willy the rescue Chihuahua, who lived with rear-limb paralysis. He wouldn’t stop dragging himself from place to place, determined to stay in the thick of things. Once owner Deborah Turner got him strapped into his K9-cart (wheelchair for dogs), he was literally off and running. Willy became the mascot for his local branch of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, has his own website, and two children’s books written about his exploits.

Dr. Paul Gerding, a veterinary ophthalmologist, never considered that his Labrador couldn’t still enjoy life when Katie began losing her sight. He wasn’t able to correct the progressive disease medically, but took steps to ensure the blind dog could still navigate her home and yard by memory. She continued to hunt—in safe clover fields with no ditches or holes—and at home Katie relied on the younger dog Grace to be her personal guide dog pal. Similar stories are found in my cutting edge book.

I recently heard from my colleague, Lynette George, about her latest addition to their own little doggie family. “Her name is CeeCee and she’s a miniature, long-hair, double-dapple dachshund.” She went from the breeder to three different owners, and then ultimately was surrendered at the Oklahoma Spay Network because nobody really wanted to handle a blind dog. “Four months old and thinks she owns the world. She has absolutely no clue that she’s supposed to be “handicapped.” Anyway, she’s absolutely adorable. Everybody who sees her falls in love immediately. She took over Petco when she went in – kind of like she does everywhere she goes. She’s just a hoot every day. We LOVE her!”

Pets inspire us with their stoic attitudes. They don’t know how to feel sorry for themselves, and may not recognize they’re any “different” than other cats and dogs. Fluffy and Prince simply want to get on with the important business of eating, playing, and loving their family. As readers know, furry love comes in all shapes, sizes, and packages.

Do you share your home with a “less adoptable” pet? How did you find each other? Has living with an “other-abled” pet affected your life in positive ways? Please share! I’d love to hear your stories and see pictures of your special fur-kids. And here’s the deal. I’d love to create a whole gallery post next week so you can either post comments or email me amy @ shojai.com with “special pets” in the subject line with a picture. SEND NO LATER THAN NEXT TUESDAY (Sept 20) so I can post the next day. Spread the word–we’ll make your pets famous!

Just for fun, I wanted to share the latest Ask Amy video with a question from Tiffany. This applies to dogs as well as cats. What are some other puzzling behaviors your pets perform?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Tuesday Tips: Musically Thrilling Writer-icity

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Amy & Michael Palmer

Amy and bestselling thriller author Michael Palmer at Thrillerfest!

Okay, I gotta share another fan-girl moment–yes, that’s THE Michael Palmer at the reception just before the Thrillerfest Banquet. And I got to meet his son, debut author Daniel Palmer earlier in the day at the book signing event. Yep, got both of their books autographed. And because I had the books shipped (my bad back couldn’t take schlepping ’em on the plane), I just got the books this week and have just started Daniel’s debut thriller, Delirious. And for all you dog-lovers, a main character in Daniel’s book adopts an adult rescue Beagle named Monte…you’ll love this dog! Oh, and then Michael’s  book is just A Heartbeat Away on my list to read next.

Why is this on today’s Tuesday Tips? Well–the video might explain. You see, both these talented writers also are musicians and offered some great fun tips during their presentation at the Thrillerfest banquet. The quality of the video sucks, I know, cuz the light wasn’t great and frankly, I was laughing too hard to hold the camera steady.

This video is only a small taste of the whole Thrillerfest experience, of course, and you can get the full deal recording (and those of the other panels) of CDs, MP3s and DVDs of Thrillerfest here.

What are YOUR favorite author tips? Do any of these sound familiar?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Thoughty Thursday: Feeding The Muse

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BoxerAndKitten-TonyaJensen

Does your creativity eat you for lunch--or feed you with love? (copr. Tonya Jensen)

Due to the magic of WordPress, I get to write this EARLY and have it posted tomorrow morning while I’m flying to New York. Can you see my arms a-flappin’ (insert “twack-thwackity-thwack” sound effects)?

I don’t have a lot to say today other than–I’m excited, exhausted, anxious, and thrilled all rolled up in one. Excited because Thrillerfest is the absolutely BESTEST-FUNNEST-INSPIRING-EST conference I attend. Exhausted because I’ve managed to cram a week’s worth of work into two days so I wouldn’t be distracted with (ack) work while there. Anxious because flying ain’t near the adventure it used to be and crappiocca always–ALWAYS–happens (wonder if I”ll be profiled this time?).

And thrilled because I get to see my favorite authors, reconnect with friends and make new acquaintances.

For writers, nothing gives us a goose in the ass-terick like a writer’s conference. We get to schmooze and express our jealousy admiration for all those successful folks; steal all learn the secrets of their success; hang out with cool people in the bar during seminars  and find out–

They’re people, too. And they have some of the same angst-icity and writerly challenges that face the rest of us. Oh, and some of ’em worked for DAYS and WEEKS and sometimes MONTHS before they had an overnight success (I kid…more like years or decades in many cases).

So what’s the most inspiring part of being among people who really understand us–why we bang our heads on the virtual door of publication forever. It’s not that we’re born masochists. Okay, well, some folks are. And it’s not that we’re totally clueless about our lack of talent. Wait–maybe that fellow waa-a-aay over there might be a wee bit . . . never mind. For sure it’s not because we enjoy rejection.

Creative types do it because–it’s who we are, not just what we do. And gathering at a writer conference like Thrillerfest, or at a music festival or Harley Davidson convention, dog or cat show, quilt exhibition, or ComicCon or whatever floats your creative boat FUELS THE MUSE.

I’m already feeling all inspired-like.

What feeds your muse? How do you energize your creative side? When do you feel most in need of a pick-me-up, and where do you find the necessary go-get-’em juice to press on?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Say WHAT?

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Blk poodle w-owner

What's the dog saying?

Do you speak “dog?”

Many of us get by without truly understanding what all the woofs and wags mean. We make do for two main reasons:

  1. Dogs are so smart they learn to understand us.
  2. Dogs forgive human stupidity.

Still, there are many problems caused by miscommunications. Some of ’em can get you bit–or your dog labeled “dangerous” or worse–sentenced to death.

Sammy the Westie

A raised paw means...what?

Dogs really have done it to themselves. They’ve become so loveable, and so attentive and willing to please, that humans begin assuming they’re just tiny ‘people’ in fur coats. (Never mind that’s incredibly politically incorrect and offensive…) Hey, I’m guilty, too. Calling pets “fur-kids” makes it easy to slip over that invisible line and hold them to human standards instead of–well–letting ’em be dogs.

People are primates. We’re touchy-feely, we want to hug and touch, and don’t always understand why our dogs don’t always welcome such things. And when the dog throws us all kinds of conciliatory gestures–ears down, cutting eyes sideways, wagging and slinking with a goofy grin in that “aw shucks” expression–we assume they’re guilty or apologizing for something.

Because that’s what a HUMAN would do–act guilty. And NO, “wagging my tail” is not how I threw out my back. Harumph.

min bull terrier

Another raised paw--mean the same thing?

Anyway, the pet owner in this Ask Amy installment assumed the pawing dog was apologizing. Was that right?

What do all those tail wags mean–that he’s friendly right? Yes…and no. Tail talk has many meanings. So do woofs, whines, growls and howls. Even fluffed fur can speak volumes and oh-dear-heaven, don’t get me started on Pee-Mail! (or is that pee-male, LOL!). So what do you think “pawing” might mean? Here’s a hint–it’s part of the peace-keeper pooch repertoire!

What else does your dog do that makes him look guilty? I know lots of dog-savvy folks read this blog, so what am I missing? Please add more info in the comments and we’ll make this installment super-share-able!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Bitchy Bling, FIP & Linky Laughs

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It's mine, ALL MINE!

Happy Independence Day! The 4th of July brings lots of sky-high sparkles with fireworks, but here in Texas with the drought and burn-ban, such celebrations will be rare. And I figure, most of y’all are out picnicking with family and friends, or otherwise doing FUN stuff rather than reading (or writing) blogs.

Did I mention that I have no life?

Anyway, since few folks will be around to read, today’s Monday Mentions is short. I’m nearly packed for Thursday’s trek to Thrillerfest in New York. So these are MY July 4th sparkles. Ain’t they purty? Hey, I’m easily distracted by shiny objects, what can I say? The “BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD” tag line ain’t just for show, guys.

My colleague and friend Wendy Christensen not only writes beautiful prose, she’s a cat artist–and now also makes fantastic BLING! I’ve been drooling over this piece and finally broke down and got it–since it’ll be the purrrrrr-fect accessory when I travel to Thrillerfest this weekend. A girl can’t have too much sparkles, ya know!

You don’t know? Well, check out some of my Ask Amy videos for furry advice and the “bling parade.” Most folks wouldn’t recognize me without my rhinestone #1-Bitch pin and appropriate glitter. Ahem.

Cat Fur Jewelry might tempt you, too. Nope, it’s not petrified kitty URKS, which was what I feared. The necklaces actually are kinda cool–if you’re not allergic, that is. I’m sticking to the shiny stuff.

Luxury Paw helps you travel in style to 3-star (or better) hotels with your fur-kids. Travel woes over the howl-lidays got you down?  If you suffer from separation anxiety when away from Fluffy-kins, this site could really get your tail wagging.

FIP in the news–potentially GOOD news this time from my colleague Steve Dale and the Winn Feline Foundation.

DP Lyle’s Forensic Blog has a neat tribute to Hemmingway–you know, the guy with the many-toed cats? Oh yeah, he wrote pretty good stories, too.

Opinionator has a totally cool blog on “Google’s War on Nonsense” and I’ve been personally impacted by this crappiocca with my Puppies Site which–no brag, just fact–has some quality info compared to the crappiocca stinking up much of the Internet. I applaud everyone’s effort at dialing down stink-icity but I’ve pounded a second head-shape dent in my office wall as a result of the “sexy fallout.”

Writers (readers too) will love Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog, an irreverent and sometimes blue blog on all-things-writing-and-publishing (and off topic now and then). I like it so much, just added it to my blogroll.

And The Wuc offers a hilarious review? (sorta-kinda-in-a-way) of the latest Mary Poppins incarnation–this is NOT for kids!

Finally, for folks out there wondering about the whole blog-platform question, a nicely succinct recap of some of the more popular ones offered by author  C.C.James.

Have a safe, fun, and restful holiday! Oh, and if you’re in a drought-free zone with fireworks in the offing–I HATE YOU!–and be sure your pets stay angst-free with these tips.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Furry Friday: Lulu’s Furry Miracle

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Lulu has a human angel, named Carol Duncan!

I couldn’t do foster work, I don’t think. When I traveled for Purina as a spokesperson and visited countless shelters, the hardest part was walking away from all those needy bewhiskered faces. Bringing a fur-kid into the house, only to later give him/her away into the loving homes of another, would be rewarding but –I know this about myself — it would flat kill me.

Thank God there are rescue organizations and individuals who can do this!

While it sounds romantic to raise up cute babies and unwanted dogs or cats and give them a much needed second chance, reality ain’t the same. Dogs and cats are dumped, relinquished, lose homes for no fault of their own but challenging behavior problems and/or health issues make foster care even more daunting.

Did I mention God has a hand in such things? And the human angels on earth sometimes are granted miracles–my colleague and friend Carol Duncan gave me permission to share the latest. It seems particularly timely because of the BOOM-BOOM noise phobias mentioned in the Woof Wednesday blog that caused Lulu–that gorgeous Border Collie–in the picture–such angst. You see, Lulu panicked during a thunderstorm and tried to escape her crate, resulting in severe injuries that required hip surgery. Yes, they can do amazing things these days with cutting edge medicine for pets–and the video puts a furry face on some of these techniques.

I’ve seen other video of Carol’s foster BCs, one called Possum that was so fearful–and the progress made until she actually PLAYED with Carol’s other dogs. Makes me weepy again just to think of how far some of these fosters can come with the right care. Now, it’s Lulu’s chance.

Carol writes,

“I’m almost afraid to say anything lest I jinx myself, but Lulu, a BC is being adopted on Monday.  Lulu is reactive to other dogs and needs to go to a home with no other dogs.  Plus, she has hip dysplasia and is recovering from an FHO right now.  And she has mild urinary incontinence.  She barks a lot, too!  And she is sound sensitive, terrified of thunder and fireworks.  She is currently on Fluoxetine and Clonazepam.  She’s probably around 6 or 7 years old — has a lot of years left, we hope, but not a young dog, by any means.

Who would want such a dog?

Well, a couple in El Paso contacted me.  Their BC passed away in February at age 15.  The wife is a high school teacher and is home for the summer.  They chose to wait until the summer to get a new dog.  The wife really liked the way Lulu looks and wrote to me.  They have a pool and will be able to continue her rehab there.  They specifically wanted an older dog. And the last time they had a thunderstorm there was 2006. They had a fabulous vet reference and their home check was conducted yesterday by a woman who is a herding trial judge who lives in El Paso.”

WOW! Who can dare argue that God didn’t work a miracle? Well, the Almighty and human angels, that is–the rescue organization, veterinarians, and of course Carol and her furry crew of doggy helpers.

Are you involved in rescue work? What challenges do you individually and your rescue organization face? What about dogs (or cats) with hip dysplasia–have you ever included water therapy for your pets?

The cool video, below, shows Lulu receiving underwater treadmill therapy (WAY COOL!) from the Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center, so that Lulu’s new family has a demonstration how to continue Lulu’s rehab. Carol works with Border Collie Rescue Texas which paid for a good portion of Lulu’s treatment–but Carol funded quite a bit herself.

Love doesn’t come cheap! Think about supporting a rescue group in your area. Have you had similar miracle matches–please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Old Fogey Dog Webinar, Ask Amy & Dogs Rolling Over

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Those who regularly read my blog know about all the cute puppy pictures and content (SQUEEEE!) I’ve been creating. Our old fogey dogs are just as–or even more–deserving of our love and attention.

I’m thrilled to offer the fine folks at the Danish-Swedish Farm Dog USA organization a live Webinar next Monday June 20, based on my best-selling updated Complete Care for Your Aging Dog book. The presentation–with Q&A and some fun pictures from the powerpoint–has pending CCPDT accreditation. And a portion of the registration goes to fund dog-specific causes (your choice). Feel free to spread the furry word– and I  hope to “see” some of y’all there.

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"Rub my tummy....please?"

That puppy in the picture from last weekend’s local adoption event wanted to just chill on my lap, sleeping on his back, all afternoon. What a sweetie. When we first got Magic, he was NOT inclined to “roll over.”

Rolling onto the back and baring the tummy places a dog into a vulnerable position and not all feel comfortable doing this. As Magical-Dawg has matured, he’s much more willing to volunteer this behavior–and I’m flattered. It actually can be a sign of great trust, although many folks assumes this posture always means submission.

And no, of course I never “forced” Magic onto his back. Okay, guess I need to also mention “alpha roll” where the owner forces a dog onto his back to establish dominance. Probably a better name for it would be the “stupid roll” because it does nothing to foster submission and actually can get owners bit.

The premise comes from thinking that wolves make other wolves roll over to prove who is in charge. Uh…nope. Wolves roll over on their own to indicate deference, they aren’t “forced” to do this by a bigger wolf. And of course, dogs aren’t wolves. Dogs will show deference and respect to more potent, powerful and in charge individuals (whether that’s another dog, a cat or human). And sometimes the most powerful doggy in the group rolls over to show a less confident canine he means no threat, as an invitation to play or build confidence.

The fellow asking the question in the Ask Amy video was not happy about his newly adopted dog’s inclination to roll over. I suspect he wanted his dog to be “macho” and “dominant” and wasn’t clear on exactly what his dog was telling him–or what the dog “heard” his new owner saying.

Do your dogs enjoy tummy rubs? Does your dog flip on his back at the drop of a “hello?” When does he show his tummy–do you ask, or does he simply volunteer and request your attention?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Cancer Support, Disaster Help & Furry Professional Ops

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Please take me home!

I’ve saved up lots of great info to share in today’s Monday Mentions. First, I had to share some of the puppy-licious pictures from this weekend’s adoption event. The babies mostly slept but finally woke up for some yappy-happy playtime. If you have a dog intent on breaking the bark-a-thon record, the latest puppies.About.com tips for curbing barks may help.

Older dogs benefit from a terrific promotion hosted by Morris Animal Foundation on Sunday, September 18, for a K9 Cancer Walk at the Cove at Concord Park in Knoxville. The event will benefit the Foundation’s Canine Cancer Campaign, an initiative to fund research to prevent, treat and, ultimately, cure cancer in dogs. An estimated 50 percent of all dogs will battle cancer. All dog lovers are invited to attend and are encouraged to walk to celebrate the life of their canine best friend or walk in memory of dogs that have lost their battle with canine cancer.

Last week I talked about disaster pet preparation tips on the blog. The ASPCA has worked closely with the Joplin Humane Society and the last I heard, nearly 850 animals have since been rescued__with more than 200 beloved pets being reunited with their families. Here’s one story of a kitty and owner reunion!  Now the recent fires have displaced more families–and animals. Check out this video…and help if you can:

Some might be curious about those initials after my name, C.A.B.C.–that stands for Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (dogs and cats). I’m a professional member of IAABC. This professional membership organization promotes Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) principles in work with companion cats, dogs, parrots, horses and working animals.

In honor of Cat Adoption month in the U.S, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants have a “special deal” for Cat Division applicants. The application fee has been waived for all new members (to all divisions) throughout the month of June–YEEE-HAW!!! President Marjie Alonso writes, “Cats are currently the most popular pet in the United States and  it’s imperative that we support and educate regarding growing need  for feline behavioral assistance and services to help cat owners.  Learn more about joining IAABC here.

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Adopt a new friend, don't wait!

This past weekend I attended a puppy and kitten adoption and am pleased to say several fur-kids found new forever homes. But there are always so many more waiting . . . and after all, there’s still several days left in Adopt A Cat Month.

CATalyst Council is working with American Humane Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, and Petfinder.com to make this June the most successful Adopt A Cat Month® ever! Check out the official website here. Better yet, visit your local shelter this month to take home a new feline friend! Oh, and check out the fantastic how-to video on kitty carrier training at the end of the blog, courtesy of Catalyst Council folks.

Can’t adopt right now? No problem. Consider fostering. Everyone wants to help critters–well, those who read this blog do anyway! But it comes at a cost. Good news! Did you know that your expenses of caring for “foster animals” may be tax deductible?

Unable to foster? One of my fav organizations Alley Cat Rescue offers a brilliant alternative. You can have a virtual adoption and sponsor an ACR office cat or special needs kitty.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: DISASTER! Plan Ahead

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magic in paintbrush

Storm showers do bring flowers.

I’m tired of the wind and weather—how about you? I’ve written about disaster prep way too often recently but now again with fires in Western states, hurricane season upon us, and tornadoes whirling through my neighborhood, it bears repeating.  When Mother Nature throws a tantrum, you have no time to waste. Keeping your human and furry family safe can prove daunting unless you’ve made advanced preparations.

Watch weather reports. When weather turns ify, bring all pets into the house so that you won’t have to search for them. Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and up-to-date identification. If you have nothing else handy, use a felt-tip marker and write your phone number and name on the pet’s tummy.

Designate a “safe room” in the house to confine pets until the all clear. Many homes in North Texas don’t have basements or storm cellars. An internal room without windows, often a bathroom without windows, can be a good option. At my house, Seren gets stuffed into her cat carrier and placed inside the pantry situated under the stairs. It’s big enough that the humans and Magical Dawg can fit inside, too.

Seren is NOT a fan of the carrier--but it's the safest spot for her.

If you must evacuate, take your pets along. It may be days before authorities allow you to return home. If you’ve got to evacuate, find a hotel, friend, or other accommodations in advance that will let you bring your dogs and cats.

Attach the phone number and address of your temporary shelter, if you know it, to the pet’s collar tags. You can buy temporary tags or put adhesive tape on the back of your pet’s ID tag, adding information with an indelible pen. Write directly on a flat nylon collar or halter to make it easy for a stranger to read the information.

In addition to providing for human family members, have a “pet kit” ready to take along that contains a three-day supply of all the pet essentials. If easily packed, take an extra towel or blanket for each pet. Don’t forget sturdy leashes, harnesses, carriers or X-pens for safe confinement.

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Carriers for the small pets are a necessity!

Most facilities will require your cats and dogs to be under your control, and may also require proof of current vaccination. Include a favorite comfort toy or treat, the pet’s food and can opener if needed, and don’t forget water—one quart per cat-size pet per day (more for big dogs) is a good rule of paw. One of the pheromone spray products such as Comfort Zone/DAP for dogs or Feliway for cats can help relieve the stress of being in a strange environment.

Have plenty of plastic bags and newspapers as well as containers and cleaning supplies to help deal with pet waste. Puppy training pads or Depends undergarments work well.

Prepare for the unthinkable, too. Include current photos of your pets in case they get lost, and bring a first-aid kit to care for possible injuries. Include disposable latex gloves, sterile dressings, antibiotic towelettes and ointment, eyewash, thermometer, and any prescription medications your pets need. You can find more specifics in “The First-Aid Companion For Dogs & Cats.”

Your evacuation kit should also include a cell phone, flashlight, extra batteries, battery powered radio, map of area, whistle/air horn to signal for help, and matches in a waterproof container. Keep a list of emergency numbers with your phone, including a pet emergency clinic number and shelters that may temporarily house animals. Keep your car tank filled with at least half a tank at all times.

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A halter and leash gives you something to grab.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides information and relief for human victims of disaster, and also offers more information about pet disaster planning.  Petfinder.com also offers great disaster preparation information for pet owners.

Have you ever had to ride out a storm with your pets? How did you manage the situation? Did you evacuate and take the fur-kids with you, or were you forced to leave them behind? That would just about kill me…I’d likely risk my life and stay with them, if it came down to it. Be ready for Mother Nature’s “what if” surprises now and prepare for the worst. Then pray that you and your pets will never need this information.

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